- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Pro-gay marriage or anti-gay marriage, one thing is certain: The fight is not close to being over.

More than 150 buses are expected to bring people for Thursday’s March for Marriage in Washington, D.C.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Sen. Rick Santorum are among those expected to address the crowd about the need for America to keep marriage as the divinely inspired union of one man and one woman.

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, head of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, is also expected to speak despite calls from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and other San Francisco politicians that he skip the event, which they called a hate rally.

The march follows weeks of coast-to-coast gay pride events featuring rainbow-festooned marchers, bikers, drag queens and floats. In the District alone, some 100,000 people gathered for the June 7 Capital Pride Parade, and even more came out for the next day’s Capital Pride Street Festival.

Both sides are trying to keep their allies energized — and yet manage expectations.

In the gay rights camp, for example, there is much euphoria over the nonstop legal victories in the past year. Nineteen states now perform gay marriage, and U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb in Wisconsin this month became the latest judge to overturn state marriage law.

These legal wins, plus polls showing high levels of public support for gay marriage, mean Americans are “moving inexorably in the direction of supporting equality for same-sex couples,” said the Human Rights Campaign.

Winning a critical mass of states for gay marriage will help the Supreme Court justices to “really feel the momentum” when a case comes before them, said Evan Wolfson, founder of Freedom to Marry, which has a “road map to victory” for gay marriage.

Some gay-friendly voices, however, are cautioning people to not count court victories until they are signed.

“Positive change is not inevitable,” Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. told a packed auditorium of lawyers and allies at a Lambda Legal event on June 10. Be optimistic and celebrate each victory, he said, but don’t forget “we must stand together, work together and sacrifice together” to win more battles.

Lawyers are waiting “somewhat nervously” to see how the Supreme Court views “the religious rights of corporations,” Kevin Cathcart, executive director of Lambda Legal said at the same event.

The Supreme Court’s upcoming ruling in the lawsuits filed by Hobby Lobby Stores and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. against the Affordable Care Act’s “contraception mandate” is expected to have implications for people and businesses who object to gay marriages for religious reasons.

Regardless, Mr. Cathcart said, “no civil rights movement is ever over,” and there are enough issues to “keep us busy for many, many years to come.”

Similar caution is being sounded on the traditional marriage side too.

Courts have gone “very far left” on religious rights, Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican, said in a candid interview May 28 on KSL News Radio’s “The Doug Wright Show.”

“There is a question whether [courts] should be able to tell the states what they can or cannot do with something as important as marriage,” Mr. Hatch said. “But the trend right now in the courts is to permit gay marriage. And anybody who doesn’t admit that just isn’t living in the real world.”

Comments like these are unlikely to be heard at Thursday’s March for Marriage, where the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), Family Research Council, Alliance Defending Freedom, Liberty Counsel, New York Hispanic Clergy Organization, Concerned Women for America, Coalition of African American Pastors and other groups are standing firm for man-woman marriage.

The march is intended to “make a powerful statement” to judges, politicians and political elites that the American people believe children deserve both a mother and a father, said NOM President Brian S. Brown.

People who have a “live and let live” attitude about gay marriage are now seeing the intolerance of the other side, he said, citing uproars over the suspension of “Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson, resignation of Mozilla executive Brendan Eich and court cases filed against bakers, photographers and florists to force them to serve the weddings of gay couples.

As people see these “real consequences” of changing marriage, they are rethinking their views, said Mr. Brown. “The pendulum [of public support] can swing back the other way.”

Others are calling for religious freedom to be upheld.

The “clash of worldviews” is precisely what the religion clauses of the First Amendment were intended to protect against, Mat Staver, dean of Liberty University School of Law and founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, told a June 10 hearing before the House Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution and civil justice.

“Unfortunately, in today’s culture, the fundamental right to live according to the dictates of one’s conscience and sincerely held religious beliefs is slowly being eroded,” he said.

Arguments like these — plus the rights of states to design their own domestic marriage policies — are echoed in Idaho, Michigan, Utah and Texas, where officials are defending their state’s marriage laws.

The gay marriage issue is expected to reach the Supreme Court as early as 2015. A circuit split is all but assured since the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld Nebraska’s marriage law as constitutional, and an opposing ruling is likely from at least one of the six circuit courts now hearing a gay marriage case.

• Cheryl Wetzstein can be reached at cwetzstein@washingtontimes.com.

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