- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Some 72 hours before historic legal arguments about marriage, thousands of people are expected to rally on Capitol Hill in favor of keeping marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

The event is part of a whirlwind of rallies, prayer meetings, vigils and Twitter campaigns — for and against same-sex marriage — organized ahead of the Supreme Court’s 2.5-hour hearing on four gay marriage cases on Tuesday.

Hundreds of buses are expected to pour into the District on Saturday for the third March for Marriage, led by the National Organization for Marriage

“We’re expecting our biggest turnout ever,” said Brian S. Brown, NOM president.

“There are buses coming from all over,” he said, adding that New York state Sen. Ruben Diaz, Bronx Democrat and a minister, is slated to be bringing more than 100 buses from New York.

Speakers at the March for Marriage include several Catholic clerics, including Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, papal nuncio to the United States; ministers from Church of God in Christ and Skyline Church; and leaders of several traditional-values organizations.

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“We are asking that churches take time in their worship services to pray that truth would prevail and that natural marriage would be honored by the arguments and by the decisions of the Justices,” Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said in his call for 46,000 pastors to hold Stand for Marriage Sunday the day after the Washington march.

A short video about religious liberty has been prepared by Echolight Studios for churches, and supporters can join the Twitter campaign at #standformarriage. The American Family Association has a prayer petition called “I Will Pray.”

Gay marriage supporters are also working to move heaven and earth: A Freedom to Marry worship service will be held Sunday at the National City Christian Church in Northwest Washington as part of a National Weekend of Prayer for the Freedom to Marry.

Then on Tuesday, a Unite4Marriage rally will be held on the Supreme Court steps, led by coalition partners such as Campaign for Southern Equality, Family Equality Council, Marriage Equality USA and GetEqual.

Several thousand people are expected for this rally, which starts at 9:30 a.m., said Brian Silva, executive director of Marriage Equality USA. In addition, he said, hundreds of gay marriage supporters around the country are planning local events “to send the message that the country is ready in all corners for marriage equality.”

These groups also hope to light up social media with #LoveRules and #LoveMustWin hashtags, and signatures on the Human Rights Campaign’s #lovecantwait petition and American Civil Liberties Union Action’s “I Do!” petition.

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Public advocacy, however, may not carry much influence in the Obergefell v. Hodges case, said one of the lawyers who will argue in favor of gay marriage Tuesday.

“This case doesn’t rest” on public opinion, although it is helpful that people have now “seen what marriage looks like” and can “see the joy, see the happiness,” Mary Bonauto, director of the Civil Rights Project at the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, told a Tuesday media call.

“But in the end,” she said, “when we are talking about enforcing the guarantees made to us in the Constitution of equality and protection for all people, it actually isn’t really relevant whether people all agree with that or not.”

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

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