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Dueling rallies planned for Prop 8/DOMA week at Supreme Court | UPDATED

WASHINGTON – Supporters and opponents of marriage equality are busy making final plans for large rallies in Washington, D.C., during the last week of March when the U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments on two high-profile cases involving California’s Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

D.C. police have assigned the two groups to different areas of the city in an effort to keep apart the dueling rallies. However, the anti-gay marchers are scheduled to walk past the steps of the Supreme Court building, where marriage-equality supporters will be gathered. Read all about who is involved in each rally, and what their plans are.

United for Marriage coalition supports equality

United for Marriage, a sizable coalition of gay-rights groups and allies, are encouraging supporters to gather in Washington on March 25 for a vigil on the steps of the Supreme Court the day before the nation’s high court hears oral arguments in the Prop 8 case. Supporters will meet at the Supreme Court plaza at First and East Capitol Streets NE.

On March 26, the coalition will have a prayer service at 7:30 am at Lutheran Church of the Reformation, a United for Marriage rally at 8:30 am on the steps of the Supreme Court and, as part of the Passover celebration, a “Parting the Waters: A Seder for Love, Liberation & Justice” at 9:30 pm at the Human Rights Campaign Equality Center.


Speakers at the rally in Supreme Court Plaza include:

* Brendon Ayanbadejo, Super Bowl champion and Baltimore Ravens linebacker

* Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton

* The Very Rev. Gary Hall, Dean of Washington National Cathedral

* Margaret Hoover, GOP strategist and political commentator

* David Frum, GOP strategist and former speechwriter for President George W. Bush; political commentator

* Allyson Robinson, executive director, OutServe-SLDN

* Craig Stowell and his wife, Berta, former Marine and conservative Republican

* Andy McNeil and Todd Bludworth, fathers to twin boy and girl

* Brent Wilkes, national executive director, League of United Latin American Citizens

* The Rev. Al Sharpton, civil rights activist and host of MSNBC’s "PoliticsNation"

* Lt. Col. Linda Campbell, who was granted the first same-sex spousal burial in a U.S. national cemetery for her partner

* Wade Henderson, president, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

* Bishop Gene Robinson and his daughter, Ella Robinson

* Janet Murguía, president, National Council of La Raza

* LZ Granderson, CNN and ESPN commentator

* Phoenix couple Nelda Majors and Karen Bailey, who have been together more than 50 years

Then on March 27, the day the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on DOMA, the United for Marriage rally will gather at 8:30 am on the Supreme Court steps.

Coordinators of the United For Marriage coalition are Family Equality Council, GetEQUAL, GLAAD, Good As You, Human Rights Campaign, Marriage Equality USA, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and New Organizing Institute.

To learn more about the dozens of other coalition members, click HERE.

The coalition is also organizing rallies in cities across the country. To find a local action near you, click HERE.

In San Diego, LGBT activist and Navy veteran Sean Sala is heading up the "Light The Way To Justice" rally at 6 pm March 25 on the steps of the U.S. Federal Courthouse at West Broadway and Front Street. Speakers include Dr. Lori Hensic of the American Military Partner Association and pastor Rich McCullen of Missiongathering Church in North Park. For more details, email seansala@gmail.com or visit this Facebook page for more information or to RSVP to the rally.

March for Marriage supports ban on same-sex marriage

Meanwhile, anti-gay forces are also rallying in Washington. The March for Marriage will take place on March 26, the day of the Prop 8 hearing.

Participants will gather at 8:30 am on the National Mall between 10th and 12th Street NW and between Madison Drive NW and Jefferson Drive SW. At 9:30 am, participants will march down the National Mall and pass by the Supreme Court building, then return to the original meeting place.

Speakers and music are scheduled from 11 am to 1 pm. Entertainers will include the Lee Boys, an African-American sacred steel ensemble, and Ultramontaine, a group with roots in Celtic folk music that mixes in other styles from punk rock to bluegrass to Eastern European genres. [EDITOR'S NOTE: Since this story was published, Lee Boys have cancelled their appearance after learning the truth about NOM and the March on Marriage.]

Among those scheduled to speak are well-known anti-gay activists such as Gary Bauer, American Values president; Brian Brown, NOM president; the Rev. Jim Garlow, senior pastor at Skyline Church in San Diego and a vocal supporter of California's ban on same-sex marriage; San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cardileone, the San Diego native who is known as the grand architect of Prop 8; and New York state Sen. Ruben Diaz, who adamantly spoke out against same-sex marriage before the New York legislature approved marriage equality.

The march is sponsored by the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), which is still smarting from four electoral losses in November.

Backers include the usual roster of anti-gay groups, including Family Research Council, Focus on Family, Thomas More Society, The Cardinal Newman Society, The Ruth Institute and World Congress of Families.

Also, Human Life International, Manhattan Declaration, Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, Maryland Marriage Alliance, Act Right, C-Fam, NC Values Coalition, American Values, North Carolina Family Policy Council, Citizen Link, American Principles Project, CIC, Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Catholic Vote, Christian Union, Coalition of African-American Pastors, Concerned Women for America, New York Hispanic Clergy Organization and Tradition Family Property.

NOM has been begging supporters for money to rent 50 buses to transport participants to Washington. And to drum up money, Brian Brown has been crowing to supporters that Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, considered by many legal observers to be the swing vote, is leaning his way. In an email to supporters, Brown wrote:

“Last week, the AP wrote an article (not picked up by most major news outlets, of course) about Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy's speech at the dedication of a federal courthouse library in Sacramento, CA being named in his honor.

“In it, he said that major policies in a democracy should not depend ‘on what nine unelected people from a narrow legal background have to say.’

“I cannot emphasize enough how incredibly good this news is!”

Brown also claims that NOM has received a $500,000 matching challenge grant and urged supporters to make a “confidential, tax-deductible donation” to support the march. NOM is known for hiding the identity of its donors.

In another email to supporters, Frank Schubert, NOM’s national political director who worked on the Prop 8 case in California, declared that “It’s 1973 for marriage.” He compared the fight to deny marriage equality to the fight to deny women the right to choose, and begged for donations. He warns:

“The case that could be the Roe v Wade of marriage is the Proposition 8 case, Perry v Hollingsworth. The same-sex plaintiffs in the Perry case are arguing that Proposition 8 defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman is unconstitutional. Moreover, they say that same-sex couples have an absolute right under the federal constitution to marry — in California and, by extension, throughout the US.”

In an email released today, Brown urged participants to follow a strict dress code. Men are to wear blue shirts, women to wear red blouses and children to wear white clothing. "...The March now has an official color scheme — what could be more appropriate than red, white, and blue for patriotic Americans who cherish so much the rights our ancestors bravely fought to pass on to us for the good of our families? We follow in some important footsteps with our March, knowing that it is now our task to stand in defense of the rights we cherish and to preserve them for future generations," Brown wrote to his followers.

Additional reading on Proposition 8

SCOTUS blog has posted the Prop 8 case as a "petition of the day," complete with documents relating to the Supreme Court appeal. Click HERE to review the documents.

Read plaintiffs' brief in opposition HERE.

Read proponents' petition for certiorari HERE.

Read the Ninth Circuit's order denying rehearing en banc HERE.

Read the Ninth Circuit's decision HERE.

Read the federal District Court's decision HERE.

Additional reading on DOMA

Lambda Legal has a "one stop DOMA shop" HERE.

Ken Williams is Editor in Chief of SDGLN. He can be reached at ken@sdgln.com, @KenSanDiego on Twitter, or by calling toll-free to 888-442-9639, ext. 713.