The antigay National Organization for Marriage is mobilizing supporters to head to the nation’s capital to demonstrate against marriage equality the day of the historic U.S. Supreme Court hearings on Proposition 8 — an effort that has garnered support from local Catholic groups.
The March for Marriage, scheduled for March 26, includes among its sponsors the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference.
Philadelphia’s is the only archdiocese in the nation listed as a sponsor. NOM did not respond to a request for comment.
Archdiocese spokesperson Kenneth Gavin told PGN that the Archdiocese is not financially supporting the event.
“To my knowledge, the only assistance we are providing is organizational, in terms of getting the word out and providing information,” he said. “We’re not making a financial contribution to the event.”
Gavin said the Archdiocese is “encouraging faithful from across the five-county Archdiocese to participate in the event in support of traditional marriage.”
The Archdiocese is running buses to the march from parishes in Montgomery, Bucks, Chester and Bucks counties and from the Archdiocesan Pastoral Center on North 17th Street in Philadelphia. Participants can reserve a seat by making a $10 “donation,” with checks payable to the Archdiocese.
The Archdiocese is operating a March page on its website (archphila.org/marriagemarch/marriagemarch.phop), with information for individual parishes, including talking points, bulletin announcements and promotional materials.
Amy Hill, spokesperson for the PA Catholic Conference, the public-affairs arm of the state’s Catholic bishops and dioceses, said PCC is not providing any monetary contribution to the event.
“The extent of the PCC’s support of the Marriage March is in promoting it to Catholics in Pennsylvania,” Hill said in an email to PGN this week.
PCC posted about the march on its Facebook page March 4, and Hill said the organization shared the information on its website and to local dioceses.
Hill said PCC will not have an official presence at the march.
“Some dioceses may be organizing groups to travel to D.C. for the event. We are simply passing along the information. I do not believe anyone on our staff will be there,” she said.
Hill said PCC supports the mission of the event.
“Catholics believe that a marriage between one man and one woman is something special and unique. It is the foundation of the family,” she said. “In turn, the family is the basic unit of society. Thus, while marriage is a personal relationship, it also has public significance.”
The Pennsylvania Family Council, based in Harrisburg, and The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property, headquartered in Hanover, are also sponsors.
The NOM-led event will include a march to the Supreme Court and a rally at the National Mall.
The Supreme Court will hear arguments March 26 in the challenge to California’s Prop. 8, a voter referendum that overturned the state’s marriage-equality law. The court could potentially rule that gays and lesbians have an inherent constitutional right to marry. The following day, the court will hear arguments in a challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act, which bans the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriage.