A newly formed coalition uniting Hope Christian Church and the High Impact Leadership Coalition (HILC), based in Beltsville and College Park, respectively; the national, D.C.-group, Family Research Council; and a new entity apparently tied to Hope Christian, Stand4Marriage Coalition, have announced plans for a rally to oppose marriage equality in downtown D.C. on Tuesday, April 28.
The rally is set for 10 a.m. at Freedom Plaza, across from the John A. Wilson Building, D.C.'s city hall, at 14th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW.
"Pastors and churches will rally at Freedom Plaza in a show of force; a statement saying, 'Not on my watch! No same-sex marriages in D.C.!" reads the April 22 announcement.
While marriage equality does not exist in the District, the City Council did on April 7 unanimously back an amendment introduced by Councilmember Phil Mendelson (D-At large) that would recognize marriages of same-sex spouses from other jurisdictions.
That measure will face a second vote May 5 in Council chambers of the Wilson Building. The new coalition opposing marriage equality has pledged to attend that meeting, too.
"We expect pastors to overflow the Council chambers on May 5 in an effort to express their opinions," the April 22 announcement states.
While Bishop Harry Jackson Jr. of HILC and Hope Christian Church did not respond to Metro Weekly's requests for comment, the language in the coalition's announcement makes clear that the group primarily opposes marriage equality on religious grounds.
"Official sanction of 'same-sex marriages' is not only a deliberate deviation from the divine pattern, its result is damaging to all levels of social order," the announcement, e-mailed to various metro-area clergy, warns. "Imagine the impact upon children, schools and even churches if same-sex 'marriage' is legalized in D.C. … Pastor we need you! You leadership is critical. If we fail to act now, history will ask, 'Where were the pastors?' However, if we act now, we can turn the tide and win the battle. … Remember, 'If God is for us, who can be against us?'"
Michael Crawford of the DC for Marriage group, a program of The DC Center advocating for marriage equality, says that though he and four other members of the group are in Maine for political training as participants in the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force's LGBT Power Summit, the group is working on a strategy to counter these recently announced actions.
"We're figuring out right now how to respond," Crawford said Wednesday.
The new coalition opposing marriage equality for District residents also announced a new Web site to publicize future actions, www.stand4marriageDC.com, though as of midday Friday, the site was not yet active.
For more information about DC for Marriage, visit www.thedccenter.org/programs_dcformarriage.html.