The Marriage Defense Initiative is seeking to enlist at least one pastor in each of the state’s 67 counties to assist in and promote the agency’s efforts to stymie the same-sex-marriage movement in Pennsylvania.
The PPN, based in Elverson in Chester County, is a network of clergy that aims to confront “evils that seek to destroy the core teachings of [the] Christian faith.” It is a branch of Let Freedom Ring, Inc., a conservative advocacy group founded by Dr. John Templeton, Jr., a Pennsylvania resident who was among the largest single donors in the nation to support California’s ban on same-sex marriage in 2008.
The PPN recently came under the leadership of Sam Rohrer, a former member of the state House of Representatives. In 2006, Rohrer voted in favor of an ultimately unsuccessful effort to amend Pennsylvania’s constitution to ban same-sex marriage.
“Marriage is hanging in the balance in Pennsylvania,” Rohrer said in a press release. “The attack on marriage in Pennsylvania is real. Next year will mark an enormous effort to redefine marriage. The assault is now in the courts and will soon move to the legislature.”
There are several pending state and federal challenges to the state’s ban on same-sex marriage; a federal case filed by the American Civil Liberties Union goes to trial in June. Marriage-equality legislation is also pending in both houses, while a measure to add a constitutional ban on marriage equality has been introduced in the House.
Rohrer said the organization is using the tagline “Stand in the Gap” to encourage pastors to “stand strong on this fundamental issue upon which families are built. Marriage is between one man and one woman as Pennsylvania’s Defense of Marriage Act states. We need committed pastors who are not afraid to speak this truth to their congregants and who will help us to fight the homosexual agenda to normalize same-sex marriage.”
Equality Pennsylvania executive director Ted Martin decried the new initiative.
“I think it’s disturbing that pastors are out looking to deal with issues like this when really they could, and should, be out looking to help people,” Martin said.