[uds-billboard name=”March for Marriage”]

Photos by Benjamin Myers Photography

“Kids deserve a mom and a dad.” That was the overarching message as thousands gathered this morning on the National Mall to honor the institution of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

“We stand for millions of Americans who want the freedom to continue telling the truth about marriage as it has existed for millennia,” Jennifer A. Marshall, Heritage’s director of domestic policy studies, told those attending this March for Marriage.

The crowd marched from the Mall to the Supreme Court, where justices heard oral arguments today in the case challenging Proposition 8, California’s voter-approved amendment to the state constitution affirming marriage as between one man and one woman. Tomorrow, the justices hear a challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

>>> Watch the March for Marriage speakers on C-SPAN

Marshall, taking the stage in the early afternoon, welcomed Americans from all over the nation who gathered for the march, sponsored by the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and allied groups. She was among more than two dozen speakers who addressed marchers about what marriage is, why it matters, and the consequences of redefining it.

Marshall called attention to the question raised by 11-year-old Grace Evans, testifying earlier this month before Minnesota lawmakers considering a redefinition of marriage, who asked, “Which parent do I not need, my mom, or my dad?” No one answered.

Marshall said:

Those who want to redefine marriage cannot answer. But we know the answer to Grace’s question. We’ve known the answer to Grace’s question since the founding of this country…since the beginning of human history, in fact. The issue before the Supreme Court this week is whether we will have the freedom to continue answering Grace’s question. Will we have the freedom to make marriage policy that tells the truth about children needing a mother and a father?

Just blocks away, a sign-waving throng gathered outside and across the street from the Supreme Court building, exercising Americans’ constitutional right to engage in the nation’s debate about marriage. The Supreme Court, a succession of speakers at the March for Marriage emphasized, should allow that debate to continue, rather than cut it short.

Watch Heritage’s Ryan T. Anderson on the consequences of redefining marriage: