Anti-gay activists held a rally to ‘defend marriage’ but barely anyone showed up

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The struggling National Organisation for Marriage drew a crowd of fewer than 50 people to a homophobic rally in DC over the weekend.

On Saturday the group, which was formerly the largest and most influential anti-gay marriage pressure group in the US, held its annual ‘March for Marriage’ in Washington DC.

Attendance at NOM’s rallies has been dwindling for some time, and in recent years organisers have resorted to bussing in protesters from affiliated churches.

Anti-gay activists held a rally to ‘defend marriage’ but barely anyone showed up

This year’s event was the most lacklustre to date, with fewer than 50 people showing up to the group’s big rally, despite extensive promotion online and to NOM supporters.

A Facebook invitation for the event attracted an impressive zero confirmed attendees.

The group sent dozens of mailouts to supporters encouraging them to attend and spared no expense constructing a large platform for the event – but the eventual crowd would have been outnumbered by a visiting school group.

The protesters nonetheless marched from the Capitol to the Supreme Court, chanting anti-gay marriage slogans.

Right Wing Watch sent an observer, who recalled: “Fifteen minutes before the event was scheduled to begin, about 20 adults were milling around an empty stage while several children worked to unfurl large red and blue banners to carry during the march.

“One passerby wondered whether they were going to a kite festival.

“Gradually, a few more participants arrived, including five men wearing the signature capes of the group Tradition, Family and Property and carrying a ‘Honk for Traditional Marriage’ sign.”

According to Right Wing Watch, NOM leader Brian Brown told the crowd not to be put off by their small numbers – “comparing their cause to that of abolitionists in the 18th century”.

The Supreme Court made same-sex marriage legal across all 50 states in 2014.

Since the ruling, mainstream Republicans have refocused the battle against LGBT equality to areas with more chance of undermining equality, such as on discrimination protections and transgender rights.

But NOM continues to focus on building the case for a new ban on same-sex marriage.

The group also claims it is working on legal documents to build a new challenge to the Supreme Court ruling.

Ahead of the event, Mr Brown said: “Someone asked me the other day why we are going to the time and trouble to expend substantial financial and human resources on the upcoming 2017 March for Marriage.

“It’s a good question, and I have a simple answer: Because we must.

“We must continue the fight to restore marriage in our nation’s laws. We must provide legal protections for all those who believe in the truth of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

“We must prevent politicians and the courts from redefining gender in the law. And we must demand that our constitutionally-guaranteed religious liberty right be protected and enforced.

“The March for Marriage is a tremendously important opportunity for us, and we need your support to make it a success.”

In previous years, Mr Brown claimed people didn’t turn up to the rally because they were at home ‘grieving’ for marriage.