San Francisco churches rally to defend traditional marriage

by Kelli Cottrell, posted Friday, May 21, 2004 (15 years ago)

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (BP)--Spanning a six-mile stretch, from the Golden Gate Bridge to Larson Park, more than 7,000 Christians in San Francisco rallied to show their support for the traditional definition of marriage.

"It was the largest rally of its kind," said Bible Baptist Church pastor Raymond Kwong, who organized the April 25 event. "God really pulled it off. The Lord is doing wonderful things here."

Newly elected San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom authorized same-sex “marriages” Feb. 12 but was stopped by the California Supreme Court March 11 after issuing thousands of licenses. Massachusetts became the first state with legalized same-sex “marriage” May 17.

After San Francisco's action, Kwong rallied together 180 churches representing various denominations and races with the purpose of "sending a message to America that even in San Francisco, there are thousands of us, representing tens of thousands in the Bay Area who still believe strongly in one man and one woman marriage.”

The rally was sponsored by the newly formed San Francisco Bay Area Christians for Traditional Marriage along with Bay Area Chinese Ministerial Prayer Fellowship and the Great Commission Center International.

"Thanks to Mayor Newsom, the churches in the entire Bay Area have been awakened finally and we are coming out today to defend that which is sacred to us.... We have been retreating too long."

In addressing the rally, Kwong said, "We want to send a message, loud and clear, down the corridors of our city halls to the state capitol, that thousands of Christians shall stand, literally, along the sidewalk for the only marriage that God recognizes.”

He encouraged churches to "crank up their voter registration drive and vote for politicians who will stand for traditional marriage."

After the rally, Kwong's church sent out one thousand DVDs of the gathering to churches across America in hopes of duplicating it.

"We have plans for a march in Los Angeles and New York," said Kwong, who added that he felt led to have the rallies to include a majority of the Asian-American population.

Kwong was one of 33 pastors who met with Newsom days prior to the rally to voice their concerns.

"We wanted the mayor to know there is a group of people who are willing to go public about their belief in biblical marriage," said Phil Busbee, pastor of First Baptist Church in San Francisco and a member of the San Francisco Bay Area Christians for Traditional Marriage. "We don't want to be harmful or hurt anyone. But we want it to be clear that we uphold the sanctity of one man and one woman in marriage.

"It would be easy [for Christians] to feel besieged and develop a fortress mentality but we want to counteract that. We have a ministry to homosexuals in our church. We want to share the grace and truth of the Bible."

Intolerance toward Christianity is felt throughout the city, said Karl Ortis, director of missions for the San Francisco Peninsula Baptist Association.

"There is no concept of right or wrong except for the extremes, like murder," said Ortis, who has served the 75-member association for 15 years. "No cultural value is placed on anything holy or good. Many of the Christians here falter because it is so oppressive."

Busbee and other pastors felt a need to keep the mayor accountable for his actions.

"In his inaugural address, the mayor asked for accountability and prayer," said Busbee, who added that several homosexuals attend his church. "We wanted him to know we've been praying that God will give him wisdom and guidance. We told him [at the meeting] our views on biblical marriage and what the Bible says about it.”

Each year, Busbee's church holds a prayer walk event the week prior to the Gay Pride Parade that passes in front of his church building on 19th Street in downtown San Francisco.

"We've had 225 prayer walkers and we'd like to see that quadruple," said Busbee, who has been pastor of First Baptist Church for five years. "We've done non-confrontational street evangelism, picked up trash, [given] out water bottles and have seen people come to Christ through it.

"We hope to expand our presence in the homosexual community."

(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at Photo title: MARRIAGE DEFENDERS IN SF.

For more information about the national debate over same-sex "marriage," visit

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