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Gay marriage counter-rally planned

Simultaneous event scheduled to be near Shepherds United’s

Local supporters of same-sex marriage plan a counter-demonstration at the same time and next to a July 1 rally by opponents in downtown Fort Wayne.

The Rally for Equality expects about 150 people to attend its gathering, based on responses to its newly developed Facebook presence, according to Lindsay Sprunger of Fort Wayne, an event coordinator.

She said the event is planned to take place across the street from the Allen County Courthouse lawn, where members of Shepherds United, a coalition of about 140 area clergy and religious leaders, plan to gather at noon.

“Our overall message is … to support our LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) brothers and sisters in Fort Wayne,” Sprunger said Tuesday.

“It’s nothing nasty, nothing negative – just (we have) a difference of opinion and want to show support for that community and for equality with regard to marriage.”

Sprunger said the counter-demonstrators are uncertain of the location of their event because a permit has not been acquired. Talks with city officials are underway, and an answer could come by the end of this week, she said.

Sprunger said the group planned a peaceful event that would not interfere with the clergy gathering.

No speakers are planned, but participants might carry signs, Sprunger said.

“We’re going to respect their right to protest,” Sprunger said of the ministers and their supporters.

“From the beginning, our emphasis has been on setting a positive example for our point of view,” she added.

The two rallies come as the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on the constitutionality of federal and California statutes defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

The ruling will have an impact on Indiana because the state put off a similar ballot measure pending the court’s decisions.

Shepherds United’s rally will include speakers on the biblical, societal and religious liberty implications of redefining marriage in reaction to the high court’s decision leaders said.

Sprunger said people are being urged to use their lunch break to attend the counter-demonstration.

The event’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/events/166012596911953 urges people that “if these clergymen don’t speak for you, here’s your chance to let them know they don’t represent you.”

Although some clergy support same-sex marriage, Sprunger said she had not heard from anyone representing the religious community interested in attending the counter-demonstration.

“I’m sure there will be religious people there, but no organization has made itself known to us,” she said.

Information about Shepherds United is at www.shepherdsunited.org.

rsalter@jg.net

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