Originally published on Advocate.com August 26 2004 12:00 AM ET
A "Pro-Marriage Rally" in Tulsa, Okla., drew about 4,000 people, including the city's mayor and a state legislator. Mayor Bill LaFortune and state senator James Williamson were among those speaking at the event Tuesday at the Union High School Performing Arts Center. "If you believe in Christ, if you believe in this country, and if you believe in this city, you believe that marriage is a covenant between God, a man, and a woman," LaFortune said.
Minister Gary Chapman, the keynote speaker, focused on strengthening marriages. "We've got to do a better job in our churches of helping people have better marriages," said Chapman, the senior associate pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, N.C., and author of The Five Love Languages series of books.
Some speakers said marriage is a religious bond that can be entered into only by heterosexuals. Others discussed homosexuality and their opposition to gay marriages. Williamson referred to State Question 711, which would amend the state constitution to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The question will be on the November 2 ballot.
Mark Bonney, president of Tulsa Oklahomans for Human Rights, a local gay rights group, attended the rally. He said he was disappointed that its focus wasn't on strengthening marriages of all types.
"I wish that rather than being two-thirds hatred and one-third love discussion, that it was all about what Chapman had to say," Bonney said. "Working on positive marriages is...helpful to people."