As a choir sang the last notes of John Lennon's "Imagine," Sharon Holley stood in the sunshine with her life partner, Jena Rosen, and their 3-year-old son. "We're people, we're parents, we believe in God," said Holley, 34, of Olympia, Wash. "It's not a sin to have the family we have."
Expressions of religious faith and support for gay issues don't always go hand in hand. On Monday about 700 people attended a religion-themed rally in Olympia for gay rights to show that the two concepts aren't mutually exclusive. "We have allowed the far-right fundamentalists to distort the truth," Pastor Stephen D. Jones of Seattle First Baptist Church told the crowd. "God loves each and every one of you, all of us, and reaches out to us with acceptance and love. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise."
On one side of the rallygoers stood the legislative building, where the state senate is considering a bill to ban discrimination against gays and lesbians in housing, jobs, and insurance. On the other side was the state supreme court, where arguments are scheduled for March 8 in a landmark same-sex marriage case. Holley married Rosen in a Jewish ceremony six years ago and said she'd love to celebrate their anniversary this March by renewing their vows in a civil ceremony in Washington State.
Dozens of leaders from different faiths--Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Unitarian--attended the rally, wearing brightly colored robes and prayer shawls. They were joined by hundreds of other people, some carrying rainbow banners or signs such as "Marriage is love" and "Family values for all." "We're here to talk about love," said the Reverend Monica Corsaro, campus minister at the University of Washington, as she kicked off the rally. "Not the mushy kind.... This is the kind of love that stands in front of a tank in Tiananmen Square. This is the kind of love that says, 'I will not sit in the back of the bus.' "
This year the gay civil rights bill has the best chance of passing it's had since it was first introduced 29 years ago, said state representative Ed Murray (D-Seattle). A bipartisan majority in the house passed it last Friday, and it's now being considered by the senate. Murray called on the crowd to support lawmakers who vote for equal rights for gays and lesbians, "regardless of party."
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