Holding signs saying “legalize love,” “with liberty and justice for all,” and “stop scriptural violence," same-sex marriage supporters attended the Gathering of Equality on Monday on the corner of Calhoun and Main streets in response to Shepherds United's rally for traditional marriage in Courthouse Green.
With a permit for a silent demonstration on the sidewalk, supporters were donned with colorful signs, clothing, decorations, flags and more.
Thaddeus Gerardot, organizer of Fort Wayne Equality and a marriage-equality supporter, waved a rainbow pride flag.
Gerardot, a Fort Wayne native, attended Catholic school in Fort Wayne his whole student life. At the age of 20, Gerardot said, “he came out.”
Now, years later, Gerardot has been increasingly passionate about the discussion on equal rights - nationally and statewide.
“An amendment to Indiana's constitution should never be put in place to single out a certain group of people,” he said.
“Really, we need to talk about this as a society and as a state. Should we protect these people? We are real people. Several states have had this discussion. Why are we going the opposite way than other states? We really need to look at that. It's the national conversation and a state conversation,” he said.
It's not surprising that protection of rights was a top priority for supporters at the rally, but no matter the level of passion and first-hand experience, many people stopped out just to make a difference.
Deacon Lee Norris of the Orthodox-Catholic Church of America and Archbishop Peter Robert Zahrt of the Orthodox-Catholic Church of America said they came out to support marriage equality because they believe that Jesus was very welcoming and understanding.
“Jesus attempted to make it clear that Jesus' kingdom is for everyone,” Zahrt said. “It doesn't do any good to squelch people's freedom of speech, but I would hope that people can listen more.”
Both Norris and Zahrt believe this is not an issue of religion, but of civil rights.
“No matter what your beliefs are, this is a civil rights issue. No matter how you minimalize a group of people, you minimalize everyone. As s church, we are to love everyone, but as a nation, we are to be an accepting and affirming nation also, and I don't see this happening here,” said Norris.