Religious leaders rally at Capitol for marriage equality

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Religious leaders and clergy from around the state rallied Tuesday at the Capitol for marriage equality and supporting LGBT rights.

“We demand equality!” was the message they hoped to send to lawmakers.

“No one here is asking for special rights and privileges,” said Rev. Eric Folkerth with Northaven United Methodist Church in Dallas. “We’re simply asking that the rights of LGBT persons not be diminished because of who they are or who they love.”

Following the rally outside, the group also went inside to talk to state leaders.

“It’s not my favorite thing to go to different politicians and talk to them, but I thinks it’s really important for our leaders to know that people care that everybody be treated fairly,” said Rev. Jim Rigby with St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Austin.

The people rallying think some proposed legislation is discriminatory.

For example, a bill in the House that would keep taxpayer money from supporting same-sex marriage. The bill from Rep. Cecil Bell (R-Magnolia) would prohibit using public money to license same-sex marriages and ban government employees from recognizing or granting a same-sex marriage license.

“It is intended to make sure that we stand up for our traditional values as Texans,” said Bell.

The state representative says he is also concerned about states’ rights being challenged.

“Unfortunately, what we find ourselves in is a situation where over-reaching federal courts are being used to essentially usurp the value system of states,” he said.

But defining values all depends on who you ask.

“To me this is a matter of just realizing we’re all God’s children,” said Rigby. “It’s equal protection before the law.”

This rally comes as the US Supreme Court gets ready to make a decision on same-sex marriage.

The high court agreed in January to look at whether same-sex couples should be allowed to marry no matter where they live. They will also examine whether states are free to limit marriages to the traditional definition between a man and a woman.

The Supreme Court will hear the arguments in April and then make a decision by the end of June.

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