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EDMONTON: Rally against gay marriage draws 2,500

Rally against gay marriage draws 2,500
Multi-faith crowd of all ages cheers controversial Calgary bishop

by Karen Kleiss
The Edmonton Journal

EDMONTON (May 2, 2005)--More than 2,500 people gathered to rally against gay marriage at Mill Woods Park on Sunday, waving placards as a host of multi-faith speakers took to the stage.

Organized by the Edmonton-based Committee for the Support of Traditional Marriage, the rally mirrored a national movement to unite religious groups opposed to same-sex marriage. Muslim, Hindu and Christian leaders urged the crowd to stand up for heterosexual unions.

"The time has come for the government of Canada to use its coercive power to legislate that a couple being married must be a man and a woman," Calgary Bishop Frederick Henry told the jubilant crowd in a repeat of the controversial call-to-arms that has landed him in front of the Alberta Human Rights Commission.

"This is not a fascist statement ... this is not anti-homosexual, but it is the Christian teaching on the primordial status of marriage and family life."

One of Alberta's most vociferous critics of gay marriage, Henry is currently defending himself against two Calgary human rights complaints related to a January letter in which he equates homosexuality with adultery and prostitution and calls on the state "to proscribe or curtail them in the interests of the common good."

"An evil act remains an evil act whether it is committed in public or in private."

One gay-rights activist has called the letter "hateful and harmful," and one complainant said he is concerned that Henry is calling on the government to persecute gays and lesbians.

But the gathering at Mill Woods Park on Sunday hollered its uncompromised support for Henry and for all the other speakers who cast the issue in equally strong terms.

From fresh-faced Mennonite girls to leather-clad members of the Soldiers for Jesus motorcycle club, Sikhs, Jews, youths and grandmothers, the crowd pledged to fight same-sex marriage Bill C-38.

"Folks, we are at war for the soul of this nation," organizer David Fletcher said to wild applause.

"Thank you Paul Martin ... you have managed to awaken a nation, a nation that is now filled with righteous anger.

"It is up to us to send a message."

The crowd, which peacefully tolerated a handful of pro-gay marriage demonstrators, waved signs that said "God's Plan For Mankind: The Family" and "God Defined Marriage."

Irma Berger, a 66-year-old grandmother of four, held a placard saying "It's All About Kids."

"God loves (the homosexuals), and we do too -- it is their sin that we hate," she said.

Sikh Tarvinder Kullar, 57, came to voice his opposition to Bill C-38.

"We are getting worse than animals," he said, shaking his head. "Our politicians should listen to the voice of their country -- male and female together is what we call the family."

Sandra Gordon came with her husband and two kids. "I just feel it is important to preserve marriage between a woman and a man," she said. "That is the way God made it."

The rally comes just two weeks after federal Government House leader Tony Valeri said his government hopes to get Bill C-38 through the committee stage and into final passage by June 23.

END

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