Nearly 50 people turned out Monday evening for an equality rally and to send a message to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“It is all about whether the Supreme Court gives us the rights – the right to marry and the federal right to achieve who we are,” said Bruce McKinney, who helped organize the Light the Way to Justice-Kansas rally Monday on the steps of the federal courthouse in downtown Wichita. “You are part of a bigger movement. … You are the best people in Wichita. You are all my friends.”
More than 170 similar events took place across the nation Monday night in advance of hearings this week at the Supreme Court dealing with gay marriage.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments on the constitutionality of Proposition 8, California’s ban on same-sex marriages. On Wednesday, it will consider the Defense of Marriage Act and whether Congress has the right to withhold federal recognition of legally married same-sex couples.
McKinney said the Supreme Court’s decision probably won’t be revealed until sometime during the first weeks of June. In the meantime, it is important for people to voice their solidarity, said the Rev. Leigh Carlson Burgess, an ordained Disciples of Christ minister who is now working as a hospice chaplain.
“I am a 100 percent supporter of marriage,” Carlson Burgess said. “I believe it should be open to all people and not just heterosexual people.
“I’m here to bring awareness that the clergy you hear and see in the news doesn’t speak for all people and that some clergy are supportive of gay rights. It is a civil-rights issue.”
As rainbow flags and American flags were unfurled Monday night, Wichitan Bob Hull said he hoped rallies such as the one in Wichita sent a message to Washington.
“I hope they can see the way the American people are moving toward and change their vote,” Hull said.