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Conservatives Rally Against Gay Marriage

Religious and political figures, saying their freedom to express their faith is being threatened, hold the event in an effort to energize voters.

October 16, 2006|From the Associated Press

BOSTON — Conservative religious and political leaders rallied Sunday in opposition of same-sex marriage, arguing that their rights to religious expression were being threatened.

The event, broadcast to churches nationally, is part of a larger effort to energize conservative voters before the Nov. 7 congressional election.

Gov. Mitt Romney, a likely Republican candidate for president in 2008, joined several members of the Massachusetts clergy and an estimated 1,000 supporters later Sunday at the Tremont Temple Baptist Church to denounce same-sex marriage.

The Washington-based Family Research Council chose Boston for the site of its annual Liberty Sunday because Massachusetts is the only state that has legalized same-sex marriage.

"When we look at what has happened with same-sex marriage, as it began in this state and threatens to spread across the country, we've seen in its wake the loss of religious freedoms and the ability to speak out based upon one's moral convictions," said Tony Perkins, the organization's president.

Eight states will vote in November on amendments banning same-sex marriage, following 20 states that previously approved bans.

Prompted by a ruling from its highest court, Massachusetts legalized same-sex marriage in 2004. Massachusetts lawmakers are expected to consider a proposed constitutional same-sex marriage ban Nov. 9.

David Parker, a speaker at the Boston event, was arrested last year after he refused to leave the grounds of his 6-year-old son's school in Lexington, Mass., after officials said they would not remove the boy from discussions about homosexuality.

"When religious liberty is compromised, all liberty is compromised," Parker said at a news conference before the rally.

But the issue is less about liberty and more about political posturing, according to the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

Lynn said he was not worried that the Sunday night program would change the minds of voters. In a way, he said, they're preaching to the choir.

"But it's the choir that has become the majority in these elections.... [The Family Research Council] has escalated their rhetoric and are trying to use this as a fire under their supporters," making sure they cast their ballots in November.

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