Group rallies for equal marriage, workplace rights
HUNTINGTON — A pastor from Hurricane and a Catholic priest from Mingo County engaged in a heated debate about what the Bible says and what it should be interpreted as in relation to gay marriage.
The exchange took place in front of the Cabell County Courthouse on Thursday morning during a planned rally by a grassroots lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) group that is calling on local and state lawmakers to provide equal rights in the workplace and for marriage.
Otherwise, the event was peaceful, with more than two dozen supporters hoping to encourage legal and cultural changes.
"We want to bring awareness to the fact that there are gay people in West Virginia and they deserve equal rights," said William Glavaris, who organized the event with his fiance, Justin Murdock.
Glavaris said the ultimate goal is for gay marriage to be legal in the state, but that's not what he wants lawmakers to focus on this legislative session. The first step he'd like to see them take is to amend the discrimination code that allows for workers to be fired based on their sexual preference.
"We want to do this in steps," he said.
And it also must be a legislative bill because Glavaris said he knows any equal rights for gays would be defeated in a voter referendum.
"I don't think it should be on the ballot because a majority should never have a vote for the minority," he said.
Among their supporters were Father Lark Muncy from the United Old Catholic Church in Kermit, W.Va., who had the exchange with Pastor Ernie Spence from Mount Olive Independent Fundamental Baptist Church in Hurricane.
Also at the protest in favor of gay rights was Pastor Kay Albright from Bridges of Grace United Church of Christ in Charleston. She said people too often use the Bible as a weapon for hate instead of grace.
"We can't choose who God will love or allows into heaven," Albright said. "God made everything good."
Another pastor who was there in opposition approached members of the group to tell them he loved them and that he wasn't there to discriminate.
"We don't hate you. We love you," said Pastor Doug Bragg from Evergreen Hills Baptist Church in Culloden. "We just want to preach the gospel."