Phyllis Schaumann joins several rally participants in holding up anti-gay marriage signs along 12th Avenue Southwest in Austin Sunday. A rally held by Minnesotans for Marriage drew more than 50 people to the Faith Evangelical Free Church parking lot in Austin. --Trey Mewes/Albert Lea Tribune
Phyllis Schaumann joins several rally participants in holding up anti-gay marriage signs along 12th Avenue Southwest in Austin Sunday. A rally held by Minnesotans for Marriage drew more than 50 people to the Faith Evangelical Free Church parking lot in Austin. -- Trey Mewes/Albert Lea Tribune

Archived Story

Austin rally protests same-sex marriage

Published 10:40am Monday, April 22, 2013

AUSTIN — More than 50 people came out Sunday to an anti-gay marriage rally at the Faith Evangelical Free Church parking lot in Austin, seeking to muster support to defeat a gay marriage bill in the state Legislature.

Organizers from Minnesotans for Marriage handed out signs, gave speeches and asked residents to tell their local legislators marriage is a public institution created to protect children.

“We are not against anyone’s rights,” Crystal Crocker, grassroots development and messaging director for Minnesota for Marriage, told the crowd gathered. “(Lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender people) have all the rights to live as they choose. But they do not have the right to redefine marriage.”

Rally organizers argued the bill wasn’t in the best interest of children and that children required a mother and father. Crocker told the crowd the organization didn’t pick this battle but Minnesotans for Marriage and its supporters would stand up to protect families and children.

Though there were a few members of the crowd who said they disagreed with Minnesotans for Marriage, the majority of people gathered agreed with rally organizers.

“God made us to be together,” said Phyllis Schaumann, one of the residents at the rally. “Not man to man or woman to woman.”

About a half-dozen people formed a counter-protest to the event, shouting counterpoints to rally speeches and holding up marriage equality signs for drivers along 12th Avenue Southwest. Amy Brown, who was there with her partner Angie Vietor and 6-year-old son Ethan Ross, said she wanted to be able to protect the rights of her son and others for years to come by counter-protesting the rally.

“We want to support our rights,” Brown said. “We want our rights. I want my son to have rights if he so chooses.”

Jennifer Roback Morse, founder and president of the Ruth Institute, a marriage advocacy group promoting life-long married love to young adults, told the crowd about the virtues of marriage and how it was designed to create children. Roback Morse said gay marriage would ultimately undermine the institution of marriage even further by not having a mother and a father to create children and rear them properly. If marriage as an institution between a man and woman were protected, Roback Morse argued, many social problems would be eliminated.

“We want to protect kids’ rights ahead of time,” she told the crowd.

Organizers encouraged residents to speak to Rep. Jeanne Poppe and Sen. Dan Sparks, both DFL-Austin, to tell them to oppose the gay marriage bill.

Minnesota for Marriage visited Austin as part of a statewide tour to gather opposition for the bill. A March 2013 Star Tribune poll found 53 percent of Minnesotans oppose gay marriage, with 73 percent of greater Minnesotans in opposition of the bill. Those results are a shift from previous polls which showed Minnesotans deadlocked on the issue, even as public support for gay marriage is continue to build across the U.S. according to national polls.

The Austin stop was one of the last greater Minnesota visits for Minnesotans for Marriage, and organizers say the group may have further activities planned should the bill come before the state House of Representatives or Senate floors. The bill cleared House and Senate committees last month and could be up for vote at any time.