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Hundreds Rally for Same Sex Marriage as Kentucky Cases Move Forward

"I confess. I love two men. I love Jesus and I love Jim."

Pastor David Meredith stood before a crowd of hundreds on Tuesday evening and acknowledged his 27-year same-sex relationship. The Clifton United Methodist Church minister was one of many religious figures to appear at the Rally For Marriage Equality in Cincinnati's Lytle Park. Roughly 700 people filled the grounds, not far from where oral arguments on multiple same-sex marriage cases from Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan, and Tennessee will be heard in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday.

"Jesus stands with you today. Jesus came to love," Meredith said. "Therefore, I get to proclaim to you that God loves you and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it."

Cincinnati City Councilman Chris Seelbach acknowledged the progress made in the Queen City since it was labeled as the most anti-gay city in the country a decade ago. Voters repealed a charter amendment preventing protections for gay citizens and the city has since offered domestic partner benefits to employees, created a domestic partner registry, and passed a human rights ordinance. 

Cincinnati is now one of the most accepting cities in just ten years, Seelbach said. "Freedom in this country has to mean freedom for everyone, including the gay couples who will speak tonight," he said.

Former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland and openly gay Ohio State Rep. Nickie Antonio also spoke Tuesday night.

The plaintiffs in the cases include four couples from Kentucky where a federal judge ruled that the Commonwealth must recognize same-sex marriages legally performed elsewhere and where the same judge later ruled that the state's constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. Both rulings are on hold pending the Appeals Court ruling.

Governor Steve Beshear was forced to hire private counsel to defend Kentucky's marriage laws after Attorney General Jack Conway refused to proceed.

Greg Bourke and Michael DeLeon have been together for thirty-two years and have raised two children in Louisville. They were legally wed in Ontario, Canada. Bourke said that the couple has paid Kentucky taxes, elected Kentucky politicians, sent their kids to Kentucky schools. "We are Kentucky," Bourke said, "and after thirty-two years we have earned the respect of our marriage that Kentucky refuses us."

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Greg Bourke and his family take the stage/RCN

"Our marriage and our family deserve Kentucky's respect."

One Kentucky case has the headline-worthy name of Love v. Beshear in which one of the plaintiff's name is Timothy Love who has been with his partner Lawrence Ysunza for more than three decades. "In the marriage case of Love v. Beshear, love wins!," Love told the crowd. "Our case in Kentucky was meant to be because our name is Love and it was filed on Valentine's Day."

The couple met in 1980. "In 1980, marriage was a dream we never thought would come true," Love said. "Never, ever give up on your dreams."

Story & photos by Michael Monks, editor & publisher of The River City News

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