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San Diegans who support marriage equality to rally today at Federal Courthouse

SAN DIEGO – Supporters of marriage equality will rally later today outside the Federal Courthouse in downtown San Diego, the day before the U.S. Supreme Court conducts the oral hearing in the appeals case involving California’s Proposition 8.

Federal Judge Vaughn Walker ruled on Aug. 4, 2010 that Prop 8 was unconstitutional, and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Feb. 7, 2012 upheld that decision. Anti-gay activists behind Prop 8, which took away the rights of gay and lesbian couples to marry in California, then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The "Light The Way To Justice" rally, part of a nationwide effort by the United for Marriage coalition, is scheduled to begin at 6 pm Monday, March 25 on the steps of the Federal Courthouse at West Broadway and Union Street.

Moderator is Sean Sala, locally known LGBT activist and a Navy veteran who also speaks out as a survivor of “ex-gay therapy.”

“Now more than ever, it’s important for people who support the freedom to marry to come together and show their support, we’ll be coming out to raise our voices and send a clear signal that the nation is ready for marriage equality – the time is now,” Sala said in a news release.

Speakers included Dr. Lori Hensic, director of educational affairs at American Military Partner Association, and pastor Rich McCullen of Missiongathering Church in North Park.

Hensic will speak about the damage done by the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Here is her biography, provided by Sala:

"Lori Hensic is an Assistant Professor and teaches Health Policy for UC San Diego’s medical programs. She is also the Regulatory Pharmacist for Ambulatory Care services at UC San Diego Health System. Lori has a Doctorate of Pharmacy (PharmD) with an emphasis in Health Policy & Management from UC San Francisco, and holds specialty clinical training in both Ambulatory and HIV/AIDS Clinical Care. Her partner, Shaina, is an active duty U.S. Marine Corps helicopter pilot and squadron department head. Lori is dedicated to critical educational efforts aimed at strengthening LGBT military families’ representation and engagement in political and legislative activity. Her educational outreach campaigns and collaborations with other national advocacy organizations help inform LGBT military families, the public, and the electorate about disparities in LGBT families’ access to military services and benefits –as well as how to assist with means to change them."

Pastor McCullen will speak about the civil rights violations of Prop 8. Here is his biography, provided by Sala:

"Pastor Richard McCullen of Mission Gathering Christian Church; Founder and lead Pastor of Mission Gathering Church. He has been called a visionary, innovative and progressive Evangelical leader. He started Mission Gathering with several young adults, who were sick and tired of religion, yet at the same time, they did not want to give up the life and message of Christ. Rich is a storyteller of God's grace and his prophetic, progressive voice challenges the status quo of institutional Christianity. Rich is a resident of North Park in greater San Diego."

For more details, email [email protected] or visit this Facebook page for more information or to RSVP to the rally.

To date, almost 750 have indicated that they plan to attend the rally, and another 319 people said they may join the event.

Nationwide, marriage equality rallies and vigils began over the weekend and others are scheduled today, tomorrow and Wednesday, when the Supreme Court has its oral hearing on the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

The United for Marriage coalition has organized other rallies in cities across the country. To find a local action near you, click HERE.

Also, the coalition is urging marriage supporters to wear red clothing on Tuesday and Wednesday as a sign of solidarity.

The main rally is Tuesday outside the Supreme Court

United for Marriage has planned a large rally at 8:30 am EST on Tuesday, March 26, in the Supreme Court Plaza.

Speakers at the rally in Supreme Court Plaza include:

* Brendon Ayanbadejo, Super Bowl champion and Baltimore Ravens linebacker

* Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton

* The Very Rev. Gary Hall, Dean of Washington National Cathedral

* Margaret Hoover, GOP strategist and political commentator

* David Frum, GOP strategist and former speechwriter for President George W. Bush; political commentator

* Allyson Robinson, executive director, OutServe-SLDN

* Craig Stowell and his wife, Berta, former Marine and conservative Republican

* Andy McNeil and Todd Bludworth, fathers to twin boy and girl

* Brent Wilkes, national executive director, League of United Latin American Citizens

* The Rev. Al Sharpton, civil rights activist and host of MSNBC’s "PoliticsNation"

* Lt. Col. Linda Campbell, who was granted the first same-sex spousal burial in a U.S. national cemetery for her partner

* Wade Henderson, president, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

* Bishop Gene Robinson and his daughter, Ella Robinson

* Janet Murguía, president, National Council of La Raza

* LZ Granderson, CNN and ESPN commentator

* Phoenix couple Nelda Majors and Karen Bailey, who have been together more than 50 years

Then on Wednesday, March 27, the day the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on DOMA, the United for Marriage rally will gather at 8:30 am at the Supreme Court Plaza.

Ken Williams is Editor in Chief of SDGLN. He can be reached at [email protected], @KenSanDiego on Twitter, or by calling toll-free to 888-442-9639, ext. 713.