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Gay Rights Advocates Rally at Missouri Capitol

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A participant holds a rainbow flag during the gay and lesbian pride parade. (Photo by AFP/Getty/PEDRO ARMESTRE)

A participant holds a rainbow flag during the gay and lesbian pride parade. (Photo by AFP/Getty/PEDRO ARMESTRE)

Election Returns

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (MDN) — On the same day the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on gay marriage, nearly 100 gay rights supporters rallied in the rotunda of Missouri’s Capitol.

About a dozen legislators addressed the rally, including the legislature’s two openly gay members.

“This is my favorite day of the year. This is the day of the year when everyone comes to my office and says, ‘hey, isn’t this the day when your big gay army shows up in Jefferson City?’,” said Sen. Jolie Justus, D-Kansas City and the Senate’s Democratic leader.

Rather than gay marriage rights, many of the lawmakers address the group stressed pushing for laws banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and to toughen laws on school bullying.

Rep. Kevin Engler, D-Farmington, directly urged the group to avoid lobbying on gay marriage.

“Some of us are not in tune with you on the marriage issue,” said Engler who had sponsored a gay-marriage ban measure in 2004. “But all of them, in particular the ones who profess to be right-wing Christian fundamentalists, should be with you on non-discrimination.”

In the same year Engler had sponsored his measure to deny recognition of gay marriages, Missouri voters approved a similar state constitutional gay-marriage ban by an overwhelming margin.

One of the rally’s organizers suggested the large number of lawmakers seeking to speak to the group suggested that attitudes about sexual orientation were changing.

“We used to have to go and ask and beg them to come down and they would stand on the side and say hello. And now we can’t stop them from coming and wanting to speak,” said Claire Cook, the Kansas City and Mid-Missouri field organizer for

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