Gay Pride Fest Takes Place in Lynchburg, Virgina, October 11, 2003 National Coming Out Day

Civil Marriage Equality Forum to be Held to Counter Misinformation by Rev. Jerry Falwell

Soulforce Press Release: September 8, 2003
For Immediate Release
Contact: Laura Montgomery Rutt
Cell 717-278-0592

(Lynchburg, VA) – Hundreds of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and allied Soulforce supporters and friends from across the nation will gather in Lynchburg, VA, October 9-12, 2003, home of far right televangelist Jerry Falwell for trainings, celebrations, a civil marriage forum, and a vigil in front of his church.

The civil marriage equality forum takes place at 9am, Saturday October 11 at First Christian Church, 3109 Rivermont Avenue in Lynchburg. Panelists include representatives from several national organizations, including, Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, People for the American Way, and the Interfaith Working Group.

The Pride Festival, “Coming OUT & ABOUT in Lynchburg,” begins at 1pm at Riverside Park on Rivermont Ave., 1.1 miles from First Christian Church. The festival will kick off with female impersonator Raven, singing “I’m Coming Out” by Diana Ross. A march from First Christian Church to the park takes place at 12:30pm.

“We are gathering in Lynchburg to show to Falwell and the rest of the nation that our families are families too,” said Karen Weldin, Director of Operations for Soulforce. “Our families deserve the same protections, rights, and basic responsibilities under the law as heterosexuals. Unfortunately, the United States is behind many countries when it comes to equality and freedom for all its citizens.”

Currently, married couples in the United States receive over 1000 government benefits associated with marriage. Several countries, including Canada, Argentina, the Netherlands, and Belgium sanction marriage regardless of gender and it is still unclear if those marriages will be recognized in the United States. Rev. Jerry Falwell, a conservative religious leader who preaches against homosexuality, recently started a campaign to support officially sanction government discrimination against gay and lesbian couples through the federal anti-gay “Marriage Amendment.”

Soulforce is a national interfaith movement committed to ending spiritual violence committed by religious policies and teachings against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. There are currently 22 licensed local Soulforce groups all across the United States working to end violence and discrimination.

Plans for the weekend also include grassroots trainings for local groups and local group start-ups, a nonviolence training on Friday night, and a vigil outside Falwell’s Thomas Road Baptist Church on Sunday, October 12. The vigil includes a blessing of same sex couples and families, and pictures of families who are hurt by discrimination against them. Rev. White, cofounder of Soulforce, and other Soulforce supporters from Lynchburg attend services at Falwell’s church frequently so he can also see the gays and lesbians he is condemning from the pulpit on a regular basis.

Participating organizations include Soulforce, Inc., People For the American Way, Interfaith Working Group, Roanoke 7, First Light Ministries, New Beginnings Christian Church (Richmond), First Christian Church – Lynchburg, Hickory NC PFLAG, MCC Church of Charlottesville VA, Marriage Equality USA, Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation,, and more.

MEDIA OPPORTUNITIES – Members of the media are invited to join in the weekend at any time. Nonviolence training begins on Friday night, October 10 at 7pm at First Christian Church in Lynchburg. For more information, see The Pride Festival at Riverside Park from 1- 4 pm offers the opportunity for photos and extensive interviews with individuals and families from Lynchburg and across the United States who have come to say, “We are family, too!”

For the Soulforce Policy Statement on Civil Marriage, see

For more information, see For media interviews, call 717-278-0592.

Laura Montgomery Rutt
Director of Communications
Soulforce, Inc

Soulforce is a national interfaith movement committed to ending spiritual violence perpetuated by religious policies and teachings against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. Soulforce employs the nonviolent principles of Gandhi and King to the liberation of sexual and gender minorities.