Rally on Chattanooga's Walnut Street Bridge supports gay marriage (with video)

Rally on Chattanooga's Walnut Street Bridge supports gay marriage (with video)

November 8th, 2014 by Kendi A. Rainwater in Local Regional News

The call and response was shouted with fervor from the Walnut Street Bridge on Friday night.

"What do we want?" a man shouted.

"Equality!" was yelled back by the small crowd gathered on the bridge.

Wives Megan, left, and Lindsey Smith hold one another while Tennessee Equality Project co-Chairman Kat Cooper speaks at a rally in response to a federal court opinion that upheld state bans on gay marriage hosted by the Tennessee Equality Project at the Walnut Street Bridge on Friday.

Wives Megan, left, and Lindsey Smith hold one...

Photo by Maura Friedman /Times Free Press.

The rally of approximately 30 people was hosted by the Tennessee Equality Project as a part of a statewide protest against a federal appellate court opinion issued on Thursday upholding four states' bans on same-sex marriage. The group members stood -- bundled in jackets and many holding hands -- showing their support for marriage equality in all states.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in a 2-1 decision that individual states should have the power to determine rules for marriage. The decision diverges from other appellate opinions across the nation. The decision allows Tennessee, Ohio, Kentucky, and Michigan to continue restricting same-sex unions -- at least for now.

But people on all sides of the same-sex marriage issue agree that the 6th Circuit decision will likely draw the Supreme Court back into the fight. The Supreme Court decided "not to decide" last month, but said a split in authority between appellate opinions would likely force the court back into the ring.

Lindsey and Megan Smith, from left to right, Ashley and Dawn Collins and Cody Layne listen at a rally in response to a federal court opinion that upheld state bans on gay marriage at the Walnut St. Bridge in Chattanooga on Nov. 7, 2014.

Lindsey and Megan Smith, from left to right,...

Photo by Maura Friedman /Times Free Press.

Mark West, president of the Chattanooga tea party, previously told the Times Free Press, "They [the 6th Circuit majority] resisted the temptation to just go with the politically correct decision. This is a great victory for the people ultimately."

David Fowler, co-sponsor of Tennessee's constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, which was approved in 2006, also praised the decision, and previously told the Times Free Press the fight is far from over.

On Friday, Kat Cooper, chairman of the Tennessee Equality Project and co-founder of the Nooga Diversity Center, said, "I am confident the Supreme Court will allow same-sex marriage in all states. ... This is just a bump in the road."

Megan and Lindsey Smith said this court's decision was disheartening.

The couple had a wedding ceremony in Chattanooga last year, but their marriage was not formalized until this spring, on the steps of the U.S. Capitol.

"It was hard to come back and be told in Tennessee we were not legally married," Megan said. "But we are not worried; by June the Supreme Court should rule that people can get married in any state."

The Supreme Court has not indicated whether it will take the case or, if it does, when it will hear arguments.

Contact staff writer Kendi Anderson at kendi.anderson@timesfreepress.com or at 423-757-6592.

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