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Connellsville sign starts gay marriage demonstration

| Sunday, May 27, 2012, 10:04 p.m.

A sign outside a Fayette County church sparked a demonstration in Connellsville on Sunday in support of gay marriage.

Between 20 and 40 supporters of gay marriage staged the demonstration outside Apostolic Holiness Church on North Pittsburgh Street, according to one of the demonstrators, Blaine Greenawalt of Scottdale.

Greenawalt said the group organized the demonstration in response to a sign posted outside the church that promoted marriage between a man and a woman as "God's way."

"We wanted to speak our minds and stand up for what we believe," Greenawalt said. "I want to live happy. I want to have the same equal rights and treatment as everybody else."

Jason Upton, whose father, Terry, is pastor of the church, said his father posted the message last week. It was not intended to be offensive, he said.

"There was nothing derogatory about it," Jason Upton said. "We love homosexuals just as you do any other person, but we don't agree with the lifestyle."

Jason Upton said his father's intent was to promote teachings in the Bible.

Greenawalt said the demonstrators are concerned such messages promote hate.

"They don't need to use hatred or discrimination against other people to get people to come to church," Greenawalt said.

Demonstrators carried signs and chanted outside the church during evening services. Jason Upton said the demonstration did not interrupt the services.

According to Greenawalt, Terry Upton met with at least one of the demonstrators afterward.

Connellsville police were on the scene, but no officers were available for comment Sunday night.

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