While religious conservatives are holding a rally to encourage people to enact discrimination into the state constitution, voices for diversity, tolerance, inclusion and justice will gather at a counter event for a different kind of protest: a family picnic.

“Stand for ALL Families,” a picnic and music celebration on the lawn of Glendale Baptist Church, will be held on Monday evening, October 16, at 6:00 PM, at the exact time that James Dobson, president of the Colorado-based “Focus on the Family,” will be in Nashville for their event, “Stand for the Family.”

“We wanted to plan a protest that would be exciting and affirming,” says Randy Tarkington, director of the Vote No on 1 campaign. “We don’t want to match anger with anger.”

The Dobson event is designed to motivate religious and political conservatives to defeat the proposed Definition of Marriage Amendment scheduled for the November 7 vote. While advertised as an event to support families, promotion centers on anti-GLBT rhetoric.

Curiously, the rally was recently moved from the advertised location, The Municipal Auditorium downtown, to the sanctuary of the Two Rivers Baptist Church adjacent to Opry Mills.

“It could be that lagging ticket sales do not warrant the larger auditorium,” surmises Tarkington. “Or it could be the leadership chose a location that better suits their religiously conservative agenda.”

Organizers of the counter event are encouraging people to bring a picnic basket and a blanket and to gather under a tent on the lawn of the Glendale Baptist Church. A program is being planned including addresses by a variety of local clergy and entertainment by local musicians.

“The event is about God’s love and inclusiveness and the love and inclusiveness of some of Nashville’s strong faith communities,” explains Amy Mears, co-pastor of the south Nashville congregation hosting the event. “We’re excited to celebrate the joy and the beauty of families of all kinds.”

Jon Hines, a Nashville graphic artist and a member of the Glendale congregation, plans to attend the event with his partner, Scott, and their children.

“Scott and I are supporting the ‘Stand for ALL Families’ event because we are saddened and outraged that a segment of the population — calling themselves ‘Christian’ — think they have a monopoly on the word ‘family.’”

“They would have us believe that ‘family’ solely consists of one father, one mother, and 2.5 children (add pets and picket fences as you see fit),” Hines said. “If this is the case, then how do we identify the single mother and her children? Or the grandparents who are raising their grandchildren? Or the couple who can’t have children? Are the people in these scenarios any less of a family?”

Participants in the event will include Gail Seavey (First Unitarian Universalist Church), Sonny Dickson (Hobson United Methodist Church), Flip Rice (Congregation Micah), as well as April Baker, co-pastor of Glendale Baptist Church.

Glendale Baptist Church is located at 1021 Glendale Lane. Specific directions are available at http://www.glendalebaptist.org/visitors. For event details, or information regarding the Vote No on 1 campaign, visit http://votenoon1tn.com/.


This article has been republished from Out & About Nashville, and was part of a series of first-person pieces written by the late Bobbi Williams.

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