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Anchorage pro-gay marriage rally organized

Suzanna Caldwell

As the U.S. Supreme Court begins weighing two historic same-sex marriage issues this week, some Anchorage residents plan to show their support of gay marriage.

The group Christians for Equality – a group of pastors of 10 different religious denominations who came together as part of the 2012 One Anchorage campaign – have organized an informal rally supporting gay marriage from 5-6 p.m. Tuesday at the Federal Courthouse.

“There's no program, just unity,” said Michael Burke, rector of St. Mary's Episcopal Church and one of the event organizers.

Expect to see signs and rainbow flags at the corner of C Street and Sixth Avenue.  Organizers are asking people to wear red, in recognition of the Human Rights Campaign movement that led many to change their social media profiles in support.

While the rally is part of a larger movement, Burke said the event has no formal ties to any national organizations. Burke said he had also heard of some holding informal prayer meetings at their homes.

The event comes just a day after Alaska Sen. Mark Begich announced his support of same-sex marriage. According to a poll by Public Policy Polling last month, only 43 percent of Alaskans support gay marriage. 

Alaskans banned same-sex marriage in 1998, when voters approved adding an amendment to Alaska's constitution limiting marriage as between one man and one woman. Last year, 58 percent of Anchorage voters opted to not extend basic civil protections to gays and lesbians in Alaska's largest city.

Despite setbacks from voters, Alaskans have found some protection through the state supreme court. A 2005 ruling found that even though the state constitution prohibits same-sex marriage, it does not prohibit the state from extending spousal benefits to same-sex couples.