Queer 'kiss in' greets Promise Keepers

Promise Keeper participants who stepped outside the Minneapolis Metrodome on the morning of Saturday, July 18, were greeted by an unexpected sight. Nearly 75 protesters stood outside the sports complex, carrying placards and chanting antireligious slogans. Among the assembled were members of Anti-Racist Action (ARA), a group that had organized a queer "kiss-in" to protest the fourth annual men's rally.

"We believe in not ignoring our enemies," said Katrina Kieller, a 21-year-old member of ARA. The group, which has existed since the late 1980s, actively works to combat "racism, sexism, and homophobia," according to Molly Maguire, another kiss-in participant. "We organize direct action" to combat the influence of "any organization who intends to crush anyone who's not rich, white, male, and straight," Maguire, 21, said. Wielding a bullhorn, Maguire revved up protester sentiments against the religious group.

Some 23,000 men had registered for the two-day Promise Keepers rally in Minneapolis, but reports indicated that only 15,000 men attended the event.

Gathered behind a sign that read "My Body, My Choice, My Fist," the crowd of tattooed and pierced protesters actually did little kissing. Rather, they chanted, sang, and waved homemade signs in the air, bearing such statements as "Smash Patriarchy!," "The Homosexion," and "Men of Integrity Respect Women's Equality."

The small band of Promise Keepers outside the facility, meanwhile, remained silent and appeared somewhat confused by the protest. They clapped and cheered, however, as the Minneapolis Police Department, citing city ordinances, escorted the protesters from the Metrodome grounds to the opposite side of Chicago Avenue. "Most people didn't want to get arrested at this event," Kieller said. The group willingly moved to the opposite side of the street.

Roger Chapman, a national spokesperson for the Denver-based Promise Keepers organization, indicated that his group has "no specific statement" about homosexuality. "We follow Biblical guidelines that deal specifically with guidelines about heterosexual marriage," Chapman added. He went on to say that the Promise Keepers did not begrudge the protesters their right to express their opposing viewpoint. "We don't have any disagreement with their criticism, and we believe that they have a right to disagree with us. We don't want to get into the fray on homosexual issues. They don't realize that we are not their real enemy."

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