Downtown Dodge City saw two sides of the abortion argument in America speak their minds Saturday, with the anti-abortion Kansas Liberty March and the pro-choice Unity Celebration both rallying for their respective causes.

The anti-abortion march began at the First Baptist Church in Dodge City on N. 2nd Avenue before moving throughout the downtown area. The parade rally was met with protesters from the Unity Celebration that was held at Eisenhower Park at 11:30 a.m.

Prior to the parade, an information center was provided at the church, as well as guest speakers talking with the focus of Kansas anti-abortion and pro-liberty organizations and ways that people can get involved in making a difference in their communities.

The speakers at the church were the Kansas Senate chaplain, Pastor Cecil Washington, as well as Congressman Roger Marshall, State Treasurer Jake LaTurner and Kansans for Life President Mary Wilkinson. Among the speakers at the Unity Celebration were Manhattan City Commissioner Usha Reddi, Kansas Democratic Party National Committeewoman Teresa Garcia-Krusor, Democratic State Rep. Susan Ruiz and former U.S. Attorney General for the state of Kansas Barry Grissom. Also in attendance was former State Representative Ethel Peterson.

Both sides were decidedly anti-violent in nature, but members of the Dodge City Police Department were present in case hostilities broke out.

However, as the two troupes crossed paths members of both expressed themselves by saying "I love you," to one another.

 

Kansas Liberty March

The goal of the Kansas Liberty March was to promote "Christian faith and American patriotism," according to its organizers. "We are here to celebrate America and to take part in activities that support our faith, family and freedom."

Washington, who is also the pastor at The New Beginning Baptist Church in Topeka, led off with the group singing the National Anthem.

Prior to being the Kansas Senate chaplain and pastor, Washington wanted to start out in show business, even competing against Marvin Gaye in singing competitions in the early years before turning his attention to the church.

"Are we celebrating liberty," Washington asked the crowd of close to 100. "Are we celebrating that this is the land of the free, the home of the brave. Do we want to keep it free?"

The answers were met with a resounding, "Yes."

"Free to worship," Washington continued, "Free to serve the Lord our God.

"We are not a perfect nation because we are not a perfect people. So we don't have perfect people running our homes, running our governments or our institutions, but I have some good news for you, we have a perfect God."

Washington called on more people to behave like people of God.

"There is a tremendous sickness in our nation," Washington said. "But God in the heart of his people and in the heartland of this nation, regardless of where we may be politically. When we turn our hearts to him, he will hear our prayers and forgive our wayward ways and he will heal."

Marshall talked of being part of pastor Billy Graham's funeral, the funeral of George H.W. Bush and singing songs of worship.

"Listening to the national media this week, I heard things I never thought I heard of," Marshall said. "How many think we live in the greatest country in the world. The greatest country of mankind and when I hear these people complain about the country, I reflect on what I miss hearing."

Marshall attributes the greatness bestowed on America to God, "and the blessings given this country with the natural resources this country has everywhere from the oil, natural gas and all the natural minerals and the waters and this country has taken advantage of American agriculture."

Marshall, an obstetrician with a practice formerly in Great Bend, said he has had to fight for the lives of babies more in Congress than he did during his practice.

"For 25 years, every day I got to deliver a baby," Marshall said. "That's over 5,000 babies and between all those, I delivered babies from 18 weeks to 25 weeks and up to 40 weeks. I remember being in the delivery room and fighting for those babies' lives."

 

Unity Celebration

At the Unity Celebration, onlooker John Boyd, who is a registered Republican in favor of women’s rights, wore his red "Make America Great Again" hat and heard those sentiments and said he hoped they rang true.

"Left and right loonies are poisoning America," Boyd said. "I’m not a big fan of abortion but even more I’m not a fan of telling people what to believe. If both sides meant (they love each other), then that’s good."

New York City police officer Joe White is a Dodge City native.

"As a police officer and a Christian and a voter, I’m tired of people hijacking who we are," White said. "We support the men and women of the LGBTQ community. I believe the government shouldn’t come into your body, your home or with you into the doctor’s office."

Peterson welcomed the meeting of the minds to show that not everybody in Kansas is against abortion and immigration.

She held a placard that read, "standing on the side of love." She said the two events proved that, "people can be unified for a good cause and not divisive."

"Reproductive rights are important because without them women don’t have rights," she said.

Myriam Rosser, a bisexual high school student from Akron, Ohio, was in town visiting her father when she heard about the Unity Gathering and decided to attend.

She proudly waved a rainbow-colored flag that bore the female symbol.

"Dodge City has a very Republican climate," Rosser said. "So if we make ourselves known more people will know we’re here."

Hugo Garcia, a gay student at Dodge City Community College, showed his allegiance to the causes with a placard that read "True love never has to hide."

"It’s refreshing to see this kind of event, and it warms the heart that so many people showed up," Garcia said. "It’s a good start for more acceptance of the LGBTQ community."