Thousands of Hoosiers from around the state descended on the Indiana Statehouse Tuesday in support and opposition of Senate Joint Resolution 7 - a proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.
Supporter Martha Robinson, pictured with an unidentified child, said: "God says marriage is one man and one woman. And we need to obey that if we don't want to destroy ourselves. God made us. We need to listen to him. He knows what's best for us."
SJR 7 defines marriage as between one man and one woman and forbids the legal rights of married couples from being conferred upon unmarried couples.
Advance America, a conservative Christian organization headed by former Republican gubernatorial candidate Eric Miller, organized the rally in support of the constitutional amendment and Hoosier families.
Christian churches and schools from around the state sent busloads of supporters to the statehouse. The more than 1000 high school students and adults crowded the rotunda, clogged the stairwells, and looked over the balconies of all three floors.
"God didn't make [homosexuals] that way," participant Levi Figley said. "It's a choice and we don't have to accept that choice, and that's what they'd have us do. I'm married to a woman and she's married to me. And that's the way God wants it. If He'd wanted us to all be gay there would have been two men in the Garden of Eden."
But the proponents of the same-sex marriage ban did not go unopposed. Hundreds stood in the falling snow and freezing temperatures for more than two hours, believing the fierce chill of intolerance and discrimination was more dangerous than any thing the weather could produce.
Unlike the well-organized efforts of Advance America and attending churches from around the state, the opposition represented a grassroots effort of individuals who held signs, chanted, and showed up to demand equal treatment under the law.
Elizabeth Waskow, Emily Cohen and Matt Gentry traveled from Bloomington to oppose Eric Miller and SJR 7. "I believe in the separation of church and state," said Gentry. "It's important that we show up and voice our opposition to this amendment."
Democratic legislators Anita Bowser, Ed Mahern and Vi Simpson joined the protest outside and encouraged the large crowd to not give up their fight.
"They want to insert something very negative into our State Constitution that will have drastic implications for generations to come," Bowser said. "Intelligent people know you don't discriminate against a large section of the population like this."
Becky Brown offers her opinion by holding a sign outside of the Statehouse on Tuesday.
For most of the day the two crowds remained separate.
Inside, Republican members of the General Assembly joined Miller onstage and rallied the crowd with their praise of traditional marriage.
"I truly want to congratulate everyone here. There are few legislative functions more important than preserving traditional families," Speaker of the House Brian Bosma told the crowd.
And Representative Woody Burton took a turn at the microphone, drawing large cheers from the Christian crowd by reinforcing their beliefs. "The institution of marriage was not created and cannot be defined by government. Only God can create a marriage," Burton said.
As the indoor rally ended the enormous crowd sang "God Bless America" and broke into enthusiastic applause as they headed toward the exit. But their goodwill turned sour as they encountered their opposition on the way out.
Hundreds of those protesting SJR 7 made their way into the rotunda and began chanting: "Love not hate!" In response, many of the supporters yelled back "God hates gays!" State troopers kept the crowds separate while trying to keep the peace.
SJR 7 is expected to pass the House of Representatives next week.