Bishop Ronald Gainer of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Lexington will participate in a religious freedom rally in downtown Lexington on Friday to protest the Obama administration's birth-control mandate.
Gainer will open the rally with a prayer, said Karen Abbey, chancellor of the diocese. The rally will be from noon to 1 p.m. at Phoenix Park in downtown Lexington, according to Paula Muncy of Lexington, who is organizing the event.
The Lexington gathering will be part of a series of similar rallies Friday in cities around the country protesting the health care mandate, Muncy said. Muncy, who describes herself as a wife and mother, said she decided to organize a protest rally last week, after learning that there was none planned in Lexington.
"I've never done anything like this before," she said. "It was something I felt like I needed to do, because there wasn't a rally planned in Kentucky and I thought Kentucky ought to be represented."
Protests began last month after the Obama administration unveiled plans to require health plans provided by religious-affiliated employers, including Catholic hospitals and colleges, to cover the cost of contraceptive drugs, devices and procedures such as vasectomies and abortion-inducing medications.
The proposal particularly angered Catholic bishops because the Catholic Church opposes all artificial birth control. The bishops called the plan an infringement on religious freedom. Administration officials altered the proposal so employers would not have to pay for providing birth control, but opposition has continued.
Muncy said she expects that at least three people in addition to Gainer will speak at the rally, including representatives from other denominations. Kent Ostrander, executive director of the Family Foundation of Kentucky, also will speak, she said.
No political leaders will speak, Muncy said.