About 100 people turned out in the rain in downtown Lexington's Phoenix Park Friday for what organizers called a religious freedom rally.
The rally was one of about 140 nationwide to protest the Obama administration's requirement that health insurance plans cover the cost of contraceptives.
Bishop Ronald Gainer of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Lexington told the gathering that the administration's action had an adverse impact on the ability of Catholic organizations and individuals to live the Gospel and its teachings as they interpret them.
Rob Taylor, pastor of The Branch Fellowship non-denominational church in Richmond, referred to results from a national survey earlier this week in which "most people surveyed said the birth-control requirement in the administration's health care plan was not about religion. 'So what is the big deal'," Taylor said, paraphrasing survey results.
"The big deal was that the mandate infringed on individual rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution," Taylor said.
Protests began last month after the Obama administration said it would require health insurance 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.
Catholic bishops were particularly angered because the Catholic Church opposes all artificial birth control. They called the plan an infringement on religious freedom.
The administration altered the proposal so employers would not be required to pay for providing birth control, but protests have not abated.
Cindy Olson of Lexington said she is unhappy that health insurance plans must still provide birth control. "Somebody will have to pay for it. All of us will be paying, even if we have a conscientious objection," Olson said.
For Colleen Milburn, the issue is broader than church opposition to contraceptives, which Milburn said she had used in the past. "It's not really about birth control," she said. "It's about religious freedom, the right to practice religion as you believe it."