Marriage Equality Billboard Brawl

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A Columbus billboard advertising holy matrimony sparked a debate in the area with members of the LGBT community responding with a billboard of their own.

The billboard located on Olentangy River Road reads "Holy Matrimony is one man and one woman." The sponsor[s]of the billboard remain anonymous. American Outdoor Advertising owns the billboard, but confirmed it was purchased by an outside client.

Some individuals in the community were offended by the billboard.

“The words ‘holy matrimony’ on the billboard, we believe were very clever because it didn’t say 'marriage'," said independent activist, Tom Morgan. "On the surface it looks [like] it’s just a statement of fact. But then that brings up the question, why not put a billboard that says the sky is blue if it’s just a statement of fact? We believe it is much more than that. We see it very much as an anti-gay message.”

However, not everyone was against the billboard.

Linda Harvey is the President of Columbus-based Mission America, a group that is considered by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) as an "active anti-LGBT group."

Harvey said she doesn't see anything wrong with the billboard's message.

"I’m totally in agreement with that," she said. "It’s only an issue today because the homosexual movement has made it an issue.”

Individuals in the LGBT community decided to respond with a message of their own.  

Morgan and others created a GoFundMe campaign. In just six days, they raised enough money to put up a marriage equality billboard on Dublin Road.

The billboard features couple, Valerie Mailman and Shannon Piper along with their girls, Maeven, 8, and Vaeda, 5.

The couple was hesitant about being showcased on the billboard, but said they felt it was an important image for drivers to see.

"If nothing else, people should see that there is a family on there that is happy [and] that they love each other," Mailman said. "We are proud of that and we want people to see our family is just like everyone else’s…we want the same thing for our kids that the majority of people want as well."

In the future, drivers could see more of these billboards. Both parties indicated their campaigns might expand in the coming months.