ATLANTA - Chase Oliver, the first openly gay Senate candidate in Georgia, will launch his tour of Pride events on Saturday with a protest across the street from the notorious Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas.
“It’s kind of important to me symbolically as someone who has literally had to counterprotest the Westboro Baptist Church in my youth,” says Oliver, 37, Rolling Stone’s “Most Influential Libertarian” and Libertarian presidential hopeful. “It’s kind of cool to march right past them and declare that I support people’s right to be who they are.”
Today kicks off Pride Month, which commemorates the June 28, 1969 police raid on Stonewall Inn in New York City. Riots over the next six days swelled to thousands of protesters, launching the gay rights movement.
The spirit of those laws in the 1960s - ones that effectively outlawed same-sex relationships and behaviors - mirrors the loud and spite-filled rants of Westboro Baptist Church. Its members rail against those who are gay, Jewish, Catholic, or served in the military, including protests at military funerals. Even its website’s URL uses slurs, in this case against LGBTQ individuals.
Oliver will attend a protest in front of Equality House, a rainbow-striped house across from Westboro Baptist.
Before heading to Topeka, Oliver will join Libertarians at the Pride Festival in Lawrence, Kansas - the first of a handful of Pride events he will attend over June.
“It was a Pride festival in Atlanta that brought me to libertarianism. The Libertarian Party of Georgia was doing outreach in Atlanta Pride,” he said. “And that’s when I really learned that there was more than a two-party system, there’s really a party that supports everybody’s free expression and liberty - and it wasn’t Republicans and certainly wasn’t Democrats.”
This weekend’s Pride events in Kansas:
Gather at Lawrence Pride for march
South Park Square, Lawrence, KS
Jun 03, 3:00 PM
The parade will walk past Westboro Baptist Church
Lawrence PRIDE Street Party
Jun 03, 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Oliver’s national attention grew following his debate with incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock and an empty podium set aside for opponent Herschel Walker. Oliver garnered over 80,000 votes and forced a runoff between the Republican and Democratic candidates.
Broadcast coverage includes PBS, CNN, Fox Business, and CSPAN. Print coverage includes The New York Times, The Washington Post, Bloomberg, and Rolling Stone, which labels him the “Most Influential Libertarian.”
Oliver is available for media interviews, university journalism, and communications students.
To learn more about Chase Oliver, visit votechaseoliver.com.