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A protest of the passage of Proposition 8 - California's ban on same-sex marriage - and similar ballot initiatives passed in Arkansas, Arizona and Florida will be held Saturday in downtown Billings.

The protest will be held from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. at the Yellowstone County Courthouse, 217 N. 27th St.

"It's really more of a visibility event," organizer Ashley Stevick said. "It's obvious these issues are not just going to affect people in California."

Stevick said a group of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and straight Billings-area residents will gather at the courthouse to raise awareness for equality and LGBT rights.

California voters approved Proposition 8 on Nov. 4, overturning a May state Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex unions. Voters in Florida and Arizona also passed state amendments banning such unions, and Arkansas voters passed a measure prohibiting unmarried sexual partners from adopting children or serving as foster parents.

A similar protest will also be held Saturday in Missoula at the Red X Farmers Market, along with protests in more than 100 other cities in all 50 states, according to the Web site of Join the Impact, which is organizing the nationwide effort and encourages awareness and community discussion of LGBT issues.

"It's crazy to think while we made a monumental step forward last Tuesday with the election of Barack Obama, we also voted down equal rights for all citizens," Stevick said. "It may not have occurred here in Billings, but it's naive to think this issue doesn't affect us."

For more information on the protest, visit the Join the Impact Website at www.jointheimpact.com.

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