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'Gay Pride' banners flying as SBC meets in Atlanta
--By Don Hinkle
    ATLANTA, June 15, 1999--More than 600 banners proclaiming "Gay and Lesbian Pride Month" have been placed on city light poles in Atlanta, providing an odd decor just as the city hosts the 15.7-million-member SBC.
    The SBC, which is holding its annual convention at the Georgia Dome June 15-16, is among the nation's strongest pro-family advocates and is well-known for its stances against the homosexual lifestyle.
    When asked by Baptist Press if the homosexual banners could be perceived as an endorsement of the homosexual lifestyle by the city, Nick Gold, press secretary for Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell, said, "The city prides itself on the diversity of all of its people whether gay or straight."
    A Gay and Lesbian Pride Festival is scheduled for the city June 25-27 and officials said the banners will stay on the city-owned light poles through June 30.
    Officials with the city's transportation services division said any group may put their banners on the city poles provided they pay a $100 fee and contract with a private company to have then installed and removed.
    The SBC, America's largest Protestant denomination, was praised earlier in the week by Campbell for embarking on a five-month evangelistic and church planting effort called "Arms Around Atlanta."
    "We commend the concept organizers of Southern Baptists' largest citywide evangelism and church planting initiative and encourage all citizens to take the time to hug and embrace this wonderful city," said Campbell in a proclamation issued marking June 14 as "Arms Around Atlanta Day."

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