Controversial billboard along US 131, organization says it’s not anti-gay

Posted at 9:08 PM, Jun 04, 2015
and last updated 2015-06-04 21:08:27-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- A billboard along a West Michigan freeway is turning a lot of heads.

The message was paid for by a South Carolina organization, opposing gay marriage.

This all comes just weeks before the U.S. Supreme Court is set to rule on the issue.

The billboard states that being gay is a choice, and shouldn’t be compared to civil rights.

The organization that put it up said that the message is not anti-gay.

Mark Gurley is aware he’s ruffling some feathers across west Michigan. The electronic billboard popped up along US 131 near 36th Street in Grand Rapids, paid for by his organization, The Michigan Oak Initiative.

"What the billboard is not, is it's not anti gay," said Gurley.

The billboard reads, "Homosexuality is a behavior. Not a civil right." It also compares a Latino man, with another who’s face is painted with a rainbow design.

To no surprise, many people in Grand Rapids are speaking out against it.

"He is assuming that somebody else's life that he chose to be hated," said gay marriage supporter Rick Norton.

"All of the things that are happening in the world overall, really we have bigger things to fight than the LGBT community," said gay marriage supporter Monica Tomasik.

Gurley said that the billboard is directly connected to the upcoming Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage in Michigan and several other states. He also said that other billboards put up by The Oak Initiative have essentially had the same message, but none of them have gotten quite this reaction.

Gurley said that he’s not condemning homosexuality, instead offering hope to "do better" and said that he doesn’t support anyone making threats against the gay community.

"Without being hateful and saying you know you are going to hell. And we've seen some of those people carrying signs around. I don't think that's a good representation of Christianity."

The electronic billboard is set to change next week, with two other designed being used for the rest of June.

"We shouldn't define civil rights around a behavioral choice because otherwise if you feel really angry at somebody this day and you want to take them out, somehow that all of a sudden your right?" asked Gurley.

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to issue their ruling be the end of June.