Charles Merrill, 72, a gay rights leader, stated in response: "I will be approaching the Temple Mount out of love and forgiveness to those who hate us. If the three major religions in the Middle East (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) want us stoned to death as it dictates in their ancient scriptures, then our gentle innocent blood will be on their hands. Gays are the meek in society and love all of humanity."
Merrill is one of thousands of gays participating in World Pride 2006, a gay event in Jerusalem. The event, which is held in a different world city every four years, was to have been in Jerusalem last summer but postponed due to Israel's pullout from the Gaza.
'Celebration of universal love'
In a press release, Merrill said he would be marching in Jerusalem on August 10th as a celebration of universal love, and love across borders. Merrill's same sex partner, Kevin Boyle, will remain in the United States to carry on in the event of Merrill's death at the hands of religious extremists, the statement said.
Merrill, whose cousin Charles Merrill founded Merrill Lynch, and whose late wife, Evangeline, was the only daughter of Johnson & Johnson founder Robert Wood Johnson, said he wants other gays to join him in World Pride 2006 in Jerusalem.
The Open House organization said in response that there is no intention to march toward the Temple Mount or any other holy site in Jerusalem.