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500 at rally opposing employer insurance mandate - Live5News.com | Charleston, SC | News, Weather, Sports

500 at rally opposing employer insurance mandate

Charleston, SC (AP) -

About 500 people waving flags and holding signs gathered under a hot sun in Charleston to protest a federal mandate requiring employers to provide health insurance that includes birth control for workers.

The plan has sparked protests from faith leaders because the mandate includes most religious nonprofit organizations such as hospitals and colleges.

The crowd gathered in front of the Customs House by the City Market to sing, pray and hear speeches. Curious tourists looked on from across the street. There were a couple of counter demonstrators at the edge of the rally.

A Stand Up for Religious Freedom rally was also scheduled in Greenville. The group's website says the South Carolina rallies were among about 160 in cities nationwide.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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