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VALPARAISO — For Hobart resident Linda Benka, the Women's March on Saturday in downtown Valparaiso was all about supporting women's rights.

That list for her includes reproductive, health care and educational rights.

"I don't want any of our rights taken away. I'm fighting for my 13-year-old granddaughter," Benka said.

Benka, 66, and two of her friends held high homemade matching bright pink  signs while standing on the north side of the Porter County Courthouse.

Their signs read: "Women's Rights. We can never go backwards."

Those passing by in cars honked their horns, waved or yelled out their support.

A Hillary Clinton supporter in the 2016 election, Benka and her friends, Nancy Klaja, 63, of Hobart, and Cathy Rodriguez, 65, of Chesterton, blame newly sworn-in President Donald Trump for the protests in Valparaiso and in other parts of the country, including Chicago and Washington, D.C.

"He set us back," Benka said.

Charlotte Friedlund, 65, of Valparaiso, said she was the individual who came up with the idea for the local march after learning about ones being held in other cities.

"I thought why not here?" Friedlund said.

Friedlund said she placed notices on social media and anticipated some 260 people coming to the event.

"I think we have way north of 260 here today," Friedlund said.

The message Friedlund read to supporters was a simple one: "We gather today to be seen and heard by the new administration. We bear witness with our sisters across the nation and world for all the people who will suffer from the new administration's agenda."

During the two-hour march, Friedlund encouraged those gathered to walk with or without signs around the courthouse square and to wear pink.

"I told them no hate posters, no hate, period. We're here to raise each other up," Friedlund said.

Paul Kysel, a Pines Township resident, stood on the curbside with Benka and her friends while hoisting his sign, which on one side said: "I did not vote for Vladimir Trump."

Kysel, who wore a bright pink sweatshirt, said because Trump hasn't divested his holdings, everyone in the country could be terrorist targets.

"If one lives in or works in a building with his name, does he bear responsibility?" Kysel said.

Patricia Larsen, 62, of Crown Point, walked around the square while carrying a sign bearing a likeness of the Statue of Liberty with the words: I'm With Her.

Larsen said she was in a similar women's protest in 1973 in Washington, D.C. after then-President Richard Nixon was sworn in to office.

"I was a Nixon protester 44 years ago," Larsen said.

Larsen said she came to the event to be in solidarity with other sister marchers.

"We want a show of force that we will exercise our lawful right to protest," Larsen said.

Robyn Rutar, 29, of Valparaiso, came to the protest with her husband, Andy Koehler, 41, and two sons, Drew, 13, and Caleb, 11.

"It's important for the boys to understand and promote equality and to accept everyone," Rutar said.

Prior to the start of the Women's March, a group of Porter County Right to Life members held their own regularly scheduled monthly event just north of the courthouse.

Porter County Right to Life spokesman Richard Stith said he knew that the national Women's March organization was opposed to right to life members taking part in the protests because of different ideology including support for Planned Parenthood and abortions.

Stith said he spoke to members of the local group and said: "We don't have to agree on the method but all want to help women."

Friedlund said she had posted on Facebook that she "respected their rights and understood where they are coming from."

Porter County Right to Life member Debbie Revor said she deeply regrets an abortion she was encouraged to have by staff at Planned Parenthood nearly 38 years ago.

Revor said there's a lot more choices for women these days than abortion, including adoption.

"If you are truly pro-choice then you'd be pro-choice for all options," Revor said.

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