When Portland resident Jill Barkley finished voting in last Tuesday’s primary election, she walked past a young woman her age who was sitting behind a sign that read: “Preserve Marriage, Sign Here.”
The woman was collecting signatures for a anti-gay-rights petition put forth by the Christian Civic League of Maine, which would take away GLBT rights on several fronts: it would ban same-sex marriage and gay adoptions, take away funding for gay-straight-alliance organizations in Maine’s high schools, and permit discrimination “based on sexual orientation in employment, housing, public accommodation, credit and education,” according to a copy of the initiative made available by the CCL.
It only made Barkley more excited for this year’s annual Dyke March. When members of Maine’s GLBT community — specifically, lesbians and those who love them — take to the streets on Friday, June 20, it’ll be with pride, plus a little defiance.
“This issue is heavy on the minds of the Dyke March Committee,” Barkley, a march organizer, writes in an e-mail to the Portland Phoenix. “Last year, the CCL came to our march and videotaped and then broadcast the footage on their Web site, encouraging people to send threatening and harassing emails to anyone who had supported our efforts. Though this attack was upsetting ... we are not going to stop speaking out about issues that affect us — and we are NOT going to stop celebrating who we are. We plan on another visit from the CCL at this year’s march,” and to that end, they’ve asked Reverend Jennifer Paty of Northern Lights Metropolitan Community Church in Augusta to be the event’s keynote speaker; Paty will address the petition drive in her remarks.
Other scheduled speakers and performers include the folk-rock band Vanessa Torres and Touching Ground, Goldie Peacock and Bunny Wonderland, and Maine Roller Derby girls. Then, after the speeches and march (the events start at 6:30 pm in Monument Square) the North Star Café will open its doors for a free, all-ages after party, featuring DJ Kate, Hurricane Bertha, G’gann, and the Smokes.
“The CCL has said our march ‘will not be tolerated,’” Barkley scoffs. “We are excited for the opportunity to once again show that the Dyke March is not only tolerated, but welcomed, anticipated and supported by our community here in Portland.”