Woman charged at gay rally disputes allegation

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 27, 2011

By Emily Ford
SALISBURY — The woman ticketed for kissing a preacher at the gay pride rally Saturday says the assault charge against her is “bogus.”
Joan Parker said the street preacher was waving his arms in the air and shouting about sodomites when she approached him.
“I did walk over and put my arm around him and hugged him, and he turned his face away from me,” said Parker, 74, of Colfax. “I kissed him on the cheek.”
The preacher, whose name was not available from police Monday, accused Parker of kissing him on the mouth and wanted her charged, Salisbury Police Chief Rory Collins said Saturday.
“There was no touching his lips,” Parker said. “If I had, I probably would have thrown up.”
Parker acknowledged she probably went too far by kissing the man on his cheek. He was one of many preachers who showed up without a permit to protest Salisbury’s first Pride event.
Unlike the sidewalk preachers, a Rowan County church that took out a permit for a group demonstration stayed across the street from the festival, which took up the 100 block of East Fisher Street and drew 2,000 people, according to police. A large group from the church prayed and sang on the northwest corner of Main and Fisher streets.
After complaining that police were violating their First Amendment rights, the preachers were allowed to go down East Fisher Street as far as Benchwarmer’s. Only one preacher on each side of the street was allowed to preach at a time, Collins said.
Parker said she understood police allowing protestors to enter the festival, which was held on a public street. She said officers were “super nice” to her when they issued the ticket, the only citation of the festival.
During the six-hour event, Parker and at least two protestors were told to leave. All complied.
Parker is due in court Sept. 12. She would not comment on whether she will fight the charge.
“I was showing him that we love him, even if he is on the other side of the fence,” she said.
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.