Thursday, December 12, 2013
PORTLAND — An estimated 6,000-7,000 people participated in the Southern Maine Pride Parade and Festival in downtown Portland on Saturday, using it as a rallying call to support the state's gay-marriage referendum being voted on in November.
John Paschal of Sanford marches with Mainers United for Marriage during the Southern Maine Pride Parade and Festival on Congress Street in Portland on Saturday, June 16, 2012.
The Southern Maine Pride Parade makes its way down Congress Street in Portland on Saturday, June 16, 2012.
Just about every one of the 50 groups and floats carried banners and posters in support of the November vote. The marchers chanted their desire to get married.
"What do we want?" shouted someone near the front of the parade.
"Marriage!" others answered.
The colorful parade, in its 26th year, left Monument Square at 12:30 p.m. and took nearly an hour to travel up Congress Street, down High Street and into Deering Oaks Park for the festival.
Jewish supporters marched in rainbow yarmulkes. Animal lovers walked their dogs and cats in rainbow sweaters and ribbons.
The event at Deering Oaks featured about 20 food vendors, informational booths and performers, including Naya’s Trance Belly Dance group which kicked off the festivities.
“We are expecting lots of invitations to weddings next year,” shouted Kimberly Sinclair, lead dancer, to loud applause.
Portland Mayor Michael Brennan, a parade grand marshal who marched with the Catholics for Marriage Equality, told the crowd that one of his first acts as mayor was joining a national coalition of mayors who support gay marriage.
“The Catholic Church has been on the wrong side” of this issue, Brennan said.
Portland Police Chief Mike Sauschuck, who rode in an open Mercedes coupe convertible as a parade grand marshal, threw his support to gay marriage, citing his own 10-year marriage.
“I think of how much happiness my marriage has brought me,” Sauschuck said.
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Leah Parrish of Cape Elizabeth screams while marching with the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network Southern Maine Chapter during the Southern Maine Pride Parade and Festival on Congress Street in Portland on Saturday, June 16, 2012.
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Chris Sawyer of South Portland with Mainers United for Marriage helps carry the rainbow flag during the Southern Maine Pride Parade and Festival on Congress Street in Portland on Saturday, June 16, 2012.