Juneau plans Equality Celebration

rainbow_flagMaureen Longworth and Lin Davis were in Seattle at the wedding of friends when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional.

They say the city exploded with pride.

“The streets were all decorated; you’d go into a bakery and there’d be cupcakes with little figurines of two men and two women on them,” Longworth told the Juneau Empire. “There was a big rally in front of the courthouse. But we didn’t know any of those people, so we thought, ‘We’re going to come home and plan something for Juneau.'”

Their efforts will culminate this coming weekend with a family-friendly Equality Celebration, featuring a series of gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual rights events.

Friday night events include live performances at the Juneau Arts and Culture Center by a Native dance troupe, Yees Ku Oo, the Juneau Pride Chorus, drag performer Vanessa LaVoca-Kellie and others. The event will be followed by Food Truck Friday.

Local lawmakers and clergy have been invited to make statements before the celebration begins.

A forum is planned Saturday to discuss the Supreme Court’s decision on gay couples living in Alaska, where same-sex marriage is not legal. Presenters will include Joshua Decker of the ACLU Foundation of Alaska, family lawyer Allison Mendel and certified public accountant Marjorie Kaiser. The forum is set for 1 p.m. at McPhetres Hall at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church.

“People are really thrilled to be doing a volunteer performance for something they believe is the right thing,” Longworth said when noting they had no trouble getting people to support and cause and volunteer.

Longworth and Davis moved to Juneau from California in the 1990s and have been working on LGBT causes since.

“There’s been so much prejudice and discrimination,” Davis said. “It’s so nice to have something to celebrate.”

Among the sponsors for the weekend events are the Southeast Gay and Lesbian Alliance, Pride Foundation, PFLAG Juneau, Alaskans Together for Equality, The Rendezvous, Rockwell and Holy Trinity Episcopal Church.

Funds raised during the event will support the ACLU of Alaska Foundation.

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