Scores of people gathered in a downtown Longmont breezeway and alley Saturday to help the area's gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community — along with families, friends and supporters — recognize and celebrate Longmont Pride.
Said the Rev. Jackie Hibbard, who married her partner Jackie Aragon in New York state last year: "We live in Longmont, and we thought we'd come celebrate pride here."
In years past, Longmont Pride has been held at other locations, such as parks, but its organizers decided on a more visible and central location this year.
"I like that it's downtown. It's a little more visible," said Hibbard, a hospice chaplain who's affiliated with Boulder's Community United Church of Christ.
The four-hour-long event was held in the east pedestrian breezeway and the alley behind the the 300 block of Longmont's Main Street.
"I think it's been great, said Heather Crate, coordinator of Boulder County Public Health's Open and Affirming Sexual Orientation/Gender Identity Support program.
That OASOS organization, which hosted this year's Longmont Pride in a partnership with the Kay Carol Gallery and Priscila Working Art Studio, provides support services and activities for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth ages 13 to 18 and their families.
"I've seen a lot of new people I've never seen at Longmont Pride before," said Kristen Kinard, president of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays in Boulder County.
Kinard, the wife of Longmont Mayor Dennis Coombs, applauded the decision to hold this year's downtown, saying, "It's reaching a lot more people."
'We tend toward openness'
Crystal Rippen, of Longmont, came to watch her 20-year-old son Tony's drag queen performances. She said her son, whose stage name is Cardi Acarrest, came out as gay about a year ago.
At least two local churches had tables at Saturday's event: Longmont's First United Methodist Church and the United Church of Christ-Longmont.
"This is sort of a coming out party for Longmont Pride," said Rick King, senior minister of United Church of Christ-Longmont, who said his church and its congregation "are progressive on issues concerning justice. We tend toward openness."
Former Longmont City Councilwoman Mary Blue, one of the First United Methodist representatives staffing that Longmont church's "Heart of Longmont" table, said that church decided after years of consideration "to become open and affirming" on issues like gay lesbian rights, and has since branched out into other human justice issues.
'Get out in the community'
The Boulder County Republican Party also had a table there, and former county GOP chairman George Leing — who's currently a candidate for Colorado's 2nd Congressional District seat — said the county party had one at last year's Longmont Pride event, as well.
That, Leing said, is part of county Republicans' effort to have a presence at events of all kinds, "to get out in the community and say, 'Hi,' to people."
Leing, who is running against openly gay incumbent U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Boulder, was asked what he thought about Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall's decision to start issuing same-sex marriage licenses in the wake of a U.S. appellate court panel's 2-1 decision striking down Utah's gay marriage ban.
"I haven't studied the issue," said Leing, a Niwot attorney.
But he noted that Colorado Attorney General John Suthers has taken the stance the same-sex licenses issued by Boulder County are invalid, at this point, because the Colorado Constitution still prohibits gay marriages.
"We have a civil unions law that appears to work," Leing said. He said "from a government perspective, we should make sure the rights are the same" in civil unions as in traditional marriages.
Hibbard, the United Church of Christ minister, applauded the Boulder County clerk's actions
"Go Hillary!" said Hibbard, who said she's performed several civil union ceremonies in Colorado and same-sex marriages in other states.
Hibbard said she and Aragon have several friends among the 70 people who received those same-sex marriage licenses this past week and that, despite the current legal disagreements over the validity of those licenses, "I hope they all stick."
Contact Times-Call staff writer John Fryar at 303-684-5211 or email@example.com.