A 74-year-old gay rights advocate has been charged with simple assault after she planted a kiss on an anti-gay protester in North Carolina.
The incident took place in the town of Salisbury this past Saturday, which was Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Day, by declaration of the town’s mayor.
According to the Associated Press, Joan Parker admits that she kissed preacher James Edward Belcher on the cheek at the event, at which Belcher was one of roughly 200 anti-gay demonstrators who had showed up to protest, despite lacking the proper permits.
Parker said that Belcher “was just waving his arms and has a Bible in one hand, up and down, and screaming at the top of his lungs, 'sodomites' and 'you're going to hell.’”
She said that at some point, she went in for the kiss, but denies the preacher’s claim that she was aiming at his lips.
Belcher saw things differently. “If I hadn’t turned my head, I’d have gotten it right on my mouth,” he said. “She ran her arms all the way around me and pulled me toward her.”
The local police chief said he was surprised to learn that Belcher wanted to press charges, but the preacher insists that police would have charged him if he had done the same thing to a 74-year-old woman.
“She might disagree with this, but it wasn’t done as a show of affection,” the police chief said. “It was an unwanted touching.”
Belcher said that the kiss “was just one of many attempts to silence the preaching to those in need of salvation who practice a death style that they call a lifestyle.”