Heath seeks to make connection between topless march and the gay rights movement

LEWISTON — Christian advocate Michael Heath says there’s an “obvious” connection between the planned Topless March for Gender Equity in Farmington this Friday and advancing “the agenda of the homosexual rights movement.”

University of Maine at Farmington students Andrea Simoneau and Paige Barker promote Saturday's march in Andrea Simoneau's current Facebook profile picture.

Not so, said march organizer Andrea Simoneau, a 22-year-old history major at the University of Maine at Farmington.

“I’m a little upset that (Heath) is trying to make that connection,” Simoneau said. Heath is the former head of the Christian Civic League of Maine and current director of the American Family Association of Maine.

“Personally, I support gay rights," Simoneau said. "But this has nothing to do with gay rights.” The event is intended to promote social acceptance of women going topless in public, she said. The march “is about equal rights for women.”

Simoneau, a senior at UMF, participated in the topless demonstration in Portland in early April, along with about three dozen others, and was inspired to organize something in her college town. So far, about 70 people have registered through Facebook to participate, she said, but she’s not sure whether they’ll all attend.

On Tuesday, Heath mailed a Freedom of Access Act request to UMF President Theodora Kalikow seeking correspondence, including e-mail and other writings, of any communication among the university and state and national homosexual rights organizations, and correspondence between the university and the Maine Civil Liberties Union or other organization on the subject of homosexual rights.

Heath also is seeking access to university documents that reflect “any contribution, grant, or donation in kind, to the group Equality Maine,” including financial reports showing expenditures to support the organization’s annual awards banquet.

Kalikow was out of the country Tuesday, according to UMF, and had not seen a copy of Heath’s request.

F. Celeste Branham, vice president for student and community services at UMF, said the university was not prepared to comment on Heath’s request until it is received and Kalikow and others have had an opportunity to review it. Heath posted the FOAA Tuesday by overnight delivery, expecting it to be delivered to Kalikow by Wednesday noon.

In his FOAA request, Heath also is seeking access to communications between the university and Simoneau about Friday’s scheduled march.

Heath said Tuesday that he is seeking to expose university support of the advancement of homosexual rights.

Farmington “hosts Maine’s premiere teachers college for public schoolteachers,” Heath said, and people should know if the academic institution supports the homosexual rights movement.

“The public and the American Family Association are very concerned about that,” he said.

He also said his organization and others are concerned about what he calls the “formal and very public financial connection between UMF and the premiere (awards) banquet of Maine’s most radical pro-homosexual organization, Equality Maine.”

The university declined to comment on any relationship with Equality Maine, an organization founded in 1984 to promote equality for Maine's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents. UMF does appear on Equality Maine's website as a major sponsor of the organization's annual awards dinner held in Portland last March.

Simoneau said she was told to expect a fair number of counterprotesters to appear Friday, but she’s hoping they won’t interrupt the 1 p.m. event that steps off at Meetinghouse Park, moving along Main Street and ending at Abbott Park, a distance of about a half-mile.

She has consulted with police about how to instruct topless demonstrators to avoid confrontation, including not engaging counterprotesters in discussions and maintaining a respectful distance from other people along the route.

A success, she said, would be a “peaceful day where everybody had fun and everyone learned something about the legality of toplessness in Maine. And, hopefully, strides being made toward removing the social stigma of taking their tops off in public.”

“I just want it to be peaceful and safe,” she said.

Branham said the march is not university sponsored or endorsed; it is a private event being organized by a private individual.

Simoneau echoed that view, saying the university’s position on her efforts is neutral, that her project is a “private action undertaken by a private citizen of the town.”

A number of local churches have organized a silent female-only prayer protest to coincide with the march. They are planning to line the sidewalk along Farmington’s main street to offer prayer. According to organizer Dovey Balsam, women are invited to join them in peace.

Heath is not planning to attend Friday’s events.

jmeyer@sunjournal.com

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Comments

 's picture

here is one more angle to all

here is one more angle to all this: health. woman have more sensitive skin then men. we also have a higher rate of skin cancer, whether due to tanning booths or not. areola and nipple skin lack the pigmentation defenses to protect from sun damage. those of us northerners who tend to be extreemly pale burn easily and have higher chances of developing skin cancer. if people want to prance around topless, go for it. just don't be surprised that pale skinned northerners aren't really into it.

 

on a side note: i'm so pale that i wouldn't go topless because the glare would blind passing traffic, or so white that i'm transparent and you could see my heartbeat, or i'd just burst into flames.

 's picture

Woman topless = Supporting

Woman topless = Supporting gay rights? For anyone to believe this is completely absurd. One group is fighting for women's rights, while another is fighting for gay rights. Heath can try and get UMF to stop it, but fact is they can't. It is not held on the campus and it is not the University itself that is putting this on. Even if somehow the University tries to stop this, it would be impossible as there are no laws in Farmington banning women from going topless. Simple thing to solve, you don't want to see it, don't show up. Radical Christians like this make me ashamed to put myself in the same grouping as them.

 's picture

Disagree

Mr. Coffin-  I disagree with part of you comments about not hurting children.  In our society, most of our children are raised that we do not parade around with parts of our anatomy(female breasts)exposed in public.  Is the next step to be flopping them around in restaurants.  The Un. of Maine, Farmington must be involved in this if this gay broad needs the President's permission.  As far out as Mr. Heath is, he has the same rights to his beliefs as you do to your's.  I do not agree with his goings on, but I would not want my daughters running around topless for something that is legal to do anyway.  It is stupid.

 's picture

Heath is against it?

Then I am definitely for it. And I don't even care what "it" is.

 's picture

Here's the Trick

In the place that these marches have been organized, there is NO ban on women being topless!  So the "statement" that they are trying to make is basically a mute point.  If they were really serious about this they would actually be having a protest in a place that is openly against it.  They don't want to take any chances on being arrested for their cause, which tells me that they aren't really serious, they are just a minor pain in the...neck.

JONATHAN ALBRECHT's picture

Great job Andrea

Now that the homophobes and prudes have had their chance to write of their insanity, we should turn our attention to Heath.

How do you make this connection. Mr. Heath won't say. Because there is none. So Mr. Heath is using the event as a means to attack UMF. He's hoping the College which has nothing to do with the event will stop it.

I hope the College fights the FOAA request.

 's picture

Obscene

I have not seen a picture of this "whatever" in Farmington, but the organizer of the Portland spectical is a perfect example of some people that should stay fully clothed at all times even at a nudist camp!!!

 's picture

Don't show up

I still think the best way to combat this issue would be for no one to show up.  Let them walk their half-mile walk alone with no one watching.  That would make them mad and they might give up this hobby.

 's picture

preference

i also think that this is about getting attention. we all already knew women could go topless in maine thanks to that woman simply mowing her lawn topless a few years ago. i think that these marchers think that since we don't all just strip off our tops and run down the street, that we don't know about the law. we do. i prefer not getting a sunburn on the sensetive skin on my chest, which my bra would really irratate. or going into an air conditioned store topless. chilly. its about preference ladies. get over it.

 's picture

Shopping

Mr Heath is way behind in judging the College and Farmington. They have  had quite the reputation for weirdos for some time now. You wonder if this is what a college education does to supposedly sane people. Maybe it is something in the water?? Our family and friends stopped shopping in Farmington when this march was announced as I am sure many other families have.  As for dear Andrea, I hope she still feels and looks the same when she turns 70. Just slip sliding and flip flopping around. What an attention getter for her, which is all it is.

 's picture

differ with one sentence

This 22 year old misfit can not be too "well educated" to persist doing foolishness like this in our society.  What does she hope to gain but get upset with the counter protesters and the people taking pictures without her permission like that obscene leader of the Portland Show!  I am proud of my daughters having better sense than these "wonders of nature" of Maine.

 's picture

Hello

Should we really pay respects when you consider others misfits for not fitting into your perfectly trained attitude about how people should and will act?  I'm glad you trained your own children to see the benefits of gathering and working with others it should suit them well when they go to heaven and you scream "Lord, Lord" as if to say opening the door of the promises in persistence.  In European cultural developments things are much more open instead of causing intense public criticism.  To consider it foolishness and folly is idiotic it is equality and since you will be screaming "Lord, Lord" in hypocritical fashion should we really pay attention to you?

 's picture

Heath

Let's see draining funding from local churches to bring in outside lobbyist... oh, wait they are called speakers now; which motivate children to the the right Conservative light.  I'd seek to write an expose on how much Heath has taken from the local churches over the years and how much has been placed into their political lobbying firms.  Dare, I say would anyone else be interested in filing an FOAA request with me; to petition the emailing list and information of the various conservative speakers which have been brought to Maine by the CCL, and Church donations which are normally tithed for poor and currently developing countries?  I'm not supportive of gay marriage but this is more about equality and I think we see Mr. Heath in full Conservative glory when it comes to playing off the Nazi card so to speak in restricting the first amendment right of others. 

DANNY FITZSIMMONS's picture

:)  

:)

 

DANNY FITZSIMMONS's picture

will there be topless beaches

will there be topless beaches next jeez I may be temped to back to the sea after Jaws after all:)

 's picture

Looking Good

If men don't need shirts why not let the women go with out shirts, this way they won't need to go to a tanning booth, Let Mother Nature do her Wonders, if ya got it might as well flaunt what God Has Given to Ya, haaaaaaa

 's picture

convenient

Convenient to be out of the country and out of touch, if you can believe being out of touch in today's world.  Ha Ha.

 's picture

haha awesome.

haha awesome.

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