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Dueling protests occurred outside a Baptist church in Medford, Maine Friday over a sign posted outside about “gender identity.”
The New England Baptist Church’s sign reads: “Male and Female He Created Them. Gen. 5:2. Gender Identity Solved.”
Northeastern University journalism professor Dan Kennedy called the sign an “anti-LGBTQ message.”
“No one was demanding that the church remove the message, which is protected by the First Amendment. But members of the trans community and their allies wanted to let them know that their views weren’t welcome,” Kennedy wrote on his website.
New England Baptist Church Pastor Joseph Hawkins told WBZ he doesn’t believe they are preaching hate or violence.
“This is a message of God’s truth and us trying to reveal it to our community,” Hawkins said. “It’s almost hypocritical that they can present their world view and we can’t.”
But Jonathan Dallas, a resident who identifies as nonbinary, said the sign encourages violence.
“The sign itself isn’t being inclusive and it’s not the representation of Medford,” Dallas told WBZ. “The message encourages other people to act on it, that if you don’t belong to male or female gender like somebody like myself that’s in between… If I’m walking down the street, is someone following me and will try something.”
Medford City Councilors Zac Bears and Nicole Morell, as well as Councilor and mayoral candidate John Falco and Mayor Breanna Lungo-Kown, joined dozens who marched in front of the church building then rallied across the street, Boston.com reports.
Bears tweeted: “Two, four, six, eight: Medford has no room for hate! I was proud to join so many Medford residents tonight standing in solidarity with our LGBTQ+ family, friends, and neighbors. Trans rights are human rights!”