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Father threatens custody suit after ex-wife befriends “known homosexual”

21 Mar

Here’s one for the books…

Lawyer Paul C. Sullivan penned homophobic letter

Lawyer Paul C. Sullivan penned homophobic letter

A Roman Catholic father in Maryland has asked his lawyer, Paul C. Sullivan to pen one of the most horrific pieces of undeniable bigotry I have seen in recent years.

Ed and Kelly were married, had two children and then divorced (as has been known to happen). Kelly was awarded custody of the children with visitation from Ed. Since then, it seems Kelly has become friends with a gay man – Chris. Kelly has since re-married and she sometimes asks Chris to babysit her kids (as has been known to happen).

Apparently, that’s not okay with Ultra-Catholic Ed. The following letter was sent to Kelly with regards to her parenting. In it, Paul Sullivan engages in a homophobic tirade ignorantly linking being gay to being a child predator, claiming that by having a gay person around the house, Kelly is “encouraging a homosexual lifestyle” and threatens investigations and custody trials should Kelly not reverse the child’s dangerous course.

Additionally, the lawyer and father have been in communication with the Sheriff, the county commissioners, the vice principal and the guidance counselor of the middle school Kelly’s son attends.

Kelly’s friend Chris has no record of being a child predator or really any criminal record whatsoever, but the lawyer’s letter also threatens to pursue criminal proceedings against him – merely for babysitting Kelly’s son.

Some further research and a conversation with Kelly has brought some more information to light. It turns out Ed has released some videos about his wife, “The Drug Slut,” and it turns out their son’s behavior problems include getting detention for talking in class and simply not wanting to participate in the extreme dogma his father tries to force upon him.

Ed’s organization, Maryland’s Fathers Rights League is also known for lobbying against the Violence Against Women Act

If this were 1950, I might understand some of the homophobic and vitriolic things being claimed here by Paul Sullivan, but it’s 2013. Here is the full text of the letter followed by images (emphasis is mine).

Dear Mrs. XXXXXX

I have been retained by Mr. XXX again to address parenting issues related to your two (2) sons. As you know, there has been considerable difficulty recently related to your refusal to support and encourage the children’s Roman Catholic faith and certain biblical precepts related to lifestyle choices. It appears as if you are encouraging a homosexual lifestyle for the children and allowing your eldest, XXXX at age 13 to be placed in an environment where he could, and likely would, be exposed to a child predator.

As you know this case was previously assigned to Judge Kenneth long who is currently the administrative judge for the Washington County Circuit Court in Hagerstown. In the event you continue the destructive parenting that encourages XXXX’ exploration of decadent choices in behavior, we will have no alternative but to file to obtain sole legal custody and sole physical custody of both children. We have been in communication with Sheriff XXXX, the vice principal of XXXX Middle School, the guidance counselor at XXXX Middle School and the president of the XXXX County Commissioners, seeking their assistance and support in helping XXXX change the path which you seem to be encouraging.

It may be necessary for us to file a CINA petition, because the actions taken at his school related to detention do not seem to be having any corrective effect. This child appears to be out of control because of your refusal to co-parent with Mr. XXXX on Saturday, March 16th at 8:30 PM as ordered by the court. It is our understanding that you allowed XXXX to stay overnight at the home of a known homosexual whose probable intentions related to XXXX are suspect. Further investigation may lead to the request for criminal charges against that individual due to XXXX minority.

We’re attempting to obtain additional assistance to help XXXX abate the current course you have encouraged him to travel. You seem not to understand the eventual adverse consequences that may occur for XXXX and which could adversely affect him for a lifetime.

If, however, you would be taking the position in court that you are not encouraging XXXX in the way it is believed you are, and are in fact unable to adequately discipline XXXX or institute and enforce parental boundaries that are needed, you certainly have the option to enter into a consent decree allowing Mr. XXXX to have sole legal and sole physical custody of the children so that he will have the authority, within the bounds of law, to take the corrective action needed to safeguard the best interests of the children.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions concerning this matter. If you are agreeable to the entry of a consent order as suggested above, please call me at your earliest convenience and I will prepare it for your review and signature.

Thank you and kindest regards,

Very truly yours,

Paul C. Sullivan


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What if this whole thing wasn’t about Chick-fil-A at all?

8 Aug

Over the years, corporations have at times been vocal about social issues. It takes courage to take a stand that is sometimes unpopular, but once in a while, a company takes that brave first step.

But a couple weeks ago, something shifted. Something happened that caused all anti-gay hell to break loose. Chick-fil-A‘s CEO came out against marriage equality. For years now, individuals and companies have expressed their opinions and those of us in the equality movement have tried to make it known. JCPenney was boycotted by anti-gay groups when they hired Ellen Degeneres as a spokesperson and published a catalog featuring a photo of lesbian moms and their kids. A few people noticed, but it didn’t become a national debate. A list of California’s anti-gay Proposition 8 supporters came out. Some people got hysterical and started small boycotts of some companies, but again – it didn’t really wind up on the news.

Then CFA’s CEO Dan Cathy spoke up and told the Baptist Press that the company was “guilty as charged” for backing “the biblical definition of a family.” In a later radio interview, he ratcheted up the rhetoric: “I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.’” And everyone heard it.

I’ve now waded through tens of thousands of comments on Facebook, talked to dozens of people in real life and one thing has become clear. For some reason, something happened that made people stand up and take notice.

For many people in our community, we have those in our lives who we know might not be the most supportive of equality. For years we’ve gently nudged them and some have even taken great strides. And then there are some who have just remained quiet while we’ve posted things on Facebook about different stories of discrimination – some violent and horrific. But for some reason, this Chick-fil-A thing happens and EVERYONE has an opinion – and not a small-voiced one either.

I made a meme that wound up on George Takei’s Facebook wall. It didn’t mention CFA directly but featured The Muppets’ Kermit and Miss Piggy getting married. The text read: Thank you Jim Henson’s Muppets, Standing Up for Non-Traditional Marriage since 1984. The meme was shared 38,000 times, liked 121,000 times and had more than 3,000 comments.

I’ve found most are from people who are misinformed. Most who stand with Chick-fil-A think this is an issue of “free speech” trying to be squashed. Clearly they don’t have an understanding that free speech happens in both directions. Anyone can say whatever the hell they want. And when they say that thing, they have to be willing to face the consequences. And then the other side has free speech as well – to do things like arrange boycotts if you like, or educate the public.

Many think people are just upset because Dan Cathy expressed his opinion on something and some didn’t like that opinion. Some of us have been working to get the message out there that this is not at all about his opinion on marriage equality, it’s about the millions of CFA dollars he’s spent on anti-gay hate groups. As outlined in an earlier post, he’s given over $5 million to groups that (among many other things) try to cure gay people and fight to have gay people put to death in Uganda.

But back to my original question. What is it about this particular moment in history and this particular story that has caused the masses to speak out?

I was talking to a friend earlier who is not terribly active in the LGBT community. He’s gay and married, but doesn’t frequently post things even slightly political on Facebook. He’s shocked at how many friends he’s seen with bigoted opinions. Some who even came to his wedding. I too have seen many comments on things whose opinion I never knew until now.

Even people like Broadway reality performer Bailey Hanks has taken a side. Normally you would think that someone who spends most of their time surrounded by gay people onstage, offstage, in the audience and more than likely cutting her paychecks, would be supportive. But Bailey posted an image to her personal Facebook page clearly coming out in favor of the bigoted fast food chain.

So what is it? Is this really about Chick-fil-A or did we hit a tipping point where those who’ve secretly hated gay people for years feel like their chicken sandwich is worth more than the lives of their gay friends?

UPDATE******

Just a little update on the status of Bailey Hanks. Shortly after we tweeted the story to her, she replied that she is a “Proud Christian.” I replied and when I looked for a response, I discovered she’d blocked her account. Bailey, if you’re reading this, we just want to know if you believe it is “Christian” for Chick-fil-A to support anti-gay hate groups and if you believe your co-workers deserve the same rights as you do. It’s all we want to know.

Upon a little further research, Bailey also tweeted her love of the anti-gay fast food chain on Chick-fil-A Appreciation day! I guess it wasn’t just about her “dear friend” who works at CFA.

Houston Chronicle Blogger Blames Parents for Gay Kid’s Suicides

4 Nov

Texas Sparkle a.k.a. Kathleen McKinley

A Houston Chronicle blog titled “Texas Sparkle” and written by Kathleen McKinley states that parents of gay children are the cause when a child commits suicide. Apparently folks should be encouraging their children to continue hiding who they are when in school so as to not tempt potential bullies.

“Am I mad at the hateful mean kids who bully and tease these teens? You bet I am. But I am just as mad at the idiotic adults who force our adult views on kids, and pull them into our adult world long before they are mature enough to handle it. The 13 year old that killed himself told his Mom he was gay. She said she already knew and hugged him. She said she just assumed that everyone else would be as accepting as she was.”

“Why in the world would you give teenagers a REASON to tease you? Oh, yes, because the adults tell you to embrace who you are, the only problem? Kids that age are just discovering who they are. They really have no idea yet.  The adults tell you to “come out,” when what we should be telling them is that sex is for adults, and there is plenty of time for figuring out that later. Figure out yourself first. Focus on the kind of person you want to be, not the kind of person you want to sleep with.”

McKinley parrots the idea that children as young as 13 are too young to understand what being gay means. This of course throws out generations of studies which prove children much younger than that understand who they are attracted to. Additionally, like so many others in the anti-LGBT camp, she seems to enjoy defining LGBT relationships as purely sexual. She goes on to explain what her perfect world would be: (please note that includes no boy-boy or girl-girl relationships, merely pretty boy-ugly girl relationships)

“Listen, in my perfect world, kids would be kind to one another, no matter what differences there are. Handsome guys would ask out not so pretty girls, and see the great people they really are. Cheerleaders would go out with the nerds because they admire their brains. No one would tease anyone else, and everyone would be friends. BUT THAT ISN’T THE REAL WORLD!”

She attacks Gay Straight Alliances being formed in high schools, which has been proven to reduce bullying and help students build important friendships and connections they will hold on to through much of their adult lives.

“The 15 year old who committed suicide had started a “Rainbow Club” at his high school. Was there NO ADULT anywhere that could have said that maybe that isn’t such a good idea? Oh, no. Because that would be politically incorrect. Good grief. The idea of a high school club based on who you want to sleep with is absurd to begin with.”

And finally, she blames LGBT youth suicides on the “It Will Get Better” Campaign…assuming she means the “It Gets Better” Campaign, she’s clearly missed the point.

These kids were sold a bill of goods by people who thought they were being kind. The “It will get better” campaign just didn’t think it through. They didn’t think about the fact that kids are different from adults. They handle things differently. They react differently. Why? BECAUSE THEY ARE KIDS. You can grumble all day long how unfair it is that straight teens can be straight in high school, and gay kids can’t, but life is unfair. Isn’t the price they are paying too high?? Is it so much to ask them to stand at the door of adulthood before they “come out” publically? Because it may save their life.

Let’s let kids be kids, for God’s sake. Remember the gay young boy’s last message said, “How do you know it will get better?” He was a KID! Kids can’t see  around the corner. They just aren’t mature enough yet. They don’t see it getting better no matter how many times Lady Ga Ga says it will. So, enough with our politically correct campaigns aimed at kids.

It’s killing them.

I cannot help but wonder how old “Texas Sparkle” was when she lost her virginity or first realized she had a crush on a boy? I wonder how she’d feel if someone told her that it was wrong to like boys and that she had to hide the fact that she was attracted to them? Would it be the person telling her to suppress her feelings that caused her grief or would she blame the person who told her she should be able to express herself the way she wanted to and love the kind of person she felt attracted to? I’m shocked she went so far as to say her perfect world included nerd-cheerleader and hunk-ugly girl relationships – it’s not what she seems to be advocating in the rest of her article.

If you read through the comments section, you’ll notice she responds to nearly everything and contradicts herself frequently – at times saying she isn’t encouraging kids to stay in the closet, but then saying it’s okay to avoid the bullying. She’s also posted an update after Gawker posted her piece. She defends her bigotry further by saying she has stood up for GOProud (a Conservative gay group that has proven itself to be hateful towards lesbians and trans people). If not for the grammatical errors that only a Tea Partier could respect, one might be concerned that this is a person who has anyone reading what she writes.

Bigoted Teacher Returns to Classroom, Would You Want Him Teaching Your Kids?

25 Aug

Bigoted Teacher Jerry Buell

There’s been a lot of discussion about a Florida teacher who took to his Facebook page to say that he “almost threw up” upon seeing a news story about marriage equality coming to New York.

He was initially suspended for the comment, but Superintendent Susan Moxley reinstated him today.

In school districts across the country, teachers are not permitted to use social media inappropriately, as anything that might be said will undoubtedly reflect upon the school district. In fact, there are stories all over about teachers losing their jobs over Facebook and Twitter comments they’ve made. What’s different about Buell’s story however, is there is a small army of very vocal, very homophobic people who are jumping to his defense claiming the school infringed upon Buell’s “First Amendment rights.”

Strangely enough, these defenders of free speech were not there to stand up for Massachusetts teacher, Dr. June Talvitie-Siple when she took to her Facebook page to say that the residents of the town she taught in were “arrogant and snobby.” She lost her job.

Or another Massachusetts teacher, Jon O’Keefe – who was fired for simply accepting students as “friends” on Facebook.

Or Iowa Catholic school teacher, Abby Nurre who lost her job over saying she didn’t believe in God on Facebook.

Ashley Payne was fired for having this photo on her Facebook page

And then there was the Georgia Public School teacher, Ashley Payne who, after a European vacation including some drinking, was fired for having a picture of herself on Facebook holding a glass of wine.

It’s really troublesome to fight for free speech for some and not all.

Queerty happened to archive a website they found regarding the experience of a gay student in Jerry Buell’s classroom. Unfortunately, the blogger has pulled the post from his site, but this account of a gay student’s experience in his classroom is certainly jarring. The original post appeared on AntiGayBigotryScaresMe.blogspot.com

The clearest and most specific example I can provide of Jerry Buell’s anti-gay remarks in the classroom happened my 11th grade year (2001-2002) during his American History course. Before explaining this occurrence, I would like to first comment on Mr. Buell’s classroom. Among several things hung around the room, Bible verses were spread across the walls, accented by a picture of Jesus Christ above the clock. While there may have been some additional quotes from other scholars and philosophers, the signs were predominantly Christian. And while, yes, Buell’s number one rule was/is Respect, I personally fail to find how those signs are equally respectful to other religions in a public school classroom or how his statement respects human life.

… a student provocatively asked Mr. Buell what he thoughts about gays in the military. I tensed, knowing full well the point of view to follow in Mr. Buell’s response.

I looked up when he said he supported gays in the military, stunned by the answer. He immediately followed that comment with the statement that we should then put them on the front lines, and pull back. Disgusted at the thought of violence and murder of humans being vocally supported, I shut my book and walked out of class, the only time I would ever do this during my educational career.

I returned at the closing bell to raise the issue with Mr. Buell. He noted my actions could be grounds for discipline, to which I countered by noting that his comments, if reported, would be the same. I also pointed out that the man in the picture hanging above the clock never advocated murdering another human being.

I didn’t report him then, and am sharing this story now to simply provide an example of Buell’s personal opinions infiltrating his classroom and teaching. His statements in recent media stories that he values students equally and loves his gay students I personally believe are inaccurate given my experiences as a student and alumni of his classrooms.

It should also be noted that Buell’s classroom syllabus states:

 “I teach God’s truth, I make very few compromises. If you believe you may have a problem with that, get your schedule changed, ’cause I ain’t changing!”

If teachers can get fired for holding a glass of wine in a Facbook picture, calling the parents of their students “snobby,” saying they don’t believe in God or even adding students as “friends,” then how is a man who refuses to separate church and state and wish death upon his LGBT students – still teaching.

Wouldn’t it be great if GLSEN, The Trevor Project, HRC and the It Gets Better Project and all the other organizations fighting for our rights made a specific campaign to educate and empower the parents and students of this school?

I believe in the freedom of speech for all, however I also believe that those who use it to hate and oppress others should be held responsible for the things they say. And if the things they say are harmful to the people they are charged with educating in a public school, they should not be entitled to that job.

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