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Will Anti-Gay Group NOM be one band’s Yoko Ono?

15 Mar

It’s been a rough week for the anti-gay group, National Organization for Marriage (NOM) – actually, a really rough two days to be specific.

Let’s review:

In an AP interview on Thursday, John Eastman, chair of NOM blasted families with adopted children and specifically the family of Chief Justice John Roberts (who has two adopted children):

“You’re looking at what is the best course societywide to get you the optimal result in the widest variety of cases. That often is not open to people in individual cases. Certainly adoption in families headed, like Chief Roberts’ family is, by a heterosexual couple, is by far the second-best option.

Next, NOM released a commercial for their hate march happening March 26th the same day as the United for Marriage rally outside the Supreme Court. As with any anti-gay propaganda they release, it was full of lies which have been debunked dozens of times – and were debunked again by our friend Jeremy Hooper at GoodAsYou.org.

Then last night, NOM proudly announced the talent they’d acquired for their big gay-hate fest. Two musical groups were announced, The Lee Boys – a “sacred steel ensemble,” and an adorable celtic fiddle-playing boyband called Ultramontane.

The Lee Boys were set to perform at NOM's anti-gay march until they learned it was an anti-gay march.

The Lee Boys were set to perform at NOM’s anti-gay march until they learned it was an anti-gay march.

This morning, Jeremy Hooper started reaching out. In the first few hours of the day, he discovered that Katie Herzig, the writer of the song used in NOM’s hate march video is actually a big fan of marriage equality. Additionally, NOM stole her song without permission – apparently ignoring one of the Ten Commandments. Katie is now demanding it be taken down.

Following that, it seems the Lee Boys weren’t aware that NOM was an anti-gay group and immediately upon finding out, pulled out of the rally. One band member told Jeremy “Music is about love.”

"Ultramontane" according to NOM's website

“Ultramontane” according to NOM’s website

So what was up with these attractive young men and their fiddles? Jeremy had done enough great work, so I took this one on myself. After googling Ultramontane for hours, I discovered this band clearly didn’t exist. Then Jeremy swooped in again and found the photo NOM had used on another band’s website. It seems this band was known as “Scythian” just moments ago…well 4 out of 5 of them anyway.

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The band, Scythian (which looks alarmingly like the band Utramontane) (from r to l) Ben-David Warner, Alexander Fedoryka, Danylo Fedoryka, Andrew Toy and Josef Crosby.

Why would they change their name and cut that poor sweet boy with the beard out of their little fiddle club? The band had plenty of recent concert dates and upcoming ones as well, had they split up?

Upon further research, it seems they have not split up and actually only 3 of these guys will be playing for the anti-gay march. Alexander Fedoryka, Danylo Fedoryka and Ben-David Warner apparently have no problem aligning themselves with the hate group, while drummer Andrew Toy and Josef Crosby apparently didn’t want any part of the bigoted goings-on.

The band’s representation, Skyline Music LLC released the following statement:

“Like this country, the members of Scythian are divided on the definition of marriage, but, remaining great friends, they have the utmost respect for each other’s’ freedoms of speech and assembly.”

While of course no one can argue that when disagreeing, we should do so respectfully, I can’t help but wonder how Andrew and Josef feel about the other members of the band using their photos to help promote this hate march. Though I hadn’t heard of this group before yesterday, it’s a DC area band I would have loved to see play some time. But after this, I certainly can’t see myself supporting the livelihoods of young men aligning themselves with people who think I’m “worthy of death.”

The band has since removed this photo from their website, assumingly so they won’t be associated with the new anti-gay band “Ultramontane,” but one must wonder if the anti-gay NOM will be the Yoko Ono of Scythian. Apparently NOM isn’t happy just breaking up gay and lesbian families.

UPDATE:

Following an announcement on Friday evening of the band’s intent about the rally (that three members were playing it and 2 were staying out), as of Monday morning their facebook page and twitter accounts have both disappeared.

Before now, none of the band members had publicly acknowledged their support of the LGBT community. But on drummer Andrew Toy‘s facebook page, he replied to one thankful commenter:

“I have always been and will always be an LGBT ally and supporter of marriage equality!”

Thank you, Andrew for your support!

Screen Shot 2013-03-18 at 10.45.37 AM

 

Is it Christian to be Anti-Gay?

15 Aug

Between Chick-fil-A and today’s shooting at the Family Research Council’s (FRC) offices, there’s been a lot of discussion about something called a “Hate Group.”

Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins

Groups such as FRC, the National Organization for Marriage, Focus on the Family, Public Advocate, American Family Association and many others frequently refer to themselves as “Pro-Family,” “Pro-Marriage” and sometimes “Christian” organizations. And when asked, the leaders of these groups will be the first to tell you they hold nothing against the gay community. It’s their actions though, that you need to take a look at. As I’d mentioned in some discussions last week, Richard Nixon can say “I’m not a crook” all he wants, that doesn’t mean he’s not one.

While these groups may do some excellent work with Christian charities, their primary focus is on fighting to have the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people denied. But over the years, they’ve been able to frame what it is they do with those “Pro-family” and “Christian” modifiers. It’s a frustrating fight for those of us seeking nothing more than equal treatment under the law, when these incorrectly-identified groups can lie by claiming they are being attacked by people who are “Anti-Christian” or “Anti-family.” Even today’s attack, though details are still not complete – it’s become clear that the suspect was angered over FRC’s anti-gay policies. If it was an organization that was simply hosting soup kitchens, running orphanages and caring for the poor, I can almost guarantee he wouldn’t be driven to opening fire in their offices.

That’s where the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) comes in. According to their website, “SPLC is dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry, and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of our society. Using litigation, education and other forms of advocacy, we work toward the day when the ideals of equal justice and equal opportunity will be a reality.” One of the ways they do this is by exhaustively researching the work of groups like the Ku Klux Klan, neo-nazis, racist skinheads,  black separatists and border vigilantes and identifying them as “hate groups.”

Identifying an anti-gay group as a “hate group” is based on their propagation of known falsehoods — claims about LGBT people that have been thoroughly discredited by scientific authorities — and repeated, groundless name-calling. Viewing homosexuality as unbiblical does not qualify organizations for listing as hate groups. 

While identifying themselves as “pro-family” groups, they are actually fighting against more than 1 million American families with more than 2 million kids who are being raised by LGBT parents. Without marriage protections, some of these families are legal strangers to one another. Anti-gay adoption laws, which were lobbied for and won by these organizations keep kids from ever finding forever homes. And anti-gay marriage laws assure that these families will suffer from a crippling lack of legal protections. There is nothing “pro-family” or “Christian” about allowing families to be ripped apart or seeing children raised by a foster care system when there are thousands of loving couples ready to adopt.

In addition to the work of these groups in the U.S., some of them have been linked to anti-gay legislation in other countries. The Ugandan “Kill the Gays” bill would penalize acts of homosexuality with life imprisonment or in “aggravated” cases, gay people could be put to death. While the US Congress was preparing to pass a condemnation of the Ugandan legislation, FRC spent $25,000 on lobbyists to stop them from denouncing the law. They claim that they were only trying to change the language of the denouncement, but in prior lobbying documents from FRC, they’d indicated they were attempting “to amend” legislation, whereas the tax documents for this action contained no such itemization of amendments.

National Organization for Marriage’s        Brian Brown

These groups have painted themselves with bright colors to make people think they are fighting for tradition, for family, for morality and for freedom. But the truth of the matter is they don’t fight for anything. They are only fighting against LGBT people so that we can’t experience the same freedoms they do. How else can you explain the National Organization for Marriage, whose mission statement is “to protect marriage and the faith communities that sustain it,” attacking things like bathrooms for transgender people, gender identity in children, or children being taught that gay people even exist. They’ve even worked to falsely link gay people to pedophilia. None of those things have anything to do with “protecting marriage,” so why are they fighting them? Because they are not pro-anything, they are anti-gay.

Folks, none of this is about marriage and none of this is about “protecting” anything. These groups have spent years weaving a myth shrouded in flowery and false “pro-Christian” memes. Today’s attack on FRC is something that was perpetrated by a man who was clearly out of his mind. And just as these groups’ motivations have very little to do with marriage, I don’t beleive the shooter’s motivations did either.

Despite Family Research Council’s lobbying against the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act, we believe that what happened today was a hate crime and should be investigated as such. The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community understands all too well violence against people based on their political beliefs and personal lives.

And while nearly every group pro and anti-LGBT, took time today to condemn the shooting and call for sanity and non-violence in this debate, one group made the active decision to politicize the discussion. The National Organization for Marriage released statements and blog posts (long before anything was known about the shooter), to attack SPLC for identifying Family Research Council as a “hate group.” At a time when many people’s thoughts are with the victim of the shooting, NOM is once again spending their time on something other than marriage. If there was ever a question about their true motivations, that question has been answered.

These are the vocal organization who are out in the media every day claiming to represent Christians and Christian morality. If you are a Christian and know that what they are doing is decidedly against the things you’ve learned, it’s up to you to speak up. Tell them and tell your religious leaders that the bigotry being taught is not representative of you.

In closing, I wanted to share my own motivation in writing this. A comment from someone named Leslie McLafferty on my previous post about today’s shooting:

Maggie’s Flip-Flop on Immigration and Baiting of the Latino Community

5 Apr

NOM's Maggie Gallagher

In case you haven’t heard or are living under a rock, a couple weeks ago the National Organization for Marriage found themselves in hot water following the release of some internal documents.

The NOM papers, which had been released as part of a court agreement in Maine revealed some rather atrocious plans to divide the LGBT, African American and Latino communities. I don’t need to rehash the story here, but if you haven’t read about it, you can check it out here, here and in the New York Times.

I want to focus for a second though on one of the divisions NOM tried to make. In the released papers, NOM states:

“The Latino vote in America is a key swing vote, and will be so even more so in the future, both because of demographic growth and inherent uncertainty: Will the process of assimilation to the dominant Anglo culture lead Hispanics to abandon traditional family values?” the document asks. “We must interrupt this process of assimilation by making support for marriage a key badge of Latino identity – a symbol of resistance to inappropriate assimilation.”

Maggie Gallagher, former President and Chairman of the the board for NOM more than likely helped craft much of this messaging. So I thought I’d do a little research into Maggie’s stance on immigration. At first I was really pleasantly surprised by a 1995 column written by Maggie. It was titled “America’s Meltdown Can’t be Blamed on Immigrants.” Of course, this is from 1995, before immigration was such a hot-button issue. In the column, she acknowledges her own status as a 2nd generation American and even goes on to mention how the post-60s immigration wave helped her “snag a husband.”

“Immigration is an easy scapegoat for our own cultural meltdown, our failure to maintain and transmit to our children a unified and vigorous vision of American history, institutions and heritage. Our system of government is under assault and our way of life threatened by ignorance, crime and social disorder. But grind immigration to a total halt, and you’ve done nothing about this real cancer eating away at the heart of American civilization.

The fault… lies not in our immigrants but in ourselves.”

Me…dumbfounded. Did Maggie just write something I agree with and goes utterly against her own party’s platform? Did she really just use our own pro-immigration argument to say that our country’s history and very founding depended on immigration? Wait…no. She didn’t “just” say it. She said it in 1995.

Upon further Googling, I find Maggie’s column from 10 years later, after George W. Bush, (her former employer) made immigration a “thing.” Maggie has clearly changed her tune and taken on the mantle of a racist, “illegals” hater.

“For me, personally, illegal Mexican immigration means that when a foot of snow falls, two nice guys show up and offer to shovel the driveway for $25.

But for my friend “Mary,” the whole issue looks different. She cleans houses and baby-sits for a living. Her son paints houses. In both cases, they are competing directly with a new flood of immigrants who don’t mind living doubled or quadrupled up (changing the character of neighborhoods) and for whom $10 bucks an hour is a premium wage.”

Happily though, Maggie’s opinions and her organization’s racist tactics don’t seem to be making much of a difference. According to a poll released yesterday from Pew Hispanic Center, Latinos support LGBT equality by a number of 59% to 30% who oppose it. Another takeaway from the study is that 3 out of 10 Latinos consider themselves “liberal,” compared to just 21% of the general population.

LGBT equality should not be a Republican or Democratic issue as all people should share in the equality offered by our Constitution. Immigration is similar in that our country is a country made up entirely of immigrants. Outside of indigenous peoples, we all came from another country…not so long ago in the grand scheme of things. It is utterly hypocritical of Americans to be anti-immigration.

I Said Yes: The Video

2 Jan

It’s been a little more than 36 hours since my boyfriend got down on one knee and asked me to marry him.

Since then, more than a thousand people have commented, liked, called, texted or sent smoke signals congratulating us. We couldn’t be more happy at the outpouring of love and support.

I’m still in so much shock every time I look at my finger. I just keep jumping back to when I was a kid thinking this wasn’t something that would ever happen for me because I was gay. Even when I was older and I’d become more comfortable with myself, I would rent gay movies like Maurice or Beautiful Thing,  and while it was certainly encouraging to see our stories being told on film, there was rarely a “happily ever after.”

Our friend, Tom captured the moment on his iPhone and just posted it to youtube this morning and we wanted to share it. To be honest, I don’t recall it being that loud or 3/4 of the things that were said, but it certainly is nice to have this record of it. Please watch and share if you like.

Maybe some kid out there will watch this and realize that their prince or princess is out there looking for their fairytale ending too.

I said yes. #SuckitNOM

1 Jan

Our friends Matt & Tom arrived at the apartment around 8pm for some pre-New Year’s Eve drinks and finger food. Hurriedly, I was plating meatballs and chicken wings when Matt knocked a bottle of red wine, sending it crashing to the floor. Immediately all four of us were sopping up red wine from the carpet and searching for solutions to avoid the stain. Happily after 10 minutes, it seemed the stain was avoided. We commenced eating and drinking and were then joined by our friend Gareth.

We headed off to meet our other friends at a bar in Dupont where I’d thrown Sean’s surprise birthday party last May. Uncharacteristically, Sean had made the decision to act as the evening’s cruise director and a couple dozen friends were meeting us at this bar.

It seemed like any other New Year’s Eve. Hanging with friends, watching Anderson Cooper be cute and Kathy Griffin be obnoxious on big screen TVs throughout the bar. But there was also an underlying anxiety that was hard to describe. Knowing what I know now, I can see the reason why at 11:59:30, almost everyone in the room was staring at me and Sean as they counted down.

3…2…1! HAPPY NEW YEAR! I kissed him for 3-5 seconds like I promised in yesterday’s blog post and pulled back to see Sean’s eyes filled with tears. He leaned back in and said in my ear, “I’ve got a question for you.” “Oh, do you? And what’s that?” I replied. The next 10 seconds felt like a lifetime as Sean struggled for words and the tears streamed down his face. Pausing, as the words weren’t coming, Sean reached into his vest pocket, pulled something out and fell to one knee. “Will you…will you marry me?”

Shock. My brain immediately went into hyperdrive, back to every wedding I went to as a kid and a teenager. There was this feeling that since I was gay, a wedding was not only a long shot, but damn near impossible. I’d resigned myself to the idea that marriage was for other people. Even with the work we’ve done towards equality and even after attending several gay weddings, that underlying feeling pervaded.

“Are you kidding? ARE YOU KIDDING?” were the only words my lizard brain could come up with as Sean knelt trembling and crying on the floor. “Will you?” he asked again. “Yes, of course.” he got up and we embraced for what felt like 30 minutes – shaking and crying. “Don’t make me turn around and look at all these people” Sean said, “I’m going to be a sobbing mess if I turn around and see them.” I turned him around and the merriment ensued.

So here I am today, a man engaged. No mother, we have not set the date yet. All we can say for sure now is that there will be rainbows, glitter, and at least two Tony Award winners who’ve already offered to perform.

 

Video by Tom Lotito

Ridiculous photos by Samantha Ames

Pastor Fired for Linking to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Story on Facebook

14 Oct

With so many stories of anti-gay teachers posting hateful things on their facebook walls, and a new campaign launched by the National Organization for Marriage, aiming to make victims out of bigots and defending their right to practice hatred towards LGBT people, you’d expect better when the tables were turned.

Blogger John Shore received a troubling email a few nights ago. A straight pastor who is married with 3 kids (and one on the way) was fired after posting a link to an article about the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell on his facebook wall. The pastor is receiving a severance package from the church, but that will end should he speak out publicly about his firing. With a large family and a baby due in December, unfortunately, losing his severance is not an option.

The pastor’s email said (in part):

“…Four weeks ago the discriminatory law of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” was finally abolished. Even though no one in my church community was aware of my views on homosexuality (I have been intentionally tight-lipped about it, knowing how divisive that issue is), and I’ve never talked about it, I felt like it was good to celebrate the end of discrimination. So I posted a link to an article about the end of DADT on my Facebook page. I made no commentary on the article–which was not about the “issue” of homosexuality at all…”

“Over the next few hours, several people from my church started commenting on my wall: “How can a Christian be pro-homosexuality?” “Why is a pastor actively promoting the gay-lifestyle?” and so on. Even more people were calling/texting/emailing our lead pastor and the chair of our elder board.”

“What resulted over the next six days was not fun. The chair of the elder board called for an emergency board meeting to deal with me. I was summoned to the board meeting, where I was forced to give my stance on homosexuality (even though the church has no official stance on the matter, and has never before talked about the issue). And even though I reminded them that we all agree on our church’s statement of faith, ultimately, when they learned that I don’t view homosexuality as a sin, and that I would be in favor of two gay people being allowed to get married, they came to the conclusion that I was unfit to be a pastor at [Name of Church]. And within a week of posting the article on FB page, I was fired from a church I’d served faithfully and helped to build for five years…”

“…Right now, three weeks after being fired, I have so many conflicting emotions. I’m devastated at being fired. I’m angry at the process by which it was done. I was just eliminated almost immediately. In the eyes of the church body and the staff I essentially just disappeared. I was there one week, and not the next. It’s made me feel like a leper, like someone who committed some heinous sin and had to be “dealt” with. I’m disappointed that the church I’d loved and served and believed in ultimately came up short. I desperately wanted [Name of Head Pastor] to stand by me, and say to the board and to the negative people in the church, “[Guy’s Name] and I agree on what it means to follow Jesus. We agree on the essentials of the faith. And we have done ministry together for five years, and I want to continue to serve alongside him. We disagree on things, on non-essential elements of the faith–and you know what? That’s okay! We celebrate our unity in the faith, and we welcome different viewpoints and beliefs.” That’s what I wanted; that’s what I hoped for…”

I can’t help but wonder (if the pastor could come forward) if Maggie Gallagher and the National Organization for Marriage would stand up for this man’s 1st amendment rights? Or are they only committed to those rights if they are protecting bigots who refuse to do their jobs and teach children intolerance and hatred?

Hate Group NOM Attacks Newborn Son of Rep Jared Polis

4 Oct

Welcome to the world, Caspian Julius!

We are frequently unsurprised when hate groups such as Focus on the Family, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) or others go after gays and lesbians who want to be married. In fact, it’s expected. But today, NOM outdid itself in its rhetoric around Congress’ first openly gay father.

In a post on their blog, NOM wrote:

“We have no clue whether it was a planned motherless family or whether he and his partner stepped in to give a motherless child a family–since he will not say.”

Last week, Rep. Jared Polis and his partner Marlon Reis, welcomed into the world Caspian Julius, weighing 8 lbs, 12 oz. The birth was greeted with statements of support and love from around the country and today, an attack from hate group NOM.

NOM followed-up it’s blog post with a tweet:

“Openly gay #CO Rep. @JaredPolis announces with pride that his child has no mother.”

According to their website, NOM “is a nonprofit organization with a mission to protect marriage and the faith communities that sustain it.” They claim that they exist to protect marriage, yet their tweets and comments and blog posts focus solely on attacking lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people.

Clearly in their current attack on Congressman Polis, they are ignoring the fact that an extraordinarily large majority (some say as high as 75%) of children do not live with their biological parents. NOM’s own former president Maggie Gallagher, was herself a single parent for many years. And current president Brian Brown spends much of his time traveling the country to attack LGBT people, while his wife raises their children essentially on her own.

So please don’t be fooled. The National Organization for Marriage, exists only to attack LGBT people, they’re protecting nothing. If they were actually interested in protecting marriage, maybe they’d spend a little more time on their own.

Welcome to the world, Caspian Julius and Congratulations Congressman Polis!

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