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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:

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When did you last see history being made?

6 Dec

Hillary Clinton made this soon-to-be-historical speech to the United Nations today. Please watch it as opportunities to truly see history being made are exceptionally rare.

Moses Mworenko, Ugandan Immigrant Wins US Asylum

18 May

Kushaba Moses Mworenko (photo by Jamie McGonnigal, EqualityPhotography.com)

We are thrilled to report that our friend, Kushaba Moses Mworenko – a gay Ugandan immigrant, has won his asylum to the United States.

We met Moses last summer when he marched with us as part of the Take Back Pride campaign in Washington, D.C.. Moses has had many twists and turns over the past two years in trying to win his right to live in America.

From Alison Gardner at Venus Plus X:

After many twists and turns since early 2010 that included a 6-month stint in San Francisco that resulted in Homeland Security terminating the case and forcing the Arlington, VA, asylum office to reverse its decision in favor of Moses. This was to take only 3 weeks from the judge’s order on January 1, 2011, and took nearly 5 months, but the day finally arrived this week. Moses thanks all of you for your support over the last 18 months that helped make this all possible.

Moses continues to work valiantly on behalf of the LGBT and HIV+ community in Uganda, and surely will be able to accomplish more now that his case has been settled. Moses’ continually updated Global Sexual Freedom Annotated Bibliography remains available to anyone who needs a quick education on the challenges we face to bring about equal rights for all sexual minorities, here and abroad. Moses is also helping Get EqualVenusPlusX, and other organizations to expose members of congress aligned with groups such as “The Family” (active in 192 countries) who are fomenting hatred and erasure of LGBT and HIV+ plus people everywhere, at American taxpayers expense.

Many thanks to all those who helped expedite Moses’ case. We are very lucky to have someone like him fighting on our behalf – here and in Uganda.

Dan Massey & Allison Gardner are seeking donations of any size for Moses’ certification as a home health aid, something he can start right away so he can work while he seeks employment more appropriate to his education and experience. Please send your contribution, if you can, to Moses c/o Massey and Gardner, 1700 Kalorama Road NW #502, Washington, DC, 20009.

Congrats Moses!

Gay Ugandan Man Facing US Deportation

9 Apr

Joseph Bocombe (10news.com)

The fight for amnesty from Uganda has come to the United States. Earlier this year – after the gruesome murder of Ugandan gay rights activist, David Kato, a fight to stop the deportation of Ugandan Brenda Namigadde from the UK was successful after a great deal of publicity was brought to the situation.

Uganda’s parliament, after shelving the “Kill the Gays” Bill, is bringing it back to the table. One of the bill’s authors David Bahati gathered 2 million signatures to keep the bill alive. The bill, introduced in 2009, could bring a death sentence to repeat homosexual “offenders,” as well as HIV+ gays and lesbians.

When the news of Brenda’s story reached Bahati, he said:

“Brenda is welcome in Uganda if she will abandon or repent her behaviour. Here in Uganda, homosexuality is not a human right. It is behaviour that is learned and it can be unlearned. We wouldn’t want Brenda to be painting a wrong picture of Uganda, that we are harassing homosexuals.”

Moments before her flight was to depart for Uganda, our work, led by LezGetReal’s Melanie Nathan and ALL OUT, stopped Brenda’s deportation.

Now Joseph Bokombe, an openly gay Ugandan musician who came to the US five years ago on a cultural exchange visa, is now fighting deportation. His visa has long since expired, but friends say he was afraid to go home and decided to stay. Bokombe is now in detention awaiting his deportation.

A friend of Bokombe’s and a Ugandan native, Awichu Akwanya said “Actually I don’t think even past the airport. They just get him and then put him in detention. In detention, he can get poisoned or [they will] hire some people in jail to kill him.”

This led Hector Martinez to start a petition to keep his friend here. Bokombe volunteers at a church and for several local groups, including Mental Health America of San Diego County, which is the mental health non-profit Martinez works at.

A spokeswoman for U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement released this statement to 10News:

“Over the course of the last year, Mr. Bukombe’s immigration case has undergone extensive review by judges at multiple levels of our legal system. In those proceedings, the courts have held that he has failed to establish a legal basis to remain in the United States. ICE is now in the process of seeking to carry out the deportation order handed down by the immigration court.”

I ask fellow activists, bloggers and readers to please forward this story to anyone you know, tell Joseph’s story and get people to sign this petition. This is your opportunity to save someone’s life.


New Hate Group Needs a Lesson in Symbolism

24 Mar

So there’s a new hate group out there (apparently the ones we have weren’t doing enough). It’s called The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family & Property (ASDTFP). Although their website says they’ve been around since 1971, they haven’t done much to gain any notoriety until 2006,when they launched some protests of the Dan Brown novel, The DaVinci Code.

The ASDTFP has been slowly gaining some notoriety and they are making sure you know exactly who they are. While the Westboro Baptist Church is now synonymous with their “God Hates Fags” signs, The ASDTFP has taken to wearing all black with a large red sash and – putting the good ole KKK to shame when it comes to fashion and vibrancy.

But what is most interesting to this 2nd-generation Scottish-American gay man, is their use of the Scottish lion as their emblem. The Scottish lion, also known as the Lion Rampant- is the royal symbol of Scotland, can be found on the Royal Standard of Scotland or Scottish Royal Flag and has been a symbol of strength for the Scottish people for nearly 1000 years. While the flag was in use beginning as early as 1222, the most famous Scottish King the flag represented, and the first Scottish King to take the British thrown was James the IV and I.

King James IV and I

While King James was known for a lot of things, most notably for printing the most commonly-used edition of the Bible, he is also commonly thought of as being the first gay king of England. From a young age, James was enamored with his second cousin, Esme Stuart d’Aubigny and reportedly a long romance ensued. This was followed by the King’s romantic relationship with young Robert Carr shortly after James was crowned King of England. During a festival, Carr fell off his horse and broke his leg. Famously, James came running to his side, carried him to safety and personally saw to it that Carr had the best medical attention. Their affair continued off and on for years and both Carr and James had other romances with men as well.

As for present-day Scotland, well – it has a much better record of LGBT protections than say, America. They decriminalized homosexuality in 1981. The U.S. did it in 2003. In 2009, the national law stated that gay couples could adopt children. We still have no federal protection for that in the US. Gays and lesbians have been legally allowed to serve openly in the military since 2000, and while Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell has been repealed, it has still not been implemented. Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity are protected classes in Scotland, we are still awaiting that in the U.S. Additionally, though ASDTFP espouses to spread Catholicism through their actions (called “Crusades” on their website), I find it interesting that less than 16% of Scotland’s people self-identify as Roman Catholic.

So in conclusion, though ASDTFP may think they are using a strong symbol of what they believe to be anti-gay, pro-heterosexual “values,” the truth of the matter is they are carrying around a symbol which represents a socially-advanced country that represents all its citizens.

Scotland and it’s children would be ashamed to see the Lion Rampant being carried as a banner to discriminate and hate others. Might we recommend another flag to co-opt for your cause? Both the animal symbol and the country itself have a bit more in common with the bigotry you’re pushing.

The Flag of Uganda

Jamaican Gay Murder Advocate Wins Grammy; 28 Gay Jamaicans Win US Asylum

14 Feb

It’s no secret that many Caribbean nations are overwhelmingly homophobic. In fact, just last night, Jamaican Reggae artist, Buju Banton won a Grammy Award – after he advocated burning homosexuals “like an old tire wheel,” and shooting “batty boys” in the head with an Uzi in some of his lyrics.

Gay murder advocate and Grammy Award Winning Jamaican Reggae Artist, Buju Banton

Speaking as someone who also suffered from an anti-gay assault in the Bahamas, it seems that homophobia is deeply rooted in the religious teachings in some Caribbean nations. In recent years, there have been dozens of hate crimes reported in St. Maarten, Jamaica, The Bahamas and others. In fact, in 2006, TIME Magazine dubbed Jamaica “The Most Homophobic Place on Earth.”

The hatred and ignorance is clearly out of control. And considering the recent murder of David Kato in Uganda and the halted deportation of Brenda Namigadde, it’s important to know that you can be safe in countries which don’t criminalize who we are. Immigration Equality is an organization which maintains the largest network of pro-bono attorneys, in addition to its in-house legal staff, dedicated solely to seeking asylum for Lesbians, Gays, Bi-sexual and Transgender (LGBT) asylum seekers. So it was good to hear from our friends at Immigration Equality that “An overwhelming number of the victories, 38, were for clients from the Caribbean, with 28 of those for individuals from Jamaica.”

Congratulations to those who won asylum to a place that at least doesn’t criminalize love. Let’s keep hoping for change in those countries where millions more fear their own murders daily.

Ugandan Gay Activist Murdered, Another’s Life Hangs in the Balance

26 Jan

David Kato Kisulle

According to Box Turtle Bulletin and the BBC, Ugandan activist David Kato Kisulle was murdered in his home in Kampala.

He was found having been beaten in the skull with a hammer a his home and there is little more information than that at this time. What we do know is that David was featured in the Ugandan tabloid, “Rolling Stone,” which featured names and photos of gay men under the headline “HANG THEM!”

He was one of three plaintiffs seeking a permanent injunction against the tabloid, which was successful. And in recent days, David had told friends of several death threats he’d received and was in fear for his life.

Since the introduction last year of the “Anti-Homosexual Bill” which has come to be known as the “Kill the Gays Bill” has been the topic of outrage from LGBT organizations around the country. MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow has brought this bill to light in the US and featured the author of the bill, David Bahati in a two-part interview last month.

 

Brenda Namigadde (photo courtesy ALLOUT.org)

Today’s murder also highlights an important case regarding Ugandan Brenda Namigadde living in the UK and facing deportation back to Uganda after failed please for asylum. All Out has launched a campaign to keep Brenda in the UK, which may quite literally save her life. “Kill the Gays Bill” Author Bahati said of Brenda:

“Brenda is welcome in Uganda if she will abandon or repent her behaviour. Here in Uganda, homosexuality is not a human right. It is behaviour that is learned and it can be unlearned. We wouldn’t want Brenda to be painting a wrong picture of Uganda, that we are harassing homosexuals.”

It would seem Bahati may be correct, Uganda is doing far worse than harassing homosexuals.