Tag Archives: Religion

International Olympic Committee Disregards Olympic Charter to Support Russia’s Anti-Gay Laws

13 Aug

Following yesterday’s post about the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) decision to enforce Rule 50, I looked a little further into the Olympic Charter to see what it says.

imagesRule 50, which IOC officials said yesterday would be enforced should athletes choose to carry a rainbow flag or wear a rainbow pin, states that:

“No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.”
This is a rule they admittedly only enforce selectively and would do so in accordance with anti-gay Russian law. Strangely enough in my research I can’t find any time in history where this rule has applied to religious athletes demonstrating their religion in the Olympic sphere despite it happening frequently.
What I did find were the “Fundamental Principles of Olympism.” These 7 fundamentals one would think might trump the 61 rules and by-laws of said rules. Among those are numbers 4 and 6, shared below:
67734. The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.
6. Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement.

It would seem that in the interest of covering for Russia’s “Gay Propaganda” law, the IOC has made the decision to utterly disregard 2 of the 7 Fundamental Principles of Olympism.

The Olympic Charter can be read in it’s entirety here.

USA Today talks about little old us.

9 Jan

431259_395403110547163_2095498794_nAbout a month ago, Sean’s organization got a phone call from a reporter at USA Today. They were looking for someone who had a gay family member and due to that, changed their mind on marriage equality. Immediately, their communications director passed the phone off to Sean as the perfect candidate.

We sat down with Chuck Raasch, Sean and Sean’s mom Barbara over coffee a few days later. A week or so after that, they called and asked to send a photographer to our house to take photos of the three of us cooking dinner together (something that has never really happened in real life). We obliged realizing it would help make a good narrative for the story.

Flash forward and this morning, the story appeared on page 2 of USA Today. We have since set a date and will be happily getting married on May 18th in Provincetown, MA! Check out the story here.

Thanks to Chuck and photographer Toby Jornin for telling our story so effectively that it might continue to change some minds.

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:

Obama Orders Flags to Half-Staff for Sikh Shooting Victims

6 Aug

A few weeks ago, following the horrific shooting in a Colorado movie theatre, President Obama ordered all flags at federal buildings to be flown at half-staff in honor of those lost.

Last night as I was reading the coverage of another massacre, this time at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, I wondered if the same honor would be shown these six religious worshippers who were gunned down by a neo-nazi.

There are many problems and inequalities in this country which we try to make people aware of on this blog. From the “Ground Zero Mosque,” which was neither a mosque, nor located at Ground Zero to the shooting yesterday, it seems almost acceptable to many in this country to discriminate against those from Middle Eastern countries. While Sikhism is not the same as Muslim, to bigots – there is no difference.

I reached out to a friend at the White House today to find out if the same honor would be given the victims of yesterday’s crime. I’m quite happy to report that indeed, President Obama will offer the same honor and remembrance to yesterday’s victims as was given to the victims of the Aurora shooting.

It’s good to have a President, who not only values life, but is willing to speak up equally for those of all different backgrounds, religions, genders and sexualities.

VIDEO: Anti-Gay Ministry Hired to Speak at Iowa High School

13 Mar

We’ve spoken here before about Bradlee Dean, the violently anti-gay rocker/radio host who sued Rachel Maddow and MSNBC when Maddow played a clip on her show. The clip was Dean’s voice, quite clearly claiming that it is moral to execute homosexuals. Dean sued because she didn’t also report a disclaimer he’d posted essentially denying his own words.

Anyway, Junkyard Prophet, a project of Dean’s anti-gay “You Can Run, But You Can’t Hide” Ministries, was asked to “perform” at a public high school in Dunkerton, Iowa last week. For the past few days, we’ve been reading some pretty scandalous reports of the things that were said. Dean and his ministry has even gone so far as to argue that they didn’t say the things that are being claimed by students and teachers that were present for the assembly.

According to Dunkerton High School teachers and administrators, the group was supposed to present on anti-drug, anti-violence, anti-bullying themes. Instead, they divided the junior and senior high school into boys, girls and teachers and proceeded to present them with images of aborted fetuses, and dying AIDS patients. Those who tried to leave were shouted down and mocked by members of the group. One student claims she was told to “sit down and shut up” by one of the group’s leaders.

The group of course denies many of the accusations, but last night doubled down on their message. They claim that the average lifespan for homosexuals is 42. This comes from a widely-debunked “study” done by Paul Cameron and the anti-gay Family Research Institute in the 1990s. He based his research on reading a few obituaries each day for a few months and not any actual cumulative, statistically representative research, i.e. – he made it up.

Today, we learn that you can run, but you can’t hide from students with video cameras in their phones. Please watch this clip from what was presented to public high school and junior high school students in Iowa. I can’t help but wonder why not a single teacher or administrator didn’t walk up on stage and end this.

(h/t: Good As You)

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?

Christian Pastor Orders Assault on Gay Son Attempting to Enter Church

3 Oct

Jerry Pittman Jr and his boyfriend Dustin Lee

Last Wednesday night, Jerry Pittman Jr. and his boyfriend Dustin Lee went to visit Jerry’s father’s church – The Grace Fellowship Church in Humboldt, TN.  When they pulled up in their car, Jerry heard someone shout “Sick ’em” and his uncle and two other deacons ran for the car and began attacking the couple.

The New Civil Rights Movement reports that while beating the two young men through the windows of the car, the deacons were heard shouting anti-gay language. In an interview with WBBJ TV, an ABC affiliate – the men told reporters that when police arrived, they refused to take a statement from them or allow them to press charges. There were twenty churchgoers standing outside the church as the attack occurred and not a single “Christian” attempted to stop the assault.

WBBJ Reports:

“My uncle and two other deacons came over to the car per my dad’s request. My uncle smash me in the door as the other deacon knocked my boyfriend back so he couldn’t help me, punching him in his face and his chest. The other deacon came and hit me through my car window in my back,” said Pittman. He said bystanders did not offer assistance. He said the deacon yelled derogatory homosexual slurs, even after officers arrived. He said the officers never intervened to stop the deacons from yelling the slurs.

Once officers arrived, the deputy on the scene additionally refused to stop the church-going folk and deacons continue to shout anti-gay slurs at the couple.

The couple has filed charges against the deacons and Pastor Pittman. The Sheriff in the interview, as you will see takes no time to place potential blame on the gay couple. One has to wonder if he would do the same thing if a rape victim came to him.

See the full video here.