Tag Archives: Uganda

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.

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This is why Chick-fil-A sucks

19 Jul

I’ve been reading a lot lately about Chick-fil-A. The news of their contributions to anti-gay organizations first came to my attention last year when Equality Matters researched some of their contributions and published them. Here is what they found:

WinShape Is Chick-Fil-A’s Charitable Arm. The WinShape Foundation is Chick-fil-A’s charitable arm, created by Chick-fil-A founder and chairman S. Truett Cathy in 1984. WinShape has received a substantial amount of funding from Chick-fil-A: in 2009 alone, WinShape received $7,814,788 from Chick-fil-A Inc. [Winshape 2009 Publicly Available IRS 990 Form via Foundation Center, accessed10/28/11] 

WinShape Gave Over $1.7 Million To Anti-Gay Groups. In 2009 alone, WinShape donated $1,733,699 to multiple anti-gay groups:

  • Marriage & Family Legacy Fund: $994,199
  • Fellowship Of Christian Athletes: $480,000
  • National Christian Foundation: $240,000
  • Focus On The Family: $12,500
  • Eagle Forum: $5,000
  • Exodus International: $1,000
  • Family Research Council: $1,000

[Winshape 2009 Publicly Available IRS 990 Form via Foundation Center, accessed 10/28/11]

This all came out in November of last year. In the time since, I’ve seen several posts on Facebook urging people to boycott the company as it continued to grow. Then last week, Chick-fil-A CEO, Dan Cathy responded to a question about the company’s anti-gay stances: “We’re guilty as charged.” In the same interview, Cathy said: “We know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles.”

Cathy then reiterated that stance on The Ken Coleman Show, as Jeremy Hooper pointed out:

“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 I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about,”

While contributing to organizations that align with your beliefs is indeed the right of any person or corporation, it is also the right of citizens to research the work of the organizations you contribute to and make their shopping choices accordingly.

Let’s take a look at how you are supporting anit-gay bigotry around the globe when you buy some waffle fries (or anything else at Chick-fil-A):

Marriage & Family Legacy Fund: Founded by Exodus North America’s Alan Chambers who has admitted to anti-gay housing discrimination: “As a property owner of Orlando, I wouldn’t rent to someone who is gay…” He has also implied a connection between gay people and pedophiles with no evidence whatsoever: “I believe the gay community is a good group of people but with groups like NAMBLA [a pedophile group] riding on their coattails.”

Exodus International: Exodus International Board Member John Schmierer began his trips to Uganda in 2009, preaching alongside Nazi revisionist Scott Lively, spreading hatred of gay people to the people and leaders of the country. This directly led to their legislation requiring the execution of some gay people.

In Schmierer’s future trips to Uganda, he would whip up anti-gay furor with lies linking homosexuality to child abuse, calling for mandatory “conversion therapy” for homosexuals and any other number of falsehoods he could come up with.

Fellowship of Christian Athletes: The FCA is decidedly anti-gay and discriminates against gay people from participating. Their website even goes on about “saving” people from being gay. Danny Burns, the National College Conference of the FCA spoke of people being “freed from homosexuality” at the 2011 annual conference.

Focus on the Family: Founded by James Dobson, FotF has been at the front of most anti-gay movements the US has seen since it’s founding. They have supported and funded “Ex-Gay” organizations for years and one of their co-founders (George Alan Rekers) was actually found bringing a gay sex worker on vacation with him. These same organizations have been one of the primary causes of suicide among young gay people forced to go through this “therapy.” Dobson believes gay people will destroy the earth:

“Homosexuals are not monogamous. They want to destroy the institution of marriage. It will destroy marriage. It will destroy the Earth.”

Dobson additionally equates homosexuality and sex with animals quite clearly in the video here.

Family Research Council: Not sure where to start. Let’s start with a Tony Perkins quote:

“While activists like to claim that pedophilia is a completely distinct orientation from homosexuality, evidence shows a disproportionate overlap between the two. … It is a homosexual problem.”
— Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, FRC website, 2010

There are literally dozens of other moments where FRC and Focus on the Family link homosexuality and pedophilia with zero reputable evidence.

In 2010, The Congress was considering a public condemnation of Uganda’s “Kill the Gays Bill” which would put gay people on trial with a possible death sentence as punishment for homosexuality. Family Research Council spent $25,000 lobbying Congress to not disapprove of this bill.

FRC and FotF have also fought hard against anti-gay adoption laws, so it can safely be said that they would rather see children spend their whole lives in a foster care system than find a forever home.

I posted the following meme on Facebook today in the hopes of enlightening people to where their money might be going when they pick up their chicken and waffle fries at Chick-fil-A.

Not that I should be, but I was honestly surprised by the anti-gay response on Facebook. People who refused to equate “Christian” organizations with anything anti-gay. The biggest leap of course was to people thinking they were supporting the murder of gay people. It’s a tough thing to think about, but the truth is that homosexuality is still criminalized in 77 countries. And the death penalty is among the possible punishments in at least 7 of those countries.

The Family Research Council is supportive of a new law proposed in Uganda which would also add a death penalty for those suspected of being gay. Chick-fil-A supports the work of the Family Research Council.

Plain and simple, this is where your money is going when you buy something at Chick-fil-A. Of course not every person who works there or owns a franchise is anti-gay. That’s not at all what we are saying. But when you purchase something there, your money goes to the corporation, which then uses that money to invest in bigoted, anti-gay, anti-family organizations.

UPDATE:

Yesterday late afternoon, after the image above had been shared on Facebook more than 9,000 times, I received notice that the image violated their “Rights & Responsibilities” and they censored and yanked it from every person’s profile who’d shared it. I assumed it was because I’d used Chick-fil-A’s logo. Apparently that wasn’t the case because upon recreating the image with a different non-trademarked font, it too was pulled and my account temporarily suspended. A friend at Facebook is currently looking into it.

Chick-fil-A has responded via Facebook message to the calls of boycott with a statement quite similar to one Dan Cathy made back in 2011. And while it’s a nice sentiment, their words and their contributions to virulently anti-gay groups don’t seem to match up.

“The Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect – regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender. We will continue this tradition in the over 1,600 Restaurants run by independent Owner/Operators. Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena.

Chick-fil-A is a family-owned and family-led company serving the communities in which it operates. From the day Truett Cathy started the company, he began applying biblically-based principles to managing his business. For example, we believe that closing on Sundays, operating debt-free and devoting a percentage of our profits back to our communities are what make us a stronger company and Chick-fil-A family.

Our mission is simple: to serve great food, provide genuine hospitality and have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.”

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

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.