Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Gay Activist Attacked in Wave of Hate Crimes Against New York City’s LGBTQ Community

Graphic created by Memeographs Studio protesting the latest gay bashing victim in NYC, Eugene Lovendusky.

Graphic created by Memeographs Studio protesting the gay bashing of the latest hate crimes victim in NYC, activist Eugene Lovendusky.

New York, New York – A direct action protest leader of the the gay community in New York City was attacked Monday night in yet another anti-gay hate crime attack as the city’s Gay Pride celebrations approach.  Eugene Lovendusky, co-founder and organizer for the LGBTQ activist organization, Queer Rising, was attacked by a group of 9 to ten people shouting “faggot” as they beat and punched him. His jaw was severely injured in the assault.  Reports from friends say that the beating took place in the Theater District.  The list of areas now demonstrably unsafe for LGBTQ people now include, besides the Theater District, Midtown Manhattan near Madison Square Garden, East Village, West Village, SoHo, Chelsea, and Greenwich Village.  Lovendusky, a teacher of young children in New York, is well-regarded as an unapologetic voice for human rights. The New Civil Rights Movement reports that Lovendusky’s friends spread the word throughout the internet world almost as soon as the attack occurred.

Outrage throughout the New York Queer community spread rapidly upon news of the homophobic attack.  Scott Wooledge, founder of Memeographs Studio, wrote on his Facebook page: “This hits home as I know this man personally. There have been a spree of anti-gay hate crimes in New York City this month. As people are unable to enforce their bigotry by laws and policies, they will turn to expressing their impotent hate on the streets.”

Wooledge went to to address the perpetrators of the rising crime wave of violence against LGBT people in New York and around the nation: “I can’t do much to help make the world safer for my friends. But I have a platform, and I’m sending out this message to gay bashers: ‘You can kick us. You can punch us. You can shoot us dead as you did Mark Carson and Harvey Milk. But the LGBT community will not go back to the days before Stonewall Riots and DADT repeal. We will not abandon our righteous claim to be treated equally under the US Constitution and the laws of our states. You will lose eventually. And eventually we LGBT people will meet our respective Gods with our hands clean of blood.'”  

Another Facebook contributor,Tasha Wiegand, vented her frustrations, as well. “I cannot begin to express my feelings of disgust, anger, frustration, and horror for the kind of behavior that leads some people to express hate and violence towards others,” Wiegand posted.

Daniel Lawson, a political activist involved with President Obama’s re-election and now Organizing for America, wrote on his Facebook wall: “So it turns out that the latest victim of the antigay violent crimewave is someone whom I know personally and have worked with at queer demonstrations/events around NYC. Unf—ingbelievable. This has all gone miles beyond the limit. Shit just got real. Lookout homophobes, you have some very angry NYC queers on your hands.”

Using social media, a group of LGBTQ people led by Alan Leo Bounville, founder of the In Our Words Project,  rallied for and informational protest against the attacks on Lovendusky and others on Friday night at the corner of 7th Avenue and 34th Street. The peaceful protest engaged passers-by and answered their questions about what it is like for queer people in the city to live through this mounting tide of dehumanizing attacks.  Members of the rallying group carried signs saying, “I’m a Homosexual.  #Ask Questions.”

queer risingThe irony of this latest attack has not been lost on many in the New York City Queer community.  Lovendusky helped organize the first street protest against the outbreak of anti-LGBTQ violence in the city, including ongoing protests by Queer Rising against the murder of openly gay man, Mark Carson, who was fatally shot in the face last Saturday at point blank range by man who laughed and bragged about his actions.  As co-founder of Queer Rising, Lovendusky leads his peers and allies throughout the metro area to direct action in support of extending full and equal rights and protections to queer people of ever description.  As Lovendusky wrote on the Queer Rising blog site, “Formed in late 2009 by people tired of watching LGBTQ rights put on the back burner or given no attention at all, Queer Rising vows to continue to pressure legislators and the public until all queer people are equal.”

The spate of recent attacks in the cradle of the Gay and Queer Rights movement challenges members of the LGBTQ community and officials of the City of New York to act decisively, both to win the hearts and minds of average citizens to non-violent acceptance of queer folk, and to secure all residents from bias motivated acts of terror such as these.

 

May 26, 2013 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, gay bashing, gay men, Gay Pride Month, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBTQ, New York, New York City, Protests and Demonstrations, Queer, Queer Rising, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Gay Activist Attacked in Wave of Hate Crimes Against New York City’s LGBTQ Community

Gender, Sexuality, and Justice Initiative Launched in the Southwest

Rev. Dr. Joretta Marshall, Director of the Carpenter Initiative at Brite Divinity School

Fort Worth, Texas – Brite Divinity School, on the campus of Texas Christian University, launched a ground-breaking program set on changing the role of theological higher education in the human rights struggle in the Southwestern United States.  At Chapel on Tuesday, Rev. Dr. Joretta Marshall, Professor of Pastoral Theology and Pastoral Counseling, preached to inaugurate the Carpenter Initiative on Gender, Sexuality, and Justice, made possible by a grant of $250,000 over five years by The E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation.  Dr. Marshall headed the effort to gain the grant from the Carpenter Foundation, which is the leading grantor of funding for sexuality, gender, and justice concerns in the nation.  She has been named the Director of the Carpenter Initiative in addition to her professorial duties.

The Rev. Ann B. Day, daughter of the originators of the Carpenter Foundation and an ordained minister of the United Church of Christ, was instrumental in reviewing Brite’s proposal, and advising the foundation to make the grant.  The Disciples News Service reported that “the Carpenter Initiative will not only help cover the salary costs of the faculty member who directs the program, but will also support courses at Brite that address these issues, and fund programmatic initiatives in the wider community.”  These programmatic initiatives will engage matters of human rights, articulation of a public theology of full inclusion in the faith community of those marginalized because of gender, gender variance, and sexual orientation, and the development of resources local congregations and denominational offices need to move their membership toward long-lasting acceptance of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

Dr. Stephen Sprinkle, a member of the Brite faculty and Director of the Unfinished Lives Project, said, “This initiative is the next vital step in Brite’s ‘coming out’ process as a center for the full inclusion of all God’s children, especially those who have formerly been shunned by churches, synagogues, and mosques because of their actual or perceived sexual difference.”  Over the course of several years, Dr. Marshall and Dr. Sprinkle, together with allies in the faculty, staff, board of trustees, and alumni of the school, have worked for the full inclusion of the LGBTQ community, along with the commitments Brite has also made to Black Church studies, Asian/Korean Church studies, and Latina/o Church studies.  By vote of the Board of Trustees, Brite has officially acted to welcome students, faculty and staff regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or gender expression, making it unique in the Southwestern United States.  The roots of Brite’s shift toward this progressive stance reach back at least to 1992, when administration opened married student housing on the campus to partnered same-sex couples, and to the hiring of the first openly gay faculty member in 1994.

At a community conversation held immediately after the inauguration service, members of the Brite community voiced a whole bevy of vibrant ideas about the directions the Carpenter Initiative could take, including an institution-wide process to become Open and Affirming, a center for civil discourse on issues of human rights in North Texas, resources on homosexuality and the Bible, a history project to record and preserve the story of the LGBTQ movement on both the Brite and TCU campuses, and a think-tank to delve into the sources of violence and fear in American religious life.  Brite’s Office of Advancement is actively seeking support for the expansion of Brite’s developing leadership in public theology and social justice.

October 5, 2011 Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, Asian Americans, Bisexual persons, Brite Divinity School, gay men, gender identity/expression, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, hate crimes prevention, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, Homosexuality and the Bible, Latino and Latina Americans, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, Native Americans, Popular Culture, Public Theology, Queer, Racism, religious hate speech, religious intolerance, Social Justice Advocacy, Texas, transgender persons, transphobia, women | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Gender, Sexuality, and Justice Initiative Launched in the Southwest

Lesbian Youth Activist Attacked in Downtown Portland

Kayla Stone, bashed on the streets of Portland (Just Out image)

Portland, Oregon – A 21-year-old musician and LGBTQ youth activist was brutally assaulted July 3 in what Portland Police are calling a bias-motivated crime.  Most concerning to the local LGBTQ community is that Kayla Stone appealed for help, and initially got none.  Stone, who plays guitar and sings for a local art gallery and for a home offering services to queer and transitional youth, is well-known in the LGBTQ scene in Portland.  She reported to Just Out that the night before the violence, she had performed at a local club when a group of Latinos menaced her as she left the venue, followed her for three blocks down the street, and called her an epithet.  Stone denounced the group, verbally defending herself, and they went away. The next night, on Sunday, sometime between 1 and 2:30 am, as she came back to the area to meet her date, the same group attacked her without provocation as soon as they recognized who she was. The assault was swift and brutal, and the shaken lesbian remembers little about the violence except the description of the first man to punch her in the face.  He had a teardrop tattoo underneath one of his eyes, Stone recalls.  But though the whole group struck out at her, leaving her face a bloody wreck, she fought back and refused to fall to the ground.  As she related to Just Out, “It was really intense for me, because it was like, wow, even though Rosa Parks is dead, these people that stood up against prejudice and racism are dead, I’m not. And I feel very thankful to not be. Because with how many people there were that night, I can’t believe I didn’t go down on my knees.”

When her assailants backed off and left her standing, Stone limped to The Escape, an all-ages gay bar, for help. Though there were witnesses to the assault who saw the whole attack, none of them offered to help or call police.  Stone says that in the aftermath of the attack, while she was struggling to get to The Escape, two police cruisers passed her by, and though she was obviously bloody and unsteady from being bashed, the officers did not help her.  Only when someone at the bar called 911, did police respond to her situation. Stone was taken to a hospital, but refused to be stitched up for fear that her injuries would be minimized by the authorities if she let Emergency Room personnel finish their treatment.  Instead, she asked a friend to take photos of the cuts, bruises, and lacerations she received from her bashers. Stone is a committed activist who is no stranger to discrimination. Reflecting on her assault, she says that being targeted for anti-LGBTQ hate crimes is part of the cost of being different. “I’m not trying to justify anything that occurs, but the point is that the revolution is not glamorous,” Stone said. “It means continuing to do what you say you’re going to do no matter what.”

Portland’s LGBTQ community has suffered a rash of gay and queer bashings in recent weeks. Two gay men were assaulted near the Hawthorne Bridge, and a Newport man was beaten as he tried to stop a an anti-gay attack.  The Stone case is now being treated as an anti-gay crime by Portland police, though the lack of evidence and witnesses agreeing to testify hamper the investigation. Courage and commitment to change homophobic and heterosexist patterns in society, like that exhibited by brave Kayla Stone, may yet break the cycle of violence against sexual minorities in the Portland area.

July 13, 2011 Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, gay bashing, Gender Variant Youth, GLBTQ, harassment, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Latino and Latina Americans, Latinos, Law and Order, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, Oregon, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Queer, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy, transgender persons, transphobia, Unsolved LGBT Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Gays Seek Safer Houston in Last “Unfinished Lives” Pride Month Session

Dr. Sprinkle speaks to a full house at Resurrection MCC Houston on "Unfinished Lives" book

Houston, Texas – Strategies for mobilizing the LGBTQ community to act for a safer Houston will be the focus of the concluding “Unfinished Lives” Session at Resurrection Metropolitan Community Church this Friday, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Dr. Stephen Sprinkle, professor at Brite Divinity School and author of Unfinished Lives: Reviving the Memories of LGBTQ Hate Crimes Victims (Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2011), will offer Houstonians effective ways to prevent hate crimes, wrestle with with issue of anti-LGBTQ teen school bullying and suicide, and close ranks with transgender Americans to staunch the alarming number of violent attacks upon then in today’s world.  Attendance and enthusiasm remained strong at the June 10 session on lessons and insights the stories of hare crimes victims teach the wider community.  Dr. Sprinkle lifted up five lessons we stand to learn from LGBTQ people who have died because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.  In brief, these were: 1) confront head on the rising number of violent attacks against the queer community with educational efforts, 2) deal with the amnesia of the LGBTQ community, media, and the general public about queer hate crime murders, 3) begin the long-overdue conversation about transphobia and transgender hate crimes in America, 4) use the language of outrage when speaking about LGBTQ hate crimes, not the language of “tragendy,” and 5) the necessity of dealing with the religious and theological roots of anti-gay and transgender hate violence.  The stories of Ryan Keith Skipper of Wahneta, Florida and Talana Quay Kreeger of Wilmington, North Carolina were highlighted to illustrate Dr. Sprinkle’s lecture. Session Three: Strategies for Mobilization and Activism will continue this no-nonsense approach to the crisis of anti-LGBTQ hate violence in contemporary church and society.  The series is co-sponsored by Resurrection MCC Houston, Cathedral of Hope Houston, and the Transgender Foundation of America.  As always, a light supper is provided and the public is invited at no charge.  Make Pride Month count for more than a parade and a party, and come out to this important final session.

June 15, 2011 Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, Anti-Gay Hate Groups, Anti-LGBT hate crime, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Asian Americans, bi-phobia, Bisexual persons, Bullying in schools, Florida, gay bashing, gay men, gay teens, gender identity/expression, Gender Variant Youth, GLBTQ, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, hate crimes prevention, Heterosexism and homophobia, Latino and Latina Americans, Law and Order, Legislation, Lesbian women, LGBT teen suicide prevention, LGBTQ, LGBTQ suicide, Matthew Shepard Act, Media Issues, North Carolina, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Politics, Public Theology, Queer, religious hate speech, religious intolerance, Remembrances, Resurrection MCC Houston, Social Justice Advocacy, Texas, transgender persons, transphobia | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Gays Seek Safer Houston in Last “Unfinished Lives” Pride Month Session

“Unfinished Lives” Centerpiece of Houston Gay Pride Month Events

Houston, Texas – Reviving the memories of LGBTQ hate crimes murder victims will be the focus of three Gay Pride Month events sponsored by two gay-predominant churches and a national transgender organization in the Houston metropolitan area during June.  Dr. Stephen Sprinkle, author of the ground-breaking book, Unfinished Lives, will present three programs on ways anti-gay hate violence must matter to everyone.  Resurrection Metropolitan Community Church, the largest-membership MCC in the world, and Cathedral of Hope Houston, a United Church of Christ congregation planted by CoH Dallas, the world’s largest gay congregation, and the Transgender Foundation of America are the sponsors for this series. All events (June 3, 10, and 17) are open to the public free of charge and will be held on the campus of Resurrection MCC, 2025 West 1tth Street, Houston, Texas 77008, beginning each evening with a light meal at 6:30 p.m.  Copies of his book will be on hand for purchase and signing by the author.

Over 13,000 LGBTQ Americans have been brutally murdered due to unreasoning hatred since the 1980s. Dr. Sprinkle, a seminary professor at Brite Divinity School, Fort Worth, Texas, wrote Unfinished Lives as a response to this crisis of violence.  His book, the only such volume in the English language, is a collection of first-hand stories of fourteen representative Americans who died because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. The questions it deals with are in the forefront of human rights advocacy: How could this decimation of neighbors, family, lovers, co-workers, and friends occur in the United States?  Why have the killings continued unabated since the enactment of the James Byrd Jr and Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act in 2009?  How are the suicides of young LGBTQ people and the murders of transpeople of color connected and related?  What must be done to stop the madness, to create communities of hope and tolerance, and to erase the hatred and transform the culture of violence that permits these horrors?  In the midst of these woeful aspects of American society, how do we find hope and create meaningful change?

Rev. Harry Knox, Senior Pastor of Resurrection MCC, says of these three events: “We are thrilled that Steve will be presenting three programs at Resurrection MCC beginning this Friday, June 3, and continuing on June 10 and June 17. Steve will share lessons he has learned about the root causes of hate violence and what we can do to prevent it in the future. I really hope you will consider giving three evenings to learning the stories Steve has to share with us and what we can do to make Houston safer and saner for us and for our children.”  

For further information on Session 1: Stories of Those We’ve Lost, and the other two sessions, please see the Facebook Events Page here, and the announcement in OutSmart Magazine – June 2011.  Dr. Sprinkle will also be preaching during Pride Month at Cathedral of Hope Houston, 4606 Mangum Road 77092, on Sunday, June 12, and at Resurrection MCC on Sunday, June 19.

June 2, 2011 Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Asian Americans, Beatings and battery, bi-phobia, Bisexual persons, Bludgeoning, Book Tour, Brite Divinity School, Bullying in schools, Cathedral of Hope, Cathedral of Hope Houston, drowning, gay bashing, gay men, Gay Pride Month, gender identity/expression, Gender Variant Youth, GLBTQ, gun violence, Hanging, harassment, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, hate crimes prevention, Heterosexism and homophobia, Latino and Latina Americans, Law and Order, Lesbian women, LGBT teen suicide prevention, LGBTQ, LGBTQ suicide, Matthew Shepard Act, Native Americans, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Politics, Queer, religious hate speech, religious intolerance, Remembrances, Resurrection MCC Houston, Slashing attacks, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy, Strangulation, suicide, Texas, Torture and Mutilation, transgender persons, transphobia, Unfinished Lives Book Signings | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on “Unfinished Lives” Centerpiece of Houston Gay Pride Month Events

Texans of Faith Storm U.S. Capitol for Human Rights

Washington, D.C. – The largest delegation of fair-minded Texas faith leaders since the conception of LGBT rights are on their way to the Nation’s Capitol to participate in the third Human Rights Campaign’s Clergy Call for Justice and Equality, May 22 – 24.  Twenty-two clergy, theologians, and seminarians from across the Lone Star State are registered for this year’s lobbying effort on Capitol Hill.  The Human Rights Campaign Religion and Faith Program mobilizes people of faith to advocate for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people every other year, and among the important items on the agenda will be the full implementation of the Repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT), the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), anti-bullying efforts across the nation (such as the one just passed by the Texas House, strengthening the penalties for harassment and bullying in public schools), and the status of the Dream Act. Texans have a particularly tall order as grassroots citizen lobbyists, since both U.S. Senators, Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn, have consistently voted against human rights initiatives during their legislative careers in Washington. At the core of the Texas delegation are fifteen students, faculty, and alumni of Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth, the largest from any seminary or divinity school in the state.  Brite, founded in 1914 by an endowment from Marfa rancher Luke Brite, is located on the campus of Texas Christian University.  In former years, Brite was conservative on the issue of LGBTQ-inclusion, but now is the only accredited institution of theological higher education in Texas to extend welcome status to lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and transgender persons by action of its board of trustees.  Among the faculty are two openly gay and lesbian professors, and the number of LGBTQ students in the Fort Worth school is growing. “Students are learning how to take a stand for justice by becoming clergy for whom all people matter, and are eager to work for equality in public forums like Clergy Call. Our students are taking their roles as public theologians seriously,” said Dr. Stephen V. Sprinkle, Associate Professor of Practical Theology at the Divinity School, and Theologian in Residence at the Cathedral of Hope in Dallas. “Each of the students who have traveled to Washington chose voluntarily to participate in Clergy Call because they believe faith calls them to be here.”  Billed as the largest interfaith gathering of LGBTQ and Allied Clergy and Faith Leaders in the United States, Clergy Call will bring representatives of faith communities from all fifty states to the capitol for training in faith messaging, skill-building for advocacy with legislators, interfaith worship, and person-to-person lobbying of senators and congresspeople.  This year’s headline speakers include Rabbi Denise Egger, Rev. Harry Knox, Bishop Gene Robinson, Bishop Yvette Flunder, Rabbi David Saperstein, Rev. Nancy Wilson, and Bishop Carlton Pearson.  Dr. Sharon Groves is the Director of the HRC Religion and Faith Program, based in Washington, D.C.

May 22, 2011 Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, Asian Americans, Bisexual persons, Brite Divinity School, Bullying in schools, Cathedral of Hope, Clergy Call, DOMA, Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT), Dream Act, gay men, gender identity/expression, GLBTQ, hate crimes prevention, Homosexuality and the Bible, Human Rights Campaign, Human Rights Campaign Religion and Faith Program, Latino and Latina Americans, Legislation, Lesbian women, LGBT teen suicide prevention, LGBTQ, Marriage Equality, Media Issues, military, Military Chaplaincy, Politics, Public Theology, Queer, Social Justice Advocacy, Texas, transgender persons, Washington, D.C. | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Texans of Faith Storm U.S. Capitol for Human Rights

Courageous Carolina Faith Leaders Oppose Anti-Gay Bigotry

North Carolina Faith Leaders Speak Out

Raleigh, North Carolina – Outside the State Legislature on May 17th, hundreds of anti-LGBTQ right wing activists pushed their discriminatory agenda–but inside courageous faith leaders and legislators announced their opposition to a constitutional amendment that could prevent any legal recognition of same-sex couples in North Carolina.  According to Equality North Carolina, Marcus Brandon (D-Guilford) organized an impressive gathering of clergy who spoke passionately of their desire for North Carolina to remain open and tolerant, and who also announced how faith-based communities throughout the Tarheel State were mobilizing to defeat the anti-gay amendment to the state constitution.  At present, North Carolina is the only state in the Southeast not to enact anti-LGBTQ discrimination into its bylaws and constitution. Five faith leaders held an hour-long press conference in the Legislature Building to speak on the harms Senate Bill 106/House Bill 777 would impose on the citizens of the state. Rev. Anthony Spearman of Clinton Tabernacle AME Zion Church in Hickory said,  “This extreme legislation will only cause needless pain and suffering. It sends a message to major employers that North Carolina does not welcome a diverse workplace,” Spearman said. “It tells young people who are gay they’re second class citizens, unworthy of basic dignity and equal treatment…It is not fair and it is certainly not just.”  Bishop Toniya Rawls of Unity Fellowship Church in Charlotte said it is time for North Carolinians to show the nation “what type of a state we really are.”  Assistant Rabbi Ari Margolis of Raleigh’s Temple Beth Or, speaking for all who revere sacred scripture, said, “We oppose the use of sacred texts and religious traditions to deny legal equality to gay and lesbian couples.”  Rev. Dr. Amy Laura Hall, an ordained elder of the United Methodist Church from Durham, warned, “Don’t let those selling fear on the cheap, buy your hearts.”  Rev. Dr. Stephen Shoemaker, Senior Minister of Charlotte’s Myers Park Baptist Church, drew on the heritage of justice handed down to Tarheels from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  Referring to Dr. King’s dictum, that the long arc of history bends toward justice, Dr. Shoemaker announced that this same arc “also bends toward inclusiveness.”  The Clergy announced that over 300 faith leaders from across the state had already signed a declaration opposing the amendment, and invited every person of conscience to add their names to the growing list of fair-minded believers.  The document may be accessed here for signatures to be added, and reads as follows:

Declaration of Religious Leaders and People of Faith Against Anti-LGBT Legislation

The most fundamental human right, after the necessities of food, clothing and shelter, is the right to affection and the supportive love of other human beings. We become most fully human when we love another person. We can grow in our capacity to be human – to be loving – in a family unit. This right to love and form a family is so fundamental that our United States Constitution takes it for granted in its dedication to “secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” The North Carolina Constitution likewise affirms the “inalienable rights” of human beings to “life, liberty, the enjoyment of the fruits of their own labor, and the pursuit of happiness.”

As people of faith, clergy and leaders in our faith traditions, we are mandated by God to demonstrate and protect love in all its forms and to stand for justice for all of creation. In faithful response to this calling, we commit ourselves, along with thousands of other Christians, Jews, Muslims and other people of faith around North Carolina, to these basic principles:

  • While we respect the fact that debate and discussion continue in many of our religious communities as to the scriptural, theological and liturgical issues involved, we draw on our many faith traditions to arrive at a common conviction. We oppose the use of sacred texts and religious traditions to deny legal equity to gay and lesbian couples.
  • We insist that no one person or institution, especially the state, is allowed to define the God-given covenant of marriage or bar two consenting adults, whether of the same or differing genders, from forming the family unit that lets them be more fully loving, thus more fully human.
  • We oppose any amendment to the North Carolina Constitution that would prohibit gay and lesbian couples from receiving the protections like health benefits and hospital visitation afforded by legal recognition of their relationships. Likewise, we are further resolved that the State should not interfere with gay and lesbian couples who choose to marry and share fully and equally in the rights, responsibilities, and commitments of civil marriage.
  • We affirm freedom of conscience in this matter. We recognize that the state may not require religious groups to officiate at, or bless, gay and lesbian marriages. Likewise, a denial of state civil recognition dishonors the religious convictions of those communities and clergy who officiate at, and bless, gay and lesbian marriages. The state may not favor the convictions of one religious group over another by denying individuals their fundamental right to marry and to have those marriages recognized by civil law.

    Representative Brandon, who serves the 60th House District in Guilford County, concluded the Press Conference by declaring his faith as a Christian, and saying, “The Bible has been used in this nation to support slavery, segregation, laws against interracial marriage, and to deny women’s rights. Jesus was a compassionate person. And Jesus would not be having a rally outside right now.”

May 22, 2011 Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, bi-phobia, Bisexual persons, Equality North Carolina, gay men, GLBTQ, Heterosexism and homophobia, Homosexuality and the Bible, Latino and Latina Americans, Legislation, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, Marriage Equality, North Carolina, Politics, Protests and Demonstrations, Queer, religious hate speech, religious intolerance, Social Justice Advocacy, transgender persons, transphobia | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Courageous Carolina Faith Leaders Oppose Anti-Gay Bigotry

It’s Official! Governor Jerry Brown Proclaims May 22 “Harvey Milk Day”

Supervisor Harvey Milk (l) and Mayor George Moscone (r)

Sacramento, California – It’s official! May 22 has been proclaimed “Harvey Milk Day” in honor and memory of slain gay political pioneer Harvey Milk by action of the Governor of California on Thursday:

PROCLAMATION BY THE GOVERNOR OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA

In 1977, Harvey Milk was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, becoming the first openly gay man in the history of the United States to be elected to public office. This milestone achievement gave hope to millions of gays and lesbians across the country that a day would come when they could live their lives openly and honestly without fear of discrimination.

As a Supervisor, Harvey worked with others to secure passage of San Francisco’s landmark Gay Rights Ordinance. This ordinance extended employment protections to gays and lesbians in San Francisco, and it became a model for anti-discrimination legislation throughout California and the nation.

In 1978, Harvey traversed the State to campaign against Proposition 6, which was known as the Briggs Initiative. Had it passed, Proposition 6 would have required California school districts to fire openly gay and lesbian teachers solely because of their sexual orientation. The proposition was defeated in the November 1978 election in part because Harvey successfully appealed to Californians’ basic sense of fairness.

A few weeks after the election, Harvey and San Francisco Mayor George Moscone were shot and killed in San Francisco City Hall by a former member of the Board of Supervisors. The tragedy and its aftermath helped further propel the burgeoning gay and lesbian civil rights movement.

Harvey’s life was cut short far too soon, but his legacy of hope, tolerance, and equality lives on.

NOW THEREFORE I, EDMUND G. BROWN JR., Governor of the State of California, do hereby proclaim May 22, 2011 as “Harvey Milk Day” in the State of California. I call on all Californians to observe the 81st anniversary of Harvey Milk’s birth with appropriate ceremonies and activities.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Great Seal of the State of California to be affixed this 19th day of May 2011.

___________________________________

EDMUND G. BROWN JR.

Governor of California

May 21, 2011 Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Asian Americans, Bisexual persons, California, gay men, gender identity/expression, GLBTQ, gun violence, Harvey Milk Day, Hate Crimes, hate crimes prevention, Heterosexism and homophobia, Latino and Latina Americans, Legislation, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, multiple homicide, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Politics, Popular Culture, Queer, Remembrances, Social Justice Advocacy, transgender persons, transphobia | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on It’s Official! Governor Jerry Brown Proclaims May 22 “Harvey Milk Day”

Russians Ban Moscow Pride March for 6th Time; Homophobic Violence Threatens LGBT’s

Moscow, Russian Federation – The Russian government, in flagrant disregard of the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights, has officially banned the May 28th Gay Pride March.  Pride organizers have vowed that the scheduled gay pride march will go on, permit or no permit, and call upon the international community to condemn the ban.  Given the past track record of government sponsored oppression of LGBT Russians, and homophobic acts of physical violence allowed (if not actually incited) by national officials and the powerful Russian Orthodox Church, activists are concerned that Moscow Pride 2011 will likely be bloody.  Deputy Mayor of Moscow, Ludmilla Shvetsova, speaking on behalf of Moscow City Hall, listed the “high number” of letters protesting the march, and the “impossibility” of maintaining security for the pride parade as chief reasons for the ban.  In a press release this morning, Gay Russia activist and organizer Nicolai Alekseev said:  “The reasons to ban the Moscow Pride this year are exactly the same reasons used in the past years and for which the European Court of Human Rights judged against Russia for violating the European Convention on Human Rights.  Russia decided to mark the Day Against Homophobia by showing once again its homophobic policy towards LGBT citizens.”  Regardless of the action of the government, Alekseev said: “The ban does not change anything to our intention to hold our rally as planned.  Whatever happens on May 28 will be put on the illegal and irresponsible decision taken today by the Moscow City Hall.”  Since 2006, Gay Russia has organized an annual pride march in the Russian capitol, keeping its whereabouts a closely-guarded secret until the actual start time of the parade to protect marchers from government and church reprisals.  Each time, riot police and soldiers were dispatched by the government to break up the event and arrest participants.  Often, street thugs were permitted to harass and attack marchers and onlookers as law enforcement officers “looked the other way.”  Last year, Alekseev, chief organizer of Moscow Pride, was kidnapped and held incognito for several hours by government agents.  Rapid protests from international LGBT allies to Russian embassies and consulates secured his release relatively unharmed. He and other Gay Russia representatives are sure that had international pressure not been applied quickly and effectively, he most likely would have disappeared.  Three events made Gay Russia’s officials hopeful that this year’s Moscow Pride would be permitted.  First, the notoriously homophobic mayor of Moscow, Yury Luzhkov, was deposed in September 2010 for a “loss of confidence” in his leadership, and jailed in a dispute with the president of the Russian Federation, Dmitri Medvedev.  Second, Alekseev toured the United States during the winter and early spring of 2011, speaking at a wide range of venues in New York, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, and San Francisco to raise awareness of the plight of LGBT people in Russia. Third, the European Court of Human Rights ruled in favor of Gay Russia in April, condemning the ban against Moscow Pride in past years as unlawful.  The ECHR determined that the bans placed Russia in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights in the areas of freedom of assembly and association, and the right to an effective remedy and prohibition of discrimination. This international ruling heartening and emboldening pride organizers to schedule Moscow Pride ’11 in front of the offices of the European Commission in Bolotnaya Square, a venue under the jurisdiction of the City of Moscow. In defiance of international law, city officials have imposed the ban once again.  In response, Alekseev announced on Tuesday that he was applying for a change of location to the Kremlin or an area adjacent to it, a sector of the city outside the authority of City Hall.  “We will apply today to the Russian President Dmitri Medvedev to hold our Gay Pride March next to Kremlin, an area which solely depends upon his jurisdiction,” Alekseev said. International human rights activists from the European Union and the United States are scheduled to be present at this year’s pride march in the Russian capitol.  They and Gay Russia are calling upon persons of conscience to phone, write, and email protesting the ban of Moscow Pride to embassies of the Russian Federation around the world.  In the United States, protests may be lodged with the Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C.: phone (202) 338-3263 or (202) 232-5988.

May 17, 2011 Posted by | Bisexual persons, European Court of Human Rights, gay bashing, gay men, Gay Russia, gender identity/expression, GLBTQ, harassment, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, Legislation, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, Moscow Pride '11, Protests and Demonstrations, Queer, Russia, Russian Federation, Social Justice Advocacy, transgender persons, transphobia, Washington, D.C. | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Buckeye United Methodists Embrace Gays and Lesbians, Buck Homophobic Church Practices

Central's Bold Electronic Billboard (photo courtesy of the Toledo Blade)

Toledo, Ohio – “…We Believe Being Gay is a Gift From God.”  So reads the electronic billboard posted by Central United Methodist Church of Toledo.  According to Box Turtle Bulletin, Central lit up the massive billboard on April 25, and hopes to collect enough money to keep it displaying its message of inclusion to the city for next month, as well.  The sign is stirring up a range of responses throughout Toledo, from delight to outright hostility.  Ohioans have expressed concern that the billboard will be vandalized by anti-gay partisans who disapprove of a Christian church proclaiming that LGBTQ people are fully loved and accepted by God and the church.  Central UMC, a member of the United Methodist Reconciling Ministries Network, is not about to back down on something they see as fundamental to the faith of Christians.  The campaign is, in the words of the church’s web site, “a prophetic call to the Church to get out of the business of marginalizing gay and lesbian persons from the Church, and to welcome them as full members.”  Being Gay is a Gift From God, they say, is a simple declaration “intended to be a gift to those who have experienced hurt and discrimination because of their real or perceived sexual orientation.  The Church seeks nothing less than the healing of the world, and Central UMC wants to offer words and acts of healing to those hurt and marginalized.”  Illuminating the sign at the corner of two busy metropolitan streets, Sylvania Avenue and Monroe Street, was the official launch of Central’s effort to change the conversation concerning gays and lesbians in faith communities.  In addition to the electronic sign, the church has developed a whole line of  products to support their campaign, available for purchased online, such as bumper stickers, campaign buttons, ball caps, coffee mugs, and full color posters.  A speakers bureau is listed on the web site, with encouragement to contact the church to secure speakers for events and interest groups. For the next month,classes are planned on the so-called “clobber passages,” texts from the Bible adversaries have used to marginalize and browbeat LGBTQ people. The congregation, pastored currently by the Rev. Bill Barnard, a 20-year resident of Toledo, was founded in 1896, and has been a champion for LGBTQ human rights since the late 1970s.  Central is a racially-diverse, multi-orientational church with a significant outreach on the issue of economic justice.  Worship space and offices of the congregation are housed in the facilities of Collingwood Presbyterian Church in a newly remodeled and updated building. Their mission statement reads, in part, “We seek to reflect the diversity of God’s creation, which means that we invite all persons – regardless of their age, race, disability, marital status, or sexual orientation – to participate fully in the spiritual journey of Christ’s faith community.”  What a refreshingly odd thing it is when a Christian church actually emulates Jesus Christ!  The Unfinished Lives Project Team congratulates Central UMC.

May 7, 2011 Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, Being Gay is a Gift From God Campaign, Bisexual persons, Central United Methodist Church Toledo, gay men, gay teens, gender identity/expression, Gender Variant Youth, GLBTQ, Heterosexism and homophobia, Homosexuality and the Bible, Latino and Latina Americans, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, Ohio, Public Theology, Queer, Reconciling Ministries Network, Social Justice Advocacy, transgender persons, United Methodist Church | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: