Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Hate Is In The Air: The Awful Cost of Demonizing LGBT People

Hate Crime Arson in Florida is one symptom of growing violence against the LGBT community.

Hate Crime Arson in Florida is one symptom of growing violence against the LGBT community.

Sarasota, Florida – The Associated Press carried this headline at 2 a.m. on September 11: Investigators Search for Man Who Set Fire at Gay Nightclub. According to the Orlando Sentinel, Sarasota County Sheriff’s Department officials say that neighbors of the popular gay nightclub reported it being on fire at approximately 9 a.m. this past Sunday. Officers are searching for a man in a dark, long-sleeved shirt and light colored shorts, carrying a gas can, who walked up the door of Throb Nightclub, and had his image captured by a surveillance video camera. He allegedly started the fire and ran from the scene. Authorities of the Florida State Fire Marshall’s Arson Unit and the sheriff’s office are asking the cooperation of the public in the search for a hate-filled perpetrator.

This troubling story caught the attention of Vicki Nantz, documentary film maker and LGBT advocate, who traces this anti-LGBT violence back to the speech and actions of Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk jailed for contempt of court for refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses, and her attorney and co-founder of arch-conservative Liberty Counsel Mat Staver. Nantz, Producer/Director of films investigating violence against women and the LGBT community, warns her Facebook friends on this 9/11, “Be safe out there, everyone. Hate is in the air.”

What 9/11 has to do with an outbreak of anti-LGBT violence in southwest Florida fourteen years since the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center Towers, the Pentagon, and the highjacking of United Airlines 93, drew the attention of Diana Butler Bass, the widely acclaimed commentator on the United States religious scene. Bass wrote on her Facebook wall for September 11, “One day, someone will write a book about how, in the early 21st century, we went from fearing and hating terrorists to fearing and hating people of differing political opinions. The sad and haunting legacy of 9/11 is thus.”

Fr. Mychal Judge and Mark Bingham, gay heroes of 9/11

Fr. Mychal Judge and Mark Bingham, gay heroes of 9/11

The disrubing irony of the heightened atmosphere of anti-LGBT rhetoric and violence on the 2015 anniversary of 9/11 noted by Nantz and Butler Bass is the courageous role openly gay heroes played on September 11, 2001. The Rev. Fr. Mychal Judge, Franciscan Chaplain of FDNY and one of the first firefighters to die in the collapse of the World Trade Center Towers, won his title as “the Saint of 9/11” that day. Avid rugby player Mark Bingham was one of the brave and desperate men who stormed the cockpit of UA Flight 93 over Pennsylvania, sacrificing himself to bring down the jet liner before its hijackers succeeded in crashing it into the White House or the U.S. Capitol Building. Both were openly gay men who threw themselves into the breach for their fellow human beings at a time of crisis and disaster. Both died sacrificially, not as any of the demeaning epithets being aimed at LGBT people by Cruz, Huckabee, Staver and their ilk since the Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage in all fifty states, but as American heroes.

Butler Bass makes a convincing connection between the fear of terrorists stoked by politicians and pundits since the original September 11, and the demonization of persons of differing political views today. Fear not only twists the guts of the public. Its primitive energy offers craven haters with an ideological agenda to advance a ready vehicle to advance it. And she is also right that fear of the other has seeped so deeply into the American psyche that no community is immune from the temptation to spread rumor and innuendo against those who oppose them politically. Some LGBT people, for example, have indulged themselves in making cruel comments about the physical appearance of Kim Davis and her marital history. The vulnerability of LGBT people in America, however, calls for a reconsideration of post-9/11 manipulation of public fear.

Nantz helps us see that the threat of acts of violence against the lives and property of LGBT people is not simply another example of the political system in the Washington beltway gone awry. It has real consequences, from the arson at a gay nightclub to the epidemic murders of transgender women of color throughout the country. The hate in the air in post-9/11 America is a combination of the historical cultural loathing of LGBT people, and the cynical manipulation of a once-supreme white patriarchal group by the likes of presidential candidates and their legal and media henchmen. While they would deny any connection between their incitement of anti-LGBT sentiment and any outbreak of violence, their words and deeds are in the background of every hate crime perpetrated against the sexual and non-normative gender communities of America, and the reach of their cynical ideology is increasingly global. This anniversary of 9/11, our LGBT neighbors, families, co-workers, and friends are less safe in their persons, jobs, and property than they were even a year ago.

How we have declined from honoring the LGBT heroes of September 11 for their courage and sacrifice, to this 9/11 anniversary when anti-LGBT fear is being manipulated by calls for so-called “Religious Liberty” (read, “the re-imposition of oppression against gay, lesbian, transgender, and bisexual people”), is the book that cries out for someone to write. Hate is in the air this 9/11, and what it portends is something every American should be worried about.

September 11, 2015 Posted by | 9/11, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Arson, Diana Butler Bass, Flight 93, Florida, Fr. Mychal Judge, Gay Bars, gay men, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, Kentucky, LGBTQ, Liberty Counsel, Mark Bingham, Mat Staver, Mike Huckabee, New York City, Pennsylvania, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, religious hate speech, religious intolerance, Same-sex marriage, Special Comments, Ted Cruz, transgender persons, Transgender women, U.S. Supreme Court, Vicki Nantz Films, Washington | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Anti-Gay Activist Pastor Scott Lively Ordered to Stand Trial for Crimes Against Humanity

Scott Lively, now to be defendant in international crimes against humanity lawsuit case.

Scott Lively, American anti-gay extremist, now to be defendant in international crimes against humanity lawsuit case.

Springfield, Massachusetts – In a historic judicial ruling, a federal judge denied a motion filed on behalf of U.S. hate pastor Scott Lively asking the court to dismiss a lawsuit accusing Lively of international crimes against humanity. This unprecedented decision by Judge Michael A. Ponsor, Senior Judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, effectively orders Lively to face charges that establish anti-gay persecution as a crime against humanity, according to Out.com.  In his ruling issued on Wednesday, August 14, U.S. District Judge Ponsor stated, “Widespread, systematic persecution of LGBTI people constitutes a crime against humanity that unquestionably violates international norms.”  Judge Ponsor, a Rhodes scholar and widely respected federal justice, went on to say,  The history and current existence of discrimination against LGBTI people is precisely what qualifies them as a distinct targeted group eligible for protection under international law. The fact that a group continues to be vulnerable to widespread, systematic persecution in some parts of the world simply cannot shield one who commits a crime against humanity from liability.”

 Lively, founder of Abiding Truth Ministries, Inc., and author of the virulently anti-gay book, The Pink Swastika: Homosexuality in the Nazi Party (1995), has made a living by reviling LGBTQ people in the USA and around the world.   Notoriously, Lively is a central propagandist inciting homophobic lawmakers in the central African nation of Uganda to enact draconian laws such as the “Kill the Gays Bill” pending before parliament, making homosexuality illegal and in some cases punishable by death.  But Lively has not limited his vilification of LGBTQ people to Africa by any means, according to the Intelligence Files of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a watchdog organization monitoring all manner of hate crimes emanating from the U.S.  The SPLC details Lively’s hate-mongering throughout the USA through front organizations such as the Oregon Citizens Alliance (OCA), the California branch of the American Family Association (AFA), Lively’s own spawn, Abiding Truth Ministries of Massachusetts, and, most recently, Watchmen on the Walls (WOTW), an extremist anti-gay organization with an international outreach that Lively co-launched in Riga, Latvia in 2007.  Lively’s religion-based bigotry and Holocaust revisionism, particularly his spurious claims that homosexuals dominated the German Nazi Party and instigated the immolation of millions of European Slavs and Jews during World War II, have incited suspicion, hatred, and violent persecution of countless LGBTQ people in Africa, Russia, and around the world.
 
Ugandan protestors outside London embassy [Voice of America photo].

Ugandan protestors outside London embassy [Voice of America photo].

Lively’s anti-gay activism in Uganda has finally caught up with him.  The SPLC reports: “[Lively’s]  work in Uganda led to a lawsuit against him under the Alien Tort Claims Act, filed March 14, 2012, by Sexual Minorities Uganda, an LGBT rights group in that country. The lawsuit alleges that Lively conspired with political and religious leaders in Uganda beginning in 2002 to incite anti-gay hysteria with warnings about the dangers of homosexuals to children and homosexuality to Ugandan culture.”  This lawsuit, Sexual Minorities Uganda v. Lively, filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) on behalf of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), is the suit U.S. District Judge Ponsor allowed to proceed against Lively.  The suit alleges that Lively directly consulted and instigated with Ugandan religious and government authorities to deprive LGBTQI Ugandans of their basic human rights solely and deliberately as a result of their identities.  According to the statues of the International Criminal Court, such activities as enslavement, torture, murder and “persecution against an identifiable group on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious or gender grounds,” constitute “crimes against humanity.” Out.com indicates that the Alien Torte Statute allows foreign nationals to sue for violations of international rights in U.S. courts.  In the language of the SMUG lawsuit, Lively “through actions taken both within the United States and in Uganda has attempted to foment, and to a substantial degree has succeeding in fomenting, an atmosphere of harsh and frightening repression against LGBTI people in Uganda.”
 
U.S. District Judge Michael A. Ponsor issued the historic ruling against Scott Lively on August 14, 2013.

U.S. District Judge Michael A. Ponsor issued the historic ruling against Scott Lively on August 14, 2013.

While the court battle is hardly over, Wednesday’s ruling in U.S. District Court is a clear defeat of Lively’s heretofore unaccountable hate speech and advocacy against sexual and gender variant minorities, and a shot across the bow of any other individuals or organizations that seek to deny the rights of LGBTQI people throughout the world.  It is also a blow to the anti-gay Liberty Counsel, a rightwing legal consortium created by the arch heterosexist/homphobic evangelical ideologue, Rev. Jerry Falwell, which set out to defend Lively from the CCR/SMUG lawsuit.  The lead attorney for CCR, Pam Spees, responded to press requests for comment, saying, “We are gratified that the court recognized the persecution and the gravity of the danger faced by our clients as a result of Scott Lively’s actions. Lively’s single-minded campaign has worked to criminalize their very existence, strip away their fundamental rights and threaten their physical safety.” Frank Mugisha, Director of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) and winner of the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award, said to Gay Star News after the ruling was made public Wednesday, “Today’s ruling is a significant victory for human rights everywhere but most especially for LGBTI Ugandans who are seeking accountability from those orchestrating our persecution.”

 
The case has now been referred to U.S. District Magistrate Judge Kenneth P. Neiman to be scheduled for a pretrial conference at a future date.  The full Memorandum and Order issued by U.S. District Judge Michael A. Ponsor is available here.

August 15, 2013 Posted by | "Kill the Gays Bill", Abiding Truth Ministries, Africa, Anti-Gay Hate Groups, Anti-LGBT hate crime, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), Crimes against humanity, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBTQ, Liberty Counsel, Massachusetts, religious hate speech, religious intolerance, Russia, Scott Lively, Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), Social Justice Advocacy, Southern Poverty Law Center, The Pink Swastika, Uganda, Watchmen on the Walls | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

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