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The Daily Agenda for Friday, January 20

Jim Burroway

January 20th, 2012

Launch of “Mayors for the Freedom to Marry”: Washington, D.C. Freedom to Marry will hold a press conference today to announce the launch of Mayors for the Freedom to Marry during the U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting in Washington, D.C. More than 75 Republican, Democratic and Independent mayors from across the country have pledged to support marriage equality. The coalition is chaired by mayors Jerry Sanders of San Diego, Thomas Menino of Boston, Michael Bloomberg of New York, and U.S. Conference of Mayors President Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles. The news conference takes place this morning at 10:00 a.m. EST at the Capital Hilton, 1001 16th Street NW in Washington.

The Lepers Among Us: Belfast, Northern Ireland. If you wanted to put on an anti-gay/ex-gay conference, what title could you give it that would be the most offensive title imaginable? “The Lepers Among Us: Homosexuality and the Life of the Church” would have to rank pretty highly in my estimation. That’s the title American author Jim Reynolds chose for his self-published book which he somehow believes is a constructive outreach to “believers who struggle with gender identity issues.” The title of his 2010 ten book on a similar subject, Why We Don’t Shoot the Wounded, is only marginally better. Marginally. But that sets the stage for a two day conference that he is putting on with the Belfast-based ex-gay program CORE Issues, which begins today at 10:00 a.m., with a separate condensed version being held again on Saturday at the Orangefield Presbyterian Church, 464 Castlereagh Rd BT5 68H.

Local LGBT advocates will be protesting the event between 9:30 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. today and Saturday at the conference site. John Doherty, director of the Rainbow Project, told The Belfast Telegraph, “We have a number of issues with the event. Firstly, the name which refers to lepers. Regardless of the organizers’ intention, we consider it to be homophobic to the LGB community. And, secondly, we consider the practice of reparative therapy to use methods that are possibly dangerous.”

“The Lepers Among Us” will hold a similar conference in London on Friday, January 27 at the Emmanuel Centre, Westminster.

If you know of something that belongs on the agenda, please send it here. Don’t forget to include the basics: who, what, when, where, and URL (if available).

And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?



Mary in Austin
January 20th, 2012 | LINK

This Jim Reynolds is an absolute creep. Nobody with the slightest degree of human sensitivity calls anybody a leper any more. Hansen’s Disease patients are called people with Hansen’s Disease. The word leper is stigmatizing from the word go, and to use it to express his disgust with others’ sexual orientations is just obnoxious.

January 21st, 2012 | LINK

For (at least some) evangelicals, the word “leper” doesn’t trigger thoughts of “unclean! unclean!”, it triggers thoughts of “those whom general religious society despised, but Jesus embraced”. The title is definitely open to interpretation, but perhaps that is the way it was intended? Something like the idea that religious leaders have been shunning LGBT people, when Jesus would have embraced them?

At least I hope that’s what was meant… but since I haven’t read the book or gone to the conference, I don’t know.

January 22nd, 2012 | LINK

Before calling this man a “creep”, perhaps one should take the time to know that the word “leper” is used to describe the shameful way the church has treated LGBTs. He does not use the word to express his disgust. He has none.

I’m also sorry for the way this issue has often been approached by the church, and hope that efforts such as his will not continue to be misunderstood and miscategorized as hateful.

Jim Burroway
January 22nd, 2012 | LINK

I am always astounded at incredible hubris of those who presume to decide what names are appropriate for other people and who then try to dictate to other people whether they should be offended or not, Calling people lepers are offensive. Just ask people who have Hanson’s disease. They rejected the terms “lepers” a “leprosy” generations ago.

You say Reynolds has no “disgust” for gay people. He does however hold gay people contempt. No one I know applies a label to other people that other people find offensive and reserves the right for themselves to dismiss the offense. Please. We are not to be patronized as poor, pathetic, miserable creatures will be grateful when the church replaces its prior impulse to outcast with a new-found understanding that pity is better. It is not.

If people want to avoid what you call “misunderstanding and miscategorizing as hateful,” then the solution could not be more simple: stop talking about people in ways they find offensive. And stop being patronizing.

Regan DuCasse
January 22nd, 2012 | LINK

Thank you Jim! You took the thunder I was preparing for Jonathan. Those that have been abused, marginalized, kept from their full civil and human potential ARE given names and designations specifically to demonize, humiliate and dehumanize them.
And we KNOW what they are, and why they are used.
And it’s RIGHT to take offense, because OFFENSE WAS MEANT.
Bigots tend to have some common behaviors. I will explicate.

1. Treating their target like bad children. Condescending language, the scold, and very low expectations.

2. Quick denial that this is their behavior and cowardice in owning it and acknowledging it’s damaging and terrible result.

3. Also quick to condemn the legitimate emotions from such treatment, such as anger, pain, resentment and challenge. After all, children are not supposed to respond that way, regardless of what is deliberately inflicted on them. Abusive, controlling and violent parents behave that way. Gay people are supposed to fear and never challenge those who want to control their lives. And they don’t like it when gay adults, actually ACT like self reliant adults.

It’s not wrong to take offense at this leper analogy, it’s wrong to expect the target of the offense to NOT take it exactly as anyone would and be pissed off about it.

Timothy Kincaid
January 23rd, 2012 | LINK


I would agree if the book is written to gay people and for gay people, it would be unquestionably offensive. But if written to the church and about what the church should do, then the offense is inferred and not implied.

Within Evangelical Christianity, “leper” has the religious connotations that Sharon and Jonathan have suggested. It has strong associations with pity and caring. Mostly in terms of healing the ones that society rejects.

Of course, there are also mounds of self-righteous “look how good I am” and heaps of superiority. And yeah, in objective terms, it is offensive to say “you are society’s rejects, but I’ll love little pathetic you until Jesus heals you”.

I suspect that Reynolds isn’t intending to be offensive. He wants to be loving, he just wants to do it in terms that justify his positions and beliefs.

And I suspect that unlike, say, Andrew Marin, Reynold’s exposer to The Homosexual is probably limited to ex-gays and their perspective.

Jim Burroway
January 23rd, 2012 | LINK

But if written to the church and about what the church should do, then the offense is inferred and not implied.

I don’t think it matters whether the offense if implied, inferred, or directed. The offense exists: people are offended. If Reynolds were serious about not wanting to offend, he could apologize. He could, further, explain to his target audience, that he has learned that comparing gay people to lepers is offensive to gay people (and, incidentally, to “lepers,” who point out that they are people first, suffering from Hanson’s disease).

Unfortunately, I see none of that. So if the offense was once only inferred, I think it is safe to say that it is now implied.

January 23rd, 2012 | LINK

Actually, I couldn’t care less what he calls us or with whom he compares us. His message is that gays are people who “struggle with same-sex sins” and who need to be “healed”. That pernicious message is to be firmly rejected, no matter in what terms he chooses to express it.

Timothy Kincaid
January 23rd, 2012 | LINK

As he probably only is in contact with strugglers, do you know if anyone has pointed out to him that he’s being offensive with that title? I know it may seem a bit odd, but he really might not know.

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