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Box Turtle BulletinNews, analysis and fact-checking of anti-gay rhetoric
“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
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Posts for November, 2009

Another Reason To Rejoice

Jim Burroway

November 14th, 2009

There’s another reason to rejoice over the LDS Church’s historic support for pro-LGBT legislation in Salt Lake City: it’s causing all sorts of angst among anti-gay extremists. The right-wing group America Forever, whose fundraising ventures included selling worthless ID’s to Mexican immigrants, is incredulous. They charged that the seemingly powerless Church “was placed in this position by the gays from Utah.” That’s right. Gays are more powerful in Utah than the Mormon Church.

Other denunciations were more conventional. The American Family Association of Michigan’s Gary Glenn sputtered that the Church’s position was “grossly ignorant.” The Family Research Council’s Peter Sprigg charged that the Church was “bend[ing] over backwards to exhibit tolerance toward homosexuals in some way.” Peter LaBarbera wailed that the church’s stance may mark “the ‘official’ split of the American pro-family movement against homosexuality into two camps,” with only one camp holding fast to unadulterated, no-holds-barred, anti-gay warfare — the only stance he finds acceptable. LaBarbera also worries:

If churches back “gay rights” (and the LDS is hardly the first), is there some truth to the idea that those of us who remain opposed to ALL aspects of the “GLBT agenda” are “bigots” or somehow extreme in our worldview?

Increasingly, the answer to LaBarbara’s question is self-evident. If someone opposes ALL aspects (as LaBarbera emphatically stipulates) of recognizing the humanity of any people — whoever they may be — then yes, they are bigots and extremists. That’s pretty much the definition. There’s no other way to put it. And whenever a major denomination like the LDS church can frame a question like this through its actions with such stark clarity, we all benefit.

Kalamazoo City Council Rescinds Anti-Discrimination Ordinance, Vows To Try Again In February

Jim Burroway

January 13th, 2009

We were very excited last month to learn that the Kalamazoo, Michigan, city commission voted unanimously to expand their anti-discrimination ordinance to include sexual orientation. But right away, the American Family Association of Michigan responded by announcing an effort to repeal the entire ordinance.

Well, last night after the AFA Michigan submitted petitions with 1,600 signatures, the commission voted 7-0 to rescind the law rather than have it go before the voters. Commissioner Stephanie Minor said, “We knew it would be rescinded on the basis that we were going to come back, reconvene, look at the ordinance and strengthen it, clarify it, and bring it back before the commission to bring it back.” The commission hopes to have a retooled ordinance back for a vote in February. Stay tuned.

AFA Michigan Fights Kalamazoo Anti-Discrimination Ordinance

Jim Burroway

January 5th, 2009

Last month, we were happy to note that the city council of Kalamazoo, Michigan, voted to adopt an expanded anti-discrimination ordinance that makes it a municipal civil infraction to discriminate against gays, lesbians and transgender citizens. Now we learn that the anti-gay minions of the American Family Association of Michigan are working to overturn the ordinance:

City Clerk Scott Borling said former city commissioner and current Kalamazoo County Treasurer Mary Balkema officially turned over 189 pages of petitions that circulators said contained about 1,600 signatures to overturn the ordinance. …Under the charter, if sufficient signatures are certified next week, the ordinance is immediately suspended and the Kalamazoo City Commission must either repeal the entire ordinance or put it on the ballot for city voters to decide.

American Family Association Columnist Has a Change of Heart

Jim Burroway

March 27th, 2007

Pam Spaulding has published an amazing interview with Joe Murray, a former columnist and staff attorney for the American Family Association. Pam had written about some of his anti-gay columns before. That’s why she was very surprised to read a column in which Joe Murray attacked the AFA’s “borderline bigoted” behavior and condemned the manner in which the AFA supported General John Pace’s remarks that “homosexual acts between two individuals are immoral.”

Pam was very impressed with Joe Murray’s column. She contacted him and asked if he would be interested in doing an interview. He agreed, and that interview is now online. Here are some highlights.

On Murray’s evolution in his opinion on homosexuality:

After adopting the AFA party line for some time, something in the back of my head kept tearing away at my conscience. How could AFA, an earthly organization, declare the divine intention of the God and condemn the souls of homosexuals? How was it that men could make the declaration of who was getting into Heaven and who was getting the one-way ticket to Hades?

I thought who are these people to say who is getting into Heaven and who is not? I thought of the story of Joan of Arc, who, when she was being burnt at the stake, was ask the question of whether she would go to Heaven.

Her response? “If I am not, may it please God to put me in it; if I am, may it please God to keep me there.” In other words, it is God, not man, who decides who gets to pass through the gates of Heaven. So, how could groups like AFA even hint that gays were doomed to hell? This smacked of the politics of man, not the divine mercy of God.

On why he wrote some of the things he did:

…I have always been concerned about the values coming out of the Castro District. I see the hatred some of these people have towards my Church, the Roman Catholic Church, and I just took their anger as proof that some folks on the Christian right were accurate in their depiction of the “homosexual agenda.” I failed to investigate the matter and just adopted the party line — this was a monumental error on my part.

It was not until I began to look closer at the issue that I came to realize that: (a) not all of the gay community is represented by those marching in the streets of San Francisco and (b) those in the streets had a right to be angry, for they have been told for years that they were immoral, sinful and shameful. How horrible must it be to be condemned due to a trait you had no control over. I thought, hell, I would be angry, too. Even further, when I looked at society, I found that most of our societal institutions worked against the gay community.

On the AFA’s obsession with homosexuality:

As for the fixation with the “homosexual agenda,” you are right — it is a significant part of the ministry’s drive. I am not able to judge the hearts of other men, so I cannot speak to whether they truly believe that homosexuals are out to “convert” the children of America or they are merely using this issue as a method of fundraising. Either scenario, though, is disturbing.

And I while say, it is my own personal view that at least some inside AFA find the obsession with this issue uncanny. AFA needs to open its eyes to the idea that gays are not the enemy. I did.

On why the AFA do what they do:

… I am equally confused with AFA’s actions. AFA preaches the Gospels, but uses broad stereotypes to pigeonhole an entire community of individuals. I will not tell you what is in the hearts of these people, but I will look at the evidence.

If AFA believes they are trying to help people, they are sorely misguided. As stated by Edward Bulwer-Lytton, “an ounce of help is better than a pound of preaching.”

On the evangelical church’s reaction to Ted Haggard:

As for me, it always amazes me how quickly some Christians turn on one another. The Haggard story is one of sadness, for it tells the tale of a man who has been so indoctrinated with hate and fear, that he has been fighting something he cannot fight. He is denying his very identity. I only hope that Haggard’s story humanizes the treatment of gays inside the church and causes people to reevaluate their position, but I am doubtful about this.

On anticipating the anti-gay lobby’s tactics in the near future:

My best guess is that AFA, and groups like them, will try to paint the gay rights movement as a radical fringe that is poisoning the cultural well and seeking to impose their will on a defenseless America. In other words, fear will be the main motivating force.

I am sure that pictures of half naked gay men will make their way into action alerts, as well as concerns over homosexual indoctrination in the school house. Hate crimes will be an issue and many will try to scare preachers into believing that the passage of the hate crime bill will penalize the Sunday morning sermons. This is shameful.

This is an amazingly candid interview. Pam is soliciting questions in her comments for a possible Part Two. Go over there and read the entire interview for yourself. It’s a rare and informative glimpse into one of the more powerful anti-gay lobbying groups in America.