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Posts for July, 2010

NOM speaks to another mostly-empty city plaza

Timothy Kincaid

July 23rd, 2010

Continuing to demonstrate itself to be the NOM Tour of Mostly-Empty City Plazas, the National Organization for Marriage’s tour stop in Columbus, Ohio, was surprisingly poorly attended.

As they moved out of the northeast and into more conservative Ohio, it was assumed that NOM’s rallies would begin to pick up attendance. They even brought out Maggie Gallagher, their big media star, to speak to the crowd at the State House south lawn. But the crowd didn’t show up.

The Tour Tracker reports that the NOMbies at the peak were about 30 and that protesters numbered about 120. Of course, NOM will report 60 supporters because it appears that their counting method is to simply multiply by two (the 19 or so in Annapolis became “about 50 supporters in attendance”).

In Columbus, police set up barricades behind which protesters were required to stand. The protesters chanted and blew whistles. While that is annoying to the speakers, I’m not sure exactly what it accomplished. There’s nothing really wrong with the “hey hey ho ho” chants, but I think it would be more effective to sing We Shall Overcome. Or really annoy NOM and get a few powerful tenors to belt out Ave Maria.

But for the most part they didn’t engage in Shocking! and Outlandish! behavior that would frighten the horses (and yes, there were horses; the police were mounted.) One young lady crossed the line and was reportedly confrontational towards the people attending the NOM rally before being arrested. That was unfortunate and if NOM got any pictures or video of her, she will undoubtedly be the star of their next “I’m a victim” video.

The protest was by far the most interesting part of NOM’s event – even to NOM. Their website has no pictures of their own crowd, deciding instead to post one of the marriage supporters.

One odd thing: Brian Brown was missing from the festivities, and rumor is that he flew to California. No one seems to know why. Maybe he was too bored and depressed from no one showing up to hear him speak.

UPDATE: Here are the two sides of the story about the young lady who was arrested:

NOM’s version:

One woman, before she was escorted out of the rally by police, went through the crowd offering her hand to NOM supporters before ripping it away and cursing in their faces.

Maggie Gallagher’s version:

The protestors seemed a pretty angry lot, but mostly respected the line. (The Ohio cops were going to make sure of that!) One woman tried to incite folks to storm the podium again, but the police made that seem like a pretty bad idea.

I love cops.

Holly Hahn’s version:

This is what happened. I accidentally wandered into the NOM side of the protest. Seeing some opportunity for amusement, I wandered around inside the barricades shaking hands and introducing my self as a homosexual. One older man got upset and grabbed me and tried to wrestle me away, the cops told me to go behind the barricade and i did. Then the cops told me to leave and I refused. They dragged me away, cuffed and charged me with disorderly conduct and obstructing. I cooperated once arrested. I need ANY AND ALL pics and videos, to prove I was shaking hands, not “grabbing arms” please repost!

To clarify” I parked in the parking garage and was unsure which side of the statehouse I need to be. There were NO barricades the way I entered. I didn’t actually realize I was in NOM territory until I noticed the logo on the podium.

p.s absolutely nothing happened to the old man who grappled with me, but i think they recorded me cussing at him to GTFO me, unfortunately. I am truly sorry if my um..unrestrained comments while being assaulted are used in a way that is detrimental to the cause. The fact is I am woman, 5’0 and there was a man grabbing and grappling with me and police yelling at me. I was scared and angry.

p.p.sYes, It wasn’t premeditated. I have done many many protests and actions over the years, but really this time I just wandered into the wrong side and decided to run with it. I can’t let anyone go through their life saying they haven’t met a queer. It’s kind of my policy. So I started shaking hands.
Putting myself in the public eye doesn’t scare me a bit. I am who I am.
I refuse to be afraid and unlike the anonymous donors to Prop 8 and other hate legislation, I am true enough to my beliefs to put my real name on them.
My name is Holly Hahn. I am a lesbian. I am not scared of police, social disapproval or bigots stalking me.
I believe that the time for Mr/s Nice Gay is over. I’m tired of endless attacks against our lives. I don’t want them to feel safe behind the barricade- why should they get the privilege of feeling safe when their words or hate make our brothers and sisters UNsafe?
I will cross barricades again, and I am hoping to organize a courthouse sit in on my court date

UPDATE TWO

I bring you two messages from the National Organization for Marriage. The first is from Maggie Gallagher:

My message to the protestors: Hate is not a family value. The 62 percent of Ohioans who came together across lines of race, creed and color to vote for marriage are not haters, and it’s wrong to portray them, or the American people that way.

The second I bring from NOM’s Facebook page. The site is heavily edited by NOM’s associates and only the messages that the administrators want there remain. What follows is the comments to this post. (I left nothing out so as not to appear to be cherry picking the worst)

Daniel Rowinski: ugh i find out my city of Cleveland will host the gay games of 2014.

Theresa Preece: The Gay Games?

John Ozanich: Gay Olympics

Theresa Preece: Yes, I know. SO many comments….

Danielle Burke
: That is extremely disappointing :(

John Ozanich: all about money

Tara J Later: Oh, now that is beyond funny. The thing that comes to mind is the javelin throw on the movie ” Revenge of the Nerds”. Let’s get the aerodinamics right. I’m rotfl, big time.

Minister Dixon: ‎”The Gay Games?” Yeah, now I’ve heard everything. How are Gay Games different from other games?

John Acker: Do the males (they are anything but men) compete in accessorizing and lisping?

John Ozanich: you ever see Jesse Owens do a 500 yard sprint wearing a feathered pink boa ?

Tara J Later: @ Min. Dixon….I think I have the answer to that question. The uniforms are tighter and shorter, to make sure they show every part of the body as much as possible. That’s the difference. And the uniforms will be flaming loud.

Minister Dixon: John do you want my turkey sandwich to come back up? LOL

Minister Dixon: @ Tara, if it’s anything like their parades, you may have a point there :)

Tara J Later: I do have to admit, that everyone of my homosexual friends have great taste in style… Only one is on the loud side, but none of them want marriage. It’s quite interesting that they aren’t on the band wagon.

Nick Jones: Do these games consist of slapping fights, sex in public and who can say ‘hey’ the gayest?

Nick Jones: Do these games consist of slapping fights, sex in public and seeing who can say ‘hay’ the gayest?

John Ozanich: no, that’s Congress, Nick…

Minister Dixon: LOL, hey John, you’re not well, hahaha

And now my message to the Maggie: Hate is not a family value. It is true that not all of the 62 percent of Ohioans who voted to deny equality to their gay neighbors are haters, but many of the people who support the National Organization for Marriage and who participate at your Facebook page are.

Buju Banton Performs Tonight In Philly; Columbus, Cincinnati, Minneapolis Concerts Cancelled

Jim Burroway

September 12th, 2009

Thanks to BTB reader Stefano A. for this one:

The Lifestyle Communities Pavilion [in Columbus, Ohio] has canceled the 3 October show. Marketing Director Amy Cooper confirmed the cancellation but would make no other comment other than to state that: PromoWest did not directly schedule the Banton concert, but only rented the venue to an outside agency that handles the show booking, lighting, production and other aspects (except security). Cooper would not provide contact information for the outside booking agent.

An Oct 2 concert for Cincinnati is also listed as canceled by Ticketmaster, as is the one scheduled for Oct 4 Minneapolis.

Buju Banton performs tonight at the Trocadero Theater in Philadelphia, and tomorrow at the Reggae Fest at the Crossroads Nightclub in Bladensburg, MD.

Exodus Board Member Suing to Hold Church Services in Public Library

Timothy Kincaid

March 9th, 2008

burress.jpgPhil Burress is the president of Citizens for Community Values, an anti-gay advocacy group that is credited with spearheading the 2004 amendment that bans gay marriages in Ohio. He is also an officer on the Board of Directors of Exodus International.

Burress makes no pretenses that he is not an enemy of the lives, liberties and freedoms of gay people. In fact, his organization ranks as one of the most overtly homophobic groups of which I am aware. On his website’s position paper on homosexuality, he concludes:

At the outset of this paper we stated that the militant agenda of homosexual activists represents the single greatest threat to our Judeo-Christian family values, and to societal stability as a whole, of this generation. We hope that you understand our rationale for that statement and will join us in resisting, on every front, the organized effort to normalize homosexual behavior in our society.

Burress has long been viewed as a pain in the side of Cincinnati. After CCV was successful in getting the citizens of the city in 1993 to overturn anti-discrimination codes, the business community became annoyed. The city gained a reputation of being intolerant and homophobic, which reduced the pool of talented potential employees.

Indeed it was a coalition of business groups in that city that led to the successful vote in 2004 to overturn Burress’ meddling.

Now, according to Ohio.com, Burress continues his attack on the city and its residents**. CCV is suing a local public library because they do not allow religious services in their meeting rooms.

The canceled library meeting was part of a “Politics and the Pulpit” discussion planned by Citizens for Community Values. It was to include a discussion of politics and religion, as well as a “prayer petitioning God for guidance in the church’s proper role in the political process” and “singing praise and giving thanks to God,” according to the lawsuit.

Library officials said praying and singing are elements of a religious service, which is not allowed under library policy.

Naturally, CCV is being represented by Alliance Defense Fund, a ministry dedicated to using legal means to advantage conservative Christian groups over their secular neighbors. ADF is a ardent opponent to the separation of Church and State.

“Christian groups shouldn’t be discriminated against for their beliefs,” said Tim Chandler, an attorney with Alliance Defense Fund, a conservative Christian legal group that joined the lawsuit.

“The government cannot treat people with nonreligious viewpoints more favorably than people with religious viewpoints,” Chandler said. “Christians have the same First Amendment rights as anyone else in America.”

Perhaps I’m old fashioned. But my father and both of my brothers are ministers and at no point have they insisted that the residents provide free meeting places for their religious services. It takes a huge sense of entitlement to demand that government – be local or national – subsidize your religious endeavors.

Burress has no lack of sense of entitlement. Nor does he ever hesitate in his efforts to force his articles of faith on others, especially gay people.

Recently Exodus has declared that they have changed their efforts and will no longer focus on anti-gay public policy but will instead return to their original mission of ministering to those same-sex attracted persons who believe that homosexuality is contrary to a Biblical code of sexual ethics.

In August, 2007 after a lot of prayer, deliberation and listening to friends and critics alike — but mostly the Lord — we decided to back out of policy issues and our Director of Government Affairs took a position with another organization.

I believe strongly in all of the initiatives that we were involved in, but believe we must focus on our two greatest contributions: 1) helping the Church balance grace and truth where homosexuality is concerned and 2) connecting people who seek our help with a community of believers that can love them as they journey towards Christ.

While I disagree with Exodus’ version of “grace and truth where homosexuality is concerned”, I find that statement commendable.

But Exodus needs to back up its claim with action. It needs to sever from its midst those elements who do nothing but advocate discrimination against gay people and who serve no function but as political activists.

I contend that as long as Burress is on the Board of Directors of Exodus, they will continue to be viewed as an anti-gay political advocacy organization – and rightly so.

** UPDATE – Reader Stefano has corrected my faulty Ohio geography. The library is in a neighborhood in Columbus.

Spare Change

Jim Burroway

June 15th, 2006

This article appeared on the National Review’s web site today. Eve Tushnet reports on the June 10th “Love Won Out” conference, a gathering of evangelical ex-gay ministries, held in Washington D.C. These ministries are an important part of social conservatives’ ongoing efforts to oppose gay rights in the public square, especially in the areas of same-sex marriage, adoption, and anti-discrimination measures.

By framing homosexuality as a behavioral “choice” that can be changed with patience, persistence and prayer, these ministries seek to redefine the public’s understanding of homosexuality as an unchosen orientation. If homosexuality is chosen (goes the thinking) then there is no need to protect gay rights based on this chosen behavior. Many in the ex-gay movement even take this argument to its most extreme conclusion — that there’s no such thing as being gay.

So these “ex-gay” groups play an important role for social conservatives. However, Eve Tushnet observes:

What they (the ex-gay ministries) aren’t is what many conservative evangelicals seem to want them to be: the ultimate answer to the gay-rights movement. The groups’ problems are deeply embedded in their self-understanding.

What’s the problem? These ministries publicly proclaim that “change is possible” without the inconvenience of explaining what “change” means. It is assumed that through various therapeutic practices, a change in sexual orientation will take place. But when pressed, many ex-gay practitioners will admit that this isn’t realistic. According to Mike Haley of Focus on the Family:

“We don’t want people to believe that change means you have to be married and have to have kids,” he said, and then added, “The opposite of homosexuality isn’t heterosexuality, the opposite of homosexuality is holiness. We’re not trying to create people from homosexual to heterosexual.”

This message however is largely missing from the conference, and it’s also conspicuously absent from the slick brochures and billboards put up by Exodus International and other ex-gay ministries. The public face that these ministries provide is that they are offering therapeutic services for those who wish to change their sexual orientation. But on closer inspection, it becomes very clear that these ministries really aren’t offering a cure, but conversion. The same-sex sexual attractions remain. It is up to the individual to “resist temptation,” and when he or she fails (and most of them do), it becomes both a failure in faith and a failure in character. This sense of failing can be devastating, leading some to suicide and others to refusing to have anything more to do with Christianity.

Rita Price of the Columbus Dispatch reported similar findings among members of an ex-gay group in Ohio. One group member, speaking on the difficulty of trying to “change” commented that “This is my being. This is who I am. It’s like telling a black person to stop being black.”

So what does “change” mean? Is it a change in sexual attraction, or just a change in behavior? Ms. Price notes that for some participants, a change in behavior is enough. But for most, the internal schizm that must occur for sustainanble behavioral change is simply too much to handle.