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Posts for January, 2008

Boston Law Student Apologizes

Jim Burroway

January 10th, 2008

Stephen Dunne, the law student who filed a lawsuit last June claiming he was unfairly flunked from the Massachusetts bar because he refused to answer a question on gay marriage, has apologized. Dunne had filed the lawsuit claiming that his Catholic beliefs and First Amendment Rights were violated by being forced to answer a “patently offensive and morally repugnant” question on gay marriage and divorce. Dunne withdrew the lawsuit in September after an outcry from the gay community.

According to the Boston Herald, Dunne apologized in a letter to the editor and an interview in the January 3 edition of Boston’s Bay Windows. (Update: The Bay Windows interview and letter are now online.) According to the Herald:

“By filing a misguided federal lawsuit… in respect to the legitimacy of same-sex marriage, I have regrettably perpetuated intolerance and animosity towards my fellow Americans,” Dunne said in his letter. “My religiously based discrimination of gay people was callous and diametrically opposed to America’s core principles of freedom and equality.”

…In Bay Windows, Dunne called his lawsuit a “lashing out” as a result of failing the exam. “…I am particularly regretful of my actions towards those gay and lesbian friends that I befriended and studied alongside during my three years of law school,” he said. “You are all wonderful people and loving parents…”

An Irish immigrant who’s now a U.S. citizen, Dunne said he came to see parallels in the discrimination of gay people and that faced by the Irish when they first came to America.

The Watchmen In Riga, Part 1: “Become A Missionary To America”

Scott Lively announces his move to Springfield, Massachusetts, and invites the world to join him as "missionaries to America."

Jim Burroway

November 26th, 2007

The Watchmen On the Walls held another conference two weeks ago, this time in Riga, Latvia, home of Alexey Ledyaev’s New Generation church. Ledyaev is one of the Watchmen’s founders, along with holocaust revisionist Scott Lively and Seattle-area pastor Kenneth Hutcherson. This latest conference garnered very little attention here in the States, but since Ledyaev’s New Generation church put the video of the entire conference on their web site, I thought it might be informative to learn what was discussed in Riga.

Pastor LedyaevPastor Alexey Ledyaev opened the conference on Wednesday evening, November 14, with a strident sermon on the weapons of spiritual warfare. While he described these “weapons” as spiritual in nature, the war metaphors were pushed to their most militant limits as he whipped the crowd into a frenzy:

Liberalism is penetrating into our brain, but we must return to the fundamental things and name things as they are. If God names it evil, then we must name it evil. When you tell the truth, strength comes to you.

…We’re in the war and we’re in it because of trophies — human souls.

Today our home is being ravaged before our eyes. Our weapons are being taken away. We were strong when we had those weapons.

Conference audienceLedyaev stoked the crowd even further by describing the “danger” in the most ludicrous terms:

They are trying to wash our brains and explain that Bible is obsolete, that the form of the traditional family is obsolete. Today homosexualists boldly enter the schools with the bold slogan “Your kids are our kids. We will re-educate them.” Sexually immature kids are being seduced and taught about traditional and non-traditional sex. They are forced to cross-dress in order to feel which orientation is inside them. They are being told that if you are born as a boy, it doesn’t necessarily mean you will become a man. If you were born as a girl, it doesn’t necessarily mean you will become a woman. It’s all happening now.

The devil is ravaging our home and I want to ask our Church: where are we? We are told to surrender our weapons and be silent – but we are refusing to take this dictation down. Because we have another commander-in-chief and he tells us to act!

Scott LivelyThings had calmed back a bit the following morning when American author and holocaust revisionist Scott Lively took the stage. And even though his talk was lower key than Ledyaev’s, it was no less provocative.

Lively began by bringing the conference up to date with the Watchmen’s activities over the previous months. He talked about going to Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia, and then followed that with an account of the U.S. conferences in Sacramento and Seattle. And here’s where his grip on reality became somewhat tenuous. He began by talking about how the Watchmen had been “attacked” in a report from the Southern Poverty Law Center:

There’s an organization in the United States called the Southern Poverty Law Center. This is a very powerful and influential organization. This is an organization that got its start fighting against the Ku Klux Klan and racism in the Old South in the United States. And it became very famous for fighting against hate groups.

Then in about the nineteen nineties, then there was very, very little racism left in America. And this organization had no more people to investigate. So they picked a new target, what they called the Christian Right. Christian Conservatives. And they began taking the side of the homosexuals against the Christians.

Scott LivelyLively then went on to embellish the story about the attention the Watchmen received in Seattle:

The devil was trying to kill Watchmen On the Walls in Seattle. But God was with us. We had a very good conference and we got publicity throughout the whole state of Washington that we never would have had. But at the very beginning of the conference we held a press conference. And we met with the media and we told them who we were. And we wrote a statement about the Watchmen On the Walls and who we are. My translator, Lev here has translated it and it will be posted on the Watchmen On the Walls web site.

And the next morning, when we came to the conference, the sidewalks was filled with homosexuals with signs attacking us. And the media was back again. They were looking to see if there would be a fight. But what they saw was Christians coming to together to praise God and to stand strong on the values that he has given us about the family. And the next day, in the biggest newspaper in the whole state, was a very positive story about Watchmen On the Walls and about how it was not the hate group that we had been called. Glory to God! Hallelujah.

The largest newspaper in the state, The Seattle Times, did indeed write about the Watchmen. But it does not appear to draw any conclusions about who they are, as Lively claimed in Riga.

Scott LivelyBut Lively was clearly flattered by the attention, calling the Watchmen a very important international movement. And since they are now “very important,” they have to be careful with everything they say. “We have to understand that we are being watched by people all over the world. There are probably even homosexual spies in this room.”

These “spies,” Lively warned, would love nothing more than to catch someone associated with the Watchmen saying something ugly. And that’s where Lively coached his Russian-speaking audience with a new phrase that he claimed would inoculate them against the charges of being a hate group:

In America, the Christians have chosen a phrase that explains what we believe. And you may have heard this phrase. “We love the sinner, but hate the sin.” Amen? Okay. Say that with me. “We love the sinner, but hate the sin.” That must be your phrase because that will protect you from being misrepresented. And it will bring you in harmony with Christians around the world.

And with that, Lively went on to speak in those “harmonious” terms that many Christians all over the world have used to describe gays and lesbians:

You have to understand how this battle works. We follow the God of truth. They Holy Spirit, who is called the Spirit of Truth, lives inside of us. But our adversaries follow the father of lies. Scripture calls him the “father of lies.” They can’t tell the truth, and they to tell the truth because they don’t want people to listen to what we have to say. But we can’t say anything that would give them proof that what they teach is right… So we must be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. We won’t stop telling the truth, and they won’t stop telling the lies. But this is a war.

Scott LivelyThat’s quite a long ways from loving the sinner.

Lively ended his talk that morning with an announcement that he and his wife will be moving to Springfield, Massachusetts to join a New Generation church which serves the Russian-speaking community there. And he invited others in Riga to join him in his quest to change America:

We’re going to Springfield as missionaries to America. We want to do the three tasks of the church. We want to take that goal of transforming society and to apply it in all the areas of life. And I want to invite you, whether you’re here in Riga, whether you’re watching on the Internet, or whether you’re watching on DVD, come to Springfield. Come and be part of the experiment. Help us to develop New Generation and the Watchmen On The Walls into the English-speaking world.

(Thanks to Ruslan Porshnev of the Russian LGBT web site Anti-Dogma, for generously providing the English translations of the Russian speakers at the conference. You can read more about his work here.)

See also:
The Watchmen In Riga, Part 1: “Become A Missionary To America”
The Watchmen In Riga, Part 2: From Babylon To Jerusalem
The Watchmen In Riga, Interlude: A Pastor’s Prayer
The Watchmen In Riga, Part 3: The “Secrets” Of Homosexuality
The Watchmen In Riga, Part 4: “A Militant Army Marching Against Evil”

A Tale of Liars and Attention Whores

Timothy Kincaid

October 10th, 2007

One of the problems with being a Culture Warrior and fighting against an Evil Agenda is that sometimes you begin to believe your own rhetoric. Of course, it helps if you start with a bit of a disconnect from reality.

Take, for example, this story from Edge about a recent confluence of some of the anti/ex-gay’s loonier players.

MassResistance, an anti-gay outfit in Massachusetts, held a forum on October 3 at Acton-Boxborough Regional High School to protest the Drama Department’s planned production of The Laramie Project. Ironically, the daughter of MassResistance’s main blogger, Amy Contrada, is playing a lead part in the play. Amy was unable to be at the forum because she was “putting her efforts into our banquet” planned for the following day. However, ex-gay gadfly Stephen Bennett was scheduled to declare that “no one is born homosexual and complete change is completely possible”.

camenkerbrian.jpgBrian Camenker, the face of MassResistance, told a little story to those in attendance about why Bennett didn’t show.

“Stephen Bennett will not be here tonight. … He is reviled and hated by the homosexual movement. While he was driving here after he got off the Mass Pike onto highway 290, as he paid his tolls and went going there was a parked car,” Camenker told the crowd of about 50 people at the start of the forum. “The parked car, as he got going, bashed into his car, causing him personal injury and then took off. State troopers came and they refused to file a police report on this.”

The story of the gay plot to target Stephen Bennett became a recurring theme throughout the evening, particularly in the remarks of Dr. John Diggs, a Massachusetts internist who spoke at the forum to warn Acton parents and community members about the dangers of homosexual sex. Diggs at various points in his remarks compared the alleged attack on Bennett to the attacks on civil rights workers in the South fighting for rights for African Americans, and he said the attack was similar to the tactics used to quash dissent in Nazi Germany and in the Soviet Union.

“So why is Stephen Bennett so dangerous? Why is Stephen Bennett run off the road, in Massachusetts, the land of tolerance!” said Diggs, raising his voice to a shout. “Obviously because of what he had to say here tonight. Why? … Stephen Bennett is dangerous because he sticks the knife in the core of the lie.”

Frightening! Shocking! Horrifying!

The only problem with this story? It wasn’t true.

bennett.jpgCamenker forgot to run his conspiracy story by Bennett, who had no idea that gay activists had attacked him. And, when contacted, the police told another story which differed from Camenker’s fairy tale.

“The damage as a result of that crash was extremely minor. It includes a scuffed bumper,” said Benson.

He also dispelled the myth of a conspiracy between State Police and gay activists. He said police did not file a crash report because the incident did not meet the required threshold; the damage to Bennett’s car was less than $1000 and he was not injured. Benson said police took down Bennett’s description of the vehicle of the alleged perpetrator, including the license plate number and are working to track that person down.

Camenker has yet again illustrated that he’s either deranged or an unabashed liar. And Bennett has yet again illustrated that he’ll join with anyone, no matter how nutty, to get his face in the spotlight.

Ah, Irony

Timothy Kincaid

September 28th, 2007

amycontradasick.jpgMass Resistance is a anti-gay site that seeks (rather futily) to promote anti-gay attitudes in Massachusetts. Amy Contrada is one of the main haters. Typical rantings from Amy:

Many of you may be aware of the pro-homosexual play “The Laramie Project” that’s being presented in colleges and even high schools across the country. It’s an extremely offensive piece of propaganda that uses the murder of the gay college student Matthew Shepard to push acceptance of homosexuality and horribly demonize Christians and others who have moral issues with homosexual behavior. It is also an extremely violent and profane work, meant to be psychologically jarring, with little value beyond that.

So perhaps it’s more than a little amusing that QueerToday.com is reporting that Amy’s daughter, Claudia Contrada, is performing in her school’s production of…The Laramie Project. This is confirmed by a couple of fellow students who also report that Claudia is delightful.

Let’s hope the production goes well and touches the hearts of all who watch it.

hat tip GoodAsYou

UPDATE

Yep. It’s Amy Contrada’s daughter. And MassResistance responded in their usual loving way:

This is the true sleazy, self-centered face of the homosexual movement, that cares about no one else’s rights and nothing but their immediate emotional desires.

As reported by Queer Today, Contrada basically argues that other people should boycott The Laramie Project, but that because her daughter enjoys acting then her family is exempt:

Amy and her husband were forced into a no-win situation by the school when the “Laramie Project” was chosen as the fall play. Their daughter had her heart set on acting during her senior year; being involved means a great deal to her.

And here I had my heart set on equality for all citizens regardless of sexual orientation.

Bernard Baran Released From Prison

Jim Burroway

July 1st, 2006

Bernard Baran and his mother on his release from prisonBernard Baran, at age nineteen, was one of the first to be convicted of child sexual abuse in a wave of convictions during the day-care hysteria of the 1980′s. He was released on bail Friday after twenty-one years in prison. His conviction was overturned and he was granted a new trial earlier last week. While free, Bernard will be tracked by GPS, is not allowed to leave the state, and is prohibited unsupervised contact with anyone under the age of sixteen.

While he’s free for now, he could be returned within months. Berkshire District Attorney David F. Capeless is appealing the ruling that overturned Bernard’s conviction, and vows to go forward with a new trial should the appeal be upheld. Bernard’s attorney, on the other hand, is confident:

Baran’s trial was one of several prosecutions surrounding sexual abuse at day-care centers. Since that time, many of the methods used to build those cases have been discredited and the convictions overturned.

Harvey Silverglate, a member of Baran’s defense team, said the country was gripped in a “national sex panic” in the 1980s that led to dozens of inappropriate convictions. As an openly gay man who worked with children, Baran was a likely target. Absent the hysteria, Silverglate said, Baran would never have been convicted.

“If there is a new trial, you will see the curtain pulled back on how these cases happened in the 1980s. The curtain will be pulled back as to why this man spent 20 of his best years in prison for a crime that never happened,” Silverglate said. “I suspect the district attorney will not really want to retry this case.”

See also:
Justice For Bernard

Justice For Bernard

Jim Burroway

June 24th, 2006

“I don’t know how much longer I can hold on for. I have spent fifteen years of my life locked away for something I never did and after a while you start to lose all hope.” — Bernard F. Baran, Jr., March 3, 1999

Twenty years ago, Americans were alarmed by the shocking allegations of child sexual abuse in the McMartin preschool case near Los Angeles. Soon other cases followed — the Little Rascals day care center in Edenton, North Carolina, the Fells Acres day care center in Malden, Massachusetts — all these and more sent the country on a wild witch-hunt — literally, as stories of satanic ritual abuse and sacrifice were accepted with incredible gullibility by the press. Today, most (but not all) of these allegations have been debunked and the accused set free, but only after their lives were forever ruined.

But there is one case that is still with us today, one case of a terrible miscarriage of justice that cries out for attention.

Bernard Baran in 1985Bernard Baran’s case is remarkably similar to the other cases: A teenager working at a public pre-school in Pittsfield, Massachusetts was accused of molesting five 3-, 4-, and 5-year-old children. Experts were brought in and, using suggestive and leading interrogation techniques, extracted “testimony” from some very young and impressionable children. During the subsequent trial, evidence was withheld from the defense attorney while a general atmosphere of hysteria spread throughout the community and the state.

But two things are remarkably different about Bernard’s case, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that these two distinguishing marks appear together. First, where most of the other cases have been dismissed or overturned and the falsely accused were eventually allowed to go free, Bernard (who goes by the nickname, “Bee”) is still serving three life sentences. And second, Bernard was openly gay. Being a gay teenager is never easy, but few have carried a burden like Bernard’s — especially in a climate that assumes that all homosexuals are child-abusing perverts.

When one of the parents learned that Bernard was gay, she complained to the Early Childhood Development Center where Bernard worked, saying she didn’t want “a queer” working with her child. When school officials refused to fire Bernard, the child’s father called police on October 5, 1984, alleging that his son had been sexually abused by Bernard. In the hysterical frenzy that followed, four more accusations were made.

Bernard and his mother were from a working-class background and they didn’t know how to go about finding a proper lawyer. They had very little money for a defense attorney, so Bernard’s original lawyer, who was inexperienced and took the case for only $500, barely reviewed the evidence. During the trial there were no eyewitnesses, forensic evidence was practically nonexistent, and the children’s testimony was elicited only after extremely heavy prompting and leading questions by the prosecution. The first child’s parents who started it all were heavy drug users, and the father was known to be exceptionally abusive.

On top of all that, with Bernard being openly gay, he was an extremely easy target. The district attorney said in his closing arguments that being gay was the same as being a child molester, and he compared Bernard to “a chocoholic in a candy store.” After only one day of defense testimony and three-and-a-half hours of jury deliberation, nineteen-year-old Bernard Baran was convicted and given three life sentences on January 30, 1985. It was over as quickly as that.

Bernard has been in prison for the past twenty years. I don’t have to tell you what it’s like to be gay and a convicted child molester in a maximum security prison.

His case languished for years, but there was a small cadre of friends and family who refused to give up. In 1999 lawyer John Swomley took the case with the sponsorship of the National Center for Reason and Justice. Since there was little documentation available, he had to rebuild the case from scratch. He finally was able to file an appeal in June 2004. A year later, Worcester Superior Court Judge Francis R. Fecteau agreed to take the motion under advisement. And another year after that, the judge finally ordered a new trial last Tuesday, and set Bernard’s bail at $50,000.

Right now, Bernard’s supporters are working on raising the bail money. But even if he is released, he will have to wear a GPS tracker wherever he goes, he will be required to check in with a parole officer once a week, and he will not be premitted to leave the state of Massachusetts. Because, after all, the state of Massachusetts still considers him a dangerous sex offender.

Bernard Baran todayThe state promises to appeal the judge’s decision. If it stands, then prosecutors may decide to hold a new trial or drop the case. So far, they indicate that they will press forward with the case. Bernard is not out of the woods yet, so right now he needs your support. His defense fund has been exhausted and desperately needs your donations. And you can spread the word about this important opportunity to correct a terrible miscarriage of justice.

For more information about Bernard’s case:

For too long, gay men have carried the burden of being automatically associated with child molesters. A few have paid a terrible price for this burden. Bernard’s fight is ours as well.

See also:
Bernard Baran Released From Prison

Manufacturing A Double Standard

Jim Burroway

June 19th, 2006

The conservative Christian web sites Agape Press and LifeSite are reporting that Jacob Parker, the son of Massachusetts anti-gay activist David Parker was beaten up by a group of eight to ten kids in the playground of his Lexington elementary school.

David Parker, if you remember, was arrested last year for refusing to leave the school after a meeting with the principal in which he demanded to be notified when any topic touching on sexual orientation (including same-sex marriage, which is legal in Massachusetts) is brought up in class. He is now suing the school system.

According to the Agape Press, David Parker’s son was attacked on May 17th, on the two-year anniversary of gay marriage in Massachusetts. Mr. Parker claims that other parents put their kids up to beating up his son because they are upset with his opposition to homosexuality. He also complains of a double standard in how his son’s case is being handled:

If the assault against his son had been perpetrated on a child of homosexual parents, “lessons teaching tolerance and diversity or homosexual behavior normalization would be forced upon the young children,” he contends.

But the local newspaper, the Lexington Minuteman reports a very different story. Paul Ash, the Superintendent of Schools, doesn’t know anything about what happened, but he’s going to look into it. Meanwhile he notes that if a student were assaulted, it would “trigger a whole series of actions,” including notifying parents, staff, the school psychologist, the Department of Social Services, and the police.

But the Lexington police department says it doesn’t have a complaint on file and there’s no ongoing investigation. Why?

Neil Tassel, the Parker’s legal counsel, spoke for the Parker family saying that had hoped to keep the incident private. Due to the age of the students involved, they had opted not to go to the police.

So if there is a double standard, it’s of Mr. Parker’s doing by not allowing the authorities to address the problem — according to what his attorney is telling the local press.

David Parker has the prerogative to decide whether or not he should avail himself of the services of the local police department to protect his son. But his actions certainly raise some interesting questions concerning his motives for going public now. Is issuing a press release on a very prominent web site the best way to “keep the incident private?” And how strange is it to complain of a double standard when he short-circuits the very process that he complains would be performed if it had been the son of a gay parent that was beaten?

Maybe it’s just more convenient to manufacture a double standard.

Update: The Lexington Public Schools issued a press release. The fight, it turns out, was over who got to sit where in the cafeteria. What’s more, the Parkers didn’t complain when they were told about the actions the school took in response to the fight, and “following the incident the boys were observed arm in arm at school and subsequently the child who was hit went to the house of the child who hit him for a play date.”

No Rush

Jim Burroway

May 15th, 2006

Dale Carpenter’s op-ed from the May 11, 2006 Bay Area Reporter has been posted at the Independent Gay Forum in response to the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy’s report (PDF: 280KB/12 pages) which suggests that gays aren’t really much interested in marriage. According to that report:

The highest estimate to date of the proportion of gays and lesbians who have married in any jurisdiction where it is available is 16.7% (Massachusetts). More typically, our survey of marriage statistics from various countries that legally recognize same-sex unions suggests that today between 1% and 5% of gays and lesbians have entered into a same-sex marriage.

Dale has some very interesting thoughts on this, beginning with the idea that if so few gays marry when given the option, then it’s very difficult to see exactly what kind of harm they would pose to the institution.

But assuming the report is true (and as far as I am able to discern, there aren’t any seriously glaring weaknesses that would suggest otherwise), the question that springs to mind is why are so few gays marrying? Dale suggests five reasons:

  • A gay couple in Massachusetts can marry all they want, but it still means nothing at the federal level.
  • The idea of marriage is still new to gay people. Until now, not many gays and lesbians have really had to sit down and examine what the option of marriage means in their lives.
  • Gay couples have no gay married role models to follow, nor is there much peer or familial pressure to get married.
  • Before now, with marriage off the table, there was little social encouragement to support the kind of stable, long-term relationships that lead to marriage.
  • Some gays, having been excluded from marriage, have developed what he calls an “oppositional identity” with regard to marriage.

Whatever the reasons, it appears that this much is true: despite the accusations leveled against gays and lesbians, they really do take marriage very seriously. Having been denied it for all their lives, they are much less likely to rush into marriage for all of the same superficial reasons that a small number of heterosexual couples do. (Britney Speers provides the best over-used example.) I suspect that, as Dale points out, the prospect of marrying someone “’til death do us part” is a very daunting prospect for those who until now never considered marriage would ever be a possibility for themselves.

In my view, the low marriage rate is a positive development. I suspect it will be the younger generation who will be more inclined to consider the possibilities of settling down and getting married. When there’s no one around saying it can’t be done, they will be free to imagine themselves marrying “when they grow up,” just like everyone else

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