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Posts for January, 2013

The Time Michelangelo Signorile Called the Future Pope Benedict XVI “The Devil” To His Face

Jim Burroway

January 25th, 2013

It was twenty-five years ago today.

Michelangelo Signorile Challenges FRC’s Tony Perkins To Debate

Jim Burroway

August 20th, 2012

Radio host and Huffington Post Gay Voices editor Michelangelo Signorile is tired of the Family Research Council’s attempt to pin the blame for last week’s shooting on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s ranking the FRC as among just twenty-six anti-gay hate groups. Signorile has penned an open letter to FRC’s Tony Perkins challenging him to a discussion about hate and its consequences:

But let’s be clear about why FRC is in that category. After all, there are thousands of conservative and religious groups across the country that are opposed to marriage equality, many of which also believe homosexuality to be a sin, but the SPLC does not deem them all hate groups. It’s only a tiny handful of conservative groups that have been given that distinction by the SPLC. They are listed as hate groups “based on their propagation of known falsehoods — claims about LGBT people that have been thoroughly discredited by scientific authorities — and repeated, groundless name-calling.” Also, two years ago, an FRC official said “homosexual behavior” should be outlawed. You wouldn’t repudiate him. It was also revealedthat the FRC contributed $25,000 to stop a congressional resolution to condemn the “kill the gays” bill in Uganda, which would have made homosexuality punishable by death. You worried that the resolution could make it appear as if homosexuality is acceptable. If that Ugandan bill, and even tacit approval of it, isn’t “hate,” what is?

Perhaps you recall that in July 2008, a man armed with a shotgun went on a shooting rampage inside a church in Knoxville. The Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church, like many Christian churches and denominations across the country, is welcoming of LGBT people. The gunman killed two people and severely wounded several others. Police said that the killer’s motive was to target gays and liberals. “This isn’t a church, it’s a cult,” the killer wrote in a four-page letter he had left behind. “They embrace every pervert that comes down the pike…. [T]he only way we can rid ourselves of this evil is kill them in the streets, kill them where they gather.”

I wouldn’t claim, as you did with regard to the SPLC, that the FRC gave that killer a “license to shoot.” No one knows what’s inside the mind of a premeditated killer. But I would ask: Where do people like this killer get the distortions and ugly mischaracterizations that convince them that gay people are evil? More so, where do others who wouldn’t engage in gun violence but who do harm to LGBT people in other ways — firing them from their jobs, throwing them out of their homes, bullying them in schools — get their misinformation about gay people? They get it from a wide array of sources that contribute to a culture that demonizes LGBT people. And you and the Family Research Council are among those who feed into that culture.

Uganda’s Aggressive Pushback Over “Kill-The-Gays” Bill Publicity

Jim Burroway

January 18th, 2012

Last Friday, Perezi K. Kamunanwire, Uganda’s ambassador to the U.S. suddenly withdrew as keynote speaker for a Martin Luther King Day event sponsored by the United Negro College Fund on Monday after the UNCF expressed concern over the Anti-Homosexuality Bill which had been revived in Uganda’s Parliament. UNCF president and CEO Michael Lomax wrote the Ambassador a letter expressing alarm over what he described as the bill’s “draconian penalties” and called on the ambassador to “address this issue when you speak at the King Day and take questions at the conclusion of your remarks.” The ambassador chose instead to withdraw from the event rather than face the uncomfortable questioning.

There has been an increasing aggressiveness in Uganda’s government and media against stepped up worldwide condemnation of countries which criminalize gay relationships. In recent weeks, we’ve even seen a stepped up hostility coming from what had been until now a very well-balanced independent newspaper, Daily Monitor. (More on that momentarily.) Ambassador Kamunanwire is playing his role in that push back. Yesterday, he blasted the UNCF for sending him an “incendiary” letter and claimed that the Uganda Parliament was not reconsidering the bill, despite numerous local reports to the contrary.

The aggressive push back has been joined by others in Uganda’s diplomatic staff. Yesterday evening, we received an email from a BTB reader in the Washington D.C. who was attending a talk by Rev. Mark Kiyimba, pastor of the New Life Kampala Unitarian Universalist Church, who was speaking at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Silver Spring, MD. Rev. Kiyimba has been a vocal opponent of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. According to the emailer, Dickson Ogwang, Minister Counselor at the Uganda Embassy in Washington, DC, rose during the Q&A session to give “the familiar government spin”, including misdirection about the brutal murder of Ugandan LGBT advocate David Kato. According to our reader, “Rev. Kiyimba responded well, but clearly was put in the difficult spot of being challenged to call a government minister a liar.” Our reader also observed:

“Mr. Ogwang looked mighty pleased to snap a digital photo of Rev. Kiyimba shaking hands with MD State Senator (and local LGBT rights champion) Jamie Raskin. My inner cynic wonders whether the photo will emerge in Ugandan press as “proof” that Ugandan gay rights advocates are merely tools of the West.”

There is certainly precedent for that. Daily Monitor, Uganda’s largest independent newspaper and an until-now largely reliable source of information about developments over the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, carried a lengthy, incendiary article in its Sunday Magazine on January 8. The article by Bernard Sabiti, an aspiring born-again politician and journalist, featured a large photo of LGBT advocate Frank Mugisha receiving the Rafto Foundation’s award for human rights in Bergen, Norway. The caption under the photo however reads, “Mr Mugisha receives one of his many awards for ‘bashing’ his motherland over gay rights.” Referencing Frank’s recent op-ed in the New York Times, the rest of the article goes downhill from there:

In a December 22 high-profile New York Times Op-ed titled “Gay and Vilified in Uganda”, Mr Mugisha repeats the same over-recycled allegations against his own country, in which he adds some even more absurd statements that are not true at all. In the article, for example, he writes that: “More benignly, if people are still single by the time they reach their early 20s, what Ugandans call a “marriage age,” others will begin to suspect that they are gay.”

This is hogwash. With more Ugandans spending more time at school and tightening economic conditions, who doesn’t know that marrying in late 20s and 30s is a very normal thing in Uganda these days?

Even after the Uganda Police concluded investigations which failed to link David Kato’s killers to homophobia and court appropriately sentencing them, in the article, Mr Mugisha still insinuates that “…because of this work, David was bludgeoned to death at his home, with a hammer.”

The matter of the Rolling Stone newspaper that published a list of homosexuals which is the basis of the western gay propaganda alleging that “the press” in from page 21

Uganda promotes murdering homosexuals is even too absurd to comment about. These people know nothing about Uganda’s culture, let alone that of the tabloid, where many journalism students try many stunts to come up with a publication that can sell in a tough media market and a poor reading culture.

Even “credible” newspapers here struggle yet they have been in the market far too long to stage competition against them. But many People here also love sensationalism and gossip and some enjoy nudity. That was what Giles Mahame, the Rolling Stone publisher, was tapping into.

If not, given the shrewdness of Ugandans, it wouldn’t be farfetched to say that the Rolling Stone stunt could have as well been a stunt by the homosexuals themselves to elicit international sympathy and the cash that no doubt followed it. [Emphasis added.]

The article has had its chilling effect. Frank told Michelangelo Signorile last weekend that he now fears for his life:

“Just two days ago there was a very big piece of news about me,” said Frank Mugisha, executive director of Sexual Minorities Uganda, in an interview by phone from Kampala on my radio program on SiriusXM OutQ yesterday, referring to an article he says was written in a local newspaper, attacking him for writing the New York Times op-ed.

“It said that everything we are saying is not true. That we are just trying to get sympathy in the Western world. They put my picture in the newspaper with all these hate words and of course I got a lot of bad emails, bad phones, a lot of harassment against me.”

…”Every day of my life here in Uganda I have to be careful of what I do,” Mugisha said in the radio interview yesterday. “It has reached the point that where I even have to be careful when I’m going to get food in a restaurant, to be sure that the food I’m getting, that I trust the restaurant, because I’m scared I could get poisoned. Even when I want to go shopping I have to call a friend and say can you come with me because my face has been in the newspapers, my face has been in the media. Just two days ago when my face was put in the newspapers I received harassment already. Now it is my fear of stepping out my house. If I want to go and buy food, because I have to eat, what is going to happen to me today?”

Whether Rev. Kiyimba’s photo snapped last night will be deployed for a similarly sinister purpose remains to be seen. Clearly Uganda, along with many other African nations, are on the defensive over recent British and American announcements that the manner in which LGBT people are treated in their home countries are a matter of international concern. The predictable backlash is brewing. That’s not to say that the British and American positions are wrong or misguided. But we are seeing increasing fallout over the spotlight they have cast on Uganda and elsewhere. And it means that we need to follow those statements with greater vigilance, and we must demand that Uganda and other nations take positive actions to ensure the safety of all LGBT people, including their advocates and leaders.

NC Marriage Ban Sponsor Can’t Explain His Own Position

Jim Burroway

September 28th, 2011

I was out running errands during lunch when I turned on Michelangelo Signorile’s program yesterday on Sirius/XM OutQ, when he interviewed North Carolina state Sen. James Forrester (R), sponsor of the proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage which will appear on the ballot in 2012. Forrester, who is also a doctor, has put forward the repeatedly debunked Cameronesque claim that gay people die 20 years earlier than other people. Forrester falsely claimed that the statistic came from the CDC, which Signorile quickly called him out on. The entire interview is a hot mess, especially where Forrester cannot come up with a good reason why same-sex marriage is such a danger to straight marriages that it requires a constitutional amendment, but divorce does not.

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Steven Anderson: “If You’re A Homosexual, I Hope You Get Brain Cancer”

Jim Burroway

September 1st, 2009

And those were the kindest words Tempe, Arizona, Baptist preacher Stephen Anderson said to Michelangelo Signorile. Anderson appeared in Signorile’s Sirius OutQ program yesterday and, well, you have to hear this for yourself.

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Beginning at 4:11:

Signorile: You want all gay people to be executed, correct?

Anderson: That is correct. That’s what the Bible teaches.

Signorile: Yeah, so that, you would like to see as the law of the land. So under the American law right now, if somebody were to go out with a machine gun and spray down a crowd of gay and lesbian people, would you think that was okay?

Anderson: No I would not think it’s okay because I believe in due process and I beleive in ….

Signorile: Would that person be a murderer?

Anderson: I would not judge them as a murderer, no. That’s my….

Signorile: Should that person go to jail? Should that person be…

Anderson:  … because they should be given a trial by jury. I believe that we should abide by the law of the land. Okay?

Signorile: So wait, that person should not be given the death penalty for killing thirty people? Let’s say he kills thirty people who he believes are homosexual. Should he not be given the death penalty?

Anderson: Well, you know I’m not a lawyer. I don’t know.

Signorile: Oh you have opinions about every… Wait a minute, you have opinions about everything. And now you’re not a lawyer? Come on! You’re a preacher! Tell me what you think!

Anderson: I’m an expert on the Bible, not an expert on the law.

Signorile: What do you think should happen to that man? You have told us what you think should happen to everybody under… what?

Anderson: …should have been tried and executed in the first place. You’re trying to get me to make all these hypotheticals within a paradigm…

Signorile: So wait, that man should not be executed?

Anderson: Okay, how about the woman who went into the courtroom and shot the pedophile that molested her son? The homosexual pedophile…

Signorile: I don’t know anything about it.

Anderson: She brought a gun into the court room and killed him. It was a really famous case, I think it was ten years back.

Signorile: And she should go to jail for murder. Yes, she’s a murderer. She is a murderer and she should go to jail. So, do you believe that if somebody goes out and shoots a whole crowd of gay and lesbian people, that person should not be executed?

Anderson: I do not believe that they should received the death penalty, no. But I do believe that they’re a criminal, because…

Signorile: Okay, how long should they go away for?

Anderson: … our laws as far as giving people a trial and due process.

Signorile: How long should they go away for for that? A couple of months, what should they do?

Anderson: That’s not for me to decide. I’m not running this country. I’m a preacher. I’m telling you what the Bible says.

At 6:30 in the video:

Anderson: You know why homosexuals go to church, it’s because they probably can get some action with the children. That’s probably why they even go to church.

Signorile: Oh, that’s why they go to church. Why, have you seen a lot of this?

Anderson: I believe that’s why they go to church. Oh yeah, I’ve seen homosexuals infiltrate church and molest kids in Sunday School. You see that in Phoenix almost every day.

Signorile: You know, I’m gay..I’m gay, and I don’t molest any children. What do you think…

Anderson: Well, I’d say you’re lying.

Signorile: Yeah, you think i must be molesting children, right?

Anderson: Exactly, right.

Signorile: Do you pray that I’ll died tonight?

Anderson: If you’re a homosexual, I hope you get brain cancer like Ted Kennedy. [Click]

And with those words, the good pastor hung up. Michelangelo explained in his blog why it was important to have Anderson on his show:

I had Anderson on the show… because I believe we can’t afford to ignore these violence-inciting individuals, not in this time in which Republicans are whipping them into a frenzy. One of the men who brought an assault weapon to President Obama’s speech in Phoenix a couple of weeks ago attends Anderson’s church. Better to expose them and let the world hear them.

And by the way, has anyone noticed the deafening silence from fellow pastors?

LGBT Insurrection Against The Democratic Party

Jim Burroway

June 15th, 2009

[Update: Three more LGBT advocates have declined to attend the DNC fundraiser in Washington next week. See below.]

President Barack Obama has repeatedly said that he won’t make a move to end “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the ban on LGBT people serving openly in the military, because ultimately it is up to Congress to change the law. His spokespeople have repeated this in answer to questions about why he hasn’t issued a stop loss order in order to halt the ongoing discharges of qualified gays and lesbians from the armed forces. They have, in effect, thrown the ball completely into the Congress’ court.

Now we have word from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that the reason the repeal of DADT has gone no where in the Senate is because no one has sponsored the legislation in the Senate. What’s more, he threw the hot potato right back into the President’s hands:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid speaking at a press conference Monday said he has no plans to introduce a bill to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell” in the Senate.

“I haven’t identified any sponsors,” he said. “My hope is that it can be done administratively.”

A Democratic aide later clarified that Reid was speaking about the possibility of using an executive order to suspend discharges or perhaps halting enforcement of the policy by changing departmental regulations within the Department of Defense.

Which, of course, won’t happen because the President is waiting on Congress, which in turn is waiting on the President.

This shouldn’t be that hard. This isn’t 1993, when DADT was signed into law by a Democratic Congress and a Democratic President. It is now 2009, when 69% of the American public believes that DADT should be repealed. When’s the last time two-thirds of Americans were united on anything else? What’s more, even 58% of Republicans and 60% of weekly churchgoers thing it’s time for DADT to go.

With public support like this, the age old question — If now now, when? — becomes less of a rallying cry and more of a taunt. Seriously, if not now, when?  We don’t need a “fierce advocate” for this one. All we need is for someone to grow a pair — and they don’t have to be very big ones.

But that’s not likely to happen. John Berry, the White House director of the Office of Personnel Management and the highest ranking gay official in the Obama administration, spoke with the Advocate’s Kerry Eleveld about progress on LGBT rights. He predicted that the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes bill would pass the Senate sometime this week. But what about repealing DADT and DOMA, or enacting a fully inclusive Employment Non-Description Act? Well, he says, they want to do it sometime “before the sun sets on this administration.”

This nebulous timetable is meaningless. If it doesn’t happen well before the 2010 mid-term elections, then we will be dependent on Obama winning a second term. After all, the next Presidential campaign will effectively begin in 2011. And there’s no guarantee that Obama will win that second term.

Which means either it happens now, or the Democratic party will essentially hold LGBT rights hostage for 2012.

DNC Fundraiser announcement. Click to enlarge

DNC Fundraiser announcement. Click to enlarge

With that news, coupled with the recent Department of Justice brief defending the Defense of Marriage Act which insults the integrity and intelligence of LGBT people everywhere, leading LGBT Democratic political veterans are beginning to register their disgust with the Democratic Party. Heck, even the Human Rights Campaign, often derided for its soft touch with political leaders, sent a sternly worded letter to Obama concerning the DOMA brief.

Meanwile, the DNC will hold a fundraiser next week in Washington, dubbed the LGBT Leadership Council Dinner. The featured speaker at the fundraiser will be Vice President Joe Biden. Openly gay Congressional representatives Barney Frank, Tammy Baldwin, and Jared Polis will be in attendance.

But some key gay activists are beginning to turn down their invitations to this event. Confirmed now-shows so far include political strategist David Mixner and blogger Andy Towle. [Update: Additional withdrawals include Alan Van Capelle, Executive Director of the Empire State Pride Agenda and Foundation, former top Clinton administration aide Richard Socarides, and HRC National Field Director Marty Rouse] Michelangelo Signorile has suggested that we “cut off the money flow.” Sean Bugg agrees, while Mike Rogers (a.k.a. “the most feared man in Washington”) puts an even finer point on it:

As long as tens of millions are being spent by the Pentagon to enforce Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, gays should say to politicians “you have our money, go get it back from Secretary Gates.”

Allegations of Sexual Misconduct By Another New Life Pastor

Jim Burroway

February 9th, 2009

Michelangelo Signorile apparently had another blockbuster program last Friday:

A Colorado Springs bail bondsman and sometime bounty hunter who has been investigating New Life Church and Ted Haggard for several years appeared on my show late on Friday and told me that he now has information on ten more cases of sexual misconduct on the part of Ted Haggard and that three of these involve minors. He also said that New Life Church had suppressed from the media an earlier case of a pastor at the church (which has many pastors under the senior pastor) who was convicted of sexual assault against a child under the age of 15 and got off easy with help from the church, only to later have his probation revoked. The convicted pastor then illegally left the country, he said, and he speculates that New Life Church may have helped him do so.

Bobby Brown, reading from what he said was a detective’s affidavit, told me that the pastor, Stephen Evans, was convicted in 1999 of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old boy and admitted to sexual contact with his own 14-year-old son and his own 15-year-old daughter, in a case that Brown says was somehow kept out of the media and has not been reported until now. Brown says that with the help and backing of New Life Church, Evans served no jail time at all, cutting a plea deal in which he’d agree to a “restoration” at the church – yes, just like the one that Ted Haggard went through to supposedly make him straight! – while serving five years on probation. It is likely that Ted Haggard, as senior pastor at the time, oversaw Evans’ restoration.

It appears that in 2001, Evans’ probation was revoked and he may have skipped the country. He’s believed to be in London now.

Brown also confirms that Christopher Beard, the counselor at New Life Church’s 24/7 program which Grant Haas spoke of, left the church due to sexual misconduct shortly after Haggard’s fall.

More From The Grant Haas Interview

Jim Burroway

February 5th, 2009

There’s more from Grant Haas’ appearance on Michelangelo Signorile’s show this week. If you want to know more about “Ted Two,” you’ll have to check that out on Michael’s web site, along with his defense of why he thinks it’s newsworthy. I’m not so sure, myself. But this one, I think, is. It’s where Grant Haas describes the first time he revealed his “struggles” to Ted Haggard.

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An unofficial transcript of this interview is available after the jump.

New Life Church’s 24/7 Program: “The Best Job In The World”

Jim Burroway

February 4th, 2009

Grant Haas, the young man who came forward last week with new allegations about Ted Haggard, appeared on Michelangelo Signorile’s program yesterday and spoke for about an hour and a half. Mike will be posting shorter audio portions over the next few days.

Today, he posted an edited clip of their discussion of New Life Church’s 24/7 program. This was, as Mike describes it:

…a sort of Bible boot camp where young men, 18-23, are worked out intensely and get all cut up and muscled while also praying to Jesus, immersed in this 24 hours a day, often being woken up at all hours of the night. Haggard and another man who is described as “struggling with homosexuality” often oversaw the program, including going to the gym with the young men in the morning to work out and shower with them. They often went on training missions — including simulated counter-terrorism missions, as Christians under attack, and you’ll hear about all of that. (Please don’t mind the grimaces on my face throughout: I really wasn’t that shocked and disgusted about what I was hearing! We had some technical/sound issues in the studio, and I was trying to cope with those problems, on the computer and to my producers, and was pretty frustrated by them, hence some of the looks on my face).

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As we reported yesterday, Pam Spaulding live-blogged the interview. Her highlights included:

  • Haggard told Grant that he would have an easier time going straight because he’s a top and “an asshole is similar to a vagina.”
  • Haggard revealed his “party formula” to Grant, involving crystal meth, poppers, Viagra, renting porn and masturbation, either alone or with others. Haggard said that he knew a lot of people who were into this type of activity.
  • Haggard suggested that Grant find a nice girl to marry, and offered his own daughter — the worst sort of “ex-gay” advice anyone could give.
  • Christopher Beard, the church volunteer who left New Life Church a month after Haggard’s downfall, headed the church’s 24/7 program for troubled young men. Beard told Grant that he and Haggard enjoyed watching the men in the locker room.
  • Haggard’s drug use was much worse than previously disclosed, including being high at the pulpit.

Haggard Accuser On Signorile Program

Jim Burroway

February 3rd, 2009

Grant Haas, who came forward last week with fresh allegations about Ted Haggard’s sexual inproprieties and drug use, was on Michelangelo Signorile’s radio program today. I wasn’t able to hear it, but according to Pam Spaulding, he really spilled quite a few beans:

Classic sleaze: Haas was asked by Haggard about the young man’s sexual preferences in the bedroom —  bondage, toys, groups, bathhouses, top, bottom, versatile, drugs. Ted told Haas that “since I preferred to be in a “top” position that it would be easy to become straight because “an asshole is similar to a vagina.” …

After going on and on in detail about same-sex action, Haggard would then back off and tell Haas that he needed to find a good woman to marry. And listen to this: Haggard offered up his daughter as a dating/marriage prospect for Haas! Knowingly offering to guide his own daughter into a relationship with a closeted man!

There’s more at Pam’s place. Some of it — “Ted Two” specifically — is definitely TMI, but all of it is disturbing. This definitely shows a man who is deeply troubled. I look forward to the audio of the interview being posted online before too much longer.

What We’re Up Against

Jim Burroway

November 11th, 2008

Listen here as Michelangelo Signorile talks with Nancy, a Mormon from Texas and a Prop 8 supporter.