Why I’m not panicked about the Mississippi bill
April 2nd, 2014
The Mississippi Senate and House have passed a bill (similar to that vetoed by Arizona Governor Brewer) which would formally legalize discrimination in that state, so long as such discrimination is “substantially motivated by one’s sincerely held religious belief, whether or not the exercise is compulsory or central to a larger system of religious belief”.
It is a rather nasty piece of work which was formulated out of animus and is intended as a tool to deny rights to gay people.
But I’m not particularly worried about this bill.
Instances of actual anti-gay discrimination in the provision of services are infrequent. Even in the Deep South, there is little advantage to be had by turning down business from gay customers.
There’s just not much to be gained by alienating customers. Maybe a few moments of internet celebrity and the promise of a few new strident anti-gay sales, but “we don’t sell to those type of people” is not a very effective marketing plan. Most folks would rather stay out of your war – and out of your store – irrespective of their own beliefs.
And the evidence of that can be seen in that despite the anti-gay industry’s ever-vigilant search for fresh martyrs to parade, only a handful of Jesus-lovin’, sin-hatin’, concerned Christians have been found nationwide who have been willing to destroy their livelihood for the cause. Elane Photography, a couple of bakers, and a florist or two. Oh, and some cookie baker and a venue in Texas. Most of whom were not even required by ordinance or law to offer service to gay people.
But even if such discrimination were ubiquitous in Mississippi, this bill changes nothing. There is no corner of the state in which gay people are protected from discrimination. No bakers or florists or bed and breakfast inn masters are limited from turning away gay people at the door. There is not even one city ordinance in the state that requires equal service to gay customers.
As for the anti-gay efforts, this bill gains them nothing. It’s merely a public statement of derision towards a segment of their population.
However, it does have the potential to facilitate some outcomes that hardcore conservative Christians do not predict, and will not like. These bills almost always do.
Those, such as the Mississippi legislators, who seek laws that advantage conservative Christians suffer from too much belief in their own rhetoric. They are part of a worldview that has some misperceptions:
1. They are the only real people of faith.
It baffles me how this perception manages to keep hold when all evidence is to the contrary. But in the minds of these people, if you are a person of faith then you obviously believe the Levitical commands in precisely the same way they do.
They don’t consider that them there liberal sin-compromisin’ feel-goody pseudo-Christians will get the exact same legal rights under these sort of laws as True, Bible-believing, born-again People of God.
2. They are a persecuted people.
It may be hard to take seriously the notion that the state and local officials in Mississippi are in some way out to get the Christians. But when you believe that Satan is using the principalities and powers of the world to attack the Body of Christ, you can hear about some preacher who was arrested in Sweden and fear that Sheriff Billy Bob Honeycutt is about to do the same.
It hasn’t occurred to these legislators that real persecuted people – the religious minorities in Mississippi – may now actually have a tool by which to empower their freedom.
3. God’s hand is in whatever they do
There is a form of circular reinforcement that can result in astonishing stupidity. Much of what you hear from Pat Robertson is based in this thinking. It goes like this:
I am a child of God. I seek God’s will in my life in what I do and say. I believe that God speaks to my heart and inspires me to move in the direction that he knows is best in my life. Therefore, when I strongly believe something, I know that it is inspired by God. And as God never lies or works against that which is good, whatever batpoop idiotic nonsense that I am spouting at any given moment is backed up by the creator of the universe.
Because they all agree that God wants them to stand up against the homosexual agenda, and because the homosexaul lobby opposes this bill, then it must be inspired by God and a wonderful victory for His Kingdom.
And so they’ve passed a phenomenally stupid bill that is likely to bite them in the ass. In fact, it’s likely to have the exact opposite impact of what they expect.
It certainly wouldn’t be the first time. Remember in the 80′s when there was a big ruckus because some Bible Clubs had been restricted at some school or other? Well Congress rushed to fix that with the Equal Access Act, which required that if a school allowed any extra-curricular organizations then it had to allow all such groups.
And for about ten minutes there were Bible Clubs on a handful of campuses (until students realized that the idea of a Bible Club was much sexier than actually trying to read the book). But the largest impact of this law is the opposite of its intention; mostly, this law is what requires schools to allow gay-straight-alliances on campus. In court case after court case, anti-gay school boards have been told that if they want to ban support groups for LGBT kids, they also had to ban the chess club and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
It is, of course, far too early to know what kind of repercussions will result from the Mississippi Freedom Restoration Act. But here are a few scenarios that the language of the law would appear to cover:
Should there be a Muslim woman who is a state employee, local concerns or sensibilities will now have no say in her choice of clothing, provided that she has a sincerely held religious belief. Burka, baby!
Rastafarians, Native Americans, and others whose religious beliefs incorporate use of mind altering substances now have a much higher bar by which they are to be denied access to the implements of their worship. Now drug enforcement officers must prove “a government interest of the highest magnitude that cannot otherwise be achieved without burdening the exercise of religion”. I predict a large conversion to such faiths.
The Knights of the Ku Klux Klan are a religious organization. They have lost favor in the nation, even in the South, as social and civil disapproval has taken the forefront. And the federal Civil Rights Laws disallow discrimination against people on the basis of race, so this law will not override that protection. But it would protect the state employee who wants to wear KKK insignia to work. And it will cause all sorts of havoc.
And, most ironically, they were blind to the most obvious scenario, the one jumping up and down in front of them waving its arms:
“Exercise of religion” includes, but is not limited to, the ability to act or the refusal to act in a manner that is substantially motivated by one’s sincerely held religious belief, whether or not the exercise is compulsory or central to a larger system of religious belief.
One of the phenomena that we have seen recently is the deeply-held religious conviction on the part of some people of faith that denying gay people equality is an injustice and an immoral attack on a child of God. Some are rather visible, such as Episcopalians or UCC or Lutherans, in which the denomination is on their side. But some, such as a recent spate of Methodists, are willing to defy their church and risk defrocking in order to fulfill their fealty to God.
Even if no denomination states that it is sinful to discriminate against gay people, some clergy have made this case. And surely there is among the 82 counties in Mississippi at least one clerk who compelled by his faith to offer marriage certification to same-sex couples just as he would to opposite-sex couples. And this law says that state action cannot burden his religious act of faith.
Mississippi just opened for themselves a colossal can of worms. Funny how animus, arrogance, and self-righteousness can work that way.
Mississippi Legislature Passes License-To-Discriminate Law
April 2nd, 2014
Both houses of the Mississippi legislature approved S.B. 2681 yesterday. The bill passed the GOP-controlled House in a 78-43 bipartisan vote, and the GOP-controlled Senate by a 38-14 bipartisan vote. The bill states that “State action or an action by any person based on state action shall not burden a person’s right to exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability…” It also provides that “A person whose exercise of religion has been burdened or is likely to be burdened (emphasis mine) in violation of this section” can go to court for “injunctive relief, declaratory relief, compensatory damages, and the recovery of costs and reasonable attorney’s fees.”
The same law, designated as the “Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” also adds the words “In God We Trust” to the state seal. The law now goes to Gov. Phil Bryant (R) for his signature. Bryant said on Monday that he plans to sign the bill into law. Mississippi’s anti-discrimination law currently does not offer any protections on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, which means that even without this bill, discrimination against LGBT people is already perfectly legal in Mississippi.
Like the Arizona bill which was vetoed by Gov. Jan Brewer (R), the Mississippi bill doesn’t single out sexual orientation or gender identity as allowed grounds for discrimination, which leaves it open to employers and individuals claiming rights to discriminate on any basis — race, religion, gender, perceived national origin, etc., — as long as they can claim a religious reason for doing so. As with the Arizona legislation, atheists and agnostics will have no such specific license to discriminate. Similar bills are before the legislatures in Oklahoma and Missouri, and a bill is expected to be introduced in North Carolina when its legislative session begins in May. Similar bills in Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, and Ohio have been rejected.
In February, the Mississippi House amended the bill to remove the license-to-discriminate language, leaving only the sections modifying the state seal. The Senate, however, rejected that move and restored a version of the original language, which moved the bill to a conference committee which hammered out the final version.
Ole Miss’ home city passes ‘dignity and worth’ resolution
March 11th, 2014
Too often, the news coming from the South tends to have a shared and consistent theme, and not a pleasant one. It can leave the impression that there are no places or people in the South that do not approach gay issues without hostility and animus.
That, of course, isn’t true. Polls show that many Southerners are supporters and allies. It’s just that they are less visible.
So it is important to note some of the positive things that can provide some balance and perspective. And one such thing is the action taken last week by the city counsel of Oxford, Mississippi, home of the University of Mississippi (“Ole Miss”).
From the Oxford, Mississippi, city press release
Tonight Oxford, Mississippi unanimously passed a resolution recognizing the dignity and worth of all city residents – including those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT). Oxford joins two other Mississippi cities – Starkville and Hattiesburg – which both passed similar resolutions earlier this year.
Also important to remember is that these things don’t happen on their own. And, in this instance, we have some back-story on how the resolution came to be.
One of BTB’s readers and regular commenters, TampaZeke, is an Oxford native and has family that is connected to the city government. With their support, and that of an alumni sports group, they reached out to the city to request the resolution and to point out that it would be good for the city’s image to take this stance.
The resolution doesn’t have much in the way of teeth. It’s basically a confirmation that gay people are part of the city and valued.
But often that is the most important step. Once you recognize the value and worth of a person, it’s much harder to justify discrimination or tolerate bigotry.
So thank you, TampaZeke, for your work on this project. And thank you, Oxford, for reminding us that even in the heart of the Deep South, there are those who recognize the dignity and worth of our community.
Is Arizona a Turning Point?
February 27th, 2014
It would appear that the outcry over Arizona’s license-to-discriminate bill that was finally vetoed by Gov. Jan Brewer last night may have reached something of a high water mark. Major companies, business group, professional organizations, and major league sports all came out with strong statements denouncing the bill in the moments leading up to Brewer’s veto. Typical was this one from Yelp’s CEO Jeremy Stoppelman:
SB 1062 would serve to create an environment where consumers would not know how they would be treated – or whether they would even be served – when they patronize a business. This bill goes against the rule that every great business subscribes to, which is that the customer is always right. It will not only be bad for customers, but also bad for local business in the state. I also believe that it would be in consumers’ interests to be made aware of businesses within the state that did engage in discriminatory behavior. Since early 2010, Yelp has hired over 650 employees in Arizona. Over the next few years, we hope to hire hundreds more. It would be unconscionable for the state to encourage discrimination against any of them.
Arizona joins three other states in putting an end to their license-to-discriminate bills in just the past twenty-four hours:
- Sponsors of Ohio’s license-to-discriminate bill withdrew their support yesterday. Moments later, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee announced that the bill was dead.
- The Mississippi House of Representatives Civil Subcommittee late yesterday voted to strike almost all of the provisions of their license-to-discriminate bill, leaving only a provision adding “In God We Trust” to the state seal. This move came after the state Senate gave its unanimous approval in January.
- Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced yesterday that he will veto a proposed license-to-discriminate bill if it reaches his desk. Earlier that day, he had refused to address the question during an interview on MSNBC.
Over the past several weeks, license-to-discriminate bills have been defeated or withdrawn in Colorado, Kansas, Maine, Tennessee, and Utah. But we’re not out of the woods yet. Similar bills are still working their way through Idaho, Missouri, South Dakota, and Georgia, where Atlanta-based Delta Airlines has announced its opposition. The Idaho bill was returned to a House committee last week, with the sponsor saying he wants to “find the right language.” In addition, there’s a push to put a similar measure on the ballot in Oregon in November.
States Defy Pentagon Order Requiring Equal Treatment for Guard Members
November 4th, 2013
Several GOP-led states have vowed to resist Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s order requiring National Guard to issue ID cards to spouses of Guard members who are in same-sex marriages. Those ID cards are critical for accessing spousal benefits. According to Reuters:
Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, the Republican head of the National Governors Association, called on President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to “stop using the National Guard as a pawn in a larger social agenda,” her spokesman, Alex Weintz, said in a statement on Friday.
“The president has made it clear he supports gay marriage. He has the legal authority to order federal agencies to recognize gay marriages. He does not have the legal authority to force state agencies to do so, or to unilaterally rewrite state laws or state constitutions,” Weintz said.
Josh Havens, a spokesman for Texas Governor Rick Perry, said, “Texas Military Forces is a state agency, and as such is obligated to adhere to the Texas Constitution and the laws of this state which clearly define marriage as between one man and one woman.”
Nine states were initially identified as refusing to issue identity cards to same-sex spouses: Indiana, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, South Carolina and West Virginia. Reuters reports, “Indiana notified the Pentagon on Friday it had begun issuing the cards after a month-long review, a move defense officials said they welcomed.”
Louisiana has also confirmed that they will also defy Sec. Hagel’s order, while Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin said she is exploring her legal options. Georgia’s National Guard has said it will ignore Hagel’s order.
Defense Secretary Orders State National Guards To Treat Gay Couples Equally
November 1st, 2013
Since the Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act last June, the Defense Department has been rushing to implement policies designed to treat legally wedded same-sex couples equally with married couples generally. But several states have refused to issue Defense Department ID cards to same-sex spouses of National Guard members. Those states include Indiana, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and West Virginia. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, in a speech to the Anti-Defamation League, has announced that he is putting a stop to such discriminatory practices:
“Today, I directed the Chief of the National Guard Bureau, Gen. Frank Grass, to take immediate action to remedy this situation. At my direction, he will meet with the Adjutants General from the states where these ID cards are being denied. The Adjutants General will be expected to comply with both lawful direction and DoD policy, in line with the practices of 45 other states and jurisdictions.”
A senior defense official told the Washington Blade that the Pentagon has some critical leverage to deploy against recalcitrant states:
“These are federal ID cards paid for with federal funding to provide federally mandated benefits,” the official said. “I’m not going to speculate on our legal options.”
March 14th, 2012
My favorite headline of the day came from the Associated Press yesterday morning: “Voting in Alabama, Mississippi could clarify race.” As if. If anything’s clear, it’s that Republican voters don’t want anybody to win the nomination, and it looks like they just might get their way.
The man with the money, the candidate with not only every issued covered but every position for each issue, the establishment’s favorite who who came in second in the race for the 2008 nomination and is therefore “next” — that’s who came in third in Alabama and Mississippi. Third! That’s, you know, after second. Ronmey managed to pull in a first place showing in the Hawaii caucuses, and he also captured all nine delegates in the American Samoan caucuses.
In this race, every delegate counts. The delegate count, which is always an approximation, looks like this according to CNN.
A total of 1,144 delegates are needed to win the nomination. It’s hard to see Romney getting there before the convention. According to the CNN count, there are still 1,356 delegates, including superdelegates, up for grabs. Romney needs to win 48% of all the remaining delegates to capture the nomination. The next big prize is Illinois, which if Michigan and Ohio are any indication, means that Romney will probably split that state. Whether its enough to make up for the loss he’s likely to receive in Louisiana and the Missouri caucuses, it’s hard to say. April will be kinder to Romney, with Deleware, Maryland, D.C., New York, Connecticut, and Rhode Island coming up, but Santorum is likely to win Pennsylvania. Wisconsin may end up a tie like Ohio. But the primaries go south, literally, in May, with contests in Nebraska, Arkansas, Kentucky, West Virginia, North Carolina, and Texas. That will be rough territory for Romney.
The only way he can win is for the superdelegates to step in and throw their weight behind Romney. That is a very real possibility. Romney’s picked up some powerful endorsements in the party, but those endorsement’s haven’t meant much when it comes to votes. Santorum or Gingrich won despite major establishment endorsements for Romney in Tennessee (Gov. Bill Haslam), Oklahoma (Sen. Tom Coburn), South Carolina (Gov. Nikki Haley), Minnesota (former Gov. Tim Pawlenty) and Kansas (former Sen. Bob Dole)
But as hard is it will be for Romney to wrap up the nomination, it’ll be even harder for anyone else to catch up and surpass him. If Gingrich’s ego were to somehow deflate like a popped balloon and all of his delegates went to Santorum, he’d only increase his haul to 373. (And there’s no way Paul’s giving up his delegates.) In the unlikely event that happens, Santorum would still have to pick up 57% of the delegates outstanding. Without it, he needs to win 67% of those remaining. Gingrich needs to pick up 74% and Paul needs 79%. So it means that when the Republicans hit Tampa this summer, there will still probably be a lot of horse trading going on.
Rules for staying in the closet…
December 16th, 2011
If you are the mayor of Southaven, Mississippi’s third largest city, and
If you are married with three children, and
If you ran for Congress in 2008 as a “consistent conservative who will always vote with the conservative party”, and
If city auditors allege that you own about $170,000 in improper charges to your city credit cards, and
If you are turning in credit card receipts to show that your expenditures were proper and to reduce your debt, and
If you don’t want anyone to find out that you are really secretly gay,
Then, it probably isn’t a really good idea to include the purchase you made at “Priape: Canada’s premiere gay lifestyle store and sex shop.”
Memphis Commercial Appeal:
As details emerged Thursday from the receipts, provided by state auditors to Southaven aldermen and subsequently obtained by The Commercial Appeal, Davis conceded publicly for the first time in an interview with The CA that he is gay and has struggled to keep the issue from affecting his public life as mayor of Mississippi’s third-largest city.
“At this point in my life and in my career, while I have tried to maintain separation between my personal and public life, it is obvious that this can no longer remain the case,” Davis said Thursday afternoon at his Southaven home. “While I have performed my job as mayor, in my opinion, as a very conservative, progressive individual — and still continue to be a very conservative individual — I think that it is important that I discuss the struggles I have had over the last few years when I came to the realization that I am gay.”
Here’s Greg Davis more or less promising to vote more conservative than the most conservative of Conservatives, conservatively.
Snark aside, I commend Davis for not trying to come up with some bogus excuse for the purchase. And I wish him well on his new path to self discovery.
Arkansas Supreme Court Overturns Adoption Ban
April 7th, 2011
The Arkansas Supreme Court today ruled that a voter-approved initiative banning unmarried cohabiting couples, including gay couples, from adopting or serving as foster parents. The court found that because the law singles out cohabiting couples for the ban while allowing single individuals to adopt or foster children, it encroaches on a key right to privacy:
Act 1 directly and substantially burdens the privacy rights of “opposite-sex and same-sex individuals” who engage in private, consensual sexual conduct in the bedroom by foreclosing their eligibility to foster or adopt children, should they choose to cohabit with their sexual partner. The pressure on such couples to live apart, should they wish to foster or adopt children, is clearly significant. In Jegley, the burden perpetrated by the State was criminal prosecution for sodomy, although the act took place in the privacy of the bedroom. In the case before us, the burden dispensed by the State is either to remove the ability to foster or adopt children, should sexual partners live together, or to intrude into the bedroom to assure that cohabitors who adopt or foster are celibate. We conclude that, in this case as in Jegley, the burden is direct and substantial.
In 2002, the Arkansas Supreme Court struck down that state’s sodomy law in the case of Jegley v. Picado, nearly a full year before the U.S. Supreme Court struck down sodomy laws nationwide in Lawrence v. Texas. A state judge struck down Arkansas’ adoption ban last April. The attorney general then appealed to the Supreme Court, which led to today’s ruling.
Because the court found that Act 1 infringes on a key right to privacy, the court determined that heighened scrutiny rather than rational-basis was the appropriate standard for the ruling:
We have held in this case that a fundamental right of privacy is at issue and that the burden imposed by the State is direct and substantial. We now hold, as an additional matter, that because of the direct and substantial burden on a fundamental right, the standard to be applied is heightened scrutiny and not a rational-basis standard. Using the heightened- scrutiny standard, because Act 1 exacts a categorical ban against all cohabiting couples engaged in sexual conduct, we hold that it is not narrowly tailored or the least restrictive means available to serve the State’s compelling interest of protecting the best interest of the child.
Utah and Mississippi are the only states remaining with adoption bans affecting gay people. Utah, like Arkansas until today, bans cohabiting couples from adopting but allows single adults to adopt when married couples aren’t available. Mississippi law allows unmarried and married adults to adopt regardless of cohabitation status, but contains a separate clause stating, “Adoption by couples of the same gender is prohibited.”
Mississippi School District Settles With Lesbian Student Over Cancelled Prom
July 20th, 2010
Fulton, Mississippi’s nickname of “the world’s cruelest town” was well-earned when Itawamba Agricultural High School student Constance McMillen was denied her prom. When the school learned that Constance planned to bring her girlfriend to the prom, they canceled it. Then parents organized a private prom and at first refused to tell her where it was taking place. Then they invited her to that private prom at the country club, only to organize a double-secret private prom elsewhere. This left Constance and her girlfriend with a half dozen developmentally disabled students at the country club wondering where everyone went.
The American Civil Liberties Union sued the school district over this outrageous behavior by so-called adults. Today the ACLU announced a settlement:
Itawamba County School District officials agreed to have a judgment entered against them in the case of a recent high school graduate who sued her school for canceling the prom rather than let her attend with her girlfriend. The agreement ends a precedent-setting lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of 18-year-old Constance McMillen, who suffered humiliation and harassment after parents, students and school officials executed a cruel plan to put on a “decoy” prom for her while the rest of her classmates were at a private prom 30 miles away.
“I’m so glad this is all over. I won’t ever get my prom back, but it’s worth it if it changes things at my school,” said McMillen, who was harassed so badly by students blaming her for the prom cancellation that she had to transfer to another high school to finish her senior year. “I hope this means that in the future students at my school will be treated fairly. I know there are students and teachers who want to start a gay-straight alliance club, and they should be able to do that without being treated like I was by the school.”
As set forth in documents filed in court today, school officials agreed to implement a policy banning discrimination or harassment on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, the first policy to do so at a public school in the state of Mississippi. The school also agreed to pay McMillen $35,000 in damages and pay for McMillen’s attorneys’ fees.
The “Christian” response in Fulton
April 7th, 2010
Why do so many gay people believe that Christians hate them? Perhaps this letter to the editor in Fulton, MS, about segregating and excluding a lesbian student will give us a clue:
As pastor, board of deacons and members of Fairview Baptist Church, we wish to say we fully support our county superintendent of education Teresa McNeece, Itawamba County School Board members and school administrators in their stand on dress codes and immoral conduct.
Bro. Gene O’Brian
Fairview Baptist Church
Or perhaps this one:
The purpose of this letter is to commend the Itawamba County School Board and Superintendent of Education Teresa McNeece for the stand they have taken in the midst of the controversy surrounding this year’s IAHS prom. The policy of the school district was in place long before Constance McMillen decided to “assert her rights.” The majority of the headlines and news casts regarding this subject have blamed the school board and superintendent for trying to deny this girl her rights. However, that simply is not true. She has the same rights as every other student in our school district. They also blame the school board and superintendent for canceling the prom, but that blame lies completely with the homosexual activists and the ACLU.
Since this controversy began, there has been an outcry of support for the homosexual cause. Let us say that there are those of us who support the cause of Christ. Since Ms. McMillen chose to reference the Bible in support of her lifestyle choice, we felt compelled to set the record straight. Please be clear. This lifestyle is a choice. No one is “born that way.” As Ms. McMillen sat and held her Bible in one of her televised interviews, we wonder if she has read Leviticus 18:22 which reads, “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is an abomination” and Romans 1:26-27 which reads, “For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.” Other scriptures for reference include: 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Genesis 19, Judges 19 & 20. We encourage Ms. McMillen and others to read the Bible for themselves. We believe that homosexuality is wrong, a perversion, and detrimental to society in general. Several years ago, this behavior was virtually unheard of and not all accepted by the vast majority. Now it is heralded as an alternate lifestyle. Sexual immorality of any kind should not be on public display in any arena and especially not in the school system.
We are all sinners, Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God,” but God’s abundant grace is free to all, Romans 10:13, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” When we come to Christ in repentance and faith, we come as we are, but we do not leave unchanged. God calls us to a higher standard of living. The “my way” and “I’ll live any way I choose” attitudes are replaced by “not my will but thine be done.” Clearly from the scriptures listed above, homosexuality is NOT God’s will.
It is not our intention to give the impression that we hate the homosexual community. We do not. We have a Christian love and concern for their souls. However, we could not sit in silence as if we agree with this behavior. Saying you are a homosexual and proud of it is one thing, but to imply that the Bible endorses it is foolish. We felt we had a responsibility to this and future generations to take a stand for the right. Ephesians 6:13 “… and having done all, to stand.”
If there are others in this county and elsewhere who are in agreement with our position on the matter, we invite you to stand with us. Write letters of your own, call senators and representatives and most of all, pray.
Concerned about our children,
Membership of Bethany Baptist Church
I will be overjoyed to quote any Fulton church that wants to refute these statements.
Fulton MS: The World’s Cruelest Town
April 6th, 2010
Itawamba Agricultural High School student Constance McMillen made news this past month when she decided to take her girlfriend to the prom, just like hundreds of other couples in that town and thousands more nationwide. Her school however reacted by first putting out a memo describing who is allowed to attend the prom (opposite sex couples), and then canceling it. Later, she was invited by an attorney for the school board to attend a private prom organized by parents to be held at the Fulton Country Club. For the time being and on the surface, the matter seemed resolved.
It turned out that the “prom” at the Fulton Country Club was entirely fake:
McMillen tells The Advocate that a parent-organized prom happened behind her back — she and her date were sent to a Friday night event at a country club in Fulton, Miss., that attracted only five other students. Her school principal and teachers served as chaperones, but clearly there wasn’t much to keep an eye on.
“They had two proms and I was only invited to one of them,” McMillen says. “The one that I went to had seven people there, and everyone went to the other one I wasn’t invited to.”
Last week McMillen asked one of the students organizing the prom for details about the event, and was directed to the country club. “It hurts my feelings,” McMillen says.
To add more cruelty to the situation, the fake prom was apparently meant to be the “freak” prom. In addition to Constance and her girlfriend, two others with learning disabilities, were among the five others who were there. Meanwhile, the rest of the class attended the real prom which was held at a secret location.
Itawamba students even went so far as to set up a public Facebook page called “Constance Quit Yer Cryin” to celebrate their “victory.” The Facebook page has now become, in effect, a public shaming post for the people of Fulton. Says Jorje, for example, “thank you for making my homestate of Texas look all the better by the day, ignorant southern homophobes!” Wrote another, “What kind of backwoods white trash sets up a fake prom. You are pathetic and at some point in your life will pretend this never happened. Losers.”
Another observed, “Not ONE parent or student has defended themselves on here? Not ONE? If you can’t take the heat, don’t set up an FB page. You are cowards as well as deceivers and scoundrels.”
The facebook page also has three image captures of private pages documenting Itawamba student’ high0-fiving it over having pulled off the fake prom. Says one student, “I had fun at the ‘prom’ last night…:)”. Another wrote on her Facebook page, “Best ‘prom’ in the history of IAHS…thats [sic] right 2010 goes out with a bang!)
Update: Meanwhile, we have this reminder via Truth Wins Out:
She spent all Saturday getting ready, fixing her hair, slipping into the pink floral dress her mother finished the week before. Her father, a Baptist preacher, helped pick her date, a respectable young man worthy of escorting his daughter, the first and only black student at Jones Valley High School.
She and her date drove that 1965 night with her father and a retinue of supporters and protectors toward the high school gym. They turned the corner.
The gymnasium was dark, empty.
“They had fooled us,” Carolyn Tasmiya King-Miller said. “I remember going home that night in tears. I sat on the sofa in my prom dress, lying on my mother’s breast and crying all night. That’s when the silence started.”
Natchez, Mississippi’s Franklin Street: “It’s like the Natchez Castro”
March 3rd, 2009
My partner and I enjoy taking weekend road trips. Last winter we took a long cross-country trip from Arizona to Ohio, while taking an out of the way drive through Mississippi. Unfortunately, we missed Natchez. I’m sorry we did, now that I’ve seen this article from the Natchez Democrat:
Thom Miller and Shawyn Mars have been together nearly 18 years and have had Natchez as part of their dual residency since the 1990s. Miller said he and Mars make up one of just many gay couples that call Franklin Street home. “It’s like the Natchez Castro,” Miller said laughing.
…Miller also said another unique aspect of Natchez is that many of the men in the area are couples and have been in a relationship for long periods of time. And while Miller and Mars both said Natchez isn’t the type of town that welcomes gay hand holding in the street — it’s an open community. “It’s very tolerant,” Miller said. “People here are very accepting.”
We often think of gay culture being confined to San Francisco, New York, or West Hollywood. It’s nice to run across an item like this from small town America from time to time, especially from some of the most unexpected places.
Rallies Across America
November 16th, 2008
Protesters turned out is scores of cities across America to protest the unprecedented stripping of rights from gays and lesbians with the passage of California’s Proposition 8, as well as the passage of anti-marriage amendments in Arizona and Florida.
Updated: Here is a roundup from more than 110 cities across the United States, great and small where people joined the impact. From New York City to Wailuku, Hawaii; from San Francisco to Portland, Maine; from Anchorage to Miami Beach, people everywhere stood up for equality and against the travesty of Prop 8 which summarily stripped a minority of its rights.
Note: This post is a re-creation from the one originally created on Saturday. That post ended up getting corrupted due to the multiple updates I was making through the day. Unfortunately, when the post finally went completely haywire, it took some 20 comments with it.
In Wailuku, HI:
Sandy Farmer-Wiley (left) and Jean Walker participate in a rally Saturday in Wailuku supporting gays, lesbians and transgenders in a nationwide protest against the approval of Proposition 8 in California and other anti-gay initiatives passed in the Nov. 4 general election. The Maui women, who have been together for 32 years, formally declared their commitment to each other during a service at Keawala‘i Congregational Church in Makena 15 years ago and were married in a civil union in Vermont in 2000. “Marriage is a civil right, it has nothing to do with religion,” Farmer-Wiley said. “The Bible is being used as a stick to beat us.” A total of about 45 people attended the rally in front of the State Office Building held to coincide with similar demonstrations across the country.
In Sandpoint, ID:
It didn’t matter that it was cold outside. The occasional negative gesture or rude comment weren’t an issue. After all, the dozen or so protesters of a recent California vote banning gay marriage, those things paled in comparison to the lack of equal rights for all. “I’m a strong supporter of equal rights for everyone,” said Dr. Bill Barker, organizer of the Sandpoint protest.
A Sagle-based psychologist, Barker said he helped many people deal with issues of sexual orientation in their families. When the call went out from Join the Impact encouraging communities to hold a day of protest of Proposition 8’s passage, Barker said he knew it was something he wanted to do in Sandpoint. Everyone in the country was asked to take a stand for equal rights
The community is blessed by its diversity, and one of its strengths is its support for others of differing views, Barker said, adding reaction to the protest was mostly positive with only a few negative comments.
In Los Angeles, CA:
In Los Angeles, protesters clustered near City Hall, carrying rainbow-colored flags and signs bearing messages such as “No More Mr. Nice Gay,” “Where’s My Gay Tax Break?” and “No on Hate.”
… The Los Angeles Police Department estimated that 40,000 people would attend the march, which officials expected to be peaceful.
The protests will be a key test for a loosely formed Internet-based movement that has emerged since California voters banned gay marriage last week.
In the last 11 days, advocates have used the Web to organize scattered protests at places, such as the Mormon Temple in Westwood and Sunset Junction in Silver Lake, and mount boycotts against businesses that supported Proposition 8. Those efforts snowballed, and marches against the proposition are expected in more than 300 cities across the country.
At least 100 people, gay and straight, couples and partners gathered at El Dorado Beach on Saturday as part of a coast-to-coast, nationwide day of protest. …Flanked with signs that said “equal rights for all” the Tahoe gathering generated a fair share of waves and honks of support along Highway 50. There were occasional finger gestures by motorists but all-in-all the protest was successful, said organizer Janice Eastburn.
In Stillwater, OK:
More than 50 people braved the cold and wind to wave signs and cheer honking vehicles in protest of California’s recent same-sex marriage ban on Saturday at the corner of Sixth Avenue and Husband Street. The demonstration began at noon with a handful of protesters on the sidewalk in front of the county courthouse lawn, but the line of people facing Sixth Avenue grew throughout the afternoon.
In Stillwater, the mood seemed positive: the crowd, consisting of both young and old, cheered as honking vehicles drove past, including a semitrailer hauling half of a house. Melanie Page, an OSU psychology professor, brought her two sons with her to the protest. Page said she came to support equal rights. “I would hope that the community sees that the majority of people support gay rights, and for couples who love each other to marry and have legal protection,” she said. “That only strengthens America, strengthens families. It doesn’t weaken families. It’s not just gay people supporting gay people.” A number of OSU students also joined in the protest.
In Fairfield, CA:
About 75 people showed up to a Fairfield rally organized by Fairfield High School student Crystal Nievera, 16. “Not everyone voted yes on 8 (in Solano County),” said Nievera, who feared a small showing based on what her Facebook group told her. The protesters met at Fairfield City Hall and marched to Solano County Municipal Court, where they would be more visible on busy Texas Street.
The protesters — many with their children in tow — waved signs, chanted and encouraged passing motorists to honk in support. In a reflection of the youth-driven nature of the national rallies, many in the crowd were teenagers, including 18-year-old Antigone de la Cruz Montgomery VanGundy, who was with her adoptive parents Gino and Chris VanGundy, a married Fairfield couple. “I graduated high school with honors and AP classes and a 4.0 GPA,” she said. “Do not tell me my family does not have good parents.”
Thousands of protesters converged upon San Francisco’s City Hall Saturday morning to speak out against California’s controversial Proposition 8.
“And sometimes it feels we felt our whole lifetime digging out the lies that other people tell about us, but the truth is this: we are a movement based on love,” said Reverend Dr. Penny Nickson who spoke during the rally.
In Burlington, VT:
“It’s shameful. It’s un-American,” said one Burlington protester. “This is a very frightening development for all of us,” added another.
A steady downpour symbolized the mood in Burlington. Same sex couples stood in solidarity holding signs while speakers stepped up to the mike to share their fears. In 2000 Vermont became the first state in the country to legalize civil unions for same sex couples. Several other states have since followed suit.
In Minneapolis, MN:
Gathering in front of a banner said “legalize love,” more than 500 gay rights activists gathered this afternoon in downtown Minneapolis as part of a nationwide series of rallies to support gay marriage.
…Reg Merrill, 63, drove 4 hours from Ft. Dodge Iowa to join the demonstration.
“It’s hard to believe that people pass laws that take away rights, “ Merrill said.
Minneapolis City Council Member Gary Schiff highlighted a series of speakers
“From Golden Gate Park to Loring Park, we will step together until this battle is won,” Schiff said.
In Baton Rouge, LA:
As part of the national day of protest Saturday, groups in Baton Rouge rallied downtown. “What I’m hoping is a new chapter in American civil rights history,” says Kevin Serrin with Capital City Allliance. The group raised the gay pride flag and held up signs in protest of the California ban.
In San Diego, CA:
As the march in downtown San Diego to protest the passage of Proposition 8 is taking place, the crowd of participants, which initially was numbered about 2,000, has swelled. As of 11:45 a.m., police estimated the crowd at about 10,000 people. Those participating in the march now stretch about three-quarters of a mile long.
In New York, NY:
Thousands took to the streets of Lower Manhattan Saturday to protest California’s new ban on gay marriage. The rally at City Hall was just one of many scheduled around the country, including San Francisco, Chicago, Philadelphia and Boston. The cheering crowd stretched for blocks, as demonstrators waved rainbow-colored flags and held signs and wore buttons that said ‘I do.’ By standing here today we send the message we will move over, through and beyond Prop 8,” said Council Speaker Christine Quinn.
In Escondido, CA:
Nearly 500 opponents of Proposition 8, the widely debated initiative voters approved Nov. 4, waved signs and chanted “Repeal 8″ Saturday as they marched through the busy streets of downtown Escondido. … Spearheading the march was Jennifer Schumaker, a self-proclaimed “lesbian soccer mom” of four, who held a “No on Prop. 8″ sign in front of City Hall for eighteen days before the election. “We’re marching for equality, for progress and for future generations,” Schumaker said.
In Boston, MA:
Four to five thousand people gathered in the rain on City Hall Plaza Saturday to protest the recent vote in California which reversed that state’s legalization of gay marriage. …The Boston rally took on special significance because of Massachusetts’ distinction as the first state to legally recognize gay marriages. The show of support on City Hall Plaza included same sex couples from all over the state who have married in Massachusetts since May 2004.
In Washington, DC:
What looked like tens of thousands (it’s impossible to know for sure) turned out today for the D.C. version of the Join the Impact protest in which gays and their allies voiced disdain for Proposition 8, a California ballot initiative that passed last week outlawing same-sex marriage there.
Marchers met at 1:30 p.m. today at the Capitol Reflecting Pool and marched down the National Mall, past the Washington Memorial and to the White House. The length of the marchers appeared to be at least a few miles long. Many carried signs equating Prop. 8 with hate using the numeral 8 with an “h” in front of it to spell “hate” (i.e. H8). Call-and-response chants were heard in several variations.
Intermittent rain — at one point torrential — didn’t appear to deter anyone.
In Chicago, IL:
Thousands of gay marriage advocates took to the streets of downtown Chicago today, hoping to galvanize support and pressure the courts to overturn the passage of a same-sex marriage ban in California. .. [P]rotesters gathered at Federal Plaza, carrying rainbow-colored flags and signs with messages like “Fix Marriage, Not Gays” and “Repeal Proposition 8.” Organizers said they hoped to achieve “full marriage equality” in Illinois.
About 200 protesters gathered Saturday afternoon on the Veterans Memorial Bridge between Fargo and Moorhead to rally for equality and against California’s Proposition 8, which bans gay marriage in the state. Josh Boschee, organizer of the F-M Protest for Love, said he was extremely pleased by the turnout. “I was going to be happy with 20 to 30 people,” Boschee said. “There’s a lot of families and allies here. It’s more than just the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community.”
…The local protest, along with one in Grand Forks, N.D., were among several across the country in which supporters gathered to support gay rights and marriage.
In Honolulu, HI:
Here, more than 300 people crowded the lawn near Honolulu Hale, in protest of California’s newly passed ban on same sex marriage. “We’re out for everybody and it’s equality for all,” Thomas Larabee said.
In Oakland, CA:
Thousands converged on Oakland City Hall on Saturday morning to protest against the Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage in California and to rally for equal rights. “I think as a community and across the nation people are standing up and saying, ‘We are not going backward,’” said Molly McKay, spokeswoman for Marriage Equality USA. “We are only going forward and equality is a proud American tradition for our lives and for our families.
More than 50 opponents of Proposition 8 are marching through downtown Salinas to protest passage of the measure they say discriminates against gays and lesbians who want to marry. …Carrying signs and chanting messages against the measure, protesters are marching from Salinas City Hall to the National Steinbeck Center and back to City Hall without incident. No Salinas police officers were present as protesters marched.
Opposition is small, with just one person coming out in support of Prop. 8. Another rally against Prop 8 is happening at the Monterey City Hall.
In Portland, ME:
Saturday’s rain didn’t stop people who feel passionately about the same-sex marriage issue from heading out to Monument Square in Portland to have their voices heard. People who attended the rally say they want equal rights for same-sex couples and it’s time for Maine to legalize marriages of gay couples. One supporter held up a sign reading, “My dads are married.” She says she wants people to know that even though she was raised by a same-sex couple, she turned out just fine.
In Albany, NY:
Roughly 500 gay and lesbian individuals gathered in front of City Hall Saturday afternoon to participate in a local section of the national “Join the Impact” protest… Patrick Harkins, the organizer of the event, said that the local rally was to show that local citizens disagree with the California decision, but also that the residents of Albany want equal rights.
In Baltimore, MD:
Hundreds of people gathered outside Baltimore’s city hall to protest the passage of a ban on gay marriage in California. Mike Bernard of Baltimore, who married his partner in Canada this year, is one of several people who shared their personal stories with the crowd. He says in the long run, Proposition 8 may be a good thing for those fighting for gay marriage in the United States. He says many thought a liberal state like California would never ban gay marriage, but now they may be shocked into action.
In Sacramento, CA:
About 1,500 people were gathered across from Sacramento City Hall at Ninth and I Streets for a rally in Cesar Chavez Park. Participants carried signs and listened to speakers railing against Prop. 8.
In Witchita, KS:
A group of about 100 people gathered at Wichita City Hall this afternoon as part of a nationwide protest of California’s ban on gay marriage. … They shared the sidewalk with a small group from the Rev. Fred Phelp’s Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, who were protesting the protest, but there was no conflict between the two groups.
In St. Louis, MO:
A crowd of more than 500 spilled onto the street outside the Old Courthouse this afternoon as protesters gathered to voice opposition against California’s recent ban on gay marriage. A host of activists and politicians, including Mayor Francis Slay, state Sen. Joan Bray, D-University City, and Lewis Reed, president of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen, spoke in favor of equal rights for gay couples at the rally.
In Nashville TN:
Tennessee may be one of the nation’s most red states politically, but all the colors of the rainbow were important Nov. 15 at a gay rights rally, where more than 200 people convened for a peaceful protest outside the Nashville Metro Courthouse. …The protestors received no negative backlash from local conservative groups or passers by, but police were on hand in case an incident was to occur.
A small crowd began to assemble at noon Saturday and grew quickly as event organizers handed out “Stop the H8″ pins. A nearly equal number of GLBT people and their heterosexual allies joined forces to demand equality for all.
People stood out in the rain today to protest the ban right here in Charlottesville. Organizers say it was more of a rally than a protest. People cheered, waved signs and sang at the gathering. Their main goal they wanted to get across was that laws like Proposition 8 are not fair and people should not be judged based on sexual orientation.
“All of us here feel that it’s a civil right and that it should be granted to all citizens in the United States. Prohibiting it on the basis of same sex relationship is illegal, un-constitutional and generally just unfair,” said André Hakes, a protester.
In Palm Springs, CA:
More than 500 demonstrators turned out in Palm Springs for a nationwide rally coordinated at city halls in major cities to protest the recently passed same-sex marriage ban. Today’s event marked the third time hundreds of people in the Coachella Valley had demonstrated against Proposition 8, which overturned a state Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage.
In Denver, CO:
Hundreds of protestors turned out today in Denver against Proposition 8, a ballot measure passed by California voters that overrules a state Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage.
… Bob Vitaletti and his partner, Joe Moore, held up a sign with a photo taken of the two in 1984 during Pride Fest held in Denver. The couple have been together for 29 years. “You can’t put civil rights up for majority rule,” Joe Moore said.
In Detroit, MI:
What do we want? EQUALITY! When do we want it? NOW! That was the chant that rang out through downtown Detroit, Michigan today as over 300 hundred dedicated protesters rallied in the freezing rain and sleet as part of the National Day of Protest.
In Philadelphia, PA:
Several thousand gay-rights advocates turned the area around City Hall into a boisterous, rainbow-colored sea today joining others across the country in a simultaneous demonstration against California’s new ban on gay marriage.
… “This is the greatest thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” said Philadelphia organizer Brandi Fitzgerald, looking out at chanting, sign-waving demonstrators on Dilworth Plaza.
At one point, the crowd pressed onto 15th Street, forcing police to redirect traffic by blocking one lane. When that happened, a group of demonstrators fell in behind the flashing lights of a patrol car, and within seconds hundreds had stepped off the curb and into the street for an impromptu march.
“I didn’t know there was going to be a march,” one woman said to a friend.
“Me neither,” the other answered. “Let’s go.”
And they did. At its longest, the march stretched three-quarters of the way around City Hall.
In Louisville, KY:
Several years ago, when Jefferson County was adding civil-rights protections for gays and lesbians in a fairness ordinance, Pam Becker was among those protesting outside the county courthouse. But today, she stood across Sixth Street at City Hall to call for the right to same-sex marriage, joining about 200 mostly gay and lesbian protesters — including her 18-year-old son.
The reason for her change of heart?
“My son coming out,” said the Jeffersonville, Ind., woman. “I have to support my child. “
The protesters — part of a coordinated series of demonstrations in cities around the country — gathered on a drizzly, gusty afternoon outside City Hall.
In Madison, WI:
Early Saturday afternoon, amidst the throngs of red-clad game day Badgers fans, a river of rainbow colors wound its way up State Street to the Capitol. … Thrown together over the last week and faced with cold, windy conditions, local organizers were pleased with the estimated 500-plus supporters who turned out today in downtown Madison.
In Ithaca, NY:
Hundreds of gay marriage supporters in the Southern Tier are protesting a California referendum that banned same sex marriage last week. Those supporters of same sex marriage say they’re fighting their own battle here in New York State.
…”In New York, it’s important we have marriage equality. The state assembly has already passed a marriage equality bill. The state senate has refused to even let it come up for vote. My rights are not up for vote.” Says Jason Hungerford.
In Santa Cruz, CA:
Chanting, cheering and carrying signs, hundreds of demonstrators gathered on the steps of the county courthouse and then marched to the Town Clock Saturday morning to demand equal marital rights for same-sex couples.
More than 500 people attended the rally, one of many held nationwide as a protest against the passage of Proposition 8, which calls for a Constitutional Amendment outlawing same-sex marriage. Speakers included Assemblyman John Laird, D-Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz County Supervisors Mark Stone and Neil Coonerty and Santa Cruz City Council members Cynthia Mathews and Tony Madrigal.
In Houston, TX:
Hundreds of people gathered on the steps of Houston City Hall this afternoon to protest the passing of Proposition 8, California’s constitutional amendment taking away the right to marry for same-sex couples. Along with the passing of other anti-gay measures across the nation, Prop. 8 made November 4 a day of mixed emotions for many of the progressives in attendance, who say they went to bed ecstatic about the election of Barack Obama but woke up the next morning to find out not everything had changed for the better.
Hundreds came to Miami Beach City Hall Saturday afternoon as part of a national Join the Impact movement to protest this month’s passage of anti-gay-marriage laws in Florida, California and Arizona. About 1,000 protested in Fort Lauderdale.
In Allentown, PA:
Calling for unity and equal rights, more than 150 gay rights supporters demonstrated Sunday in downtown Allentown to protest California’s recent ban on same sex marriage. Their anger as fierce as the cold winds that swept around them at Hamilton and Seventh streets, speaker after speaker criticized California’s Proposition 8 legislation, which banned same-sex marriage. ”We have a right to be angry, to be frustrated, to be insulted … because our community’s rights were voted against in the state of California,” said Adrian Shenker, president of the Muhlenberg College Gay Straight Alliance.
In Greensboro, NC:
Brant Miller is an unabashed romantic. He’s picked out baby names. He’s dreamed about his wedding – even designed some bridesmaid dresses for the occasion. There is one catch, however. Miller, a UNCG student, can’t get married because he’s gay.
On Saturday, he stood on the steps of the Melvin Municipal Office building and asked about 200 other rally participants to ask their legislative representatives to expand marriage rights to gay people in North Carolina.
In Indianapolis, IN:
Supporters of gay rights met at at a rally in front of the City-County Building as part of a nationwide protest over Proposition 8 Saturday, November 15, 2008.
In Jackson, MS:
Protests over California’s Proposition 8 spread to the Magnolia State on Saturday. About 50 people protested in Jackson outside the state capitol, upset the measure didn’t pass in California. Proposition 8 banned same-sex marriage in that state. … They said they want to draw attention to what they say is a civil rights issue that affects America as a whole.
“So when people see protests happening around the country, they’ll understand that this isn’t just an issue that’s happening somewhere else, this is an American issue happening everywhere, because it affects all of us,” organizer Brent Cox said.
In Seattle, WA:
Thousands of people marched peacefully through downtown Seattle Saturday afternoon as part of a national protest to protest the California vote that banned gay marriage. Seattle police accompanied the marchers. Police estimated the crowd the number about 3,000. There were counterprotesters.
In Des Moines, IA:
About 100 protesters picketed at Des Moines’ City Hall to challenge voter passage of a measure that banned gays and lesbians from marrying in California. … The state’s first and only legally married same-sex couple attended the protest, as did Iowa’s only openly gay state senator, Matt McCoy.
…Six same-sex couples will go before the Iowa Supreme Court on Dec. 9 to argue for legal same-sex marriage in Iowa. It was legal in Polk County for two days in August 2007. One couple was married before a court ended the practice.
In Atlanta, GA:
At the Georgia Capitol, more than 1,500 opponents of California’s Proposition 8 crowded the plaza and steps, spilling onto Washington Street. Speakers led the crowd in chants during the Saturday afternoon protest.“We support marriage equality,” said Carlton Eden, who attended the Atlanta rally with his wife, Claire, and three daughters. “We believe everyone should be able to marry.”
In Montclair, NJ:
Bernie Bernbrock was born into the Mormon Church. He said he still believes in God and many of the faith’s doctrines but left the church because of its stance on gay rights. Today, Bernbrock, from Glen Ridge, took his 7-year-old daughter, Abby, and his partner of 10 years, Glen Vatasin to Montclair for their first-ever same-sex marriage march. “I don’t think any one family is in any position to judge another family,” he said. “It’s not their right to come into my home and take my rights away.”
He joined over 120 people who chanted through Montclair in support same-sex marriage as part of a national protest against California’s new ban on gay marriage, Proposition 8.
In Kalamazoo, MI:
More than 120 people lined the street in front of the Federal Building Saturday afternoon to protest the recent passage of a California ballot proposal banning same-sex marriage. Signs reading “Stop the Hate” and “Equal Rights for All” attracted honks as passing motorists showed support. The crowd stretched nearly a full block along West Michigan Avenue.
In Dallas, TX:
Louise Young never cast a vote on Proposition 8, but the measure changed her life. Married three months ago in California, Ms. Young and Vivienne Armstrong, her partner, joined more than 1,200 other Dallas-area residents who gathered outside of Dallas City Hall on Saturday to peacefully protest California’s Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in that state.
“This is not a religious issue,” said Ms. Young, 61, of Dallas. “This is about legal rights. This isn’t right.”
In Duluth, MN:
Speaking out were more than one hundred protestors from all walks of life: young and old, students and professionals, and gay and straight. Tate Haglund-Pagel says “When I met my wife and the happiness we have gotten out of you know being married and being each others partners for ever I don’t understand why two men or two women can’t have the same happiness.”
In Peoria, IL:
In Peoria and across the country today, people petitioned in support of gay marriage and against a recent California vote. Dozens of people bared the cold weather to hold up signs opposing Proposition 8.
…Hector Martinez opposes Proposition 8 and said, “We just feel that you know we need to put a stop or this needs to see a reverse proposition 8. Eventually my partner and I, we’ve been together for 18 years, you know we’d like to see the legalization of marriage for us in Illinois.”
In Phoenix, AZ:
Donavon Goodsell, of Phoenix, celebrated his 67th birthday by marching for gay rights in a rally that drew a large group from the gay community and its supporters. He’s been in a relationship for 42 years, he said, and it’s time for marriage rights.
Goodsell was one of more than 1,000 people who gathered in Phoenix to protest the recently passed Proposition 102, an Arizona constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.
In Oklahoma City:
Hundreds of protesters in Oklahoma City joined a nationwide call to protest the passage of a ballot measure in California that banned same-sex marriage. “It’s a huge, huge movement going on today,” said local organizer Bret Gaither. “We’re not asking for, you know, understanding or special treatment. We’re asking for equal treatment.”
In Tulsa, OK:
A group of about 300 activists and protesters marched Saturday through downtown to City Hall, where they held a short rally and observed a moment of silence as part of a worldwide protest for homosexual rights known as Join the Impact. The Tulsa rally was organized by Ashley Butler, who had no intentions of leading any such protest as recently as a week ago. “I sort of fell across it by accident,” she said.
Hundreds of people gathered in Albuquerque and Santa Fe on Saturday to protest the passage of Proposition 8 and anti-gay legislation in other states. About 500 people gathered on Albuquerque’s Civic Plaza with signs that read “What’s so scary? We just want to marry” and “Love and Let Love.” Rally organizer Rose Bryan says the event was about family and people being able to take care of and protect the people in their families.
In Santa Fe, a crowd of more than 100 people braved the chilly wind to speak out against Proposition 8.
In Columbia, MO:
More than 100 people bundled in coats, scarves, hats and gloves gathered on Saturday afternoon in front of the Boone County Courthouse in the ear-numbing cold and a stiff wind to protest the passage of California’s Proposition 8.
…On the steps in front of the courthouse, using a small PA system, [Mark] Buhrmester called the crowd together. He introduced the afternoon’s speakers and addressed the question of why Missourians and others outside of California were protesting an amendment that doesn’t directly affect them.
“The truth of the matter is that the hopes and fears of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community were riding on Proposition 8, and our hopes were dashed, and our fears were met,” Buhrmester said. “So that’s why we are here together — to stand up for our rights with our friends and our community.”
In Pittsburgh, PA:
Speakers in Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighborhood shared their personal stories with more than 100 people at the rally in Schenley Plaza.
In Cincinnati, OH:
An estimated 500 people stood in the rain Saturday afternoon in front of Cincinnati City Hall to protest the passage of California’s Proposition 8 … Cameron Tolle, a junior at Xavier University from Missouri, took the lead organizing the event. He admitted it was his first attempt at political action. “Nine days ago this protest wasn’t planned,” Tolle said. He said he and a group of friends decided “through Facebook conversations and convictions” that Cincinnati needed to be involved in this national protest.
Speakers included comedian Margaret Cho, who is in town tonight for her Taft Theater performance, and Victoria Wulsin, who ran an unsuccessful campaign against Congresswoman Jean Schmidt.
In Olympia, WA:
About 300 South Sound residents, spurred to action by a recent initiative that overturned gay-marriage rights in California, gathered today at Olympia City Hall to rally support for the rights of gay men and women to marry. The 90-minute morning rally, organized by Anna Schlecht of Olympia, coincided with similar rallies across the country today. Schlecht said she was pleased with the turnout because there were so many new faces at the rally, people who had attended to show their support.
In Wilmington, NC:
More than 140 people assembled on the steps of the Federal Building in downtown Wilmington Saturday to protest the gay marriage bans recently approved in states across the country. The event was part of a planned nationwide network of protests, from Anchorage to Raleigh, largely organized via online word-of-mouth. Wilmington organizers Kati Heffield and Mary Eller assembled the Federal Building protest in just three days, primarily using the social networking Web site Facebook.
In Raleigh, NC:
Hundreds of people gathered this afternoon for a protest in downtown Raleigh against last week’s vote in California that made gay marriage unconstitutional there. …Braving a brief but drenching downpour, the marchers proceeded from the Capitol to the governor’s mansion — where one of them hoisted a rainbow flag on a pole just outside the gate. Police kept a close eye on the marchers while blocking traffic to maintain safety.
In Buffalo, NY:
150 people came out on a cold and rainy Saturday afternoon to show support for same-sex marriage and solidarity with gay and lesbian people in California. …The Buffalo event was organized by Kara DeFranco and publicized through the web site jointheimpact.com. …Protesters gathered at the corner of Elmwood Avenue and Bidwell Parkway with signs that advocated equality under state marriage laws for all people.
Opponents of Prop. 8 took to the streets in downtown San Luis Obispo on Saturday, vowing to fight the measure banning same-sex marriages in California. More than 100 protesters rallied in front of San Luis Obispo City Hall, waving signs with slogans such as “Abate the H8” and “Marriage Equality USA.” The demonstration was one of several such protests that took place nationwide Saturday.
In Boise, ID:
Protests in Idaho were on a much smaller scale than some metropolitan areas around the nation, but even in Boise, the turnout was much bigger than expected. … It was a rally that packed the sidewalk on Capitol Boulevard in front of Boise City Hall. An estimated 400 people gathered to take part in a nationwide protest.
“This is amazing and exciting to see this support and the common grounds that Idaho has,” said Ryan Jensen and James Tidmarsh, married in California.
In Asheville, NC:
There seemed to be two predominant questions at a rally in Asheville Saturday in support of same-sex marriage: Why, and why not? The “why?” had to do with California voters’ decision on Election Day to rescind the rights of same-sex couples in that state to marry.
The “why not?” had to do with rally-goers’ bewilderment that others would deny gay and lesbian partners who’ve been together for decades the right to enjoy the bonds of a committed marriage, just the same as heterosexual couples.
“We don’t want to take anything from you,” said Kathryn Cartledge, one of the speakers at the gathering in Pritchard Park that drew about 400 supporters.
In Syracuse, NY:
Same sex couples across the country including those in Syracuse sent a strong message to California. Nearly 200 people showed up at city hall protesting proposition 8. Scotty Matthews was one of them. Even as a New Yorker, Scotty says he has a lot on the line with the proposition’s passage. “I’m gay. I’m an American. That’s the only stake I need to have in it. I don’t think that institutionalized discrimination is something that should be happening in America and that’s why I’m here,” said Scotty.
“We are angry, sad, and hurt,” said Kristina Conner, who protested with a group of roughly 100 at City Hall in Colorado Springs. …”We want to take these emotions and use them as a positive driving force for our future so we too can have a unity and equality for our love,” said Conner.
In Tracy, CA:
Patti Armanini and Jackie Snodgrass tied the knot, legally, back in 2004 in San Francisco and again in September, and today, they joined a group in front of City Hall who protested this month’s passage of Proposition 8, which takes away their right to marry. “This is just one step in the whole process of overturning this,” Armanini said. “We’ll get there.”
Hundreds of demonstrators waving signs and rainbow-colored flags gathered in downtown Salt Lake City today as the fight over gay marriage continued to intensify more than a week after California voters passed Proposition 8.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ involvement in the issue has turned Utah into “ground zero” for the gay civil rights movement, Jeff Key, a gay Iraq war veteran, told the crowd gathered at the Salt Lake City-County Building. “You called us out,” Key said. “You did this.”
In Lake Worth, FL:
Gay, straight, black, white: Marriage is a civil right,” chanted hundreds of people on the corner of Lucerne Avenue and Dixie Highway.
Their shouts were met by syncopated honks from passing motorists. Their cause resonated throughout more than 300 cities throughout the country, organizers said.
“Today we’re making history,” said Jay Blotcher, one of several organizers of the Join the Impact event. “This is a chapter in the civil rights movement and we will prevail.”
In Rochester, NY:
More than 150 people stood in the rain outside the Monroe County Administration Building this afternoon, rallying in support of same-sex marriage. …“People are angry, frankly, and this is history,” said Ove Overmyer, one of the local organizers, of the first simultaneous nationwide action in support of same-sex marriage.
The crowd marched along West Main Street, carrying signs that read, “It’s about love,” and “My family matters, too.” They chanted, “We don’t need the state’s permission. We are not second-class citizens.” This rally, like the others, grew out of a grassroots, online effort, mainly using the social-networking site Facebook, officials said.
In Spokane, WA:
In Spokane people gathered outside City Hall to voice their concerns about this legislation. More than 125 people showed up as part of demonstrations in more than 300 cities across the country.
Smack in the middle of the boisterous crowd was Nancy Maloy, she stood quietly with a sign in her hand, a self-described mother on a mission.”My wonderful gay daughter called me last night and said, ‘Mom everybody’s marching tomorrow morning, go and take a sign’,” said Maloy.
In White Plains, NY:
Standing on the steps of City Hall, more than 70 gay men, lesbians and their supporters today protested a California vote banning same-sex marriage and called for all states to provide civil marriage “equality.” … “The whole idea is to go out and tell people that marriage is our right,” said Jean-Charles DeOliveira, 41, an Ossining real estate agent who organized the White Plains rally.
In Long Beach, CA:
More than a thousand peaceful Long Beach demonstrators joined thousands across the nation Saturday to protest California’s passing of Proposition 8, a measure banning same-sex marriage.
Braving afternoon heat and smoke from fires raging around the county, the crowd cheered as more than a dozen city leaders and local activists spoke in front of City Hall.
In Fayetteville, AR:
Hundreds marched from the University of Arkansas to the square hoping to get their voices heard. “They had pushed so hard in California to get marriage there. They finally had it, and then it’s all of a sudden overturned,” explains Anna Center, a protest organizer.
…Fayetteville’s protestors also took time to voice their outrage about the recent passage of Act One. The measure prohibits gay and unmarried couples from adopting or fostering children here in Arkansas.
In Orlando, FL:
Close to a thousand people gathered outside Orlando City Hall on Saturday to protest a recently passed amendment to Florida’s constitution which bans gay marriage. … On Election Day, 62 percent of Florida voters approved the marriage amendment, which defines marriage between one man and one woman.
“They want us to be quiet and not be vocal and not be who we are,” said Orlando City Commissioner Patty Sheehan. “People don’t understand that by being quiet, by being silent, we have our civil rights taken away from us every day. That’s all we want, to be treated fairly and equally”
Gay rights supporters rallied in Nevada today as part of a string of protests reacting to the ban on same-sex marriage passed 11 days ago in California. Upbeat crowds of more than 1,000 in Las Vegas and 300 in Reno cried out for equal rights for gays and lesbians.
In Las Vegas, demonstrators gathered outside a gay and lesbian community center just east of the Strip.
In Reno, demonstrators marched through the downtown casino area and gathered around the landmark Reno Arch.
In Austin, TX:
Disappointed and angry about the passage of Proposition 8 in California last week , at least 2,000 people crowded Austin City Hall Plaza on Saturday afternoon to support equal rights and legal marriage for those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender.
Gay rights supporters cheered, chanted and waved rainbow colors in Austin and in cities across the country protesting the vote that banned gay marriage in California. Tens of thousands of people joined protests in Houston, Dallas and Arlington…
In Knoxville, TN:
More than 100 people rallied at the World’s Fair Park amphitheater Saturday afternoon in a cold wind to peaceably protest passage of a California ballot measure that recognizes marriages only between men and women. …Rally organizer Jen Crawford, 24, of Knoxville first heard from a friend that rallies were planned nationwide Saturday to protest the constitutional amendment. After considering going to a nearby city for a rally, Crawford decided to start one here. “I’m happy, as a straight ally, that I can pour into this and show my support,” she said.
In Fresno, CA:
Several hundred people showed up at Fresno’s city hall as part of the National Day of Protest. Several other demonstrations are planned Sunday as supporters of gay marriage take on the religious groups that supported Proposition 8.
Nearly two weeks after California voters approved a ban on gay marriage, members of Fresno’s gay and lesbian community say their fight for equal rights has just begun. They rallied at Fresno’s city hall Saturday, many still holding “Vote No on Proposition 8″ signs. “Rights were given to us and then eliminated by the majority of people and although the constitution guarantees the protection of the marginalized and the minority, it was allowed to pass,” said Prop 8 opponent Robin McGehee.
In Medford, OR:
Medford protesters joined a nationwide demonstration for gay rights. …Protesters say the goal of the demonstration was to spark a nationwide push for gay rights. For the people in downtown Medford today, there was a lot of emotion behind the issue. Their chant: “What do we want? Equality! When do we want it? Now!”
James Frank is a father and a grandfather, but he says he’s still fighting to be recognized as husband. “I’m not a two-headed monster; I put my pants on one leg at a time like every body else,” he says.
In Springfield, MO:
They stood In unity Saturday with a message intended to be heard around the nation. Hundreds of signs wrote it out in plain print, for all eyes to see. “It’s not even about being gay. It’s about being equal. It’s about being people, and recognizing that everybody loves just the same as everybody else,” said Stephanie Perkins who helped organize the local protest.
…Yet, some passers by didn’t take so well to the protest. “This is public. If they want to go protest, why don’t they go protest somewhere where there’s not a lot of people around,” said Amber Willis who is against gay marriage. But it was her very attitude that fired up the crowd even more. Within the crowd were dozens of stories, but for some it was a story about hope which they feel they are losing.
In Charlotte, NC:
More than 200 people gathered uptown Saturday to protest California’s recent ban on same-sex marriages and what it means for such couples nationwide. …Holding rainbow flags and braving strong winds, protesters rallied at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg government center and sang protest songs made famous during the country’s struggle for civil rights some 40 years ago.
In Macon, GA:
In Macon on Saturday, more than 50 advocates for Join the Impact, an international organization supporting equal rights for people who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, protested the California Proposition 8 vote outside City Hall.
Protesters waved signs reading “What Would Martin Do?” “Fight the H8” and “Would You Rather I Marry Your Daughter?” Gatherers ranged in age and race. Some wore the traditional rainbow colors, expressing pride in their homosexuality. Others wore plain clothes and clergy attire.
In Tampa, FL:
Thousands of gays and lesbians and their supporters across the country – including more than 100 in downtown Tampa – rallied at 1:30 p.m. Saturday to protest bans on marriage and adoption approved by voters in four states.
…Tampa City Councilwoman Linda Saul-Sena told the crowd assembled at Joe Cillura Courthouse Square that “the tide is turning to say ‘we’re all in this together.’” She added: “I think it’s time for the county to revisit the human rights ordinance.” Attempts to add sexual orientation to the anti-discrimination ordinance have been made at least a couple of times since the county commission removed sexual orientation from the law in 2000.
“We’re small but mighty,” said protest organizer Jennifer Rowe today. Rowe, along with Amanda Zuke, Kyle Cardoza, Liz Laplante and two other concerned citizens, gathered outside Sault Ste. Marie’s Civic Centre to protest the recent adoption of California’s Proposition 8, outlawing same-sex marriage. “We’re here to show our support for those in the United States who are fighting to get same-sex marriage recognized and for human rights across the board,” Rowe told SooToday.com.
In Bellingham, WA:
More than 100 people rallied on the corners of East Magnolia Street and Cornwall Avenue in Bellingham the morning of Saturday, Nov. 15, to protest California’s recent ban on gay marriage. Chants of “It’s about love not hate,” and “Hey mister president, what do you say, don’t hate families because they’re gay” filled blocks of downtown Bellingham during the two-hour protest. …The protesters in Bellingham were outside the Federal Building from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. A smaller group continued the protest outside the Bellingham Farmer’s Market after noon.
In Memphis, TN:
More than 150 people ignored the chilly winds to protest Downtown in front of the Memphis City Hall, bearing signs that said “Love makes a family,” “Support love not H8″ and “This is what democracy looks like.” “Because of our history in civil rights we felt it was particularly important for Memphis’ voice to be heard,” said Amy Livingston, a board member with the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center, which co-sponsored the protest with the Women’s Action Coalition. The gays, lesbians and supporters in attendance were also urged to talk to friends, family and co-workers about the need to for civil rights for homosexuals.
In Missoula, MT:
Jamee Greer took charge of a sizable crowd that united and protested Saturday in favor of gay marriage rights, a group pulled together in Missoula by the Internet and text messages. He gave the group its marching orders, announcing the rules of the road, as the protesters carried signs and prepared to march from North Higgins Avenue to the Missoula County Courthouse.
…In Missoula, Brian Cook wore a picture of his 21-year-old gay son, Andrew Sullivan-Cook, who was in Dallas marching with Join the Impact protesters. “I’m here, not only in support of my son’s rights, but it’s simply the right thing to do,” said Cook. “Even if my son wasn’t gay, I’d be here.”
In Evansville, IN:
Protesters gathered around the nation and in Evansville on Saturday. …One hundred people stood out in the cold in front of the Centre to get their message out.
In Denton, TX:
Horns were honking for several hours early Saturday afternoon, supporting about 120 gay rights activists with signs and flags who were protesting the recent approval of California’s Proposition 8. … There were many supportive honks throughout the afternoon, said John McClelland, president of the Stonewall Democrats of Denton County, a gay and lesbian political organization. However, one protester said she had seen an obscene hand gesture from one driver.
In Providence, RI:
The State House lawn was dotted with umbrellas on Saturday afternoon, as the hundreds of people gathered there maintained a hopeful spirit despite the intermittent rain. …For the duration of the rally, supporters held a rainbow banner with the words “Love” and “Equality” across the State House steps. People held signs with a variety of messages “Straight guy for love,” “Fight the H8″ and “Jesus had 2 daddies, why can’t I?”
On Saturday morning, about 30 people gathered in front of Colton City Hall to kick off the rally. …Most carried “No on Prop. 8″ signs and some actually wore them. Others had rainbow flags draped across their shoulders. After receiving political statements from Lopez, the crowd walked along La Cadena Drive carrying signs and singing songs with the lyrics: “Hey hey, ho ho, discrimination has got to go.”
As they made their way back up the street, a lone man carrying a sign saying “Homo Sex is Sin” staked out a spot near their final stop, the steps of the old Carnegie Library. The man, Paul Mitchell, described himself as a Christian from Riverside who showed up because of what the Bible says about homosexuality. …When the crowd gathered on the steps of the library to listen to inspirational words, Mitchell heckled them, yelling out “repent” several times, before leaving in a white van parked nearby.
In Gainesville, FL:
Huddled under rainbow–colored umbrellas, Amendment 2 protestors met in the drizzling rain Saturday afternoon with a message: equal rights for everyone. About 150 Gainesville residents rallied for an hour and a half at the corner of East First Street and University Avenue for the repeal of Amendment 2.
At least 250 people rallied and marched in Riverside. … Same-sex-marriage supporters also rallied in places that had no organized gay activism before Prop. 8, including Moreno Valley, Colton, Hemet, the Big Bear area and Victorville.
…In Riverside, protesters set off from City Hall and broke into several groups to march through downtown streets, waving signs reading “When do I get to vote on your marriage?” and “Black, Straight, Against 8.”
In Colton, about 40 people marched in front of Colton City Hall chanting slogans such as “Gay, straight, black or white, Americans for civil rights!” …Nicolas Daily, 19, a black gay man who grew up in Colton, said one reason he attended the Colton rally was to increase the visibility of gays and lesbians of color.
In Pasadena, CA:
About 300 demonstrators crowded onto the steps of Pasadena City Hall on Saturday to protest the passage of Proposition 8. …”I don’t know about you, but I am tired of using the quiet approach,” said 29-year-old Scott Boardman of Monrovia, who spearheaded the event. “I want the fair approach, and if that means knocking on every door or having rallies every week, then so be it.”
In Redlands, CA:
Mike Hinsley and Scott Ruiz have been partners for six years. When Proposition 22 was overturned in 2007, making same-sex marriages legal in California, they held off. “As soon as the Supreme Court overturned it, we heard about Prop. 8, so we were waiting to see what was going to happen,” Hinsley said. On Saturday, Hinsley, 26, and Ruiz, 28, joined about 150 people in front of City Hall to protest Prop. 8. The protest was one of many held all over the nation, organized by www.jointheimpact.com.
In Stockton, CA:
About 200 people gathered at City Hall late Saturday morning before marching along two of downtown Stockton’s busiest streets in one of hundreds of simultaneous demonstrations in support of gay-marriage rights planned throughout the state and country. …I just think that it was important to bring something like this to Stockton,” said Sarah Amaton, the Manteca resident who coordinated San Joaquin County’s rally. Another is planned for 6 p.m. Monday, also at City Hall.
In Northampton, MA:
Hundreds of demonstrators spilled down the steps of City Hall and onto Main Street Saturday, part of a wave of nationwide protests over the passage of Proposition 8 in California. The rally was boisterous, even by Northampton’s standards, where rallies for social change are a staple of the cultural landscape.
… The local protest drew hundreds of same-sex couples and gay rights advocates of all ages, plus openly gay five-term Mayor Mary Clare Higgins, who sat on the steps and sang with “The Raging Grannies,” a social activism group who led the crowd in a pro-gay rights sing-along. Organizer Kathryn L. Martini, of Greenfield, said similar protests took place simultaneously in all 50 states. She estimated as many as 900 attended the local stand-out.
In Portsmouth, NH:
Supporters began gathering in Market Square at mid-day and a small group of about 15 around 1 p.m. had grown to nearly 100 within the hour. “Gay, straight, black or white, marriage is a civil right,” they chanted. Held on display in the middle of a crowd was a rainbow flag with “LOVE,” written across it. …Passers-by honked their horns in support, which led to cheers from the demonstrators.
In Pomona, CA:
“People tell us, `Go home. It’s over. It’s already been voted on,”‘ said Thuan Nguyen. “I say just because it’s voted on doesn’t mean homosexuality is going to disappear.” The 20-year-old Montclair resident was among more than 400