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Posts for February, 2011

NC Gay Couple’s Home Destroyed By Arsonist

Jim Burroway

February 7th, 2011

Gay couple's home was destroyed by arson in Clayton, N.C.

Fire investigators in Clayton, N.C. are investigating a fire that was set last Saturday that destroyed the home of a gay couple who had been victims of anti-gay harassment for more than a year. The couple were out of town when the fire was set, and was reported by a neighbor.

A neighbor, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of backlash against her, said there have been at least three separate incidents of anti-gay harassment at the home. A note with derogatory language was left in the mailbox, an anti-gay slur was written on the house with marker, and the tires of a car parked in the garage were slashed, the neighbor said.

…”I felt sick to my stomach. I felt so sorry for the two gentlemen. They lost everything,” the couple’s friend and neighbor said. “We do believe that this is a hate crime.”

The Red Cross is supplying the couple with food, clothes and contacts for insurance. Clayton is located about 15 miles southeast of Raleigh.

Pam Spaulding’s Encounter With NOM Volunteer

Jim Burroway

August 11th, 2010

Pam Spaulding attended the NOM rally in Raleigh, N.C., and she has posted extensive video at her web site. All of it is must see. Unfortunately, the absolute best part wasn’t caught on video. It’s where Pam and a colleague are confused with being NOM sympathizers:

Now what happened next was beyond surreal. This middle-aged woman with a floppy hat on and a clipboard in her hand, looking a bit wild-eyed, came over and asked us if we wanted to sign up for some “scientifically-based information on marriage.” Robyn and I looked at each other and knew exactly where this was going. I said:

Pam: Scientific information? What are you talking about?

Fundie: I’m with The Ruth Institute (a “project of the National Organization for Marriage) and I have literature I can share with you…

Pam: I’m sorry, I’m not interested…I’m married to a woman.

PREGNANT PAUSE…FUNDIE JAW OPEN. Clearly she thought I was straight and on her side.

Robyn: I am married to a woman as well.

PREGNANT PAUSE…FUNDIE JAW OPENING WIDER. Oh NOES, her Gaydar is broken for sure! A fly could have entered and buzzed around in her piehole. Finally she regains her composure and says…

Fundie: You’re marriage is not real. You’re not married in the state of NC.

Pam: No, you’re right. But when I go to visit my relatives in NY, I’m married. If I go to Iowa, I’m married, if I go to Massachusetts I’m married…

Fundie (interrupting, voice shaking): Your marriage is a legal fraud, that doesn’t matter, what matters is natural marriage.

Pam (interrupting): My marriage is not a fraud…and I don’t need your literature.

Fundie (turning and walking away, head exploding in anger): You’re being rude…

Pam: Hey you’re the one who came up to me first…(laughing).

Robyn and I laughed the entire ride back to work because this woman 1) pegged us both as straight and kindred spirits, 2) clearly hasn’t run into this “problem” before, and 3) had a meltdown that was priceless.

The Day After Election Day

Jim Burroway

November 4th, 2009
Submitted by BTB reader Elliot Ryan

Submitted by BTB reader Elliot Ryan

Feelings will be running raw this morning. Having yet another state placing a portion of its own citizenry in the second-class column is never easy to take. There will be plenty of time for post-mortems; I guess you could say I’ve already gotten a jump on mine before the campaign was over.

But I think it’s very important to keep in mind what Protect Maine Equality has been able to do. They have put together one of the most outstanding grass-roots efforts I’ve ever seen in a political campaign, and for that they’ve provided a road map for future campaigns to follow. Nobody has done a better job at motivating thousands of individuals to give of their time, and nobody has put together a better get-out-the-vote effort. The fact that the vote was this close is a testament to those great accomplishments.

Meanwhile, we have an important victory in Kalamazoo, where the religious right pulled out all the scare tactics at their disposal to try to defeat a non-discrimination ordinance. It didn’t work. The ordinance was upheld by 7,671 to 4,731 — 62% voted for equality in Kalamazoo, which is now the sixteenth city in Michigan with a non-discrimination ordinance.

Meanwhile, Washington’s Referendum 71 is holding on by a razor-thin margin. The Seattle Times says that it looks promising, since most of the outstanding votes are in areas where the measure was passing. Washingtonians vote by mail, and since the law requires that ballot be postmarked by election day, they will continue to trickle in during the days to come.

In Houston, openly lesbian mayoral candidate Annise Parker will go up against Gene Lock for a December 12 runoff. Openly gay Mark Kleinschmidt was elected mayor of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and Charles Pugh garnered the highest number of Detroit city council votes among all the city-wide at-large candidates to become that city’s first gay city council president. And in New Jersey, New York, and the District of Columbia, legislative battles are heating up for marriage equality.

There are steps forward and steps back. The struggle isn’t over. We lost this one, but we pick ourselves up and go on to the next one. Our community has forged a unique strength that way, and we’ve learned to do this in ways we didn’t want to, whether it was to respond to Governmental censorship, employment bans, Anita Bryant, the AIDS crisis when nobody else could be bothered, or these state-by-state ballot initiatives. They do wear us down, but they don’t wear us out. We pick each other up, dust ourselves off, and we go on to the next battle. It’s what we do.

The Direct Approach

Timothy Kincaid

October 1st, 2009

Sometimes it seems that in the campaign battles over marriage equality, the people most ignored and downplayed are those most affected. Everyone talks about equality and decency and church and children but none of us on any side can seem to say, “hey, this is about these guys!”.

But a new campaign in Greensburo, North Carolina, is taking a direct approach. They are showing the faces of the folks who everyone else is not talking about.

long enough

Good for you, Triad Equality Alliance.

Of course, not everyone is happy about it. Check out the video at Fox 8.

College Student Receives Death Threats

Jim Burroway

September 22nd, 2009

It’s back to school time on college campuses across America. You know what that means — getting settled back into the dorm, spending more money on books than you ever thought possible, taking stock of your new professors, and of course, death threats:

Guilford College students will hold a meeting on Monday after someone sent a student two letters threatening his life and calling him derogatory names based on his sexual orientation.

The hate crimes happened in the Bryan Hall dormitory last week. On Monday, a student found a note on his door that had a death threat and called him a derogatory name. The note also said “nobody wants your kind on campus.”

On Thursday, someone dropped a rock with a letter attached in the same student’s window. The note used the same derogatory name and also said: “You don’t deserve life like the rest of the world. It’s bad enough with out all the gay crap pulling people down. It’s sick, unnatural, and death is almost too good for you. Almost.”

A vigil is planned at the Greensboro, N.C.-based college Wednesday evening.

500 Protest Charlotte Pride, Police Report No Problems

Jim Burroway

July 26th, 2009
TheCall’s Lou Engle (with microphone and arm raised) leading protesters in prayer. (News Channel 14)

TheCall’s Lou Engle (with microphone and raised arm) leading protesters in prayer. (News 14 Carolina)

An estimated 10,000 people turned out to celebrate Charlotte Pride yesterday, while an anti-gay protest organized by local evangelist Michael Brown and TheCall’s Lou Engle attracted about 500 participants. While the Charlotte Observer reports that the number of protesters this year was a significant  over previous years, it appears to have fallen short of the thousand that the organizers had hoped for. Michael Brown insisted that his “lamb-like” protesters would remain across the street from the festival grounds, but several of his red-shirted sheep apparently were lost and were seen across the street mingling with Pride-goers spreading their anti-gay message. Charlotte police report no problems and no arrests.

Longtime Pride participant Monica Simpson. (News 14 Charlotte)

Longtime Pride participant Monica Simpson. (News 14 Charlotte)

The protest organizers, who dubbed their effort as “God Has A Better Way,” released a statement last night with a long list of well-worn grievances, and declaring that the push for equality “stops here in Charlotte.” At least one longtime Pride participant decided to turn that message around:

“Each year, we have groups come to our pride celebrations trying to demonstrate their message of love, saying there’s a better way or we need to change who we are, and so this year I thought, what if we go to them? I think it’s time to flip the script, so to speak,” Monica Simpson said.

In the midst of the sea of red shirts stood Simpson, a yearly pride participant.

“It allowed me to see how much work still needs to be done on this earth as we really talk about the dream that God has for us to live as one and realize we are all connected as one,” she said.

Michael Brown Responds

Jim Burroway

July 23rd, 2009

Timothy Kincaid and I have exchanged several emails with Michael Brown since publishing my article, “Anti-Gay Extremists Predict “Flash Point” for Charlotte Pride” on Monday.  It’s been a cordial exchange; his opening line gave me a good glimpse of his humor: “A colleague just pointed out your new article to me, and obviously, we’re in two completely different worlds here.” Of the many things in which Dr. Brown and I disagree, obviously that much is something I can say “Amen” to.

Dr. Brown took the time to write several very lengthy emails. Unfortunately, his first emails to me bounced because because my inbox was full.  And once I cleared that logjam out, the rest of his emails came while I was working on my day job, I confess that my responses were considerably shorter and incomplete, probably coming off as terse. So for that, I’ll begin by publicly apologizing for that.

He had several bones to pick with me, and I concede that a few of those points are legitimate, and so I’ve made some modifications to the original article. I’ll point those out as we come to them. On some of the other points he raised, I’m not so sure I agree with him and I’ll discuss those as well. That said, let’s dive in.

First, Dr. Brown wanted to address my concerns about what I believe to be his violent rhetoric:

As for my use of “revolutionary” or “violent” language, perhaps my recent article will be of help. I’m simply following on the heels of Christian tradition and the New Testament – and always with absolutely clarity and full qualification of my points. (For example, if you recall my “revolution” message at the Exodus conference, when I quoted Elaine Brown, I spoke of her organization as being a negative example that we did not want to emulate – because of their violence – stating only that she exemplified the way revolutionaries think, and that mentality was in harmony with Jesus’ words that, “if you find your life, you lose it; if you lose it for me and the gospel, you find it.”). Jesus is our example – He laid down His life and renounced violence – and we seek to follow in His footsteps.”

True, he did say that. After having reviewed his talk again, I agreed that including the additional information about what he said would provide a more complete context. I added the following portion in italics to that paragraph:

Citing such revolutionaries as Elaine Brown of the Black Panthers (“Even the notion of dying for something bigger than you was far more powerful than living out a life of quiet desperation.”), he said “the key to overcoming the forces of hell” was the willingness to embrace martyrdom. While he said that the Elaine Brown’s quote represented a negative example, he also said that for Christians it was compatible with Luke 17:33 (“Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.”).

Brown then corrected me on my earlier statement when I wrote that, “One of the participants at the Toronto Blessing was Steve Hill.”

“Also, just for the record, Steve Hill never attended the Toronto Blessing, and to give you perspective, the great bulk of the scandalous articles of the PNJ (scandalous in terms of their journalism) came out in Nov. 1997; the revival continued well into 2000. At the time the articles were written, our school had 510 students. From fall 1998 until 2000, we had well over 1,000. We only grew and increased after the articles came out, one reason being that most of the people who knew us in the city knew the reports were false.”

My source for that information wasn’t the Pensacola News-Journal, but another conservative Pentecostal web site that was critical of the Brownsville revival. It turns out that the source I used for that wasn’t accurate, and I apologize for the error. Hill’s involvement with the Toronto Blessing was a bit more indirect. Therefore, I’ve deleted that sentence in Monday’s post and replaced it with this:

The Toronto Blessing spawned several other revivals, one notable one being a revival in the United Kingdom at Holy Trinity Brompton in London. In fact, it was the British press which dubbed the revival “The Toronto Blessing.” And that’s where an American Assemblies of God evangelist by the name of Steve Hill reportedly received “The Blessing” at Brompton.

More generally, Brown was critical of our links to the Pensacola News-Journal for some of the criticisms of the Brownsville Revival:

For the sake of Christian integrity, however, I should point out that your characterizations of the Brownsville Revival are as false and misleading as the quotes you lift from the thoroughly discredited stories from the Pensacola News Journal (interestingly, that infamous series of articles was sandwiched between years of glowing  coverage about the revival in the PNJ which preceded those articles and then no more negative reports  in the years that followed the reports). There are thousands of hours of footage of the meetings available for all to see and hear, none of which concur with the ridiculous reports of the critics, while the fruit of wonderfully changed lives (to this day) remains as a witness to what Jesus did in those meetings.

As for the PNJ’s journalistic integrity, I will leave that for you to decide as to whom you’d prefer to believe. It does strike me as a count in the PNJ’s favor that they wrote both positive and negative articles, which leads me to believe they were capable of covering the Brownsville Revival with a measure of impartiality. Dr. Brown obviously disagrees, and strongly so. So I guess we’re at something of a stalemate there for the time being. Dr. Brown however did recommend a book by Steve Rabey titled Revival in Brownsville: Pensacola, Pentecostalism, and the Power of American Revivalism, published by Thomas Nelson Publishers (the Bible publishing people).

Brown believes that by quoting from Matt Comer’s article in InterstateQ, I mischaracterized his 2005 action against Charlotte Pride:

I’m not sure how to correct the completely false, anonymous report about our involvement in Charlotte Pride, 2005, other than to point out that it’s fascinating that these charges just surface now, for the first time, four years later. Unfortunately, it presents a 100% false picture of our involvement that day – shall I direct to you some of the 100+ people who were there that day to speak with them for yourself? – and the report is as ludicrous as claiming that we raided a gay bar and hit people over the head with Bibles. It is not who we are anymore than you and Timothy are secretly running a branch of the gay Taliban.

In a second email, he strongly emphasized this:

Under no circumstances did any of our people do such a thing. Under no circumstances did they communicate with the children who were there, and under no circumstances did they tell them that their parents were sinners going to hell, and under no circumstances did they harass people.

I’m not sure how anyone can vouch for all 100-plus people at an event like that, particularly with the assurance of “under no circumstances.” It may well have been that they were instructed that “under no circumstances” were they to speak with children or harass people, but I can’t see how anyone could make such a guarantee. I also suspect that a Pride-goer’s idea of harassment is likely very different from Dr. Brown’s under these circumstances. I also see that Dr. Brown has been exchanging similar emails with Ali Davis at 365gay.com. She notes that an article in the Charlotte Observer at the time also reported “some tense interactions, and notes one named source who says she was told she was going to hell.”

But that led to, I think, his main problem with the piece: our expressed concern that by having 1,000 people to confront (or surround in prayer or witness to or whatever anyone might want to call it) those who plan on attending Charlotte Pride.

As to your concerns about violence breaking out at our event on July 25th, there’s no more chance of that than there is a chance of it happening at a Sunday morning church service where we worship and pray together, although the spate of recent articles predicting this very thing makes me wonder if some will be disappointed when the Jesus-focused, Lamb-like nature of the participants is manifest for the whole world to see.

Dr. Brown gave his assurances in another email to Timothy Kincaid that for this year, the red-shirted participants will remain across the street from the the Pride festivities and will not interfere with those who want to attend:

Our red-shirted participants will NOT be trying to intercept people going into the event. If folks want to talk with us, we’d be delighted to do so, but our red-shirted folks (whom we can clearly identify and hold to our terms of commitment) will not be trying to intercept anyone. We will have a sufficient presence in prayer just by being there.

I hope he’s right. Believe me, I do hope he’s right and he will be able to hold his thousand or more red-shirted folks to their “lamb-like” commitments. And I take him at his word that he will do everything he can to make sure that happens. A thousand people though, that’s a lot to keep track of. And besides that, a crowd of a thousand people is an intimidating presence, no matter their intentions.

Think of it: What if we were to gather a thousand red-shirted LGBT activists — and let’s face it, they would be activists because ordinary people are rarely motivated to mount such an action — and have them gather at a park where a church picnic or festival was taking place, promising them that if they do this, that the religious right would meet its “high water mark” and that it all “stops there”? For good measure, we’ll go to a city that is “takeable” and promise to attack the “demonic spirit” that rules their ideology. Okay, we don’t speak in terns of demonic spirits, but you get the picture.

Wouldn’t the people attending that church picnic or festival have every right to be concerned? More significantly, wouldn’t they have every right to take the action as a serious and deeply held affront? I can just hear Focus On the Family now.

Brown and Engle characterize this publicly as an evangelical outreach effort. If that is their intention, then they may well rejoice if one or a few out of the crowd decides to “find God.” But for every one they do manage to reach by some great miracle, they will likely push countless others much, much further away. Surely, they must understand the consequences of that. That’s why I find it hard to believe that the intent is to convert. If it is, then Dr. Brown and Mr. Engle have hopelessly unrealistic expectations for what they hope to accomplish.

But I don’t think that’s what they really want to accomplish. It’s something very different, as reinforced by this press release issued just moments ago:

According to Dr. Michael Brown, director of the Charlotte-based Coalition of Conscience and the organizer of the event, “Nothing like this has ever been done in conjunction with a gay pride event in any city before, and those who join together on this day will be part of history in the making.”

Brown’s event is being actively supported by Lou Engle, national director of TheCall to Action. Engle, who advocates bringing about cultural change through prayer and fasting, believes that the “God Has a Better Way” rally could be a national flash point, with the goal that homosexual activism “stops here.”

Speaking of Lou Engle, Dr. Brown didn’t like how his friend was quoted in the SPLC article as saying, “If I die, I die” and “Shoot everything!”  Dr. Brown wanted me to understand that there’s really no such thing as a Joel’s Army — which is true insofar as I understand that it’s not an organization but a movement. But most importantly, he wanted me to understand that Engle wasn’t speaking literally but in metaphor:

I urge you to listen to Lou’s words in the context of his entire message; it is next to impossible to hear him speak and to take away any message other than our call to prayer and fasting. It would be like telling a rowing crew, “We’re going to fly down this river!” and think that they would take this to mean that they are supposed to become birds!

I understand metaphor. I also believe I can understand context. But I also understand that sometimes context is in the eye of the beholder as well as the speaker. So let’s try this: look at this video of Lou Engle and tell me what you think:

YouTube Preview Image

Rampant rape and molestation. Your children won’t be safe. Our whole culture will be like Sodom and Gomorrah. We’re in a Joel 2 moment. A Jezebel-Elijah showdown. This is survival of nations. Tremble you kings!

How much of all that is metaphor? Or is this guy, who is one half of God Has A Better Way, someone we should be concerned about?

Wouldn’t those Christians in my hypothetical park be equally concerned and insulted if they saw rhetoric like that coming from a leader of those red-shirted LGBT activists?

You bet they would, and rightfully so.

Anti-Gay Extremists Predict “Flash Point” for Charlotte Pride

Jim Burroway

July 20th, 2009

Charlotte (N.C.) Pride this year falls on July 25. In response, two prominent Pentecostal evangelists plan to confront Pride attendees by surrounding the park with more than 1,000 “worshipers, intercessors, musicians, soul-winners, walkers, talkers, and believers of every age, color, and size” there to “stand together as a prophetic witness to our society.” One of the organizers of the anti-gay confrontation predicts that the day will represent a “flash point” in turning back the so-called “homosexual agenda.” Local LGBT advocates fear that the presence of such a large amp-ed up contingent of anti-gay extremists at the properly-permitted celebration could become a flash point of a very different kind.

In 2006, Charlotte-based pastor Michael Brown organized a group of red-shirted students to surround Charlotte Pride. Volunteers describe that encounter as frightening, intimidating, and an act that instilled terror in some who attended:

“The whole experience was horrible,” [one volunteer] told InterstateQ.com, speaking under the condition of anonymity. “I saw a lot of people trying to get away from the red-shirted people, and they just wouldn’t leave people alone.”

The volunteer describes several people, visibly shaken and emotionally distraught, who came to her for assistance. “I had people coming up to me in tears asking, ‘Please do something about these people,’” she said.

Many of those who complained, the volunteer said, were parents and children who were confronted by the members of Brown’s counter-demonstration. “They were going after the children of gay and lesbian parents. They were after the little kids, telling them that their mommies and daddies were going to hell and were sinners.”

Now Brown is at it again, except this time he is joining forces with Lou Engle of The Call. This year’s anti-gay rally, called “God Has A Better Way,” intends to surround the Pride festival not with a hundred volunteers, but a thousand. Local Pride organizers, who have obtained proper permits to hold the celebration in downtown Charlotte, are worried.

There’s reason for concern. Brown and Engle are both known for their fiery rhetoric filled with militant imagery of warfare against dark and evil forces. Acting on what he calls a “prophetic word,” Engle chose Charlotte “to raise up a contending house of prayer, that contends not with people, but with spiritual principalities and powers” He intends for this action to “be the high watermark, so to speak, of the homosexual agenda.  It stops here.”

Brown predicts that the event will be “history in the making.” Whatever their predictions, it doesn’t take a prophet to know that tensions will be high in Charlotte next weekend if these men have their way.

Michael Brown

Michael Brown

“Whether By Life Or By Death!”
I first encountered Michael Brown’s life-and-death rhetoric when I attended his lecture at a plenary session of the Exodus Freedom Conference in Irvine, California in 2007. I had attended the conference to get a first-hand look at the pre-eminent annual gathering of people who were “struggling with their homosexuality” and were trying to change. The struggle was a personal struggle against forces which would tempt them from their chosen path of pursuing heterosexuality. Those forces, of course, were often described in evil undertones, but the speakers rarely used that word or characterization directly.

Brown wasn’t nearly that coy. He was there to exhort the crowd to fight against “a pitched attack from hell,” but the attack he was talking about wasn’t an attack on an individual’s sense of sexual righteousness. Instead, Brown was talking about an evil attack on the moral fabric of the culture at large.  To counter that attack, his talk centered on developing a “revolutionary mentality,” which he summed up as, “Life as it is is not worth living, but the cause is worth dying for.”

Citing such revolutionaries as Elaine Brown of the Black Panthers (“Even the notion of dying for something bigger than you was far more powerful than living out a life of quiet desperation.”), he said “the key to overcoming the forces of hell” was the willingness to embrace martyrdom. While he said that the Elaine Brown’s quote represented a negative example, he also said that for Christians it was compatible with Luke 17:33 (“Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.”).

Now, it’s important to note that he didn’t use the word of “martyrdom” anywhere in his talk that I can recall. But it certainly describes what he was talking. Take, for instance, his quoting of James B. Taylor: “The world may frown — Satan may rage — but go on! Live for God. May I die in the field of battle.” Or when Brown recounted a tale of another dedicated Christian who was being held up at gunpoint by a robber demanding “your money or your life.” According to Brown, the Christian exclaimed “You’re going to send me to meet Jesus?” and began rejoicing, prompting the robber to flee. Brown also claimed that his own life was in danger because of his confrontations against the LGBT community. All of this to drive home the message that a Christian should value the cause more than his own life:

Listen, God promises us long life and health as blessings in Scripture, and he wants to bless many with families and kids and grandkids and all that. That’s wonderful. But we should have this warrior mentality. Come on, we’ve been addressed as warriors. We should have this revolutionary mentality that says the purpose of my life is to glorify God. And I would rather die glorifying God than live to be ninety and not make an impact.

He then closed that plenary session with a prayer:

I ask you (Jesus) to hold back nothing from me. Here I am. Change me. Fill me. Use me. Send me out to be a world changer to glorify Jesus, to be a holy revolutionary whether by life or by death!

Since Brown’s talk at that Exodus Freedom conference in 2007, he has become a regular speaker at the Love Won Out conference put on jointly by Exodus International and Focus On the Family.

Lou Engle

Lou Engle

Lou Engle and The Call
Lou Engle also echoes Brown’s embrace of martyrdom. Engle, whose own ministry is known as “The Call,” is closely aligned with a militant Christian Dominionist movement known as Joel’s Army. Casey Sanchez describes the relationship this way:

As even his critics note, Engle is a sweet, humble and gentle man whose persona is difficult to reconcile with his belief in an end-time army of invincible young Christian warriors. Yet while Engle is careful to avoid deploying explicit Joel’s Army rhetoric at high-profile events like The Call, when he’s speaking in smaller hyper-charismatic circles to avowed Joel’s Army followers, he can venture into bloodlust.

This March, at a “Passion for Jesus” conference in Kansas City sponsored by the International House of Prayer, or IHOP, a ministry for teenagers from the heavy metal, punk and goth scenes, Engle called on his audience for vengeance.

“I believe we’re headed to an Elijah/Jezebel showdown on the Earth, not just in America but all over the globe, and the main warriors will be the prophets of Baal versus the prophets of God, and there will be no middle ground,” said Engle. He was referring to the Baal of the Old Testament, a pagan idol whose followers were slaughtered under orders from the prophet Elijah.

“There’s an Elijah generation that’s going to be the forerunners for the coming of Jesus, a generation marked not by their niceness but by the intensity of their passion,” Engle continued. “The kingdom of heaven suffers violence and the violent take it by force. Such force demands an equal response, and Jesus is going to make war on everything that hinders love, with his eyes blazing fire.”

Joel’s Army began in the 1940’s, and was based on the preaching of Assembly of God pastor William Branham. The Assemblies of God has banned Joel’s army as a heretical cult and disavows all association with the movement.

Kansas City Prophet Bob Jones

Kansas City Prophet Bob Jones

Lou Engle and the Kansas City Prophets
In order to understand where Brown and Engle are coming from with their calls to martyrdom, it’s important to understand where their theology comes from. And to do that, we need to rewind a bit, back to the early 1980′s with a group known as the The Kansas City Prophets. Chief among them was “Prophet” Bob Jones (unrelated to Bob Jones of Bob Jones University fame) who claimed to receive prophecies through visions and dreams. Lou Engle would become one of Prophet Jones’ devoted acolytes.

Among the hallmarks of the Kansas City Prophets were calls for long periods of fasting and prayer, a feature that Engle has made a centerpiece for The Call. In 1983, Jones called for a 21-day fast to usher “a massive move of God.” He also predicted that a drought would consume Kansas City in confirmation of his prophecy from June until August 23. Jones and his followers blithely overlooked the 6.5 inches of rain that fell in June (making that June wetter than average) and another inch or so that fell in July. But the traces of rain that fell around August 23 was enough to confirm his prophetic powers among his followers.

In 1991, Jones was removed from a ministry known as the Vineyard for sexual misconduct, where he allegedly used his “prophetic gift” to fondle women in the church. But that scandal didn’t discredit Jones’ “prophetic gifts” in the eyes of his acolyte, Lou Engle, who made it his mission to fulfill a 1993 prophecy by his mentor:

In 1993, Bob Jones prophesied, “The Houston Oilers would move to Nashville, and Nashville would build God a stadium. And 100,000 people, particularly youth, would gather for a great mobilization of the army of God.” With this prophecy in effect, I was praying about holding The Call in Titan Stadium in Nashville on 07-07-07.

Engle’s earlier incarnation of The Call had become relatively inactive by about 2002, but Engle relaunched it in 2006 with the help of Kansas-City based International House of Prayer to fulfill Jones’ 1993 prophecy. The International House of Prayer is led by Mike Bickle, another of the Kansas City Prophets, who is also listed as The Call’s vice president on their 2009 IRS 990 form. Three other former Kansas City Prophets, Stacey Campbell, Jim Goll, and Dutch Sheets, also sit on The Call’s board of directors, as does Bishop Harry Jackson of Washington, D.C. (or perhaps not of Washington, D.C., but that’s a completely different story.)

The Call in Nashville, in 2007.

The Call in Nashville, in 2007.

I’ve been corresponding to one young man who attended the relaunched The Call event in Nashville in 2007. Tyler (his last name is being withheld) remembers that day vividly — July 7, 2007 (07/07/07 was their “Holy Date”) — and wrote:

I went to Nashville and the day was a whole day of fasting and prayer to “turn the nation back to God.”  Their tactics include, in my opinion, a lot of manipulation using emotionally-driven songs, yelling, dancing, and the like to get individuals charged up.

Tyler eventually left the group and came out as gay. But he found that leaving the group was difficult:

I just know that I was pretty “stuck” in that organization and by the time I left I felt like I was getting away from some hardcore brainwashing.  It is tough because everyone involved is extremely friendly (they would definitely not pass as members of the Fred Phelps crew…they are too kind).  Those involved tend to be young, 20-somethings, who all have a hip and fresh look about them (the Urban Outfitters or American Apparel kind of person).  They seem to be open and accepting.

It was difficult for me to leave the group and this movement because I did find such a home there and developed such great friendships.  I just couldn’t remain part of something that was so certain that who I am is wrong and I must change.

Since that Nashville gathering, The Call has sponsored additional gatherings in Cincinnati, Ohio; Montgomery, Alabama; Washington, D.C.; and San Diego, all in 2008. The San Diego event was called specifically to rally for the passage of California’s Proposition 8 to ban same-sex marriage.

The “Toronto Blessing,” Brownsville Revival, and Michael Brown

A service of the Toronto Blessing

A service of the Toronto Blessing

Prophet Jones also claims to have predicted the so-called “Toronto Blessing” revival of 1994, which was billed as a spontaneous and historic multi-year outpouring of the Holy Spirit on a congregation at the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship. Jones supposedly predicted the Toronto Blessing in 1984, exactly ten years earlier. But others see evidence of more direct involvement of the Kansas City Prophets in the Toronto Blessing aside from mere prophecy.

At any rate, the Toronto Blessing was immediately controversial, not only due to the theologies presented there which many mainstream Pentecostals believed were unbiblical, but also due to the odd ecstasies the Toronto Blessing became known for. Mainstream Pentecostal practices place an emphasis on a personal experience of the Holy Spirit, which can be manifested by such signs as speaking in tongues, dancing and being “slain in the Spirit.” To the uninitiated, these can be quite off-putting, but Pentecostal theologians point to scripture to defend certain specific ecstatic experiences.

But nothing prepared them for some of the new behaviors shown at the Toronto Blessing. That revival introduced some new and novel ecstasies never seen before, including uncontrollable “holy laughter;” barking, braying, and making other animal noises; being “drunk” in the spirit, and many other odd behaviors that many mainstream Pentecostals found both disturbing and unbiblical.

Steve Hill (left) and John Kilpatrick (right).

Steve Hill (left) and John Kilpatrick (right).

The Toronto Blessing spawned several other revivals, one notable one being a revival in the United Kingdom at Holy Trinity Brompton in London. In fact, it was the British press which dubbed the revival “The Toronto Blessing.” Abd that’s where an American Assemblies of God evangelist by the name of Steve Hill reportedly received “The Blessing” at Brompton. He moved to Pensacola, Florida, where he joined up with John Kilpatrick, pastor of the Brownsville Assembly of God. Kilpatrick’s wife had also attended a Toronto Blessing service along with several members of their congregation, so Kilpatrick was already familiar with the famous revival that was garnering a great deal of attention throughout the Charismatic Christian world. Together, Hill and Kilpatrick orchestrated a similar revival of their own in Pensacola, which came to be known as the Brownsville Revival or the Pensacola Outpouring. That revival would continue for at least the next five years. Hill and Kilpatrick were able to recreate the Toronto Blessing quite well — right down to the “holy laughter” and being “drunk in the spirit,” to the horror of other more tranditional-minded Pentecostal pastors and adherents:

“Yet in this Brownsville assembly there is not only violent shaking, but also shrieking and hyena-like laughter. And this is called ‘holy.’

“Another aspect of this so-called “revival,” “outpouring of God,” and “flow of the Spirit” is getting “drunk in the Spirit.” Pastor Kilpatrick of Brownsville admitted that he has been so “drunk in the Spirit” that he actually struck his youth pastor’s car with his own. He said that while driving he had hit many garbage cans sitting at the curb on several occasions, because he was so “drunk.” He added that his wife has been so drunk she couldn’t cook. Sometimes his drunken stupors are so severe that he has to be taken from the service in a wheel-chair, Kilpatrick reported.

That revival eventually died down amid financial scandals, tax evasion, fictitious biographies, theological squabbles with fellow pentecostal pastors, false claims of converting prominent public figures, hoax “cures,” failed prayers to raise the dead, crackdowns on dissenters, and accusations of turning away people in need. But among the many enduring products of the Brownsville Revival was none other than Michael Brown himself.

Michael Brown and the Brownsville Revival

Michael Brown speaking at the Brownsville Assembly of God

Michael Brown speaking at the Brownsville Assembly of God

It’s unclear how Michael Brown became involved with the Brownsville Revival, but we do know that he arrived in Pensacola in 1996 and quickly became a part of the Brownsville inner circle. According to the Pensacola New Journal, some who knew him say he waited for more than a decade for just such a major, long-running revival. Several people say he commanded a major role behind the scenes as the “brains” of the operation.

His official role with the Brownsville Revival centered on his founding of the Brownsville Revival School of Ministry in 1996. While at the helm, he reportedly engaged in crackdowns against dissent. The wife of a former employee says Brown threatened her family’s livelihood in order to force her to recant what Brown regarded as criticism of the revival. Others described him as a man “consumed by the desire to be in control.” Brown denied that, saying that because he had “strong moral convictions and have often taken clear stands on controversial issues,” it was “no surprise that some of those who differ with me might mistake confidence for arrogance.”

Brown’s position in the Brownsville Revival proved lucrative. By 1998, he was reportedly building a home valued at $727,360 on 11 acres of land purchased for $165,000. (Brown disputed the figures.)  Brown was fired from the school in 2000 for failure to agree on an “acceptable means of accountability” within the Assemblies of God. (Brown was not a member of the denomination and was therefore outside its lines of accountability.) He moved to Charlotte where he founded the FIRE School of Ministry, which appears to be a North Carolina recreation of Brown’s former school in Florida. FIRE is an acronym for “Fellowship for International Revival and Evangelism.”

Brown was joined in his new venture by several other BRSM faculty members and staff: Robert Gladstone, Josh Peters, Steve Alt, Scott Volk, S.J. Hill, and Tobi A. Peters. Five other FIRE faculty and staff members are BRSM graduates. Gladstone now serves as FIRE’s director. Brown himself reconciled with the Brownsville group in 2003.

Lou Engle

Lou Engle

A “Flash Point”
So as we can see, there is a direct line of theological and ministerial development from the Kansas City Prophets and Lou Engle, to the Toronto Blessing, and from there to the Brownsville Revival and Michael Brown. That line has become a complete circle, with Engle and Brown uniting for a showdown in Charlotte.

To prepare for this event, Engle and Brown have called for yet another 21-day fast in the days leading up to Charlotte Pride. And when Engle calls for a fast, he clearly intends something big. InterstateQ has posted audio of Lou Engle as he talked about an earlier fateful 21-day fast at a post-9/11 gathering of The Call in Boston:

It’s time for the church to gain air supremacy again. When 9-11 happened, we were in the midst of a 21 day fast. The planes flew out of Boston … I didn’t know what was coming down that day, but I wrote a devotional for that day it was this: We have lost air supremacy in America. I said the prophetic movie for this year is “Pearl Harbor,” when they said, “They’re building bombs, we’re building refrigerators. We don’t even know there is a war going on.” I think something far worse than Islam is coming to America in the homosexual agenda. Islam is something that comes from without. When we begin to change the very foundational laws of creation … we begin to literally destruct inwardly as a people.

And so it should come as no surprise that Lou Engle would call for a 21-day fast now for Charlotte. Engle said this about the latest fast in an interview posted on Brown’s web site:

I believe with the 21 day fast, that we’re calling, that breakthroughs could take place, in the community, people getting saved on that day, a divine favor shift in the high places of the government could take place, because in 21 days of fasting and prayer, because as you know with Daniel, everything shifted over the king of Persia, an archangel now had influence over the king of Persia, rather than the demonic prince of Persia.  Why can’t we believe for the same kind of shifts to take place in this season of time?  So I think the 25th is a flash point, at the ending of 21 days.

And what might that flash point be? We don’t know. In the interview posted on Michael Brown’s web site, Engle and Brown believe that it will be a rising up of a new movement to put a halt to LGBT advocacy efforts. But Lou Engle’s earlier description, from his talk in Boston, cannot be dismissed:

Addressing a post-9/11 TheCall gathering in Boston, whose participants phoned Engle to say they were afraid of attending, Engle said he replied, “Since when can Muslims die better than Christians? … Esther said, ‘If I die, I die.’”

In his message to FIRE Church, Engle said Christians needed to make “peace through war,” saying, “Revelation demands participation … Sometimes we use prophecies as toys instead of bombs to make war with in the Spirit.”

Describing his prayers to root out the “homosexual Jezebel spirit” in California, Engle said he prayed everyday with a “focused, laser beam.”

“There’s power in that kind of prayer,” Engle exclaimed. “That’s a prayer,” he said, making machine gun sounds and adding, “Shoot everything!”

Engle said, “If I die, I die” and “Shoot everything!” Compare that with Brown’s “Life as it is is not worth living, but the cause is worth dying for.” It’s no wonder these two found each other. In fact, Engle says he contacted Brown because he received a “prophetic word.” From the Kansas City Prophets, to the Toronto Blessing, to the Brownsville Revival, there is a consistent thread that runs through them.

We don’t believe that these leaders intend for any violence to take place at the Charlotte Pride festival. But we do know that they believe they are on a prophetic mission to confront the forces of evil, and that is the message they intend to share with their mob of 1,000 highly emotional protesters.

In a movement that places such value in the Word, there is little difference between word and deed. And that’s particularly true when the word is presented as prophecy. Engle says his prophecy is that the “homosexual agenda” will reach its high-water mark in Charlotte, and that because of their efforts, “it stops here.” Those hoped-for thousand will have fasted and prayed, and they will have heard the exhortations to value death more than life. Brown and Engle are playing with a very dangerous mix of emotion and religious fervor. Under those conditions, just about anything might happen.

Anti-Gay Extremists Cite Gay Pedophile As Typical Of All Gays

Jim Burroway

June 30th, 2009

Anti-gay extremists are all over this news item from Durham, North Carolina:

A Duke University official has been charged in federal court with offering his 5-year-old adopted son up for sex. Frank Lombard, associate director of the Center for Health Policy, was arrested Wednesday in Raleigh, the FBI said.

An unidentified informant who already faces child porn charges in a different child sex case pointed investigators to Lombard, according to court documents. The informant told investigators he had met Lombard on the Internet four years ago. The informant described in graphic detail how he allegedly observed Lombard molesting an African-American child on four occasions over an Internet video chat service called ICUii.

…During the chats, according to the affidavit, “FL” [Frank Lombard's screen name] told undercover investigators that he had himself molested his child, whom he adopted as an infant, and that he had allowed others to molest his child. “FL” stated that “the abuse of the child was easier when the child was too young to talk or know what was happening, but that he had drugged the child with Benadryl during molestation.”

Predictably, anti-gay extremists are already using this horrific crime as “proof” that all gay people are unfit to be parents. They’ll tell you that this is how virtually all gay men behave. LifeSite is already eating it up, as are Dakota Voice’s Bob Ellis and Town Hall’s Mike Adams.

We’ve seen them equate homosexuality with pedophilia by tagging the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act with the libelous “Pedophile Protection Act” moniker. Adams piled onto that them by following his first post up with another one noting that Lombard was Facebook Fan with Rev. Gene Robinson, the first openly gay Bishop of the Anglican Church. The Right Rev. Robinson has 3,668 other fans, but that didn’t deter Adams from asking, “Is this arrest thwarting an effort by Lombard to promote tolerance of pedophilia in the Episcopal Church?”

This episode even gave discredited anti-gay “researcher” Paul Cameron the chance to come out of the woodwork to claim that this sad episode “demonstrates why gays should not be able to adopt.”

Kiliann Melloy has a great rundown on anti-gay reactions to Lombard’s arrest at EDGE Boston, including a blog which claims to be a “grassroots network of the Republican Party of Virginia.” And she reviews the contention by Paul Cameron and another so-called “researcher,” Dr. Judith Reisman, that gay men are more likely to molest children. (Reisman’s Ph.D. is in Communications, but as Melloy notes, that doesn’t stop her from writing about the physiological effects of pornography on the brain without the aid of any research.)

The lesson we ought to learn from Lombard’s arrest is that being a horrible, abusive parent is an equal-opportunity crime. Gay individuals are no more immune from engaging in criminal conduct with five-year-olds than straight people. Like this heterosexual couple from Indiana, just to name one tragic example.

To learn more about what research says about homosexuality and child abuse, see our report, "Testing the Premise: Are Gays A Threat To Our Children?"

To learn more about what research says about homosexuality and child abuse, see our report, "Testing the Premise: Are Gays A Threat To Our Children?"

But it’s gay men in particular which get the blame for molesting children. Anti-gay activists will claim that gay men are guilty of this horrible crime in numbers far exceeding their proportion in the overall population. The problem with that assertion though is that there is absolutely no evidence to support that claim. That’s not to say that there are no gay predators. But there is no evidence to suggest that gay men are more likely to molest children than straight men, which is the fear-mongering message that extremists return to again and again.

The real tragedy in this case is that a very young boy has been horribly abused. The crime that anti-gay extremists engage in by slandering all gay people with this episode is, without a doubt, the much lesser crime. But it is a crime nevertheless, and it’s one they will have to answer for someday. Just like this Lombard bastard.

North Carolina Targeted For Anti-Gay Amendment

Jim Burroway

February 10th, 2009

North Carolina is the only Southern state without an anti-gay marriage amendment. The Winston-Salem-based group, Return America, has announced that they will hold a thousands-strong rally at the North Carolina Legislative Building on March 3. The Christian Action League and NC4Marriage are also supporting the rally.

On Feb 22, NC4Marriage will urge pastors and churches to participate in special services for “Marriage Sunday”. That day will also be used to inform congregants about the rally a week later.

Equality North Carolina plan a their own rally at the Capital for March 24.

Rallies Across America

Jim Burroway

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.

In South Lake Tahoe, CA:

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.”

In San Francisco, CA:

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.

In Fargo and Grand Forks, North Dakota:

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.

In Salinas and Monterrey, CA:

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.

In Charlottesville, VA:

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.

In Miami Beach and Ft. Lauderdale, FL:

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.

In Albuquerque and Santa Fe, NM:

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.

In San Luis Obispo, CA:

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.

In Colorado Springs, CO:

“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.”

In Salt Lake City, UT:

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”

In Las Vegas and Reno, NV:

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.

In Sault Ste Marie, MI:

“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?”

In San Bernadino, CA:

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.

In Riverside and other cities throughout inland CA:

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

Readers Send In Their Protest Pictures

Jim Burroway

November 15th, 2008

Send us your photos, and we’ll post them right here.

From René van Soeren in Amsterdam:

Dear Jim,

In solidarity with our sisters & brothers in California (and Florida, Arizona etc) we send you this webarticle about the Love Exiles Protest 15 November on the Homomonument in Amsterdam, the first city in the world where same sex couples got married on 1 April 2001.

From Leah and Brenda (married in CA on Oct. 25) in Albany:

The protest in Albany, NY today was awesome! We drew a crowd of between 400-500 people. A great turn out for a small city on a rainy day!

From Katherine in Baltimore:

Only about 500 people showed up, and it got shut down early due to some harsh rain… most Marylanders attended the D.C. protest instead of going local.


From Kimberly in Boulder, CO:

No photos–sorry!

Boulder had about 500 to 600 people turn out to the capital. The crowd was peaceful but engaged and a great mix of GLBT’s and allies. For about an hour and a half various people spoke including representatives from PFLAG, Boulder Pride, the mayors office and the city council. The local Methodist pastor spoke and told the crowd of another kind of Christian that believes in equality for all of Gods people. A black, lesbian, Universalist minister, Rev. Alicia Forde, spoke of her journey and of ours as a collective whole. A local psychiatrist spoke and said some pretty profound words, “Gay marriage is here. It just hasn’t happened yet.”

Overall it was a great turnout and great crowd.

From Sara in Santa Cruz ,CA:

From Ampersand in Portland, OR:

I posted a few photos of one of the two Portland demonstrations today here.

From Rachel in Raleigh, NC:

Today’s protest in Raleigh drew approximately 1,000 out of their homes despite the rain. Jimmy Creech spoke before we marched to the governor’s mansion and hung a rainbow flag on an empty pole outside the gate. Our peaceful gathering included many, many gay allies who stood with us in reminding the country that the time to end discrimination is now, this day, this hour.

From Charles in New York:

I’ve been reading Box Turtle Bulletin for a few weeks now. I was at the protest today in New York. Here are some of my pictures.

From Tracie in Louisville, KY:

Brutally cold and wet but a couple of hundred showed up through out the day!

From Dan in Boise, ID:

Was only able to stay for about 45 minutes but here are the pictures I took.

From Michael in Chicago:

I went to the rally in Federal Plaza in downtown Chicago today, and I took a bunch of pictures there. Here is the link to them on Flickr. … One item of particular interest you will no doubt want to check out is the final picture in the set above. Other places may have had larger numbers than Chicago or more exciting speakers, but only Chicago had BOTH Peter LaBarbera and Matt Barber (with only two other people) providing the protest anti-protest!



From Sachi in San Diego:

Here is a link to the pics I took at the San Diego march.


From Marilyn in Seattle:


From KipEsquire in New York City:

From Arbitrary.Marks in Austin, TX:

From our own Daniel Gonzales in Ventura, CA:

From Adrienne Critcher in Shreveport, LA:

“We had a great rally downtown in Shreveport, LA in front of the Caddo Parish Courthouse (seen in the movie “W”). Shreveport is located in very conservative Northwest Louisiana, close to both Texas and Arkansas. There were over 150 people present with great signs. The event was sponsored by the Louisiana State University in Shreveport Gay-Straight Alliance and P.A.C.E. (Political Action Council for Equality – www.loveandletlove.org ). Lots of young people and the media there too! A great success!!”

From Bill and Robert in Pasadena, CA:


About 400 or so people came to the rally in Pasadena, CA. We heard from a minister from All Saints Church, an African-American who was once firehosed during a civil rights protest in the South, a Mormon opposed to Prop 8, gay husbands, and lesbian moms. We marched from City Hall down Colorado Blvd. to Old Pasadena and back. Lots of people honked their horns in support, and I didn’t hear one homophobic word from anyone driving by.

North Carolina Home Destroyed In Anti-Gay Arson

Jim Burroway

November 11th, 2008

A fire destroyed Catawba, North Carolina home Friday night, and authorities are investigating it as a hate crime. The nearby Newton Observer News Enterprise takes it from there:

Melvin Whistlehunt was at work when he got a call from his mother at 2:30 a.m. Friday that his home was engulfed in flames. As firefighters began hosing down the house at 1275 Buffalo Shoals Road, it became clear the home was set on fire intentionally. What they found launched an immediate hate crime investigation.

The fire was intense, but it didn’t keep Jason Drum, chief of the Bandys Crossroads Volunteer Fire Department, from noticing graffiti written across the back of the brick home within five minutes of arrival. Someone used white spray paint to write a derogatory message referring to sexual orientation and race.

Drum asked Whistlehunt’s mother, who lives next door, if the graffiti had been there. She told him it was new.

Whistlehunt said everyone who knows him is aware he’s gay, but few people have outwardly criticized him for it. “I don’t know of anybody who would go this far,” he said.

Raleigh, NC Pair Charged With Sodomy

Jim Burroway

May 25th, 2008

… even though Lawrence vs. Texas invalidated out all sodomy laws in the U.S. nearly five years ago.

What’s worse, Nelson Keith Sloan, 40, was charged after calling police to his apartment complaining of an assault. Also charged, Ryan Christopher Flynn, 25, who was also charged with assault in addition to sodomy.

Flynn is using the “he asked for it” defense, claiming that they were engaging in rough “consensual” sex, a claim that Sloan denies.

“I didn’t allow anything,” he said Saturday after being reached at home by phone. “They knew it and turned it around and arrested me. I have never been so humiliated in all my life. It’s just awful.”

Police did not charge Flynn with any sort of sexual assault.

Sloan’s outrage is completely justified. When someone is attacked and calls the police, the last thing that person expects is to be charged with a crime — in this case, a nonexistent one — unless the complainant filed a false report. One wonders how Raleigh police and the D.A. would have handled this had this been a woman attacked by a man.

Unbelievable.

Pam Spaulding has more background on recent attempts to wipe this anachronistic law off the books.

No. Carolina Baptists Expell Gay-Friendly Church

Timothy Kincaid

November 13th, 2007

myers-park.jpgThe Baptist State Convention of North Carolina has does not have many requirements for association. As the Charlotte News-Record rather concisely put it

Churches must provide financial support and not affirm homosexuality.

During their meeting last year, the Convention voted to kick out of fellowship any church that did “affirm, approve, endorse, promote, support or bless homosexual behavior”. This definition includes accepting a single gay person as a member in a church.

As a consequence, several churches dropped their affiliation with the Convention.

Myers Park Baptist Church, a Charlotte church with membership of about 2,000, decided that their 65 year association should not be let go without comment. Their pastor, Rev. Dr. H. Stephen Shoemaker, wrote the following eloquent appeal, which I am including in full:

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I appeal to you by the mercies of God to refrain from removing churches like ours from your fellowship. Christian fellowship is too divided as it is and is a scandal to Christ who prayed that we might be one.

I appeal to you as Baptists who treasure soul freedom, soul competency and the autonomy of the local church. These great Baptist principles argue on behalf of including those of minority witness and minority interpretation of scripture in its fellowship.

Our church studied the Bible, sought the Spirit of God and talked earnestly with each other for over 20 years to get to the place where we said we were “open to all and closed to none,” and fully welcomed gay and lesbian persons who wished to follow Jesus with us. We do not claim to have the whole mind of God, and we respect those whose interpretations of scripture differ. It is the spiritual freedom we offer one another.

I appeal to you as Biblical people led by the Living Spirit of God whose life is centered in Christ.

Jesus welcomed those considered outcasts and sinners by His culture and religion into the Kingdom of God drawing near. We seek — we hope — to live in His Spirit.

And we, like Peter in the Book of Acts, have overcome our original resistance to the inclusion of gay and lesbian persons as Peter overcame his resistance to accepting Gentiles into the people of God. He saw the Holy Spirit fall upon the Gentiles, he saw God working in their lives and said:

“If then God gave them the same gift that He gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could hinder God?”

We could base the unity of our fellowship on any number of issues of Biblical interpretation: speaking in tongues, war, abortion, death penalty, divorce, homosexuality, and on and on. Let us base our unity on Jesus Christ as Lord and his call to discipleship and on the competence and freedom of the individual to open scripture and interpret it for his or her life guided by the Spirit of God.

In Christ,

H. Stephen Shoemaker

In response, the Executive Committee found his church is not “in friendly cooperation with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina” and today the membership as a whole gave Myer Park Baptist the boot.