Posts Tagged As: Dallas TX

Protests Spread Outside California

Timothy Kincaid

November 9th, 2008

The passage of Proposition 8 has sparked gay outrage in a way I’ve not seen in many years.

Of the 384 contributions to either side of Proposition 8 coming from Seattle, WA, only three were to support the amendment, a total of $350. So it is fair to say that the Mormon Church in Seattle was not to any great extent responsible for the dissolution of marriage rights of California same-sex couples.

But the battle lines have been drawn. The church has shown itself willing to throw tens of millions of dollars into campaigns to deny gay couples their rights and that any one particular congregation may have been less involved is not the issue. And while gay couples in Washington are not much impacted by Tuesday’s election results, they are taking it personally.

So today dozens of supporters of marriage equality picketed a Mormon church in Seattle.

As church members and their families walked to the church for worship services, protesters chanted “shame on the church,” “equal rights” and other slogans at them.

The leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints may have thought that they had bought themselves a constitutional amendment. But along with that amendment they also purchased a change in public perception. Gay men and women throughout the nation – along with their friends, neighbors, coworkers, and family – now see the church as an enemy of civil equality.

But while the Mormon Church may not be much enjoying their new image, others are envious of the attention.

In Texas, a Baptist church announced that their next sermon would be titled “Gay is Not OK”. This might have normally resulted in a roll of eyes, but the gay community is angry and ready to be heard. So church-goers were met with protesters. Having gotten the attention they wanted, they announced that next week will be “What to say to a gay person”. The protesters will be back.

I cannot help but think that the shock and anger resulting from the passing of Proposition 8 may well light a fire in the belly of the community in a way that hasn’t been seen since Matthew Shepard.

Dallas Prosecutor Claims Spittle is Deadly Weapon

Timothy Kincaid

June 4th, 2008

Willie Campbell is not a model citizen. He’s a homeless vagrant who has been in and out of prison and he regularly resists police efforts to enforce ordinances. But now Willie will not be bothering anyone but prison guards and inmates for a very long time. Willie was just given a 35 year sentence (Dallas Morning News).

For spitting.

You see, Willie has HIV and he spit at a police officer with some of his spittal landing in the officer’s mouth and eye.

Prosecutors convinced a Dallas County jury this week that HIV-positive saliva should be considered a deadly weapon.

Now you, I, and the Centers for Disease Control all know that there have been no known cases of HIV transmittal by means of spittle. And surely the Dallas County prosecutor knew that as well.

She just didn’t care.

But Dallas County prosecutor Jenni Morse, who handled Mr. Campbell’s case, said any risk level is sufficient for the deadly weapon finding used during the trial.

“No matter how minuscule, there is some risk,” said Ms. Morse. “That means there is the possibility of causing serious bodily injury or death,” the legal definition of a deadly weapon.

No matter how minuscule? By that standard, there is nothing that would not be a deadly weapon. What about cigarette smoke? Or sneezing?

But how fairly did the jury treat this “deadly weapon” of spittal? Interestingly, we have a comparison.

Mr. Campbell’s sentence was nearly double that given the same day to a man being tried in a courtroom next door. That man, De Leon Vanegas Jr., was sentenced to 18 years in prison for giving “cheese” heroin to a 15-year-old boy who died after using the drug. The jury in that case declared heroin a deadly weapon.

I believe that Jenni Morse is unethical. In her zeal to “put away a bad guy” she was willing to deceive a jury and play on fears and stereotypes. She doesn’t seem concerned in the slightest that she has heightened false fears and made the lives of all HIV positive citizens more difficult.

Who cares? She got her guy. He’s off the streets.

Now I agree that Campbell is a nuisance. And he most certainly should be charged with any crimes he committed. But criminalizing HIV status is, to me, a greater threat to the citizens than is sleeping on a sidewalk and spitting on an officer.

Mental Illness and the I-35 “Miracle”

Jim Burroway

December 18th, 2007

I’ve already mentioned that a very good childhood friend of mine developed schizophrenia when we were in high school (he wasn’t diagnosed until his mid-twenties however, despite years of counseling). But wait, that’s not all. During a summer session in college, one of my four dorm roommates was particularly interesting. His name was Codé; he was French and rode a Peugeot bicycle around campus. We all thought something didn’t add up to his story though. There were just too many odd twists and inconsistencies. Then after about a month, he disappeared and nobody knew what happened.

Well, toward the end of the term, we finally learned that “Codé” was in a psychiatric hospital on the West Coast. He wasn’t from France, but he was from Versailles, Kentucky (where they pronounce it “ver-SAILS”). And he was bipolar. The moral: when someone is acting very strangely, there’s a good chance we’re dealing with a serious mental illness.

Warren Throckmorton has been digging further into the “Highway to Heaven” story. He talked with three principals in the story: Rev. Joe Oden of the Dallas-area Heartland World Ministries Church, Paul Strand at CBN, and Michael Johnston at Pure Life Ministries. The interesting thing that’s coming out is that they all saw clear signs of mental illness, but they all chose to ignore it. Unless there’s a worse possibility: that they are not trained to recognize it when they encounter someone who’s mentally ill.

The episode with Codé surprised all of us. But then, none of us were studying to be mental health professionals, nor did any of us pretend to participate in the neo-counseling netherworld in which so many ex-gay ministries operate. Heartland World Ministries and Pure Life are being supremely reckless when they take on the task of “counseling” those who they say are suffering from a “pathological” condition while refusing to submit themselves to professional regulation. They get away with it by saying that they’re Christian counselors, not psychologists, psychiatrists or, you know, real counselors. But they’re doing nobody any favors. What’s more, their purposeful lack of professionalism exposes them and their clients to potentially serious consequences. Heartland and Pure Life are lucky things didn’t spin tragically out of control. But the luckiest of all is James Stabile. Damn lucky.

“Highway to Holiness” Becomes Highway To Hell

Jim Burroway

December 14th, 2007

Remember the street evangelists who sought to make I-35 a Highway to Holiness? Pat Roberson enthusiastically reported on this revival effort on his television show a while back. That report prominently featured James Stabile, a young man who was supposedly cured of his homosexuality at a “purity siege” held in Dallas’ Oak Lawn gayborhood.

John Wright of the Dallas Voice has followed up on the story. He contacted Joe Oden of Heartland World Ministries Church, who was also featured in Robertson’s report, to discover what happened after Stabile was “cured”:

Oden told me Stabile had been shipped off to Pure Life Ministries, which operates a residential treatment program in Northern Kentucky.

“It’s a program for people who’ve lived alternative lifestyles just to get totally clean,” Oden told me.

Upon further investigation, I discovered Pure Life Ministries is also the place where Mike Johnston — remember him?! — is director of donor and media relations.

Johnston was the HIV-positive “ex-gay” who was featured in the anti-gay video “It’s Not Gay” before he was busted in 2003 for hosting orgies and having unsafe sex with other men on the side. (Despite all that, the American Family Association is still selling his video as if nothing every happened.)

Wright also contacted Stabile’s father, the Rev. Joseph Stabile, who is the pastor at Dallas’ oldest church, the Cochran Chapel United Methodist Church. Rev. Stabile said he’s fully accepting of his son’s sexual orientation and believes that being gay is neither a choice nor a sin. When asked what happened, he said that his son simply left home that Friday evening and never returned:

James called a few days later and told his parents he was moving out, and that he’d be back to get his stuff. James apparently had moved in with some folks from Heartland.

After that, it would be some time before James’ parents heard from him, as his church friends reportedly advised him not to contact them.

Joseph Stabile said the Heartland folks also may have advised James to throw away his medication, telling him that God would cure his bipolar disorder, too.

Joseph’s parents said James has a tendency to be less than truthful, especially when he’s off his medication, and that he loves attention. They said they don’t believe he’s ever questioned his sexuality, but that the folks from Heartland manipulated and exploited him for publicity.

Not surprisingly, James Stabile didn’t stay in the program for very long.

When James was kicked out of Pure Life, his father asked if they could provide him with a bus ticket home. After all, James had paid $2,100 up front plus $150 a week to be part of the program. Pure Life refused.

Now nearly four months after that fateful “purity seige,” Jame has returned home where he’s seeing his therapist once again and is hopefully back on his meds.

I-35 Saves!

Jim Burroway

December 1st, 2007

Some people can crack open the Bible and find just about anything. Jeff Baldwin opened Isaiah to chapter 35 and decided to that Interstate 35, which runs from Lorado, Texas to Duluth, Minnesota would be the Highway to Holiness.

Isaiah 35, I-35 — get it? Anyway they’re set to clear cities along the entire stretch of the highway of gays. And so far, they’re claiming far better success than Exodus ever dreamed of.

That’s not the first time I’ve heard claims of instantaneous “cures” for homosexuality. I wonder if Jones and Yarhouse will be looking into this?

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