Sunday 16 September 2012

Dear Republicans: You ought to be ashamed of yourselves

You believe homosexuality is an abomination based on your interpretation of the Bible, the supposed official word of God. Homosexuals are vilified, ostracized, and in some cases murdered. Yes, murdered. Any chance you might be wrong? Any chance you or your minister might have made a mistake in deciphering just what God may have meant? After all, the results of your righteous condemnation seem to be a long way from the Jesus Christ I know, that is from the caring, accepting, and very much loving symbol of Holy Grace we should all strive for. In fact, if the results of your condemnation are murder, yes the slaying of an innocent human being, I would say that you are not carrying out the work of the Lord, I would say you have become a tool of the Devil. Yes, the Devil. For who else would take pleasure in hate, in anger, and in the murder of innocent human beings?

On June 22, 2012, Mary Kristene Chapa, 18, and her girlfriend, Mollie Olgin, 19, were both shot in the head at Violet Andrews Park in Portland, Texas. Olgin was pronounced dead at the scene. Newspapers refer to them as a lesbian couple but so far the official word is that it is not clear if this crime was motivated by the couple's sexual orientation.

Wayne Besen is a gay rights activist and founder of TWO (Truth Wins Out), an organisation dedicated to fighting anti-gay religious extremism. In the Huffington article "Why I'm Going to a Texas Vigil to Mourn a Lesbian Couple" (Jun 29/2012), Mr. Besen talks about the above incident in the larger context of promoting hatred. Chapa and Olgin were mere teenagers, innocent teenagers, and it is difficult no impossible to believe anyone could justify such actions in any way. However the far right, the extreme elements of the Republican party, the Tea Party and religious fundamentalists are doing just that. They are promoting hatred.

On June 27, 2012, MSNBC reported on the 2012 platform paper of the Texas Republican Party which states:

"We affirm that the practice of homosexuality tears at the fabric of society and contributes to the breakdown of the family unit. Homosexual behavior is contrary to the fundamental, unchanging truths that have been ordained by God, recognized by our country’s founders, and shared by the majority of Texans."

The American Family Association (AFA) is a United States non-profit organization that promotes conservative fundamentalist Christian values. Bryan Jonathan Fischer, Director of Issues Analysis for the AFA, hosts the talk radio program Focal Point on American Family Radio and posts on the AFA-run blog Rightly Concerned. In 2010, the Southern Poverty Law Center accorded the AFA the designation of a hate group for remarks such as the following.

"Homosexuality gave us Adolph Hitler, and homosexuals in the military gave us the Brown Shirts, the Nazi war machine and six million dead Jews."
-Bryan Fischer, AFA director of issue analysis for government and public policy, 2010

"If President Obama, Congressional Democrats, and homosexual activists get their wish, your son or daughter may be forced to share military showers and barracks with active and open homosexuals who may very well view them with sexual interest."
-AFA press release, February 2010

"Homosexuality is not only harmful to homosexuals themselves, but also to children and to society."
-Stephen Bennett, AFA writer, 2004

"As with smoking, homosexual behavior's ‘second hand' effects threaten public health….Thus, individuals who choose to engage in homosexual behavior threaten not only their own lives, but the lives of the general population."
-Gary Glenn, president of Michigan chapter of AFA, 2001

"[T]he homosexual lifestyle is characterized by anonymous sexual encounters and celebration of sexual obsession and perversion unparalleled in any other social group."
-Richard Howe, "Homosexuality in America," AFA publication, 1994

In 2010, the Southern Poverty Law Center published the paper "Anti-Gay Hate Crimes: Doing the Math" which states:

We compared the rate of victimization for homosexuals to that of the other groups. The figures show that homosexuals are 2.4 times more likely to suffer a violent hate crime attack than Jews (8.3 divided by 3.5). In the same way, gays are 2.6 times more likely to be attacked than blacks; 4.4 times more likely than Muslims; 13.8 times more likely than Latinos; and 41.5 times more likely than whites, according to the FBI figures. The basic pattern holds by years as well as across the years.

The bottom line: Homosexuals are far more likely than any other minority group in the United States to be victimized by violent hate crime.

The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act
Matthew Shepard was beaten to death in 1998 because he was gay. James Byrd was dragged to his death behind a truck because he was black. On October 22, 2009 President Barack Obama signed this act into law expanding the 1969 United States federal hate-crime law to include crimes motivated by a victim's actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.

There are a number of stories about gays being bullied. Where did the bullies get the idea to mistreat gays? Tyler Clementi, a student at Rutgers University committed suicide in 2010 after being outed on the Internet. 13 year old Asher Brown shot himself in the head after constant harassment by fellow students accusing him of being gay. Seth Walsh of Tehachapi, California, an openly gay eleven year old hung himself from a tree in his family's backyard after numerous bullying incidents. Billy Lucas, 15, of Greensburg, Indiana took his life by hanging himself from the family barn's rafters.

Aint no homos going to make it to heaven
How far do we collectively have to go on this issue? Back in May 2012 a video was posted on YouTube (see below at end of this article) showing a church service at the Apostolic Truth Tabernacle Church in Greensburg, Indiana during which a young child sings, "I know the Bible’s right, somebody’s wrong...ain't no homos gunna make it to heaven." The congregation then applauds this performance. Imagine how proud Mom and Dad must be that their five year old son is learning their hatred by heart. What's he going to be like when he grows up? Heck, just imagine if their son turns out to be gay himself. That's gunna be one messed up kid.

How are you going to vote on November 6, 2012?
While the Texas Republican Party minced no words in condemning homosexuality, the national party was slightly more circumspect. I read from page 10 of the 2012 Republican Platform:

[The court-ordered redefinition of marriage... is an assault on the foundations of our society, challenging the institution which, for thousands of years in virtually every civilization, has been entrusted with the rearing of children and the transmission of cultural values.

That is why Congressional Republicans took the lead in enacting the Defense of Marriage Act, affirming the right of States and the federal government not to recognize same-sex relationships licensed in other jurisdictions.

We reaffirm our support for a Constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

see my blog: The 2012 Republican Platform: Are ya scared yet?

On the other hand, the Democrats have a completely different take on the issues. I read from pages 17 and 18 of the 2012 Democratic Platform:

The President’s record, from ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in full cooperation with our military leadership, to passing the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, to ensuring same-sex couples can visit each other in the hospital, reflects Democrats’ belief that all Americans deserve the same chance to pursue happiness, earn a living, be safe in their communities, serve their country, and take care of the ones they love. The Administration has said that the word ‘family’ in immigration includes LGBT relationships in order to protect bi-national families threatened with deportation.
We support the right of all families to have equal respect, responsibilities, and protections under the law. We support marriage equality and support the movement to secure equal treatment under law for same-sex couples.

see my blog: The 2012 Democratic Platform: yes you still can

Final Word
The stories of Matthew Shepard and James Byrd are unbelievably horrifying. It is unfathomable how anyone could justify in their own head committing such cruel acts of violence against another human being. The shooting of the above two teenage girls and even the suicides because of bullying remind me that despite our best collective efforts in doing good, we are capable of the basest, foulest, most disgusting things. Animals kill for food. Animals fight to protect their territory. Humans have expanded on this to cover cruelty under the guise of God's word. God's word? This isn't Christianity. This isn't pious behaviour.

I am now certifying that the far right, the Tea Party and yes the Republican Party are completely nuts. This anti-gay stance is absolutely outrageous and has to be the most un-Christian thing I've seen in my life. These people with their extremist hateful views are destroying America. If anybody complains about the extremists at work elsewhere in the world, we all need to recognise that extremism is growing right here at home, an extremism which is intolerant of anything not like it. The world is a big place and it is a diverse place. We have different races, religions, colours, and sexual orientation. Instead of fighting amongst ourselves, we need to pull together and solve the bigger picture problems. Cancer, the economy, and global warming are just a few of those bigger problems we need to concern ourselves about, not sexual orientation. At the end of the day, we are all human beings, we are all the same. Yes we're all different and we're all unique but we are all human beings.

While American Family Association quoted above seem to suggest that homosexuals are all going to hell, I am surprised at how people who portray themselves as being well versed in the word of God seem to have forgotten St. John, chapter 8, verse 7:

Let he who is without sin among you, cast the first stone at her.

The Lord will forgive even if the far right will not.


Wikipedia: Truth Wins Out
Truth Wins Out (TWO) is an organization formed by Wayne Besen to fight what it considers "anti-gay religious extremism", especially the ex-gay movement. TWO states that religious groups claiming that they have "cured" individuals of homosexuality are a hoax, and are, in fact, dangerous to society.

Wikipedia: Wayne Besen
Wayne Besen is an American gay rights advocate. He is a former spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign and the founder of Truth Wins Out.

Wikipedia: Homosexuals Anonymous
Homosexuals Anonymous (HA) is a group which practices conversion therapy to change the sexual orientation of homosexual or bisexual clients. This is in opposition to the mainstream scientific view that there is no evidence that sexual orientation can be changed and that such attempts can be harmful. In line with HA's view of Christian teaching, HA regards heterosexuality as "the universal creation-norm" and homosexuality as "sexual brokenness that may be healed through faith in Jesus Christ." This approach is characterized by pressuring a person to "renounce homosexuality" and "become a heterosexual Christian."

Colin Cook and Douglas McIntyre, who had both struggled with same-sex attractions, founded HA in 1980 with financial support from the Seventh-day Adventist denomination. HA uses a 14-step program developed by Cook, based on his own experiences. Cook resigned in 1986 following a scandal involving him allegedly having sex with 12 out of the 14 male clients interviewed from 1980 to 1986.

Google search: mollie judith olgin and mary kristene chapa

Huffington - Jun 28/2012
Why I'm Going to a Texas Vigil to Mourn a Lesbian Couple by Wayne Bensen
The more victories the LGBT movement racks up, the more vicious our opponents become. When I look at the anti-gay extremism in 2012, I'm reminded of 1998's "Summer of Hate," which began with a national "ex-gay" advertising campaign, escalated with a flurry of anti-gay legislation in Congress, and ended with the horrifying death of University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard.

Wikipedia: Matthew Sheppard
Matthew Wayne Shepard (December 1, 1976 – October 12, 1998) was a student at the University of Wyoming who was tortured and murdered near Laramie, Wyoming, U.S.A., in October 1998. He was attacked on the night of October 6–7, and died at Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado, on October 12 from severe head injuries.

During a pre-trial hearing, a Laramie police officer testified that the violence against Shepard was due to how the attacker "[felt] about gays," per an interview of the attacker's girlfriend who said she received that explanation. Shepard's murder brought national and international attention to the contention of hate crime legislation at the state and federal levels.

Wikipedia: Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act
The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, also known as the Matthew Shepard Act, is an American Act of Congress, passed on October 22, 2009, and signed into law by President Barack Obama on October 28, 2009, as a rider to the National Defense Authorization Act for 2010 (H.R. 2647). Conceived as a response to the murders of Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., the measure expands the 1969 United States federal hate-crime law to include crimes motivated by a victim's actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.

Wikipedia: Murder of James Byrd, Jr.
James Byrd, Jr. (May 2, 1949 – June 7, 1998) was an African-American who was murdered by three white men, of whom at least two were white supremacists, in Jasper, Texas, on June 7, 1998. Shawn Berry, Lawrence Brewer, and John King dragged Byrd behind a pick-up truck along an asphalt road. Byrd, who remained conscious throughout most of the ordeal, was killed when his body hit the edge of a culvert, severing his right arm and head. The murderers drove on for another mile before dumping his torso in front of an African-American cemetery in Jasper.

HuffPost - May 3-/2012
Child's 'Ain't No Homos Gonna Make It To Heaven' Church Performance Goes Viral
Disturbing footage of what appears to be a young child's choral performance is going viral in the blogosphere. The congregation in the church, which has been identified as the Apostolic Truth Tabernacle Church in Greensburg, Ind., gives a standing ovation after the child sings, "I know the Bible’s right, somebody’s wrong...ain't no homos gonna make it to heaven."

Published on May 29, 2012 by djangosghost
Aint no homos going to make it to heaven


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