Monday, March 31, 2008

The Limits of Free Speech

I'm a little late in covering this story but Michael Marcavage of Repent America has been found guilty of Disorderly Conduct for taking street preaching a little too far.

As usual, accounts vary:

WorldNet Daily has this to say:

Just last Halloween, Michael Marcavage was again arrested, this time in Salem, Mass., as he preached on a public sidewalk to thousands of Halloween revelers concerning the wages of sin and separation from God. Because Marcavage was using a megaphone – even though allowed by municipal law during the time in question – he was arrested and charged with "disorderly conduct."
Naturally, they see the fault lying in Salem's unique culture:

The real problem in modern Salem – where policemen and firemen proudly wear insignia declaring Salem as "the Witch City" – is that those who practice witchcraft and the occult obviously do not like to hear a message of Christianity and might react violently to what they do not want to hear. In some strange twist of logic, the judge justified the police's decision to silence a Christian based on the dark festivities of that "unique day."
Well, as resident of Salem, let me tell you. The police are right. Halloween is a very special day in Salem. And believe me when I tell you, the police were very, very concerned about the possibility of a riot.

According to the Judge who heard the case:

"Halloween in Salem is a unique day of the year, It's a very small community, and you have 60,000 to 80,000 people crammed into a very tight space. In this day and age, we have to be very careful of controlling crowds."
Now I will yield no one in my support for free speech. But until you have seen 80,000 people congregate in the downtown area of this small city, you cannot imagine how close we came to disaster.

"It had turned into a fiasco, ... He said people were yelling and screaming, arguing over matters of faith and then over the police response, on an already chaotic night when police were also trying to deal with a shooting and a couple of stabbings. The crowd around the officers ... , was becoming hostile.

Prince, the prosecutor, said police were trying to defuse an escalating situation, out of concerns about how the crowd was reacting to the group's message and approach.

Lawyer Benjamin DuPre argued that the tape shows that Marcavage and the group had not been harassing people or getting in their faces, nor were they waving crucifixes — which apparently belonged to a nearby group of Roman Catholic protesters. He argued that prosecutors had no evidence to prove that the group was being disorderly.

But the judge disagreed.

"What I saw on that tape was defiance and basically passive-aggressiveness," Uhlarik said. "It was not a good decision by your client."

He also said it appeared that police had "exhibited a good amount of discretion, respecting the rights of your client." Marcavage, said the judge, was still free to preach. And, the judge said, he's welcome back in Salem this Halloween.

Marcavage said outside court that he believes the police "took the law into their own hands" by cutting off his preaching that night and said the order to turn over the bullhorn was unlawful.

The Salem News version is here:

WorldNutDaily's is here.

"The Police took the law into their own hands"?

Amazing Grace !

Today is the last day of Women's History Month.

As an IT professional and former computer programmer in one of the world's most male-dominated fields, I would like to salute the woman who may well have been the most influential person in this industry's history.

A partial list of her accomplishments:

Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, thank you for your service.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

MassResistance Named as Hate Group

From Ethan Jacobs at Bay Windows:

Brian Camenker, Amy Contrada, and the rest of the anti-gay activists at Mass Resistance have finally received some long-overdue recognition. In the most recent issue of its Intelligence Report the Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization that tracks hate groups across the country, added Mass Resistance to its list of anti-gay hate groups. Camenker and co. join the illustrious ranks of Fred Phelps’s Westboro Baptist Church and Lou Sheldon’s Traditional Values Coalition.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Southern Poverty Law Center, here is a briefing on the organization:

The Southern Poverty Law Center was founded in 1971 as a small civil rights law firm. Today, SPLC is internationally known for its tolerance education programs, its legal victories against white supremacists and its tracking of hate groups.

Located in Montgomery, Alabama – the birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement – the Southern Poverty Law Center was founded by Morris Dees and Joe Levin, two local lawyers who shared a commitment to racial equality. Its first president was civil rights activist Julian Bond.

Throughout its history, SPLC has worked to make the nation's Constitutional ideals a reality. The SPLC legal department fights all forms of discrimination and works to protect society's most vulnerable members, handling innovative cases that few lawyers are willing to take. Over three decades, it has achieved significant legal victories, including landmark Supreme Court decisions and crushing jury verdicts against hate groups.

In 1981, the Southern Poverty Law Center began investigating hate activity in response to a resurgence of groups like the Ku Klux Klan. Today the SPLC Intelligence Project monitors hate groups and tracks extremist activity throughout the U.S. It provides comprehensive updates to law enforcement, the media and the public through its quarterly magazine, Intelligence Report. Staff members regularly conduct training sessions for police, schools, and civil rights and community groups, and they often serve as experts at hearings and conferences.

To combat the causes of hate, SPLC in 1991 established Teaching Tolerance, an educational program to help K-12 teachers foster respect and understanding in the classroom. Teaching Tolerance is now one of the nation's leading providers of anti-bias resources – both in print and online. Its award-winning magazine is distributed free twice a year to more than 500,000 educators, and its innovative multimedia kits are provided at no charge to thousands of schools and community groups.

The Civil Rights Memorial, which celebrates the memory of those who died during the Civil Rights Movement, is located next to the Southern Poverty Law Center's offices. Designed by Vietnam Veterans Memorial creator Maya Lin, the striking black granite memorial draws thousands of visitors every year. The Memorial plaza is a contemplative area – a place to honor those killed during the struggle, to appreciate how far the country has come in its quest for equality, and to consider how far it has to go. A new Civil Rights Memorial Center, designed to enhance this experience, opened in October 2005.

The Southern Poverty Law Center is a nonprofit organization supported by the contributions of thousands of caring individuals. Our Annual Report and other financial information are available online. To help our fight for justice and tolerance, please read How You Can Help.

For more information on this group visit their website.

Allow me to be among the first to say that since it is now official, we should start holding those who support MassEquality accountable for contributing to hate. Hate leads to violence, and violence is always wrong. We should all be vocal about where we stand on this group and those who would support them, either by name, action, or monetarily.

Monday, March 24, 2008


Easter is a time for joy and celebration. We put on our Sunday best, go to church, and then have a big celebratory meal. Children have Easter egg hunts and baskets filled with candies. Adults revel in the joy the children feel much akin to the same feeling as watching them open gifts at Christmas.

Joy over-washes the somber tones of Easter, reminding us that in spite of all that Christ suffered at our very hands He still loves us enough to forgive us ALL our sins and grant us a seat at His table in Heaven. To me, Easter is both a time to reflect on how extreme God's love is for us that He would send His only begotten son to suffer and die at our hands, and then continue to show us love and compassion in spite of our outrageous sins against Him.

Christ came back to give us the message that no sin is too great to be forgiven, not even killing the son of God. The example He chose and lived out had to be this extreme in order for us to see clearly that there are no exceptions to His grace, it is all encompassing. No human action is worthy of God's grace, so it is given freely.

He is alive in all of us who believe in His ways, and it is up to us to bring His light into the lives of others who may not have seen it, or have forgotten through the turmoil of their own life's ups and downs. Let us go forward together ever mindful that we are all brothers and sisters of the same family, remembering to first give glory to He who gave us life, then honoring our neighbors in a way that brings Him the glory He deserves.

Do not let anyone throw a stumbling block in your way when trying reach out to your neighbors. Do not let color, creed, nationality create fear that stands in the way of seeing who someone is on the inside. Our Muslim neighbors have the same need of friendship and love as we do. So it is the same for those who are trying to get into our country and are denied legal entrance on the basis of their birthplace. It is our call as Christians to be the guiding light for others to see hope, love, unity, joy, peace, and want it for themselves. We cannot be that light while we remain mired and divided in the trivialities of what is unforgivable to Christ.

Those of you who believe that God calls us to be good neighbors, be the light of Christ, live what you wish to see in others. Let us remember to continue trying to take the higher ground when ever we can and earn back this country's reputation of being God's country, "United We Stand" as one under Him.

Written on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty itself I find words to remember always:

The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,

With conquering limbs astride from land to land;

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name

Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she

With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" ~Emma Lazarus

Friday, March 21, 2008

Civil Unions First, Marriage Equality Next

From The Brown Daily Herald:

After a brief hibernation, the issue of homosexual marriage is reemerging into prominent public debate. Last month, New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine announced that he would seek to allow official marriages for same-sex couples in his state, replacing the current policy of civil unions. These unions, meant to be equivalent to marriage in all but the name, have fallen short of expectations: Employers that afford benefits to married couples have continued to deny them to civil union partners.

Roughly two-thirds of New Jersey residents would like to see the civil union policy replaced by full marriage equality. But Corzine has prudently decided to wait until after the coming presidential election to push for the new measure, recalling how the 2004 promulgation of gay marriage in Massachusetts helped mobilize right-wing sentiment and re-elect George W. Bush. For some, this isn't fast enough. Gay rights groups that have criticized the shortcomings of civil unions are eager to rectify a statute that has placed a significant burden on the gay community. But moving ahead on this initiative before November 4 would be courting disaster for all progressive goals.

This same argument is going on in all of the states that have had some form of marriage equality. Once people see that their GLBT neighbors are good people of their own right there is little reason to have a second class form of marriage. Civil Unions may be well intended, but they protect nothing and only serve to undermine equality. If all the rights are truly the same where is the need for a different name to call it by? We can only hope that good people don't allow themselves to be fooled by other people who wish to continue our bigoted and insensitive ways. We need change in order to grow. Being cautious of changes is healthy, but being so cautious that you attempt to write your beliefs into a constitution so that it would be more difficult for future generations to make their own laws is irresponsible.

Obama: From Crisis to Crowning Achievement

From Wayne Besen's blog we have:

It had been a devastating week for Barack Obama. The rationale for his entire campaign was hope and reconciliation. Yet, for days, his former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright, was shown on television delivering rabid and racially insensitive sermons denouncing America. Rightfully sensing his candidacy may be history if he did not respond, Obama answered with a spine-tingling, tear-evoking historical speech that was so remarkable, it drew comparisons to addresses made by Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy.

Read the rest of Besen's article at his website from the link provided above.

Many people have come forward to say that Obama should have taken action and found another pastor a long time ago. For many people their church and their congregation are like family, and they are hard to turn away from. That being said Obama's ability to point us in the right direction when the slings and arrows are flying indicates to me that we have a truly visionary leader on our hands. How people handle pressure is of the utmost importance, but when you can turn it around so that you have the whole world contemplating your message, that is someone worth our consideration.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

DOMA Used to Deny Passport of Volunteer AIDS Educator Traveling to Africa

The Defense of Marriage Act has been used to lash out at married gay man and deny him a passport. Here is a blurb from Bay Windows:

The passport was denied because the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) only recognizes heterosexual marriages for federal purposes. "Therefore, the marriage certificate issued by Sudbury, Massachusetts, which you have submitted in support of your name change, is not acceptable as evidence for recognizing an immediate name change on the basis of marriage," the U.S. Department of State informed Hair-Wynn in its letter, a copy of which Hair-Wynn provided to Bay Windows. Ironically, the letter addressed Hair-Wynn by his married name.

Hair-Wynn was shocked. "I just sat there and I was like, I can’t even process this," said Hair-Wynn, 26. "It’s so different when you see it in writing and a professional form and I just kept thinking, ’Wow, this is legal discrimination. This is absurd.’"

This action by our federal government now stands directly in the way of this man's trip he’ll be taking this summer to do HIV/AIDS and health education with youngsters in Ghana, Africa. His cause is noble, our government's intervention in this matter is a shameful reminder of just how much discrimination is still out there.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Obama's Speech Shows Clarity of Vision

Some might say that Barack Obama is too young and inexperienced to be in such a powerful position of responsibility as President of the United States. Let those who have not already made their minds up read his words and consider what our world would be like if we had a President that thought this way.

“We the people, in order to form a more perfect union.”

Two hundred and twenty one years ago, in a hall that still stands across the street, a group of men gathered and, with these simple words, launched America’s improbable experiment in democracy. Farmers and scholars; statesmen and patriots who had traveled across an ocean to escape tyranny and persecution finally made real their declaration of independence at a Philadelphia convention that lasted through the spring of 1787.

The document they produced was eventually signed but ultimately unfinished. It was stained by this nation’s original sin of slavery, a question that divided the colonies and brought the convention to a stalemate until the founders chose to allow the slave trade to continue for at least twenty more years, and to leave any final resolution to future generations.

Of course, the answer to the slavery question was already embedded within our Constitution – a Constitution that had at is very core the ideal of equal citizenship under the law; a Constitution that promised its people liberty, and justice, and a union that could be and should be perfected over time.

And yet words on a parchment would not be enough to deliver slaves from bondage, or provide men and women of every color and creed their full rights and obligations as citizens of the United States. What would be needed were Americans in successive generations who were willing to do their part – through protests and struggle, on the streets and in the courts, through a civil war and civil disobedience and always at great risk - to narrow that gap between the promise of our ideals and the reality of their time.

This was one of the tasks we set forth at the beginning of this campaign – to continue the long march of those who came before us, a march for a more just, more equal, more free, more caring and more prosperous America. I chose to run for the presidency at this moment in history because I believe deeply that we cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together – unless we perfect our union by understanding that we may have different stories, but we hold common hopes; that we may not look the same and we may not have come from the same place, but we all want to move in the same direction – towards a better future for of children and our grandchildren.

This belief comes from my unyielding faith in the decency and generosity of the American people. But it also comes from my own American story.

I am the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas. I was raised with the help of a white grandfather who survived a Depression to serve in Patton’s Army during World War II and a white grandmother who worked on a bomber assembly line at Fort Leavenworth while he was overseas. I’ve gone to some of the best schools in America and lived in one of the world’s poorest nations. I am married to a black American who carries within her the blood of slaves and slaveowners – an inheritance we pass on to our two precious daughters. I have brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, uncles and cousins, of every race and every hue, scattered across three continents, and for as long as I live, I will never forget that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible.

It’s a story that hasn’t made me the most conventional candidate. But it is a story that has seared into my genetic makeup the idea that this nation is more than the sum of its parts – that out of many, we are truly one.

more stories like thisThroughout the first year of this campaign, against all predictions to the contrary, we saw how hungry the American people were for this message of unity. Despite the temptation to view my candidacy through a purely racial lens, we won commanding victories in states with some of the whitest populations in the country. In South Carolina, where the Confederate Flag still flies, we built a powerful coalition of African Americans and white Americans.

This is not to say that race has not been an issue in the campaign. At various stages in the campaign, some commentators have deemed me either “too black” or “not black enough.” We saw racial tensions bubble to the surface during the week before the South Carolina primary. The press has scoured every exit poll for the latest evidence of racial polarization, not just in terms of white and black, but black and brown as well.

And yet, it has only been in the last couple of weeks that the discussion of race in this campaign has taken a particularly divisive turn.

On one end of the spectrum, we’ve heard the implication that my candidacy is somehow an exercise in affirmative action; that it’s based solely on the desire of wide-eyed liberals to purchase racial reconciliation on the cheap. On the other end, we’ve heard my former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, use incendiary language to express views that have the potential not only to widen the racial divide, but views that denigrate both the greatness and the goodness of our nation; that rightly offend white and black alike.

I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Reverend Wright that have caused such controversy. For some, nagging questions remain. Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely – just as I’m sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.

But the remarks that have caused this recent firestorm weren’t simply controversial. They weren’t simply a religious leader’s effort to speak out against perceived injustice. Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country – a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America; a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam.

As such, Reverend Wright’s comments were not only wrong but divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity; racially charged at a time when we need to come together to solve a set of monumental problems – two wars, a terrorist threat, a falling economy, a chronic health care crisis and potentially devastating climate change; problems that are neither black or white or Latino or Asian, but rather problems that confront us all.

more stories like thisGiven my background, my politics, and my professed values and ideals, there will no doubt be those for whom my statements of condemnation are not enough. Why associate myself with Reverend Wright in the first place, they may ask? Why not join another church? And I confess that if all that I knew of Reverend Wright were the snippets of those sermons that have run in an endless loop on the television and You Tube, or if Trinity United Church of Christ conformed to the caricatures being peddled by some commentators, there is no doubt that I would react in much the same way

But the truth is, that isn’t all that I know of the man. The man I met more than twenty years ago is a man who helped introduce me to my Christian faith, a man who spoke to me about our obligations to love one another; to care for the sick and lift up the poor. He is a man who served his country as a U.S. Marine; who has studied and lectured at some of the finest universities and seminaries in the country, and who for over thirty years led a church that serves the community by doing God’s work here on Earth – by housing the homeless, ministering to the needy, providing day care services and scholarships and prison ministries, and reaching out to those suffering from HIV/AIDS.

In my first book, Dreams From My Father, I described the experience of my first service at Trinity:

“People began to shout, to rise from their seats and clap and cry out, a forceful wind carrying the reverend’s voice up into the rafters….And in that single note – hope! – I heard something else; at the foot of that cross, inside the thousands of churches across the city, I imagined the stories of ordinary black people merging with the stories of David and Goliath, Moses and Pharaoh, the Christians in the lion’s den, Ezekiel’s field of dry bones. Those stories – of survival, and freedom, and hope – became our story, my story; the blood that had spilled was our blood, the tears our tears; until this black church, on this bright day, seemed once more a vessel carrying the story of a people into future generations and into a larger world. Our trials and triumphs became at once unique and universal, black and more than black; in chronicling our journey, the stories and songs gave us a means to reclaim memories that we didn’t need to feel shame about…memories that all people might study and cherish – and with which we could start to rebuild.”

That has been my experience at Trinity. Like other predominantly black churches across the country, Trinity embodies the black community in its entirety – the doctor and the welfare mom, the model student and the former gang-banger. Like other black churches, Trinity’s services are full of raucous laughter and sometimes bawdy humor. They are full of dancing, clapping, screaming and shouting that may seem jarring to the untrained ear. The church contains in full the kindness and cruelty, the fierce intelligence and the shocking ignorance, the struggles and successes, the love and yes, the bitterness and bias that make up the black experience in America.

more stories like thisAnd this helps explain, perhaps, my relationship with Reverend Wright. As imperfect as he may be, he has been like family to me. He strengthened my faith, officiated my wedding, and baptized my children. Not once in my conversations with him have I heard him talk about any ethnic group in derogatory terms, or treat whites with whom he interacted with anything but courtesy and respect. He contains within him the contradictions – the good and the bad – of the community that he has served diligently for so many years.

I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother – a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.

These people are a part of me. And they are a part of America, this country that I love.

Some will see this as an attempt to justify or excuse comments that are simply inexcusable. I can assure you it is not. I suppose the politically safe thing would be to move on from this episode and just hope that it fades into the woodwork. We can dismiss Reverend Wright as a crank or a demagogue, just as some have dismissed Geraldine Ferraro, in the aftermath of her recent statements, as harboring some deep-seated racial bias.

But race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now. We would be making the same mistake that Reverend Wright made in his offending sermons about America – to simplify and stereotype and amplify the negative to the point that it distorts reality.

The fact is that the comments that have been made and the issues that have surfaced over the last few weeks reflect the complexities of race in this country that we’ve never really worked through – a part of our union that we have yet to perfect. And if we walk away now, if we simply retreat into our respective corners, we will never be able to come together and solve challenges like health care, or education, or the need to find good jobs for every American.

Understanding this reality requires a reminder of how we arrived at this point. As William Faulkner once wrote, “The past isn’t dead and buried. In fact, it isn’t even past.” We do not need to recite here the history of racial injustice in this country. But we do need to remind ourselves that so many of the disparities that exist in the African-American community today can be directly traced to inequalities passed on from an earlier generation that suffered under the brutal legacy of slavery and Jim Crow.

more stories like thisSegregated schools were, and are, inferior schools; we still haven’t fixed them, fifty years after Brown v. Board of Education, and the inferior education they provided, then and now, helps explain the pervasive achievement gap between today’s black and white students.

Legalized discrimination - where blacks were prevented, often through violence, from owning property, or loans were not granted to African-American business owners, or black homeowners could not access FHA mortgages, or blacks were excluded from unions, or the police force, or fire departments – meant that black families could not amass any meaningful wealth to bequeath to future generations. That history helps explain the wealth and income gap between black and white, and the concentrated pockets of poverty that persists in so many of today’s urban and rural communities.

A lack of economic opportunity among black men, and the shame and frustration that came from not being able to provide for one’s family, contributed to the erosion of black families – a problem that welfare policies for many years may have worsened. And the lack of basic services in so many urban black neighborhoods – parks for kids to play in, police walking the beat, regular garbage pick-up and building code enforcement – all helped create a cycle of violence, blight and neglect that continue to haunt us.

This is the reality in which Reverend Wright and other African-Americans of his generation grew up. They came of age in the late fifties and early sixties, a time when segregation was still the law of the land and opportunity was systematically constricted. What’s remarkable is not how many failed in the face of discrimination, but rather how many men and women overcame the odds; how many were able to make a way out of no way for those like me who would come after them.

But for all those who scratched and clawed their way to get a piece of the American Dream, there were many who didn’t make it – those who were ultimately defeated, in one way or another, by discrimination. That legacy of defeat was passed on to future generations – those young men and increasingly young women who we see standing on street corners or languishing in our prisons, without hope or prospects for the future. Even for those blacks who did make it, questions of race, and racism, continue to define their worldview in fundamental ways. For the men and women of Reverend Wright’s generation, the memories of humiliation and doubt and fear have not gone away; nor has the anger and the bitterness of those years. That anger may not get expressed in public, in front of white co-workers or white friends. But it does find voice in the barbershop or around the kitchen table. At times, that anger is exploited by politicians, to gin up votes along racial lines, or to make up for a politician’s own failings.

And occasionally it finds voice in the church on Sunday morning, in the pulpit and in the pews. The fact that so many people are surprised to hear that anger in some of Reverend Wright’s sermons simply reminds us of the old truism that the most segregated hour in American life occurs on Sunday morning. That anger is not always productive; indeed, all too often it distracts attention from solving real problems; it keeps us from squarely facing our own complicity in our condition, and prevents the African-American community from forging the alliances it needs to bring about real change. But the anger is real; it is powerful; and to simply wish it away, to condemn it without understanding its roots, only serves to widen the chasm of misunderstanding that exists between the races.

more stories like thisIn fact, a similar anger exists within segments of the white community. Most working- and middle-class white Americans don’t feel that they have been particularly privileged by their race. Their experience is the immigrant experience – as far as they’re concerned, no one’s handed them anything, they’ve built it from scratch. They’ve worked hard all their lives, many times only to see their jobs shipped overseas or their pension dumped after a lifetime of labor. They are anxious about their futures, and feel their dreams slipping away; in an era of stagnant wages and global competition, opportunity comes to be seen as a zero sum game, in which your dreams come at my expense. So when they are told to bus their children to a school across town; when they hear that an African American is getting an advantage in landing a good job or a spot in a good college because of an injustice that they themselves never committed; when they’re told that their fears about crime in urban neighborhoods are somehow prejudiced, resentment builds over time.

Like the anger within the black community, these resentments aren’t always expressed in polite company. But they have helped shape the political landscape for at least a generation. Anger over welfare and affirmative action helped forge the Reagan Coalition. Politicians routinely exploited fears of crime for their own electoral ends. Talk show hosts and conservative commentators built entire careers unmasking bogus claims of racism while dismissing legitimate discussions of racial injustice and inequality as mere political correctness or reverse racism.

Just as black anger often proved counterproductive, so have these white resentments distracted attention from the real culprits of the middle class squeeze – a corporate culture rife with inside dealing, questionable accounting practices, and short-term greed; a Washington dominated by lobbyists and special interests; economic policies that favor the few over the many. And yet, to wish away the resentments of white Americans, to label them as misguided or even racist, without recognizing they are grounded in legitimate concerns – this too widens the racial divide, and blocks the path to understanding.

This is where we are right now. It’s a racial stalemate we’ve been stuck in for years. Contrary to the claims of some of my critics, black and white, I have never been so naïve as to believe that we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single election cycle, or with a single candidacy – particularly a candidacy as imperfect as my own.

more stories like thisBut I have asserted a firm conviction – a conviction rooted in my faith in God and my faith in the American people – that working together we can move beyond some of our old racial wounds, and that in fact we have no choice is we are to continue on the path of a more perfect union.

For the African-American community, that path means embracing the burdens of our past without becoming victims of our past. It means continuing to insist on a full measure of justice in every aspect of American life. But it also means binding our particular grievances – for better health care, and better schools, and better jobs - to the larger aspirations of all Americans -- the white woman struggling to break the glass ceiling, the white man whose been laid off, the immigrant trying to feed his family. And it means taking full responsibility for own lives – by demanding more from our fathers, and spending more time with our children, and reading to them, and teaching them that while they may face challenges and discrimination in their own lives, they must never succumb to despair or cynicism; they must always believe that they can write their own destiny.

Ironically, this quintessentially American – and yes, conservative – notion of self-help found frequent expression in Reverend Wright’s sermons. But what my former pastor too often failed to understand is that embarking on a program of self-help also requires a belief that society can change.

The profound mistake of Reverend Wright’s sermons is not that he spoke about racism in our society. It’s that he spoke as if our society was static; as if no progress has been made; as if this country – a country that has made it possible for one of his own members to run for the highest office in the land and build a coalition of white and black; Latino and Asian, rich and poor, young and old -- is still irrevocably bound to a tragic past. But what we know -- what we have seen – is that America can change. That is true genius of this nation. What we have already achieved gives us hope – the audacity to hope – for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

In the white community, the path to a more perfect union means acknowledging that what ails the African-American community does not just exist in the minds of black people; that the legacy of discrimination - and current incidents of discrimination, while less overt than in the past - are real and must be addressed. Not just with words, but with deeds – by investing in our schools and our communities; by enforcing our civil rights laws and ensuring fairness in our criminal justice system; by providing this generation with ladders of opportunity that were unavailable for previous generations. It requires all Americans to realize that your dreams do not have to come at the expense of my dreams; that investing in the health, welfare, and education of black and brown and white children will ultimately help all of America prosper.

In the end, then, what is called for is nothing more, and nothing less, than what all the world’s great religions demand – that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Let us be our brother’s keeper, Scripture tells us. Let us be our sister’s keeper. Let us find that common stake we all have in one another, and let our politics reflect that spirit as well.

more stories like thisFor we have a choice in this country. We can accept a politics that breeds division, and conflict, and cynicism. We can tackle race only as spectacle – as we did in the OJ trial – or in the wake of tragedy, as we did in the aftermath of Katrina - or as fodder for the nightly news. We can play Reverend Wright’s sermons on every channel, every day and talk about them from now until the election, and make the only question in this campaign whether or not the American people think that I somehow believe or sympathize with his most offensive words. We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she’s playing the race card, or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the general election regardless of his policies.

We can do that.

But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we’ll be talking about some other distraction. And then another one. And then another one. And nothing will change.

That is one option. Or, at this moment, in this election, we can come together and say, “Not this time.” This time we want to talk about the crumbling schools that are stealing the future of black children and white children and Asian children and Hispanic children and Native American children. This time we want to reject the cynicism that tells us that these kids can’t learn; that those kids who don’t look like us are somebody else’s problem. The children of America are not those kids, they are our kids, and we will not let them fall behind in a 21st century economy. Not this time.

This time we want to talk about how the lines in the Emergency Room are filled with whites and blacks and Hispanics who do not have health care; who don’t have the power on their own to overcome the special interests in Washington, but who can take them on if we do it together.

This time we want to talk about the shuttered mills that once provided a decent life for men and women of every race, and the homes for sale that once belonged to Americans from every religion, every region, every walk of life. This time we want to talk about the fact that the real problem is not that someone who doesn’t look like you might take your job; it’s that the corporation you work for will ship it overseas for nothing more than a profit.

This time we want to talk about the men and women of every color and creed who serve together, and fight together, and bleed together under the same proud flag. We want to talk about how to bring them home from a war that never should’ve been authorized and never should’ve been waged, and we want to talk about how we’ll show our patriotism by caring for them, and their families, and giving them the benefits they have earned.

more stories like thisI would not be running for President if I didn’t believe with all my heart that this is what the vast majority of Americans want for this country. This union may never be perfect, but generation after generation has shown that it can always be perfected. And today, whenever I find myself feeling doubtful or cynical about this possibility, what gives me the most hope is the next generation – the young people whose attitudes and beliefs and openness to change have already made history in this election.

There is one story in particularly that I’d like to leave you with today – a story I told when I had the great honor of speaking on Dr. King’s birthday at his home church, Ebenezer Baptist, in Atlanta.

There is a young, twenty-three year old white woman named Ashley Baia who organized for our campaign in Florence, South Carolina. She had been working to organize a mostly African-American community since the beginning of this campaign, and one day she was at a roundtable discussion where everyone went around telling their story and why they were there.

And Ashley said that when she was nine years old, her mother got cancer. And because she had to miss days of work, she was let go and lost her health care. They had to file for bankruptcy, and that’s when Ashley decided that she had to do something to help her mom.

She knew that food was one of their most expensive costs, and so Ashley convinced her mother that what she really liked and really wanted to eat more than anything else was mustard and relish sandwiches. Because that was the cheapest way to eat.

She did this for a year until her mom got better, and she told everyone at the roundtable that the reason she joined our campaign was so that she could help the millions of other children in the country who want and need to help their parents too.

Now Ashley might have made a different choice. Perhaps somebody told her along the way that the source of her mother’s problems were blacks who were on welfare and too lazy to work, or Hispanics who were coming into the country illegally. But she didn’t. She sought out allies in her fight against injustice.

Anyway, Ashley finishes her story and then goes around the room and asks everyone else why they’re supporting the campaign. They all have different stories and reasons. Many bring up a specific issue. And finally they come to this elderly black man who’s been sitting there quietly the entire time. And Ashley asks him why he’s there. And he does not bring up a specific issue. He does not say health care or the economy. He does not say education or the war. He does not say that he was there because of Barack Obama. He simply says to everyone in the room, “I am here because of Ashley.”

“I’m here because of Ashley.” By itself, that single moment of recognition between that young white girl and that old black man is not enough. It is not enough to give health care to the sick, or jobs to the jobless, or education to our children.

But it is where we start. It is where our union grows stronger. And as so many generations have come to realize over the course of the two-hundred and twenty one years since a band of patriots signed that document in Philadelphia, that is where the perfection begins.

Equality Maryland Continues Counting Signatures

Rockville - With the backing of Equality Maryland, a statewide lesbian, gay,
bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization based in Silver
Spring, a group of registered voters in Montgomery County have filed suit
against the County Board of Elections, which last week certified petitions
from anti-LGBT activists seeking to overturn an anti-discrimination law passed unanimously by the County Council last year. The certification of the petitions has prevented the gender identity anti-discrimination law from going into effect pending a November 2008 general election referendum. The individuals named in the suit include transgender residents, parents, clergy, a law enforcement officer, business owners, a civil rights leader, a child advocate, the head of a women's organization, and an individual who wishes to have her name removed from the petition because it was misrepresented to her by one of its proponents.

"Our initial review of the signatures submitted to the Board of Elections clearly demonstrates that the referendum proponents violated election law in a number of ways, and the Board of Elections did not appropriately conduct the careful review that the law requires,"
said Silver Spring-based attorney Jonathan Shurberg, who was hired by Equality Maryland to represent the clients.

"As a result, this matter will be brought before the courts in Montgomery County to ask a judge to do what has yet to be done - conduct a thorough and searching review of the petitions submitted to the Board of Elections."

Bill #23-07, sponsored by Councilmember Duchy Trachtenberg (D-At Large) and passed unanimously by the County Council, is similar to laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity enacted in more than 100 jurisdictions nationally, including 13 states and Washington, D.C. In Maryland, Baltimore City passed a similar law unanimously in 2002 and last year Gov. Martin O'Malley reissued an Executive Order to clarify that transgender-motivated discrimination will not be tolerated in the state hiring process. According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, approximately 38% of the U.S. population already lives in such a jurisdiction.

"In verifying and checking these signatures, Equality Maryland is working to ensure that fringe groups aren't able to once again thwart the democratically elected will of Montgomery County residents as they attempted to do with the sex education curriculum,"
said Executive Director Dan Furmansky. "Subjecting our transgender brothers and sisters in the County to a public campaign of inflammatory and malicious statements, followed by a popular vote on their civil rights, would devastate a group of people already subjected to alarming rates of discrimination and violence. Nevertheless, while we believe we will prevail in court, should the referendum qualify for the ballot, we are confident that the people of Montgomery County will vote 'yes' to uphold the anti-discrimination law in November."

The Washington Transgender Needs Assessment survey estimates that 42% of transgender people in the DC Metro Area are unemployed; 31% have incomes of less than $10,000/year; and 19% do not have their own living space. The mostcommon barriers cited by those who lack housing are their economic situation (38%), housing staff insensitivity or hostility to transgender people (29%), estrangement from birth family (27%) and lack of employment (23%).

Equality Maryland is Maryland's largest LGBT civil rights organization, focused on making life better for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender citizens of Maryland. Equality Maryland works to secure and protect the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Marylanders by promoting legislative initiatives on the state, county and municipal levels and educating the public about the issues faced by our diverse community.

Truth, Transparency, and Disclosure Needed in Our Government

When someone wants to know the facts behind something in which the government has the information, where does that person turn? One might think that the source of the information would be the best place to look, but what if the source is unwilling to co-operate? Here are some examples:

In 2005 rampant fraud was committed and proven during the collection of signatures for the failed anti-gay marriage petition. A criminal investigation was allegedly initiated, but where is it now? Martha Coakely's office has been unwilling to even respond to the inquiry, let alone come forward with what is supposed to be public knowledge. When trying to follow up on this "investigation" I can't even get the name of the person who was supposedly in charge of it.

In 2007 Barry Scott was assaulted by police officers in Provincetown, then he was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, and disturbing the peace. There were four police officers present at the time of arrest, yet when I called the police department I was given the names of only two, as if there were only two present. I would have thought the omission was accidental until I tried to obtain a copy of all police reports, and was denied. The names of the two policemen who were withheld also happened to be the part-time summer officers, who's training has come under question.

Police reports are a matter of public record and are made available to the public upon request. Denying this request is a violation of the law; when law enforcement officials put themselves above the law they are sworn to uphold, to whom do we turn? Don Gordon, head of the Boston Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project has filed a freedom of information act in order to force the report into public view. Who knows what was in that report, or why acting chief of police Warren Tobias would take such drastic measures to conceal it, but it seems his actions have cost him his job. Twice since then he has gone before the town administration to be voted in as chief, and twice he has been denied. He has since given his notice and is in the process of "retiring" seeing the writing on the wall.

Lastly I would cite the interesting case of Ben LaGuer. Here is a man who was convicted in 1983 by an all white all male jury of raping an elderly neighbor. A man who at only 20 years old had already been honorably discharged from the Army and had just returned from Germany with no criminal record what so ever. The sole evidence against LaGuer was her word he was the one. In spite of the fact that the jury was found to be racist by our state supreme court, in spite of the fact that the victim was known to have been schizophrenic (she thought any men of color were her attacker), and in spite of the state concealing and then losing fingerprint evidence that could have proven to us that LaGuer is innocent, those in law enforcement refuse to take another look at the facts. They have also refused to co-operate in most every way imaginable, including trying to block a DNA test that could have cleared LaGuer had the evidence not been corrupted. Why wasn't the more likely assailant who actually had a motive not investigated? Why did police take items of no consequence from LaGuer's apartment without a warrant, and why has that error not been corrected even after all these years? Why are the chain of custody papers for evidence withheld from public view? When those people charged with these duties don't perform them to our expectations, to whom do we turn? We does the public find relief and answers when even state legislators are ignored?

It's time we made it clear to our government that we want transparency. We want to be able to access public records with ease unless there is a good reason for the denial of those records. Those who break the law should be held accountable for their actions just like any other citizen. There is no job requirement from those in law enforcement that ask for them to do such things and they should not be able to use their office as a protective umbrella against the consequences of such actions.

I propose that we have legislation filed that gives clarity to citizen's expectations of public information, and what type of co-operation should be expected of our state run law enforcement facilities. That legislation should also include clear penalties for those who continue to think they can evade the eye of the public by ignoring our requests for information.

The most dangerous consequence of our inactions here would be that this failed system burdens us in some similar fashion either directly or through someone we love. If you are not concerned about these cases or any others at least take a moment to reflect on what it would be like if the system was working in this fashion against you.

As one last example, Freelance writer/activist Ed Brayton has filed a freedom of information act in order to find out how our nation settled a law suit with other countries and was denied access. Here's a link to his story HERE.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Much Ado About Nothing

Massresistance has their panties in a bunch over a non-issue. They are breathlessly reporting that the "Dutch to legalise gay sex in public park". and go on and on about the new "danger" to public morality. They are worried about this story from the Telegraph.

Dutch council officials will permit gay sex in public areas but fine dog owners who let their pets off the leash in Amsterdam's Vondelpark.
However, read the same story from another source and you will see that the truth is not what what Massreistance claims.

Dog owners in Amsterdam are angry after the city legalised public sex in one of the city's most famous parks.

Councillors agreed that heterosexual and gay couples could have sex in the Vondelpark which has ten million visitors a year
The city of Amsterdam is simply changing its rules of access to allow discreet public sex (heterosexual as well) in Vondelpark.

Dog owners however are not pleased with the new restrictions on their dogs.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Psychoanalysts' Organization Backs Same-Sex Marriage

From The Advocate:

The American Psychoanalytic Association (APsaA) announced Wednesday that it supports the legalization of same-sex marriage for gay and lesbian couples, according to a press release.

The APsaA, a professional organization composed of over 3,500 psychoanalysts in the United States, has accumulated research over the past eight years on LGBT families raising children that it says debunks previously inaccurate scientific testimony.

Charlotte Patterson, professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, has researched the development of children raised by same-sex parents. In 2006 she wrote that the results of the research of various population samples of lesbian and gay families "suggest that qualities of family relationships are more tightly linked with child [development] outcomes than is parental sexual orientation."

Read the rest of the article at the link given above. So we have evidence that suggests being gay can have something to do with hormone levels before birth at, and now we have the APA saying that gay marriage is a healthy part of social evolution. Perhaps soon we can put down the stereotypes and begin looking at each other as individuals who are afforded respect based on merit. This support is a huge step in the right direction when trying to dispell misinformation from people like James Dobson and others like him that would use misrepresentations. People are starting to question the validity of the fears conservatives accuse against the GLBT community. It's good to see America waking from it's slumber.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Explosive Interview With Oregon State Senator Gary "Gay-Hater" George

In Oregon there was a failed petition drive to prevent a law going into effect last January 1st that gave Oregonians civil unions as a maital option for same sex couples. Since this failed attempt opponents of equality are now trying to repeal the law:


State senator Gary George’s advice to the gay community? “Shut up!”

In his first media interview since coming forward as co-sponsor of the initiative to repeal the recently enacted Oregon Equality Act – an anti-discrimination law for sexual minorities – George railed against gay activists and affirmative action, and warned that if gays continued to be “oppressive toward straights,” they were in danger of “violent backlash.”

The full interview will appear in the March 21 issue of Just Out, but excerpts are included below.

Just Out: Why are you sponsoring this repeal initiative?
State senator Gary George: I’ve had people approach me for special rights for homosexuals and I don’t believe anyone should have special rights. I’ve had members of the gay community come in and ask and I’ll say I’m sorry I don’t give anyone special rights.

Just Out: What sort of special rights do you feel that the Oregon Equality Act offers?
George: First off, I thought that was a fabrication of definition, in the sense that you gave special rights, it picks out another group, a lifestyle group, and says hmm, you have all these protections. The main thing that bothered us with the whole bill was the fact that here we go again, adding one more class of people that need to have special rights.

Read the rest of this article HERE.

Please suffer through the whole article, it's worth the read in order to fully understand the depth of ignorance this man shows of himself in this public interview. Oregonians, you have some work to do in the polls against this bigot. Start looking for a retirement home Senator George, I have a feeling that you've served your last term.

Another Face of Hate

Once again I find myself having to give praise to Mark Snyder's Here is a blurb from the latest manifestation of America's bigotry in action (photo: David C. Richardson, taken from The Providence Journal) reported by Brian Rainey:

A man goes into a hardware store to buy something. He is asked by the store owner for his social security card and threatened with Immigration after speaking Spanish with his friend.

Richardson (owner of Rhode Island Refrigeration) was asked what led him to suspect that either of the men were illegal immigrants.

“What proof is there? I think the majority of people who don’t speak English in Rhode Island — at least 51 percent or more — are illegal aliens,” he said. He added, “I’m trying to wake America up. I’m trying to wake him [Genao’s friend] up, and let him be aware that people who are breaking the law shouldn’t be breaking the law.”

Mark Potok, head of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project, which tracks hate crimes in the United States, said the incident reflects the tide of anti-immigrant sentiment in this country — not solely restricted to illegal immigrants.

“This kind of thing is happening every day in this country,” said Potok. “Do we really want to bring the country to this point where everyone who is brown-skinned is suspect?

“It’s really quite incredible people can be confronted in this way,” said Potok. “We hear everyday from U.S. congressmen and television pundits and talk radio about the many terrible things brown-skinned immigrants are doing to this country — and they are almost universally false — but the reality is, they lead directly to incidents like this, and, less directly, to violence.”

The truth is the same in all Hate Crimes. Yes, this is a Hate Crime because the store owner acted out of hatred for what he thought they were (illegal aliens), not who they were (United States Citizens). This line sums up what he thinks of Hispanics:

“What proof is there? I think the majority of people who don’t speak English in Rhode Island — at least 51 percent or more — are illegal aliens,” he said.

I love the quote from the Bible Mark has at the beginning of his article:

"The resident alien who lives with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were resident aliens in the land of Egypt; I am YHWH your God." Leviticus 19:34

How much more true could this be than in America, the melting pot of the world?

UPDATE MARCH 13: It seems the Latino community isn't going to allow hatred towards it's people:

In response, the Rev. Miguel Rivera, head of the National Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders and the Rev. Eliseo Nogueras, the group’s New England vice president and head of the Hispanic Pastors Association of Rhode Island, held a news conference yesterday outside Richardson’s store.

They asked that law enforcement authorities pursue possible criminal or civil charges against Richardson for committing “a hate crime” and violating the men’s civil rights.

Somos limitados por más que la sangre, nosotros es todos los niños de dios.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Provincetown Chief Resigns

From the Provincetown Banner we find this news:

Tobias, who has been acting chief since January 2007, is leaving because, he said, the board of selectmen voted twice in executive session not to make him the permanent chief. He garnered this information directly from two of the selectmen. As a result, he did not apply for the chief’s spot when selectmen opened the application process in January. A total of 85 applications for the position were received and a consultant was retained last month to help selectmen with the hiring process.

This article paints Tobias in a favorable light, downplaying last years summer violence against GLBT vacationers as well as the incident where Barry Scott was assaulted by officers*. After Barry Scott was assaulted he was then charged with resisting arrest, a charge which has yet to be dismissed even in full light of the circumstances.

The "retirement" of acting chief Tobias is seen as a positive change to those in the GLBT community who are concerned over how Scott's case and others were handled last year. Hopefully Provincetown can find leadership that will be able to look at the facts objectively instead of trying to defend police wrong-doing even before the facts have been made clear.

*The term "assault" is used because the police did not first tell Mr. Scott he was under arrest, or ask him to co-operate. The police simply tackled him, roughed him up, and still expect to get away with it. Visit the link provided for Barry Scott to be better informed.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Massachusetts Family Institute Admits It's Fighting The Tide

Massachusetts Family Institute is the anti-GLBT rights group backed by Focus on Family doing their bidding in our state. Both groups have been sharply criticised by other groups as well as esteemed individuals such as Professor Emeritus Carol Gilligan of New York University's School of Law, about dishonest practices. During the failed attempt to write discrimination into the Constitution, the petition came under fire for signature fraud. Although the firm that handled the paid per signature gathering efforts had previously been cited for instances of signature fraud in other states, Kris Mineau (spokesman for MFI) dared act surprised.

The fraud in question caused a special hearing of the Judiciary Committee in October 2005 in which one of MFI's spokesman (Chip Faulkner) said citizens who where duped must be as "dumb as eggplants". As a result of the legitimacy of the fraud complaints legislation was proposed by Senator Edward Augustus that would prevent future public harm of similar nature.

Now MFI wants to further insult the public intelligence. They tell us that we should not support transgender rights bill H1722. The reason they give, get this, is on the off chance a sexual offender would use this law to gain access to the women's bathrooms around the state. The insult here is two fold; on one part they want us to see this cockamamie reason as meritorious enough to deny others needed protection and equality. The other insult is that we would not see through the more obvious reason for their interest; simple bigotry. We do not live in a magical world that prevents sexual predators from entering a women's bathroom simply because a transsexual's rights have been denied. To defend such a position is insanity.

MFI is the same group that found themselves at the losing end of a vote on their failed petition last June 16, then without proof had accused those legislators who changed their votes as having been bribed to change them. The number of the vote alone can tell the story; 151-45. Here is an email from MFI that someone received by them and forwarded to Live, Love, and Learn:

Further Action Needed on H1722
Email the Judiciary Committee on the Transgender Bill ASAP

Last week the Judiciary Committee held a hearing on H1722, the so-called "Transgender Rights Bill." Many more supporters of alternative sexualities than supporters of traditional values came to testify, numbering in the hundreds. In a scene that would be disturbing to most Americans, men and women dressed as the other sex paraded in and out of the Statehouse bathrooms designated for the sex opposite of their biological make-up.

From what we have heard, emails to the committee in support of H1722 far outnumber emails against it. WE MUST NOT LET THIS STAND!

We need to turn up the heat in opposition to this bill. Rumors abound that after the intense hearing last week that the bill will emerge from the committee and be taken up by the full House very soon! We need to prevent that from happening.

H1722 would add the vague category of "gender identity or expression" to the state ban on discrimination. Among the negative consequences of this law are: a) school children would be taught that they can change their gender if they want and b) women and children would be put at risk since access to sensitive areas such as single-sex bathrooms, locker rooms and women-only fitness facilities would be open to anyone, regardless of biological sex.

Please take 30 seconds to click on the link below to email the Judiciary committee:

Click the link below to log in and send your message:

Indeed, please take a moment to add your voice to those of your courageous neighbors before you. Help end discrimination once and for all by standing up for your neighbors in their time of need. Let us all pray to see the day our children can grow up proud of who they are inherently, and as a friend of mine said, when groups like Massachusetts Family Institute "can't fool enough people to stay in business".

When equality happens, and it will, there will come a day your children's children will ask what it was like before we all had equality. Will you be able to tell them you did your part when it mattered most? I hope so. Until this day comes it is comforting to know that even MFI now finally recognizes themselves as fighting the tide.

For more in depth reading about Massachusetts Family Institute CLICK HERE.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Video: Gay AND Christian

Killer Lesbians (by Paul Jamieson)

Report: Sadistic Killer Lesbians Shared Blood Lust
Friday, March 07, 2008

They drugged, bludgeoned and strangled their 16-year-old victim to death then they knelt over her lifeless, bloody body to kiss before dumping her in a wheelbarrow.

The horrific murder of Stacey Mitchell has attracted national headlines in Australia but questions remain as to why her roommates of only four days, Valerie Page Parashumti and Jessica Ellen Stasinowsky, violently attacked and killed the former Leeming High schoolgirl.

Supreme Court justice Peter Blaxell sentenced Parashumti, 19, and Stasinowsky, 21, to 24 years in jail each.

Blaxell said the "particularly horrifying and shocking" crime was devoid of a substantial motive.

"You have each had more than a year in custody to reflect upon the evilness of your crime yet you still lack remorse and obviously place no value on the sanctity of human life," he said. "There is also the added problem that you each enjoy being sexually aroused by the infliction of violence."

Stasinowsky and Parashumti, who had been together just a month, have offered no explanation or motive for the killing other than that Stacey "annoyed'' them.

One theory put to the court was that the couple appeared obsessed with proving their love for each other.

Both pleaded guilty last November to one count each of willful murder but they still do not seem to understand the gravity of their crime.

Court hearings have been punctuated with laughter, smirking and smiling.

Even during sentencing submissions in January, the couple was told twice by Blaxell to stop their light-hearted behavior as the graphic details of the crime were read.

Stacey was killed in the early hours of Dec. 18, 2006, at the Lathlain house she shared with Parashumti and Stasinowsky after running away from home 11 days earlier.

She moved in during the evening on Dec. 14, but told her parents the day before she was killed that she wanted to return home.

Police found her body four days later, upside down, in a wheelbarrow in a shed at the back of the house.

Prosecutor Dave Dempster described the killing as a sustained attack that lasted at least half an hour. He has demanded strict-security imprisonment — a non-parole period of at least 20 to 30 years.

"It appears that the deceased was killed simply because she was found to be annoying to the offenders,'' Dempster said.

A fourth housemate, David Ross John Haynes, 27, has been jailed for two years for being an accessory after the fact to the murder, which took place at his father's house.

The court heard the attack started in the kitchen after the trio had been drinking alcohol and Stacey had been slipped a sleeping pill.

Dempster said Parashumti started raining blows on Stacey while Bach's "St John's Passion" was playing throughout the house.

During the attack Parashumti complained Stacey was taking too long to die so she continued to beat her while Stasinowsky wrapped a belt chain around her neck.

The women monitored her pulse after she fell unconscious and then kissed each other over the body once she died.

Then they videotaped the blood-drenched crime scene on a mobile phone, on which they are heard mocking Stacey's English accent.

"It ends with Parashumti saying, 'I tell you man, when I was beating the f--- out of her with a rock,' and then there's laughter from Stasinowsky,'' Dempster told the court.

Neither of the two killers had serious criminal records and both were young women — Parashumti was 18 and Stasinowsky was 19 at the time of the murder.

Parashumti's lawyer, David Edwardson, said his client had never had a serious relationship before meeting Stasinowsky.

Edwardson said Parashumti had a violent family life and had also been associated with the vampire subculture since the age of 10 when she started experimenting with drinking blood. At first from her own cuts then later that of others.

He said initially Parashumti liked Stacey but the friendship quickly became strained when Stacey talked about committing suicide.

"Anyone who kills themselves obviously they don't appreciate their own lives [sic]," the court heard Parashumti told her lawyer. "I wish I had a f---ing perfect world.''

Stasinowsky too had a troubled adolescence before leaving home at 16.

As an only child of a single working mother, the court heard she felt extreme loneliness and was "emotionally barren."

Stasinowsky's lawyer Andree Horrigan said her client believed the relationship with Parashumti was "strong and solid."

"There was always this basis that she and Ms Parashumti were a unit and were conjoined essentially,'' she said. "They were a partnership.''

By all accounts, Stacey was a typical teen — outgoing, fun-loving and full of youthful spirit.
Her MySpace Web site was decorated with bright pink wallpaper of Playboy bunnies.

"My name is stacey, Im english, I love me alochol, i'm a party gurl, music is me life, i cant live with out my friends, im a very loud person, i talk 24/7, im a very down to earth person if you get to know me,[sic]'' the Web site said.

Stasinowsky and Parashumti's lawyers have both asked the judge to consider their young ages and early guilty pleas in sentencing.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Not So Fast

The (mostly men) at Concerned Women For America have a very misleading post entitled:

"Parental Rights Case Goes to the U.S. Supreme Court "

Not so fast there , Concerned Women.

If you actually read what they wrote you will see the headline is quite misleading.

Does an elementary school have the right to indoctrinate children in their view of controversial moral issues without the knowledge or consent of parents? That is the issue that the U.S. Supreme Court may decide. Matt Barber, CWA's Policy Director for Cultural Issues, speaks with David Parker, a Lexington, Massachusetts parent, who is petitioning the high court, hoping it will accept his appeal of a First Circuit Court decision on his case. In 2005, Parker was arrested at his son's school following a classroom lesson on same-sex marriage using the book King & King. The principal at Esterbrook Elementary School in Lexington defended the King & King lesson and denied parents the right to be informed about it and to opt their kids out.

While I am not a lawyer, I'll go out on a limb here and call bullshit.

The US Supreme Court is not going to hear this case. There are no circuit spits and there are no Federal Issues.

Alec Baldwin Hits Back At Brother's Anti-gay Marriage Stance

Alec Baldwin has slammed his own brother in a letter to a leading U.S. gay magazine.

The Cooler star took offence at born-again Christian Stephen's recent public comments on same-sex marriage, and decided to let the gay community know he doesn't share his sibling's beliefs.

Stephen recently called into Howard Stern's radio show, to lend his support to former U.S. presidential wannabe Mike Huckabee's campaign - and he added a stinging condemnation of homosexual marriage.

Read the rest here. Is it me or is there something fundamentally wrong with Stephen Baldwin? He says he's found God, but he shows up all the time on the Howard Stern Radio Show, which is two doors down from the Devil himself! Thank goodness for those converted to Christianity and now remind us to fear our God and hate our neighbor. What would the world be like without these important family values? Indeed, it has been fear and hate that have made this country what it is today. It's never too late people, and it starts with one person wanting to make a difference, as idealistic as that sounds we see proof to that truth all the time. Ask yourself what you can do, and help make the world a better place.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Iowa Gay Marriage Ban Defeated in House

A lawmaker's attempt to push legislation aimed at amending the Iowa Constitution to ban gay marriage failed Tuesday but will probably become a campaign issue this fall, lawmakers said.

House Minority Leader Christopher Rants sought a procedural vote to allow the proposal to skip past the typical legislative process and come up for debate in the full House. Approval of the resolution would be the Legislature's first step toward setting a public vote on amending the constitution.

The effort's failure means House Joint Resolution 8 is likely to die in committee this week. Most legislation must pass a House or Senate committee by the end of the week to remain eligible for further debate this year.

"I'm disappointed by the outcome," Rants, a Sioux City Republican, said shortly after the 50-to-46 vote split along party lines. Democrats voted against bringing up the resolution.

Democratic majority leaders have resisted debate on the resolution while the Iowa Supreme Court is considering a lower court ruling on Iowa's marriage law.

Polk County District Judge Robert Hanson ruled last year that Iowa's 1998 marriage law was unconstitutional in defining marriage as being only between a man and a woman.

Read the rest of this exciting story Desmoines Register.

Monday, March 03, 2008

It's an Ehrlich Nation!

I was with Lori Ehrlich today trying to get some photos of those who decided to come and hold signs for her in Vinnin Square today (Sunday), but had a tough time. That was because there were too many of them! More than 50 people we gleefully standing in the cold waving at car after car that honked their approval as they drove by. New England might be enchanted by the Red Sox, but at least around these parts it seems to be an Ehrlich Nation!

Remember to take time to vote on Tuesday March 4, and when you vote for Lori Ehrlich you are voting in someone who has the education, determination, and a proven background in working to make our world a better place.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

From Tragedy We Find New Hope in Our Youth

After Ellen broadcast on her show the story about little Larry King being killed many people were taken back, and there was much emotion. Very easily the elder generations could think that the act was one of a world spiraling ever more into violence, then I came across this video.

This young man is a fine example of what we need to see in our future, and I believe he is more indicative of what we can expect of his generation than the violent act which motivated his speech. I have high hopes when I see things like this, I hope you all join me in telling him what you think.

Ellen on Murder of Gay 15 Year Old By Fellow Student

For those of us who are hearing impaired:

"...I need to talk to you about something that's really serious and really sad and if you know me, it's hard to talk about sad stuff without getting emotional but this is really important to talk about. On February 12th an openly gay 15-year-old boy named Larry who was an 8th grader in Oxnard, California, was murdered by a fellow 8th grader named Brandon. Larry was killed because he was gay. Days before he was murdered, Larry asked his killer to be his Valentine.

I don't wanna be political, this is not political, I'm not a political person but this is personal to me. A boy has been killed and a number of lives have been ruined and somewhere along the line, the killer Brandon got the message that it's so threatening and so awful and so horrific that Larry would want to be his Valentine that killing Larry seemed to be the right thing to do. And when the message out there is so horrible, that to be gay you can get killed for it, we need to change the message (audience enthusiastically claps; Ellen is very choked up and overwhelmed by the the audience clapping. She's fighting back the tears, takes a deep breath - the audience is still clapping).

Larry was not a second-class citizen, I am not a second-class citizen. It is okay if you're gay (audience erupts in cheers and clapping to show their love and support). I don't care what people say, I don't care what people think, and I know there are entire groups of people who face discrimination every single day and we're a long way from treating each other equally - all of it is unacceptable, all of it!

This is what hate speech does. It creates the environment where those who are easily confused or led think it is OK to act out their hatred. Ellen is right, this boy Brandon will now have to live with the shame he killed this boy for the rest of his life. That's not to mention all the other people who will be effected by what has happened. Where are the good Christians who should come forward and denounce such violence? I'll tell you where they are, they're sitting quietly waiting for responsible leadership from their spiritual leaders. They are waiting to stand up and say this is wrong, but they don't want to stand alone knowing how volatile the subject of homosexuality is in the Church. Good people, it is time to ask yourselves, where are our heroes? Where are those people who impassioned us to be better Christians and be the living example of Christ others can find hope in?

There is a saying that we get the government we deserve. Is that also true about the Church? It's time we started raising our standards and started acting like Christians again. Talk about this boy who was killed and let people hear you say how wrong it is for people to act like this. We don't have to see eye to eye with our neighbors to live in peace, and we definitely don't have to promote an atmosphere where children are killing children.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Boycott Jamaica

From Wayne Besen's website we again find great reporting, unfortunately it is on a very grim subject:

Gay bashing in Jamaica is so prevalent that in 2006 Time Magazine wrote an article about the island headlined, "The Most Homophobic Place On Earth?" The New York Times this week showed that the anti-gay climate has only worsened, with the island caught in a downward spiral of outright psychosis. It is time to hand an ultimatum to Jamaica's public officials: Stop allowing rampant abuse of gay people or your economy will be crippled.

The Times story is downright chilling. It details how last month five gay men were having a dinner party when a mob appeared at the front door - kicking it in and attacking the men. While screaming homophobic epithets, between 15-20 thugs beat the victims senseless with sticks and cut them with machetes. One man is still missing, but police found blood at the mouth of a deep hole near the yard.

Please visit for the full report. One question I am left with is how can people treat others this way? When do people stand up and make a stand for those who cannot stand for themselves? How much worse do things have to get in order for action to be taken?

Please consider boycotting any business that brings money into Jamaica until this barbarism is addressed and ended. Unveils Four Original Videos

NEW YORK - (TWO) unveiled four new Internet videos today featuring prominent molecular biologist Dean Hamer, notable mental health expert and author Dr. Jack Drescher, ex-gay survivor Brent Almond and Nick Cavnar, who after decades left an ex-gay cult. This is the final week that the organization has released new educational videos addressing the "ex-gay" myth leading up to the March 3 launch of TWO's updated website.

In today's first video, molecular biologist Dr. Dean Hamer discusses biology, genetics and homosexuality. He also debunks the misinformation put forth by "ex-gay" organizations, such as Exodus and Focus on the Family.

In TWO's second video, Dr. Jack Drescher, America's foremost expert and scholar on GLBT mental health, answers questions on the efficacy of 'ex-gay' therapy. Drescher is a renowned scholar on issues of sexual orientation and a celebrated author.

Our third person featured is Brent Almond, who suffered through the 'ex-gay' ministries. In this video, he opens up to about his harrowing experience.

Finally, TWO interviews Nick Cavnar, a man who suppressed his sexuality, married and joined a Michigan cult that promised to cure him. This exclusive video details his long road to self-acceptance. is a non-profit organization that counters right wing propaganda, exposes the "ex-gay" myth and educates America about gay life. For more information, visit

Gay Clinton Backers Defecting to Obama

Here is an exsurpt from I'd thought readers might find interesting:

'The Young Reformer'

This time, Mixner is backing Obama. The Clintons have become ``a machine, and Obama's the young reformer,'' said Mixner, who joined Obama's campaign after initially supporting former North Carolina Senator John Edwards, 54, who dropped out of the Democratic race last month.

Musician Melissa Etheridge, who came out as a lesbian in 1993 at President Bill Clinton's Triangle Ball, the first ever inaugural event for gay men and lesbians, said earlier this month that she is backing Obama.

Hollywood mogul David Geffen, a one-time supporter of Bill Clinton, also is backing Obama. The openly gay Geffen, co-founder of the DreamWorks SKG movie studio, held a $1.3 million fundraiser for Obama last year.

Part of the popularity of Governor Patrick is his ability to look at people for who they are, and not what they are. Perhaps growing up in tough times as a young black man helped give him the insight few of privilege have. It seems he is sharing his advice with his friend Senator Obama, and people are noticing.

When good people put aside what makes us different and concentrate on what really matters, there is the potential for history to be made. Obama is made of the same stock as our Governor, and that gives me hope that he will use his abilities for our benefit, not his own. Hillary might very well make a great President, but she has had this too well planned for my liking. I wonder whether her motivation is for my good or simply to feed her own desires.