Monthly Archives: February 2011

Truth* Academy Instructor Series: Greg Quinlan

truth-academy

On April 1-2, 2011, Mission America and Americans For Truth About Homosexuality (AFTAH) will be cosponsoring the second Truth* Academy in Columbus, Ohio. I thought it might be helpful to see what tone and substance attendees can expect from each of the instructors before the conference begins. You can find all of my Truth* Academy posts at this link.

Greg Quinlan of PFOX
Greg Quinlan of PFOX
Greg Quinlan’s presentation at Truth* Academy is called “Leaving homosexuality behind, and the LGBT strategy to undermine the ex-homosexual message.” It seems that he’s their “ex-gay” guru this year, as he was in 2010.

Since his role as president of PFOX (Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays) lends a certain weight to his words, it’s important to know what he says in that capacity. His appearance at the first Truth* Academy seven months ago is partially captured online thanks to Wayne Besen of Truth Wins Out.

Here’s what Besen had to say about his it Quinlan year: “The presentation was packed with misinformation, crude stereotypes and a healthy dose of gay bashing. Quinlan punctuated his sermon by claiming he wasn’t a limp wristed, flaming faggot, even while shining oh-so brightly onstage.”

“I wasn’t your flaming faggot, you know. I can say that because I’ve been there and done that. You know, the ones whose wrists are so limp that when the wind blows they slap themselves in the face. I wasn’t one of them.” (8:00—8:13)

Dealing with “ex-gay” folks can be frustrating. Even the term suggests that you can choose the gender of the people you’re attracted to, but of course that’s a lie. When you talk to them, most ex-gay industry leaders eventually concede that you can only decide not to have sex or whatever else they define as “The Homosexual Lifestyle.”

Of course, that makes you a celibate person, not a not-gay person.

And I’m okay with that. It’s totally within a person’s rights to be celibate. I’m even okay with Greg telling people that they should be celibate for whatever reason, as long as he’s honest.

The problem is that Greg doesn’t stop there, and he isn’t honest. Just last Friday he took to the Maryland House of Delegates to testify against the marriage law that has already passed in the Senate, even though PFOX’s website clearly states in unambiguous language that “PFOX is not an anti-gay organization.”

Greg goes on about self-determination and how you can become not-gay if you just try hard enough, but I just don’t understand what in the world that has to do with the law. The law before the Maryland House of Delegates doesn’t say that everybody has to get gay-married or that nobody is allowed to be celibate. It just says that lesbian and gay people can get married if they want and receive the benefits and responsibilities afforded to straight married couples.

Besides which, what of the self-determination of people who don’t want to be ex-gay? Are our rights forfeit because he disagrees with our decision?

Maybe he’s afraid that people won’t want to join his group if the stigma starts to dissipate. That’s money right out of his pocket, after all.

More than anything, Greg strikes me as a loose cannon. He hasn’t learned the simple strategy of “say what you mean to say and STOP.” In the Maryland video, he finishes by insulting the delegates that he just got done trying to convince, and throughout the video you can see that whenever he looks away from his script his words get sharper, less “kinder, gentler,” and more offensive.

Certainly his “I wasn’t your flaming faggot” at last year’s Truth* Academy wasn’t written down on a piece of paper.

To be honest, I almost can’t wait to see what he comes up with this year.

truth-academy

Truth* Academy Instructor Series: Linda Harvey

truth-academy

On April 1-2, 2011, Mission America and Americans For Truth About Homosexuality (AFTAH) will be cosponsoring the second Truth* Academy in Columbus, Ohio. I thought it might be helpful to see what tone and substance attendees can expect from each of the instructors before the conference begins. You can find all of my Truth* Academy posts at this link.

Linda Harvey of Mission America
Linda Harvey of Mission America
Linda Harvey will be giving a presentation on “How the ‘LGBT’ agenda corrupts and endangers our youth, and how it advances through the schools” at this year’s Truth* Academy. In this post, I’ll take a look at her work among the anti-gays.

First of all, Linda is a columnist for World Net Daily.

I’m tempted to just stop there, what with World Net Daily (WND) being the home of ultra-ultra-right-wing nutjobs, most notably including the birthers. But in the interest of information sharing, I’ll continue, taking her WND activities last.

Linda is the founder of Mission America, which I’m convinced has a staff of exactly one. The organization is pretty much an also-ran in the anti-gay industry, and also advocates against non-conservative Christian churches, non-Christian religions, and feminism.

Her Mission America radio show is broadcast on WRFD-AM, an ultra-conservative christian radio station in Columbus, Ohio. Just to give you a flavor of her show, here’s audio from the show this past Monday (2/21/11) when she interviewed hate-monger Scott Lively, steering well clear of the fresh Ugandan blood on his hands.

[wpaudio url=”http://blog.mattalgren.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/linda-harvey-interviews-scott-lively-2-21-11.mp3″ text=”Linda Harvey Interviews Scott Lively”]

So that’s Linda’s one-woman organization and 22-minute radio show. Let’s turn our attention to her column at WND.

In the past few months, Linda has published the following articles:

  • Find sodomy repulsive? Don’t ask, don’t tell, in which Linda laments the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, citing servicemembers’ loss of “their rights to disgust” and draws the bizarre if predictable conclusion that “the rights to freedom of association, to freedom of religion and the rights to privacy of our troops will be sacrificed on the altar of sodomy.” Linda also references the “lavender military” and “lavender special interests.”
  • San Fran: Loves sodomy, hates Happy Meals, in which Linda has a problem with a potential San Fransisco law banning Happy Meal toys, not because of any constitutional freedoms issues but because The Homosexuals live in San Fransisco. She also makes the common mistake of correlating high HIV infection rates among gay men in San Fransisco with gay sex (in the butt) rather than risky sex (without correctly using a condom), as well as the fact that LGB kids are completely left in the dark by a “abstinence-only-until-marriage” curriculum. Also, Linda thinks that The Homosexuals shouldn’t be allowed to be around kids because The Homosexuals will molest them.
  • Goldman Sachs’ real sin, in which Linda takes the Goldman Sachs people to task for :gasp: contributing to GLSEN, which she calls a “child-corruption network” that “promotes sexual deviance to children,” which, of course, isn’t what GLSEN does at all.
  • Is ‘gay’ agenda to blame for teen suicides?, in which Linda despicably mis-attributes last fall’s alarming rise in reported suicides by LGBT teens to The Homosexuals encouraging kids not to hate themselves. In so doing, she quite conveniently absolves herself and other anti-gay propagandists of any guilt.

There are a few more recent articles, and I could go back beyond just the last few months, but I think you get the point. Linda Harvey probably wouldn’t say any of these things to the press if they were to show up at Truth* Academy this April 1st or 2nd. No, it just wouldn’t do to have the general public hear these things from her mouth.

But next time you hear her name, remember that behind her “we don’t hate anybody, perish the thought” public face is a big fat sack of hurtful, untrue, and destructive hate.

truth-academy

Huge Day For Civil Rights

Lots and lots of news on the marriage front today in Maryland, Hawaii, and the federal government. Let’s start with the biggest news first.

President Obama’s Justice Department will no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in court, citing Section 3, which defines marriage as man/woman only for all federal purposes, as unconstitutional. From Attorney General Eric Holder’s letter to Congress:

After careful consideration, including a review of my recommendation, the President has concluded that given a number of factors, including a documented history of discrimination, classifications based on sexual orientation should be subject to a more heightened standard of scrutiny. The President has also concluded that Section 3 of DOMA, as applied to legally married same-sex couples, fails to meet that standard and is therefore unconstitutional. Given that conclusion, the President has instructed the Department not to defend the statute in such cases. I fully concur with the President’s determination.

From the New York Times report on the news:

“It’s a monumentally important decision,” said Tobias B. Wolff, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania who advised the Obama campaign on gay rights issues.

“The Justice Department and the president have taken the position on behalf of the United States government that discrimination against gay and lesbian people in all cases is presumptively unconstitutional,” he said. “It’s the first time the United States government has ever embraced that position, and if the courts agree, it will help to eradicate all of the various forms of discrimination that gay and lesbian people suffer around the country.”

This is welcome news, especially since President Obama’s actual view on marriage was clear three days before he was elected, even if he was unwilling to admit as much outright for over two years (not that I’ve been keeping track).

And so my criteria, for example, would be— if a Justice tells me that they only believe in the strict letter of the Constitution– that means that they possibly don’t mean— believe in— a right to privacy that may not be perfectly enumerated in the Constitution but, you know, that I think is there.

I mean, the— the right to marry who you please isn’t in the Constitution. But I think all of us assume that if a state— decided to pass a law saying, “Brian, you can’t marry the woman you love,” that you’d think that was unconstitutional. Well, where does that come from? I think it comes from a right to privacy— that may not be listed in the Constitution but is implied by the structure of the Constitution.

(See JoeMyGod for reaction from the hate groups. I shan’t be bothered with them tonight.)

At the state level, the Maryland Senate today debated and voted in favor of passing the state’s proposed marriage equality law to the floor for a vote Thursday. Given Wednesday’s vote, it’s expected to pass.

Of course, the bill didn’t pass without attempts to amend it to death. The one successful amendment changed the bill’s name from the “Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act” to the “Civil Marriage Protection Act.” (I guess they didn’t want people noticing that religious freedom is a major part of the marriage equality argument.)

But if that’s what it takes, that’s fine. The Maryland Senate did defeat an amendment that would allow religious (read:Catholic) adoption agencies to discriminate against lesbian and gay households, so the majority’s priorities were in place.

image via speakequal.com

And if that wasn’t enough, Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie signed that state’s long-in-coming civil union bill into law Wednesday afternoon, with the law going into effect January 1, 2012. This is the second time in under a year that Hawaii’s legislature has passed the civil union bill, with then-governor Linda Lingle (R) vetoing it last July.

Though the new law in Hawaii isn’t quite marriage, it’s a huge get for equality advocates. Hawaii is where the whole marriage battle began some 15 years ago with the state’s Supreme Court deciding unanimously (in Baehr v. Miike) that refusing marriage to gay couples was unconstitutional under the state constitution’s equal protection clause. This prompted the US Congress, then Republican-controlled and election-bound, to pass the national DOMA to contain the potential damage to their ability to discriminate.

And now, after years of discrimination, Hawaii, Maryland, and the Obama administration are finally moving in the right direction. As they say, you can only delay justice. You can’t deny it forever.

Andrew Sullivan: ‘I came out first to God.’

Last year, Big Think did a special video series called Coming Out: Stories of Gay Identity. There are some wonderful stories in the series, led off by gay conservative columnist Andrew Sullivan‘s coming out to God and his parents. There’s some terrific insight here.

I really believe it is my moral responsibility as a Christian to tell the truth, because I do not believe that the truth can ever be in conflict with God. And I think a lot of people are afraid the truth is in conflict with God, and are unable to let go and let the truth of the world… I mean, as John Paul II put it, the one thing Jesus tells everybody he ever meets in the gospels, the most common thing that he ever says is, “Be not afraid.” And homophobia, whether internalized or externalized, is really fear; it’s not hatred, it’s fear. It’s fear of the truth about ourselves.

… All these things that are supposed to be contradictions within me and within many other people are not. They are actually just things we just don’t yet fully understand.

Big Think has plenty more from Andrew Sullivan. The rest of his wide-ranging interview is below.

Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach to Retire With Full Rank and Pension

Over a year ago, I wrote a post called Too Late to Save Careers of Choi and Fehrenbach? based on some new clues on whether Don’t Ask Don’t Tell repeal would actually happen. Today, we have the answer for both of these heroes.

For Lt. Dan Choi, DADT repeal came too late. Dan was fired from the Army Reserves in June 2010.

But it’s a new year, and now that the DADT repeal bill has been signed by President Obama, many wondered what would happen to Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach.

On February 7, Rachel Maddow was the first to report that Lt. Col. Fehrenbach has received new orders that included his retirement on September 30, 2011, with his full rank and 20-year pension intact.

According to an article in today’s South Bend Tribune, Lt. Col. Fehrenbach hasn’t decided what comes next for him, but he is considering writing a book, saying “It’s been quite a roller coaster. I would hope it would be inspirational.” I’m hoping Rachel Maddow has him on soon to talk about this unexpected end.

I’m glad Lt. Col. Fehrenbach will be able to retire like this, but one little part is nagging at me. He will serve his last eight months without a discharge hanging over his head, and that is good. But it’s too bad that he won’t be able to fly again. I hope the Air Force finds a way to make that happen.

One more thing. I’m not usually a big fan of the whole NOH8 campaign airbrushed photos (usually of celebrities), but I’m making a rare exception today. When someone works this hard for their sculpted, glistening, hard body with nipples you just want to suckle, arms so strong they could hold you forever, a cleft chin that calls out…… (sorry) we have a responsibility to help them share it. In the spirit of community and out of the goodness of my heart, I have decided to assist him in this way.

His chest tattoo is "Правда", "TRUTH" in Russian; "JUSTICE" in Serbian
His chest tattoo is "Правда"
"TRUTH" in Russian; "JUSTICE" in Serbian

YOU’RE WELCOME, VIC. (Call me!)

WATCH: Press Presents Bias in Alabama Hate Crime Report

There was some distressing news out of Alabama last week. Local CBS affiliate WRBL reports that local resident Laura Gilbert was attacked and beaten to a pulp by about 12 people at a bar called “The Villa” in Opelika, Alabama on January 29th. The attack was preceded by derogatory remarks about her being a lesbian and not appearing feminine enough.

After her friend called the sheriff, they arrested Gilbert –and only her– while joking around with her attackers and refusing to take a statement from her or her friend, a refusal that still stands over a week later.

Then the police refused to release to her a copy of the incident report, itself a violation of the law.

This story is shocking and all too familiar, but I found WRBL’s story from reporter Alison Flowers to be frustrating on another level. Here’s her report, originally aired February 3, 2011:

Frankly, this report is exactly why we still need watchdog groups like GLAAD. There’s so much wrong with this piece that I almost don’t know where to start. Let’s address the issues in a handy numbered list, shall we?

  1. Why is this billed as a story about Laura Gilbert making allegations? Isn’t it better described as a story about police inaction or complicity in the face of mob violence? In short, why make this a story about the victim doing something rather than about the police not doing something?
  2. “Her case at first glance doesn’t look so great.” Really? She was attacked and beaten by a mob, then the cops joked around with her attackers instead of arresting them. That sounds like a pretty damn good case to me. But for some reason, the reporter and/or story editor at WRBL chose to blame the victim of this hate crime.
  3. Speaking of blaming the victim, it’s interesting to note that the reason Alison Flowers gives for it being a bad case (“She was drunk, it was late, and she admits to fighting back.”) are three of the more common excuses people use to incorrectly and offensively blame rape survivors for their own rapes.
  4. Of course she fought back. We’ve been shown over and over and over and over and over and over that we rarely have any defense but ourselves. Any LGBT person who values her life would and should fight back.
  5. "I have rights just like y'all do."
    "I have rights just like y'all do."
  6. On the other hand, good on Flowers for not buying Sheriff Jay Jones’ idiotic excuse that Gilbert didn’t report a hate crime. As Flowers pointed out, Alabama’s hate crime law doesn’t include LGBTs, so locally speaking, there was nothing to report.
     
    (Also, the deputy refused to take a report from her, so I’m not exactly sure when she was supposed to ask him to tick box 26 on his form.)
  7. Unfortunately, at the end of the report Flowers seemed to brag that Alabama doesn’t have as many hate crimes as states that have hate crime laws. Note to Flowers: Of course you don’t have as many hate crimes reported. There is no reporting mechanism in place and the victims know they’ll be treated worse if they complain.
  8. It sounds like Sheriff Jones thought the fact that Gilbert and her friend were the only ones reporting injuries works in his officers’ favor. I would have liked to see him asked why that doesn’t help her case. Unless, of course, he thinks she was punching herself.
  9. Kudos again to Flowers for pointing out Sheriff Jones’ patently nonsensical garbage that Gilbert and her friend were too drunk to give statements, even though deputies took statements from their attackers, who came from the same bar. What a stupid thing to say.

It’s so frustrating. Members of the press are expected to provide reasonably fair reporting, and that’s not what we got from WRBL or Alison Flowers in this report. Instead, we got poor excuses and blame shifting.