Yesterday’s in-depth report on Charlotte-area anti-LGBT religious leader Dr. Michael L. Brown and his Monday radio show on anti-LGBT legislation in places like Uganda elicited a short response from the radio host and ministry school leader on Tuesday (emphasis added):

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…I noticed some tweets from one gay journalist who has constantly misrepresented my positions over the years. He was making reference to what I said on the radio show yesterday, different comments I made regarding Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill. I haven’t released a full statement; there is much to say on it. There are things that I fully understand why they’ve done what they’ve done. There are other measures that I think we would all call draconian. But, in any case, no surprise to be misrepresented when things are taken in a non-contextual way. But, hey, I noticed this post brought me a smile last night from this journalist, “I’ve had it with the insanity of Dr. Michael Brown’s radical bigotry for tonight.” Well, God bless our friend and hopefully he’ll come to experience the truth and love of God.

Two things of note:

  1. Brown doesn’t specifically mention my report, only some tweets. It’s because he knows my report is the furthest thing from misrepresentation. Brown is fond of simply claiming that I and others “misrepresent” him. It’s his common, stock response when a critic points out his problematic or extremist views. I believe that any rational, thinking person can understand no misrepresentation exists when they hear you say there are “very strong reasons” for Uganda’s problems with “homosexual practice” and then hear me say that such a statement shows sympathy or a defense of the law.
  2.  Brown’s comments on-air on Monday, as quoted by me, speak for themselves. They are not out of context. I spent several hours listening and re-listening to Brown’s Monday broadcast to ensure the accuracy of quotes. Indeed, a great deal of my initial report are Brown’s very own words, not mine. You can listen to the whole radio show from Monday and then reference back to my report to decide for yourself.

And, the kicker…

Brown continues to show sympathetic views or a defense of Uganda’s law, even after repeated requests by me and others for him to repudiate the law and others like it, along with the violence now being sparked against LGBT people across the globe as a direct result of these types of laws.

Brown says, “There are things that I fully understand why they’ve done what they’ve done.” Then, he further states, “There are other measures that I think we would all call draconian.” Yet, no where in his Monday broadcast did Brown condemn or repudiate any portion of the currently-enacted law as being harsh, draconian, misguided or potentially harmful.

I’m not misrepresenting Brown. He is misrepresenting himself and his own words from his Monday broadcast.

As for the statement? Where is it? What takes so long? Is it really so difficult?

As I noted in yesterday’s conclusion:

I’ve asked Brown repeatedly — as a man of God given a uniquely large and, indeed, international, platform and voice — to repudiate and condemn the Uganda law, as well as similar laws in places like Nigeria, Russia and India. I’ve asked him repeatedly to come out forthrightly and to strongly condemn the violence being perpetrated against LGBT people in nations like these. All he can offer are justifications based on “morality” and “health.” All he can offer are excuses about “cultural differences.” All he can point to are century-old tales of a supposedly deranged king.

Humans, indeed, have many cultural differences. But, as a man of God, Brown should understand that the rights to life, dignity and safety are among the “universal moral principles” to which he clings so dearly. Or not.

It’s not that difficult, Dr. Brown. I’ll write the statement for you, if you can honestly say you’d stand by it. But, at this point, I’m afraid that’s unlikely.

Update (Feb. 26, 2014): Brown responds briefly, continues sympathy for anti-LGBT criminalization in Uganda. Listen to the audio clip…

For several years now, the global community has been debating proposed — and now signed and enacted — legislation in Uganda that places harsh criminal sanctions on LGBT people, including, in its current enacted form, up to life imprisonment for LGBT people and up to seven or more years imprisonment for those who “aid and abet” homosexuality, including life in prison for any person who “purports to contract a marriage with another person of the same sex.”

A small portion of that debate has included Charlotte-area, anti-LGBT religious leader Dr. Michael L. Brown, who was first, perhaps, unwittingly tied to the controversy due to his close associations with conservative evangelical Lou Engle. Brown has worked closely with Engle in the past, inviting the religious leader to Charlotte for local Pride festivities. Engle, whose use of radically violent and militant religious rhetoric equally matches that of Brown’s, has been criticized for his involvement in and support of lobbying for Uganda’s anti-LGBT law.

Because of Brown’s ties to Engle, I reached out to Brown in 2009 for a statement on the then-proposed Uganda law, which included — unlike its current form — a death penalty for some homosexual offenses.

At the time, Brown stated:

“While I do not pretend to understand the dynamics of Ugandan culture and law, and while I share the government’s concerns with the goals of homosexual activism and the dangers of homosexual practice, I have very serious issues with the proposed law as currently constructed. I believe it has the potential to hurt far more people than it could possibly help, potentially inflicting great suffering on many.”

I remarked, at the time, that Brown’s statement fell “far short of a outright condemnation of the law.” It’s striking that he said he “share[d] the government’s concerns” over homosexuality and had only “very serious issues” with the law as “currently constructed.” Brown continued in ensuing years to give a more-than-sympathetic ear to those who would seek to criminalize LGBT people in Uganda and elsewhere abroad, saying he was concerned about the death penalty but failing to raise any significant concern about the bill — or the resulting violence and witch hunts in Uganda — as a whole.

In 2010, a primary proponent of the Ugandan legislation, Uganda Pastor Martin Ssempa, appeared on Brown’s radio show. Brown’s associates at his Voice of Revolution blog challenged their followers to truly ask if Ssempa were, indeed, a “‘Liar’? ‘Cowardly’? ‘Compulsive liar’?” by listening to the show.

If Ssempa’s name sounds familiar, it’s because he was made globally (in)famous for his “eat da poo poo” remarks as he lobbied for the extremist legislation.

It was precisely because of Brown’s past involvements that I reached out to him via email last week to ask for a new statement on the Ugandan legislation as it passed through that nation’s legislature and awaited President Yoweri Museveni’s signature. (I posted the same request on Facebook and tagged Brown, where he responded publicly, but never issued a statement directly responding to my request.)

Though Brown has yet to publicly issue an official statement — which he says might do at some point in the future — he did discuss the issue of anti-LGBT legislation in places like Uganda, Russia and India on his radio broadcast on Feb. 24. During the two-hour broadcast, Brown also discussed recent legislative proposals in U.S. states like Arizona and Kansas, but I’ll limit my commentary here to the global issues discussed on Monday.

Brown’s radio show ran nearly two hours. And, it included a great deal of commentary, much of it twisted and convoluted. It’s a lot to unpack, but I’ll try to do so diligently. That requires some level of in-depth conversation, hence the length of this blog post. I’m breaking it up into easily digestible sections in hopes that you’ll be able to more easily follow along.

The Game Plan

First, I’ll address Brown’s so-called “condemnation” of anti-LGBT violence. Brown is fond of claiming I misrepresent him, so it’s best to go ahead and address these issues first. To be fair, I have only once gone too far in my criticism — saying Brown was a “vocal supporter” of the Ugandan legislation — which I have acknowledged and retracted, and for which I apologized. But, after Monday’s radio broadcast, I’m beginning to think my apology and retraction were a bit premature.

Second, we’ll delve into other statements in support of and sympathetic to the Ugandan legislation made by Brown during his broadcast, parse them out and add in my own responses and commentary.

Lastly, we’ll end with Brown’s most forthright defense and justification of the Uganda law.

I’ve included approximate timestamps that mark the beginning of each quoted portion of the show. You can follow along by visiting to listen to or downloading Brown’s Feb 24 radio broadcast from his website.

‘I’d stand side by side with you against them’

Brown has often said something like, “I’d stand side by side with you against anyone who would cause you harm.” I believe that, in some weird, twisted way, he believes he harbors no ill will to LGBT people. I’ve said as much before, stating in my in-depth report on his violent, militant religious rhetoric that, “I do not believe Brown or most of his followers would ever act in any overt, physically violent manner.”

Yet, what most concerns me is the combination of Brown’s consistent advocacy against even the basic of LGBT protections or recognition and his overly consistent way of qualifying such seemingly supportive statements with accompanying conditional statements. It’s never “I’ll stand by you.” It’s always, “I’ll stand by you, if…” or “I’ll stand by you, but…”

If one is truly opposed to anti-LGBT violence and harm, there should never be an “if” or a “but.” It should just simply be, “I’ll stand by you.” If you want a qualifier, add this: “…because violence is always wrong.” That sort of qualifier rarely accompanies Brown’s statements. I don’t find this particular issue difficult to grasp. Here’s an example: “Dr. Brown, if anyone ever threatened to harm you, your church, your school or your congregants or students, I would be the first to stand up and condemn it. Violence is always wrong.” No ifs. No buts. No qualifiers. No need to bring up my sincere disagreements with the man. Just simply, “Violence is always wrong.” And, that’s no matter if it occurs in the U.S., in Uganda, Russia, Nigeria, Spain, Timbuktu or Antarctica. “Violence is always wrong.” See how easy that is?

Brown offered only two examples — yes, only two remarks out of two hours worth of commentary and conversation — of this kind of seemingly gay-supportive rhetoric. I’ve emphasized Brown’s qualifiers.

‘Stand with you,’ (34:23)
Obviously I would stand with you against anything that would provoke violence and anger and hatred in society against someone that said they were same-sex attracted and if you had a crowd outburst like the horrible things in South Africa where they are going to rape a lesbian and think they are going to cure her of her homosexuality, these horrors, I’d stand side by side with you against them. But, can you see that a nation that wants to outlaw mini-skirts and suggestive music videos is going to have quite an issue, say, with homosexual activist curricula in children’s schools or redefining marriage? Does that seem that odd to you?

As noted, Brown can’t simply condemn the violence. He must add a qualifier. In this instance, Brown, as you’ll see later, attempts to justify the actions of the Ugandan legislature and president by pointing to other social “norms” in that nation. He just can’t simply bring himself to admit that state-sponsored, homophobic terrorism — just as state-sponsored, sexist terrorism does to women — is bring horrific mob violence and harm directly to the doorsteps and homes of LGBT people in Uganda and elsewhere. Further, he links, as he is often wont to do, LGBT people to “indoctrination” of children. It’s an ugly, ugly lie predicated on the even uglier lie that gay men are pedophiles. And, this somehow excuses Uganda’s legislation? Give me a break.

Egged home (1:13:10)
Please hear me. Please hear me. If somebody in my neighborhood I knew was to be same-sex attracted or let’s say there were two men living together — they are not breaking the law, they are living together in my neighborhood — and somebody came by and egged their house or painted graffiti on it, I would try to be the first one there to make it clear that this is reprehensible, to speak out against it to help them clean up and to say that we are here to protect you so that no one can hurt you and attack you. At the same time, I would say that what you are doing is morally wrong and I would absolutely not fight for you to — quote — have the right to marry that person, but if there is hatred towards you or discrimination against you, of course, I would stand against that like I would for any other human being. You are fellow human being; you are created in the image of God just as much as I am. We are all fallen. We are all broken. We all need help. Jesus died for homosexual and heterosexual just the same. But, please hear me, you may live in a state where you say we are safe and secure because we already passed a constitutional amendment in our state saying marriage is the union of one woman and one man. No, no, no. There’s nothing secure. These rules are being challenged … as unconstitutional in state after state after state. Gay activists have made it clear … that within five years they would like to see every state in America recognize the union of two men or two women regardless of how the people voted.

Here again we find Brown condemning violence, but only so for his theoretical neighbors. He does not extend this to the mass mob violence experienced by LGBT people in places like Uganda or Russia or Nigeria. And, even so, he does it again with a qualifier; he would only help if he also had the opportunity to demean and judge his neighbors’ lives. What’s more is his seemingly contradictory statement; he’d stand up if there were “discrimination against you,” but two sentences later advocates discrimination against LGBT people. The words “inconsistent” and “insincere” aren’t descriptive enough for this kind of circular logic and double-speak. And, be sure to notice: Brown will stand up against someone egging or tagging a gay couple’s home. But, where is his condemnation of the front-page newspaper witch hunts in Uganda (including one on Tuesday, one day after Uganda’s bill became law)? Where is his condemnation of the horrifically violent rape, beating and murder of a Russian gay man or the countless other intimidations, violent harassment and abuse by far-right nationalist groups there? Where is his condemnation of the rounding up and mass incarceration of Nigerian gay men? On these real-life examples of bloodcurdling, horrific terror — in the same nations where he defends, justifies or excuses the enactment of harsh, anti-LGBT legislation — Brown is curiously and frustratingly — and tellingly — silent.

In one other instance, Brown condemned violence, but not toward LGBT people. And, once again, there was a qualifier. Nothing in Brown’s world can ever just simply be wrong. Despite his insistent belief of “universal moral truths,” he must always provide a qualifier distancing himself from direct condemnation of violence or horror. Again emphasized.

Level of shame (19:55)
There are many parts of the world where if a girl has sex outside wedlock, she could never marry after that. She would be shamed. There are parts of the world where the family would actually kill that person. Of course, that’s horrific. That’s utterly horrific and inexcusable on every level. I’m simply saying there’s that level of shame associated with, say, a teenage girl having sex, where it’s the norm in our culture, and we’re going to lecture the nations?

‘Culture’ an excuse to cause violence?

Brown’s comments in the “Level of Shame” quote above, and those below, help to paint a picture of Brown’s justification for not strongly condemning anti-LGBT laws and the violence that often results.

His argument is two-fold: First, he believes that “each culture is different” and cannot be judged in the same ways (again, despite his belief in “universal moral truths”). Second, Brown believes the U.S. has no moral standing on which to “lecture” other nations on issues of sexual morality.

He lays out his argument at the top of his show, asking, “Do we as Americans have a moral imperative to speak to other nations about morality? When can we speak and when are we just being hypocrites?

He then boasts of his Sunday-night dinner with far-right attorney Matt Barber — yes, the same Barber of Liberty University and Liberty Counsel who calls gay activists “a swarm of locusts,” says tolerance is a “cancer” and crudely defines gay love as “one man violently cramming his penis into another man’s lower intestine and calling it ‘love.’”

Yes, this is who Brown turns to for guidance, providing him with the second prong of his argument (6:07):

We were taking about a lot of gospel-related and culture-related issues last night and [Barber] mentioned an article he had written about sexual immorality being the chief export of America. I have to say as an American, in many ways I’m proud of my country … there have been many things about our country that have been wonderful and are wonderful and have helped the world … but on the flip side, you think of it and we are the world’s leader in exporting pornography and in quite a number of other social indicators we are really low on the moral level, in terms of single parent homes, in terms of teen pregnancy and teen drug use and, of course, with our gay activism. We’re proud of that. Many in our nation are proud of that and are speaking to other nations to get with it. Of course, it is shameful to see where we have gone. … It strikes me as quite hypocritical about morality when we lecture other nations about marriage and family and tell them to get their act together. To me, that is the height of hypocrisy.

Alright, I get it. We all get it. The U.S. isn’t perfect. On this much, we agree. Progressive activists have been clamoring for change for years. We want reform in the criminal justice system and the school-to-prison pipeline, for example. But, do you know what few things the U.S. does have, seemingly, more than other nations like Uganda, Nigeria, Russia and others? The right to life and dignity. The right to safety and security. The right to free speech and association. On these counts, we aren’t perfect. But, we’re a hell of a lot more secure than in places like Uganda, Nigeria or Russia, where now even the tiniest hint of homosexuality can result in mob violence, arrest, imprisonment or death.

But, oh no, we can’t judge! Brown says we have too much pornography, and because of that, we are simply unable to speak what Brown, I’d assume, would consider a “universal moral principle” — governments shouldn’t be in the business of jailing otherwise peaceable people or creating policies that inspire violence and terrorism against their citizens.

More examples of and commentary on Brown’s argument below…

Each culture is different (13:15)
Each culture is different and distinct. When you have a culture that is going as far as outlawing certain dress — a lot of this stuff is coming in from the West. A lot of this stuff is coming in from America. … Now, we are going to turn around and lecture these nations on what is right and what is wrong. To me, it’s the height of hypocrisy.

Three words: “universal moral principles.” Does that include Ugandan LGBT people’s right to life and security, Dr. Brown? He refuses to answer.

Universal moral principles? (16:17)
The first comments that I make when I’m asked about this nation, what about laws in that nation … is that each nation is distinct. In other words, we cannot look at another nation based on our culture. We can say there are universal moral principals we agree on. That would be true. … There are massive cultural differences. It is arrogant for us to just assume that across the board that we can tell other nations how they should live and what they should do and what they should not do.

Do massive cultural differences prevent us from saying that people should have the basic security of knowing they can live their life in peace, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender? Brown doesn’t seem to think so.

Porn and music (17:28)
And, again, with regard to Uganda and laws regarding homosexual practice, this is part of a wide-ranging series of laws that are banning different issues with pornography and even suggestive music videos.

Are you kidding me? (18:13)
All I am saying is this, very, very simply, is that you can’t even begin to understand the mindset of the people of Uganda in terms of homosexual practice until you look at the larger view of sexual morality in the culture. Think of this for a minute — a culture that says no to mini-skirts for women and they don’t want suggestive music videos on TV for kids and so on, that culture is going to say, ‘Oh, but if two men want to get married, that’s perfectly fine.’ Are you kidding me?

This issue isn’t about marriage. Brown consistently ties it to marriage. This issue is rather simple: LGBT people in Uganda, as in Nigeria and elsewhere, are asking for the simple right to safety and security. Brown must be deluded if he believes activists in Uganda have marriage at the top of their agenda.

Absolutely not (30:10)
…[D]oes America have the right to lecture other nations about sexual morality, about marriage, family? I say absolutely, certainly not.

Let’s play along here. For the sake of argument, let’s say that America has no “absolute” or “certain” right to “lecture” other nations on marriage, sexual morality or family. But, Brown is a religious leader. He biblical scholar. President of a theology school. He’s held himself up as a pastor. Can he not simply cite, “Thou shall not kill”? Can he not simply say, “Dear Ugandans, you are putting forth policies that are inspiring witch hunts and violence. Perhaps there is a better way.”? If the U.S. doesn’t have the “moral imperative” to speak, does a man of God? I’d say so, but Brown, through his silence, obviously disagrees.

Do not follow America (38:01)
There may be some politics reasons for it. As for Russia, I wouldn’t even begin to understand everything that is happening there. You have the high rates of alcoholism, the high rates of abortion … then you have the anti-gay propaganda issue … I do not understand everything that is happening in Russia or what is motivating Vladimir Putin. But, I will say this — I absolutely agree that if I could go to every nation in the world, I would say, ‘Do not follow American’s example in these ways.’

Yes, yes. Because the rape, maiming, brutalization, imprisonment and murder of LGBT people is so incredibly more worthy of global emulation, amarite?!

Uganda has ‘very strong reasons’ for law, and ‘rightly so’

Early in his show, and repeated elsewhere, Brown forcefully defended (or, justified, excused, etc.) Uganda’s adoption of its new Anti-Homosexuality Act. In doing so, he used several examples linking gay people to child predation,AIDS and death, and, once again, he relied on “cultural differences” as a defense of the law. He ends chastising America for its moral decline and saying Uganda “looks at the whole package” and, in his opinion, “rightly so.”

Very strong reasons (8:55)
Bear in mind, Uganda has many professing Christians. Bear in mind, Uganda practices polygamy. So, it’s a very different nation than America in terms of Christian perspective there. But, Uganda has some very strong reasons for having issues with homosexual practice. There is one day a year in Uganda which is a national holiday which remembers these young men who basically refused to comply with the king’s desires — you can fill in the blanks there. They were killed for it. They were martyred for their refusal to go along with the king’s sexual desires as young men and boys. That is celebrated in a national holiday remembering them for their courage and their Christian conviction, as I understand the story. Not only that, but Uganda has been terribly ravaged by AIDS. The decimation there — we’re just talking about in the heterosexual community — the decimation it has brought to some of these African nations who have had a good part of a generation wiped out. … They have had a decimating problem with AIDS. … But the rate of AIDS contagion among those practicing same-sex practices, men having relations with other men, is off the charts higher. Well, that’s another reason they do not want to see it encouraged in their country. … But, let’s just put it into context. I have not released an official statement about the bill. I’ve been asked to do so and I will at some point … Uganda has said we are against gay propaganda in the schools, against kids being indoctrinated into these things or being told this is normal and acceptable. We are against open homosexual practice, and you may have some laws that seem harsh and draconian, but it’s also part of African law and culture. … You’ve got to understand that in the context of Uganda, they are talking about outlawing mini-skirts because they find these things to be inapprorpriate. … That’s the culture we’re dealing with. We are talking about a culture where until recently adultery was illegal and fornication remains illegal. .. All they’re doing is having equivalence for homosexual relations.

Rightly so (37:04)
I have no idea what fuels the fire of the president of Uganda … but I do know that many of the people speaking into this situation are speaking based on moral issues, based on health issues. Again, we can’t relate, with all the horror we’ve had with AIDS … men and women, heterosexual and homosexual, we can’t relate to what’s happened in a country like Uganda and the devastation of this. And, when you have — the stats are somewhere about 10 times higher that men having sex with men being AIDS transmitters in Uganda — that’s a behavior you’re going to discourage every way you know how. … They look at the whole package of where we’re going, and I think rightly so.

So, there you have it: Brown’s defense, justification and excusing of Uganda’s anti-gay laws. Why? Because gays are causing higher “contagion.” (Yes, you read that right: “Contagion.”) Because Uganda doesn’t want children “indoctrinated.” Because of some big, bad pedophile king who lived more than a century ago and, Brown tells us, had sexual desires for “young men and boys.” (The king, Brown regrets to tell us, was 16-18 years old when the executions happened, primarily because of their conversion to Christianity, not necessarily sexuality.)  At the end of the day, Brown’s argument devolves into the same, tired and hateful rhetoric we’ve always heard from American evangelicals: Gays are sick. Gays are sinful. Gays are predators. And, as such, “That’s a behavior you’re going to discourage every way you know how.”

Brown says he’ll release an official statement. What’s the need? He spent two hours discussing these issues on record on his radio boradcast. I’ve listened to the whole broadcast several times — twice all the way through, and several more as I gathered these quotes. Brown’s views seem abundantly clear to me: Uganda’s law is justified “in the context of Uganda” — “universal moral principles” like life and safety be damned.

Yet, Brown and a guest on his show, Joseph La Rue of anti-LGBT legal outfit Alliance Defending Freedom, are more than willing to push for legislation here in the U.S. that protects their right to discriminate. In another segment of the show, which I’ve not delved into here, Brown and La Rue discuss the controversial Arizona legislation that would give anyone the right to refuse service to any other person based on a “sincerely held religious belief.”

La Rue explains his reasoning for supporting the law, with which Brown agrees and praised La Rue for his “courageous stand.” La Rue remarks (1:04:37):

Since when is religious liberty about discrimination? Since when is wanting to defend religious liberty equal to bigotry? It’s just preposterous what’s being said. The bottom line is this: The government has no business, none whatsoever, telling its citizens what they can’t say or what they must say and the government must be stopped from punishing its citizens for their ideas and beliefs. We are seeing that happen right now in America, and the government must be stopped.

Yet, such guarantees of liberty, safety and security simply do not exist in Uganda, in Nigeria, in Russia and in the dozens of other countries where LGBT people are violently oppressed — including 10 nations where they may be sentenced to death. While Brown and people like La Rue fight in the U.S. for their right to discriminate, they stand united with governments like that in Uganda, where basic rights to life and safety are being stripped away — either directly by law or through mob violence inspired by state policies.

Why must those governments not be stopped? Where is the fiery condemnation there? Brown has none. Because Brown is all-too-sympathetic with a national and, indeed, worldwide movement, of which he is firmly part,  to silence and oppress LGBT people, even here in his home nation and in his home town.

I’ve asked Brown repeatedly —  as a man of God given a uniquely large and, indeed, international, platform and voice — to repudiate and condemn the Uganda law, as well as similar laws in places like Nigeria, Russia and India. I’ve asked him repeatedly to come out forthrightly and to strongly condemn the violence being perpetrated against LGBT people in nations like these. All he can offer are justifications based on “morality” and “health.” All he can offer are excuses about “cultural differences.” All he can point to are century-old tales of a supposedly deranged king.

Humans, indeed, have many cultural differences. But, as a man of God, Brown should understand that the rights to life, dignity and safety are among the “universal moral principles” to which he clings so dearly. Or not.

It’s not that difficult, Dr. Brown. I’ll write the statement for you, if you can honestly say you’d stand by it. But, at this point, I’m afraid that’s unlikely.

Inevitably, in conversations with friends, acquaintances or folks I meet here and there, when conversation turns to racism, someone will almost always say something along the lines of:

“I’m so sick and tired of hearing about how black people were put in slavery. That was 150 years ago. They’ve had plenty of time to get their things together. That can’t be blamed on today’s society.”

Recently, something similar was said by a friend. We were discussing black face and he asked if the reaction people have to black face would be the same as if someone dressed in “white face.”

“No, it wouldn’t be the same, because black people didn’t enslave, brutalize, rape and kill millions of white people for centuries,” I countered.

“That was 150 years ago,” my friend rebutted. “I’m so tired of hearing how black people were put in slavery.”

“Yeah,” I responded, “that was 150 years ago, topped by another 100 years of oppressive Jim Crow laws.”

For most people, 150 years does sound like a long time. The thing is, it’s not an accurate assessment of history. It’s been only about 50 years, less than one human lifetime, since black Americans were finally given full equality under the law. There are people still living today who can vividly remember segregated schoolhouses, buses, water fountains, theaters, restaurants and rail cars. Depending on age, some of these people are either my generation’s parents or grandparents.

Take my grandfather, for instance. Born in 1928, he’s still alive today. And, he was born early enough to be able, if he wanted, to hear recollections from his grandfather, born in 1879, the year Reconstruction ended, and whose father and uncles served in the Confederate Army. In 2013, I — at 27 years old and with my grandfather at 85 — have a near-direct, living connection to an event that took place a century-and-a-half ago. (Interestingly, my great-great grandfather died just 14 years before I was born.)

History, however distant it may feel now, is never really so far away or out of our touch.

And, the oppression of black Americans didn’t end in 1865. That oppressive history is one my grandfather was alive to witness — a history he’s imparted to me.

“Grandpa, when you were growing up, did you ever know anyone in the Ku Klux Klan?” I asked at one Christmas gathering.

He responded, saying nobody ever really knew who they were. They weren’t public, he said.

“I never really did care for them much,” Grandpa said. “They did a whole lot of hurt and caused a whole lot of pain to a lot people who didn’t deserve it.”

History, however distant it may feel now, is never really so far away or out of our touch.

In our fast-paced, modern world, perhaps it’s easy to forget that change, indeed, does often take quite a long time. Sometimes, that change is hampered by a history so completely outside of our human control that it creates deep, complex problems with very few easy or quick solutions.

Lisa Wade, Ph.D., is an associate professor and chair of the Sociology Department at Occidental College. Via her Sociological Images Tumblr, Wade recently pointed to images she originally shared back in 2008 from blogger Jeff Fecke at Alas A Blog.

They got me thinking about history and its affects on us today.

In 1860, this is what cotton production looked like in the U.S.:

This map of the “black belt” (I’ll leave it to you to pick up the obvious connection between “cotton” and “black belt”) is one I’ve seen plenty times before in my studies of southern history.

And, this, is that same map, overlayed on top of 2008 presidential election results by county:

History, however distant it may feel now, is never really so far away or out of our touch.

And, in this particular example, history goes much, much deeper — much, much further into the distant past.

Why, one might ask, did the black belt take this form? What first gave shape to it? What was the first cause that gave rise to a slave-based, agricultural society that left an indelible mark on American politics a century-and-a-half later?

The ancient North American coast line, 65 million years ago:

Fecke explains:

Along the ancient coastline, life thrived, as usually does. It especially thrived in the delta region, the Bay of Tennessee, if you will. Here life reproduced, ate, excreted, lived, and died. On the shallow ocean floor, organic debris settled, slowly building a rich layer of nutritious debris. Eventually, the debris would rise as the sea departed, becoming a thick, rich layer of soil that ran from Louisiana to South Carolina.

65 million years later, European settlers in America would discover this soil, which was perfect for growing cotton.

Shortly after that, Europeans would enslave an entire race. Hundreds of years after that, the Civil War ended that slavery. Many former slaves stayed right where they were born, where generations of their kin before them had lived and died, not always because of choice, but because of harsh Jim Crow laws, forced prison labor systems, restrictions on movement and voting and other laws that were as oppressive as possible, short of now-illegal enslavement. And, only mere decades after that, their children and children’s children would leave an impact in electoral politics, patterned in an eerily similar way as the black belt.

And, there we have it: modern U.S. politics, 65 million years in the making. Another reminder that history, however distant it may feel now, is never really so far away or out of our touch.

So, you’re tired of hearing about slavery? Too bad. The effects of slavery are ever-present, even today — in our politics, in our economy, in every aspect of our culture. We’ve got a long, long way to go before that stain on our history is made clean. Fortunately, for all of us, I don’t think it will take 65 million years.

Today, citizens in Charlotte head to the polls to choose a new mayor and new city council members. Earlier in the election, I’d noted that I wouldn’t reveal how I’d vote. This morning, I felt a strong urge to speak out.

I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve voted for a Republican. In 2004, I cast a ballot for Richard Burr, a fellow Winston-Salem native. That same year, I voted for a Republican candidate for sheriff, a family acquaintance. In 2009, I voted for Edwin Peacock in his at-large race for Charlotte City Council. [Edit (Nov. 5, 2013, 2:51 p.m.): Last year, I also voted for Wayne Powers, a Republican candidate for Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners. Apologies that I forgot about this vote.]

Today, I’ll cast votes again for Republican candidates, Edwin Peacock included.

Say what, my friends and acquaintances may scream. I know, I can hardly believe it either. It’s a cliche phrase, but it truly fits the current situation: I’m not leaving my party; my party left me.

I’ve been torn over this local election for months. But, I’ve finally made my decision. It comes after several days of news regarding Democratic mayoral candidate Patrick Cannon’s misleading statements regarding his involvement in closed-door council discussions on the Carolina Panthers and council’s decision to give the company $87.5 million in business incentives.

Cannon, who owns parking services company E-Z Parking and has admitted his own conflict of interest with the Panthers, recently said he “never” attended a closed-door session discussing the Panthers incentives, adding that “a mayor should know that kind of thing.”

Fact checks from local media reveal Cannon did, in fact, attend three of the four closed-door meetings on the topic. (See coverage from The Charlotte Observer and WFAE for more.)

So, apparently, Cannon either doesn’t know what he himself did or he willfully chose to mislead the public.

Either way, I cannot vote for Cannon. Not only has he defended the use of public money by spending it on a private and profitable billion-dollar company, but he has also defended the council’s closed-door sessions and, what’s more, misled the public about his involvement in them.

The Panthers incentives debate has been important to me. I’ve spoken out against the decision several times (see: “In Charlotte, the rich get richer behind closed doors” and “Misplaced Council priorities in Panthers plan”). I’m against corporate welfare, when such public money should be rightfully used to support citizens. Private businesses run by millionaires who employ millionaires can find their own money. There’s no need to fleece taxpayers when such companies are easily making profits. And, besides, taxpayer money was never designed to benefit the profit-making enterprises of private corporations; the money is designed to support government, citizens and residents.

Further, I have been disappointed with current council leadership, Cannon included, who thought it was appropriate to meet in the comforting secrecy of closed-door sessions to discuss the giveaway of millions of dollars in public money to a private corporation. Such an ask — originally set at $125 million, and to be funded by a raise in local prepared food and beverage taxes — should have been made in public. It never was, and council decided long before it ever publicly addressed the issue that such a giveaway would happen.

So, today, I will cast my vote for Republican Edwin Peacock. And, here’s why, in his own words, from my interview with him at QNotes:

On business incentives:
“Chiquita, I voted no. Panthers, I would have said no. Carowinds, I would have said no. I’m pretty much across the board no. That doesn’t mean I’m against incentives. What I am for is the business investment grant program. That’s the program that we’ve had since 1998 that has worked very well for Electrolux, Rooms To Go, MetLife, Husqvarna. They’ve all used that program and it had specific criteria.”

On why he was against the incentives:
“It’s corporate welfare. I’m against giving folks money that don’t need money and haven’t made a case as to why we should have that. We have incentives so that we can compete against South Carolina and Tennessee, which don’t have state income taxes, and Virginia. We’re competing in that environment. I’m not saying to our chamber or regional partnership that incentives are bad. I’m not at all. But you’ve really got to step back and be an independent voice as a council member and, more importantly, as mayor to say, ‘We want your business, but we’re not so desperate we’re going to just break from rank and file and start giving money.'”

On council closed-door sessions (emphasis added):
“On the Panthers, this is the difference between myself and my opponent. Abe Lincoln said, ‘With public sentiment you can accomplish anything; without it, you can accomplish nothing.’ Who was not consulted in the Panthers decision? The public. They had a public hearing in the end which was after the decision was largely made. They went into not one, but two meetings in closed session. … I wouldn’t have gone into closed session because it’s an existing business here that wasn’t going to leave over night as much as the threats were put out there. And, secondly, they were asking for public money. That’s why they went into closed session, it was to take that and go to the legislature and ask for that one percent food and beverage tax. The state said, ‘We aren’t giving you that.’ They send it back and what the end result is, they’ve gone after a very public-purpose facility — the convention center — and they’ve practically robbed Peter to pay Paul. You’ve got the money from the convention center at $87.5 million and you’ve now transferred it to a private corporation for TVs, skyboxes and escalators. Where’s the public discussion? It’s unbelievable to me that we would just all of a sudden herald ourselves and say for $87.5 million we now have six years of comfort. Six years? That’s like that; that’s a blink of an eye. What’s the next date your readers need to know about? August 2014. They want more money to be tethered here longer. I’m not anti-Panthers. I’m pro-Panthers. I recognize what they want and I understand that they’ve had a good sentiment and obviously our communities are enormously thankful, but where was the public discussion about this? Could they have paid for it themselves? Could they have borrowed it from the name of the bank on their stadium? Could they have used the G4 financing from the NFL? Could they have used, as other states have, the potential to use our lottery to play lottery games to raise money? Was there ever any discussion about adding a fee to the seats and the PSL owners? No. And, then what about the sixth option? A novel option — what about consulting the public? In a public vote? A referendum like Miami-Dade did. That’s six options and then what about the final one: No. I’ve got six things that I would say as mayor. You need to have that discussion and if I was with Jerry Richardson — I’m not against Jerry Richardson — I’d say I’m against corporate welfare to give you the public’s money for a private corporation. There’s nothing more egregious in that situation. That’s so far removed and different than Carowinds and Chiquita, because Chiquita was coming here. Carowinds is similar, because they are already here, but they were looking to expand. I just think that this just reeks of bad, bad decisions. It breaks a lot of rules we just pride ourselves on in North Carolina, especially our open meeting laws.

For the same reasons I on which I base my decision in the mayoral race, I will not vote today for any incumbent council member. In my district race, I’ll vote for Democrat Al Austin. In at-large races, I will vote for Democrat Vi Alexander Lyles and Republicans Vanessa Faura, Ken Harris, and Dennis Peterson.

I realize that I may have disagreements with some candidates about where they stand on how to use the public’s money. Some are against the street car or the Capital Improvement Plan. I favor both. We can have a debate on how best to use that public money, but, public money can’t be used for the public if it is landing in the hands of private corporations. At the very least, I’m confident these Republican candidates will save public money for the public’s use. Admittedly, I don’t know where Austin and Lyles stand on the Panthers issue; I’ve not seen them address it directly and quite a bit of time searching and looking at candidate profiles didn’t help. But, I’m confident they will have learned from their predecessors’ mistakes in discussing such a controversial proposal in secrecy and without transparency for voters.

The most important role of elected representatives should be to represent and serve their constituents. And, at least on this issue of Carolina Panthers incentives, incumbents have not proven they can truly represent their citizens and residents. Closed-door meetings discussing millions of dollars in public charity to private corporations are inexcusable, especially when such proposals may result in raising taxes to pay for such lavish, unnecessary corporate giveaways.

This decision has been a difficult one for me. I’m a proud Democrat and believe very strongly in the principles my party espouses. I only wish my local Democratic candidates had the same loyalty to those principles.

Photo Credit (top): DigiDreamGrafix.com, via Flickr. Licensed CC.

A counter-protester holds a sign near anti-gay protesters at Charlotte Pride, Aug. 24, 2013, Uptown Charlotte. Photo Credit: Matthew Cummings/StillOut Photography Club.

Three weeks ago, Dr. Michael Brown, a leading anti-LGBT activist and religious leader in Charlotte brought 40 of his ministry schools’ students and other friends to Charlotte Pride, the city’s annual LGBT Pride festival and parade, on whose board of directors I sit. While at the event, Brown’s students and others circulated the festival area, speaking to attendees and asking attendees to complete a survey entitled, “Are You Open Minded?”

I took offense to Brown’s outreach efforts this year, calling his tactics dishonest, underhanded and deceitful. I even appeared on Brown’s radio show on Sept. 3 to discuss my disagreements with his survey and tactics. I discuss more about that experience in my latest editorial in the current issue of QNotes, hitting newsstands and online today. In the editorial, I call Brown’s outreach efforts this year a “spectacular failure.” You can read more about why in the editorial.

Here, though, I’ll run through and answer the several questions Dr. Brown’s students posed to Charlotte Pride attendees. Brown and I had meant to answer a few of these questions together on his radio show. Unfortunately, we ran out of time. Here though, I hope I’ll be able to offer a more balanced view and some more informed answers and insight I thought was missing from Brown’s Aug. 26 radio discussion of the survey results.

First, all the questions (src):

  1. 1. Do you agree with the statement “I have the right to marry the one I love”?
    Yes No
    If so, are there any exceptions? (Polyamory? Polygamy? Consensual adult incest [opposite sex? same-sex?]? Age of consent for marriage?)
    Yes No
  2. If same-sex marriage becomes the law of the land, should religious exemptions be allowed for those who do not want to participate?
    Yes No
    If so, does that apply to churches? Businesses? Individuals?
    If not, what should the penalty be (for churches, businesses, individuals)?
  3. If someone is not happy with their gender, should they be allowed to pursue a change of gender?
    Yes No
    If they are not happy with their sexual orientation, should they be allowed to pursue a change of their sexual orientation?
    Yes No
    If so, should they have to wait until they reach a certain age?
  4. If you could snap your fingers and change your sexual orientation or gender, would you?
    Yes No
  5. Is it bigoted to believe that homosexual practice is sin?
    Yes No
  6. Is it bigoted to say there is only one way to God?
    Yes No
  7. How would you characterize yourself?
    Male Female Other
    Gay Straight Bi Trans Other

And my answers:

Do you agree with the statement “I have the right to marry the one I love”?

Yes.

If so, are there any exceptions? (Polyamory? Polygamy? Consensual adult incest [opposite sex? same-sex?]? Age of consent for marriage?) 

Yes. All people should be able to marry the person they love, but there are common-sense restrictions, mostly protecting possible victims from abuse. Such is the case with age of consent laws and laws forbidding incest. Family law, however, should also recognize that not all families are the same; families with multiple unmarried parenting partners deserve the same or similar protections for their and their children’s well-being that couples receive. Such families may, indeed, be polyamorous, but many others are commonplace, including single parents who depend upon relatives or friends for co-parenting. Marriage alone should not be the gateway through which we determine who is entitled to the legal and social means to protect their families and the interests of their children.

If same-sex marriage becomes the law of the land, should religious exemptions be allowed for those who do not want to participate?

A simple “yes”-or-“no” option to this question is misleading and doesn’t provide for a full context needed for an answer. Brown’s survey provided follow-up questions where this context can be explored. See below.

 If so, does that apply to churches? Businesses? Individuals?

CHURCHES: Religious exemptions regarding marriage and any other religious sacrament or rite are already woven into the fabric of U.S. law. This nation, unlike others (as is the case in England), has no established church body entangled with government, and, as such, no government agency or official can force a minister or person of faith to conduct any marriage. Any pastor or officiant has the right to refuse to perform, conduct or participate in a marriage ceremony. In fact, many pastors require couples to meet certain criteria (e.g., faith requirements, church membership, couples/pastoral counseling, etc.) before they will agree to perform the ceremony.

BUSINESSES: For the most part, statutory and case law on business discrimination is largely settled. Federal and state laws prohibit discrimination in public accommodations. Specifically, the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 provides all people the “full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin.” Elsewhere, the act states that all people are “entitled to be free, at any establishment or place, from discrimination or segregation of any kind on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin…” In many states, these laws have been extended beyond public accommodations (hotels, restaurants, movie theaters, etc.) to apply to all businesses operating in the public and to protect other characteristics like sexual orientation or gender identity. In one particular New Mexico case, a photographer lost a lawsuit after she refused to photograph a same-sex couple’s wedding. Salon’s Mark Joseph Stern writes: “Legally, this ruling was correct; the photographer offered her skills solely as a business service, not as a form of personal expression. It’s the equivalent of a taxi refusing to pick up a gay couple, or a restaurant refusing to serve a gay family.” Courts have ruled that constitutional interests of fair treatment and equal access outweighs an individual right to discrimination. The reasons for such laws are clear: (1) Arbitrary discrimination, or discrimination for the sake of discrimination alone, does not represent a legitimate business interest, and (2) Government has a legitimate interest in proscribing arbitrary discrimination in the offering of goods and services, primarily in protection of free commerce and trade and the protection of individuals who may be adversely affected by mass discrimination. Can you imagine what the U.S. would look like today if private businesses had been able to continue refusing services to people of color? The same “religious liberty” arguments being used by opponents of LGBT equality today are eerily similar to many arguments used by racist business owners in the past. As the racist arguments of times past sound ridiculously hateful, silly and arbitrary today, so, too, will arguments in favor of anti-LGBT discrimination sound as equally hateful, silly and arbitrary in the years and decades to come.

[As an aside: Brown has asked if laws prohibiting discrimination by businesses would apply to a gay business owner who is asked to provide a service for an organization espousing beliefs with which she disagrees. The simple answer is yes. However, all business owners are free to refuse service for a variety of reasons which are not unlawful or arbitrary. Among those circumstances, one stands out: Businesses are free to refuse service when a customer may harass or intimidate employees or other customers. So, should a gay owner of a T-shirt business refuse service to a church which seeks to have T-shirts printed with the text of John 3:16? Most likely, no. But, should the gay owner be allowed to refuse service when the Scripture in question is calling for their death, such as Leviticus 20:13? Most definitely, yes.]

[Second aside: Many of the most recent cases regarding anti-gay business discrimination centers around marriage equality. Businesses have included wedding photographers, flower shops and bakeries. Each have claimed their religious belief that same-sex marriage is sinful prevents them from providing the service. I find such arguments from “Christian” business owners hypocritical unless they can also prove they have queried each and every past customer on their sexual practices and beliefs; for example, has the business owner provided a cake, photography or flowers for a couple who are not virgins and who have had sex before marriage, or have they provided services for a couple which intends to engage in an open, non-monogamous relationship after marrying? The only difference between these scenarios and the gay couple’s scenario is that the business owner is aware of the gay couple’s sexual orientation; the business owner may not have been aware of another couple’s actions, which they may believe to be “sin,” but they have still, even unwittingly, participated in a “celebration” of it. You might say that one can’t “unwittingly” or unintentionally be a hypocrite, and I’d agree. But, the fact that a business owner holds on to such cherished beliefs — so cherished that it prevents them from providing services to an entire class of people — and, yet, does nothing to see that such beliefs are not applied equally and fairly to all of their customers, is, without a doubt, hypocritical.]

INDIVIDUALS: Individuals are free to associate with whomever they wish. No law can force an individual to visit a particular retail establishment, stay at a particular hotel or eat at a particular restaurant. Similarly, no law can force an individual to join an organization. Constitutional rights to freedom of association and expression apply. This particular “individual harm” argument is a red herring.

If not, what should the penalty be (for churches, businesses, individuals)?

CHURCHES: Exemptions for religious institutions are already represented in most law. Next.

BUSINESSES: Most public accommodations and commercial non-discrimination laws and ordinances apply civil penalties to unlawful discriminatory practices. Civil penalties should be fair and equitable, as a faithful reliance on justice requires; it’s cliche, but it’s true: “The punishment should fit the crime.”

INDIVIDUALS: No issue here. Individuals are free to associate with whomever they wish. Next.

If someone is not happy with their gender, should they be allowed to pursue a change of gender? If they are not happy with their sexual orientation, should they be allowed to pursue a change of their sexual orientation?

Again, simple “yes”-or-“no” option for this pair of questions doesn’t give it full justice. But, simply and quickly, yes. See more below.

GENDER: Yes. The experiences of transgender and other gender-variant people are well-established medical, scientific and psychological phenomena. Book closed.

SEXUAL ORIENTATION: Yes, which, at first glance, may seem radical to some in the LGBT community. Though I do not personally believe sexual orientation is changeable (and most all legitimate medical, scientific and psychological literature agrees), I see no valid, legal reason to prohibit an individual from seeking to live life the way they see fit. It’s a complicated answer, I recognize. It also includes a great many questions on the veracity of claims made by “ex-gay” “therapists,” the efficacy of such “therapies” and the many ethical questions involved, especially among the many “ex-gay” therapists and groups which have been found to engage in unorthodox and potentially harmful therapeutic techniques, have failed to fully inform their clients of the body of medical and psychological research, literature and expectations on the topic, practice personal, religious intimidation and, at times, have been found to engage in sexual exploitation and abuse (here’s a good example).

If so, should they have to wait until they reach a certain age?

Again, “yes”-or-“no” won’t cut it. See below.

GENDER: Call me a radical if you wish, but I happen to believe that children are far smarter and have far more insight into their own personhood than adults often give them credit. This recent story about a young boy who personally enjoys more feminine clothing, toys and other items is a perfect example of a young person who knows his gender as he perceives it now but who is allowed by his parents to exhibit a perfectly healthy and, what should be, perfectly normal affinity for items not traditionally interpreted as “masculine.” Parents of children with gender-identity issues should consult with their physicians and with psychologists to determine the best course of action for their young people. I, for one, am not a medical expert, and, so, I won’t pretend to be. But, I’d imagine it’d be most healthy that gender affirmation surgery be considered in a young person’s later adolescent years, following puberty.

SEXUAL ORIENTATION: As “ex-gay” “therapies” have been shown repeatedly to be potentially harmful and abusive to young people, and as the medical, scientific and psychological literature is clear that sexual orientation is a mostly-immutable characteristic, such “therapies” should not be open to minors. No parent should be allowed to forcefully change their child’s sexual orientation; these are decisions for an individual to make. I support laws that prohibit the use of “ex-gay” and “reparative” “therapies” on minors.

If you could snap your fingers and change your sexual orientation or gender, would you?

Absolutely not. I am who I am today because of the unique life experiences I have encountered, many of which would not have been without my identifying as gay. There was a time when I might have answered yes, especially when I was younger and subjected to near-daily and sometimes brutal verbal and physical harassment. It’s shameful that our culture bullies young people into hating who they are.

Is it bigoted to believe that homosexual practice is sin?

Very simply, yes.

Is it bigoted to say there is only one way to God?

Bigoted? Depends, I guess, on how you apply it. I believe I have chosen a path — the one, true path for me — that leads me to reconciliation with God. It should come as no surprise to any rational person that another’s journey toward and understanding of God may differ wildly from mine or any other person’s. Is that bigoted? No, I don’t think so. But, if you’re one who thinks you can speak for God and eternally condemn, carte blanche, an entire group of people simply because you personally disagree with them, yeah, that’s a little bit bigoted. If you use such a condemnatory personal belief to legislate against entire groups of people, well, yeah, that’s extremely bigoted, and nothing short of theocracy.

How would you characterize yourself?

Gay. Male.

A party by a straight nightclub in Charlotte billed as a “Repeal Amendment One Party” by promoters was met this week with raised eyebrows by some members of the city’s LGBT community.

A flyer posted on Facebook promoting the 'Repeal Amendment One Party' with its original name of 'aMENdment.' Click to enlarge.

The event, originally called “aMENdment” and renamed “Repeal Amendment One Party,” was posted on Facebook on May 30 and will be held at Butter NC, a nightclub that attracts primarily straight clientele, on Thursday, June 7. Butter NC is located at Uptown’s NC Music Factory, the same complex that currently houses the LGBT Community Center of Charlotte.

Some community members say they are concerned that the club’s initial promotion of the event included no mention of efforts to benefit the LGBT community or continued efforts to ensure equality following the passage of Amendment One, the state constitutional amendment approved on May 8 by 61 percent of North Carolina voters. Effective on Jan. 1, 2013, the amendment will ban all recognition of same-sex marriages and civil unions and could threaten already-existing domestic partner benefits for both same-sex and opposite-sex couples.

The event posting, written by Ryan Jones, originally read: “Come out to Butter Charlotte in the NC Music Factory to show your support of the repeal of Amendment One. $3 Domestics, $4 Shots, $5 Well Vodka, & $100 Vodka Bottles. Performances by Natasha De La Mer and special guests. DJ Edward Shouse. Come out and see why Butter Charlotte is the number one spot to party in the QC. : D It’s going to be a crazy night! Message me if you’re interested in a bottle!”

[Update, 8:18 p.m., June 1, 2012: The Facebook event page has been updated to note that “a portion of the proceeds will be donated to a local LGBT group.”]

Bobby Kerschner, a 24-year-old gay Charlottean, was invited to the party and asked on the Facebook event page’s wall: “How is this party going to be benefiting the cause? Are they donating proceeds to [the Human Rights Campaign] or a similar organization?”

I expanded on the question, posting: “Happy to see Butter supporting the community, if they truly are. Would be nice to know if funds (portion of door, perhaps) will be donated to groups like Equality NC or if such groups will be invited to speak from the stage or be present with materials to engage and educate party-goers.”

Other Facebook users publicly posted similar sentiments. Additionally, I have heard concerns from acquaintances, as well.

Kerschner told me via phone that he immediately questioned the event upon seeing it.

“At first I was just trying to find out who started the event because it didn’t look like it was a very official-looking event,” Kerschner said. “I wasn’t sure if this was real or actually started by the club. If it was started by Butter, I was thinking this is a great party for repealing the amendment, but what exactly is the party and who is doing it? It didn’t say anything about proceeds going to this cause or that organization or something like having people sign petitions. It just said ‘Repeal Amendment One’ and here are our drink specials. It made no sense at all.”

Kerschner said he was afraid the nightclub might be “exploiting” LGBT community members’ anger over the amendment.

“My biggest concern is that they are exploiting the emotions of the people of Charlotte — exploiting people’s rage about the issue,” Kerschner said. “It’s like having a Halloween party and putting up a Christmas tree. If you’re having a repeal party, what makes it a repeal party? Having a Bud Light doesn’t make it a Repeal Amendment One party.”

I attempted to reach out to Jones via private message and a public posting on his Facebook profile. A phone number was not available. My messages were not returned.

Butter NC promoter and marketer James Nguyen told me via phone that he was working to ensure that the event in some way benefited LGBT community causes. He said the club, which is owned by the New York City-based nightlife duo Richie Akiva and Scott Sartiano, originally intended to have a free cover that night but will now instead charge $10 at the door, with half of that money going toward an LGBT organization. Nguyen said a friend will be suggesting an organization to receive the funds and they are considering Equality North Carolina, the statewide LGBT advocacy and education organization based in Raleigh and which took a lead role in the campaign against Amendment One.

Nguyen said he and some friends had been talking about holding the event for some time. The plan from the beginning, he said, included some sort of support for an LGBT community organization or cause. Nguyen said a friend was also working on securing the presence of an LGBT community organization at the party and said they were talking to the Human Rights Campaign and the LGBT Community Center of Charlotte.

Nguyen said Butter NC’s record of support for the LGBT community should not be questioned.

“1OAK and Butter in New York City,” Nyugen said, referring to Akiva’s and Sartiano’s Big Apple establishments, “are really big supporters of the gay community. I have a lot of gay friends that come in [Butter NC] and they always have a good time.”

A review of North Carolina State Board of Elections financial disclosures from the Coalition to Protect North Carolina Families, the referendum committee which led amendment opposition, showed no recorded contributions in the name of Butter NC, Akiva or Sartiano. According to state law, political committees are required to report the names, addresses and occupational information of contributors giving more than $50.

Butter NC has hosted few, if any, LGBT-oriented nightlife events. JustTwirl, a Charlotte LGBT party promotion company, hosted a “Sweet Tea Twirl” at the nightclub during Memorial Day Weekend. Nguyen said the club hopes to start a weekly or biweekly gay event. In the past, club owner Sartiano has stressed Butter NC’s focus on attracting a heteronormative and heterosexist clientele, telling Charlotte’s Creative Loafing in 2010 that patrons should “arrive with an even guy-to-girl ratio.”

Very grateful to have had the opportunity to travel from Charlotte up to Newton, N.C., for the protest of Providence Baptist Church (Maiden, N.C.) Pastor Charles Worley and to also report from the scene for QNotes

Over 1,000 gather in Newton to protest anti-gay preacher’s comments
Peaceful protest draws raucous counter protesters

Protesters and anti-LGBT counter protesters engaged in heated debate at Sunday’s event. Photo Credit: QNotes/Matt Comer.

Newton, N.C. — Over 1,000 people gathered in this small town about an hour outside Charlotte on Sunday to protest what they called messages of hate by Maiden, N.C. Pastor Charles Worley, whose comments at Providence Road Baptist Church during a sermon on May 13 made headlines last week.

Worley said he had “figured a way out – a way to get rid of all the lesbians and queers.”

“Build a great big, large fence — 50 or a 100 miles long — and put all the lesbians in there,” Worley told his congregants. “Fly over and drop some food. Do the same thing with the queers and the homosexuals — and have that fence electrified so they can’t get out. Feed ‘em. And you know in a few years, they’ll die out. You know why? They can’t reproduce.”

Comments from a 1978 sermon by Worley also raised eyebrows. Posted by the church, the old sermon included comments from Worley that “Forty years ago they would’ve hung [homosexuals], bless God, from a white oak tree!”

Organizers had told media they were expecting 2,000-5,000 protesters, which prompted them to move from their original protest location at Worley’s church to the Catawba County Government and Justice Center. Catawba County Sheriff Coy Reid told qnotes that he estimated attendance at anywhere from 1,400-1,600. He said every spot in the government center parking lot had at one time been filled. The lot holds 675 cars, Reid said, noting that many vehicles had come with at least two passengers.

Read the rest of the story and view photos and video at goqnotes.com…

Yet another update on the Maiden, N.C., Providence Road Baptist Church, whose pastor, Charles “Concentration Camp” Worley, has come under scrutiny for his proposal to send LGBT people to Nazi-like concentration camps and his 1978 sermon blessing the hanging of gays.

A mutual friend on Facebook posted a screenshot of a review of the church he found on the church’s overview on Google. The review reads almost too outlandish to believe.

It it legit? Is it a satire? My first impression was the latter, but I’m concerned it could be real for several reasons.

I’ll explain. First, the review (my emphasis added):

TheRodofGod – today – 5 stars
I started attending this church a few months ago and believe me when I say it is absolutely a blessing. It is so nice to be among like minded individuals who praise the time honored traditions of racial and sexual purity. Pastor Worley speaks an abundance of truth and realizes the need for a final solution to our country’s troubled present. He preaches the truth that modern day Zionist media refuses to acknowledge. Providence isn’t some bobble-head ditto chamber either, we all agree that the good days are behind us and only torment await if we continue to travel the road we’re one. I will continue to pray for days when the racially impure do the menial tasks us deserving and god-chosen southerners are breaking our backs at. The dandies should stop choosing sin and the ladies would be much happier if they could just embrace their dependence on the masculine men in society.

Crazy, right? When I first read it, I thought so too. “There’s no way,” I told myself, “that anyone believes this.” And, the username — “TheRodofGod” — just has to be a joke. Plus, the user has only one activity on Google’s network — this one comment — according to the public profile.

Yet, stopping to consider the source, a church whose pastor has preached murder of LGBT people for at least 40 years, and one might be cautious before ignoring these new comments outright. 

Continue reading this post…

Pastor Charles 'Concentration Camp' Worley wants to 'get rid of all the lesbians and queers.'

This update on Maiden, N.C., Providence Road Baptist Church Pastor Charles “Concentration Camp” Worley from GoodAsYou.org’s Jeremy Hooper, who found an old sermon archived at SermonAudio from Worley given on April 30, 1978, two years after he started preaching at the church.

Listen to the clip below:

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I’m God’s preacher. I just believe the book. We’re living in a day when, you know what, it saddens my heart to think that homosexuals can go around, bless God, and get the applause of a lot people, lesbians and all the rest of it. Bless God! Forty years ago they would’ve hung [homosexuals], bless God, from a white oak tree! Wouldn’t they?! Amen!

Hooper notes: “The truly remarkable thing? Of all of his old sermons, *this* is one that someone at his church felt worthy of posting to the Internet for posterity’s sake.”

See earlier posts:
Amendment One’s saving grace: Exposing religious violence against LGBT people
Matt on CBS Radio: No place for pastor’s words in civilized society

Today’s CBS News report on Maiden, N.C., Pastor Charles Worley, as broadcast at 1 p.m. as broadcast at CBS Radio online and syndicated nationally.

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See earlier post: “Amendment One’s saving grace: Exposing religious violence against LGBT people”