Frank Turek

WFAE 90.7 FM will host a public conversation and forum tonight on Amendment One. Entitled “Defining Marriage,” the radio station says it hopes to host a “very meaningful dialogue” on the proposed constitutional amendment that would strip marriage rights from same-sex couples and prohibit civil unions and domestic partnerships for both opposite-sex and same-sex couples.

That “meaningful dialogue,” bit? Likely not possible, especially since they’ve invited extremist and anti-gay bully Frank Turek to represent the anti-gay side of the debate.

Turek is associated with radicals like Charlotte street preacher and convicted stalker Flip Benham and Dr. Michael Brown, whose use of violent and militant religious rhetoric I’ve well-documented. In fact, my first introduction to Turek was during a forum sponsored by Brown back in 2007 (there’s an in-depth review and commentary of that event, as well).

Turek and Brown recently debated North Carolina philanthropist and activist Mitchell Gold on Brown’s radio show. I commented on the debate and documented some of the conversation, which left me with the distinct impression that Turek is more bully than academic.

It’s quite disappointing that WFAE would bring in such a radical voice to represent the opposing viewpoint. Couldn’t they find a more appropriate and respectful voice? In reality, perhaps not. How “appropriate” and “respectful” can pro-amendment voices be when each seem to be connected to people like Brown, genocide-enabling radicals like Lou Engle and hate group leaders and white supremacists like Tony Perkins?

Teju Cole

From a phenomenal Atlantic commentary today from author Teju Cole (@tejucole) touches on a variety of topics, including Cole’s  most pertinent focus on what he calls the “White Savior Complex.”

But, it was his point-on observation of the marginalization of of already-oppressed voices that caught my attention, as well (emphasis added):

But there’s a place in the political sphere for direct speech and, in the past few years in the U.S., there has been a chilling effect on a certain kind of direct speech pertaining to rights. The president is wary of being seen as the “angry black man.” People of color, women, and gays — who now have greater access to the centers of influence that ever before — are under pressure to be well-behaved when talking about their struggles. There is an expectation that we can talk about sins but no one must be identified as a sinner: newspapers love to describe words or deeds as “racially charged” even in those cases when it would be more honest to say “racist”; we agree that there is rampant misogyny, but misogynists are nowhere to be found; homophobia is a problem but no one is homophobic. One cumulative effect of this policed language is that when someone dares to point out something as obvious as white privilege, it is seen as unduly provocative. Marginalized voices in America have fewer and fewer avenues to speak plainly about what they suffer; the effect of this enforced civility is that those voices are falsified or blocked entirely from the discourse.

The marginalization against those minority leaders or community members — racial, ethnic, religious, sexual, what-have-you — who dare to speak out plainly and directly about their experiences in an oppressive system designed to exploit and harm them isn’t just something that comes from the oppressors. Unfortunately, the oppressed are doing it to themselves; Cole’s observed “pressure to be well-behaved” is often self-imposed. And, it’s a shame.

I’m becoming increasingly more convinced that some of the more mainstreamed leaders among various minorities — who consistently stand up to defend their “friends” in high places instead of the rights of those people in their own communities — suffer less from the blindness of privilege and more from Stockholm syndrome.

Today, the Southern Poverty Law Center released a new and updated list of anti-gay organizations it has named to their infamous list of hate groups. The list continues to include the Family Research Council, which is taking a leading role in fighting for Amendment One, the proposed anti-LGBT amendment to the North Carolina state constitution. The Family Research Council’s president, Tony Perkins, appeared in Charlotte on Sunday. You can read my in-depth review of his appearance here, or check out this week’s “Sex, Cash & Politics,” for more Perkins’ history of work in the field of hate…

Amendment One supporter’s ‘fruit’ is rotten to the core

Tony Perkins

On March 4, Tony Perkins, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council delivered a guest sermon at Charlotte’s First Baptist Church (click here for an in-depth review). His presence at the home church of North Carolina Baptist State Convention President Mark Harris is significant and comes as voters soon head to the polls to vote on Amendment One, the constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage and civil unions and domestic partnerships for unmarried opposite-sex and same-sex couples alike.

Despite his pleas to God and Christ’s Gospel, Perkins is no run-of-the-mill Christian conservative and his fruit would be unrecognizable to Christ, who said his disciples would be known by their love for one another. I have faith that other Christians voting in May won’t be so easily deceived. The truth will be apparent to them: Perkins’ discord, divisiveness and hate are no sign of Christ or the Gospel. To the contrary, Perkins’ work is the perfect Gospel antithesis.

Read the rest of the weekly column at SexCashandPolitics.com…

This post is an in-depth review of the March 4, 2012, worship service at First Baptist Church of Charlotte — its pastor, Mark Harris, the president of the North Carolina Baptist Convention — and its guest sermon by Family Research Council President Tony Perkins (reported by The Charlotte Observer here). Quotes from Harris and Perkins, along with the full audio, follow initial commentary. In addition, other commentary by Matt Comer is provided in red and [in brackets]. A YouTube video with Perkins’ most direct comments on marriage and North Carolina’s anti-LGBT constitutional amendment, young people and LGBT people is included at the end, along with a transcript. A final commentary and a call for Perkins and Harris to end their harm against LGBT youth and people follows at the conclusion of the post. Finally, my first column in the new weekly series, “Sex, Cash & Politics,” will delve into Perkins’ hate group connections. The column will be delivered today to print and online publications across North Carolina and cane be used free-of-charge as an op-ed or guest commentary. Click here to learn more about the column and subscribe for free.


You gotta hand it to Southern Baptists. They know how to put on a show. Blaring trumpets, waving flags and soaring patriotic melodies blended together with a little bit of soul and spirit in calls for defending “God and Country.”

It was Durham-based blogger Pam Spaulding that alerted me to the Family Research Council‘s Values Bus Tour stop on Sunday at First Baptist Church-Charlotte. I and an acquaintance decided to go. Mostly I was curious: Why in the world was Mark Harris, the pastor of one of Charlotte’s landmark Baptist churches and president of the North Carolina Baptist State Convention, allowing a man like Family Research Council President Tony Perkins to speak at his church? Why would a seemingly Christ-loving, people-loving pastor allow the leader of a hate group to speak to his congregants?

Tony Perkins

After more than an hour of First Baptist worship, the reason became clear.

“Tony Perkins…has been willing to step up and speak out,” Harris told his congregants, affirming that Harris’ brand of Christianity is just as hate-filled and exclusive as Perkins’.

Marriage and the church are under attack, First Baptist Church-Charlotte Pastor and N.C. Baptist Convention President Mark Harris and Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said on Sunday. And, it is up to the faithful to defend against the attacks of Satan. For any keen observer — and, no doubt, to any of the few LGBT young people in the audience (of which I am sure there are quite a few, given how large a congregation First Baptist is) — it’s clear who Harris and Perkins think are on the satanic side of the LGBT equality debate. For all their whimpering over faith and freedom, what they really wish to create is a heterosexuals-only, exclusive country club.

Take, for instance, the First Baptist choir’s performance of the song, “Livin’ in the Homeland,” before Perkins’ sermon. A recording of the song (not of the choir itself, sorry) and portion of the lyrics:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Livin’ in the homeland, not afraid to take a stand,
Every woman, child and man deserves to be free.
Stand tall. Don’t fall. All for one. One for all.
That is the battle call for you and for me.

Side by side, hand in hand, for freedom’s cause we’ll take a stand!

March! March with our flags held high.
Not afraid to fight. Not afraid to die.
March! March for the cause is just.
‘Tis a sacred honor, ‘tis a holy trust.

Freedom and liberty demand a high cost.
Many rights gained through so many lives lost.
The brave and the free know it goes hand in hand,
If you dare to dream, dare to dream,
Dare to dream of livin’ in the homeland.

And, they call gay people militant? That’s another debate for another day (and one we’ve had before…). But, one can’t help but find it ridiculously funny that Harris, Perkins and Co. believe they are the ones whose rights are under attack. I see no proposed constitutional amendments seeking to limit their rights. I see no organized movement to send Christians to “ex-Christian” camps. I see no state legislatures taking up “Don’t say Christian” bills. I see no school principals or school boards in mass denying the formation of Christian school groups or expelling heterosexual students and their boyfriends or girlfriends.

It’s a topsy-turvy world Harris and Perkins live in. The whole weight of a discriminatory body of law weighs down on the lives of LGBT people, yet it’s the WASP-y Christians who are oppressed? Talk about delusional.  Continue reading this post…

Peter St. Onge

The Charlotte Observer last week noted their slate of 36 different awards and honors from the N.C. Press Association. Among them was columnist Peter St. Onge, who was honored with awards for three columns on LGBT issues — two in the serious columns category and one in the lighter columns category.

The first serious column honor included one on his gay brother and his impending marriage in New York. A snippet:

This week, N.C. legislators dug in harder on keeping the wedding day away from gays, approving a constitutional amendment outlawing homosexual marriage that will go before voters next May. Our state already has a law against gay marriage, of course, but a consititutional amendment is harder to change than a simple law. Gay marriage opponents know it’s their best chance at defending an institution they believe is under attack.

That’s a word – attack – that sneaks often into this gay marriage debate. And also this word: agenda. It’s how those who fear homosexuality separate gays from the rest of us, by painting them as “others,” as an occupying force that wants to diminish the things we hold important.

St. Onge was also honored for his serious column on the Mecklenburg County Commission’s inadequate response to Commissioner Bill James’ “sexual predator” comments. The kicker:

What did politeness accomplish Tuesday night? We got a thoughtfully worded resolution that opposed, in principle, speech that could hurt others. We also saw several members of Charlotte’s gay community speak eloquently on the issue and remind everyone, with their presence, that there’s pain at the other end of the arrows people fling.

Lastly, St. Onge’s lighter column on Wells Fargo’s rainbow lights show on its Uptown Duke Energy Building on National Coming Out Day in October 2010 also received a nod. In it, St. Onge recounted Wells Fargo’s fumbling over questions about who requested and decided to “light the Southern city’s evening sky with a 48-story stamp of approval for a gay and lesbian event.”

Congratulations, Peter! And, thank you. Charlotte is much better place because of your outspokenness and word wizardry.

The N.C. Baptist State Convention has made their position on discrimination and bigotry quite clear, and despite their pressure to either ignore completely or twist the Gospel to fit their own needs, there are plenty of Baptists across North Carolina who are willing and ready to step up and speak out against hate and, especially, hate in God’s name.

Above all others, Baptists have a history that enables them to stand up for the true Gospel. The misdeeds of our forbears should be lesson enough to prove that the Gospel cannot be a message of hate, exclusion, division and bigotry. To the contrary, Jesus’ ultimate message of radical love and inclusion is “good news” to the masses. Our God is the Lord of salvation, mercy, freedom, justice and love.

To that end, national Baptist organizations, local churches and local Baptist leaders and congregants will gather in Charlotte this weekend for the first in a series of events in the “Many Voices, One Love,” campaign sponsored by the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists (AWAB), the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America (BPFNA), and the Alliance of Baptists.

The event,  “NC Baptists Against Amendment One: Justice, Equality and Personal Freedom,” will be held at Myers Park Baptist Church, 1900 Queens Rd., Charlotte, N.C., Feb. 25, 2012, from 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m.

A featured panel discussion will be held 9:45-10:45 a.m., moderated by Dan Murrey and featuring Myers Park Pastor Stephen Shoemaker, as well as Ken Godwin, Chaz Seale and Ricky Woods. Angela Yarber, pastor of my hometown Wake Forest Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, N.C., will also be a panelist.

Representatives from The Human Rights Campaign, the Faith and Justice Servant Leadership Group of Myers Park Baptist Church and The Coalition to Protect NC Families will also be present at the event.

Get more information about the event at Protect NC Families…

 

Update (Feb. 21, 2012, 7:03 p.m.): Click here to watch the Feb. 20 “282″ if you missed the live-stream on Monday or the Monday-evening broadcast on WTVI.

I’m pleased to be a guest today, along with host Carlton Hargo, Anthony Lindsey of the CIAA Committee and 16-year-old Republican writer and blogger Madeleine McAuley, on Charlotte’s WTVI’s and CLTblog.com’s local affairs program, “282.”

We’ll be discussing today:

  • The upcoming seventh CIAA Tournament in Charlotte, what it has meant to the city, what it has become and where it is going.
  • LGBT people and the church, following one Charlotte Catholic church’s dismissal of their gay music minister after his recent marriage in New York.
  • Sue Myrick’s decision not to run for reelection and the resulting shakeup her decision is causing in local politics as area Republicans (count’em — nine so far) have jumped in the primary to replace her.

You can watch a live stream of the taping at noon on http://cltblog.com/live. The show will also air tonight at 6:30 p.m. on WTVI. 

The News & Observer published a report from Associated Press writer Tom Breen this morning detailing some of the legal arguments, concerns and questions being considered as North Carolina’s anti-LGBT, anti-family constitutional amendment heads to the ballot in the state’s May 8, 2012, primary elections.

E. Gregory Wallace

E. Gregory Wallace, who teaches constitutional law at Campbell University’s Wiggins School of Law, was one of several legal commentators Breen sought for comment.

From the piece:

“It’s difficult to predict with any certainty how courts are going to predict constitutional provisions or statutes,” said E. Gregory Wallace, a constitutional law professor at Campbell University’s Wiggins School of Law.

[...]

In a decision called Ohio vs. Carswell, the state supreme court ruled that the marriage amendment didn’t invalidate domestic violence laws. The analysis by UNC researchers argues that an Ohio-like situation is possible here, but Wallace said the fact that the matter has been settled in that state makes such an outcome less like in North Carolina.

[...]

It’s up to the voters, of course, to determine whether all of the legal back-and-forth amounts to more than speculation, which Wallace argues is probably for the best on such charged topics.

“I think it’s a healthy thing that it’s going directly to the people of North Carolina,” he said. “When you talk about making fundamental change in an institution as old as marriage, that’s probably something that’s best left up to the people themselves.”

Notice that? Every time Wallace comments on the discriminatory amendment he’s either defending it or deflecting concerns over its potential harms.

Meanwhile, legal commentators at the most prestigious and mainstream law school in the state disagree with every point Wallace makes. But, can we be surprised that a Baptist-affiliated law school professor is in favor of the amendment? Of course not.

And, take into consideration Wallace’s support over a decade ago of the Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law’s “Marriage Law Project,” and his signature on a letter to the Dutch Parliament admonishing them for considering full marriage equality.

The text of the letter:

TO THE PARLIAMENT OF THE NETHERLANDS: A STATEMENT ON THE DEFINITION OF MARRIAGE FROM LAW PROFESSORS ACROSS THE WORLD

December 2000

We are professors of law and jurisprudence at universities across the world. We believe that marriage is the unique union of a man and a woman, a community of life and love. Marriage so understood is built into the fabric of social life, and cannot be arbitrarily redefined by lawmakers. Male-female marriage provides incomparable benefits to society, especially for children and for those who invest their lives in raising their children. Our domestic and international laws should preserve, protect and promote the institution of marriage.

We offer no simple recipe for laws that address non-marital sexual relationships. Our countries address these questions in different ways (indeed your own country has already adopted a wide-ranging Registered Partnership Act). But we are united in the conviction that the legal definition of marriage, as the union of a man and a woman, should not be changed. Redefining marriage to include same-sex unions will introduce unprecedented moral, social and legal confusion into our communities. The casualties of this confusion will be the families and children of the future, and therefore our societies as a whole.

We would remind the Dutch Parliament that many legal scholars, including the undersigned, do support marriage as the union of a man and a woman. In that respect, we represent the beliefs and practices of the overwhelming majority of humanity. No country is an island. Your actions will have fateful consequences not only for Europe, but for every country in the world.

Maggie Gallagher would be proud. Any relation to George, Mr. Wallace?

2

Red meat for the Right on Valentine’s Day

There’s no doubt quite a few far-right, anti-LGBT activists’ (you know, the kind that always compares homosexuality and gay marriage to incest, bestiality or pedophilia) hearts skipped a beat on this Valentine’s Day when they saw the headline…

I would have loved to have seen their disappointed faces when the story turned out to be everything but their wildest oppression-crazed dream.

The story from NPR is actually quite moving — the tale of two people who fell madly, deeply in love despite the obstacles in their path, a love that lasted a lifetime. It’s very sweet.

The Christian Action League, perhaps among one of the most far-right, anti-LGBT hate groups in North Carolina, posted yesterday an extraordinary insight into their religiously-bigoted efforts to write discrimination into our state constitution and further increase the hate-filled, divisive politics that has become the brand of modern-day right-wing ideologues.

The Rev. Rocky Carpenter, pastor of Harmony Community Church in Peachland, N.C., has started up a weekly prayer effort to guide Tar Heel bigots in their quest to constitutionalize discrimination against LGBT people in North Carolina. “Harmony,” it seems, is a state of being to which queer folk don’t get access.

From the Christian Action League:

“At the first Vote FOR Marriage NC meeting I went to, Tami Fitzgerald (Vote FOR Marriage NC chairwoman) asked for a prayer leader. God quickened my heart, and after praying for a week, I called her to let her know that I was the man to lead the prayer effort,” said the Rev. Carpenter. He said his beautiful wife of 27 years, four children and two grandchildren were also among the reasons he stepped up to the plate.

“We must preserve marriage God’s way,” he added. “God is calling his elect to boldly and lovingly stand for the preservation of marriage according to his word in this great state of North Carolina!”

He said to be victorious in this battle, Christians should “pray without ceasing” and “enlist as many as possible to pray.”

For that reason he is calling on pastors and their congregations to use their e-mail and social networking sites to spread the word about the importance of defending traditional marriage and the need to call on God for his help. He said it will take pastors to lead the charge, but that all believers should be joining in prayer since James 5:16 promises that “the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

The Rev. Carpenter is also designating Friday of each week as the Vote FOR Marriage NC corporate prayer day since the sixth day of the week corresponds to the sixth day of creation when, according to Gen. 1:26-28, God created man and woman.

According to the anti-gay activist group, Carpenter is asking folks to pray for three outcomes (again from Christian Action League):

  • “Pray for the salvation of our gay and lesbian neighbors (Isaiah 59:1,2),” he wrote, reminding recipients of the message that homosexuals are not the enemy (Ephesians 6:12).
  • He also asked for prayer for Vote FOR Marriage coalition leaders (1 Tim. 2:1,2), for workers (Matthew 9:37, 38), and for financial provision (2 Cor. 9:7).
  • Most of all, he challenged marriage supporters to pray that “God would be glorified in this effort! (Rev. 4:11)”

I hereby propose an alternative to Carpenter’s prayer Fridays: On Fridays through May 8, I hope you’ll join me for “Freaky Fanatic Friday” tweets, highlighting some of the insane and horrendously bigoted comments being made by anti-gay activists in North Carolina.

Some examples:

  •  Gay “have to wear a diaper or a butt plug just to be able to contain their bowels.” Patrick L. Wooden, Upper Room Church of God in Christ, Raleigh, N.C.
  • “I know of a case where in a hospital a homosexual male had a cellphone lodged in his anus and as they were operating on him the phone went off, the phone started ringing!” Patrick L. Wooden.
  • Gay sex “will most certainly mean the extinction of the human race.” Patrick L. Wooden.
  • Gay people are a “darkened, twisted, immense depository of depravity.” Rev. Ron Baity, Berean Baptist Church, Winston-Salem, N.C.
  • Loving, committed same-sex couples are “greatest threat to marriage and morality in this country.” N.C. Family Policy Council.
  • On the amendment: ”It’s also to put a big letter of shame on the behavior. We don’t want them here. We don’t want them marrying. If you’re going to do it in San Francisco, it’s your own business.” Mecklenburg County Commissioner Bill James.
  • “The public in my opinion knows the difference between perversity and diversity.” Mecklenburg County Commissioner Bill James.
  • Homosexuality is “caused by something radically wrong with the human heart!” Rev. Mark Creech, Christian Action League.
  • Homosexuality is “unnatural,” “biologically destructive,” caused by “abuse or acquired taste.” N.C. Family Policy Council.
  • Durham lesbian blogger Pam Spaulding needs “man [to] rock her world, in the name of the Lord.” Patrick L. Wooden.

(Sources: Right-Wing Watch, New Civil Rights Movement, Good As You, Pam’s House Blend, News & Observer, )