Leland Garrett, a really great and close friend of mine from college, shared these thoughts below on Facebook on Wednesday. He’s graciously given me permission to repost here. Leland’s words are thought-provoking and deeply personal — his story a cautionary tale for people who still insist upon using religion-based prejudice to deny the humanity of LGBT people. Thanks for sharing, Leland.

Leland Garrett

Your prejudice is chosen; my sexual orientation is not
by Leland Garrett, Feb. 8, 2012

You know, I was raised as a Christian. I went to church every Sunday and Wednesday. I participated in children’s choir, youth group, mission trips, etc. I was more immersed in my church then most people my age I knew.

Then, towards the end of high school, I began to realize that my interests did not lie in women, and I was scared shitless about it. I mean, a guy having feeling for another guy wasn’t what “good Christians” do, right? So, as I was taught all my life, I began to pray. Every night: “God, I don’t want to be gay. Why do I have these thoughts and feeling? Help me not be gay.”

Every. Single. Night.  Continue reading this post…

Bill James

A Charlotte conservative is telling anti-gay Republican Mecklenburg County Commissioner Bill James it is time for him to go and for voters to support his Republican primary challenger, Ed Driggs.

Lewis Guignard writes at Pundit House, a conservative Charlotte news and commentary site, that James’ reckless focus on socially conservative issues has damaged James’ supposed focus on fiscally-conservative issues, as well as damaging the local Republican Party.

Guignard says:

In fact, one of the reasons for the demise of many fiscal conservatives on the board of commissioners in the late 1990′s were the social conservative issues that James brought to the fore. From this decline, the Republican Party in Mecklenburg County has never recovered and as long as people such as Bill James are in office it never will. In fact, one of the major problems of the Republican Party today is the catering to social conservatives. If there were no other reason, that alone would be an excellent one for Republicans to vote for Ed Driggs. But there are other reasons, some of which have already been delineated by Driggs on the campaign trail.

Guignard focuses a great deal of his commentary on James’ votes and stances on fiscal matters. It’s a shame Guignard didn’t spend a bit more time zeroing in on James’ horrendous record of bigotry and division, among them:

Obviously, the list above isn’t exhaustive. Certainly, it’s not even the tip of James’ bigoted iceberg. He’s been engaging in character assassination against entire communities of people — and not just LGBT folks — for decades, beginning in the mid-1990s with Charlotte’s “Angels in America” and arts-funding controversy (more background…).

Obviously, the “Big Tent” that is the Grand Old Party isn’t. People like James prevent that. People who vote for people like James prevent that. Speaking of which… I wonder if all those mega-churches and good Christian folk in southeast Mecklenburg County really approve of all James’ harshly-worded and vulgar comments? They must… they keep supporting him.

 

Mitchell Gold

Michael Brown

Frank Turek

Update (Jan. 31, 2012, 2:08 p.m.): As promised yesterday and this morn, my reflections on the Brown/Turek/Gold debate below.

Regular readers of InterstateQ.com, followers of my work at my prior gig at QNotes and those involved in LGBT advocacy and community work in Charlotte know all too well who Michael Brown is. The leading anti-gay activist in the Charlotte area, Brown has taken on several LGBT groups in the Queen City and LGBT equality initiatives across the country. I’ve interacted with him from time to time, and in 2009 compiled a lengthy special report on his use of  militant religious rhetoric.

Last Wednesday, Faith in America founder and North Carolina furniture entrepreneur Mitchell Gold engaged both Brown and his associate Frank Turek in a conversation on religion and LGBT equality on Brown’s “Line of Fire” radio show.

I’m just now catching up on the show, as I was in Baltimore last week for the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force’s annual Creating Change conference.

So far, I’m not surprised. The same usual rhetoric, straw-man arguments and generalizations. Turek and Brown set the tone for the two hours from the get-go. Gold appears in the second hour to rebut some of their outlandish claims.

The nearly two-hour exchange on Wednesday can be listened to at Faith in America’s site.

Today, Michael Brown will host a question-and-answer show, partly discussing last week’s show. Gold’s Faith in America is encouraging people to call in and share their own views, offering affirming and compelling voices for equality.

From Faith in America:

You can help us speak to Brown’s audience. On Monday, January 31st, Michael Brown will continue the segment with calls from the audience. Since they were unable to execute that part of the show, given the heavy dialogue that occurred, they have decided to extend the segment. We encourage you to listen to the segment from yesterday and take a minute to call in on Monday … and be the voice of equality for their audience who otherwise does not hear our side on a daily basis. If you are unable to do so, you can also email the radio show at info@askdrbrown.org and share your thoughts. As always, we encourage you to visit our website for ways to be effective in your messaging.

You can listen to today’s Q&A show live, 2-4 p.m. Easter, online here. You can call into the show at 866-348 7884.

Be sure to stop back in on Tuesday morning for an update and some of my own takeaways from last week’s exchange and today’s Q&A show.

= = =

Update (Jan. 31, 2012, 2:08 p.m.): As I said yesterday, I had begun listening yesterday to Brown’s Jan. 25 show last week. I wasn’t surprised to hear Brown and Turek launch right into scare tactics. Why must LGBT people always be linked to HIV and AIDS?

Turek recounted:

I grew up next to a family and one of the young sons from this family got involved with homosexuality. He was the older brother of my best friend and he got involved in it and went into New York City and immersed himself in that lifestyle and we buried him at the age of 35, dead from AIDS. That was back in 1993 and I started seminary in 1993. I saw so many people seemed to just be misinformed on this issue. Christians who couldn’t articulate why homosexuality was a problem for people who engage in it, much less society.

I have no reason to doubt Turek’s personal story is true. The 1980s and early 1990s were a horrible time for LGBT people and, in particular, gay men. Many lost loved ones and friends. It’s telling, though, that Turek has somehow managed to take his one, personal experience with a gay man and generalize it to the entire gay community. What kind of leap in logic is that? One man dead = they must all be saved?

I don’t think so.

We all have personal experiences that shape our lives and our worldview, but, usually, people form more rational ideas as they explore and come to know others. Turek, it seems, has approached every LGBT person as sinful and sick, based entirely on his one life experience. It’s a shame he’s never gotten to know the many, many LGBT people who are living happy, healthy lives — people I’m sure could break his misinformed outlook if he’d give them a chance, approaching people with an open mind and open heart.

Brown and Turek spent the next good bit of the first hour discussing Turek’s dust up with Bank of America and Cisco. Turek had been a leadership coaching consultant with the Charlotte-based bank — that is, until a gay employee noticed Turek’s voluminous anti-LGBT advocacy and his book opposing same-sex marriage, “Correct, Not Politically Correct; How Same-Sex Marriage Hurts Everyone.”

Brown and Turek chat:

Brown: It’s not even a book based on the bible says this, the bible says that…You write this book, the book gets out. You could write a book on Labrador retrievers mating school. You could write a book on how to play better cricket. People write books on everything. What does that have to do with Bank of America leadership talks?

Turek: It should having nothing to do with it. Others will say, “He’s a bigot. He’s a bigot because he doesn’t agree with us.” I always ask people who say you’re a bigot because you’re against homosexuality or same-sex marriage to define what you mean by bigotry. One guy said fear and intolerance. That isn’t bigotry. Bigotry is prejudging an issue having no evidence for it and even when you get new evidence you don’t change your mind, evidence that counters your views. That’s bigotry. It’s not bigotry to say a certain behavior is good or bad for society. That’s not bigotry; that’s commonsense wisdom if you’re right about the issue.

Turek should take his own advice and look at all the evidence around him. Sexual orientation isn’t a choice, isn’t unhealthy and isn’t sick or sinful. And, neither are LGBT people. What is unhealthy, sick and sinful are the ways in which LGBT people are treated each and every day by Turek, Brown and other people in their corner. Upholding discrimination against already-marginalized people is about as un-Christian as you can get.

Throughout the show, Turek and Brown ridicule LGBT people and their experiences with anti-LGBT discrimination.

At one point, Turek completely denies the existence and humanity of LGBT parents and families:

There’s no such thing. There’s no gay couple with a child. There may be two people, one of whom is the biological parent of the child. Let’s cut through all this and say what it is, okay? A gay couple who are looking after the child; one of them might be the biological parent, but they’re both not. I’m sorry. I had to say that.

Perhaps, Frank, this is just a perfect example of why Bank of America and Cisco wanted nothing to do with you. They didn’t discriminate against you because of your religious or political views, they wanted to cancel your contract because you’re disrespectful and dehumanizing. I’m guessing families with step-parents aren’t families in your eyes, either?

Later, Turek and Brown talk about the supposed long-term ill-effects of same-sex marriage, comparing them to the effects of no-fault divorce. Obviously, no-fault divorce mustn’t be that big of a deal. I’ve seen no mass effort to stop it. Instead, Turek, Brown and others are all foaming at the mouth to take away human and civil rights away from LGBT people. These issues aren’t about family; if they were, the religious right would be focusing on divorce, the one single family problem that causes more damage than almost any other internal family dynamic, save abuse or abandonment. Nope… they’d rather focus on the queers. Misguided much?

About the only bit of common sense I heard in the first hour came from Brown. Responding to a caller you said Christians should “love the sinner and hate the sin,” Brown said:

The thing that’s really important to be sensitized to is this: If we use the line, “love the sinner, hate the sin,” and we say that to someone who identifies as gay or lesbian, what they hear is, “You hate me.” What they’d say is this is not what I do, this is who I am.

Unfortunately, as much as Brown is willing to acknowledge the reality of LGBT people’s experiences, he isn’t willing to accept them as truth. Brown talks so much about reaching out to LGBT people “with love and respect,” but the very manner in which Brown approaches LGBT people is offensive and hostile to open conversation and understanding. You can’t be understanding, loving, respectful or come to reconciliation when you, to your core, view your conversation partner as sick and sinful.

In the second hour of the Jan. 25 program, Brown and Turek welcomed on Faith in America’s Mitchell Gold. The group’s executive director, Brent Childers, was also present in the studio. Brown introduced Gold and spoke briefly about the book he edited, “Youth in Crisis: 40 Stories on Why Religion-Based Bigotry Against Gay People Must End Now,” and to which I contributed an essay on my upbringing as a gay teen in a conservative, fundamentalist, independent Baptist church in the south.

Gold spoke passionately about North Carolina’s anti-LGBT constitutional amendment, correctly describing it as the radical, over-reaching piece of legislation it is. But, Gold hit on a stronger, more salient and human element of the upcoming amendment debate and vote.

Gold said:

What bothers me most about the amendment, and I believe it was County Commissioner [Bill James] in Charlotte who said that this amendment really says gay people aren’t welcome. For a 14-year-old kid trying to understand their sexuality, to have an amendment in the public discourse in this big public discussion to have people saying gays are sinners and an abomination, that they are not entitled, that it’s not God’s plan to have it this way. I know from doing this book that these are devastating things. This is why kids jump off bridges. This is why kids hang themselves.

Despite Gold’s sincere attempt at honest, heartfelt conversation, Brown and Turek quickly pounced, throwing out straw-man arguments and red herrings meant to distract from rather than contribute to healthy dialogue. And, though Gold was attempting to discuss the health and well-being of LGBT young people, care to guess which issues Brown preferred come to the fore? Yup, you got it: Polygamy, pederasty and the supposed “sick” nature of LGBT people and the insinuation that being gay itself was causing youth to kill themselves — not that anti-LGBT hostility and societal prejudice was the root cause of such tragedies.

Brown’s inaccuracies on suicide quickly led into a discussion on the American Psychiatric Association (APA), its removal of homosexuality as a mental illness in 1973 and Brown’s far-right conspiracy theory that posits the belief that the APA is nothing more than a gay activist front group.

Brown and Turek attempted to use a 2001 study by Dr. Robert Spitzer, a retired psychologist who helped lead the 1973 push to de-list homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, as proof of the APA’s “agenda,” saying that Spitzer’s work had proven that LGBT people can change their sexual orientation.

Of course, that’s all lies. Spitzer himself said such change is rare, and admonished anti-LGBT advocates for using his research to support discrimination.

In the last half-hour of the show, Brown once again threw in the polygamy red herring, then accusing Gold of being selfish and bigoted because he didn’t want to recognize marriages between multiple partners. It’s something far-right religious folks never seem to get: The issue isn’t about polygamy. The amendment won’t affect polygamists in mass. It will make LGBT people de jure second-class citizens.

In the last quarter of the show, I think I was nearly astonished as I’ve ever been listening to Brown. It’s no secret that I abhor his use of violent and militant religious rhetoric, but I was absolutely floored at the arrogance Brown displayed toward Gold:

Brown: I don’t know much about furniture business and it would be quite arrogant for me to come and lecture you about the furniture business…

Gold: Are you suggesting it is arrogant for me to come and talk to you about scripture?

Brown: I’m suggesting that you have as little basis for your viewpoint in terms of being a student of the scripture to lecture me about it or to tell me to keep my heart open as opposed to saying to me, “Hey, 40 years walking with the Lord…you have a right to your convictions.” No, ultimately you’re telling me my convictions are harmful to other people and therefore there’s something wrong with my views.”

Wow. Here I thought humility was supposed to be a Christian virtue?And, yes, Brown, you are wrong and your convictions and statements are causing harm.

As the show closed, it came full circle and right back to painting LGBT people as sick and unhealthy: Suicides, higher STD and HIV rates, higher cancer rates and so on and so on in LGBT people. Folks like Brown and Turek, so blinded by their own bigotry and prejudice, will never see their own role in the continued plight of LGBT youth and adults. Just as other marginalized communities have faced health inequities, so to do LGBT people. Societal prejudice and institutionalized discrimination, which Brown and Turek advocate, make such matters worse, not better.

The show wrapped with some of the silliest arguments the right has ever come up with for opposing same-sex marriage. Turek sounded almost child-like, reminiscent of a school-yard bully. Shame.

As for the Jan. 30 Q&A show, I don’t think I’ll write much. There isn’t much to say. Why argue with nonsense, right? You can listen to the Q&A show yourself here. Call-in shows always get off-the-wall, off-topic and crazy. I’ve about reached capacity in my ability to handle and digest pure ridiculousness in one day.

Meet Father Jason... handsome and smart. Too bad, ladies. You'll just have to let the human race die out. Father Jason is off limits.

On Monday, Pope Benedict XVI decried equality in marriage for same-sex couples, saying such marriages threaten “the future of humanity itself,” according to Reuters.

“This is not a simple social convention, but rather the fundamental cell of every society,” Benedict said of the family at a gathering of some 180 diplomats. “Consequently, policies which undermine the family threaten human dignity and the future of humanity itself.

He added, “The family unit is fundamental for the educational process and for the development both of individuals and states; hence there is a need for policies which promote the family and aid social cohesion and dialogue.”

But, you see, Benedict isn’t really hateful and bigoted. He loves gay people. His simple concern is for the future survival of the human race. Next on Benedict’s plans is a complete change in theology and doctrine. Goodbye to celibacy for Catholic priests. He’s going to let them get married to make up for the deficit in child bearing caused by all of these gay couples.

Oh, wait… the world is already teetering on over-population.

Yeah… back to square one: Sorry, gays, the pope just hates you.

Photo Credit: VISION Vocation Guide, via Flickr.

1

‘For such a time as this’

Esther 4:14 (NRSV):

“For if you keep silence at such a time as this, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another quarter, but you and your father’s family will perish. Who knows? Perhaps you have come to royal dignity for just such a time as this.”

I’m no queen. Well, not that kind of queen, anyway. I’m not a Jew. And, I’m not out to save a whole people or my family. But this particular passage leapt out at me as I was talking to a friend last night about my experience visiting a local congregation as I look to get back into regular church attendance.

Sometime before the New Year, I’d made a resolution (one among many, of course) to restart my search for a new church home in Charlotte. It was a quest I’d started four years ago when I first moved to town but one that had somehow stopped. I never found a church where I felt comfortable — some congregations were too big, others too small, for example — and I simply fell into a regular work/leisure routine and my life-thus-far habit of going to church every Sunday soon faded.

So, it was with great excitement that I set out to begin my search again. I spent days looking up various congregations’ websites and learning more about their church families. Finally, I settled on one — St. John’s Baptist in Charlotte’s Elizabeth neighborhood. Close to home and sharing many of the same ideals and principles as my home church in Winston-Salem, I was finding that St. John’s could certainly be a possibility. All that was left was to show up and see.

When Sunday morning rolled around, I checked their website one last time. I noticed that this particular Sunday worship was to include the installation service for their new pastor.

“Oh, maybe I shouldn’t go,” I told myself as I sat at my desk drinking my morning coffee. “This will be no good time for a visitor or guest.”

Then I thought twice.

“Well, I’d already planned to go,” I said. “All things happen for a reason.”

So, I went.

And, I’m glad I did.

The installation service was amazing and the people there friendly. Before the service began, I spoke at great length with one of the ushers and a gentleman who sat in my pew. Other members who ended up sitting next to me and noticed my name in the visitors’ section of the friendship register quickly said hello.

Bill Wilson, president of Winston-Salem’s Center for Congregational Health, had helped to lead the church in their transition and eventual hiring of their new pastor. Present for the installation, he delivered a short message and challenge to the church. He talked of transition and change — the anxiety, uncertainty and, sometimes, fear that comes with life’s various endings and new beginnings. In particular, he said, it is the “in-between time” that often causes the anxiety and uncertainty. In those times, he said, is when life can offer some of the most rewarding lessons.

Many of you already know about my transition. In less than two weeks, I’ll leave the post I’ve held at my company for more than four years to take a new position at a different organization. My “in-between time” has had its fair share of anxiety. I’m always uncomfortable with the unknown, of what lies ahead. Certainty and routine are my friends.

It was nothing but sheer coincidence that I had made a New Year’s resolution to begin anew my search for a new church home and to embark on that journey on Sunday. It was coincidence that led me to St. John’s on a day when the congregation celebrated the installation of their new pastor. It was coincidence that led me to participate in a service in which Bill Wilson’s message — originally crafted for the congregation and its own unique journey — somehow also managed to speak to and uplift me.

Coincidence? Or, perhaps, fate.

The message imparted to Esther all those many centuries ago was clear — a message that also applies to each and every one of us. All things happen for a reason. All of life’s various comings and goings are a part of a greater design, each granting to us an opportunity to learn, to grow, to be inspired, to be challenged.

We are each placed here, on this particular day and in this particular space, “for just such a time as this.”

I had a phenomenal time in Minneapolis last week. My trip to Netroots Nation served as unique opportunity to meet with like-minded progressive activists, bloggers, journalists and others from across the nation. In particular, I enjoyed another chance to sit down face-to-face with so many of my fellow LGBT bloggers and journalists I usually only see as thumbnail pics on Twitter or Facebook.

But there was another just as exciting opportunity this weekend. At the same time that thousands of progressive activists flocked to Netroots Nations, hundreds of activists, writers, journalists and others from the other side of the political spectrum were gathering at the host hotel for for their own conference, RightOnline.

I spoke to a dozen or more RightOnline attendees during my few days in Minneapolis. Our conversations were civil and friendly. We shared some laughs, exchanged some personal stories about ourselves or hometowns and had some great conversations about real political and ideological differences. I was surprised to find, however, that the overwhelming majority of those I spoke with felt relatively little opposition to issues of LGBT equality. The majority agreed that LGBT people shouldn’t be discriminated against in employment. They agreed that schools should be safe for LGBT students. They agreed that some form of relationship recognition — though not marriage — should be offered to same-sex couples. One nice lady from Ohio, who said she had a lesbian sister, seemed to have no problem with same-sex parenting and care giving.

My interactions surprised me. I wasn’t expecting that sort of support from conservatives attending RightOnline. Though not as supportive as I’d like them to be, these people were certainly not the anti-gay fringe that has had such a control on Republican Party politics these past few decades.

There are some Republicans, including my own Sen. Richard Burr, who have recognized a generational shift on these issues. But where is the disconnect elsewhere? Why does the right’s grassroots and netroots base support some LGBT issues while the majority of the Republican establishment continues to push right-wing, hate-group propagated talking points?

I asked my RightOnline friends that question. They proposed that the answer might very well be that Republican electeds and party officials perceive their constituencies as far more conservative on these issues than they actually are. While that’s a testament to the (seems to be waning) power of the religious right, it’s also a sign of political homophobia. Such non-personal bigotry upheld by elected officials is also a problem on the left; plenty of Democratic electeds aren’t as supportive as they might otherwise be because they feel their constituencies aren’t.

There’s a clear mission here for right and left LGBT people and our allies. Political homophobia should be easy to overcome, especially as more and more evidence shows that the average citizen cares very little about anti-LGBT causes and, in fact, outright supports equality for LGBT people.

One of the great things about Netroots Nation is actually being able to meet and network with an amazing variety of bloggers, activists, social media gurus, politicos, journalists and elected officials. Those networking opportunities are priceless and the knowledge, experience and personal stories shared between social justice seekers is invaluable.

At the Southern Caucus meeting today, I had a brilliant opportunity to sit down with bloggers and activists from across the South. North Carolina was well-represented: Charlotte (yes, yours truly plus a newcomer from Dallas), Chapel Hill and High Point. Tennessee was well-represented, too.

At the caucus, I had the chance to meet and chat with Joe Rhymer, the Tri-Cities Organizer for the Tennessee Equality Project. During the course of conversation the topic of religion came up. I, like others (and still others), believe that religion-based prejudice and bigotry are the root cause of nearly all the oppression based on sexuality and gender.

Joe shared with the group his experience organizing with faith communities in and around Bristol. Several faith groups there including two United Methodist churches, he said, had stepped up and taken leadership roles in raising awareness on issues of LGBT equality. It’s a great victory for the LGBT community when faith communities get involved in our work. Congrats to Joe and Tennessee Equality Project.

The effect of religion-based prejudice and discrimination is, perhaps, felt most acutely in the South. We’re at the forefront of dialogue and conversation that will inevitably lead to new revolutions in understandings of faith and equality, as it has for other groups victimized by religious oppression. If the LGBT community wants to move forward, we have to deal with religion. We ignore it at our own peril.

0

The Recession Can Aid in LGBT Equality

Freedom to Marry is touting today a World Magazine interview with Jim Daly, president and CEO of Focus on the Family, wherein the anti-gay leader admits the struggle for LGBT equality in marriage is all but lost for the religious right and their Republican bedmates.

“We’re losing on that one,” Daly says in the June 4 issue of the publication, “especially among the 20- and 30-somethings: 65 to 70 percent of them favor same-sex marriage. I don’t know if that’s going to change with a little more age – demographers would say probably not. We’ve probably lost that.”

But it’s not just young folks who are increasingly being turned off by the seemingly sex-crazed politics and wedge issues of the right. Recent polls are finding new majorities of voters in favor of marriage rights – or, at the very least, some sort of legal relationship recognition for same-sex couples. And, with the economy still in turmoil – gas prices rising and the like – progressive and LGBT advocates might just find entirely new demographics opened up to their support.

Read the rest of my latest at The Bilerico Project…

 

The American Independent’s Andy Kopsa reports on what has been a substantial problem for years: the dispersement of federally-funded grants — some to the tune of millions of dollars — to religious organizations engaged in anti-gay political activity.

Kopsa, who has significantly covered this topic before, reports:

The anti-gay, politically influential Christian organization the Indiana Family Institute (IFI) has been endorsed by the State of Indiana as “collaborative partner” in administering the state’s federally funded Healthy Marriage program since 2008. This arrangement provides IFI with federal support through the Indiana Department of Child Services through 2013.

The group, a state affiliate of Colorado-based Focus on the Family that has been the leading political force behind the anti-same sex marriage amendment –- House Joint Resolution 6 (HJR6) — that passed the Indiana Senate this week, got a $50,000 grant from a subsidiary of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services called the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) in 2005.

Kopsa notes that the Indiana Family Institute program is funded through 2013.

Other groups have also received funds:

In South Carolina, the Palmetto Family Council was awarded $1.2 million through Healthy Marriage and Abstinence Only grants from 2004 to 2009. According to its blog, the “top priority” for the group in 2006 was South Carolina’s anti-gay marriage amendment. Palmetto’s president, Oran Smith, condemned public funding of a gay and lesbian group’s annual statewide festival, citing concerns about using “public funds for a festival that is political or indecent or both.”

The Iowa Family Policy Center (IFPC) received more than $3 million in federal funds to pay for a marriage-mentoring program. The program, called Marriage Matters, was found not to be a third-party contractor but rather a trademark of the outspoken anti-gay group. IFPC has garnered headlines for its opposition to same-sex marriage, including public allegations that homosexuality poses a greater public health risk than second-hand smoke. IFPC recently changed its name to The Family Leader and is now a major player in Iowa politics.

A 2008 release on the South Carolina Palmetto Family Council website says the group received $3 million, to be funded over a period of five years.

Other groups have also, at one time or another, had their hands on federal grants. The Oklahoma Family Policy Council, for example, writes:

OFPC’s funding for KEEP [Kids Eagerly Endorsing Purity] comes through a combination of privately donated funds, substantial in-kind contributions from caring Oklahomans, and via the federal government through either a SPRANS Community-Based Abstinence Education implementation grant or a §510 grant, both authorized under Title V of the Social Security Act.

On her personal blog, Kopsa also records other organizations receiving federal funding:

Rocky Mountain Family Policy Council received at least $55,000 for services through federally funded abstinence education program WAIT Training in Colorado.  WAIT recently changed its name to The Center for Relationship Education. WAIT had its share of problems when it became known they had endorsed and assisted Ugandan Pastor Martin Ssempa of the disgusting “Kill The Gays” bill – here and here.

The Georgia Family Council is listed as recipient of the Georgia Department of Human Resources $960,000 Healthy Marriage waiver.  However, when I called the state of Georgia they claim to have no record of this.

Such federal funds have also been administered to North Carolina government, though a quick scan of available financial documents revealed no immediately apparent connection with the North Carolina Family Policy Council.

5

Michael Brown’s ‘Queer’ sideshow

Concord’s Michael Brown, leader of the anti-gay Coalition of Conscience and FIRE Church and School of Ministry, released this week his new book, “A Queer Thing Happened to America: And What a Long, Strange Trip It’s Been.”

I haven’t yet had the chance to read the book, though I know Brown cites/references/mentions me and/or some of my writings (unless something’s changed since the last time he and I chatted).

The book’s title and imagery are eye-catching. It’s also a bit deceptive. And, unsurprisingly, devoid of all understanding. I don’t know many trans folks or gay men who wear black socks and pink pumps. All joking aside: I expect Brown’s book, if anything like its cover, to paint a wholly inaccurate and woefully biased and prejudiced picture of LGBT people in this country.

From Brown’s blog, Voice of Revolution, a summary of the book:

Forty years ago, most Americans said they didn’t know anyone who was homosexual and claimed to know little or nothing about homosexuality. Today, there’s hardly a sitcom without a prominent gay character, movies like Milk and Brokeback Mountain have won Oscars, and even People Magazine celebrated the marriage of Ellen Degeneres and Portia DeRossi. Forty years ago, the word “queer” was considered to be an extremely insulting, ugly slur. Today, we have books like Queering Elementary Education and The Queer Bible Commentary, while Queer Eye for the Straight Guy was a cable TV sensation and even school children are learning the meaning of “Gender Queer.” Forty years ago, people were fired from their jobs for being gay. Today, college professors have been fired for taking issue with same-sex practice, counselors have been dismissed for refusing to affirm gay and lesbian relationships, and even pastors have been arrested for saying that homosexual behavior was sinful.

A Queer Thing Happened to America chronicles the amazing transformation of America over the last forty years, literally, from Stonewall Inn to the White House, and addresses the question head-on: Is there really a gay agenda, or is it a fiction of the religious right? Written in a lively and compelling style, but backed with massive research and extensive interaction with the GLBT community, this forthright and yet compassionate book looks at the extraordinary impact gay activism has had on American society – from nursery school to college, from the pulpit to Hollywood, and from science to semantics – also analyzing the foundational arguments of the gay civil rights movement and exposing the extreme intolerance of those calling for tolerance. This could easily be the most controversial book of the decade. Read it and find out why the publishing world was afraid to touch it.

And, Voice of Revolution Editor Marcus French touts the book’s number slot in Amazon.com’s Gay & Lesbian Nonfiction list. French writes:

The screenshot below, taken at 12:15 PM ET on March 17th, shows the Amazon Bestsellers Rank for ‘A Queer Thing Happened to America.’ As you can see, it is now #1 on Amazon’s ‘Gay & Lesbian Nonfiction’ chart! (A chart, by the way, I would not recommend navigating to, as it contains all sorts of sexually explicit material.) If you would like to help it stay at that position in the ‘Gay & Lesbian Nonfiction’ chart as a redemptive witness, and climb higher on the overall chart, you can help by purchasing the book on Amazon here.