Today, LGBT community leaders from around the nation released a letter detailing their support for Presidential candidate, Senator John Edwards.

The letter (pdf) is below (further thoughts from me below that):

Dear Friends:

The 2008 Presidential elections offer our country and our community a chance to makehistory, by fundamentally restructuring American politics from the White House to the statehouse. That is why we are supporting Senator John Edwards for President and hope that you will consider joining us.

As the Democratic presidential nominee, John Edwards would represent nothing less than the chance to alter the conventional foundations of American politics. Edwards demonstrates strong leadership, not only on the critical issues facing the LGBT community, but also by offering bold ideas like guaranteeing universal health care to every man, woman and child in this nation, ending poverty in this country during our lifetime, and stopping global warming while creating hundreds of thousands of quality American jobs in a new energy economy. As the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee Edwards will run a 50-state campaign- helping to strengthen Democratic officials, not only in traditionally “blue” states, but also in “battleground” and “red” states.

Edwards’ “policy ideas are shaping the Democratic presidential race.”
The Economist- July 19, 2007

Edwards’ bold leadership on the critical issues, both on those unique to our community and those that transcend all communities, has set the policy agenda for this election, making it safe for others to follow. Edwards was the first candidate to offer a truly
universal health care plan, the first candidate to offer a comprehensive global warming proposal, and the first to offer a comprehensive HIV/AIDS strategy. Early on, Edwards accepted responsibility and apologized for his vote to invade Iraq, and he has consistently called upon Congress to stand up to President Bush to force an end to the war.

I am the candidate running for president on the Democratic side who’s actually won an election in a red state running against the Jesse Helms political machine.
John Edwards- “Meet the Press” October 7, 2007

Edwards is the Democrat with the best chance to regain the White House against all of the top Republican candidates and offers the best chance to help Democrats get elected in some of the toughest races in the country because of his appeal in traditionally “red” areas. According to Doug Shoen, former pollster for President Bill Clinton, Edwards is “the strongest individual match up” against Republicans in the general. Edwards puts into play states where Democrats running for president have not competed in years. For example, his strength in places like Kentucky, Missouri and Oklahoma, will help

Democrats competing in tight races, including for control of governorships and legislatures, control of which may mean more to LGBT Americans than most. While members of the LGBT community are by no means single-issue voters, you may be asking yourself what all of this has to do with the LGBT community and our agenda.

As most of us now realize, almost all of the victories for our community have been at the state and local level. These victories are largely due to the hard work, persistence and talent of LGBT statewide organizations and their allies. Because these activists devoted their lives to educating their neighbors and elected representatives, we have marriage in Massachusetts, civil unions in New Jersey, Vermont, California, New Hampshire and Connecticut, and laws providing workplace equality, safe schools, protection from hate crimes and domestic partnership registries in dozens of states and local municipalities.

As members of the LGBT community, we are supporting John Edwards for President because if we want to continue to see this kind of progress in the states and to see the bills that we all have worked so hard to get enacted, we need to maintain the majorities Democrats hold in statehouses and build new ones. And there is only one candidate with a 50-state plan who can ensure that we capitalize on the opportunities we have across the nation. That candidate is John Edwards.

Eric Stern, Former National Stonewall Democrats Executive Director

David Mixner, Former Bill Clinton for President Adviser

Dan Hinkley, Nevada Stonewall Democratic Caucus President

John A. Pérez, Democratic National Committee Member

Sal Rosselli, SEIU California State Council President, former Alice B. Toklas Club President

Linda Elliott, Human Rights Committee Board of Directors Member

David Tseng, Kerry-Edwards 2004 National LGBT Advisory Committee Co-Chair

Skip Paul, Corporate Executive

Jenny Durkan, Washington LGBT Community Leader

Scott Benson, Majority Leader Minneapolis City Council

Kenda Kirby, former Executive Director of North Carolina Human Rights Initiative

Ian Palmquist, Equality North Carolina, Executive Director

Eric Marcus, Author and Gay Activist

Scott Wiener, Human Rights Campaign Board of Directors Member

Ken Keechl, Broward County Commissioner; Former Dolphin Democrats President

Ron Ginsburg, LGBT Community Activist

Gregory G. Simoncini, Commissioner of Illinois Human Rights Commission

Jeff Gardner, Vice Chair of Garden State Equality

James Duff, TV Producer

Robert D. Horvath, Mautner Project Board of Directors Member

Patrick J. Lyden, LGBT Community Activist; Homeland Security Advisor

Kevin Jennings, New York LGBT Community Activist

Stephen Handwerk, Board Member of National Stonewall Democrats

Jeff Anderson, Former Co-Chair of John Kerry for President National LGBT Finance Committee

Jeff Soukup, Former President and COO, PlanetOut Inc.

Andy Szekeres, Former Colorado Stonewall Co Chair

Sean Kosofsky, Michigan LGBT Community Leader

Mark Periello, Former Human Rights Campaign staff member

Kyle Bailey, Board member of National Stonewall Democrats

Hans Johnson, President of Progressive Victory

Todd Elmer, Former Clinton Administration Commerce Department Official

Les Krambeal, Board member of National Stonewall Democrats

Leslie Giblett, Washington LGBT Community Leader

Alexis Pontikis, Washington LGBT Community Leader

Gregg Gallo, National Stonewall Board Members

David Mariner, Former Out for Howard Dean Co-Chair

Matt Comer, LGBT Journalist

*Organizations listed for identification purposes only

As you can plainly see, I was a signatory of the letter.

Many of you may have read my Tuesday post, “Obama: Stand up for what is right.”

In that post I detailed my feelings and concerns over Senator Barack Obama’s “Embrace the Change” gospel tour, and specifically, the concert featuring ex-gay Donnie McClurkin in Columbia, S.C. In the post, I also published a letter I sent to the Obama campaign (excerpt):

I am a person who was deeply hurt (and continues to hurt daily) from being raised in a church and religious setting that taught gay and lesbian people should be put to death (”Put all the queers on a ship, pluck a hole into the side of it and send it out to sea,” my preacher would say).

I cannot support any person – whether that be a Presidential candidate or a city council candidate – who helps to give even the slightest hint of credibility to an idealogical viewpoint that is very closely linked to the real and ever-present spiritual violence I was exposed to as a youth. I was a gay adolescent attempting to come to terms with myself, my God, my church, family, community and society. People like Donnie McClurkin never made it easier.

I understand that the Senator wants to reach out to as many people as possible. I do understand that. I’m not totally inept when it comes to politics and I know (perhaps not as much as the Senator) how the game is played: Reach out to the most people without compromising one’s own values, get the most votes and win an election.

Unfortunately, Sen. Obama will have to make a decision. Does he sacrifice the votes of black evangelicals who will be turned off by his support of LGBT people and their right to exist (literally, their right to exist)? Does he try to play both angles reaching out to LGBT people and telling them they do have the right to exist while at the same time reaching out to a group who think that I should be invisible, “converted,” guilty of a crime or, at worst, put to death?

At the beginning of the election season, I fervently supported both Sen. Edwards and Sen. Obama. In fact, I even put little buttons here on my site for both of them. Those buttons are long gone, but they remained on the site containing more personal, professional information about me (www.matthillcomer.com). I have since removed the button for Obama.

I have also removed from myself – from my heart and soul – any support I once held for Sen. Obama’s campaign for the Presidency. Because Sen. Obama chose to honor and lend his credibility to a leader of a movement I find immensely dangerous to me, my brothers and sisters in the LGBT community and to all of America, I can no longer support him.

Sen. Obama has, unfortunately, chosen to honor his desire for votes over his obligation to stand for equality. He has chosen to honor religion strife with lies, hypocrisy, prejudice and hate over his obligation to speak out for the inherent worth and dignity of every person.

His attempts to balance respect and equality for LGBT Americans with the hate and exclusion of those who stand utterly opposed to LGBT equality are lame and offensive. Furthermore, his pandering and “vote-getting” behavior is nothing less than political posturing simply for the sake of winning.

As the young high school student told Sen. John McCain: I wanted to see a leader, but I don’t see one here.

Senator Edwards, on the other hand, is the only candidate who has continuously stood up for the respect and equality of LGBT people. I respect that Sen. Edwards can say he is “not quite there yet” and temper that with a policy position that, unlike other candidates, has not pushed entirely closed the door to full equality on the issue of marriage. Also, Sen. Edwards has not attempted to lie down with those who, if they had there way, would like to see nothing less than the disappearance of every LGBT person on the globe.

As for non-LGBT related issues, I agree most with Sen. Edwards’ plans for healthcare, poverty, education and domestic affairs. He is a candidate who most represents my views and one who respects me and my personhood.

Furthermore, just as Sen. Obama shows no regret over his pandering to a hate and prejudice filled movement, I am not regretful in the least over my separation from supporting the Obama campaign.

In the North Carolina primary, my vote will be going to Sen. John Edwards – a candidate who fully supports me, my community and our dignity and worth.

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Happy Halloween

From our good friends at the N.C. Democratic Party (www.ncdp.org):


6

Obama: Stand up for what is right

By now, the LGBT blogosphere and activist world has thoroughly debated the appearance of ex-gay Donnie McClurkin at Senator Barack Obama’s “Embrace the Change” gospel concert in Columbia, S.C. (just one example here).

They have brought to light his past statements against LGBT people’s integrity, dignity and worth. They have fully explored the circumstances leading up to McClurkin’s appearance and what actually took place during the concert. There is no need for me to repeat it all.

But, I do have concerns. In fact, my concerns are more than “concerns.”

I was able to speak to the Senator’s Columbia press spokesman before the concert took place. I was told, “McClurkin is there to sing and offer praise, not to talk about politics.”

Knowing now that McClurkin did much more than just sing and offer praise, I am upset. I am angry.

I am disappointed that a person I once immensely respected has now helped to give credibility to a message and an ideological viewpoint that should never be given credibility.

Below is my letter to the Obama campaign. I slept on what I thought I wanted to say last night, hoping that I could come to other feelings, but my thoughts haven’t changed. I also debated whether I would post this letter at all, or only excerpts, or in its entirety. I decided to just post the full letter. Obama isn’t the only one I want to hear my words:

Although it makes me feel somewhat more at ease knowing that Donnie McClurkin had been given a clear understanding of his role at the concert prior to the event, I still feel as though a huge mistake has been made.

You will notice that the email I sent out earlier (as well as this email) came from my personal email address, not my address at Q-Notes. I am writing this and speaking to you now in my personal voice and want to be totally honest and up-front: I am deeply upset that Mr. McClurkin was allowed to address political issues when he was invited only to sing. I am deeply upset that Senator Obama has offered credibility to McClurkin’s message.

I had come to the conclusion that since the LGBT community always asks for tolerance, I should offer the same to Mr. McClurkin. I could let him sing and not be upset about that. After all, he’s just singing and nothing more, right? I’m a Christian who can appreciate the songs and praises of another believer, right? That is what I told myself, at least.

While Mr. McClurkin’s views are certainly tame when compared to other ex-gay leaders’ and activists’ teachings, I am still hurt that he would abuse the platform he was given during the concert, a platform that was offered for him to sing and to offer praise only.

A part of me says that there was no way Mr. McClurkin could have been controlled once a microphone was in his hand. However, another part of me says that if he had indeed been told very plainly the parameters of what he could and couldn’t do on stage, then cutting his microphone should have been neither a difficult decision by those running the event, nor should it have come as a surprise to Mr. McClurkin.

I am a person who was deeply hurt (and continues to hurt daily) from being raised in a church and religious setting that taught gay and lesbian people should be put to death (“Put all the queers on a ship, pluck a hole into the side of it and send it out to sea,” my preacher would say).

I cannot support any person – whether that be a Presidential candidate or a city council candidate – who helps to give even the slightest hint of credibility to an idealogical viewpoint that is very closely linked to the real and ever-present spiritual violence I was exposed to as a youth. I was a gay adolescent attempting to come to terms with myself, my God, my church, family, community and society. People like Donnie McClurkin never made it easier.

I understand that the Senator wants to reach out to as many people as possible. I do understand that. I’m not totally inept when it comes to politics and I know (perhaps not as much as the Senator) how the game is played: Reach out to the most people without compromising one’s own values, get the most votes and win an election.

Unfortunately, Sen. Obama will have to make a decision. Does he sacrifice the votes of black evangelicals who will be turned off by his support of LGBT people and their right to exist (literally, their right to exist)? Does he try to play both angles reaching out to LGBT people and telling them they do have the right to exist while at the same time reaching out to a group who think that I should be invisible, “converted,” guilty of a crime or, at worst, put to death?

I know: it sounds extreme. But I’ve lived my entire life in the South and I’ve been “out of the closet” since I was 14. Putting gays to death? Think no one could believe that? Think again.

Allowing Donnie McClurkin to abuse the opportunity he’d been given measures up to offering the credibility Donne McClurkin and other anti-gay leaders need in order to continue ruining the lives of LGBT people.

Ask the Senator how he feels about any of the 13, 14 or 15 year old LGBT boys and girls at his concert who heard Donnie McClurkin say they are not worthy. McClurkin may not have used those words, but as a person who’s been in that situation myself, I’ll guarantee Sen. Obama that what those youth heard was a message of exclusion and hate.

Matt Comer

I am fully aware that some may take the following analogy as an offense. I apologize in advance. I believe, however, that the situation with Senator Obama and McClurkin is no different.

Imagine for a moment that we are all living in 1840. Imagine that a Presidential candidate has repeatedly said that he will support the abolitionist movement, that he believes abolition of slavery is 100% the right thing to do. Now, imagine the same Presidential candidate invites a religious leader from the other side of the debate to one of his events. Imagine that the candidate lends credibility to an ideological viewpoint from which he has not only already distanced himself publicly, but also a viewpoint that those in the abolitionist movement find repugnant.

The candidate says it is necessary for “dialogue.”

That wouldn’t have flown then, if it had happened. Or, at least, looking back we know that it shouldn’t have flown.

Although the current situation isn’t as extreme as slavery vs. abolition, it is, nonetheless, a situation of a candidate who has promised to support equality and the offering of integrity and dignity to every person, but who now lends credibility to a movement that preaches the exact opposite. That doesn’t fly. That hurts.

Unless something happens to amend this situation very quickly, I’m afraid Obama will have lost the support and respect I once held for him. Although it is true I always supported Edwards, I also supported Obama. An Obama-Edwards ticket would have been my dream ticket. Now, I’m not so sure.

Obama should fully, publicly condemn the words and actions of McClurkin. He should apologize for allowing his campaign to become, even if for a short time, a vehicle for hate and exclusion. I don’t want to see another written statement or another prepared thought coming from some hired political press spokesman. Obama should appear publicly and apologize himself. No script, no prepared language. I think I’m owed at least that much.

If Obama truly supports equality, then he shouldn’t be afraid to condemn those voices that call for the opposite of equality.

It really is simple. Here’s to hoping Obama gets the message.

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Busy days…

So, I’m back without having internet at my apartment. I’m so busy at work that I really don’t have time to blog from the office (not to mention, I’m really not getting paid to blog, lol).

My second issue of Q-Notes as Editor will be coming out on Nov. 3. It has some great features in it. I’ll post snippets of the news for the Nov. 3 issue next week. Check out snippets from the Oct. 20 issue here and see the official Q-Notes site at www.q-notes.com.

Yeah… saying my first four weeks on the job has been “busy” is an understatement, I think. In those first four weeks I’ve been promptly ignored by press spokespersons of Congressional arguments, had an interview with a U.S. Senate candidate, got into an argument with a local LGBT leader and organization, been completely ignored by police and media representatives in Johnson City, Tenn., spoken with press people at Obama’s campaign and oh so much more.

Exciting, frustrating, upsetting, stressful but very rewarding.

When I was working to help get the Oct. 20 issue together, I felt really good about the job I did. Perhaps it was just because it was my first issue. During the days I was working on the Nov. 3 issue, I didn’t feel as confident. Although, I did feel a little better when the publisher and associate editor said I did a great job. We’ll have to see how I feel when the issue hits the news stands.

I promise, though, that sooner or later I’ll be getting internet at home and getting back to some of my usual haunts online.

Till then, talk to ya’ll later!

P.S. – If you are in North Carolina, don’t forget about the Equality NC Conference and Gala on November 3. I’ll be there moderating/facilitating the College Activism breakout session in the morning (I’ll be pulling double duty, as I’ll be there reporting on the event as well). Click the Conference and Gala logo here on the site and learn more about registration, etc.

2

Passing on bad apples

The New York Times observes that “after the 2004 election, evangelical Christians looked like one of the most powerful and cohesive voting blocs in America. Three years later their leadership is split along generational and theological lines.” And asks, “How did it all come apart?”

Though I don’t have an advanced degree in politics or religion, I can’t help but have a few answers of my own. In the runup to the 2004 elections, a vocal and powerful group of Christians leaders stirred up fellow Christians to vote against homosexuality. Using powerful religious messaging they convinced an overwhelming majority that it was a grievous moral sin to NOT support anti-gay amendments and anti-gay politicians. Often times voting against their economic interests, voters swept Republicans into office and constitutional amendments fell into place. The Times observes this very phenomenon:

With flushed red cheeks and a pudgy, dimpled chin, Fox roared down from Immanuel’s pulpit about the wickedness of abortion, evolution and homosexuality. He mobilized hundreds of Kansas pastors to push through a state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, helping to unseat a handful of legislators in the process.

But this is not 2004.

Three years after the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled against marriage restrictions based on gender, the state isn’t falling apart and Americans–Christian Americans–now have real-life examples of what marriage equality looks like. And it doesn’t look so bad.

Matthew 7 says, “Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.” Anti-gay rhetoric sows division and does nothing to advance the Gospel. You can’t hide bad fruit forever.

Pastor Fox has since been asked to step down of Immanuel Baptist as the deacons recognize–in their own way–the heresy of distorting Scripture and religion to marginalize and oppress people.

In a country founded on liberty and a religion birthed out of radical inclusion, we are judging trees by their fruit and opting to pass on the bad fruit. As queer people continue to step up, stand out, and refuse to stay silent in the face of injustice, straight Americans will be exposed to the “bad fruits” of anti-gay rhetoric, politics, and theology, and they will continue to reject it.

1

Out and Proud in the NC Senate Race

Matt, have you seen this? I’m sure you’ll be able to offer much better insight than I would. Still, it’s exciting to see an openly gay candidate for the US Senate, especially from the south!

From the Oct. 20 issue (my debut issue) of Q-Notes, your premier source of Carolinas’ LGBT news & views:

Q-Notes welcomes new editor
Matt Comer brings fresh perspective to coverage

by David Stout . Q-Notes staff

CHARLOTTE — Q-Notes publisher Jim Yarbrough has hired Matt Comer as the new editor of the biweekly LGBT newspaper of the Carolinas. His time at the helm of the 21-year-old publication begins with the current issue.

“We are excited to have Matt on our team and look forward to the energy and fresh outlook he brings,” Yarbrough said. “His activism and journalism, particularly in new media, will benefit our current readers as well as the new readers he will attract.”

Comer replaces David Moore, who stepped down at the end of September to pursue other opportunities. As he revealed in his final Editor’s Note, Moore is also caring for his mother who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer shortly before his departure.

“I am grateful to Mr. Yarbrough, his staff and all those who have given me this wonderful opportunity to work daily for the community I hold near and dear to my heart,” said Comer, a native of Winston-Salem.

He began his activism there as a freshman at R.J. Reynolds High School, founding a gay-straight alliance. He also worked with the Winston-Salem chapter of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN).

10202007coverAt the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where he matriculated, Comer continued his work for LGBT equality both on campus and off. The groups he was involved with include UNCG PRIDE!, Alternative Resources of the Triad, Guilford Green Foundation, N.C. Human Rights Campaign Steering Committee, Triad Business & Professional Guild, Equality NC and PFLAG Winston-Salem.

He also entered the blogosphere during this time with the establishment of his weblog, InterstateQ.com. Since its founding in 2005, the blog has grown steadily in readership and influence.

Nationally, Comer has been heavily involved with the youth division of Soulforce, an organization founded by the Rev. Mel White to counter religion-based oppression of LGBT people. Q-Notes readers might remember Comer from coverage he received last year for participating in a Soulforce-led action against the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

In September 2006, Comer and eight others were arrested in Greensboro for trespassing in an Army Recruiting office after they staged a sit-in for the right to fill out enlistment papers as openly gay and lesbian Americans. The action was part of Soulforce’s Right to Serve Campaign.

This spring, Comer spent two months on the eastern leg of the Soulforce Equality Ride. The busload of LGBT and allied youth visited 19 Christian colleges and universities that discriminate against LGBT students and faculty.

Comer was arrested at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, Mich., when he and UNC-Chapel Hill graduate Stephen Krebs attempted to deliver a gift symbolizing “Christ’s inclusive love” to the school’s student government.

“Although it might seem like it,” Comer says with a smile, “I don’t enjoy getting arrested. It’s just that sometimes doing what’s right puts you at odds with the establishment — and that’s a stand I’ve been willing to take.”

Comer’s new job has precipitated his relocation to Charlotte. In his role as editor, he said he hopes to reinvigorate the paper’s commitment to representing the voices of all within the LGBT community. He also hopes to increase Q-Notes’ web presence as the premier source of Carolinas LGBT news and commentary.

“I want to see Q-Notes continue to grow its readership, influence and ability to reach out to all portions of the LGBT community and our non-queer allies as well,” said Comer. “We have the potential for awesome growth. With the talented staff here and teamwork from community members across the Carolinas, I know we can continue to build on the paper’s more than two-decade track record of success.”

Yarbrough concluded, “Whether youth or older, gay, lesbian or straight allies, I am confident Matt will have something to say that will speak to all.”

info: Contact Matt Comer at the Q-Notes office at 704-531-9988, ext. 208 or reach him via email at editor@q-notes.com.

Read the original article

10202007coverHeadlines & snippets from the Oct. 20 issue (my debut issue) of Q-Notes, your premier source of Carolinas’ LGBT news & views:

Trans protections ripped from ENDA
National organizations, trans activists respond; rift in HRC forms

by Matt Comer . Q-Notes staff
WASHINGTON, D.C. — At the end of September, U.S. House leaders including openly gay U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) and Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) would no longer contain protections for transgender Americans.

Their announcement provoked a firestorm of controversy, in-fighting and division among the LGBT community. At the same time, however, the response to the announcement provided a chance for hundreds of national and state LGBT organizations to unite for a transgender-inclusive ENDA.

Citing an unrecorded “Whip count,” or poll, of House members, Frank stated, “it became very clear that while we would retain a significant majority of Democrats, we would lose enough so that a bill that included transgender protection would lose if not amended.” READ MORE

N.C. man kills himself after sex sting arrest publicized
Community members cite media, police handling as cause

by Matt Comer . Q-Notes staff
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. — Over a two-week period in late September, 40 men — including one preacher and employees of school systems — were arrested in undercover sex stings in Johnson City, Tenn. public parks, possibly leading to the suicide of one man less than 24 hours after charges against him were announced.

According to The Johnson City Press, the police targeted two parks they felt had become known for sexual activity. The report of the sting was featured prominently as the lead headline on the paper’s front page and included names, addresses and photographs of each man arrested.

One of the area’s television news stations, WJHL Channel 11, also carried news of the undercover operation and posted on its website the Johnson City Police Department press release, which also included names, addresses and photographs. READ MORE

NC Pride 2007 draws thousands
Festival attracts strong youth contingent

by Matt Comer . Q-Notes staff
DURHAM, N.C. — With the sun shining and a nice breeze, the 23rd annual NC Pride Festival hit the streets of Durham and the Duke University East Campus on Sept. 29.

The festival drew between 6,000 to 7,000 excited and energetic participants according to Festival spokesperson Keith Hayes.

Along with an all-time record of 160 participating businesses, non-profit organizations and other associations in the vendor fair, the festival attracted students, community members and business and political leaders.

A celebrity appearance from Raleigh native Randy Jones, better known as the “Cowboy” of the Village People, surprised the crowd with rousing renditions of “Y.M.C.A.” and other 70s favorites.

As in years past, the parade featured fantastic floats and other fun sights. Duke University students rode a float made for the Human Rights Campaign. Other riders threw out Mardi Gras beads, candy or other treats to the crowds.

Student and college groups from around the state marched and showed their solidarity. From the western mountains all the way to the eastern portions of the state, college organizations lined up and took to the street with rainbow flags and banners. READ MORE

Anti-gay foes in the Carolinas
Gay organizing continues despite threats

by Matt Comer . Q-Notes staff
The LGBT communities of the Carolinas have come to know far too well the presence of visible and vocal anti-gay opponents. In their attempts to keep gay and transgender people invisible in the two states, the queer communities of the Carolinas are learning how best to deal with them, how to respond and further organize.

Although his official service to the state ended in 2005, former S.C. State Rep. John Graham Altman’s vocal opposition to LGBT equality has certainly left a legacy. First elected in 1997 to represent Charleston County, the Republican had been a fixture in state politics since the 1950s, Altman was among the most outspoken anti-gay leaders in the state.

In 2004 he left his most lasting, harmful legacy when he fervently supported the anti-gay marriage amendment to the state’s constitution, which passed by an overwhelming majority.

“This amendment gives us one extra layer of protection against a federal judiciary gone wild,” said Altman. READ MORE

—————–

Oh… and I promise… I really didn’t write everything. Visit Q-Notes at www.q-notes.com to see all the other great stories, plus, I’ll be posting separately the article on my new beginning at the paper.

7

The N.C. Sodomy Law & Police Abuse

Q-Notes has a wonderful article on the North Carolina Crimes Against Nature (CAN) law.

Q-Notes staff David Stout wrote the piece for the issue currently out on stands (the next issue comes out on Oct. 20).

It profiles the case of a Florida priest arrested in North Carolina for “soliciting a crime against nature.” The details of the case are clear and even admitted in police reports: The priest met a person he did not know was an undercover cop and asked if he wanted to go back to a private residence for sex. There was no solicitation for sex in public… only sex in private.

The United States Supreme Court ruled in Lawrence v. Texas that the state has no business policing private, consensual sex acts between two adults of legal age.

The case is a perfect one just waiting to be challenged.

Q-Notes has an online poll up on the issue: If you were cited for soliciting a crime against nature, would you fight the charge in court?

About 29 people have voted, with 93% saying they would fight the charge. A person who voted left a comment saying, “I think Q-Notes, ENC or some similar agency should send a guy wearing a wire into the areas where stings are being held. If/when the guy gets arrested for asking an undercover cop to go to a private residence for sex, the paper or group could fight the charge in court with the recording as evidence. This would be a great way to fight this issue, I think.”

I agree. If Bush can use wire-tapping on private citizens, I see no reason why private citizens (or members of the media) can’t use wires to expose the abuse of police power on a law that has been overturned (at least for the purpose for which it was used in the case against the Florida priest).

Who wants to be the guinea pig? I’ve already been arrested too many times for my own good, but I’ll do it if no one else volunteers.

1

Maybe they should get a Bill of Rights?

There are some interesting civil rights situations happening across the pond.

In England a debate has erupted over a “hate speech” law that was recently expanded to include prohibitions against inciting violence against others, based on sexual orientation or gender-identity. The law has been around for centuries, originally including prohibitions against inciting religious or ethnic violence.

From CBS:

The director of the Christian Institute says it’s an issue of free speech and that prison should not be the penalty for “expressing sincerely held religious beliefs.” Yet the Muslim preacher in East London who urged the murder of gays might say his religious beliefs were sincerely held too.
The Islamic Human Rights Commission has also condemned the proposed law, arguing that it will “either be watered down until it becomes pointless, or you deprive people of free speech.”

Earlier this year, it was made illegal for hotels and bed-and-breakfasts to bar guests over their sexuality. Here again, Muslims and Christians united, arguing that to rent a room to a gay couple would go against their religious beliefs, essentially denying them freedom of religion.

Their objections didn’t sway the politicians.

This time though, not all gays are comfortable with the proposed legislation. Writing in the Guardian, Peter Tatchell, an outspoken human rights and gay rights activist wonders whether it might indeed infringe upon free speech.

He also says current laws designed to protect gays are not enforced, so why expect this one to be?

Tatchell also points out that similar laws have in the past been abused, recalling the case of a student arrested for making a joke about a policeman’s horse being gay.

Here in America, arch-conservatives absolutely freaked when the Matthew Shephard Act was passed. Including people in hate crimes legislation will take away their right to free speech, they say.

Unfortunately for those conservatives, they live in America. Maybe they haven’t realized that yet.

American hate crimes laws apply only to the violence itself and doesn’t punish a person from preaching. The only way a preacher is going to be slapped with a hate crime is if he directly tells someone to go out and kill a queer (and then that person does).

If our dear arch-conservatives want to experience a real lack of their civil right to spew hatred, they should take a trip to the land of really cute guys with cute accents, *cough*cough* ahem, I mean, take a trip to England.