A local Charlotte blogger who writes at Cedar Posts and Barbwire Fences on local news and activities relating to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department has been keeping up with the news of six chaplains’ resignations. He asserts the resignations have more to do with internal CMPD doings than the the lesbian pastor appointed to the chaplaincy. Perhaps that’s the case, but that’s certainly not what media is reporting and what CMPD brass say. (And, it should be noted, that the chaplains themselves first mentioend the lesbian pastor’s sexual orientation as a reason for their objections.)

After a week or more of writing onthe topic, Cedar added this bit of commentary:

Cedar’s View – I don’t have an argument against Gay people. I know a few men who are openly “Out” gay and while I consider them friends, they live odd drama filed lives. Nothing is easy for them, every set back is a travesty. While they would like to be accepted as who they are, they go to extremes to say who they aren’t.

Do I understand being Gay? No, I just can’t see looking as some guy’s hairy ass and thinking to myself “yum yum”. As far as lesbians, now that I get! As long as they are both hot. Which they never are. And for the transgender crowd, other than the Bird Cage with Robin Williams it is not funny or entertaining its sad. Chaz Bono still looks like a freak.

On the other hand, I have a gay friend of nearly 20 years. A couple of years ago his life long partner died after a long illness. And I have to admit there was no doubt that relationship was based on the strong and deep love they shared.

I’m so wonderfully happy and relieved to know Cedar doesn’t “have an argument against Gay people.” Actually. I’m being quite serious. No kidding. I’d assumed Cedar was like the majority of naysayers I see in and around Charlotte’s blogging and media landscape: racist, homophobic and conservative as hell (that’s not opinion, that’s not stereotype; it’s fact). But, alas, I was wrong. In this case, I’m glad to be proven wrong.

Cedar’s “view” isn’t homophobic or anti-gay, per se, but it is skewed and off-base.

Imagine any person saying, “I know a few Jews, and they are all greedy,” or “I know a few Indians, and they all have dots on their heads and smell.” That kind of logic doesn’t fly. Knowing “a few” of any kind of people doesn’t give you the full picture of an entire population. That’s how stereotypes get started. From there, prejudices develop. Combined, stereotypes and prejudices make discrimination (legal, civil and otherwise) possible.

I like Cedar’s blog. I like hearing him out and reading his opinions, even though I might not agree with many of them. I hope Cedar takes the time to get to know more LGBT people, for his own sake. Having that personal experience will make his blogging and opinion-making stronger. In fact, while I’m thinking about it, I might just ask him how to lunch.

You know, gay folks really are quite nice. We’re fun, mostly easy-going and have a great and unique perspective on life and society. And, by the way, I’d say our drama isn’t necessarily all that much better or worse than straight folks; it’s just different.

As to Cedar’s assertion, “Nothing is easy for them, every set back is a travesty,” it’s unfortunate that oftentimes his friends’ scenarios are true. Try living in a world, Cedar, where you grow up with all corners of society telling you are sick and sinful, condemned for eternity and that your life is valueless. Let’s see how easy of world that is for you to inhabit.

This week’s furor over a lesbian pastor’s appointment to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) volunteer chaplaincy force hopefully paints for us a clear picture of where Charlotte might be heading in its continued journey toward full inclusion and equality for LGBT citizens and residents.

In the past, I’ve been quite the critic of Charlotte’s and Mecklenburg County’s political and city leaders. (To be fair, I’ve also been very critical of our own community’s lack of leadership.)

I’ve found many of our political and LGBT leaders more than willing to “promise” or “commit” to LGBT inclusion, equality and advocacy, and far too many of the same unwilling to take clear, principled and courageous stands on those commitments. Empty words and broken promises do not equate to “political courage,” my friends.

In October, however, CMPD Chief Rodney Monroe made clear, in a very public way, his commitment to furthering inclusion and equality within his police force. At an open forum at the Lesbian & Gay Community Center of Charlotte, Monroe sought collaboration, communication and dialogue. Monroe’s mere appearance at the event was a step forward, the first time any CMPD police chief had publicly addressed the LGBT community.

This week, Monroe made good on his commitment: He stood strong and spoke up for respect in the face of resignations from six, veteran CMPD chaplains offended by the appointment of a lesbian pastor to the volunteer chaplain force.

Monroe wrote to the chaplains (PDF):

As valued members of this Department, I’m sure you can understand my disappointment when I received letters of resignation from some members of the Chaplaincy program — some who have served CMPD for many years and were instrumental in its inception. While I understand that personal beliefs do not always align with business practices, I have always believed that we can respect our differences and beliefs in order to work together in our common goal of bettering this organization and the community we serve. This is especially important in acknowledging our greater role as a local government agency that adheres to the constitutional principle of “the separation of church and state.”

As we look around our Department, and even within our Chaplaincy program, we see people of many different backgrounds, beliefs and opinions. I respect the decisions and convictions of those who have decided to resign, as I would never ask anyone to compromise their beliefs. But I do hope that those of us who remain, continue our dedication to this Department and continue to embrace our goal of being an inclusive organization that respects the differences of all of our employees.

Monroe has proven he can be a principled, courageous leader in the face of hate, bigotry and anti-LGBT prejudice. Our city and county leaders should follow his example. LGBT community leaders should, too.

Charlotte is changing, albeit very slowly, due in part to Monroe’s ability to do his job: To serve and to protect all the citizens and residents of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, regardless of race, religion, color, creed, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender-identity and any host or litany of real or perceived differences you can imagine.

For that, Monroe deserves thanks and praise from our community. In addition, he deserves our loyalty and our defense when local anti-LGBT and racist activists come knocking on his door demanding his resignation or termination (such has happened before, and will surely happen again).

Monroe is a true ally to this community and all citizens of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. He is, perhaps, among the truest we have among the very small group of local leaders regularly standing up for values of respect, tolerance, inclusion and equality.

I tip my hat to Chief Monroe and thank him for a job well done.

1

Neal: It’s time to man up, Mr. President

Chapel Hill businessman and one-time U.S. Senate candidate Jim Neal took to The Huffington Post yesterday with a message to President Obama.

“Man up,” he says in the face of Tuesday’s devastating midterm elections, poking and prodding the president to engage in a political fight to show which party really does have the nation’s best interests at heart.

Neal also sees a bright side to this week’s political history:

When the new Congress convenes in January, there will be a new bogeyman in town. The hot potato is in the hands of the Republican Party for the next two years.

And therein lies the silver lining — a Pyrrhic victory — for the president. The heat’s off. It’s now the Republicans’ economy to fix and it’s the Republicans’ responsibility to create jobs and stimulate economic growth.

That’s a tall order for a Party that reminds us “Government doesn’t create jobs.”

In 2012 Americans will do what they always do: vote with their pocketbooks. The Republicans have no rabbits in the hat, no tricks up their sleeve to fatten, much less maintain, those pocketbooks. You can’t pay the mortgage with a tax cut. You can’t stave off a foreclosure with a tax cut. You can’t stimulate short-term economic growth through tax cuts. You can’t create jobs by cutting government spending and shuttering government agencies. You can’t create jobs by bashing gays, illegal immigrants and mosques.

Read Neal’s full column…

2

Anti-gay incumbents reelected to WSFCS board

On Sunday, I started up a last-minute campaign to raise awareness on the anti-gay history and records of seven incumbents on the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education. It was a last-ditch effort to get folks out to the polls and aware of some of the outrageous statements and behavior of board members Buddy Collins, Jane Goins, Victor Johnson, Donny Lambeth, Jeannie Metcalf, Marilyn Parker and Jill Tackabery.

For three years, Winston-Salem’s CHANGE (Communities Helping All Neighbors Gain Empowerment) had led the effort to turn the education races from partisan to non-partisan and to raise awareness on issues like school choice and diversity.

In addition, long-time advocate Janet Joyner penned a four-page, in-depth history of these seven members’ anti-gay records. That history was published along with my Sunday-Tuesday effort to get people to “Say NO to BIGOTRY in Winston-Salem Schools.”

It was a valiant effort, yes. But it came too late for any real good. I know that. All of the WSFCS Board of Education’s incumbents were reelected yesterday. There was one positive outcome: Lori Goins Clark, incumbent Goins’ daughter, was not successful in her bid for office. Had she been elected, she would have been the eighth anti-gay member of the board. West Forsyth High grad and straight ally Mark Shields addressed that point perfectly in a May 2010 letter to the editor on Metcalf’s history and Clark’s position on bullying.

Perhaps, in the future, a more organized campaign can be mounted to finally oust these members and vote into office true defenders of education — people who will vow not only to educate our young people but also keep them safe while these youth are in their care.

Until next time… keep on keeping on.

Dr. Michael Brown, Charlotte’s leading anti-gay activist, debated Orthodox Jewish Rabbi Shmuley Boteach on Monday, Nov. 1, at Southern Evangelical Seminary in Matthews, N.C., south of Charlotte.

I attended, of course, and knew after watching a few videos of Brown and Boteach debate previously that this was going to be one hell of an interesting ride.

Neither man disappointed.

I don’t have time tonight to delve into the details or offer any extended thoughts. It’s late, I’m tired and hungry, and need to eat and go to bed. But, I will say that I was absolutely astonished and blown away by Rabbi Shmuley’s “calling out” of not only Dr. Brown but the entire Evangelical Christian movement on the debate topic: Is homosexuality America’s greatest moral crisis.

He said evangelicals are “obsessed” with homosexuality, and that their predisposition to focus on this issue and this issue alone was marginalizing them in the eyes of mainstream society; that evangelicals could have a real impact on the health and future of America and its families but would fail if they continue to make all religious people look crazy. Shmuley also asserted that Evangelicals are scapegoating American families’ ills on a gay “boogey man,” and are being hypocritical in their stand for “family values” in light of their seeming lack of care or concern for issues such as divorce, pornography, misogyny, promiscuity, teen sex and pregnancy and a host of other issues. By far, he said, heterosexuals have done more damage to the “traditional family” than anything gays could have done. Why aren’t evangelicals focusing on real issues? Why are they “fiddling while Rome burns,” he asked. Why are they ignoring their own problems and seeking only on one, small, insignificant issue?

His point was driven home when I got the opportunity to ask a question at the end of the debate. I didn’t have a question, actually. It was more of a favor. I asked Rabbi Shmuley (Dr. Brown eventually did the asking, only after being prompted to) if he’d ask the crowd of (I’m guessing) a couple hundred two questions.

1. By a show of hands, how many people in the room had contacted either their federal congressman or state representatives concerning a constitutional amendment on same-sex marriage?
2. By another show of hands, how many people had also contacted either their federal congressmen or state representatives concerning divorce or other marital issues?

Can you guess the crowd’s answers? It shouldn’t be difficult.

To the first question, nearly half the room raised their hands. (A small minority that is not, Dr. Brown.) And, to the second question only a dozen or so people raised their hands.

Those results didn’t shock me, and served only to prove two of Rabbi Shmuley’s main points: Anti-gay Evangelical Christians are obsessed with scapegoating gays for their problems and hypocritical on the issues that matter most.

As I said, these are only the quickest of thoughts. I want some time to review my notes, listen to relevant portions of my audio and think through the debate. I promise I’ll be back with a more detailed commentary.

Until then, if you are a self-identified Evangelical Christian or one who views homosexuality as a sin, I challenge you to ask yourself the same two questions posed to Monday night’s crowd. If you aren’t an Evangelical Christian or view homosexuality as a sin, I challenge you to ask those same two questions of your friends who might be. If I were a betting man, I’d put my money on saying the results you get, whether of yourself or others, are the same results from Monday’s debate.

Hypocrisy. That’s a doozy. Jesus wasn’t a fan of hypocrisy, ya know.