Some jobs aren’t fabulous. Many don’t get praise or recognition. Folks who work in these jobs are often given nary a passing thought by most people whose lives would be dramatically different if not for the services these workers provide.

There’s lots of examples. The garbage man (and woman) is one. Honestly, how many people think about the people who collect your trash on a weekly basis — the shit (figuratively and literally) they have to deal with as they weave their mammoth trucks through small neighborhood side streets picking up your untouchables?

Another example might be those who work for your municipality’s sewage and water treatment system or those who work for portable toilet services. That hot dog you ate at the county fair was mighty tasty, but you drop it off at the portable toilet and you’re on your way happily ever after. Tell me, have you ever paused to think what a Porta-John employee’s work day is like, cleaning up after your bodily waste? I doubt most people have.

Unfortunately, journalists get a similar type of treatment. Though journalists are far from ignored — because they’re regular targets of public disdain and contempt — they do live in a world where their jobs are largely underpaid, under-appreciated and under-utilized (especially as traditional, print news-media companies continue to languish in a lack of innovation under the ever-continuing move to online news and entertainment).

Ultimately, public disdain for journalism emanates, I believe, from a collective, public ignorance that neither understands nor really much cares about the types of real, meaningful and important services journalists actually provide their local communities, states and nation.

Such is the case with a recent example from The Charlotte Observer. Continue reading this post…


Real feelings, hard issues

Going on a year-and-a-half, perhaps 2 years now, I’ve had an on-going dialogue with a conservative Christian leader based in the Charlotte, N.C. area. Sometimes heated but always thick with very complex theological issues, our conversations — either in person or via the internet — consistently revolve around sexual orientation, faith and Scripture.

My lengthy response from our latest exchange below.

Continue reading this post…


Niece of a saint, promoter of a cult?

Well… “cult” probably isn’t the right word, but it sounded good in the title, huh?

A more accurate title would have been, “Niece of MLK, veritable saint and Civil Rights martyr, promotes pseudo-hate group as uncle turns in grave.”

I don’t know why it took me so long to find this press release on the website of the Concord, N.C.-based Operation Save America (OSA). After all, I almost weekly, if not more, check their website for any news and updates on their anti-LGBT actions in the Carolinas.

According to the release, Dr. Alveda King, niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., pictured right, welcomed with open arms OSA’s presence and their “National Event” in Atlanta, July 12-19:

Operation Rescue/Operation Save America will host a week-long event in Atlanta, Georgia, July 12-19. We will be at the Atlanta abortion mills everyday. We will also have other street activities during the week and rallies every evening.

Dr. Alveda King, niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Director of African American Outreach for Gospel of Life, will welcome OSA to her city on Saturday, July 12,2008.

“There is no way my uncle would condone the violence of abortion, …which brings painful deaths to babies and can result in torn wombs, serious infections and emotional devastation for their mothers. “Dr. Alveda King.

“The [African-American] cannot win if he is willing to sacrifice the future of his children for personal comfort and safety.” Dr. Martin Luther King

“Martin Luther King did not dedicate his life so that black mothers and fathers would kill their children .” Rev. Flip Benham, Director, Operation Save America.

OSA’s tactics have been more than in-your-face, more than extreme and often threatening and intimidating. Members of their group have, at least once, been accused of making anti-Semitic remarks. In July 2006, the group took on extremist anti-Islamic statements and actions and burned a Quran. They burned a rainbow flag, symbolizing the LGBT community, the same day.

Continue reading this post…

To the great dismay of the members and leader of the anti-gay, far-right Operation Save America — including a member once charged and convicted of sex offense — the annual Pride Charlotte celebration for LGBT and straight Charlotteans went off without a hitch. According to police estimates, a record-breaking 10,000 people attended the festival at Uptown Charlotte’s Gateway Village at Trade and Cedar Streets, making the event the largest of its kind in the Carolinas and between Atlanta and Washington, D.C.

Out in force, of course, was Operation Save America. I have to say they behaved quite nicely during most of their visit with us, excluding only a couple times they had to be spoken to by members of security or Pride Charlotte staff. One protestor, Ante Pavkovic had to be escorted off the property after he was found to be filming. Excluding media outlets that followed a strict media access agreement and process, filming is prohibited by Gateway Village property management. (If you’ll remember, Ante was one of three individuals arrested and detained after interrupting a session of the U.S. Senate during a prayer offered by a Hindu priest on July 12, 2007.)

The group’s leader, the Rev. Flip Benham, traversed the festival grounds for a couple of hours, followed closely by two of the Pride Charlotte “Partners in Peace,” a group that acts as a buffer between the potentially harmful or disruptive behaviors of protestors and festival participants.

Continue reading this post…

The Charlotte Observer had earlier reported that anti-gay Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Board of Education member Kaye McGarry would be proposing a motion to excuse anti-gay students from classes on Friday, April 25, when students will be participating in the National Day of Silence.

From that article:

School board member Kaye McGarry says she’ll ask her colleagues to approve excused absences for Charlotte-Mecklenburg students who stay home on the April 25 “National Day of Silence,” held to protest harassment of homosexuals.

The annual event, sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, calls attention to name-calling and bullying of homosexual, bisexual and transgendered students. Some students observe the day by remaining mute at school; they may also put tape over their mouths, wear stickers or pass out cards explaining their silence.


McGarry said she doesn’t approve of any political events in schools: “Whether it’s Christian stuff or Muslim stuff or homosexual stuff, it doesn’t matter.” She said she’ll put a motion for excused absences on the board’s April 15 agenda.

McGarry said she’s been getting calls all year from parents who don’t want their children exposed to the event. That accelerated during last month’s high-profile debate over a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools anti-bullying policy.

Students told the school board that participants in previous silence days have been shoved and called names.

The board approved the anti-bullying policy over the protest of some board and community members who said it could lead to schools promoting homosexuality and squelching the views of some Christians who believe it’s a sin. Afterward, an e-mail from the American Family Association circulated, urging parents to keep their kids home if their school participates.

“By remaining silent, the intent of the pro-homosexual students is to disrupt the classes while promoting the homosexual lifestyle,” says the e-mail, which provides a link listing five Charlotte-Mecklenburg high schools and one in Cabarrus County as participants.

Thankfully, CMS administration has already spoken up on the issue. CMS spokesperson Nora Carr told the paper, “Students are not allowed to miss school to avoid events they disagree with.”

Today, The Observer wrote an editorial


That’s the answer Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools should give to those who want excused absences for students who stay out of school in protest of the “National Day of Silence” April 25. On that day some students won’t talk during school as a protest of harassment of gay students.

So far, CMS has handled this matter correctly. Administrators have reminded principals that students observing the Day of Silence should be given “the same restrictions or access” that they give other student-led activities. That means participants should be allowed the same freedom as other groups such as Christian gatherings where students meet at school flagpoles to pray.


It’s no secret what’s at the crux of this issue. Some people view any action acknowledging the concerns and problems of gay students as an endorsement of homosexuality. One e-mail about the Day of Silence is explicit. It says: “By remaining silent, the intent of the pro-homosexual students is to disrupt the classes while promoting the homosexual lifestyle.”

But here’s the focus of this year’s event: It is being held in memory of Lawrence King, an openly gay California eighth-grader who was shot to death by a classmate in February.

The Day of Silence spotlights a real problem. No student should have to fear coming to school because of the bullying, name-calling, threats and violence that are too often daily occurrences for some students, especially gay ones. School officials must work to root out such intolerance.

“It’s no secret what’s at the crux of this issue.” Duh. The board member who fought tooth and nail against the anti-bullying policy is no standing against the Day of Silence. I wonder why?

Really, the right doesn’t make it very hard to see their true motives. Ever.

WOW… That was stupid: Original post title said “absense.” It should’ve been “absence” and it has been corrected. I must have had “adsense” on my mind. Either that, or I was just having a stupid moment.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools will formally introduce tonight a new bullying policy that expands protections to LGBT students.

From The Charlotte Observer:

Few dispute the need to rein in bullying in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. But a policy that will be formally introduced at tonight’s school board meeting has touched off a debate over homosexuality, Christianity, free speech and bigotry.

Superintendent Peter Gorman, the majority of the school board and a citizen-advisory panel say the policy will help kids who are picked on — and sometimes let down by adults who are supposed to protect them.

“If you talk to students who are bullied, they will tell you that they’re not protected and they don’t know where to go,” said Kelley Doherty, a CMS parent and Wachovia executive who chairs the district’s Equity Committee. “If you are singled out, it is merciless.”

A 2007 survey of youth risk behavior found that 40 percent of CMS students said bullying and harassment were a problem at their school, up from 28 percent two years earlier, said CMS Diversity Director Jose Hernandez-Paris. One in five said they’d been bullied at school in the past year.

The policy, which the board expects to vote on in March, calls for the superintendent to set up a process for students and staff to report bullying, offer annual anti-bullying training and record data on bullying.

The school board’s three Republicans say those are all things that Gorman is already doing or can do. The policy creates a catalogue of protected categories, they say, while failing to define or constrain bullying.

“‘Bullying’ can be a clash of values: My beliefs threaten yours,” said board member Ken Gjertsen.

For instance, he said, a Christian student may say, “I believe homosexuality is a sin.” A gay student might take offense, Gjertsen said, but is that bullying?

At a recent board retreat, Gjertsen argued for a simple policy that prohibits bullying and harassment without the “protected” list. Board member Kaye McGarry said Monday she’ll try to put such an alternative on today’s agenda, though she missed last week’s deadline.

“When you start listing, you’re excluding other people,” McGarry said.

The Equity Committee, charged with monitoring the fairness of educational opportunities in CMS, took on bullying because it affects safety and achievement, Hernandez-Paris said.

Students who are bullied are more likely to skip school, drop out or commit suicide, he said. Many CMS students caught with weapons say they’ve been bullied and “feel their safety has been compromised,” Hernandez-Paris said.

Said board member Trent Merchant: “I think it makes sense for us to deal with this right now, before we get into a tragic situation.”


While the policy covers all types of bullying, homosexuality has been the hot button since the board’s January retreat, where McGarry read from a 2003 article by Christian writer Marc Fey warning that such policies can lead to an “aggressive pro-homosexual agenda in classrooms.” She said later that someone sent her the article and she aired the concern, but she could not describe specifically how that might happen.

County commissioner Bill James, a Republican and one of Charlotte’s most vocal opponents of homosexuality, said there’s been a nationwide progression from bullying policies that protect homosexuals to sex-education programs teaching that “alternative lifestyles are normal” to elementary teachers telling children that “having two daddies or two mommies is perfectly normal.”

“I don’t think that’s going to fly in Charlotte,” James said. He added that parent outrage over the policy might create a backlash against gay students.

Doherty, the Equity Committee chair, says her son has been harassed because she’s a lesbian. “The reality is that people will pick on other folks out of ignorance,” she said.

Hernandez-Paris also disagrees with James’ reasoning: “We can’t be afraid to address the issues that our students are dealing with.”

What’s next?

• The bullying policy will be formally introduced at today’s school board meeting, which starts at 6 p.m. in the meeting chamber of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center, 600 E. Fourth St. It is open to the public and televised live on CMS-TV Cable 3. The board will take brief comments on any topic; sign up on site or call 980-343-5139 by noon today.

• The school board will hold a public hearing and vote on the bullying policy at its March 11 meeting.

Tonight is also one of the week’s lectures from the Coalition of Conscience. It’ll be hard to be in two places at once, as I have a suspicion some of our lovely anti-gay advocates may decide to show up at the board of education meeting.


This Weekend: Salisbury PFLAG Autumn Soirée

Here’s your one chance to make a difference in rural Rowan-no “sex-based clubs” County. Mark your calendars for PFLAG Salisbury’s Autumn Soirée this Saturday, Nov. 17.

It all starts at 6 p.m. at the Waterworks Visual Arts Center on 123 E. Liberty Street, Salisbury, N.C.

The event is a fundraiser for the group’s new Salisbury/ Rowan PFLAG Scholarships Foundation. They’ll start giving out youth scholarships in 2008-2009. The evening will include a silent auction, raffle, cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and doorprizes.

Recording artist Rodie Ray will be entertaining.

I’ll be there… you be there, too.

More info:


N.C. anti-gay leader slammed on Air America

Dr. Michael Brown of the Concord, N.C. based Coalition of Conscience, the man and organization responsible for the “Can you be gay and Christian?” forum in mid-September, appeared as a guest on Air America Radio’s Thom Hartmann Show yesterday (see the Hartmann Show homepage here).

Needless to say, the exchange was feisty.

While Dr. Brown was busy extolling his love of gay people all while condemning them with the broad brush of Levitical code, Thom Hartmann was busy pointing out all the other things Leviticus prohibits. While some of Hartmann’s points were arguable on a theological point, he did make some very good points.

The best is when Hartmann caught Dr. Brown in a huge contradiction.

When Hartmann brought up the fact that Leviticus 18 (where the so-called prohibition against so-called homosexuality is found) also prohibits a man from sleeping in the same bed as his wife. Dr. Brown said (paraphrasing), “Well, of course, I think that sleeping with your wife while she is menstruating is a bad thing.” He was immediately cut off. Hartmann responded (paraphrasing), “Hold on… Wait up. So now you are going from Leviticus 18 being a universal moral code of condemnations and prohibitions to something just being a bad thing?”

I loved it. Honestly, I’ve never heard Dr. Brown so flustered.

You can listen to the segment here. Dr. Brown is on for the first 15 or so minutes and the rest of the first hour includes comments from callers.

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Source: PageOneQ

PageOneQ and Raw Story captured the following segment off CNN’s morning news on Saturday, June 23, 2007.

I’m sure you noticed, just as well as I did, that Charlotte, NC, is listed among those cities least-friendly toward LGBT workers and citizens.

This doesn’t bode well for Charlotte’s future economic and political well-being if the results of Richard Florida’s study are correct… and I am going to bet they are.

Time and time again, we have seen study after study show that the most economically and politically significant cities are those which welcome LGBT people into the workplace and into the general happenings of society.

Even in such conservative places as my hometown – Winston-Salem, NC – businesses have learned that welcoming LGBT employees means much good for their business. Traditionally conservative R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company (now officially known as ReynoldsAmerican, Inc., after their merger with Britain’s Brown & Williamson) has taken steps to protect employees based on sexual orientation and offer domestic partnership benefits.

What amazes me is my hometown’s dream of becoming the second “Research Triangle.” In the eastern part of Downtown Winston-Salem, the city government, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem State University and Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center are working over time to create a new research park.

How do they expect to garner workers and new, bright talent if this city – and others like Charlotte – remain so unfriendly toward LGBT people.

The friendliness level of a city toward LGBT people is just one measure of a city’s economic and political well-being. We know that multiple trends tend to follow each other. The acceptance of LGBT people in public life and in the community definitely follows economic well-being. We also know that younger talent follows as well. And I’m going to assume that Winston’s desire to re-make our downtown area and create the new research park would benefit from younger talent and a more welcoming environment for LGBT folks.

This happened on Monday… I had put up a post when the ACLU of NC organized it a few weeks ago.

I myself couldn’t find the news article. It is below:

ACLU rep says ban on sex-based clubs is illegal

By Holly Fesperman Lee

Salisbury Post

EAST SPENCER — A representative from the American Civil Liberties Union along with graduates of local high schools spoke Monday night against the Rowan-Salisbury School System’s ban on sex-based clubs.

Members of the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education voted last August to ban all sex-based clubs after students at South Rowan High School tried to form a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) club.

Board members said the GSA club and other sex-based clubs go against the system’s abstinence-only policy.

Katy Parker, an American Civil Liberties Union representative, spoke to board members Monday about a recent case in Florida that had many of the same issues.

She told board members they were denying students their constitutional rights and rights they are guaranteed under the equal access act.

That same act allows students to form a Bible club if they choose, she said.

According to Parker, the ACLU was ready to sue the school system, but students here are too afraid of retaliation to file a lawsuit.

The school system in the Florida lawsuit also banned GSAs because they were sex based clubs under the advice of attorney David Charles Gibbs.

Gibbs also advised the Rowan-Salisbury school board and offered to represent the board for free if a lawsuit was filed.

“The court said GSAs are not sex-based clubs,” Parker told board members.

Students in the Florida system won their right to form the club, she said.

“I encourage you to review the Florida case,” Parker said.

Amanda Miller, a 2005 East Rowan High School graduate, told board members about hate acts she experienced as a student.

She said other students at the school put dead squirrels in her car and administrators asked about the incident but failed to give the guilty students significant punishment.

“Being gay is not a huge city problem, it’s right in our backyard,” she said.

According to Miller, high school students need a safe and accepting place like the GSA club to turn to in high school.

Click here to read the full article