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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.

I had the pleasure of meeting filmmaker Chris Mason and his friend Potter when they made their way through Charlotte during their Summer 2009 trek across the lower 48 states. Their aim was to capture a glimpse of LGBT life across the country.

Chris has released an 11-minute teaser of his new film. It’s some exciting and interesting stuff, including attempted interviews at Focus on the Family and Chris’ interview with Shirley Phelps-Roper.

Check out the short preview clip from Charlotte at about the 7-minute, 30-second mark. It includes me and Denise Palm-Beck, former chair of the Lesbian & Gay Community Center of Charlotte.

I hope you’ll support the Chris and his film: Chris has launched a fundraising effort this month and wants to raise $5,000 before the end of February (he’s raised nearly $2,000 so far). Please lend him your support; even a small donation of $5, $10, $20 or $50 will go a long way in helping him complete his project. Visit DrivingEquality.com for more information and to donate.

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2009: The year that was (or wasn’t)

Another year has come and gone. Since I began blogging, first on Blogger, then my own hosted blog and then here at InterstateQ.com, I’ve always done a year-end recap of my biggest stories of the year.

This year’s rewind is kind of sad, to be honest with you. As the economy continued to falter and challenges mounted up for print media across the nation, we felt our own sting at my day job. My friends and fellow staff at QNotes managed to hold our own, but responsibilities there led to a decline in my frequency of writing here.

Regardless, I managed to pull off some good stories here although many weren’t the “breaking news” I used to publish before I made the leap from blogger to “traditional media” gig.

So, in a way it was the “year that wasn’t” here at InterstateQ.com. Regardless, catch my Best of 2009 after the jump…

(P.S. — Be sure to check out my “The defining decade of my youth” at Bilerico Project.)

Continue reading this post…

The National Right to Life Committee, the nation’s largest anti-choice organization, will hold its annual convention in Charlotte June 18-20 (Charlotte Observer story here).

The group’s annual convention, being held at the Blake Hotel in Uptown Charlotte, will feature dozens of speakers, including anti-choice and anti-gay activists and leaders.

Continue reading this post…

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James Dobson leaves Focus on the Family

THANK GOD!

Perhaps now Focus on the Family will become as toothless, ballsless and as silent as Liberty U. after Falwell died.

More from the AP

Statement published by Truth Wins Out’s Wayne Besen:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, Feb. 27, 2009
Contact: Wayne Besen
Phone: 917-691-5118
E-Mail: wbesen@truthwinsout.org

TWO Comments On James Dobson Resigning As Focus on the Family Chairman
Truth Wins Out (TWO) expressed its hope today that James Dobson resigning as chairman of Focus on the Family would eventually lead the anti-gay organization in a new direction. Dobson has created an entire industry that distorts the lives of gay and lesbian people for political gain, says TWO.

“James Dobson’s legacy of lies has caused significant pain for gay and lesbian people and their families,” said Wayne Besen, Executive Director of Truth Wins Out. “We hope his departure will eventually signal a shift in tone and end Focus on the Family’s destructive attacks against gay and lesbian Americans.”

The Associated Press reports that Dobson, 72, will still be a powerful presence. He will continue to host his daily radio show, which reaches 1.5 million listeners in the United States. A Focus on the family spokesman also said he will “continue to speak out as he always has – a private citizen and not a representative of the organization he founded.”

“It is time for Focus on the Family to abandon the politics of polarization and choose moderate leaders who are not fixated on culture wars,” said Besen. “This would also be a good time for the organization to consider abandoning its failed ‘ex-gay’ ministry, Love Won Out.”

In Nov. 2008, Truth Wins Out protested Dobson’s selection into the Radio Hall of Fame. In the past two years, TWO has found eight researchers in three countries who say that Dobson has distorted their work. Videos and letters that these scientists sent to Dobson can be viewed at www.Respectmyresearch.org.

Dobson’s rhetoric is so divisive that former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX) said that, “Dobson and his gang of thugs are real nasty bullies.” Focus on the Family co-founder Gil Alexander Moegerle said that, “I believe Dobson-style politics have been inept, simplistic, exclusionary, divisive and alarmingly sectarian…James Dobson’s political style has been one of relentlessly demonizing his adversaries.”

Dobson told The Daily Oklahoman on Oct. 23, 2004 that, “Homosexuals are not monogamous. They want to destroy the institution of marriage. It will destroy marriage. It will destroy the Earth.” Dobson also told the Daily Oklahoman that Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) is “a God’s people hater. I don’t know if he hates God, but he hates God’s people.”

Truth Wins Out is a non-profit organization that defends gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people against anti-gay misinformation campaigns. TWO also counters the “ex-gay” industry and educates America about gay life.

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Local organizing, ex-gay protests, HRC

You might be asking, “Where the hell is Matt? He hasn’t made a post in, like, forever.”

My little gay butt has been working overtime the past two weeks as the whole of the gay world (or, at least, a good portion of it) descended on Charlotte at exactly the same time.

I worked with the Charlotte Rainbow Action Network for Equality (CRANE) to plan grassroots events Feb. 14 and Feb. 19-21. CRANE organized a Feb. 14 Valentine’s Day awareness event in Uptown Charlotte and a presentation, “Pray Away the Gay,” with author and activist Wayne Besen. On Friday, Feb. 20, we held a fabulous press conference. That evening I attended Takeover Friday at the Westin Hotel. On Saturday, Feb. 21, I attended the Focus on the Family Love Won Out “ex-gay” conference as media. I helped to organize the protest outside. The very same evening I attended the HRC Carolinas Gala. It has been a busy, busy two weeks and this past weekend was perhaps the gayest ever in the history of Charlotte. I’m sure the mainstream press and police departments very quickly began to refer to it as “the Gay Weekend.”

Here are snapshots, one video I’ve been able to complete and a news story from the many days I’ve been absent from the blogosphere… More photos and videos will be posted at Q-Notes Online and I’ll make sure you see them here, too.

CRANE Feb. 14 Uptown Awareness Event

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Takeover Friday at the Westin

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Love Won Out conference & CRANE protest

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Human Rights Campaign Carolinas Gala

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Video

Take a gander at the press release below, then head over to www.truthwinsout.org and, for more details on events visit www.rainbowaction.org/events/.

TWO Joins Coalition of North Carolina Organizations to Counter Infamous ‘Ex-Gay’ Road Show
New Landmark Publication, ‘Ex-Gay & The Law’, To Be Unveiled At Friday Press Conference

Truth Wins Out (TWO) announced today that it has joined a coalition of North Carolina Charlotte at Nightgay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender advocates responding to Focus on the Family’s Love Won Out conference, which encourages people to “pray away the gay.” Led by the Charlotte Rainbow Action Network for Equality (CRANE), there will be a week of educational events in Charlotte designed to get correct information to the public about the danger of ex-gay programs. The coalition will also offer honest and accurate depictions of the lives of GLBT people, to counteract the distorted view offered by Focus on the Family.

“The research is very clear that you can’t pray away the gay and attempts to do so can be harmful,” said Wayne Besen, Executive Director of Truth Wins Out. “Focus on the Family is offering false hope to vulnerable people and profiting from their pain. They are intentionally confusing stereotypes with legitimate science in an attempt to mislead people about homosexuality. We hope to offer a realistic view of our lives and use sound science to set the record straight.”

The week’s events include a lecture by Besen (Pictured Right) on Thursday, Feb. 19, at theWayne TuxLesbian & Gay Community Center (7:00-8:30 PM). On Friday, Feb. 20, there will be a press conference at the Unitarian-Universalist Church of Charlotte (11:30 AM). On Saturday, Feb. 21, there will be a non-violent protest against Love Won Out (11:00 AM-2:00 PM) in front of Central Church of God (5301 Sardis Road).

At the Friday press conference, Truth Wins Out and Lambda Legal will release a landmark publication, “Ex-Gay & The Law”, that aims to educate victims of “ex-gay” programs of their legal options. The many people who have had their lives damaged by ex-gay programs inspired this work.

“Ex-gay programs teach that homosexuality is demonic and ‘treat’ children as young as three years old,” said Besen. “What they do is dangerous, scientifically unsound and rejected by every respected medical and mental health association in America.”

CRANE is a grassroots coalition of activists and community members working toward civil and social equality for Charlotte’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI) community. Truth Wins Out is a non-profit organization that defends gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people from anti-gay lies. TWO also counters the “ex-gay” myth and educates America about gay life.

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Besen does a great spin job

From Truth Wins Out’s Wayne Besen:

A month after protesters picketed its annual dinner for inducting Focus on the Family’s James Dobson into its Radio Hall of Fame, the Chicago-based Museum of Broadcast Communications (MBC) announced today that it was selling its half-finished building.

“It is with deep regret that I announce the MBC board on December 10th voted to sell its half-finished building at State and Kinzie in downtown Chicago,” said Bruce DuMont, Founder, President and CEO of the MBC. “This is a very disappointing development.”

“Pandering to extremists doesn’t pay and the Museum of Broadcast Communications suffered a catastrophic blow to its reputation by honoring Focus on the Family’s James Dobson,” said Wayne Besen, Executive Director of Truth Wins Out (TWO). “Bruce DuMont hoped to cash in by catering to the deep pockets of the religious right, but his prayers weren’t answered. Truth Wins Out wants to thank the hundreds of people who came out to protest in freezing weather – your efforts and determination paid off.”

When the nomination of Dobson was announced, TWO teamed up with the Gay Liberation Network and launched www.DumpDobson.com to keep Dobson out of the Radio Hall of Fame. These robust efforts culminated with a full-page “Dump Dobson” ad in the Chicago Tribune, signature ads in the GLBT media and a large demonstration outside of the awards dinner at Chicago’s Renaissance Hotel.

Ha. Priceless.

I’m sure the building sale and the protests really having absolutely nothing to do with each other. Either way, Wayne did a great spin job.

Perfect 10.