Standing Up to Bigots who Think God Hates Us
(Photo Credit: Henry Perez)
By Michael W. Sasser
A Note From Rafa Carvajal
Publisher & Editor in Chief of Wire Magazine
I strongly believe in standing up against bigotry, hate and discrimination. In order to do so effectively, we must understand what bigots who believe in discrimination and hate based on sexual orientation really think and say – so the voices of tolerance, acceptance, equality and love can drown out their tired, attention-grabbing tirades. Many of our readers may have heard about Kansas’ Westboro Baptist Church and seen some short news stories about them on TV or in print. What you will read in this story may shock and outrage you. You may find it as offensive and hateful as I did, but I want you to know what these people really believe in and say, so you can fight back and make them soon join the trash heap of history’s has-beens that includes such groups as the Ku Klux Klan – who have been beaten down by overpowering forces that stood up firmly against them.
More importantly, I want you to rejoice in the beautiful messages celebrated by a proud LGBT community this past Sunday in the Miami Beach Gay Pride Parade by looking at some very powerful photos of people from all walks of life standing up for tolerance, acceptance, equality and love.
When you proudly hail one’s websites such as godhatesfags.com, godhatesislam.com, godhatesthemedia.com, jewskilledjesus.com and similar festive URLs, it’s little wonder that many Americans consider Kansas’ Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) a hate group, cult, or at the very least, attention-grabbing opportunists.
WBC’s best publicized campaigns are arguably its “God Hates Fags” slogan and its pickets at the funerals of fallen U.S. servicemembers, where American deaths are praised and unbelievers – basically anyone not affiliated with the tiny church – are sentenced to hell on signs held as often by children as by elders of the church. Those protests have done something no politician can do in uniting liberals and conservatives in abject repulsion of the church messages. In America’s most “red” state, Oklahoma, apparent WBC members staged a military protest south of Tulsa in the deep country at which local Christian church members outnumbered the “hate” sign-bearing picketers by 10-1, until the wide-open state simply ran out of room for conservative Christians telling WBC that the church does not speak for them and couldn’t approach the site.
More recently, WBC was in the news when a gay activist purchased a home across from the church and painted it in rainbow pride colors. There was also a recent Twitter hacking incident that lasted for just a few hours but also attracted media attention.
While the media has spent a good deal of time decrying WBC’s various messages of derision, WBC remains somewhat of a mystery. Reports on actual church membership, for example, have often speculated that there aren’t enough actual members of the church to staff a Sonic restaurant for an entire weekend – and that the core of the church consists primarily of a single family.
With gay marriage being hotly debated and considered by many to be inevitable, with advances in diversity acceptance at the Olympics and finally beginning in U.S. professional athletics and with other clear signs of progress toward equal rights for LGBT Americans, Wire Magazine reached out to WBC for the church’s reaction, perspectives and explanation for their public perception. In response, Steve Drain, who apparently handles media relations for WBC, agreed to an interview. Drain claims to have an interesting story himself. He says that he initially came to WBC as a documentary filmmaker planning to expose the church. Instead, he said, he joined. He claims as title “elder in the church,” and clearly has had little trouble adapting to the means and methods of the organization.
Is WBC a hate group or is it a legitimate church with perspectives far outside the mainstream of modern Western society – like an Amish sect that drives wagons to lynchings? Wire steadfastly decided to ask WBC spokesperson Steve Drain about the church, its message and tactics.
The church was in the news recently when a gay activist purchased a house across the street from it and painted it in rainbow colors. How does the congregation feel about that? We love it. There are hundreds, thousands of houses painted in rainbow colors and the only thing that makes this a story is that it’s across the street from a church that tells the Bible truth about sin. You can’t talk about the Sodomite rainbow house without talking about our core message. That’s all it’s doing. It’s also another sign of this generation. We say about the house, “They declare their sin as Sodom.” They’re professing their sin. Let’s say there was a color scheme associated with murder or rape. If there was a murder pride flag, would people advocate for that?
What is that core message that you mentioned? That God hates fags and hates fag enablers. Same-sex marriage dooms any nation that condones it. America is doomed. God said there should be no divorce and remarriage and we’re awash in it. God says “Thou Shalt Not Kill” and we’re sending people off with rifles to kill and be killed. [Editor’s note: Ironically, the Commandment actually forbids “murder.”] God says we should not lay with mankind as with womankind. That’s very simple. God pronounced the death penalty for that. He did for these other things as well, but there is institutional support for fags. They don’t consider it a sin. They’re proud of it.
Yes, doesn’t the Bible call for death for other sins? There are 613 laws in Levitical Code and few call for the death penalty, but homosexuality does. At the very least that should make people think about it.
Given the general moral decay the church decries, why the emphasis on gay people? It’s not really. We speak about all manner of sin, but the world and media has made it a first–tier issue. One day will we have a Murder Pride Parade, a Rapist Pride Parade? Homosexuality is a sin in the Bible but in the zeitgeist of the day, it’s not considered one. We call it what it is. They accuse us of being a cult, of being crazies and they accuse us of focusing on [homosexuality]. No one else out there is willing to speak the truth. The Bible says to love they neighbor. Well, the way to do this is to point out sin. The only right thing to do if someone says that he’s a homosexual is to tell him it’s a sin and that he is going to hell. The loving thing to do is to tell him to stop.
Do you think your message and the church might be received differently if it weren’t for inflammatory language like “hate”? What’s inflammatory? Hate? The hatred of God is not the same as the hatred of man. There are two main ways to glorify His name. One is delivering his people out of bondage. Two is by punishing the wicked. It’s wrong to equate the hatred of God with the hatred of man. Search the Bible for “hate” or “abhor” and you’ll see God spoke of hate twice as many times as he did love. We never say we hate anyone. We aren’t allowed to hate. It’s against our religion. We believe in loving our neighbors.
Would Jesus be comfortable with language about hate? People think Jesus was some kind of hippie. But he threw people out of the temple. Jesus said many things that people don’t like to remember. Jesus would be on the picket line with us because we are the only ones teaching his word. It’s diabolical and insincere to point to Jesus because there is no way to use Him to justify sin. Anyone who makes the specious argument that homosexuality was only condemned in the Old Testament is being dishonest. People want to use the Bible to justify anything, as a social advantage to appear to be Christian.
How does the church feel about the movement toward gay marriage? I think it’s inevitable and a harbinger of the Last Days. It’s diabolical for anyone to think the prophets of God have it wrong because of modern vernacular and because some people preach tolerance of fags. If we gave homosexuals everything they wanted, in six months they would be back asking for more. Mainstream America is locked into where they can’t say anything about sin. We’re not. We’re not fruitcakes. We’re humble people. We just tell people what the scripture says.
Doesn’t protesting military funerals turn people away who might otherwise be willing to at least listen to your message? No, we don’t. Some might think that military zealots would see eye to eye with us on some things. The word of God is piercing and it will set man versus man. We’re not trying to get people to join us. We’re trying to warn people about sin. Military funerals have turned into military pep rallies. There isn’t a God-fearing person in the world that would fight for a nation awash in sin. They say soldiers are fighting for freedom, but they want us to shut up. They’re not fighting for freedom. They’re fighting for fag marriage.
How do you feel society should react to gay people? I don’t react negatively more so than to anyone else. It’s about living Godly. I’ve met all different kinds of gays. The only thing I can do out of love is to tell the truth. We get fired; even get attacked, because we’re telling what the Bible says. There are two or three billion people claiming to be Christians in the world. It’s greedy and selfish for pastors to accept homosexuality.
How does that whole “Judge Not” thing figure into the church’s message and practices? That means we are commanded not to substitute our own judgment for His judgment. “Judge not…” doesn’t mean you don’t tell people when they are doing something wrong. You are not supposed to suffer sin. It means to judge righteously, to use the standards of God and not the standards of man. Members of Westboro Baptist Church are sinners like all other men. The difference is that God’s [followers] are shamed of it. Homosexuals aren’t ashamed of their sin. You’re in the media. What do you think would happen if you wrote something wondering about whether or not homosexuality was a healthy lifestyle? Your career in journalism would be over. There is a proclivity in the media and in the entertainment world – a slavish modality to the fag agenda. It’s a bully tactic. I don’t lay at the feet of gays, which is to lay at the feet of the devil. I believe in God and the devil and the devil is in charge of the world right now. He’s been given that authority by God. You know why? So God can glorify Himself. He’s going to make people to despise and then save them from their troubles.
What would you like Wire Magazine readers and gay people everywhere to know about the church that they might not otherwise hear in other media? Two things. The gay community doesn’t know that we love them. They think that because we preach against sin that we hate them, that we’re full of anger and rage. Not true. We love you. It’s a bold stroke of irony that by Leviticus’ standards, we’re the only ones who love you. We love you enough to tell you the truth. The reason we do it is not because we’re great and not because we’re particularly interested in you. We do it to be obedient to God. The homosexual community thinks we hate them. But we owe a debt of gratitude to our God for having his Word. Few people today have any real concern for God.
Secondly, the rest of Christianity is lying about God’s Word. A lot of people feel that they are homosexuals and Christians and that’s not true. We have a sign that says, “Christians cause fag marriage.” From a conditioning standpoint, if you tell kids they can do something, that it’s OK, it’s bad for the soul. There are dangers in being homosexual just as there are in being an adulterer or serial monogamist. There may be no more danger in the homosexual lifestyle than there are in the other cases, but there is grave danger.
Which of your websites is really the basic one to get actual information about the church? www.godhatesfags.com
This article was originally published in Wire Magazine Issue #16, 2013
Behind the Scenes
Gay Republican organization also eyeing SCOTUS deliberations
By Michael W. Sasser
(Photo Credit: © ArrowStudio, LLC)
It isn’t just the usual suspects keeping a close eye on last week’s United States Supreme Court deliberations revolving around the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California’s anti-gay marriage Proposition 8. That is, it isn’t just the progressive Left, LGBT civil rights groups and anti big government Libertarians. In addition to the surprising number of Republicans joining, and in some cases even leading on the issue, the nation’s largest Republican LGBT organization also has skin in the game – even if it hasn’t issued any bombastic statements about the ongoing debate.
“We haven’t taken a position on Proposition 8 from the perspective of issuing a press release saying we encourage outcome x, y or z,” said Gregory Angelo, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans (LCR), which has represented gay and lesbian Republicans since its founding in 1978. “Clearly we support civil marriage between committed same-sex couples.”
Angelo said that LCR has also not taken a position on DOMA, although Angelo said he believes it should be overturned based on the unconstitutional nature of a section of the Clinton-era policy effectively banning gay marriage recognition by the federal government.
However, Angelo said the issue is not that LCR is sitting on the sidelines.
“We have a diverse membership with an array of opinions and constituencies,” Angelo said. “Traditionally, outside of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, in which we were very much involved, we don’t engage with the Judicial Branch. Most of our work is with Congress. In this case, because we are not parties in either case, we didn’t wade in too deeply.”
Angelo said that the organization’s lower-key efforts are not a result of party allegiance trumping issues. “That’s just not the case. We are a partisan organization but we always make decisions independently. We placed an ad in The Hill castigating Republicans in the House for defending DOMA and spending money on it.”
LCR has also been active in rallies, such as outside the Supreme Court last week, Angelo said. However, that doesn’t mean the organization sees the issues quite the same as gay rights advocates on the Left.
“The entire reason Republicans have to defend DOMA is that the President of the United States abdicated his responsibility to enforce U.S. law,” Angelo said. “How would Democrats like it if a conservative Republican president were to pick and choose which laws he thinks should be enforced?”
Instead of sitting on the sidelines, Angelo said he has been meeting regularly with Republicans in Congress. “I’ve been talking to congressmen about legislative means to end DOMA, such as the Respect for Marriage Act (RFMA).”
The Respect for Marriage Act would repeal DOMA and mandate that the federal government recognize same-sex marriages. It has notable bipartisan support, including from some of the very same legislators who helped institute DOMA almost 20 years ago.
Angelo said he wasn’t sure what LCR would do concerning RFMA if DOMA is struck down, but RFMA isn’t the only issue he’s been discussing with congressional Republicans.
“What happens after the court rulings?” Angelo said. “With the potential for DOMA being struck down, does the GOP push back or accept it? I have found that most Republicans on the Hill are receptive to what we have to say.”
In terms of expectations for the Court’s eventual rulings, expected in June, Angelo was hesitant to offer conjecture. “I never like to guess when it comes to trying to run the numbers on votes on the Court,” he said. “Judging from the transcripts it looks as though the Court is hesitant to rule broadly on either. It looks like there might be questions of standing concerning Proposition 8. In DOMA, I think Section Three is unconstitutional.”
Angelo said that he thinks DOMA could be struck down based on states’ rights issues and not the equal protection argument presented by liberal detractors. “The Court could consider its constitutionality without addressing the issue of marriage.”
Still, though, Angelo was reluctant to offer much more of a prediction on how the rulings would turn out.
LCR, the largest Republican LGBT organization in the country and with branches in both Miami and in Broward County, is often misperceived as a small and insignificant group, Angelo said. That isn’t accurate, he asserts.
“There are a lot of gay Republicans out there all over the country,” Angelo said. “We’re people who think for ourselves and who examine issues and candidates individually. In 2010, 31 percent of people who identified themselves as gay or lesbian voted Republican. In an election cycle about jobs and the economy, Republican values resonate with gay voters.”
Resonating with gay voters is an apt description of last week’s Supreme Court hearings, and according to Angelo, it isn’t just left-leaning gays and lesbians anxiously awaiting the outcome.
This article was originally published in Wire Magazine Issue #14, 2013
Local legal scholar foresees mixed result from SCOTUS
By Michael W. Sasser
(Photo Credit: © Yuri Arcurs)
While hopes run high in the LGBT community that last week’s hearings before the United States Supreme Court will result in wide-spread change to the status of same-sex marriage in the nation, one Florida legal scholar said that a less revolutionary result is more likely.
Last week, the Court heard arguments challenging both the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California’s electoral-based Proposition 8 effectively banning gay marriage.
“You have to look at the two issues separately,” said Professor James D. Wilets, professor of Law at Nova Southeastern University and chair of the Inter-American Center for Human Rights. “In terms of DOMA, it’s pretty much a no-brainer that it is going to be overturned.”
Wilets, who worked in Paris on some of the first negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians for a two-state solution, said that there are signs that one or more of the conservatives on the Court will side with the liberal contingent to toss DOMA – although for very different reasons. “(Justice Anthony) Kennedy is very pro states’ rights and (previous decisions) indicate that he is not anti-gay. He’s indicated he sees this as a states’ rights issue and he is the fifth vote needed. Other conservative justices appear concerned about the issue of interference in states’ rights too. Liberals have been more focused on the social justice issues but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Kennedy and maybe one other conservative side with them because they see DOMA as a stretch of federal powers. I think everyone feels DOMA is going to be struck down.”
The Court siding against California’s Proposition 8, which was approved by voters but repeatedly struck down by lesser courts, is, however, less likely according to Wilets. “Proposition 8 is more problematic and if I had to take a guess I would say the Court will dismiss it because of lack of standing (by one or more party arguing before the Court),” he said. “I’m not sure that the Court agreeing to hear the challenge is a good thing for the LGBT community. They could have let lower court rulings stand, which would mean their decisions would be upheld.”
Wilets said that conservative Justice Antonin Scalia is the potential swing vote in the Proposition 8 deliberation. “I think he is nervous about a sweeping ruling that would institute gay marriage in all 50 states,” Wilets said.
“I think Justice Kennedy is not opposed to a favorable ruling, but feels that it just might not be time yet,” Wilets said. “I think they may decide on the question of standing and that this will not be resolved by the Court.”
Wilets also pointed out that the political success of gay marriage in some states actually hamstrings its chances of being decided in the nation’s highest court. He explained that because the cause has had legislative success, it is less likely that the Court will step in to resolve the issue.
“Defenders of Proposition 8 say that gays don’t need the support of the courts because the issue is already being worked out through legislation,” Wilets said. He added that while the recent surge for support of gay marriage among the general public and even among previously hesitant Republicans helps from a political perspective, it does not necessarily benefit the legal situation. To some, it is a sign of a vibrant political debate, a situation the Court simply might not opt to wade into. Ironically, if there had been no legislative advances for the cause anywhere in the country, the chance of a Court decision might be realistically greater.
Fortunately, DOMA being struck down is the decision with the most likely impact on LGBT persons in Florida. “Without DOMA, same-sex couples from Florida who marry in states where it is legal might not have their marriage recognized in Florida but they would be recognized by the federal government,” Wilets said. “That would be huge because it would make them eligible for over 1,000 benefits. Most benefits are federal. There are also immigration rights to consider. There are thousands of couples in South Florida where citizenship is an issue.”
Rights not granted by the federal government, such as patient visitation, can be addressed via other legal measures already available, Wilets pointed out. “DOMA is key,” he emphasized. “The only way a Proposition 8 decision would affect Florida is if it was a sweeping ruling saying that all states must have gay marriage – and that is not likely.”
An end to DOMA, and the many rights that would grant LGBT Floridians, is entirely likely according to Wilets.
“I’d eat my hat if the Court does not strike down DOMA.”
This article was originally published in Wire Magazine Issue #14, 2013
The Domino Effect
Legal scholar confident top court will rule in favor of gay marriage
By Michael W. Sasser
(Photo Credit: © Karin Hildebrand Lau, © Gary Blakeley)
It’s a virtual no-brainer that when the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) rules on a pair of cases related to gay marriage that an eventual ruling will pave the way for same-sex union equality to be the law of the land. At least, that is, according to Larry Bodine, editor-in-chief of Lawyers.com, former award-winning journalist and editor and publisher of the American Bar Association Journal from 1982 to 1989.
“I’ve read the merits of the cases and I think the Supreme Court will struggle to find ways to uphold the rulings in the cases,” Bodine told Wire Magazine. “The arguments for upholding (California’s) Proposition 8 and DOMA (the federal Defense of Marriage Act) are so weak, they create a persecuted minority and deny that group access to marriage.
“I think we’re on the threshold of an epic development in the issue of gay marriage,” Bodine added.
The Supreme Court heard arguments March 26-27 in the pair of same-sex marriage cases. California’s Proposition 8 denying same-sex marriages came about as a result of a referendum vote, while DOMA is a leftover policy approved by Congress during the Clinton Administration that specifically defines marriage as between one man and one woman. Both have been tied up in court for years before eventually landing at the Supreme Court. It’s curious that the Supreme Court opted to hear the cases, Bodine indicated.
“(Lower) federal courts have struck these down so the Supreme Court could just have let those decisions stand,” Bodine said. “It’s interesting that the Supreme Court would take up these cases and they have indicated they take it very serious. It would have been more politically expedient to stay out of it since 41 states ban gay marriage. The prejudice is out there. It’s my guess that this is a civil rights stand.”
Bodine’s confidence comes despite his assertion that the Supreme Court is always reluctant to overturn federal statutes. “And certainly they would be reluctant generally to overturn a vote of the California electorate. Of course in 1950 Alabama, a public referendum might have brought back slavery.”
The weaknesses of the cases in favor of Proposition 8 and DOMA are fundamental, Bodine said. “The flaw of the statutes is that they don’t achieve their stated goals, which is responsible procreation and child-bearing.”
“If you read the language of (Proposition 8 and DOMA), though, (they) have nothing to do with that. Would anyone say that they would get married, but not now that gays can marry? It also ignores the fact that not everyone who marries does so to have children (infertile people, etc).”
Instead, Bodine said the measures continue a persecution that dates back to Colonial times in the U.S. and today has many ramifications for LGBT persons. Both create specific discrimination against LGBT persons despite the fact that marriage has been named a fundamental right in 14 previous Supreme Court decisions, he added.
“Not being married limits benefits under Social Security and denies individuals numerous federal benefits,” he said. “Laws can’t create second-class citizens and that’s what these do.”
If he were a betting man, Bodine said that the Supreme Court would strike both laws down in a split decision, with some of the more conservative justices standing in dissent because of “tradition,” and because they could favor a narrower ruling. However, with a recent poll showing 58 percent public support for gay marriage, with the U.S. Department of Justice asserting both laws should be struck down and with now-broad support from both Democrats and Republicans, it appears critical mass will drive decisions toward equality.
Bodine said the results of the decision would be dramatic. “Forty-one state laws banning gay marriage will be ineffective and if two same-sex individuals marry, states will have to recognize the marriage,” he said. According to Lawyers.com, some 130,000 legally married same-sex couples would be immediately affected by a potential favorable ruling.
However, Bodine said that even a decision by the nation’s highest court will not stop all efforts to curb same-sex marriages.
“There is going to be a lot of follow-up action,” he said. “Most will be legislative.”
Bodine said he could envision states creating laws similar to Jim Crow laws – establishing regulations that act as major roadblocks for same-sex couples to marry. As in the case with Jim Crow laws, courts may still need to intervene. Other efforts to resist the spirit of the potential Supreme Court decision could resemble laws intended to limit abortion.
“States that don’t like abortion try to minimize it via law and I could see some states doing the same thing here,” he said. “They could create requirements, put people on a waiting list, etc. There is no limit to human contrivance. But when you burden a right so much it will get tossed out by the courts. The real issue is that you can’t take some kind of prejudice and turn it into law.”
If Bodine’s prognostication is correct, an epic moment in the campaign for LGBT marriage equality is on the near horizon.
“It’s going to be felt in many small ways, but plenty of big ways too,” he said. “It will be felt by families who will benefit from it.”
This article was originally published in Wire Magazine Issue #14, 2013
It Gets Better, but Mitt Gets Worse
LGBT activists have created a twist on Dan Savage’s “It Gets Better” Campaign with “Mitt Gets Worse,” an Anti-Romney Campaign which details several personal stories of confronting GOP presidential candidate Romney’s anti-gay rhetoric.
Julie Goodridge— a plaintiff in the lawsuit that led to marriage equality in Massachusetts revisits her interaction with Romney in reference to her gay marriage case. Stating:
“I looked him in the eye as we were leaving the meeting and I said in exasperation, ‘Governor Romney, tell me, what would you suggest I say to my 8-year-old daughter about why her mommy and her ma can’t get married? Because you, the governor of her state, is going to block our marriage.’ ”
“He kind of looked over my shoulder with this blank stare and said, ‘I don’t really care what you tell your adopted daughter,’” Goodridge recalls. “‘Why don’t you just tell her what you’ve been telling her for the last eight years?’”
NC voters decide to openly discriminate against their fellow gay citizens
So much for planning a vacation to North Carolina anytime soon!
NC voters decided to openly discriminate against their fellow gay citizens by passing Amendment One to their constitution, limiting legal unions to marriage only between a man and a woman and banning civil unions and domestic partnerships.
It’s a sad day in the land of Lincoln when fellow citizens once again choose to trample over other people’s civil rights.
Today, NC voters decided to ignore our nation’s Declaration of Independence that states: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”