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Four Decades Along the Rainbow Road

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The Folly of God's Retribution

Why do religious fanatics seem to blame gays for disasters?

By Steve Charing

Like most sensible people, I have always been dismayed and appalled at some extremist members of the religious right for blaming gays (as well as other groups anathema to them) for a range of disasters from AIDS to terrorism to hurricanes and do so under the auspices of "God’s retribution." These folks are not basing their assessments on any religious grounding; they simply hate gay people despite their hollow denials. And they hide behind God to spew their venom by cherry picking parts of Scripture to suit their needs.

Of course, the Bible has been used as a weapon against gays and lesbians forever, and punishment "in the name of God" is as convenient as it is unprovable. In modern times, however, the religious fanatics have stepped it up, as the pushing of the so-called "gay agenda" is increasingly becoming odious to them.

During the 1980s AIDS was proclaimed as God’s retribution for the homosexual lifestyle according to many fundamentalist religious zealots. While that stance has quieted down some, it hasn’t disappeared altogether from the mindset of the fringe. Nevermind that lesbians are among the least likely to encounter HIV or that tens of millions of heterosexuals around the world are inflicted. Still, to some, gays are the ones being punished by God, not to mention they were the cause of the disease.

Then there was 9/11. Rev. Jerry Falwell, in concurrence with the other member of the dubious duo, Pat (let’s "take out" a nation’s president) Robertson, included gays and lesbians among those responsible for the attacks. "I really believe that the pagans and the abortionists and the feminists and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way - all of them who have tried to secularize America - I point the finger in their face and say, ‘You helped this happen,’" said Falwell, who later clumsily apologized.

Robertson, who still maintains a large audience despite his blather, has taken credit for steering hurricane Isabel away from his headquarters in Virginia Beach, VA by the power of his prayer. He made similar claims on a number of other occasions. But his obsession with hurricanes took on a new twist: they are God’s retribution.

In 1998 Robertson said on his TV show, The 700 Club in reaction to Disney’s Gay Days, "I would warn Orlando that you're right in the way of some serious hurricanes, and I don't think I'd be waving those flags in God's face if I were you." The predicted hurricane sidestepped Orlando without comments from Robertson or a religious-based explanation. The TV preacher also said the widespread practice of homosexuality "will bring about terrorist bombs, it'll bring earthquakes, tornadoes and possibly a meteor."
To think this whacko ran for President of the United States!

Hurricane Katrina, which is arguably the most destructive natural U.S. disaster on record—bringing misery to millions of people and killing perhaps thousands—has been seen as a different form of retribution. Wrote one blogger, "Since Pat Robertson likes to use Hurricanes as punishment for sins - like Florida and the homosexuals at Disney World - I'm going to ‘spin’ it too. God is punishing ALL RED states surrounding the coastlines for voting for that stupid moron in the White House!" Agree or not, it is truly an extension of Robertson’s logic that God punishes the wicked amongst us.

And right on cue, a fundamentalist Christian group called Repent America blamed Katrina on New Orleans’ planned but cancelled gay extravaganza, Southern Decadence that had been scheduled for Labor Day weekend. "From 'Girls Gone Wild’ to ‘Southern Decadence,’ New Orleans was a city that had its doors wide open to the public celebration of sin. May it never be the same," said the group’s director Michael Marcavage. "May this act of God cause us all to think about what we tolerate in our city limits, and bring us trembling before the throne of Almighty God," he said. I suppose the ravaged Biloxi, MS must have had a gay event planned; we just didn’t know about it.

By the grace of God, when will this nonsense end?

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Some OUTrages to Ponder

By Steve Charing

THE CINDY SHEEHAN DEMONSTRATION was successful in finally getting the anti-war movement off its haunches. But the Bush supporters who also showed up in Crawford, TX remembered how to use the GOP playbook by demonizing gays at every opportunity. This time a counter-protester commented about Sheehan’s demonstration by pointing out on national TV that Crawford isn’t San Francisco.

This was a not-so-subtle slam at San Francisco (read: gays). Mention lightening rod words like "San Francisco," "Hillary," "gay marriage," etc. and the Bush people know how to stoke the base. Recall how Senator Mikulski and others had been labeled "San Francisco-style Democrats" (implying that they’re gay or very sympathetic to gay causes) during previous GOP presidential conventions. Therefore, the linking of Sheehan’s movement with "aging hippies"—another target—and "San Francisco" is aimed at marginalizing the anti-Iraq war protestors and dismissing them as far leftist gays. Way to unite us, Mr. Wartime President and his brainwashed supporters!

Now they’re also trotting out the tired and worn, "if you oppose the war you’re giving comfort to the enemy" line. No room for dissent in this administration. If you do, you’re a traitor or a faggot or both. I still scratch my head wondering why gays and lesbians would ever want to serve in the military on behalf of this corrupt, deceitful administration. Which leads me to…

THE U.S. MILITARY IS WHINING THAT THEY cannot meet recruitment objectives to help fight the war in Iraq. Gee, I can’t understand why. It seems like such a nice, tidy war. And as they complain about the shortages as well as the double rotations required to staff the war and with casualties continuing to mount, gays and lesbians are still being discharged under "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell."

Yet according to data released by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), based on 2000 census figures, a total of 41,000 new recruits would come into the armed forces if the policy would be dropped. The study concluded, "the armed forces could significantly close its recruiting gap – or even eliminate it – by welcoming openly gay troops to the services."
"The ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ law hangs like a ‘Gays Not Welcome’ sign outside the Pentagon’s front door," said Sharra E. Greer, director of law and policy for SLDN. "Thousands of lesbian and gay Americans are ready to answer our nation’s call to service, but are turned away because of federally sanctioned discrimination. Now, more than ever, our country needs the talent of these patriotic Americans. We can make our homeland more secure by repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ once and for all."

Don’t hold your breath. Based on our military and government leaders’ positions, our national security is not as important as keeping gays out of the military or safely tucked away in the closet.

I WAS SAD THAT CORETTA SCOTT KING, widow of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had recently suffered a stroke. She is among a small number of African-American leaders in this country who have spoken out for lgbt rights. If there ever is to be a Hall of Fame for the lgbt community, Coretta Scott King definitely needs to be enshrined. "I still hear people say that I should not be talking about the rights of lesbian and gay people and I should stick to the issue of racial justice," Mrs. King once said. "But I hasten to remind them that Martin Luther King Jr. said, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’" "I appeal to everyone who believes in Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream to make room at the table of brother- and sisterhood for lesbian and gay people," she said.

Mrs. King is also an outspoken supporter for marriage for same-sex couples, calling it a civil right. "Gay and lesbian people have families, and their families should have legal protection, whether by marriage or civil union," she said. "A constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages is a form of gay bashing and it would do nothing at all to protect traditional marriages."

Her son Martin Luther King III and daughter Yolanda are supportive of lgbt rights and said their father would have been, too. Unfortunately, the youngest daughter, Rev. Bernice King, didn’t inherit her parents’ gene that contains compassion: she participated in a demonstration that included opposing same-sex marriage as part of the agenda.

JOHN ROBERTS’ NOMINATION TO THE SUPREME COURT will likely pass the Senate and be confirmed. Too bad. Even though he doesn’t have a track record on gay rights cases as a judge, and as an attorney he supported a gay rights case in litigation, there is reason for suspicion. His work as an attorney on that case is irrelevant. Attorneys typically hold their noses and defend clients whom they don’t like. That’s the nature of the profession. It’s his view of the role of the court and his views towards privacy sends chills. He would likely support repealing Lawrence vs. Texas—the suit that struck down sodomy laws.

Major lgbt organizations like the HRC, PFLAG, NCLR and the NGLTF have mobilized to oppose the nomination. "For his entire adult life, John Roberts has been a disciple of and promoted a political and legal ideology that is antithetical to an America that embraces all, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people," said Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. "He has denigrated the nature and scope of the constitutional rights to privacy, equal protection and due process as well as federal government's role in confronting injustice. I have no doubt he's an accomplished lawyer and an affable dinner companion, but that doesn't make him any less a mortal danger to equal rights for gay people, reproductive freedom and affirmation action."

For my money, if Bush wants him then I’m automatically opposed. We all know that the religious right has hijacked the Republican Party and this president. The election cycles of 2000 and 2004 were all about the filling of Supreme Court vacancies. That’s why these anti-gay, self-righteous folks came out and voted for Bush and they are well aware that they own him. That Bush nominated Roberts, look out.