Approximately 61 percent of delegates to the Boy Scouts of America National Annual Meeting voted Thursday to partially end a policy barring openly gay boy scouts. (Photo by Steven Depolo; courtesy Creative Commons)
According to ThinkProgress, approximately 61 percent of delegates to the Boy Scouts of America’s National Annual Meeting voted Thursday to partially end a policy barring openly gay boy scouts.
The 1,400 delegates were not given the option, however, to lift the prohibition of openly gay adult volunteers and leaders.
“Today’s vote is a significant victory for gay youth across the nation and a clear indication that the Boy Scouts’ ban on gay adult leaders will also inevitably end,” Rich Ferraro, a spokesperson for LGBT media watchdog group GLAAD said in a statement after the vote. “The Boy Scouts of America heard from religious leaders, corporate sponsors and so many Scouting families who want an end to discrimination against gay people, and GLAAD will continue this work with those committed to equality in Scouting until gay parents and adults are able to participate.”
The vote comes after months of lobbying on both sides of the issue, with gay advocates pressuring the organization to remove all barriers to involvement for LGBT people ‚ÄĒ including Eagle Scouts, den mothers and scout masters ‚ÄĒ while conservative forces have pushed the organization to remain with the current policy.
“Boy Scouts of America delegates will vote TODAY on a resolution that will introduce open homosexuality into Scouting‚Äôs ranks and eventually, in all likelihood, into Scouting leadership,” the ad reads. “This open letter calls on ALL DELEGATES to VOTE NO on the resolution and thereby preserve Scouting‚Äôs timeless values and honor 103 years of faithful service to our nation and her boys.”
The FRC ad goes on to list five reasons the organization believes that the ban on gays in scouting should be kept, including speculation that 400,000 members will abandon the scouts, citing “massive membership losses” after the organization’s Canadian counterpart lifted their own prohibition to gay scouts.
Despite the¬†opposition’s¬†virulent protests, prior to the vote, many LGBT advocates were optimistic about the vote’s outcome.
‚ÄúI‚Äôm confident, especially now that the BSA leadership is behind the resolution,‚ÄĚ Ferraro told the Blade earlier on Thursday. ‚ÄúI think it‚Äôs because of the stories that BSA voting members and Americans have heard over the past years from moms from Ohio and teenagers from California who shouldn‚Äôt be discriminated against.‚ÄĚ
The Dallas Voice, earlier Thursday, released a video of a press conference held by LGBT advocates prior to the vote.
Earlier this month, Texas Governor Rick Perry also weighed in on the Boy Scouts controversy, as the Blade reported.
‚ÄúThe fact is, this is a private organization,‚ÄĚ Perry said. ‚ÄúTheir values and principles have worked for a century now, and for pop culture to come in and try to tear that up because it just happens to be the flavor of the month, so to speak, and to tear apart one of the great organizations that have served millions of young men ‚ÄĒ to help them become men and become great fathers ‚ÄĒ that is just not appropriate.‚ÄĚ
Following the affirmative vote, many advocates expressed measured relief that efforts had been partially victorious.
‚ÄúToday‚Äôs vote ending discrimination of gay Scouts is truly a historic moment and demonstrates the Boy Scouts of America‚Äôs commitment to creating a more inclusive organization,‚ÄĚ Zach Wahls, Eagle Scout and Founder of Scouts for Equality, said in a statement released by GLAAD. ‚ÄúScouts for Equality is honored to be a part of the movement that has achieved a tremendous victory towards the fight for equality in America and we are proud to call ourselves Scouts. We look forward to the day where we can celebrate inclusion of all members and are committed to continuing our work until that occurs.‚ÄĚ
Others who had experienced discrimination in the scouts under this policy spoke out after the ¬†vote as well.
“When I was kicked out of the Boy Scouts last April, I was devastated.” said Ohio mom Jennifer Tyrrell, who was ousted as leader of her son’s Cub Scout pack because she’s gay. “Having to look my son, Cruz, in the eye and tell him that our family isn’t good enough was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Today is truly a watershed moment for me, but even more so for the millions of kids across this country, who will now be allowed to serve in the Scouts without fear of rejection. I’m so proud of how far we’ve come, but until there’s a place for everyone in Scouting, my work will continue.”
Concerned Women for America President Penny Nance described the two rulings as ‚Äúthe Roe v. Wade of marriage,‚ÄĚ referring to the landmark 1973 decision that legalized abortion in the country.
‚ÄúWhile the justices sit in their high chairs, these decisions will have very real-life consequences for American families, especially as it relates to our religious liberties,‚ÄĚ she said. ‚ÄúThose who hold a Biblical view of marriage can expect much persecution from the government in the years to come.‚ÄĚ
Fox News Radio host Todd Starnes tweeted ‚ÄúSupreme Court overrules God‚ÄĚ after the justices announced their decisions. He added it ‚Äúwon‚Äôt be long before they (the justices) outlaw the Bible as hate speech.
Bishop Harry Jackson of Hope Christian Church of Beltsville, Md., also took to social media to criticize the DOMA decision.
‚ÄúLaws cannot be enforced; justice is always the loser,‚ÄĚ he tweeted. ‚ÄúCriminals crowd out honest people and twist the laws around.‚ÄĚ
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops categorized the rulings as “a tragic day for marriage and our nation.
“The Supreme Court has dealt a profound injustice to the American people by striking down in part the federal Defense of Marriage Act,” the group, of which New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan is the president, said.
The group is among those who joined National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown; Ruth Institute President Jennifer Roback Morse; American Values President Gary Bauer; New York State Sen. Ruben Diaz, Sr.; and Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the North Carolina Values Coalition and others at an anti-gay marriage rally on the National Mall in March after the justices heard oral arguments in the Prop 8 case.
‚ÄúBy striking down the federal definition of marriage in DOMA, the court is asserting that Congress does not have the power to define the meaning of words in statutes Congress itself has enacted,‚ÄĚ Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said. ‚ÄúThis is absurd.‚ÄĚ
Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who unsuccessfully sought to place a proposed constitutional amendment on her state‚Äôs 2004 ballot that would have defined marriage as between a man and a woman, is among the members of Congress who criticized the Supreme Court‚Äôs rulings.
‚ÄúMarriage was created by the hand of God,‚ÄĚ she said. ‚ÄúNo man, not even a Supreme Court, can undo what a holy God has instituted.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs pretty hard to believe that the Supreme Court would say that the 85 Senators, 342 members of the House of Representatives, and Democrat President Bill Clinton ‚Äď all who supported DOMA when it was signed into law nearly 20 years ago ‚Äď voted for DOMA literally seeking to injure and impose stigma on gay individuals,‚ÄĚ U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) added. ‚ÄúThat may be the perception of five Justices, but it is simply not true. I‚Äôve always felt that marriage was an issue best left up to each state, and that‚Äôs essentially what the Court ruled today. But this ruling is a disappointment because instead of allowing the American people and their elected representatives to continue the debate about same-sex marriage, the Court instead used its own personal opinion to tip the balance.‚ÄĚ
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who on Tuesday petitioned the Supreme Court to overturn a lower court‚Äôs ruling earlier this year that struck down the commonwealth‚Äôs anti-sodomy law, said in a statement the state ‚Äúhas followed the traditional definition of marriage as between one man and one woman for more than 400 years.‚ÄĚ He also noted Virginians in 2006 approved a constitutional amendment that banned nuptials for gays and lesbians.
A lone gunman opened fire inside the Family Research Council headquarters last year. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)
A Virginia man who pleaded guilty to shooting a security guard in the arm at the Family Research Council headquarters in Washington last year in a foiled attempt to commit a mass killing of FRC employees was sentenced on Thursday to 25 years in prison.
Floyd Lee Corkins II, 29, told the FBI shortly after his arrest that he targeted the FRC because of its positions opposing gay rights and same-sex marriage. He pleaded guilty in February to committing an act of terrorism while armed, assault with intent to kill while armed and interstate transportation of a firearm and ammunition.
Corkins worked for several months in 2012 as a volunteer at the D.C. LGBT Community Center, but neither law enforcement authorities nor D.C. Center officials have disclosed whether Corkins is gay.
D.C. police and the FBI, which investigated the case, have credited security guard and FRC building manager Leonardo Johnson with preventing Corkins from carrying out his stated plan to kill as many people as possible at the FRC building.
In what authorities have called an act of heroism, Johnson, 47, wrestled Corkins to the floor in the lobby of the FRC building at 801 G St., N.W., and disarmed him after Corkins fired three shots, one of which struck Johnson in the arm. Authorities said Johnson‚Äôs action prevented Corkins from gaining access to the upper floors of the building where about 80 employees were working.
Prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney‚Äôs office called for a sentence of 45 years while Corkins‚Äô attorney, citing Corkins‚Äô history of mental illness, asked for a sentence of 11 and a half years.
Floyd Lee Corkins II (Photo courtesy the U.S. Attorney’s Office)
Chief Judge Richard W. Roberts of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia said his sentence of 25 years took into consideration Corkins‚Äô ‚Äúhorrific‚ÄĚ action as well as mitigating factors such as his mental illness and his decision to take responsibility for his behavior.
Roberts told Corkins his stated intent to kill people to advance his political beliefs in support of gay rights would have the opposite effect. He praised others seeking to advance a political cause, including gay rights, who use peaceful means to promote such a cause.
‚ÄúWhen the president spoke up it changed minds,‚ÄĚ he said in referring to President Obama‚Äôs support for same-sex marriage.
‚ÄúKilling human beings is not political activism. It‚Äôs criminal behavior,‚ÄĚ Roberts said.
Just before Roberts handed down his sentence Johnson and FRC president Tony Perkins addressed the court to give their recommendations on the sentencing.
Johnson turned toward Corkins and said he forgave him for what he did but said he would never forget the harm Corkins inflicted on him and the negative impact it has had on his family.
After the sentencing hearing Johnson told reporters outside the courthouse that once he wrestled the gun from Corkins and feared that Corkins might still attempt to attack him he chose not to shoot Corkins ‚Äúbecause God told me not to do it.‚ÄĚ
Within minutes, D.C. police arrived on the scene and took Corkins into custody. He has remained in jail since the time of his arrest at the scene of the incident on Aug. 15, 2012.
At the time of his arrest, police and FBI agents found a stash of ammunition in Corkins‚Äô backpack along with about 15 Chick-fil-A sandwiches. Corkins later told FBI agents he planned to smear the sandwiches in the faces of the FRC employees he planned to kill as a form of retaliation against the statements by the Chick-fil-A company‚Äôs owner opposing same-sex marriage.
Perkins told the court that Corkins and his plan to kill as many FRC staff members as possible put the staff ‚Äúin the crosshairs of a political assassin‚ÄĚ and has kept the organization and its employees in a state of fear.
‚ÄúLife for all of us has changed,‚ÄĚ he said.
Leonardo Johnson with Family Research Council President Tony Perkins (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)
Perkins reiterated statements he has made in the past that Corkins was instigated, at least in part, to target FRC by the Southern Poverty Law Center. He cited the Center‚Äôs decision to identify FRC as a hate group because of its anti-gay advocacy work.
Officials with the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights organization, have said their classification of FRC as a hate group is based on its attempt to disparage and demean gay people by linking them and homosexuality to pedophilia. The officials have said the ‚Äėhate‚Äô label is not based on FRC‚Äôs opposition to gay rights legislation or its political beliefs.
In his own statement at the sentencing hearing, Corkins apologized to Johnson and FRC, saying he still disagrees with the organization‚Äôs positions.
‚ÄúI realize violence for political reasons is wrong,‚ÄĚ he said.
In a 20-minute multi-media presentation in the courtroom, which included the showing of slides and video footage of Corkins, prosecutors argued that Corkins carried out a clearly orchestrated plan to commit mass murder in the days before the FRC shooting.
Assistant U.S. Attorney T. Patrick Martin, one of the two prosecutors working on the case, disputed defense attorney David Bos‚Äôs assertion that Corkins was not in full control of his behavior based on his diagnoses of having ‚Äúmajor depressive disorder with psychotic features.‚ÄĚ
Bos argued that Corkins was being treated with prescription drugs that effectively eliminated symptoms of his mental illness but Corkins failed to take his medication on the day before the FRC shooting incident.
Martin argued that in the week or so before the shooting, Corkins purchased a pistol and ammunition at a Virginia gun store, returned to the store to practice his shooting technique, purchased the sandwiches at a Chick-fil-A restaurant, and even traveled to the FRC building a few days before the incident to see if he could gain entrance as part of a ‚Äúrehearsal‚ÄĚ of his plans.
Martin pointed to one of the slides projected on a large screen in the courtroom that stated, ‚ÄúHe knows what he was doing‚Ä¶The treatment he received was working. And it helped him execute his plan.‚ÄĚ
National and local LGBT rights organizations, including the D.C. LGBT Center, issued statements at the time of the shooting condemning Corkins‚Äô actions and wishing Johnson a speedy recovery from his injury.
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)
The latest campaign finance reports that Virginia‚Äôs Republican candidates for statewide office filed last week indicate they continue to receive significant financial support from social conservatives and anti-LGBT groups.
The campaign finance report that Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli filed with the Virginia Board of Elections on Oct. 15 notes Leadership Institute President Morton Blackwell gave the gubernatorial hopeful $19,665 on Sept. 12.
Morton, who opposed the gay group GOProud‚Äôs participation in the 2011 Conservative Political Action Conference and received an award during last year‚Äôs Values Voter Summit, has given the Cuccinelli campaign a total of $25,878. Morton also gave $1,000 to state Sen. Mark Obenshain(R-Harrisonburg)’s attorney general bid on Sept. 30, according to campaign finance records.
Campaign finance reports indicate the Family Research Council Action PAC on Sept. 30 made a $5,000 contribution to E.W. Jackson‚Äôs campaign; he’s running for lieutenant governor. The group also donated $20,000 to Cuccinelli‚Äôs campaign on Aug. 31.
Obenshain‚Äôs campaign on Sept. 10 received a $10,000 contribution from Pat Robertson, according to a campaign finance report it filed with the Virginia Board of Elections on Oct. 15. The anti-gay televangelist also gave $2,500 to Jackson‚Äôs campaign on Aug. 31.
Foster Friess, who backed former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum‚Äôs 2012 presidential bid, on Sept. 19 gave Cuccinelli‚Äôs campaign $20,000. Campaign finance reports further indicate the billionaire businessman has thus far contributed $50,000 to the attorney general‚Äôs gubernatorial campaign.
John Rocovich, Jr., a member of the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors who led efforts to remove sexual orientation from the university‚Äôs anti-discrimination policy in 2003 when he was rector, has given $38,986 in cash and in-kind contributions to Cuccinelli‚Äôs campaign. He has also contributed $7,500 to Jackson‚Äôs bid and another $18,750 in cash and in-kind contributions to Obenshain‚Äôs campaign.
The Family Foundation, a Richmond-based group that supports the commonwealth‚Äôs constitutional amendment that bans same-sex marriage and opposes LGBT-specific measures in the General Assembly, has also contributed to the three men‚Äôs campaigns.
Roger Pogge of the Family Foundation has given $400 to Cuccinelli, according to campaign finance records. Pogge has given $250 to Jackson and another $200 to Obenshain.
The re-election campaign for state Del. Brenda Pogge (R-James City), whose husband is Roger Pogge, has given $1,150 to Cuccinelli‚Äôs gubernatorial bid. Campaign finance reports indicate the Republican lawmaker has also given $500 to Obenshain.
Jackson in his latest campaign finance report noted a $1,500 donation to the Family Foundation on Sept. 24. This contribution came less than two weeks before the organization held its annual dinner in Richmond at which Cuccinelli and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) spoke.
LGBT advocates criticize Va. Republican ticket
Cuccinelli‚Äôs, Jackson‚Äôs and Obenshain‚Äôs Democratic opponents and LGBT rights advocates note these contributions come as no surprise considering the three men‚Äôs opposition to marriage for same-sex couples and other gay-specific measures in the commonwealth.
Cuccinelli, who has previously described same-sex sexual acts as ‚Äúintrinsically wrong‚ÄĚ, in July reaffirmed his opposition to homosexuality during a gubernatorial debate against former Democratic National Committee Chair Terry McAuliffe.
The current attorney general in 2010 recommended Virginia colleges and universities remove LGBT-specific provisions from their non-discrimination policies. Cuccinelli was also among those who spoke at an anti-gay marriage gathering at a Manassas church last October to which the Washington Blade was denied access ‚ÄĒ a California pastor who attended the event described gay men as ‚Äúpredators‚ÄĚ during a separate event at a Baltimore church the week before that Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, Bishop Harry Jackson, Jr., of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Md., and others attended.
LGBT rights advocates have repeatedly blasted Jackson over his comparison of gay men to pedophiles and describing them as ‚Äúvery sick people.‚ÄĚ
Obenshain sponsored a bill that Gov. Bob McDonnell signed into law in March that bans public universities from denying recognition and funding to student organizations that discriminate in their membership based on sexual orientation and other categories that federal law does not protect. He also opposed a measure a Virginia House of Delegates subcommittee in February tabled that would have banned discrimination against LGBT state employees.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, stars of the TLC reality show ‚Äú19 Kids and Counting‚ÄĚ whose eldest son now works as a lobbyist for the Family Research Council in D.C., joined Cuccinelli on the campaign trail last week.
Cuccinelli reiterated his opposition to marriage rights for same-sex couples in response to the Blade‚Äôs question after he and McAuliffe squared off in a debate sponsored by the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce and NBC 4 in McLean last month. He declined to say whether he feels his position on the issue and his previous anti-LGBT statements have received too much attention on the campaign trail.
‚ÄúThat‚Äôs a very sensitive issue, and I respect that,‚ÄĚ Cuccinelli told the Blade as he discussed his position on same-sex marriage. ‚ÄúThere are people who feel very strongly about it, and I respect that. For those folks they want to hear about it, it is one of a range of issues.‚ÄĚ
Poll: Nearly half find Cuccinelli too conservative
Forty-six percent of likely Virginia voters who responded to a Quinnipiac University poll conducted between Oct. 2-8 said they feel Cuccinelli is too conservative.
“Ken Cuccinelli has spent his career demonizing and insulting gay Virginians,‚ÄĚ McAuliffe campaign spokesperson Josh Schwerin told the Blade. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs no surprise that some of his biggest donors would have equally offensive records.‚ÄĚ
Equality Virginia Executive Director James Parrish noted Cuccinelli, Jackson and Obenshain all have a record of ‚Äúbeing openly hostile‚ÄĚ to LGBT Virginians through their own statements or their legislative actions.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs not surprising that Pat Robertson, Family Research Council and other opponents of fairness and equality are funding the most right-wing, anti-gay, anti-choice ticket to ever run for statewide office in Virginia,‚ÄĚ gay state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) added. ‚ÄúThey‚Äôre not just conservatives; they are zealots on a mission and it‚Äôs a common mission that some of their most prominent donors share.‚ÄĚ
Democratic statewide candidates tap gay money
McAuliffe and Jackson and Obenshain‚Äôs Democratic opponents ‚Äď state Sens. Ralph Northam (D-Norfolk) and Mark Herring (D-Loudoun) respectively ‚Äď have all publicly backed marriage rights for same-sex couples. The former DNC chair has repeatedly said as governor he would issue an executive order that would ban discrimination against LGBT state employees.
Campaign finance records indicate that McAuliffe, Northam and Herring continue to receive significant financial backing from LGBT contributors.
McAuliffe‚Äôs latest campaign finance report he filed with the Virginia Board of Elections on Oct. 15 indicates Tim Gill donated $10,000 to his gubernatorial bid on Sept. 25. The gay philanthropist on the same day made $2,500 contributions to Northam and Herring‚Äôs campaigns.
DNC Treasurer Andrew Tobias has donated $11,000 to McAuliffe‚Äôs campaign. Gay Democratic strategist Steve Elmendorf on March 20 made a $5,000 contribution to the former DNC chair‚Äôs gubernatorial bid ‚Äď and campaign finance reports indicate he made an in-kind donation of $4,060 on May 16 for event expenses.
California Lieutenant Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sept. 21 gave $1,000 to McAuliffe‚Äôs campaign, while lesbian Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen on Sept. 27 donated $1,000.
Campaign finance reports indicate the Human Rights Campaign made a $23,308 in-kind donation to the Democratic Party of Virginia for staff time and telephone calls on Sept. 11, and another $31,013 in-kind donation for the same items and e-mail advocacy on Oct. 26. The organization‚Äôs PAC on Sept. 11 made $117 in-kind contributions for online advocacy to McAuliffe, Northam and Herring‚Äôs campaigns.
But two of the nation‚Äôs leading anti-gay groups warned that if the BSA‚Äôs board votes next week to drop its ban on gays, as predicted by sources familiar with the Boy Scouts, it would lead to a ‚Äúmass exodus‚ÄĚ of scouts and scout leaders from traditional, religious-oriented families and communities.
In its statement released on Monday, the BSA said the change it was considering would allow the religious, civic and educational organizations that are chartered to operate scouting units throughout the country to make the final decision on¬†whether or not to accept gays.
‚ÄúCurrently, the BSA is discussing potentially removing the national membership restriction regarding sexual orientation,‚ÄĚ the statement says.
‚ÄúThis would mean there would no longer be any national policy regarding sexual orientation, and the chartered organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting would accept membership and select leaders consistent with each organization‚Äôs mission, principles, or religious beliefs,‚ÄĚ says the statement.
‚ÄúBSA members and parents would be able to choose a local unit that best meets the needs of their families,‚ÄĚ it says.
Janelle Moritz, a public relations representative for the Boy Scouts of America, told the Blade she could not confirm the NBC report about the timing of a board meeting or what the board would decide. She said BSA would not comment on the matter beyond what it said in its statement, which doesn‚Äôt say when the group will decide on the issue.
Other news media outlets, however, reported that BSA sources confirmed that the board meeting would take place next week, mostly likely at the BSA national headquarters in Irving, Texas.
‚ÄúThe Boy Scouts of America have heard from scouts, corporations, and millions of Americans that discriminating against gay scouts and scout leaders is wrong,‚ÄĚ said Herndon Graddick, president of¬†the¬†Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. ‚ÄúScouting is a valuable institution and this change will only strengthen its core principles of fairness and respect,‚ÄĚ he said.
‚ÄúThis would be an incredible step forward in the right direction,‚ÄĚ said Zach Wahls, an Eagle Scout and founder of the group Scouts for Equality. ‚ÄúWe look forward to working with BSA Councils and chartering organizations across the country to end the exclusion of our gay brothers in scouting, as well as the gay and lesbian leaders who serve the organizations so well.‚ÄĚ
Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said the Boy Scouts‚Äô expected policy change follows the growing support for LGBT equality from the American people.
‚ÄúThe pulse of equality is strong in America, and today it beats a bit faster with news that the Boy Scouts may finally put an end to its long history of discrimination,‚ÄĚ Griffin said in a statement. ‚ÄúOur nation and its leaders respect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens, and it‚Äôs time the Boy Scouts echo those values.‚ÄĚ
A far different response emerged from leaders of the Family Research Council and the American Family Association, two national conservative groups that oppose LGBT rights.
‚ÄúThe Boy Scouts of America board would be making a serious mistake to bow to the strong-arm tactics of LGBT activists and open the organization to homosexuality,‚ÄĚ said FRC President Tony Perkins in a statement.
‚ÄúThe mission of the Boy Scouts is to ‚Äėinstill values in young people‚Äô and ‚Äėprepare them to make ethical choices,‚Äô and the Scouts‚Äô oath includes a pledge ‚Äėto do my duty to God‚Äô and keep himself ‚Äėmorally straight,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúIt is entirely reasonable and not at all unusual for those passages to be interpreted as requiring abstinence from homosexual conduct.‚ÄĚ
The American Family Associated posted on its website a column by anti-gay advocate Bryan Fischer, who quipped that Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State assistant coach convicted on child molestation charges, would become ‚Äúthe new poster boy‚ÄĚ for the Boy Scouts.
‚ÄúThis move, unless the BSA dramatically reverses itself in the immediate future, represents the capitulation to the forces of sexual deviancy,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúThe Scouts will have made a deliberate decision to put the sexual integrity of every young man in their care at risk.‚ÄĚ
Within a day of the BSA‚Äôs announcement that it was considering changing its policy on gay scouts and scout leaders, the FRC and the American Family Association posted appeals on their websites urging members and supporters to call the BSA to urge the group to leave its ban on gays in place.
‚ÄúAs the BSA board meets next week, it is crucial that they hear from those who stand with them and their current policy regarding homosexuality,‚ÄĚ FRC said.
Possibly in anticipation of strong opposition by conservative and religious groups, the BSA emphasized in its own statement that the change would allow local units to decide whether or not to admit gays.
‚ÄúThe Boy Scouts would not, under any circumstances, dictate a policy to units, members, or parents,‚ÄĚ the statement says. ‚ÄúUnder this proposed policy, the BSA would not require any chartered organization to act in ways inconsistent with that organization‚Äôs mission, principles or religious beliefs.‚ÄĚ
The BSA website says more than 100,000 scouting units are owned and operated by independent chartered organizations.
‚ÄúOf these, 64.9 percent of all units are chartered to faith-based organizations, 22.7 percent of all units are chartered to civic organizations, and 7.9 percent of all units are chartered to educational organizations,‚ÄĚ it says.
It says the chartered organizations are responsible for providing meeting facilities, providing ‚Äúquality leadership for the scouting unit,‚ÄĚ and appointing a representative to coordinate unit operations
A list of BSA chartered organizations posted on its website shows a wide range of religious and civic groups that are likely to differ on whether or not to admit gay scouts and scout leaders.
Among them are the Catholic Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and ‚ÄúBaptist Churches,‚ÄĚ which traditionally have condemned homosexuality. Others, however, include the United Church of Christ, the Episcopal Church, United Methodist Church and Lutheran churches, which have had more accepting policies toward LGBT people.
Civic groups listed on the BSA website as chartered organizations include local Chambers of Commerce, Lions and Rotary clubs, American Legion organizations, Boys‚Äô and Girls‚Äô Clubs, YMCA groups, ‚Äúnon-profit agencies,‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúhome owners‚ÄĚ groups.
The BSA‚Äôs statement saying it is considering removing its national policy banning gay scouts and scout leaders comes seven months after the BSA announced it had conducted a two-year review of the ban and decided to leave it in place.
Monday‚Äôs announcement also comes after several prominent corporations, including United Parcel Service and Intel Corporation, withdrew as BSA financial sponsors, saying the gay ban violated their corporate polices of non-discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Others opposing the Boy Scouts ban on gays have organized online petition drives that have gathered hundreds of thousands of signatures calling on the BSA to drop its gay ban.
Sharon Brackett, co-founder and board chair of the statewide transgender advocacy organization Gender Rights Maryland, said she experienced firsthand how at least some Boy Scout troops and the chartered organizations that operate them are LGBT supportive.
Brackett said she served as a scout master for the local Boy Scout troop in Savage, Md., where her sons were members, before she transitioned from male to female. She said after taking a break during her transition period, the troop and a local Methodist church that served as the chartered organization, welcomed her back once she completed her gender transition.
‚ÄúMy experience has been positive,‚ÄĚ she said, noting that women have long served as Boy Scout troop leaders and officials in the chartered organization covering her area had no problem with her coming back.
Brackett said she supports the proposed change by the BSA to leave it up to the chartered organizations to decide whether gay scouts or troops can be admitted. At least in Maryland, she said, there are enough local troops and chartered organizations to choose from that would result in gay youth finding one that will be welcoming.
‚ÄúHaving that choice is the best next step for us at this time,‚ÄĚ she said.
The Family Research Council, headed by Tony Perkins, filed briefs in the Prop 8 and DOMA cases. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)
Anti-gay groups ‚ÄĒ ranging from the Family Research Council to the Westboro Baptish Church ‚ÄĒ filed friend-of-the-court briefs before the Supreme Court this week asking justices to uphold California’s Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act.
The briefs filed on Tuesday assert the same arguments seen repeatedly in opposition to a fundamental right to same-sex marriage, such as the inability of gay couples to procreate and the argument that being gay isn’t an immutable characteristic.
The Family Research Council, one the more prominent anti-gay groups opposed to same-sex marriage, filed briefs in both the Prop 8 and DOMA cases. In the Prop 8 brief, the group argues that the California ban on same-sex marriage isn’t discriminatory, among other reasons, because it enables any person to marry ‚ÄĒ so long as the other person is of the opposite sex.
“Proposition 8 treats men and women the same,” the brief states. “Both may marry someone of the opposite sex; neither may marry someone of the same sex.”
As Right Wing Watch¬†points out, Family Research Council makes arguments on the political power of gays and lesbians that are contradictory. In the Prop 8 brief, the group notes that 30 states have amendments defining marriage as one man, one woman while arguing that¬†‚Äúthere is no ‚Äėemerging awareness‚Äô that the right to marry extends to same-sex couples.‚ÄĚ
But in the DOMA brief, the group notes that three states voted in favor of marriage equality and Minnesota rejected an anti-gay marriage amendment to argue gay people¬†aren’t a ‚Äúpolitically powerless‚ÄĚ group that need protection from discrimination.
“So when voters reject gay rights at the ballot box, they are reflecting public opinion,” concludes Right Wing Watch blogger Miranda Blue. “But when they vote in favor of gay rights, they have been ‘enlisted’ to the cause by powerful gay rights lobbyists.”
William Duncan, director of the Marriage Law Foundation, filed a brief on behalf of the National Organization for Marriage in the DOMA case, but identifies himself as a “scholar of history and related disciplines” in the Prop 8 case.
“When the People of California adopted Proposition 8, they acted to retain in their law an understanding of marriage that, until very recently, was recognized universally and without exception throughout time and across cultures,” Duncan said. “That conception of the institution of marriage has consistently been understood to advance crucial social interests in procreation, understood as the bearing and rearing of children.”
Duncan cites in his arguments a series of philosophers who’ve had an impact on American thinking, including Noah Webster and David Hume. The brief also cites a 1690 piece of writing from British philosopher John Locke, who said¬†marriage ‚Äúhas no necessary form or function beyond this ‚Äėchief end‚Äô of procreation.”
Another brief in the Prop 8 case was filed by a coalition of black pastors, including the Coalition of African-American Pastors USA and the Frederick Douglass Foundation. That brief argues at length that the 1967 Supreme Court ruling in Loving v. Virginia striking down bans on interracial marriage shouldn’t be applied to gay couples.
“Loving can be distinguished from the current dispute over same-sex marriage,” the brief states. “Laws against miscegenation were designed to segregate the races, reinforcing the socially disadvantaged position of African-Americans. …¬†By contrast, the traditional definition of marriage calls for mixing of the genders ‚ÄĒ integration not segregation ‚ÄĒ and therefore cannot be understood as an attempt to disadvantage either gender.”
During a news conference in September,¬†Rev.¬†William Owens, founder and president of the Coalition of African-American Pastors, admitted that he has limited financial ties to NOM. Owens said the group provides him and his wife a salary of $20,000 a year.
Notably, the brief isn’t signed by black pastors. The attorneys who signed the brief are¬†Lynn Wardle, a law professor at Brigham Young University, and Stephen Kent Ehat, an attorney who does business as the Utah-based California Research Inc., and is a graduate of BYU law school.
Yet another brief was filed by three gay individuals who believe same-sex couples shouldn’t have the right to marry. They are¬†David Benkof, ex-owner of the gay press syndicate Q Syndicate and now a resident of Israel; Robert Oscar Lopez, a bisexual award-winning writer who’s written comedies about same-sex couples raising children; and¬†Doug Mainwaring, a gay writer who rethought the capability of same-sex unions to raise children after realizing the importance to his teenage sons of their mother’s presence in their lives. The brief is signed by Herbert Grey, a private attorney based in Beaverton, Ore.
“We, and they, believe gay people should be free to love and live as they choose but we also recognize that society has a right to express a rational preference for the kind of unions necessary to the survival of the whole society, and to the well-being of children,” the brief states. “Some gay, lesbian and bisexual people will benefit from this preference as they may marry a person of the opposite-sex.”
The brief by the Westboro Baptist Church, a virulently anti-gay Kansas-based organization known for picketing the funerals of service members with signs reading, “God Hates Fags,” makes arguments characteristic of its organization in briefs both for the Prop 8 case and DOMA case.
Members of the Westboro Baptist Church. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)
“This nation has gone astray, letting fornication, adultery, abortion-for-convenience-on-demand,¬†divorce, remarriage and sodomy become the norm,” the church says in its DOMA brief. “Homosexuality is destructive in every way, to the individual and to the nation. Government should not put its seal of approval on that unholy union by issuing a marriage license. Government‚Äôs interest is in doing the opposite, for the good of the people and the nation.”
The brief is signed by Margie Phelps,¬†daughter of church founder Fred Phelps, who has represented the church in a lawsuit against it before the Supreme Court.
Mary Bonauto, civil rights director for Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, said the “anti-gay machine is alive and well,” but noted that each of the briefs takes a different approach to supporting Prop 8 and DOMA.
“As you would expect, some of the briefs were based a particular religious view,” Bonauto said. “Others claimed they were secular but simply reasoned based on certain religious principles. Others raised the religious freedom argument that it is a burden for objecting members of the public to have to deal with the existence of married gay people.”
Bonauto added, “Overall, none of these briefs raise a new issue and several are helpful to us.”
Zach Wahls, who is straight, but has two lesbian mothers, delivers petitions to lift a ban on gay scouts to the national Boy Scouts of America conference in Orlando last year. (Photo courtesy of Change.org)
As the board met behind closed doors in a hotel near the BSA‚Äôs national headquarters just outside Dallas, a contingent of current and former gay scouts, scout leaders, and their straight supporters delivered stacks of petitions with 1.4 million signatures calling for the Boy Scouts to end the gay ban.
‚ÄúToday‚Äôs delivery marks one final push by the more than 1.4 million signers who‚Äôve taken action on Change.org demanding an end to the Boy Scout‚Äôs national ban on gay youth and parents,‚ÄĚ said Mark Anthony Dingbaum, senior campaign manager for Change.org.
The national LGBT groups Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and Human Rights Campaign joined the gay-supportive scouts and scout leaders, including Scouts for Equality, in drawing national attention to the BSA‚Äôs board meeting.
But the gay supportive side appeared to be capturing more media attention on the opening day of the board‚Äôs meeting.
In a full-page ad in Monday‚Äôs edition of the Dallas Morning News, HRC urged the Boy Scouts to go beyond their proposal to allow local Boy Scout councils to decide whether to admit gay scouts or scout leaders.
The BSA announced last week that its proposal would end the organization‚Äôs national ban on gay scouts and scout leaders. The announcement said the change, if adopted by the board, would leave it to the local Councils and chartered organizations that sponsor Boy Scout troops across the country to decide whether to admit gay scouts and scout leaders.
‚ÄúWhile the proposed change is a step in the right direction, we can‚Äôt pretend that passing the buck to the local level will eliminate anti-gay discrimination because it won‚Äôt,‚ÄĚ said HRC‚Äôs vice president for communications Fred Sainz.
‚ÄúGenerations of gay Americans have been told they‚Äôre not good enough to join the Scouts, simply because of who they are,‚ÄĚ Sainz said. ‚ÄúBSA has an opportunity to change that this week by adopting a non-discrimination policy.‚ÄĚ
HRC also announced that its foundation has adopted a more stringent criterion for its widely watched Corporate Equality Index, which rates corporations on their policies on LGBT related issues, including personnel policies.
‚ÄúTo receive a perfect score in the future, companies would have to prohibit philanthropic giving to non-religious organizations that have a written policy of anti-gay discrimination, or permit its chapters, affiliates, or troops to do so,‚ÄĚ HRC announced in a Feb. 4 press release.
The newly announced criterion would lead to a lower the rating for companies that donate money to the Boy Scouts if the BSA or local Boy Scout councils don‚Äôt eliminate their ban on gays.
D.C. area Boy Scouts Council calls for ‚Äėcourteous‚Äô discussion
Daniel Mullin, director of the D.C. district for the BSA‚Äôs National Capital Area Council, told the Blade on Monday that Boy Scouts and scout leaders in the D.C. region were watching with interest over how the national board will decide on the issue of the gay ban.
He pointed to a statement in the National Capital Area Council‚Äôs February newsletter, which invites the scouting community to share their opinions and concerns on the issue with the Council‚Äôs leadership.
‚ÄúThis is a topic that many leaders, parents and community members have strongly held opinions about,‚ÄĚ the Council‚Äôs newsletter statement says. ‚ÄúIt is a complex issue and can engender significant debate. As you discuss the issue with your friends and fellow Scouts, please remember that a Scout is courteous and kind.‚ÄĚ
Floyd Lee Corkins II, 28, who has been held in jail since his arrest last August, signed a charging document before appearing in court on Wednesday confirming that he intended to commit a mass killing at the FRC building, a federal prosecutor said in court.
‚Äú[C]orkins targeted the Family Research Council because of its political views, including its advocacy against recognition of gay marriage,‚ÄĚ according to a statement released Wednesday by the U.S. Attorney‚Äôs office.
‚ÄúHe entered the building with the intention of shooting and killing as many employees of the organization as he could,‚ÄĚ the statement says.
The wounded security guard has been credited by D.C. police and the FBI with saving the lives of FRC employees working on the building‚Äôs upper floors by wrestling Corkins to the floor and taking away the semi-automatic handgun Corkins wielded while attempting to gain access to the elevator.
The guard suffered a gunshot wound to the arm and has undergone several rounds of surgery in connection with the injury.
In addition to the terrorism charge, Corkins pleaded guilty to charges of assault with intent to kill while armed and interstate transportation of a firearm and ammunition. He faces a potential maximum sentence of 70 years in prison.
U.S. District Court Judge Richard W. Roberts scheduled a sentencing hearing for April 29.
Corkins, who worked for a short time as a volunteer at D.C.‚Äôs LGBT Community Center in 2011, has not disclosed his sexual orientation.
In new information released this week, the U.S. Attorney‚Äôs office said police and FBI agents investigating the case found a handwritten list on Corkins‚Äô possession containing the names of the Family Research Council and ‚Äúthree other organizations that openly identify themselves as having socially conservative agenda.‚ÄĚ The U.S. Attorney‚Äôs office didn‚Äôt identify the other organizations, saying only that Corkins intended to target them had he succeeded in his planned shooting at the FRC.
Prosecutors also disclosed for the first time that Corkins returned to a gun store in Virginia where he purchased the gun on the night before he arrived at the FRC building and engaged in shooting practice.
Authorities previously disclosed that they had discovered in Corkins‚Äô backpack a box of 50 rounds of 9 mm ammunition and 15 individually wrapped sandwiches he bought the previous day from Chik-fil-A.
Floyd Lee Corkins II was accused of shooting a security guard inside the Family Research Council‚Äôs headquarters building in August. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)
In the statement released on Wednesday, the U.S. Attorney‚Äôs office disclosed that Corkins told FBI agents interviewing him after his arrest that he planned to ‚Äúsmother the Chick-fil-A sandwiches‚ÄĚ into the faces of the FRC employees he intended to shoot.
In a separate court filing last week, prosecutors disclosed that they searched of Corkins‚Äô family computer at the Herndon home where he lived with his parents. The computer search showed that he apparently obtained the list of socially conservative groups he planned to target, including the FRC, from the website of the Southern Poverty Law Center.
SPLC has listed FRC as a hate group based, among other things, on its portrayal of homosexuality and gay people as being associated with pedophilia.
In a statement released on Wednesday, FRC President Tony Perkins reiterated his earlier assertion that Southern Poverty Law Center was responsible for creating a climate that led to someone like Corkins seeking to commit violence.
‚Äú[I] stated that while Corkins was responsible for the shooting, he had been given a license to perpetrate this act of violence by groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center which has systematically and recklessly labeled every organization with which they disagree as a ‚Äėhate group,‚Äô‚ÄĚ Perkins said.
Southern Poverty Law Center officials have denounced Perkins for misrepresenting their position, saying they never label an organization as a hate group based on political views or public policy positions. SPLC officials have said they list FRC as a hate group for what they say are its false and defamatory claims linking homosexuality and LGBT people to pedophilia.
Organizers of the Lavender Language Conference say even the sounds gay porn actors make in the throes of passion have meaning and can teach us something about our gay lives. (Photo via Wikimedia)
Lavender Languages & Linguistics Conference
Friday through Sunday
Prices vary ‚ÄĒ presentations may be attended individually and cost $25 per session for employed persons; discounts available for anyone who wants to attend but can‚Äôt afford to pay
Registration is possible on site or online American.edu/lavenderlanguages
Watching gay porn at William Leap‚Äôs house near American University in Washington can be tedious.
‚ÄúThere‚Äôs a lot of hilarity with that,‚ÄĚ Leap says. ‚ÄúMy partner always wants to race through it. He says, ‚ÄėOh, come on, this is stupid,‚Äô and I‚Äôm like, ‚ÄėNo, I need to listen to this. I want to hear the dialogue and really think about what phrases they‚Äôre saying.‚ÄĚ
And yes, in a way, Leap does have a dialogue fetish but it‚Äôs not sexual. He‚Äôs a linguistics specialist and professor at American University in its College of Arts and Sciences‚Äô Department of Anthropology. His 20th annual Lavender Languages & Linguistics Conference, which he says is the longest-running queer academic conference in North America, convenes today. He and a stable of other academics will welcome about 150 attendees from around the world to a weekend jammed with about 80 presentations on queer language. Language used in gay porn is just one of the many topics that will be covered.
‚ÄúWe have a guy coming, and this is such a hoot,‚ÄĚ Leap says with palpable glee, ‚Äúwho‚Äôs doing a presentation comparing the sounds guys make in coital ecstasy with the sounds animals make in the zoo and in the wild. He‚Äôs actually doing a phonetic technical analysis and comparison to see how, for instance, [gay porn star] Damien Crosse grunts, so I don‚Äôt know, we‚Äôll see what he comes up with.‚ÄĚ
But even with nods to porn and gay pop culture, isn‚Äôt the conference a bit on the geeky and dry side? Leap says no and that the use of language ‚ÄĒ from the way words are spoken to the origins of phrases and expressions ‚ÄĒ has a profound effect on LGBT lives. Yes, it‚Äôs his pet passion, but he says there‚Äôs something any queer person could find useful in the event.
‚ÄúI think the real value in it is that it reminds us that gay is not a single phenomenon and no one owns it,‚ÄĚ Leap says. ‚ÄúNo one has a right to stand up and speak for all queer people and part of what we have to do as academics is make it clear that there‚Äôs this vast diversity of things associated with the use of language. Gays and lesbians have a rich history that has largely been ignored. These cultural experiences are not being talked about in textbooks.‚ÄĚ
Leap started the event in 1993 with a half-day event and about 85 in attendance. Now it‚Äôs three days and he expects about 150 to register in addition to ‚Äúwalk ins‚ÄĚ who come for ‚Äúa session or two.‚ÄĚ It‚Äôs a non-profit event and Leap says those who are interested but can‚Äôt pay will not be turned away or denied lunch/refreshments. He also says there‚Äôs a refreshing non-snob factor with the professors whom he encourages to mingle with attendees from all walks of life.
‚ÄúThere‚Äôs no attitude here, no prima donnas,‚ÄĚ he says. ‚ÄúWe really want an environment where everybody is free to talk to everybody.‚ÄĚ
David Peterson, a gay associate professor in the Department of English at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, has been attending and presenting almost every year since 1995. He says the topics that have been explored over the years at the Conference have endless ‚Äúreal world‚ÄĚ implications for LGBT people.
‚ÄúIf we want to counter the kinds of things the Family Research Council, for example, is doing, we have to have some understanding of what they‚Äôre doing or it won‚Äôt be effective,‚ÄĚ he says. ‚ÄúWe can‚Äôt just protest it and say, ‚ÄėThey‚Äôre just fundamentalist Bible thumpers,‚Äô because they‚Äôre really not. It‚Äôs quite interesting, and not what many people would expect, that they don‚Äôt use a lot of scripture quoting on their website and in their arguments. ‚Ä¶ There‚Äôs been a shift. One of the things they do is pretend to be social scientists saying very homophobic things in what appears to be the objective language of science.‚ÄĚ
Leap is happy to go anywhere during a phone chat this week. During an hour-plus conversation, he touched on dozens of topics. Among them:
‚ÄĘ On understanding how gay language has changed in 20 years: ‚ÄúOne of the most important things we‚Äôve learned is that 20 years ago, many folks thought there was a gay language, a gay way of talking where you could identify a particular accent or a single way of doing things and while there‚Äôs probably some truth to that, what we‚Äôre realizing now is it‚Äôs terribly complex. There is no single way of talking, there is no such thing as a gay accent and it really varies across different groups, segments, classes and cultures. ‚Ä¶ You try to translate a phrase like ‚Äúcoming out of the closet‚ÄĚ into French, for example, and their reaction would be, ‚ÄėWhy would I be in a wardrobe?‚Äô ‚Ä¶ If they‚Äôre actually talking about telling family and friends they‚Äôre gay, they would say it in an altogether different way and that‚Äôs just one example. Referring to the ‚Äėgayborhood,‚Äô is another that just has no French equivalent. And that‚Äôs just using French as an example. You can imagine how this varies around the world.‚ÄĚ
¬†‚ÄĘ Is faggot the new ‚Äún word‚ÄĚ? ‚ÄúWell, yes and no,‚ÄĚ Leap says. ‚ÄúA lot of guys use it as a term of self reference but get very angry if somebody else says it about them, so for many it is. It‚Äôs kind of like the high school expression, ‚ÄėThat‚Äôs so gay,‚Äô which is widely used as a bullying term. I don‚Äôt think this needs a whole lot of theorizing. It‚Äôs like queer was 20 years ago. We kind of took it back, made a joke of it and said, ‚ÄėYou don‚Äôt own this term.‚Äô We can do that with fag if we want.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄĘ Norman Lear could have Archie Bunker say fag on a sitcom 30 years ago but now celebrities who use the word get criticized and not just by GLAAD. What does that say about how language usage has changed? ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs good because it keeps our issues on the front burner,‚ÄĚ Leap says. ‚ÄúYes, things have come a long way, but I still worry until we have some serious workplace protections in place. All these things we can do to keep that visibility going are good.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄĘ You say there‚Äôs no such thing as gay language, but you hear people say things like, ‚ÄúHe was hot until he opened his mouth and a pink umbrella fell out.‚ÄĚ People seem to know, at least among gay men in the U.S., pretty universally what that means. Thoughts? ‚ÄúIt could be tone, it could be pitch. It‚Äôs really interesting because what it really shows us is that there‚Äôs no single thing as gay language, it‚Äôs really everyone‚Äôs perception of it. What they believe gay language to be.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄĘ Some celebs, when they come out, are very unequivocal. Others, such as Jodie Foster at the Golden Globes last month, don‚Äôt use the word lesbian, yet everyone watching knew what she meant. Does that cut it? ‚ÄúOf course it matters. Anyone who‚Äôs in a position of relative safety and privilege, should. I‚Äôm not going to say she should have, but I would have thought it would have been great and would have meant more to the 9-year-old girl watching. And yet what she did was absolutely wonderful and I‚Äôm dying to see a transcript of it, because you‚Äôre right, while everybody knew what she meant and it was her most direct statement yet, it was also terribly opaque on some levels. It‚Äôs a great example of using language in an indirect way though yeah, it would have been great if she‚Äôd just used the L word and been done with it.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄĘ LGBT has some universality to it, but people, in a quest to be inclusive, have added letters for those questioning, allies and so on. Is that OK? ‚ÄúThis is when you see why the word queer has some appeal because it can encompass a whole range of counter-normative identities, aspirations and desires. And yes, this LGBTQ-adding on of letters gets to be this ridiculous alphabet soup where you can‚Äôt possibly include everybody in the phone book. A lot of it, for men who are same-sex identified, is, ‚ÄėDo you suck cock?‚Äô But even then you have people, like Larry Craig, who are straight identified but like to suck cock. I don‚Äôt know about you, but I don‚Äôt want him on my team. One of the interesting things this leads to is how people make sense of themselves. You really start to see how many nuances there are to queer language.‚ÄĚ
The Supreme Court (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)
Thousands of same-sex marriage supporters are expected to attend a March 26 rally at the U.S. Supreme Court as justices hear oral arguments on a case that challenges the constitutionality of California‚Äôs Proposition 8.
The Human Rights Campaign, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Marriage Equality USA, the Family Equality Council, the New Organizing Institute, GetEqual and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation are among the groups that will organize the event under the United for Marriage banner. The Washington Blade has learned Republican supporters of nuptials for gays and lesbians, servicemembers and civil rights leaders are among those who are scheduled to speak at a rally.
HRC spokesperson Kevin Nix could not immediately provide a list of confirmed speakers.
‚ÄúExtending marriage equality to all loving and committed couples is central to celebrating the worth and dignity of all God‚Äôs children,‚ÄĚ said Rev. Rebecca Voelkel of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. ‚ÄúPeople of Faith from every religious tradition have been involved in supporting equal marriage rights for LGBT families because of their belief and practice. To love, to commit to another, to form a family ‚ÄĒ these are the cornerstones of marriage and people of faith are bold supporters of marriage equality.”
A smaller rally is scheduled to take place at the U.S. Supreme Court on March 27 as the justices hear oral arguments in the case that challenges the Defense of Marriage Act. The National Organization for Marriage, the Family Research Council and other groups opposed to same-sex marriage are scheduled to hold their own event on March 26.
Dozens of other gatherings in support of nuptials for same-sex couples are scheduled to take place across the country as the justices consider Prop 8 and DOMA. These include a Palm Sunday prayer service at Christ Congregational Church in Silver Spring, Md., and a vigil at the federal courthouse in Richmond, Va.
“It’s vital to us that there’s a clear way for folks from Mississippi to Montana to be able to connect with this ‘movement moment’ in their own communities ‚ÄĒ both as a way to feel camaraderie with those gathering in D.C. and also to serve as a voice for equality in their own town,‚ÄĚ Heather Cronk, managing director of GetEqual, said. ‚ÄúIt’s clear from this national response that there is a powerful movement for LGBT equality growing and building across the country.”
“It’s inspiring to see our community come together with so much enthusiasm,” Sean Carlson of the Family Equality Council added. “I’m getting married myself in May, so I’m touched by the energy and good will of the groups involved. The nation is ready for marriage equality, and we’re going to demonstrate that outside the Supreme Court and in hundreds of communities all over the country.”