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
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
At a court status hearing on Monday, U.S. District Court Judge Roberts rescheduled Corkins‚Äô sentencing hearing for July 15. He also reaffirmed his denial of bail for Corkins, who has been in jail since the time of his arrest last August.
Hours before his arrest last August for shooting a security guard in the arm in the lobby of the anti-gay Family Research Council (FRC) headquarters in downtown Washington, Herndon, Va., resident Floyd Lee Corkins II, 28, says he told his parents he needed to use their car to drive to the D.C. LGBT Community Center, where he said he worked as a volunteer.
According to a 22-page transcript of an FBI interview of Corkins¬†on the day of¬†his arrest on Aug. 15, 2012 ‚ÄĒ which prosecutors released in a court filing last week ‚ÄĒ Corkins told FBI agents that instead of going to the LGBT Center he drove the family car to the East Falls Church Metro station.
From there he said he took the Metro to the Gallery Place station and walked to the FRC building at 801 G St., N.W., with the intention of killing as many people as possible.
‚ÄúI wanted to kill the people in the building and smear a Chicken-fil-A sandwich on their face,‚ÄĚ the FBI transcript quotes Corkins as saying.
Police and prosecutors said the heroic action by the unarmed security guard, who wrestled Corkins to the floor and took away the gun after being shot in the arm, prevented Corkins from reaching the upper floors of the FRC building where at least 50 employees were working at their desks.
Corkins pleaded guilty in February to three felony charges, including committing an act of terrorism while armed, assault with intent to kill while armed, and interstate transportation of a firearm and ammunition. He faces a possible maximum sentence of 70 years in prison.
He had been scheduled to be sentenced Monday, April 29. But U.S. District Court Judge Richard W. Roberts agreed on April 22 to a request by Corkins‚Äô attorney to postpone the sentencing to give the attorney, David W. Bos, more time to review the status of Corkins‚Äô mental health.
Citing information not previously disclosed, Bos stated in a motion seeking the postponement that Corkins had been the subject of a ‚Äú72-hour civil commitment in February 2012, which led to the mental health treatment the defendant was receiving at the time he committed the instant offense.‚ÄĚ
In his interview with the FBI agents, Corkins hedged about whether he was committed or entered a treatment facility voluntarily, but said the treatment took place during a time when he was living in San Francisco.
‚Äú‚Ä¶ I went to seek help and I got charged with a 51-50,‚ÄĚ he said.
‚ÄúWhat‚Äôs a 51-50?‚ÄĚ one of the FBI agents asked him.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs if they think you are a danger to yourself or to others,‚ÄĚ Corkins replied.
Corkins said he left San Francisco and moved back to his parents‚Äô home in Herndon around April of 2012.
The fact that he purchased a handgun and large quantities of ammunition from a Virginia gun store in August just six months after being committed for a mental health condition linked to possible danger to others comes at a time when President Obama and gun control opponents continue to argue over legislation aimed at requiring stricter background checks for gun purchasers.
In what appears to be a calm, matter-of-fact discussion, Corkins told two FBI agents who conducted the interview that he disagreed with the FRC‚Äôs anti-gay positions, including its statement of support for the Chick-fil-A restaurant president, who said he opposes same-sex marriage.
Corkins said in the interview that he bought 15 Chick-fil-A sandwiches one day earlier, the same day he practiced shooting his recently purchased revolver at a gun range in Chantilly, Va. He said he carried the gun, three magazines with 15 rounds of ammunition each, and the sandwiches in the backpack he brought to the FRC building.
‚ÄúI consider myself a political activist,‚ÄĚ he told the FBI agents. ‚Äú[S]o I was going to use that as kind of a statement,‚ÄĚ he said of his plans to smear the sandwiches in the faces of the people he planned to shoot.
Corkins mentioned his affiliation with the LGBT Center at the beginning of his FBI interrogation.
‚ÄúWere you home when you got up in the morning today?‚ÄĚ one of the agents asked Corkins.
‚ÄúYeah, I was at home,‚ÄĚ he replied.
‚ÄúJust walk us through when you got up,‚ÄĚ the transcript quotes the agent as saying.
‚ÄúUh, let‚Äôs see. I got up in the morning,‚ÄĚ Corkins replied. ‚ÄúI told my parents, I volunteer at the D.C. Center, the LGBT center. So I told my parents I was going down there today and that I needed the car,‚ÄĚ he told the FBI agents.
‚ÄúThe night before I had loaded three magazines full of bullets, I planned on going down to the [FRC] building ‚Ä¶ ,‚ÄĚ Corkins told the agents.
At the time of the FRC shooting, officials with the D.C. LGBT Center said Corkins volunteered there as a front desk clerk in 2011. Center officials¬†joined local and national LGBT leaders in condemning Corkins‚Äô actions, saying they support his prosecution to the fullest extent of the law.
Center officials said at the time that Corkins showed no signs that he could be capable of committing an act of violence but gave no further details of Corkins‚Äô relationship with the Center other than that he was a part-time volunteer.
D.C. Center Executive Director David Mariner told the Blade early Monday that the Center would have no further comment on the matter other than the statement Mariner issued last August at the time of the FRC shooting incident.
‚ÄúI was shocked to hear that someone who has volunteered with the D.C. Center could be the cause of such a tragic act of violence,‚ÄĚ Mariner said in that statement. ‚ÄúNo matter the circumstances, we condemn such violence in the strongest terms possible. We hope for a full and speedy recovery for the victim and our thoughts are with him and his family.‚ÄĚ
The Office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, which is prosecuting the case, submitted the FBI interview transcript as one of several exhibits attached to a 32-page sentencing memorandum filed in court on April 19.
The U.S. Attorney‚Äôs office also submitted as an exhibit a full video of the FBI interview with Corkins. The video became part of the public court record and is¬†available for viewing and copying on the federal court system‚Äôs website.
The Family Research Council promptly posted an excerpt of the video on its own website that shows Corkins telling the FBI agents he selected the FRC as a target after seeing it listed as a ‚Äúhate group‚ÄĚ on the website of the Southern Poverty Law Center, a national civil rights organization.
In an April 25 press release, FRC President Tony Perkins called the SPLC‚Äôs decision to list FRC as a hate group a ‚Äúreckless labeling [that] has led to devastating consequences.‚ÄĚ
Added Perkins, ‚ÄúBecause of its ‚Äėhate group‚Äô labeling, a deadly terrorist had a guide map to FRC and other organizations. Our team is still dealing with the fallout of the attack that was intended to have a chilling effect on organizations that are simply fighting for their values.‚ÄĚ
SPLC has said it lists FRC as a hate group based, among other things, on what it says are FRC‚Äôs false and defamatory claims linking homosexuality and LGBT people to pedophilia. SPLC officials have criticized Perkins for misrepresenting their position, saying they never label an organization as a hate group based on its political views or public policy positions.
The sentencing memorandum outlines the government‚Äôs reasons for asking Judge Roberts to sentence Corkins to 45 years in prison.
‚ÄúThe defendant, the lone gunman and perpetrator of this attempted massacre, had the malicious intent and engaged in the requisite planning and effort necessary to achieve his purpose,‚ÄĚ the memo says. ‚ÄúFortunately, he was thwarted by the heroic intervening actions of Leonardo Johnson, a building manager/security guard who was seriously injured as a result.‚ÄĚ
Johnson, who was unarmed, is credited with tackling Corkins seconds after Corkins pulled out a 9mm handgun from a backpack he was carrying and pointing it at Johnson. Johnson sustained a gunshot wound to the arm as he wrestled Corkins to the floor of the lobby of the FRC building and took possession of the gun.
D.C. police arrived on the scene minutes later and arrested Corkins. The FBI also became involved in the case.
D.C. police and the FBI said Corkins told authorities that had he gotten past Johnson, he would have taken the elevator to the building‚Äôs upper floors and opened fire on the 50 or more FRC employees working that day.
‚ÄúThe defendant‚Äôs crimes are serious and warrant severe sentences ‚Äď not only to punish the defendant for his actions, but to keep the community safe from him and deter other would-be mass murderers and domestic terrorists from following suit,‚ÄĚ the sentencing memo says.
‚ÄúAccordingly, the government respectfully requests that the Court sentence the defendant to a combined term of imprisonment of 45 years,‚ÄĚ the memo says.
A new sentencing date was expected to be announced at the status hearing scheduled for 11 a.m. Monday.
In his motion seeking the postponement of the sentencing hearing, defense attorney Bos said the state of Corkins’ mental health should be taken into consideration in the sentencing process.
“While counsel believes the defendant’s mental health history does not bear on the defendant’s competency to proceed in this matter, counsel believes the defendant’s mental health history is relevant to the appropriate sentence in this case.”
A statement issued by the Boy Scouts of America on Monday saying the organization is considering dropping its national policy banning gay scouts and scout leaders was hailed by LGBT advocates as an important breakthrough in the fight for equality.
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.
NBC News, which first reported that BSA was considering lifting its gay ban prior to the release of the statement, also reported that the organization was expected to approve the changes at a board of directors meeting within the next week.
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.
Among those drawing attention to efforts to end the ban is Eagle Scout Wahls of Iowa, who is straight but has spoken publically about his two lesbian moms.
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 Boy Scouts of America‚Äôs national board began a three-day meeting in Irving, Tex., on Monday in which it was expected to vote Wednesday on a proposal to end its national policy of banning gay scouts and scout leaders.
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.
Groups opposed to lifting the Boy Scouts‚Äô ban on gays, including the Family Research Council, announced they had organized their own efforts to lobby the board against changing its policy. Among those calling on the BSA to leave the gay ban in place is Texas Governor Rick Perry.
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
A Herndon, Va., man arrested last August for shooting an unarmed security guard in the lobby of the anti-gay Family Research Council headquarters in downtown Washington pleaded guilty on Wednesday to three felony charges, including the charge of committing an act of terrorism while armed.
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.
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.
Advocates in 2012 criticized a number of national business chains and organizations for their anti-LGBT policies.
Activists organized protests outside Chick-fil-A restaurants across the country after Dan Cathy, president of the Atlanta-based fast food chain, spoke out against same-sex marriage during an interview. A University of Maryland-College Park student launched a petition to remove Chick-fil-A from the campus food court, but some questioned the effectiveness of those efforts.
Vandals targeted Chick-fil-A restaurants in Frederick, Md., and in at least two other locations across the country in the weeks after Cathy‚Äôs controversial comments. Local and federal law officials said Floyd Lee Corkins, II, had 15 Chick-fil-A sandwiches in his backpack when he allegedly shot Family Research Council security guard Leo Johnson at the anti-gay group‚Äôs downtown Washington headquarters in August.
The Boy Scouts of America‚Äôs long-standing policy against openly gay scouts and scout leaders came under increased scrutiny in April after the organization ousted Jennifer Tyrrell as leader of her son‚Äôs troop in Ohio. The Boy Scouts of America Executive Board in July reaffirmed the policy, but the organization has lost funding from a number of prominent organizations. These include the Merck and UPS Foundations.