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Federal Hate Crimes Case Illustrates Christian Myopia

July 21, 2010 By: jaysays Category: Featured, Thought of the Gay

James Byrd Jr. - Hate Crime VictimOn Wednesday, July 14, 2010 at 3:00 p.m., Federal District Court Judge Thomas L. Ludington heard Attorney General Eric Holder’s Motion to Dismiss in the Glenn v. Holder matter.  The case is the first court challenge to the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

To date, the Judge has not entered an Order granting or denying the motion.  According to a statement issued by The Thomas Moore Law Center:

The Thomas More Law Center… filed the federal lawsuit in February of this year challenging the constitutionality of the federal Hate Crimes Act, against U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr.  The Act adds violence based on ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity’ alongside race and color motivated violence deserving special federal protection by means of tougher criminal penalties.

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, on behalf of Pastor Levon Yuille, Pastor Rene Ouellette, Pastor James Combs, and Gary Glenn, the president of the American Family Association of Michigan (AFA-Michigan).

The sole purpose of this law is to use the threat of federal prosecutions and long jail sentences to silence Christians from expressing their Biblically-based religious belief that homosexual conduct is a sin.

The point in this statement that got my panties in a bunch is the statement that the Hate Crimes Prevention Act is solely for the purpose of  prosecuting Christians for expressing opinions that homosexuality is a sin. The TMLC has ignored the portion of the Act named for Mr. James Byrd, Jr., who was not a homosexual. Mr. Byrd was a black man who was tied to the back of a pickup truck by Shawn Allen Berry, Lawrence Russell Brewer, and John William King.  They then drove the truck three miles serving the truck from side to side.  Byrd survived the dragging until his body hit the edge of a culvert cutting off his arm and head.

In spite of the passage of the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, it is still perfectly legal for a preacher to preach that black people are cursed by Hamm (at least in the United States).  Such preaching was a common tool of white southerners to promote segregation of the races.  The Act has done nothing to silence that opinion.

While it is perfectly legal for preachers to preach such hateful and ignorant opinions, it is not legal for them to tie a man to the back of a pick up and drag him down the road until his death.

It is also perfectly legal and very common for preachers in the United States to opine that homosexuality is a sin; however, it is not legal for the preachers to pistol whip gay people, tie them to a fence and attempt to expedite our trip to hell.  Murder is not an action protected by free speech.

On Wednesday, July 14, 2010 at 3:00 p.m., Federal District Court Judge Thomas L. Ludington heard Attorney General Eric Holder’s Motion to Dismiss in the Glenn v. Holder matter. The case is the first court challenge to the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

To date, the Judge has not entered an Order granting or denying the motion. According to a statement issued by The Thomas Moore Law Center:

“The Thomas More Law Center… filed the federal lawsuit in February of this year challenging the constitutionality of the federal Hate Crimes Act, against U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. The Act adds violence based on “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” alongside race and color motivated violence deserving special federal protection by means of tougher criminal penalties.

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, on behalf of Pastor Levon Yuille, Pastor Rene Ouellette, Pastor James Combs, and Gary Glenn, the president of the American Family Association of Michigan (AFA-Michigan).

The sole purpose of this law is to use the threat of federal prosecutions and long jail sentences to silence Christians from expressing their Biblically-based religious belief that homosexual conduct is a sin.”

The key point and the most “stupid thing” being said in this statement is that the Hate Crimes Prevention Act *SOLELY* prosecutes an expression of opinion that homosexuality is a sin. The TMLC has ignored the portion of the Act named for Mr. James Byrd, Jr., who was not a homosexual. Mr. Byrd was a black man who was tied to the back of a pickup truck by Shawn Allen Berry, Lawrence Russell Brewer, and John William King. They then drove the truck three miles serving the truck from side to side. Byrd survived the dragging until his body hit the edge of a culvert cutting off his arm and head.

In spite of the passage of the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, it is still perfectly legal for a preacher to preach that black people are cursed by Hamm (at least in the United States). Such preaching was a common tool of white southerners to promote segregation of the races. The Act has done nothing to silence that opinion.

While it is perfectly legal for preachers to preach such hateful and ignorant opinions, it is not legal for them to tie a man to the back of a pick up and drag him down the road until his death.

It is also perfectly legal and very common for preachers in the United States to opine that homosexuality is a sin; however, it is not legal for the preachers to pistol whip gay people, tie them to a fence and attempt to expedite our trip to hell. Murder is not an action protected by free speech.

I will be watching the case closely and “praying” that Judge Ludington will expedite this cases demise and dismiss it as requested by Attorney General Holder.

When Wishes Come True – Hate Crimes Legislation Passes Senate

October 22, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Featured, Hate Crimes, LGBT News

matthew-shepard-head-shot3The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Hate Crimes Act just passed the Senate.  If Obama signs the legislation, it will be the first inclusive federal law on the books.

Today is also my birthday and this morning I joked on my Facebook that it would be fantastic if my birthday wish for passage of the Hate Crimes bill by the Senate came true.

A few moments ago, my wish became a reality.

I remember when Matthew Shepard was murdered for being gay.  It’s as clear to me today as it was then.  I remember the vigils, the hope and the fear.  On October 11th, 2009, the day before the 11th anniversary of Matthew’s death, I stood only a few feet away from Judy Shepard.  I looked up at her and saw my own mother staring back as she said, “My son was murdered by hate.”

I remember when I came out to my mother, she started crying.  She was terrified for my safety, but I was young and immortal.  A few months ago we had the conversation again – the one about my safety.  Then I had the conversation with a friend, and another friend, and another… seems there is a lot of concern for this gay man’s safety simply because I’m a gay man.

I also remember when, in a small east Texas town just a few hours drive from me, James Byrd was tied to the back of a truck and dragged down the road because he was a black man.  I marched on Austin, Texas shortly thereafter with about 500 brave people willing to march that cold and rainy day.  We demanded, “Stop the Hate! Stop the Violence!”

The stories of victims of hate crimes could easily be my story, or your story.  Judy Shepard could have been my mother – or rather, my mother could have been Judy Shepard.

When I quipped on Facebook that I would love my birthday wish to come true, I thought I would be celebrating the victory.  Instead, I find myself drifting back to 11 years, 10 days ago when the world was told that Matthew Shepard did not survive.  I remember the profound and lingering effect his death had on me.  I remember my fear and how I allowed that fear to rule me for far too long.

Stupid Things People Say About Gays: Hate Crimes Legislation Will Protect Incest and Pedophilia

April 28, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Stupid Things People Say About Gays

Stupid Things People Say About GaysI haven’t done a “Stupid Things People Say About Gays” in a while.  Lots has been happening, but there’s certainly no shortage of stupid things people are saying.  Here’s the latest from the AFA (American [heterosexual only] Family Association):

Congress is set to give legally protected status to 30 sexual orientations, including incest. Because of pressure from homosexual groups, Congress has refused to define what is meant by sexual orientation in H.R. 1913, the “Hate Crimes” bill. This means that the 30 different sexual orientations will be federally protected classes.

Come on now… how much more ridiculous can you get.  Someone call Bullshit already…. ok, “BULLSHIT!”  Here’s the actual text of the bill, which states what a “Hate Crime” is:

[A Hate Crime ] is [a crime] motivated by prejudice based on the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability of the victim, or is a violation of the State, local, or tribal hate crime laws.

Now, because I like to play God’s Advocate and show this in a more telling light, I’ll be the first to admit that “sexual orientation” is not currently legally defined by the Hate Crime’s legislation; however, to argue that “incest” is a sexual orientation rather than a sexual act is completely bogus, speculative and would never hold up in any legitimate argument – not that the AFA is renowned for “legitimate” arguments.  Generally, when the law fails to specifically define a term, the term is given its “usual and customary meaning.”  In this case, sexual orientations usual and customary meaning is:

One’s natural preference in sexual partners; predilection for homosexuality, heterosexuality, or bisexuality.  [sexual orientation. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Retrieved April 28, 2009, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/sexual orientation]

One may note that neither the word incest nor bestiality is referenced in the usual and customary definition of sexual orientation.

The AFA has also made claims that the Hate Crimes legislation would prevent preachers from preaching homosexuality as a sin in church; however, they obviously have not read the bill which is very specific in defining hate crimes as a “crime of violence” a term defined by Section 16, Title 18 of the United States Code:

The term “crime of violence” means:

(a) an offense that has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person or prop­erty of another, or

(b) any other offense that is a felony and that, by its nature, involves a substantial risk that physical force against the person or property of another may be used in the course of committing the offense.

Therefore, unless the preacher specifically uses, attempts to use or threatens the use of physical force against a person or their property, they can say whatever they want.  If you are a member of a church that does use, threatens to use or attempts to use physical force against ANYONE, I highly suggest you realize that only SATAN would allow such treatment and consider a new church that has not been infultrated by Satan in the guise of God.  Remember, “Thou Shalt Not Kill.”

More from fellow blogger, SistersTalk.

Student Responds to the Laramie Project’s Burial in Oklahoma

April 11, 2009 By: jaysays Category: LGBT News, Youth Issues

News reports and blog commentary over the firing of Debra Taylor, an Ethics and Street Law teacher at Grandfield High School in Oklahoma, have been varied.  According to initial reports, Ms. Taylor was asked to resign after attempting to teach the play, “The Laramie Project,” to her senior class.   The reason initially provided was that the district could not allow the gay-related play to continue because of its homosexual tones.  However, in an interview District Superintendent, Ed Turlington, claimed that the reason the district asked the play to be removed from her lesson plan was because it contained vulgar language.  But what was the real reason?

Because Ms. Taylor and Mr. Turlington obviously have an economic or social interest in their stories, jaysays.com located one of Ms. Taylor’s students and requested his side of the story.  According to Mike (name changed to protect the innocent), a 17 year old senior at Grandfield High School, Ms. Taylor had been teaching the play for about a month without incident.  In fact, prior to teaching the story, Ms. Taylor was required to obtain approval for the play, and approval was given.

However, another teacher in the school, Mrs. Charlene Turlington (wife of the Superintendent) had heard Ms. Taylor was teaching a “gay” play and reported this to her husband, the Superintendent.

It is here I must note the absence of a proper chain of command.  There is a principal, A.J. Mays, at the school, which would ordinarily be the person to report these issues to, however, nepotism often prevails and the Superintendent was informed of the gay play by his wife.

It was then that Ms. Taylor had to stand before her students and advise them that the play was being cancelled.  Many of the students were angered by the play’s cancellation, including Mike. According to Mike, Mrs. Taylor advised him that the play was being cancelled because of reports that Mike was being picked on for his involvement in a “gay” play; an allegation which Mike denies.

Although the play had been cancelled, the battle line was drawn.  Within a couple of days of the cancellation, Mrs. Turlington approached Mike to obtain a script of the play.  She used her authority to manipulate and threaten Mike and made claims that he owed her because she did not report him for a previous small infraction of the school rules.  Mrs. Turlington’s tactics were unethical at the least.

On Mrs. Taylor’s last day at the school, the Superintendent, Mr. Turlington, came to Mike’s class to discuss the cancellation of the play.  He asked the class if they have any questions related to the cancellation.  Mike asked why the play was cancelled and Mr. Turlington responded, “… because people in this community aren’t comfortable with that subject.”

Mike inquired further and asked, “About the gay subject?”

The answer was a far cry from Mr. Turlington’s reports to main stream media.  He confirmed the play was cancelled because of the gay subject matter by answering the question, “Yes.”

Thus, again we see fear and hatred of gays running our school system and society; however, when people inquire, lies are told to protect those propagating the hatred from the deserved disciplinary actions.

According to Mike, none of Ms. Taylor’s students he had spoken with had any problem with doing the play and all of them were unhappy about the play’s cancellation.

Mrs. Taylor held a mock funeral for the play upon its cancellation.  She took the students outside and they each wrote a note, tied the note to a balloon and released the balloons.  Mike’s note read, in part:

Mr. Turlington is a homophobe.

There is a happy note to this story.  The result of the cancellation of the play has taught Mike, as he says, “more about ethics than I can dream of.”  Of course, he learned “ethics” from the lack of ethics shown by Mr. and Mrs. Turlington, not from the play or from Mrs. Taylor.  He also states he has received a ton of support and learned a valuable life lesson, “Don’t hate or discriminate anyone because they are black, white, tall, short, fat, skinny, disabled, gay or straight.  You should be an advocate for love, show compassion for those that are different and be tolerant of all in school and in life.”

In my communications with Mike, he ended his emails with this note, “Grandfield High School – Where Laramie can never be.”

To this, jaysays: Please continue to attempt to revoke students of their rights to learn about all aspects of the world.  In doing so, you are teaching them the importance of learning from all different view points.  Excellent job Mr. Turlington.  I commend you on showing your students how NOT to be bigots and how hurtful bigotry and discrimination can be.

Inquiries to the Superintendent were not answered.

Special thanks to MJ for her invaluable assistance, comments and guidance.