Activists give away P&G products as Phelps
Fred Phelps denounced gays, lesbians and Proctor and Gamble�s decision
to drop ads from Laura Schlessinger�s TV show here on June 19, gay activists
and mainstream clergy prayed for the Kansas minister, "countering
his hate with love" by distributing P&G products to people living
Phelps and four followers
picketed outside the consumer products giant�s headquarters, carrying
signs saying god hates p&g fags and matt in hell, a reference to the
late Matthew Shepard, whose funeral Phelps also picketed.
"That sign absolutely
slays me," said Jeff Bixby of the Gay Lesbian and Straight Education
Network, who joined a silent vigil organized by P-FLAG, Parents and Friends
of Gays and Lesbians. "I want a sign that says "God hates hate."
In a curbside interview,
Phelps attacked gays, but also called Schlessinger "filthy and depraved"
herself for "marrying and remarrying."
Inside the P&G
building above Phelps and the P-FLAG demonstrators, company officials
said the protest wouldn�t change anything. They stand by their decision
not to advertise on Schlessinger�s "Dr. Laura" radio show, nor
her new Paramount TV series, to be carried by WCPO-TV here.
P&G said it is
concerned its advertising message would get lost in remarks calling gays
"deviant" and " biological errors," as well as others
Schlessinger has made. She opposes divorce and women working outside the
home if they have children, P&G spokeswoman Gretchen Briscoe said.
are traditional family values, we serve a diverse group of consumers and
like to avoid those kinds of controversies," Briscoe said. "We
really view Dr. Laura as an extremely controversial figure on a lot of
issues, not just her comments on homosexuals."
as Citizens for Community Values of Cincinnati, Focus on the Family, and
the Family Research Council say they are disappointed about the decision
and may boycott P&G products now that the company has declined to
overturn its decision.
Six city police officers,
one on horseback, politely kept the pickets off of P&G�s plaza, prompting
Phelps to protest more than two blocks away from downtown lunch crowds.
He was largely unseen and unheard except by media and people driving by
Three blocks away,
words of love and acceptance echoed inside St. Xavier Church. Stonewall
Cincinnati, a gay civil rights group, convened several church and community
leaders to support for P&G and oppose Phelps.
P&G products that it had collected for social service agencies. To
thank the company for distancing itself from Schlessinger�s "hurtful,
hateful rhetoric," Stonewall had encouraged Queen City residents
to purchase P&G products to be donated to charity.
"You can see
the fruits of that labor," said Stonewall executive director Doreen
Cudnik, surrounded by dozens of boxes of Pampers, Tide, Cheer, Folgers,
and other P&G products.
Rev. Damon Lynch,
Jr. of New Jerusalem Baptist Church, said, "Rev. Phelps, you are
not welcome in our city, because we have a city that we want to make livable
and tolerable for all of its citizens. You cannot come in here and divide
us. Your venom spewed across the nation has no resemblance to a Gospel
preacher. It is unbiblical, not in the tradition of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Get on back to Kansas."
Joining Cudnik was
Romaine Patterson, mid-atlantic regional media manager for GLAAD, the
Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation
starts to foster discrimination," she warned. "Phelps� and Schlessinger�s
hate speech has a direct impact on everyone�s lives. It�s not okay for
hate speech to go unchallenged."
A Wyoming native,
Patterson became a social justice activist when her good friend Matthew
Shepard was beaten and left to die on a fence in Laramie, Wyoming. To
counter a Phelps picket at Shepard�s funeral, Patterson started Angel
Action, which worked to block the Phelps protest with the large wings
of angel costumes.|
John Zeh edits Rainbow News at
www.GayCincinnati.com. He can be reached at JohnZeh@aol.com.
Church offers scholarships to LGBT seminarians
United Church of Christ set up a $500,000 scholarship fund for lesbian,
gay, bisexual and transgender seminarians June 16 and urged wider acceptance
of them by other denominations.
The fund will provide
as many as ten annual scholarships of at least $2,500 to "self-affirmed"
LGBT people planning to serve in the church ministry. The 1.4 million
member church will seek to double its size through a campaign for donations.
The scholarships are
intended to underscore the church�s openness to gays and lesbians, both
as members and as ministers. It was named for the first openly gay man
to be ordained by the UCC, the Rev. William R. Johnson, currently a staff
member at the church�s national offices in Cleveland
Johnson, who was ordained
in 1972, said he lost his seminary field job in 1970 after he disclosed
his sexual orientation. Only a scholarship arranged by an elderly church
member, Genvieve Macliver, allowed him to remain at the seminary.
"She knew God
had called me to ministry, and she was determined that social prejudice
would not stand in the way of my graduation and ordination," Johnson
Johnson said he is
hopeful the scholarship program would encourage other denominations, especially
the Lutheran, Methodist and Presbyterian churches, to review policies
against active gays and lesbians in the clergy.
of the United Church of Christ depends on equipping our best and brightest
for ministry in the twenty-first century," said Rev. John H. Thomas,
president of the denomination. "This scholarship fund is a powerful
reminder that the response to God�s call to ministry should not be limited
by economics or sexual orientation."
The Rev. Robert Edgar,
general secretary of the National Council of Churches and a United Methodist
minister, said he wasn�t surprised by the UCC�s action. Edgar predicted
it will be applauded by some, but not all, of the council�s 35 Protestant
and Orthodox denominations.
"You have to
respect the prophetic work of the United Church of Christ," he said.
The United Church
of Christ was formed in 1957 with the merger of the Congregational Christian
Churches and the Evangelical and Reformed Church. In 1985, the church�s
General Synod started encouraging local churches to be "open and
affirming" to gays, and in 1983 started encouraging local ordaining
bodies not to discriminate based on sexual orientation.|
Senate passes hate
House nod unlikely
Senate passed an amendment to a defense appropriation act June 20 adopting
the language of the failed Hate Crime Prevention Act adding sexual orientation,
gender, and disability to the categories of bias crimes protected by federal
The amendment, renamed
the Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act, passed by a vote of 57 to 42.
Both Ohio senators, Republicans George Voinovich and Mike DeWine, voted
in favor of the amendment.
The measure was sponsored
by Sens. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and Gordon Smith, R-Ore., and contains
the language of a hate crime act sponsored by Kennedy and Pennsylvania
Republican Arlen Specter in 1997 and again last year. Both attempts to
pass the earlier act as a stand-alone bill were defeated in committee
by Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Orrin Hatch of Utah.
Last year, the Senate
passed the measure as an amendment to another bill, but the House did
not. The 1999 amendment was passed by a voice vote, while this year�s
was passed by a roll call vote, which leaves a record of how senators
Support in the House
for this year�s measure is not very strong.
As they did last year,
the Senate also passed a Hatch amendment intended to be a substitute for
Kennedy and Smith�s. Hatch�s measure called for a study to determine the
number of times hate crimes were and were not punished by state and local
authorities, and gave grants to states for those prosecutions.
However, Hatch�s amendment
does not add sexual orientation and gender to the categories of hate crimes.
The June 20 measure
passed on nearly a party line vote with 13 Republicans joining all but
one of the Democrats, West Virginia�s Robert Byrd, who opposed the proposal.
The Clinton administration
has been seeking a hate crime bill that includes sexual orientation, gender
and disabilities since 1997.
It is unlikely that
either amendment passed in the Senate will become law because the House
has already passed its defense authorization bill with no hate crimes
amendments. Currently, there are no measures in the House to amend their
version, and it is unclear what the conference committee, which reconciles
House and Senate versions of bills, will do.
Hatch claimed the
Kennedy-Smith measure was unconstitutional, an opinion he has long held
on laws protecting sexual orientation and gender, but not ones based on
race, religion, and national origin.
"The Hatch amendment
is a study," Kennedy responded. "We are beyond study. The American
people want action on hate crimes."
Smith urged his Republican
colleagues to vote for both Hatch�s and Kennedy�s amendments. "There
are two important words missing from Hatch�s amendment--sexual orientation."
"Many here are
reflexively inclined to vote no on anything containing those words because
of personal feelings or religious reluctance" Smith continued. "I
know because I used to be one of you."
Smith concluded, "It�s
time to go far enough to include this group of Americans who are not included
in any federal hate crime law. One needn�t agree with all the goals of
the gay community to help it achieve fair treatment within our society."|
28 arrested as
Southern Baptists ban women pastors
Southern Baptist Convention voted overwhelmingly to revise its 37-year-old
Faith and Message statement when it met in Orlando June 14. The new policy
moves the largest Protestant denomination in the United States farther
into fundamentalism by prohibiting women pastors and rejecting homosexuality.
The new Baptist Faith
and Message, governing the 15.8 million member denomination, puts into
religious doctrine many of the non-doctrinal policies that have been practiced
for more than ten years. It is a clear victory for conservative fundamentalists
wanting to make biblical interpretation more literal, with no tolerance
for other interpretations or societal changes.
It also deletes a
declaration of the "soul�s competency before God, freedom in religion,
and the priesthood of the believer" from the preamble, which the
1963 convention felt was most important because it clarified that the
statement is not intended as a creed.
ancestors of a mere generation ago could not have imagined the need to
address the issues of abortion, homosexuality, euthanasia and all manner
of deviant and pagan sexuality," said Adrian Rogers of Cordova, Tenn.,
who chairs the Faith and Message study committee, as he presented the
revision. "We answer with a clear word of biblical correction."
Former Gay People�s
Chronicle staff writer Dawn Leach was chosen by Crescent Hill Baptist
Church of Louisville, Ky., where she has been a member since birth, to
be a messenger (a delegate) to the convention.
"It was one of
the most un-Christian gatherings of people who call themselves Christians
that I have ever seen," she said.
Leach observed that
the denomination is no longer run democratically.
"It used to be
that the election of a president was the biggest thing they did,"
said Leach, "but after the fundamentalists took over, there stopped
being multiple candidates on the ballot. This year, there was a single
candidate who gave a speech, then the secretary cast a unanimous vote
for the convention."
Leach pointed out
that the denomination has been taken over by fundamentalists. "It
was called their ten year plan and it began in 1979," she said. "This
year it was executed beautifully."
Leach said that the
Faith and Message Committee was appointed by the past president who tightly
controlled its activity and silenced opposition. She also noted that,
unlike the Methodists that met in Cleveland last month who voted in secret,
the Southern Baptists voted by holding up cards that everyone could see.
"Raising a card
in the minority," said Leach, "felt like raising a flag in the
middle of enemy territory."
The convention scheduled
15 minutes for the debate and vote on the resolution on homosexuality,
which Leach said was brokered entirely beforehand.
"I never heard
the word homosexuality mentioned on the floor," said Leach.
But she said the few opponents were denigrated and sneered at by others.
"Ninety to ninety-five
percent of the messengers voted for whatever the executive committee wanted,"
said Leach. All amendments offered to soften the language were defeated
by similar margins.
Leach said she decided
to go to the convention in order to give one last good-faith effort toward
"I went out of
respect for people I disagree with in order to represent that voice, even
if it wasn�t heard," she said.
But Leach also points
out that her church, which has dual affiliation with the more liberal
American Baptist Conference, is likely to leave the Southern Baptists
altogether as a result of this convention.
"It has already
been discussed," she said. She added that the Southern Baptists could
also throw her church out because she spoke to a reporter. Her former
pastor was fired in 1998 after he was quoted in a story she wrote.
In 1992, for the first
time in its history, the Southern Baptist Convention cast an entire Raleigh,
North Carolina congregation out as a reaction to a celebration of holy
union between two gay men. They then changed their bylaws to exclude any
church that accepted openly gay and lesbian members.
Currently there are
35 Southern Baptist churches with women as pastors. No one is sure whether
or not they will continue as pastors following this vote.
Twenty eight members
of Soulforce, which works for GLBT acceptance in religious groups, were
arrested June 14 while staging a peaceful protest outside the convention.
Three members of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals were also
Rev. Mel White said he knew his group would not affect the voting inside,
but the statement they were making was for others who were listening.
"It is important
that gay people in the closets of these churches see other people of faith
standing up for their rights," said White. "We have been getting
e-mails of thanks from hundreds of closeted Southern Baptist clergy and
behind the political attacks on sexual minorities," said White, "They
are the ones behind the initiatives against us. The time for negotiating
with them is over."
At the United Methodist
conference in Cleveland in May, the 191 Soulforce demonstrators who were
arrested paid $150 each in fines and costs, and were released within hours.
Those arrested in Orlando were charged with unlawful assembly, with bail
upwards of $500. Each still faces the possibility of 60 days in jail.
Five of the 28 Soulforce
members arrested were released on bail bonds. The rest, in keeping with
their principles of civil disobedience taught by Gandhi, spent the next
38 hours in the Orange County jail waiting to see a judge the next day.
All were then released on bond, and are waiting to see if they must appear
for trial July 18 or 19, when they may be sentenced to additional jail
time and more fines.
Michael Gray, 44, of Dayton, Virginia, who is a pre-operative female to
male was treated differently from the other Soulforce demonstrators.
"I did hard time
because of my gender," said Gray.
Gray said that somehow
the other jail inmates learned that he was transgendered. "About
6:00 that night, while I was being moved out of the men�s area to the
office, inmates were yelling at me, calling me �sissy boy� and �fucking
faggot� and were announcing �that�s a woman.� "
Orange County Jail
spokesperson Allen Moore said that jail personnel did not compromise Gray�s
confidentiality. "No inappropriate remarks were made by personnel,
but there are inmate workers that may have heard something while he was
being escorted or processed," he said. "You cannot believe how
fast news spreads among inmates."
Gray, who was moved
to the female special observation area isolated from the other inmates,
was glad to be away from the men. "I could be raped in here,"
Gray, who has a full
beard and female genitalia, was forced to undergo a genital inspection
by a nurse practitioner.
White said those who
were arrested are on bond without qualifications, so there is nothing
prohibiting participation in the next Soulforce demonstration, which is
set for June 25 at the Presbyterian Church USA�s general assembly in Long
Beach, Calif. Soulforce will also protest at the Episcopal Church USA
conference in Denver, July 4.|
authors have Pride Day panel discussion
lesbian and gay authors from around the country will meet in Cleveland
for a panel discussion on Saturday, June 24 at the downtown branch of
the Cleveland Public Library.
Starting at 1 pm,
the discussion will focus on the cultural development and identity politics
in black gay and lesbian communities, and the presence or absence of AIDS-related
topics in literature. The cultural differences experienced by African-Americans
can often leave them feeling as if their experience as an LGBT person
of color places them outside of both the queer community as well as outside
of the African-American community. The writers will also cover the development
of this marginalized community.
The featured speakers
will include Ricc Rollins, Lorenzo C. Robertson, Lisa C. Moore, and Sharon
Bridgforth. This group of authors was selected for this program, sponsored
by the Brother2Brother program of the AIDS Taskforce of Cleveland, because
of the literary contributions they have made.
put words to the experience of a group of people who have been under-represented
for years," said Taskforce education director Tracy Jones. "They
have also been silenced by both the African-American and gay community,
which is why Lisa and Ricc�s work is needed and so very important."
These authors� works
have given voice to the black queer experience, and reinforced the significance
of that experience.
"I began to grasp
the largeness of the work before us, the fact that we are not only creating
essays or poems or stories, but the fact that we are creating culture,"
wrote Daniel Garrett in his essay, "Creating Ourselves: an Open Letter,"
from the black gay anthology In the Life. "We are expressing
ourselves as a people, and shaping the consciousness of ourselves as a
people. We are creating ourselves."
Moore and Robertson
have also founded publishing houses. Moore is founder of RedBone Press,
and Rollins and Robertson are co-founders of Ishai Books.
"I think that
Lisa is creating history," said Sharon Bridgforth, author of the
bull-jean stories, of Moore. "I�m not sure if people in Austin
[Moore�s hometown] understand the national effect she�s having. She�s
creating a space for people who have been marginalized."
Bridgforth and Rollins
will be reading from their works at the Cleveland Pride Festival, Saturday
June 24, at 4 pm. There will also be a book signing at Brentano�s Bookstore
in the Galleria at Erieview on Friday, June 23, at 11 am.|
First lesbian Episcopal dean installed at Trinity
by Anthony Glassman
Cleveland�The Episcopal Church forged new
ground as the Very Reverend Tracey Lind was installed as the eleventh
dean of Trinity Cathedral on June 18.
Culminating a 2�-hour ceremony at the cathedral in downtown Cleveland,
Lind looked jubilant as she gave and received gifts from her congregation,
bedecked in her newly-made vestments and stole.
The installation makes Lind the first open lesbian to serve as a dean
in the Protestant denomination. A dean is the Episcopal equivalent of
a Catholic bishop. Since there are no cardinals in the Episcopal church,
the ranks in common are one step higher. Thus, an Episcopal archbishop
equates to a Catholic cardinal.
The move also follows closely behind a number of other gay-friendly moves
by the church. An Episcopal church in Massachusetts ejected a conservative
group of parishioners who were opposed to gay marriage and ordination,
winning legal custody of their church building in a May 30 ruling.
In North Carolina, a church excommunicated a member of the congregation
for his outspoken criticism of the church for welcoming the LGBT community.
The man has been banned from the congregation until he apologizes.
Following the installation ceremony, parishioners and area residents
gathered to eat food provided by the church for their summer street fair,
with hot dogs, sausages, chicken, and side dishes being served to the
White House liason to speak at Cleveland Pride
by Denny Sampson
Cleveland--One the most influential lesbians
in Washington D.C., the White House liaison to the lesbian, gay, bisexual
and transgender community, is scheduled to speak at Cleveland Pride on
Saturday, June 24.
Julian Potter became director of lesbian and gay outreach for the White
House office of public liaison in November 1999, at the recommendation
of Vice-President Gore. Replacing Richard Socarides, Potter is the third
person and the first lesbian to hold this position.
Potter�s job is to elicit input from the LGBT community concerning policies,
programs and issues, and to communicate that feedback to the president
and his advisors.
Elizabeth Julian Potter was born and raised in Carson City, Nevada. Although
she once considered a career as a nun, Potter decided to move to New York
City to pursue a master�s degree in public policy.
Potter is a veteran of several presidential campaigns. In 1988 she worked
on Richard Gephardt�s short-lived presidential bid, and then on Michael
Dukakis�s campaign. In 1993 she served as field organizer for the Campaign
for Military Service, a coalition of groups that led the effort to repeal
the ban on gay and lesbian service members.
In an interview with the Advocate, Potter reflected on the loss
of that battle. "What dawned on all of us was that there essentially
was no visible grass roots from which to build support for a national
initiative," she said. "There were lots of gay bars but few
statewide gay organizations or local community centers to draw upon. We
had little experience in playing partisan politics. We were thrown into
the limelight in not a very flattering way."
In April 1993, in the heat of the battle over the ban, Potter was named
special assistant to Andrew Cuomo, then assistant secretary (now secretary)
of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. She was later promoted
to deputy assistant for community empowerment at HUD, where she reported
to the vice president.
It was at HUD that Potter met Mirian Saez, who has been her partner for
the past five years. Saez is from Lorain, Ohio, and today, she runs her
own company as a consultant to public housing agencies. By last summer
Potter, 38, and Saez had decided to have a child. But when the liaison
job became available, they decided to delay their plans.
"I decided that articulating what this administration was doing
was so important that I couldn�t turn the job down," Potter said.
"There will be time for Mirian and me to start our family."
Although family is important to her, Potter sees same-sex marriage as
an unproductive issue. "[Marriage] is a religious institution with
2,000 years of tradition behind it," she told the Advocate. "I
think Americans really see marriage as between a man and a woman, and
they are not likely to change any time soon. I�m much more interested
in pursuing equal legal rights and protections for same-sex couples."
Lesbians and gays added to federal health report
Cleveland--Marty Rouse, scheduling director
for the Secretary of Health and Human Services, spoke to a capacity crowd
at the Cleveland Lesbian-Gay Center on June 13.
Rouse brought preliminary findings from the federal "Healthy People
2010" report, a resource used by government and non-profit health
organizations to decide strategies for dealing with health problems affecting
For the first time in its 30-year history, the report specifically deals
with health issues concerning the gay and lesbian community.
Some of the issues he discussed were HIV, hepatitis C, chemical dependency,
obesity, and the risk of teen suicide.
"There is a significant risk for people based on sexual orientation,"
Rouse said, calling for partnerships between federal health organizations,
and local gay and lesbian community centers.
Earlier in the evening, Center Health Outreach Coordinator Bob Bucklew
released a preview of a Mt. Sinai-funded study, showing where efforts
to improve LGBT health in Northeast Ohio should be focused. That report
is due at the end of the month.