Monday, November 24, 2008

We need to clarify the lies about the Proposition 8 'protests'

I wrote this as a sort of itemization of claims by the religious right. The unfortunate thing is that we don't have a network of pundits or shows (i.e. Fox network) to set the story straight.

There have been claims that due to the Proposition 8 vote, the gay community has undergone a coordinated plan of violence against those who voted for the law.

Senator Mike Huckabee, former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, syndicated columnists such as Michelle Malkin and Thomas Sowell, and religious right organizations have referenced incidents that according to them, proves this assertion.

But all of these individuals are incorrect. The incidents in question have been either exaggerated or distorted.

Whatever the case may be, the incidents in question are isolated, and certainly are not indicative of the needs and desires of the gay community. However, for the sake of clarity, the complete story behind each incident must be given:

Distortion - For no particular reason other than their hatred, gays attacked a 69-year-old woman and ripped a styrofoam cross from her hand

Truth - The woman in question, Phyllis Burgess, is infamous in her area for invading gay events such pride festivals. While she has a right to attend, her behavior while at these events are clearly designed to draw attention and evoke a response. The incident in question had to do with her attending a silent protest over the passage of Proposition 8. People attending were asked to ignore her. However as television cameras appeared, she made it a point to push her way in the middle of the crowd, allegedly knocking over a disabled man. That only increased the volatility of the situation.

Source - Mike Tidmus

Distortion - A group invaded a Michigan church, pulled a fire alarm and disrupted services by taking over the pulpit, shouting obscenities in front of children, and engaging in all around nasty tactics.

Truth - According to area police, the church exaggerated the incident. No fire alarm was pulled. In addition, no one from the church told them about alleged events happening in the church.

Source - Michigan Messenger

Distortion: Members of the gay community mailed white powder to Mormon temples in Utah

Truth: It has not been determined who mailed the white powder (later to see shown as not dangerous) to the temples. While there may be reason to suspect, suspicion itself is not enough. Those who pushed this lie automatically blamed the gay community without proof.

Certainly the Proposition 8 vote was a highly emotional situation and no one is justifying any violence by anyone on either side of the issue.

But to exaggerate incidents and attempt to link them as a sort of plan by the gay community is incorrect. For the most part, the protests (especially in California) have been peaceful.

This is not the first time the religious right have taken unrelated incidents and tried to link them as some sort of “gay conspiracy to either hurt or silence Christians.”

In 2004, members of the group Repent America were arrested for during a pride parade in Pennsylvania. Religious right groups inaccurately claimed that they were arrested for “merely preaching the Gospel.” A federal court later found that members “insulted individual attendees, blocked access to vendors, and disobeyed direct orders from the police, who were trying to preserve order and keep the peace.” The police arrested the protesters only after “their presence disrupted public order.”

In 2005, parent David Parker was arrested at his son’s school in Massachusetts for trespassing. He and religious right groups inaccurately claimed that he was merely trying to shield his son from being “indoctrinated into homosexuality.” However Parker orchestrated the entire incident because he was upset over his son bringing home a book about differing families which contained only one family of a same sex nature.

In 2007, the religious right inaccurately claimed that the city of Oakland was discriminating against its Christian employees. However the case dealt with city officials merely telling a group of Christian employees to stop harassing a lesbian co-worker with the flyers of their religious organization.

It is clear that the religious right are scared of what positive impact an Obama Administration would have for the gay community. Therefore they are preparing distorted anecdotal evidence in an effort to hinder pro-gay legislation.

These specious tactics are unworthy of those who would call themselves Americans as well as Christians.

Note - I know I have omitted the incident in Castro but I am presently researching it via Mike Tidmus and Box Turtle Bulletin.