Friday, June 26, 2009

SC gay groups organizing response to DeMint letter

While South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford is facing a wall of fire for his adultery, SC Senator Jim DeMint is being criticized for some untruths of his own via a letter he wrote last week about hate crimes legislation.

Earlier this week, I wrote that Sen. DeMint sent a letter to various religious leaders saying that hate crimes legislation will lead to pastors being arrested for preaching that homosexuality is a sin.

On Wednesday, the South Carolina gay rights advocacy group SC Equality sent out an email blast to its members and allies calling DeMint's charges false:

DeMint says the law will "criminalize biblical truth as 'hate speech,'" that pastors will be prosecuted for hate speech, and that the law takes away freedom of speech. He says the law will "take away your right to say some things are wrong." THIS IS SIMPLY NOT TRUE. NO PASTOR WILL BE ARRESTED FOR TEACHING THAT HOMOSEXUALITY IS WRONG. The law includes language that explicitly prevents this, guaranteeing that it cannot be used to inhibit freedom of speech. DeMint's claims are wrong, and only perpetuate lies currently used by the anti-gay right.

DeMint further assumes religious leaders condemn homosexuality and oppose hate crimes legislation. THIS IS NOT TRUE. We know that many faith leaders support gay and lesbian civil rights and support hate crimes legislation.

DeMint claims that homophobic "religious principles and biblical teaching" are responsible for America's goodness and prosperity. He implies that legislation protecting gay and lesbian people and our families will contribute to the decline of our country. THIS IS OFFENSIVE. We know that America's success is based on beliefs in freedom, democracy, separation of church and state, and fundamental human rights, not on religious teachings or the suppression of gay and lesbian people.

SC Equality especially criticized DeMint's citing of religious right group Family Research Council as a credible source for information about hate crimes legislation:

At the end, DeMint cites the Family Research Council as an important source of information on hate crimes. THIS IS MISLEADING. The Family Research Council is a prominent anti-gay organization that supports "the traditional family unit" and most recently opposed President Obama's extension of federal benefits to same-sex couples. Indeed, the FRC is one of the organizations sponsoring a "Values Voter Summit" in Washington in September that will focus on "protecting marriage" and will include such speakers as Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, and Laura Ingraham. For a useful resource on hate crimes legislation and what it will and will not do, please visit

On Thursday, another South Carolina gay rights group, The SC Pride Movement, also sent a letter out to its members and allies.

Both groups encouraged folks to contact Senator Lindsey Graham and urge him to support hate crimes legislation as well as Sen. DeMint and demand that he "stop lying about hate crimes legislaton."

Now some of you may want to throw up your hands and say "big whoop" seeing that this action is coming from South Carolina where both Senators will probably oppose lgbt inclusive hate crimes legislation.

However, be aware that not every facet of the lgbt struggle for equality is in New York, California, or any of the other "metropolitan places."

Our struggle is everywhere in this country (even in the so-called backwards South).

So while your impulse may be to push this aside, how about a little encouragement for a change. No matter where we reside, all lgbts must stand up for themselves. And any organization that encourages this should be commended

That is how we win.

If you want to contact Sen. DeMint, click below to:

Contact Senator DeMint by email.

Contact Senator DeMint by phone.

If you reside in another state, go here to contact your Senator and encourage them to support hate crimes legislation

Other stories:

Tell Senator DeMint to stop lying about hate crimes legislation

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