New poll shows majority of Americans oppose Boy Scouts’ ban on gays

BoyScouts_Blog

In a new Washington Post and ABC News poll, a majority of respondents favor the Boy Scouts’ proposed resolution to admit gay Scouts but not leaders.

Meanwhile, of the 1,008 adults surveyed from May 1 to 5, 63 percent support admitting gay Scouts while 56 percent of respondents oppose continuing to ban gay Scout leaders.

The results have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Zach Wahls, Eagle Scout and Scouts for Equality founder, said the results are encouraging and the group will work with supporters over the next two weeks before 1,400 members of the BSA’s national council vote on the compromise.

“Today’s Washington Post/ABC News poll demonstrates that there is overwhelming support in this country for the Boy Scouts of America’s effort to end discrimination within its organization. 63 percent of adults agree with Scouts for Equality that it is time that all scouts be treated as equal,” Wahls said in a statement. “This is why over the next two weeks leading up to the historic vote on May 23rd, we will work with our partners and over 11,000 members to do everything we can to make this a reality. The poll also demonstrates that the majority of Americans agree that while is this is a critical step, this fight cannot and will not end until every scout, scout leader and parent are welcome making BSA the strongest it has ever been.”

The poll also found 68 percent of people support NBA star Jason Collins’ decision to come out. And 55 percent support allowing gays and lesbians to marry.

—  Dallasvoice

ABC lists Irving-based Gold’s Gym alongside Chick-fil-A for political views

The recent Chick-fil-A controversy has sparked responses from both sides but also a closer evaluation of other companies’ views – and political contributions.

ABC News highlighted several companies that have given to anti-gay organizations and political foundations.

Gold’s Gym International CEO and President Robert Rowling donated more than $1 million to American Crossroads, an organization started by GOP political strategists including Karl Rove and a super PAC backing Mitt Romney.

Gold’s is a subsidiary of private Texas-based TRT Holdings, which also owns Omni Hotels. Omni is one of the few major hotel chains that doesn’t offer domestic partner benefits to its employees throughout the U.S.

Omni’s Dallas convention center hotel offered DP benefits after the issue was raised by Dallas Voice and Mayor Tom Leppert convinced the company to do so, even though it hadn’t been considered as part of the operating agreement between the city and the hotel.

Direct-sells company Amway is also under pressure from the gay community after LGBT activist Fred Karger obtained the company’s president’s tax records revealing that he’d donated $500,000 to the National Organization for Marriage Education Fund. Karger called for a boycott of Amway last Thursday.

—  Dallasvoice

BREAKING: Singer Whitney Houston dead at 48

It has just been reported that singer Whitney Houston has died. According to the Associated Press, no further details are known at this time. From ABC News.

Houston’s publicist, Kristen Foster, said Saturday that the singer had died, but the cause and the location of her death were unknown.

News of Houston’s death came on the eve of music’s biggest night — the Grammy Awards. It’s a showcase where she once reigned, and her death was sure to case a heavy pall on Sunday’s ceremony. Houston’s longtime mentor Clive Davis was to hold his annual concert and dinner Saturday; it was unclear if it was going to go forward.

—  Rich Lopez

SPIRITUALITY: From loving ‘the sinner’ to loving your sister

Evangelist Jay Lowder of Wichita Falls makes waves by preaching acceptance of gays

Lowder.Jay

ACCEPTING NOT JUDGING | Jay Lowder has gotten a lot of heat for his position that people should worry about their own sins rather than the sins of others. (Photo courtesy Jay Lowder Harvest Ministries)

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

WICHITA FALLS — Jay Lowder believes that no matter what, you should love and accept people. He calls the idea of loving the sinner and hating the sin hypocritical.

Lowder is an unlikely person to have those views. He is president and founder of Jay Lowder Harvest Ministries

Evangelistic Association based in Wichita Falls and is married with three children.

Lowder knows his views — recently featured on ABC News — are out of the mainstream of evangelicals.

“I take some heat for it, and I really don’t care,” he said.

When he was 18, he said he got a call from a friend.

“Hey, Jay, there’s something you need to know,” Lowder said the caller told him. “You’re sister’s gay.”

He said that news was devastating for someone raised as he was.

Soon after receiving the news, he was driving. He said he saw his sister headed in the other direction. He made a U-turn and caught up with her.

“Harsh words were spoken,” he said. “I told her she was selfish and I hated her.”

She told him it was her life, and their relationship was severed.

“I became a Christian at 21,” Lowder said. “The moment I became a Christian, I no longer hated her.”
But his acceptance of his sister wasn’t qualified by the “love the sinner” philosophy common among fellow evangelicals.

He told her he was a Christian, that he had never accepted Christ before and was sorry about the way he acted toward her. He admitted he had been judgmental and rude.

“I wanted to be close,” he said. “I loved her.”

Lowder said Jesus didn’t denigrate people. He said Jesus didn’t say to Mary Magdalene, “You’re a whore.”

“He made her heart the issue,” Lowder said.

In describing himself as an evangelist, he called it “the height of insanity” to be driving people away from Christ.

“The purpose of what I do is not to alienate people,” he said. “It’s to know and have a relationship with Christ.”

He still holds his convictions, he said, but there’s a way to approach people. People who cling to the “love the sinner, hate the sin” line use colloquialisms that sound spiritual, he said — but they use them to hate people.

But he said that Jesus taught, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” So rather than focus on other people’s sins, he said, religious people should focus on their own sins.

“Pull the speck out of your own eye before you pull it out of anyone else’s,” he said. “If I tell a lie to my wife, that’s a sin. Breaking a commandment is breaking a

Jay Lowder

commandment.”

He believes the commandments regarding homosexuality are no more or less important than any others. And he believes there’s a line between trying to rectify a situation and pointing fingers.

“I could go to a heroine addiction clinic and tell them not to do it,” he said. “But I’ve never struggled with it.”

He used the blunt analogy but then makes it clear he doesn’t think his sister has some sort of addiction. He just wants to make it clear that he’s not going to be judgmental.

He said that a Christian’s primary responsibility is to love other people.

“Don’t go around bragging about loving God if you don’t love other people,” he said.

Which brings him back to talking about his sister who lives in Dallas.

Last Thanksgiving, he said that she came to Wichita Falls for Thanksgiving, for the first time in at least 15 years. He said the family reunion was such a happy event that they begged her to come back to spend Christmas with them.

“My sister was back,” he said. “My dad was at the kitchen table, and that was the first time I saw him cry.”

Today, he only describes his sister in glowing terms.

“You won’t find a better person in the city of Dallas than my sister,” he said.

And he said their relationship remains close.

“If something happened to her, I’d be the first one she’d call,” he said.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 20, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

Perry can’t recall sodomy ruling

Perry.Rick

Gov. Rick Perry

In his latest gaffe, Texas Gov. Rick Perry drew a blank today when asked about Lawrence v. Texas — the landmark case overturning the state’s sodomy law — during a campaign stop in Iowa. ABC News reports:

A voter at a meet and greet asked him to defend his criticism of limited government in the case.

“I wish I could tell you I knew every Supreme Court case. I don’t, I’m not even going to try to go through every Supreme Court case, that would be — I’m not a lawyer,” Perry said at the Blue Strawberry Coffee Shop here. “We can sit here and you know play I gotcha questions on what about this Supreme Court case or whatever, but let me tell you, you know and I know that the problem in this country is spending in Washington, D.C., it’s not some Supreme Court case.” ….

Asked by Ken Herman, a columnist with the Austin American Statesman, for clarification on whether he knew what the case concerned, Perry responded, “I’m not taking the bar exam…I don’t know what a lot of legal cases involve.”

When told that the Supreme Court case struck down the Texas sodomy law, Perry said, “My position on traditional marriage is clear and I don’t know need a law. I don’t need a federal law case to explain it to me.”

The Texas governor referenced Lawrence v. Texas in his 2010 book Fed Up!, calling it one of the court cases in which “Texans have a different view of the world than do the nine oligarchs in robes.”

In 2002, after the U.S. Supreme Court said it would hear Lawrence v. Texas, Perry told the Associated Press that he felt the sodomy law was “appropriate.”

“I think our law is appropriate that we have on the books,” Perry said.

UPDATE: Here’s the video:

—  John Wright

WATCH: Rick Perry tells 14-year-old girl she’s a sinner, says “openly gays” shouldn’t be serving

Texas Gov. Rick Perry was confronted at a town hall in Iowa on Sunday about his opposition to gays serving openly in the military, a stance which he highlighted in a recent TV ad.

ABC News reports that 14-year-old Rebecka Green, an openly bisexual high school student, confronted Perry during a town hall in Decorah.

“I just want to know why you’re so opposed to gays serving openly in the military, why you want to deny them that freedom when they’re fighting and dying for your right to run for president,” Rebecka said.

Perry, who was apparently unaware of Rebecka’s sexual orientation at the time, responded as follows (note that “openly gays” is NOT a typo):

“Here’s my issue: This is about my faith, and I happen to think that, you know, there are a whole hosts of sins, homosexuality being one of them, and I’m a sinner and so I’m not going to be the first one to throw a stone. But to openly — it’s just like the Boy Scouts, do you recall when the Boy Scouts were sued to let openly gay individuals serve as Scout master? And that again is one of those issues that I don’t agree with. And I don’t agree that openly gays should be serving in the military. ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ was working and my position is just like I told a guy yesterday. He said, ‘How would you feel if one of your children was gay?’ I said I’d feel the same way. I hate the sin, but I love the sinner, but having them openly serve in the military, I happen to think as a commander in chief of some 20,000 plus people in the military is not good public policy, and this president was forced by his base to change that policy and I don’t think it was good policy, and I don’t think people in the military thought it was good policy.”

With adults telling 14-year-olds that they’re sinners, is it any surprise that LGBT youth are taking their lives at such alarming rates? Thankfully, it sounds like Rebecka has a very supportive father in Todd Green, a Democrat and professor of religion at Luther College, who offered this takedown of Perry’s position, according to ABC:

“My daughter Rebecka particularly was very incensed by the ad Governor Perry ran a week or two ago here in Iowa where he complained about the problem of gays serving openly in the military but Christians not being able to celebrate Christmas openly. He seemed to get that backwards,” Todd Green said.

“It takes no courage to come out of the closet to be a Christian and run for president of the United States,” he said. “I’d be more impressed if you were Muslim or an atheist and coming out like that, but to come out as though this was an act of courage for him to proclaim his Christian faith, but he also wants to take the stand against gays in the military. This is someone who’s in the position of power and privilege and he’s abusing it.”

Titled “Strong,” Perry’s ad created a firestorm upon its release two weeks ago, even causing tension within his own campaign after reports emerged that a top aide strongly objected to the ad.

Asked what he thought of the governor’s explanation that he “hates the sin” but “loves the sinner,” Todd Green said, “I have always hated that phrase. I think it’s impossible and you show it by action. If you love the sinner, whatever that means, your policy should reflect that I think, but in the end, I don’t understand the logic behind that at all.”

—  John Wright

Perry says Obama’s push for LGBT rights abroad part of ‘war on traditional American values’

Gov. Rick Perry

Still polling in the single digits in Iowa and faced with the prospect that the Republican presidential primary is becoming a two-man race between Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, Texas Gov. Rick Perry is desperately resorting to extreme anti-gay tactics. In response to President Barack Obama’s memorandum today saying the U.S. will use foreign aid to promote LGBT rights abroad, Perry issued this statement:

“Just when you thought Barack Obama couldn’t get any more out of touch with America’s values, AP reports his administration wants to make foreign aid decisions based on gay rights.

“This administration’s war on traditional American values must stop.

“I have proposed a foreign aid budget that starts at zero. From that zero baseline, we will consider aid requests based solely on America’s national security interests. Promoting special rights for gays in foreign countries is not in America’s interests and not worth a dime of taxpayers’ money.

“But there is a troubling trend here beyond the national security nonsense inherent in this silly idea. This is just the most recent example of an administration at war with people of faith in this country. Investing tax dollars promoting a lifestyle many Americas of faith find so deeply objectionable is wrong.

“President Obama has again mistaken America’s tolerance for different lifestyles with an endorsement of those lifestyles. I will not make that mistake.”

Also condemning Obama’s memorandum was GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum, according to CNN:

“I would suggest that we give out humanitarian aid based on humanitarian need, not based on whether people are promoting their particular agenda,” Santorum said. “Obviously the administration is promoting their particular agenda in this country, and now they feel its their obligation to promote those values not just in the military, not just in our society, but now around the world with taxpayer dollars.”

Santorum, who has long been an outspoken opponent of gay marriage, said Obama needed to clarify his stance on marriage rights. Obama has said he is “evolving” on the issue, but does not currently support the rights of gays to marry.

“He said he’s for traditional marriage, and now he’s promoting gay lifestyles and gay rights, and he’s fighting against traditional marriage within the courts, and I think he needs to be honest,” Santorum said.

UPDATE: According to the Washington Blade, Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese issued a statement in response to Perry’s remarks.

“Rick Perry has made no secret of his dislike for LGBT Americans – but his most recent remarks are outrageous even by his own standards,” Solmonese said. “It is bewildering that someone who wants to be President of the United States wouldn’t want to see our nation be a global leader in universal human rights. This is further proof that Rick Perry doesn’t want to represent the best interests of all Americans — he wants to advance an extremist, anti-gay agenda that represents the fringe views of a very small few.”

UPDATE NO. 2: Log Cabin Republicans also issued a statement:

“With all due respect, Governor Perry is wrong. Speaking out for the basic human rights of LGBT people to life and liberty is anything but ‘at war with American values,’” said R. Clarke Cooper, Log Cabin Republicans executive director. “Throughout his administration, President George W. Bush was strongly committed to supporting and protecting dissident and minority voices abroad. Our nation can be proud of its long, bipartisan legacy of promoting freedom for all. Around the globe today, gay and lesbian people are often subject to ‘corrective’ rape, state-sponsored torture, imprisonment and execution. Combatting these injustices is not advocating for any kind of ‘special rights,’ and it is shameful for Governor Perry to suggest that American people of faith do not support protecting vulnerable populations from brutality.”

—  John Wright

The power of coming out

ABC News co-anchor Dan Koeffler set an example we all should follow if we want to reach the goal of equality

dan-kloeffler

Dan Koeffler

There’s probably never before been a safer — or more critical — time in American culture and politics for LGBT people to come out and acknowledge their identities.

This week when Dan Koeffler, an ABC News co-anchor on the World News Now show, acknowledged he was gay, in a reference to Star Trek actor Zach Quinto, Koeffler likely caused a lot of people to realize we might just pop up anywhere — even on TV at 3 a.m.

The television personality’s off-hand quip that he might drop his rule against dating actors in favor of Quinto, who recently came out in a New York Magazine interview, might serve as an good example for members of our community who have thus far opened the closet door only a little bit.

The television journalist’s declaration hopefully will inspire LGBT people who are tired of listening to Republican presidential candidates backed by evangelical stooges, condemn us and threaten to rollback our hard-won human rights gains.

If there was ever a moment for us to stand up against the likes of Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who was introduced recently at a campaign event by First Baptist Church of Dallas’ senior pastor Robert Jeffress, it is now. The thought of Jeffress — who has made a pastoral career out of trampling on the rights of LGBT people — having the ear of the next U.S. president ought to be enough to scare anyone into action.

If Jeffress would dare to publicly condemn the Mormon faith of Perry’s Republican political rival Mitt Romney in a weaselly attack before reporters after the event, what retributions against our community might he attempt to exact in exchange for helping deliver the evangelical vote to Perry in a presidential election?

We’re talking about an obsessed man who goes on TV to rail against anyone who doesn’t follow his religious philosophy, declaring that merely being a good person is not enough. Anyone one who doesn’t want to burn in hell must believe as Jeffress does, according to his sermons.

A friend of Perry’s who has known him for more than a half-century told me recently that the governor is more enlightened and tolerant than the LGBT community perceives him to be. But I don’t buy that — especially after he failed to condemn Jeffress’ outrageous remarks.

The message doesn’t get much better over in the camp of Herman Cain, who has vowed to veto the Employment Non-Discrimination Act if it were to pass Congress if he is elected to the presidency. There are other Republican candidates, such as Rick Santorum and Michelle Bachman, vying for the party’s presidential nomination that are just as scary. But they appear to be trailing so significantly in

David-Webb

David Webb The Rare Reporter

the polls that they aren’t a threat — at least for now.

Veteran LGBT activists have long known and shared their wisdom with us about the need for people to come out and stand united against hypocrisy and bigotry. And much has been accomplished as a result. There is strength in numbers, and to quote one of my favorite gay activists, William Waybourn of Washington D.C., “If everyone who is gay came out at once, the discrimination and bullying would stop immediately.”

That obviously won’t ever happen, but it does present a strong argument for the kind of mass, non-threatening demonstration that is the philosophy of the National Coming Out Day. The event has already passed this year, but there is nothing to say we couldn’t declare 2012 a coming out year in light of the importance of the national election.

Bullying is something everyone needs to remember and condemn, and it’s what Kloeffler said was on his mind when he came out on national television in the early morning television broadcast. He was referring to a gay teenager, 14-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer of Buffalo, N.Y., who had valiantly fought intolerance and violent anti-gay discrimination to the point of posting a YouTube video titled “It Gets Better,” only to finally succumb to suicide when he lost the will to endure more intolerance from his peers.

Although Koeffler was likely confident he would suffer no repercussions at work nor in the rest of his life by his admission, it was still a courageous move, apparently undertaken in an effort to help others in less comfortable situations. Too many people who could make a difference sit by idly and silently when opportunities arise to speak out against intolerance and discrimination. And Koeffler acknowledged he had been one of those for quite some time.

When it comes to anti-gay discrimination and bullying or any other class of prejudice, situations just don’t get any better without concerted resistance on the part of the oppressed. I know this because I have in the past tried to reason with evangelical Christians, including a close associate of Jeffress’, whom I have known most of my life.

Their reaction to my pleas for compassion as regards the plight of young LGBT people who are victims of anti-gay bullying and other issues involving discrimination was something along the lines of, “They deserve what they get.”

A typical response during the conversations was a flabbergasting, “We are so far apart on this,” which was based solely on what I consider to be misguided religious beliefs.

What I learned from trying to reason with the opponents of our quest for equal rights is that it was destined from the start to be a fruitless endeavor, and that our only hope in attracting allies is to appeal to the compassion of open-minded individuals who believe in fairness.

Even if that wasn’t Koeffler’s conscious objective in speaking out on the broadcast, I think his words probably reached a lot of people who are realizing our sheer numbers necessitate them giving more thought to our mission.
Maybe it’s a good time for others to follow Koeffler’s lead and see what kind of difference they might be able to make in spreading tolerance and fairness in their communities.

David Webb is a veteran journalist who has covered LGBT issues for the mainstream and alternative media for three decades. E-mail him at davidwaynewebb@yahoo.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 21, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

OutMilitary.com connects gay servicemembers

John McKinnon

John McKinnon said he launched OutMilitary.com on Dec. 28 — right after the Senate voted to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

OutMilitary.com is a social networking site for active military and their supporters including gay and lesbian military retirees. McKinnon calls the site a Facebook clone as far as usability.

After Reuters and ABC News picked up a story about the site, OutMilitary began adding several hundred new members a day. Today, about 2,000 members belong to the network.

McKinnon said they are setting up groups for every military base and creating events. Members have told him the site is “quite liberating.” Many active duty personnel have joined under their own names and listed their current location. Others have disguised their names and locations because “don’t ask, don’t tell” is still in effect and new service members may still be processed under the law.

Membership cuts across all branches and ranks.

— David Taffet

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 4, 2011.

—  John Wright

WATCH: Laura Bush speaks out against anti-gay bullying, says she’s proud of Joel Burns

Last week we noted that former first lady and Dallas resident Laura Bush, despite her stated support for equality for same-sex couples and her longtime focus on education, hadn’t said anything about the gay teen bullying and suicide crisis. Well who knows, maybe she was listening, because while Bush hasn’t yet made her own “It Gets Better” video, she did say this about the subject in an interview with ABC News (video above):

“Bullying in every kind, certainly gay teens, is really, really terrible, but any children, is terrible. And schools really need to make sure that bullying is not going on,” Bush says. “I was proud of the Fort Worth city councilmember [Joel Burns] that talked about it. I think that’s part of the ‘It’ll get better’ project. I think that’s what he said to children, to young gay teenagers is, ‘It will get better,’ and it’s really important for us to not allow bullying of any kind in schools.”

Coincidentally, Bush goes on to talk about a recent visit to North Dallas High School, which is where transgender student Andy Moreno was denied a chance to run for homecoming queen. Have a look.

—  John Wright