A decade of remembrance

RIDERLESS CARRIAGE | Ten years after 9/11, the American landscape looks far different — for gay rights as well.

What a difference a decade makes. In September of 2001, days after the loss of lives on 9/11 scarred America, the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade had a first: Instead of a grand marshal riding in the parade, a horse-drawn carriage remained empty, save for a sign reading “Dedicated to the victims lost in the tragedy of Sept. 11.”

Dallas Tavern Guild’s Michael Doughman remembers that moment as clearly as if it were yesterday, but for him, the carriage was a symbol beyond its intentions. Or at least, it became one.

“It was a sobering but very powerful moment when that carriage went by,” he recalls. “I’ve often thought about it and when I reflect that it’s been 10 years, I give thought to the progress that we’ve made as a country.”

That progress transcends into the LGBT community, as hot-button issues like “don’t ask, don’t tell” and same-sex marriages have developed in positive ways since 9/11 — whether directly or not. The empty carriage symbolized not only the loss of that fateful day, but also those lost in other battles.

“I saw that empty carriage and thought all the people that I had lost to AIDS, to cancer,” Doughman says. “I think it also represented a loss and absence in general. It was significant of more loss in other arenas, whether it was illness, or hate crimes or something else.”

Doughman say there are plans for a 9/11 acknowledgement at the beginning of this year’s parade. While details have not been finalized, he doesn’t want what happened then to disappear into history books. As time passes, he says, it serves as much more than just a memory.

“We’re aware that even 10 years later, commemorating helps us to keep vigilant,” he says, “for our rights, for everyone and for this country.”

— Rich Lopez

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 16, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Southern Baptist leader says divorce rates, not gay marriage, should be primary concern

Albert Mohler

R. Albert Mohler Jr. is president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.

Last week Mohler wrote on his website, “When the Christian right was organized in the 1970s and galvanized in the 1980s, the issues of abortion and homosexuality were front and center. Where was divorce?”

He calls divorce a “tragedy that affects far more families than the more ‘hot button’ issues” such as same-sex marriage. While LGBT groups have been wondering for years how marriage equality affects anyone else at all, it is amazing for someone who is so prominent in the religious right to admit that anything else might be more important. For the first time, there is an admission that maybe they should be watching what they do before criticizing everyone else.

Mohler even admitted that evangelical Christians divorce at a higher rate than the rest of the general population. However, he didn’t go so far as to admit that the lowest divorce rate is among gays and lesbians who have married.

In fact, the lowest divorce rate is in Massachusetts. Other states with low divorce rates are Iowa, Vermont, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and New York — the states that allow same-sex marriage or recognize marriages performed elsewhere.

The states with the highest divorce rates are all red. Nevada, famous for honoring the sanctity of marriage with its drive-thru wedding chapels, also tops the list for drive-thru divorces. The rest of the states topping the divorce list are all in the Bible Belt.

Texas tops the list of states with the highest number of residents who’ve been married three or more times.

Mohler said, “Our credibility on the issue of marriage is significantly discounted by our acceptance of divorce. To our shame, the culture war is not the only place that an honest confrontation with the divorce culture is missing.”

I doubt anything will happen as a result of Mohler’s self-reflective column, though. It’s so much easier to bully others.

—  David Taffet