Houston pastor Joel Osteen and feel-good homophobia

Lakewood Church leader part of new breed who couch anti-gay teachings in forgiveness, love

Osteen.Joel

Joel Osteen

When the Michele Bachmanns or Glenn Becks of the world do their public rants about rampant homosexual perversion and the decay of American values, I’m happy to let them talk.

As painful as it is to keep the free flow of ideas going, it is important to let people fly their colors. This way you know where they stand and you get to fly your own big neon flag in response. When activists called to have the Mormon church’s tax-exempt status yanked for its role in California’s Prop 8, I took the church’s side — not because I approved of their bully tactics, but because I didn’t want to see other churches lose their right to fight for us one day.

So you’d think I’d be OK with Houston megachurch pastor Joel Osteen’s recent remarks recently to Oprah Winfrey: “I believe that homosexuality is shown as a sin in the scripture. I do.” I’m so not OK with this I almost foam at the mouth whenever I think about that nuclear white Osteen smile.

True, Osteen was just sick about having to say that we’re sinners, and almost apologized for it. He went out of his way to opine that Christians make too big a deal about homosexuality and that it’s about as sinful as being prideful or fibbing. I’m glad that my marriage only offends God somewhat.

I’ve heard that Osteen has a big gay following, and I know one of those fans well. Once I emailed him to report that Osteen called homosexuality “not God’s best” on Larry King. My friend wrote back, “Well, nobody’s perfect. You take what’s good and leave the rest.” He continues to be inspired.

Dees.Abby

Abby Dees | Thinking Out Loud

This all sounds reasonable, and you could argue that my friend was reminding me of my own professed philosophy about free speech and religion. And yet I shrieked out loud when I read his email.

The reason Fox News gets a pass but Osteen has incurred my wrath is because his message is so insidious. It’s feel-good homophobia, so couched in God-loves-you talk that Osteen avoids all responsibility for the fact that real people take his words to heart. Not everyone can “leave the rest” as my friend does.

Whenever Osteen answers the question about homosexuality he hems and haws, but always comes to the apparently painful conclusion that the Bible is unambiguous about it.

He’s quick to add that he does love gay people, welcomes them in his church, doesn’t judge, that there are worse things to be, etc. The message that it’s still a sin to be gay gets quickly obscured by smiley faces and glitter glue for hope.

Curiously, Osteen is rarely willing to take a stand on any other issues. He’s gotten criticized by the religious right for staying out of politics and being unwilling to talk about sin as much as he talks about positivity. It’s all about being “the best you can be” — God’s plan for you. When Mike Wallace asked Osteen if he thought Mormons were true Christians, he humbly responded, “I haven’t really studied them or thought about them…I just try to let God be the judge of that. I mean, I don’t know” and “I’m not one to judge the little details of it.”

Hmm. Why so vague about the folks who have an entirely different set of scriptures, but so damned clear on the disappointing truth about homosexuality? Perhaps some serious re-examination is in order.

Another pastor whose language and selective choice of issues is spookily similar to Osteen’s is the purpose-driven Rick Warren. Also a proclaimed political abstainer, he encouraged his flock to vote against same-sex marriage and has disturbing ties to the recent wave of anti-gay policies in Africa. Warren still insists that he loves gay people and works closely with “a number of gay organizations,” though no one ever asks which ones. These men are entitled to their opinions, but it’s time to call out the hypocrisy of this new breed of influential pastors who want us all to bathe in the light of God’s forgiving love. Except that LGBT people must still deny how God made them if they want “God’s best” for themselves.

California-based writer Abby Dees is the author of  ‘Queer  Questions Straight Talk.’ She can be contacted through her website QueerQuestionsStraightTalk.com

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

—  Kevin Thomas

McInerney sentenced to 21 years for killing gay classmate Larry King

Brandon McInerney

Brandon McInerney, now 17, has been sentenced to 21 years in a California state prison for the February 2008 murder of Larry King, a gay teen who went to school with McInerney at E.O. Green Junior High in Oxnard, Calif.

McInerney last month struck a deal with Ventura County prosecutors in which he agreed to plead guilty to second-degree murder and charge each of voluntary manslaughter and use of a firearm. The deal came after a mistrial in September in which jurors could not agree on degree of guilt. Prosecutors wanted him convicted on first-degree murder charges and a hate crime charge. Jurors in September rejected the hate crime charge.

McInerney was tried as an adult.

According to this report from FoxNews.com, McInerney should be released from prison just before his 39th birthday. FoxNews.com said McInerney is ineligible for time served or for time off for good behavior because he pleaded guilty to murder.

McInerney was 14 and Larry King was 15 on Valentine’s Day in 2008 when McInerney walked up behind King in a computer lab class and shot him in the back of the head as horrified classmates looked on. King, who had recently begun wearing make-up and women’s clothing and accessories to school, had reportedly angered McInerney by flirting with him, leading McInerney’s friends to tease him.

King’s adoptive father, Greg King, later criticized school officials for not reining in Larry King’s openly gay behavior and his flamboyant manner of dress. Greg King has also said he believes Larry was sexually harassing McInerney, and that Larry — who Greg King says was bisexual — has been unfairly turned into a “poster child” for LGBT rights.

Larry King, adopted by Greg and Dawn King at age 3, was not living with them at the time of his death, having been removed from the home by state officials the previous November after saying that Greg King was abusive to him. Greg and Dawn King have also said publicly that their adopted son “never bonded with” them. A year after Larry was murdered, Greg and Dawn King filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the teachers and principal and E.O. Green High School, the nonprofit Casa Pacifica where Larry had been living, counselors, a county social worker and the Ventura County Rainbow Alliance, as well as McInerney and his parents.

Speaking during the sentencing hearing on Monday, Greg King said Larry’s family could not forgive McInerney. “You took upon yourself to be a bully and to hate a smaller kid, wanting to be a big man on campus,” Greg King told McInerney. “You have left a hole in my heart where Larry was and it can never be filled.”

—  admin

Brandon McInerney pleads guilty to 2nd-degree murder in 2008 shooting of Larry King

Brandon McInerney, left, has pleaded guilty to shooting his gay classmate, Lawrence "Larry" King to death in February 2008, when McInerney was 14 and King was 15.

More than three years after he pulled out a gun in a junior high computer lab and shot classmate Larry King in the head, Brandon McInerney pleaded guilty on Monday to second-degree murder. Sentencing is set for sometime in December, and prosecutors have said McInerney will be sentenced to 21 years in prison, without time off for good behavior, according to MSNBC.com.

McInerney has already served four years in jail and will be 38 by the time he is released.

The plea deal comes after prosecutors’ first efforts to convict McInerney on murder and hate crime charges in July ended in a mistrial. In planning for a second trial, prosecutors had decided to drop the hate crimes charge because jurors in the first trial did not believe prosecutors’ charges that McInerney was a white supremacist who acted out of hatred for gays.

King, 15 at the time of his death, was an openly gay student at E.O. Green Junior High in Oxnard, Calif., and McInerney, 14 at the time, was angry that King had been flirting with him. On Feb. 12, 2008, McInerney carried a gun to school in his backpack. When he went into the computer lab, he walked up behind King, shot him once in the head and then shot him again as King lay on the floor. King died two days later after being taken off life support.

The murder sparked headlines and outrage around the country. But when McInerney went to trial in July, his defense attorneys denied that he had been motivated by anti-gay hatred and worked to convince jurors the school was at fault for not reining in King’s flamboyant behavior in class. And on Monday, King’s mother, Dawn King, told the LA Times that she had contacted the school four days before the shooting to ask for school officials’ help in “toning down” her son’s behavior. She said school officials told her that her son had a civil right to explore his sexuality.

Authorities had removed Larry King from his home two months earlier because of domestic problems.

Teachers at E.O. Green Junior High also testified at McInerney’s trial in July that they had tried to warn administrators about “growing tensions” between Larry King and some of the boys in his class, but that the administrators had “shunned them.” The LA Times reports that teachers and students alike testified at the trial that King had been wearing makeup and women’s accessories and “flirting aggressively with male students on campus who did not want the attention.”

Following the mistrial in July, Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network Executive Director Eliza Byard said prosecutors should have “done the just and merciful thing” and reached a plea agreement with McInenery because the trial created a “painful spectacle that accomplished nothing.”

Following Monday’s announcement that a plea arrangement had been reached, Byard said:

“The plea deal announced today ends a tragic chapter in Ventura County. Holding Brandon McInerney accountable for his actions is necessary and right, but putting him behind bars does not solve the problems that led a boy to become a bully, and then a murderer.  Homophobia and transphobia, compounded by the lack of counseling and other supports for struggling young people, resulted in Larry King’s death and the effective end of Brandon McInerney’s life. As adults and as a society, we must find the resolve to fix the broken systems that lost two young lives to hate and fear. The end to this painful chapter must now serve as a new beginning. Ventura County along with communities and school districts everywhere must come together to promote a culture of respect and nurture the true potential found in every individual regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.”

—  admin

Trial in gay teen Lawrence King’s murder delayed

Associated Press

VENTURA, Calif. — A Ventura County judge has delayed the murder trial of a teenager charged with the classroom shooting death of a 15-year-old gay student.

Brandon McInerney’s trial had been tentatively set for March 15. The 16-year-old defendant, who is being tried as an adult, is charged with the Feb. 12, 2008, shooting death of Larry King at E.O. Green School in Oxnard.

The Ventura County Star says Superior Court Judge Charles Campbell on Monday set an April 4 hearing to determine if attorneys will be ready for trial on May 2. Defense lawyers want more information, including the release of the victim’s juvenile records.

McInerney is also charged with a hate crime because he allegedly had adopted white supremacist views and King professed to be gay. A police gang expert testified in a 2009 preliminary hearing that white supremacists consider gays enemies of the white race.

—  John Wright

Music Bytes: Erasure re-records ‘Respect’ for charity; Ricky Martin talks to Larry King

Ricky Martin appeared on Larry King Live on Tuesday and knocked it out of the park with his eloquent responses to King’s questions about coming out and what’s to follow. In this clip, he discusses his desire to get married in his country along with raising his two sons with his partner. Longer clips can also be found on YouTube.

He’s also the cover story for the December/January issue of People en Espanol. The story pretty much covers the same territory Larry King did, but fairly well done. Of course, you have to be able to read in Spanish. For more, check that out here.

On Erasure’s website, the band posted the news they will re-record “A Little Respect” with the youth chorus from the Hetrick-Martin Institute which houses the Harvey Milk High School. Proceeds from the download will go toward the institute and the True Colors Fund founded by Cyndi Lauper. Erasure performed on the True Colors tour back in 2007.

According to the site, “in the wake of the tragic gay bullying incidents and related suicides across the country, Andy Bell was motivated to take action. As one of popular music’s first openly-gay celebrities Bell felt compelled to get involved. ‘I am honored and moved beyond words to serve as an Ambassador to the The Hetrick-Martin Institute. Every opportunity we have to spread tolerance and compassion must be seized and I will take special pride in doing so on HMI’s behalf.’”

The single is slated for a mid-December release. In the meantime, here’s the original which we all probably know so well.

—  Rich Lopez

Jury selection to start soon in trial of gay teen’s alleged killer

Associated Press

VENTURA, Calif. — A Ventura County judge has ruled that jurors from neighboring Santa Barbara County will be chosen for the upcoming trial of a teen accused of killing a gay classmate.

Superior Court Judge Charles Campbell said Monday, Aug. 23 that the trial of 16-year-old Brandon McInerney will remain in Ventura County. McInerney’s attorneys had been seeking a change of venue.

McInerney is charged with murdering 15-year-old Larry King in February 2008. He is being tried in adult court.

Campbell on Thursday, Aug. 26 will give more details about when jury selection will take place.

—  John Wright

Dr. Laura’s demise began in Dallas

Dr. Laura

Maybe Dr. Laura Schlessinger should have stuck to bashing gays and lesbians.

The right-wing radio talk show host announced Tuesday night that she won’t renew her contract, ending her radio talk show at the end of this year.

In the 90s, Schlessinger became one of the top radio talk show hosts by becoming increasingly homophobic in her rants against callers who were seeking advice.

When she was offered a TV contract, she finally ran into trouble when activists from Dallas reacted. The Metroplex was her No. 1 market nationally.

KTVT, the CBS affiliate in Dallas, signed on to air her show. Dallas activists staged the first protest against it. Protests spread to cities around the country. John Seelig of Dallas began going after her advertisers, calling corporate executives and convincing many to pull their advertising from her program.

The show debuted with little advertising, and it sunk after one season due to Schlessinger’s terrible TV personality. After three or four format revamps, it was canceled.

Over the past decade, she continued to broadcast on radio, but on fewer and fewer stations.

In her latest high-profile rant, Schlessinger was criticized for using the N-word repeatedly while giving advice to a woman who called with a question about her interracial marriage, upset by her husband’s friends’ racial slurs. Schlessinger attacked the woman, saying that if she was so sensitive about racial issues, she shouldn’t have married outside her race.

Schlessinger apologized for using the N-word, but not for her stupid advice. In her statement about quitting the show, Schlessinger said that she’s not retiring and told Larry King that she’s looking forward to regaining her First Amendment rights.

Presumably, she sees those rights as attacking, insulting and encouraging hate. While the Supreme Court has upheld free speech for hate groups such as the Fred Phelps clan, it has not upheld the right to incite violence against a target group using public airwaves.

Although Schlessinger’s program is an advice show and she uses the title “Dr.,” she does not hold a doctorate in counseling, psychology or any related field.

—  David Taffet

Judge won’t be recused from Lawrence King murder trial

Associated Press

VENTURA, Calif. — A judge has denied a defense motion to disqualify a Ventura County judge from the trial of a middle school student accused of murdering a gay classmate.

Prosecutor Maeve Fox said Monday, Aug. 2 that San Luis Obispo Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Burke ruled against the recusal motion filed by lawyers for 16-year-old Brandon McInerney.

McInerney is charged with murdering 15-year-old Larry King in February 2008.

Defense attorney, Scott Wippert, argued that Ventura County Superior Court Judge Charles Campbell wasn’t fair with his rulings that favored the prosecution.

Campbell filed his own declaration to deny that he’s prejudiced against the defendant.

Jury selection was scheduled to begin Wednesday, but Fox said she has a scheduling conflict.

—  John Wright

More from Laura Bush on gay marriage

Dallas resident and former first lady Laura Bush told CNN’s Larry King on Tuesday that she supports equal rights for same-sex couples. King asked Bush about a passage from her recent book in which she said she asked her husband not to make a “significant issue” out of gay marriage during the 2004 campaign. The full clip is above. Here’s my transcript:

King: “Do you think we should have it (gay marriage)?”

LB: “I think that we ought to definitely look at it, and I’ve debated. I think there are a lot of people who have trouble coming to terms with that because they see marriage as traditionally between a man and a woman, but I also know that when couples are committed to each other and love each other, they ought to have, I think, the same sort of rights that everyone has.”

King: “So would that be an area where you (and George) disagree?”

LB: “I guess that would be an area that we disagree. I understand totally what George thinks and what other people think about marriage being between a man and a woman, and it’s a real reversal … to accept gay marriage.”

King: “But you do?”

LB: “But I think we could. I think it’s also a generational thing.”

King: “You think it’s coming?”

LB: “Yeah, that (it) will come.”

—  John Wright

The Perils of Prejean

Carrie Prejean, when she was still Miss California
Carrie Prejean, when she was still Miss California

Carrie Prejean made headlines earlier this when, competing as Miss California in the Miss USA pageant, she answered Perez Hilton’s question on same-sex marriage by saying, basically, she was against because God was against it.

She lost the pageant and eventually lost the Miss California crown. But she did gain a role as a spokeswoman for the National Organization for Marriage, a group that has been working to defeat efforts to extend equal marriage rights to same-sex couples around the country.

But now, in the wake first of topless photos of Prejean that were made public and then a video of her “performing solo” she made for a boyfriend, NOM has reportedly “fired” Prejean, too. NOM has said Prejean was never an official spokesperson for the group, but the organization certainly used her “girl-next-door” visage as much as they could to promote their cause (before the latest scandal, of course).

Prejean had owned up to having made the tape, calling it “the biggest mistake” of her life (although during a recent interview on “Larry King Live” she apparently didn’t want to talk about it anymore, telling Larry that he was being “inappropriate” when he asked her why she had settled her lawsuit against the Miss USA Pageant. Rumor has it that she settled because news of the video leaked. Larry was asking why she settled.)

But now RadarOnline.com is reporting that Prejean’s “biggest mistake” was one of many big mistakes. The site says Prejean has made at least eight sex tapes (all solo performances) and that there are at least 30 naked photos of her out there, some of which she took herself, in the mirror with a cell phone.

—  admin