‘The Response’ returns, but without Perry

GetEqual at The Response

Get Equal protests at The Response last August in Houston

Remember The Response? The amalgam of Republican Party politics and  right-wing anti-LGBT “Christianity” Gov. Rick Perry used to launch his presidential campaign is back, but this time without Perry. The event’s organizers, including  hate group The American Family Association, have announced they plan to hold four more prayer rallies modeled on the August event in Houston, but are being careful to distance themselves from partisan politics in general and Perry’s flagging presidential campaign specifically:

“Though Governor Rick Perry initiated The Response in Houston, these upcoming state-wide gatherings will not be affiliated with any particular presidential candidates. The Response is committed to prayer above politics, to seeing the church moved to stand for righteousness and to pray for God’s mercy for America.”

Perry continues to sag in the polls, and his recent gaffs and apparent lack of basic English language skills make him an increasingly unattractive candidate for Republican voters, so it’s not surprising to see The Response scurry to flee the sinking Perry ship.

At the same time the locations of the four mini-Responses are interesting: Iowa, South Carolina, Florida and Arizona. All are key states during the Republican primary. So while The Response may have ditched Perry it’s clear that at least one of the things they’re praying for is a viable Republican presidential candidate.

—  admin

TCU LGBT alumni group forms

Organizer says school has been helpful, supportive in forming group for gay graduates

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

There are some schools that are — or have been — affiliated with religious institutions that  not only wouldn’t welcome an LGBT alumni group, they would block such a group outright.

But when Doug Thompson, a graduate of Fort Worth’s Texas Christian University, associated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), approached his alma mater’s alumni association about forming an LGBT affiliate, he said, the response was, “Absolutely. No problem.”

TCU’s new LGBT alumni group will hold its first large meeting on Saturday, Oct. 22, after the TCU homecoming game. Thompson acknowledged that sports isn’t the main concern of many LGBT alumni, but homecoming is still a time when many alumni return to visit the campus.

Thompson said when he asked the alumni association whether the LGBT group would need approval by the school’s administration, he was told the administration would back it. The group was approved in April.

Unlike Baylor University, which sued to keep its LGBT alumni from using the school name to organize a group, Thompson said there has been no objection from the TCU campus.

“We just want to get people involved however they want to be involved,” Kristi Hoban, associate vice chancellor alumni of relations, said. “We just reach out, whether it’s a class or the business school or a special interest group.”

She said that black alumni were not participating until the Black Alumni Alliance formed about 11 years ago. Now, she said, they’re active leaders in class reunions, homecoming and department alumni events, adding that she hopes to see the same thing happen with the LGBT network.

Finding LGBT alumni hasn’t been easy, Thompson said, as students aren’t asked about their sexual orientation before they graduate.

But Thompson said about 120 alumni have already responded, mostly to calls on social media sites. And now that the school has a Gay Straight Alliance, he said, finding future alumni will be easier.

“Our goal will be to support gay and lesbian students and start a scholarship,” Thompson said. “And we’ll form activities around things gay alumni have an interest in.”

He mentioned support for the Trinity Shakespeare Festival on campus as a direction for the group.

Thompson said that having an LGBT alumni group will help the school provide a better environment for its LGBT students.

Two years ago, TCU proposed setting aside dorm space for LGBT students. A week after the announcement, when only eight students had signed up for the housing, the school scrapped those plans.

“That got totally blown out of proportion,” Hoban said.

She said the intention was never segregated housing but really just an LGBT campus group.
Thompson said the school would have avoided the bad publicity if it had the alumni group to guide them.

The LGBT alumni group will get together after the homecoming game against New Mexico on Saturday, Oct. 22. They will meet at Tommy’s Hamburgers’ Camp Bowie Boulevard location from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

…………………

OUT, PROUD ATHLETE

Pryor.Victor

Victor Pryor

Perhaps one of the best known Texas Christian University grads that will be attending the new LGBT alumni group’s meeting this weekend is Vincent Pryor, a TCU Horned Frogs football star from 1994.

That year, before the final game of the season against the Texas Tech Red Raiders, Pryor came out to his teammates. Rather than shunning him, Pryor’s coach told him he was proud of his honesty

“My teammates and my coaches overwhelmingly supported and accepted me,” Pryor writes on his website, VincentPryor.com. “All of the fears and concerns I had about being kicked off the team, or losing my scholarship, or embarrassing my school — none of that happened.  And the best part of it was that I became a better athlete after I came out.”

That day, Pryor had the biggest game of his college career, tallying a record 4.5 sacks — a record that still stands today. His performance helped TCU win the conference title and a berth in a post-season bowl game.

Today, Pryor works in sales and lives in Chicago with his partner of 12 years, who was a classmate at TCU. To watch his just-
released an “It Gets Better” video, below.

—  Kevin Thomas

What’s Brewing: Email suggests day of prayer designed as kickoff for Rick Perry’s campaign

AFA founder Don Wildmon

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. Texas Gov. Rick Perry and organizers of his recent day of prayer in Houston, “The Response,” have repeatedly insisted that the event wasn’t politically motivated. But an email sent to the Response’s registration list on Thursday shows that they were completely full of shit. The email, signed by American Family Association founder Don Wildmon, encourages those who attended the Response to help recruit “5 million unregistered conservative Christians to register and vote according to the Biblical worldview in 2012.” And when Wildmon says “vote according to the Biblical worldview,” he means “vote for Perry,” because it’s pretty clear at this point that the Response was little more than a kickoff for Perry’s presidential campaign, which he formally announced only one week later. Need more evidence? According to a poll on the AFA’s website this week, 49 percent of respondents support Perry for the GOP nomination. Michele Bachmann is second with just 17 percent. Read the full text of Wildmon’s email below.

2. The White House unveiled new immigration policy Thursday that could prevent some binational same-sex couples from being torn apart. Under the policy, the administration will review all 300,000 pending deportation cases and identify them as high priority or low priority. The criteria will include family relationships, and same-sex couples meet the definition of family.

3. Wisconsin Democrat Russ Feingold announced today that he won’t be a candidate for Senate in 2012, which is good news for those who want lesbian Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin to run.

—  John Wright

WATCH: Gov. Perry thanks the leader of the anti-gay hate group that funded his day of prayer

The Human Rights Campaign has launched a petition calling on Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who’s a close second in the latest GOP presidential poll, to denounce the anti-gay extremists who funded his day of prayer last weekend — and whom he thanked during his remarks at the end of the event. Watch video above of Perry thanking Don Wildmon, president of the American Family Association, among others.

Below is the text of the petition, which you can sign by going here.

Governor Perry –

I was disturbed by your organization of last week’s anti-gay, Christian-only day of prayer in Texas, and I was alarmed to see you openly embrace notorious anti-gay leaders.

The organizers of The Response represent the worst of the worst – they preach intolerance toward others under the guise of love and spread hateful rhetoric that has dangerous consequences. Your alignment with and support of these people demonstrates your inability to serve as a national leader for all Americans.

I urge you to show true leadership by publically denouncing these extremists. It is the right thing to do, and it will send a strong message that you are capable of leading all Americans – not just the small, radical fringe you currently represent.

—  John Wright

Interfaith service hosted by Unitarian church offered another alternative to ‘The Response’

Saturday, less than 4 miles from Reliant Stadium and Gov. Rick Perry’s day of prayer and fasting, “The Response,” a prayer service of a very different nature took place. First Unitarian Universalist Church of Houston hosted an “Inclusive Interfaith Prayer Service” that featured an Imam, a Rabbi, a Buddhist Monk and even a Baptist Minister.  A moment of silence was set aside to recognize those in attendance who didn’t believe in a higher power, and respect their beliefs.

The Rev. Dr. Daniel O’Connell, senior pastor of First UUC, opened the service by contrasting it with “The Response,” but said that the inclusive interfaith service was not about being critical of people of other faiths: “We come today not to tear down, but to lift up.”

“I come from a particular religious tradition that I cherish, but other hearts are here with hopes and dreams as true and pure as mine,” O’Connell continued, referencing the hymn “A Song of Peace.”

The service continued with a performance by the Bayou City Performing Arts Quartet (made up of members of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Houston and Bayou City Women’s Chorus) and an opening prayer by the Rev. Dr. Jeremy Rutledge, a Baptist minister.

“The Language of Peace,” an instrumental trio that includes cello, keyboard and an Indian instrument known as a “tanpura,” then performed an improvisational piece accompanied by chanting in Hindi.

Chanting was a common element in many of the rituals and prayers performed by the diverse collection of religious leaders. From Rabbi Samantha Kahn’s recitation of a Shabbat morning prayer, to Imam Kemal Civelek’s chanting of the names of God, the service centered on quiet moments of contemplation and meditation. During the “Bathing of the Baby Buddha” ritual performed by the Rev. Seido of the St. Nichiren Buddhist Temple, his rhythmic, breathy chanting filled the air as those assembled ladled water over a statue of a standing infant Buddha.

The Rev. Ellen Cooper Davis of Northwoods Unitarian Universalist Church spoke about her previous life as a circus performer and her current life as a minister.  “Actually, the circus was good preparation for working for a church,” said Davis.

“There’s a circus in town right now, but it’s not the kind i want. … It’s the kind that they use to lure the poor people in with bread, the kind the Roman satirists wrote about ages ago,” Cooper Davis said. “They said it’s just there to distract the people so that they would be content with their bread and their circus and would not realize that the Roman empire was oppressing them. So that they would be content with just a few hours of entertainment and not realize that they were living in an empire. The kind of empire that took people who asked hard questions about how we ought to live and nailed them up onto a cross.”

The Rev. Adam Robinson, who organized the service, closed by saying: “This service is about a place at the table for everyone, those [people at “The Response”] are my people. You’re looking an an Evangelical boy here who, after many years, was ordained — then outed — and my place at the table was taken away.

“We’ve got the people out there who are united with hate groups and we don’t want to be united with them,” Robinson said. “We have to watch that — we have to watch our desire to separate ourselves from people we disagree with. It’s a fine line, but if we don’t watch that line carefully pretty soon it’s not OK to be a Unitarian, and then it’s not OK to be a Muslim or a Jew, then it’s not OK to be a progressive Christian, and then there’s only one kind of Christian people are allowed to be.”

—  admin

What’s Brewing: Uplifted by ‘The Response,’ Gov. Perry may announce presidential bid this week

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. More than 30,000 people are said to have attended “The Response,” Gov. Rick Perry’s day of prayer and fasting at Reliant Stadium in Houston on Saturday. Check out our coverage of the LGBT (and non-LGBT) responses to The Response here, here, here and here. For those who actually care what went on inside the stadium, we’ve posted some video below. The first segment is Perry’s speech in its entirety, which turned out to be rather political despite his assurances that it wouldn’t be. The second is a report from the Texas Tribune which indicates that not all attendees — including Perry — actually fasted on Saturday. And the third is a compilation from Right Wing Watch featuring some of the speakers at the event.

2. Now that The Response is over, Perry is likely to announce that he’s running for president as early as this week.

3. But not all Republicans are thrilled about Perry’s all-but-certain candidacy. During NBC’s Meet The Press on Sunday, GOP consultant Alex Castellanos called Perry “Sarah Palin in a skirt” and a “lighter” version of George W. Bush.

—  John Wright

WATCH: GetEQUAL stages funeral procession outside Reliant Stadium during ‘The Response’

A block from the merry-go-round of the American Atheists, Freedom from Religion Foundation, Lyndon LaRouche supporters and Westboro Baptist Church, a more somber, if no less energetic, response to “The Response” was taking place. Organized by GetEQUAL, the event sought to give voice to people killed by the violent rhetoric of transphobia and homophobia.

The training camp for the Houston Texans sits opposite Kirby Drive from Reliant Arena, its driveway intersecting with Kirby directly in front of the main entrance. Saturdays during the summer the camp plays host to a children’s football camp.  At 8 a.m. Saturday, when parents dropped their kids off at camp, a small group of a few dozen GetEQUAL activists graced the main entrance. By the time parents returned to pick their kids up in the early afternoon there were hundreds of protestors.

GetEQUAL staged several mock funerals throughout the day to represent the more than 13,000 people killed in America because of anti-LGBT bias since 1980. The funerals were complete with coffins and a New Orleans-style street band. Daniel Cates, North Texas regional coordinator for GetEQUAL, says that the band was not originally planned to be part of the protest. “They were a local group who had come to Reliant to protest ‘The Response,’” said Cates. “When they saw what we were doing, they wanted to help.”

Between funerals the GetEQUAL protestors chanted and sang. Their rousing rendition of the civil rights era classic “We Shall Overcome” drew attendees of “The Response” out of the stadium to look down from the third floor mezzanine. Chants of “This is what democracy looks like” and “Pray away the hate” rang out all day, crescendo-ing as more and more protestors arrived.  At one point the chant spontaneously morphed into “Show me what hypocrisy looks like” and the assembled protestors turned to point at Reliant Stadium and chant, “This is what hypocrisy looks like.”

Protesters braved temperatures that approached but never quite breached the triple-digit mark.  GetEQUAL’s prime spot at the Reliant Stadium entrance also placed them in the shadow of the leviathan structure. As the afternoon wore on, many protestors who had stationed themselves at the stadium’s parking lot entrances relocated to the relative cool provided by Reliant’s shade, swelling the crowd at the entrance to what Cates called “comfortably thousands of protesters.”

Photos and video from the protest are below.

—  admin

The non-LGBT Response to ‘The Response’

A billboard truck paid for by the Freedom from Religion Foundation sits outside Reliant Stadium on Saturday during ‘The Response.’
Han Will and Katherine Godby from First Congregational Church of Fort Worth.

Houston’s Kirby Drive winds past the front entry to Reliant Stadium. At one point, just past the stadium, the road makes a slight curve. The main gate to the stadium’s parking lot is here, and the combination of Kirby Drive’s curve and the thoroughfare-like entrance gate creates a three-way intersection centered around a small concrete traffic island. On Saturday, this intersection became a carousel of non-LGBT groups protesting Gov. Rick Perry’s day of prayer and fasting, dubbed “The Response.”

Each corner was claimed by a different group that feels “The Response” violated values it holds dear. On one corner, the American Atheists — who objected to the response as state promotion of religion. On the next corner, the Freedom From Religion Foundation which, due to its strategic location, was positioned to yell at idling cars waiting for entrance to the stadium. On the last corner, a group of Lyndon LaRouche supporters, who toted a 6-foot poster of President Barack Obama portrayed as Hitler. Finally, cordoned on the concrete island by crowd-control fencing: Westboro Baptist Church. Positioned at the axis of discontent, WBC managed to draw the ire of all the other groups, and every attendee to “The Response” who drove by.

The most fervent shouting matches were between the Atheists and Westboro Baptist Church. Small cadres of Athiests would hurl taunts like “Your imaginary friend doesn’t scare me.”  Which would cause the protesters from WBC to launch into another round of what seemed to be their favorite song: “God Hates America,” set to the tune of “God Bless America.”

—  admin

What do supporters of ‘The Response’ have to say about LGBTs? Here are a few examples

Rick Perry

As the Dallas Voice cover story, “Responding to ‘The Response,” points out, there are a lot of people around the state — and around the country — who are angry over Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s decision to partner with The American Family Association to present his day of prayer and fasting Saturday at Houston’s Reliant Stadium. The list of people supporting and endorsing the event — like Pastor John Hagee — also has some people upset.

But what is it about the American Family Association and people like Hagee that has people so angry? As the Southern Poverty Law Center points out, it’s not because they believe homosexuality is a sin. It’s because of the hateful, discriminatory and outright false things they say to stir up fear and anger against LGBT people, Jews, Muslims, Catholics — in short, against anybody who isn’t just like them.

What kind of things? Well, here are a few examples.

This is an actual trailer for a video called They’re Coming To Your Town. The video, produced by the American Family Association, warns that gays and lesbians are trying to take over city governments across the country, using Eureka Springs, Ark., as an example.

Here’s one where AFA’s Buddy Smith reports to Bryan Fischer, AFA’s director of issues analysis, on a gay Pride parade in which Home Depot participated and why Home Depot is wrong to promote diversity. In this clip, Smith says that “homosexuals are in Satan’s grasp.”

Here’s Fischer again, explaining how the Nazis — including Hitler — were all gay and how Hitler chose to surround himself with gay soldiers because the straight soldiers were not “savage and brutal and vicious enough” to carry out Hitler’s orders, whereas the gay Brown Shirt soldiers were happy to do so:

In this one Fischer explains that tribal reservations are “mired” in poverty and alcoholism today because the Native American won’t convert to Christianity.

One more quick one from Fischer. In this clip, taped in the aftermath of the shooting at Fort Hood, he says Muslims shouldn’t be allowed to serve in the U.S. military and that they probably shouldn’t even be allowed to immigrate to the U.S. at all.

Here’s one with Pastor John Hagee explaining that the Anti-Christ is coming and that he is partially Jewish (“as was Adolph Hitler”??) and he is gay AND he is fierce! Oh yeah, and the Anti-Christ will come from Germany.

Pastor Hagee, by the way, has also called the Catholic Church “a great whore” that “thirsts for the blood of the Jews.” And after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, Hagee said in 2006 it was because New Orleans was a sinful place that was planning a gay parade (the annual Southern Decadence party over Labor Day Weekend) and, basically, that the hurricane was God’s punishment on the city. He later recanted.

We tried to find other videotapes of Hagee making these stories, but many of the videos containing some of his more controversial comments have been removed due to claims of “copyright infringement” according to notices posted on websites where the videos previously were displayed.

Want more evidence? Go to YouTube and do a search for American Family Association, specifically Bryan Fischer. Pastor Hagee might have had second thoughts about some of his more vitriolic statements and removed those videos, but Fischer’s videos are there for everyone to see.

Of course, Hagee, Fischer and the Wildmons aren’t the only ones on the list of those endorsing “The Response.” Go here to read an earlier Dallas Voice post that includes videos of “Response”  supporter Mike Bickle who claims that Oprah Winfrey is a harbinger of the Anti-Christ, and of “Response” supporter C. Peter Wagner who teaches that Japan is cursed because the emperor of Japan had sex with a demon.

Then there’s David Barton, president and founder of “WallBuilders,” who said opposes anti-bullying legislation, claiming that laws and policies to prevent bullying actually indoctrinate children into homosexuality. And he uses info from the American College of Pediatricians — a right-wing group that broke away from the American Academy of Pediatricians because the AAP supports gay and lesbian parents  — to back up his claims. Read about that here at RightWingWatch.org.

—  admin

WHAT’S BREWING: Day of prayer suit dismissed; post-DADT guide for gay troops; NY marriage split

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit that sought to block Texas Gov. Rick Perry from participating in or promoting his Aug. 6 day of prayer on the grounds that his involvement violates the separation of church and state. The group of atheists and agnostics that filed the lawsuit, the Freedom from Religion Foundation, says it may appeal Thursday’s decision. Meanwhile, a DV poll over on our main page (lower right) shows that 70 percent of respondents believe Perry’s involvement with the event is in fact a violation of the first amendment’s establishment clause.

2. In anticipation of the end of “don’t ask, don’t tell” in September, a leading advocacy group has published a legal guide for gay servicemembers who’ll be serving openly post-DADT. Servicemembers Legal Defense Network also launched a redesigned website reflecting a shift in the group’s focus. “The work of advancing military equality marches forward after repeal,” SLDN Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis said in a press release. “At SLDN, we will fight alongside those who may face harassment or discrimination as we oversee implementation; when necessary and timely, litigate in the courts to bring about full LGBT equality in America’s military; advocate for legally married service members to receive the same benefits as their straight counterparts; and assist veterans to correct or upgrade their discharge paperwork.”

3. The nation is split 50 percent to 46 percent over whether marriage equality in New York is a good thing, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. Check out the breakdown of the poll results below.

—  John Wright