Religious Liberty

Religious Liberty and Those Pesky Exemptions

This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending the Victory Fund International Leadership Conference in Washington, DC, where we discussed a plethora of topics ranging from marketing equality to religion and politics.

I was struck by a repeated theme, religious liberty exemptions, that concerned me greatly.

For those of you who are unaware of what is taking place across the country in conservative controlled states, there is a movement afloat to pass laws with religious liberty exemptions, allowing individuals, groups, and corporations, to legally discriminate against other American citizens based on their closely held religious beliefs.

Faced with the “threat” of same-sex marriage, religious conservatives have rallied around the theme of religious liberty exemptions; mainly they seek exemptions from “facilitating” same-sex marriage. This would include the right to discriminate in employment, housing, spousal benefits, such as health insurance, and public accommodations. So a hotel owner can legally refuse service to a married same-sex couple.

But religious liberty exemptions are a slippery slope. What about the doctor, dentist, or nurse who refuses to treat an HIV or AIDS patient because they are gay? What about the restaurant owner, Christian, Jewish or Muslim, who refuse service to members of the LGBTQ community. What about the property owner being able to refuse housing to one of our transgender brothers and sisters?

Religious liberty exemptions have the potential of undoing everything we have achieved in our movement for equality and is clearly our new battle front.

These exemptions are another way of going around to state’s rights issue and taking LGBTQ people back to second class status. It is simply a means to help us go backwards as individuals and a community.

This week a bill passed in the Michigan House granting exemptions to doctors and EMTs to refuse to give lifesaving assistance to a LGBTQ person, because of their religious beliefs. The Republican-led House has approved the Michigan Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which essentially states that people do not have to perform an act that would violate their sincerely held religious beliefs.

As per a speaker at the conference currently they would say that 95% of discrimination of LGBTQ people comes from religious people or doctrines. These are the same people who seek the legal right to continue to discriminate.

But why should I care? Because when one of us is denied housing we are all denied housing. When one of us is refused service we are all refused service. Yes, we can walk and talk with the power of our dollars, but the truth is our community is filled with people who do not have the luxury to speak with their dollars. First comes the legal discrimination against the married same-sex couples, then on to the single LGBTQ people.

What if my religion believed in white supremacy? Would the next up for legal discrimination be our brothers and sisters of color?

Religious liberty exemptions laws are a slippery slope and one needs to ask where does it reasonably end? The religious right and those elected officials who kowtow to them will do all they can to stop the facilitation of same-sex marriage and will use every opportunity they can to set back any progress we have achieved over the last 49 years.

Boycott Salvation Army

The Bells Are Ringing . . .

The bells are ringing alongside the iconic red kettles of the Salvation Army as that organization pushes out its annual Christmas campaign to raise funds for the international evangelical Christian ministry.

When I was a child, I would often put my spare change in their red kettles. I liked the ringing of the bell and the warm “thank you” that always followed from the uniformed attendant. “Merry Christmas,” they would say to all.

It really made me happy like the holidays should.

But then as I grew up, I began hearing rumors about the long history of hatred the Salvation Army held towards our community. I then began reevaluating my giving to this organization. I eventually stopped completely after realizing that I could no longer give to an organization that cannot fully embrace who I am in my nature, a gay man, despite their ever so warm and welcoming television commercials where they claim “everyone” is welcomed.

The Salvation Army’s “Position Statement” on homosexuality, once found on its web site, but since taken down, reads in part: “The Salvation Army does not consider same-sex orientation blameworthy in itself. Homosexual conduct, like heterosexual conduct, requires individual responsibility and must be guided by the light of scriptural teaching. Scripture forbids sexual intimacy between members of the same sex. The Salvation Army believes, therefore, that Christians whose sexual orientation is primarily or exclusively same-sex are called upon to embrace celibacy as a way of life.”

The Salvation Army is telling me that I cannot fall in love and have an intimate adult relationship with another person of my own sex.

The Salvation Army appeared to show its true colors, in 2012, when an Australian-based Salvation Army official, Major Andrew Craibe, a media relations director for one of the Salvation Army’s Australian branches, implied in an interview that gays should be put to death. Death for homosexuals is “part of our belief system,” he said.

Australian Salvation Army spokesman Major Bruce Harmer quickly released a statement distancing the organization from Craibe’s “extremely regrettable” remarks, noting that members do “not believe, and would never endorse, a view that homosexual activity should result in any form of physical punishment.”

Harmer goes on to note, “The Salvation Army believes in the sanctity of all human life and believes it would be inconsistent with Christian teaching to call for anyone to be put to death. We consider every person to be of infinite value, and each life a gift from God to be cherished, nurtured and preserved.”

The American branch of the Salvation Army quickly chimed in with its own statement:

“The Salvation Army in the United States fully and emphatically rejects the statements made by the media director of The Salvation Army Australia Southern Territory regarding the LGBT community. The Salvation Army opposes any discrimination, marginalization or persecution of any person. There is no scriptural support for demeaning or mistreating anyone for any reason including his or her sexual orientation. We stand firmly upon our mission to meet human needs in His name without discrimination . . . We deeply apologize for the hurt that these statements have caused.”

Except, of course, when it comes to same-sex marriage, to which the Salvation Army is strictly opposed. Salvation Army Major George Hood has said that same-sex unions go against God. In 2001, Hood expressed concern about hiring LGBTQ employees that “it really begins to chew away at the theological fabric of who we are.”

The Salvation Army cannot have it both ways. They cannot claim to oppose “any discrimination, marginalization or persecution of any person,” and, at the same time, be opposed to what is natural in same-sex attractions!

The Salvation Army is holding onto misguided and outdated understandings of homosexuals. While they claim to hold all in esteem, they hold us in disdain. We are accepted only under their terms as celibates. We are not truly embraced as the gifts that we are.

The bells today remind me that I am not fully welcomed by the Salvation Army. Therefore, I will continue to withhold my money from their iconic red kettles and I encourage you to do the same. Our hard earned dollars should only go to organizations that fully embrace our community this holiday season.

gratitude

Thanksgiving Gratitude

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.” ~ Melody Beattie

Thanksgiving, that most traditional of all American holidays where people of all religions, all races, and all orientations are afforded the opportunity to express gratitude, each in their own way, for those things we have been given, both large and small. It is by far my favorite of all holidays because it is based on the simplest of notions that appreciation and gratitude are vital to a kind and caring people.

All across America, families, friends and strangers come together to express thanks, from humble dwellings to bustling soup kitchens, to mansions of plenty to middle class row homes, rich to poor and all in between pause to give thanks.

As is my tradition on Thanksgiving I would like to take the opportunity to express my gratitude for that which has inspired my passions or moved me to be a better person:

I am grateful to those youth who on April 25, 1965, at Dewey’s Restaurant in Philadelphia, took a stand against blatant discrimination towards queers when the owner refused to serve those he thought were either gay or wearing nonconformist clothing. This was the first queer protest/sit-in held in the United States. Their stand motivates me to stand today for queer equality.

I am grateful for my friends who know me and still remain my friends. They are the beats of my heart. They are a constancy that remains when I take leave of myself.

I am grateful to people like Jane Shull, Michael Williams, Nurit Shein and Carrie Jacobs who unselfishly give from the heart each in their own way. They inspire me to be a better person and to serve others with both sincerity of heart and mind.

I am grateful for organizations, including but not limited to The Attic Youth Center, Mazzoni Center and Philadelphia Fight, that continue to serve the needs of others even through difficult times. Their unselfish actions and deeds call me to lead a more virtuous and caring life.

I am grateful to all the queer youth who have shown me that tomorrow is bright with love and courage, and that the promise of the future is here today.

I am most grateful to my own family whose unconditional love continues to supplicate and replenish my love for all humanity, especially for those who have lost the capability to do so. And to my parents, whose belief in me goes beyond all rational understanding. They are my rock and my strength; they continue to teach me of love, family, sacrifice.

For these and so many other reasons, I give thanks for all that I have been given and all I have yet to give. May each of you find the joy that gratitude brings to our hearts this year and for the all the years to come.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Gloria’s Legacy; A Healed Community

The passing of a person from life to death affects many people; family, friends, and lovers are each touched in some powerful way. The death of a great person affects a community and changes our lives forever. That was such with the passing of Gloria Casarez last month, small in stature but large in action and love for the people she was called to serve as an activist and a leader.

The wound that was left by Gloria’s passing is still deep and wide. But the healing is beginning.

But what form does that healing take for individuals and the community?

Let’s first look at the Kübler-Ross model, or the five stages of grief, a series of emotional stages experienced when faced with impending death or death of someone. The five stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

It should be pointed out that “Elisabeth Kübler-Ross noted that the stages are not meant to be a complete list of all possible emotions that could be felt, and they can occur in any order. Her hypothesis holds that not everyone who experiences a life-threatening or life-altering event feels all five of the responses, due to reactions of personal losses differing between people.”

Just like there is not a particular order for the five stages of grief there is no time frame for these five stages to manifest. Likewise, as members of a community we will all be at different stages at different times and our healing process will be gradual.

But how does that healing take place?

First we must be willing to be open about our feelings at the loss of Gloria.

Second, we must be committed to healing as a community and to be open to change.

Third would be in remembrance of Gloria . . . what will her legacy bring to the community? We are not at a loss, we live on to make a difference.

To borrow a cliché, it takes a village. It will take a village/community for Gloria’s legacy to grow.

What form does this healing needs to take place? What would Gloria do? What would she have wanted us to do?

The end of divisions in our community should be a priority. It was Gloria’s wish and vision to see the separate fractions that harm our community unite, be healed, and work collaboratively together for the greater good of our community.

It’s no secret that there are deep divisions and very old wounds among some of our community organizations and leaders but these must end for Gloria’s vision to be materialized.

Gloria Casarez was a great leader of our community and she had a dream and vision for us to be more one with each other. It is time to lay down our differences and heal the past hurts so that we can become the community we are called to be; open, collaborative and welcoming of all.

50ThLogo.01

A Celebration is Planned

It happened on July 4, 1965. The first organized annual “homosexual” civil rights demonstration was held in front of Independence Hall in Philadelphia by 40 individuals lead by Barbara Gittings and Frank Kameny, known as the mother and father of the LGBTQ civil rights movement. These demonstrations would come to be called “Annual Reminders.”

From Gay Pioneers, the film documenting these events, we learn that . . .

 When few would publicly identify themselves as gay, these brave pioneers challenged pervasive homophobia.

On July 4, 1965, forty (40) people carried signs in front of Independence Hall supporting gay emancipation. Each year in NY, DC and Philadelphia their numbers grew. By July 4, 1969, one month after Stonewall, one hundred and fifty (150) people demonstrated at Independence Hall. The annual demonstrations were consolidated in 1970 to mark the first anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. That led to the then largest gathering for gays and lesbians when between two to five thousand people congregated in New York’s Central Park. The 1970 demonstration encouraged activists to stage the first gay pride parade in NYC. The New York Pride Parade was emulated in large and small cities in North America and worldwide and helped catapult an international civil rights movement.

Thursday, at a press conference, with Independence Hall as its back drop, Malcolm Lazin, Equality Forum Executive Director, unveiled plans for the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the LGBTQ civil right movement on July 4, 2015.

Participating in the press conference were Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, Independence National Historic Park Superintendent Cynthia MacLeod, Visit Philly President Meryl Levitz, and subsets of the Los Angeles and Philadelphia Gay Men’s Choruses. Equality Forum is the organizing committee of the 50th Anniversary Celebration.

The festivities will run from Thursday, July 2 to Sunday, July 5 and will include panels, LGBTQ history exhibits, parties, a festival in the Gayborhood by Philly Pride Presents and other special events, with the main event on a large stage in front of Independence Hall on Independence Day.

“The 50th Anniversary will commemorate the Gay Pioneers and celebrate 50 years of civil rights progress, stated Lazin, the anniversary chair, “when 40 activists protested on the Fourth of July, 1965, it was the largest-ever gathering of gays and lesbians petitioning for equality. The 50th Anniversary is an inclusive celebration. It will reflect the leadership and diversity of the LGBT civil rights movement. The organizing committee has solicited advice from grassroots to national organizations and will highlight movement leadership throughout the celebration.

QUEERtimes is excited to see such a collaborative community event to celebrate the beginning of the our civil rights movement and to take a look at the great achievements we have secured over the last 50 years and will continue to being you updates and developments and the 50th Anniversary Celebration nears.

From what started as an annual reminder with 40 individuals has grown into a worldwide movement for equality and for that we have a great deal to celebrate and commemorate the first march for LGBTQ equality.

While these events were taking place I was just 5 years old without knowledge of such things. Two years later I would begin to recognize my attraction to males over females. It would be much later that I learned who these great pioneers were, how they paved the way for my freedoms so far and those to come, and what they did for my growth as a proud gay man.

Come July 4, 2015, I hope you will join me along with so many others who seek to continue the legacy of that first demonstration for our equality.

Tim Cook

Coming Out In Power

Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, has publicly proclaimed himself to be gay. “While I have never denied my sexuality, I haven’t publicly acknowledged it either, until now. So let me be clear: I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me,” Cook wrote in Businessweek.

He preceded his remarks with: “For years, I’ve been open with many people about my sexual orientation. Plenty of colleagues at Apple know I’m gay, and it doesn’t seem to make a difference in the way they treat me. Of course, I’ve had the good fortune to work at a company that loves creativity and innovation and knows it can only flourish when you embrace people’s differences. Not everyone is so lucky.”

Cook moved deeply by the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, who said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” Cook wrote that he “often challenge myself with that question, and I’ve come to realize that my desire for personal privacy has been holding me back from doing something more important.”

And with those words Cook put himself in the forefront of LGBTQ equality.

When the Chief Executive Officer of the world’s second-largest information technology company makes such a public statement the world stops and listens.

“The company I am so fortunate to lead has long advocated for human rights and equality for all. We’ve taken a strong stand in support of a workplace equality bill before Congress, just as we stood for marriage equality in our home state of California. And we spoke up in Arizona when that state’s legislature passed a discriminatory bill targeting the gay community. We’ll continue to fight for our values, and I believe that any CEO of this incredible company, regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation, would do the same. And I will personally continue to advocate for equality for all people until my toes point up,” Cook added.

But does coming out really matter anymore? Was it necessary for Tim Cook to make a public proclamation of his sexual orientation? Will it even make a difference in our fight for equality?

The answer to all these questions is an unequivocal yes!

I know from my own coming out that it empowered me to be more of who I am and what I am called to be. Whenever someone comes out it strengthens us as a whole. Whenever someone in a high profile position or office comes out it shines a powerful light on us as a minority and our worldwide struggle for equality.

Cook has set the bar high by quoting Dr. King and he knows it. He is now in the perfect position to be a powerful global advocate for our equality. Now what is more important than that?

Gloria Casarez.01

Gloria Casarez: 1971-2014

My heart is heavy due to the loss of Gloria Casarez, 42, this past week from breast cancer. Gloria was Philadelphia’s first Mayor’s LGBTQ Liaison and she was a benchmark for others to follow. Activist, leader, friend, wife, fighter of injustice and confidant to many, she was short in stature but big on compassion, insight, strength, fortitude and wisdom. She will be missed by not just her close friends but by the LGBTQ community and Philadelphia at large.

Today, I will be attending the funeral of a friend and shining example of a true fighter for equality.

So many wonderful words have been said about Gloria that I feel mine would not do her justice so I will leave you with the six articles below that sum up the love and passion Gloria was, and the legacy she has left behind.

Passionate and Full of Life: Remembering Gloria Casarez

Celebrating the Life of Gloria Casarez

Gloria Casarez, Organizer, Activist and Total Badass, Dies at 42

Remembering Gloria Casarez: LGBT leader, friend, Philadelphian

Admiration for LGBT civic leader Gloria Casarez on her passing

Community Gathers at City Hall Rainbow Flag-Lowering in Honor of Gloria Casarez

 

Pope Francis

The Pope is Trying

I was raised a Catholic by a mother who converted to Catholicism from being a Southern Baptist and a father who had always been a Catholic. I remember leaving elementary school every Wednesday to go to our parish school, St. Bernards, for religious education. The Catholic school kids were always walking home while we walk to their classrooms.

I remember my First Holy Communion, the whole thing, like it was yesterday, especially the photo in front of the crucifix outside the church.   I also remember Confirmation, dressed in my red robe. I remember the Bishop slapping my face, which was to symbolize strength to face adversity, and was abolished after the Second Vatican Council because it didn’t help convey the true nature of the Sacrament, and is the assistance of the Holy Spirit to live affirmatively the Christian vocation in every circumstance of life.

I respectfully walked away from the Church for a number of years but when I returned I did so with a gusto. Full tilt! I attended prayer groups weekly, attend mass as often during the week as I could and never missed a Sunday. This was soon to be the beginning of a journey that lead me to me to Philadelphia and to be a LGBTQ rights advocate.

I spent many, many years in formation for the Priesthood, but God in his wisdom intervened, three months before ordination. I didn’t understand at the time that it was God’s intervention but I do now.

Today I am a Catholic in exile, waiting for the day I am welcomed back to the church I not just grew up in but grew to love.

So this week when the Vatican released a draft report from the synod of Bishops offering what seemed to be a more welcoming tone, writing that homosexuals have “gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community,” and that some gay couples provide each other “mutual aid to the point of sacrifice” and “precious support in the life of the partners,” I did a happy dance. The draft report was earth shaking. But the celebration didn’t last that long.

Yesterday, after an outcry from conservative bishops, the Vatican is now pulling back the welcome mat by changing some of the language in the original draft but only in the English translation form the original Italian.

According to the AP:

The first English version asked if the church was capable of “welcoming these people, guaranteeing to them a fraternal space in our communities.” The new version asks if the church is “capable of providing for these people, guaranteeing … them … a place of fellowship in our communities.”

The first version said homosexual unions can often constitute a “precious support in the life of the partners.” The new one says gay unions often constitute “valuable support in the life of these persons.”

Other changes were made in other sections of the text, but without significantly altering the meaning or tone.

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said English-speaking bishops had requested the changes on the grounds that the first translation was hasty and error-ridden.

The Bishops are playing semantics with our lives and are terrified with the direction this Pope is leading the Church, who if you are Catholic, means he is being divinely guided by the Holy Spirit to lead.

The Roman Catholic Church is still not welcoming of LGBTQ peoples, but the majority of Catholics are.

The Church is being called to change and with that I believe it will. Perhaps not in my lifetime but it will surely change and Pope Francis knows this and with the grace of God he is leading this dysfunctional, damaged Church into a new era. One where LGBTQ individuals are welcomed and guaranteed fraternal space in the Church and see that our relationships constitute a precious support in the life of the partners.

I believe that the Pope is trying to swing the bow around and right the ship. Trust me regardless of your faith or religion this man needs our prayers for his strength, perseverance, and protection, for there are far too many of us in exile waiting to go home.

upset boy against a wall

LGBTQ School for Equality

[After a meeting with Pennsylvania Senator Anthony H. Williams and community leaders, where we discussed several issues relating to LGBTQ citizens, the subject of Anti-LGBTQ bullying in our schools was discussed. I asked Senator Williams if he would support the development of an LGBTQ charter school in Philadelphia and he fully agreed with me that it is not just a good idea but perhaps a necessary one.

So in light of our conversation with Senator Williams, I’m dusting of this article on advancing the idea of an LGBTQ Charter School for Equality. It was originally published 08.06.10]

The great French writer and poet Victor Hugo once wrote “on résiste à l’invasion des armées; on ne résiste pas à l’invasion des idées” which literally translates to “one withstands the invasion of armies; one does not withstand the invasion of ideas,” or loosely translated as “nothing is as powerful as an idea whose time has come.”

Today’s common usage of this now famous phrase is often found used by those who are seeking to promote a particular brand or message. Even I have often used this phrase in presentations but now I use it for something more important–the education of queer kids and the preparation of future queer leaders.

The Barbara Gittings School for Equality is definitely an idea whose time has come–a regional charter high school for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, questioning and allies.

In 1985, the Hetrick-Martin Institute in New York City established the Harvey Milk High School to serve “at-risk youth, particularly lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning.” In 2002, the school became the first fully accredited queer public high school in the nation. Harvey Milk High School is now administered by the New York City Department of Education.

Proponents for queer-centric high schools will point to the shocking statistics on anti-queer bullying that clearly reflect that the environment queer students are forced to learn in are unjust; and that queer students, many who are forced to drop out due to fear, are denied their right for a safe and welcoming learning environment.

Opponents for such high schools include the usual suspects, as well as queer advocacy groups. These queer opponents believe that queer-centric schools are a form of segregation and be could be harmful and will hinder the progress of understanding of queers. But at what cost?

Over the years, I have listened to personal stories from queer students who had been mercilessly bullied. All were subjected to endless verbal attacks, some where physically or sexually abused, and others dropped out because the burden, the pain, the intolerance, the cruelty became much too great.

How many of us have the same memories? We heard faggot, dyke, homo, sissy, lesbo, or the new favorite, “that’s so gay.”

What potential has been lost by such anti-queer bullying? What achievements missed?

The reality of the situation is that we have a very long way to go before our public schools become a welcoming, safe education environment for queer youth and their allies.

Knowing this, what should we do?

If we sit back and wait for our schools to become safer for queer youth, what happens to those who suffer from anti-queer bullying between now and then?

The Harvey Milk School in New York City showed us it is possible. They have taken action. So must others.

Queer youth deserve our talent, our knowledge and our resources. How can we not stand up and make a difference?

Philadelphia, the cradle of liberty, freedom and justice for all, needs to join New York City in this progressive movement in public school education with the founding of The Barbara Gittings School for Equality.

Are you ready to help?

John Featherman (Facebook Photo)

Featherman Just Doesn’t Get It

Recently John Featherman, contributor to Philly.com, and failed Republican candidate for Philadelphia mayor, who describes himself as “fiscally very conservative and socially inclusive,” and according the Wall Street Journal expressed support for gay marriage, abortion rights and marijuana decriminalization, made a claim, in light of the recent “gay-bashing” attack in Center City, that all hate crimes legislation is discriminatory.

To be honest this is a mantra for white, cisgender, Republicans . . . hate crime laws are discriminatory. But Featherman puts a twist to it . . . he states that “it is discriminatory as it limits protected categories to less than a dozen classes.”

“Hate crime laws in PA, for example, only protect race, religion, color and national origin. They don’t include gender or disability — two categories in addition to sexual orientation and gender identity,” posted Featherman in a Facebook conversation I had with him.

He is “perfectly fine with tacking on penalties if there are premeditated attacks on people because of who they are. The problem is there are tens of thousands of potential categories. Just to be clear, though, I believe when the facts comes out, it will show the (sic) this (the attack on two gay men) was a street fight and not an attack premeditated by anti-gay bias.”

“I’ve been attacked by people who thought I was gay. I’ve been attacked by someone who saw that I was disabled, but held me up at knifepoint to steal my tracheotomy tubes. I was beaten to a pulp in a bathroom at the Franklin Learning Center, most likely because I was an undersized, white, middle schooler put into a rough, mostly black/Hispanic high school . . . I was also sexually attacked on the street by a man. I was too embarrassed to admit it at the time, but I am not now.

“The law is discriminatory, and makes a dozen groups superior to tens of thousands of other ones,” wrote Featherman. A bit of a hyperbole but this is coming from a guy who thinks the LGBT community are hypocrites because of the way we have treated the alleged gay bashing suspects.

He recently wrote, “I’ve always supported the rights of the LGBT community so it’s disheartening to see members of that same community embrace the type of smear tactics once used against them . . . The ugliness emerged after three young adults allegedly attacked a gay couple on Sept. 11 on Chancellor Street near 16th. The full facts of the case aren’t yet known. But that hasn’t stopped a full out assault on social media in an attempt to “slut shame” and try the case online.”

Featherman feels he has some moral superiority in “asking the Philadelphia LGBT lobby where its sense of morality is when they engage in “slut-shaming” accused – mind you – accused suspects.”

While individuals, heterosexual and LGBT, have taken the alleged attackers to task there has not been a coordinated, concerted, effort to shame anyone. But the facts are the facts as brought forth in the charges against the three anti-gay bashing suspects. They hurled anti-gay epitaphs why they beat on them. That makes them the poster children for the need for hate crimes legislation that includes gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and the disabled.

When it comes to our full equality one thing for sure is that John Featherman is not an ally.