The AFTAH Anti-Gay-Rights Academy: From the Perspective of Two Who Attended, Day 2 of 3

Two months ago, I posted that Americans for Truth About Homosexuality was holding a “Truth Academy” in order to train the next generation of anti-gay-rights activists. Attendees needed to pay a registration fee and get a “recommendation” from a pastor. I wrote that I would gladly pay the fee for anyone who wanted to go.

Ultimately, two people — Maria Pahl and “Perry D’Olia” (a pseudonym) — were accepted into the Academy. They did this using their real names and providing the requested documents. Both were present for the entirety of the academy, with any exceptions listed below.

The opinions expressed are entirely their own. Since there was a lot of overlap in their experience, I’ve used Maria’s writing as the basis for their perceptions of the day itself while Perry’s writing is the basis for the specific lectures.

This is Part 2 of 3. Part 1 can be read here. Part 3 can be read here.

Maria:

I hadn’t been able to stay for the evening presentation on Thursday (Day 1) because I was taking public transportation and, since I’m new in Chicago, I was nervous about taking the bus at night (I know, I know, I’m a baby). As a result, I had missed the protest that the Gay Liberation Network had put on the night before. When I arrived in the morning, everyone was talking about it.

One woman told me she found it ironic that someone at the protest had a sign reading, “Teaching hate and lies to kids is the real abomination.” My mind was blown when I heard her say this. It was both incredibly weird and very interesting that while we agreed on the truth of the statement, we completely disagreed on what the “lies” referred to.

A few minutes into the conversation, someone else piped in, “It’s not a Christian thing to disapprove of homosexuality. Even atheists and agnostics find homosexual acts unnatural and wrong.” As an atheist, I couldn’t disagree more, and I fought back the urge to whimper, cringe, or sigh in exasperation. Maybe all three at once.

The day went by much the same as the previous until around 5 pm, when Rena Lindevaldsen‘s lecture on Prop 8 had just finished. Peter LaBarbera came up to where I was typing my notes on my laptop.

“Are you recording?” he asked me.

“No,” I said. “I’m just typing notes.”

“Are you reporting on this?”

I think this is where a little miscommunication occurred: as I found out later, when he said “reporting” he meant reporting as in live-blogging. I thought he just meant to ask if I was going to be writing an article on the conference.

“Yeah,” I answered. “I’m blogging about it.”

“What blog?” he asked.

“My blog,” I said.

“Are you with us or against us?”

I fumbled for a bit; I didn’t want him to think I was doing anything devious because I don’t think I was, really. I had never straight-up lied to them throughout the whole process about my intentions for being there. My application letter was something to the extent of, “I’m really interested in what the speakers have to say, and I think I would learn a lot.” I just hadn’t explicitly stated I wasn’t anti-gay, nor did I think it was in any way illegal or wrong of me to want to write about my experience. But Peter LaBarbera was obviously distressed and a little angry (most likely because he had just dealt with a person who had straight-up lied to them, I later found out), and I didn’t want to agitate him further.

“Uhh… against. But I just want to understand—” I started to explain.

“Are you a lesbian?”

“No.”

“Well, we just caught a young man recording on his computer. I’m going to have to ask you to leave for this next portion. We’ll be strategizing about what to do about this whole Prop 8 thing, and I just don’t want—”

“No, I completely understand,” I said. “That’s fine.”

“You can come back after; just take an early dinner,” he said.

I couldn’t come back for the evening presentation, but I did want to come back the next day.

“Oh, okay. That’s totally fine. Can I come back tomorrow as well?”

“Yes.”

That’s how I remember the conversation. It may not be 100% accurate, but that’s the best recollection I have.

I packed up my things and left.

Perry:

When telling us that the lunch break was beginning, LaBarbera indicated that they knew that there were two pro-gay supporters there. I thought that they might have somehow figured out why I was there, but this turned out to be unfounded. Maria, however, was found out and was not allowed to stay for the final panel meeting.

The Lectures:

Cliff Kincaid, America’s Survival and Accuracy in Media: “The Battle Over Blood: ‘Gay’ Health Risks and Public Policy

Perry:

Cliff’s second talk dealt mainly with “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the problems that repealing this would cause to the military. We were told repeal would undermine the hyper-masculine culture that makes our military the best in the world. According to him, 19,000 soldiers are gay.

He showed pictures of gay pride events, namely sadomasochistic individuals — this got exclamatory negative reactions from the audience. He also indicated that there was a large amount of public fornication at these events.

Kincaid noted that one consequence of repealing DADT would be increased presence of HIV in the military, and because of the numbers, the VA is the largest treater of HIV in the country. He then looked at a few cases of sexual abuse by homosexuals in the military. This was mostly an appeal to emotion, as these were isolated cases and do not represent the gay community as a whole. He said that the military must raise its standards, not lower them.

What about donating blood? Kincaid said that this would endanger anyone who receives blood products by exposing them to known and yet-to-be-discovered diseases. He showed pictures of AIDS patients to drive home the emotion involved with having the disease. He explicitly said that repealing DADT would equal death. The only way the policy on blood donation should change is by showing that disease rates are the same in homosexuals as in heterosexuals. Rejecting gay blood donations is not special discrimination, he added, because there are other people who cannot donate as well, such as people who have lived in Europe at specific times.

He indicated that safe-sex practices fail and that disease rates in gays are on the rise. He used another slippery slope argument to say that repeal of DADT would eventually allow for sex offenders and transvestites in the military.

Maria: According to Kincaid, you can see what gay culture is like by looking at cruising, bathhouses, circuit parties, Internet hookups, and prostitution.

One of the stories of sexual abuse committed by homosexuals was that of Pfc. Johnny Lamar Dalton, who pleaded guilty to knowingly infecting a 17-year-old boy with HIV. This case supposedly illustrated the dangers of having homosexual soldiers in the ranks even if they were restricted. However, he failed to mention that Dalton was married and had a 4-year-old daughter at the time. It’s also possible he didn’t self-identify as gay.

This line stood out: “Do you and your loved ones want to die in order to advance the pro-gay agenda?… In order to satisfy their demand for full acceptance, they want to sacrifice people, maybe even people in this room, on the altar of their self-importance.”

Rena Lindevaldsen, Liberty University School of Law: “The Zero-Sum Game: Homosexuality-based ‘Rights’ vs. Religious and First Amendment Freedoms

Perry:

Rena said that there is only winning or losing this issue on both sides. She urged her side not to give up the Bible; it is their best weapon. Religious people are keeping their worldview consistent. Everyone has an opinion which they base their moral on, even atheists, which she refers to as a faith-based position.

She stated that a worldview leads to a logical conclusion and, because of this, gays don’t want to admit the logical conclusion of their beliefs. She never explicitly indicated what this was. We were told gays want to make homosexuality moral in society and they support same-sex marriage so they can destroy the marriage concept altogether. Religious freedom would come second to these freedoms.

She then pointed to a few cases where people were prevented from expressing their religious convictions in professional environments, and this caused them either financial loss or loss of a job. If gay rights are passed, she warned us, this will lead to business owners not being able to discriminate (true) and schools openly endorsing homosexuality.

There was mention of some radical gay groups who wanted to eliminate gender identity altogether. She said that laws will someday say that teaching your child family values is illegal. Finally, she explained that for a class to be protected under law, certain conditions must exist, one being a history of discrimination — and no history of discrimination against gays exists in America.

Maria‘s commentary on these and future talks will resume in the Day 3 posting.

Laurie Higgins, Illinois Family Institute: “Corrupting Children, Politicizing Schools: The Homosexual Youth Agenda

Perry:

Laurie explained how schools are pushing the gay agenda — gays-only high schools exist and a middle school will soon be opened. She explained how the transsexual agenda is being pushed by using terminology like, “Most men have penises.” This got a surprisingly loud response from the audience. By affirming this in schools, conservativism is becoming hated.

She said that if discomfort is not allowed, teachers cannot deride smoking or plagiarism either. She said that anti-bullying rules are promoting gay acceptance — these rules specifically mention gays but leave out other groups that are bullied, such as promiscuous students, overweight ones, and those poor at sports.

It was noted that schools are pointing out people who have achieved a lot and are also homosexual. But positive character traits do not make bad traits good, Laurie explained. In order for critical thinking to occur, all views must be presented and not doing this qualifies as indoctrination. There should be equal time for opposing views.

She then read some emails from her former colleagues which indicated how much they disliked her views.

Arthur Goldberg, Jews Offering Healthy Alternatives to Homosexuality (JONAH): “The Gender Confusion Agenda: ‘Transgender rights’

Perry:

Arthur pointed out Biblical prohibitions against cross-dressing and castration. He interpreted this as a prohibition of sex changes. He said that in some schools, children as young as five are encouraged to come out as “gender nonconformist.” He derided Barbara Walters and Oprah Winfrey for portraying gays positively on their shows.

He said that as few as 39% of people who get sex changes are satisfied with it, adding that we need to fix these people’s minds, not their genitalia. There was no study, we were told, showing the efficacy of the surgeries. In fact, deaths from the surgeries are five times that of the expected suicide rate in these individuals. He compares people who want sex changes to those who want to be amputees. We were also shown the profitability of the sexual reassignment industry. Goldberg said that these surgeries would probably be covered in “Obamacare.”

He explained that those who want the surgery are displaying a cry for help, using examples of individuals who prayed for a sign that they should not go through with it and had their prayers answered.

Robert Gagnon, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary: “From Abomination to ‘Gay’: Answering ‘Queer Theology’ — Old Testament

Perry:

Robert’s talks all dealt with interpretations of the Bible that forbid homosexuality. He was a generally good speaker and was extremely knowledgeable, but the subject matter was of little interest to me. I took very few notes as a result.

His first talk here, though, could be summed up as follows: A man is incomplete without a woman and vice-versa. This cannot be achieved in homosexual relationships.

Rena Lindevaldsen, Liberty University School of Law: “The Legal Strategy to Stop Homosexual ‘Marriage’: Triumphs and Pitfalls

Perry:

Rena indicated that we have redefined marriage as a society to eliminate the value of procreation. Gays are using victimization to win arguments. One interesting thing she said was that she never read the Constitution in law school; instead, she and her peers just listened to the interpretations of it from their teachers. She said that this was bad and that it was easy to get very far away from the truth if you did not consider the source document.

I immediately thought about the fact that none of the Biblical accounts are firsthand accounts.

She then discussed the future minority status of gays, saying that she saw this litigation as a ministry opportunity. Then, she began talking about Prop 8’s overturning. She went into some of the reasons why the defense failed — among them, that there were only two witnesses for the defense (to ban same-sex marriage) and seventeen on the opposition (to repeal the ban). The judge was given no information that gays could change. The defense had no expert witnesses and even admitted that gays could forms healthy relationships and that they were discriminated against in history.

The judge was later discovered to be gay, something that she believed should have prevented him from taking the case.

Maria was asked to leave at this point. She returned the next day with AFTAH’s permission.

Panel Discussion, featuring Rena Lindevaldsen, Matt Barber, Laurie Higgins, Ryan Sorba, Arthur Goldberg, Cliff Kincaid, Robert Knight, Robert Gagnon, and Greg Quinlan: “Returning the Debate to Behavior — Getting off the ‘GLBT’ Playing Field

Perry:

This is what they termed their “strategic” discussion. All recording devices were turned off, and those who were known gay sympathizers (including Maria) were asked to leave. This makes me wish that I had a recording device, but I guess it is enough that I was there. In all honesty, there was not very much strategy being talked about. Instead, they focused on the problems occurring within their own movement.

The Alliance Defense Fund (the group that lost the recent Prop 8 case in California) was brought up as having possible serious corruption within its ranks. Someone indicated that we needed to default to God’s truth and could not deviate from that.

The defense in the Prop 8 case went into the proceedings saying that gays are okay. This got a big response of outrage from the audience. They said that if the decision to be anti-gay were bigotry, rates of problems within the communities would be the same. They are not, so they said that this discrimination was justified. I guess the differences within the racial communities justify discrimination, too.

They also spoke about how they were being too soft. They were trying to defend only the word “marriage” when they should have been defending a lot more. Lindevaldsen talked about a conversation she had with an ADF representative where she asked if they could be included in the litigation. She said that they told her that they wanted this “fundraising opportunity.” This prompted gasps from the audience.

Mitt Romney was called out as being pro-gay. This ruling marks the first time that gays are a protected class. The only real plans they made were to possibly create a manifesto that organizations could sign onto to support their values.

Robert Knight, Coral Ridge Ministries: “From Destroying DOMA to Homosexualizing the Military: Obama’s Radical Homosexual/Transsexual Agenda for America

Perry:

A side note: Knight was introduced by Sandy Rios, a FOX News contributor.

Knight’s talk focused on the Obama administration. He started by saying that Obama is a hypocrite by saying that he is a Christian while rejecting their morals, adding that he was a socialist with Muslim sympathies. He said that Obama voted to the left of everyone else in the senate, even avowed socialists; that, in fact, Obama used the recession to push through his socialist agenda.

Obama was so successful at this, Knight pointed out, that a third of the evangelical Christian community voted for him. Yet, Congress has an 11% approval rating. He said that the Democrats are controlled by billionaire gays and Obama had been appointing gays to high offices. The civil rights act had been improperly applied to include gays. Also, (new Supreme Court Justice) Elena Kagan was very pro-gay and she should have been filibustered.

Knight stated that hate crime laws were becoming hate speech laws, and this would cause them to be silenced. People were re-examining what makes America great and discovering its Judeo-Christian roots.

Finally, he said that Obama is closed minded. He talked about the media having a pro-gay bias, so people are going to other news sources. He made the analogy that gays are like people running off a tall building. We would have to attack them to save their lives.

Tomorrow: When Maria doesn’t show up in the morning, Peter LaBarbera (wrongly) calls her out as someone who lied and cheated her way to get in. But he doesn’t know Maria only missed her early train…

  • Steve

    Jeez. How can anyone sit through so much complete BS and lies? I don’t know how you do it.

    The sheer amount of outright lies and distortion of facts in there is utterly incomprehensible. It’s not even worth refuting point by point.

  • Carlie

    We would have to attack them to save their lives.

    That stands out as one of the most chilling bits of self-justification I’ve ever seen. They can rationalize anything they do by saying that, can’t they?

  • VXbinaca

    Obama had been appointing gays to high offices.

    Theres some truth to that statement. Theres a LOT of lesbians he appointed to positions in his administration. Napalitano, Clinton, that chick from the EPA, Kagan.

    As for DADT, if they’re saying Bradley Mannings gay, and that has to do with his leaks, then lets go scoop up people out of The Castro and draft them (sarcasm on the draft thing) so we can get even more leaks. I think Mannings made me re-examine my opinion on gays. The man’s my personal hero of 2010 along with Julian Assange.

    DADT needs to go away. I don’t like Presidents taking bold actions normally but thats within the military and he calls the shots so if theres some wand he can wave to make it happen, I sincerely hope he does it.

    Mitt Romney was called out as being pro-gay.

    Ha! They’re making wild conspiracy claims and becoming an echo chamber. Just like the bolshies, killing off their own as soon as they took Moscow, always looking for internal counter-revolutionaries. Classic game plan for people who are losing or are pushing a bad idea as far as it can go.

  • http://eshtoart.blogspot.com Eshto

    “He said that as few as 39% of people who get sex changes are satisfied with it, adding that we need to fix these people’s minds, not their genitalia. There was no study, we were told, showing the efficacy of the surgeries.”

    This is a blatant lie. The satisfaction rate for transsexuals who undergo sex change is incredibly high. Of those who regret transition, most have a separate mental health issue. Simply put, sex change helps transsexual people. They don’t need their “minds” fixed and they aren’t crazy.

    Only people who need their minds fixed are these lunatic anti-LGBT bigots.

  • JD

    Obviously they’re playing black and white on Mitt Romney. His real track record is clearly more nuanced than that. People with very strong agendas, say, the hard line anti-gay, don’t like nuances, you fall in line 100% or you’re not with us at all.

  • http://selfra.blogspot.com dantresomi

    while I am all for trying to understand fundies and learning more about them, i see this reporting as useless since everything I am reading I can just find on FOX news.

  • Stan

    I keep trying to create a list of well-supported arguments to refute their points, but all I can think is “What a bunch of assholes”.

  • flawedprefect

    Ha! I love how Maria got banned from seeing a talk, as if what they were saying was “top secret” and if it were leaked, “the enemy” might foil their dastardly plans.

    It is good to see how Perry reported on what Maria couldn’t.

    Hemant, knowing your history with Ms Higgins, there is at least one person there who is aware of your blog from her own experience. I am curious to know if anyone at this function has cottoned onto the fact that there are folks there who are blogging about it… right here! Have you received any emails or comments?

  • Viggo the Carpathian

    Thanks for the great reporting. I couldn’t do it without flaming these bastards. I don’t know how you can sit there and hear what to me sounds like Nazi propaganda being preached. Replace the gay with any jew or black and it is indistinguishable.

  • Claudia

    Once again thanks for the reporting. Once again the bulk of the talks seem less about ditorting facts than simply making them up outright. Despite all that I actually find this article encouraging. The bulk of it was ignorant people riling each other up with fact free scaremongering, which quite frankly you can do anywhere. The more concerning matter was the “strategy session”. But that turned out well too. The strategy is apparently to go more hardline, more extreme. That is GREAT news. I want the voice against gay service members to be Kincaid frothing about “tainted homosexual blood”. I want the voice against marriage equality to be Porno Pete excitedly talking in excruciating detail about bear S&M parties.
    By all means, don’t go soft! Stop pretending you’re fine with committed gay couples as long as they don’t use the term “marriage” but in fact you think they are disease-ridden, mentally-ill abused and abusive dangers to society whose activities must be banned. That will be sure to win over the soft middle, and it’ll go over great with the young!

  • JT

    One interesting thing she said was that she never read the Constitution in law school; instead, she and her peers just listened to the interpretations of it from their teachers. She said that this was bad and that it was easy to get very far away from the truth if you did not consider the source document.

    Gee, could that be because the document isn’t particularly long and it’s pretty much assumed that if you have enough interest to be paying a small fortune to attend law school, you’ve put forth a basic effort to have actually read the Constitution?

    Can’t tell you how stoked I am that this is the caliber of legal minded people we are dealing with when gays have to wrestle their rights away from narrow-minded twits.

  • Matt

    This covert-ops shit is awesome. I would like to see more of it. I’m also curious to see reactions to this reporting from the opposition.

  • VXbinaca

    @Matt

    This will drive them further underground in the future. Maybe it’s not so cool after all?

  • http://molotovcocktailparty.net Discount Deity

    Finally, he said that Obama is closed minded.

    Wow. No irony there.

  • Jennifer

    A couple of points: Number one, transsexuals are overwhelmingly happy post transition. The percentage of unhappy transsexuals is very low, and I suspect that those who end up unhappy are victims of societal rejection, disdain and hatred who, unlike the rest of us, are just unable to cope. This is speaking from experience. Secondly, christian ‘facts’ are a joke. Much as the myth they follow, they create in their minds evidence to support their misguided positions. I really don’t think we are learning anything new here, only verifying facts already in evidence!

  • muggle

    Wow, interesting reporting. I’m glad Perry wasn’t caught out and was able to report what Maria was excluded from but both of their witness to what went on is important. No, we do not want to rely on Fox News telling the truth about it.

    The bit about attacking gays “for their own good” made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. As was said above, you can justify the harshest cruelities with this and act sanctimonious about hurting people. Very alarming attitude.

    Fortunately, it’s tampered by stupidity. These don’t seem the keenest legal minds or very adept at organizing. That brings the fear factor down at what they can accomplish.

    VX, I think you’re making assertions without evidence who you’re finger-pointing to as to who’s gay. Back up what you say. Don’t really give a flying fig if they are but what are you basing your assumptions on?

  • littlejohn

    I realize this is a bit of a cliche, but how insecure do you have to be about your own sexuality to waste so much time worrying about the “threat” of gays? I’m a straight guy with no sexual interest in men, but I’m entirely comfortable around gays of either sex. Like most people, I’ve been propositioned a few times by people of the same sex and my answer “No” is always followed by “thank you.” I know a compliment when I hear it. What strange dreams these people must have.

  • http://chunkymonkeymind.blogspot.com/ Palaverer

    If gay rights are passed, she warned us, this will lead to business owners not being able to discriminate (true) and schools openly endorsing homosexuality.

    Finally, she explained that for a class to be protected under law, certain conditions must exist, one being a history of discrimination — and no history of discrimination against gays exists in America.

    Well which is it? Either our ability to discriminate against gays will be taken away or we never had it to begin with.

    In order for critical thinking to occur, all views must be presented and not doing this qualifies as indoctrination. There should be equal time for opposing views.

    Except, this group is so afraid of opposing views, they have to kick attendees out of the conference. Facepalm.

  • JSug

    @JT: No kidding. When I read that bit, the first thing that popped into my head was: “Are you kidding me? We read and studied the constitution and all the amendments in my middle school social studies class.”

    It’s not a difficult document to read and understand. That’s by design.

  • Epistaxis

    Mitt Romney was called out as being pro-gay.

    For some reason, this is the part that really got me. Up till then they’d just been trading lies and organizing their little movement, but now they’re connecting it to national elections, and that disturbs me.

  • Nordog

    I couldn’t help but change a few key words:

    “I realize this is a bit of a cliche, but how insecure do you have to be about your own lack of faith to waste so much time worrying about the “threat” of Christians? I’m an atheist with no religious interest in faith, but I’m entirely comfortable around Christians. Like most people, I’ve been witnessed to a few times by people of the Christian faith and my answer “No” is always followed by “thank you.” I know a compliment when I hear it. What strange dreams these people must have.”

  • Claudia

    @Nordog, its a false equivalence. I don’t think being witnessed to can be taken as a compliment. At the most generous, it can be taken to be well-meaning nonsense and at the worst highly insulting (you’re clearly going to hell at the current rate, I’ve got to “save” you because you’re obviously “lost”).

    More importantly however, its not so much the silly things they believe, which they should be free to believe of course and free to express, it’s them wanting to impose their religious laws on everyone, whether or not those people share the religion. Gays don’t want to impose “Teh Gay”, they just want to be free to be themselves with the same rights and responsibilities as anyone. Contrast that to “Christians” (quotes to denote that of COURSE I don’t mean all Christians, just the kinds dealt with on this thread) who wish homosexuality to be illegal, a woman to have no legal ownership of what happens to her body, and the rights of a 32-cell embryo to precede the rights of a 9 year old burn victim or a 90 year old Parkinsons patient.

    They are free to abstain from same sex relations (until they break, I can’t wait to find out what lifts Porno Pete’s luggage), refuse their 10 year old raped daughter an abortion (though I doubt many would, faced with the reality) or refuse to take advantage of any future cures that come out of ESCs (ditto). But as long as they fight to make sure I have to follow those same rules based purely on their religious opposition, then hell yes I’ll be bothered by them.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Hemant Mehta

    Hemant, knowing your history with Ms Higgins, there is at least one person there who is aware of your blog from her own experience. I am curious to know if anyone at this function has cottoned onto the fact that there are folks there who are blogging about it… right here! Have you received any emails or comments?

    No emails yet. I’m sure they’ll say something soon enough.

  • http://everydayatheist.wordpress.com Everyday Atheist

    Have to second the comments about these not being the sharpest minds, particularly the Liberty U. lawyer. Yeesh. Kinda pathetic when you realize that most nonbelievers could make their own arguments for them far better than the people who actually believe that tripe.

  • Parse

    Again, a huge thank you goes to Hemant, Maria, and Perry for bringing this to light. I’m still amazed by the general chorus of “Stop making me treat gays like actual people!”

    It’s stunts like this that make me wish that the Bible were more clear on persecution. They take an offensive opinion and try forcing it on others. Then they use the negative feedback they receive to justify their opinion. To any attendees who actually believe what was said here: though the Bible says that the faithful will be persecuted, it does NOT say that ONLY the faithful will be persecuted.

  • Greg

    tl;dr version – Christians (in my opinion) should not try to force beliefs on others (spoken as an Evangelical Christian), and neither side should force the other to conform to their belief system. We can each believe the other is wrong without denying them the ability to do so.

    —————
    An atheist friend of mine posted a link to this on Facebook, and I have to say, it is a very interesting read.

    It saddens me that there are so many Christians who feel the need to force their morals on others. I am an Evangelical Christian, and hold a few of the same views as the presenters espouse (albeit to a much less radical degree – this whole hurting/killing people thing just doesn’t make sense, for one). That being said, I don’t think that it is my place to try to force anybody else to follow those rules.

    Christianity (theoretically) is about personal choice to obey God’s will. Emphasis on the ‘choice’ part. I personally do not support abortion – but I think that it should be legalized. I do not support gay marriage, however think that civil unions should be recognized*. Heck, I do not support polygamy, but generally have no problem with them having a civil union too.

    Does that mean that a Christian should not try to persuade others as to their opinions? Of course not – I think that it would be going to the extreme to censor out anti-homosexual opinions, or to prevent Christians from witnessing to non-believers (@Claudia: if you take it as an insult, please at least take it as a non-personal insult – the belief is that anybody who has not accepted Christ is going to hell, no matter what you have done or not done. I’m not looking for a debate on the correctness of this, just pointing out that it shouldn’t be (radical Christians notwithstanding) about your personally leading a ‘sinful life’ or any of that nonsense).

    The problem is when force is used to make people do what the others want. I’ve already talked about the issues that Christians do, but people who are in favour of SSM also at times use force. In Canada, when SSM first came in, a lesbian couple rented a hall from the Knights of Columbus (a religious organization tied to the Roman Catholic Church) for their reception. When the KofC found out what the hall was being used for, they tried to cancel the reservation (refunding all of the money, plus finding the couple a secular hall in the vicinity that charged less and provided more amenities, and ensuring that there was signage at their hall in case guests did not get the message). The couple sued, and won. In this case, the couple is forcing the religious organization to do something against their beliefs. To my mind, this is just as wrong as the force going the other way.

    * To my mind, all the Government should provide anybody is a Civil Union, and have that be essentially paperwork rather then ceremony. Leave it to private individuals or faith groups to do ‘marriage’. My church would not do same sex marriages, however there are several Christian denominations that do them. Instead of using a Justice of the Peace to do a civil wedding, it would be a private individual (maybe call them a ‘marriage officiant’) and the payment for any ceremony would be by the couple.

  • http://www.jointheimpactchicago.com Andrea

    Thank you guys so much for going undercover. This is awesome!

    Also, I am SO delighted that my sign got under their skin like that, even if it did not “convict” them, as they would say. Delighted!

  • Liz

    I liked the part about “billionaire gays”. So scary!!

  • Ursulamajor

    According to Kincaid, you can see what gay culture is like by looking at cruising, bathhouses, circuit parties, Internet hookups, and prostitution.

    And you can see what heterosexual culture is about by visiting whorehouses and watching porn?!? These people really can’t identify the humanity in anyone that ventures even a bit away from their own worldview. Zero empathy, total hate.

  • Aguz

    I don’t get Knight’s talk… If Obama is a (pro?) Muslim why would he be pro-gay…
    Does not compute.

  • Ursulamajor

    Don’t try Aguz. Obama is an educated “negro” in charge. That’s all the reason they need to make up any fantasy possible to discredit him. He’s simply got to be the other. So he becomes anything they hate.

  • http://www.lavenderliberal.com/ Buffy

    They’re quite paranoid about the idea of people telling the truth about what they’re really doing there. Pretty ironic for a “truth academy”, no?

  • http://skepticsplay.blogspot.com miller

    We were told repeal would undermine the hyper-masculine culture that makes our military the best in the world.

    I take it they also oppose the inclusion of women in the military?

  • Claudia

    @Greg I am aware that most Christians who discuss “salvation” don’t do it will ill intentions at all. I don’t feel like I’m being insulted by them, but I find the idea of Hell deeply disgusting and offensive, and I think most Christians who say they believe in hell have spent so much time putting up rationalizations for it for themselves that they are unaware at how shocking and reprehensible it is to an outsider. We are talking about a place where a pedophile murderer goes but where his 13 year old raped and murdered victim, should they happen to not be Christian, ALSO goes. I know Christians don’t feel any ill will towards me (usually) or certainly towards non-Christian children, but the theology they claim to believe in sure does.

    Save some fire and brimstone types, who I’ve never had the misfortune to meet, I’m entirely sure most Christians who try to witness you do so with the best of intentions, but lets just say that I’d much rather be hit on by a Lesbian, even though I’m about as likely to convert to Christianity as I am to suddenly discover my bisexuality.

  • Luke

    As terrible as it is, I can’t help seeing the humour in this. For example:

    “Finally, she explained that for a class to be protected under law, certain conditions must exist, one being a history of discrimination — and no history of discrimination against gays exists in America.”

    The same woman reportedly said,

    “If gay rights are passed, she warned us, this will lead to business owners not being able to discriminate.”

    The only way she can make these two views consistent is to distinguish between different types of discrimination.

    But gays have never been discriminated against in America was a real hoot.

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    It almost seems as if they’ve never actually had a conversation with a gay man or woman. It is like they are arguing against a second hand school yard fiction. Aren’t they interested in the truth of the matter at all?

  • VXbinaca

    Muggle:

    VX, I think you’re making assertions without evidence who you’re finger-pointing to as to who’s gay. Back up what you say. Don’t really give a flying fig if they are but what are you basing your assumptions on?

    Pants suits and chopped hair.

    Say I showed up at your door with hair I took a razor to, wearing a wifebeater, military surplus boots and cargopants, with white laces in them. Would it be safe to judge me as a neo-nazi?

    They’re lesbians. Just get over yourselves the christians were right at least in that aspect. He has been staffing gays.

  • p.s.

    Pants suits and chopped hair.

    Sorry, but hell no. short hair is practical (and I think it makes me look damn sexy), and pant suits are professional (skirts are a pain in the butt). None of that “implies” that someone is a lesbian.

  • VXbinaca

    None of that “implies” that someone is a lesbian.

    Evisceration of femininity?

  • p.s.

    Evisceration of femininity?

    Pantsuits and short hair can be feminine. pretty much anything can be feminine. I mean, If we went by the standard definition of “femininity” and it is a necessary requirement for *not* being a lesbian, I guess I’m a lesbian who dates boys.

    Also, are you implying that lesbians can’t be feminine?

  • VXbinaca

    Also, are you implying that lesbians can’t be feminine?

    They’re trending away from it to be sure.

    Pantsuits and short hair can be feminine.

    Just like Swastika tats on white men in the US can be Hindu.

    I guess I’m a lesbian who dates boys.

    You do know that will confuse people, right? I buzz my hair off because I’m broke and barbers are a luxury, also I’m going bald at 26 and women tend to turn away from men who are balding at a young age. But I get looks like I’m some sort of tough guy (I’m not) all the time. I just deal with it.

    The price one pays for looking like something they’re not.

  • http://skepticsplay.blogspot.com miller

    VXbinaca,
    It’s well-known in the queer community that some people act straight and some act gay. Personally, I can’t act gay for the life of me, even though I want to be visible. Knowing the diversity of the gay community, I would have to be a real jerk to think the much larger community of straights was monolithic. People who are overconfident in their gaydars are jerks. Stick to polite speculation.

    Oh, have I mentioned that you’re erasing all the queers beyond gay/lesbian?

  • DC Hart

    It is important to understand that these people are not lying – at least not as we might define the term.

    Critical thinkers will test hypotheses for truth but these folks are not critical thinkers. These folks are wed to the belief that the bible is inerrant. They further believe that the bible condemns homosexuality. Therefore, they are creating their own truths to match what they believe is indisputable, absolute truth.

    Therefore, when numerous peer reviewed studies confirm that kids raised by gay parents do just fine – all of the studies must be biased, “politically correct” or swayed by the “homosexual agenda.” You will find that, according to these people, the APA is a political (in contrast to medical) organization which explains how their findings differ from biblical “truths.”

    It is also pointless to argue with these people. They are impervious to logic. It is like dealing with conspiracy theorists. Anyone who sheds doubt on the conspiracy must be part of the conspiracy.

    I once leased a floor of office space in a building owned by the Unification Church (“Moonies”). I dealt with these crazy people for years. I have come to the conclusion that fundamentalist Christians are no saner, reasonable or logical. Different cult – same basic premise.

  • Dan W

    Well, it’s unfortunate that Maria got found out. I’m surprised Porno Pete didn’t ban her outright from attending the rest of the conference.

    Again, I don’t know how Perry and Maria can stand listening to those anti-gay bigots spew such utter bullshit and lies. It’s clear to me that none of those speakers know the facts about what they’re talking about. They follow the basic fundie strategy of ‘whenever you don’t know what you’re talking about, make shit up’.

  • Iason Ouabache

    Finally, she explained that for a class to be protected under law, certain conditions must exist, one being a history of discrimination — and no history of discrimination against gays exists in America.

    Excuse my language, but you’ve gotta be f%@king kidding me! These are the same people who want to re-criminalize homosexuality and they have the balls to say that there is no history of discrimination against gays in America. What is wrong with them?

  • Claudia

    @VXbinaca I’m a little shocked that your measure of whether someone is a lesbian or not has about the same precision of a rusty saw. So are all men with fashion-senses gay too?

    It’s one thing if a butch look (and I dispute that Clinton is butch, though I’ll accept that Napolitano is) sets off your gaydar, but its quite another to decide that any and every butch woman is a lesbian, no matter who she’s married to or what she says. Never mind the fact that there are plenty of femenine lesbians out there.

    Of all the women you mention, the person with the highest probability of being a closet lesbian I think is Kagan, but I think it’s just as likely that she’s asexual (they also exist, you know). More importantly however, unless their sexual orientation is relevant to their job (and other than prostitution I can’t think of a single job to which it would be) then speculation as to sexual orientation is pointless, and snide assumptions that short-hair, career-driven and childless = Dyke is silly, at best.

  • VXbinaca

    and I dispute that Clinton is butch

    Her marriage to Bill is a sham. She never sleeps with him, hasn’t since I was playing Super Mario World in elementary school. She bosses him around. Wears the pants (suit, literally) in the relationship because Bill can’t keep his in his pants and it would hurt her career to divorce him. Accept reality, please.

    Look, it doesn’t make the crazy Christians right that gays are evil to admit that Obama has appointed a LOT of lesbians to his cabinet.

    An acceptance of reality is all I’m proposing.

    More importantly however, unless their sexual orientation is relevant to their job

    I never said it was. The sole exception is Kagan. I want to know every detail of the lives of the people who are nominated to the Supreme Court and both sides played softball with her and fast tracked her appointment. I’m owed that much for the people who interrupt the constitution.

  • Tim Harris

    Acceptance of reality, VxBinaca? Don’t make me laugh. You don’t know whether Hillary sleeps with Bill or not, and it is despicably dishonest to pretend that you do. And if she does not, it’s her affair, and nothing to do with your pitiful prurience, and her not doing so does not make her a lesbian – not that I have anything against lesbians; if a lesbian or a gay man is a good person for a job, then what is the problem with Obama appointing them? I suspect the only problem is your homophobic prejudice.

  • Nepenthe

    VxBinaca,

    I wouldn’t sleep with Bill Clinton either. Does that make me a lesbian? I like how you class anyone who defies standard gender roles, like aggressive or assertive women, as homosexual.*

    *I don’t use the word gay because I think it erases the rest of the spectrum.

  • VXbinaca

    Oh Tim, sticks and stones. Not everyone who supports equal rights necessarily likes your lifestyle, it is a lifestyle by the way, that is the correct term and I don’t care who does or doesn’t like that term. I’m a biggot and I don’t care who knows. I’m a bigot who wants equal rights and protections for all in this country.

    I don’t like anti-abortion protesters, and certainly don’t agree with them, but I’m sure glad they won FEC v. Wisconsin Right To Life. That campaign finance law is a bad law.

    You’re gonna have to deal with that Tim or you’ll never capture people in the middle-ground in this country when numbers count and you’ll lose ground. Name calling turns peoples minds off and denying they’re (as in me) atheist, like one chap did on this blog a while back, is almost enough to make them go to the other side.

  • p.s.

    VX, I would really love to know where you get the idea that lesbians are moving away from femininity. It’s a baseless stereotype. If you look at someone, you can’t tell what sort of person they are attracted to or what “tickles their pickle”.
    Your “example” of skinheads is completely different. If you had a tatto of a swastika, yes, I would assume that you were dickhead. And yes, if you had a gay pride flag or purple triangle tattoo, I would probably assume you were of the LGBT persuasion. Dressing professionally and having short hair is not the same as having a tattoo.
    And (not that you know anything about her love life) why is she obligated to sleep with bill to prove her “straightness”? He did cheat on her, so let’s be fair. Whether or not her continued marriage is political move has nothing to do with whether or not she sleeps with women.

    Look, it doesn’t make the crazy Christians right that gays are evil to admit that Obama has appointed a LOT of lesbians to his cabinet.

    We aren’t really talking about that anymore. If they are qualified, they should have the job. I am more concerned with the fact that you seem to think “accepting reality” means “accepting incorrect stereotypes”.

  • Tim Harris

    Come on VX, grow up, and stop making these contemptible and dishonest assumptions about people’s life-styles when you know nothing or next to nothing about them. It is your dishonesty that is the issue. If you want to be a bigot (that’s a life-style, too, if we assume, with you, that so many things are life-styles) then go ahead and be one, but have the simple decency to be honest. ‘Name-calling turns people off’; I really don’t care whether I turn someone like yourself off, but do tell us, why do you so much want to make these silly insinuations about Hillary Clinton? You are ultimately indulging in name-calling of a very disturbing kind, and you know it. Finally, not being American, or living anywhere near America, I am really not much interested in what you assert about the middle ground in America; why, anyway, given the dishonesty of other assertions of yours, should I trust you here?

  • Tim Harris

    I have, incidentally, no particular love for Hillary Clinton, but VX might like to share with us his evidence that (a) she no longer sleeps with Bill and (b) she is really a lesbian. And then, perhaps, he can tell us why it matters so much to him that she might be a lesbian. Come on, VX! Be a man!

  • p.s.

    You do know that will confuse people, right? I buzz my hair off because I’m broke and barbers are a luxury, also I’m going bald at 26 and women tend to turn away from men who are balding at a young age. But I get looks like I’m some sort of tough guy (I’m not) all the time. I just deal with it.

    The price one pays for looking like something they’re not.

    It only confuses people like you. People who assume that the way I look or act defines my sexuality. I look like a human being, and, since my boobs aren’t exactly…subtle… (at least on my tiny frame) I look like a woman, despite my lack of “femininity”. I have never had a girl ask me out before, mostly because they all ask first, in varying degrees of straight-forwardness. I really don’t give a rat’s ass if a guy doesn’t ask me out because he incorrectly assumes something about me. That’s not the type of person I would want to be with anyway.

  • VXbinaca

    Come on VX, grow up

    Be a man!

    Too late. BTW, I’m not Marty McFly.

    You are ultimately indulging in name-calling of a very disturbing kind

    I thought being gay was a sexuality, not a name. A name mean’t to trigger offence would be the F or D words, that I specifically do not use on this blog or it’s forums.

    But it’s not that different than this guy does:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outrage_(2009_film)

    share with us his evidence

    It’s an old old rumor that fits in with a lot of her behavior. I’d like to see it proven either way, personally.

    why, anyway, given the dishonesty of other assertions of yours, should I trust you here?

    If you pop my handle into Google, or for faster results, the Friendly Atheist forums, you’ll see I ‘live out’ with my atheism. Have for years.

  • p.s.

    It’s an old old rumor that fits in with a lot of her behavior. I’d like to see it proven either way, personally.

    What sort of behavior is that? Not enjoying the company of her cheating husband? Being a successful woman in politics, a field primarily dominated by men? Having short hair-which is actually a pretty common style for women her age?
    You don’t need to give every single rumor credence, expecially one based on stereotype.

  • Tim Harris

    Sorry, I’m not interested in learning any more about you, VX, or about the atheism you want to boast about (why? – it’s nothing of any great importance). I’ve learnt enough already.

  • Greg

    @Claudia:

    We are talking about a place where a pedophile murderer goes but where his 13 year old raped and murdered victim, should they happen to not be Christian, ALSO goes.

    That’s a whole other can of worms, as many Christians believe in an Age of Accountability concept, wherein people who cannot, by reason of their mental development (be it due to age or illness) will go to heaven – at 13, the victim may or may not be of that age. Nitpicking, I know, and does not address one part of your criticism (that many Christians believe that the scum of the earth and a great person who does not believe are going to the same place – but, age-discriminatory it is not.

    The theology does not feel ill will towards you (have already addressed the children or developmentally challenged above) – heck, the theology promotes sharing the Gospel with all. To my mind, ill will would be a policy of no proselytizing, instead only accepting newcomers who find God of their own act and initiative.

    Personally, if I am going to witness to somebody, it will typically be me telling my experiences and my journey. If the person isn’t interested (or displays no interest) – that’s the end of it. There is no biblical foundation for going out and hounding people about Christ, handing out pamphlets at the mall, or any of that nonsense. In the Gospels, Jesus tells the apostles to go into a town, and offer to tell them about Him. If they accept, stay and do so – if not, leave town, wipe the dust from their sandals, and move on.

    Do you find asking to witness offensive in and of itself, or is it the witnessing without provocation or permission?

  • Yahzi

    @Greg: “To my mind, ill will would be a policy of no proselytizing, instead only accepting newcomers who find God of their own act and initiative.”

    So… you’re saying that people who are not exposed to the word of God automatically go to hell.

    That would be… the better part of the entire human population, both contemporary and historical. You do realize that the chance that Indian or Chinese peasants have ever even met a missionary, let alone heard the word in a language they can understand, let alone hear the message in a context other than what can only be “crazy street preacher” in the their culture, is exceedingly low?

    Your theology condemns to Hell the vast majority of humanity. But that’s not the part that offends us.

    What offends us is your notion that you have something to offer; that we should listen raptly to you while you spout childish nonsense, all so that we can escape eternal torment from the mafia boss you serve.

    If that doesn’t strike you as arrogant, insufferable jackassery, then…

    Oh, but of course it does. When a Muslim or a Hindu or a Jew or a Mormon or a Scientologist pulls exactly the same crap on you, you are exactly as offended as we are.

    Hypocrisy much?

  • PJ

    The R. Maddow show should have covered this.

  • http://www.twitter.com/WCLPeter WCLPeter

    Greg said:

    The couple sued, and won. In this case, the couple is forcing the religious organization to do something against their beliefs. To my mind, this is just as wrong as the force going the other way.

    Actually it wasn’t as cut and dry like that. While the couple did win some money for the losses they incurred, they didn’t actually win their case by being allowed to hold the event there.

    As reported by CTV news the judge sided with the Knights of Columbus, upholding their religious freedom to not rent the hall for a use that contradicted their religious beliefs.

    Pete…

  • IasasaI

    Such amazing mental fortitude to sit through all of this phantasmagoria with a straight face. I know I wouldn’t be able to infiltrate as successfully.

    @ Greg:
    When it comes to “witnessing”, in my case at least, it’s not a matter of offense, per se, so much as it is that becoming offended is the only way to make it go away. If I could be offended by high fiction, then that would be different. And by “making it go away” I refer both to an individual episode as well as the more generalized phenomenon. With regards to specific episodes, NOT ONCE (in my experiences, obviously) has saying that I was uninterested been sufficient for the harassment to end; I have always had to either act seriously offended and angry or to simply leave whatever social function I am patronizing (yes, I also label going to the store as a social function) in order for it to end. Unfortunately, even trying to leave isn’t enough for most of them. In ALL cases of my experience, it was both without permission or provocation. (What in the smeg is provocation even supposed to MEAN in this context anyway? “You were being blatantly godless!”??)

    @ VX:
    Ah yes, rumor. American Journalism. I can never actually tell the difference anymore. Atheist or no, it seems to me that you are already on this “other side”, having apparently scrapped the ideas of reason and rationality to back up your claims. I know nothing of the sexuality of the aforementioned women nor do I need to or want to, but I’m not about to go leaping to conclusions about their sexuality based on anything, let alone something as trivial as a rumor. “An acceptance of reality is all I’m proposing.”, you said. In reality, rumors are not indicators of truth or even potential truth – they are merely what people happen to be saying to each other. From the perspective of a “New Atheist” (weird title since I’ve been godless for as long as I’ve been aware, 30+ years), I could easily term YOU an accommodationist for caring what the “middle ground” feels, as though it were a right to not be bothered or offended by the non-middle. But that would not be “fact”, mere rumor. If I want fact, I think “tone troll” is more appropriate…

  • http://twitter.com/alexandra_opny Lexy

    VXbinaca, you’re barely a head above these AFTAH fanatics. You’re shamlessly ignorant, homophobic and sexist. I have long hair, I wear dresses and high heals and I hardly ever leave the house without make up. If I knocked on your door would you be able to tell I am a lesbian?

  • VXbinaca

    @Lexy

    How can I be one step behind them when I want equal rights and marriage for them? I’m not holding secret meetings to destroy a civil rights movement. I’m not religiously motivated, because I have none. Religion that is. No Motivation is debatable and has a ring of truth to it.

    I’ll just ignore gay issues from now on since they don’t really effect me and some of their advocates are frankly rude by accusing me of being a theist. I would be offended by that accusation but I realized last night I could do more damage to both sides by simply not being involved, since this is the time when numbers and minds count.

  • p.s.

    vx:

    How can I be one step behind them when I want equal rights and marriage for them?

    umm.. I’ll let lexy answer the rest of your post, but she did not say you were “a step behind”. she said you are “barely a head above”, i.e. you are a little better, but you bring yourself down by perpetuating stereotypes.

  • muggle

    VX, you didn’t answer lexy’s question. Could you tell she’s lesbian if she knocked on your door? I’m the opposite of her: short hair, never into heels, haven’t worn makeup or skirts since my ’20′s but I’m straight. So if you came across me and lexy having a friendly chat, you’d assume me gay (I’m assumed gay a lot for the record precisely because of this kind of stereotyping) and her straight? No matter. I doubt I’d be any more attracted to you than she would be even though males attract me and females don’t.

    What about bi people? How do you tell them? I have a bi daughter so I’m just anxious as all hell to hear this one. It should be good.

    I asked you what you based your assumptions about the women you mention being gay and you give me short hair, pants and rumors? WTF! I’m supposed to take that seriously.

    And I’m seriously wondering why you care if Hilary sleeps with Bill or not… Um, seems to me, that’s between the two of them. It’s their marriage, their relationship.

  • VXbinaca

    Not every butch woman is gay, but theres a lot of gay butch women. Guilt by association? Maybe. I call it ‘playing it safe’.

    @ Muggle

    I guess I have no basis for it, rationally anyway. But I really don’t feel like changing, especially in light of being called a theist by some. I really would like them to take back those words, but they only come around for the LBGT posts because they get tracked back to their blogs. I never called them the F or D words, or any name. Insinuating I’m Christian was just a bit much in my opinion.

    I have absolutely no exposure to them off-line, and if this is how they are I do not want to be around them or know their issues. And it’s pretty sad when I get turned off to something because I’m a pretty inquisitive guy.

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  • p.s.

    Not every butch woman is gay, but theres a lot of gay butch women. Guilt by association? Maybe. I call it ‘playing it safe’.

    Really now? What survey tells you that? What makes you think there are more butch lesbians than femme lesbians? I really don’t think it’s an accurate stereotype.

    But I really don’t feel like changing, especially in light of being called a theist by some

    Honestly, people who call you a theist are just as bad as you are. Theists do not have a monopoly bigotry and stereotyping. Doesn’t mean you can’t change.

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