by Jesse Galef
When a Christian Post story starts with the sentence “Conservative pastors rallied outside the Justice Department on Monday to test the limits of the newly expanded hate crimes law” you know you’re in for a treat. In wake of a new hate-crime bill that just passed, they wanted to make sure they could still “defend their freedom to proclaim biblical truths” (read: spew venom about homosexuality and gender identity).
“You may choose to disbelieve or disagree with us but you have no right to seek to silence us,” said Dr. Rick Scarborough, president of Vision America Action, as pro-gay clergy and some from the gay and lesbian community gathered with signs reading “My love is legit.”
“If this law is used to silence me or any of these preachers for speaking the truth, then we will be forced to conscientiously defy it,” Scarborough declared. “That is my calling as a Christian and my right as an American citizen.”
Clergy, religious broadcasters and conservative groups fear the legislation will subject them to prosecution for preaching what they believe the Bible says – that homosexual behavior is sin. While some believe they are exaggerating the effects of the expanded hate crimes law, the group on Monday was convinced they could be targeted for their speech and beliefs.
Yeah, not so much. They proceeded to say anti-gay things in hopes being arrested, giving them standing to challenge the law. To no avail. According to Dana Milbank, who was reporting on the event for the Washington Post, the cops were more interested in checking their blackberries than arresting the preachers. Why?
To break the new law, you need to “plan or prepare for an act of physical violence” or “incite an imminent act of physical violence”. That shouldn’t be too controversial. If the preachers really wanted to break the law they shouldn’t have stopped at “Homosexuality is a sin,” but continued to say “and should be punished by immediate stoning as the Bible says. Let’s get ‘em, who’s with me?”
What followed the press conference was not an arrest, but a counter-demonstration when gay protesters took over the lectern to hold their own news conference:
“We’re here to say, my love is legit!” announced David Valk, an organizer of the National Equality March for gay rights.
Another speaker, Ian Thomas, went to the microphone and announced: “I was created a bisexual male. Just like many figures in the Christian Bible, I like boys and girls!”
[organizer Gary Cass of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission] turned angrily to the AV guy. “We’re not on the clock, are we?” He turned with equal anger to Valk. “You guys gonna help us pay for the microphones?”
The gay activist smiled. “God,” he said, “works in mysterious ways.”
In this case, God took the form of Chuck Fazio, from DC Podiums. Fazio was hired by the religious conservatives to provide the sound system for the event, but upon learning of their cause, he decided to donate his proceeds to the gay rights activists and to give them a chance at the microphone before shutting down the amplifiers.
How cool is that? I used to do sound for events at the Library of Congress, but I never saw anything like it. Major kudos to Mr. Fazio.
(via Rob Boston’s post for of Americans United for Separation of Church and State)