Anti-Gay News Conference Takes Hilarious Turn

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)

Bob Cargill on the Holy Grail
Meet The Wife
Hallquist on Eich
You Can't Keep a Bad Man Down
About Jesse Galef

Jesse is a career atheist, and is currently Communications Director for the Secular Student Alliance. Before that, he worked for the Secular Coalition for America and the American Humanist Association. He also blogs about science, philosophy, and rationality at Measure of Doubt with his sister Julia.
(The views expressed are not representing the Secular Student Alliance or any other organization.)

  • Reginald Selkirk

    “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…”

    You just know there are Bible verses that speak directly against that.

    • John Hummel

      Romans 13, if I recall correctly. One is suppose to submit to those in authority, since God put them there.

      Which means that God got Obama elected. Who knew that God loved the kenyans so much to make one of them president? /sarcasm

  • Elemenope

    It looks like the law is one step away from the Brandenberg standard (it seems to lack a likelihood prong). It would be interesting to see if it survives a court challenge.

  • Unladenswallow

    The Christians crying persecution aside how is this law suppose to work? Does it rest solely on motivation? So if someone commits murder for racial or sexual preferences reasons do they get a stiffer sentence than the guy who kills for a reason not covered in the law? While I am pretty liberal in my political views I’m having trouble seeing how this law will make things better.

    • Elemenope

      The notion is that crimes clearly motivated by targeting members of specific groups are really double crimes; one (violence) directly against the victim, and one (terror) against the community who shares the feature at issue. Being pretty conservative, it shouldn’t shock anyone I’m deeply uncomfortable with this sort of thing, but it is on its face a fairly reasonable notion. After all, the history of many such crimes in the US, such as lynching, were designed not just to kill people, but also to terrorize a given community away from engaging and participating fully with the wider society.

      • Jesse Galef

        Thanks, I was typing up a response when I saw that you had just posted one. Well put.

        I consider myself liberal and support hate-crime legislation but I can understand the opposition to it.

        • Unladenswallow

          Ok I get it, but could that law also be applied to a serial killer and what he does by terrorizing a neighborhood or city outside of his primary crimes if he was not targeting a specified “group”?

          Given the way Lawyers and even D.A.’s sometime push the envelope of the meaning of a law to accomplish a short term goal, It’s a very real possibility that this law could change into something far different that it’s original purpose much to the detriment of everyone. While I can support it’s intent given the nature of the legal system I think there is a real danger of it being twisted into a far different purpose.

          The real question is will it deter crimes of this kind? Well on some of the more minor cases maybe (vandalism, various forms of assault,) but if someone has gone far enough to disregard the penalty for murder this law won’t help.

          I’m against the death penalty because it does nothing to deter crime and I believe that it can (but not always) turn into a sort of revenge for the family of the victims and that just makes people vengeful and bitter. Not to mention that is an in-correctable sentence if someone is later found to be innocent.

          I would have to oppose this law for similar as I don’t believe it will deter crime and for the possibility of it being changed far beyond it’s original mandate.

          • Elemenope

            Ok I get it, but could that law also be applied to a serial killer and what he does by terrorizing a neighborhood or city outside of his primary crimes if he was not targeting a specified “group”?

            I doubt it. Generally a serial killer is motivated, if one could call it that, by homicidal mania. The motive element necessary for a hate crime would be missing. In most systems of common law, laws cannot be applied by analogy; their scope is no wider than that which is actually illustrated in the law. So, even if a serial killer technically “terrorized” a community by their actions, the peculiarities of intent would almost certainly place their acts outside the scope of this law.

            Given the way Lawyers and even D.A.’s sometime push the envelope of the meaning of a law to accomplish a short term goal…

            This is why I never, ever, ever, ever support laws that broaden prosecutorial discretion or powers if I can help it. They tend to be complete self-serving career oriented bastards (though of course there are exceptions), and even if that weren’t true, the awesome and corrupting power of the state is on their side. Their job performance tends to be judged on conviction rates, instead of seeking justice or defending the public interest. I tend not to even vote for former prosecutors if there is another option on the ticket who isn’t a complete airhead.

            Laws like this are on the borderline for me, since they don’t actually grant new power to the prosecution, or invent new crimes, but do inject an additional layer of subjectivity into the decision making processes regarding how to try people for acts that are already defined as crimes.

            The real question is will it deter crimes of this kind?

            It tends to be more effective at deterring organized efforts to assault and terrorize, than the one-off incidents.

            I’m against the death penalty…

            Me too.

    • Custador

      But isn’t it just fan-fooking-tastic that American evangelical Christians, the group of people most responsible for persecuting and repressing other people in the world right now (with the possible exception of the Catholic Church) are crying “repression”? Brilliant! They think that they’re being repressed because they’re not being allowed to repress other people! You couldn’t make this stuff up (well, unless you’re aware that it’s pretty much exactly what the first pilgrim settlers in America did, of course). The hypocrisy is just breathtaking, and my irony meter is off the scale!

      • LRA

        Yeah, they cry that bullsh*t too when it comes to teaching ID in the classroom. They’re being repressed because they aren’t allowed to be theocrats and repress others.

  • Nick

    November 17: Chuck Fazio Day

  • Uzza

    Chuck Fazio FTW!

    Doesn’t making it a hate crime put it under the jurisdiction of some other law enforcement agencies, like the FBI instead of just local cops, or something?

    • JonJon

      The way I understand it, no. FBI has jurisdiction over crimes which cross state lines, IIRC.

      Somebody correct me if I’m wrong here.

  • Shrubber

    Kudos to Chuck Fazio!

    You rock, sir.

  • James Probis

    Doesn’t making it a hate crime put it under the jurisdiction of some other law enforcement agencies, like the FBI instead of just local cops, or something?

    Exactly. I hope that those whining about the poor widdle bigots being persecuted are just so incredibly sheltered they’ve never even considered what happens when local redneck cops laugh at gays being beaten. I’m cynical enough to know full well that they are perfectly aware of what they are defending while just being too cowardly to acknowledge the blood on their hands.
    There are no “special rights”, protecting people from violence based on sexual orientation protects straight people as well as gays. It isn’t our fault if you violent assholes are the ones affected by the laws.

  • rA

    “Hate crime” means violence to person or property, right? How is this law expansion a bid to silence anyone? What are they talking about? I am confused.

    • Elemenope

      They fear, not entirely without reason (just mostly without reason), that the more broadly worded incitement section of the law would include such formerly protected acts as sermons with anti-homosexual themes.

    • Raven

      It isn’t going to silence anyone. They pretty much dreamed or fabricated that part of it, and have continued repeating it no matter how many times they’ve been corrected. I have heard people make cogent arguments against hate crime laws (ones I disagree with, but cogent and coherent), but the notion that it will affect free speech is simply untrue. Hate crime laws that limit free speech have been attempted on occasion, and have without fail been struck down as unconstitutional, as they should be. Now their adherence to their lie is making them look a bit silly.

  • Carrie Poppy

    Totes. It’s double stupidity: 1. Wanting to align yourself AGAINST laws to protect people. 2. Not googling before you throw a rally.

  • Kilre

    Why hello there, persecution complex!

  • Fool

    “If this law is used to silence me or any of these preachers for speaking the truth…”

    As long as they are stomping their chests shouting out to the world that theirs is the one and only Truth (TM), while everyone else is automatically wrong, you can’t really hope for intelligent dialogue.

  • Bob

    Homosexuality is disgusting and should be legally banned. To openly practice homosexuality should be a violation of the legal code and subject to criminal prosecution.

    • Daniel Florien

      I find your views to be disgusting. So I guess should they be legally banned and subject to prosecution, eh?

      • Francesc

        I particularly don’t like the expression “to practice homosexuality”. You can practice sex, ok. But I don’t practice heterosexuality in public, it just doesn’t sound right.

      • Custador

        Nobody but a repressed homosexual reacts with that much fear and loathing towards homosexuality. Seriously.

    • Custador

      Bob, people like you should be thrown in a sack with a large boulder and drowned.

    • Roger

      So if I privately practice it, I should be okay, right Bobster?

    • Craig

      Re: Bob’s hateful little screed

      Picking your nose is disgusting. So is sneezing in public without covering up. Maybe we should tackle these issues in our criminal codes before we go after people for private sexual behaviour? Especially since we are all a lot more likely to agree as a society about the disgusting nature of nose-picking than we are to agree about sexual behaviour.

    • CoffeeJedi

      10 to 1 this creep never comes back, just a drive-by troll.

      • Roger

        Yeah, we’re likely to never see the likes of ol’ Hetero Bobster ever again. He’s probably a bit busy perusing male sex sites…for purely empirical reasons, I assure you.

    • LRA

      My troll detector just went off.

  • uzza

    Homosexuality is a mental attitude, so practicing it can hardly be in the open. You can openly practice homosexual acts, but I rarely witness gay people having sex in public. I might be against that too if it ever happened, but it doesn’t.

    • Custador

      “Homosexuality is a mental attitude”

      Strange phrasing, and I’m not sure what you mean. I think sexuality is just another character trait. You’re gay or you’re straight, you don’t choose, you just are.

      • Siberia

        Mental attitude implies you can change your mind (or attidude). So no.

  • uzza

    agh, yes, “character trait” is what I was looking for. I meant it’s an internal thing, not something you can see, so how can you ‘practice it openly’? Character traits aren’t out in the open where you can see them, so it’s not clear what these people are objecting to. Maybe somebody standing in public thinking lustful thoughts.

    • Custador

      Fair enough, I thought you probably meant that.