American Family Association Refuses to Accept Mail with Harvey Milk Stamp

American Family Association Refuses to Accept Mail with Harvey Milk Stamp June 10, 2014

This is very very very smart and will certainly advance the perception among outsiders of good will that Christians hate the sin and love the sinner and are not dumb and petty. Good job.

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  • Dave G.

    It does seem petty, but to be honest, apart from total conformity, there doesn’t appear to be much you can do that will advance the perception among outsiders that Christians hate the sin and love the sinner and are not dumb and petty. Outsiders of goodwill or otherwise. That’s because of the effective way in which not accepting non-heterosexual normality has been compared to not accepting racial equality or similar attitudes. Even outsiders of goodwill appear to assume unless you’re totally on board, then you’re totally overboard with this one. No matter how and where you draw the line.

    • Michaelus

      Right – what exactly are we supposed to do at this point? Educate people about Harvey Milk’s interest in 16 year old runaway boys? Even this does not seem to matter to people.

      • Well, Tiberius Caesar seems to have been a much worse person than Harvey Milk by any standard, and in the gospels according to Mark (chapter 12) and Matthew (chapter 22) the Boss says Himself that Christians were allowed to pass coins bearing Tiberius’ image.

        • Eve Fisher

          Great point!

      • But do we do this with other politicians? Every time Kennedy is mentioned, do we rush to add that we don’t condone his adultery? If we say something positive or even neutral about Bush, do we qualify it every time by pointing out that we don’t approve of his former drug use, or his support of torture?

        Every human sins. Every single one. It’s ridiculous to think that because we don’t affirmatively, vocally reject the sins a person commits every time that person’s name comes up, it really means we’re ok with it.

        • Michaelus

          I would feel the same way if JFK’s claim to fame was his pioneering efforts for adulterer’s rights and his open celebration of the fact that he enjoyed getting his office girls to perform sexual favors for his friends. Milk is not celebrated for anything other than his sexual perversity.

          • I don’t think that is a fair assessment at all; he did more than just advocate for gay rights. Moreover, gay rights aren’t just about marriage or sex, but about not denying gay people homes, jobs, business, health care and other services, or simply the right to not be assaulted for being gay. The Catechism itself says gays should not be unjustly discriminated against.

            • Hezekiah Garrett


      • Ye Olde Statistician

        That’s because Harvey Milk was not ordained.

        • Well, look, hypocrisy is the one crime Huffington Post can pin on anyone, no matter what moral standard they claim. It’s the one thing you absolutely can judge anyone for. Those priests were hypocrites. Milk wasn’t.

          • Alma Peregrina

            “Those priests were hypocrites. Milk wasn’t.”

            But people that get selectively outraged about pedophilia are too. Hypocrites, that is.

            • kenofken

              You really expect anyone to believe that the AFA is doing this boycott purely out of concern for sex abuse? If Milk had been a living saint and celibate but gay, are we to believe that the AFA’s position would be any different?

              • are we to believe that the AFA’s position would be any different?

                Love hopes all things….

              • Alma Peregrina

                “You really expect anyone to believe that the AFA is doing this boycott purely out of concern for sex abuse?”

                No. Never said otherwise.
                “If Milk had been a living saint and celibate but gay, are we to believe that the AFA’s position would be any diferente?”

                No. Never said otherwise.
                In fact, I’m on record as saying this boycott is petty and dumb. And I don’t know enough about AFA to make a statement (I’m not american), so I will not go over my head trying to defend it.

                But let’s see what I REALLY said: People that get selectively outraged about pedophilia are hypocrites. Which they are. You haven’t addressed that, which doesn’t surprise me.

  • kenofken

    This action is not some bug of the AFA. It is a core feature of their software, and one of the more benign ones at that. It is a hate group. It has richly earned that designation over the course of its existence by a relentless pattern of vile and dehumanizing characterizations of gay people and even other religions.

    This is not one of those PR faux pas that gave a black eye to an otherwise good group of folks. The AFA is seen as representative of the anti-gay, anti-SSM movement because it is. Its ideas and some of its actions are what has energized and informed the wider movement, not the carefully parsed theological distinctions of bishop’s or pope’s white papers. The AFA deserves credit for wearing their hate honestly. The movement has revealed itself and its motivations to the American public, and that is exactly why they are where they are and the rest of society has moved on.

    • sez

      Please show some evidence of “hate” from AFA.

      • Nathaniel

        Read the post above. You seem to have missed it.

        • sez

          I think it’s dumb and petty to snub the stamps, but if that qualifies as “hate”, then everyone is guilty of “hate”.

      • kenofken

        Well, let’s see. We have decades of vile propaganda directly equating homosexuality with pedophilia, Nazism and criminality. They actually tried to assign primary responsibility for the Holocaust to homosexuality. We can look at their stated agenda to criminalize homosexuality, the endless campaigns and boycotts which have directly targeted the livelihoods of gays and lesbians, and which have attempted to punish any company or organization which has ever depicted gays as ordinary people. They compared children of gay people as the equivalent of antebellum slaves and proposed an “underground railroad” to liberate (steal) them from their families.

        They demonize Islam and Hinduism as inherently anti-American, issuing “action alerts” to protest the use of the Koran for swearing in by the first Muslim congressman elected. They called for a ban on the building of any mosques because each one of them is dedicated to overthrowing Western civilization. They said the First Amendment does not cover Muslims because of their inherent subversiveness. The AFA, in addition to being a gang of five-star loons, is every bit as much a hate group as any of the ones that favor bent crosses and hammers and racial anthropology.

        • sez

          Your claims multiply, but you have yet to show any evidence. How about links to documents where your claims can be substantiated?
          To be honest, what little I know about the AFA doesn’t add up to what you claim. That is why I am asking for evidence. I do not intend to give my support or even defend an organization that says/does what you claim. But I’ve seen some of their “action alerts”, and they don’t seem to be anything like what you say they are.

    • SteveP

      Did you have Chick-Fil-A for lunch while ordering your Duck Commander call?

  • Pete the Greek

    A Jim Jones loving ephebophile? Oh yeah, totally, we should have a stamp for that.

    • Nathaniel

      We have George Washington and Thomas Jefferson on our money, despite one being a rapist and both being slave owners.

      • chezami

        True. But then, they aren’t commemorated for that. Aside from a) being gay and b) getting killed, and not particularly for being gay, what did Harvey Milk do? He’s one of those fake martyrs a movement desperate for martyrs glom on to and make famous simply for being a victim. His *main* accomplishment was being deeply sexually disordered. Jefferson’s and Washington’s main accomplishments were, you know, actual accomplishments.

        • Nathaniel

          You don’t think that advocating for equal rights and protection under the law is something to commemorate? And before you object, Harvey Milks day was a time when people were attempting to deny gay people jobs like being a school teacher just because they were gay. Milk successfully organized and fought for the right of gay people to have jobs. Do you disagree with that? Do you think gay people shouldn’t be principles or school teachers?

          • sez

            Principals: possibly. Principles? Not so much.

    • chezami

      I’m not arguing we should have a stamp for that. I’m arguing that this action is dumb and petty.

      • Pete the Greek

        It is kind of petty, yes. I just get frustrated in that Milk getting a stamp cheapens the honor to meaninglessness. It’s like Obama getting a peace prize.

        • To be fair, the Simpsons also got stamps. The honor, such as it was, had been cheapened already.

          • Iwishyouwell

            Plus, when you get right down to it, who even uses stamps anymore? I can’t remember the last time I bought stamps — Christmas cards and b-day cards and the like are the only thing I use stamps for and I have a roll of those forever stamps with pretty flowers on them.

            Also, speaking of Chrstmas, the post office still offers religious themed Christmas stamps, so it’s probably pretty dumb for anyone who claims to be an Official Christian Organization to have a snit fit over Harvey Milk stamps. If people don’t like ’em, they can buy another design. It’s really not that big a deal.

            • Marthe Lépine

              It so happens that I only purchase stamps at Christmas, if/when/because of the religious themes, which are often illustrated with miniature reproductions of excellent works of art that I have been known to put in miniature frames as gifts or decorations. So, on the very rare times I do use stamps – since e-mail is my preferred mode of communication – and any time of the year, whoever gets something in a stamped envelope from me, gets a religious-themed stamp.

              • Iwishyouwell

                Right – which is great. But the point is that if people are going to make a thing out of a Harvey Milk stamp because of their religious beliefs, the religious stamps will come under fire too.

                Live and let live it’s the US Postal Service, not the Religious Right Postal Service.

                It’s a freakin’ stamp, which is going the way of the dodo anyway. Choose your battles wisely, people..

                • They’re not making a “thing” out of a Harvey Milk stamp because of their “religious beliefs”. They’re making a thing because they think many of the things he did were morally wrong.

                  • Iwishyouwell

                    Whatever. It’s stupid and pointless.

                    • I agree with you that it’s stupid and almost pointless. But that doesn’t mean “whatever”. People dismiss the moral concerns of anyone religious by attributing their moral stance to their religion. But if atheists can be moral without religion – and they keep insisting that they can – then it must be possible to make moral judgments without invoking divine revelation.

                    • Iwishyouwell

                      Well, yes. Of course. I’m just saying that when the world sees this kind of silliness, regardless of who it’s from, or why, they roll their eyes and write off everyone concerned as ridiculous. So it’s better to make one’s moral points in a more adult, logical way.

                      If this organization wants to mess up it’s mail flow (most likely miniscule to begin) to make a point, who exactly are they preaching to and who exactly are they hurting?

                      It all smacks of a rather petty and pointless sort of cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face.

                      Silly, silly, silly. And utterly ineffective and pointless. Especially since the people who even bother sending them correspondence with an actual physical stamp on it are not likely going to be buying Harvey Milk stamps in the first place.

                    • Ah. I see we are in perfect agreement.

                      are not likely going to be buying Harvey Milk stamps in the first place.

                      Totally. Or they’re elderly people who have no clue who Harvey Milk was and are just taking the book that was handed to them at the post office. In fact, I would guess that’s by far the most likely scenario.

        • Fr. Denis Lemieux

          Well now you’re just being silly. Who would ever do that?

        • petey

          Or Kissenger.

  • elizacoop

    The imp in me wants to send the AFA a mail bag full of letters with the stamp. The imp won’t get it’s way, of course. It would cost too much money.

  • Nathaniel

    Further proof that all Christians who oppose marriage equality don’t hate GLBT people, they love them, and want nothing but the best for them.

    • Alma Peregrina

      You mean, Mark’s post decrying this mess? Yep, you’re right, it’s solid proof.

  • AquinasMan

    “Dumb and petty” is doing wonders for the state-recognized homosexual conscious coupling movement. (read: Wedding Cakes)

    We don’t have a tourniquet big enough to stop the bleeding, and we’re scorning people who are publicly proclaiming their opposition to the federal canonization of the pervert every schoolchild in California is required to deliver a pinch of incense to? Love the sinner, hate the stamp.

    • Alma Peregrina

      If we don’t have a tourniquet big enough, should we waste energy, words and public opinion in such worthless fights as “not receiving mail with a particular stamp on it”? Seriously, that just looks like an infantile tantrum…

      • AquinasMan

        Delete. I need to read up more on AFA.

  • Iwishyouwell

    Everyone should write whopping huge great checks to this silly group and mail them using Harvey Milk stamps, then follow up with an email or phone call asking if they got their donation yet.

    • SteveP

      I am partially amused and partial saddened at the number of folks who seem to think that everyone else is as motivated by income as they happen to be.

      • Iwishyouwell

        I was obviously not being serious…and I’m hardly motivated by income.

        It’s a silly protest and deserves nothing but silly responses.

        • SteveP

          Apparently, in the early decade of this century, some Episcopalian SSB supporters would stamp their envelope / check / cash in the collection with a rainbow sticker. The message was indeed “offend us and lose your income.” I thought it was silly at the time but the years since have proven me wrong. And thank-you for your clarification.

          • Iwishyouwell

            It’s all ridiculous. The state will do what the state will do. The Church was always supposed to be above and outside of alll that. The Church always loses when it plays the state’s game. I don’t know about the Church anymore. Everytime I think there’s hope, some new information pops up and I think, well, maybe not….

            Whatever. Floating on a rather fine temperanillo right now.

    • kenofken

      They’re not worth the cost of a single stamp, or even of an email. The best thing we can do for groups like this is to stand well back and ignore them as they are consumed by their own hatred and growing irrelevance. It is too generous to say that the AFA is consigned to the dustbin of history. They’re well past the dustbin. They’re in the landfill 10 years after it closed and the golf course and new subdivision on top opened.

  • SteveP

    Mark – I’d suggest to you that the action, far from dumb and petty, reflects an increased security awareness based on past events.

    • chezami

      If that’s true, then making a big public thing about it simply says to anthrax mailers (or whoever) “Don’t be so obvious. Use another stamp.” Nope, this is just AFA being dumb and petty.

      • SteveP

        Maintaining operational security is another issue and you are right about that – they blew it. However, I don’t think the correlation is between anthrax and the stamp but between the stamp and enclosed feces – animal or otherwise. Is the message “we won’t take any more of your crap” really an un-Christian message?

  • I said all of this before, but I’ll repeat it:

    1. What the AFA is doing is a perfectly legitimate peaceful civil protest. Even when I don’t agree with perfectly legitimate peaceful civil protests, I respect those engaging in them on *either* side of the gay rights issue, because the alternative of violent disruptive protests (Westboro Baptist Church, Act-Up desecrating churches during Mass) must absolutely be opposed.

    2. Refusing to accept mail with “Milk” stamps is a bit silly, and probably won’t happen all that much. Refusing to purchase Milk stamps and politely asking for an alternative stamp is perfectly fine.

    3. Maybe it’s because I’m female, but the crime and sin of rape is one I really abhor; thus any actions I personally might take re: Milk stamps would be out of solidarity toward his victims, some of whom are still living. I can’t even imagine being a victim of rape and being alive when one’s rapist is honored by the Postal Service. To me, rape is a form of torture that continues to impact the victim physically, mentally, emotionally, psychologically and even spiritually long after the incident has occurred, and even the appearance that one is joining in the public laud and celebration of a rapist is absolutely abhorrent to me. That Milk’s victims were male is not even the main point in my opinion.

    • Harvey Milk’s status as a rapist is not widely acknowledged in our society (assuming it’s true – I don’t know one way or the other), so all a histrionic move like this is going to do is communicate the message, “We hate fags.” Given that communication is the whole point of this exercise, that makes it a fail.

      • Jon W, do a search for Jack McKinley. McKinley’s “romantic relationship” with Milk began when Milk was 33 and McKinley was a 16-year-old runaway. According to one book about Milk, it was well known that Milk’s “romantic preference” was for troubled teens (the book “The Mayor of Castro Street” says “Harvey always had a penchant for young waifs with substance abuse problems.”) Jack McKinley committed suicide at the age of 33.

        When Catholic priests had “romantic relationships” with “troubled” teen boys between the ages of 14-17, we rightly call that “rape.” But when Milk began to be honored and conservative groups objected by pointing to his history of a similar sort of rape of teen boys, the conservatives were shouted down as being “bigots” who just don’t understand how gay relationships work. Since I don’t in any way differentiate between teen male victims of Catholic priests and teen male victims of gay right activists, the double standard on this sort of thing absolutely sickens me.

        Some of my fellow Catholics would be screaming if Roman Polanski were ever honored with a stamp–but then, his victim was female. That absolutely should NOT make a difference; preying on children is preying on children, and preying on a confused, troubled 16-year-old boy is a sickening act that should be condemned, not honored and celebrated.

        • I’m not denying any of that; it wasn’t my point.

          My point is that given the current state of society, this kind of gesture is going to be misunderstood. And if you’re trying to communicate something, it is incumbent upon you, the communicator, to do the due diligence to make sure that what you are trying to communicate will, in fact, be communicated. Check out the comments below the Huffington Post article if you want to see what I mean.

          • Actually, Jon, having engaged in the gay “marriage” debates for at least seven years now, I no longer believe that it is incumbent upon me to do any sort of “due diligence” to make sure that what I am communicating will be communicated. Here are some examples from years of engaging in this debate:

            Me: Marriage is between a man and a woman.
            Pro-SSM Person: Bigot! Hater!
            Me: Children deserve a mother and a father.
            Pro-SSM Person: Bigot! Hater!
            Me: Homosexual acts are intrinsically evil.
            Pro-SSM Person: Bigot! Hater! You are the reason gay kids kill themselves.
            Me: It is ontologically impossible for two men or two women to be “married” without changing the word “marriage” to the point that it becomes meaningless.
            Pro-SSM Person: Bigot! Hater! Who are you to tell me who I can love??
            Me: Parents have the right to educate their children in Christian beliefs, including the understanding that marriage can only be between a man and a woman.
            Pro-SSM Person: Bigot! Hater! It’s your fault that there are thousands of homeless gay teens in every city!

            I could go on, but the point is simple: the failure of the apologists and agitators for homosexual sin to understand anything I say is not my fault, and I respectfully decline to join in any of their delusions about what they think I am saying.

            • *sigh* Well, I won’t pretend you don’t have a point, since that’s pretty much how my conversations have gone, too. But I have had more and less successful conversations, and I still think this kind of gesture is pretty meaningless in context. The best that can be said about it is that all the outrage surrounding it has provided an opportunity to learn more about Milk.

        • kenofken

          Just out of curiosity, what is the title/author of this “one book” that establishes Milk’s “well known” penchant for underage boys? If we look it up, will we find that the author is a current or former leader of AFA or similar groups?

          • Rosemarie


            Erin says that it’s “The Mayor of Castro Street” by Randy Shilts. The author was himself gay and in no way associated with the AFA or similar groups.

            • Yes, Rosemarie, that’s the one! A very pro-Milk book, which speaks of his “penchant” for underage boys quite sympathetically. It’s only in the fairly recent past that the gay-rights movement has unequivocally condemned adults having sex with underage boys; prior to that time you had various people arguing that lowering the age of consent for man-boy love to 16 or 14 was perfectly normal and healthy.

      • Alma Peregrina

        However, the double standard applied to priests and LGBT activists / leftists should be outlined whenever possible.

        If a priest is accused with pedophilia, people imediately jump to conclusions, it is automatically validated as true and proven (even when it is not) and, by an unexplained logical leap, the Church is eeeeevil!

        So we can’t do the same with gays because that’s bigoted and prejudiced? Why? Why can’t I say that the LGBT lobby is eeeeevil because someone belonging to it has a status as rapist, albeit unproven? Why is it allowed to do that to the Church and priests, without being bigoted and prejudiced?

        Anticatholic bigots can’t have it both ways! Either:
        a) pedophilia is such a heinous crime that outrage trumps benefit of doubt and everyone belonging to the same group as a pedophile is automatically socially impure
        b) it is a heinous crime, and because of that we need to be careful with whom we accuse, and we should withold judgment until lawful authorities have properly carried out their verdict, and we should never instrumentalize it to demonize someone with whom we don’t agree.

        FYI, I’d rather have b). For everyone: gay or straight, christian or atheist.

  • But, wasn’t Harvey Milk a pederast who raped a 16 year old boy?

    • Alma Peregrina

      He wasn’t a priest, so that’s OK.

    • HornOrSilk

      What does that have to do with not accepting mail with his stamp? The people who had the stamp might not even have bought it for him and just got it.

      Seriously, stop being such a ruse.

    • Elmwood

      Elvis also “raped” young girls, and probably had a stamp.

  • From yesterday’s second reading from the Office of Readings (Liturgy of the Hours), “Our task is not one of producing persuasive propaganda; Christianity shows its greatness when it is hated by the world.” – St. Ignatius of Antioch

  • Elmwood

    I wish more Catholics would recognize the blatant phariseeism of fundamentalist Christianity, instead of looking to them as role models.

    • Dave G.

      Nice. You just validated a dozen Protestant assumptions about what Catholics really think about them. Well played.

      • Elmwood

        there is no “fun” in fundamentalism.

        • Dave G.

          Depends doesn’t it.

  • Mike

    Mark, check out the Deacon’s Bench post on CATO; it seems apropos.

  • Shaun G. Lynch

    Why are we celebrating the actions of the American Family Association, which has been identified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, and is known to promote anti-Catholicism (Joe Murray: Anti-Catholic rhetoric tolerated within the American Family Association)?

    Harvey Milk deserves to be celebrated for his courageous pioneering work in promoting non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. While there are legitimate issues of concern related to at least one of his romantic relationships, which was with a 16 year-old, it was consensual, it is not clear that Milk actually knew the boy was underage, and he was never prosecuted. Scores of Roman Catholic priests have been guilty of far, far, FAR worse behaviour. There is simply no evidence to support the AFA’s contention that Harvey Milk was a sexual predator.

    Quick reminder: the Catechism of the Catholic Church specifically calls upon us to accept gay people with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. That’s exactly what Harvey Milk is being celebrated for promoting, in the face of opposition violent enough that it actually led to his assassination.

    Here’s the full text of the relevant paragraph from the Catechism:

    2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

    It’s time we Catholics stopped our weird pathological obssession with homosexuals, who constitute, by any objective measure, a tiny minority in the general population.

    And let’s absolutely avoid supporting a hate-mongering organization like the AFA, a significant number of whose supporters don’t even consider Catholics to be Christian!

    • SteveP

      You are saying that Milk did not know whether or not his “romance” was a crime, therefore ignorance of the law is an excuse. Clearly, Archbishop Carlson will be on a stamp soon . . . he just needs a bit of help from revisionists as you demonstrate.

    • Um, nobody here on any side of the discussion is celebrating the AFA or their actions.

      • kenofken

        Sure they are. They’re not eager to own the AFA name or brand, but they believe the AFA has the moral high ground and was, at the core, right to do this even if it was a silly PR move.

        They buy into the AFA’s meme that gays are probable, if not inevitable, sexual predators. They have accepted as proven fact that Milk was a pedophile based on one author’s work and some sort of supposed “common knowledge” about the guy. They have labeled all gay rights supporters as moral defects because we all supposedly give gay guys a pass on pedophilia. I guess we should be calling for the imprisonment of a guy who was already executed extrajudicially, and in a case where the alleged victim is also long dead.

        They accept uncritically the AFA’s notion that a gay person is wholly defined by his or her “perversion” and that anything else they might accomplish in life is meaningless next to that. At a time when being out as gay was professional and often literal suicide, Milk took a public stand for the civic participation and basic dignity of gay people. The Church actually supports that idea, on paper, but for Real Catholics, that only applies to “good” (celibate) gays who accept their orientation as disordered, not those who have the gall to stand up for themselves. Milk was one of those nasty militant brownshirt gays, so his only accomplishment was being “deeply sexually disordered.”

        Many of you are in fact celebrating the AFA, in the usual oblique passive aggressive fashion of tribal culture war allegiance “I’m not sayin…..I’m just sayin”. There isn’t a full inch of daylight between many of your statements and the AFA. Not where it really counts.

        • for Real Catholics, that only applies to “good” (celibate) gays who accept their orientation as disordered, not those who have the gall to stand up for themselves

          Are you saying the church ought to recognize homosexual acts as being in the same essential moral category as heterosexual acts?

        • SteveP

          Rubbish. Just plain rubbish. Not even inspired rubbish. Just a simplistic demonstration of GIGO.

        • Alma Peregrina

          Hum… thank you for reminding me what I really believe and what I was really, really trying to say. Silly me, and here I was thinking that I thought the AFA was being petty and silly in a post where Mark said the AFA was being petty and silly. How could I forget that everyone that doesn’t agree with you must fall perfectly on a stereotype, oh so convenient for you to hold, of eeeeeevil people that align themselves with the eeeeeevil AFA, even if secretly in their hearts?

          Now that you did me such a favor, could you please take your medicine from the nice lady?

  • Pionono

    “While there are legitimate issues of concern related to at least one of his romantic relationships, which was with a 16 year-old, it was consensual, it is not clear that Milk actually knew the boy was underage, and he was never prosecuted.”

    Outrage over AFA’s rejection of a pro-gay postage stamp but “acceptance” of sodomite who didn’t think his victim was underage. The human element of the Catholic Church is in the grip of madness.