Yesterday in Orlando, Florida prominent Black ministers joined forces with Alan Chambers , president of Exodus International in a press conference to denounce the proposed Federal Hate Crimes Act of 2007, written by openly gay politicians Barney Frank and Tammy Baldwin.
Bishop Larry Jackson, Pastor and musician Marvin Winans and others gathered to display their opposition to a bill that would lend support to state and local authorities to investigate and prosecute crimes based on race, sexual orientation, and gender identity. During the press conference the Black ministers took the opportunity to once again reject the notion that the movement for gay equality is similar to the civil rights movement.
"We stand today with many in the African-American community who also recognize that one's sexuality can be changed, but one's skin color cannot." We call upon Congress to promote legislation that affirms authentic equality and protects our religious freedoms, said Alan Chambers, "former homosexual" and leader of Exodus International.
The Human Rights Campaign has launched a massive effort to see that this billed is passed. It would be a landmark victory in the struggle for LGBT equality in America. A vote is expected to take place as early as Monday. The HRC has sent out an e-mail blast uncovering the lies and fear tactics these two groups are using to kill this very important piece of legislation.
THEIR LIE: "This bill would punish thoughts and criminalize free speech."
THE TRUTH: This bill will punish vicious criminals who attack members of our communities simply because of who they are. The bill does not criminalize thoughts or speech; it only covers crimes involving bodily injury or attempted bodily injury.
THEIR LIE: "This bill gives homosexuals special treatment."
THE TRUTH: The current hate crimes law excludes violence against a person because of his or her sexual orientation, gender identity, gender or disability. There is nothing “special” about wanting to live free of violence in our society.
When I first received the e-mail today informing me that Black ministers had taken it upon themselves to join in with the KKK I was outraged! And I use the term KKK loosely when referring to Exodus International, because the truth is Alan Chambers and his followers have an agenda and that agenda does not include anything that really matters to the majority of the Black community.
The very same people that Bishop Jackson and Pastor Winans are standing with are the same group of people who beat and murdered their people less than sixty years ago. And why? The color of their skin. When are these Black preachers going to learn that anti-gay bigots like Alan Chambers and Dr. James Dobson only call on them when they need a black face to spread their hateful message disguised as "tough Christian love" into the Black community? They have come to further divide our community and they're using religion to get the job done.
Since when did it become a bad thing to want to live in a society free of violence? Or to be able to walk down the street and not fear that your life is in danger because you're gay or perceived to be? Will somebody please tell these media hungry and misguided ministers that by supporting this legislation they won't be perceived as pro gay or going against God's will? I'm starting to wonder if these people actually have a heart. The last time I checked, God's desire was that all of his children experience love and not unfair discrimination or wrongful death.
The actions of these ministers and the right wing in this country is beyond scary. They have become the Bull Connor of the LGBT rights movement. The more they denounce the similarities between the two movements, the more apparent they become, at least to me. White LGBT folk continue to be the face of what it looks like to be gay in this country and Black gays and lesbians are being left out of the discussion. If we don't come out and tell our stories these people will tell them for us.
Where were these ministers when Michael Sandy died? Why didn't they rush to console Rashawn Brazell's mother after her son's body parts were found in bags all over New York City? Where were they when Sakia Gunn was murdered? Or when Kevin Aviance was beaten and left for dead? Didn't they meet at least one requirement by the NAACP and the Religious Hypocrites of America? They were all Black, but nobody came because they were also gay.
There is a need for this bill in our country and if they're too blinded by the spotlight and overflowing collection plates on Sunday to see that then we have an even bigger problem. In a perfect we would all be treated as equals. Now imagine that.