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  • February 16, 2008

    GNW 5: Criminal 'ex-gay' therapy

    Posted by: Chris

    1. Minister guilty of sex assault of young man in gay 'therapy': QUICK LOOK: A Winnepeg minister and former Christian college instructor has been found guilty of sexually assaulting a young man who sought counseling after he feared he was homosexual. A jury returned with the... (MORE)
    2. D.C. Methodist church under fire for gay services planD.C. Methodist church under fire for gay services plan: QUICK LOOK: A conservative Christian group yesterday criticized a large Methodist church in the District for planning to offer services that recognize gay and lesbian relationships,... (MORE)
    3. Logo greenlights feature film version of 'Noah's Arc'Logo greenlights feature film version of 'Noah's Arc': QUICK LOOK: Logo yesterday greenlighted a feature film based on the channel's popular series "Noah's Arc." "Noah's Arc: Jumping the Broom" will revolve around four black gay friends... (MORE)
    4. Md. gay marriage advocates pin hopes on a bishopMd. gay marriage advocates pin hopes on a bishop: QUICK LOOK: Rev. C. Anthony Muse is at the center of a religious-cultural debate on the meaning of marriage in Maryland. As an evangelical bishop and head of the Ark of Safety Christian... (MORE)
    5. First statewide official in Md. to back gay marriageFirst statewide official in Md. to back gay marriage: QUICK LOOK: Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler has become the most prominent official in Maryland to endorse gay marriage, telling state legislators Thursday that he believes the... (MORE)

    Gnw_lighthouse_logo_3 These are the Top 5 popular stories on Gay News Watch over the last 24 hours. You can also view the most popular stories of the last week or month, as well as the biggest stories of the last 24 hours, week or month.

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    January 05, 2008

    Time for ex-gay hate crime protection?

    Posted by: Chris

    Gregoryquinlan_2 I couldn't resist sharing this priceless argument made to a committee of the New Jersey Assembly against adding "gender identity" to New Jersey's hate crime law, which already covers "sexual orientation" as a protected category:

    Gregory Quinlan of New Jersey Family First identified himself as a former homosexual and said he felt discriminated against because former gays are not included as a protected class under the proposal.

    However, attempts to amend the bill to include people who identify themselves as formerly gay or transgendered failed to gain support in either the Assembly or Senate.

    The legal irony here is that if Quinlan were the victim of a crime based upon his (alleged) former sexual orientation, it most likely would be covered by the existing law. I say "most likely" because ex-gays are rarely (ever?) so victimized. As a result, the actual question has never been put to the test (that I'm aware of). But it would flatly irrational for the law to protect someone if they're gay or straight but not if they're straight but used to be gay.

    Still, if Quinlan were right, would that mean transgender protections should wait until the votes are there to also cover the ex-gays -- not to mention the formerly transgender folks who decide to revert back to their biological gender?

    (Dude with the 'do: Quinlan photo circa 1998 via ProFamilyNetwork.org)

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    October 26, 2007

    A non-scandal's dying growls

    Posted by: Chris

    Obamamcclurkinsidden The mathematics of race and sexual orientation, cleverly illustrated by blogger Jasmyne Cannick.

    The Barack Obama "ex-gay" gospel scandal apparently grew legs to growl another day or three.  But the how's are particularly eyeroll-inducing:

    • Black lesbian blogger Jasmyne Cannick flipped a gasket at Obama's decision to invite a gay pastor to participate in the same South Carolina campaign tour that will include "ex-gay" singer Donnie McClurkin.  "What the hell were Obama’s people thinking when they invited a white openly gay minister to open for his South Carolina gospel concert with Donnie McClurkin?" wrote Cannick. 

      Let me get this straight:  White Americans should entrust a black man with the nation's highest office, to take responsibility for an enormous range of problems that impac their lives, but African-Americans can't hear from a white gay minister about anything relating to civil rights.  Smell the irony.

    • HRC was quick to react to suggestions by Cannick and others that it helped Obama come up with the  idea of including Rev. Andy Sidden. Not true, swears HRC, once again trying to sit the fence and satisfying no one.  HRC's blogger even offers up a couple of helpful black gay pastors Obama could have called upon.  He fails to mention, however, whether either minister actually supports Obama, which would seem to be an important criteria toward inclusion -- though not as important as race, apparently.

    • A South Carolina gay rights group isn't missing its piece of the action, and is planning a vigil outside the concert on Sunday. We queers just can't help but shoot ourselves in both feet, whether it's opposing historic gay rights legislation or holding vigils to protest a candidate that has the best positions on gay rights than anyone ever with a serious shot at the White House.  I don't just blame the clueless purists who run our activist groups.  I blame all of us, for ceding the game to them in the first place.

    • The gay blogosphere, which has played this controversy like a violin, continues apace.  The first words in a post on the topic yesterday by the sassy folks over at Queerty referred to Obama as "the pandering presidential candidate."  OK class, time to open our dictionaries. A candidate who "panders" is one who shifts in the wind, telling and doing exactly what each constituent group wants. Obama has stuck by his guns throughout this whole thing, risking alienating both gays and blacks (and the black gays who are member of both groups). 

    • Last but not least, the inevitable anonymous source has come out of the woodwork and claimed, without any evidence or corroboration, that he had a three-year "friends with benefits" relationship with "ex-gay" McClurkin from 2001-04, which just happens to be during the height of the gospel singer's "gay cure" rhetoric.  I won't link to the blog posts because I deplore the way these nameless, faceless voices arise, with no corroboration, to (purport to) tell incredibly private details about a public figure's sex life. The politics of personal destruction claims yet another victim, however deserving he might seem.

    That last phenomenon, which we witnessed most recently in the Larry Craig drama, was the subject of a column I wrote a few weeks back, about how the "sex police" on the Left feed on this sort of despicable, invasive and uneverifiable information. I never posted it in any form here on the blog, so I'll link to it for those who are interested.

    Lost in all the P.C. posturing -- and I don't use that term lightly -- is the way Obama has taken a clueless staff decision to invite McClurkin in the first place and turned it into common ground for two seemingly incompatible constituencies: gays and conservative black Christians.  In a letter released by his campaign today, the two groups put it plainly:

    In the midst of division, we hope and believe that this is a moment to bring together communities that have been divided for far too long. A few things are clear.

    First, Pastor McClurkin believes and has stated things about sexual orientation that are deeply hurtful and offensive to many Americans, most especially to gay Americans.  This cannot and should not be denied. At the same time, a great many African Americans share Pastor McClurkin’s beliefs.  This also cannot be ignored.

    Finally, we believe that the only way for these two sides to find common ground is to do so together. Not at arms length.  Not in a war of words with press and pundits.  Only together.

    When was the last time conservative black pastors joined gay religious leaders for a statement like this?  I argued earlier this week that this flap has only reaffirmed Obama's unique ability to construct the kind of big tent that could not only win elections, but effect real change. It's a point echoed in the letter:

    In gatherings of LGBT Americans and African Americans of faith, Obama has stated that all individuals should be afforded full civil rights regardless of their sexual orientation, and that homophobia must be eradicated in every corner of our nation.  If we are to end homophobia and secure full civil rights for gay Americans, then we need an advocate within the Black community like Barack Obama.

    At the same time, while Obama has said that he "strongly disagrees" with Pastor McClurkin's comments, he will not exclude from his campaign the many Americans including many in the African American community who believe the same as Pastor McClurkin.

    We believe that Barack Obama is constructing a tent big enough for LGBT Americans who know that their sexual orientation is an innate and treasured part of their being, and for African American ministers and citizens who believe that their religion prevents them from fully embracing their gay brothers and sisters.  And if we are to confront our shared challenges we have to join together, build on common ground, and engage in a civil dialogue even when we disagree.

    All I can say is amen to that.  One warning, however:  I haven't confirmed the racial identity of the letter's 16 signatories, so we'll have to wait to hear whether enough rings have been kissed for it to past blogo-muster.

    For a complete gay news summary on the Democratic presidential primary, click or bookmark: gaynewswatch.com/demprimary

    For a complete news summary of interest to black gay men and lesbians, click or bookmark: gaynewswatch.com/black

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    October 23, 2007

    Big tents go both ways…

    Posted by: Chris

    2007_10_22_barack_obama_mcclurkin_3 OK, it's a vaguely sexual mixed metaphor, but it sums up my view about the mini-flap that blew up in Barack Obama's face over the last few days. Here's the gist of it, courtesy of the Baltimore Sun:

    A gospel concert tour organized by the Barack Obama campaign on behalf of the candidate is stirring controversy among some gay activists. The three-day tour through early-voting South Carolina starts this Friday and finishes Sunday with a concert that includes Grammy Award-winning Gospel artist Donnie McClurkin, who has provoked controversy among gay activists for his views that homosexuality can be "overcome."

    The Huffington Post's Earl Ofari Hutchinson has stoked the controversy on the web with a post that argues featuring McClurkin in a campaign-backed concert series amounts to an "ala Bush pander to anti-gay mania" that he calls "shameless and reprehensible."

    McClurkin, who is also a Pentecostal minister, has been a prominent advocate of the view that homosexuality is a lifestyle and that gays can will themselves to heterosexual behavior. McClurkin has said he struggled with homosexual "demons" for 20 years--which he attributes to molestation as a child by male relatives--but is now straight.

    Marymary Actually, the problems run a bit deeper than a single ex-gay gospel singer. Two other acts on the tour have anti-gay histories. Jasmyne Cannick has the background on Mary Mary:

    And sister’s Mary Mary made it crystal clear earlier this yeat in an interview with Vibe Magazine how they felt about gays.  When asked how they felt about homosexuality and having a gay following they likened gays to prostitutes and murderers.

    “I feel how God feels about it, um… but I still love them. You know what I mean? I don't agree with the lifestyle, but I love them. They can come to the concert; I'm going to hug them just like I hug everybody else. They have issues and need somebody to encourage them like everybody else - just like the murderer, just like the one full of pride, just like the prostitute, everybody needs God.

    Pity that.  Victor Calderone's remix of "Shackes (Praise Him)" is one of my faves.

    And Rod 2.0 offers a few kernels about another act on Obama's "gay bash tour," Hezekiah Walker:

    Hezekiah Walker is a minister of the Pentecostal faith, traditionally inhospitable to gays, and, heads a Brooklyn mega-church well-known for its anti-gay views. Walker was also the subject of an unfounded gay rumor that has become urban legend.

    Taken together, the inclusion of these three acts screams of poor advance work and a candidate not well-served by his staff. But that doesn't justify Hutchison's hysterical HuffPo reaction, pinning the decision for their inclusion on Obama himself, and alleging he did so as a strategic move to "masterfully tap into homophobic sentiment" the way George Bush did in 2000.  Even without knowing either either man, I can say with full confidence that Barack Obama is no George Bush, and Hutchison only makes himself look silly to suggest it.

    For example, Obama has issued a statement that Bush and Rove would never dream of issuing:

    "I have clearly stated my belief that gays and lesbians are our brothers and sisters and should be provided the respect, dignity, and rights of all other citizens. I have consistently spoken directly to African-American religious leaders about the need to overcome the homophobia that persists in some parts of our community so that we can confront issues like HIV/AIDS and broaden the reach of equal rights in this country.

    I strongly believe that African Americans and the LGBT community must stand together in the fight for equal rights. And so I strongly disagree with Reverend McClurkin's views and will continue to fight for these rights as President of the United States to ensure that America is a country that spreads tolerance instead of division."

    Perhaps I'm under Obama's spell, but that statement pretty much settles the matter for me.  The gay rights (oops, lgbT) movement has insisted for as long as I can remember that the Republican Party should be a "big tent" with room for gays and our allies, as well as those who are pro-choice and progressive on other social issues. Shouldn't the same be true for the Democrats, especially in the case of a presidential race.

    If Barack Obama has somehow convinced an "ex-gay" gospel singer and his anti-gay allies to campaign on his behalf, despite being the strongest candidate on gay rights with a shot at the White House, then I say more power to him. Obama has proven time and again that he is willing to stand up for gay rights to conservatives, including those he needs within the black church.

    Wayne_besen2_large_2 I've got nothing but respect for activist and author (and friend) Wayne Besen, whose group Truth Wins Out has called on Obama to drop McClurkin from the South Carolina tour:

    "We strongly urge Obama to part ways with this divisive preacher who is clearly singing a different tune than the stated message of the campaign," said Truth Wins Out's Executive Director Wayne Besen. "We can only hope that Obama is unaware of McClurkin's anti-gay history and will swiftly condemn such intolerance. Real leadership includes standing up to those who drive wedges between the American people."

    I can understand why Wayne, who has dedicated years to fighting the "ex-gay" myth, would draw the line at McClurkin.  (Notably, he makes no issue about Mary Mary or Hezekiah.)

    To me, the McClurkin gig is a sideshow to what the candidate himself actually thinks and believes. Wayne is certainly right that McClukin is "divisive" in a way that doesn't fit Obama's "new politics," but if he can unite deeply conservative gay foes like McClurkin and the other two acts behind the most pro-gay candidate we've ever seen with a serious shot at the White House, I say Amen!

    What do you think? Cast your vote in the Vizu Poll in the right column…

    For a complete gay news summary on the Democratic presidential primary, click or bookmark: gaynewswatch.com/demprimary

    For a complete news summary of interest to black gay men and lesbians, click or bookmark: gaynewswatch.com/black


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    November 01, 2006

    Also in the news…

    Posted by: Chris

    *    Violence in the Castro last night, when 10 people were wounded after gunfire broke out between two rival groups attending the gay neighborhood's massive Halloween street party. I'll give 100-to-1 odds the gunplay wasn't the doing of the gays and their friend in attendance. Reports AP, "members of the district's large gay community say the party had started attracting gay bashers along with the usual colorfully costumed characters." There's a good reason why even nightclubs with metal detectors routinely disconnect them for "gay night."

    Georgemichael *   British pop star George Michael is complaining that his gay fans abandoned him after he came out of the closet. "Gay fans are only interested when you're in the closet," he said during a U.K. TV special last night. "Once you're out, they don't give a toss." Of course, George "came out" when he arrested in 1998 for trying to have public sex with an undercover police officer. At the time, gay sympathy was generally with him, but he's squandered it since with a series of embarrassing stunts involving more public sex in London, and falling asleep at the wheel (pictured) under the influence of various substances, usually marijuana or GHB. Caught after one particular incident, he said that cruising for public sex is "what gay men do." Later, after making still further headlines for smoking a joint during an interview, he offered one wish we can all agree on: "I hope my future is very different. I hope I learn to shut my mouth. If I did, I would probably have all the sex I like, wherever I like. Which I do anyway, to be honest with you.”

    *    A new poll shows that 7 out of 10 heterosexual Americans know someone who is gay. The rest of the Harris online poll is not so useful, focusing on what percentage of self-identified gay respondents consider themselves "out" to friends and family. Hello — if they self-identified as gay in an opinion poll, aren't they fairly likely to out in general?

    Spainmapclipart19 *   Elementary and secondary schools in Spain are launching a program to teach the existence of gay families, a year after the country begin marrying same-sex couples. This is a kind of nightmare scenario for conservative Christians in the U.S., who see it as pro-gay indoctrination. In fact, it's teaching students about the world around them. It remains to parents and churches to add to that lesson whatever moral condemnation they have for gay relationships. But it's not the job of the government to hide the existence of gay people from students to satisfy the religious teachings of some parents, whether or not they're in the majority.

    *    Meanwhile back in my home state and hometown of Memphis, Tenn., the state has given up attempts to regulate a facility where parents can send their children to undergo therapy to supposedly avoid becoming gay or to convert back to heterosexuality. The facility, operated by the "ex-gay" Love in Action group, was ordered closed as an unlicensed mental health facility. Love In Action sued, claimed their First Amendment freedom of religion (i.e., indoctrinating minors to their religious beliefs) was being violated. The issue came down to whether LIA was " controlling patients' access to their prescription medication," as if that were the only way to measure whether unlicensed mental health therapy was being practiced. In a settlement, the state dropped regulatory efforts and agreed to pay LIA's legal fees because the facility will no longer handle patients' meds. So the abuse will continue… (Hat tip: Ex-Gay Watch)

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