Ted Haggard: videos you may not have seen…

lgbt, media, religion No Comments »

Ted Haggard, former pastor of New Life Church and a “heterosexual with issues” has been at the center of a media circus the past few days with an appearance on Oprah, the debut of an HBO documentary called Trials of Ted Haggard, and the revelation his church might have bought the silence of a teenager with whom he was inappropriate with.

In the media and documentary Haggard comes across as amicable, if somewhat pathetic and lost; someone who might be worthy of a little pity, or at least his family anyway.

The clips below which show a different Haggard at the height of his power and influence as founder and senior pastor of New Life Church.

From Richard Dawkins’ BBC program The Root of All Evil.

and from Jesus Camp (at 3:45).

Nope. Not one ounce of pity.

Pope reinstates Bishop who denies gas chambers were used during Holocaust

religion, video 2 Comments »

Pope Ratzinger recently saw fit to revoke the 1988 excommunication of Bishop Richard Williamson, who in a televised interview last week cited that “historical evidence” contradicted the idea that Jews were gassed during the Holocaust… that there were “no gas chambers at all.” Really?


Since the televised interview restrictions have been placed on Bishop Williamson, prohibiting him from “speaking in public on political or historic questions.” He shouldn’t be allowed to preach in front of sheep either.

LGBT Community: Please don’t vilify our friends, like Tom Hanks

entertainment, lgbt, media, religion 2 Comments »

tom_hanksThose who voted yes on Proposition 8 have been called many things in the aftermath of  the election. Haters. Bigots. Hypocrites. Christianists, and those are only a few of the more kind labels. But never have I heard anyone refer to them as un-American.

Tom Hanks has come under fire recently for retracting his statement from last week where he said voting for Proposition 8 was un-American. Unsurprisingly, some in the LGBT community are up in arms over the retraction, despite the infrequency of such a charge. 

The LGBT community is still smarting from the unhealed wound that is Prop 8, myself included. I married my partner in September of 2008, and there’s a reasonable chance that by the summer of 2009 it will be rendered invalid. (Catholics, Mormons can expect a bill if that happens).

There are multitude of reasons of why marriage equality lost in November. One I keep coming back to is a failure to cast the role of the villain in the battle against Prop 8. Unlike Prop 6 in 1978, there was no John Briggs to debate, and no Anita Bryant to galvanize  our base. Instead in 2008 we had the Catholic and Mormon church, two amorphous beasts that were nearly impossible to vilify in the minds of the public. 

Since the election, many in the LGBT community have been quick to accuse and eager to demonize, perhaps in an effort to finally cast the “villain” we never had the opportunity to confront. Unfortunately, we are not always right in this rush to judgement. Naiveté, retractions, misstatements and quotes taken-out-of-context can erase years of LGBT favor and support. Even members of the LGBT community are not immune. 

Among many, Reverend Rick Warren now fills the role of villain quite nicely, Prior to the election, Warren made a video supporting Prop 8, and later compared gay marriage to incest and pedophilia. But who was talking about Warren prior to the election? Where was the outrage then? Drowned out by the noise against the Mormon and Catholic church? Granted Warren himself leads a church (an unfortunate pattern), but at least we could have put a face to the hate, a person to focus on, and someone to discredit. 

Which brings us back to Tom Hanks. 

First his original statement (via Fox News):

“…and the truth is a lot of Mormons gave a lot of money to the church to make Prop-8 happen, there are a lot of people who feel that is un-American, and I am one of them. I do not like to see any discrimination codified on any piece of paper, any of the 50 states in America, but here’s what happens now. A little bit of light can be shed, and people can see who’s responsible, and that can motivate the next go around of our self correcting Constitution, and hopefully we can move forward instead of backwards. So let’s have faith in not only the American, but Californian, constitutional process.”

And now his retraction (via a publicist):

“I believe Proposition 8 is counter to the promise of our Constitution; it is codified discrimination. But everyone has a right to vote their conscience; nothing could be more American, To say members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints who contributed to Proposition 8 are ‘un-American’ creates more division when the time calls for respectful disagreement. No one should use ‘un- American’ lightly or in haste. I did. I should not have.”

I anticipate the reaction in the LGBT community will be swift, viewing the retraction as cowtowing to the religious right. And considering the reaction already among some in the LGBT community, you’d think that Tom Hanks not only retracted his “un-American” comment, but whole-heartedly endorsed Prop 8 as well. Hanks only retracted the “un-American” label, which really seemed misapplied in the first place. Isn’t refusing to vote even more “un-American?” Regardless of what or who you are voting for?

Nor did the media or bloggers help by mischaracterizing the retraction as an apology, when the words “sorry”, “apologize” or “regret” appear nowhere in the statement.

What is important however is that “Discrimination should not be codified.” survived in the retraction. This says a lot more about Tom Hanks than any “giving in” does. Last time I checked Americans could still be bigots and hate mongers and racists. It doesn’t make them un-American. It makes them undesirable elements of society.

In such a toxic environment it’s easy to turn on friends, or those who been supportive of our cause. I too have been guilty of rushing to judgement (sorry Josh Brolin).  But these are the people we cannot afford to lose. Tom Hanks and Melissa Etheridge are not the villains. Barack Obama is not the villain. 

The LGBT community is still angry, and if that anger continues misdirected, we will lose more than friends and supporters, will lose our cause, and ourselves.

I… we… need to remember that hate, intolerance and ignorance are the villains, and those individuals who personify them. I don’t count Tom Hanks among them.

A reminder below of just how short our memories are…

White House website updated with LGBT issues. Wow!

lgbt, politics 1 Comment »

In a word. Wow. From the spiffy, newly redesigned Whitehouse.gov website.

Support for the LGBT Community

“While we have come a long way since the Stonewall riots in 1969, we still have a lot of work to do. Too often, the issue of LGBT rights is exploited by those seeking to divide us. But at its core, this issue is about who we are as Americans. It’s about whether this nation is going to live up to its founding promise of equality by treating all its citizens with dignity and respect.”— Barack Obama, June 1, 2007

  • Expand Hate Crimes Statutes: In 2004, crimes against LGBT Americans constituted the third-highest category of hate crime reported and made up more than 15 percent of such crimes. President Obama cosponsored legislation that would expand federal jurisdiction to include violent hate crimes perpetrated because of race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, or physical disability. As a state senator, President Obama passed tough legislation that made hate crimes and conspiracy to commit them against the law.
  • Fight Workplace Discrimination: President Obama supports the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and believes that our anti-discrimination employment laws should be expanded to include sexual orientation and gender identity. While an increasing number of employers have extended benefits to their employees’ domestic partners, discrimination based on sexual orientation in the workplace occurs with no federal legal remedy. The President also sponsored legislation in the Illinois State Senate that would ban employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
  • Support Full Civil Unions and Federal Rights for LGBT Couples: President Obama supports full civil unions that give same-sex couples legal rights and privileges equal to those of married couples. Obama also believes we need to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and enact legislation that would ensure that the 1,100+ federal legal rights and benefits currently provided on the basis of marital status are extended to same-sex couples in civil unions and other legally-recognized unions. These rights and benefits include the right to assist a loved one in times of emergency, the right to equal health insurance and other employment benefits, and property rights.
  • Oppose a Constitutional Ban on Same-Sex Marriage: President Obama voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment in 2006 which would have defined marriage as between a man and a woman and prevented judicial extension of marriage-like rights to same-sex or other unmarried couples.
  • Repeal Don’t Ask-Don’t Tell: President Obama agrees with former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff John Shalikashvili and other military experts that we need to repeal the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. The key test for military service should be patriotism, a sense of duty, and a willingness to serve. Discrimination should be prohibited. The U.S. government has spent millions of dollars replacing troops kicked out of the military because of their sexual orientation. Additionally, more than 300 language experts have been fired under this policy, including more than 50 who are fluent in Arabic. The President will work with military leaders to repeal the current policy and ensure it helps accomplish our national defense goals.
  • Expand Adoption Rights: President Obama believes that we must ensure adoption rights for all couples and individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation. He thinks that a child will benefit from a healthy and loving home, whether the parents are gay or not.
  • Promote AIDS Prevention: In the first year of his presidency, President Obama will develop and begin to implement a comprehensive national HIV/AIDS strategy that includes all federal agencies. The strategy will be designed to reduce HIV infections, increase access to care and reduce HIV-related health disparities. The President will support common sense approaches including age-appropriate sex education that includes information about contraception, combating infection within our prison population through education and contraception, and distributing contraceptives through our public health system. The President also supports lifting the federal ban on needle exchange, which could dramatically reduce rates of infection among drug users. President Obama has also been willing to confront the stigma — too often tied to homophobia — that continues to surround HIV/AIDS.
  • Empower Women to Prevent HIV/AIDS: In the United States, the percentage of women diagnosed with AIDS has quadrupled over the last 20 years. Today, women account for more than one quarter of all new HIV/AIDS diagnoses. President Obama introduced the Microbicide Development Act, which will accelerate the development of products that empower women in the battle against AIDS. Microbicides are a class of products currently under development that women apply topically to prevent transmission of HIV and other infections.

This is a huge step. Hopefully these words will translate into action.