Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Latest on Sally Kern Backlash

Check out the last paragraph and see what you's worth the time to really look at and see where you land on feeling the level of reaction...and why. There's so much I could say on this, and it's really important to me that you drive the bus on what you believe...and again...why.

Anti-gay Oklahoma Rep. Sally Kern retains legal counsel

by Nick Langewis

In an escalating public battle over anti-gay comments made at a secretly taped speech, the conservative Thomas More Law Center of Ann Arbor, Michigan announced on Wednesday that it has agreed to represent Oklahoma Rep. Sally Kern in any legal cases arising from the controversy.

"Representative Kern expressed her concern that the homosexual agenda was destroying our nation, and that young school children were being indoctrinated into believing that the homosexual 'life style' is normal," said a Thomas More Law Center news release on Wednesday. "Her comments caused some of the nation’s largest homosexual groups to target her for political annihilation."

"Representative Kern will not back down, regardless of the attempted hate-mongering intimidation by these national homosexual advocacy groups," added the firm's President and Chief Counsel Richard Thompson of the "courageous Christian woman." "Their actions are right out of a play-book developed by radical homosexual activists in the 1980s to manipulate and intimidate the majority of Americans into accepting the normalcy of the homosexual life style. (sic)"

An IRS-designated 501(c)(3) organization, Thomas More runs on individual, corporate and foundation donations and does not charge for its services. Its aim is to "[defend and promote] the religious freedom of Christians, time-honored family values, and the sanctity of human life through education, litigation, and related activities."

On Tuesday, about 300 people rallied outside Oklahoma's state capitol to protest Kern's statements and demand an apology. The crowd included LGBT advocates seeking to meet with the lawmaker, who was personally invited to the rally by Oklahoma City resident and retired United Methodist minister Rev. Jim Shields, joined by Rev. Loyce Newton-Edwards of the United Church of Christ, also president of Oklahoma City's PFLAG chapter.

"I'd have no problem meeting with ['two or three' representatives of the gay community] next week when I have my lawyer," Kern told Tulsa World on Tuesday.

Kern's comparisons of gays to cancer, charges of "indoctrination" and opining that gays posed a worse threat to the United States than international terrorism have garnered both praise and ire in the public square after the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund's "We're Listening" campaign brought it to light.

Portions of the speech follow below:

Kern has defended her free speech rights and refused to apologize, saying that she was not engaging in "hate speech." Rather, she says, she was holding true to values that helped her be elected to public office.

"Most Oklahomans are socially conservative and believe marriage is a sacred institution, the union of one man and one woman, and that the traditional family is worth protecting and preserving," said Kern in her March 10th public statement. "When I campaigned for office, I promised my constituents to stand up for those values, and I do not apologize for keeping my word."

"In recent days," said Victory Fund President and CEO Chuck Wolfe on Tuesday, "Rep. Kern and her supporters have defended her freedom of speech, as though that's what millions of people, gay and straight alike, are objecting to. We are not. Rep. Kern has every right to her opinion and to express it.

"But she is also a public servant and an elected community leader whose public speeches have an impact beyond her own small sphere. If she had offered similar hateful views about African Americans, Native Americans or Jewish people, the calls for her resignation would have been swift and deafening, and from both sides of aisle in the State House. We wouldn't even be debating her speech. We'd be saying goodbye."

Originally published on Thursday March 20, 2008.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Intersections for A Girl Like Me

I just returned from Purdue University in Indiana where we made history together on Tuesday night. As part of their student diversity conference called Intersections, they broke ground and opened the dialogue on faith and sexuality reconciliation for the first time in the University's history...which dates back to the late 1800s.

There's an air of the topic being taboo if you support and accept homosexuality on campus. If someone is struggling, there's a small support group that one hears of through the grapevine on campus held in the counseling center. There's a queer student alliance which meets for mostly social reasons with apparently one member interested in advocacy. Can't blame them...even though the school is second in the nation for sheer numbers of international students, acceptance of diversity is still a challenge in the traditionally white, conservative, agricultural, Christian student body, especially when it comes to gay, lesbian and transgender students. The board of trustees doesn't support or fund a resource center where students struggling with homosexuality can safely come to for help. It's loose knit, faculty isn't involved, there's a huge hole and need for student support.

Although around the campus there's a belief that being gay isn't okay, and in our screening event, it was just the opposite. There were honest questions, honest struggles, celebrations, affirmations, support, love and call to action for people to not just watch and nod their heads...there's a real need to not only DO something, there's also the real need to BE something. Be who you are and not assume everyone is against something. We have to live FOR something, nothing survives for long when it's only against something. It's not sustainable.

I was proud, impressed and also heart broken during my visit. I heard stories of family members being rejected, the pain reverberated the room. I heard of kids staying in the closet and scared, of hating feeling they have to lie about who they are. I also met straight ally Christian men stepping up, standing with and supporting gay students. They are the heroes who are creating the climate change. It reminds me of Caucasian men and women marching with African Americans in the 1960s. It's exactly what is needed, and once again, just like the '60s, the youth are teaching the rest of us what kind of world is possible when unified.

One question I was asked was which faiths are most accepting of homosexuality. I mentioned Buddhism and then specifically mentioned Christianity at its purest form as lived out by Jesus in the New Testament (even though Jesus wasn't a Christian obviously). When Christianity is lived by the Christ Consciousness demonstrated by Jesus, seeing him role-model unconditional love and recognize every human being as a child of God, then I can say that it's a faith that is accepting. I mentioned the faith, not the followers...the followers have free will to misinterpret, play God and judge what they don't understand and miss the point to Christ's lessons. This happens often, however it's not every Christian.

I see authentic processing going with many Christians, young and older. I get emails seeking support, asking real questions, wanting to truly live with God's heart. It's tough to reconcile at first, I know, I was there. I just don't want people to do it alone. I really believe people want to do the right thing, there's a spirit of Anne Frank in me believing all people are good. I believe it's our natural state, and along the way of life, it got muddled, sometimes really really muddled. The movie and our screening events and conversations are an invitation to return to the natural state. To return to the basics. To return to love.

It's been suggested to have a message board on our website for viewers of the film to talk about how it touched them...and in some cases, saved them or a family member. I'll look into it. Until then, you have the comments option on any of our posts, you can also email our office at to share your story.

One of the other events they held as part of the conference showed this award-winning short done by a high school student called A Girl Like Me. I highly encourage you to watch it and do something...or something after seeing it. As a media lecturer for 8 years before doing my own media projects, I find it powerful and am glad to share it with you. It's a reminder that we're all in this together...the solution is in the quality communication we share with each other.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Ellen DeGeneres Reports on Teen Killed for Being Gay

I just wanted to thank those of you who watch Ellen, the talk show hosted by Ellen DeGeneres. Because of the success of the show, she's able to help get the very serious word out about something as tragic as this:

What I hoped this clip would show is what happened before they went to commercial. The cameras started swinging and panning across the audience as they not only clapped in support for what Ellen says, they also stand.

This is huge....this is the kind of support we see at our movie events over and over again, and some people don't believe us because they don't see it in the media. There is SO much support for equality, acceptance and inclusion for the gay community across the country, but the mainstream doesn't see it.

There is more support than not and it takes moments like these where power is used for good, for social change, for human enlightenment, for the benefit of society as what Ellen did that'll bring more of that already present support more into the light. Thank you to that audience for standing up and applauding.

You don't know what that means to us.

We hope you'll find small ways every day to show that same kind of effort...helping people stop saying "that's so gay", not fuel jokes made about gay people. Let the ripple of ignorance and fear stop with you.


Monday, March 10, 2008

What is "Backyard Bigotry"? Ask Oklahoma Representative Sally Kern

A couple of friends of mine, Dotti and Roby are writing a book called When Homophobia Hits Home...A Compassionate Couple's Journey to Transcend Backyard Bigotry (out in 2009). They bring up a great question we all ought to take a more deliberate look are we actually still a part of the problem of inequality and not the solution when it comes to demonstrating through our behavior, words, money and votes?

One of the big obstacles could be our socializing during childhood...we weren't encouraged to talk about things, and when we did, we could be met with conflict and opposition from the very ones we loved the most. To cope with not losing those we love, we either say what we think we're supposed to or not say anything at all.

This seemingly small decision has such a huge ripple effect when it becomes the norm. We've adopted this way of handling (by not handling) our differences. As if individuality in God's creation is somehow threatening if we can't put it in a box.

One of HRC's mottos is Talk About It and for some reason it's the hardest thing to get people to do. There's such a fear of acceptance and no longer "belonging" that many choose to not, as Dotti says, "stand up and speak out." It's so harmful not only to those who need the support, but to those who don't speak. It's all stuck energy which gets released in really unhealthy what Oklahoma Representative Sally Kern showed us recently.

Her husband is a pastor. She continues to be elected. She thinks she's only talking to people in the room and would only say what she said if she believed the people would agree. No one in the room stops her. She's allowed to say what she says and it's not challenged.

I have my ancestor roots in Oklahoma. My Native American grandmother was forced to go to to an "Indian" school and to convert to Christianity. She spent most of her life very quiet. A well-read, profound woman of wisdom...with very few words. She was ashamed of being Native American and couldn't understand why my generation was so proud. Within one and two generations, we took back our pride as a people and make no apologies for who we are.

The same has happened in so many other communities, including the gay community. And why women can now vote, why interracial marriages are legal and so many other "advances" in social equality is because people started talking about it. Talking from a place of health, love and curiosity versus fear is next on the list.

People are angry with Sally Kern, the blogs and media postings say so, the fact that the link has gone all over the country and world, the overwhelming email her office has received....I actually thank her. She did us a favor in allowing the backyard bigotry to be a topic of conversation, she brought it out into the light so we can really dialog and learn from each other. Many of us in this work knows this goes on all the time, but the majority of America doesn't.

This reminds me of a friend who said to me, "you mean, people still care that you're gay? I thought that was finally over forever ago." Nope. Sally reminded us there's still a few out there who don't get it. So, let's support her in her journey of expanding her expression of love, in forgiving herself for becoming someone she doesn't want to be. Be the change we want to see and treat her with the respect and love we'd like to see from her. Let her know, and the others like her, what unconditional love feels like. If not us, then who?

Once you see the video above, Email her if you'd like at:

Friday, March 07, 2008

I Met a Woman Who Should be Dead by Now

Luane and I were invited to a gathering at Darlene Bogle's request to meet a fascinating woman named Naomi Harvey. Darlene's latest book is Naomi's life story and it amazing.

Before I move on telling of the evening, here's the description of the book, A Miracle Woman: The Naomi Harvey Story:

An exciting story of a woman who at the age of 16, devoted her life and musical talents to Christian ministries and orphan children. Who by every reasonable account should have been derailed and cursed her God when she was attacked by drug lords which left her body broken; her home burned to the ground and 2 of her 10 adopted children murdered. She was then sentenced to 17 years to life in prison for second degree murder. She was ostracized by church and family when she acknowledged her true sexual orientation. How she held on to her faith and God's love is part of the miracle you will find in these pages. Learn what has kept her faith alive and is the driving force today as she travels across country with her partner, ministering to the whole person and "Sharing Father's Heart."

When I first walked in and shook hands with Naomi, knowing some of her past, I just shook my head and said, "I can't believe you're alive and not screwed up." She laughed contagiously and so the evening had begun. Story after story she shared while we ate and laughed and awed.

Later, she broke out her pink guitar...I'd never seen a pink guitar like that in person before...and sung us a song. You can hear it on her site.

There's nothing like an in-person, private concert. Her partner did a flag routine to the song and with each of them sharing their gifts for us after being on the road touring for 7 weeks...I don't know where they got the energy.

We did a blessing dedication on the book, ate more and had a teary goodbye. To meet Naomi in person is truly remarkable. Hearing what she's been through and see with my own eyes how the only wrinkles on her face were from smiling so much...impacted me deeply. It was an honor to meet her, and I told her that. I thanked her for being such a pioneer in paving the way for our movie and for us being out more freely than she was able to be at our age.

This is truly a remarkable story and woman and I hope you'll look at her book as an inspiration and rededication that God's got your back or as Rev. Deborah says, God is good...all of the time.