As I sit here at my desk day after day reading the news stories that streak across the news pages of various web sites and newspapers that I read, I become more and more angry each day. Within the last week or so, I have read stories about:
A jury in Kentucky rejecting a charge of murder for a man who confessed to beating and strangling a gay man and then stuffing his body into a suitcase, and then casting it upon the waters of a lake. Even though the accused murderer confessed to an Aunt that he intentionally lured a gay man to his hotel room where he had planned to kill the victim, because of a “steaming anger” towards gay men. Defense counsel argued to the jury that the killer was “privileged to do” what he did to the victim because the victim made a sexual advance to the killer. The victim was put on trial for being a gay man rather then the killer being convicted for premeditated murder. The Attorney went on to tell the jury that the killer had “the right under Kentucky law to fight back to protect himself from being raped or sodomized with the use of deadly force, and would do so again.”
In another murder case, a gay man was killed after he and another man had sex in Wisconsin. The killer’s defense Attorney is using the “gay panic” defense as a reason for the killing, and that the killer was no longer confused about his sexuality because he had started a relationship with a “14 year old girl.” The defense is also claiming temporary insanity and that the killer should not be held accountable for the crime. Apparently having consensual oral sex with another man in Wisconsin is justification for using a shotgun a “few hours later” and after shooting the victim in the back of the head with the shotgun, stabbing the victim. It is the claim of the prosecution that the killer wanted “to see how it felt to kill the victim and to see if he can get away with it.”
In the great Commonwealth of Virginia, that bastion of liberty and love, the House of delegates passed a bill that will allow license plates to extol traditional marriage. The plates would carry the message, “Traditional Marriage.” Now how could that simple message make anyone feel bad? Secondly, the school board of Fairfax Virginia has ordered all schools to host “ex-gay speakers” in the schools so that the students could be “offered a choice” instead of being exposed to the “very destructive lifestyle” of the gay community. Offered a choice? Is that like choosing to order the pizza or the mystery meat at lunch? Don’t they get that being or not being gay is not chosen? Obviously not.
Two of our public broadcasting networks, CBS and NBC, recently refused to carry a message from the United Church of Christ that advocated inclusion of all people within the confines of their church. How could this 30 second message possibly be offensive to anyone? Isn’t the message of Christ one of inclusion? Well, it seems that since gay people were obviously welcomed in the UCC, these two networks just couldn’t stand to air any ad that preached tolerance and love. Why CBS even cited George W. Bush and his renewed attack on the LGBT community via the United States Constitution as a reason not to air the ad, least they offend the right-wing white house.
In the state of Texas, another shining star of tolerance, we once again find another Christian institution expelling a gay Christian student from High School. His offense one might ask? He created a web site targeted to support gay youth. This was all it took for the Trinity “Christian” Academy to not only expel 18 year old James Barnett, but to out him to his parents. This then has led to his possible expulsion from his family home as well as from his high school because the parents don’t like the publicity they are receiving. More of that Christian love can be seen in this move also…
And of course ABC did not want to be left out of the race of the networks to see who could seem the most gay unfriendly amongst the “big three.” ABC news program 20/20 disturbed the grave and peace of Matthew Shepard, to show it too was willing to appease the religious right and Washington D.C. fascists by ripping open a wound that has yet to close from the day that Matthew was murdered. In an Advocate.com exclusive, it was revealed that the producers of this segment had made up their minds about the conclusion of their “renewed investigation” into the facts surrounding the brutal death of Matthew, before the investigation was even completed. 20/20 attempted to change people’s minds that the murder of Matthew was drug related rather then a hate crime. This attempt at historical revisionism took place in spite of the statements made by the cold blooded killers of Matthew themselves at the time of their arrests admitting that homophobia was the motivational factor in the crimes against Matthew’s person. This is a Disney owned company? A company that would collapse if its gay employees all walked out? A company whose theme parks would not be able to open in the morning without gay employees? How do I know this? I and my partner worked for the Walt Disney Corporation in the late 1970’s, and believe me when I say, you could not swing a boa without hitting a good looking young gay man. Gay men and women were the life’s blood of the parks.
In the much enlightened state of Arkansas, it has been deemed “not to be homophobic” by the author of a bill that has been introduced and probably will pass, that bars gay couples from adopting. “This bill is not meant to discriminate against gays,” said Representative Bob Adams. Huh? Apparently like the Roman Catholic Church, it is preferable to leave children languishing in orphanages rather then go to a loving home where the child can be well cared for and loved. Love, an ingredient so missing in so many of these stories.
These are all recent news stories. This does not even take us back to the first of this year. A common factor running through all these examples besides the lack of love, is a cheapening of the value of gay life. It is okay to kill a gay man if he makes a pass at you, although they do frown about shoving bodies into suitcases and polluting the water with the remains since that killer was also charged with the “tampering with physical evidence.”
But it is not only the cheapening of the life and death of gay people, it is the downgrading of the essential equality of the American dream that has taken place. It is a lack of respect for fellow human-beings that is practiced by this administration, most of the churches who have not seen the true light of the Gospels; and by the everyday man or woman on many streets.
But I am not just mad at the ignorant, the fool hearty, the religious fundamentalists of all faiths, the Republicans, both gay and straight, but I am mad at the gay community for allowing this to happen to us after all of the sacrifice and work that has gone before us. With millions of us here in the United States with a recently reported gay buying power of $610 billion dollars in the American economy, why do we allow this nonsense to continue? Why can our concerns, our rights, and position in society, and our very lives be deemed so unimportant that for a second “state of the disunion” speech made by the current occupant of the White House, that he can once again call for the relegation of the gay community to a permanent second class status by using the most scared secular document in the nation; our Constitution to further the agenda of the mean spirited, ugly, capitalistic, war mongering centipedes called the republican majority to attack the entire LGBT community, our friends, and families? Why do we allow this? It is our fault for allowing it to happen. It is our fault for not having national leadership in this community. It is our fault for not having a national strategy to smack these upstart anti-American pseudo-Nazis down with the back of our hands. We have become as complacent as the Jews of Nazi Germany of the 1920’s and early 1930’s were, and we saw what happened to them.
Archbishop Bruce J. Simpson, OSJB, is the author of “The Gay Face of God” and “If He’s Queer He Musta Done It”. A Vietnam Era Veteran, former Police Officer of the Year, a Federal Agent, a Federal Magistrate, an armed bodyguard to Saudi Royalty, a senior Federal Government executive, and recipient of awards from the Vice President of the United States and the Secretary of Treasury.
While studying at Mt. St. Mary’s Seminary and Theological College at the Catholic University of America, he decided that his own conflict of conscience would not allow him to go on to ordination in the Roman Catholic Church. He was ordained a deacon in the Old Catholic Church in 1995, a Priest six months later, and was called to the Episcopacy in early 1999. On January 30th, he was consecrated a Bishop of the Catholic Church. In 2002, he was consecrated sub-conditione by a Roman Catholic Archbishop, three times removed from Pope Paul the Sixth.