Stop Hate 2000 Newsletter January 30, 2008

If the Church, after the victory over apartheid, is looking for a worthy moral crusade, then this is it; the fight against homophobia and heterosexism.” Archbishop Desmond Tutu cited in The No-Nonsense Guide to Sexual Diversity, by Vanessa Baird. Available from Amazon.com.
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January 16 is an important date in the United States history. January 16, 1786, the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom was made law. According to Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, Thomas Jefferson wrote the statute in 1779. Information about the statute can be read on the Wikipedia web site.
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Knowing people of different racial, and ethnic backgrounds, different religions, and different sexual orientations helps reduce prejudice and discrimination, because we come to understand many of the stereotypes about minority groups are wrong. There is a stereotype that gay and bisexual men are not masculine and are athletic. Scott Jordan is an openly gay NCAA swimmer. Because Scott is open about his sexuality, he is helping reduce some of the stereotypes that gay men are not athletic. An article about Scott Jordan can be found on the Planet Out sports pages.

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As has been said a few times in our news letters, words are very important. Legal wording and legal protections mean something to people. South Africa became the first country in the world to place in its constitution protection against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. A black South African drag queen is cited in the book The No-Nonsense Guide to Sexual Diversity as saying the following about the addition of the clause protecting sexual orientation in the constitution. “My darling, it means . . . Nothing at all. You can rape me, rob me, what am I doing to do if you attack me? Wave the Constitution in your face? I’m just a nobody black queen . . . But you know what? Ever since I heard about that Constitution, I feel free inside.”

Legal protections against discrimination and against hate crimes might not prevent either discrimination or crime, but legal protection makes a powerful statement, a statement that speaks to the hearts of members of minority groups. That message is that society values all people, that society values each person who is a member of a minority group. For some people, knowing society values them might be the first really meaningful affirmation they have had. Feeling affirmed is very important to members of the queer community. The suicide rates among gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth are significantly higher than they are for straight youth.

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The suspicious death of a gay, native American university professor Morgan Lewis in Aberdeen, South Dakota has been a source of concern to us at Stop Hate 2000. A January 7, 2008 article on the Northern Valley Beacon web blog states the case will be “re-examined before a state hearing officer in March.” An Argus Leader news article provides more details. Both articles indicate the appeal might be an attempt by Morgan Lewis’ partner to receive insurance. Morgan Lewis’ partner says he is looking for justice. An examination of the case is very good news, because some details about the death do not appear to be certain and because the police department was going through personnel changes when the murder was being investigated. Additional information about Morgan Lewis can be found on his Stop Hate 2000 memorial page.

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May 11, 2007, a 45-year old gay man, Trevor Brewster, was found murdered in the Halifax, Canada area. According to an article on the Queerty.Com web site, Trevor’s body was found in the Burnside Trails area, which is known to be an area gay men cruise for sex. The article indicates the murder is troubling, given the murder of another gay man in the area, Michael Paul Knott. According to a CTV article, because both men were gay and frequented gay cruising areas, the police issued a warning to the Halifax gay community. The CTV article informs us that Glen Douglas Race was charged with the murders of both Michael Knott and Trevor Brewster.
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Fred Phelps and Westboro Baptist Church became famous after picketing the funerals of gay people. Matthew Shepard’s funeral probably gave the church the most publicity. More recently, the church has taken to protesting at the funerals of United States soldiers who died in service for their country. Heath Ledger, the young actor who played the part of a gay man in the film Brokeback Mountain, died recently. According to news reports, members of Westboro Baptist Church would like to picket Heath Ledger’s funeral. Picketing funerals is carrying homophobia too far. We are sharing a poem that was written in 2002, about four years after Matthew Shepard died. The poem was written because Westboro Baptist Church was picketing on the fourth anniversary of Matthew Shepard’s murder. Karen Robinson, the author of the poem, Report from the Battlefront, describes the events when people in Colorado protested against Westboro Baptist Church that day. Her reflections on the day can be found on a web page titled God is Love.

Report from the Battlefront

You stand huddled in the prison of your own making,
Fenced in by your terrible signs:
"God hates fags", they say, and "Matt in Hell",
"God hates America", they say.
Who is this god you worship, who hates us all?
I think you misname him; he has another name.
You bring your own hell with you,
You wrap yourselves and your children in hellfire
And your signs dance like mocking demons in the wind.

Sickened, I turn my back on you,
And see an angel tall against the sky:
A banner of white and gold proclaiming
"God is Love!"
Rainbows billow around me,
Swirling in the fierce, clean wind
That blows like the breath of God.
Beneath the tall angels we mortals break bread,
Sharing donuts like a sweet communion,
Hugging and smiling, waving
At the passersby, who return our love.
I have turned my back on Hell
And have entered Heaven.

This is what happens when angels go to war:
A battle of the spirit, fought with words,
With banners streaming in the sun
And lighted candles shining in the dark.
I will pray for you to be released
From the Hell you have made.
I will pray that you enter Heaven
And know that God is love.

Karen Deal Robinson

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A few stories we’ve been following appear below:

•The Advocate News system has a story about 14 year old Belinda Allen, who is believe to have committed suicide because of being taunted by other students.
•A gay Scotland council worker, James Kerr, was beaten to death by three youth. One of those youth, David Meehan, age 19, was sentenced to 16 years in prison for his part in the hate crime. An article about the crime can be read at PlanetOut.

Internet video on topics related to hate appears below:

•In a fairly academic You Tube video, “The Psychology of Hate, Anger, Prejudice, Intolerance” John Breeding, who identified as a psychologist, discusses some of the causes of hate and intolerance.
•The You Tube video “Homophobia, Love Thy Queer Neighbor” encourages acceptance of gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans-identified, and questioning people.
•A You Tube video “Gay Marriage: What’s the big screaming deal?” makes the point that gay marriage makes a couple of people happier and does not impact on other people at all.
•The You Tube video “Yes, I’m Gay But . . . “ helps show that many stereotypes of gay men are incorrect and that we should accept people as they are.
•The You Tube video “Love is a Christian Virtue; Hate is Not Christian“ is one Christian's response to Fred Phelps and Westboro Baptist Church's desire to picket Heath Ledger's funeral.


Anybody with news about hate crimes or discrimination is welcome to email us.



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