One gay student explains, ‘. . . growing up gay in my family is like being Jewish in a Nazi home.’” Robert E. Owens, Jr. The Challenges and Promise for Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Youth, available from Amazon.com and Amazon.ca.
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October marks two major anniversaries. This is the 10th anniversary of Matthew Shepard’s murder, and the 40th anniversary of the founding of the largely queer church denomination, the Metropolitan Community Churches.
November was an exciting month for Black people around the world. Until the American civil rights movement, there were laws that in effect disenfranchised large numbers of Black citizens. Many Black American citizens were unable to vote. In the 2008 United States Presidential Election, a Black man was elected. Barack Obama became the first Black elected President of the United States. A Black person now holds the most powerful political position in the United States, and arguably, the most powerful political position in the world.
Black people around the world feel empowered and affirmed by the election of a Black man as President of the United States. The election inspires hopes for justice and equality for all visible minorities. Young Black children can look to famous political leaders for role models. In Black homes across the United States, parents can tell their children that it is possible to become President of the United States. The American dream has been extended to Black people. The United States has come a long ways since the civil rights era of the 1960s. In less than fifty years, Blacks have gone from being systemically disenfranchised to being a strong American political force.
The struggle for racial equality, for an end to hatred and discrimination against Blacks continues. While the election of a Black President helps, much more needs to be done.
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Gay rights were a major election issue in 2008. Same-sex marriage was not a major issue of debate between McCain and Obama, because both the Republican and Democratic Presidential candidates were opposed to same-sex marriage. Several states had three bitter political campaigns, one for Presidential candidates, one for Congressional candidates, and one about same-sex marriage.
The gay marriage debate divided families, political parties, church denominations, and world religions. The Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints (Mormons) strongly fought against same-sex marriage. Some Christians supported same-sex marriage. The United Church of Christ supported gay marriages.
Money poured into both sides in California’s Proposition 8 battle. Proposition 8 was a very expensive proposition campaign. According to Wikipedia, over $70 million was spent on the campaign. An article on the Advocate web site says it is estimated that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints contributed an estimated $20 million to fight gay marriage in California.
While the November election was an affirming experience for many Black people, it was much less than a positive experience for many members of sexual minorities. Several states had propositions on the ballot banning same-sex marriage. California voters approved Proposition 2, a proposition for farm animals. The proposition should help farm animals have a better quality of life. Now calves, pigs, and chickens will have a more humane life. California voters also approved Proposition 8, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman, and ends same-sex marriages in California. To the voters of California, pigs, chickens, and cows were more important than human rights for gay people. The history books of the world are not going to make California in 2008 look very good.
The fight for same-sex marriage is not over. A battle might have been won by those who have very negative views of gay and bisexual people. The war, however, continues. According to Wikipedia, on November 5, lawsuits were filed challenging the validity of Proposition 8.
The United Church of Christ took out full-page advertisements in three of California’s largest gay community publications stating their support for same-sex marriage, and for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and trans-identified people. The United Church of Christ plans on continuing to support queer people in the struggle for marriage equality. An article about the United Church of Christ’s stand on Proposition 8 can be read on the United Church of Christ News pages.
There are protests against some of the larger and more well-known church groups that fought against Proposition 8. An Advocate article mentions a protest of over 200 people at Los Angeles’ Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. The Catholics are not the only religious group to feel the frustration of the gay community. Another Advocate article says about 2,000 people showed up for a protest at Los Angeles’ Mormon Temple.
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The United States Episcopal Church apologized for its role in slavery. The Episcopal Church held a service of repentance at one of the first Black American churches, the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas. Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori is reported as having said, “We and they ignored the image of Christ in our neighbors.” An article about the Episcopalian apology can be found on the Religion News Service web site. Several thousand protesters are reported to have marched on Sunset Strip demanding equal rights. Another news article tells us of about 12,000 protesters in the Los Angeles Silver Lake area.
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In what might be considered a controversial article, Shelvia Dancy, discusses how Fred Phelps and Westboro Baptist Church, have been “unwitting” allies to gay groups. The article states Fred Phelps helped bring allies to the Matthew Shepard Foundation. Another person cited in the article says Fred Phelps “energized the gay movement.” Dancy’s article can be read on the Religion News Service site.
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A Religion News Service article on the Adventist Review web site states there was a decrease in religiously motivated hate crimes in the United States during 2007. The article states 68% of reported hate crimes were against Jewish people. The percentage of hate crimes against Jewish people increased from 2006. Hate crimes against Islamic and Catholic people decreased during 2007.
While the total reported hate crimes were down, and hate crimes against Muslims and Catholics decreased, gays and lesbians did not fair as well. In 2007, 1460 hate crimes against gay people were reported by the FBI. That was an increase over 2006.
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Those who would like to see Barack Obama take action on human rights issues in the early days of his presidency, can go to the Amnesty International USA web site and complete a form. The form sends an email asking Obama to announce a time when Guantanamo will close, to ban torture, and to establish an independent inquiry into the United States detention and interrogation practices during the war on terror.
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We receive numerous You Tube videos on topics related to human rights and hate crimes. Links to a few of the You Tube videos we received appear below:
with news about hate crimes or discrimination is welcome to email us.
•Martin Luther King
- “I Have a Dream” Video of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous civil rights speech.
•Never Alone Martin
- You Tube video about Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement.
- Video includes some information that is being presented to schools in Manchester, United Kingdom, in an effort to help reduce homophobia in schools.
•Teach Love - Not Hate
- Short video interview of a 4 year old boy about gay people and people of different races. The boy shows more maturity and love than many adults. We could learn from this 4 year old.
•Breaking the Storm: Gay Myths and Hype
- Video examines some of the myths around homosexuality. The video cites studies about gay people.
•The Laramie Project - What’s Goin’ on?
- This You Tube video is about Matthew Shepard and hate crimes against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and trans-identified people.
•Matt Shepard Rally 2008
- A You Tube video featuring a group of queer cheerleaders.
•Matthew Shepard - 10 Years Later
Video features a few shots of Matthew Shepard in a film interview, footage of different plays, and the song American Triangle.
•10 Years After Matthew Shepard’s Murder
- A Rocky Mountain News video about Matthew Shepard, features an interview of Judy Shepard. Mrs. Shepard talks about Matthew in the view. In this video, we get glimpses into the real Matt.
- The poem is accompanied by powerful images.
•Indian 2 Spirits Gay Boy Coming Out Story Cowboy Western
- Video of parents talking about their gay or two-spirited son. In some indigenous North American cultures, gay people were respected and held leadership roles. That ended when European cultures became dominant in North America.
•The Rainbow Flag
- Video looks at the meaning of the pride flag, and what the colors in the flag mean.
•Young, Queer and Homeless in Toronto
: Where is the Support Homelessness and poverty are serious problems among young queer youth. Video looks at homelessness in Toronto, Canada.
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