In issue 14
Sex Politics and Religion
Coral Ridge What? Who?
The demise of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church’s Rev. D. James Kennedy gave some hope that the local anti-gay machine might sputter to a halt. Pessimistic conservative pundits lured us further down that rosy path as they decried the new pastor’s claim, according to TheVoiceMagazine.com, that he wanted to move away from the culture wars and the former pastor’s “passion to reclaim America for Christ through social conservative political efforts.” Good news, right? Not so fast. Wayne Besen of TruthWinsOut.org reported that Rev. Tullian Tchividjian, grandson of Rev. Billy Graham and Kennedy’s successor, had chosen Robert Knight, a man he describes as “severely truth challenged,” as a general in the culture war as part of Coral Ridge Ministries. It turns out Besen’s rant about General Knight, which summed up Knight’s work as “paranoid – if not delusional – rantings about the gay movement’s secret desire to stamp out the free speech of radical Christians,” turned out to be a little truth challenged as well. Believe it or not, Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church and Coral Ridge Ministries are two separate entities that happen to share the Coral Ridge name and former leadership by Rev. Kennedy, but Tchividjian said in an interview on National Public Radio that he would not lead Coral Ridge Ministries. Let’s hope Tchividjian helps grow the divide between the two organizations. Meanwhile, always remember there is usually more than one side to the story.
Beasts of Burden
The run up to the 2008 election gives new perspective to Alaska politics, especially when the actions of Alaska’s political machine are mirrored in Florida. As both states consider legislation outlawing bestiality the coverage of this issue is mind-boggling. TCPalm.com took time to focus on one state Senator’s confusion over the term “husbandry” in the bill. Senator Larcenia Bullard (D-Miami) reportedly said, “People are taking these animals as their husbands? What’s husbandry?” while her peers stifled their laughter. Other headlines have touted “Bestiality is legal in Florida.” OK, the Senator’s misunderstanding was funny, but the tone of coverage pokes fun at Floridians all for the sake of sensationalizing the topic. It’s not that bestiality is tacitly legal in Florida; rather the laws are so poorly written that a previous law outlawing bestiality was declared unconstitutional and animal abuse laws cannot be enforced because prosecutors have difficulty proving an animal was harmed. Instead of going for what they must think are sexy headlines, these legislators should pull their heads out of the sheep’s arse and focus on the pertinent laws. Instead of creating new sexually oriented laws, why not improve current animal cruelty legislation? Proper wording of existing animal cruelty laws could eliminate the problem. After all, if prosecutors can prove a sexual act was committed with an animal they should be able to prove it is abuse. Otherwise, they could simply add the phrase from a t-shirt focusing on the issue, “BAAA means NO!” Problem solved.
Senator Barney Frank was recently interviewed on the topic of same-sex marriage and the potential for the debate to go before the Supreme Court. In his response Frank declared that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is a homophobe. Puzzled (not really), I investigated his claim and found that in the Lawrence v. Texas case that decriminalized sodomy Scalia wrote in his dissent, “Many Americans do not want persons who openly engage in homosexual conduct as partners in their business, as scoutmasters for their children, as teachers in their children’s schools, or as boarders in their home… The Court views it as “discrimination” which it is the function of our judgments to deter.” (Note Justice Scalia’s use of scare quotes around “discrimination”.) So far there has been no response from Scalia or his representatives other than Fox News, who claimed Scalia is one of our favorite targets.
The Waiting Game
While we wait to see what Florida’s legislature will do on non-discrimination laws, it’s comforting to point out that Gainesville voters rejected a measure that would repeal protections for LGBT members of their community. 365Gay.com says Citizens for Good Public Policy, proponents of the measure, claimed that the use of public restrooms by transgender people was the primary concern, a concern highlighted by their commercial showing a scruffy man following a little girl into the restroom and claiming “Your City Commission Made This Legal.” A voter turnout poll following the vote concluded that most voters claimed the civil rights issue was the reason they were there. Thank you, Gainesville.