The SCOTUS Same Sex Marriage Case Plaintiffs Sound Off on the Mormon Church and Call for a Boycott

unmormon choir

A few weeks ago, I wrote a letter to the Mormon Church over its new change of policy. That policy not only compared the act of a loving commitment in a same sex marriage to the sin of murder, it specifically called out and ostracized our children. It was the first time a major religion targeted the children of LGBT families and treated them as pariahs.

The sting of that action has been felt far and wide by LDS members and non-members alike. One reaction to the attack was the development of a petition asking that conscientious singers and performers take a stand and decline invitations to perform with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, probably the single most positive outreach into the secular world that the LDS Church deploys. The petition has been catching momentum, and now it has 15 more very prominent signatures.

They are those of a majority of the plaintiffs in the Obergefell case that prevailed at the Supreme Court brining widespread same sex marriage legalization to the United States.

They stood up against homophobia in equal legal protections, and now they stand against it in theological principles.

Here are their thoughts in their own voices: (From their November 24th press release.)

Obergefell plaintiffs have issued the following statements condemning the Mormon Church’s Nov 3, 2015 policy:

“The Mormon Church has chosen to discriminate against same-sex couples and their children in what I can only describe as a cold and cruel response to the SCOTUS ruling making same-sex marriage legal across the nation. As a Christian clergyman and SCOTUS plaintiff, I find this decision by the church to be highly abusive to the LGBT community and their children. I urge folk of good will and moral consciousness, to boycott Mormon Church sponsored events and pressure leadership to reconsider this destructive decision. Resist in love and never comply with religiously motivated bigotry and discrimination.”   Rev. Maurice Blanchard

“We encourage everyone to sign the petition at, asking the guest performers to cancel their appearance with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, because with two small children of our own this policy disheartens us because it tears families apart. This feels like a direct attack of the family recognition that we fought for this summer as plaintiffs in the case that brought marriage equality to our country. “   Pamela & Nicole Yorksmith
“What the Mormon Church is doing is a perfect example of EVIL – especially when you have spiritual leaders condoning hate in the name of God. From the beginning of time people have used God to justify what is unjustifiable. Furthermore, Science is MUCH older than Religion – therefore the Talmas-Vitale family has a hard time believing anything that comes from modern religion – especially one that was founded in 1830!”   Joseph Vitale, Rob Talmas, Cooper Talmas-Vitale

“As named plaintiffs in the Kentucky Bourke vs. Beshear case that was joined with Obergefell vs. Hodges at SCOTUS we reiterate our support for the petition and what it seeks to achieve. Real people and real families are being torn apart by the LDS Church’s new and hateful policy that punishes innocent children. Please sign and help us spread the word asking the guest performers to cancel.” Greg Bourke, Michael De Leon, Isaiah Bourke De Leon, Isabella Bourke De Leon

“We have had the great privilege to have several devout Mormon friends and close family supporting us in our long struggle for marriage equality. Therefore we have much respect for the church and its devout people of faith. As such, we ask the Elders to please reconsider their recent exclusion of the children of whose parents may be in a same gender relationship. Please do not separate the children from the love of Christ because of the perceived sins of their parents. Remember the words of Christ in Matthew 19:14 ” Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven”.   Timothy Love & Lawrence Ysunza-Love

“I’ve always fought for basic fairness for families to include my own. As a plaintiff in the recent Obergefell v. Hodges case that helped advance equality for all families, I am proud to support the petition, and I call on the guest performers to cancel their Christmas concert with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. This latest action of the Mormon Church directly attacks families by forcing children to choose between their Faith or their own family. To place this burden on children is fundamentally unfair.”   Ijpe DeKoe shes innocent children. Please sign this petition and share with your friends to spread the word.”shes innocent children. Please sign this petition and share with your friends to spread the word.”

“We have children along with some of our co-plaintiffs and just thinking how horrible that would be. We do NOT support the church that sees this to be a bad thing having gay parents. Just having parents for so many wonderful kids who need families. We are great parents and it’s not just “gay” parents. We LOVE like all great parents, and to try and verso that up is unthinkable to us. We are equal and we LOVE equally, as though should ALL !!”   Tammy Boyd & Kim Franklin

Photo Courtesy of Scott K. Fausett, © Scott Fausett, all rights reserved


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Posted in Civil Rights, Marriage equality, Mixing religion and politics, Prejudice, Religion | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

What a Transphobic Texas Teacher Needs to Learn from an Amazing Transgender Five-Year Old

Ellie evol equals main pic

In Texas, the latest punch in the “religious freedom” strategy has been thrown. Previously, the anti-gay movement enlisted cake bakers, florists and a hapless county clerk, Kim Davis (you’ve heard of her, right?). The latest to step up to the victim mouthpiece is a teacher named Madeline Kirksey. Kirksey claims that her “religious freedom” has been violated because she has been asked to refer to a transgender child by the child’s chosen name and proper gender pronoun. Kirksey has refused to do so, and claims that she was fired as a result (the school denies that this is the case).

But it should be the case. Ms. Kirksey deserves to be fired.

Vanessa [last name withheld], a teacher in Washington D.C., points out why: “[This teacher] discriminated against the child. It is the job of a teacher not only to support our students, but also to value their diversity. It is our job to ensure students are safe, physically and emotionally. By misgendering the student and refusing the preferred name, the teacher is explicitly hurting the child…on purpose. The well-being of our children is directly linked to affirming families and communities. For children, school is where they spend most of their time. This type of direct discrimination and disrespect puts the child at higher risk of self-harm and suicide. A teacher wouldn’t bully a cis student and get away with it.”

Vanessa’s husband, Ron, concurs, “It’s shocking that people’s religious beliefs are so strong that they would not acknowledge a kid’s new name. Support and acceptance for transgender people have been substantially lacking, and my fear is how these kids will be accepted and kept safe.”

Vanessa and Ron have become de facto experts in how trans kids should be treated. Their almost five-year-old daughter, Ellie, is transgender. They are a family rooted in strong values. Vanessa’s parents lived the ultimate love story, meeting young and falling in love for a lifetime commitment. Ron’s parents were also in love, but the family had to deal with tragedy. When Ron was ten years old, his dad died of brain cancer. “The emotional scars were still deep, knowing my dad was no longer living. So, when I met Vanessa and thought about raising a family, I really wanted to ensure she and our kids were what I focused on—my role as a husband and dad. They came first,” he told me.

Their son, Ronnie, was born first. Ellie was due eighteen months later. “We had an amniocentesis and found out the ‘sex,’ but at the time we really didn’t think about sex and gender being different. We pretty immediately formed a family identity as ‘Vanessa and Ron with two small boys.’” The amnio did not tell the truth about Ellie, however. The packaging was misleading. As soon as she was able to speak, Ellie set about clarifying who she was to her parents. “I’m not a boy. I am a girl. I’m a girl in my heart and my brain. My penis is my only boy part. The whole rest of me is girl,” she would explain to them out of the blue, without prompting.

Vanessa was disturbed when she witnessed Ellie trying to fight her own inner truth. Ellie would lie in bed at night, unable to sleep, poking her chest and attempting to convince herself of something she was told but did not believe: “Boy, boy, boy! I have to be a boy! I have to like power rangers!”

Witnessing this struggle, Vanessa and Ron knew it was time for them to transition. Their daughter had spoken, and they had to listen. Ellie had already rejected the name she was given at birth. She had been okay with it until she realized people would see her as a boy if she used it. So she informed her parents that she was “Ellie.” The results of Vanessa and Ron’s full acceptance of Ellie was dramatic. “She blossomed, became happier and just seemed more herself. We have a happy, silly, strong-willed, outgoing daughter. Before her transition, she was mostly quiet, shy, sometimes angry and certainly not outgoing. At the forefront of parenting is ensuring the happiness and safety of your children. It was clear that by not listening to her, we’d be putting her at risk, and that is not something we were willing to do,” Vanessa says, emphatically.

Ron and Vanessa then did the incredible; not only did they not hide what was going on in their family, they built a new community consciousness around their child. Ron explains. “My concerns were about how society would view Ellie. Ellie is of two different races: Caucasian and African-American. This should not be an issue in modern society in America, but it still is, to a certain degree. Ellie is also a transgender girl, so now we have a really interesting kid and a dynamic on various levels. My concern stems from this convergence—her growing up as biracial and transgender—and what she will face as she gets older. Transgender females of color face the harshest treatment of any trans people. In the African-American community, support and acceptance for transgender people have been substantially lacking, and my concern is about how Ellie will be safe and secure. Society has come a long way, in certain regards, to accepting and supporting people with different gender identities, but there is a lot more that can be done to accept and treat them fairly.” Vanessa and Ron wrote a letter to hundreds of people in their community: Ellie’s teachers, the principal, and everyone who would touch her life. They explained her story in detail and provided eight different resources for people to turn to for further information. If a friend of Ellie’s asked a question, they answered it and then sent a copy of their letter to the child’s parents.

ellie 2Ellie’s school has been entirely supportive; the principal and assistant principal co-signed Vanessa and Ron’s letter. Vanessa says, “Reaction has all been positive. 100 percent…which is surprising. Now, it’s totally possible that it’s not 100 percent positive behind our backs, but all that really matters is that Ellie is respected, cared for, and that people use the right name and the right pronoun for her. We’ve been very surprised by the number of people who we were nervous to tell. We are realistic, and know that at some point she will confront the hate, the anger, and the misconceptions in the world, and we just hope that it can change fast enough for our daughter to lead her life as freely and proudly as she does today. She tells people she is transgender. We kept this specific word from her initially but in reading I Am Jazz, she heard it once and immediately took it on as her own. Our choice to share so publicly was right for our family, but we know that other families have reasons to remain more private. We are just grateful for the response and support we’ve received. Our dream is for Ellie to move forward in life as proud and safe as she is now.”

Ellie 3And, as for Vanessa and Ron’s response to people like Madeline Kirksey and others, who rant and disparage transgender kids? “It should be a nonissue. When adults make it an issue, they are not helping anyone; in fact, their views harm children. This happens everywhere. The fact that a six-year-old is threatening to adults is mind-blowing. A lot of it is fear-mongering. There is a lot wrapped up in sexuality. Children, especially those Ellie’s age, are not sexual people. Her gender identity has nothing to do with sex and won’t be related to sexuality for many years.”

I address Ms. Kirksey and others who share her point of view in the following letter:

Dear Ms. Kirksey,

In the Bible, the book of Proverbs advocates for using a rod on children in five different instances. In the book of Deuteronomy it mandates that rebellious sons who do not listen to their fathers or mothers be stoned to death. You may have a deep-seated religious conviction that everything the Bible says is true and literal, and you may feel a duty to follow it. But I can assure you that if you followed it to the letter with one of my children in your care, I would not stop at getting you fired. I would seek to have you arrested and put away for a long, long time.

There is absolutely nothing in the Bible that addresses modern kids and the transgender process. And yet you assert that your refusal to address a transgender child by the right name and pronoun somehow flies in the face of your biblical learning. You have flouted parental instruction as to the needs of their child. Instead, you have chosen to challenge the child’s identity on a daily basis. Behavior by adults like you toward transgender children has resulted in this: More than 50 percent of unsupported transgender youth will have made at least one suicide attempt by their twentieth birthday. By contrast, when adults respect the identity of transgender children, according to a study by Trans PULSE, the number of suicide attempts drops by 95 percent.

Your behavior is monstrous. You do not get to cane children with a rod. You do not get to stone them. And you do not get to destroy their self-worth and image. You do not get to do any of that for the sake of your own selfish belief system. There is something greater than dogmatic belief: a common and enlightened sense of dignity.

There is a fabulous little transgender girl named Ellie. Her name means “shining light.” Your name derives from Mary Magdalene, a woman who witnessed such a light and a resurrection. And now it’s time you witnessed a child’s resurrection into the life they need to live in order to thrive and grow.

Your choice is clear, Ms. Kirksey. You could be the teacher whose image a transgender person remembers on the night they decide to end it all just to get your incessant voice repeating the wrong name over and over out of their head. Or, you could be one of their safeguards, the one who told them they could be the best form of themselves. You can be part of what helps them die, or you can be part of what helps them change the world. Vanessa and Ron—as loving, caring parents—have made their choice, as did the parents of your transgender student. They have learned the lessons of listening and love.

The role of a teacher is to guide and inspire. A person who picks denying a child’s very identity, thus nudging them down the path of self-destruction, is not fit to teach.

It is you, Ms. Kirksey, who needs to be taught.

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Photos: ©Jill Promoli , all rights reserved, used by permission

Thanks to Rachel Hockett for her editing assistance!





Posted in Civil Rights, Family, Living, Mixing religion and politics, Prejudice, Religion | Tagged , | 10 Comments

Gay Dad Tells Off the Mormon Church: Leave Our Kids Alone

damned by mormons

It is not news that LGBT folks have suffered abuse and atrocities at the hands of organized religion. From independent Christian Churches who have literally threatened to kill or exile us, to the Catholic Church who for years declared us “intrinsically disordered”, we thought we had heard it all.

That was before the Mormon Church decided to go after our kids.

They have added this to their handbook:

“Policies on Ordinances for Children of a Parent Living in a Same-Gender Relationship, The following additions to Handbook 1 have been approved by the Council of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for immediate implementation…A new section in Handbook 1, 16.13 will be added as follows: Children of a Parent Living in a Same-Gender Relationship. A natural or adopted child of a parent living in a same-gender relationship, whether the couple is married or cohabiting, may not receive a name and a blessing. “ In order for that child to get an exception from that rule? The child must accept and commit “to live the teachings and doctrine of the Church, and specifically disavows the practice of same-gender cohabitation and marriage. 2. The child is of legal age and does not live with a parent who has lived or currently lives in a same-gender cohabitation relationship or marriage.”

I should not be surprised that the Mormon Church is vindictively damning my kids and those in all LGBT families and encouraging them to “disavow” their parents. The church has been one of the most publicly anti-gay forces in fighting against LGBT rights. Not only did they bankroll a huge portion of the Proposition 8 campaign in California, they encouraged their followers to take mortgage loans out on their homes and do the same. Even though the proposition won at the time, long term, it was a poor investment.

Karma is a bitch, and it seemed to play out when after the Supreme Court overturned Proposition 8 and DOMA. Utah, the epicenter of the Mormon church, was one of the first states where a federal court ruled they had to accept same sex marriage post-DOMA. That had to be a bitter pill for the Latter Day Saints to swallow.

Many of the people in the Mormon fold did not react well. One writer notoriously threatened to starve himself to death if same sex marriage was not abolished. Another saw the LGBT agenda coming in all directions including as hidden messages in the movie Frozen. Some gay Mormons saw themselves as anti-LGBT rights prototypes who forced themselves into straight marriages so they could then declare that legalized same sex marriage somehow violated their choices.

As strange as all those arguments and actions were, none approached the naked vitriol of this current move.

Dear Mormon Church,

I cannot at this moment call you “saints” as your current move is very un-saintly.

It is one of the biggest ironies for LGBT people: for many years we were warned of the detriments our prospective children would face should we have them. We were told we were inadequate, incomplete, possibly depraved and that our children would be persecuted. Only that very last prediction is proving to be true.

It is proving to be true because the people who made the prediction are seeing to it that it will be true.

The Catholic Church had a theological opinion published in the 1990s who declared that parents like me were doing “violence” to our children simply be being their parents. That was completely offensive, and of course, a lie.

You have taken that hateful sentiment and moved it up a notch. You don’t accuse LGBT parents of committing violence against our kids, you have decided to commit the violence yourself.

You have let it be known that innocent children, too young to even know what a church is, are damned, nameless and unwelcome. You have set forth a rhetoric to inspire them to feel less than any other children and inviting them to self-harm and suicide. Your hope is to ultimately disrupt their family, have them reject the parents who have loved, nurtured and would do anything for them and their safety.

All so you can say you won.

For me, as a gay dad, I cannot describe the depths of anger I feel towards you. My sons, adopted from foster care and drug exposed in their birth mothers’ wombs, are the most precious things in my life. Being their dad is the most important thing I have ever done, or will do. I never realized that it was possible to love another human being so profoundly, let alone two of them. I would die for either one, if it came to that.

More importantly, I will fight for them. I am not Mormon, and will never be one. My kids are not likely to be either. You rejection and message extends to us, however. You have publicly declared my kids lack of value.

While I am not of your religion, I know many who are. There are Mormon LGBT families, who feel the same as I do. I am not unique.

Your attack is not traditional doctrine. There is no biblical reference that supports it (and many that refute it). There is no historical, moral or even ethical precedence for it. While other large denominations are seeking to release themselves from homophobia, you codify it.

You have put out a video claiming that this has been done with kindness. It is a hallow claim when what you have done has no empathy in its intent. All this action says is that you are bitter and vindictive. There is no holiness in that. You cannot excuse it away.

I respect your religious freedom, but you have crossed a line when you go after the children of loving families. I will do everything in my power to rebuke you, speaking out being the first thing. That is part of MY freedom as a dad.

From there, history has already shown how your homophobic intentions have blown up in your face. I don’t see this playing out any differently.

I hope to have compassion for you when it happens, more than you have had for our families and the love in our lives. The truth is, the backlash and consequences will have been earned. You wanted our children’s blood figuratively, and potentially literally, on your hands.

It will be mixed, figuratively, with your own.

Posted in Bible, Family, Gay Christians, Hatred, Prejudice, Religion | Tagged , | 21 Comments

A Gay Dad Sounds Off About the Kansas Teacher Who is Getting Fired for Fighting Homophobia

kansas teacher evol equal

Tom Leahy, who teaches social studies at the Conway Springs Middle School in Kansas admits he made some mistakes. He showed teens a film depicting suicide. He showed teens a film that specifically called out the Catholic Church for criticism. He did not give them warning, a chance to opt out, and he did not have their parents’ permission to show the film.

He made some mistakes because he was deeply disturbed by the bullying and homophobic culture he saw evidenced by his eighth graders. As he sought to drive home the point, he cut some corners, which have now landed him in trouble.

Here is why he was so stressed to impact the point of view of his kids: a recent social studies exercise had gone horrifically wrong. He had split the students into groups and told them that they were each a fictional colony. They were to develop their own Bill of Rights, and lay out the principles on which to build their societies. He expected kindness and fairness.

What he got was homophobia. At least one of the colonies declared it would ostracize LGBT people and reject them from their world. Leahy saw some deep, hurt reactions from other students, and that motivated him to want to change attitudes immediately.

So he showed them all the viral video film “Love Is All You Need,” by Kim Rocco Shields, in which the world is reversed and it is heterosexuals who are the bullied and persecuted. The film is no holds barred in its depiction of the damage of bullying.

“I didn’t want just a dorky little film, I wanted something that was important, something that was serious. So that’s the one I came up with. I’m not saying what I did was very smart. It really wasn’t, but I’m a spur-of-the-moment kind of guy, and it seemed right at the time,” Leahy told the Witchita Eagle.

Now Leahy has been removed from the classroom, and awaits a school board meeting on November 9th, where he is being asked to offer his resignation. They are expected to take it. Here is my letter to him, and to the board, hoping those events don’t take place:

Dear Mr. Leahy and members of the Conway Springs School Board,

Mr. Leahy, you must not resign. Dear board members, you must not allow him to do so. Whatever problem you think you are fixing by taking this action is miniscule compared to the problem you are creating.

You are letting the bullies win.

No, I am not calling parents, who want to approve of graphic material before it is shown to their kids, “bullies.” They are due an apology, and a promise that such action will not take place again.

They were not the bullies that Mr. Leahy was fighting, however. He was going up against the principles of judgment, intolerance, ostracism and degradation. He was addressing a disease that is evidenced in your population of kids. While his choices were not well thought out, the harm he was seeking to prevent should be a much higher priority.

I am the gay dad of two seventh graders. The colony exercise that took place, in which a mob had declared they would reject their dad from the world, would have devastated and shamed them. They would have suffered in silence, but the harm would go deep.

So too, was the harm felt by a number of your LGBT students. They, in various stages of self awareness, are also likely hidden from you. That does not mean you are free to cease protecting them, it means you have even a greater responsibility to do so.

I am sure you found that the suicide of the lead character, in the film Mr. Leahy showed, disturbing. What is more disturbing is that the spirit of who she represents IS real, and in your population. She is my kid. She is the LGBT kid. She is every child that does not fit the mob mentality “norm.” By your inaction, and condemning of Mr. Leahy for his attempts to reach these kids and defend them, you are signaling for them to listen to their darker instincts. You are inspiring them to hide, to self-harm and even kill themselves.

Did you ask parental permission to do THAT?

Mr. Leahy, I don’t know what pressure you are under to resign, but you must resist it. What you did in showing the film at risk to yourself was heroic.

Your job is incomplete however. Your community has diverted the topic from homophobia to parental notification procedures. You need to right that course, the conversations need to be had, and rectification measures need to be taken. The real lesson still needs to be learned.

If not, the film you showed will not be just a conversation starter, it will be a prophesy. Your sacrifice will have been for nothing.

Sign the petition here.  Conway School District contacts are here.

UPDATE: Thanks to the strong support he has received, Tom Leahy this afternoon decided to NOT resign willingly. The action now will be up to the school board.

Photo: Flickr/CIMIC Center

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Posted in Family, Hatred, News, Prejudice | Tagged | 13 Comments

A Gay Dad Sounds Off on the “Purity” Parents Who Want to Keep LGBT Info Out of Sex Education

Omaha P S purity evol

When did your local schools last revise their sex education program? Let me cut to the chase. Omaha Public Schools has not revised its sex education and related health classes for 30 years.

30 years.

Bad enough that it fails to address modern issues such as “sexting” and bullying over sexual orientation and gender identity, the curriculum goes back to a time where no sitting President had ever even uttered the word “AIDS” publicly. Updating such archaic content should be a no-brainer. Omaha parents agree. In a survey of 1500 parents, 97% supported almost all of the proposed material. The only drop in support, and still a majority, was in the area of discussing sexual orientations, gender concepts and relationships. In those categories, 25% of the parents were against the information being shared.

What a stink a minority can make, however. They blindsided the members of the group CHEER (Comprehensive Health Education and Equal Responsibility), made up of healthcare professionals, educators, and reproductive rights activists. CHEER members were prepared to vocally support the new curriculum in front of the Omaha Public School board when a thousand angry recruited homophobes descended and took over the meeting. (Their petition is here.) Nebraskans for Founders Values, Christ Community Church and other mega churches had recruited their supporters to show up brandishing signs, pasting stickers all over the auditorium and yelling out fallacious statements (that “Planned Parenthood had designed the curriculum” was a popular, completely untrue shout out.)

Melissa Tibbits, PhD, gave a presentation about the findings of the study on local parent attitudes on the different subjects. The last slide dealt with sexual orientation and it threw the 70% of the audience that was homophobic into a booing frenzy. Civil discussion from that point on was impossible, as screaming and shouting became the mob’s choice of expression.

Megan Hunt, a CHEER activist, captured one mom, Deanna Rabuck, on phone video. Ms. Rabuck dramatically wailed about the “purity” of her daughters and it was her job, not the school board’s to determine how that “purity” might get disrupted. It was unclear what part of “these classes are not mandatory” that she did not understand. She was welcome to keep her kids in ignorance if she chose. She later told the local news station that she “ isn’t proud of her outburst.”

Megan Hunt confirmed to me, “The most protested topic, in my estimation, was the inclusion of the LGBT community in the human growth and development curriculum. It’s interesting to me that this seemed to be the biggest point of protest as opposed to the abortion/planned parenthood/contraception issue…

I’m a writer, speaker, and serial entrepreneur. I’m a single mother with a daughter who is 5 and in kindergarten in Omaha Public Schools. Nobody who supports comprehensive sexual education is opposed to a family’s right to teach values to their children. But offering our public school children a curriculum that doesn’t address healthy relationships, consent, and LGBT issues, in addition to public health facts and figures, would not be coming from a place of facts or reason. Our children deserve medically-accurate, research-based information, which is not currently the standard.”

Dubbed “the Purity Mom”, Ms. Rabuck on the video, shot by Ms. Hunt, went viral.

The attention it received is regrettable in that it overshadowed one of the real atrocities that occurred that night. Seated politely waiting to speak to the school board was a group of LGBT identified students. As they waited, they were subjected to attack, vitriol and abuse by the homophobic audience members around them. One woman came down to them and confronted them, physically touching them and speaking to them in their faces. She focused on one young woman in particular before group advisor, Billie Mari Grant, interceded. Billie talked about her interaction with the young woman after the homophobic woman was shooed away. “I had not met her before last night. My relationship with her is still the very surface level. I went over and knelt front of her. I asked her if she was done. If she wanted to leave. Without speaking, her face red, eyes welling up with tears, she nodded her head. I asked her if she would like a hug. She nodded her head again. As I hugged her, stroked her hair, telling her that some people were still so ignorant, but that luckily she was a part of a beautiful, accepting, and supportive family.”   The mob around them would not stand for the comfort Billie was administering. “Why is she crying? Oh is she confused?” they screamed at the group of students.

This lead to further confrontation as Billie was accused of turning the students “gay” (none of the students in question identified that way). As a young man came down and became physically threatening, Billie ushered the LGBT students from the auditorium.

Nothing says “purity” as much as pure unadulterated hatred.

Here is my letter to the homophobic mob that descended that night:

Dear “Purity Parents”,

I am embarrassed for you. If your behavior was because you see yourself as the ideal parents, I am embarrassed. I am a parent, and I would hope others like me would seek to build worth in children, not tear it down.

If you fashion yourself the ideal Christian, I am embarrassed. I am a Christian, and there was nothing about your behavior that Christ would condone, let alone be something in which to participate.

You abused LGBT kids. Specifically, that night, you were responsible for traumatizing them and attempting to demoralize them. If you had gotten your way, that bullying would have led to self-harm or other unhealthy behavior. To say you were irresponsible to them is an understatement.

That damage is comparatively minor to the other children you harmed, however. Those harmed kids are your own.

Many of those kids are being lead by you on a path of ignorance and determination to batter those they do not understand. You are committing them to never understanding. They are the luckier of the harmed kids you affect, however.

The unluckiest ones of all are your own LGBT kids. The ones you don’t know are LGBT yet. In your number, statistically speaking, there are likely at least 21 who will identify as gay or lesbian. There are several hundred who will identify as something other than straight. All of them will suffer from the hatred you express.

There will come a day where you will wonder where a destructive act, a series of depressions, a suicide comes from. I’m going to tell you now: It came from you and your attitude on this night, and presumably every night.

It may be Pure-something, but it is not love. As a dad, for me, there would be nothing worse that cradling my dead child. Your action implies that your “nothing worse” would be allowing yourself to question your archaic thought system.

I am not here to criticize the very public Deanna Rabuck who screamed about her desire to keep her daughters innocent. She stated later, “As we grow we have things that we are capable of processing and things that we aren’t capable of processing, and protecting the innocence is protecting the things that we aren’t able to process.”

I agree with her. I am a dad to two incredible boys, twelve and thirteen years old. I fight to keep them innocent. They ARE innocent. I teach them the right things at the age appropriate times.

They are also the sons of a gay dad who adopted them from fostercare after their birth parents almost inadvertently killed them by means of drug contaminated lives. Those are facts, none of which have taken away from the innocence of my sons.

Children from LGBT families are pure, they are innocent. Children who are themselves LGBT are equally as innocent. All children need to be respected. You teaching your kids to disrespect mine is not “purity” and it is not acceptable.

They all need information about who they are, and what will be happening to them. They need to know about the people around them so we can understand each other.

Ms. Rabuck, ignorance is not purity. Education can improve the health of our kids, lead them to worthwhile choices and in many cases save their lives.

The fact that you somehow find something “impure” in acknowledging LGBT lives indicates that instead of asking your school board to exempt your kids from this curriculum, you may want to ask to take it with them.

I know of a mother who held out on her son in terms of both understanding him, as well as helping him to understand himself. She realized her mistake as he lie dying in a coma after his suicide attempt. Don’t be that mother.

She received her “purity”, but pure sorrow is not what I would wish on anyone, especially on those who deep down, really love their kids.

So yes, you want “purity” for your kids. You want to keep them innocent, optimistic, free in spirit.

I want the same thing for my kids, and for kids who are discovering they are LGBT. I don’t ask for “purity”, but another “-ity” entirely.

Dignity. That’s what you should be shouting about.


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Posted in Family, Hatred, Living, Prejudice, Science | Tagged , | 10 Comments

A Gay Dad’s Note to the Pope: You Snubbed Us for Kim Davis? Really?

davis and the pope

Last week, I invited the pope to join my family for dinner. It was largely a symbolic gesture, although, I had a house cleaning action plan and menu picked out should he have accepted.

It was not that I wanted him to meet my family specifically, but to actually sit face to face with a family like mine. My two sons were adopted out of foster care and situations that were life threatening and dire. Our family in the world of LGBT parents is not unique. A great number have tale after tale of kids who have gone from lives of potential abuse and neglect to homes where their parents love and honor them, and that their welfare is a priority. A Cambridge study showed, as a matter of fact, that the only family structured parenting unit that picked foster care aid as its top means of creating a family are families headed by two dads.

My point to the pope was— before you judge us, before you pontificate on how our families should not be legally or morally recognized, you can at least sit with us, face to face and see what we are about.

The pope did a lot during his visit to America. The thing he did not do was meet with LGBT families. To his credit, while he was here, he did not do any overt bashing of us either.

That is, until he was on his way out.

Like a little kid who has been an absolute angel for an afternoon, and then pranks out at then end, the pope shot a spit wad as his parting gift.

He secretly met with Kim Davis and put his seal of approval on her behavior.

My letter of regret:

Dear Pope Francis,

We sat staring at the open chair at our dinner table that we had hoped would be filled by you. True, the chance that you would accept our invitation was a long shot. We were hoping that the dignity you could afford families like mine might be a possibility.

It turns out, that hope was even a longer shot.

While in America, you gave several moving speeches. You talked of the family and how you wished young people would be inspired to start one. You talked of love and bonds, and principles with which I not only agree, I live.

As you were leaving, we all could have walked away with the feeling that some common ground had been built. Instead you gave us a sense of disappointment and betrayal.

The issue is not just that you met with Kim Davis. It is that you embraced her behavior and encouraged it. You stated, following your “secret” meeting: “Conscientious objection is a right that is a part of every human right…

Conscientious objection must enter into every juridical structure because it is a right, a human right. Otherwise, we would end up in a situation where we select what is a right, saying, ‘This right, that has merit; this one does not.”

What you neglected in your pronouncement is that while one may have a right to object due to one’s conscientious beliefs, one cannot expect to do so without consequence. As with the right to free speech, one may have the right to speak freely without fear of imprisonment or jail, but it does not preclude others from both speaking back or reacting to what has been said.

A person who believes the Bible legitimizes racism and/or slavery may state their conscientious objection to anti-discrimination protections, but it does not give them the right to discriminate. A firefighter who believes flames are “the will of God” does not have the right to let houses burn down when he has agreed to hold the hose that could douse the fire and prevent catastrophe. Your right to object does not give you the right to demean others.

The most honorable objections are done with willing sacrifices.

Kim Davis reports that you thanked her for her “courage.” It makes me sad to think of defining what Kim Davis did in humiliating loving families as being “courageous.”

If you want to understand conscientious objection and bravery, I would ask you to look instead to LGBT activist Corporal Evelyn Thomas: “I served in the Army National Guard and The U.S. Marine Corps prior to the enactment of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell; during a time when “homosexuality was prohibited” under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). I survived my military career with damages. I survived a corrective rape. I was raped by four Marines; in which a pregnancy was the result. I carried the child of my rapists. I reported the crimes. Although it was traumatic and terrifying time, I survived the physical, mental, and emotional abuse… Too many innocent lives have been lost in this DADT-protestwar against inequality and injustice… Many people have viewed the iconic photo. It feels strange to think of that moment in the LGBT Movement. My comrades and I stood along the White House fence with our hands handcuffed to the metal bars, as a drastic and imperative plea for President Barrack Obama to end the oppressive, barbaric, and archaic practices of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. This is our Civil Rights Movement. Each time I look at that photo, I see 6 heroes-humans that risked their professional careers and some cases personal relationships to perform a brave act. We did not perform this act for fame or money. We did it so that the women and men serving in our military know and understand they are of value, and “their lives do matter.” We will not allow any man, woman, or government determine our worth.”

Evelyn Thomas and her comrades were brave. They made a statement for their beliefs and they understood the consequences. They did not seek to be made comfortable. They sought to be heard.

Kim Davis is not an Evelyn Thomas. She is asking for the world around her to be forced to conform to her own narrow view. The fact that you might share her worldview does not make it any more worthy or legitimate to impose on others who do not.

The afterglow of your trip is gone. Bernie Sander’s tears over your forward thinking principles have dried. It was not that you snubbed LGBT families and fell silent in speaking on our rights, it is whom you chose to see and support instead. Salt, meet wound.

We look at your empty chair at our dinner table and realize it is small compared to the emptiness you ultimately left in our hearts, and in our hopes for you. When you were told that you had been a “star” on this trip, you replied “how many stars have we seen go out and fall?”

Point taken.

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Posted in Family, Marriage equality, Mixing religion and politics, Prejudice, Religion | Tagged , , | 53 Comments

A Gay Dad Sounds Off on How Mike Huckabee is Choking on a Mixed Bag of Chips

Huckabee chip rant evol

My sons love Doritos. Jesse is a Nachos Doritos guy, and Jason, always his own man, loves the Ranch flavored.

I love the It Gets Better Project. They have provided inspiration and tangible help for teens at risk for suicide. It is a cause that no one in their right mind could be against. Yes, Mike Huckabee, you can take that for all it’s worth — you’re an idiot.

The recent campaign in which Doritos sold bags of rainbow chips to raise money for the It Gets Better Project brought smiles across our household. The campaign went well and before we could get on the computer to order our special bag, it was over. Sold out.

A new money-making scheme has taken its place however. Mike Huckabee, a financial wizard of the Bigotry Industry has stepped in to capitalize on a very scant, and now consumed, bunch of corn chips. He knows full well that homophobia sells and he is out to make his bucks on the back of Doritos. More to the point, he is seeking to make money by demonizing the at risk teens who are driven to self-destruction by the rhetoric he produces.

Huckabee does this under the guise of being “Christian.” He claims that Christianity is important to him. Unfortunately, few have done so much harm to the true precepts of Christianity as has Mike Huckabee. I would go so far as to say that Huckabee is to the heart of Christ what Judas Iscariot was to Jesus. He betrays it with a kiss.

huckabee hate rainbow

The Huckabee Hate Rainbow: No matter what Christian value he tramples, whether it is abuse of children, incest, dereliction of duty or feeding a rich man’s greed, Mike Huckabee is for it, as long as it is anti-gay.

A rich man donates to hate, Huckabee organizes a campaign to make him richer. A homophobe incest abuser is found out, Huckabee rationalizes away all he has done. A woman dishonors her office and tries to humiliate loving families, mocking them for wanting to be married, and there is Huckabee holding her hand in front of a stolen rock anthem. Now, Huckabee is attacking an organization that has saved the lives of thousands of teens. All of this done under the banner of “Christianity.” If you believe him, Huckabee press has gutted the soul of Christ of its love and compassion and replaced it with bigotry and homophobia.

“Meet your new sick partner,” Huckabee sends to Doritos, framing the It Gets Better Project as a “hate group.” As he does so, he tweets to his legion “Stand by me,” otherwise translated as “send money.”

How does Huckabee justify this categorization of an organization that is so profoundly good as being something so heinously bad? Two words: Dan Savage.

Dan Savage loathes Huckabee. Dan Savage is also famous for loathing Rick Santorum. Both those men, and others who have received Savage scorn deserve exactly what they got. Dan’s tactics are not gentle, nor are they the type that will be discussed at the family dinner table. Dan Savage is the LGBTQ version of Donald Rumsfield. He embraces “Shock and Awe.” He seeks to appall and disgust the card-carrying homophobes to their pearl-clutching cores. He succeeds.

It started with Santorum, who sought to be The Guy to write LGBT people out of the U.S. Constitution, years ago (and likely would still want to do so). Savage created a vile definition for “santorum”, which was naughty and creative and went viral. That put it in Google Heaven and there the definition sat, greeting every search for “Santorum” thereafter.

Savage’s shock and awe of Huckabee was not as widespread but calculated to obliterate sensibilities nonetheless. He made a recording, not for the faint of heart, that turns a Savage/Huckabee handshake into a sexual chronicle would make even the most sexually free go “Ewww.” For the sexually repressed, it just makes their head explode. You can see what I mean here. Of course, taking that piece of Savage’s work and equating it to what is being done at the It Gets Better Project, is like taking mainstream Christianity and comparing it to this.

Exploding heads are a good thing for Huckabee. He has long learned that when a homophobe gets irate, he or she goes for their wallet. So as Kim Davis no longer is of use to him, he has now taken aim at the corn chip.

As he does, so have I, in my own letter to Doritos.

Dear Doritos,

It was with great joy that my family and I saw your latest campaign “There is nothing BOLDER than being yourself” campaign. I am happy for your success and the contribution you have made to the It Gets Better Project.

That success is not without cost, obviously. You have earned the vitriol of the people of a certain mindset, particularly those who are followers of Mike Huckabee.

Huckabee has publicly addressed you and attempted to integrate your campaign with an attack made on him by Dan Savage. The two events are non-sequiturs.

While Dan Savage came up with the idea for the “It Gets Better” inspiration to save lives, his editorials and the It Gets Better Project organization are unrelated entities.

That Huckabee does not understand the Savage piece about him is irrelevant to your efforts. Huckabee missed Savage’s intent on the recording. Savage has an in-your-face X-rated style undisputedly. He sought to show that homophobic oppression is as vile and disgusting to families such as mine as descriptive sexual concepts are to Huckabee.

There is a big difference between the harm of Huckabee’s rhetoric and that of Savage, however. While Huckabee may be shocked at Savage’s tone and verbiage, Huckabee’s parents will not walk in finding him cutting himself or reaching for narcotics. Huckabee’s loved ones will not wake to find out that he had gotten up early that morning and stepped in front of a train.

The victims of Huckabee have done exactly those things, and it is to them that the It Gets Better Project makes its outreach.

So thank you for your small campaign. I am confident that the viral stir it has made within progressive circles will help drive your business up. The backlash you are getting from those on the other side will die down. As they write out their protests on their Apple devices, post them on Facebook, they will soon be informed that both those entities have been far more LGBT community progressive than Frito Lay has been able to be.

While this note is a “thank you” letter, I actually mean it to be a letter of request.

Eat your own chips. More specifically, please take your own campaign slogan to heart. You encourage the eaters of your limited run colored chips to be BOLD.

Please, Doritos, be bold yourself. Put your rainbow chips in wide circulation. Don’t just let this be a limited campaign for the benefit of social media and a single check to the It Gets Better Project.

Let this be a message that American families see on each trip to the grocery store. Let the teen who is contemplating suicide because they fear the homophobic reaction of the world around them, that Mike Huckabee would prefer they live in, see the chips that tell them they are not alone.

As Huckabee tries to hijack the narrative and choke us all with homophobia, grab it back, and take it to the next level.

Do it. Be BOLD.

Huckabee’s hate then won’t have a chance. The mass crunching on a global scale will drown it out as a new brand of love hits the scene… one with a hint of spice, cheese and a kicky chili flavor.

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Posted in Family, Hatred, Mixing religion and politics, Politics, Prejudice, US Politics | Tagged | 4 Comments