Loving the Sacred through Word and Image. STS 109 Shuttle Columbia Mission March 1, 2002. A WordPress Production.

Hate Crimes

Priest Walks Out Of Woman’s Funeral Because Of Her Gay Daughter

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This article was posted on Facebook, and I thought I’d share it with you here.
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The battle in this country between the right and the left is raging. Since the right has no answers to the economic questions we face, they’ve decided to concentrate on dividing the country on so-called “moral” issues, one of those being the demonizing of gay and lesbian people.

Little by little, they are losing the battle, as we see states individually legalizing gay marriage and recognizing that our forefathers intended that ALL are created equal and marriage is an equal right. But that doesn’t stop the right from carrying on their battle.

Something terrible happened this past weekend in Maryland and the fact that it was Maryland, a state that has just proclaimed that all are equal and has enshrined that concept into state law, goes to highlight the lengths to which the right will go. In this instance, the right was personified by Father Marcel Guarnizo, who officiated at the funeral of a former family member of mine.

She was no longer a family member because I divorced the man who was her blood relative. But with social media these days, a person can remain in touch with those who, although there is no longer a family connection, are still people who are valued.

My friend Barbara, the daughter of the deceased woman, was denied communion at her mother’s funeral. She was the first in line and Fr. Guarnizo covered the bowl containing the host and said to her,  “I cannot give you communion because you live with a woman and that is a sin according to the church.”

To add insult to injury, Fr. Guarnizo left the altar when she delivered her eulogy to her mother. When the funeral was finished he informed the funeral director that he could not go to the gravesite to deliver the final blessing because he was sick.

EDIT: A letter of apology was sent from the Archdiocese of Washington. This story has gained a lot of traffic over the past few days. I join the call for Father Marcel Guarnizo to be removed from the parish and taken out of pastoral ministry, what he did was unconscionable. And he should loose his position as a parish priest. Put him somewhere where he can no further harm parishoners like this ever again.

Here is that apology:


For Matthew …

Biography data: Via Wikipedia

Matthew Wayne Shepard (December 1, 1976 – October 12, 1998) was a student at the University of Wyoming who was tortured and murdered near Laramie, Wyoming, in October 1998. He was attacked on the night of October 6–7, and died at Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado, on October 12 from severe head injuries.

During the trial, witnesses stated that Shepard was targeted because of his sexual orientation. Shepard’s murder brought national and international attention to the contention of hate crime legislation at the state and federal levels.

In 2009, his mother Judy Shepard authored a book The Meaning of Matthew: My Son’s Murder in Laramie, and a World Transformed. On October 22, 2009, the United States Congress passed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act (Matthew Shepard Act for short), and on October 28, 2009, President Obama signed the legislation into law.

Shortly after midnight on October 6, 1998, Shepard met Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson for the first time at the Fireside Lounge in Laramie, Wyoming. It was decided that McKinney and Henderson would give Shepard a ride home.McKinney and Henderson subsequently drove the car to a remote, rural area and proceeded to rob, pistol-whip, and torture Shepard, tying him to a fence and leaving him to die. According to their court testimony, McKinney and Henderson also discovered his address and intended to steal from his home. Still tied to the fence, Shepard, who was still alive but in a coma, was discovered 18 hours later by Aaron Kreifels, a cyclist who initially mistook Shepard for a scarecrow.

Shepard had suffered fractures to the back of his head and in front of his right ear. He experienced severe brain-stem damage, which affected his body’s ability to regulate heart rate, body temperature, and other vital functions. There also were about a dozen small lacerations around his head, face, and neck. His injuries were deemed too severe for doctors to operate. Shepard never regained consciousness and remained on full life support. While he lay in intensive care, candlelight vigils were held by the people of Laramie.

Shepard was pronounced dead at 12:53 a.m. on October 12, 1998, at Poudre Valley Hospital, in Fort Collins, Colorado.


Food for Thought …

Courtesy: Revive

This is the next topic that I will discuss very soon, so watch this space.


Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori & Integrity Sign Call to Action, “No More Bullying”

Courtesy: Ihaterenton

Lifted from: Walking with Integrity

For Immediate Release: October 18, 2010

Today, as leaders of Christian communions and national networks, we speak with heavy hearts because of the bullying, suicides and hate crimes that have shocked this country and called all faith communities into accountability for our words or our silence. We speak with hopeful hearts, believing that change and healing are possible, and call on our colleagues in the Church Universal to join us in working to end the violence and hatred against our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender brothers and sisters.

In the past seven weeks, six young and promising teenagers took their own lives. Some were just entering high school; one had just enrolled in college. Five were boys; one, a girl becoming a young woman. These are only the deaths for which there has been a public accounting. New reports of other suicides continue to haunt us daily from around the country.

They were of varying faiths and races and came from different regions of the nation.The one thing these young men and women had in common was that they were perceived to be gay or lesbian.

Each in their own way faced bullying and harassment or struggled with messages of religion and culture that made them fear the consequences of being who they were.

In the past two weeks, cities like New York have seen major escalations in anti-gay violence. Two young men attacked patrons of the Stonewall Inn, legendary birth place of the LGBT rights movement in the United States, locking them in the restroom and beating them while hurling anti-gay epithets.

Men on a Chelsea street, saying goodnight after an evening out, were attacked by a group of teens and young adults, again hurling anti-gay slogans and hurting one person badly enough to require emergency treatment. And nine young men in the Bronx went on a two-day rampage beating, burning, torturing and sodomizing two teenage boys and their gay male adult friend for allegedly having a sexual relationship. “It’s nothing personal,” one of the now arrested said. “You just broke the rules.”

What are the “rules” of human engagement and interaction that we, as people of faith, want to teach our congregants, children and adults alike, to live by?

Many have responded from within and beyond the faith community offering comfort and support to the families and friends of Billy Lucas, Seth Walsh, Asher Brown, Tyler Clementi, Raymond Chase and Aiyisha Hasan. Our hearts, too, are broken by the too soon losses of these young and promising lives, and we join our voices to those who have sought to speak words of comfort and healing.

Many others, however, have responded by adding insult to injury, citing social myths and long-held prejudices that only fuel division, hatred and violence – and sometimes even death.

We, as leaders of faith, write today to say we must hold ourselves accountable, and we must hold our colleagues in the ministry, accountable for the times, whether by our silence or our proclamations, our inaction or our action, we have fueled the kinds of beliefs that make it possible for people to justify violence in the name of faith. Condemning and judging people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity can have deadly consequences, both for the victims of hate crimes and those who commit them.

There is no excuse for inspiring or condoning violence against any of our human family. We may not all agree on what the Bible says or doesn’t say about sexuality, including homosexuality, but this we do agree on: The Bible says, “God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God and God in them.” Abiding in love – together – is the rule we must all preach, teach, and seek to live by.

People of faith must realize that if teens feel they will be judged by their church, rejected by their families and bullied by their peers, they may have nowhere to turn.

Too many things go unspoken in our communities. It’s time to talk openly and honestly about the diversity of God’s creation and the gift of various sexual orientations and gender identities – and to do that in a way that makes it safe for people to disagree and still abide in love.

It’s time to talk openly and honestly about the use and misuse of power and authority by those we entrust with our spiritual well-being.  It’s time to make it safe for our clergy colleagues who are struggling to live what they preach, to get the help and support we all sometimes need.

The young people who took their lives a few weeks ago died because the voices of people who believe in the love of God for all the people of God were faint and few in the face of those who did the bullying, harassing and condemning. Today we write to say we will never again be silent about the value of each and every life.

To that end, we pledge to urge our churches, our individual parishes or offices, our schools and religious establishments to create safe space for each and every child of God, without regard to sexual orientation or gender identity. And we ask you to join us in that pledge.

Today, we personally pledge to be LGBT and straight people of faith standing together for the shared values of decency and civility, compassion and care in all interactions. We ask you, our colleagues, to join us in this pledge.


How Religion Is Killing Our Most Vulnerable Youth – Bishop Gene Robinson

Via: Walking with Integrity – from The Huffington Post

An increasingly popular bumper sticker reads, “Guns Don’t Kill People — RELIGION Kills People!” In light of recent events I would add religion kills young people: gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender young people.

Perhaps not directly, though. And religion is certainly not the only source of anti-gay sentiment in the culture. But it’s hard to deny that religious voices denouncing LGBT people contribute to the atmosphere in which violence against LGBT people and bullying of LGBT youth can flourish.

The news is filled with the tragedies of teenaged boys who were gay and decided to end their living hell by committing suicide. Maybe they weren’t even gay, but merely perceived to be by their peers, who harassed, taunted, and threatened them unmercifully.

These were real kids with real names. Asher Brown, an eighth grader in Texas, shot himself in the head after endless bullying by classmates and despite attempts by his parents to get school authorities to take his harassment seriously. Seth Walsh hung himself from a tree in his California backyard after relentless bullying by classmates. Asher and Seth were 13-years-old.

Billy Lucas, a 15-year-old high school freshman from Indiana, was only perceived to be gay. But the unrelenting bullying ended with him taking his own life. Seven students in one Minnesota school district have taken their own lives, including three teens.

With the exception of Brown in Texas these suicides are not happening in Bible Belt regions of the country, where we might predict a greater-than-usual regard for religious thought. Instead, they are occurring in states perceived to be more liberal on LGBT issues: California, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Rhode Island.

The case of Tyler Clementi is especially instructive about how far we have to go in accepting our gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender children. Clementi was an 18-year-old freshman at Rutgers University whose roommate secretly filmed a sexual encounter he had with another male student and then posted it on the internet.

Think about it. If Tyler had been heterosexual and instead filmed having sex with his girlfriend, it would still be an inappropriate invasion of his privacy and tasteless to post the video online. And it certainly would have been embarrassing for Tyler and the girl. But chances are he would have been the recipient of some congratulatory remarks from friends about what a stud he was. And if he was straight he likely wouldn’t have contemplated — not to mention successfully accomplished — his own suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge.

No, Tyler was a victim — not of an inner disturbance of depression or mental illness–but of an external and in part religiously inspired disdain and hatred of gay people.

Despite the progress we’re making on achieving equality under the law and acceptance in society for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people, why this rash of bullying, paired with self-loathing, ending in suicide? With humility and heartfelt repentance I assert that religion — and its general rejection of homosexuality — plays a crucial role in this crisis.

On the one hand, Religious Right hatemongers and crazies are spewing all sorts of venom and condemnation, all in the name of a loving God. The second-highest-ranking Mormon leader, Boyd K. Packer, recently called same-sex attraction “impure and unnatural” in an act of unspeakable insensitivity at the height of this rash of teen suicides. He declared that it can be cured, and that same-sex unions are morally repugnant and “against God’s law and nature.”

Just as many gay kids grow up in these conservative denominations as any other. They are told day in and day out that they are an abomination before God. Just consider the sheer numbers of LGBT kids growing up right now in Roman Catholic, Mormon, and other conservative religious households. The pain and self-loathing caused by such a distortion of God’s will is undeniable and tragic, causing scars and indescribable self-alienation in these young victims.

You don’t have to grow up in a religious household, though, to absorb these religious messages. Not long ago I had a conversation with six gay teens, not one of whom had ever had any formal religious training or influence. Every one of them knew the word “abomination,” and every one of them thought that was what God thought of them. They couldn’t have located the Book of Leviticus in the Bible if their lives depended on it yet they had absorbed this message from the antigay air they breathe every day.

Add to that the Minnesota Family Council’s Tom Prichard recently saying that the real cause of the suicides is “homosexual indoctrination,” not antigay bullying, and that the students died because they adopted an “unhealthy lifestyle.”

Susan Russell from All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California, points out how ludicrous these statements are in her “An Inch at a Time” blog:

Thirteen and fifteen year olds are not ‘adopting a lifestyle,’ they’re trying to have a life! They’re trying to figure out who they are, who God created them to be and what on earth to do with this confusing bunch of sexual feelings that they’re trying to get a handle on. They need role models for healthy relationships — not judgment and the message that they’re condemned to a life of loneliness, isolation and despair.

On the other hand, what’s the role of more mainline, more progressive denominations such as mainstream Christianity, Judaism, and Islam in these recent tragedies? Mostly silence. And just like in the days of the AIDS organization Act Up, “silence equals death.”

It is not enough for good people — religious or otherwise — to simply be feeling more positive toward gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. Tolerance and a live-and-let-live attitude beats discrimination and abuse by a mile. But it’s not enough. Tolerant people, especially tolerant religious people, need to get over their squeamishness about being vocal advocates and unapologetic supporters of LGBT people. It really is a matter of life and death, as we’ve seen.

I learned this in my dealing with racism. It’s not enough to be tolerant of other races. I benefit from a racist society just by being white. I don’t ever have to use the “n” word, treat any person of color with discourtesy, or even think ill of anyone. But as long as I am not working to dismantle the systemic racism that benefits me, a white man, at the expense of people of color, I am a racist. And my faith calls me to become an anti-racist — pro-active, vocal, and committed.

Some progressive religious groups — the United Church of Christ, Unitarians, Metropolitan Community Church — have long been advocates for LGBT people. The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America has recently made great strides in welcoming gay clergy. And my own Episcopal Church has put itself at great risk on behalf of full inclusion of LGBT people in electing two openly gay priests to be bishops.

Still, even in these progressive churches, there is much to be done.

Cody J. Sanders, a Baptist minister and Ph.D. student in pastoral theology and counseling at Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth, Texas, recently wrote on the Religion Dispatches website about how important it is for churches to act:

Ministers who remain in comfortable silence on sexuality must speak out. Churches that have silently embraced gay and lesbian members for years must publicly hang the welcome banner. How long will we continue to limit and qualify our messages of acceptance, inclusion and embrace for the most vulnerable in order to maintain the comfort of those in our communities of faith who are well served by the status quo? In the current climate, equivocating messages of affirmation are overpowered by the religious rhetoric of hatred. Silence only serves to support the toleration of bullying, violence and exclusion. In the face of what has already become the common occurrence of LGBT teen suicide, how long can we wait to respond?

As good Christians and Jews we must work to change the religious thinking, rhetoric, and practice that communicates to our LGBT children that they are despised by their Creator. We must learn to object to anti-gay jokes the way we learned to tell our friends that we would not tolerate racist jokes. We must demand that our schools not only have antibullying policies, but that they follow through on stopping the practice of bullying. We need to lobby our congressional representatives for the Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA, H.R. 4530, S. 3390). And we must proclaim openly, loudly, and often that we love our children unconditionally in the way that God does — always wanting the best and most healthy lives for them.

These bullying behaviors would not exist without the undergirding and the patina of respect provided by religious fervor against LGBT people. It’s time for “tolerant” religious people to acknowledge the straight line between the official anti-gay theologies of their denominations and the deaths of these young people. Nothing short of changing our theology of human sexuality will save these young and precious lives.


Why Anti-Gay Bullying is a Theological Issue‏

Photo Credit: Cynicole_b
Article: An Inch at a Time – Susan’s Blog

It’s a Saturday afternoon and the laundry is humming and the dogs are snoozing and I’m catching up on bills and email — and one of the emails included a link to Religion Dispatches and a piece by Cody Sanders entitled “Why Anti-Gay Bullying is a Theological Issue.” It’s a great piece, but here’s the quote that hooked me:

If this were a hostage situation, we would have dispatched the SWAT team by now. And in many ways, it is.

Our children and teenagers are being held hostage by a religious and political rhetoric that strives to maintain the status quo of anti-gay heterosexist normativity. The messages of Focus on the Family and other organizations actively strive to leave the most vulnerable among us exposed to continuous attack.

The good news is that we don’t need a SWAT team. We just need quality education on sexuality and gender identity in our schools and more faithful and courageous preaching and teaching in our churches.

Let the people say “AMEN!” And then let the people read the rest here and THEN let the people get busy!

A theology of anti-gay bullying

Anti-gay bullying is a theological issue because it has a theological base. I find it difficult to believe that even those among us with a vibrant imagination can muster the creative energy to picture a reality in which anti-gay violence and bullying exist without the anti-gay religious messages that support them.

These messages come in many forms, degrees of virulence, and volumes of expression. The most insidious forms, however, are not those from groups like Westboro Baptist Church. Most people quickly dismiss this fanaticism as the red-faced ranting of a fringe religious leader and his small band of followers.

More difficult to address are the myriad ways in which everyday churches that do a lot of good in the world also perpetuate theologies that undergird and legitimate instrumental violence. The simplistic, black and white lines that are drawn between conceptions of good and evil make it all-too-easy to apply these dualisms to groups of people. When theologies leave no room for ambiguity, mystery and uncertainty, it becomes very easy to identify an “us” (good, heterosexual) versus a “them” (evil, gay).

Additionally, hierarchical conceptions of value and worth are implicit in many of our theological notions. Needless to say, value and worth are not distributed equally in these hierarchies. God is at the top, (white, heterosexual) men come soon after and all those less valued by the culture (women, children, LGBT people, the poor, racial minorities, etc.) fall somewhere down below. And it all makes perfect sense if you support it with a few appropriately (mis)quoted verses from the Bible.

With dualistic conceptions of good and evil and hierarchical notions of value and worth, it becomes easy to know who it is okay to hate or to bully or, seemingly more benignly, to ignore. And no institutions have done more to create and perpetuate the public disapproval of gay and lesbian people than churches.

If anti-gay bullying has, at any level, an embodied undercurrent of tacit theological legitimation, then we simply cannot circumvent our responsibility to provide a clear, decisive, theological response. Aside from its theological base, anti-gay bullying is a theological issue because it calls for acts of solidarity on behalf of the vulnerable and justice on behalf of the oppressed.

But this imperative to respond reminds us that the most dangerous form of theological message comes in the subtlest of forms: silence.

The longer we wait, the more young people die

There is already a strong religious presence in the debate around anti-bullying education in schools. Unfortunately, it is not a friendly voice for LGBT teens. There is also no lack of rhetoric on sexuality stemming from theological sources. But the loudest voices are not the voices of affirmation and embrace. In a recent article, I urged churches that rest comfortably in a tacitly welcoming or pseudo-affirming position to come out and publicly proclaim their places of worship as truly welcoming and affirming sanctuaries for people of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities.

I cannot count the number of times I have heard well-meaning, good-hearted people respond to this appeal, saying, “Things are a lot better for gay people today than they were several years (or decades) ago. In time, our society (or churches) will come around on this issue.” To these friends and others, I must say, “It’s time.” For Lucas, Brown, Clementi, Walsh, and Chase the time is up. For these teens and the myriad other bisexual, transgender, lesbian and gay youth lost to suicide, the waiting game hasn’t worked so well.

As simply as I can state the matter: The longer we wait to respond, the more young people die.

If this were a hostage situation, we would have dispatched the SWAT team by now. And in many ways, it is. Our children and teenagers are being held hostage by a religious and political rhetoric that strives to maintain the status quo of anti-gay heterosexist normativity. The messages of Focus on the Family and other organizations actively strive to leave the most vulnerable among us exposed to continuous attack. The good news is that we don’t need a SWAT team. We just need quality education on sexuality and gender identity in our schools and more faithful and courageous preaching and teaching in our churches.

Catholic theologian M. Shawn Copeland offers profound words to any individuals and churches seeking to wash their hands of this issue. She states,

“If my sister or brother is not at the table, we are not the flesh of Christ. If my sister’s mark of sexuality must be obscured, if my brother’s mark of race must be disguised, if my sister’s mark of culture must be repressed, then we are not the flesh of Christ. For, it is through and in Christ’s own flesh that the ‘other’ is my sister, is my brother; indeed, the ‘other’ is me…”

If anti-gay bullying is a theological issue, perhaps what is called for is a creative theological response. A theological response that challenges the systematic violence that upholds an oppressive religious and cultural ideology will not be a response through which we can hedge our bets. It will be a full-bodied, whole-hearted giving of ourselves to the repair of the flesh of Christ divided by injustice and systematic exclusion.

Ministers who remain in comfortable silence on sexuality must speak out. Churches that have silently embraced gay and lesbian members for years must publically hang the welcome banner. How long will we continue to limit and qualify our messages of acceptance, inclusion and embrace for the most vulnerable in order to maintain the comfort of those in our communities of faith who are well served by the status quo?

In the current climate, equivocating messages of affirmation are overpowered by the religious rhetoric of hatred. Silence only serves to support the toleration of bullying, violence and exclusion. In the face of what has already become the common occurrence of LGBT teen suicide, how long can we wait to respond?


September’s Anti-Gay Bullying Suicides – There Were A Lot More Than 5

Found on: The New Civil Rights Movement site

by David Badash on October 1, 2010 in Discrimination,News

The problem is anti-LGBTQ bullying and harassment. It is an epidemic.

Whether they are gay or not, anyone who is a victim of anti-LGBTQ bullying or harassment is having a tough time.

Some, as we painfully were reminded this month, resort to suicide.

Right now the media is focused on five teens who committed suicide in response to anti-LGBTQ bullying. As tragic as that is, there are a lot more than five. Thanks to our readers, so far we so far have found nine.

Nine male teenagers all committed suicide in the month of September, victims of bullying. There are reports that all but one were victims of anti-LGBTQ bullying. The “type” of bullying of one, Felix Sacco, was not identified.

If nine teens died in one month from a mysterious disease, there would be marches to the White House demanding something be done.

So, aside from a press release, what is being done?

Billy Lucas (15) September 9, 2010. Indiana

Cody J. Barker (17) September 13, 2010. Wisconsin

Seth Walsh (13) September 19, 2010. California

Tyler Clementi (18) September 22, 2010. New Jersey

Asher Brown (13) September 23, 2010. Texas

Harrison Chase Brown (15) September, 25 2010. Colorado

Raymond Chase (19) September 29, 2010. Rhode Island

Felix Sacco (17) September 29, 2010. Massachusetts

Caleb Nolt (14) September 30, 2010. Indiana

Remember them. And reach out to — and check in with — every teen you know. They may need you right now, more than you imagine.

If you have additional information, please share it with us: newcivilrightsmovement@gmail.com


Rutgers president to meet with gay community after student's suicide

The body of 18-year-old Tyler Clementi was recovered from the Hudson River on Thursday.

By The CNN Wire Staff – Hotlink

New York (CNN) — Rutgers University’s president pledged Friday to meet with members of the school’s gay community amid furor over a student’s suicide after video of his sexual encounter with another man was posted online.

In a letter to the Rutgers community, President Richard McCormick praised what he called the school’s “strong history of social activism on behalf of diversity,” but acknowledged that the university “is an imperfect institution in an imperfect society.”

The letter comes a day after the body of 18-year-old Tyler Clementi was recovered from the Hudson River — more than a week after he jumped from the George Washington Bridge, which spans the river between New York and New Jersey.

Two other Rutgers students — 18-year-old Dharun Ravi and 18-year-old Molly Wei — have been charged with invasion of privacy after they allegedly placed a camera in Clementi’s dorm room without his knowledge and then broadcast his sexual encounter, according to the Middlesex County, New Jersey, prosecutor’s office.

Though university officials declined to respond to CNN’s questions about when Rutgers first learned of the webcam incident, citing privacy laws, a school spokesman said Friday that officials “did the best they can.”

“I have spoken to virtually every principle involved in this matter, and they have attempted to handle this matter to the best of their ability,” Rutgers spokesman Greg Travor told CNN.

Read more about legal issues surrounding the case

McCormick’s Friday letter said that “This tragedy and the events surrounding it have raised critical questions about the climate of our campuses. Students, parents, and alumni have expressed deep concern that our university, which prides itself on its rich diversity, is not fully welcoming and accepting of all students.”

To that end, McCormick announced a meeting with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered students in which he will discuss with them “what they identify as the areas in which Rutgers can better support the needs of this community.”

Meanwhile, New Jersey prosecutors Friday were determining whether additional charges, including bias, may be brought against Ravi and Wei.

On the evening of September 19, Ravi allegedly sent a message by Twitter about his roommate, Clementi.

“Roommate asked for the room till midnight. I went into molly’s room and turned on my webcam. I saw him making out with a dude. Yay.”

Ravi tried to use the webcam again two days later, on September 21, according to the Middlesex County prosecutor’s office.

“Anyone with iChat, I dare you to video chat me between the hours of 9:30 and 12. Yes it’s happening again,” Ravi is believed to have tweeted.

The next day, Clementi, 18, was dead.

A mobile status update September 22 on a Facebook page purportedly belonging to Clementi said: “jumping off the gw bridge sorry.”

Details about Clementi’s sexual orientation are unclear. Rutgers University student Danielle Birnbohm, who lived next door to Clementi’s and Ravi’s room in the dorm, told CNN affiliate WPIX that Clementi was gay. “It was obvious,” she said.

Ravi apparently tweeted a message on August 22, nine days before classes began at Rutgers. “Found out my roommate is gay?” the tweet, believed to be posted by Ravi, said, according to Topsy, a search engine that allows users to access tweets removed from Twitter. In that same tweet, the writer linked to a thread on JustUsBoys.com.

On another page on JustUsBoys.com, someone posted a thread labeled “college roommate spying.”

A user dubbed cit2mo wrote on September 21, a day before Clementi jumped from the bridge, “so the other night i had a guy over. I had talked to my roommate that afternoon and he had said it would be fine w/him. I checked his twitter today. he tweeted that I was using the room (which is obnoxious enough), AND that he went into somebody else’s room and remotely turned on his webcam and saw me making out with a guy.”

Cit2mo asked readers what he should do, including whether to get another roommate.

Several people who responded to cit2mo’s post said the webcam was an invasion of privacy. Cit2mo said he might talk with a resident assistant in the dorm.

Cit2mo later responded that he had reported the incident.

“He [the resident assistant] seemed to take it seriously… he asked me to email him a written paragraph about what exactly happened… I emailed it to him, and to two people above him….”

CNN was unable to determine whether cit2mo was Clementi, but a lawyer for JustUsBoys.com said the posts were traced back to Rutgers.

Amid the intense public attention Clementi’s death has drawn, his family remained quiet Friday, except to say that their personal tragedy has raised a host of legal issues for the country.

“We understand that our family’s personal tragedy presents important legal issues for the country as well for us,” said a statement from the family.

“Regardless of legal outcomes, our hope is that our family’s personal tragedy will serve as a call for compassion, empathy and human dignity,” the statement said.

The university plans to hold a candlelight vigil Sunday evening as “an opportunity to come together in this difficult time to reaffirm our commitment to the values of civility, dignity, compassion, and respect for one another,” McCormick said.

CNN’s Ross Levitt contributed to this report.


Yom Hashoa … 4-11-10

What did you do today to remember ???

It kind of slipped my  mind, the day and all. I spent the last 2 days typing out my Old Testament Samuel Diachronic Presentation into my computer 32 slides in all and I finished it earlier tonight. Now I can get to bed at a nominal hour and listen to my over night radio show.

I have three papers to write in the next seven days. In order not to be tossed from the M.A. program. The fourth paper isn’t due until the 29th and that should not be a problem. I have to get Sophia and Origen written by next Tuesday. God give me strength…

I spoke to my friend down in Florida, the lady keeping an eye on Louise. She is home now, and was sleeping when I called earlier today. Things must be going very well that they discharged her so soon after surgery.

That’s all I have for you at the moment. So from Primo Levi, Survival in Auschwitz, I remember …

“You who live safe
In your warm houses,
You who find, returning in the evening,
Hot food and friendly faces:
Consider if this is a man
Who works in the mud
Who does not know peace
Who fights for a scrap of bread
Who dies because of a yes and a no.
Consider if this is a woman,
Without hair and without name
With no more strength to remember,
Her eyes empty and her womb cold
Like a frog in winter

Meditate that this came about:
I commend these words to you.
Carve them in your hearts
At Home, in the street,
Going to bed, rising;
Repeat them to your children,

Or may your house fall apart,
May illness impede you,
May your children turn their faces from you.”

Primo Levi

Survival in Auschwitz


"Crimes that are meant not only to break bones but to break spirits"

hatex390

obamasigning

No one in America should ever be afraid to walk down the street holding the hand of the person they love.”
.
Here are the remarks President Obama made a few minutes ago following the signing of the Matthew Shepard/James Byrd Hate Crime Prevention Act into law.

“After more than a decade of delay, we have passed inclusive hate crimes legislation to help protect our citizens from violence based on what they look like, who they love, how they pray or who they are.”

“As a nation we’ve come far on the journey toward a more perfect union and today we’re taking another step forward.”

He described hate crimes as “… crimes that are meant not only to break bones but to break spirits, not only to inflict harm but to inspire fear. We understand that the rights afforded every citizen under our Constitution mean nothing if we do not protect those rights from unjust laws and violent acts and we understand how necessary this law continues to be.”

Lifted from: An Inch at a Time.


Hate crimes bill goes to Obama for signature

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Taken from: CNN. com Online report

WASHINGTON (CNN) — The Senate passed groundbreaking legislation Thursday that would make it a federal crime to assault an individual because of his or her sexual orientation or gender identity.

The expanded federal hate crimes law now goes to President Obama’s desk. Obama has pledged to sign the measure, which was added to a $680 billion defense authorization bill.

President George W. Bush had threatened to veto a similar measure.

The bill is named for Matthew Shepard, a gay Wyoming teenager who died after being kidnapped and severely beaten in October 1998, and James Byrd Jr., an African-American man dragged to death in Texas the same year.

“Knowing that the president will sign it, unlike his predecessor, has made all the hard work this year to pass it worthwhile,” said Judy Shepard, board president of the Matthew Shepard Foundation named for her son. “Hate crimes continue to affect far too many Americans who are simply trying to live their lives honestly, and they need to know that their government will protect them from violence, and provide appropriate justice for victims and their families.”

Several religious groups have expressed concern that a hate-crimes law could be used to criminalize conservative speech relating to subjects such as abortion or homosexuality.

Attorney General Eric Holder has asserted that any federal hate-crimes law would be used only to prosecute violent acts based on bias, as opposed to the prosecution of speech based on controversial racial or religious beliefs.

Holder called Thursday’s 68-29 Senate vote to approve the defense spending bill that included the hate crimes measure “a milestone in helping protect Americans from the most heinous bias-motivated violence.”

“The passage of this legislation will give the Justice Department and our state and local law enforcement partners the tools we need to deter and prosecute these acts of violence,” he said in a statement.

Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, called the measure “our nation’s first major piece of civil rights legislation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.”

“Too many in our community have been devastated by hate violence,” Solmonese said in a statement. “We now can begin the important steps to erasing hate in our country.”

This month, Obama told the Human Rights Campaign, the country’s largest gay rights group, that the nation still needs to make significant changes to ensure equal rights for gays and lesbians.

“Despite the progress we’ve made, there are still laws to change and hearts to open,” he said during his address at the dinner for the Human Rights Campaign. “This fight continues now, and I’m here with the simple message: I’m here with you in that fight.”

Among other things, Obama has called for the repeal of the ban on gays serving openly in the military, the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. He also has urged Congress to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and pass the Domestic Partners Benefit and Obligations Act.

The Defense of Marriage Act defines marriage, for federal purposes, as a legal union between a man and a woman. It allows states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages. The Domestic Partners Benefit and Obligations Act would extend family benefits now available to heterosexual federal employees to gay and lesbian federal workers.

More than 77,000 hate-crime incidents were reported by the FBI between 1998 and 2007, or “nearly one hate crime for every hour of every day over the span of a decade,” Holder told the Senate Judiciary Committee in June.

The FBI, Holder added, reported 7,624 hate-crime incidents in 2007, the most current year with complete


April 17 – Day of Silence

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April 17th, I will be joining GLBT bloggers across the nation for a tremendous cause, the National Day of Silence which is aimed at preventing anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools.

Instead of blogging on April 17th there will be a single post on this blog and many others with resources and information about this great cause and why instead of blogging, we will unite with our GLBT youth and their allies and be SILENT!


January 27 2009 Holocaust Memorial Day

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You who live safe
In your warm houses,
You who find, returning in the evening,
Hot food and friendly faces:
Consider if this is a man
Who works in the mud
Who does not know peace
Who fights for a scrap of bread
Who dies because of a yes and a no.
Consider if this is a woman,
Without hair and without name
With no more strength to remember,
Her eyes empty and her womb cold
Like a frog in winter

Meditate that this came about:
I commend these words to you.
Carve them in your hearts
At Home, in the street,
Going to bed, rising;
Repeat them to your children,

Or may your house fall apart,
May illness impede you,
May your children turn their faces from you.

Primo Levi

Survival in Auschwitz

Let us Remember so that We Never Forget…


Canadian Pol Says "Kills Gays"

Originally found on: Joe My God

Independent candidate for the Canadian parliament David Popescu told a high school debate audience yesterday that he recommended that gays be executed. Canadian authorities are investigating and may charge Popescu with a hate crime.

David Popescu was invited to participate in a federal candidates’ discussion at Sudbury Secondary School on Tuesday. He made the comment after a student asked his opinion of gay marriage. Within hours, the Greater Sudbury Police Service said they were investigating. “We are actively conducting a criminal investigation in this matter,” deputy police chief Frank Elsner said.

The police service plans to share its evidence with the provincial Attorney General’s office, which will provide direction on whether or not a criminal charge is warranted. More than 200 students gathered in the school’s auditorium to hear candidates from the NDP, Liberal Party and the First Peoples National Party.

Popescu introduced himself with a public prayer, blaming environmental damage and economic unrest on the wickedness of society. His comments were met with silence as some students grimaced and shifted in their seats.

Near the end of the more than two-hour event, students were invited to ask the candidates questions. As a long line of pupils waited to speak, Popescu told a young female student who asked about stem cell research that, “God would hurt” those who had an abortion.

The crowd jeered and many rose to their feet in protest after Popescu answered another teenager’s question on gay marriage. During a telephone interview later in the day, Popescu reasserted his view. “A young man asked me what I think of homosexual marriages and I said I think homosexuals should be executed,” he said. “My whole reason for running is the Bible and the Bible couldn’t be more clear on that point.”

Canada has much stronger restriction on public speech than the United States.


Matthew …

Originally found on: Walking with Integrity

UW dedicates bench in honor of Matthew Shepard

By Peter Baumann Boomerang Staff Writer – Hyperlink Here

On a sunny fall day in Laramie, it’s too easy to forget that nearly 10 years ago the life of Matthew Shepard ended brutally, tied to a desolate fence outside of town. No one who had never met him will get the chance. No one who never heard his voice will know what it sounded like. And for those who knew, it’s important that the community of Laramie never forget what tragic consequences bubble forth out of ignorance and intolerance.

These are the things that people will hopefully think about when they take a seat on the bench with his name on it at Quealy Plaza that was dedicated in his memory Saturday morning.

Under the close eye of the media with police officers idling near the outer circle of the crowd that gathered that day, University of Wyoming President Tom Buchanan and Judy Shepard, Matthew’s mom, spoke about the past and the future of that fatal event that shocked not only this small town on the plains, but the state and nation as well.

“Prejudice exits in America, but it need not define who we are,” Buchanan said. “Prejudice is the exception, not the rule.”

Moods and emotions were subdued at the dedication. Governor Dave Freudenthal and wife, Nancy, stood close by, listening to Buchanan and Shepard’s parents speak.

Buchanan said that while progress has been made in the fight against intolerance — citing the creation of the Shepard Symposium and the Rainbow Resource Center that provides support for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered students — it is a battle that must be waged diligently.

“Through our actions, we continue to demonstrate that diversity and inclusion are core values at UW,” Buchanan said. “Just as we live with the loss of Matt, we live every day at UW committed to the idea that we treat all with dignity and respect. A memorial bench can serve as a reminder of that commitment, but we must continue to work hard to make it a reality.”

Despite the progress that has been made, Judy Shepard expressed disappointment that the state of Wyoming has yet to pass any hate crime laws.

“But I’m confident that as the Equality State, we can move forward, set an example and really make a statement about what it means to be equal to everybody else,” Shepard said.


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