At today’s March for Marriage, Pastor Jim Garlow offered a lengthy explanation for why he believes marriage equality is wrong, asking the audience to repeat several Hebrew words found in Genesis before rearranging the letters to make the word “fire,” which of course proves that if you allow marriage equality you are going to Hell.
“You mess with the definition of marriage, and you burn, you’re toast, you can’t win that one,” he said.
This explanation is so obvious, he said, that if the Supreme Court rules in favor of marriage equality this year, it will soon become a “laughingstock” for having promoted the “ridiculous” idea of legal marriage for gay and lesbian people.
“Quoting from the Broadway musical, I would say this to the Supreme Court,” he said. “‘Your arms are too short to box with God.’ You can’t mess with Him. You can’t change the definition of marriage. If you try, they will laugh at you in 25 or 50 years. This Supreme Court, if they try to change that definition, they’ll be laughed at, they’ll be scoffed at. ‘How ridiculous was this notion?’ And this whole concept of so-called ‘same-sex marriage’ will be on the ash heap of history and the Supreme Court will be the laughingstock of historians and the world. They cannot change what God has established.”
Speaking at the National Organization for Marriage’s March for Marriage today, Liberty Counsel founder Mat Staver repeated his frequent comparison of a potential Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality to the infamous Dred Scott decision, declaring that he would have “no choice” but to disobey such a “lawless” decision.
Staver, who has recruited hundreds of anti-gay activists to sign onto a pledge to disobey a high court ruling in favor or marriage equality, told the crowd, “As someone who’s argued before the United States Supreme Court, I have great respect for this court, but have no respect and cannot respect a lawless decision.”
Saying that like Dred Scott, a decision in favor of marriage equality would be “contrary to the natural law of God,” Staver said, “As much as I’m an attorney and I respect the rule of law, I also respect the higher law. And when an earthly law collides with the higher law, we have no choice to obey the higher law.”
“Marriage is the union of a man and a woman,” he added. “As a policy matter, any other union says that God’s design is flawed. As a policy matter, any other union says that boys don’t need fathers and girls don’t need mothers.”
There was a special tone of urgency at today’s March for Marriage, held just days before the Supreme Court hears arguments on the constitutionality of bans on gays and lesbians marrying, which even many marriage equality opponents believe may lead to a sweeping decision in favor of marriage rights.
Father Johannes Jacobse, an Orthodox priest from Florida, set the tone at the National Organization for Marriage’s event when he warned that if marriage equality becomes law, “in the end, the state will be telling you how to live and you will lose your freedom and the family will be weakened and the society will crumble and might even be destroyed.”
“God created the family,” he added. “In the beginning, in the beginning, it was Adam and Eve and not Adam and Steve!”
Likely GOP presidential candidates Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee have joined more than 200 anti-gay activists in signing a pledge vowing to resist any Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality.
The pledge, which was co-written by Mat Staver of the right-wing legal group Liberty Counsel and Deacon Keith Fournier, a Catholic activist who recently argued that marriage equality is quite literally an attack of the Devil, recycles the language of a similar document circulated by right-wing groups when the Supreme Court took up a previous set of marriage cases in 2013. Staver and a number of other activists introduced the current pledge at a press conference this morning.
Along with Huckabee and Santorum, signers include former House GOP leader Tom Delay; big players in the Religious Right including John Hagee, Samuel Rodriguez and Focus on the Family’s James Dobson; and fringe anti-gay activists including Peter LaBarbera, Matt Barber, Cindy Jacobs, Linda Harvey and Bradlee Dean.
Comparing any sweeping decision in favor of marriage equality to the Dred Scott case, the activists vow that they will not recognize such a decision and indicate that they would try to convince national and state executive branches not to enforce it.
We stand together in defense of marriage and the family and society founded upon them. While we come from a variety of communities and hold differing faith perspectives, we are united in our common affirmation of marriage.
On the matter of marriage, we stand in solidarity. We affirm that marriage and family have been inscribed by the Divine Architect into the order of Creation. Marriage is ontologically between one man and one woman, ordered toward the union of the spouses, open to children and formative of family. Family is the first vital cell of society, the first government, and the first mediating institution of our social order. The future of a free and healthy society passes through marriage and the family.
Marriage as existing solely between one man and one woman precedes civil government. Though affirmed, fulfilled, and elevated by faith, the truth that marriage can exist only between one man and one woman is not based on religion or revelation alone, but on the Natural Law, written on the human heart and discernible through the exercise of reason. It is part of the natural created order. The Natural Law is what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., referred to as a higher law or a just law in his famous Letter from Birmingham Jail.
Marriage is the preeminent and the most fundamental of all human social institutions. Civil institutions do not create marriage nor can they manufacture a right to marry for those who are incapable of marriage. Society begins with marriage and the family.
We pledge to stand together to defend marriage for what it is, a bond between one man and one woman, intended for life, and open to the gift of children.
The institutions of civil government should defend marriage and not seek to undermine it. Government has long regulated marriage for the true common good. Examples, such as the age of consent, demonstrate such a proper regulation to ensure the free and voluntary basis of the marriage bond. Redefining the very institution of marriage is improper and outside the authority of the State. No civil institution, including the United States Supreme Court or any court, has authority to redefine marriage.
As citizens united together, we will not stand by while the destruction of the institution of marriage unfolds in this nation we love. The effort to redefine marriage threatens the essential foundation of the family.
Experience and history have shown us that if the government redefines marriage to grant a legal equivalency to same-sex couples, that same government will then enforce such an action with the police power of the State. This will bring about an inevitable collision with religious freedom and conscience rights. The precedent established will leave no room for any limitation on what can constitute such a redefined notion of marriage or human sexuality. We cannot and will not allow this to occur on our watch. Religious freedom is the first freedom in the American experiment for good reason.
Conferring a moral and legal equivalency to any relationship other than marriage between a man and a woman, by legislative or judicial fiat, sends the message that children do not need a mother and a father. As a policy matter, such unions convey the message that moms and dads are completely irrelevant to the well-being of children. Such a policy statement is unconscionable and destructive. Authorizing the legal equivalency of marriage to same-sex couples undermines the fundamental rights of children and threatens their security, stability, and future.
Neither the United States Supreme Court nor any court has authority to redefine marriage and thereby weaken both the family and society. Unlike the Legislative Branch that has the power of the purse and the Executive Branch which has the figurative power of the sword, the Judicial Branch has neither. It must depend upon the Executive Branch for the enforcement of its decisions.
As the Supreme Court acknowledged in the 1992 decision of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, its power rests solely upon the legitimacy of its decisions in the eyes of the people. If the decisions of the Court are not based on the Constitution and reason, and especially if they are contrary to the natural created order, then the people will lose confidence in the Court as an objective arbiter of the law. If the people lose respect for the Court, the Court’s authority will be diminished.
The Supreme Court was wrong when it denied Dred Scott his rights and said, “blacks are inferior human beings.” And the Court was wrong when Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote in Buck v. Bell, “three generations of imbeciles are enough,” thus upholding Virginia’s eugenics law that permitted forced sterilization. Shamefully, that decision was cited during the Nuremburg trials to support the Nazi eugenic holocaust.
In these earlier cases, the definition of “human” was at issue. Now the definition of “marriage” is at issue. The Constitution does not grant a right to redefine marriage — which is nonsensical since marriage intrinsically involves a man and a woman. Nor does the Constitution prohibit states from affirming the natural created order of male and female joined together in marriage.
We will view any decision by the Supreme Court or any court the same way history views the Dred Scott and Buck v. Bell decisions. Our highest respect for the rule of law requires that we not respect an unjust law that directly conflicts with higher law. A decision purporting to redefine marriage flies in the face of the Constitution and is contrary to the natural created order. As people of faith we pledge obedience to our Creator when the State directly conflicts with higher law. We respectfully warn the Supreme Court not to cross this line.
We stand united together in defense of marriage. Make no mistake about our resolve. While there are many things we can endure, redefining marriage is so fundamental to the natural order and the common good that this is the line we must draw and one we cannot and will not cross.
h/t RWW reader Erik
National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown said in a radio interview this week that the fight against marriage equality is the true “civil rights” movement of our time.
Brown, who was promoting this weekend’s March for Marriage on the “Freedom’s Journal” radio program on the American Family Association’s Urban Family Communications network, told host Lonnie Poindexter that like the marches of the civil rights movement, the anti-gay march represents Americans coming together when “great truths have been undermined or attacked.”
“In my view, when you stand up for marriage as the union of a man and a woman, you are standing up for civil rights,” he said. “You’re standing up for the civil rights of children, you’re standing up for the rights of the oppressed, you’re standing up for the one institution that we know has done the best in combatting poverty, in increasing the opportunity for educational attainment. This is the ideal structure in which to raise children and altering it or trying to even more transform it by moving forward with same-sex marriage will be and has been profoundly damaging.”
“And I’m only now talking about what occurs to children, what happens in our schools,” he continued, “and I’m not even touching on the consequences to the church itself and to individuals through undermining religious liberty, which we’ve seen time and time again when same-sex marriage is imposed on states.”
Comparing the March for Marriage to the marches of the civil rights movement, Brown warned that “the freedom of the church to spread the Gospel” is at stake if marriage equality is legalized nationwide.
“The freedom of the church to speak truth to power, the freedom of the church to spread the Gospel, that itself is at stake because you have a growing number of folks even within Congress who think it’s okay to talk about stripping the church of its 501(c)3 status or saying that somehow the church is discriminating when it says this is the truth about marriage,” he said. “That is not discriminating.”
“You know, folks supporting same-sex marriage are trying to hijack the civil rights movement to use it to support the redefinition of marriage,” he added. “That’s not what the civil rights movement was about. In truth, we’re standing for civil rights when we’re standing for the truth of marriage. We’re standing for the rights of churches to proclaim the Gospel.”
Later in the program, Brown told Poindexter that he feels “blessed to have played some role” in the “rainbow coalition” opposing marriage equality. He added that the “rainbow coalition” will stay together even if the Supreme Court issues a sweeping ruling for marriage rights because such a ruling would merely “be putting a lie into the law.”
“The Supreme Court will be putting a lie into the law if they say that somehow all the states need to redefine marriage,” he said. “Marriage is still the union of a man and a woman, we just have a lie embedded in our law. And it will be up to us to continue to grow, continue to work together, and continue to proclaim truth to power if the courts were to put that sort of lie into law.”
Last week, the Coalition of African American Pastors (CAAP), a small group associated with the National Organization for Marriage, presented Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore with its first “Letter from the Birmingham Jail Courage Award,” comparing Moore’s defiance of federal courts on marriage equality to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s civil disobedience during the civil rights movement.
Moore accepted the award by comparing federal court decisions in favor of marriage equality to the infamous Supreme Court decisions in Plessy v. Ferguson and Dred Scott. Reading a passage from the dissent in Plessy, Moore said it “seemed to ring very true in the issue before this country today about same-sex marriage and taking away the institution of marriage as between one man and one woman.”
The blog Left in Alabama captured the video:
After the presentation of the award, a reporter in the audience repeatedly asked Moore and CAAP President William Owens how they thought legalizing marriage for gay and lesbian couples would undermine marriage for straight people.
“It takes away the very definition ordained of God,” Moore responded. “A different definition destroys the definition of marriage. It’s not about the right to marry. There is a right to marry in our Constitution and the constitutions of the majority of the states, but it’s between a man and a woman.”
Owens took a different tack: “First of all, it’s not natural law and it’s immoral. It’s not natural for man to be married to a man. That is not natural. And that’s what this award is about. Dr. King emphasized it must line up with natural law. And if you believe that so much that a man should marry a man or a woman should marry a woman, go try it with electricity.”
Virginia Del. Bob Marshall, the sponsor of a measure that would go beyond the state’s existing Religious Freedom Restoration Act to explicitly allow discrimination against LGBT people, complained in a radio interview earlier this month that business that oppose such bills are implying that “heterosexuals cannot be the best and the brightest.”
Falsely claiming that a controversial “religious liberty” measure recently debated in Indiana was no different from the RFRA already on the books in Virginia and other states, Marshall told talk radio host John Fredericks that he took issue with a letter Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe published in the Indianapolis Star inviting businesses to relocate to his state’s “open, inclusive and thriving business environment.”
Such rhetoric, Marshall complained, is derogatory to straight people: “When you actually look at the rhetoric, that you need these laws to hire the best and the brightest, that kind of like is a sweeping statement that says that heterosexuals cannot be the best and the brightest.”
Marshall also objected to claims that legislation like his would diminish the rights of LGBT people. “My question is, what possible rights can a person who has this inclination have that you don’t have right now?” he asked. “I mean, homosexuals go to public schools, they can go to colleges, they vote, they drive cars, they have businesses, they go to country clubs. I don’t know what else is needed.”
Cathie Adams, the former chairwoman of the Texas Republican Party who now leads the state chapter of Eagle Forum, told a Republican group yesterday that if Texas doesn’t defy a potential Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality this year, it “could be the end of America.”
“On April 28, the U.S. Supreme Court is going to hear arguments on marriage, and we expect that they’re going to do the wrong thing,” she said in at the end of a speech on Islam to the Smith County Republican Women, which was posted on YouTube by an attendee.
Adams told the group that before the Supreme Court decision comes down, Texas must pass a proposed bill denying compensation to county clerks who issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. She said that while she admired Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore’s defiance of the federal courts on marriage equality, “Alabama is Alabama.”
“Texas holds a whole lot more power and a whole lot more authority,” she said, “and if we don’t come out and do something before April 28, this could be the end of America.”
“If we don’t get this done by April 28, I don’t know that we’re going to be able to hold back what is happening,” she said. “And folks, if you are a believer, you understand what happened in Sodom and Gomorrah. You understand. And we are on the threshold. “
“I mean, young people in schools, elementary all the way through universities, are being lied to that these people are ‘born this way,’” she continued. “No, they’re not. I’ve met friends who have come out of that lifestyle, I’ve met men who are willing and ready and begging for a bill to come up in the Texas legislature that they can testify in support of in order to defend the right of parents and defend the right of those individuals who choose to seek a way out of sexual perversion.”
Maggie Gallagher, the former head of the National Organization for Marriage who is now a senior fellow at the American Principles Project, writes in the National Review today that she, unlike Sen. Marco Rubio, would decline to go to a gay or lesbian friend’s wedding and would instead tell them that they are driving the one they love away from “God’s plan” and into sin.
While she praised the “great dignity and kindness” of Rubio’s statement — that he would attend the wedding of a gay or lesbian loved one while still opposing marriage equality as policy — Gallagher said that she would personally tell her loved one that “on your happy day you should be surrounded by people who can honor your vow and help you keep it” and “I can’t do that.”
At the end of her draft speech to her hypothetical gay friend, Gallagher urges, “let us somehow against all odds find a way to love each other as we are, and not how each of us would wish the other to be.”
So I would sit down with my friend and tell them this:
Here’s what I think. We are born male and female, and marriage is the union of husband to wife that celebrates the necessity of the two genders’ coming together to make the future happen. I know you don’t think that. I know the law no longer thinks that. But I have staked my life on this truth.
The problem for me in celebrating your gay wedding, as much as I love you, is that I would be witnessing and celebrating your attempt not only to commit yourself to a relationship that keeps you from God’s plan but, worse, I would be witnessing and celebrating your attempt to hold the man you love to a vow that he will avoid God’s plan. To vow oneself to sin is one thing, to try to hold someone you love to it — that’s not something I can celebrate.
And I would be party to the idea that two men can make a marriage, which I do not believe.
On your happy day you should be surrounded by people who can honor your vow and help you keep it. I can’t do that.
“Porneia” is a word in the Bible that has been much mistranslated. But I think it means a sexual relationship that cannot by its nature become a marriage. That’s why Christ said that marriage is forever, unless it is porneia. I understand that you might well want to rupture our friendship over this, my honest view.
I choose to love you both and keep you in my life. But let us somehow against all odds find a way to love each other as we are, and not how each of us would wish the other to be.
In a column for Matt Barber’s outlet BarbWire today, Michael Bresciani expounds on an amicus brief submitted by a number of Religious Right groups warning the Supreme Court that a ruling in favor of marriage equality could bring God’s judgment down on America. Bresiciani approvingly cites the amicus brief, agreeing that the Bible “clearly warns that the practice and promulgation of homosexuality and other perversions will draw God’s disfavor and in time his severe judgment on this and any nation.”
Should LGBT rights activist succeed with their “demonic plan” at the Supreme Court, he warns, “there will be absolutely nothing left to block an impending and imminent judgment against the United States from a very patient God who after all, will not be mocked.”
Bresciani concludes by assuring readers that he does not hate gay people because “the only thing real Christians hate about the gays is the fact that more creatures created in the image of God will be cast into an eternal hell.”
The Bible clearly warns that the practice and promulgation of homosexuality and other perversions will draw God’s disfavor and in time his severe judgment on this and any nation. Those who take their bibles seriously cannot wait until others take them seriously – it will be too late by then.
There is little left for the LGBT to disrupt in America and the gay agenda’s public relations activists have clobbered the nation through the media, the state legislatures and it is now looming at the door of the Supreme Court to bring marriage in line with its demonic plan.
Should they succeed there will be absolutely nothing left to block an impending and imminent judgment against the United States from a very patient God who after all, will not be mocked
Having spent the last ten years intensely focusing on America’s waltz into the deepest levels of moral depravity and reprobation, I have often wondered why God drives us to warn a people who turn a deaf ear to its best voices for good, like those listed above. It seems that the voices are called into play only so in the end no one will call for the excuse that they were not warned. It seems that they will be granted what they want while ignoring the approach to losing all that they already have. Such futility is not new to nations throughout history, but now it’s coming to a neighborhood near you.
America has ignored every warning and message of those sent to her and is about to slam headlong into what I describe as the “40 Year Factor.”
I can’t say what that means in every detail, but I can say what I have seen and heard and that starts with an economic collapse that will parallel and go beyond the dust bowl days and the stock market crash of 1929. It will be a time of “extreme poverty and scarcity” such as never seen in our history.
The mighty push against all things Biblical, constitutional, rational, moral and decent is about to cross a line marked “no return allowed.”
The use of the word “homophobia’ is subterfuge being used as the last day’s PC war cry for anyone who does not want to face the serious nature and consequences of their own worst behaviors.
Not wanting to bake cakes for gays is nothing when considering that Christians are called upon to refrain from even mentioning what gays do in secret – why would they consent to promote or celebrate such behaviors. To wit:
“And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.” (Eph 5: 11-12)
Regardless of which way these legal battles turn out one thing is clear the only thing real Christians hate about the gays is the fact that more creatures created in the image of God will be cast into an eternal hell.
Concern and sadness about the loss of their lives and futures is something that compassionate believers all share because it is not the will of God that anyone should perish. If it is not God’s will then it is not our will.
Far too many students have become targets of bullying and harassment based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Their pleas to teachers, principals, and university administrators for help — if they are brave enough to make them in the first place — too often go unanswered. They cannot access quality education.
They deserve better than that.
This toolkit is designed to help you understand and address the problem head-on. Federal legislation has been introduced to help create safe schools for all students. Herein we explain the two leading proposals and how you can help them become law, as well as how to raise safe schools awareness in your community.
The Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA) supports the creation of comprehensive anti-bullying policies that “enumerate” – or spell out – specific categories of targeted students, including those targeted based on sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as data collection, public education, and grievance procedures. The Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA) protects students from school-based sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination, much like Title IX does for gender discrimination, and much like other areas of law do for various protected classes. SNDA recognizes bullying and harassment as discrimination, and it provides both for remedies against discrimination and incentives for schools to prevent it from happening in the first place.
By pushing for SSIA and SNDA, PFAW is part of the movement for safe schools, and we hope that this toolkit will help you join us. It's time to stand up.
Check out PFAW’s website for more information about safe schools and other LGBT equality issues.
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Ensuring the safety and well-being of our children is a battle worth fighting. Here’s why:
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Representatives and Senators rely on their constituents’ opinions and concerns when formulating positions and voting on legislation. Responding is an integral part of being a member of Congress, and whether they are seen as being responsive can affect how they are viewed by their constituents come Election Day.
Your communication with members of Congress should be concise, informed, and polite. Review information about them before you write or call and familiarize yourself with their committee assignments and staff. It is important to know something about them before you begin the exchange. A common interest or background should help you stand out.
Six different ways to communicate with members of Congress are listed below.
A personal visit with a member of Congress can be a good way to demonstrate your interest in an issue or bill. To make your meeting more effective, schedule an appointment with the member (or a staff member) and be sure to state the subject of your visit in advance. Review the area of discussion before the meeting so you have a thorough knowledge of the subject. During the meeting, speak clearly and be concise. Present the pros and cons of the issue, as well as detailed explanations as to why you support your view. Encourage questions from the member and be ready to answer them, but if you don't have an answer don't be afraid to say that you'll get back to them with more information. At the end of the meeting, ask for favorable consideration of your issue and thank him or her for their time.
To address an issue with a member of Congress by telephone, call the US Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121, or use the main number listed for their House or Senate office. Speak to a staff member about your issue or concern; be sure to ask them to pass along your opinion. With patience, you might also be able to speak to the member directly.
United States Postal Service (USPS)
USPS mail was for a long time the most common means of communicating with members of Congress. Letters to them should be legible and concise. State the purpose of the letter in the first paragraph, support your positions in the rest of the letter, and conclude with a strong reiteration of your position. Stick to the facts, and if you are citing a particular bill include the name and number in the letter as:
House bills – "H.R. _______"
Senate bills – "S. _______"
Remember to address how the issue or legislation is likely to affect you and other constituents of the member. Make suggestions and ask for the member’s views or opinions on the matter. Include your name and return address and ensure that both are legible.
The Honorable ______
(Office Number) (Office Building)
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Representative ______:
The Honorable ______
(Office Number) (Office Building)
Washington, DC 20510
Faxing information is another common method of communicating with members of Congress. A fax receives the same attention as a letter sent by mail. Include your name and return address and ensure that both are legible. You should receive a written response from the member in the mail.
Today, many members of Congress encourage their constituents to correspond by email. Although a member occasionally responds via email, more often you will receive an automatic acknowledgement that your message has been received, and then a written response in the mail that addresses the substance of your issue. Email correspondence should address the member as Representative or Senator, and should include your name and address; be sure to type them accurately.
Many members use an online form for email instead of an actual email address. The form is a page on the member’s website that can be filled out and submitted electronically. The form enables the member to capture your name, address, and the subject of your message in a database for future correspondence. Often these forms rely on your zip code, and if you don’t reside in a member’s district or state, you may not be able to submit a message to that member – limiting email to constituents only.
Many members of Congress have social media accounts, and tweeting at them or posting on their Facebook walls has the added benefit of being visible to other people. Go to your members' websites or search Twitter or Facebook for their names, and tweet at them by using their handles — for example, @SenatorJohnSmith — in your tweets. It’s also helpful to search Twitter for your issue or concern to find relevant hashtags or other Twitter accounts – like activists and organizations — that could be included in your tweets. Using hashtags and additional Twitter handles helps raise the visibility of your tweets.
These sample letters provide you with a few general options for lobbying your members of Congress. The more personal and the more local your letter is, the more compelling it will be.
Today I write to you in strong support of the Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA) and the Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA). I thank the sponsors and cosponsors therein for addressing what has become a pervasive national problem, and I urge you and all members of Congress to join them.
Following the increased media attention paid to bullying-related suicides in 2010, I took a strong stand on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students and those who are perceived to be LGBT. According to the 2013 National School Climate Survey (NSCS): 74.1 percent of LGBT students suffer verbal harassment, 32.6 percent physical harassment, and 16.5 percent physical assault because of their sexual orientation. 55.2 percent suffer verbal harassment, 22.7 percent physical harassment, and 11.4 percent physical assault because of their gender expression. In many cases, not surprisingly, this makes LGBT students feel unsafe; 55.5 percent reported feeling unsafe based on their sexual orientation, and 38.7 percent felt so based on their gender expression.
A student who feels unsafe due to bullying and harassment might choose to avoid the situation altogether, adding a loss of learning to the harms they already suffer. According to the NSCS, “When asked about absenteeism, nearly one third (30.3%) of LGBT students reported missing at least one entire day of school in the past month because they felt unsafe or uncomfortable, and over a tenth (10.6%) missed four or more days in the past month[.]” Even when they remain in class, LGBT students targeted by severe victimization and discrimination lose nearly half a grade point. But as we know all too well, this isn’t just a question of education. It’s a matter of life and death.
Through SSIA and SNDA, Congress has recognized the need to reverse this trend. SSIA supports the creation of comprehensive anti-bullying policies that enumerate specific categories of targeted students – including those targeted based on sexual orientation and gender identity – as well as data collection, public education, and grievance procedures. SNDA protects students from school-based sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination, much like Title IX does for gender discrimination, and much like other areas of law do for various protected classes. SNDA recognizes bullying and harassment as discrimination, and it provides both for remedies against discrimination and incentives for schools to prevent it from happening in the first place.
Ultimately, this is about stopping abhorrent behavior that gets in the way of quality education. All students deserve far better than that. And SSIA and SNDA deserve your consideration.
 2013 National School Climate Survey, Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, October 2014. http://glsen.org/nscs
 See above at http://www.glsen.org/sites/default/files/2013%20National%20School%20Climate%20Survey%20Full%20Report_0.pdf, pgs. 22-23
 Ibid, pg. 12
 Ibid, pgs. 12-13
 Ibid, pgs. 47 and 49
I am writing as your constituent to thank you for supporting the inclusion of the Safe Schools Improvement Act in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization bill. I believe strongly in preventing bullying and harassment and ensuring that all students learn in positive, safe and healthy schools.
As you know, far too many young people experience severe and ongoing bullying and harassment that prevents them from achieving their highest academic and life potential. In fact, evidence shows that across the country bullying and harassment contribute to high dropout rates, increased absenteeism, and academic underperformance. In many instances, targets of bullying and harassment are simply unable to fully benefit from their schools' programs and activities. Unfortunately, in many communities not enough is being done to help students, families and educators address the problem, such as informing them about best practices for prevention and intervention. This includes ensuring that school districts develop and implement enumerated bullying and harassment prevention plans and provide clear information to families about school's grievance and resolution procedures.
Given bullying and harassment's pervasiveness and significant negative impact on educational opportunities, I hope that Congress will swiftly act to address the problem as part of ESEA reauthorization. This will ensure that in the future all kids have an opportunity to learn in positive, safe and healthy schools.
I am writing as your constituent to thank you for supporting the inclusion of the Student Non-Discrimination Act in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization bill. I believe strongly in preventing discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students in public schools.
As you know, students who are (or are perceived to be) LGBT are subjected to pervasive discrimination, including harassment and bullying. The harassment youth experience in school deprives them of equal educational opportunities by increasing their likelihood of skipping school, underperforming academically, and dropping out. Left unchecked, this harassment can contribute to even more devastating consequences, including suicide. Furthermore, while discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, disability, national origin and religion are expressly addressed in federal civil rights laws or the Constitution, they do not explicitly cover sexual orientation or gender identity. As a result, parents of LGBT students have limited legal recourse when schools fail to protect their children from discrimination.
I hope Congress will swiftly act to address discrimination of LGBT students as part of ESEA reauthorization. This will ensure that in the future all kids have an opportunity to learn in positive, safe and healthy schools.
I write to urge you to cosponsor the Student Non-Discrimination Act (H.R. 846/S. 439) and support its inclusion in any reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).
Students who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) or perceived to be LGBT are subject to well-documented, pervasive discrimination, including harassment, bullying, intimidation, and violence. These students are deprived of equal educational opportunities in public schools across our nation. Numerous studies demonstrate that discrimination at school has contributed to high rates of absenteeism, dropout, adverse health consequences, and academic under-achievement among LGBT youth. When left unchecked, such discrimination can lead to – and has led to – dangerous situations for youth.
Federal statutory protections currently address discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, and disability. However, statutory protections based on sexual orientation or gender identity are limited. The Student Non-Discrimination Act would explicitly prohibit public schools from discriminating against any student on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. The legislation also protects students who associate with LGBT people, including students with LGBT parents and friends.
As our nation’s primary statute promoting equal access to education, it is vital that ESEA ensures that every student is able to attend school in a safe, inclusive environment free from discrimination and harassment. Decades of civil rights history show that civil rights laws are effective in decreasing discrimination against specific vulnerable groups. It is time that we extend these laws to explicitly protect LGBT youth.
Again, I urge you to cosponsor the Student Non-Discrimination Act (H.R. 846/S. 439) and support its inclusion in any reauthorization of ESEA.
Writing a letter to the editor (LTE) is an effective way of raising awareness on an issue. Here’s how you do it:
What to Write About
After Submitting Your LTE
October 6, 2010
By Laura W. Murphy
To the Editor:
Re " Several Recent Suicides Put Light on Pressures Facing Gay Teenagers" (news article, Oct. 4):
The recent tragic deaths of young gay people from across the country underscore the fact that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students are an especially vulnerable population in our nation’s schools.
Discrimination and harassment, even physical abuse, are often a part of these students’ daily lives. This is unacceptable and must end.
While federal laws currently protect students on the basis of their race, color, sex, religion, disability or national origin, no federal statute explicitly protects students on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
But there is legislation pending in both the House and Senate — the Student Non-Discrimination Act — that would establish a comprehensive prohibition against discrimination and harassment in public schools throughout the nation based on a student’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Given recent tragedies, the need could not be more clear.
Congress should act to make sure that all of America’s children are protected.
Laura W. Murphy
Director, Washington Legislative Office
American Civil Liberties Union
Washington, Oct. 4, 2010
Writing an op-ed is similar to writing a letter to the editor, but it can be a slightly longer and more in-depth look at the issue. Here’s how you do it:
April 19, 2013
By Gregory Donnellan
If 15-year-old Zach King had known what was waiting for him on the other side of the door, he never would have walked into his Ohio high school classroom that October day.
By now you may have seen the video. Millions of people have. Zach, an openly gay student, was thrown to the ground and repeatedly pummeled by a classmate. Zach tried to escape . . . he tried to reason . . . and then he just tried to survive. The brutal assault left him with a concussion, a broken tooth and a feeling of insecurity he will likely carry with him the rest of his school days -- particularly after his school district allegedly tried to blame Zach and his sexual orientation for the attack.
Sadly, Zach is not alone. The deplorable bullying and harassment faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students like Zach is rampant in schools today. According to the 2011 National School Climate Survey [link replaced] by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), nearly 82 percent of LGBT students reported being verbally harassed -- and more than six in 10 LGBT students said they do not feel safe at school.
Ohio is hardly immune from the anti-LGBT bullying epidemic. Ninety percent of Ohio LGBT students who responded to GLSEN's national survey said they regularly heard homophobic remarks and slurs at school -- and nearly one in five said they heard these hurtful remarks from school staff.
The bullying of LGBT students in Ohio schools takes many forms. Students frequently are excluded by their peers, are subjected to cruel taunts in person or online, or are even physically harmed. Nearly 20 percent of Ohio LGBT students said they had been assaulted at school. Tragically, many of these cases of bullying and abuse go unreported, as LGBT students struggle with feelings of shame and fears of reprisal.
Bullying leaves lasting physical and emotional scars on thousands of LGBT students in Ohio each year. But today, students from every corner of Ohio will be taking a stand -- through silence.
Today students across Ohio are participating in GLSEN's annual Day of Silence, [link replaced] when students vow to take some form of silence to draw attention to the silencing effect of anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in schools. Founded in 1996, the Day of Silence has become the largest single student-led action toward creating safer schools for all, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
GLSEN Northeast Ohio will support efforts at area schools to help students participate in the Day of Silence in their own unique ways. Through our Facebook page, we offer resources to help students and schools get involved. We also provide speakers and exhibits to foster multigenerational understanding of LGBT issues.
Schools should be more than places of learning: They should be sanctuaries, where differences are valued and all students feel safe to thrive. We thank the schools in every corner of Ohio that will stand shoulder to shoulder today with LGBT students, and we ask for your help in ensuring that all students feel safe and welcome at school.
Gregory Donnellan is Jump-Start co-coordinator of the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network Northeast Ohio, a local chapter of the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, an organization which strives to assure that each member of every school community is valued and respected regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.
April 24, 2009
By Charles Robbins and Eliza Byard
The affect of language and behavior can be deadly, especially in a school environment where young people are already highly impressionable and vulnerable. Unfortunately, this difficult lesson has been conveyed many times when young people resort to drastic and permanent measures to escape the despair of enduring constant bullying and harassment at school.
It is deeply disturbing that on April 6, Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, an 11-year-old sixth-grader from Springfield, Mass., hanged himself with an extension cord in his family's home after being subjected to continuous anti-gay bullying and harassment at his middle school. It is equally as disheartening that on April 16, less than two weeks later, Jaheem Herrera, an 11-year-old fifth-grader from DeKalb County, Ga., also hanged himself at home after being the subject of anti-gay taunts from his classmates. These were two completely separate and isolated instances, but the tragic and preventable nature of each unfortunate loss of life remains the same.
Neither Carl nor Jaheem identified as gay, yet their peers' defamatory language and hurtful behaviors broke the barriers of sexual orientation and gender identity. Being taunted as "faggot," "queer" or "homo" by classmates is offensive and demeaning to any student -- straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning alike.
Carl is the fourth middle school student this year to complete suicide due to bullying, and Jaheem was still in elementary school. Older students are also at a high risk, as suicide is one of the top three causes of death among 15 to 24 year olds and the second leading cause of death on college campuses. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth are up to four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers, and those who come from a rejecting family are up to nine times more likely to do so.
Two of the top three reasons secondary school students said their peers were most often bullied at school were actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender expression, according to a 2005 report by GLSEN and Harris Interactive. In addition, The Trevor Project fields tens of thousands of calls from young people each year, both straight and LGBT-identified, with rejection and harassment by peers being one of the top five issues reported by callers.
In the same GLSEN and Harris report, more than a third of middle and high school students said that bullying, name-calling and harassment is a somewhat or very serious problem at their school. Furthermore, two-thirds of middle school students reported being assaulted or harassed in the previous year and only 41 percent said they felt safe at school.
Enough is enough. It is time for school administrators, educators, parents, students and the government to work together to stop bullying and harassment in schools. Furthermore, we must teach young people to understand the profound impact of words and actions, and to recognize depression and suicidal ideations amongst their peers. By helping young people take responsibility for their actions and respect their peers, and simultaneously empowering them with the knowledge and skills they need to understand when their classmates are in crisis, we can work toward ending the dual epidemics of school bullying and youth suicide once and for all.
We as parents, teachers and concerned citizens can do our part to protect students by speaking out and demanding that anti-bullying and harassment programs and suicide prevention education are mandated in all schools. We can seek commitment from the government to end bullying by training educators on how to effectively intervene, teaching students to respect and help one another, and ensuring that all students know how to reach out to a peer who may be in crisis. We must lead by example and remember that the language we choose is easily repeated by young people. We must listen to children when they reach out for help, and demonstrate to them that we will be understanding and non-judgmental if they need to talk.
Days like the GLSEN-sponsored National Day of Silence bring attention to anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in schools. On this day, thousands of students call for practical, appropriate interventions that work, hoping to move us closer to a future where every child can go to school free from fear. Weeks including the National Suicide Prevention Week encourage programs to increase suicide prevention efforts, including initiatives supported by The Trevor Project to protect LGBT youth.
It is our hope that in memory of Carl and Jaheem, and in honor of all young people who have completed suicide after enduring constant torment at school, we will be able to work together to promote school environments that celebrate diversity and encourage acceptance of all people. Only then will we be confident that our children are receiving the respect and education they deserve today in order to become the successful and equality-minded leaders of tomorrow.
Charles Robbins is the Executive Director & CEO of The Trevor Project and Eliza Byard, Ph.D., is the Executive Director, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN).
If you are looking for an even quicker way to lend your support to an issue, you can tweet about it!
Here are some sample tweets for safe schools:
When appropriate, don’t be afraid to tweet @ your Representative and Senators. Twitter and Facebook are great places to communicate with members of congress.
The Five Worst Religious Right Claims About Safe Schools Initiatives
People For the American Way’s Right Wing Watch is an ongoing source of information on what the far Right is saying about the movement to make schools safe and welcoming for all. Relying on harmful myths depicting LGBT people as abusive and “perverse,” it is clear that the Religious Right is far more interested in pushing homophobic lies than in protecting and supporting all students through commonsense legislation. Our elected leaders face a stark choice between protecting students and siding with the dangerous and hateful lies of the far right.
Here are some of the most troubling claims from the Religious Right about safe schools initiatives:
Previously, Gordon Klingenschmitt accused Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) of “homosexualizing kids” and acting like late North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il over his efforts to pass legislation geared at preventing bullying because Franken other progressives have “deified sin as their god.” Now, Klingenschmitt is accusing Franken of “causing more suicides” for sponsoring the anti-bullying bill. “Teen suicide is tragic enough without Senator Franken recruiting more kids into homosexuality, which causes depression, self-hatred, self-rejection and self-murder,” Klingenschmitt writes, “Franken's plan will result in more teen suicides, not less.”
Linda Harvey of Mission America is urging voters to oppose the Safe Schools Improvement Act and the Student Non-Discrimination Act, warning that such anti-bullying legislation is “using bullying prevention as a tool to force approval of homosexuality and gender bending on children, teachers and families.” On her radio show, Harvey urged members of her Ohio-based group to contact Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman to oppose what she called the “promotion of these lifestyles to kids brought into schools in the Trojan Horse of anti-bullying programs.” She went on to say that schools will be turned “into indoctrination camps” in order “to fulfill the fondest wishes of those who want traditional morality to disappear” if the safe school legislation passes.
Religious Right groups are consistently trying to tarnish anti-bullying initiatives as “homosexual indoctrination” and “special rights,” among other absurd claims. A Religious Right group led by Virginia politician Eugene Delgaudio, the Public Advocate, launched the “Protect Our Children’s Innocence” petition to protest the Student Non-Discrimination Act, which it labels the “Homosexual Classrooms Act.”
After President Obama announced his support for the Student Non-Discrimination Act, Gordon Klingenschmitt went back on the attack against the anti-bullying bill, in an email message warning that the “sick and perverse” legislation will “give homosexuals and perverts protected status,” “mandate pro-homosexual recruiting of kids in public schools,” promote “child abuse” as “homosexuals will have full control of classrooms” and even allow for harassment and “sexual assault.”
The American Family Association’s Sandy Rios hosted Linda Harvey of Mission America to criticize the Day of Silence, the anti-bullying event which Harvey has previously described as dangerous and blasphemous.
Rios, who once said that test scores are dropping as a result of schools “teaching” homosexuality, kicked off the program by arguing that public schools no longer instruct students in subjects like “reading, writing, cursive, spelling, grammar [and] punctuation,” but are instead completely dedicated to “cramming, twisting, perverting all academic subjects to the way of supporting homosexuality.”
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American Association of University Women (AAUW)
The American Association of University Women (AAUW) is a leading voice promoting equity and education for women and girls. Since its founding in 1881, AAUW members have examined and taken positions on the fundamental issues of the day — educational, social, economic, and political.
American Civil Liberties Union
The American Civil Liberties Union is a guardian of liberty, working daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country. These rights include: your First Amendment rights - freedom of speech, association and assembly; freedom of the press, and freedom of religion; your right to equal protection under the law - protection against unlawful discrimination; your right to due process - fair treatment by the government whenever the loss of your liberty or property is at stake; and your right to privacy - freedom from unwarranted government intrusion into your personal and private affairs. The organization also works to extend rights to segments of the population that have traditionally been denied their rights, including people of color; women; lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender people; prisoners; and people with disabilities.
American Counseling Association
The American Counseling Association is dedicated to the growth and enhancement of the counseling profession. Founded in 1952, ACA is the world's largest association exclusively representing professional counselors in various practice settings.
American Federation of Teachers
The American Federation of Teachers, an affiliate of the AFL-CIO, was founded in 1916 and today represents 1.5 million members in more than 3,000 local affiliates nationwide. Five divisions within the AFT represent the broad spectrum of the AFT’s membership: pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; and nurses and other healthcare professionals. In addition, the AFT represents approximately 80,000 early childhood educators and nearly 250,000 retiree members.
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) is the nation’s leading organization bringing together people across communities and backgrounds to understand and prevent suicide, and to help heal the pain it causes. Individuals, families, and communities who have been personally touched by suicide are the moving force behind everything we do.
American Psychological Association
The American Psychological Association is the world's largest association of psychologists, with more than 134,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants, and students as its members. APA’s mission is to advance the creation, communication and application of psychological knowledge to benefit society and improve people's lives.
The BULLY Project
The BULLY Project is the social action campaign inspired by the award-winning film BULLY – a national movement to stop bullying that is transforming kids’ lives and changing a culture of bullying into one of empathy and action. The power of its work lies in the participation of individuals and its partners who collectively work to create safe, caring, and respectful schools and communities.
Campus Pride serves LGBT and ally student leaders and campus organizations in the areas of leadership development, support programs, and services to create safer, more inclusive LGBT-friendly colleges and universities. It exists to develop, support, and give “voice and action” in building future LGBT and ally student leaders.
Family Equality Council
Family Equality Council connects, supports, and represents the three million parents who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender in this country and their six million children. The organization works to change attitudes and policies to ensure that all families are respected, loved, and celebrated—including families with parents who are LGBT. It is a community of parents and children, grandparents and grandchildren that reaches across this country.
Gay-Straight Alliance Network (GSA Network)
Gay-Straight Alliance Network is a national youth leadership organization that connects school-based Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) to each other and to community resources through peer support, leadership development, and training. GSA Network supports young people in starting, strengthening, and sustaining GSAs and builds the capacity of GSAs to: create safe environments in schools for students to support each other and learn about homophobia, transphobia, and other oppressions; educate the school community about homophobia, transphobia, gender identity, and sexual orientation issues; and fight discrimination, harassment, and violence in schools.
Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network
The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network strives to assure that each member of every school community is valued and respected regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. GLSEN believes that such an atmosphere engenders a positive sense of self, which is the basis of educational achievement and personal growth. Since homophobia and heterosexism undermine a healthy school climate, the organizations educates teachers, students and the public at large about the damaging effects these forces have on youth and adults alike. It recognizes that forces such as racism and sexism have similarly adverse impacts on communities and supports schools in seeking to redress all such inequities.
GLSEN Northeast Ohio
GLSEN Northeast Ohio is a chapter of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN). Chapters play an important role in bringing GLSEN's programs and visions to local communities. While some chapters have full-time or part-time staff, most are entirely volunteer-based.
Human Rights Campaign
As the largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans, the Human Rights Campaign represents a force of more than 1.5 million members and supporters nationwide — all committed to making HRC's vision a reality. Founded in 1980, HRC advocates on behalf of LGBT Americans, mobilizes grassroots actions in diverse communities, invests strategically to elect fair-minded individuals to office and educates the public about LGBT issues.
As religion plays an increasingly prominent role in American politics, preserving the boundary between religion and government is more vital than ever. Interfaith Alliance works to ensure that faith and freedom flourish so that individuals can worship freely or not worship at all, so they can embrace matters of personal conscience without fear of government intrusion, and so that all can live in a vibrant, healthy society. Created in 1994, Interfaith Alliance today has 185,000 members across the country made up of 75 faith traditions as well as those of no faith tradition.
Founded in 1973, Lambda Legal is the oldest and largest national legal organization whose mission is to achieve full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people, and those with HIV through impact litigation, selecting cases that will have the greatest impact in protecting and advancing the rights of LGBT people and those with HIV; education campaigns to help people exercise the rights they have and to build public support for equality; and public policy advocacy at the local, state, and federal levels to improve the lives of LGBT people, people affected by HIV, and their families and allies.
Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States. Through advocacy and outreach to targeted constituencies, The Leadership Conference works toward the goal of a more open and just society – an America as good as its ideals. It was founded in 1950 and has coordinated national lobbying efforts on behalf of every major civil rights law since 1957.
Matthew Shepard Foundation
The Matthew Shepard Foundation was founded by Dennis and Judy Shepard in memory of their 21-year old son, Matthew, who was murdered in an anti-gay hate crime in Wyoming in October 1998. Created to honor Matthew in a manner that was appropriate to his dreams, beliefs, and aspirations, the Foundation seeks to “Replace Hate with Understanding, Compassion, & Acceptance” through its varied educational, outreach, and advocacy programs and by continuing to tell Matthew’s story.
Founded in 1909, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization. From the ballot box to the classroom, the thousands of dedicated workers, organizers, leaders, and members who make up the NAACP continue to fight for social justice for all Americans. The mission of the NAACP is to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination.
National Association of School Psychologists
The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) empowers school psychologists by advancing effective practices to improve students’ learning, behavior, and mental health. Its vision is that all children and youth thrive in school, at home, and throughout life.
National Association of Secondary School Principals
In existence since 1916, NASSP is the preeminent organization of and national voice for middle level and high school principals, assistant principals, and aspiring school leaders from across the United States and more than 45 countries around the world. The organization's mission is to promote excellence in school leadership. It provides its members with the professional research-based and peer-tested resources and practical tools and materials they need to serve as visionary school leaders.
National Center for Lesbian Rights
The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education. NCLR litigates precedent-setting cases at the trial and appellate court levels; advocates for equitable public policies affecting the LGBT community; provides free legal assistance to LGBT people and their legal advocates; and conducts community education on LGBT legal issues.
National Council of Jewish Women
The National Council of Jewish Women has been at the forefront of social change for over a century—championing the needs of women, children, and families—while courageously taking a progressive stance on such issues as child welfare, women’s rights, and reproductive freedom. It is a grassroots organization of volunteers and advocates who turn progressive ideals into action.
National Education Association
The National Education Association (NEA), the nation's largest professional employee organization, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA's 3 million members work at every level of education—from pre-school to university graduate programs. NEA has affiliate organizations in every state and in more than 14,000 communities across the United States.
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of the LGBT movement. As part of a broader social justice movement, the Task Force to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all.
National Safe Schools Partnership
The National Safe Schools Partnership, a coalition of over 110 leading national organizations in the fields of education, health, civil rights, youth development, and religion that have joined together to support policy recommendations based on concrete research and experience, is committed to ensuring that America’s schools are safe for all youth, including those who are LGBT. Officially, the Partnership supports federal safe schools legislation, such as the Safe Schools Improvement Act, that will comprehensively address the issues of bullying and harassment.
National Women’s Law Center
National Women's Law Center has worked for 40 years to expand, protect, and promote opportunity and advancement for women and girls at every stage of their lives — from education to employment to retirement security, and everything in between. The organization's research, analysis, and advocacy take place when legislatures are enacting or amending laws; the executive branch and its agencies are writing regulations or otherwise enforcing laws and policies; and the courts are reviewing actions. It also conducts campaigns and public awareness efforts to educate and mobilize the public to press for policy changes to improve women's lives.
Founded in 1972 with the simple act of a mother supporting her gay son, PFLAG is the original ally organization. Made up of parents, families, friends, and straight allies uniting with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people, PFLAG is committed to advancing equality through its mission of support, education, and advocacy. Now in its 40th anniversary year, the organization has over 350 chapters and 200,000 supporters crossing multiple generations of American families in major urban centers, small cities, and rural areas in all 50 states, cultivated, resourced, and serviced by PFLAG National, located in Washington, DC, the national Board of Directors, and 13 Regional Directors.
School Social Work Association of America
The School Social Work Association of America empowers school social workers and promotes the profession of school social work to enhance the social and emotional growth and academic outcomes of all students. Its vision is that school social work is a valued, integral part of the education of all children, connecting schools, families, and communities.
Transgender Law Center
Transgender Law Center works to change law, policy, and attitudes so that all people can live safely, authentically, and free from discrimination regardless of their gender identity or expression. It envisions a future where gender self-determination and authentic expression are seen as basic rights and matters of common human dignity.
The Trevor Project
Founded in 1998 by the creators of the Academy Award-winning short film TREVOR, The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people ages 13-24.
United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society
With headquarters in Washington, DC and New York City, the General Board of Church and Society (GBCS) is one of four international general program boards of The United Methodist Church. Its five areas of ministry include Public Witness and Advocacy; Administration; Ministry of Resourcing Congregational Life; United Nations Ministry; and Communications.
In 2008, eighth-grader Brandon McInerney shot classmate Larry King at point blank range. Unraveling this tragedy from point of impact, Valentine Road reveals the heartbreaking circumstances that led to the shocking crime as well as the aftermath.
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The following safe schools toolkit was by no means a solitary effort. The authors are indebted in particular to the work of the American Civil Liberties Union, Campus Pride, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, GLSEN Northeast Ohio, the Human Rights Campaign, Interfaith Alliance, Lambda Legal, the Matthew Shepard Foundation, the National Safe Schools Partnership, National Women's Law Center, and The Trevor Project.
For more information about these allies and other resources, please consult the resources list at the end of this toolkit.
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Conservative groups are once again gearing up their annual campaign to convince parents to pull their children from school on the Day of Silence, an anti-bullying event sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN).
In an interview with Breitbart News published over the weekend, Rev. William Owens of the National Organization for Marriage-affiliated Coalition of African-American Pastors (CAAP) warned that the Day of Silence is part of an effort by the “cult-like” LGBT rights movement “to brainwash Americans into believing that homosexuality is alright.”
“Until we the people join together on the Day of Silence and oppose it,” he warned, “those who support the LGBT political agenda will know they own our youth.”
Supporters of the DOS Walkout include the American Family Association, Concerned Women of America, Faith, Family & Freedom Alliance, Liberty Counsel, and the Coalition of African-American Pastors (CAAP).
In an interview with Breitbart News, Rev. Bill Owens, president of CAAP, said, “What we would like to say is, instead, this will be a day of silent prayer.”
“The homosexual agenda intends to brainwash Americans into believing that homosexuality is alright, but it has become cult-like,” he said. “Let’s make it a day of silent prayer to promote Christianity and faith in general. What’s the difference”
“Those of us who have our faith should be as vocal as those promoting the LGBT agenda – and they are using the same techniques as the Civil Rights Movement,” Owens added. “In fact, they have hijacked the Civil Rights Movement – a movement they know nothing about.”
“But this is yet another nail in the coffin of ‘we the people’ if we fail to act,” he continued. “Until we the people join together on the Day of Silence and oppose it, those who support the LGBT political agenda will know they own our youth.”
In a column today for Brietbart News, Concerned Women for American President Penny Nance joins the right-wing detractors of the anti-bullying Day of Silence, telling parents that the event sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) is in fact a tool for LGBT activists who “are going around you to get to your children.”
Nance insists that GLSEN is “working tirelessly to infiltrate schools and influence children across the country” and “taunting and bullying kids in public school and shaming them regarding their religious beliefs that favor traditional marriage.”
What if I told you that pro-lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) activists are working tirelessly to infiltrate schools and influence children across the country? What if I said activists were taunting and bullying kids in public school and shaming them regarding their religious beliefs that favor traditional marriage? Most parents do not want to hear this, but it is a reality they must face. Gay activist are going around you to get to your children, and schools are complicit.
The “Day of Silence,” to be held next Friday, April 17, is part of that effort. It is a project of the radical Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), which is the leading pro-LGBT national education organization working inside schools in all 50 states.
Here’s an idea: how about GLSEN doing an effort against bullying, period? We could all get behind that. I despise children being bullied for being “gay” just as much as for being obese or for being from another country, or simply being different or for whatever reason. How about we teach our kids, “Be ye kind one to another.”
But these activists are not interested in stopping bullying — they actually want to bully anyone who dares oppose their opinion, as we have seen. The Day of Silence is an opportunity to make sure any other view is completely silenced.
They would use different language, to be sure. They would say they are combating “homophobia.” But they consider traditional Christian teaching to be homophobic, and, therefore, if your child is a Christian, they will be under enormous pressure to ignore their faith in this area or risk intense ridicule and contempt (or, dare we say, hatred).
The most dangerous thing about all this is that schools are complicit in disallowing debate. This is why no parent will be notified of this day or most other pro-LGBT activities in advance. The educational institutions are so politicized that they will and must abide by political correctness at all times.
That is one of the many reasons why parents must stay informed and involved in their children’s education. There is an effort to combat the Day of Silence called the “‘Day of Silence’ Walk Out” where parents are encouraged to keep their children home. Most parents don’t know about it, so we must spread the word. Only by staying involved will we be able to combat these efforts and train our kids to navigate the turbulent waters of today’s increasingly secularized, hostile culture.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal continued to try out his anti-big business, populist talking points in speech to the National Rifle Association’s convention today, telling the big-spending political group that is funded by the gun industry that Republicans need to “be ready to stand up to big business.”
He was talking, of course, about the recent decisions of lawmakers in Indiana and Arkansas to soften measures sanctioning discrimination under the guise of “religious liberty” – decisions that were made under pressure from corporations wary of doing business in states seen as hostile to LGBT people.
Jindal called the Indiana and Arkansas decisions “very, very dangerous,” saying that “Hollywood liberals and editorial columnists” and “some of the biggest corporations in our country…came together to bully the elected representatives of the people.”
“This wasn’t just a matter of competing policy preferences,” he said. “This was different. This was an attack on our Constitution. It was an attack on the fundamental right to speech and association and the free exercise of religion. It was large corporations, Hollywood and the media elite saying, ‘We don’t care about the First Amendment.’”
“If these large forces, if they can conspire to crush the First Amendment, it won’t be long before they conspire to crush the Second Amendment,” he told the crowd.
“This 2016 election will be an election between elitist and populism. Hillary Clinton will be on the side of elitism, we need to be on the side of the people and their First and Second Amendment rights,” he said.
In the weeks leading up to oral arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges, a collection of marriage equality cases being heard at the Supreme Court this month, groups on both sides of the issue have been flooding the Court with amicus briefs.
These have inevitably included some very bad arguments from lawyers arguing on behalf of anti-LGBT groups. Here are five of the worst:
5. Gays Need ‘Tough Love,’ Like Smokers Or Drug Abusers
Mike Huckabee Policy Solutions (which identifies itself as a group “backed by private citizens and organizations who support the national policy aims of Mike Huckabee”) and anti-gay “statistician” Paul Cameron’s Family Research Institute tell the Justices that “[h]omosexuality and same-sex marriage are tied to early death” and thus gay people, much like drug abusers, need “tough love” instead of marriage rights.
As with smoking or drug abuse, it would be neither compassionate nor kind to normalize and encourage a known and significant public health risk such as homosexuality. Heightened early mortality risk suggests that homosexual practice (whether in casual or long-term unions) is self-injurious and therefore would put undue financial, emotional, and health burdens on survivors, especially children, as well as society, pursuant to any normalization of same-sex marriage by decree of this Court.
Just as in the cases of drug abusers or suicidal individuals, it would not be compassionate nor kind of this Court to attempt to further normalize and encourage known and significant public health risks represented by LGBT lifestyles and unions. Thus, the expansion of LGBT activity by decree of this Court is likely to proliferate undue financial, emotional, and health burdens upon survivors, especially children, and upon wider society as well. Far from “hateful,” the amici curiae herein hold that deference to the States in the regulation of lawful marriage, as well as federalist restraint and humility by this Court, would represent an act of love. “Tough love,” perhaps, but love nonetheless.
4. Marriage Equality Will Lead To Civil War
While the Texas chapter of Eagle Forum, in a brief written by Phyllis Schlafly’s son Andrew, never exactly says in its Supreme Court brief that a broad ruling in favor of marriage equality would lead to civil war, it does draw an awful lot of parallels between the effects of Obergefell and those of the infamous pre-Civil War Dred Scott case.
The Texas Eagle Forum brief warns of “a badly fractious effect” if the Court declares that “the Bible is wrong about marriage,” drawing out “regional differences” similar to the regional divide over slavery before the Civil War. The group warns that, like Dred Scott, “any ruling by the Court that imposes homosexual marriage on Texas and every corner of the United States would cause vastly more conflict, along regional lines.”
In 1857, as now, there were sharp regional differences over a fundamental social issue. But rather than allow Congress to sort the disputes out, the Supreme Court overstepped its bounds and attempted to dictate one solution nationwide about slavery. That poured fuel on the fire, as history teaches. Likewise, any ruling by the Court here that attempts to establish homosexual marriage for every region of our country, thereby declaring that the local voters are wrong, their political leaders are wrong, and the Bible is wrong about marriage, will have a badly fractious effect.
The disunity will greatly worsen if the Court rules that Texas and other southern states must begin performing homosexual marriage. Far from unifying the Nation, as some argue, such a Court ruling would have a divisive effect similar to that of the Dred Scott decision. The Dred Scott Court felt that by imposing its view of slavery on the entire Nation, the Court was resolving the conflict. In fact, of course, the decision made the conflict far worse. Likewise, any ruling by the Court that imposes homosexual marriage on Texas and every corner of the United States would cause vastly more conflict, along regional lines.
Texas Eagle Forum specifically argues that the supposedly unbiblical nature of same-sex marriage would “be disastrous for the unity of our Nation” because the Bible is “the strongest link that holds our society together.”
The Bible is perhaps the most unifying force of our Nation.
A Supreme Court ruling that endorses homosexual marriage would directly conflict with clear teachings in both the Old and New Testaments. See, e.g., Genesis 2:24 (“Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”) and Mark 10:6-8 (“But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’”) (ESV). In essence, the Court would be rejecting the Bible as false, and by implication perhaps even disparaging the Bible as hate speech. Whether the large percentage of Americans who respect the Bible would be persuaded by such a ruling remains to be seen. But if they are persuaded, then the results would be disastrous for the unity of our Nation, because it would weaken the strongest link that holds our society together.
3. Marriage Equality Is Bad For Gay People’s Kids Because Right Wing Watch Criticized Robert Oscar Lopez
There was a big splash in the right-wing media when four adults who were raised for at least part of their lives by same-sex couples, most prominently activist Robert Oscar Lopez, submitted an amicus brief against marriage equality.
Lopez cites one flawed study about same-sex parenting and uses it as a jumping-off point for discussing what he speculates is a trend toward things getting “harder, not easier” for children raised by same-sex couples as “gay marriage has become a broader and more accepted phenomenon."
It has gotten harder, not easier, for COGs [Children of Gays], to the extent that gay marriage has become a broader and more accepted phenomenon. The younger generation of COGs has lived with an enormous amount of surveillance and speech policing by people interested in ensuring that they say nothing to undermine the social prestige of their gay guardians. The younger generation of COGs seems to feel more uprooted from the missing half of their ancestry and more fearful of defying the authority of gay stepparent figures whom they still tend to view as stepparents even if they are fond of them.
COGs are now treated with less dignity, more suspicion, fewer protections and heightened discrimination/harassment/retaliation than they saw before same-sex marriage achieved a level of national success. All of this is emanating from within the gay community, enabled by complacent groups such as COLAGE and emboldened by the gay-marriage equality movement. Put simply, the situation for COGs has worsened as their numbers have multiplied.
Lopez’s main piece of evidence for the “heightened discrimination/harrassment/retaliation” being directed at the children of gay parents since those parents began to gain marriage rights seems to be his own experience being criticized by blogs, including Right Wing Watch, which he details at great length in a separate section of the brief.
2. It’s Okay To Discriminate Against Women, So Why Not Gays?
Mark Joseph Stern at Slate flagged a brief submitted by the state of South Carolina which illustrates at length the concern that the drafters of the 14th Amendment had about it granting rights to women. Since the state at the time sought to discriminate against women, the brief argues, then it is absurd to apply the amendment’s protections to gay and lesbian people who want to get married.
Here’s a representative paragraph:
Nor did the framers and their contemporaries conceive that the definition of marriage consisted of anything other than the union between man and woman. Indeed, the framers insisted upon leaving untouched those state laws depriving women of basic rights upon marriage to a man. Surely then, those state laws exclusively defining marriage as between a man and woman were hands off under the Amendment’s original meaning.
Representatives from the South Carolina solicitor general’s and attorney general’s offices followed up with Stern to clarify that “that their state does not wish to implement the sexist laws outlined in its brief—though it could if it wanted to.”
1. Marriage Equality Will Cause God To Destroy America
Really any constitutional argument you can come up with becomes irrelevant if we are threatened with God’s judgement on America. A coalition of right-wing groups (two of which have close ties with Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore), pulled out that trump card in a brief in which they warn the Justices that should they “require the States and the People to ‘ritualize’ sodomite behavior by government issuance of a state marriage license, it could bring God’s judgment on the Nation.”
The groups, including Public Advocate of the United States and the Institute on the Constitution (run by longtime Moore funder and Maryland GOP official Michael Peroutka) and assisted by former Moore collaborator Herb Titus, assure the Justices that the warnings of Leviticus are still very much in effect:
Should the Court require the States and the People to “ritualize” sodomite behavior by government issuance of a state marriage license, it could bring God’s judgment on the Nation. Holy Scripture attests that homosexual behavior and other sexual perversions violate the law of the land, and when the land is “defiled,” the people have been cast out of their homes. See Leviticus 18:22, 24-30. Although some would assert that these rules apply only to the theocracy of ancient Israel, the Apostle Peter rejects that view: “For if God ... turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly.” 2 Peter 2:4-6. The continuing application of this Levitical prohibition is confirmed by the Book of Jude: “Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering 1 Kings 14:24. 41 the vengeance of eternal fire.”
The main theme at an Iowa homeschooling event yesterday attended by four potential GOP presidential candidates was what Sen. Ted Cruz called the gay “jihad” against religious liberty in the form of nondiscrimination laws.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal attempted to add a populist bent to his remarks on the topic — an increasingly popular strategy among LGBT rights opponents — by declaring that “an alliance of Hollywood elites and corporate America” are “assaulting the rights of Christians” by opposing measures like those in Indiana and Arkansas that would have given broad leeway to business owners to discriminate against LGBT customers.
“We need to remind these elites, America did not create religious liberty, religious liberty created the United States of America,” he told the enthusiastic crowd.
At a meeting with Iowa state legislators yesterday recorded by the Iowa conservative blog Caffeinated Thoughts, Rick Santorum boasted that he proved himself as a strong leader when he opposed the 2003 Supreme Court decision striking down anti-gay “sodomy” bans. Without such leadership against LGBT rights, he warned, “life as we know it, particularly the family, is going to be on a very, very bad track over the long term.”
Addressing the controversy over so-called “religious freedom” measures in Arkansas and Indiana that were softened by legislators to make it more difficult to use them as a cover for discrimination, Santorum lamented that “what happened there was the media created a firestorm and leaders didn’t lead.”
“I’ve been through that firestorm,” he explained. “I go back 13 years to when I was in the Senate and stood up and said, ‘If the Supreme Court decides a case this way, then all these bad things are going to start happening.’ And I said we would have same-sex marriage in this country in ten years. I was wrong: it was five years. And I was put through a national wringer like no one had been put through and I have been put through over and over and over again because I am not going to back down from what I believe is the right course for our country.”
Although Santorum likes to claim that all of his dire predictions about the aftermath of Lawrence v. Texas came true, that isn’t exactly accurate. He told CNN at the time: "If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual (gay) sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything."
“I always say, whether it’s religious liberty now or the marriage issue or a whole bunch of other things, we’re losing these arguments simply because we’re not making them,” Santorum said in Iowa. “We’re not making them because we’re intimidated from them. If that continues, then life as we know it, particularly the family, is going to be on a very, very bad track over the long term.”
He added that he was a strong leader during the Indiana and Arkansas controversies because he was “fighting for the truth and not the perversion that we saw the media try to ram down the public’s throat about what Indiana and Arkansas were doing.”
Anti-marriage-equality activist Robert Oscar Lopez is out with another rambling column in the American Thinker, this time alleging that conservative supporters of marriage equality are being blackmailed or bribed and that the attorneys arguing on behalf of same-sex marriage bans at the Supreme Court this year will try to throw the case at the behest of powerful Republicans.
Lopez breaks down conservatives who support marriage equality into three groups: the “clueless,” the “scared,” and the “compromised… who are being blackmailed or threatened by pro-gay people close to them, but behind the scenes.” This group, he alleges, includes “well-known television personalities, lawyers in charge of defending traditional marriage in court, or leaders of pro-family organizations.”
While the vast majority of conservative Americans oppose gay marriage, the vast majority of conservative leaders have a vested interest in making sure gay marriage is legalized nationally. It is not the case that the latter group all support gay marriage in any intellectual sense, but they break down into diverse subgroups, all of whom share the same goal of making sure gay marriage becomes legal.
First, you have clueless conservatives who actually think gay marriage is about consenting adults loving each other, progress, and equality. These are rightists who read only the conservative news outlets that ban any editorials from dissident COGs, so they have never really seen the hard evidence that in fact gay marriage will harm children. They mostly don’t even think children are part of the issue at all.
Then you have scared conservatives who know that gay marriage is going to harm children but who do not want to face the blowback that is sure to follow a public stance against it. These folks will avoid discussing the topic. They must avoid being seen with people who have strong arguments against gay marriage – especially anyone who brings up the effects on children.
You also have compromised conservatives, who are being blackmailed or threatened by pro-gay people close to them, but behind the scenes. This is a much larger group than you know. These are people who mostly oppose gay marriage in principle and may even have a public identity as an opponent of gay marriage. I know of some cases where they are well-known television personalities, lawyers in charge of defending traditional marriage in court, or leaders of pro-family organizations. Even though they may technically be on “our” side, they have been bought off and are taking orders from bribers who tell them which arguments (the ones with a chance of winning) are off limits. They will go and defend male-female marriage in the public square, but mysteriously be tongue-tied after a career of sterling oratory. Such false Jeremiahs are consciously siphoning the energy and funding of anti-gay-marriage viewers toward dead ends that their controllers know will end in gays getting marriage and children anyway. This group of conservatives is actually the most dangerous, largely because you often discover their compromised status when it’s too late.
Later in the column, Lopez warns that if the Supreme Court issues a ruling in favor of marriage equality, it will usher in a “dystopian world where you lose everything.” He urges readers to contact the attorneys general of the states that are defending their marriage bans at the court, warning that the attorneys will attempt to throw the cases at the behest of “their governors and their political bundlers.”
If you have gotten this far, you probably oppose gay marriage. You may do so strictly for religious reasons. You may disagree with me about the effect of gay marriage on children. Cool – no problem. Here’s the deal: if gay marriage passes, you will lose. You will lose your freedoms. You will lose your voice. You will lose the conservative movement that you hold dear for any number of reasons not related to gay marriage. All the truces and compromises that are offered to sweeten gay marriage as a deal will be swiftly and mercilessly broken once it is the law of the land. Your churches will be watched and subverted. You will risk your job by speaking your mind on e-mail, on Facebook, or even over dinner talking to your own children.
If you are hoping to carve out some religious liberty provision in a post-gay marriage America, you are going to be too late.
You gain nothing by negotiating some special exception for yourself after gay marriage passes.
You must do everything you can to stop gay marriage itself. If you cannot name the reasons for opposing gay marriage in clear, fearless terms that apply to people of faith and non-believers equally, you will lose your faith. The Bible tells us to be wise as serpents and gentle as doves. Don't forget the serpents in the mix.
Right now, all that stands between the world we know and the dystopian world where you lose everything is the Supreme Court case. The attorneys who have sole authority to represent traditional marriage for Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, and Tennessee may be good men, or not. I do not know; I have no inside information. Common sense tells me that their governors and their political bundlers are going to place enormous pressure on them to lose to the pro-gay marriage side, but as gracefully as possible. They cannot openly state that they do not want to argue the case. They may feel it is in their best interest to put on a show of defending male-female marriage, throwing out purposefully toothless arguments so that the gay marriage side wins, the world moves on, and they do not have to worry about suffering long-term blowback as the people who actually fought for marriage.