Ordinance Hearing #2: Religious Rule has it's Day in Court

The crowd lining 36th Avenue danced to the DJ's tunes, holding their homemade 'equal rights' signs and cheering to the drivers who honked. But on the other side of the library, and inside the building, grim people in devil-red shirts preached a different message, a mix of prejudice and theocracy.

At this second Anchorage Assembly hearing on adding "sexual orientation" to the city's non-discrimination policy, two men held a banner across the building entrance with the words "Jesus is the Lord of Alaska" written in all capital letters across the Alaska flag.

Nearby, in a crowd of mass-produced "Truth is not Hate" signs, a teenage girl in tight jeans held a sign saying "Homosexuals are going straight to HELL!!" and two young men held signs with religious quotes about sin. When I tried to take their picture (second photo), an older man blocked my view and told them to put away the signs. He agreed with their beliefs, but they couldn't risk being seen as anti-gay.

I listened to hours of testimony in the overflow room. Gay, lesbian and transgendered people of Anchorage shared personal experiences of discrimination, and allies hoped that our city would adopt this overdue measure of fairness. Opponents, in a fascinating twist of illogic, doubted that anti-gay discrimination existed, then asserted their religious right to continue discriminating against us.

All of their arguments came down to the same point - the Bible says that homosexuality is an abomination, and the city law must support that. No civil rights for sinners. Equality is immoral. Separation of church and state is un-American.

The overweight man sitting next to me nodded and clapped at the unpatriotic speeches, quoting Bible verses in support of each point. I asked him to be quiet so I could hear the testimony. He replied that he came to the Assembly meeting to bring the word of Jesus to gays, so we could repent and find salvation. I moved to another row.

Opposition leaders are trying to control the media message with their pre-printed signs about speech and truth, but bigotry leaks out of the rank and file members. They're protesting at the library because 'God Hates Fags', in the words of the infamous Fred Phelps, and thus the law should hate gays too. 

Prejudice against gays is their focus this month because of the equal rights ordinance. But the bigger target is the state, and the goal is theocracy. How will the Assembly respond?

11 comments:

Zed said...

I love that sign: "what Jesus said to Prevo: "You got it wrong" LOL!
great to see the support in Anchortown

Zed said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eco Warrior said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eco Warrior said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eco Warrior said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eco Warrior said...

All they are doing is getting us more motivated to fight back and encouraging us to be more determined in making a change for equality. A good sized group of us got together after the protest last night for a late dinner, making plans for the future. A younger generation that fully respects the generations before that have been fighting for our rights. More and more of the younger generation is stepping up and ready to fight for our rights for the future as the generations before us have been. we are just tired of all the Bull-s, tired of being treated unfairly, we know it is time for a change and many of us devoted ourselves in making that happen. So we are working together, gay and straight alike to fight people like Prevo and those in the red shirts. All they are doing is adding fuel to our fire. This is Far from over!!

Eco Warrior said...

I had computer problems earlier trying to post a comment. (oops)

Mel said...

More photos of the evening's events in my Flickr photostream. Also liveblogged the Assembly meeting, supplemented with lots of tweeting.

Anonymous said...

Neutral Zone at Loussac?

I'm wanting to create a neutral/love thy neighbor zone outside Loussac Thursday afternoon/evening, maybe somewhere between the two groups. A space where people could put down their signs, let go of their agenda, forget shirt color, and join with others who are choosing to do the same thing. An alternative to the red vs blue, us-vs-them scene.

Signs designating the area (and oh my don't we love making signs!) could read:

N.O.T. - No Ordinance Talk
No Contest Zone
Let there be peace on Earth and let it begin with me

Maybe it could be an area with lawn chairs, table w/ blue AND red tablecloth?, drinks - red AND blue punch?, snacks - blueberries AND strawberries? You get my drift

Maybe frisbees and hackey sacks, and oh wouldn't it be heart warming to see some kids (of any age) wearing blue AND red shirts playing together?
Maybe we could get some flowers (red AND blue?) to delineate the area, movable ones as hopefully the space would need to get bigger and bigger.

If you like this idea, please help make it happen. I'm living out of my camper van and don't have needed accessories. You can email me, Mary, at lukn4frnz@yahoo.com - I was the one wearing the polar bear hat today.

Like Rodney King said, 'Can't we all just get along?' Let's show ourselves and others that the answer to that is YES!

"Heretic, rebel, they did shout
And drew a circle to keep me out
But love and wisdom, they did win
I drew a circle and included them in."

E. Ross said...

Warrior: Right On! (as we 'old' folks used to say)

Anon: There is no hearing on Thursday. The next hearing on the ordinance is scheduled for Tuesday, June 23, although the Assembly might add another hearing for Monday.

Aussie Blue Sky said...

I liked the "Born Straight/Refuse to Hate" sign, and I also liked the "I live in Anchorage ...." sign. I hope there are lots more of those next week. Good luck!

Copyright © 2008 by Bent Alaska.