Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Last night's anti-descrimination testimony in front of Anchorage Assembly full of emotional testimony and tears.

I arrived at around 4:30 to the Loussac Library yesterday and I was immediately confronted by a sea of red t-shirt wearing children. (Red is the color chosen by those opposing the ordinance.)

After I finally found a place to park, I walked through the crowd of teenagers and learned that they had been bussed in from Jerry Prevo's church, the Anchorage Baptist Temple. Most of these kids were of high school age, but there were a few that could not even have been out of elementary school yet. (You are never too young to learn to hate and discriminate.)

I entered the Assembly chamber and again was confronted by even more people inred t-shirts, these were older individauls who were there to bear witness and possibly testify. (According to Ethan Berkowitz most of the t-shirts were provided by Bailey's Home Furnishings. So if you need a couch in Anchorage you might do well to avoid the homophobic furniture store.) Most of the shirts were blank, but one lovely couple sported a matching set which read "God Bless America" on the front and on the back featured a quote from Genesis 132:3 "But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly." (Oooh snap! That will teach those gay people to love each other!)

It was then that I realized we were in for a very long evening indeed. And when I learned there were already over 180 people signed up to give testimony it only confirmed that fact.

Inside the chambers I noticed a number of young men grouped together in clusters (from their comments and open affection for each other I assume these were young gay men) as well as a few transgenders, and young lesbian women, but the majority was clearly visible as an ocean of red shirts that filled almost ALL of the available seats in the room.

It took a quite for the Assembly to finally work through the other business that was on the docket for this meeting, and though the meeting officially started at 5:00 the first testimony concerning the hot button ordinance did not start until around 6:30.

The testimony provided by the LGBT community was absolutely heart wrenching.

I heard story after story of open discrimination suffered by this minority of Americans, and it seemed almost every one of their testimonies ended in tears at the podium. I often found myself wanting to walk up and hug these total strangers and was gratified that there were those who did that very thing for many of them.

By contrast the testimony provided by the other side seemed more focused on the financial aspects of the ordinance (in that it may cost employers money to fight charges of discrimination, nice to know that they simply assume they will be breaking this law), or complain about how it infringes on their religious freedom (an argument that became harder to justify when a Catholic Priest stepped up to the podium to embrace this ordinance and to call for his fellow Christians to do the same.), or to talk about how it is unfair that this group of people are being given "special rights" rather than "equal rights". (I guess their idea of "special" means that not being kicked out of your home because of who you love or express that love, is a different kind of privilege that they do not enjoy themselves. When was the last time a heterosexual person was fired for loving a person of the opposite sex?)

The issue of the fear of bathroom use also came up a number of times. (No I am not kidding.)

One mother, resplendent in her red t-shirt and matching scarf, told the story of how her child was traumatized by a person, who she believed was a woman in the bathroom, after they said hello to her in a masculine voice. Apparently her little snowflake does not want to return to that particular mall anymore for fear of having her little bubble burst by learning that there are a lot of different kinds of people in the world. (Apparently the term "teachable moment" is unknown to this particualr group of parents,)

Those from the other side of the aisle also addressed the issue with one doctor explaining as clearly as she could that people considering a sex-change operation are required to live as a member of the opposite sex for a year, and to go through strenuous counseling sessions, before being allowed to have the operation. Of course these people are also encouraged to use the restroom of that opposite gender. (This is once again the confusion that many people have, thank you Anchorage Baptist Temple, between people who use the restroom to empty their bladder and the deviants who use it to prey on children. Transgender people are NOT pedophiles.)

One brave transgender female also testified before the Assembly even though she said it could mean the loss of her job or potential harassment. Her story was painful to hear as she told about a life of constant abuse, harassment, and even a savage beating by the police in another state.

I listened to testimony after testimony, becoming more and more frustrated by the pain in the voices of the LGBT community and the lack of compassion on the other side. I wondered several times how they could not be moved by what they were hearing, but even after five hours it was clear that they were never going to change their opposition to this ordinance. Jerry Prevo had sent them into the battle with one goal in mind and they were not going to let their leader down.

When I simply could not take it anymore I walked out of the room allowing another person waiting in the lobby to finally get their turn to hear the testimony for themselves. (The room had been closed to more occupants after it reached its capacity according to the fire codes.)
I found Shannyn Moore in the lobby and we decided it was time for a glas of wine and to decompress.

Outside we learned of an altercation that had occurred between a clearly drunk red shirt wearing protester and a young man holding an "Equality Now" sign.

Shannyn and I decided we had to speak to this young man and get his story.

Craig Miller shared that he had been holding his sign when a man walked up and said "Jesus hates you", Mr. Miller (probably not showing the best judgement) said "Fuck Jesus". This made the man mumble something that Craig did not quite hear. He asked the man what he had said and the man struck him with his open hand knocking off his sunglasses and breaking them.

The police immediately arrested the man in the red shirt and hauled his ass away.

My favorite part of this conversation was when Shannyn lectured the young man on decorum when addressing somebody that he disagrees with. 'Saying Fuck Jesus does not further your cause" she said, and the young man was forced to bow his head like a child who was getting a lecture for throwing snowballs at passing cars. Shannyn was very kind, but also quite firm that he needed to respect the beliefs of those he may disagree with if he wants them to take him seriously and hear his point of view. (This is something with which Shannyn always does a magnificent job.)

We met up with more friends at Villa Nova on International Airport Rd. (which has GREAT food by the way), had a few glasses of good wine and talked of the days events. We learned from friends still at the Assembly that there were over 350 people signed up to testify, and that the stated goal of the red shirt brigade was to prolong this testimony until Republican Dan Sullivan could take office later this month. (Which also indicates that these people are math challenged because right now the vote is about seven to three in favor of passing the ordinance, but when acting mayor Matt Claman retakes his seat after Sullivan becomes mayor the vote will be eight to three. Good plan there red shirts!)

AKM stopped by for a glass of vino and to decompress as well. It was clear that she had taken every single emotional testimony to heart and looked completely drained by the experience. We quickly got her some wine and some food and talked it out until all of us felt much better. Then one by one we drifted off to our keyboards to share our experiences with all of you.

I was surprised by how emotional the night had been and very gratified at the number of people who were willing to tell their very personal stories in the hopes of achieving human rights for ALL of the people of Anchorage.


  1. penelope9:57 AM

    They all dressed in red shirts and boarded the buses, as they were told to do. It is a cult.
    One of the stupidest and oft repeated arguments was that the ordinance should not be passed because it would cause lots of lawsuits if LGBT could not be discriminated against. How stupid is this? Let us continue to discriminate or they will sue us. Poor red-shirted sheeple.

  2. I heard that 2 busloads came from Wasilla... Thanks for your detailed review of the evening, and for being at the hearing. I was too emotionally drained to write it up last night, but did post photos. All the progressive bloggers have been wonderful sources of information and support during this difficult process. Thank you!

  3. Anonymous10:39 AM

    I would have said the same thing back, and I'm a hetero female. It might not further the cause, but if these people really belived the message of jesus, they wouldn't have been manipulated by these cult leaders.

  4. Do these red-shirted people have NO ONE in their lives who are LGBT? No coworkers, friends, neighbors, or family? The odds are pretty good that they do. The odds are also pretty good that there are a few of them who are closeted, and use religion as their weapon against their own identity. I would bet anything this Jerry Prevo is a self hating homosexual. It happens all the time. Why would he make this such a top priority otherwise?

  5. Anonymous10:59 AM

    The red shirts plan of dragging their kids along with them to this testimony meeting to bump up their turnout numbers might end up being a good thing, as the young people were able to hear, first hand, the life stories of those brave LGBT folks who were willing to stand up and speak.

    Once they were able to see "the evil ones" and notice they were just human beings trying to live their life with some dignity, I hope the hateful position of their own side became apparent. Good plan red shirts!

  6. lisabeth12:42 PM

    I honestly feel ill reading this. How can these "christians" teach HATE like this to children!! These children are the future of our country. Today a young man was killed at the Holocaust museum in DC because of hate. People who hate usually hate blacks, Jews, Hispanic people, gays and anyone who they perceive is below them or not as good as them. Conservative Christians may want to protect Israel, but they still feel all Jews are going to go to hell. They are holier than everyone you know!! It is a crazy, sad, sick world we live in!!! I am very sad reading your post Gryphen as I sit here watching the news about this 88 year old Nazi Holocaust denier who walked into a museum today and just started shooting..... There were TONS of children there today as there are every day.

    In my mind, there is no difference between the hate your guy Prevo is cultivating and the hate the neo Nazis have for Jews and blacks. Hate is hate is hate and leads to agression and death.

    Sorry to sound morbid, but I am very upset right now. I can't believe what I am hearing on CNN right now..... The hate of this group of people this killer was a member of! These are the kind of fringe nut cases who support Sarah Palin and who yelled awful things about Barack Obama at her rallies......

  7. Anonymous1:02 PM

    Have the Red Shirt People forgotten that Larry Craig is one of their own?? And the good Reverend Ted Haggard is another eloquent spokesman for their group. Any guy should look twice if he saw one of these guys in his bathroom.

  8. Love to all of you.

  9. Anonymous1:44 PM

    On a brighter note... Carrie Prejean got fired for

    New miss CA

  10. Anonymous2:19 PM

    I am for the ordinance but I am glad that Miss Moore didn't try to lecture me.

  11. Anonymous2:38 PM

    The nut who shot up the Holocaust Museum was a supporter of our dear Sarah and other nutty ideas.

    (See Huff Post, I can't copy and paste any links here)

    But suffice to say, the killer is her kind of people.

    Go to his site where he says she has a 93% approval rating despite mainstream media's attempts to estroy her.

    The comments that follow are frightening.

  12. I'm so sorry Gryphen, for your daughter, for all LGBT people in Alaska. Honestly, this fight for equal rights will take time I think. The fight for the end of slavery, for the women's & African-American's right to vote, the end of segregation/ civil rights for AA's. It frickin took nonviolent AA protesters being beaten by the police broadcast on TV to open American's eyes. I am confident that equal rights for gays WILL COME, that WE SHALL OVERCOME, but we don't know when that "someday" is.

    I am a strong Christian believer and I take Jesus at his word. Jesus was asked what the most important commandments are. Love the Lord, and Love your Neighbor.

    On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" "What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?" He answered: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" "You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live."

    But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" In reply Jesus said: "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him,' he said, 'and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.' "Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?" The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him." Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise." (NIV, Luke 10:25-37 )
    A great analysis of what this means can be found here, and an awesome overview of biblical views on homosexuality (including the fact that Christians are not bound to the laws of the old testament, but are saved by their faith in Jesus (who never said a word about homosexuality or abortion.) A great read:

    He spoke often of poverty as something Christians should be concerned with, the poor, the crippled, the widow, the disenfranchised... Why are these church groups not rallying for more aid to the poor? Jesus also railed against the Pharisees who held themselves in high esteem b/c they obeyed all the OT laws, and thought themselves better than all others. Jesus called them "whitewashed tombs," dirty icky souls that have been "whitewashed", or covered up to hide the ugliness inside. Hmmmmmm....who can we think of that believe themselves to be above others morally, yet are judgmental and have hate in their hearts, essentially modern "whitewashed tombs?"

    “Woe to you, experts in the law and you Pharisees, hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs that look beautiful on the outside but inside are full of the bones of the dead and of everything unclean." Matthew 23:27

    I don't understand how so many people can read the same text (Bible) and ignore the entire New Testament, yet call themselves Christians? These red shirts might be mighty surprised when they knock on the pearly gates... but I'm not God and I'm not going to declare who is going to heaven or hell. I'll leave that to the screaming red shirts who missed the part about not judging others.

  13. The priest who spoke was Father Michael Burke, Rector of St. Mary's. Anglican Catholic, not Roman Catholic. There RC Priests who I am sure are privately more than sympathetic, but they unfortunately cannot speak up.


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