Crossposted at Equality Loudoun
[The lawsuit] boils down to nothing more than an attempt to define my Biblical views against homosexuality as a crime..
..Clearly, this lawsuit is intended not only to silence me as an effective voice of opposition to the ‘gay’ agenda, it is also to intimidate everyone else who would dare to follow my example.
Now, who does that sound like? A certain disgraced and censured Sterling supervisor who fills his bank account by running a hate group at Loudoun taxpayers’ expense? And some of his shameless apologists?
Yes, but it’s actually another hate group director, Scott Lively. Mr. Lively is currently facing a federal lawsuit for his role in creating a deadly climate for the LGBTI community in Uganda. Readers may remember him also as the man who hired a known child rapist to run his fake “ministry” out of a coffeehouse designed to attract teenagers. But that was okay, because the predator had “accepted the salvation of Christ” (and of course, the children he preferred were female).
Mr. Lively has tried to have the lawsuit against him dismissed on First Amendment grounds. But it turns out that there are limits even to free expression when that expression is an integral part of criminal activity, and the criminal activity of which Mr. Lively is accused is aiding and abetting in the commission of a crime against humanity.
In a ruling issued Wednesday, U.S. district Judge Michael Ponsor denied Lively’s motion to dismiss, writing that the plaintiff “adequately alleges that Defendant’s actions have fallen well outside the protections of the First Amendment” and has provided sufficient evidence that Lively can be held liable for participating in the systematic persecution of Uganda’s LGBTI community “rather than merely for opinions that Plaintiff finds abhorrent.”
Indeed, Defendant, according to the Amended Complaint, is alleged to have maintained what amounts to a kind of “Homophobia Central” in Springfield, Massachusetts. He has allegedly supported and actively participated in worldwide initiatives, with a substantial focus on Uganda, aimed at repressing free expression by LGBTI groups, destroying the organizations that support them, intimidating LGBTI individuals, and even criminalizing the very status of being lesbian or gay.
..The Amended Complaint describes a campaign of harassment and intimidation, and a resulting atmosphere of fear, that Defendant is alleged, in active concert with others, to have directed at the LGBTI community in Uganda. According to Plaintiff, Defendant helped coordinate, implement, and justify “strategies to dehumanize, demonize, silence, and further criminalize the LGBTI community” in Uganda.
These strategies were largely dependent on propagation of known falsehoods about LGBTI people that Judge Ponsor described as “bordering on ludicrous,” such as that “homosexuals were behind the rise of Nazism and the genocide in Rwanda,” and that “they were engaged in a campaign to ‘recruit’ Ugandan children as homosexuals.” The result of Lively’s campaign to “incite fear and hatred against LGBTI people” was the introduction of an Anti-Homosexuality Bill that among other things criminalized all advocacy on behalf of the LGBTI community, and instituted the death penalty for “repeat offenders” of the crime of being gay.
Rejecting Lively’s disgusting argument that LGBTI people are not entitled to human rights under international norms, Judge Ponsor writes that there is more than adequate support for “the principle that widespread, systematic persecution of individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity constitutes a crime against humanity that violates international norms.”
Note that nowhere does Judge Ponsor suggest that systematic persecution is limited to acts of physical violence (although history teaches us that such persecution inevitably leads there). Our local anti-gay activist wannabes may wish to sit with that inconvenient fact as they complain about being “called haters” for merely “actively opposing homosexuality [sic].” I bring up Uganda not only because of the striking similarity between the rhetoric of Mr. Lively’s group and Mr. Delgaudio’s (they meet the same criteria, after all), but because it is precisely the advances toward equality won by LGBTI people in the US that encourage American hate group leaders like Lively to export their hatred elsewhere. We share some responsibility for the deadly results.
In an off-topic thread started by a local anti-gay commenter on this Leesburg Today letter, we were asked whether someone can “actively oppose homosexuality [sic] and not be a ‘hater’.” By “actively oppose,” we were told, the commenter meant “someone does more than just think homosexuality is wrong” by doing things like “writing letters, creating a PAC, speaking out against it, voting against gay marriage, preach it from a pulpit, hands out traditional marriage pamphlets, etc.”
I thought this was a reasonable question, because there is such a thing as indiscriminate use of words like “hater” which could reasonably confound someone who really doesn’t understand the harm that some of our opponents intentionally inflict. I hope I gave him a thoughtful answer:
If you’re asking if I believe it’s possible to oppose specific policies that advance social and legal equality for LGBT people without being motivated by animus, the answer is yes. Some people are motivated, for example, by a genuine belief that marriage equality will fundamentally change the institution of marriage in a harmful way. I disagree with that, but the belief isn’t necessarily animus-based.
It’s important for us to acknowledge this, I think. Not everyone who resists what they experience as unwanted social change is motivated by hatred or the desire to do harm to the group of people driving that change. No doubt many people voted in favor of Virginia’s anti-marriage amendment without animus. And no doubt some of our community’s less thoughtful advocates labeled former marriage equality opponent David Blankenhorn a “hater” because of his advocacy in favor of restricting marriage, including his role in defending Prop 8. However, he was never motivated by animus. It pained him greatly to know that the policies he advocated were causing harm to LGBT families, and he genuinely tried to do what he could to ameliorate that harm.
It ought to be clear to anyone with a functioning brain that Blankenhorn’s opposition to LGBTI equality was very different from the motivation admitted by the sponsors of Virginia’s amendment: to discourage LGBT families from living our lives openly and honestly by creating the risk of legalized harassment if we do. Because that would be, you know, trying “to approximate the design, qualities, significance, or effects of marriage.” Or, as one of their activists told me at the time, “We’ll kick you back under your rocks.” It’s really not that hard to define and recognize hatred, or that legal term ‘animus,’ for what it is, and the pretense that we just can’t tell if someone is motivated by animus has become tiresome.
I told our anti-gay commenter that I define animus in this context as the desire to create a social and legal climate hostile to LGBT people. The risk just cited is at the milder end of the spectrum. Criminalizing our visible existence and encouraging open intimidation and violence against us, as is happening right now in Russia, is near the other end. And the habitual use of lying, defamation and dehumanization (for example, by referring to us as “it” and claiming that we present a danger to children) to advance policy goals or raise funds is the defining criterion of an anti-gay hate group in the US.
I have the distinct impression that my Leesburg Today questioner was trying to solicit my acquiescence to these behaviors, behaviors that are clearly intended to harm me and those I love. The answer to that is no. I wonder what that would even look like? Am I expected to say something like this? “Aw, it’s ok if you actively work to prevent me from enjoying all the same things you probably have or want. I don’t mind if you work to make intimacy between me and the most important person in my life a criminal offense, or demand that my child be told that any positive expression about families like ours – even his own speech – is offensive and therefore prohibited in his public school. Hey, you believe I shouldn’t exist and you’re just trying to put your beliefs into action. In fact, your effort to punish me and my family are the exact moral equivalent of my effort to protect us. I don’t take it personally if you defend politicians who intentionally incite hatred of members of my community, because I know you wouldn’t have a problem with me at all if I just pretended to be someone other than me. So it’s my fault.” Is something like that the answer he was seeking?
But here’s the final insult, from the same commenter:
And you may want to be more caution [sic] of what you say on the Left and in Loudoun County. You may be fomenting a hate attack yourselves.
Isn’t that special; the suggestion (and with that added frisson of self-satisfied warning) that if I report the observable behavior, and quote the actual words, of individuals who publicly and aggressively advocate harm to members of my community, I might be culpable in the event that some fool pulls a Floyd Corkins and attacks another hate group. The answer to this failed attempt at logic and moral equivalency? Also, no. No one is advocating that the leaders of hate groups be harmed. There are no parallel hate groups with the mission of preventing Mr. Lively and Mr. Delgaudio, et al, from pursuing happiness in the creation of a family, or exercising the ordinary liberty of being honest about who is in that family, or of practicing their faith according to their own convictions. No hate groups are demanding that their intimate relationships be prosecutable as a criminal offense, or that they should be prohibited from raising or educating children, because of who they are. There are no hate groups working to convince others that Mr. Lively and Mr. Delgaudio are undeserving of human and civil rights, or habitually lying about them, or referring to them as “it.”
The apologists for these hate groups will never take responsibility for their actions until they are able to see us as actual people. Instead of seeing and discussing the individual, real LGBTI people who are harmed by discrimination and bigotry, they “actively oppose” only an abstract state of being, or a faceless “lobby,” or “agenda.” And if they can avoid seeing real people, they can continue deluding themselves that they are innocent of animus.