The sooner it happens, of course, the better, and the latest wrangling about homosexual bishops in the Anglican church is yet another split that will hasten the demise of this particular religion.
Unfortunately, the amount of damage done until this happens continues to take its toll of lesbians, gays and transgender people, and we have to publicise these horrors as much as possible in order to expose their hatred for what it is - using man-made writings from books that have been outmoded for at least the last 500 years and probably longer.
By About 6 feet tall and 3 1/2 feet wide, Phelps' monument would bear a brass plaque reading: "Matthew Shepard entered Hell October 12, 1998, at age 21 in defiance of God's solemn warning: 'Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind; it is abomination.' Leviticus 18:22."
Shepard died in a Fort Collins hospital five days after two men lured him from a Laramie bar, drove him to a remote spot outside of town, robbed him, beat him and left him for dead. His death galvanized the gay community and drew protests from anti-gay activists, including Phelps, who came to the one-acre City Park to protest Shepard's funeral.
"He's a bad cold that won't go away," Casper City Manager Tom Forslund said of Phelps, who has announced he'll protest gay rights in Fort Collins, Casper and Laramie later this month. "He just is a very strange person. He sends faxes to us. I got three of them this morning."
But Phelps says it doesn't matter whether city officials happen to like him or what he stands for. The former Topeka, Kan., lawyer, who was disbarred in 1979 for ethical breaches, said that when it comes to the monument, the law is on his side.
A decision in a Utah free-speech case by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver last year gives city officials in Casper little choice in the matter, he said. Because a monument bearing the Ten Commandments has been in City Park since 1965, his monument must be allowed there, too, he said.
In July 2002, the 10th Circuit ruled that governments that allow statements like the Ten Commandments to be posted on public property must permit all other messages, too. To get around the ruling, the local chapter of the group that donated Casper's Ten Commandments monument, the Fraternal Order of the Eagles, wrote a letter Monday to city officials, requesting its monument be returned.
"I know there are several people in town who would rather see it stay in the park, but it's causing too much friction," said Herschel Nickerson, secretary of the Fraternal Order of Eagles, Aerie No. 306. "So, to help solve the problem, we are offering to take the monument back."
But Phelps said it was too late for the Eagles' offer to help the city duck his application. "If they had done that before we gave them notice that we intended to erect this monument, they may have had no problem," he said. "But when they do this for the sole purpose of keeping our message out of that park, then you run into" First Amendment issues.
If the city keeps the Ten Commandments in City Park, Phelps will have a strong legal argument, said Brian Barnard, a Salt Lake City civil-rights attorney who was involved in the lawsuit that produced last year's 10th Circuit decision.
But if the Eagles take back their monument, the legal door through which Phelps hopes to bring his anti-gay message will close, Barnard said.
Phelps, best known for the fight-picking abrasiveness of slogans like "God Hates Fags," is someone gay-rights activists believe will do whatever it takes to get attention, said Cathy Renna, a spokeswoman for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation in New York. "The level of maturity is evident," she said. "He's just a bully. But he serves as a reminder of what we're really battling against."
The Casper City Council is scheduled to decide what to do with the Ten Commandments monument at a meeting tonight.
The city's response to Phelps' application is on hold pending that decision, Forslund said.
(AP Wide World Photo)
The SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER (SPLC)(USA) was founded in 1971 as a small civil rights law firm. Today, (2004) the Center is internationally known for its tolerance education programmes, its legal victories against white supremacists and its tracking of hate groups.
Lesbian and Gay Solidarity contacted SPLC to ask whether we could reproduce material from their web pages which relates to the research we are doing on gay, lesbian and transgender hate crimes.
SPLC has contacted us and given us permission to link to their site and to use information taken from their site. The information following is a follow-up on the above story about Fred Phelps' attempt to place his message of hate in a park in Casper.The story continues (courtesy SPLC):
"Casper officials flatly rejected Phelps, a disbarred lawyer who leads the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas.
In late October 2003, they decided instead to move the Ten Commandments monument to a plaza that will contain a variety of 'historic' documents. Courts have found that the government may sponsor displays of the Ten Commandments as part of larger, historic displays.
Days later,Phelps asked officials in tiny Rupert, Idaho, if he could buy a few square feet of the courthouse lawn to put up his monument. He got the idea after a pro-Ten Commandments group suggested that it buy a small part of the lawn in order to avoid the courts' prohibition against religious displays on public land."
An article was published in the Weekend Australian Magazine of October 4-5 2003 with the heading BONDI BADLANDS.
The article is about gay murders 14 years ago, in 1989, when "a spate of vicious gay hate crimes bloodied the cliffs of Bondi, but many of the teenage killers - male and female - got off scot free. Now, one dedicated detective is hunting them down".
This is an alarming story and one that is continuing to this day because of the hate perpetrated in the community by religions such as the Anglican church which today, Monday 3 November 2003, saw an outpouring of vitriol by leaders of the Anglican church in Sydney and elsewhere because a gay bishop was inducted in the United States.
Statistics of gay, lesbian and transgender hate crimes seem to indicate that the figures are on the increase throughout the world despite education efforts in many countries to reverse the trend.
Figures from the USA are alarming, but figures from other countries such as Australia continue to rise and it is quite obvious that gay, lesbian and transgender groups will need to put more time, effort and resources into countering the homphobia expressed by religious groups and echoed through some of our politicians with their reactionary agendas.
To start with, it is necessary to publicise the work of Stephen Tomsen with one of the recent publications dealing with hate crimes, namely:Hatred, Murder and Male Honour - Anti-homosexual Homicides in New South Wales, 1980-2000
As mentioned above, there is an extensive literature on gay, lesbian and transgender hate crimes, including books, journal articles and reports. It may be a good idea to list them here for easier reference:
Faces of Hate Crime in Australia edited by Chris Cunneen, David Fraser, Stephen Tomsen, published by Hawkins Press, 1997
Fear or Favour by David M Heilpern, published by Southern Cross University Press, 1998
Hatred, Murder and Male Honour - Anti-homosexual Homicides in New South Wales, 1980-2000 by Stephen Tomsen, published by Australian Institute of Criminology Research and Public Policy Series No.43, 2002
The High Price of Heaven by David Marr, published by Allen and Unwin, 1999
GAY, LESBIAN, TRANSGENDER, HIV/AIDS HATE CRIMES - BIBLIOGRAPHY AND RECOMMENDED READINGS
LESBIAN & GAY SOLIDARITY PAGE
Mannie also has a personal web site, which may be found by clicking on the link: RED JOS: HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISM
Mannie's blogs may be accessed by clicking on to the following links:
MannieBlog (from 1 August 2003 to 31 December 2005)
Activist Kicks Backs - Blognow archive re-housed - 2005-2009RED JOS BLOGSPOT (from January 2009 onwards)
This page updated 26 APRIL 2012 and again on 9 NOVEMBER 2016