Delivering an acceptance speech for a GLSEN award, a wealthy homosexual activist has attacked Catholic leaders, saying they are among his movement’s “greatest adversaries.” He called on his allies to combat “head-on” religious organizations opposed to homosexual causes and to take “active measures” against them.
At its Oct. 9 Respect Awards event in Los Angeles, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) honored David Bohnett, the cable network HBO and screenwriter Shonda Rhimes with its Lifetime Achievement Award. They were awarded for what GLSEN called “their commitment to all America's students, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.”
Bohnett was the founder of the 1990s internet venture Geocities, which was purchased by Yahoo in 1999 near the peak of the technology stock bubble. He now heads the David Bohnett Foundation, an organization which says it is “committed to improving society through social activism.”
The foundation reports that it has given out more than $34 million in grants, with $10.8 million going to non-profits that “benefit gays and lesbians.”
According to a copy of Bohnett’s acceptance speech on the foundation website, the honoree thanked Mayor of Los Angeles Antonio Villaraigosa for his introduction and praised a recent New York Times Magazine article about young people “coming out” as homosexuals in middle school.
“This is the welcome, unstoppable, and inevitable result of the positive shift in generational attitudes toward being lesbian or gay, supported by the work that’s been done over the last several decades by GLSEN, GLAAD, and countless other groups and activists,” he said.
Bohnett then used his acceptance speech to attack religious groups opposed to homosexual political concerns.
“We must treat the causes of intolerance and bullying as well as the symptoms of them,” he remarked. “And as we see most often, it is the evangelical and fundamentalist groups that teach homosexuality is a sin, who stand in the way of fairness and equality.
“It’s time to combat head-on the religious organizations that are funding the opposition to marriage equality and safe school legislation.”
The GLSEN honoree said he favored “the pursuit of spirituality” and “the wisdom and comfort and experience that can be gained through the study and belief in a higher power.”
He also said it was important to support religious leaders and institutions that embrace “full equality” for homosexuals and their families.
“Let us make it known, however, that we will challenge those religious leaders and institutions that shamefully and cowardly use the imprimatur of their church and the name of god [sic] and Jesus to promote hatred and bigotry toward lesbians and gay men,” Bohnett declared. “Among our greatest adversaries who actively work against us are the leaders of the Catholic, Mormon, and evangelical churches who seek to deny equal protection for us and for our children.”
“The bible [sic] is all too often used as a weapon against us, quoted and mis-quoted by those who seek to deny us freedom and equality,” he continued, arguing that children taught that the Bible condemns homosexuality may become “school bullies” and later become the adults who vote “to deny marriage equality.”
“It’s time we raise our children to be independent thinkers and deeply suspicious of bible beating organized religion. We’d be much better off if parents were honest with their children about the hypocrisy of some churches with regard to homosexuality.”
Bohnett then outlined tactics to counter “faith based discrimination,” saying it is an obligation to take “active measures” to create a world “free of bigotry and intolerance.” He advised an “aggressive response” to critics that “confronts lies with facts” and also a “pre-emptive campaign” that anticipates the arguments of homosexual activists’ opponents and undermines their credibility.
He said activists should speak with friends, family and co-workers about “religious intolerance as one of the main impediments to progress in the march toward full equality for lesbians and gay men and their families.”
He added that children should also be taught to “respect differences in sexual orientation.”
Bohnett declared that “many groups and individuals” are supportive of GLSEN’s “quest for safe schools and full civil equality.”
“On the other hand, there are other groups and individuals who actively work against our efforts, and that our work in education and outreach further emboldens their hatred and zeal to deny us our equal rights. Let us say to these folks; ‘we condemn their intolerance’ and we will expose their hypocrisy, choke off their financial support, and shine the bright light of shame and humiliation on their cowardly prejudices.”
Bohnett’s speech is evidence of a growing trend in which churches and religious groups are targets of vocal criticism.
Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly known as Mormons, were singled out for criticism for their support of California’s Proposition 8, which restored the definition of marriage in California.
Harry Knox, a leader with the homosexual activist group Human Rights Campaign and an appointee to President Barack Obama’s advisory council on faith-based partnerships, has called Pope Benedict XVI and Catholic bishops “discredited leaders” and has attacked the Knights of Columbus as an “army of oppression” for their work to preserve the definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
According to the GLSEN website, the group claims a national network of 10,000 “students and allies working to create safer schools.” It reports that more than 3,000 student clubs commonly known as “gay-straight alliances” have registered with the organization.
President Barack Obama appointed GLSEN founder Kevin Jennings as director of the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools, the “Safe School Czar.”
Jennings, a former teacher, has come under fire for not referring to the police a male student who came to him for advice after being involved in a sexual incident with a man he met in a bathroom. Critics also question his qualifications for the office because of his past drug use and his praise for Harry Hay, a homosexual activist connected with the pedophile group NAMBLA.