Many of the names and organizations of those who advocate
denying gay and lesbian Americans equal civil rights and basic human dignity
are well known. Lou Sheldon of the Traditional Values Coalition, James Dobson
on Focus on the Family, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, Peter
LaBarbera of Americans for Truth, Don Wildmon of the American Family
Association: their words and activities give new meaning to the words �bigotry�
But the leader of the Pennsylvania affiliate of Don Wildmon�s
American Family Association may outdo even her patriarchal mentors. Diane
Gramley, president of the American Family Association of Pennsylvania,
castigates not only gays and lesbians, but anyone who believes in the equality
of all citizens, and then makes wild, unhinged assertions based on her
jaundiced views. Her latest over-the-edge comment was prompted by the president
of California University of Pennsylvania lamenting the fact that schools in the
state system of higher education do not provide domestic partner benefits:
�For them to say a college has to offer
domestic partner benefits to same-sex couples is an insult to those who hold
traditional values,� Gramley exclaims; [sic]
�because what the university is saying is that only homosexuals, or those who
believe homosexuals should get these benefits, are qualified to teach at these
schools. That�s the message they�re sending.�
Don�t look for logic or any semblance of reasoning in
Gramley�s conclusion. Doing so could seriously hurt your brain. Appropriately
though, the article
venting Gramley�s diatribe appeared in the new and expanded incarnation
of Agape Press (the propaganda organ of Wildmon�s AFA) and was prefaced with a
most telling image:
Gramley and her AFA-PA, like Wildmon and his AFA, are
opposed to civil equality. Can there be any clearer statement of their bigotry?
Gramley has called for overt discrimination before. The AFA-PA president previously suggested
that universities not hire professors who are gay or lesbian. Not surprisingly,
was carried by Wildmon�s Agape Press under the headline �Penn. Activist Cites
Statistics, Arrest in Suggesting Ban on Homosexual Profs.�
The occasion for Ms.
Gramley�s �suggestion� was the arrest of University of Pennsylvania professor
Lawrence Scott Ward for possession of child pornography. No one sanctions child
pornography, but condemning it was not what Gramley was doing. She was
stereotyping and condemning all gay
Americans, a common tactic employed by AFA-PA and similar organizations that
use fear and bogus stereotypes to promote discrimination. (See �America�s New
McCarthyism: Homosexual Stereotypes, Myths, and the Politics of Fear,� Popular Culture Review, 16:2 [August
Perhaps Ms. Gramley
might want to take note of the
five colleges and universities affiliated with the Baptist State Convention --
Campbell University, Chowan University, Gardner-Webb University, Mars Hill
College, and Wingate University -- that are preparing to disaffiliate. Why? Because of
the convention�s anti-gay stance and the fact
that its �restrictive rules . . . are preventing them from attracting the best
students and faculty.�
Higher education was
not AFA-PA�s only target. Ms. Gramley sent a letter
to Ambridge Area School District�s
Senior High School principal Alan Fritz urging him not to participate in
diversity workshops offered by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Educational
GLSEN�s �stated goals include working to end discrimination
and harassment against homosexuals.� That description of
GLSEN�s supposedly nefarious purpose comes from the Agape Press story about Ms.
Gramley�s �objection� to the workshops. Clearly, feeling safe is a prerequisite
to students� ability to learn in the classroom. Why would Gramley and the
AFA-PA object to that obvious truth?
Hate blinds one to the obvious. Ms. Gramley makes that
abundantly clear. And the �biblical worldview� advocated by some fundamentalist
preachers blinds them to common decency and basic human rights.
Rev. Mark H. Creech is the executive director of the
Christian Action League of North Carolina, Inc. He believes �universal
healthcare . . . is another example of America�s departure from its strong
Judeo-Christian roots.� Moreover, Rev. Creech believes universal healthcare
would �perpetuate or construct dependence or reward sloth . . . while those who
are indolent prosper.� Appropriately, Creech�s article
was republished by American Family News Network after its initial run on
WorldNetDaily. (ConWebWatch exposed WND�s slanted and plagiarized
stories and stacked
commentary page several years ago, as well as its founder, editor and CEO�s �agenda.�)
Aside from the fact that �Rev.� Creech is comfortable with
-- and encourages -- the needless
suffering of men, women and children in the name of his perverted version of
Christianity, and aside from the fact that Jesus spoke of helping the needy and
the poor, not stomping on them when they�re down, Creech�s schadenfreude
remarks are blatantly insulting to millions of hard-working Americans.
Many of those Americans are called the �working poor.� They
often work two jobs while simultaneously raising a family, but since their
employers keep them on �part-time� status, they don�t qualify for healthcare
benefits. How dare Creech call these parents slothful and indolent?
There�s another group of incredibly hard-working citizens
that Creech deems slothful, indolent and unworthy of basic healthcare coverage.
They�re America�s future leaders: today�s college students.
This is one of many, many similar messages I -- and
professors nationwide -- receive from our students every semester: �I�ve been
very sick this semester and I can�t go to the doctor because I don�t have
health insurance. It�s too expensive. . . . I have two jobs and I�ve been
pushing myself to the limit just to make it by financially. . . .�
Does Rev. Creech believe this student and the tens of
thousands like her are slothful? Indolent? And just for the record, this
student�s cumulative grade point average is near 3.5 on a 4.0 scale.
Will there be abuses in universal healthcare? Of course.
There are abuses now. Doctors and hospitals billing for services never
rendered. Pharmaceutical companies gouging senior citizens on prescription drug
costs while the Bush administration thwarts every effort to lower prices or
allow citizens to buy their prescription drugs from neighboring countries that
care more about their citizens than corporate profits.
to argue against every citizen�s right to basic healthcare is as twisted and
malevolent as Gramley�s argument against gays and lesbians being employed. In
the hands self-righteous fanatics, �religion� in America has become the means
to hurt people . . . and feel good about doing so.