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A Final Word On The Great Nationwide Kiss-In

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2009 will surely be christened the year of gay rights. We’ve added four states to the same-sex marriage list, bringing the total to six, and the White House, rumor has it, will soon move to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and DOMA. There’s also still hope the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Bill will make it to President Obama’s desk.

Sadly, 2009 will also be known as the year of anti-gay harassment and violence against gays.

Gay-bashings, and their severity, are on the rise. So is anti-gay rhetoric, and child-suicides related to anti-gay bullying. And, as we learned back in June and July, gays are being harassed, detained, and even arrested, after kissing in public.

In mid-July, I wrote a call-to-action, challenging gay rights groups, bloggers, and the media to find ways of keeping positive images of the LGBTQ community in the public eye during the month of August. Called, “Fill The Void,” it warned that the right would try to hijack the gay rights conversation in this country over the summer, since, with Congress and state legislatures out of session, there would be no opportunities for the media to focus on the gay rights debate.

Unfortunately, I was a bit off.

A late June, Gay Pride Day police harassment incident involving Texas local law enforcement officers incorrectly threatening a same-sex couple with arrest, simply for kissing was quickly followed by an even more egregious July 10 incident in Salt Lake City.

The Salt Lake incident went beyond the pale. On their way home from a concert, walking through Main Street Plaza, Mormon Church property that serves as a pedestrian thoroughfare, a gay couple was detained and subsequently arrested.  What initiated this obscenity? They were kissing.

True to form, and casting the first stone, despite what the Bible teaches, the Mormon Church, dissatisfied with the direction of growing public opinion against it after the same-sex kissing arrest, began a nasty smear campaign.

A full eight days after the arrest, the Church claimed the same-sex couple was drunk and violent:

“They engaged in passionate kissing, groping, profane and lewd language, and had obviously been using alcohol […and] they became belligerent.”

Fortunately, the Salt Lake City Prosecutor saw through the Church’s hypocrisy, and not only dropped all charges against the two men, but publicly chastised the Church for not marking the pedestrian mall as “private property.”

When I read about the Texas Gay Pride Day incident, in which, by the way, it was the same-sex couple and their friends who called police, I was upset. When I read about the Salt Lake City incident, I was angered. But after doing more research, I found other cases of harassment and arrest for kissing, and I was outraged.

So, on July 13 I called for a national kiss-in to protest these incidents. After writing, “It’s Time For A Nationwide Kiss-In!” I contacted a friend who happens to be the director and co-founder of Join The Impact, a dynamic (in their first week they amassed one million members) grassroots LGBTQ activist organization that was formed just after Prop 8 passed last November. Then, another friend, David Mailloux, a fellow writer who blogs at DYM SUM joined us, and the rest, as they say, is history.

In less than five weeks, The Great Nationwide Kiss-In became a movement. More than 4600 people joined us, and together, we held “Kiss-Ins” to affirm and celebrate everyone’s right to share acts of simple affection with their loved ones, in public.  In more than fifty cities across America, in major metropolitan areas like New York and Boston, and smaller towns like Fayetteville, Arkansas, and Athens, Georgia, people joined together. And we went international, holding an event in Canada, and one in Saipan, capitol of the United States Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

So, what was the point of all this? Simple, really.

Studies tell us that gay-rights opponents, or those sitting on the fence, are far more likely to alter their opinion in favor of gay rights once they get to know us. (As I like to say, to know us is to love us!) We wanted to educate the public, to help them see, literally, straight couples standing alongside gay couples, and all kissing their loved ones at exactly the same time, across the country. (Which, by the way, meant 4:00 AM in Saipan!) Personally, I can’t imagine a more powerful statement, or a more beautiful one.

It’s important to note that this was not a “gay event.” A great many of our organizers and participants were straight couples. Which was exactly the point. We showed that love knows no boundaries, no gender, makes no distinctions. Nor did we.

Did we make a difference? I can honestly say, “yes!” The public response and support was overwhelming. Stories from participants about the attitudes of passersby were almost wholly positive.

Importantly, we got people talking. We reminded people that there is more than one way to make a point. In the midst of this summer’s babbling “birther” and “death panel” stories in the media, against a backdrop of out-of-control screaming town halls and gun-toting attendees, we stood up and used a peaceful demonstration – not a protest, but a demonstration of love – to educate and combat hatred and homophobia.

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CRIME

Highland Park Shooting Deaths Include Both Parents of Two Year Old Found at Scene of July 4th Massacre

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On Twitter Sunday afternoon in the aftermath of the July 4th Highland Park mass shooting a photo of a young boy appeared in several tweets. He was described as lost, good samaritans assumed he had become separated from his parents in the mayhem of the massacre, and people were trying to reunite him with his family.

CBS Chicago reporter Marissa Parra now reveals the boy’s name is Aiden, but he won’t be reunited with his parents: both were shot dead by the Highland Park gunman.

“Kevin McCarthy, 37, and Irina McCarthy, 35, were among the seven people [who] were killed during the mass shooting,” CBS Chicago reports.

“We took him to safety under tragic circumstances, came together to locate his grandparents, and prayed for the safety of his family,” reads the story on a GoFundMe page hoping to raise money for Aiden.

“Sadly, I need to share his name…Aiden McCarthy. And he needs more of our help,” it adds. “At two years old, Aiden is left in the unthinkable position; to grow up without his parents,” it adds. “Aiden will be cared for by his loving grandparents, Misha and Nina Levberg, and he will have a long road ahead to heal, find stability, and ultimately navigate life as an orphan. He is surrounded by a community of friends and extended family that will embrace him with love, and any means available to ensure he has everything he needs as he grows.”

About $475,000 has quickly been raised with more than 7600 people contributing. The top donation is $5000.

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

‘Invasion’: Texas Lt. Gov. Likens Border Crossings to Attack on Pearl Harbor – ‘These People Are a Danger to America’

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Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, a far-right Republican, is comparing migrants crossing the border into Texas to Japan’s 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor that killed 2335 people. He is calling it an “invasion” and says that gives the state the right to “put hands on people.”

Patrick, who because of Texas’ unique structure is more powerful than the governor, told Fox News on Tuesday, “we are being invaded, and if we’re being invaded under the constitution I think that gives us the power to put hands on people and send them back. Put hands on people and send them back,” he said repeatedly.

“These people are a danger to America,” Patrick said in a rant. It was unclear if he was referring to migrants or President Joe Biden and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

The Lt. Governor, who has hawked the racist “great replacement theoryrepeatedly, and used the term “invasionrepeatedly, told Fox News that Texas is now spending $4 billion annually on the border, while Texas National Guardsmen and Texas Rangers complain of being called up to serve, having to abandon their regular jobs, for no apparent reason.

RELATED: Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick Blames ‘Video Game Industry’ for El Paso White Supremacist Terrorism: ‘We’ve Always Had Guns’

“This is the biggest danger we have, to your family,” Patrick says of the fentanyl crossing the border. “It’s all on Biden,” he claimed.

Last week Texas Governor Greg Abbott drew extensive criticism for using the deaths of more than 50 migrants packed into an 18-wheel tractor-trailer as a political opportunity to attack President Biden. Even some conservatives attacked Abbott for his inhumane remarks..

 

 

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BREAKING NEWS

7th Victim of July 4th Mass Shooting Dies

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Seven people have now died as a result of a gunman opening fire from a rooftop into an Independence Day parade in Highland Park, Illinois.

The latest victim succumbed to their injuries Tuesday afternoon, NBC 5 Chicago reported. Authorities have not identified all the victims, but have said five of those who died were adults. Another 46 people were wounded.

Police on Tuesday announced that the shooter fired at least 70 rounds into the crowd, using a “high-powered rifle” that is “similar” to a AR-15. They also revealed the suspected gunman planned the attack for weeks, purchased his weapons legally, disguised himself by wearing women’s attire to “conceal his facial tattoos and  his identity,” and to “help him during the escape.” He then walked to his mother’s house after the shooting.

Law enforcement Monday evening arrested Robert Crimo, who they say is a “person of interest,” but he has not been charged.

“There are no words for the kind of monster who lies in wait and fires into a crowd of families with children celebrating a holiday with their community,” Illinois Democratic Governor J.B. Pritzker said in a statement. “There are no words for the kind of evil that robs our neighbors of their hopes, their dreams, their futures. There are no words I can offer to lift the pain of those they leave behind. Please know that our state grieves with you, that MK and I grieve with you.”

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