Archive for letters

Special status?

george will

George Will thinks that women who have been the victims of sexual violence have a special status and that we embrace it.

I would hardly classify the shame and guilt I experienced after being molested by a family member special. More than a half century later, I still live with it.

Embrace it? I spit on it. It took me years and some disastrous relationships to learn to function in a healthy relationship because of what happened to me as a child.

More often that not, victims of childhood sexual violence grow up to become victims of adult sexual violence. Because the victim of this crime is told by society to be ashamed, to feel unworthy of respect.

Things you think protect us actually do us more damage. Why shouldn’t my name be used? If I was beaten with a baseball bat, people wouldn’t even ask if I wanted my name withheld. But because I was the victim of sexual violence, I should feel ashamed to have my name used in public.

The inference is that I somehow caused my relative to molest me. Perhaps I cast a sultry 3-year-old glance in his direction. Maybe it was the short dresses I wore or the fact that I had the audacity to be alone in a room with him.

I can still see my chubby little fingers closing around the quarter he gave me — hush money. I can still remember feeling dirty and knowing I would be punished if I said anything. The abuse continued for years.

I didn’t say anything to anyone until I was in my 30s. My sister challenged me. He had tried it with her too, but she got away from him. She was saucy enough to tell his secret; I was not.

Once, a year or so after our conversation, my sister asked why I was being so open about it.

“Maybe you shouldn’t tell people,” she said.

I’ve spent many hours in front of a mirror telling myself I was the victim of a crime and I have nothing to be ashamed of. I still don’t always believe it.

Being a victim of sexual violence changes you. We are more likely to have depression, to overeat, to abuse alcohol and drugs, to have unsafe sex, and therefore to contract STDs, and to become victims of abuse.

When we report the sexual violence, we’re always asked why we were walking alone at night or why we wore those shoes or that dress, as though it’s our responsibility to quiet men’s “natural urges.”

In our rape culture, we blame the victim, while too many men go on thinking we’re here to fulfill their desires. If we resist their come-ons, we must be “frigid” or lesbians. There’s this sense of entitlement among some men that says we’re here just for them. If they desire us, they’re entitled to take what they want because we wore those shoes or that dress or we went into a bar alone.

Back when the Kennedy kid was accused of rape, the young woman was ostracized for taking off her pantyhose before a barefoot walk on a beach, while no one said a word about the young man taking off his socks. And it should be pointed out that taking off one’s socks is not the same as “Come hither.”

So, violence is done to us and we are blamed.

Breaking free from that is difficult at best. It takes an incredible amount of work on ourselves to begin to feel worthy of respect.

If you think that’s a special status, fine, as long as you understand the special thing is that we survived it.

If you think we embrace it, think again.

Perhaps if you had been raped your understanding would be different. But I wouldn’t wish that on anyone, Mr. Will, not even you.




It appears we scare them

Is it that we have so many people or that they don;t want to hear the truth? Whatever, they keep running from us,

Is it that we have so many people or that they don;t want to hear the truth? Whatever it is, they keep running from us.

We in the Moral Monday Movement had planned to walk through the General Assembly Building Monday afternoon and deliver letters to legislators asking them to reconsider the harmful laws they passed last year.

They knew we were coming, so they locked all the doors. Members of the House were in the building, but they didn’t want any contact with us, so we marched around the building.

Rev. William Barber said he saw legislators in the building and waved to them, but he got no response.

So the 100 or so people carrying letters asking the members of the legislature to expand Medicaid, force Duke Energy to clean up its coal ash mess and stop fracking tucked the letters into the door handles. We walked up the hill to the state house, but the governor wasn’t there, so 11 brave souls sat down to wait for him. After a couple hours, they were handcuffed, given citations and released.

Look, I’m not a fan of theatrics, but we need to show the people of this state that their elected representatives are unresponsive to the people.

I have tried repeatedly to meet with several leaders, but because I’m not in their districts, they dismiss my requests. Tim Moffitt, my representative, is the only Republican who will meet with me. I can’t sway him even a tiny bit, but at least he doesn’t run away when he sees me coming.

We in the Moral Mondays crowd only ask that leaders meet with us to discuss issues, and they have refused. They have run away from us, locked us up and locked us out. They have called us names and said insulting things about us.

We are not going to back down.

After we were locked out of the GA Building, and after the 11 were released, we marched around the state house seven times — our symbolic Jericho.

A couple hundred of us were back on Wednesday to talk to legislators about Medicaid Expansion.

My first stop was Tim Moffitt, who, as usual, welcomed me into his office. We always are civil, even though we disagree. He said he thought the liberals were being hypocritical by demonstrating now, since we didn’t do this while Democrats were in power.

I explained to him that HKonJ has been demonstrating on Jones Street for years — long before 2010 — but the Democrats were willing to meet with us and talk to us. Sometimes, we even managed to move them to action. So far, Speaker Thom Tillis has refused to talk to us and has in fact, run away from us. The governor won’t met with us. So far, all he has done is offer us cookies, as though we’re a bunch of preschoolers who don’t understand the issues.

If we could meet with these leaders, we certainly wouldn’t go to these lengths.

I don’t give a damn what party these people belong to; they have politicized things that should have nothing to do with politics.

This movement isn’t about right versus left; it’s about right versus wrong.

It’s wrong to deny access to health care for 500,000 people and to let some 2,400 of them die each year. It’s wrong to disenfranchise voters as the new law does. It’s wrong to cut Medicaid, to cut food stamps and unemployment. It’s wrong to allow big energy giants to poison our water, land and air.

Still, they lock us out, lock us up and run from us when we try to speak to them. They mock us, but there is fear in their voices and in their eyes.

We stand for economic and social justice and we will not back down.


I stand with Richard Martinez

Richard Martinez holds a picture of his son, who was killed by a gunman over the weekend.

Richard Martinez holds a picture of his son, who was killed by a gunman over the weekend.

You might think your vote doesn’t matter, but it does.

When you stay home instead of going to the polls, the lobbyists and the big corporations get the people they want — people who won’t pass ANY gun safety laws; people who support fracking; people who will slash basic safety net programs and who refuse to expand Medicaid.

Yesterday, Richard Martinez, the father of a young man who was killed by an angry young man with three legally obtained semi-automatic weapons, said he will spend the rest of his life working for change.

He choked through tears that he wants this gun madness to stop, and he said, “My son is dead and there is nothing they could do to me that is worse than that.”

I’ve been saying that since my own son died from neglect because he couldn’t get access to health care, and I have worked for expanded access to health care.

Now Richard Martinez will work for sensible gun laws, and I am with him. He said he fears nothing because the worst thing that can happen to anyone has happened to him.

But every time it looks as though we might get just one piece of sensible legislation through, it falls flat.

What do get passed are laws allowing guns anywhere — in malls, in parks, in fast-food restaurants. And as soon as those laws are passed and signed, we see semi-automatic weapons strapped to people in line at Chick-fil-A and Sonic. A woman was shot at a Walmart when someone’s gun went off accidentally, although I hardly think of it as an accident when someone purposely takes a loaded gun shopping.

I am tired of the pro-gun talking points:

“Guns don’t kill people; people do.”

Answer: People with guns kill more people than anything else. In domestic disputes, if there’s no gun handy, it rarely ends in murder. If people with active mental illnesses couldn’t gain access to semi-automatic weapons, Richard’s son still would be alive, as would all the children in Newtown, Conn., not to mention the people who were in the theater at Aurora, Col., the people at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin and on and on and on …

“Well then, why don’t we outlaw knives and cars? They kill people too.”

Answer: First of all, they don’t kill nearly as many people as guns do, and secondly, they have other uses; they are not manufactured solely for the purpose of killing people.

“I have a Second Amendment right to my guns.”

Answer: Not so much. The Second Amendment has been interpreted — after much lobbying by the gun industry — as meaning we all can have as many guns as we want, but the the amendment reads: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

That part about the well regulated militia? I don’t often hear mention of that when people argue the amendment gives all of us unfettered access to whatever guns we want to play with. The amendment was adopted because the United States had no standing army at the time and George Washington didn’t want one. The amendment should have been repealed when we established a standing army.

“We just need to keep guns out of the hands of people with mental illnesses.”

The young man who killed Richard’s son was deeply troubled. His family tried to intervene, but to no avail. He wanted to stop taking his medications, so he did. He was over 18 so no one could force him into treatment. And despite the young man’s history, he was able to buy three semi-automatic weapons. Maybe we could keep them out of the hands of people who have psychiatric issues, but we don’t.

The lack of willingness on the part of Congress to pass any kind of gun safety legislation because of their fear of the NRA and gun manufacturers speaks loudly about how important it is that we get out and vote for people with the guts to stand up to these greedy bastards.

I have said it again and again: I don’t object to people who want to hunt or target shoot owning guns, but I do want to see someone charged with murder every time a child is killed while playing with a gun. It’s no accident if there’s a loaded gun in the house and a child is killed while playing with it; the charge should be manslaughter, if not murder.

One final talking point:

“You’ll have to pry my gun out of my cold, dead hands.”

Answer: OK.



A year ago today

This was taken May 13, 2013, the night I got arrested.

This was taken May 13, 2013, the night I got arrested. The woman singing is my friend, Yara Allen. We sang together all the way to jail.

On May 13, 2013, I was arrested for the first time in my life.

I was in a public building, trying to exercise my Constitutional right to speak to legislators and I was charged with second-degree trespass, carrying a prohibited sign into the General Assembly Building and “chanting and loud singing.”

The second and third charges were dropped because the building rules were so vague as to be unconstitutional. I would have protested the second charge anyway because the only thing I carried was a photo of my late son.

I was found guilty and have appealed, but my lawyer tells me it could be 3-5 years before my case is finally dealt with.

I have been to court six times now and I have another court date June 2, but my case isn’t likely to be called then. So much for my right to a speedy trial.

I didn’t have to fight this. I could have paid $180 and done 25 hours of public service, but that would mean admitting guilt and I didn’t do anything wrong.

As I said on the stand, I did not go into the General Assembly Building for the purpose of getting arrested; I went because I was desperate to be heard.

Five to eight people are dying prematurely every day because we refuse to expand Medicaid. Estimates for the annual death toll range from 1,500 to 2,800.

I had tried to speak to legislators. My representative in the House, Tim Moffitt, just blew me off. The last time I went to see him, he said, rather peevishly, “Yes, I know about your son.”

When I went with Rev. Barber to try and talk to Thom Tillis, he literally burst out the back door of his office and ran away. There’s video proof of that somewhere, but my own video of the event plays over and over in my head.

If you know me, you know health care is my primary issue, but it doesn’t stand alone; no issue does.

That’s why I have joined with tens of thousands of others in this Forward Together Movement. I have met and been befriended by some amazing people, and the experience has changed my life for the better. I feel so alive when I’m with my fellow protesters and activists. I feel a part of something bigger than any of us.

This bunch of fools in Raleigh has done all it can to dismantle the entire safety net, not to mention education, voter rights, LGBT rights and the environment. My fellow activists and I will continue to fight them.

I will continue to go to Moral Mondays as they start up again next week. I will continue to speak out for economic and social justice as long as I have a voice.

I am not afraid of jail, although I prefer not to be arrested for asserting my Constitutional rights again.

No one can hurt me more than the unnecessary death of my son has hurt me already, so I am particularly dangerous to those who would silence the Moral Mondays folks. People with no fear really do scare them because they can’t cow us into submission.

I want a better world for my grandchildren and my great-granddaughter, and I won’t stop working for it.



The result of apathy

tom hill

So the primary election is over and in the 11th Congressional District of North Carolina,  I fear we made a big mistake.

We gave the nod to Tom Hill, who knows little or nothing about politics. He spent much of his campaign against Cecil Bothwell two years ago with his foot in his mouth. He calls himself a moderate, but he hates all Muslims. He is anti-marriage equality.

From his Facebook page, in response to a John Boyle column:

The article is neither “beautiful” nor “well said”. It completely misses the point that society as a whole defines the forms of marriage it will approve, irrespective of what the Old Testament may say on the subject. Our society does have a strong undercurrent of Christian teachings, but our culture would not approve of polygamy or incest, for example, regardless of its religious bent. The same is true in non Christian countries such as Japan. There are no such entities as “gay rights”. There are only human rights, and in this country all gays have the same human rights that the rest of us have. What the homosexuals want is a special right to marry a person of the same sex and to procreate jointly, which is a physical impossibility. No other person in this state has the right to marry a person of the same sex, and we are not going to make a dispensation for gays and lesbians, many of whom have voluntarily selected that lifestyle. Just ask the actress Cynthia Nixon. I am not “ashamed” of my state’s common sense response to Amendment One, and I would like to contribute a dollar to the “Send John Boyle To A Gay/ Lesbian Marriage-Approving State” movement.”

And we chose this man to oppose Mark Meadows. So, we get another two years of Meadows. I plan to write in a name, perhaps Keith Ruehl or Cecil Bothwell.

I can’t vote for someone who thinks marriage equality isn’t about equal rights. When he says that many have “voluntarily selected” that “lifestyle,” it makes me cringe.

But he won the primary because too many people didn’t do their homework, and voter turnout was a mere 14 percent.

I suppose we get what we deserve as a nation, but what about those of us who do care and do vote?

It doesn’t take very much time to learn about the candidates, and it’s an important part of living in a Democracy.

I spent a good part of Saturday canvassing for Brian Turner, a local business owner who is getting into politics because he sees the damage being caused to our state by extremists in Raleigh.

Brian is running against Tim Moffitt for NC House, and I am going to do all I can to see that Brian wins. He is for the expansion of Medicaid, for restoring funding to schools and our higher education system, for Asheville retaining its ownership of our water supply, against the voter suppression law, against the new tax law that lowered taxes on the wealthy and increased the burden on working people … In other words, he is the polar opposite of Tim Moffitt.

Most of the people I spoke to on Saturday didn’t know Brian Turner, but after hearing he’s pretty much the opposite of Moffitt, they all wanted to vote for him.

This is why I work for candidates. It takes great courage to run for office nowadays. Brian knows that the machine behind Moffitt likely will assault his integrity — Tim told him so.

The message here is that we must vote and we MUST learn a little about the candidates before we go to the polls.



Mark has it right


I met Mark Chilton the evening this photo was taken. It was in late May, 2013; Mark would remember the exact date since it was the night he was arrested during a Moral Monday protest.

Mark was mayor of Carrboro, NC, at the time, and he was standing against the hard right turn taken by the state’s General Assembly. I had been arrested on May 13 and I was volunteering to notarize appearance waivers for people who were arrested.

We struck up a friendship based in large part on our beliefs that people deserve basic rights, including the right to have their needs met — to be paid a living wage for a week’s work, to send their children to decent schools, to have access to quality health care and to vote. He is one of many, many friends I have made in the Forward Together Movement.

When Mark’s mayoral term expired, he decided to run for Register of Deeds in Orange County. In North Carolina, the office registers deeds, births, deaths and marriages.

That might not seem like a good next political step after being mayor, but Mark saw something very important he could do with the office — he ran on a promise that he would recognize — and register — same-sex marriages, even though the state has a constitutional amendment forbidding marriage equality.

In Tuesday’s primary, Mark beat out the incumbent, and since he now runs unopposed, he is just about assured of being sworn in come January.

Mark considers Amendment One unconstitutional, and since he will swear to uphold the US Constitution first and the state Constitution second, he will recognize same-sex marriages.

Marriage equality is happening with remarkable speed across the country. I think Amendment One was a last-gasp attempt to keep change from happening, and it will be declared unconstitutional.

My pastor, Rev. Joe Hoffman, is among the people who filed suit against Amendment One, using the argument that it violates his religious freedom to perform marriages of people in his congregation. The Campaign for Southern Equality is housed in my church.

I joined First Congregational UCC because of its views on marriage equality. I would never attend a church where my sister and her spouse weren’t welcome as who they were.

My sister was able to marry the love of her life before she died of lung cancer in 2006. Her spouse made all the decisions, as was appropriate. No one in my family would have tried to prevent that, but it was wonderful that they had the legal protection in case an asshole emerged from the woodwork.

I have heard horror stories of people being prevented from seeing their loved one in hospitals to loss of property after a death.

As the law stands now, my gay and lesbian friends can be married in one state and “legal strangers” in another. They have to make all kinds of legal preparations to battle that status and they still don’t have the same rights I have — simple because I fell in love with someone of the opposite gender.

The way I see it is that the only marriage that’s any of my business is my own. I actually believe my sister’s marriage strengthened mine because her inability to marry for more than 20 years taught me to appreciate the rights I have and made me want to fight for her to have equal rights.

At my sister’s funeral, the pastor — and evangelical Christian who believes God made us just how we were meant to be — described my sister and her spouse’s love as “extravagant.”

“Such extravagant love can be given only by God,” he said.

I love that line. It has given me a lot of comfort in the years since my sister died, and it has given me the conviction that every human being deserves the right to express that love and to be given the same legal protections I get.

Mark Chilton ran on a promise to recognize that right, and he won. It gives me hope that we are almost there.

Thanks to Mark — and to everyone who voted for him.




Another day, another gun incident

gunsJust last week, Georgia passed a bill allowing guns everywhere. Gov. Nathan Deal signed it into law.

As if things weren’t bad enough already.

Within a couple of days, a man with a gun stalked a kids’ baseball game, claiming he could walk around armed and there was nothing any one of them could do about it.

Unfortunately, he was right. What he was doing was legal, even though it terrified the children and the adults to the point that they called off the game and left. One child asked his mother of the man was going to kill him. What kind of thing is that for a little boy to be thinking?

If the point here is about human rights, what about children’s right to be able to play a baseball game and feel safe while doing so? What about parents’ rights to sign their kids up for a baseball league without fear of having some gun nut attend and wave his weapon around?

Today, a shooter let loose in a Federal Express facility in an Atlanta suburb. The shooter injured six people, one critically, and then shot himself.

Last night, a man drove into a motel parking lot in Asheville and fired several shots into a car, then took off on his motorcycle to the Asheville Mall, where he waved his gun around in front of horrified shoppers before throwing it and running into the mall.

On April 13, a known white supremacist opened fire at a Jewish community center, killing three. After he was arrested, he could be heard shouting, “Heil Hitler!” Yeah, he deserved to carry a gun, didn’t he?

Between the massacre at Newtown Elementary School and Dec. 31, 2013, guns killed 12,042 people in the US; since Jan. 1 of this year, another 3,442 have died. More than 15,000 people. That was the entire population of the town I grew up in.

The idea that everyone should have a gun and should be able to bring it wherever he or she pleases is insane. This was not the intent of the people who wrote the Bill of Rights to the US Constitution.

That amendment predicated the right to own arms on the necessity of having a well regulated militia. These people are not part of a well regulated militia, although the shooter at the Jewish community center has been known to be affiliated with white supremacist militias.

Still, we can’t seem to get any new regulations on guns. In fact, gun laws are falling, especially in red states like Georgia and North Carolina. I’m starting to believe the red symbolizes the blood of innocents.

We seem to have lost our collective minds.

The week before last, a group of libertarian wing-nuts who deny the existence of the US government pointed guns at US government officials. This is the very definition of treason, but these people are still walking around free.

I’m certain as can be that if these men had been African-American or Latino, they’d all be dead. Instead, they’re lauded by a substantial minority in this country as heroes.

This is all driven by weapons manufacturers, bolstered by the National Rifle Association. It is not about freedom, it’s about profit.

I’m tired of trying to talk reason into people who have none. Guns do not equal safety. They MUST be regulated, despite what the NRA says.

I have never had a problem with responsible gun owners; I have a problem with giving guns to irresponsible people, to people with anger or addiction issues — to just about anyone who wants one.

You can tell me cars kill as many people as guns do, but cars are’t made with the intention to kill; guns are. Killing is the reason guns are manufactured. And by the way, cars are very regulated.

We need to put a stop to this. We must vote against people who refuse to enact more strict gun laws. We don’t live in the Old West, and the majority of us don’t want to.

Law and order doesn’t mean putting away minor drug offenders for years on end while letting anyone who wants one have a gun, no matter how dangerous they are.

We have to put an end to this.






Stop the gun crazies!

gun kidsOK, I have tried to be reasonable, but I’m not getting anything even approaching reason from the pro-gun crowd.

Why can’t any of you even admit that there are places and circumstances where it’s not right to carry a gun?

Why can’t you admit that you don’t need to own high-powered assault rifles?

Why must you just repeat the craziness of the National Rifle Association and not think for yourselves?

These two children are from Texas. Their parents gave them these rifles to carry around a shopping district where guns are not allowed.

This is wrong on so many levels I hardly know where to start.

But let’s start with the “responsible gun ownership” argument. I agree that responsible gun ownership is OK, but this is not responsible. Children shouldn’t be walking around in public with guns any more than they should be allowed to drive a semi or a city bus. They are not mature enough to understand the ramifications of handling guns (or a huge truck).

Even an adult walking around a public shopping area with a loaded weapon is irresponsible.

I know, I know, you’re going to bring up the Second Amendment. Do you know what it says? It says, and I quote: “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

Do you belong to a well regulated militia? Do you understand the history of this amendment and how its meaning has been twisted?

Are you not moved one tiny bit by the deaths in schools, theaters and houses of worship?

I know, now you’re going to bring up the kid with the knives who went slashing through his school last week. No one died in that attack, though, and I hate to think of the carnage that would have resulted if he’d had access to a gun.

The NRA has bought our government and has convinced sportsmen and women that owning a gun is a more precious right than the vote. The resulting carnage means nothing to them. They are the mouthpiece of gun manufacturers who are only looking to make more profit, no matter how many people die as a result.

You’ve been hoodwinked, and you’re no safer as a result. More people are killed with their own guns that actually stop an intruder or attacker.

I have shot guns at targets and it’s fun, but I could have just as much fun with a BB gun. I don’t need to handle something that can kill just to have a good time.

My father owned a gun and he used it to hunt deer (although I don’t remember him ever getting one).

I’m not saying everyone should lose their guns, even though I don’t on one and likely never will, but I would like to see the pro-gun crowd budge just a little. Background checks would be nice. Banning guns from most public places also would be appropriate.

You can’t be a responsible person if you are unwilling to give an inch on anything.


Happy Equal Pay Day

equal pay

Equal pay for equal work. Is that really too much to ask?

Today is Equal Pay Day, the day women’s earnings since Jan. 1, 2013, catch up with men’s earnings for 2013.

I fought this back in the early 1980s, when I discovered a man with the same experience I had, who was doing the same job I was, made 30 percent more than I did. He lived at home with his mom and I was raising two kids.

I went to the publisher to complain about the inequity, and he gave me a raise to equal what my male colleague was making. Then he called my male colleague into his office and gave him a raise, too. I wasn’t supposed to know about it, but I decided to be happy with my raise and not risk getting fired because I needed the job.

Once, when I interviewed for a job, I was told I wouldn’t be hired because I had children and this boss wanted to be my top priority. Again, I could have pressed it, but I didn’t want to work for someone like that.

When I was a child, a woman still could be fired for getting married or for having a baby. Women were passed over for promotions because they might get pregnant or because they had children, plus everyone knew they would be useless at least one or two days a month because of “female problems.”

Women could be bank tellers but not bank presidents; we could be nurses but not doctors; secretaries but not lawyers. If we chose to pursue a career, it was understood that we would sacrifice having children.

It took a lot of fighting to get past that crap, and we still haven’t achieved equality. We earn, on average, 77 cents for every dollar a man earns.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren calls that not an accident, but discrimination, and she’s right.

I have a bumper sticker on my car that says, “I can’t believe I’m still protesting this crap!” People often snap pictures of it in parking lots.

But I have been protesting for women’s equality since the 1960s. As early as 1958, I was thinking I was as smart as any of the boys in my class — and smarter than most of them, but I was being told my possibilities were limited. I find it appalling that it’s still true on so many levels.

My granddaughters are coming of age in a time when women are still paid only about three-quarters of what men make; I can only hope my great-granddaughter’s reality is a little better.


Phelps reaps what he sowed

Phelps14_1285527241_10_0_368781064Fred Phelps, head of the Westboro Baptist Church, has died, and there seems to be a lot of delight in that all over the Internet today.

I can’t say I’m happy, although Phelps and his followers did nothing to create any positive feelings.

But look at his face. There’s a pathetic sadness there. I can’t imagine living my life with so much hatred in my heart.

Phelps hated gays. I mean, he really hated gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgendered people.

Before the Affordable Care Act passed, my nonprofit held a health care rally outside the Statehouse in Raleigh. I jumped through all the hoops and got a permit, but when I arrived to set up, there were the Westboro Baptist folks right across from me. Nobody wanted to go by them to attend our rally, so it was short.

As we broke down, Phelps’s people started calling us “pro-abortionists” because we wanted universal access to health care. They screamed hateful things at us. I told them God loves all of us — even them.

That set them off even more. We weren’t sure whether we should be amused, repulsed or scared. We went with repulsed.

I don’t know how anyone can spew hatred like that and claim to be a follower of Christ, who told us to love each other and to not judge one another.

I will not rejoice at the passing of Fred Phelps. In fact I’m saddened that he never learned how to be loving and kind. I’m sad he never felt the redemptive power of forgiveness.

I know people are lining up to piss on his grave. I won’t waste my time doing that.

He’s gone, but his followers, who are even more hate-filled than he was, are still with us. All of them will face judgment one day, albeit not from me. I will oppose everything they stand for, but I have no desire to engage them or vilify them. I’ll save my energy for more positive endeavors.

I support the people he considered enemies, organizations like the Campaign for Southern Equality and Equality North Carolina, who work in positive ways to gain equality in our marriage laws for LGBT people.

Rather than stand and scream at people whose minds we never will change, I think it’s wiser to take a positive approach. You can’t attract reason with vitriol. People like Phelps and his followers are screamers. They don’t want to have a discussion, so it makes no sense to try and reason with them.

If you yell at me, I will walk away; if you want to have a discussion with me, fine, we can talk like adults.

I feel sorry for Fred Phelps and his followers. Their lives are miserable, their minds clouded and their hearts always in upheaval.

I can’t say I’ll miss Fred Phelps, but I am sad for his life without joy.


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