Thursday, August 25, 2005

Falwell Speaks Out in Favor of Some Gay Rights

(Link) Yes, the same fundie-vangelist who blamed 9/11 on "the pagans, the abortionists, and the feminists and the gays and lesbians" actually says we're entitled to civil rights like fair housing and employment. In other news, mercury plummets in Hell's thermometer.

1 comment:

LNewsEditor said...

JIC Post:
By Eartha Jane Melzer
Southern Voice

The Human Rights Campaign has formally thanked Rev. Jerry Falwell for apparently speaking out in favor of gay rights for the first time publicly.

Falwell, the high profile televangelist, founder of the Moral Majority and of the Liberty University, recently discussed potential Supreme Court nominees with President Bush before a pick was named.

On Aug. 5, during an appearance on MSNBC's "The Situation with Tucker Carlson," Falwell raised eyebrowns when he said he was not troubled by reports that nominee John Roberts had done volunteer legal work for gay rights activists on the case Romer vs. Evans.

In that case, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that the state of Colorado could not create laws with the sole intention of discriminating against gay men and lesbians. Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas — the judges that
President Bush has said best represent his preferred judicial philosophy — along with Chief Justice William Rehnquist, dissented from the majority opinion.

Falwell, who in the immediate aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, blamed the terrorist attacks on "the pagans, the abortionists, and the feminists and the gays and lesbians," and who describes himself as "very conservative," told Carlson that if he were a lawyer, he too would argue for civil rights for gays.

"I may not agree with the lifestyle," Falwell said. "But that has nothing to do with the civil rights of that … part of our constituency.

"Judge Roberts would probably have been not a good very good lawyer if he had not been willing, when asked by his partners in the law firm to assist in guaranteeing the civil rights of employment and housing to any and all Americans."

When Carlson countered that conservatives, "are always arguing against 'special rights' for gays," Falwell said that equal access to housing and employment are basic rights, not special rights.

"Civil rights for all Americans, black, white, red, yellow, the rich, poor, young, old, gay, straight, et cetera, is not a liberal or conservative value," Falwell went on to say. "It's an American value that I would think that we pretty much all agree on."

Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said his group welcomed the apparent softening of Falwell's position on at least some gay rights.

"Like most Americans, it seems Rev. Falwell has reached the conclusion that everyone deserves basic rights," said Solmonese. "I hope he also supports legislation that would deliver on these values."

Soulforce lobbying pays off?
Falwell was not available this week to discuss his views on gay issues. His office said that he was deluged with requests for comment on fellow televangelist Pat Robertson's call for the assassination of the Venezuelan president.

Earlier this summer, Falwell spoke at an "ex-gay" conference organized by the Christian group Exodus International. During his sermon he spoke warmly about the efforts of the activist group Soulforce, which seeks to free gays from religious oppression and is based in Lynchburg, Va., near Falwell's church. Soulforce has done extensive outreach to Falwell.

Falwell also spoke at length about a major heart operation he had had earlier that week.

Soulforce was founded by Mel White, a gay man who had worked closely with Falwell (even ghostwriting his autobiography) and his partner Gary Nixon.

White and Nixon founded Soulforce and moved into a rented house across the street from Falwell's church in 2001, after they realized that Falwell was not going to change his views and accept gays without long-term persuasion.

"I think last month when he dealt with his heart condition, he got closer to his maker," Nixon said. "And I think he knows in his heart that what he was doing is wrong."

Excerpt of Aug. 5 transcript of "The Situation with Tucker Carlson":

CARLSON: All right, the SCOTUS situation may not be as black and white as it first appeared. John Roberts nominated for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court, once argued against such appointments for federal judges. Earlier this week, we found out that Roberts once did pro bono work helping gay activists win a landmark case before the Supreme Court. That was in 1996, when the court struck down a Colorado law allowing employers and landlords to exclude gays from jobs and housing.

Now supporters and opponents of the nominee are wondering what it all means. Well, we don‘t know exactly what it means. We do know this wasn‘t a case he was paid to take. This is something he did for free, voluntarily. It‘s impossible believe—believe—to believe he would have done it if it violated his conscience. So, he had to, in some way, agree with it.

It makes me think that the people who have commented on this so far have no clue what they‘re talking about.


CARLSON: Conservatives, spurred on by the White House, have said, he‘s great; he‘s one of us.

They don‘t know that, right? And the left has gone completely bananas. The head of the Human Rights Campaign wrote a piece, the headline, “Anti-Gay Extremists Trying to Gain A Stranglehold on Government,” implying this guy is an anti-gay extremist. Neither side knows what it‘s doing.

Jerry Falwell, I notice you wrote a piece supporting Mr. Roberts. Are you rethinking that?

FALWELL: Oh, not at all.

You know, I—if I were an attorney, I‘d certainly fight for the right of gays or anyone else to be employed or be housed wherever they wished to be housed. I may not agree with the lifestyle. And I don‘t. But that has nothing do with the civil rights of that member of our—that part of our constituency.

John Roberts would probably have been not a very good lawyer if he had not been willing, when asked by his partners in the law firm to assist in guaranteeing the civil rights of employment and housing to any and all Americans.

CARLSON: But wait a second. I thought conservatives are always arguing against special rights for gays. And the idea is that...

FALWELL: Well, housing and employment are not special rights. I think—I think the right to live somewhere and to live where you please or to work where you please, as long as you‘re not bothering anybody else, is a basic right, not a—not a special right.

MADDOW: I think—I‘m happy to agree with you on this.

I mean, I think that if you look at Romer v. Evans, it‘s pretty hard to say that you‘re against the decision in Romer v. Evans that was originally arrived at. I mean, Scalia and Thomas were definitely against it. But the fact is, this—this—this case was about...

CARLSON: And Rehnquist.

MADDOW: And Rehnquist. I think you‘re right there—was—this case was about whether or not you can put an ad in the paper that says, I want to rent this apartment, but no gays need apply, or, I want to put up a for-hire sign that says, no lesbians will be hired for this job. If you think that‘s an American value and that we ought to be supporting that, then you‘re with the minority in Romer v. Evans. If you‘re not, then you‘re on the side of John Roberts.

CARLSON: I‘m—of course, I‘m not even arguing that.

MADDOW: Right.

CARLSON: I‘m merely saying, this gives us a window into Judge Roberts‘ thinking and it suggests that he‘s not nearly as conservative as his critics and his supporters have suggested. And I think that, if he winds up being a Tony Kennedy clone on the Supreme Court, we shouldn‘t be surprised. I won‘t be.

FALWELL: Well, Tony—Tucker, I‘m very conservative. I think I‘m to the right of most people you know, but...

CARLSON: Not to the right of me, but yes.

FALWELL: But civil—civil rights for all Americans, black, white, red, yellow, the rich, poor, young, old, gay, straight, et cetera, is not a liberal or a conservative value. It‘s an American value that I would think that we pretty much all agree on.

CARLSON: All right.

MADDOW: I hope—I hope that, when your colleagues on the right get upset about this Roberts‘ revelation, that you‘ll speak out about that, because it‘s nice to hear you say it.

FALWELL: They‘re not upset. They are—they—the people I know on the right are very much for this guy. And while we don‘t know a lot about him, he‘s—he‘s got to be, with his record, his background—I met him when he worked for Mr. Reagan—he‘s got to be a healthy addition to the court.