Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Know Thy Neighbor adds Florida

Yeah, baby. The truth will set you free! The Christ Church of Peace takes a righteous stand for liberty and equality:

Christ Church of Peace believes that all people are created equal by our loving Creator. Further, we believe that all tax-paying citizens, regardless of sexual orientation, deserve full equal rights, including the right to enter into civil marriage.
More deserving of a moniker that asserts religion and democracy than a certain conservative spin tank does, the Jacksonville, Fla. Christ Church of Peace joined KnowThyNeighbor.org efforts on June 12 to publish the names of petitioners who signed an anti-gay initiative, the Florida Marriage Protection Amendment, Petition #05-10. The church acknowledges what's at stake:
There are over 1,049 federal rights, responsibilities and privileges that come with civil marriage, as well as additional rights per individual state. These are rights, privileges and responsibilities that tax-paying gay and lesbian couples aren't allowed equal access to. Most people, regardless of sexual orientation, don't even know what all those rights are....
KnowThyNeighbor.org was originally established in Massachusetts by married gay Tom Lang and Aaron Toleos, a straight married man, to offer a database that can be searched to reveal the names of MA residents who signed a petition to amend the state's constitution and prohibit same-sex marriage or civil unions. Massachusetts was the first state to legalize gay marriage and anti-gay bigots want it abolished. What does KTN hope to accomplish in Massachusetts and in Florida with its Christ Church of Peace ally? The Boston Globe reported yesterday:
The website's creators say its purpose is twofold -- to root out signature fraud and to provide public information that gay marriage supporters can use to identify petition signers they know and engage them in "open and meaningful dialogue."
Michael Schumpert , a cofounder of the Christ Church of Peace, said he e-mailed Lang after reading about his website in The Advocate , a national gay and lesbian magazine. He wanted to see if his church could build a similar site for the Florida petition. In April, the church board voted unanimously in favor of the idea, and volunteers began gathering signatures of those who had signed the antigay marriage petition from each county across Florida.
KnowThyNeighbor.org helped the church create a database of roughly 300,000 signatures. The church is still trying to get the rest of the names in digital format, Schumpert said. Lang said the site is prepared to handle several million visitors; the Massachusetts site had more than 2 million in its first 36 hours of operation.
The Rev. Gary DeBusk , pastor of Christ Church of Peace, said his congregation wanted to add a pro-gay, Christian voice to the debate, whose loudest opponents are more conservative Christian churches. While he said he wants people to use the site to have discussions with signers, he said those conversations are critical.
"We're trying to say you cannot just take away people's rights without being held accountable for that," he said.
Amen, brother! Lang said in September, 2005:
"I want to know that the people I do business with are not against [gay marriage]. This is going to be won by economics."
You betcha. When I discover a business or service whose owners or corporate policies promote anti-gay activity or GLBT discrimination, I boycott or fire them. I'm not going to enrich a bigot or trade with someone who will use my pink dollars to keep me at the back of the bus.

The Christ Church of Peace website also provides a link to a Jan. 23, 2004, 18-page GAO report (PDF) addressed to Senator "Catkiller" Frist that updated the GAO's previous compilation in 1997 to include federal statutory provisions classified to the United States Code in which marital status is a factor in determining or receiving benefits, rights, and privileges. According to the report, "as of December 31, 2003, [the GAO's] research identified a total of 1,138 federal statutory provisions classified to the United States Code." Receiving benefits that range from Social Security to the VA, the right to marry protects heteros as a privileged class. Ain't that discrimination? Yup.

Lang said yesterday:
We need to do this nationwide....The way we're using it is having conversations with people we know, and that to me is a very important thing.
To start a KTN website in your state, click here. Let's roll.