Gays, Others Rally for Less of Moore
February 23, 2002
2200 4th Avenue North, Birmingham, AL 35203
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By Stan Bailey, News staff writer
MONTGOMERY—Gay rights activists and members of
church groups rallied on the steps of the state judicial building Friday,
calling for the ouster of Chief Justice Roy Moore.
More than a dozen people sharply criticized Moore’s 35-page concurring
opinion in a child-custody case last week that labeled homosexuality "an
inherent evil" that renders a parent unfit to care for children.
"It is appalling to see that blatant bigotry and unrepentant ignorance
reign supreme in Alabama’s highest court," Lorri L. Jean, executive
director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, told a crowd of about
100. "There is no justice in Alabama for gay people."
She compared Moore to terrorists who attacked America Sept. 11, saying
Moore has proved that he is a religious fanatic who doesn’t belong on the
"At this time in our national life, when we struggle against
terrorists who don’t hesitate to mix religion and politics and label all who
disagree as ‘infidels,’ it should be obvious why we separate church and
state in America," the Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans
United for Separation of Church and State, said in a prepared statement read
during the rally.
Scott Barnett, a spokesman for Moore, said after the rally that Moore
"ruled according to the law, and I would encourage everyone to read the
court’s opinion in its entirety."
Laura Montgomery Rutt, director of Equal Partners in Faith, a national
network of religious leaders and faith-based activists, said it is ironic that
Friday’s protest on behalf of gay rights was in the same city that sparked
the civil rights movement.
"Forty years ago, the laws of Alabama were used to justify oppression
and segregation based on race, and progressive people of faith were speaking
out about it," she said. "Today, people of faith are again speaking
out about the injustices here, this time based on sexual orientation. ... I am
here to say, Justice Moore, enough is enough."
The Rev. Timothy Holder, rector of Grace Episcopal Church in Birmingham,
read a statement on behalf of Bishop Henry N. Parsley Jr. of the Episcopal
Diocese of Alabama, which said it is dangerous to label any group of human
beings inherently evil.
"Such statements ... can lead to fear, prejudice and violence that
tear at the fabric of our life together," Holder said.
Moore’s concurring opinion came in a case in which the other justices
voted to deny a mother custody of her three children on procedural grounds,
without mentioning her homosexuality.
"His unnecessary opinion, which was added to a wise and sane decision
by the full Supreme Court, was nothing more than a diatribe of a homophobic,
stone-casting zealot," said George Olsson, a coordinator for the Gay and
Lesbian Alliance of Alabama.
Olsson and several other speakers called on the Alabama Legislature to
amend the state’s hate-crime law to allow increased penalties for crimes
against people because of their sexual orientation.
Dean Young, executive director of the Gadsden-based Christian Family
Association, said the criticism of Moore was coming from "a fringe
group" that he called "a gnat on the rear end of an elephant."
"What we’ve seen here really is an embarrassment to the people,
especially the people that go to these churches," said Young, who spoke
after the rally as several people yelled questions at him and one shouted,
"Shame, shame, shame."
"It is an absolute shame to have people that are calling themselves
men of God to stand up here and condone the homosexual lifestyle," said
Young. He called homosexuality "a deviant, destructive lifestyle"
and said pastors who condone it need to "need to get another job."
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