Last edited: February 14, 2005

Gays, Others Rally for Less of Moore

Birmingham News, February 23, 2002
2200 4th Avenue North, Birmingham, AL 35203
Fax: 205 325-2283

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 Supreme Court.

"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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