Sunday, October 30, 2005

"QueerToday" Protesters Get Special Privileges

MassResistance attended the Love Won Out conference in Boston yesterday, and witnessed first hand the special privileges extended to the "QueerToday" protesters. They were trying to silence the message of the conference (run by Focus on the Family and ex-gay ministries) that there is a way out of their unhappy state.

After what we saw, we say: It's time for a buffer-zone law for queer activist demonstrators!

Imagine an anti-abortion group wanting to demonstrate in front of an abortion clinic. They have baby-sized coffins as props. They're chanting, "Stop murdering babies!" They have placards showing baby bodies ripped apart, saying "Abortion is murder." They circle around in the middle of street, seriously disrupting traffic, chanting loudly to intimidate people going in or out.

At one point a truck parks for an extended time in front of the clinic, with loudspeakers blaring "Shut it down! Shut it down!" To top it all off, they do this WITHOUT A PERMIT to hold a demonstration. What do you think the police would do?

The QueerToday demonstrators did all this and more (throw in some profanity hurled at conference participants) yesterday in front of the Tremont Temple ex-gay conference. They charged James Dobson (head of Focus on the Family) and the Love Won Out program with causing "gay teen deaths", and set up coffins for props in the street. Loud chanting disrupted the conference. A truck parked in front of the church blasted "SHUT IT DOWN!" for at least 10 or 15 minutes, but the many police lining the street did nothing to move it along, or tell them to turn the loudspeakers off. (Did they have the special permit needed for that sound system?) No -- The police did nothing to disperse the demonstrators who were there without a permit (according to the Boston Globe).

Well, as we all know, abortion protesters are subject to a targeted "abortion clinic buffer zone" law limiting their free speech in Massachusetts. Maybe it's time to extend such a law to queer harassment specialists. No ... Better yet, how about repealing the abortion clinic buffer zone altogether, along with special rights for homosexuals?

From yesterday's Boston Globe ("Rally and protests both hit city today"):

The city will close Tremont, Park, Beacon, Bowdoin, Cambridge, and Court streets near the Common beginning at noon, transportation officials said. Police plan an increased presence to monitor the scheduled noon anti-war rally.

Officials will also be monitoring a conference at Tremont Temple Baptist Church called ''Love Won Out," which focuses on the theory that homosexuals can convert to heterosexual lives through a relationship with God.

The conference has incited many in the gay community, who have picketed at the church and are expected to gather in protest today.

''We are aware of the events that will be in the area and will be monitoring the area to ensure public safety and maintain order," said Sergeant Thomas Sexton, a police department spokesman. ''We can't get into it too much because we don't know what will happen."

Tracey Ganiatsos, a spokeswoman for the Transportation Department, said conference protesters had not requested a permit to march from the city.

''When we hear stories about the possibility of a protest, but no one requests a permit, usually the police will keep an eye on the area and make sure things remain in order," she said.