Religious Bigotry Protested at Southside Church - June 4, 2006
One day after Bush used his Saturday radio address to trumpet this week's vote on a proposed anti-gay amendment to the Constitution, Chicago LGBT people and allies were protesting in front of the church led by one of the city's more outspoken anti-gay bigot preachers.
Although ordered from in front of the Sweet Holy Spirit Church by cops citing alleged provisions of the city's Disorderly Conduct Ordinance, protesters held aloft a banner large enough to be read even across the street: "Opposition to Equal Rights is Bigotry." Several persons stood at a corner west of the church and distributed leaflets to worshipers as they approached the building located at 8621 South Chicago Avenue.
"People have the right to believe right to believe what they want in America, we stand for this right," said Rev. Deborah Elandus Lake, Executive Director of Sankofa Way Spiritual Services. " We stand for the freedom of even those hate us to believe what they want. We stand against the misuse of belief. We stand against religious leaders using their power and influence to make their religious belief the law of the land for everyone. We stand for equality."
The leaflet highlights the collaboration between black homophobic leaders and white homophobic racists, and asks people to think about who they are following. "Is antigay bigotry the new price of admission for African Americans into the polluted mainstream of America?" quipped Bob Schwartz of Chicago's Gay Liberation Network, a supporter of the protest action.
Trotter has been outspoken in his opposition to homosexuality and equal civil rights for gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender people. Speaking to a CLTV reporter, Trotter explained that his public advocacy for banning marriage for same sex couples is based on his understanding of "bible principles," that God intended marriage for one man and one woman only. He didn't explain how this belief justified denying gay couples equal access to the civil contract of marriage.
Speaking of the protesters, a spokesman for Trotter said to a Channel 7 reporter, "We love them, but they're off base on marriage. We will continue to defend marriage as it is taught in the bible, as being between a man and a woman." Again there was no explanation given for how this belief justified denying equal rights in a contract issued by the state, not the church or its leaders.
Besides being the lead story on CLTV and coverage on Channel 7, the protest also led coverage on the nationally-televised Channel 9.
Police behavior at it was belligerent and patently unconstitutional. Perhaps feeling empowered by their force of ten squad cars and a squadrol, the cops cited alleged ordinances prohibiting the use of sound equipment within thirty minutes of the beginning of a worship service and distributing flyers within 150 feet of the church entrance. Uh, huh. The cops didn't have copies of their alleged ordinances present, but protesters decided that ignorance of the law didn't warrant our own arrests, so it was decided to arm ourselves with the ordinance before the next demonstration and to ask the National Lawyers Guild for a monitor.
Sankofa Way Spiritual Services organized the event, which was both interracial and gender inclusive, and numbered about 20 people. Black LGBT & Allies For Equality is a coalition in formation, which includes the World Can't Wait movement and Gay Liberation Network, both of which participated in the protest.
Lake announced that Sunday protests would continue during June and into July.