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Washington Sketch: No arrests for conservative Christians' anti-gay talk

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By Dana Milbank
Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Conservative Christian ministers from across the land, determined to test the bounds of a new law punishing anti-gay hate crimes, assembled outside the Justice Department on Monday to denounce the sin of homosexuality and see whether they would be charged with lawbreaking.

Anything other than sex "between a male and his wedded wife," announced the Rev. Paul Blair, "is a perversion, and the Bible says that homosexuality is in fact an abomination."

No arrest was made.

The Rev. Rick Scarborough, quoting Scripture, listed "homosexual offenders" along with thieves, drunkards, swindlers and idolators as those unwelcome in the kingdom of God. "To fail to call homosexuals to repent of their sin and come to Jesus is the highest form of cowardice and sin," he said.

No charges were filed.

"Had people listened to our plea, there would be tens of thousands of people who had not died of a dreaded disease," contributed the Rev. Jim Garlow. "This breaks our heart to see people die of AIDS."

No hands were cuffed. In fact, the few cops in attendance were paying no attention to the speakers, instead talking among themselves and checking their BlackBerrys.

The evangelical activists had been hoping to provoke arrest, because, as organizer Gary Cass of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission put it, "we'd have standing to challenge the law." But their prayers were not answered. Nobody was arrested, which wasn't surprising: To run afoul of the new law, you need to "plan or prepare for an act of physical violence" or "incite an imminent act of physical violence."

Instead of getting arrested, the ministers got something else: A couple of dozen gay activists, surrounding them with rainbow flags and signs announcing "Gaga for Gay Rights" and "I Am a Love Warrior." By the end, the gay rights activists had taken over the lectern and the sound system and were holding their own news conference denouncing the ministers.

"We're here to say, my love is legit!" announced David Valk, an organizer of the National Equality March for gay rights.

Another speaker, Ian Thomas, went to the microphone and announced: "I was created a bisexual male. Just like many figures in the Christian Bible, I like boys and girls!"

Cass turned angrily to the AV guy. "We're not on the clock, are we?" He turned with equal anger to Valk. "You guys gonna help us pay for the microphones?"


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© 2009 The Washington Post Company

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