In a secret meeting two weeks after Meet in the Middle, Ron Prentice, Chairman of Protect Marriage, the group responsible for the Yes on 8 campaign, spreads misinformation about the efforts of the LGBT population to gain their rights.
Introduced by Pastor Jim Franklin of Cornerstone Church of Fresno, who says that Meet in the Middle was a failure, Ron praises the LDS church's work, talks about the Prop 8 challenge, gleefully reports that the LGBT community is facing a divisive debate on when to return to the ballot, tells everyone to pray that the divisiveness continues, dismisses Harvey Milk and says the Matthew Shephard Act will protect pedophiles.
From someone who publicly confesses not to hate the LGBT population despite his efforts to strip us of our rights, he sounds pretty harsh in private. And for those who have been saying that our internal debates on 2010 vs. 2012 and beyond is giving ammunition to the opposition - well, here's your proof.
Here is an audio recording of the secret meeting in which many were turned away from attending. A source of Unite the Fight was able to attend clandestine and record.
Below is a breakdown with quotes. (Emphasis is my own.)
0:00 Pastor Jim of Cornerstone Church in Fresno, CA, talks about how Meet in the Middle wasn't a success but how his counter protest the next day was. (Remember, we're the "opposition in these recordings.) He then introduces Ron.
5:00 Ron Prentice, California Family Council and Protect Marriage
Ron starts off by saying that the main point that Protect Marriage wants to make in the meeting, it's “The battle has just begun.” He goes on to states, "As Christians, we have lots of things that take up our time. We raise families, some of us are grandparents. . ." The implication made here is that the LGBT population don't have these concerns.
“We can’t go into hiding when it comes to marriage.”
Prentice refers to a Time magazine article that gives the LDS church the credit for the passage of Prop 8, but no real credit to Roman Catholics and evangelicals.
7:00 He received a call from a Mormon board member of Protect Marriage who said he had no influence over that article and didn’t want Ron to think he was trying to hog all the credit.
“It was wonderful” that the LDS church went door-to-door with their own information about marriage during Prop 8 campaign, he says. “The Roman Catholics and evangelicals had to catch up.”
7:18 “I do believe that evangelicals have learned how to step up to the plate a little better. And we are a working coalition now. Interfaith so to speak. On this issue in particular and we will continue to do so. And there has been great cooperation and great communication between different entities.”
7:53 In regards to 2010, the “threatened date when the opposition may come back and to try to actually negate what Prop 8 just put into the constitution.”
8:09 “The other side is splintered. There is a group called the Courage Campaign which is more activist oriented. They polled their membership, their constituency and found out that 85% of their constituency thinks they should move forward in 2010 with an amendment. Equality California polled their constituency and that group said 69% of them said, 'yes, we should move forward in 2010'".
“Well regardless of the poll, the research suggests that wouldn’t be wise on their part. So as you pray, continue to pray for divisiveness on the other side. [laughter] Continue to pray that there will be splintered relationships on the other side because that precisely what’s going to keep them in a confused state. Which sounds typical, doesn’t it?"
9:25 Ron gets to the “subject at hand”: Proposition 8. “We want to try to prepare you as best we can.” He refers to Jennifer of Advocate for Faith and Freedom, a religious liberty organization, who will speak after who will give the attendees more details, “…Ways in which you might be better able protect your churches from what might be forthcoming now that there are same-sex couples in this state who may want to show up at your next marriage ritual, for example.”
9:50 Ron says they’ll talk about Protect Marriage’s game plan and strategic plan, but “we obviously can’t get into that in-depth."
“There will be an ongoing broad educational effort from the Protect Marriage group.”
10:14 Ron brings up the subject of the 2004 penal code change “which defined gender not as biological but as either real or perceived.” He goes on to say it’s a criminal code and that it “Opened the door to a lot of sexual confusion in employment discrimination and a lot of sexual confusion on public school campuses.”
Because of this, he says, the LGBT population has incrementally, through legislation, has tried to redefine sexual orientation or gender and marriage.
11:33 Refers to Alameda city school district stand off between school board and 500 Christian about “homosexual curriculum being placed into the public school system in Alameda.” It was implemented. “School boards, city government and obviously state government choose to disregard the will of the people. And that was, unfortunately, the reason why Proposition 8 was necessary.”
12:34 He turns to the efforts to create Harvey Milk Day and informs the attendees who he was and that he has become an “icon for homosexual leadership, and they are trying to make Harvey Milk, who was the first ‘outed’ gay city council member” . . . “an icon in the public schools. So Harvey Milk Day would memorialize Harvey Milk as the first gay leader in government. It has nothing to do with his leadership abilities. It has everything to do with his sexual orientation.” Naturally, they hope the governor will veto this.
13:40 Refers to lawsuit in New Jersey about the Methodist church that had public facility for 100 years that has been rented used for marriages from all sorts of people, but denied a lesbian couple to have a civil union service. They filed suit. Church lost and lost its tax exempted status for that piece of property. “Those are the kinds of things that are forthcoming.”
14:39 Refers to southern pastor Jack Gibbs who was to speak in Canada to Christian pastors and had to sign a disclaimer according to Canadian law that he would not say “anything negative about homosexuality regardless of whether it were biblical or not or in addition, anything negative about Islam.”
15:03 “Those are the issues of the day and in our churches and what is forthcoming and that’s why it’s very beneficial for you to have some legal assistance here today." He refers to European countries, saying that “several of those have same-sex marriages and the rest have same-sex civil unions, and the church is being forced into silence in those countries.”
15:31 “…same-sex marriage is now legal in six other states, never by the will of the people, always either by the legislature or the courts. And those are the kind of things that will be pressuring us as pastors.” Ron refers to their efforts to counter federal case against Prop 8. They did in fact get the motion to intervene since state government of California is against Prop 8.
16:27 “Even the opposition didn’t want to see the issue of marriage go to the federal courts now,” he says. “They think it’s too soon.” He goes on to discuss the opposition within LGBT organizations to federal case. Since this is old information, it’s now not relevant in that these legal, LGBT organizations plus the ACLU have now voiced support.
“If you would continue to pray for divisiveness among our opposition, but also for different constituencies of promoting gay marriage would continue to fight about whether or not to move this forward and that they would use their money against each other instead of (garbled) across the nation.”
17:26 Ron speaks about ENDA and the fear of employers, churches pastors having to hiring LGBT, especially transgender people. “There are now sets of protections, laws for the transgendered, which is a generic term, means if they’re crossdressers, if they are in the process of changing their gender . . .”
“Churches who employ, will need to identify bylaws and alter them perhaps to make sure that you don’t have transgendered people using the opposite restroom of their biological sex.
“There are those conditions taking place in public schools now where if a child comes to school one day biologically male for example and says, “I’m a female,” according to the CA penal code, the law says that the school will have to honor and provide alternative restrooms and locker rooms facilities.”
Refers to case in LA where a “crossdresser” who is biologically male uses the same locker as girls at the same time as they’re using them. “Those are the things that can even take place on your church campus.”
“I’m the big wake up call. I’m here to say, ‘Hey eyes wide open folks. Because it’s really is time we cannot say that it’ll never happen to the church, because it’s happened. And the California employment law is actually against us unless we protect ourselves.”
19:14 Ron goes on to say the most ignorant things about the Matthew Shephard Act. “And any time that we, even verbally, say things negatively about homosexuality, those kinds of laws are expanding and they will come after you as pastors, and those bills in particular protect pedophiles. So, for example, if a pedophile were to attack, I say attack, approach, a child in a church or an employment situation or a public school situation, and you or I were to pull that pedophile off the child and say something to that pedophile about his poor behavior, that pedophile could actually file a suite against you for having committed a hate crime against them . . . (indistinct.) So those are the kinds of protections that are now in place, and we have to fight against them…Are you scared? Actually we don’t operate out of fear, we operate out of being prepared and being educated.”
20:25 Ron says that helping the attendees, the pastors, those who oppose LGBT rights, to be prepared and educated is why they are having the meeting. He says that Protect Marriage has “an opportunity now to educate the masses through you all. Through pastors who will continue to grow the pastor coalition and the pastor network will provide curriculum for you for your churches. And we are beginning to ask at the grassroots level that you create councils will regionally, as well as grassroots networks of activists regionally, to begin thinking of message of marriage’s ultimate meaning and purpose, door-to-door.”
21:17 Ron goes on to state they have a year to three years before we, their opposition, “tries to get Prop 8 out of the constitution. It going to be a very, very difficult task on their part and very expensive. But we’re ready and we have a game plan, and we thank you for your participation.”
I will continue to work on transcribing the rest of the meeting in which Jennifer M. of Advocate for Faith and Freedom gives advice to the pastors and attendees on how to avoid discrimination lawsuits.