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Founder of Becket Fund Compares Prop. 8 Outcry to Al-Qaeda

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On the Dec. 9 edition of KPFA's "The Morning Show," host Aimee Allison spoke with Seamus Hasson, founder and chairman of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, and the Rev. Susan Russell, priest at All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena.

The segment centered around a full-page advertisement run by the Becket Fund in the Dec. 5, 2008 edition of The New York Times.  The ad sparked controversy for its unsubstantiated and inaccurate claims about supposed "violence and intimidation" against religious groups since the passage of Proposition 8.

During the interview, Hasson responded to a question by the co-host by comparing the marches and rallies in support of the LGBT community to the actions of Al-Qaeda:

Aimee Allison

Aimee Allison

Aimee Allison (KPFA Morning Show Co-Host): So, Rev. Russell was commenting, there may be a few individuals, but not a movement. Seamus Hasson, your response to that: if there are individuals, why are anti-Prop 8 movement folks being painted with that broad brush?

Kevin J. “Seamus” Hasson

Kevin J. “Seamus” Hasson

SH: Well, whether it's an organized movement like Al Qaeda or whether it's the Al Qaeda-like, um, inspired acts of terrorism elsewhere, people are right to be concerned about, um, radical Islamist violence-

You can read more of the transcript below, listen to the transcript clip here, or full show here.

Rev. Susan Russell

Rev. Susan Russell

Rev. Russell rebuked Hasson's statement and pointed to the widespread support of marriage for gay and lesbian couples in the religious community. Rev. Russell also said that the advertising campaign and statements like Hasson's are an attempt by anti-gay activists to attack the California Supreme Court in the event that it rules that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.

GLAAD continues to call on community members to contact The New York Times (letters@nytimes.com) about the Becket Fund's advertisement and ask them to discontinue allowing inaccurate claims in their advertising.

Partial Transcript:

Seamus Hasson (Founder, Becket Fund): I gave one end of the spectrum and the other end of the spectrum. In between, there have been at least ten churches painted with swastikas, threats to close down or else. There's been six churches with small-bore rifle fire through their windows. By my count, there have been at least six instances of burning Books of Mormon on the church steps. These aren't isolated occurrences here and there; this is an uprising of some sort. Let me be clear, neither in the ad or here today, have I said this is the work of the gay community. We say in the ad, this is opponents of Prop 8, 46% of the California electorate voted against Prop 8. My understanding is that 5% of the California population, approximately, is gay. At least 41% of the opponents of Prop 8, maybe radical secularists, opposed to the church's position, took these kinds of measures.
 
Aimee Allison (KPFA Morning Show Co-Host): So, Rev. Russell was commenting, there may be a few individuals, but not a movement. Seamus Hasson, your response to that: if there are individuals, why are anti-Prop 8 movement folks being painted with that broad brush?
 
SH: Well, whether it's an organized movement like Al Qaeda or whether it's the Al Qaeda-like, um, inspired acts of terrorism elsewhere, people are right to be concerned about, um, radical Islamist violence-

Susan Russell (Priest, All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena): Can I jump in here?
 
AA: I was going to say--yes.
 
SR: I'm sorry, please.
 
AA: Seamus Hasson, let me just give Rev. Russell an opportunity to respond because the anti-Prop 8 protestors were just compared to Al Qaeda. And I think that's-
 
SR: Absolutely. And that is going to be the headline and it should be. I couldn't do a better case of making my case than your other caller is making. These are people who are determined to paint American citizens, living out democracy in the streets, as similar to terrorists and Al Qaeda. We had members of All Saints Church, 40 years married, 50 years in the church, standing on street corners with No on 8 signs and people drove by and called them terrorists and hijackers during the height of the campaign.  What we're working to do is to lower the rhetoric, to end the polarization, to stop the violence. The title of the ad is "No to Mob Veto." What they're trying to do is frame the debate, already, as the Supreme Court begins to reconsider Proposition 8. I'm confident we're going to get the Supreme Court to come down on the right side of history on this in May. You can see what they're doing right now, they're framing the debate so when that happens, they can say it was mob rule against democracy, they're going to continue to compare us to Al Qaeda and I think the American people have got to stand up and say stop. We're a nation of freedom of religion; we've got to be a nation of freedom from religion.