"A Celebration of Diversity"
A response to The Response: An intelligent bash to Rick Perry's day of prayer
Texas Gov. Rick Perry's much-ballyhooed day of prayer and fasting, "The Response", will take control of Reliant Stadium on Saturday morning. The shebang is largely funded by the hyper-conservative group artfully known as the American Family Association.
Explains the diehard Christian (and possible GOP presidential candidate) Perry regarding our nation's moral crisis, "There is hope for America. It lies in heaven, and we will find it on our knees."
Perry's not the only one who gets on his knees. Make way for the simultaneous anti-Response, the Trailblazers Brunch, hosted by the Harris County Democratic Party, which will honor LGBT community members at the Hyatt Regency Downtown. With its title, "A Celebration of Diversity," the event is designed in direct contrast to the stadium Bible stomp.
"The Response goes too far because the organizers behind it are so extreme," Michael Keegan tells CultureMap.
More than just a heathen free for all, the morning meeting will honor Mayor Annise Parker, Judge Steven Kirkland, Councilmember Sue Lovell, Judge Phyllis Frye, Linda Morales and the late John Paul Barnich. Serving as Mistress of Ceremonies is Fiona Dawson, with Equality Texas executive director Dennis Coleman providing a keynote address.
The Trailblazers Brunch is an annual event now in its fourth year. In the past it has recognized female, Latino and African American leaders, but we're eager to learn The Response's response to this year's roster of honorees.
"Talks were already in the works to honor LGBT leaders at this year's brunch," says Houston Stonewall Young Democrats president Robert Shipman, "but when Gov. Perry announced his event, the Harris County Democratic Party decided to host the brunch in direct opposition."
The American Family Association's issues director, Bryan Fischer, has alleged that gays caused the Holocaust (and are planning a sequel) and should be withheld from public office. Also on the AFA agenda is criminalizing homosexuality, converting foreign Muslims to Christianity, halting mosque construction and banning Muslims from the armed forces.
The Southern Poverty Law Center classifies the AFA as a hate organization. "It is extremely difficult to land on that list," Shipman said. "It takes pretty egregious activity. The AFA's repeated and sustained misinformation and hype is what makes it among the very few religious organizations on that list."
The Trailblazers Brunch is the only anti-Response event officially being held by the Harris County Democratic Party, but detractors are flocking to Houston in protest of Perry's rally. Among them is Houston-native Michael Keegan, president of People For the American Way, which monitors the activities of the religious right and fights for issues like separation of church and state and religious liberty.
"The Response goes too far because the organizers behind it are so extreme," Keegan tells CultureMap. "It's very unusual for a politician to ally with the AFA because they're so radical and don't speak to most people's values when they profess that the First Amendment only applies to Christians or that Oprah is making the way for the antichrist."
A senior fellow researcher from People For the American Way will accompany Keegan in Houston as part of a 25-year-long documentation of the radical religious right.
Adding to the mix is Westboro Baptist Church, which has scheduled pickets (listed on its website, which goes by the name: GodHatesFags.com) at The Response, the Trailblazers Brunch and what Westboro's website calls the "fag military" at the U.S. Coast Guard Air Station at Ellington Field. Yes, Westboro is against Perry's day of prayer as well.
Westboro writes on its website: "Again, Gov. Perry falls short and his thought of God are too human. We are a nation that has not honored God and given Him the glory for all things!
"This "Day of Prayer" will do more to further the wrath and anger of God toward this nation. It will bring about God's will, which will be a glorious sight."
A Celebration of Diversity takes place from 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. Saturday at the Hyatt Regency Downtown. Tickets are $50. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org. Rick Perry's day of prayer runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Reliant Stadium. The Response is free to attend, but registration is required and stadium parking will cost $15.