Broadway ‘Superstar’ to Lift Voice in Musical Protest of Focus on the Family

Billy Porter joins in Soulforce 1000 WATT MARCH, VIGIL & CONCERT to bring about awareness and peacefully confront Focus on the Family’s blatant anti-gay bigotry and discrimination.

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SOULFORCE PRESS RELEASE: June 30, 2006
For Immediate Release
Contact: Richard Lindsay, Interim Media Director
Cell: 646-258-7193
richard@soulforce.org
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"Homosexual behavior is always prompted by an inner state of emptiness." — Joseph Nicolosi at Focus on the Family’s Love Won Out Conference

The New York Times calls his singing "roof-raising." Rosie O’Donnell says when he sings, "My hair stands on end." President Bill Clinton says, "If I could sing like him, I’d be in another line of work." They’re all talking about actor, dancer and singer Billy Porter, one of the nation’s top musical theater performers.

First coming to America’s attention as the 1992 male vocalist Grand Champion on Star Search, Porter soon hit the boards of Broadway, where he appeared in Smoky Joe’s Cafæ„° and in the original casts of Miss Saigon and Five Guys Named Moe, and the revival of Grease starring Rosie O’Donnell. In 2005, Porter premiered his "roof-raising musical autobiography" (as the New York Times described it) Ghetto Superstar: The Man That I Am, a one-person show which brings together Porter’s musical influences in Broadway, jazz, gospel and soul. Porter recently released his second album: At The Corner Of Broadway + Soul: Live At Joe’s Pub. He starred in the Sundance Film Festival indie hit The Broken Hearts Club, and played Little Richard in the CBS mini-series, Shake Rattle & Roll. He has performed on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and made 7 different appearances on The Rosie O’Donnell Show becoming the Bette Midler to her Johnny Carson. He has opened for Aretha Franklin and performed in a special White House concert for President Bill Clinton.

On July 22, Porter will bring his incomparable talents to Colorado Springs in a "protest concert" of the anti-gay rhetoric of Focus on the Family. Faith has been of central importance in Porter’s life: his voice was first nurtured at age 4 at the Friendship Baptist Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Speaking about the homophobic rhetoric of James Dobson and other religious leaders who use faith to disguise their prejudice, Porter says, "It is my duty as an African-American gay Christian to stand up and be counted."

Porter sees a parallel between forms of religion-based discrimination, whether racial or homophobic, saying, "I am the most disappointed with my African-American ‘Christian’ brothers and sisters who stand proudly on their pulpits and use the bible to regurgitate the very same hate rhetoric that was inflicted on the black community not so long ago."

Porter is concerned that the rise in homophobic rhetoric, particularly around the Federal Marriage Amendment, and laws attempting to ban adoption by same-sex parents is leading to hate crimes across the country. This fear has been frighteningly confirmed as a wave of anti-gay attacks recently swept across Porter’s home city of New York, including an attack on Porter’s friend, club performer Kevin Aviance. "With the recent increase in hate bias attacks directed toward our community, I am filled with a renewed since of activism…It is time to let the world know that we will not be ignored, we will not be denied, we will not stand for it anymore."

This summer, dozens of families from across the country will come together with Soulforce to confront the homophobic rhetoric of James Dobson and Focus on the Family in an event we’re calling: The 1000 Watt March, Vigil, and Concert: Shedding the Powerful Light of Truth on the Anti-Gay Dishonesty of Focus on the Family.

On July 22, actor Chad Allen and Judy Shepard, executive director of The Matthew Shepard Foundation, will lead the crowd in a 2-mile march from Rampart Park in Colorado Springs to the headquarters of Focus on the Family. The crowd will encircle James Dobson’s headquarters, joining hearts and hands in vigil as they peacefully call on him to cease his defamation of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. Afterwards, Broadway star Billy Porter will protest in song outside Focus on the Family, with an electrifying jazz concert that celebrates the lives of all people and loving relationships that seek the American dream.

The concert will be the culmination of a week-long justice action as gay and lesbian families with children, heterosexual allies, and LGBT people from across America will participate in the 65-mile "relay" style march from the state capitol building in Denver to the headquarters of Focus on the Family.

The purpose of the march is to help America connect the dots between the defamatory rhetoric that flows from Focus on the Family and the legislative assault on the civil liberties of LGBT people and their families.

To find out more about the Soulforce 1000 Watt March, Vigil and Concert, please see: www.soulforce.org/1000wattmarch.

Consistent with the first step in the principles of nonviolence taught by Gandhi and King, Soulforce researched and documented false claims by Focus on the Family about LGBT people, couples and families. That research is compiled in a booklet, entitled "A False Focus on My Family" and a DVD, entitled, "Dear Dr. Dobson." This powerful and eye-opening booklet is available free online at www.soulforce.org/article/false-focus-family and the DVD is available free to press upon request.


Soulforce’s purpose is freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from religious and political oppression through the practice of relentless nonviolent resistance. For more information go to www.soulforce.org.

Billy Porter: Sample Songs


 

Official Site: www.billyporter.com

Same-gender Families and Friends to March 65 Miles from Colorado State Capitol to James Dobson’s Focus on the Family – Arrive July 22, 2006

The Soulforce 1000 WATT MARCH, VIGIL & CONCERT seeks to bring about awareness and peacefully confront Focus on the Family’s blatant anti-gay bigotry and discrimination.

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SOULFORCE PRESS RELEASE: June 12, 2006
For Immediate Release
Contact: Richard Lindsay, Interim Media Director
Cell: 646-258-7193
richard@soulforce.org
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"(If same-sex marriage is allowed) barring a miracle, the family as it has been known for more than five millennia will crumble, presaging the fall of Western civilization itself." — James Dobson, Focus on the Family Newsletter, April 2004 (mailed to over two million people and read on his March 24, 2004 radio broadcast).

James Dobson uses fear tactics to spread dishonest claims about gay and lesbian people and to frighten voters into denying families headed by same-sex couples legal rights and protections.

"Among dozens of other harmful lies, James Dobson says that families like mine are destroying the institution of marriage, harming children, and posing a threat to American society," says Jeff Lutes, executive director of Soulforce, an organization that uses nonviolent methods to confront anti-gay religious discrimination. "Because of Dobson’s wealth, power, and direct ties to the Bush administration, those lies are being used to justify legislative discrimination and bigotry at the local, state and federal level."

  • Thanks to the fear mongering of James Dobson and other right wing religious leaders, voters in six states will be voting on constitutional amendments banning both same-sex marriage and legal recognition or benefits of same-sex relationships this November.
  • Several states are considering legislation to ban gay and lesbian couples from adopting, denying needy children loving homes.
  • This year, after threats from James Dobson and other religious right figures, Congress reintroduced the Federal Marriage Amendment. Although this amendment has already failed in the Senate, the anti-gay rhetoric supporting it continues to use families headed by same-sex couples as political tools for turning out conservative voters.

Lutes, who is also a family therapist and father, continues, "James Dobson refuses to acknowledge the joy, comfort and support found in gay and lesbian families. Since all of our requests to meet with Dr. Dobson to ask him to stop his homophobic rhetoric have been denied, my family and hundreds of others are coming to his doorstep to confront him peacefully with the power of our love."

This summer, dozens of families from across the country will come together with Soulforce to confront the homophobic rhetoric of James Dobson and Focus on the Family in an event we’re calling: The 1000 Watt March, Vigil, and Concert: Shedding the Powerful Light of Truth on the Anti-Gay Dishonesty of Focus on the Family.

This July 17, same-gender couples, families with children, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals and straight friends will undertake a week-long justice march which will commence from the steps of the Colorado State Capitol building. A diverse selection of families from across America will participate in the 65-mile "relay" style march; each group of families taking turns walking a 4-mile segment during the week until they reach the headquarters of Focus on the Family.

The purpose of the march is to help America connect the dots between the defamatory rhetoric that flows from Focus on the Family and the legislative assault on the civil liberties of LGBT people and their families.

On July 22, actor Chad Allen and Judy Shepard, executive director of The Matthew Shepard Foundation, will lead the crowd in a final 2-mile march from Rampart Park in Colorado Springs to the headquarters of Focus on the Family. The crowd will encircle James Dobson’s headquarters, joining hearts and hands in vigil as they peacefully call on him to cease his defamation of the LGBT community. Afterwards, Broadway star Billy Porter will protest in song outside Focus on the Family, with an electrifying jazz concert that celebrates the lives of all people and loving relationships that seek the American dream.

To find out more about the Soulforce 1000 Watt March, Vigil and Concert, please see: www.soulforce.org/1000wattmarch.

Consistent with the first step in the principles of nonviolence taught by Gandhi and King, Soulforce researched and documented false claims by Focus on the Family about LGBT people, couples and families. That research is compiled in a booklet, entitled "A False Focus on My Family" and a DVD, entitled, "Dear Dr. Dobson." This powerful and eye-opening booklet is available free online at www.soulforce.org/article/false-focus-family and the DVD is available free to press upon request.


Soulforce’s purpose is freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from religious and political oppression through the practice of relentless nonviolent resistance. For more information go to www.soulforce.org.

Soulforce Buys Billboards in Senator Bill Frist’s Hometown of Nashville

Billboard Campaign Seeks to End Scapegoating of Gays & Lesbians as the Senate Readies to Vote on Federal Marriage Amendment

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SOULFORCE PRESS RELEASE: June 1, 2006
For Immediate Release
Contact: Richard Lindsay, Interim Media Director
Cell: 646-258-7193
richard@soulforce.org
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(Lynchburg, VA) – Soulforce, the organization founded to end religion-based discrimination of gays and lesbians, is taking their cause to the boyhood streets of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, the Senator responsible for re-introducing the controversial marriage amendment. Scheduled for Senate vote the first week of June, Soulforce is placing sixteen billboard posters in and around his hometown of Nashville, Tennessee to call attention to Republican pandering to the so-called religious right.

The billboards feature part of a speech given by Coretta Scott King at The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey on March 24, 2004, when she said, "Gay and lesbian people have families, and their families should have legal protections, whether by marriage or civil union. A constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages is a form of gay bashing, and it would do nothing at all to protect traditional marriages."

In addition to the Soulforce.org web address, the billboards include a photograph of Soulforce Executive Director Jeff Lutes with his partner and son. Lutes adds, "Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and others, under pressure from wealthy fundamentalists, are again trying to write discrimination into the constitution rather than focusing on the real problems facing America. Soulforce reminds Senator Frist’s hometown that Mrs. King stood for the full equality of lesbian and gay Americans and against homophobia, especially homophobia in the black community. Mrs. King publicly saluted the gays and lesbians that fought for her freedom in Montgomery and Selma and other places during the civil rights movement, and she compared homophobia to racism, anti-Semitism, and other forms of bigotry that set the stage for repression and violence."

Proponents of the previously failed amendment feel it is their duty to force a public vote by scapegoating gays and lesbians as threats to heterosexual marriage. Helen Palmer of the League of Women Voters says, "The rights of one group should not be subjected to the vagaries of the majority."

Soulforce is dedicated to educating the public regarding the lives of non-traditional families and the harmful effects of religion based bigotry on the children caught in the cross hairs of this political red herring. The billboard campaign will remind people that Coretta Scott King called all Americans who believed in Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream to resist injustice and instead "make room at the table of brotherhood and sisterhood for lesbian and gay people.’"


Soulforce’s purpose is freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from religious and political oppression through the practice of relentless nonviolent resistance. For more information go to www.soulforce.org.