A black man and a white man — kissing! Each other! In the newspaper!
A Salt Lake City anti-gay organization bet $15,000 on a racism/homophobia/shock value trifecta when it placed full-page ads that prominently depict an interracial gay couple smooching in recent Sunday editions of the city’s two daily newspapers.
The ads attacked the Common Ground Initiative, a proposed legislation package now in committee in the Utah legislature, that would offer inheritance and medical decision-making rights to same-sex couples, and make it illegal for landlords and employers to evict or fire individuals based solely on their sexual orientation. The Common Ground Initiative does not address the issue of same-sex marriage.
America Forever, a.k.a. America Forever Foundation, paid for the ads, which implore readers to “Stand Up & Stop the Homosexual Movement” and declare “Shame on Utah Gays,” who are described as being “Anti-Species.”
The bulk of the ads, beyond the kissing photo and screaming headlines, consist of bigoted screeds presented as legal analysis. One example: “By holding hands and kissing in a public place [such as] an apartment complex playground, in a family neighborhood, at a party, or to present oneself as a homosexual person in the workplace, is stating and displaying that he or she practices sodomy, and if backed by law, will force the acceptance of homosexuality.”
There’s more: “If a hooker displays her conduct, a druggie displays his conduct and a homosexual displays his conduct, it is our right to not have them in our businesses, living in our basements, or barbequing in our yards. A woman, for example, who may have a good day job but at night dresses up as a hooker, will lose her job if she goes into work and begins to display herself as a Hooker. It is the employers [sic] right to decide who he employs.”
The ads bring comic relief, albeit unintentionally, by reprinting excerpts of “The Homosexual Declaration of War,” a satirical essay produced in 1987. It’s based loosely on Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal.” (The declaration’s author is “Michael Swift.”)
“We shall sodomize your sons, emblems of your feeble masculinity, of your shallow dreams and vulgar laws,” reads the essay, which is credulously re-printed in full on the America Forever website. “We shall seduce them in your schools, in your dormitories, in your gymnasiums, in your locker rooms, in your movie theater bathrooms, in your army barracks, in your truck stops. … Your sons shall become our minions and do our bidding.”
“If you dare cry ‘Faggot, fairy queen’ at us we will stab you in your cowardly hearts and defile your dead, puny bodies. … Tremble, hetero swine, when we appear before you without our masks.”
The Salt Lake City newspaper ads solicit donations for America Forever. The group’s website identifies it as a nonprofit organization. However, The Salt Lake City Tribune columnist Rebecca Walsh reports that America Forever’s “many registrations with the State Department of Commerce have lapsed — the last time in 2007.” Furthermore, Walsh notes, it’s illegal in Utah for a nonprofit, even a state-registered one, to overtly spend money for political campaign purposes.
America Forever’s motto is “10 Years Fighting to Protect the Children and Keep America a Nation Under God.” The group first surfaced in 1999 in Salt Lake City, where it protested a proposed hate crime law because it offered protection to victims of crime targeted for their sexual orientation. The bill died in committee.
In 2000, the Los Angeles Times reported on a group of America Forever members who showed up in Orange County, Calif., to demonstrate against a high school gay student support group. According to that article, America Forever was launched by a sprawling family of Brazilian immigrants whose patriarch, Dr. J.M.R. Filho, moved to the U.S. in 1975. Dr. Filho’s daughter, Sandra Rodrigues, is currently the foundation’s spokesperson. Jonas Filho, another relative, is listed as its chairman.
Messages left with a receptionist for Rodrigues and Filho, seeking comment for this post, were not returned.
The source of the group’s funding is not entirely clear. It solicits donations and sells anti-gay books and tapes through its website. However, it may have other, murkier income streams. As the Los Angeles Times reported in 2000, the Mexican consulate complained in 1999 to the Idaho and Utah state commissions on Hispanic affairs that America Forever was selling worthless identification cards for $200 each to undocumented immigrants in several Western states.
Following up on the complaint, federal officials investigated but ultimately ruled there was nothing they could do, since the cards were not technically illegal.
Save the children. Scam the immigrants.
Tremble, hetero swine.