Billboard Destruction Galvinizes Community

Posted by Bianca Phillips on Sun, Oct 4, 2009 at 2:33 PM

"The next time we hear somebody say, you're not fit to serve [in the military] because you're gay or lesbian, what are we going to do?" shouted Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center (MGLCC) director Will Batts to the crowd gathered in the worship hall at First Congregational Church for Sunday's equality rally.

"Raise our voice!" yelled the crowd of about 250 gay rights advocates. They gathered in response to last week's destruction of a pro-gay billboard on Poplar Avenue at High Street. The billboard, one of five National Coming Out Day billboards paid for by donations to MGLCC, featured local gay former Marine Tim Smith and the words "I'm gay and I protected your freedom." The billboard was replaced last week.

Despite Sunday's heavy rain, nearly every chair inside the worship hall was filled. The rally was originally planned to be held outside the church.

"The act of tearing down [Smith]'s billboard was an act of hate," speaker Jennifer Warren told the crowd. Warren appeared on another Coming Out Day billboard featuring straight supporters of the gay community.

Smith was greeted with a standing ovation upon approaching the podium after Warren's speech. The son of conservative parents in a small Mississippi town, Smith joined the Marines in 2001. He said it was the Marine code of "honor, courage, and commitment" that helped him find his voice and become honest with himself and others about his sexuality.

Tim Smith addresses the anti-hate rally
  • Tim Smith addresses the anti-hate rally

Smith came out to his friends and his church. When a military chaplain found out, Smith told the man he believed God loved him despite his sexuality.

"The chaplain had nothing else left to do but follow the rules," Smith said. He was discharged from the military under the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy.

Regarding the destruction of the billboard bearing his image, Smith says the vandals actually galvinized his commitment.

"They will not rob me of my honor by making me run and hide," Smith said. "If anything, they've galvinized my commitment to this community."

After the rally, county commissioner Steve Mulroy agreed: "My message to the billboard vandals is thank you for galvinizing the community and symbolizing what we're up against in Memphis."

Comments (32)

Showing 1-25 of 32

Don't ask don't tell is a requirement that you lie. That is wrong, and is certainly violates any code of honor. I would have expected a chaplain to be excempt from the don't ask don't tell policy. It's all just wrong, and I am deeply disapointed in Barack for not doing more to stop it now.

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Posted by Dayle on 10/04/2009 at 9:53 PM

Let me ask one question, if we all are gay, who would reproduce??? A single fact showing being gay isn't right!!!

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Posted by chris71 on 10/05/2009 at 12:16 PM

Chris71 - you dumbass. That is the most worthless argument I've ever heard, read, or seen in the debate on the right-or-wrong of being gay.

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Posted by Memphis Ben on 10/05/2009 at 12:38 PM

“You don't need to be straight to fight and die for your country. You just need to shoot straight." - Barry Goldwater

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Posted by Memphis Ben on 10/05/2009 at 12:42 PM

chris71 is a member of Southern Baptist Divorcees Against Gay Marriage....

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Posted by Packrat on 10/05/2009 at 12:43 PM

Chris71, you make a good and thoughtful argument. I appreciate you taking the time out from finger painting and Sesame Street. Now go back to playing and let the adults talk.

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Posted by 38103 on 10/05/2009 at 1:14 PM

How is that a worthless argument? Is it not true? You wonder why America is the way it is today? I believe that it is against Gods wishes to be that way and you know what if you are betting that its OK with God or don't believe Gods existence, You my friend are betting with your souls and if you are wrong, Have fun in Hell!

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Posted by chris71 on 10/05/2009 at 1:26 PM

Chris71 says "Let me ask one question, if we all are gay, who would reproduce??? A single fact showing being gay isn't right!!!"

WTF? Who says reproducing is a mandatory requirement?

Adj. 1. inane - devoid of intelligence

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Posted by Phlo on 10/05/2009 at 1:58 PM

How do children come into the world?? Reproduction!!!! You don't see if women are with women and men are with men there would be no Reproduction!! idiot

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Posted by chris71 on 10/05/2009 at 2:02 PM

Chris17. With a population of 300 million, I am quite confident that America will not be impacted by homosexuality's lack of reproductive-ness. And you my friend are betting with monopoly money.

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Posted by 38103 on 10/05/2009 at 2:18 PM

Chris, and if you are wrong, your intolerance will land you a warm seat on Satan's pitchfork.

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Posted by Jeff on 10/05/2009 at 2:22 PM

There is no point in arguing with religious fanatics. Whether Christian, Muslim, whatever, logic and reason mean nothing to one who believes in talking snakes and bushes. God preserve us from fundamentalists; give me a good whisky-drinking Episcopalian any day....

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Posted by Packrat on 10/05/2009 at 2:31 PM

"You wonder why America is the way it is today?"

whatever "way" you think America "is" today - good or bad - really has nothing to do with a person's sexuality, no matter how badly you want it to.

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Posted by wvfii on 10/05/2009 at 2:34 PM

Packrat is on the money. the biggest threat to the Bill of Rights is a religious fundmentalist who feels he or she has been touched by God to lead in the political sphere.

case in point: George W. Bush

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Posted by wvfii on 10/05/2009 at 2:38 PM

What is most galling is the likelihood that the billboard vandals never served a day in the armed forces. What hypocrites.

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Posted by antifringe on 10/05/2009 at 2:40 PM

Yes wvfii & packrat, I agree totally. A huge waste of energy we could put to better use elsewhere. I rather doubt this guy is going to have an epiphany anytime soon.

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Posted by Phlo on 10/05/2009 at 3:04 PM

Phlo, you're right, but it is kind of fun sit back while y'all push his buttons.

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Posted by B on 10/05/2009 at 3:14 PM

I served in the military, been overseas and did my duty!! Did any of you?? I did and proud of it!! I will pray for all of you and hope that you come to know the hope,peace and love that I know I have In Christ Jesus!!! And you are right I have no right to judge anyone, yet I know the consequences of those who do not do the will of God!!! Read the bible understand the covenants, fear the Lord (fearing the Lord is not being scared of Him but Fearing his wrath for not being good people) For I know what God and his Son can do I am living proof!!

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Posted by chris71 on 10/05/2009 at 3:27 PM

3rd ID Chris. Don't delude yourself.

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Posted by 38103 on 10/05/2009 at 3:39 PM

Oh, sod it. chris71: Why are you hangin' around the "Gaydar" area of this website? I think you need to come to terms with your dark, forbidden secret and just let it out. It's ok. Don't be ashamed. Just download a couple of Scissor Sisters albums and dance the tension off.

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Posted by Phlo on 10/05/2009 at 4:25 PM

I will address one statement by closet-gay Chris: "why America is the way it is today." Actually, America (despite this recession, which will end at some point) is as close to fulfilling its promise of freedom, justice, and democratic principles NOW as it ever has been. We've got work still to do, but we're in pretty good shape in many respects. But chris, like so many luddite religious goofball john birch wannabes, pines for a non-existent mythical American golden age in which white protestant Christians ruled everything and everything was so much better than now in America. Unless of course, you were black, hispanic, gay, a woman, or anyone who believed that this country's promise was far from fulfilled. Chris, I've read the Bible, several times actually. So your sales pitch is lost on me, I've rejected your narrow fundamentalism long ago, I have bigger fish to fry. And no one who believes in talking snakes carries any weight with me.

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Posted by Packrat on 10/05/2009 at 4:43 PM

I feel sad for ya'll. I guess I'll just go live my happy life with me wonderful daughters and my beautiful wife. One day I hope someone leads you to the joy and peace I feel. God Bless All of You!! Black Lions and 22nd Signal Brigade!

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Posted by chris71 on 10/05/2009 at 4:57 PM

Why do you think no one here feels joy & peace? I myself am a most happy fellow, maybe because I don't condemn others and force-feed them whatever I happen to believe.

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Posted by Phlo on 10/05/2009 at 5:23 PM

Yes, I have a pretty good life as well, 3 well-behaved and respectful kids, 19 year marriage to a great and hot looking wife who still likes to, uh, ahem, a jack russell terrier that's smarter than most bible thumpers, what more could I want? well, a larivee guitar and a really nice Beretta over and under someday maybe..... but no need to feel sad, dude. I wish you could know the peace that truly knowing the Flying Spaghetti Monster and being a Holy Pastafarian brings.

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Posted by Packrat on 10/05/2009 at 5:57 PM

Jesus never said a single word about gays, but he did mention divorce. He said divorce was adultery, which means that churches all over this country are sanctioning adultery every time they permit a second marriage. If you Bible-thumpers want to save the world from sin, start by cleaning up your own house first, you hypocrites.

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Posted by autoegocrat on 10/05/2009 at 6:40 PM
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