Friday, May 10, 2013

Wendy Greuel's Campaign Deploys Homophobic Pastor In Attacks Against Gay Republican Kevin James (UPDATE)

******UPDATE: 5/12
On Twitter, I asked Greuel's campaign policy director, Jim Dantonia, if Greuel knew of Bishop Jones' role in perpetuating discrimination and violence against gays in Jamaica. He sidestepped the question, saying only that "the attack on Kevin James is for his racist rants not for being gay."**********

Hoping to soften support with African American voters, surrogates for Wendy Greuel's campaign continued to hammer Eric Garcetti over controversial anti-Obama statements made by Garcetti surrogate Kevin James. But in doing so, Greuel managed to step on the third rail of religion and politics in the African American community - homophobia.

Venice For Change has learned today that a surrogate Greuel's campaign deployed against James, Bishop Noel Jones, a Gardena, CA pastor, traveled to Jamaica in 2004 to urge that country's political leaders to "stand their ground" against efforts by LGBT activists to repeal some of the most restrictive anti-gay laws on the planet.

Leading the charge against Kevin James is LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who has endorsed Greuel. In a press-release he sent out this week, Ridley-Thomas quotes Bishop Jones by name. “How many more divisive, debilitating, and shamefully offensive comments should we have to bear from Kevin James? (His) endorsement and apparent relationship with Eric Garcetti eliminates any doubt that the people’s choice for Mayor should be Wendy Greuel," said Jones.

Besides being the lone Republican in the mayoral primary, Kevin James, who for 6 years served as Co-Chair of AIDS Project Los Angeles, was also the lone LGBT candidate.

In 2004, it was reported Jones, a native of Jamaica, believed his homeland should resist the pressures being placed on it by gay rights advocates to reform their draconian anti-sodomy laws. He said the nation should "stand its ground by simply allowing your laws to stay the way they are."

He was responding to reports published earlier this week in which local and international human rights groups called for a relaxation of laws that curbs homosexual conduct.

Bishop Jones, who is the pastor of the City of Refuge church in Gardena, California, and an internationally renowned television preacher, said: "If you have laws and legislation that ban certain things based on the principles of the Scriptures and based on your Christian background, then let it stand there. Who is having big debates with the Islamic people about it (gay rights)? Who is telling them to bend their laws? If your laws are based on your Christian points of view, then you must stand your ground?"

The pressure being placed on Jamaica by United States homosexual interests, Bishop Jones hinted, is inconsistent with the best traditions of the United States. "The thing that bothers me about America is if they are so democratic, why don't they allow the rest of the world to be what they are? Their
democracy says a person has the freedom to do many things, so why won't they leave Jamaica alone?" Bishop Jones said.

Mob attack on a Jamaican transsexual.
Homosexuality in Jamaica is punishable by up to 10 years' imprisonment - with or without hard labor - for anyone convicted of the "abominable crime of buggery committed either with mankind or any animal".  Mob violence against gays prompted Time Magazine to call Jamaica the "Most Homphobic Place On Earth". According to Amnesty International, at least 35 gay men have been murdered on the island since 1997. Thirty-two incidents of mob violence directed against LGBT people were recorded in one recent eighteen-month period alone. In many cases, the murders were followed by crowd celebrations around mutilated bodies.

If Wendy Greuel was aware of Jones' role in perpetuating violence against gays in Jamaica,  she did not let on when she warmly welcomed the endorsement of Bishop Jones in March.

“Bishops Blake and Jones are true servants of their communities. They have shown us the central role our faith community plays in improving and empowering neighborhoods across Los Angeles,” said Greuel. “As mayor, I will continue to partner with faith leaders around the city to deliver critical resources into all our communities, and make Los Angeles the shining example to the world that I know it has been and will continue to be.”

Garcetti's campaign has also touted the endorsement of  African-American religious leaders, some of whom stand on either side of LGBT rights issues. In an April press release Garcetti's campaign listed the support of both Rev. Eric P. Lee and Rev. Xavier Thompson - Lee is an outspoken proponent of LGBT rights and same-sex marriage, while Thompson spearheaded opposition against SB48, a law requiring public school textbooks to include historical contributions of gay people.

Parenthetically, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas apparently tried to shield himself from possible blow-back over his role promoting Jones' attacks against Kevin James by tweeting this photo of himself with LGBT Councilman Bill Rosendahl from a press conference on the steps of City Hall yesterday. Yet when I asked Rosendahl if he was there to criticize James, the councilman told me he only spoke briefly about an alleged anti-Greuel push-poll and did not reference James.

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