If you’ve made it out to the East End for the July 4 summer holiday, you’ve already seen the sign above.
Propped up large and for all eastbound traffic to see on Route 27, Southampton Full Gospel Church shared its message this week:
“The Men of Sodom Were Wicked and Sinners Before the Lord – Gen 13.13” is written in large black letters, next to the more permanent church message, “We’re a church that wants to share God’s love with you.” Of course that sharing of love doesn’t seem to include sodomites or men who love other men.
So the question is raised, does this church have the right to post their message? Is it free speech? Sure, it falls under freedom of speech laws, but it seems unlikely a similar message about, say, a racial minority would be left to stand. How quickly would a sign condemning blacks or Jews be addressed? Would it make a difference if it were a lawn sign rather than a church sign? Food for thought.
Here’s what David Kilmnick, Chief Executive Officer of Long Island Gay And Lesbian Youth (LIGALY) had to say:
“In this day and age signs and sentiments like these lead to hate crimes and violence. The church’s ‘free speech” is not the one that needs to be protected here—that is misguided; it’s the larger GLBT community on the East End and their families that need the protection from this type of speech that could lead to hate and bias incidents,” Kilmnick said. “If we didn’t learn enough from the recent suicides, including [gay East Hampton High School student] David Hernandez last October, then that is a pretty sad state of affairs. We will make sure with the opening of our Hamptons GLBT Center that the East End is promoting an environment that goes well beyond tolerance; the community needs to embrace, celebrate, support and nurture its great diversity and we can’t wait to get started in helping to make that change happen.”
The Hamptons GLBT Center, LIGALY’s new effort on the East End, will be opening at the Old Whalers Church in Sag Harbor near the end of this month. The organization has a ribbon-cutting ceremony scheduled for Saturday, July 27 from 4–6 p.m.