by Andy Birkey | February 24, 2009 • The religious right’s favorite bogeyman, Hollywood, brought out the fury Sunday evening when Milk, a film about murdered gay man Harvey Milk, won two Oscars, including Sean Penn for Best Actor. The fact that the film had been in consideration at all prompted anti-gay protesters outside the Kodak Theatre, but it was the acceptance speeches that really got the religious right worked up.
|Andy Birkey lives in Minneapolis. He is an LGBT community advocate and blogs on politcial, social, and community issues. Read his blog at Eleventh Avenue South|
Joe Kovacs, an executive news editor for WorldNetDaily.com and Christian author, led with the headline “Oscars turn into blatant homosex-fest.” Kovacs’ reason for the incendiary headline? Oscar winner Sean Penn “promoted the homosexual agenda during his own acceptance speech for best actor, saying, ‘We’ve got to have equal rights for everyone.'”
Catholic homeschooling blog Minnesota Mom found the event too much to handle. “When will I ever learn that to watch the Academy Awards is to be utterly INFURIATED by the agenda? When will I learn that, inasmuch as I love movies, I do not love Hollywood?”
At the Free Republic, the comments were severe. “At least this movie has a happy ending!” wrote one poster. Harvey Milk was gunned down in his office at the end of the film.
“Hollywood awards have nothing to do with movies and everything to do with the homosexual agenda. It’s nothing but a bunch of liberal queers giving each other a congratulatory slap on the ass for using movies to promote homosexuality,” wrote another poster.
Focus on the Family got into the game too, criticizing Penn’s acceptance speech. Focus’ research analyst, Caleb Price, said: “It’s all about making people feel shame for not thinking, feeling or acting like one of the pack. And this is exactly what Sean Penn did in his Oscar acceptance speech.”
Peter LaBarbera of Americans for Truth admitted he hasn’t seen the film, but lashed out at Penn anyway. “Hollywood bigshots like you — should feel tremendous pride, not guilt, in defending and preserving marriage as God ordained it. As usual, the elitists in Hollywood have it completely backwards: it is homosexual behavior that is shameful, not traditional mores.”
But it was the protesters in front of the Kodak Theatre on Sunday night that really went unhinged.
“It didn’t escape our notice that since Prop 8 in [California] passed that the perverts of Hollywood have begun to climb on our backs with their advertising campaigns (at least two can be seen on the internet) to try and promote their agenda,” said Shirley Phelps Roper of the Westboro Baptist Church, who picketed with “God Hates Fags” signs in front of the theater. “It goes like this – see these people saying things that you HATE – well – if you don’t let the fags marry, this is what is going to take over the country. Or perhaps it is – if you don’t agree with giving the keys to the nation over to the fags, you are one of them.”
Westboro Baptist Church is generally condemned for its tactics such as protesting at the funerals of soldiers, but Sunday’s message seemed to be received by some in the religious right.
Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel, part of the late Jerry Falwell’s religious right empire, seemed to defend the Westboro protesters. “[Sean Penn] was protesting against those people who were out front who were picketing in favor of traditional family values.”