By Terry Miller
An extimated 150 protesters from Arcadia, Pasadena and other parts of California voiced their strong objections to Arcadia Mayor Peter Amundson’s choice of speaker from Focus on the Family for Friday morning’s annual Communuity Breakfast.
The protestors arrived around 6:30AM Friday as organizers prepared for the event. People with signs which read ” Are you really my Mayor?” and ” Hey, focus on YOUR Family”, plus ” Don’t use tax money for Bigotry and Hate” and “It’s good to be Gay” stood there alloted ground and asked the breakfast goers to consider all families.
Focus on the Family believes that marriage should only be between man and woman and that “reparative therapy” is possible for gay and lesbian people.
Those in attendance were closely watched by Arcadia PD and were sectioned off into a safe protest zone (as is so often seen in political conventions and the like) cordoned off with yellow Police line Do NotCross tape, on the south side of the Community Center, a few hundred yards from the entrance to the CommunityCenter
Some of the groups( Including Latino Quality Alliance, Marriage Equality USA and API Equality involved in Friday’s protest sent out the following Press Release which we reproduce in part:
“Divisive Rhetoric by “Focus on the Family” Group Draws Protest
by LGBT Community, Families and Supporters at Mayor’s Breakfast
Constituents Question Misuse of City Funds to Promote Culture
of Intolerance That Excludes And Harms Gay And Lesbian Families
Mayor Peter Amundson’s precarious decision to invite a representative of Focus on the Family, known for its anti-LGBT teachings, opposing anti-bullying efforts in schools and promoting psychological “lesbian and gay conversion” programs stemmed from the fact that James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family created the organization in Arcadia.
A month earlier, several Arcadia residents and outside supporters appealed to the Mayor at the City Council Meeting. It was then that many residents requested that he choose a different speaker that better represents their community’s diversity. Among those who testified at that meeting and attended today’s protest was Mrs. Marsha Aizumi, Arcadia resident and mother of a transgender youth.
“I am here because I think Focus on the Family needs to be more open about their definition of “family” and about how they regard transgender people, ” Ms. Aizumi said.
Arcadia residents questioned the mayor’s use of city funds to pay for London’s travel and accommodations. “City funds should be used to unify the community, not divide us. Spending tax payer funds to promote a religious organization that supports anti-LGBT legislation and uses divisive rhetoric against LGBT families actually hurts all families and promotes division in the community,” stated Rev. Dr. Jonipher Kwong, Director, API Equality-LA, and ordained Unitarian Universalist and Metropolitan Community Church Minister. 45% of Arcadia’s residents are of Asian or Pacific Islander origin.
“Throughout California, and throughout the country, the LGBT community and its supporters are working to create a world in which all families are respected and embraced. Time after time, Focus on the Family has made destructive and bigoted statements that are far from supportive of families. By using religion to vilify a particular segment of society, Focus on the Family is destroying the fabric of this country. Why are tax dollars being used to support such messaging?” stated Robin McGehee, founder of GetEQUAL, a national LGBT rights group.”
As Community Breakfast attendees walked from the parking lot to the entrance, protestors sang traditional peace songs, waved flags and greeted breakfast goers with “We are families too” and “Have a Nice Breakfast” and ” Focus on ALL Families.”
London, who served as pastor at First Church of the Nazarene from 1985-91, quipped that he has received more attention about this visit to Arcadia than when he wrote his last book.
One protestor, Arcadia resident Marsha Aizumi, has a transgender son. She was there protesting with her family Friday morning and visiblly moved by the turnout . Aizumi has written letters to the editor was one of the key speakers at a recent city council meeting when she was brought to tears describing how her son has been harrassed in school because of his gender status.
Although London opposes gay marriage, he spoke about the importance of compassion and unconditional love in the family Friday. There was no mention of gay marriage in his speech.
Rev. H.B. London Jr., is vice president of ministry outreach/pastoral ministries at Focus on the Family which originaged in Arcadia, addressed a sold out crowd of 300 plus in the main room of the community center.
The Arcadia police officers and a swat team vehicle were on hand as a precaution but there were no arrests.