An electronic billboard which states
that “homosexuality is not a civil right” appeared this week in
Wyoming, a city in Western Michigan.
The billboard features two faces
against a black backdrop: a person in a minority group and a gay
person. In one version, a Latino man's face is captioned by “Born
Latino,” while the gay person's caption reads, “Not born this
way.” “Homosexuality is a behavior. Not a civil right,” the
Similar billboards first appeared in
March in other parts of the state.
The group Restrain the Judges is behind
the billboards. It includes numerous Christian conservative groups,
including Faith 2 Action, Americans for Truth About Homosexuality and
American Family Association of Pennsylvania, which have come together
to call on the Supreme Court to uphold bans on gay marriage in four
states, including Michigan.
At its website, people can buy
personalized “restraining orders” directed at the Supreme Court
justices and congressional leaders. For $49.95 a user can buy 544
Brian Keeley, who is openly gay, told
NBC affiliate WOOD that the billboard's message was incorrect.
“The message that individuals are not
born within the LGBT community is a complete misnomer and science has
proven that time and time again,” said Keeley, a local activist.
“Fundamentally, who you are is
something you should be allowed to express and if there are benefits
given under laws to certain individuals as well as protections
towards individuals, that needs to be provided to everyone on an
equal basis,” he added.
The billboard says it is paid for by
the Michigan Oak Initiative and advertises the website
“Any time you're engaged in any
activity that is involved in a sexual arena, you have a choice,”
said Mark Gurley, a director at the Michigan Oak Initiative. “And
a choice is different from the civil rights that black people fought
dearly for in our nation because they couldn't change their skin
Gurely added that if the Supreme Court
strikes down the nation's remaining 13 marriage bans that will lead
to the criminalization of Christianity.
“[B]ecause any Christian that speaks
what's in the Bible can be framed for hate speech,” Gurely