Thursday, June 23

'Religious trial' begins for openly gay Methodist pastor


First of all, what gives them the right to hold a 'trial' of any kind, for anyone? And a 'religious trial' sounds suspiciously like something from the Spanish Inquisition, or even worse, the Salem witch 'trials'!! Let me make this clear; I am a god-fearing Christian woman, but the difference between me and these people is that I am an intelligent, logical Christian, not one from the Dark Ages. She should be judged by God alone, not by these close-minded bigots who are going to be so afraid for their own positions that they won't vote in her favor even if they want to! To have a 'hearing' for her because she performed a marriage ceremony their church doesn't approve of, that's one thing, but to put her on trial for being a homosexual??? That is ridiculous! And let's guess what her 'sentence' will be, shall we? Can you say 'EXCOMMUNICATION'??

KAUKAUNA, Wis. -- A religious trial starts Tuesday for an openly gay United Methodist minister who broke church rules.

The Rev. Amy DeLong of Osceola in western Wisconsin has admitted to officiating a 2009 marriage ceremony for a lesbian couple in Menominee, violating church rules.

The 44-year-old is charged with being a "self-avowed practicing homosexual" and "conducting ceremonies which celebrate homosexual unions."

The jury of 13 will be selected Tuesday at Peace United Methodist Church in Kaukauna from at least 35 pastors from the Wisconsin Conference of the United Methodist Church.

The Appleton Post-Crescent reports she informed church leaders of the wedding in an annual report.

She's part of a growing number of United Methodist Church pastors who say they won't obey the rule that prohibits them from officiating same-sex marriages.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Saturday, June 18

U.N. rights forum proclaims equal gay rights

It is about time something worldwide was done; it's fine that individual countries have made a stand, but it's better that there is a world standard to be upheld when it comes to equal human rights.

GENEVA (Reuters)
The top U.N. human rights body declared Friday there should be no discrimination or violence against people based on their sexual orientation, a vote Western countries called historic but Islamic states firmly rejected.

The controversial resolution marked the first time that the Human Rights Council recognized the equal rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, diplomats said.
The text, presented by South Africa, was adopted by 23 countries in favor, 19 against with 3 abstentions and one delegation absent during voting. Libya's membership in the 47-member Geneva forum was suspended in March.

"All over the world, people face human rights abuses and violations because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, including torture, rape, criminal sanctions, and killing," U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a statement issued in Washington.

"Today's landmark resolution affirms that human rights are universal," she said, calling it a "historic moment."

The White House later praised the vote as a "significant milestone in the long struggle for equality," and said: "The United States stands proudly with those nations that are standing up to intolerance, discrimination and homophobia."

Britain, France joined the United States in voting in favor, while Russia voted against and China abstained, results showed.

South African Ambassador Jerry Matthews Matjila said the aim was for a dialogue on discrimination and violence meted out to those "whose only crime seems to be their choice in life."

But delegations from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar and Bangladesh took the floor to reject the text in a heated debate held on the last day of the council's three-week session.

Mauritania's ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Cheikh Ahmed Ould Zahaf, said that the issue did not fall within the scope of any international human rights treaty.

"This issue has nothing to do with human rights," he said, speaking before the vote. "What we find here is an attempt to change the natural right of a human being with an unnatural right. That is why calls on all members to vote against it."

Homosexuality is generally taboo in Islamic states as it is seen as a violation of religious and cultural values. Homosexual men in the Gulf are regularly arrested and sentenced to prison terms.

Mexican Ambassador Juan Jose Gomez Camacho said the issue had nothing to do with imposing Western or other values, but with non-discrimination. People are already protected under international treaties against discrimination on grounds of race, religion, and gender, he said.

"Non-discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation is exactly the same," Camacho said, winning applause.

The resolution calls on the office of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay to draw up the first U.N. report on challenges faced by gay people worldwide.

Her report, due by December, should document discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against people based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.

(Additional reporting by Tabassum Zakaria and Laura MacInnis in Washington; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

Copyright © 2011, Reuters

Thursday, June 16

El Paso Restores Gay, Unwed Couples' Benefits

Why did they take their benefits away from them in the first place? Personally, I am trying to figure out if the voters actually knew the full repercussions of what they were doing when they voted; did they know they would be taking these people's health benefits away?

Hema Mullur-KFOX News Anchor/Reporter

Posted: 3:23 pm MDT June 14, 2011Updated: 9:17 pm MDT June 14, 2011
EL PASO, Texas -- El Paso City Council approved an ordinance to reinstate health benefits for domestic partners of city employees and anyone else who lost them after voters approved the traditional family values ordinance last year.

The eight city representatives were split down the middle, with Mayor John Cook having the tie-breaking vote. He voted in favor of the ordinance he introduced. Reps. Beto O'Rourke, Susie Byrd, Steve Ortega and Rachel Quintana voted to approve the ordinance, while Carl Robinson, Ann Morgan Lilly, Eddie Holguin Jr. and Emma Acosta voted against it.

Holguin said he had every reason to vote in favor of the mayor's ordinance.

“The voters of El Paso voted, and they stripped benefits from lots of people including myself,” Holguin said.

But he voted against it.

“People already feel that their vote doesn't count,” said Holguin. “What council did today basically confirmed that their votes don't count.”

Robinson suggested restoring benefits only to those unintentionally affected by the vote. A federal judge's ruling on the issue, however, included a warning about that.

“If you restore these benefits to say, retirees, City Council members and other employees, but not domestic partners, you will run afoul of the Constitution, the 14th Amendment, the Equal Protection Clause,” said O’Rourke.

The final vote drew anger from Pastor Tom Brown, the man behind the traditional family values ordinance.

“It's over with. There is no direct democracy in El Paso anymore after today,” Brown said.

Brown said he’ll move forward with a plan to recall those who supported the ordinance. Until a recall petition is under way, he said his hopes lie on the shoulders of someone not even on the council yet: Dr. Mike Noe, who will replace Quintana in July.

“I'm hoping that Dr. Noe will do the right thing and say the vote of the people matters,” Brown said. “If he can do that, then we will reverse the City Council again.”

The new ordinance restores benefits to all partners, including same-sex and unwed couples as well as retirees and elected officials.

Copyright 2011 by KFOXTV.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Wednesday, June 15

Bachmann Feared Abduction by Lesbian, Ex-Nun

And she's running for the Republican nomination for the PRESIDENCY??? This is a joke right? It might not be so bad if there had been any kind of truth at all to the allegation, but to not even have charges filed because there is no basis to it? How does she dare to try for the nomination in a time when gay rights is one of the hottest topics on the ballot?

by Jeffrey Hartinger
Rep. Michele Bachmann, who is now seeking the Republication presidential nomination, had claimed in 2005 that she was almost abducted by two women in a bathroom, according to The Daily Beast.

The pair consisted of a lesbian and an ex-nun.

At the time of the alleged attempted kidnapping, Bachmann was a state senator from Minnesota and had already started to campaign against LGBT rights. She had previously been caught hiding in the bushes of a gay rights event.

When she refused to speak about gay rights at a constituent forum, the two women encountered Bachmann in the bathroom and questioned her on the subject.

Pamela Arnold, a 5-foot-tall lesbian now in her 50s, began a conversation with the then-senator, when Bachmann screamed out, “Help! I’m being held against my will!”

Arnold stepped aside and opened the door. Bachmann rushed to an SUV waiting outside and shortly after, filed a police report stating that she was “absolutely terrified and has never been terrorized before as she had no idea what the two women were going to do to her.”

No charges were filed in the case, as the Washington County attorney deemed the incident to be a simple conversation between a politician and her constituents.

Bachmann, a vocal adversary of gay rights, has a lesbian stepsister, Helen LaFave. It is reported that the two had a close relationship growing up. Recently, LaFave and her same–sex partner of 20 years attended one of Bachmann’s anti-gay rallies in Minnesota.

In addition to her crusade against LGBT equality, she and her husband, Marcus Bachmann, own a Christian counseling practice in Minnesota.

Posted on Advocate.com June 15, 2011 02:50:00 PM ET

Saturday, June 11

Gender identity disorder? Why does it have to be a mental illness? It may be different from the way most people are, but red-haired people are different from most too, no one says they have an illness!





In this March 9, 2011 photo Ophelia De'lonta speaks during an interview at the Buckingham Correctional Center in Dillwyn, Va. De'lonta has filed a lawsuit against Virginia Prison officials seeking a sex change operation. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

DENA POTTER,Associated Press

DILLWYN, Va. (AP) -- Crouched in her cell, Ophelia De'lonta hoped three green disposable razors from the prison commissary would give her what the Virginia Department of Corrections will not -- a sex change.

It had been several years since she had felt the urges, but she had been fighting them for weeks. But like numerous other times, she failed to get rid of what she calls "that thing" between her legs, the last evidence she was born a male.

Months after the October castration attempt, De'lonta filed a federal lawsuit Friday claiming the state has failed its duty to provide adequate medical care because it won't give her the operation. She says the surgery is needed to treat her gender identity disorder, a mental illness in which people believe they were born the wrong gender.

If she wins, De'lonta would be the nation's first inmate to receive a state-funded sex change operation. Similar lawsuits have failed in a handful of other states, and lawmakers in some states are trying to ban the use of taxpayer money for the operations.

If she loses, she says she will continue to try self-surgery -- acknowledging another attempt could kill her.

"That's a possibility," the 50-year-old said during a recent prison interview, pausing then smiling contently. "But at the end I would have peace."

Some physical changes have already taken place. Hormones won under a 2004 court order have caused her to develop noticeable breasts. Her eyebrows are perfectly plucked, and makeup accentuates her smooth cocoa complexion.

Still, special allowances such as feminine clothing and psychotherapy aren't enough to keep her mind off wanting to become the woman she says she was born. She longs for permission to grow out her short salt and pepper hair like female inmates, even though she's housed in the all-male Buckingham Correctional Center.

Experts say that De'lonta's behavior is an unusual -- but not surprising -- manifestation of her disorder. At least 12 other inmates in Idaho, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, New York, Virginia, Oregon, Kentucky and North Carolina have castrated themselves over the past 14 years, and several others have tried, said psychiatry professor George R. Brown at East Tennessee State University.

"This is not a choice. Transsexuals are born and not made," said Brown, an expert in gender identity disorder. "If you didn't have this condition, why would you want to have your genitals removed, if not by a competent surgeon but by your own hand?"

While many with gender identity disorder wish to get rid of their genitals, the majority never act -- often because hormones and other treatments help make them feel more comfortable, Brown said.

According to research by Brown, about 27,000 people nationwide have gender identity disorder. Experts estimate 500 to 750 Americans undergo the surgery each year, with hundreds more seeking the procedure abroad.

Treatment is more readily available outside prison, though dozens of other inmates nationwide have won the right to hormones and psychotherapy. Based on counts of inmates with gender identity disorder in a half dozen states and personal correspondence with inmates during his research, Brown estimates that at least 750 of the more than 2 million prisoners nationwide had gender identity disorder in 2007, his latest count.

Inmates in Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Colorado, California and Idaho also have sued to try to get the surgery, making arguments similar to De'lonta's that denying treatment violates the Eighth Amendment's protection against cruel and unusual punishment. All but one of those have failed; a decision in the decade-old Massachusetts lawsuit by convicted killer Michelle -- born Robert -- Kosilek is still pending.

Kosilek says that for her, sex reassignment surgery is a medical necessity, not a frivolous desire to change her appearance.

"Everybody has the right to have their health care needs met, whether they are in prison or out on the streets. People in the prisons who have bad hearts, hips or knees have surgery to repair those things," Kosilek told The Associated Press in a recent phone interview from a state prison in Norfolk, Mass.

"My medical needs are no less important or more important than the person in the cell next to me."

Federal courts have said prisons must provide adequate medical care, and that they must protect inmates from themselves. But correctional officials and lawmakers balk at using taxpayer money for sex-change operations that can cost up to $20,000.

A Massachusetts bill to ban the use of public funds for sex change procedures, hormones and other treatments has been before a joint committee since January. Wisconsin lawmakers passed the Inmate Sex Change Prevention Act in 2006, but a federal judge declared it unconstitutional last year. The state appealed, and a decision is expected soon.

Republican Virginia Del. Todd Gilbert says he would seek state legislation if De'lonta's lawsuit is successful.

"The notion that taxpayers are going to fund a sex change is just ridiculous," says Gilbert.

Harold Clarke, who became Virginia's corrections director last year, says it would be a security risk to allow the surgeries because Virginia's inmates are housed according to their gender at birth, not anatomy. While De'lonta sleeps and showers alone, she is not segregated from male inmates. Her lawsuit also asks that she be moved to a women's prison.

Federal courts have said mental health professionals -- not prison officials -- should dictate treatment.

But Rudolph Alexander, an Ohio State University professor who has studied the treatment of inmates with gender identity disorder, believes mental health providers are reluctant to say the surgery is medically necessary because they fear for their jobs. Almost always, the deciding physician is a state employee or has a contract with it.

Advocates argue that treating repeated self-mutilations costs more than the surgeries. De'lonta, for example, has needed expensive airlifts three times for self-inflicted wounds.

The hormones and other treatments had kept her urges in check for years. She snapped Oct. 8 when an officer used a male pronoun toward her, despite a court order that prison workers refer to her as a woman.

"I screamed 'She, damnit!' becoming so overwhelmed it was hard to breathe," De'lonta said.

Looking down, she felt repulsed and helpless. She cried herself to sleep, then hours later she prepared for her surgery attempt by covering her cell door's window with paper and putting towels around the commode.

Using knowledge gained from mail-order anatomy books, De'lonta cut on and off for three hours before she passed out. It took 21 stitches to repair the damage.

"It's like if this doesn't exist, then I won't have any more problems," she said.

Born Michael Stokes, she didn't understand from an early age why other girls' names were different from hers, or why she felt no connection to the boys in her gym class.

She constantly looked in mirrors and couldn't understand why the reflection was so unlike how she envisioned herself.

Years ago she legally changed her name. Ophelia was chosen for the Shakespearean woman who died for love; De'lonta because it was the last name of a slain friend; middle name Azriel for the angel who helps one cross over.

De'lonta first tried to cut herself when she was 12. By 17, she was robbing banks with the hopes of getting enough money to have a sex change operation. By 18, she was in prison, sentenced to more than 70 years for robbery, drugs, weapons and other charges.

She is eligible for parole this year, but a wide range of prison infractions mean it's unlikely she'll be released any time soon. Asked why she can't just wait until she's free to get the surgery, De'lonta says she would if she could.

"This is not something that I have any control over," she says. "This is just how I was born."

___

Associated Press Writer Denise Lavoie contributed to this story from Boston.

___

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

Thursday, June 9

UPDATED: Is Missing Lesbian Blogger for Real?

Why is there any question about her identity or the validity of the story at all? Because she's lesbian? Because she's Syrian? Hmmmm....

This updated version of the article includes comments shared with EDGE by Huffington Post writer Leah McElrath Renna and information from a June 8 AP article on questions regarding the veracity of "A Gay Girl in Damascus" blogger Amina Arraf’s accounts, as well as questions regarding her identity.

by Kilian Melloy

The blog’s dateline is Damascus. Its topic is a terrifying late-night visit from Syrian state security forces.

"[T]hey came late, in the wee small hours of the morning," the blog entry recounts. "Everyone was fast asleep. I woke when I heard the clamor and immediately guessed what had happened.... I haven’t been shy in making my opinions about the situation here clear and I had suspected that, sooner or later, I’d get a visit. Already, friends and comrades had been taken. So why not me?"

Weeks later, the other shoe reportedly fell. Online reports about "armed thugs" grabbing the blog’s author, a young and openly lesbian Syrian-American woman named Amina Arraf, and stuffing her into a car. The rumors started at once in the international press: Had the courageous blogger been detained by the Syrian government? What horrors might she face as an open lesbian, not to mention a participant in anti-government demonstrations?

But a June 8 update to a June 7 New York Times article posed a more troubling question: Just who was Amina Arraf? And why was it seemingly the case that none of the journalists who had spoken with her had actually met her in person? Were the accounts she wrote factual, or works of fiction? Indeed, did Amina Arraf even exist?

In the age of J.T. LeRoy and other wholly invented literary personalities, it’s not being paranoid to ask such questions. It may seem callous, in the face of a reported abduction, to wonder whether the victim is even a real person -- but it also makes journalistic sense. Given Arraf’s sensationally compelling story, which reads like the outline for a novel, a skeptic might well entertain just such doubts.

Arraf, the daughter of a Syrian father and an American mother, had been born in the United States. She and her family traveled between the two countries until a government crackdown in 1982, at which point they remained in America, according to media accounts. Arraf could have opted to remain here instead of returning to a country where women are second-class citizens and gays and lesbians have even less status.

But nine years ago, at age 26, Arraf returned to Syria and became a schoolteacher. When the "Arab Spring" began earlier this year and unrest in Syria precipitated into a series of brutally quashed street demonstrations, Arraf found herself among the protesters because the school where she taught was closed.

Arraf described life in Syria and the sights of the street protests in her blog, fearlessly titled A Gay Girl in Damascus. She relied on luck and her family’s connections to protect her from arrest for her blogging. According to news reports, her father was able to dissuade the government agents who had come for her in the night. After that, the story goes, Arraf went into hiding, staying in various places around the city and staying on the move.

Then came the abduction, in broad daylight, on June 6. Arraf’s cousin Rania Ismail, described the abduction in an entry posted that same day on Arraf’s blog, an Associated Press story said. At the time, Arraf was on her way, in the company of a friend, to a meeting with someone associated with the Local Coordination Committee, which organizes street protests.

"We are hoping she is simply in jail and nothing worse has happened to her," Ismail’s June 6 blog entry at A Gay Girl in Damascus read. Another entry from the same day followed up.

"Unfortunately, there are at least 18 different police formations in Syria as well as multiple different party militias and gangs," the follow-up posting read. "We do not know who took her so we do not know who to ask to get her back. It is possible that they are forcibly deporting her," the blog entry read.

"From other family members who have been imprisoned there, we believe that she is likely to be released fairly soon. If they wanted to kill her, they would have done so."

In one of her last entries on the blog, Arraf wrote, "I am complex, I am many things; I am an Arab, I am Syrian, I am a woman, I am queer, I am Muslim, I am binational....

"I am also a Virginian. I was born on an afternoon in a hospital in sight of where Woodrow Wilson entered the world, where streets are named for country stars."

The two worlds Arraf bridged could not be more different. The AP article reporting on her alleged abduction drew a stark backdrop against which to portray the event.

"Since the uprising against Assad began in mid-March, a government crackdown has left about 1,300 people dead and more than 10,000 detained, according to human rights groups," the AP article reported. "Several activists who were briefly detained during the revolt said they were tortured, humiliated and forced to sign pledges to avoid anti-regime activities."

Could the same grim treatment await the brave young woman who had dared to raise her voice against the regime?

The June 7 New York Times article on Arraf’s abduction suggested that even worse might befall her, reporting on how one young Syrian was killed while taking video of government tanks. He had previously posted similar video online.

But the June 7 update to that article injected a note of a different sort of uncertainty.

"After this post about the author of the blog A Gay Girl in Damascus was published, Andy Carvin, an NPR journalist and expert at debunking Internet rumors, pointed out that none of the reports of the arrest of Amina Abdallah Arraf appeared to have been written by journalists who had previously met or interviewed her," the update said.

"It’s just odd that I can’t find anyone who has actually met her in person," Carvin said.

The update noted that, "it remains possible that the blog’s author was indeed detained, and has been writing a factual, not fictional, account of recent events in Syria," but also said that "the one person who has identified herself... as a personal friend of the blogger, Sandra Bagaria, has now clarified that she has never actually met the author of the Gay Girl in Damascus blog." Rather, Bagaria said, she and Arraf had corresponded extensively via the Internet.

Likewise, when CNN conducted an interview with Arraf, contact was limited to an exchange of emails. The update went on to say that contact had not been achieved with Arraf’s family, and that some of the material appearing at Arraf’s blog "was previously posted online in 2007, in a blog attributed to the same author that was described by her as a mix of fact and fiction."

The Huffington Post’s Leah McElrath Renna claimed in a June 7 article that she had corresponded with Arraf, who provided a "cleaned up" version of one of her blog postings for publication at the Huffington Post (the same one cited at the start of this article). Renna also wrote that she had communicated with Arraf’s family.

"Although her cousin and father have made numerous inquiries, they have told me they continue to be uncertain about whom exactly has taken Amina and where she is being held," Renna’s article said.

Contacted by EDGE on June 7 to comment on the questions regarding the identity of Arraf and the veracity of her blog, Renna emailed the same day to say that she was uncertain about what was actually happening with the blogger.

"I am as confused as the rest of the world about the issue of her identity and location and don’t really have anything to say that would shed additional light on the situation," Renna told EDGE, adding, "[T]here could be many reasons for that (getting lots of homophobic hate-mail, for instance -- take a minute and review the comments under the news of Amina’s abduction and the update).

"Occam’s Razor leads me to believe that a woman exists who wrote this blog and who appears to have been detained by the Syrian government," Renna continued. "By which I mean it is the most simple answer. If I were an out Syrian lesbian protester, I’d go incognito too and use a pseudonym or otherwise hide my true identity.

"But is that woman named Amina Arraf? I have no idea," Renna said in her email. "I will say that if the blog is a work of fiction, it’s a damned good one."

A June 8 AP story said that further doubt had been cast on the question of Arraf’s accounts, and possibly her existence, when a British woman named Jelena Lecic came forward to say that her photo had been posted on Facebook and identified as Arraf.

"A representative for Jelena Lecic said the London woman first learned her likeness was being used on the Facebook account of a blogger known as Amina Arraf when her photo was linked to article about Arraf in the Guardian newspaper on Tuesday," the AP reported.

Moreover, the Local Coordination Committees activist who had earlier confirmed for the AP the story of Arraf’s kidnapping followed up on June 8 to say that he had ""no independent confirmation" for the abduction claim. Moreover, he was also unable to speak to the question of Arraf’s existence.

"As far as we know, nobody’s emerged who has actually met her," he told the AP.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Kilian Melloy is EDGE Media Network’s Web Producer and Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews media, conducts interviews, and writes aggregate news stories and commentary for EDGE.

Monday, June 6

Be a voice for Troy Davis - An Interview With the Death Row Inmate


You would never think that something like this could happen in the United States, after all, we're a Democratic society! And yet I am still updating it in my blog after all this time. After spending two years in Georgia, as much as I love it I can believe every word that has been said about the judicial system there, and I fully believe that Georgia is determined to execute this man. Unless the U.S. Supreme Court intervenes Troy Davis is a walking, talking, breathing, dead man.

June 6, 2011
From SocialistWorker.org


Troy Davis, a Georgia death row prisoner who has been wrongfully incarcerated and facing execution for nearly 20 years, is in grave danger.

In March, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to overturn a lower court ruling that denied Troy a new trial. U.S. District Judge William Moore oversaw a court hearing where Troy's lawyers presented compelling and convincing evidence of his innocence. Moore admitted that the case against Troy wasn't "ironclad," but he nevertheless rejected the plea for a new trial.

Thus, Troy has still never been able to present evidence of his innocence to a jury. There was never any physical evidence--no murder weapon, no fingerprints, no DNA--that pointed to Troy as the person who shot and killed Officer Mark MacPhail in a Burger King parking lot in Savannah, Ga., in 1989. The case against Troy came down to nine witnesses presented by prosecutors at Troy's trial--and seven of them have since recanted their original testimony, with most saying they had been coerced by the police to implicate Troy.

Little now stands in the way of Georgia setting an execution date, which would be Troy's fourth. Executions were on hold in Georgia while state officials tried to figure out which drugs should be used in lethal injection executions. But a new "killing drug regime" has been decided on, and executions are likely to start up again.

Troy answered questions by mail from Marlene Martin of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, in this interview for the New Abolitionist newsletter.

TROY, WE heard the sad news that you lost your mom recently, someone who was very supportive of you over the years. We want to express our sympathy at this difficult time. How are you coping with the loss?

THE LOSS of my mother was a complete shock, very painful at first, but people need to realize she was a woman of great faith and so am I. I gave that pain to God--I can carry it no more. Those who walk by faith understand.

My mother was very strong and religious. She treated everyone she met like family and led by example. If I could trade her for another I would refuse to do so because she was one of a kind--"a giant in a small body" and "a walking angel."

THE U.S. Supreme Court recently turned down your appeal, leaving in place Judge William Moore's decision not allowing you a new trial. What is your reaction to this decision?

THE SUPREME Court was hoping Judge Moore would grant me a new trial so it wouldn't have to. However, within the first 10 minutes of my hearing, I sensed tension and bias from Judge Moore. I expected nothing less coming from a court in Savannah.

The courts keep passing my case along because my case exposes everything flawed about the death penalty. No court or judge wants to be responsible for allowing this case to force authorities to end the death penalty and have to worry about a floodgate of innocence being revealed.

IN JUNE 2010, you were finally allowed an evidentiary hearing where evidence of your innocence was heard before a judge--including recanted testimony from several witnesses, as well as new witnesses who said another man, Sylvester Coles, admitted he had committed the crime. Why isn't this enough for you to get a new trial?

IT IS enough to grant me a new trial. In fact, it's more than enough. But this is more about the system than my innocence. Research will show that the Georgia state Supreme Court and 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals have overturned hundreds of cases with just one or two recanted witnesses. Georgia feels it's better to kill me than admit I'm innocent.

Ask yourselves how can someone be convicted and face execution with no evidence against them? If the district attorney had the right man, then out of all the physical evidence they have, how come my DNA and fingerprints don't match any of it?

If the recanted witnesses are lying, then why hasn't the state produced the interrogation tapes for all seven? The state claims it doesn't have interrogation tapes of any of the seven witnesses who have recanted. They only turned over two tapes--one of Sylvester Coles pointing the finger at me and the other of someone they never called at trial. Why don't they show the handwritten statements of these witnesses? Because it would prove Troy Davis was and continues to be framed by Savannah and now the state of Georgia.

THE MEDIA isn't allowed to come into the prison and interview you. What would you say to the media that they seem to be so determined doesn't get out?

THE TRUTH about my case, about the judicial system, and about the prison system in Georgia. Since I've been on death row, I've witnessed several people who got their sentence and convictions overturned.

PEOPLE ON death row are painted as monsters--as cold-blooded killers. If the cameras were rolling, what would people when they saw Troy Davis interviewed on film?

THEY WOULD see their brother, son, father. Someone beaten, but strong. Someone they know. What would confuse them is the fact that after all I've been through, I'm still smiling. They would see a human being who refused to give up, who refuses to hate and who loves life. They would see the humble face of innocence.

YOU HAVE often said this case is much bigger than you. What do you mean by that?

MY CASE is about justice denied to the poor and innocent. My case brings a face to injustice by showing how so many innocent people are being framed and denied justice. My case tells the world why the death penalty and this system of death needs to be demolished all over the world.

IF YOU were white and the son of a senator, do you think the evidence presented at your evidentiary hearing would have been enough to win you a new trial?

YES. HOWEVER, I would not have even been indicted in the first place with such a lack of evidence. What this says is that there is still bias and racism in the criminal justice system when it comes to the poor and people of color. Had I been the son of a senator, I would have never been arrested, not until every "i" was dotted and every "t" was crossed.

WHAT WOULD you like for your supporters to know? What should they be doing to try to save your life?

IF WE never give up, we can win. We need to let our elected officials know that they work for the citizens of this country, and as citizens, we refuse to stand around and let innocent people continue to be abused by the system. We will not stand for innocent people being executed, tortured or tossed into prison anymore. I'm alive because God placed it in your hearts to get involved and be the solution that erases this problem.

So many people have joined together to free me, and it moves my heart in a joyous way to feel so much love and know one day that the world will celebrate with my family as I walk free. Then I can truly help change the system so that humanity and justice can really overcome evil and injustice in a system that has killed too many innocent in the name of justice.

My supporters can write U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, asking to appoint a special investigator to my case. Encourage religious leaders to get out the churches, mosques, etc., and speak out. Write letters, sign petitions, tweet and make calls to Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal and the Georgia Parole Board and media to stop this pending execution and grant me my freedom, new trial or clemency.

Please be a voice for me and get involved. Saving my life will save thousands of others just like me. You're making a big difference.

A voice is just a whisper in the wind unless it is used to speak up for a cause that brings positive change to the voiceless. Don't expect change--create it by getting involved. I'm already free because of every voice speaking up on my behalf.

Thank you and God bless you all.

First published in the New Abolitionist.