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RADIO MAY 23, 2015

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In 2012, it was my honor as President of Interfaith Alliance to honor
businessman and activist Mitchell Gold with the President's Award at
the Alliance's Walter Cronkite Faith and Freedom Awards. Mitchell
has devoted himself to promoting human rights and nondiscrimination
for as long as I've known him, and so it came as no surprise when his
company Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams enthusiastically joined the We
Serve Everyone Only campaign. Characteristically, Mitchell went one
step further - he's even bought advertisements promoting the
company's endorsement of this initiative.
So Mitchell, I am so glad that you're with us today. Thanks for being
on again.
[MITCHELL GOLD, GUEST]: Well thank you, it's great to be with you
[WG]: The Everyone Only campaign was born out of a desire to
counter the most dangerous part of the latest crop of religious
freedom bills, basically giving businesses the right to discriminate
under the guise of religious convictions. Why did you feel it was
important to get into this campaign?
[MG]: Well, I do think that the religious freedom bills - so-called
religious freedom or liberty bills are really despicable, and it's a
harkening back to the days when I was a teenager in the 1960s. And
I remember the kind of discrimination that existed then against people
of color and also people who might have been minority religious
group like Jews, or against women in certain instances. And you
know, a lot of these laws and thinking come from people's misguided,

outdated religious teachings. And certainly I feel like as time goes on,
people should learn from their mistakes and do better by other
people. And some folks just haven't learned. And putting this sign in
the window is really us saying to people, Enough is enough. Take
your discriminatory religious beliefs. Unfortunately, legally you're
allowed to use them on Sunday morning in your church or synagogue
or whatever but don't bring them into our store.
[WG]: Would it be fair to say, Mitchell, that for many - maybe even
most - business owners the issue never came up until this latest
controversy? I mean, I don't get the impression that most business
leaders were just gritting their teeth, feeling like their rights were
being trampled and they were waiting to be rescued by a law under
the guise of religious freedom.
[MG]: Oh, I agree with you one hundred percent. I think this is purely
political. This is a perfect instance of people using religiosity to gain
their political advantage. You know Ted Cruz, I think, is one of the
kings of this, in that he just keeps spouting this crazy stuff; and Jeb
Bush now all of a sudden is becoming far more anti-gay than he has
come across in the last few years. But they feel that they need to do
this to stoke the fire with their political base.
[WG]: What toll does it take on our civic society when culture war
issues are enshrined in state level laws? Because I see it as a really
irresponsible way of pitting one side against the other for short-term
political gain.
[MG]: Well I think it is incredibly irresponsible, I agree with you. And
you know, I think the worst part of this is, when these subjects
become out in the open and debatable - let's just think for a minute
about a fourteen or fifteen year old kid who's struggling to deal with
their same-sex orientation, who's brought up in an environment that
they're taught that it's a sin and an abomination to be gay. And now
they have their parents talking about this at the dinner table. And you
know, these poor closeted kids are going through such turmoil, such
depression, such struggle - and now they have to hear their parents
talk about it in a denigrating way. This is the reason why young kids
become so depressed and even suicidal - and unfortunately even do
commit suicide.

I once had dinner with Maggie Gallagher, and I made it clear to her
that her efforts were the kinds of things that brought dinner table
conversations that make kids, fourteen, and adults that are forty
years old who are struggling really depressed and in enormous
conflict with their parents beliefs.
[WG]: Mitchell, the religious liberty argument is a relatively recent
strategy; but discrimination in the guise of religion is something that
you and I have battled against for many years. We talk about it every
time we're together. We strategize about it So I want to talk with
you about that, more generally. Do you see the tactics that we're
seeing now as a setback in an area that has seen so much progress,
or is it just a temporary distraction?
[MG]: Well, I think it's the next wave of strategy of people who are
desperately holding on to the Ozzie and Harriet days. And these are
folks that are just completely frazzled that now gay people can be
married in gosh, I dont even know the number of states; I think it's
thirty-some odd states now - and this is their last-ditch effort.
Now, I will say I'm very disappointed in the LGBT advocacy groups
and other advocacy groups who have not broken the foundation of
religion-based bigotry; who have not broken the foundation of people
using their outdated and misguided religious teachings to discriminate
against other people. There are too many people who are afraid to
talk about religion; to say to somebody else, I think your thinking is
wrong and here's why I think it's wrong.
I don't know if you've read Rev. David Gushees most recent book.
Hes an Evangelical minister, an ethics professor at Mercer University
in Atlanta, who was very much against gay people being able to be
married. He was a believer that gay people were sinners. And over
years, he's come to change his thinking once he started to critically and I believe that our Creator gave us a mind to learn more and think
critically - but once he started to think more critically about what the
Bible does and doesn't say; once he started to really understand the
harm that was being caused to young people, especially; he started
to research more, and he came to the conclusion that you know
what? The Bible really doesn't say that loving gay couples shouldn't

be married. Scripture really doesn't mean that people who are born
with a same-sex orientation and are good productive wonderful
people - that they should be second-class citizens; that they should
be told that they're broken. So while I think this is a last-ditch effort by
certain people who are politically motivated or who are just,
unfortunately, mean-spirited or ignorant - there's a whole other wave
of really wonderful people that you and I both know who are really
changing their minds. In fact, that's the name of David Gushees
book, Changing Our Mind.
[WG]: Right. Mitchell, anybody that listened to you just then, and
listened with any attentiveness at all, heard not only good information,
but they heard great passion. And that's who you are. I want, against
that backdrop, to ask the question which I know you will respond to
with equal passion - and that's why I want to ask it this way: what
angers you the most about the use of religious rhetoric to harm LGBT
[MG]: What angers me the most is because as I sit here right now, a
chill runs through my body and I remember when I was fourteen and
fifteen and sixteen years old, how absolutely afraid I was; how
vulnerable I was; how far too many nights I cried myself to sleep
because I thought that God didn't love me, that I was broken. And it is
irresponsible and despicable that parents and clergy put this upon
young, vulnerable, innocent kids that even today, as we sit here, are
still taking their own lives.
There is a young fourteen-year-old - now fourteen-year-old - in my
community who came to see me a year ago, and he told me that he
got a hold of my book Crisis. And that saved his life. That he had tried
to commit suicide on several occasions; he was cutting herself. But
after reading that, he was determined that he was going to live and
be happy. And when I spoke to this thirteen-year-old, now fourteenyear-old, innocent, sweet, beautifully-smiled boy and thought to
myself that this kid had to go through that kind of torture alone because when youre fourteen or fifteen and you're going through this
and your parents are against you - you don't have anybody to talk to.
And you can't go to your church and talk to your clergy or to your
synagogue if it's an Orthodox Jewish denomination. And I think it's
just an outrage that in our civilized society, people are still clinging to

these, as I say, outdated, misguided and ill-informed religious

[WG]: I really am glad you mentioned your book, Crisis, because it
has been of immense help to a lot of people, and I know that you and
my wife - who is your good friend, as well - my wife Judy has tried to
get that book into as many libraries as possible so that people like the
young man you just mentioned will have access to something that
can help when sometimes there's no help available where they are.
Mitchell, talk about some of the recent work that your foundation
Faith in America is doing. Where are your current priorities there?
[MG] Well, weve spent a lot of time talking to the news media, a lot
behind the scenes, getting them to understand the real problem;
getting them not to just ask somebody, Oh are you for or against gay
marriage? And if you notice when news media ask that question,
whenever somebody answers it they'll say, Deeply held religious
beliefs, and then they go on to the next question. We've gotten them
not to ask the question so lightly and to understand more deeply that
anti-gay sentiment - how it affects young people.
You know, Wolf Blitzer, several months ago, said to me that he just
couldn't believe how many transgender people under twenty five
years old 40% of transgenders under twenty five years old have
tried to commit suicide. Getting newspeople to see how horrible this
is, and how even though you don't see it that much in the public eye,
how there's this undercurrent of real depression and suicidal
tendencies amongst the LGBT community. So getting them to take it
a little bit more seriously.
We're working now to get the news media really to think twice about
when when the Pope comes on his visit and not just let it be some
flowers and roses visit; I mean, to really start to ask clergy who are
out as his spokespeople, to try to get questions out in the public to
the Pope, you know, where does he really stand? What is he really
going to do? The reality is, he has said certain things like, Oh, who
am I to judge. But then he's turned around and said very judgmental
things. So working with the media has been a very big priority.

Another big priority is working with school counselors. High school

counselors play a pivotal role in a lot of these young people; and we
have a particular instance of a young gal in this community, a small
southern community, who came out as a lesbian and her counselor
with anything but helpful; was in fact saying things like, Well you
know, thats a sinful lifestyle. And you know, getting counselors to
really understand what they're saying and the impact that that has on
a kid and that they should be a safe refuge.
And I'd say the other big thing is, we spent the last several years
really trying to get the LGBT advocacy organizations to understand
the role that bad religion plays in the legislation - this is why we have
this kind of legislation - getting them to step up their game. And I think
we have seen and are going to continue to see organizations like
GLAAD a the Human Rights Campaign and Campus Pride really
stepping forward a lot more.
[WG]: Mitchell Gold is the co-founder of Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams,
a longtime activist for LGBT rights. Mitchell recently joined in the
Interfaith Alliance anti-discrimination campaign called We Serve
Everyone Only, encouraging businesses to post signs that say just
that as a way of opposing the religious liberty loophole in legislation
pending in several states that would create protections for
discrimination. In the next few weeks, the Alliance will be mailing out
over twenty thousand of these signs to supporters. But you don't
have to wait. Listeners, you don't have to wait. You can print out a
We Serve Everyone Only sign at And we
encourage you to post a picture of your sign once it's up. We want to
put it on social media. Use the hash tag #everyoneonly. We want you
to be a part of this campaign.
And Mitchell, it is just always great to talk with you. I really appreciate
you doing this project with Interfaith Alliance. But I am grateful for all
of the things you do, because I know that you're not only building a
great business, but you're also doing a whole lot of things that are
intended to help us have a better world. Thank you.
[MG]: Do we have time for me to tell you one more thing about the
campaign and how it's affected our business?

[WG]: Do it.
[MG]: So one of the things I didn't realize is we actually have some
employees who are uncomfortable with that sign going up, and we
had one in particular who told the manager that she didn't want to be
associated with that campaign. And it opened up an opportunity for
me personally to talk with her about it, and one of the things I had to
say to her was, Well, let me ask you this: if a gay couple comes in
and a straight couple come in - are you going to walk towards one
and not the other? If a gay couple comes in, are you not going to help
them make their house a home - especially if theyre talking about
they're engaged, they're getting married, or they already are
married? And it really forced a great conversation with her, and Im
really happy to say that she's really moved the ball much further
down the court than she was before.
And the other thing I want to tell you is that we have the sign posted
on our doors and in our windows, and it is interesting how people are
coming by and taking a selfie with themselves and that picture;
coming in and telling us how much they like it. So I continue to think
that being open-minded and fair-minded and educated about other
people is good for business.
[WG]: Well, I think so; and the other part of that story that I just have
to point out before getting off is that you are the kind of owner of a
business that has time to talk to an employee thats having a problem
with that. And that is who you are, and that's one reason that you
have so much influence in so many different communities. Thank you
for what you're doing and thank you for being with us again on State
of Belief Radio.
[MG]: Youre welcome. Thank you.

Mitchell Gold

In 1989, Mitchell Gold and his business partner, Bob Williams,

created a furniture company in Taylorsville, North Carolina
( Today, Gold and Williams head a nationally
recognized company which boasts a 600,000-sq.-ft. state-of-the-art
factory with a family friendly-work environment that includes an onsite not-for-profit daycare center (the first of its kind in the residential
furniture industry). There is also a growing chain of freestanding
Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams Signature stores across the country and
internationally in cities including New York; Washington, DC;
Greenwich, CT; Boston; Atlanta; Miami; Houston; Nashville; Ann
Arbor; Portland, OR; Los Angeles; San Juan; and Mexico City.
Mitchell started the company while living openly with Bob Williams in
their rural North Carolina community. (They were originally life
partners and now live separately as best friends and business
partners.) So, like the other contributors to this book, Mitchell has
lived its subject matter.
Mitchells management style represents the power of entrepreneurial
skills working in the service of social change. His dedication to
maintaining fair practices in the workplace extends to a commitment
to making the world a more comfortable place. In addition to running
a $100M company, he has provided comfort to people in need and
serves as an example of an individual firmly committed to his ideals.
He plays a major role in the national dialogue on gay rights. In
December 2005, he established Faith in America, a nonprofit
organization dedicated to educating people about how religion-based
bigotry is used to justify discrimination against gay people.
Mitchell has been recognized as a major force for good in the fight for
gay rights by numerous organizations, including: The Human Rights
Campaign: Board of Directors for seven years and Nov. 2007 Equality
Honoree, Palm Springs. National Black Justice Coalition: April 2008

Leadership Award. Out magazine: April 2007, Top 50 Most Powerful

Gay People in America list. Gay Mens Health Crisis: March 2007
25th Anniversary Dinner Honoree. The Advocate magazine: 2006
People of the Year Award for Faith in America. Vox Vodka + Out:
2004 Vox/Out Voices of Style + Design Award.
Mitchells work for gay rights has forged friendships with prominent
members of the gay communityand led to a number of them wanting
to join him in creating his recently released book entitled Crisis: 40
Stories Revealing the Personal, Social, and Religious Pain & Trauma
of Growing Up Gay in America. Funny and smacking of smart, he
has always been passionate about comfort, and his definition of
comfort goes far beyond the sit of a sofa. It is his passionate belief
that true comfort cannot be achieved without true equality for all
something he is committed to making happen.
Mitchell has had extensive media experience, including two
appearances on The Today Show and a satellite media tour for his
first book, Lets Get Comfortable: How to Furnish and Decorate a
Welcoming Home (Meredith Books, 2007).
Born in Trenton, New Jersey, Mitchell lived in New York City for many
years and now resides in North Carolina with his partner, Tim

Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy

Author of more than 20 books, including First Freedom First: A
Citizens Guide to Protecting Religious Liberty and the Separation of
Church and State, the Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy led the national non9

partisan grassroots and educational organization Interfaith Alliance

for 16 years, retiring in 2014. Dr. Gaddy continues his work with the
Alliance as President Emeritus and Senior Advisor. He serves as
Pastor for Preaching and Worship at Northminster (Baptist) Church in
Monroe, Louisiana.
In addition to being a prolific writer, Dr. Gaddy hosts the weekly State
of Belief radio program, where he explores the role of religion in the
life of the nation by illustrating the vast diversity of beliefs in America,
while exposing and critiquing both the political manipulation of religion
for partisan purposes and the religious manipulation of government
for sectarian purposes.
Dr. Gaddy provides regular commentary to the national media on
issues relating to religion and politics. He has appeared on MSNBCs
The Rachel Maddow Show and Hardball, NBCs Nightly News and
Dateline, PBSs Religion and Ethics Newsweekly and The Newshour
with Jim Lehrer, C-SPANs Washington Journal, ABCs World News,
and CNNs American Morning. Former host of Morally Speaking on
NBC affiliate KTVE in Monroe, Louisiana, Dr. Gaddy is a regular
contributor to mainstream and religious news outlets.
While ministering to churches with a message of inclusion, Dr. Gaddy
emerged as a leader among progressive and moderate Baptists.
Among his many leadership roles, he is a past president of the
Alliance of Baptists and has been a 20-year member of the
Commission of Christian Ethics of the Baptist World Alliance. His past
leadership roles include serving as a member of the General Council
of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, President of Americans United
for Separation of Church and State, Chair of the Pastoral Leadership
Commission of the Baptist World Alliance and member of the World
Economic Forums Council of 100. Rev. Gaddy currently serves on


the White House task force on the reform of the Office of Faith Based
and Neighborhood Partnerships.
Prior to the fundamentalist takeover of the Southern Baptist
Convention (SBC), Dr. Gaddy served in many SBC leadership roles
including as a member of the conventions Executive Committee from
1980-84 and Director of Christian Citizenship Development of the
Christian Life Commission from 1973-77.
Dr. Gaddy received his undergraduate degree from Union University
in Jackson, Tennessee and his doctoral degree and divinity training
from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville,

State of Belief Radio

State of Belief is based on the proposition that religion has a positive
and healing role to play in the life of the nation. The show explains
and explores that role by illustrating the vast diversity of beliefs in
America the most religiously diverse country in the world while
exposing and critiquing both the political manipulation of religion for
partisan purposes and the religious manipulation of government for
sectarian purposes.
Each week, the Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy offers listeners critical
analysis of the news of religion and politics, and seeks to provide
listeners with an understanding and appreciation of religious liberty.
Rev. Gaddy tackles politics with the firm belief that the best way to
secure freedom for religion in America is to secure freedom from


religion. State of Belief illustrates how the Religious Right is wrong

wrong for America and bad for religion.
Through interviews with celebrities and newsmakers and field reports
from around the country, State of Belief explores the intersection of
religion with politics, culture, media, and activism, and promotes
diverse religious voices in a religiously pluralistic world.


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