The Rostow Report by Ann Rostow

Naughty pastor caught with naked man in car tied up   with a nylon rope: “I was counseling a young man with a drug problem.”

Bottom’s Up

Two headlines caught my eye as I was researching important LGBT legal and political news for your benefit, dear FIGHT readers. First, from Newsweek: “Drinking Alcohol Tied to Long Life in New Study,” and second, from LGBTQ Nation: “Pastor Caught in Car with Tied-up Naked Man Claims he was Administering Counseling.”

The good news on alcohol was widely reported, but I had to pick a representative headline. To sum up the research, it seems to be that lots of people in their 90s like to drink a couple of glasses of wine a day. Could it be, I wonder, that people who like to have fun and enjoy life live longer? In either case, pour away. And if two glasses add a decade to the average lifespan, what kind of health benefits would four glasses deliver? (Cue: sound of cork popping.)

But now to our naughty pastor. According to the account I read, a Homestead, Pennsylvania, man noticed two guys getting it on in a car one night within view of his daughter’s window. When one of the men got out of the car naked, he called the cops. And when the cops came around, they found Pastor George Gregory, of Waterfront Christian Community Church, who explained he and his pal were “just playing” and thought they were in private. The cops pointed out that they were parked on a public street, and Gregory reportedly said “I know.” As for the naked man, who was tied up with a nylon rope in the front seat when discovered, he told the police that the encounter was consensual.

Fast forward a day and the 61-year-old married father of two denied police accounts, insisting that he never admitted being a participant, and in fact, he was helping the naked man fight his addictions.

“I was counseling a young man with a drug problem, okay?” Gregory told CBS. “It did turn strange, but it wasn’t my doing, okay? And I was adamant that, I’m not participating in that way. And so that’s when the police pulled up, and they assume things, but I’m standing by my story. It’s not true.”

“I won’t deny that he began to take his clothes off and propositioned me,” Gregory added, “but I will deny, on a stack of Bibles with God as my witness, that I did nothing.” (I know! Love that double negative here. Freudian slip per chance?)

Gregory, a graduate of the Johnson Bible College in Tennessee, has been married for 35 years and is now a grandfather. According to the press, PopPop was charged with public lewdness and will be receiving a summons by mail.

He’s A Jerk And I Hate Him

I found the Pastor Gregory story in the middle of a string of posts about Costa Rican politics. If you must know, the April 1 presidential vote pits a pro gay guy against an evangelical preacher and they are tied in the polls. At any rate, I was happy to see it. I’m a very shallow person at times.

This guy, Gregory. I can’t get him out of my head. I’m laughing, but I’m also irritated. At 61, he was born on a cusp, at a time when a you could be openly gay without marginalizing yourself although it wasn’t that easy. By the time you were 30, in the mid-1980s, it was getting a lot better. But there were still many in this cohort who understandably stayed in the closet, particularly those from Tennessee.

Then came the 2000s, the gay rights movement’s priorities moved past AIDS and towards civil rights and marriage equality. Even if you had been in the closet for decades, you could open that door a crack and find crowds of people ready to welcome you into an authentic life.

But not this guy. Of course he knows he’s gay by now. Even with the wife and kids, he’s probably always known it. Maybe this is why he went to Bible college and became a minister; maybe to pray away the gay. You could almost feel sorry for him, until you picture his long suffering wife watching him staring at the smart phone that never leaves his pocket, watching him grab his jacket at ten thirty on a weekday night. “I’ll be back in an hour,” he says. She knows not to ask any questions.

It’s a familiar story—the sanctimonious hypocrisy, the double life, the lying, the self loathing. But it’s getting more and more rare. People like Pastor Gregory are anachronisms, men with a singular lack of courage. They’re not even that funny anymore and they’re about as Christian as I am.

Court Watch

So, this may well be the month we learn just exactly what Justice Kennedy thinks of us as we get ready to welcome the High Court’s opinion in Masterpiece Cakeshop v Colorado Civil Rights Division. Do we deserve the same legal protections against discrimination accorded women and racial minorities? Or is gay bias different? A little more understandable. We know that faith is not enough to trump race-based civil rights laws. Nor is the right to free speech for that matter. But are these First Amendment guarantees enough to trump anti-discrimination laws that cover LGBTs? Should there be a Constitutional exception for gays?

You get the picture. Justice Kennedy has always been eloquent in our defense, but rarely specific as far as legal precedent is concerned and his wishy washy jurisprudence may come back to haunt us. Indeed it could unravel much of our progress. Alternatively, he could put these fears to rest by writing or joining a strong gay rights opinion.

Meanwhile, in early February, a California judge issued an odd opinion in favor of a Bakersfield cake maker who, like Masterpiece Cakeshop’s Jack Phillips, claimed that her right to free speech was impaired when California law forced her to participate in a same-sex wedding. I know. Selling someone a cake does not force the baker to approve or participate in someone’s wedding any more than driving the brides to the church means the chauffeur believes in gay civil rights. It was alarming to see this flawed logic emerge victorious from this case even as we all insist this rationale will fail before the nine justices.

So Much News, So Little Time

We have some other legal news; a Title VII victory at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, a settlement in one of our high visibility Title IX transgender rights cases, and the not-surprising information from the Department of Education that they don’t believe federal law requires schools to accommodate transgender students. Obama’s Education Department believed the exact opposite, but that’s what we got when we switched from a constitutional scholar with the most gay friendly administration in history to a halfwit salesman with a team of incompetent homophobes.

If only I hadn’t spent so much time blathering on about Pastor George, I might have been able to present some of the details of those legal stories, but I can’t go back. The moving finger writes, and having writ, moves on. Nor all your piety nor wit shall lure it back to cancel half a line, let alone an entire section.

I will, however, make space for the news that God Damned Bermuda went ahead and enacted the law that replaced marriage equality with domestic partnerships. Do not go there. And the city of Starkville, Mississippi just voted against an application for a Pride Parade, adding its name to our expanding list of blackballed vacation spots.

Ann Rostow can be reached at