Friday, May 29, 2009

Anti-gay marriage reporter tells her side of story on being dragged by security

Brenda Lee, a freelance reporter, sounds sane on the video, certainly not like someone out to harm President Barack Obama, but how she identifies herself seems a bit off. Airport Security dragged her away at the Los Angeles airport, LAX, yesterday after she tried to pass a letter to President Barack Obama via the Secret Service. The text of the letter is in this post. (Updated to add the word "airport"before "security" for clarity's sake.)

I guess the Secret Service concluded she was dangerous and not really a reporter but a protester. What do you think?

From USA Today:
... Lee, who describes herself as a Roman Catholic priestess from Anaheim, was waiting for Obama to arrive at LAX on his way out of town, she tells the Associated Press. Lee is a columnist for the monthly Georgia Informer in Macon and said she has White House press credentials.

She told AP she asked a Secret Service agent to give the president her letter, but he refused and referred her to a White House staffer. Lee refused to give the staffer the letter. (USA Today)
The Georgia Informer is an African-American newspaper. Here is the text of the letter as Lee posted at the newspaper. Perhaps some words in all caps made them suspicious of her mental state. I know I wonder about people who write in all caps more than once. (That's just a joke, folks, because the SS didn't actually see the letter before airport security dragged her off, if they saw it at all.)
Late Tuesday, May 27, 2009, I wrote the following letter to President Obama.

Dear President Obama,

I am praying for you. You are the most powerful man in the world and GOD placed you there to do HIS WILL. On March 18th, you mentioned that you would rather have one good term than eight mediocre years as president. You will always be the first African American President; the challenge is for you to be A Great African American President, but to become a great president you must keep your hands in GOD’S HANDS.

I am begging you, as a father of two daughters, to establish America as a GOD fearing country and to stand against the gay life that threatens to tear America apart.

Same sex marriage is a GOD ISSUE not a Civil Right Issue. The pursuit of happiness and safety in the context of the law protects the human race not only individuals. GOD’S WRATHS, Aids and VD threatens the population at large. There has never been and never will be total happiness.

No one has addressed the abused children who were given to gay couples in the State of California or the breaking of the law by California Attorney General Jerry Brown and the five justices when they lifted the ban on gay marriage without due process of the law, which they swore to uphold. To the American people, it appears that they are above the law.

No one has spoken of the ramification of the gay life style. How will children be conceived, how much will it cost, who will be able to afford it and who will over see the doctors? Which races will disappear? These are only a few of the complex questions that must be answered.

Who is qualified to take GOD’S PLACE and who will rule in Truth and Fairness? Once people can decided which sex they would like to be listed as, chaos will follow.

Your daughters and my grandchildren may not have the legal right to know the true sex of their potential spouses. You cannot image the opening of Pandora’s box. I pray that moralists will come to your aid in the coming months and let you know how they feel about these issues

I will continue to pray for your family, America and the world.


Rev. Brenda Lee
Read more of what Lee says about the incident here in her column God vs. Men at The Georgia Informer.

The whole "Roman Catholic Priestess" thing is weird. She doesn't want gays to marry and identifies with a church that doesn't think God wants females as priests. Furthermore, it seems she doesn't believe in separation of church and state, and unfortunately appears to be one of the people who confuses pedophiles with homosexuals.

Despite that, it was probably a mistake for security to drag her off. They should have taken the letter, a staff member should have held it, and then they should have kept an eye on her to see if she did anything threatening. She wouldn't have even know that Obama didn't get the letter.

More importantly, why was she perceived to be a threat? Didn't President Obama have Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church, pray at his inauguration? Brenda Lee and Rick Warren in many ways are on the same page, except Warren doesn't want to be under the Pope.

On the side of the Secret Service, however, if Lee had done something like lunge at the president, they would have been criticized for seeing the letter but letting her get near Obama.

In the rest of her column about the incident, Lee suggests she wouldn't have been dragged off if she had been a male, white member of the clergy. Given the president's association with Warren, on that point Lee sounds quite sane to me. (For clarification to readers, what made Lee look suspicious was that she claimed to be a reporter and so was not supposed to be there as a member of the clergy. I've had press credentials before. You don't use them to pass messages to your subject. Despite Fox News saying she was removed for her message, her anti-gay message was not the threat because the president's heard that before from Rick Warren. My last paragraph was not executed well. To clarify for skimmers, I think Lee is off her nut. I think she's sane to wonder if she would have been treated differently had she been a white male member of the clergy saying the same things Warren says, but she's not so sane because she ignores that she was supposed to be there as a reporter and not a clergy member. In the first paragraph I say that how she identifies herself is "off")


msladydeborah said...


I have mixed feelings about this.

George Bush Sr. visited the Head Start site where I worked. Mrs. Bush was also with him. We were told that no one is allowed to give the POTUS or the FLOTUS anything directly in their hands that has not gone through a security check first. So I don't think that the SS acted out of line in this case. The envelope could of been filled with a letter or with anthrax.

Lee's press creds only give her a specific level of leverage in my opinion. The letter was not about the business of the press. Unless this publication has a on going religious focus.

A Catholic priestess? Really? Self Ordained for sure. A large portion of my family is Roman Catholic and I would heard about a woman priest.

The seperation of church and state is divided by a thin line. I have always felt that it was murky.

It is always difficult to determine how the SS would respond to another person who acted as Lee did. So I'm not buying her point on that.

The issue of same sex marriage is one that isn't going to be easily resolved in the mind of many. The church has its stance and the GLBT folks are geared up to fight. Only time will tell what will was the correct stance.

Vérité Parlant said...

To be blunt, she sounds nuts to me, but I try not to judge people's mental competency when it comes to their religion. :-) After all, her letter does say the same things Rick Warren says about gays, and I'm not going to step into the hornets nest on what's biblical and not with that one b/c I don't want to put that much time into moderating comments. The gay marriage issue bring all kinds of wackadoos out on both sides. :-D

I think the SS saw her as a threat b/c she claimed to be a reporter but seemed to be a protester,not very professional of her. She would have been screened already for weapons and dangerous substances, doubly so to see the president, plus it was at an airport. SS told her to give the letter to a White House staffer. Maybe they're expendable if you think a piece of paper's a bomb or has Anthrax on it. LOL.

It was her refusal to do so that caused them to get suspicious, I think.

In the end, it was not the SS that carted her off but airport security. Airport security people have been known to overreact but also to under-react and make decisions based on ethnicity appearance.

At Newark International, while working in the airport, I told security that a man who told me he was Norweigian (blond hair, blue eyes) was suspicious. I described him and what he was doing.

He was taking video of the baggage handlers loading planes. At first security seemed to tolerate me as a "honey" who worked in the airport and what did I know because "it's not illegal to shoot video here," they said smugly.

When I said, "He's not American and claims he has press credentials. Anybody checked those." I guess then they considered they may need to cover their behinds. I pointed the guy out them, and he took off running, video camera and all.

Would they have been so easy-going about it when I first told them about him if he had "looked Arab" or been a "big black guy."

The White House hasn't commented on Lee's removal. So, we don't know if it was an SS call or an Airport security call. I'd bet the SS told airport security to "take care of it."

My security brain says what you've said, "Can't take chances with the president's life." "

About the RC. My dad's RC, but I'm not. Still, I know a lot about the RC living in NOLA, so "Roman Catholic Priestess" raises a big flag with me. Don't know if she told the SS she was a RC priestess though.

Separation of church and state may be murky, but clearly she doesn't know that there is one. And if there was in the USA an entwining of church and state, the deck is stacked against it being openly with the RC anytime soon. It wasn't that long ago, before JFK, that Americans tried to prevent Catholics from being elected to the presidency.

Thanks for the visit, Deborah.

Vérité Parlant said...

Oh, one more thing. The Right is portraying this as an anti-gay thing on Obama's part, but it seems Lee didn't tell the SS the contents of the letter.

SjP said...

This is all very strange to me. But for me the bottomline here is that you just can't be running up on any President (and especially this one) expecting for SS to say its 'all good'.

I think the good Rev. Lee (Catholic Priestess???) might be a few cards short of a full deck. said...

Hi there!

I saw your comment at my blog and thought that I had approved it but now I don't see it onscreen!! I hope I didn't delete it by accident!

If so, please feel free to repost your comment! I scrolled down to several of the posts and didn't see it!

This woman was clearly being a fool. She actually thought that she could pass a letter to the president? Puhleeease.

Then she thinks that it's racism because this ploy was rebuffed? Really?

The white media loves to highlight these "fake racism" claims in order to cause the public to discount the REAL racism claims.

I am not sure why gays and lesbians think that their battle is with the clergy. A marriage ceremony in the church is not required for ANYONE to be legally married. Therefore, not being permitted to have a wedding ceremony in a church doesn't change anything in terms of a couple's marital status.

Ministers have always been able to choose whose wedding to officiate. This isn't anything new.

Most churches do not put that responsibility in anyone's job description. For good reason! The clergy will never be FORCED to officiate anyone's ceremony as long as it is not listed as a responsibility of his/her position with that organization.

I believe that God identifies homosexuality as a sin in the Bible. There are other ministers who do not think that God identifies homosexuality as a sin in the Bible. Well, there are many translations and I still haven't found one minister YET who can show me in the ORIGINAL language that it is not identified by God as a sin.

Teaching that God identifies homosexuality as a sin doesn't make anyone "ANTI-GAY". That's just more of the gay arm-twisting that hinders their cause.

Sex before marriage is identified as a sin in the Bible as well and I am not against all non-virgins!

Their argument that preaching what is in the Bible is "hate" teaching is utterly ridiculous.

Homosexuality is identified in the Bible as a sin. And I don't marry people who are living together either. I don't pick and choose sins to paint on a banner as the most deplorable ones.

Peace, blessings and DUNAMIS!

Vérité Parlant said...

SJP and Lisa, Thank you. You know how this goes. My friend says when people are acting nutty either because they really are nutty or they're just acting a temporary fool, "They think people can't see them." I always joke back, "Well, you know, eventually all crazy people think they're invisible."

It's possible Ms. Lee doesn't see herself at all and certainly doesn't see that others find her behavior unusual, to put it kindly.

I think there is an element of the GLBT community that really wants a fight with the Christian Church, getting the government to approve gay marriage is a side issue for them. I'll say what I said the first time I wrote on this at BlogHer and got booed, "Good luck with that."

It's one thing to change a law, it's quite another to ask people to give up their belief systems and compromise what they believe God has called them to do. I believe in separation of church and state. I think government can do what it wants to do and not be held accountable to any particular religious belief. But I think if you don't believe what Joe and Susie believe at Joe and Susie's church, then don't go to Joe and Susie's church, and don't throw rocks at their church either. We're accountable to God individually.

Gena said...

How did she present herself? As a reporter. Lee said she had White House credentials.

I don't know for sure but wouldn't there be something in the not fine print about what you can and can't do near the POTUS?

This woman made a request to the Secret Service. Lee was directed to a White House staffer. She declined that option. We don't know what she said or was said back to her. There maybe a recording of the interaction by the Service.

Now, in hindsight I think they should not have asked her permission to stand near her. They should have done it, or have someone in front of her, whatever.

Do I think security handled it well? Nope. I think they needed to make it clear to her that there will be no giving anything to the President. As a reporter she should have known that.

But that is not why she was there. She was not acting as a reporter and that is why I have very limited sympathy for her.

I want the Secret Service to be hyper-cautious. If they think there might be a tiny problem remove all doubt. If removing her eased their doubt, it is all right by me.

Lee is praising her deity that she was lifted off the ground for the publicity that is running her way.

Remove the issue and look at it from a security standpoint. They had a concern and they acted upon it.

Vérité Parlant said...

I hope some of those who have been kind enough to comment on this post decided to get email on it because I found this amsuing information.

Do you remember "Handshake Man"?