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ACA at the Pride Festival, June 10, 2006
We usually have a booth at the Gay & Lesbian Pride Festival and this year was no exception. It was a fun event for everyone involved. The festival was the largest one in Texas for 2006, with 108 booths and 8 hours of live bands. The bands were great, by the way, but our booth was a little to close for us to carry on involved conversations with visitors.

Our booth was simple, but we passed out lots of fliers, newsletters, atheist tracts, pens, and bumper stickers. We estimate that we had 100 people visit our booth and many more than that who saw that we were there. With luck, the event will result in a lot of new members.

For those of you wondering, we had nobody challenge us on our beliefs or lack thereof. We did have a number of admitted atheists and agnostics drop by the booth, which was nice. One said he was a regular contributor to alt.atheism and that he recently moved to Austin. A young woman was an atheist, but didn't realize that there was a group in Austin, so she was thrilled to see us there. We hope that they will join us.

A couple of guys came by near the end of the day and were playfully challenging us: "So you're atheists, huh? So what do atheists say when you have an orgasm?" We were laughing too hard to give a serious answer.

Many thanks to our volunters:

  • Don Baker (organizer)
  • Keith Berka
  • Chuck Clark
  • Matt Dillahunty
  • Steven Elliott
  • David Kennedy
  • Shelley Roberts
  • Renee St. James
  • Anne
  • James Watson
  • Joe Zamecki

Photos


Overview shot, early in the day.


One of the many great bands at the event, Manager's Choice.


Volunteers Chuck Clark, Joe Zamecki, David Kennedy, Keith Berka (mostly hidden), Shelley Roberts, and Renee St. James.


Volunteers David Kennedy, Renee St. James, and Shelley Roberts.


Volunteers Anne, Matt Dillahunty, James Watson, and Steven Elliott.


Volunteers Don Baker and Matt Dillahunty.

Flier

We produced a flier to explain why an atheist group was there at the Pride Festival. The front page appears below. On the back, we reproduced our press release on the 2005 passing of the Texas State constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

Why Atheists Care about Gay Rights


Austin Pride Festival
June 10, 2006

The Atheist Community of Austin supports same-sex marriage and opposes legislation that seeks to discriminate against individuals based on race, sex, religious belief, or sexual orientation. We view the freedom to marry as one of many freedoms and rights granted to all citizens as the natural consequence of true equality and the complete separation of church and state. Our nation has made great strides toward ensuring equal rights for women and minorities, yet true equality remains elusive and some segments of our population remain "fair game" for bigotry, prejudice and discrimination.

With regard to same-sex marriage, we have yet to hear of a valid secular reason for barring consenting adults from entering contracts, which is what marriage is. Nearly all of the obstacles to gay rights stem from religious conservatives as a result of their religious beliefs. While they are entitled to their opinions, the First Amendment to the US Constitution guarantees that the government cannot make laws that favor particular religions, even if they are in the majority. Our Constitution exists to protect the minority from the whims of the majority.

While religious conservatives may think they somehow own the institution of marriage, they don't. Marriage licenses are granted by the state, not churches. Furthermore, the government has never been in the business of sanctifying marriages-nor should it ever be. That's the business of churches and nobody is demanding churches to perform same-sex marriages. In fact, the First Amendment also protects them from being forced to perform ceremonies outside the scope of their religious views. The state isn't meddling in the church's business and the church shouldn't be meddling in the state's business--or yours! For these reasons, we view same-sex marriage as primarily a church-state separation issue.

Atheism is simply the lack of a belief in gods. It's the sensible position, given the lack of evidence for the supernatural. Atheists value evidence, reason, and scientific thinking. These are without a doubt the best tools we have to make good decisions-both for an individual and for public policy. Atheists value autonomy, having the education to make good choices, and accepting the responsibility for those choices. We see no benefits from religious belief that cannot be attained through secularism, which is free of the divisive baggage that generally accompanies religion. We reject the idea that any religion can serve as the basis for a superior morality or healthy worldview.

The Atheist Community of Austin is organized as a nonprofit educational corporation to develop and support the atheist community, to provide opportunities for socializing and friendship, to promote secular viewpoints, to encourage positive atheist culture, to defend the first amendment principle of state-church separation, to oppose discrimination against atheists and to work with other organizations in pursuit of common goals. We welcome new members!

See the back of this sheet for a press release we issued in response to the Texas same-sex marriage amendment to the Texas State constitution. We have addressed gay and lesbian rights many times in press releases and on our TV show and Internet radio show. For more information about us, see our web site at www.atheist-community.org.

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From the officers:

The audio and video from Steve Bratteng's July 13th lecture are now available.