Scott Lively cancels appearance in Greenfield

  • Scott Lively Photo via livelyforgovernor.us

  • Participants in the 2nd annual Franklin County Pride March and Rally gather at Energy Park after the parade in Greenfield on Saturday, June 23. Scott Lively’s expected attendance at a Greenfield Fourth of July event was announced on Wednesday, days after the Pride celebration. City Council President Karen “Rudy” Renaud said the announcement was a “shame because (Franklin County) Pride was such a great unifier and such a wonderful celebration of diversity and acceptance and love.” Lively has since canceled his Fourth of July appearance. Recorder Staff/Dan Little

Recorder Staff
Published: 6/27/2018 6:16:49 PM

GREENFIELD — Scott Lively, the pastor and controversial anti-LGBTQ gubernatorial candidate, has canceled his scheduled appearance during a Fourth of July reading of the Declaration of Independence on the Town Common.

Lively was invited by David Levandusky, pastor of the Living Waters Assembly of God Church, to participate in the reading. Levandusky hosts what has become an annual event.

Levandusky said the church is not sponsoring the event and that he organized it as a Greenfield resident. The reading is not connected in any way nor endorsed by the city or the Greenfield Town Republican Committee.

Lively, who was raised in Shelburne, is competing against Gov. Charlie Baker for the Republican gubernatorial nomination that will be decided in a Sept. 4 primary. During Lively’s campaign, he has been criticized for his anti-LGBTQ beliefs and support of President Donald Trump.

According to Lively, he canceled because he first made a commitment to march in the Plymouth Fourth of July parade. He had agreed to participate in the event in Greenfield because he said he was unsure if the parade was going to happen due to funding issues.

Outrage

When Lively’s expected attendance was announced on Wednesday, days after Franklin County Pride’s parade and celebration, reaction came quick.

“It’s a shame because (Franklin County) Pride was such a great unifier and such a wonderful celebration of diversity and acceptance and love,” City Council President Karen “Rudy” Renaud said of Lively’s expected appearance. “For that to be followed by a pastor that is so hateful and, quite frankly, I think he is dangerous, too.”

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Lively is a “veteran of the anti-gay movement” and has been “propagandizing against LGBT people since the early 1990s.” The nonprofit civil rights organization points out he also co-wrote a “Holocaust revisionist book ‘The Pink Swastika: Homosexuality in the Nazi Party,’” that claims, according to the group, that the Nazis carried out their atrocities because of the “savagery” of gay men within the party.

Lively, though, claimed that the characterization of his views by the Southern Poverty Law Center were inaccurate and that his statements were “cherry-picked.” He said he would engage in a public debate with those who disagree with him on the subject.

“My position is that everyone deserves basic civil rights,” he said, but that “sexuality should be a private matter” and that there should be a “separation of LGBT and state.”

This separation, Lively said, includes government officials not taking part in pride parades or allowing a rainbow flag to fly on city property. Such a flag that signals support for the LGBTQ community flies on the common.

Before Lively’s change of plans, residents met Wednesday night in anticipation of protesting the gubernatorial candidate’s appearance. One of those residents was David Brock, who said the organizers of the reading have a right to freedom of speech, including extending an invitation to Lively. But he disagrees with the decision, calling it “revolting. ... “I think it’s a disgrace to the Fourth of July.”

At-Large Councilor Isaac Mass, who has previously been a part of the annual reading, canceled his appearance this year when he became aware of Lively’s appearance.

“I was invited to participate this year and agreed ... until I found out that Mr. Lively was invited to be a speaker, at which point I withdrew my participation,” Mass said.

Mass said Levandusky had the right to hold the event on the common, and supports “his right to have people we disagree with to speak on the Town Common.”

Mayor William Martin released a statement on the issue after his office had reportedly received several phone calls on the matter.

The event is privately organized and received a permit from the city’s Licensing Board, the mayor said in a statement. “It is the free speech and free assembly rights of the organizers to invite whatever speakers they wish.”

Like Mass, Martin withdrew from the event, which he had agreed to participate in “several months ago.”

Reaction

Levandusky said he chose to invite Lively not because of politics but because the event is a celebration of free speech.

“My only reason for connecting with him was for the reading of the declaration, that’s all it was for,” he said. “People made it something that it wasn’t meant to be.

“They keep forgetting people have a First Amendment right to freedom of speech. Our reading of the Declaration of Independence is not a political thing.”

Levandusky was aware of the controversy that has surrounded Lively and stressed “he wasn’t here for political debate or issues at all.”

“This whole thing has nothing to do with politics, it has to do with the Declaration of Independence,” he said. “How can they talk about inclusiveness and choose to leave one person out?”

Levandusky said he invited Baker, Lt. Gov. Karen Polito and former Sen. Stan Rosenberg to participate before he invited Lively, but all three had declined.

Levandusky said Lively’s story is one of success after he reportedly overcame drug and alcohol addiction to become a constitutional rights attorney.

Levandusky said he will attempt to invite Rosenberg again and, in spite of the controversy, the event will happen July 4.

Reach Dan Desrochers at:

ddesrochers@recorder.com


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