Christian lawmakers unintentionally open the door to gay pride ‘Festivus’ pole at Arkansas statehouse
Fans of the NBC comedy hit “Seinfeld” may be familiar with the fictional irreligious holiday Festivus. But a Florida man wants to make it a reality.
Chaz Stevens wants to erect a large disco ball-topped pole covered in colors of the rainbow at the Arkansas capitol, according to KARK. The “Festivus for the rest of us” holiday in Seinfeld is defined as an antithesis to Christmas, with a large aluminum pole replacing the tree.
Stevens, executive director of the Humanity Fund, filed the application for the display on Monday, but it’s unclear whether the state will approve it. Stevens argues that the government must allow all religious displays or none — and the courts tend to agree with him.
This year, Arkansas decided to erect a Ten Commandments monument on the State Capitol grounds in Little Rock.
“He has the right to ask,” state Sen. Bart Hester (R) told KARK. “The legislature approved the 10 Commandments as a historical document. Look at our state and national Capitol. They are covered in scripture and the 10 Commandments. I fail to see a gay pole as having any historical significance in the founding of our state or nation.”
The legislation to approve the Ten Commandments monument, however, specifically mentioned God multiple times.
Stevens’ request to place the pole on statehouse grounds is just one challenge to Arkansas lawmakers’ decision to allow a Ten Commandments monument there. The Satanic Temple and the Universal Society of Hinduism have filed paperwork asking to place statues of Baphomet and Hanuman at the capitol, respectively.
Stevens in 2013 placed a Festivus pole at the Florida statehouse to counter the Nativity scene there, NPR reports. But this year, the twist is that the pole is covered with the rainbow colors of LGBT pride. Stevens said it’s in response to conservative “harassment” of gay people after the Supreme Court’s June ruling legalizing same-sex marriage in all U.S. states.
“We could not stand by while religious fanatics denied people their basic human rights and dignity, and watch in wonder as Kim Davis, and her followers, flaunt the law of the land,” he wrote on the Humanity Fund’s website. “The Humanity Fund has decided to take our advocacy a step further by placing Festivus Poles across the country, so the world can collectively and jubilantly protest this harassment, while making the world a better place. With your generous help and support, we will erect rainbow poles from DC to LA and beyond.”
Here is Stevens discussing his efforts, as posted to YouTube: