Leaders from “We Are Many - United Against Hate” held a press conference today at the state Capitol building.

Leaders from “We Are Many – United Against Hate” held a press conference today in the Assembly Parlor of the State Capitol Building to denounce state Supreme Court candidate Brian Hagedorn use of “hateful words against the LGBTQ community.”

“I believe one of the reasons why this country is so special because we can all practice our faith, or none, as we choose,” said Masood Akhtar, founder and president of the group We Are Many — United Against Hate. “And we are also free to speak as we see fit. These two rights separate us from many other countries in the world. And believe me, I have been to many other countries.

“But, while we have the right to speak freely, we are also accountable to others for what we say,” he added.

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Hagedorn wrote in a blog as a law student in October of 2005: “The idea that homosexual behavior is different than bestiality as a constitutional matter is unjustifiable.”

Hagedorn’s campaign has also been in the news recently as Hagedorn and his wife helped to found a private, Christian school that bans faculty, students and parents from being in same-sex relationships. Hagedorn has also given paid speeches for the Alliance Defending Freedom, a legal advocacy and training group that has supported the recriminalization of homosexuality in the U.S. and criminalization abroad. The Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled the Alliance Defending Freedom “a hate group.”

Masood Akhtar, founder and president of the group We Are Many — United Against Hate, speaks at the state Capitol building today.

“When Mr.Hagedorn spouts his hateful words against the LGBTQ community, and also says his hate is part of his Christian faith, that is something all of us must object to,” Akhtar says. “Our objections to his words has nothing to do with his faith.”

“We Are Many – United Against Hate” is a non-partisan, non-profit, state-wide organization of common people who are urban and rural, spiritual and secular, seeking equal protection for all, united against hate, bigotry and racism. At Akhtar’s side for today’s event was civil rights lawyer Steven Porter, Steve Starkey, executive director of OutReach LGBT Community Center and Charles L. Cohen, an E. Gordon Fox Emeritus Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Ahktar said that while Hagedorn is free to speak as he wishes, we can and should hold him accountable, and we should reject his hate.

“In 2016, I was asked by a TV host that there is a discussion in the White House to create a Muslim Registry, what is your reaction as part of Muslim Community? My response was plain and simple, ‘This is highly un-American and unconstitutional to single out one minority based on religion. This is not What America is all about,'” Ahktar said.

“But I said I like the idea of starting a registry (which I called Anti-Hate Registry at that time) that will bring people together regardless of their religion, color, ethnicity or political affiliation in an effort to build an inclusive community,” he continued. “Now we call this Registry as We Are Many United Against Hate Movement. We have a state-wide advisory board that represents people of diverse faith, no faith, minority communities, and so many respected individuals/organizations, etc. Some of them are here.”

Ahktar ended with a personal message to Hagedorn, who is running for Wisconsin Supreme Court against fellow Appeals Judge Lisa Neubauer. The election is Tuesday, April 2.

“Let me end by saying that hate is not a Republican Issue, it’s not a Democrat issue, it’s a human issue,” he said. “Today, we all stand together in condemning Mr. Hagedorn’s hate rhetoric in the strongest way possible. Keep hate out of our courtrooms and replace it with love.”