Friday, March 27, 2015

'Did Georgia provide the pathway to kill anti-gay 'religious freedom' bills?' & other Friday midday news briefs

How To Kill A Discriminatory ‘Religious Liberty’ Bill: Call The Bluff - One lesson we should learn from what happened yesterday in Georgia to possibly kill that state's "religious liberty" bill is a way to wreck other "religious liberty" bills which may be proposed in other states. And if the bills aren't destroyed, we would still win the narrative, which is equally important.

Gay Money Is No Good in Indiana - MEANWHILE, Indiana is learning a lesson regarding bigotry and the inanity of anti-gay propaganda. The religious right tells us that lgbts don't need protection from discrimination because we are in a high income bracket. So why are they proposing reasons for us to withhold ALL OF THAT MONEY we are supposed to be making.

 7 Entities That May Boycott Indiana Over New LGBT Discrimination Law - Second verse, same at the first (damn, this is so much fun!)

 Hillary Clinton condemns Indiana discrimination law - Now you KNOW if Hilary is wanting a piece of the "Indiana beat down," things just got real.

  Court blocks implementation of FMLA rule for same-sex couples - Okay, time to come down from the high so we don't get victory disease. We still have a long way to go to secure equality.

Eleven Republicans Vote For Benefits For Married Same-Sex Couples - A nonbinding vote, but wait until you read the list of Republicans who voted for it.

 Rand Paul Suggests Gay Marriage Is The Result Of A 'Moral Crisis' In America - My God, if I hear ANOTHER PERSON talk about how this country "needs a revival" or "great awakening," I am going to DO SOMETHING (and I seriously don't know it is yet, but it will be spectacular). They've been saying that junk for the longest time. Jerry Falwell said it decades ago. Jesse Helms said it decades ago. Perhaps those claiming how this country "needs a revival" would do well to see if THEY THEMSELVES need said revival before pointing fingers. 

Jerry Boykin Calls Upon 'God's Army' To Rise Up And Fight The 'Evil' Of Gay Rights - Uh sorry. I think that God's Army is too busy feeding hungry, clothing the naked, and generally helping mankind. You know, that stuff that Jesus did when He was alive.

Georgia's 'religious freedom' bill gutted & tabled after unexpected move

While Indiana is dealing with the consequences of passing their "religious freedom" bill, a bit of unexpected drama caused a similar bill in Georgia to be tabled by the folks who proposed it:

Last minute dramatics capped off a two-hour long meeting of the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday, as an amendment adding protections against discrimination passed, which led to a successful vote to table the bill. If the bill would have passed in today's hearing, it likely would have reached the House floor for a vote as soon as Friday. Now the bill's future is in serious jeopardy as the days left in this year's legislative session dwindle.

The amendment was proposed by Rep. Mike Jacobs (R-Brookhaven), who stated that he was inundated with calls and emails from constituents concerned about the bill's effects. After several minutes of debate and a call to vote on the amendment, Rep. Barry Fleming (R-Harlem) gave a stern warning to the committee that if the amendment passed and anti-discrimination language was included in the final version of the bill, he would vote no on it.

"This is the amendment that will gut this bill," he said emphatically. The committee then voted 9 to 8 to pass the amendment. Joining Jacobs and the six Democrats who voted in favor of the amendment were Rep. Jay Powell (R-Camilla) and Rep. Beth Beskin (R-Atlanta). Beskin's vote is notable in that she voted against a similar amendment in Wednesday night's hearing, only to vote in favor a day later. Following passage of Jacobs' amendment, Fleming made a motion to table it, got a second and the bill was tabled.

Check out the full story in the Georgia Voice.

If this bill does not pass, it would be a huge psychological defeat for the religious right. A situation in Atlanta involving that city's fire chief, Kelvin Cochran, supposedly being "dismissed for his faith" was used as a rallying point for supporters of these "religious freedom" bills in general.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Homophobia just cost Indiana the services of a $4 billion company

Sometimes, lessons have to be learned the hard way. The above tweet belongs to Marc Benioff, the CEO of Salesforce, a $4 billion software company.

Thanks to that awful "religious freedom" bill which Indiana legislators passed and Gov. Mike Pence just signed, Safeforce has canceled its programs in the state.

I hope it hurts like hell.

And I have a feeling that this will be only the beginning.

'Anti-gay victory in Indiana may signal bigger loss against lgbt equality' & other Thursday midday news briefs

Breaking: Indiana Governor Mike Pence Has Signed 'Religious Freedom' Bill Into Law - Gov. Pence signed that awful bill into law, as everyone knew he would. Don't let what happened fool you. "Religious liberty" bills are a sad, desperate attempt from folks who can't stop marriage equality. And as the tweets in this article shows, no matter how much they crow about it, the anti-gay right has to know that these sort of bills will backfire. The next step for us is to get engaged, stay engaged, keep the conversation going on how these bill will allow discrimination, and wait for someone to "use" this bill. And shield ourselves as we maneuver the fireworks.  

Indiana's governor signs bill allowing businesses to reject gay customers - And already, the religious right have lost control of the conversation, as this CNN headline demonstrates.  They say it's not about discrimination, but no one is fooled. "Pop! Pop! POP!"

What Fundamentalists Are Missing About Religious Freedom Bills - The irony about these bills is that they are now moving us into the territory to discuss religious doctrine vs. public policy. This is no longer solely a conversation about lgbt equality, a tactical error on the part of those pushing these bills. 

 Blast From the Past: States Using 'Religious Freedom' to Justify Segregation - Yep. A serious tactical error if we as a community can show it. 

 Klingenschmitt: Transgender People Are Driven By A Demonic 'Predatory Spirit Of Sexual Exploitation' - This would be funny, except for the simple fact that fear-based rhetoric like this . . .  

Virginia School Board Votes To Force Transgender Student Out Of Bathrooms - . . leads to junk like this. No child should be treated like this.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Sandy Rios of the AFA gets martyrdom mixed up with injustice

How did I miss THIS idiocy?

The following video below is radio talk show host and American Family Association director of governmental affairs Sandy Rios at a recent religious right event. She pushes the usual "bathroom fears" about the transgender community and other lies about marriage equality.

Then she says something which is supposed to be serious, but comes across as inane. She says folks should be ready for "martyrdom"

Martyrdom, or sacrificing your very life for a cause, be it your faith or whatever. Martyrdom because this is soooo much better for America?:

And this is so much worse?:

Apparently Ms. Rios has gotten it backwards. Historically, it is for the cause of justice that people lost their lives, i.e. defending the little man, providing comfort and assistance to those in need, or just simply speaking out in the face of violent oppression. Gays getting married and transgender males and females not being looked at as predators is simple justice overcoming injustice. No one has EVER become martyrs for the cause of injustice. And that's not going to change. Period.

''Religious freedom' bill could backfire against Indiana' & other Wednesday midday news briefs

Gen Con Threatens To Take Popular Convention, And Millions, Out Of Indiana Over Religious Freedom Bill - Indiana legislators passed an awful "religious freedom" bill and Gov. Mike Pence says he will sign it. Okay. It's on. . .
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) reconsidering 2017 convention in Indianapolis if RFRA is signed into law - And on . . .  

Businesses take stand against Religious Freedom bill - And on. Make no mistake about it. Any victory for the "religious freedom" folks in Indiana will be purely pyrrhic. And it's only the beginning and not just for Indiana. 

In other news: 

 Gay U.S. ambassadors take part in Newseum panel - Not bad. It's a beginning, though the panel needs some tweaks here and there.  

NOM resorts to blatant lying in its 2015 #March4Marriage materials - By the way, NOM is having ANOTHER "March4Marriage," or as it is known -  Battlefied Earth Part 2 .

 Senator Proposes Budget Amendment That Would Force The Government To Hire Anti-Gay Employers - Uh excuse me . . .

Pat Robertson: 'So-Called' Gay People Have 'Destroyed Marriage'- Careful, Pat. You have been highly amusing lately, but do no mess with gay families. 

 18 Small Businesses Who Support Marriage Equality - THIS is wonderful!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Anti-gay American Family Association defends idiotic full-page SCOTUS ad with even worse explanation

Okay, here is a secret about anti-gay groups which you probably already know.

It is almost impossible for them to admit that a course of action they have taken was wrong, misguided, or too extreme.

No matter how stupid it is, or how much criticism they receive, they won't back down. It's a somewhat admirable trait sometimes. But not all of the time. We are all human and, as such, tend to make mistakes. When we do make mistakes, we do need to acknowledge such.

So why am I saying all of this? Because of today's absolutely bat-crazy full-page ad in The Washington Post by the American Family Association. The ad implied a warning of damnation to the Supreme Court if  it rules for marriage equality later this year:

The Supreme Court hasn't even heard the case as of yet and AFA is implying eternal damnation should it rule the so-called wrong way.

Real smart, guys. And the usage of the famous painting "The Creation of Adam" was almost a nice touch. We'll just forget the fact that the artist, Michelangelo, was reputed to be gay.

And like I hinted  before, the AFA refuses to back down.. According to Right Wing Watch, its president, Tim Wildmon, issued a defiant (and scatterbrained) defense of this idiotic full-page ad:

Real nice guys. I hate to see what plans you think of to get your agenda across when you ARE using your brain.

'Anti-gay group tries to 'move' Supreme Court with full-page ad against marriage equality' & other Tuesday midday news briefs

Look: AFA Threatens Supreme Court To Decide Marriage Biblically In New Washington Post Ad - Cause threats of Biblical damnation have ALWAYS moved the Supreme Court. Really . . . I swear . . .

Ted Cruz Announces Presidential Campaign At Religious Right School Stacked With Anti-Gay Activists - Yesterday, many of us laughed at the idea of Sen. Ted Cruz running for president. Today, let's look at Liberty University, the so-called Christian school where he made his announcement. I feel sorry for these students and you will too when you read who is employed there.

Russia’s Bid To Curtail LGBT Benefits At The UN Fails - Yeesh! What IS Russia's problem?

 Michigan Planet Fitness Sued By Woman Who Claims They Are Too Kind To Transgender People - Girlfriend, you KNOW that is a frivolous lawsuit!

 About those children of fractured families who keep blaming same-sex parenting for their issues... - I HIGHLY recommend this post to ANYONE who thinks that same-sex couples raising children is somehow a danger. Just a simple masterpiece of love and joy.

 Pat Robertson: Denying Service To 'Ungodly' Gays Like Refusing Idol Worship - Pat Robertson . . . Lord . . . Pat Robertson.

Indiana passes very broad 'religious freedom' bill. We've been here before.

We will probably be seeing and hearing more from Lambda Legal.

And the latest phase of lgbt equality begins:

In a landslide 63-31 vote, the Indiana House of Representatives alarmed LGBT advocates Monday by passing a sweeping religious freedom bill that allows private parties — including businesses open to the public — to invoke a religious defense in legal cases.

The bill cleared Indiana’s senate in February.

Gov. Mike Pence resisted calls to veto the bill Monday evening, issuing a statement that said the measure “is about respecting and reassuring Hoosiers that their religious freedoms are intact. I strongly support the legislation and applaud the members of the General Assembly for their work on this important issue. I look forward to signing the bill when it reaches my desk.”

 . . .  The bill’s prime sponsor in the house, Republican Rep. Timothy Wesco . . . said the law is “modeled” after the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Passed by Congress in 1993, that law and others like it at the state level prevent government from burdening a person’s exercise of religion.

. . .  However, the Indiana bill is broader than federal law. While the Indiana bill says that a “governmental entity may not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion,” it also applies those rules to businesses and interactions between private parties “regardless of whether the state or any other government entity is party to the proceeding.”

You can read the full story on Buzzfeed.

However, before any of you become angry, discouraged, or upset in any way, it's best to put this in perspective.

We've been here before. Before we could even fully celebrate the overturning of the sodomy laws at SCOTUS in 2003, the anti-gay right bombarded us with statewide anti-marriage equality bills. The irony was at that time, a lot of us (me included) didn't even conceive the idea of gays and lesbians getting married.

It took a while - quite a long while - but many of us got in engaged in the struggle for marriage equality and thanks to our perseverance and the tendency of our opposition to either go too far, underestimate us, or over overestimate themselves, we are looking at the possibility of a huge victory this year.

This is not to say that we should take these "religious freedom" bills lightly.  They are certain to pass in several other states and we are going to have to dig down and fight against them.

It's just a matter of perspective. The late social reformer and civil rights activist Frederick Douglass once said "Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will." 

We've been here before.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Kerry Washington gives stirring speech at Saturday's GLAAD Media Awards

Many positive things have been said about Kerry Washington's speech at Saturday's GLAAD Media Award when she received the organization's Vanguard Award.

Here is her speech in its entirety:

' Now to play "devil's advocate," some folks did make some good points about her comments regarding African-Americans. A good friend of mine, Viktor Kerney, had this to say:

Here’s the tea, we (African-Americans) are not overly homophobic. In fact, if we were so homophobic, we would be leading these state and national charges to take rights away from us. Black folks are not leading the National Organization for Marriage, Focus on the Family, the American Family Association, the Concerned Women of America, or Million Moms, and we’re not so drenched in hate that we can’t see.
So, again, Kerry… I feel you, but please give Black folks more credit than that.

I, personally, would go far as to say that behind every African-American prominently manipulating the black community against lgbts or marriage equality is a white hand emanating from a conservative or anti-gay group and giving out cold hard cash.

I think the discussion needs to go to a deeper level than homophobia in whichever certain community.

Let's talk about the money.

'Look out, lgbt community! Ted Cruz is running for President' & other Monday midday news briefs

Ted Cruz 'Imagines' Government Defending 'Sacrament Of Marriage' In Presidential Speech - Sen. Ted Cruz's speech announcing his candidacy for president in 2016 is what just about everyone is talking about. Naturally Cruz isn't planning to be a friend of the lgbt community. 

GLAAD Awards: Kerry Washington, How to Get Away with Murder, Transparent Among Winners - Congratulations to all of the GLAAD Media Award winners (unfortunately I was not one of them, but kudos to Autostraddle for receiving 'Outstanding Blog')  

The new attack on same-sex families is nasty and rude . . . but will still fail - This morning's post is literally burning up reddit. We need to pay attention before the anti-gay right starts pulling more "folks who were raised in same-sex household" out of the woodwork to bash us.  

Idaho Lawmakers Call On Congress To Impeach Judges For Marriage Equality Rulings - Why? Aw heck, why not?

  Monday 3/23 Marks Five Months Since Andre Gray Disappeared in Pittsburgh - PLEASE provide any help that you can. 

 German Couple Talks About Life Together And Being Gay In Germany - I personally recommend this piece.

The new attack on same-sex families is nasty and rude . . . but will still fail

Same-sex families provide much love and support.

The groups backing up  Lopez, Stefanowicz, Warwick, etc. don't provide homes. They take away homes. They don't offer solutions. Instead they trot  out pretty boxes of perfect family lives to the American people. Unwrap those boxes and you will find an emptiness with an echo as loud as the one in their chests, where their hearts, souls and integrity should be.

Already in 2015, we have seen surreptitious, but nonetheless, vulgar attacks on same-sex families.

Earlier this year, anti-gay groups and spokespeople rallied behind four individuals who filed an amicus brief to the federal courts speaking against marriage equality. What was different about this brief was that these four individuals are adults who were allegedly raised in same-sex households.

According to Zack Ford from Think Progress:

All four are in the spotlight now for their amicus briefs urging federal courts to uphold state bans on same-sex marriage. In these briefs, they explain how having a gay parent scarred them for life. They missed out on a “vital dual-gender influence,” they argue, and allowing same-sex marriage will similarly harm other children because “the gay community” doesn’t put children first, instead using them as “props to be publicly displayed.” In turn, “children lose forever their rights to know and be raised by their married biological father and mother.”
In addition to their briefs — which they are expected to replicate for consideration by the Supreme Court — their own additional writing is attracting a lot of attention. One of the four, Katy Faust, published a piece at conservative outlet Public Discourse . . . asking the Supreme Court to consider her experience. It has been shared about 150,000 times and even crashed the site due to its traffic. Brittany Newmark Klein, writing under a pen-name, followed suit at The Federalist.

Ford also pointed out that the four (Robert Oscar Lopez, Dawn Stefanowicz, Brittany Newmark Klein, and Katy Faust) are known for either their anti-gay rhetoric or aligning themselves with anti-gay groups over the years (Editor's note - click on the above links to read past statements and posts about Lopez and Stefanowicz).

As if that isn't enough, a "child's right activist" by the name of Heather Barwick published a column this month presumptuously called  Dear Gay Community: Your Kids Are Hurting. In this piece, which was  published by The Federalist (the same publication which published Klein's piece), Barwick claimed that she was raised in a lesbian household, and thus was deprived the love of a father:

Same-sex marriage and parenting withholds either a mother or father from a child while telling him or her that it doesn’t matter. That it’s all the same. But it’s not. A lot of us, a lot of your kids, are hurting. My father’s absence created a huge hole in me, and I ached every day for a dad. I loved my mom’s partner, but another mom could never have replaced the father I lost.

Together these five, as if by coincidence, repeat anti-gay dogma that same-sex households raising children cause harm because they allegedly deprive children of the "traditional mother and father dynamic."

And they also omit or ignore the mitigating factors which led to their alleged "deprived upbringings," such as the Barwick's father abandoning her or Stefanowicz's father being an all-around negative individual which was independent of his sexual orientation.

Friday, March 20, 2015

'Wonderful response to anti-gay attacks on same-sex families' & other Friday midday news briefs

Dear Heather Barwick, Don't Blame the Gay Community - VERY IMPORTANT PIECE. Recently, Heather Barwick, a woman supposedly raised in a same-sex household, published a piece condemning such households. The piece took a  deceptive "gentle and kind" tone. Anti-gay groups and personalities have been pushing the piece hard. THIS is the answer back courtesy of someone whom we can verify is being raised in a same-sex household. It's simple but powerful. 

 Navy Debunks Fox News' Defense Of Anti-Gay Chaplain - Todd Starnes, Fox News, the Family Research Council, and the rest (sounds like a homophobic version of the Gilligan's Island song) are peddling a story of "religious persecution" in our Armed Forces. Turns out the truth is a bit more complicated and it continues the unfortunate idea that citing your "religious beliefs" is a "get out of jail free" card to all sorts of ugly behavior. 

Uganda spent 600 million on PR to deal with anti-gay law backlash - See, if Uganda didn't pass that law in the first place, the country would have those shillings to spend on something worthwhile.  

An Imperfect Spokesperson: The Transgender Backlash Against Zoey Tur - A wonderful article by my friend Zack Ford of Think Progress. It serves as a lesson to not only the transgender community, but also the gay, lesbian, and bisexual community as to who is out in the media as our "spokespeople." As African-American author Zora Neale Hurston once said, "All my skinfolk ain't my kinfolk."  

Org that infamously vowed to 'drive wedge between gays and blacks' equates marriage rulings with slavery - The National Organization for Marriage is pulling the "Dred Scott" card again, y'all. I would love to be in that board room when their leaders think up these ideas. 

 Texas Attorney General Sues Feds To Stop Same-Sex Spouses From Taking Care Of Each Other - Oh come on! Let's not be so cruel.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Attempt to stop marriage equality in Oklahoma may backfire BIG TIME

When some Oklahoma legislators began pushing a bill which they hoped would prevent marriage equality in the state, I knew it had a loophole.

But I didn't know the loophole was THIS big.

 From Reuters:

A bill overwhelmingly approved this month in the state’s Republican-controlled House of Representatives would allow only judges, retired judges and members of the clergy to issue marriage licenses, cutting county clerks out of the business.

Yet as the measure was making its way to the floor, a rush of same-sex marriage supporters applied to become ministers with the intention of registering as clergy authorized to perform weddings in the state.

“I registered so I could marry same-sex couples. I have the confirmation email. The Oklahoma County Courthouse site is very vague about the paperwork necessary to register,” said Rose Marie of Oklahoma City, who applied for her minister license online in February after the measure was first introduced.

When I first heard of the bill, I thought that gay couples could simply find lgbt-affirming pastors. I never dreamed that the bill could possible create MORE lgbt-affirming pastors.

This inquiring mind wants to know what Oklahoma state legislator, the very anti-gay Sally Kern thinks about this.

Whatever the case may be, I just HOPE this is only the beginning of THIS controversy.  Any retaliation from Kern and company will swiftly move this issue from one of marriage equality to one of religious liberty.

Only they won't be in the position to portray themselves at the victims.

'Anti-gay activist: Ben Carson is "DEAD in my eyes"' & other Thursday midday news briefs

Matt Barber
Barber: 'Ben Carson Is Dead In My Eyes' After Apology For Anti-Gay Comments - Because of his apology for that ridiculous comment using prison as an excuse to claim that homosexuality is a choice, Ben Carson is catching flack big time. Anti-gay spokesman Matt Barber says Carson is "dead in my eyes." Apparently someone besides myself has been watching too many mobster documentaries. 

CBS Shows How Easy It Is To Properly Cover A Transgender News Story - Thank you CBS for showing how easy it is to properly report on transgender issues. All it takes is a little common sense.

  A Spiritual Battle For America's Future: Five Takeaways From The Religious Right's Awakening Conference - In a nutshell, gays want to put Christians in jail, Islam is evil, gays want to put Christians in jail, abortion is evil, gays want to put Christians in jail. Did I mention gays want to put Christian in jail. Now I COULD BE wrong about this but I don't think the Family Research Council attended this conference. If that is the case, how out there do you have to be to not have FRC on board?  

Erick Erickson's Campaign For A Draconian Anti-Gay Law In Georgia - Somebody put a muzzle on this viking. But the article points out a good point which the next news brief will hit on in further detail.  

The Religious Right Operative Who Helped Write Utah’s Nondiscrimination Law - Just how many anti-gay laws past and present have sprung from the board rooms of anti-gay groups. This is not a precedent. Long-time anti-gay activist Robert Knight helped to write the viciously anti-gay DOMA decades ago. 

 Michigan May Allow Adoption Agencies To Refuse Service To Gay Couples - And speaking of one of these anti-gay laws . . . I've been accused at times of being sadomasochistic (because of how I dive headfirst in anti-gay dogma and propaganda for this blog), but even I object to any entity being allowed to freely take my tax dollars while discriminating against me and claiming that "it's for the children."