Thursday, October 30, 2014

Fox News is the propaganda arm of anti-gay right in Houston controversy

Todd Starnes began the lies about Houston subpoenas
I made a prediction a while back about Fox News becoming the network where anti-gay spokespeople can repeat their lies without courtesy of correction. However, based upon the recent pseudo controversy involving subpoenas in Houston, the situation is worse than I could ever imagine. Several personalities on the network are exploiting their roles as news figures to become part of the story by not being accurate and then directing audience members to courses of action.

According to Carlos Maza at  Media Matters:

Fox News helped turn a bogus story about subpoenas sent to a handful of Houston pastors into a national rallying cry for religious liberty. Now the network is helping promote an event that will pit some of the country's most extreme anti-LGBT voices against the city's nondiscrimination ordinance.
In May, the city of Houston made history by enacting the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), a measure that prohibits discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and several other categories. The ordinance was championed by the city's first openly gay mayor, Democrat Annise Parker.

Opponents of HERO -- led by the Houston Area Pastor Council -- responded by launching an effort to put a repeal of the ordinance on the ballot in November. Their campaign peddled the myth that HERO would allow men and sexual predators to enter women's restrooms -- a myth that was widely circulated by local media. Though opponents submitted the required number of signatures to put the repeal on the ballot, City Attorney Dave Feldman determined that many of the signatures were collected improperly, and the city announced that not enough valid signatures had been collected.

Opponents quickly filed a lawsuit to have the signatures reviewed, prompting the city to respond by issuing subpoenas to five local pastors for a broad range of documents -- including sermons and personal communications -- related to their opposition to HERO.

On October 14, Fox News reporter and serial misinformer Todd Starnes broke the news of the subpoenas, misleadingly characterizing them as an "attempt to deconstruct religious liberty" and describing HERO as a "bathroom bill." Starnes' report relied heavily on spin from the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the extreme right-wing legal group representing the pastors in their effort to quash the subpoenas. ADF attorney Christina Holcomb called the subpoenas "an inquisition designed to stifle any critique of [the city's] actions."

Before long, Starnes' report made the jump to Fox News' airwaves. On October 15, Starnes appeared on The Kelly File to discuss the story, describing HERO as a measure that would let "men who identify as women" to use women's restrooms.

 Starnes' appearance was followed by a barrage of misleading segments about the story, all of which depicted the subpoenas as an attack on religious liberty. Multiple Fox personalities incorrectly described the subpoenas as part of the enforcement of HERO, suggesting that the ordinance might criminalize anti-gay speech. Others repeated Starnes' lie that HERO would allow men to use women's restrooms. By the end of the week, in just three days of coverage, Fox had spent nearly thirty minutes of airtime peddling its Houston horror story

Fox's panicked coverage was grossly misleading and left out crucial details about the anti-HERO lawsuit. But it worked perfectly as a right-wing horror story about Christians being victimized by a city's attempt to protect LGBT people.

Soon, Houston had become -- as one Fox anchor put it -- "ground zero for religious liberty." Conservative media outlets quickly regurgitated the victimization spin from Starnes and ADF. Conservative groups -- led by the notorious anti-gay hate group the Family Research Council (FRC) -- began organizing "I Stand Sunday," a November 2 rally in Houston to support the pastors who had been "unduly intimidated by the city's Mayor."

In a press conference on October 15, Parker clarified that she had not seen the subpoenas before they were filed, explaining that they were drafted by outside counsel. She also agreed that the language of the subpoenas -- which asked for any materials relating to the pastors' teaching on homosexuality and gender identity -- was overly broad. Days later, the city narrowed the scope of the subpoenas to only materials directly related to the anti-HERO effort.
Huckabee exploited the lie to raise his profile.

But it was too late to stop the tidal wave of conservative outrage birthed by Fox's misleading coverage. Starnes immediately decried the amended subpoenas. During the October 20 edition of his Fox News program, long-time HERO opponent Mike Huckabee urged his audience to bombard Parker's office with Bibles and copies of sermons. The address for Parker's office was displayed on screen, and hundreds of his supporters obeyed his request.

  . . . Later that afternoon, Parker announced that the city had withdrawn its subpoenas of the five pastors. At a press conference, Parker explained that she wanted to avoid having a "national debate about freedom of religion"

 . . .  The move hasn't appeased HERO's Fox News critics. In a report on the subpoenas' withdrawal, Starnes urged his readers to still attend the "I Stand Sunday" rally and advocated for a public vote to repeal the ordinance. During the October 30 edition of Fox & Friends, Huckabee took credit for Parker's reversal and once again took aim at HERO -- which co-host Anna Kooiman described as allowing "40-year-old men to share restrooms with a fourth-grade girl"

You can go to the Media Matters site to read the rest of the story as well as see video footage. But the main thing is that the lgbt community should be forewarned. Fox News did not present this story as a debate between two sides. This was a full-fledged campaign of lies and deceptions buoyed by folks who don't have a problem with lying in God's name and helped by their employer - a network with no accountability or ethics.

If they can raise this much hell and tell these many lies involving this situation, just imagine what Huckabee, Starnes, and the rest can do in any other lgbt equality fight.

We got an enemy in Fox News and the lgbt community had better not take it lightly.

'Poll - Most Americans oppose religious exemptions in hiring practices ' & other Thursday midday news briefs

Most Americans Say Employers Should Never Discriminate, Even on Religious Grounds, According to Latest Harris/Out & Equal Poll - How long will it be before the religious right whine about a "skewed survey?" Or maybe they will just ignore it. Let's not let them ignore it. 
 Apple CEO Tim Cook comes out: “I’m proud to be gay” - By the way, THIS happened.  

Russian Official Says Apple CEO Should Be Banned From Russia After Saying He Is Gay - And Russia is ever so pissed about it. 
Turek: States Should Defend The Institution Of Marriage Just Like The South Defended Slavery - Why not? Slavery is now seen as a hideous blight in American history. And hopefully soon, marriage discrimination will follow that path. 
Woman's Day Magazine Features Groundbreaking Article About Transgender Family - Niiiice!!!!

 It's About Time Someone Other Than Straight White Males Got To Be Superheroes - Ya damn skippy!

Gay marriage will soon lead to adult-child marriage?

You want to know one of the reasons why the anti-gay right is losing the battle over marriage equality. They can't formulate new arguments. It's the same crap over and over again. This time its Julaine Appling of Wisconsin Family Action on Voice of Christian Youth America’s “In Focus” talk show with host Jim Schneider. Imagine saying this junk in a courtroom:

 Editor's note - this post initially has the wrong video spotlighted. It has been corrected.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Houston mayor withdraws subpoenas, anti-gay groups will carry on with false victim rally

Houston mayor Annise Parker just took the wind out of the religious right boat  S.S. We Are Being Persecuted.

Houston Mayor Annise Parker announced Wednesday the city is withdrawing subpoenas sent to pastors who led opposition to the city’s Equal Rights Ordinance.

Attorneys for the city came under fire from right-wing groups after they subpoenaed the pastors’ sermons as part the city’s defense of a lawsuit aimed at repealing the ordinance.

In response to the backlash, Parker directed the attorneys to remove the reference to “sermons” from the subpoenas. But on Wednesday, the mayor went a step further, withdrawing the subpoenas entirely. Parker said she made the decision to withdraw the subpoenas after meeting with two groups of pastors on Tuesday to discuss the issue.

“It is extremely important to me to protect our equal rights ordinance from repeal,” Parker said at a press conference Wednesday. “We believe we can vigorously defend the city of Houston in this petition and that we can do it without the subpoenas.”

Parker was not aware of the original subpoenas but bore the brunt of the backlash. Amongst other things, including ugly references to her lesbian sexual orientation,  her office was inundated with 100 to 500 Bibles.  Parker said she will donate the Bibles.

Unfortunately, I doubt this move will stop any momentum the religious right is hoping to milk from the fracas. Several groups, led by the Family Research Council, will be holding a rally on Sunday entitled I Stand Sunday.

But just like Parker intends to make the most of the Bibles sent to her,  I plan to make the most of the rally by conveniently highjacking the twitter tag #IStandSunday to post some truths about the religious right, especially the link to my booklet, How They See Us: Unmasking the Religious Right War on Gay America.

'Porno Pete LaBarbera detained in Canada for hate propaganda (again)' & other Wednesday midday news briefs

CANADA: Porno Pete Detained Again - Oh looky. Porno Pete LaBarbera went to Canada again and got detained again for hate propaganda. No doubt he whines about not having free speech in Canada. How ironic that he thinks that the United States shouldn't meddle in the affairs of countries which have vicious anti-gay laws.  

No Masks Allowed: Dating When Your Teen Is Transgender - Awesome post 

What the heck is 'NOM Victory Fund'? - NOM is spending money again. .

Lewiston becomes 9th Idaho city to approve LGBT protections - Sweet! Way to go, Lewiston!

Stephen Colbert rips Rep. Louie Gohmert for homophobic comments about gays in the military

Recently, Congressman Louie Gohmert made an absolutely stupid comment that gays shouldn't serve in the military because massages would make them susceptible to terrorists. I really wish I was making that up. Anyway, comedian Stephen Colbert gives Gohmert the verbal skewering he deserves for making such an inane comment:

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

'Southern Baptist Convention practice its homophobic schizophrenia in public' & other Tuesday afternoon news briefs

Even as I speak, probably the one of the most schizophrenic event in American Christiandom is taking place - the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention is having a conference. This is when Southern Baptists get together and proclaim "we have been too mean to homosexuals even though they are sinners who can change but will go to hell if they don't,"

This means you will see positive things like this:

Another evangelical leader comes out against so-called reparative therapy

coupled with awful mess like this:

 Watch This ADF Attorney Call Matthew Shepard’s Murder A Hate Crime Hoax

Now if you want to read the lowdown on the first day of this hot mess of an event, check out Jeremy Hooper's post:

 Looking at Day One of the Southern Baptist's anti-LGBT conference

In other news:

 Apple CEO Tim Cook challenges home state of Alabama on LGBT rights - Good for him!

 Report: Conservative Who Called For Secession, New Anti-Gay Country Named Reagan Gets Fired - Nelson Muntz from 'The Simpsons' says it best: "HA! HA!"

Robert Oscar Lopez: Gay Parents Put Kids At Risk By Encouraging Them To 'Dabble In That World' - This is the SAME Robert Oscar Lopez who throws a bitchy tantrum when we call him out for saying junk like this.

Monday, October 27, 2014

SC anti-gay activist acknowledges that marriage equality will come to the Palmetto State

Oran Smith of the Palmetto Family Council (center) celebrates in 2004 with SC state legislators when the state legislature introduced anti-marriage equality bill which was passed two years later via referendum. Smith is singing a sadder tune now.

It's hard to believe but in my eight years of blogging, I don't think I have ever written a lot of posts on the anti-gay religious right group in my state of South Carolina, the Palmetto Family Council.

This is probably because the council is a low-key, ineffective organization which takes for granted the fact that it is located in a Bible Belt state.

The lgbt community and the Palmetto Family Council generally don't grapple over equality issues, except for in 2006 when the organization successfully led the charge to pass a statewide anti-marriage equality amendment.

However, this success was not necessarily due to anything done by the Palmetto Family Council, but the momentum against marriage equality back then. And as that momentum shifts in the favor of marriage equality, it turns out that the Palmetto Family Council is already accepting the inevitable outcome that marriage equality will come to the Palmetto State.

In a recent interview with the fake news site, One News Now, Palmetto Family Council president Oran Smith acknowledged this:

"[Alan Wilson] asked the state Supreme Court to rule on whether that was proper for two or three probate judges to be giving out these marriage licenses or taking applications, and the court responded to him that no -- it was not appropriate," Smith reports. "We don't have a final decision from the federal courts, so they were restrained from doing that and stopped issuing the licenses and the applications."

South Carolina is in the fourth federal Court of Appeals district to invalidate marriage amendments, so the final ruling is expected soon.

"I think South Carolina, like all the rest, will bow to that decision," the family advocate laments. "And we're then probably stuck with gay marriage in South Carolina until we have some other further progress in some other way," such as federal court decisions in Louisiana and Puerto Rico upholding one man/one woman marriage in the cases that are making their way through the circuit courts to the Supreme Court. That is, if the nation's high court decides to hear those cases.

Sorry Oran, but I think you've lost this one. Get over it.

Photo taken from the Palmetto Family Council's webpage. Take a gander at the link to see the arguments the organization used against marriage equality. And try not to bash yourself over the head while repeatedly muttering, "I can't believe they got this through the legislature with those slack-assed arguments.

'Incident underscores need for talk about homophobia in black community' & other Monday midday news briefs

How the Morehouse Football Team ruined Dear White People and proved its point - From the author of this piece - 

"I want you to imagine yourself in a dark room with a hundred physically fit men rooting for a hate crime to be perpetrated against a gay man. It was terrifying. It was horrifying. It was depressing. Can you imagine what a kid on that team who was gay would have felt?" 

And what's worse, the gay guy was black and the guy punching him was a white racist. In the words of Samuel Jackson: "this here is some repugnant @#&!" 

Audio: Brian Brown advocates on behalf of pro-equality Democrat, destruction of his own party - Definite sign of the Second Coming of Jesus.  

Top Methodist Court Officially Reinstates Pastor Defrocked For Officiating Son’s Gay Wedding - Awesome news!  

Westboro Baptist Church Files Federal Motion To Defend Anti-Gay Marriage Ban - Oh yeah. THAT will help their case.

Anti-gay activist Robert Oscar Lopez is furious to be called out on his homophobic statements

How do you know that you've gotten the religious right's attention?

When they publicly lie about you.

Unfortunately I am not the subject of that riddle.

 Robert Oscar Lopez is a foul individuals who claims to have been raised in a same-sex household. But he spends so much time denigrating that household and other same-sex households in such ugly fashion that he has caught a lot of attention from folks on our side of the spectrum.

Needless to say, he is not happy over it. In a piece published on the anti-gay BarbWire, he takes specific attack at lgbt groups which he claims distorts his point of view:

Read this about Paul Singer. He gave millions to the Human Rights Campaign to launch their global media initiative. The HRC then used the money to pay character assassins, formed on the mold of Jeremy Hooper (mastermind of GLAAD’s infamous Orwellian Commentator Accountability Project). The HRC had people working full-time scouring everything I’ve written or said, in order to smear me. Why? Because Paul Singer’s son is gay and I am a bisexual son of lesbians with a story that undermines the consensus on same-sex parenting, which in turn undermines the case for same-sex marriage.
So I must be destroyed by Paul Singer, with the help of the horrible Human Rights Campaign. Unsuccessful at finding real dirt on me, the HRC, Jeremy Hooper, and GLAAD had to resort to filthy slander. First, financing an artist to draw a sketch of me, caricaturing my face as a wanted criminal. Then, they resorted to lifting endless quotations from my blog that were so out-of-context, they were essentially slanderous misquotes.

Pathetic. First of all, Lopez has GLAAD's Commentator Accountability Project mixed up with Human Rights Campaign's The Export of Hate report.  The purpose of both projects is not to silence or intimidate folks but to educate on statements made by anti-gay activists

And both are accurate. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The anti-gay religious right has been running a bad con game on America

The idea forged by religious right groups that this so-called cultural war is an onslaught on Christian values by an aggressive gay community is a big lie. But it has always had traction because of the aggressive pushing by these groups and the laziness of the American media.

All one has to do is remember history in order to refute the charges of religious right groups that gays hate Christians or gays are pushing to force people to accept their supposed"lifestyle."

If anything, gays have been fighting to keep from being thrown off the proverbial cliff by the onslaught of homophobic propaganda and junk science hurled at them for over two and a half decades.

Junk like these images were perpetuated in the 80s with the help of discredited science:

The irony is that many of these images mirror the ones put out today by religious right groups:

 And far be it from me to forget religious right "social science" about the gay community which claims that homosexuality is a dangerous lifestyle fraught with disease, despair, and untimely death. Religious right groups repeat it ad naseum and many take it as fact. That's only because they are not aware of the hoops religious right groups jump through to create these "social science facts," i.e. the history of rebukes and complaints they have received from the scientific community such as:

National Institute of Health director Francis Collins, who called out religious right groups for falsely claiming that he stated sexual orientation is not hardwired by DNA.

Six researchers of a 1997 Canadian study (Robert S. Hogg, Stefan A. Strathdee, Kevin J.P. Craib, Michael V. Shaughnessy, Julio Montaner, and Martin T. Schehter), who complained in 2001 that religious right groups were distorting their work to claim that gay men have a short life span.

authors of the book Unequal Opportunity: Health Disparities Affecting Gay and Bisexual Men in the United States (Professors Richard J. Wolitski, Ron Stall, and Ronald O. Valdiserri), who complained that their work was being distorted by Focus on the Family.
University College London professor Michael King, who complained that the American Family Association was distorting his work on depression and suicide in LGBT individuals.

University of Utah professor Lisa Diamond, who complained that religious right groups distorted her research on sexual orientation.

Dr. Kyle Pruett, Ph.D., a professor of child psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine, who has also complained that Focus on the Family distorted his work.

Dr. Robert Spitzer, Professor of Psychiatry at Columbia University, who has consistently complained that religious right groups distorted his study to claim that the LGBT orientation is easily changeable. In 2012, Spitzer apologized to the gay community for the original study which religious right groups were distorting.

Judith Stacey, Professor of Sociology at New York University, who has had to, on more than one occasion, cry foul over how religious right groups distorted her work on LGBT families.

Greg Remafedi, Professor  at the University of Minnesota, who has complained several times about how religious right groups have distorted his work.

Here is the serious problem I have - while the media goes gaga and the lgbt community plays defense over the latest phony moral outrage that religious right groups have drudged up, the truths of this entire so-called culture war have been obscured for an obscenely numerous number of years.

And the main truth is this - the lgbt community have never sought to harm Christians or supposed traditional values. Heck, some of us embrace the Christian religion.  It  has been religious right groups (not lgbts and definitely not any individuals who embrace the Christian religion)  who have been doing the aggressive defaming, demonizing, and humiliating for all of these years.

Religious right groups claim to act against lgbt equality because of their belief in traditional morality. But apparently this "morality" includes lying, bearing false witness, and cherry-picking social science at their leisure.

But here is the saddest truth of them all - they are rarely called out for it on a scale so large that it would make them acknowledge the evil they have done.

And I doubt that they ever will be.


How They See Us: Unmasking the Religious Right War on Gay America - the webpage

How They See Us: Unmasking the Religious Right War on Gay America- the Scribd site

Friday, October 24, 2014

'Idaho wedding chapel false panic backfires on anti-gay groups' & other Friday midday news briefs

Coeur d'Alene Says Hitching Post Is Exempt From Gay Rights Law - And this controversy is over. In their attempt to create a false panic about owners of a wedding chapel being sent to jail for not marrying same-sex couples. the anti-gay Alliance Defending Freedom actually sabotaged their own efforts from the get-go. It was the ADF which helped the chapel create the "news business model" the article alludes to. However the organization did so in an attempt to create a test case on "religious liberty" vs. lgbt equality. 
North Carolina Lawmakers Consider ‘License To Discriminate’ For State Marriage Officiants - Batten down the hatches. As we gain the right to marry in more states, this sort of thing is going to gain traction. ESPECIALLY if Republicans gain control of the Senate.  

Eugene Delgaudio: Gays Will Make It Legal To 'Rape And Murder Young Boys' - Delgaudio doesn't really believe this crap. He only does it to raise money, which makes the entire thing a bit more insidious and nauseating.  

Utah Supreme Court Lifts Hold On Same-Sex Adoptions - Another wall falls.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

MSNBC host calls out anti-gay right, Sen Ted Cruz for false fear mongering in Houston

The problem with a lot of televised journalism today is that there is no discernment, too much usage of the false equivalency concept, and the inability to get past visuals and dig into the heart of a story.

With that in mind, I must commend MSNBC's Alex Wagner for calling out anti-gay hysteria over the situation regarding the Houston ordinance and especially giving hell to Senator Ted Cruz over his exploitation and grandstanding of the situation. It's nice to know that there still some true journalists out there on television:

Hat tip to Media Matters who provides more background on the pseudo controversy:

Another Fox News Lie About The Subpoenas Of Houston's Anti-Gay Pastors

No, The City Of Houston Isn't Bullying Anti-Gay Pastors - This Is Basic Lawyering

Lgbts should embrace, study negative parts of gay history

A serious pet peeve I have with my lgbt community is how we don't embrace our history as much as we should. Let's be honest, and this is going to get some of you upset at me. but sometimes when we talk about Stonewall or Harvey Milk, it's because it's the trendy thing to do in our community.

But I'm talking all aspects of lgbt history, particularly the negative parts. A lot of times, we take in such things, I wish we wouldn't laugh in an attempt to take it lightly. As an African-American, I don't take any parts of my history of oppression lightly. I don't make fun of scenes of Strom Thurmond spouting racist dialogue or George Wallace standing in the door way of the University of Alabama in a sad effort to stop desegregation.

So why do the lgbt community make fun of old clips of Anita Bryant or Jerry Falwell or the clip I am about to show below. Why is there such an effort on our part to make light of the negative parts of our history, i.e. the ugly words, the distortions of science, the efforts to make us seem predatory. Why can't we take these images and videos in an effort to educate ourselves as to what we are facing today because in actuality, the things said and done against us are no different than they were back then:

'Anti-gay pastors make empty threats about going to jail' & other Thursday midday news briefs

Anti-Gay Pastors Say They Are 'Ready To Go To Jail' In Defiance Of Nondiscrimination Act - Oh please. The only place those drama queens are going is to the NEXT event where they will say the same thing. And so on and so on. 

5 Years After Passage Of Hate Crimes Law, Religious Right's Dire Predictions Still Haven't Come True - I reiterate  the point that we REALLY need to keep track of all of the anti-gay group predictions which never come true.  

Steve King Doesn’t Expect To Find Gay People When He Gets To Heaven - Honey, you think any self-respecting lgbt wants to be stuck with crazy Rep. Steve King for all eternity? Now where that place may be, only God can decide. 

 Reagan Aide Wants The South To Secede And Form Anti-Gay 'Reagan' Nation - Puleaze! The South is my home and this queen is going NOWHERE. 

 3 States Refuse Gay Unions Despite Court Rulings - Yes South Carolina happens to be one, but marriage equality WILL happen here. As long as it takes.

Anti-gay activist mixes and mingles HIV, Ebola, & bathhouses

For the longest time, 'Porno' Pete LaBarbera has complained that mainstream news programs haven't invited him to talk about the supposed "gay agenda." After viewing just a little of this online show hosted by equally anti-gay Cliff Kincaid, one understands the reasons why no legitimate news program will invite LaBarbera.

This isn't just an appearance. It's bizarre free-form tangent of homophobic venom, which mixes HIV, Ebola, and bathouses; amongst other things.

The interview is rather long but viewing even a small portion is enough. Trust me.