Saturday, September 4, 2010
IntroductionAmerican political discourse has become increasingly polarized, much of it leaning toward the so-called 'right-wing fringe.' Positions that were once considered quite extremist are now being discussed as legitimate, mainstream ideas. Some observers dismiss those promoting said positions as "crazy wing nuts". Even if they are, these people should not be dismissed so lightly.
Sometimes, it seems as though people just shake their heads at these individuals, finding them entertaining or as endearing as their "crazy Uncle Al". However, I think they should be seen as warning signals for America's political health that often go unheeded. Science Fiction provides worst-case, hyperbolic descriptions of these unheeded warnings.
Two examples of this are George Orwell's 1984, and Robert A. Heinlein's character, Nehemiah Scudder. Scudder is mentioned in several of Heinlein's stories including "If This Goes On…" and For Us the Living. George Orwell provides some vocabulary concepts in his dystopian 1984 that help describe some of the effects I am discussing. While Heinlein and Orwell have missed the mark on some of their predictions, I think that by dismissing Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, and other rightwing and religious demagogues, America is putting itself in danger of a political takeover that could change the course of history.
Nehemiah ScudderNehemiah Scudder is a fictional televangelist created by Robert Heinlein who appears as a background character in many of his works. Scudder was a highly popular, conservative, (presumably Christian) religious demagogue who became the "First Prophet". His followers overthrew US Government and converted America to a theocracy, or religious dictatorship. According to Heinlein's Future History timeline, Scudder was elected in 2012(!) with 27% of the popular vote. 63% of registered voters voted in this fictional election. That 63% was less than half of those actually eligible. However, Scudder got 81% of the Electoral College vote, taking the presidency. In 2016, there were no elections; Scudder's religious dictatorship had begun.
Comparisons to political realityWhile Scudder's story is fiction, there are many similarities to actual figures in American political discourse, including:
- Glenn Beck
- Sarah Palin
- Michelle Bachmann
- Pat Robertson
- Rush Limbaugh
Is it patriotism or privilege?Many of these political figures make statements in the name of patriotism that actually are contrary to the ideals America says they hold dear. They claim to be concerned about the American Constitution or items from the bill of rights, but then advocate a contrary position. For instance, they advocate religious freedom, citing the First Amendment, and then advocate banning the practice of Islam. They talk about how "all men are created equal" and then advocate positions against gay marriage claiming that it is 'granting special rights'. When a law banning discrimination based on a person's sexual orientation is proposed, they cite religious freedom and claim that they are the ones discriminated against. Plans for a community center with a room to accommodate Islamic followers built near the site of an American disaster are decried as a 'mosque'. They advocate moving the 'mosque' out of concern for the families of those killed in the disaster, yet plans for a similar center built by a Christian sect go by with hardly a mention.
They are not supporting patriotism; they are supporting privilege. Privilege is the set of laws, attitudes and customs that allow one group to benefit at the expense of another. The examples cited above are examples of a power imbalance that these people benefit from maintaining. While they often advocate for a 'smaller government', the attitudes are actually more similar to fascism. 'Fascism' is a buzzword that is thrown around, but Encarta defines it as
These demagogues claim to be Christians, and yet many attitudes they express are contrary to the Gospels they claim to follow. While they claim to support the right of a baby to be born and live, they advocate cutting programs that would help that baby's unwed, undereducated mother care for it, feed it healthy food, take it to the doctor and provide for it. They advocate ending programs that help people who have lost their jobs keep food on the table, implying that those workers are lazy and unmotivated. They seem to be more concerned with whether two men or two women get married than they are about children starving anywhere. They are less concerned about the poor, the sick, the discouraged, etc. than they are about maintaining their privilege. To maintain their privilege, they often make outrageous statements.
When Rhetoric crosses the lineThe demagogues claim that they make these extreme statements to encourage thought and discussion, or for entertainment value. However, sometimes the followers who hear this rhetoric take things too far. Arizona's SB 1070, the "Papers, Please" law, is one example. The demagogues whip up such frenzy over 'illegal immigration', Mexican drug cartels, and beheaded bodies that a law requiring documentation that someone is legally in America easily passes, even when 'illegal immigration' has been dropping over the past 20-odd years. The "Ground-zero mosque"/Park 51 community center is another case. They have stoked the anti-Islam fires so much that not only is there national discussion about one community center in downtown Manhattan, but also there have been fires set and shots fired at a mosque construction site in Tennessee. The national discussion is so heated that an Islamic cab driver in New York was stabbed and had his throat slashed, just because he was Muslim.
To disguise their attitudes, these strident voices use doublespeak code words to hide what they actually mean: phrases like "Family values" to mean "anti-gay" and "Pro-life" instead of "anti-abortion". They fail to recognize that telling parents to reject their children because they are LGBT does nothing to strengthen a family or its values. They profess to be "pro life" while supporting the death penalty, and other policies that diminish the quality of that life they are in favor of.
This cognitive dissonance is illustrated in a term George Orwell coined, blackwhite. According to the "newspeak dictionary", which he included at the end of 1984:
Another persistent conspiracy theory is that the recent Healthcare reform bill would institute "Death Panels" that would decide when to execute Grandma because she was too old, infirm and unhealthy to keep treating. While that was proven false, and roundly debunked, the "Death Panels" myth features prominently in many campaigns to repeal the Healthcare Reform.
Especially when it comes to discussions of gay rights, "Christianists" claim they are victims of bigotry and discrimination. They keep preaching various debunked anti-gay myths and then claim discrimination when the decision to allow gays to marry, or to explain the harm "conversion therapy" can do to people does not go their way.
Lack of critical thinkingThe reason statements like the ones above take hold is the listener's apathy and desire to disengage from all of the distasteful argument. That apathy is compounded by compressing serious subjects down into sound bites. Because the argument has been summarized by that sound bite, no one stops to really dig into the argument and examine it, and they just keep passing on this flippant sound bite without realizing exactly what they are advocating.
Another factor that contributes to this is disinformation, or "truthiness".
This willful ignorance using the Big Lie and blackwhite, also allows false equivalencies to creep in. When discussing gay rights, Focus on Family uses discredited researcher Paul Cameron's work to present their side. However, the FOF presenter is introduced as an expert and no one questions the credentials. Since that person is an 'expert', they must therefore be presenting factually correct information. That inaccurate, discredited information is repeated multiple times, and now is a Big Lie, and "party members" are not supposed to question it.
Why is this dangerous?People turn off and then disengage from politics. They say things like "I don't get engaged in politics. Both major parties hold equally stupid ideas and I don't want to get involved," or "They're all crooks. Why does it matter?" The ones who are not disengaged are carried away with the mob. They are influenced by the hysteria stirred up by the outrageous statements, and some extremists take the overheated rhetoric to heart and perform truly heinous actions. In the process, real, actual discourse is drowned out in all of the shouting so nothing actually is done to rectify situations like actually discussing and rectifying conflicts between discrimination and privilege. Instead, those discussions devolve into name-calling.
Sometimes, the participants try to keep the discussion civil, and refuel to stoop to their level. However, when one side is behaving outrageously and the other is trying calmly to discuss sensitive subjects, opponents end up choosing the battlefield, putting the 'sane' ones into defensive mode. Unfortunately, that usually means lost ground.
ConclusionThe situations described are a "perfect storm". In order for a Nehemiah Scudder-like shift occur, several things need to happen:
- parts of electorate are disillusioned and apathetic
- Others are enthusiastic, and willfully mis- or uninformed
- Some are entertained by the 'crazies' and think, "Let's see what happens" and/or "It'll never happen here."
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Among Mr. Emmer's espoused policies:
- lowering/removing the Minimum wage for working-class Americans
- an immigration reform law similar to Arizona's
- nullifying Healthcare Reform
- denying legal recognition in any way, shape or form to any couple that does not consist of one man and one woman .
With me so far? Ok. Now Best Buy has also made donations to the same "non-partisan" group. Both Best Buy and Target have made big deals about how progressive they are, and how dedicated to their employees' equality. (They both have large booths at Twin Cities Pride every year, and are often found as sponsors on many other LGBT-friendly/supportive events as well.) Target especially has made a huge PR campaign out of its progressive policies like offering domestic partner benefits, and its many charitable works, like donating school supplies to needy children.
Now that the poop has hit the fan about the donation, this is the CEO of Target's response: (Via MinnPost)
Dear Target Team,My response after the jump
In the past week I've heard from some of you, including our GLBT team members, regarding your concerns with Target's recent contributions to MN Forward, an independent expenditure committee that is supported by a broad coalition of large and small businesses throughout the state, including the Minnesota Business Partnership and the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce.
As you know, Target has a history of supporting organizations and candidates, on both sides of the aisle, who seek to advance policies aligned with our business objectives, such as job creation and economic growth. MN Forward is focused specifically on those issues and is committed to supporting candidates from any party who will work to improve the state's job climate. However, it is also important to note that we rarely endorse all advocated positions of the organizations or candidates we support, and we do not have a political or social agenda.
In the context of this contribution, some of you have raised questions regarding our commitment to diversity, and more specifically, the GLBT community. Let me be very clear, Target's support of the GLBT community is unwavering, and inclusiveness remains a core value of our company. Some current examples of that support include:
• Domestic Partner Benefits
• Sponsorship of Twin Cities Pride
• Sponsorship of Out & Equal Workplace Summit
In addition, Target's rating of 100% on the 2009 and 2010 Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index further demonstrates the reputation our company has earned.
As CEO, I consider it my responsibility to create conditions in which Target can thrive, and I promise to do so with the best interests of our guests, team, shareholders and communities in mind. I appreciate your input and understanding.
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Recent news has come out about Target Corporation supporting an antigay candidate for Minnesota governor.
Target claims that they made a donation to a "bipartisan" group to create a better business environment, but when you look at the group's website, it is very pointedly partisan, and that group then used Target's donation to support Tom Emmer, who is about as anti-gay a candidate that you can get. Under the Citizen's United decision, corporations are legal 'people' and therefore have first amendment rights, including unlimited donations to various political candidates supporting that corporation's viewpoint. While I'm not thrilled about it, OK. I just won't shop or do business with that company, and will "vote with my dollars."
However, there are a couple of things that disturb me about Target's donation. They have been known, especially in the Twin Cities area, to be corporate sponsors of LGBT-friendly and supportive events like Twin Cities Pride, and the Minnesota AIDS Project. They have extremely gay-friendly corporate policies, and HRC gives them a 100 rating in their Shopper's guide, and recommends them as an extremely gay-friendly place to work. Why would they support a candidate whose policy positions would actively harm their LGBT employees, and undermine the causes they have supported?
Because of the situation, my partner has already moved his pharmacy account from Target, and several of my friends and associates are cancelling their Target credit cards to express their displeasure. This is what I mean by voting with dollars. They also have written to the CEO and gotten the brushoff described above, that Target did it as a business decision. I suppoort them in this and think that the LGBT and progressive communities need to make this a fully-fledged boycott.
I am concerned, though. I know in this tough economic situation, it is extremely difficult to make a boycott stick. I'm already boycotting Wal-Fart over it's poor employment practices and anti-union stances. Now Target is on the list for its ill-considered political support. Where can I shop though? It's not like my budget could support shopping elsewhere. Many times the same reasons the store has low prices or other attractive qualities to someone on a limited budget are the same things that that prospective customer is against. As an acquaintance of mine once put it--"I don't want to support policies that harm me or my friends, but I can't afford NOT to shop at those stores." What do you do when you either have to shop at one of the 'boycott' stores or do without? Is there another way to fight back? How does the little guy make himself heard in a situation like this?
For employees, they're in an even tighter spot. They could speak up and/or quit, but in this economy, no one wants to voluntarily give up their job, because it's that much harder to find a new one. The corporations have all of us little guys over a barrel, and they know it.
I don't have any answers; All I can say is to do what we can and hope that enough little people band together to make a BIG difference.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Saturday, June 5, 2010
Your Means Will Shape Your End: "
... The means you choose won’t determine just whether you reach your
goal — it will change the way that goal plays out when you bring it into
I made the Republicans in Congress video because I saw the party orchestrating a campaign of lies on issue after issue. These weren’t petty rhetorical overstatements, or the political sleight-of-hand we expect during a reelection bid. This was a coordinated, party-wide effort. Republicans seemed to toss out statement after statement with no regard for the truth, and if one of them gained political traction then they all started echoing it. Who cares if death panels are a vicious myth? If the lie helps us, let’s use it!
Forget for a moment whether this strategy is moral. Ask rather, If it succeeded, how would it shape the result? Republicans would have won their bid for power. But what else? The electorate would be deceived, ignorant, and just not capable of making good choices. Media institutions like Fox would be little more than ministries of propaganda. The ruling elite would rely heavily the “noble lie” strategy: if you know what’s best for the American people, then craft a story, any story, that will boost public opinion.
Weapons of mass destruction? Ooo, that’s a good one. If we push that, along with a fake link between Iraq and Al-Qaeda and Iraq, then we can invade the country, set up a democracy there, and change the whole political equation in the middle east!
You set up this structure to get yourself in power, but it doesn’t go away after the election is over. Instead you’ve got an entire deceit industry whose new chief goal is its own survival and exaltation. Once upon a time the Republican Party used buffoons like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck as political tools. Now those tools are able to frighten the hell out of party officials. In 2008, the party advanced an obscure governor to boost a presidential campaign. They told her what to say, where to be, how to dress. Now some of them beg Sarah Palin for endorsements, and she delivers them in speeches that reflect her fiction of the moment.
Your means will shape your end.
Jump over to his blog to read the rest.
Friday, June 4, 2010
Monday, May 31, 2010
Memorial Day: Remembering Leonard Matlovich: "
'When I was in the military, they gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one.'
-- Technical Sergeant Leonard Matlovich was a Vietnam War veteran and recipient of the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star. Matlovich was the first gay service member to fight the ban on gays in the military. The quote above is written on his tombstone."
Saturday, May 22, 2010
Racism is an LGBT issue. There are LGBT people of color, who are doubly discriminated against both by the LGBT community, and by their 'racial community'.
Immigration status is an LGBT issue. Not only are laws like Arizona's "Papers, Please" affecting LGBT people of immigrant backgrounds, many 'T's do not have documentation that match their gender presentation due to various legal hurdles. Thus they could face jail time for having incorrect papers, or perhaps even deportation. It also affects bi-national families. If one partner in a gay family is from the US, they cannot sponsor their same-sex partner for citizenship like an opposite-sex couple can. The non-American partner then faces deportation when their visa is up, leaving the American partner to make the heartwrenching decision about breaking up the relationship or out-migrating to another country. This is why we need the Uniting American Families Act.
The economy is an LGBT issue. Despite popular myth, LGBT people tend to be at the bottom end of the earning spectrum, transpeople especially. In 31 states it is legal to fire employees simply due to their orientation or transition status, regardless of job performance or other qualifications.
There are many ways that the LGBT community fits into other groups of "us"es. Not only do we need to stand up and speak out about wrongs done to gay people, we need to speak out against injustice, period. No one is safe until we're all safe. We're all in this together. Remember Martin Niemoller's poem:
"THEY CAME FIRST for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.
THEN THEY CAME for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.
THEN THEY CAME for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.
THEN THEY CAME for me
and by that time no one was left to speak up."
Thursday, May 6, 2010
Widening one pothole on in the intersection to fill another: Religious Conservativism and its practical effects
I was originally going to write a headline for this article that read "Pawlenty, Bachmann, and Emmer linked to sex trade and drug dealing in Loring Park", but I thought better of it. While the headline would be attention-grabbing, I don't have the direct evidence to back it up.
What I do have is circumstantial at best, but I think it is compelling.
- Fact: Governor Tim Pawlenty has vetoed any pro-Gay legislation when it has come up
- Pawlenty has vetoed a number of LGBT-rights bills in his career as governor. He vetoed a bill to beef up anti-bullying efforts in schools; legislation that would give control to local municipalities in deciding who could receive domestic partner benefits (twice vetoed); and a bill would have expanded current laws that allow for the use of sick time to care for spouses and dependent children including same-sex couples.
- Fact: Due to his refusal to raise taxes, he has cut various educational, health and government assistance programs. While the legislature has proposed many versions of the budget, Mr. Pawlenty has rejected them and sent them back because they did not include cuts he favored. According to Minnesota Senator Ken Kelash, the delay in approving a budget has resulted in the legislature being required to make even more cuts because a Federal grant will not arrive in time to affect the budget shortfall.
- Pawlenty, Bachmann and Emmer have all campaigned to remove various LGBT rights or block granting them. In 2003 and 2006, Michelle Bachmann introduced an anti-gay marriage amendment (which failed both times) and has made multiple antigay statements, implying that LGBT people are child molesters and are sexually dysfunctional.
- Pawlenty and Bachmann are both self-identified conservative, evangelical Christians. While I have not seen anything from Emmer identifying his beliefs, his campaign certainly seems in line with Pawlenty's and Bachmann's publicly expressed opinions.
- A 20-40% of the homeless youth in America are homeless due to anti-gay attitudes in their families. Some ran away; others were kicked out. Conservative, evangelical Christians often kick their children out when they find out that they are gay, and express other anti-gay attitudes as well. These attitudes are given credence by the various statments from Mr. Pawlenty, Ms. Bachmann, and Mr. Emmer.
- Because these young people are kicked out of their homes due to conservative attitudes, and no safety net due to the budget cuts, they struggle to provide for basic needs--food, shelter. Education falls to the wayside and they often drop out of school, further complicating the issue. Now they have no skills to get better paying jobs and work their way up.
- They turn to sex work and drug dealing because those "jobs" don't require an education, and are often lucrative for short periods.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Mr. Obama, you promised to be a "fierce advocate" with the slogan "Yes We Can." #TellUsWhen. When will you support equality for all?
Sarah Palin recently ranted about how the founding fathers did not believe in the separation of church and state; the first amendment notwithstanding. She objected to President Obama making a comment that "America is not a Christian Nation." (It is not. Neither is it a Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Pagan, etc. Nation)
In the early 80's and 90's, the "Religious Right" made a concerted effort to get "good, Christian" men and women involved in various governmental bodies--school boards, city councils, state and federal legislatures, etc. They felt that these "good Christians" would then make laws and decisions based on their conservative values, and reverse changes they felt were against God, like the right to an abortion or invalidating sodomy laws.
That is all fine and good. While I may not agree with their ideals they are perfectly within their rights (or lane, if you will) as American Citizens. However, these people are starting to become road hogs.
The religious conservatives in their various offices of power now exercise their power at the expense of many groups, especially LGBTs. Take the case of Clay Greene and Harold Scull in Sonoma County, CA. Harold and Clay were together for 25 years when Harold fell and broke his hip. Preparing for the future, the men had drawn up wills, healthcare proxies, advanced directives and whatnot that each designated the other as the person to make health decisions if he was incapacitated. County officials ignored this paperwork, misrepresented the relationship to the court and took control of all that the men had amassed in their time together, without trying to determine who owned what. They then terminated the lease, auctioned off all of the men's posessions and put them in two separate nursing homes. Harold later died in the home he was housed in, and Clay was not allowed to see his partner to comfort him or say goodbye. The National Center for Lesbian Rights has joined with Clay to sue the county and its officials who made these decisions. While this story is horrific enough, Joe.My.God has evidence that one of the county officials named in the complaint has links to evangelical Christianity, which is notoriously anti-gay. (Ok, the evidence might not stand up in court, but it is suggestive.)
There is also a case making its way to the Supreme Court about whether a school-based Christian law group has to admit gays. The school says that any officially school-recognized groups have to allow any student who wishes to join. The Christian Legal Society at Hastings College says that forcing them to take gays and non-believers violates their first amendment rights. This case could have a large impact on how non-discrimination policies across the board are enforced, not just the educational policies, but also in various federal funding and public policies as well.
Where is the line that separates the Church from the state? Is it in a state official acting according to his own personal interpretation of the laws based on his beliefs? Is it in federal laws that force private organizations using public funds to abide by nondiscrimination laws? The right to swing your fist ends at my nose. Where does my nose end and your fist begin?
Monday, April 19, 2010
Friday, February 12, 2010
Texas: Conservatives Strong-Arm Textbook Curriculum Advisory Panel: "The Texas State Board of Education is easily the most influential group in the nation when it comes to the subjects studied in public schools. Their recommendations directly affect the make-up of the textbooks sold to school systems all over the country. Naturally, therefore, Christianists and assorted wingnuts fiercely lobby the TSBOE, including from within, to ensure that American kids are taught that ours is a purely (and exclusively) Christian nation. Here's what board member Don McLeroy brought to last month's meeting.
McLeroy moved that Margaret Sanger, the birth-control pioneer, be included because she “and her followers promoted eugenics,” that language be inserted about Ronald Reagan’s “leadership in restoring national confidence” following Jimmy Carter’s presidency and that students be instructed to “describe the causes and key organizations and individuals of the conservative resurgence of the 1980s and 1990s, including Phyllis Schlafly, the Contract With America, the Heritage Foundation, the Moral Majority and the National Rifle Association.” The injection of partisan politics into education went so far that at one point another Republican board member burst out in seemingly embarrassed exasperation, “Guys, you’re rewriting history now!” Nevertheless, most of McLeroy’s proposed amendments passed by a show of hands. Finally, the board considered an amendment to require students to evaluate the contributions of significant Americans. The names proposed included Thurgood Marshall, Billy Graham, Newt Gingrich, William F. Buckley Jr., Hillary Rodham Clinton and Edward Kennedy. All passed muster except Kennedy, who was voted down.Got that? The lives of Newt Gingrich and Billy Graham will be studied by high schoolers all over the nation. But not Ted Kennedy, one of the longest serving and arguably the most influential and successful legislator in American history. He was a dirty librul, that's why!
Seven members of the TSBOE are 'quite open about their intent to advance the Christian agenda' in the nation's textbooks. Read the extensive article in this weekend's New York Times Magazine which tracks the campaign to rewrite history and train the students of the United States about the 'Christian truth' of our nation's founding. Prepare to be depressed.
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Tired of seeing your elected officials spinning the issues? Demand Question Time: "I think this is a brilliant idea, since our current relationship with our elected officials about the issues has devolved into a lack of accountability, with spinning and posturing and sound bites the norm. Constituent services has turned into a PR form letter generator.
It's time that these elected officials let the people see them answering questions about policy and legislation without all of the hired guns behind the curtain -- aides, consultants and pollsters ready to coach them on dodging a direct answer. We'll be able to see who the empty suits are on the Hill, and perhaps break through some of these legislative logjams.
We live in a world that increasingly demands more dialogue than monologue. President Obama's January 29th question-and-answer session with Republican leaders gave the public a remarkable window into the state of our union and governing process. It was riveting and educational. The exchanges were substantive, civil and candid. And in a rare break from our modern politics, sharp differences between elected leaders were on full public display without rancor or ridicule.And this is not just progressives calling for QT. Leading this effort are folks like David Corn, Nate Silver of 538, Markos Moulitsas of DKos and on the other side of the fence -- Grover Norquist, Glenn Reynolds, and Brent Bozell III.
This was one of the best national political debates in many years. Citizens who watched the event were impressed, by many accounts. Journalists and commentators immediately responded by continuing the conversation of the ideas put forward by the president and his opponents - even the cable news cycle was disrupted for a day.
America could use more of this - an unfettered and public airing of political differences by our elected representatives. So we call on President Barack Obama and House Minority Leader John Boehner to hold these sessions regularly - and allow them to be broadcast and webcast live and without commercial interruption, sponsorship or intermediaries. We also urge the President and the Republican Senate caucus to follow suit. And we ask the President and the House and Senate caucuses of his own party to consider mounting similar direct question-and-answer sessions. We will ask future Presidents and Congresses to do the same.
It is time to make Question Time a regular feature of our democracy.
Please join us by signing the Demand Question Time petition.
You can follow Question Time on Twitter (#QuestionTime)
The Board of Directors of Garden State Equality has voted to end the organization's giving to political parties, it reports:
Hat tip to Andy @ Towleroad and John @ AmericaBlogGay
Sending a bold signal that no political party should take the support of the LGBT community and its allies for granted, Garden State Equality’s Board of Directors has unanimously approved a new provision for the organization’s bylaws that immediately precludes Garden State Equality from giving financial contributions to political parties and their affiliated committees. Under the new policy, Garden State Equality will make financial contributions only to individual candidates and to non-party organizations that further equality for the LGBT community.
The bylaws provision asks Garden State Equality members, who make their own decisions as to individual political contributions, to refrain from contributing to parties and their affiliated committees.
“No political party has a record good enough on LGBT civil rights that it can rightfully claim to be entitled to our money on a party-wide basis,” said Steven Goldstein, chair of Garden State Equality. “No longer will we let any political party take our money and volunteers with one hand, and slap us in the face with the other when we seek full equality.”
"Our Board of Directors felt so strongly about adopting this new policy," Goldstein said, "that it unanimously decided to include it in the organization's bylaws."
HEADLINE OF THE DAY: "From RECORDNET.COM:
Friday, February 5, 2010
Happy birthday, Philip. I love you!
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Rep. Alan Grayson To Christian Right: What About YOUR Pact With Satan?:
"On the floor of Congress yesterday, Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) called out the Christian right for the comments about Haiti and asked Pat Robertson, 'What about your own pact with the devil? How's that worked out for you?' Classic Grayson!"
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
A Letter to the Editor I wish I'd written::
"[via email -- thanks to Jerry Anderson!]
The 14th Amendment was adopted to ensure the constitutional rights of freed slaves and their descendents after the Civil War. There have been roughly 325 federal court cases relative to this amendment since that time. Nineteen of those cases have actually had anything at all to do with a human being. The remaining 300 or so cases have been part of the ongoing corruption process that grants “personhood” to corporations. “Corporate Personhood” is the legal concept that grants most of the rights of natural living, breathing citizens to corporations.
Under our constitution US corporations are allowed virtually every right of humanbeings including such rights as the right to marry. This “marriage/merger” concept which flies in the face of “traditional marriage” is openly embraced by conservatives who will freely grant to a profit-making business what they flatly refuse to grant to millions of our living, breathing LGBT citizens."
Surf over to read the rest! It's a dilly!
Friday, January 22, 2010
SCOTUS decides to SCREWUS: " I guess SCOTUS forgot about the reasons for some of the legislation around the teapot dome scandal. Now we are really back to the future.
Money from Exxon, Goldman Sachs, Pfizer and the rest of the Fortune 500 is already corroding the policy making process in Washington, state capitals, and city halls. Today, the Supreme Court tells these corporate giants that they have a constitutional right to trample our democracy.
Friday, January 15, 2010
Catholic Archbishops Launch New Manhattan Declaration Campaign: "The authors of the anti-gay Manhattan Declaration, which calls for the disobedience of any laws granting LGBT rights, want to increase its number of signatories from 370,000 to one million. Working to help them reach that noble goal are Catholic archbishops. Via press release:
Cardinal Rigali of Philadelphia (right), Archbishop Wuerl of Washington, DC (left), Archbishop Dolan of New York and Archbishop Kurtz of Louisville reached out to all of their brother Catholic bishops asking them to spread this document throughout their dioceses and encourage their clergy and faithful to study it and join as signatories. The Archbishop of Detroit has planned a grassroots effort throughout his archdiocese. The Bishop of Phoenix has already organized a grassroots effort there. We are also receiving many reports of evangelical gatherings in a number of areas - and many evangelical pastors referring to the Manhattan Declaration in their sermons. This bold and exciting movement needs to reach 100 or 200 cities in America. Why not? Can you help? We are urging you to encourage your pastors and community leaders to do what these other cities are doing. Organize ecumenical meetings organized around the Manhattan Declaration; get other concerned citizens to join the effort. Get on the internet or phone and ask friends to join you.After a raft of suggestions on how to increase the number of signatures (Use Facebook! Twitter! Hair salons! Barbeques!), the authors close with: 'Just think what might happen in our land if one million courageous Christians declared their uncompromising allegiance to Jesus Christ and to biblical faithfulness on some of the most urgent moral issues of our day. May God give us the strength to do what He is so clearly calling us to do. From our perspective, this is a cause worth giving every last ounce of effort and energy we have.'
And once again, the moral and Godly oppression of natural human sexuality is aided by elderly drag queen eunuchs in embroidered gowns, gaily waving their smoking purses all the way to the NAMBLA meeting.
Exporting culture war and ignoring the consequences: "
Here is a recipe for trouble: Go to another country and culture. Take a dreadful and defining historical event grounded in one context, reframe in terms of a battle you are having at home, so can line them up on your side back home. Stir up us-versus-them rhetoric, tell people their children are at risk, and then walk away. When the results are volatile and dangerous, resulting in death and threats of death, be shocked but only after a respectful silence. Or just remain silent.
This is what American conservative Evangelicals have done in Uganda and the result is the anti-gay bill in Uganda.
In the churches in North America, the fight over sexuality has meant divided churches and, probably, disaffected members who are tired of churches who do nothing but argue. In Uganda, American culture wars have become a license to kill, including now a proposal to extend state-sanctioned killing to homosexuals and imprisonment towards those who know gays, interact with gays, or assist gays.
Both NPR and Newsweek reflect on what happens when American culture wars are exported to different cultures and political climates.
Lisa Miller writes in Newsweek.com about the limits of 'Anglican soulmating'. She says that while conservative former-Episcopalians in a rich California suburb may be impressed by the piety and theological purity of their African counterparts, it can be shocking when they see what happens when American culture wars are exported.
American culture wars are kindergarten play compared with those in places like Uganda, where democracy is a sham and tolerance rare. And American conservatives who insist on romanticizing Africans for the purity of their Christian belief must guard against escalating those wars and endangering lives—intentionally or not—by giving support and money to Christian leaders with insufficient regard for human rights. 'The culture war which has been fought in the U.S. has been exported to Africa,' says Ochoro Otunnu, a Ugandan human-rights lawyer based in New York. But, he adds, there's a big difference. 'In America you can have an open debate about homosexuality knowing full well you have an array of legal and constitutional protections. Those protections don't exist in some of the African countries—Uganda being a case in point. When this debate is conducted in public you can actually endanger an entire minority community....'
The anti-homosexuality bill now before the Ugandan parliament is a case in point. NPR's Barbara Bradley Haggerty reports on what happened how American conservative evangelicals encouraged the bills and only half-heartedly back away from its deadlier consequences:
To understand how this bill came to be, one needs to know the story of King Mwanga. In 1886, Uganda's king ordered some two dozen male pages to have sex with him, and when they refused because of their Christian faith, he ordered that they be burned to death. Every year on June 3, Ugandans celebrate a national holiday honoring the Christian martyrs and deploring the pedophile king.
Into this climate stepped Scott Lively, an American evangelical and president of Defend The Family International. In March 2009, Lively traveled to Uganda to speak, along with two other Americans from 'ex-gay communities,' about the 'gay agenda.'
'The gay movement is an evil institution,' he told Uganda's Family Life Network. 'The goal of the gay movement is to defeat the marriage-based society and replace it with a culture of sexual promiscuity.'
Then Lively, who has authored a book called The Pink Swastika, played into the fears raised by Uganda's history.
'Male homosexuality has historically been, not adult to adult; it's been adult to teenager,' he said. 'It's called pederasty — adults sodomizing teenage boys.'
Lively went on to talk to the Ugandan parliament, but says he never intended for the bill to include the death penalty, but he admires the line in the sand the Ugandan politicians are drawing. He told NPR: 'But the fact that they're willing to stand up and say, 'No, we are not going let you homosexualize our country!' — that is a step in the right direction, and I would hope that it would spread to other countries.'
Martin Minns, of CANA whose boss is Nigerian Anglican Archbishop Peter Akinola, calls the lobbying and pressure from the West to stop the legislation 'megaphone diplomacy' and he says it doesn't work. He claims that his groups has been working quietly behind the scenes to change the legislation.
'It's hard for any of us who have not lived under colonial rule to realize how offensive it is for people who have won that freedom to now basically be told, 'You're fools. You're ignorant. One day you'll grow up and be like us,' ' Minns says. 'That comes across in a very patronizing way.'
Nigeria had a similar law come before their parliament a few years back, with the open support of Minns' boss, Archbishop Peter Akinola. It was withdrawn after a lot of megaphone diplomacy which included consistent international condemnation from governments and foreign ministers.
NPR interviewed Episcopal Cafe's Jim Naughton, who said he doesn't buy the stated shock and dismay of some evangelical leaders about the bill. He says that they should have known that their message, which plays one way in the USA, would play another way in Uganda:
'If you go to countries where there's already a great deal of suspicion and maybe animosity towards homosexuals, and begin to tell people there, 'Well, actually these people are child abusers, they're coming for their children, that they're the scourge that is being deposited on you by the secular West,' you're gonna get a backlash.' Naughton says it's like 'showing up in rooms filled with gasoline, and throwing lighted matches around and saying, 'Well, I never intended fire .' '
Lisa Miller talked to human rights activists and others who point to this law as the consequence of a policy of exporting American religious and political ideologies to Africa, Latin American and Asia.
Otunnu and other human-rights activists believe the political war against homosexuals in Uganda is a direct result of the legions of evangelists who landed in his country during the Bush administration, determined to fight HIV/AIDS with Christian rhetoric about abstinence and marital fidelity. 'Africa, like Latin America and parts of Asia, is culturally very conservative. But within Uganda there has never been an ideology on how to criminalize this act. This is the impact of the evangelical movement.'"
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Gay Teen Worried He Might Be Christian: "
This just in from the deliciously reliable “news” source–The Onion:
LOUISVILLE, KY—At first glance, high school senior Lucas Faber, 18, seems
like any ordinary gay teen. He’s a member of his school’s swing choir, enjoys
shopping at the mall, and has sex with other males his age. But lately, a
growing worry has begun to plague this young gay man. A gnawing feeling that,
deep down, he may be a fundamentalist, right-wing Christian.
“I don’t know what’s happening to me,” Faber admitted to reporters Monday.
“It’s like I get these weird urges sometimes, and suddenly I’m tempted to go
behind my friends’ backs and attend a megachurch service, or censor books in the
school library in some way. Even just the thought of organizing a CD-burning
turns me on.”
Added Faber, “I feel so confused.”
The openly gay teen, who came out to his parents at age 14 and has had a
steady boyfriend for the past seven months, said he first began to suspect he
might be different last year, when he started feeling an odd stirring within
himself every time he passed a church. The more conservative the church, Faber
claimed, the stronger his desire was to enter it.
Saturday, January 9, 2010
As a distinction, the centurion’s other servants are designated ‘duloi’. Helminiak also indicates that the ‘son’ interpretation is out because Luke’s account also designates the pais as a dulos. In other words, he was definitely a slave. Entimos indicates that the boy is very dear to the centurion. Some might say that he wanted simply to protect his investment, but centurions were wealthy. They could go buy other slaves. Perhaps this pais held a key position in the household, but the wording indicates that this slave is also young, and given his age, the most probable interpretation is that this ‘dear slave’ had an emotional bond with the Centurion. This story is significant because Jesus did not condemn the Centurion. Rather, he marveled at his faith, and declared him an example of it.
Friday, January 8, 2010
Look, we get it. It's January. You're freezing your arse off. Going back to work at all is tough enough, much less taking on any new assignments.
But here's the thing: We are still a loooooong way from marriage equality in this country. Sure, some of us have joyously crawled through the window in the handful of areas where we can legally marry. But none of us have federal recognition. None of us have the ability to transport our unions to the majority of other U.S. jurisidictions. Plus states like Maine and California have shown us how fragile even our state-level freedoms can be when thrown in front of a fervently faith-based firing squad. So really not a one of us (of any orientation) are ever going to be free until we are ALL truly free.
So here's what we need you to do: First, thaw out of your post-holiday ennui and warm up your typing fingers. Next, pinpoint a local newspaper that runs opinion pieces. Then let your heart and mind pour out into a passionate pro-peace piece that demonstrates why, exactly, gays and lesbians are in fact human beings who deserve basic human freedoms. The purpose: To show the country that when homo-hostile bias is relegated to the historical dustbin that it deserves, love will then take over.
NEWSPAPER TAKEOVER FOR MARRIAGE EQUALITY
One week. One unified voice.
NEW YORK - Love Takes Over is a nationwide initiative calling on citizens to write to their local newspapers about marriage equality during the week of January 3rd-January 9th. Love Takes Over seeks to promote and foster dialogue about marriage equality on a local level.
The idea behind Love Takes Over is simple: One week. One unified voice. Everyone take over America’s local newspapers and get people talking about marriage equality across the entire country at the same time.
Love Takes Over encourages American citizens to open up dialogue on a variety of issues pertaining to marriage equality. These issues include why civil marriage is a civil rights issue, why Civil Unions and Domestic Partnerships are not equal to marriage, how inequality affects the families and children of same-sex couples, and why the issue of marriage equality is personally important to the author of each article.
“We believe in the power of small,” say the activists behind Love Takes Over, “We believe that the small steps people take everyday to educate their families, friends, and local communities are a vital part of any social justice movement.”
Articles are to be published during the week of January 3rd-January 9th. College students on Winter Break are encouraged to write to their hometown newspapers and submit a piece to their campus newspaper at the start of the new semester.
For more information, please contact Jen Dugan at (201) 247-6419 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. More information can also be found at Love Takes Over’s official project blog: lovetakesover.tumblr.com.
NEWSPAPER TAKEOVER FOR MARRIAGE EQUALITY [Love Takes Over]
Thursday, January 7, 2010
Top Republicans support lawsuit pushing vote to strip rights from same-sex couples in DC:
There are some Republicans who never miss a chance to do some rhetorical
gay-bashing. Today, we learn that 39 Republicans on Capitol Hill have joined a
lawsuit filed by noted homophobe Harry Jackson to force a vote on DC's
new marriage law:Thirty-nine congressional Republicans, including House MinorityJust leave it to Republicans to think a public vote to strip away the
Leader John Boehner (Ohio) and Minority Whip Eric Cantor (Va.), have filed an
amicus brief in D.C. Superior Court calling for a voter referendum on whether to
legalize same-sex marriage in the District.
In the filing, U.S. senators
James Inhofe (Okla.) and Roger Wicker (Miss.) and 37 House Republicans align
with Bishop Harry Jackson, pastor of Hope Christian Church, in asking the court
to reverse a D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics decision prohibiting the
same-sex marriage question to be put before voters.
rights of citizens is a good idea. Funny, in a hypocritical way, how Republicans
are always bashing lawyers and lawsuits, but run to the courts when they can
thwart equality. It shouldn't be a surprise that the top GOP House leaders are
engaged in gay-bashing. After all, their press spokesperson, Andy Seré, spends
his time gay-baiting (that is, when he's not attending GOB
parties or getting 'tail.')
here's the rest of the list of GOP homophobes who got on board with the amicus
In addition to the two senators and Boehner and Cantor, the brief
was signed by U.S. Reps. Robert Aderholt (Ala.), Todd Akin (Mo.), Michele
Bachmann (Minn.), J. Gresham Barrett (S.C.), Roscoe Bartlett (Md.), Marsha
Blackburn (Tenn.), John Boozman (Ark.), Jason Chaffetz (Utah), John Fleming
(La.), J. Randy Forbes (Va.), Virginia Foxx (N.C.), Scott Garrett (N.J.), Phil
Gingrey (Ga.), Louie Gohmert (Tex.), Jeb Hensarling (Tex.), Wally Herger
(Calif.), Walter Jones (N.C.), Jim Jordan (Ohio), Steve King (Iowa), Jack
Kingston (Ga.), John Kline (Minn.) Doug Lamborn (Colo.), Robert Latta (Ohio),
Don Manzullo (Ill.), Michael McCaul (Tex.), Thaddeus McCotter (Mich.), Patrick
McHenry (N.C.), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.), Jeff Miller (Fla.), Jerry Moran
(Kan.), Randy Neugebauer (Tex.), Mike Pence (Ind.), Joe Pitts (Pa.), Mark Souder
(Ind.) and Todd Tiahrt (Kan.)
Saturday, January 2, 2010
But Ruth said,
"Do not press me to leave youRuth’s vow to Naomi has been used as a definition and illustration of the marriage covenant. Modern readers seem to overlook the fact that it was originally a promise made from one woman to another.
or to turn back from following you!
Where you go, I will go;
where you lodge, I will lodge;
your people shall be my people,
And your God my God.
Where you die, I will die—
there will I be buried.
May the LORD do thus and so to me,
and more as well,
if even death parts me from you!"