Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Oh, and I am among the disenfranchised

Voting in New York requires nothing more than one's signature. I did so from the upper east side of Manhattan for over 30 years. While we had a car, my partner was usually the only one who drove the damned thing (don't ask). I haven't had a valid drivers license in some time.

When my passport expired I was, and still am, recovering from both a gunshot wound and PTSD. I wasn't going to travel overseas unless some European scientist comes up with the miracle hip replacement-replacement. Therefore, I renewed my passport with one of those nifty passport cards which serves as ideal photo ID and proof of citizenship except to vote in Florida. Ugh! In 2010, I cast an absentee New York ballot.

I have two choices:
  1. I can use my passport card to get a passport book (which is valid for voting). That's a problem because I am cheap frugal. $135 solely for the privilege of voting?
  2. I can obtain a Florida non-driver DMV ID.
    • First I have to get a copy of my social security card (my wallet got lost in the shuffle when I was shot). That's free.
    • Once I receive the social security card, I need to take it, along with some utility bills and a bank statement to DMV which is about a 20 mile schlep. 
    • Then all I have to do is plunk down $25 and hope that I get the right clerk in the right mood from the right line on the right day and voila!
Ultimately, I am relatively lucky in that I have a form of photo ID that will help me get another form of photo ID. Otherwise I would need to get a copy of my birth certificate. However, suppose I did not have a passport?

Photo ID is required to get a copy of one's social security card. A social security card is required to get photo ID. 

In other words, without my US passport card, I would be shit-outa-luck. Republicans haven't created a job since 2010 but they sure as hell know how to effect voter suppression.
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The Batshit Baptist is Baaaack

We haven't heard much from "Rev." Leroy Swailes since his unglued testimony in 2009 before the District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics on the subject of same-sex marriage. Maryland has provided Swailes (of Oxon Hill) the opportunity to display his personality disorder again.

Listen at  Good As You

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Gay couples like 'elderly sisters?'

Yesterday, I wrote about the NOM-heralded article by Dr. Patrick Lee and my email response. I commend Dr. Lee for his civil reply (I am often too sarcastic). Nevertheless, civil does not mean sensible. I choose not to have an email colloquy with Dr. Lee as we both have fixed positions.

What Dr. Lee seems to suggest is that the state has an interest in traditional marriages because they are procreative. Aside from the fact that not all marriages have children, some gay couples adopt children. The implication is that the state does not have an interest in "gay marriages" because their children were conceived by others.

That is illogical per se. In addition, most of the children of gay couples were in the foster care system prior to their adoption. Removing those children from "the system" changes who is responsible for their care, relieving the state of in loco parentis obligations. I would argue that kids deserve married parents regardless of whether their parents are heterosexual or homosexual.

That begs the question of what interest the state has in recognizing the unions of gay couples who choose not to adopt children. Then one has to question what interest the state has in heterosexual couples who choose not to conceive. The answer is that the state has an interest in recognizing loving couples who vow to care for each other "in sickness and in health."

As for the similarity of a gay couple to "elderly sisters,"  Dr. Lee makes the distinction of not being "sexually active."  Dr. Lee fails to recognize, or to accept, that fraternal love is very different from the love that one has for a spouse     even if that spouse is of the same sex.

Then Dr. Lee seems to be arguing that this is not a civil rights issue by claiming that, as a group, our distinctiveness has been "gerrymandered" which means that we have been unfairly apportioned to our advantage. This seems to be an arcane proposition. Perhaps Dr. Lee is addressing the legal test of a "suspect class" which includes the class having an "immutable characteristic." If that is what he is arguing     and I am for from sure     then he is collaterally arguing "gay by choice."

At the end of the day, when I strip away the esoterica, Dr. Lee's sole argument seems to be that only heterosexual couples should be eligible for marriage because they have the ability to conceive children. It is unpersuasive. It did not work with Judge Walker and I doubt that it will be compelling for the Ninth Circuit. As a group, those who oppose marriage equality have a religious objection in search of a secular substitution.

Here is the email. You can judge for yourself:

From: "Dr. Patrick Lee" <plee@franciscan.edu>
To: David Hart
Subject: Re: Incoherence?
Date: Mon, 30 Jan 2012 22:35:47 -0500
X-Mailer: Novell GroupWise Internet Agent 8.0.2

Dear David,

    Your first paragraph is a mere ad hominem.  Regarding the argument in the other part:  I don't deny similarities--what I argue is that it is precisely what is distinctive of marriages as traditionally defined--procreative-type unions--that are the features which ground the state's interest in promoting them.  BTW all of the similarities you mention are also true of elderly (not sexually active) elderly sisters.  My argument is that what is distinctive of the couples that fall within proposed re-definition of marriage is not properly of public interest; and, conversely, the proposed justifications of public interest on the part of those who seek a re-definition do not pick out features distinctive of the group they have gerrymandered together. 

   Thank you for your thoughts, though--I appreciate your sending them along.

Pat Lee

Patrick Lee
John N. and Jamie D. McAleer Professor of Bioethics
Director, Institute of Bioethics
Franciscan University of Steubenville
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Monday, January 30, 2012

My email response to Professor Patrick Lee

Patrick Lee is the John N. and Jamie D. McAller Professor of Bioethics at Franciscan University of Stuebenville. He writes in the Witherspoon Institute's Public Discourse that "the conjugal conception of marriage is just and coherent; the same-sex marriage proponents' unjust and incoherent."

Witherspoon was founded by     you guessed it     Robert George. It is considered to be an Opus Dei front organization. You can read Lee's full polemic and draw your own conclusions. Personally, I found his screed to be disingenuous.

From: David Hart
To: PLee@franciscan.edu
Subject: Incoherence?
Date: Mon, 30 Jan 2012 20:15:54 -0500

Critical thinkers test hypotheses and draw conclusions from the
observations of those tests. What you seem to be doing, with respect to
marriage, is torturing logic to arrive at a pre-determined conclusion
that I suspect aligns with your religious beliefs. Publishing your
polemic in an Opus Dei organ does little to dispel my assumption.

Marriage is marriage. Traditional marriage has more in common with
same-sex marriage than it has in contrast:

Both feature, most of the time, the uniting of two people who are in
love. Both give the participants legal recognition of their union. Both
form a joint estate which can be used for current financial needs and
future financial planning. Both give the couple the option of raising
children with two parents. Both create a family structure that has both
societal and legal recognition.

The only real difference is that, for the most part, same-sex couples
adopt children who otherwise have no mother and no father. Opposite-sex
couples usually acquire children through procreation. The idea that one
has greater value than the other is intellectually dishonest. One would
have to conclude that an adopted child has less value than one raised
by biological parents. That proposition is rubbish.

This issue has nothing to do with the marriage of threesomes, foursomes,
minors, pets, house plants, siblings or household appliances. It is
intellectually dishonest to compare the dedicated union of two people
to anything other than the dedicated union of two people.

Furthermore, you fail to mention that gay couples are raising hundreds
of thousands of children in this country. Oh, the horror. Those kids
deserve legally wed parents.
David Hart
South Beach

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Brian Brown's Latest Hissy Fit - Starbucks

According to the National Organization for Marriage (which really isn't "for" anything):
Americans should be able to drink a peaceful cup of coffee without worrying that a portion of the company's profits is going to be used to push gay marriage without a vote from the people.
—Brian Brown, NOM's President—
 It's unlikely that Brown actually wrote that; It is probably the work product of NOM's PR firm, CRC Public Relations. CRC, by the way, represented the infamous Swift Boat campaign. Nevertheless, the nonsense was "signed" by Brown so we can hold him accountable.

I wonder, for example, if clients of Schubert Flint Public Affairs or the aforementioned CRC Public Relations are concerned that a portion of the fees that they pay is going to professional bigots who promote hate. Do they know that some of their fees go to bigots who dishonestly assert that gays pose a threat to children?

Assuming that marriage equality passes in Washington State, if Brown wants to put the matter on the ballot, all he has to do is to assemble his little band of crackpots to gather enough signatures to do so. I am quite certain that the Roman Catholic Church, the Washington bishops and the Knights of Columbus are perfectly willing to assist in that enterprise.

By the way, the reason that Starbucks supports marriage equality is because it is good for business! It allows Starbucks, Nike, Microsoft et al to be more competitive for employees.
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David Tyree explains it all for you

david tyree, tackiling dummy
David Tyree is another self-righteous tackling dummy. As USA Today reminds us, last summer, he appeared in a video for the National Organization for Marriage. At the time, he said pending legislation of a gay marriage bill in New York would promote "anarchy" if passed.

So tell us David, where is the "anarchy?" Is there anarchy in Iowa? How about Massachusetts which has the lowest divorce rate in the nation. Do you even know what "anarchy" means? I doubt it.
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Just a reminder . . .

Willard Romney on a conference call with faith leaders:
Willard Mitt Romney
There's been an assault on marriage. I think [the President] is very aggressively trying to pave the path to same-sex marriage. I would, unlike this President, defend the Defense of Marriage Act. And I would also propose and promote once again an amendment to the Constitution to define marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman.
Do not procrastinate:
  • If necessary, get photo ID.
  • Get registered to vote.
  • Any LGBT citizen who would put Romney in the oval office is insane!
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Sunday, January 29, 2012

I Protect & Defend Traditional Marriage

  • I protect and defend traditional marriage.
  • I protect and defend same-sex marriage.
  • Thus, I protect and defend marriage.

Marriage is marriage! I use the terms "same-sex marriage" and "traditional marriage" only for delineation. Eventually, the contrasting verbiage will become unnecessary.  The notion that regard for these is mutually exclusive is promoted by people who have a religious objection to marriage equality. It is intellectually dishonest.

The two "types" of marriage have more in common than the religious zealots would have people believe.
  • Both feature, most of the time, the uniting of two people who are in love.
  • Both give the participants legal recognition of their union.
  • Both form a joint estate which can be used for current financial needs and future financial planning.
  • Both give the couple the option of raising children.
  • Both create a family structure that has both societal and legal recognition.
The only real difference is that, for the most part, same-sex couples adopt children who otherwise have no mother and no father. Opposite-sex couples usually acquire children through procreation. The idea that one has greater value than the other is intellectually dishonest. One would have to conclude that an adopted child has less value than one raised by biological parents. That proposition is rubbish.
  • Traditional marriage has no adverse effect on same-sex marriage.
  • Same-sex marriage has no adverse effect on traditional marriage.
We are a better, more stable society with greater collective family values when gay couples can be legally wed.
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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Rhetorical Misadventures

According to National Organization for Marriage's Thomas Peters:
With Gay Marriage Advocates Filing a SSM Initiative in Maine...

...will other gay marriage activists renounce their mantra that "civil rights should never be voted on by the people"?

They've been saying that, oh, in every state where NOM has been working to allow the people to vote to decide the issue.

Or was that argument of theirs just a canard?
The reason that we do not have marriage equality in Maine is simple. The Roman Catholic Church had a shit fit when the legislature approved marriage equality. The Portland Archdiocese created a "people's veto" campaign      with NOM's help of course. The Archdiocese even "lent" its administrator to head up the campaign which was marked with bigotry and the undercurrent that gay people are a threat to children. At the time I stated (I believe on the Blend) that I thought we would lose. We were far too nice and civil while the church was vicious and dishonest. But I digress.

Mr. Peters (without realizing it) is indulging in a common form of flawed rhetoric. He is suggesting that two things are mutually exclusive that are not. Let me try to provide some adult supervision.
  • We continue to believe (I am sufficiently certain to use the collective "we") that our civil rights should not be submitted to popular vote.
  • Indeed, historically, every major civil rights advancement in the United States has been achieved through the courts and, in some cases, the legislature. It is also possible that a ruling in Perry v. Brown could affect our position in Maine.
  • Were we to seek a legislative solution, the Church, along with the Knights of Columbus, NOM and other Catholic groups as defenders of the faith, would certainly be able to gather enough signatures to put the issue on the ballot again.
  • Thus we choose to return to the ballot directly. Since 2009, our people on the ground have made significant gains which we believe will translate into success at the polls.
  • Independent of our gains, I suspect that Mainers have a new appreciation of the Establishment Clause and its effect with respect to this issue. 
  • Undoubtedly, NOM will be shouting Gay marriage will be taught in schools!! It didn't mean anything the first time around. Maine voters are smarter than that.
  • Should we lose, guess what? We will continue to try until we achieve equality. Frank Schubert was mistaken. We will never give up.
In other words, it is moronic to suggest that the gay community is either being hypocritical or inconsistent. We take marriage equality far more seriously than Mr. Peters' rhetorical misadventure.
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Grasping at straws

When I was a young child I was told that, if I clapped real hard, a dying Tinkerbell would be revived. Even at that young age I knew that it was just make believe. It would take a few more years to develop that "yeah, sure" attitude.

National Organization for Marriage's Brian Brown is still clapping for fairies:

Brian Brown
Gay Marriage Legal In New York? Not If We Work Together!
. . . 
But you also know that New York is critically important—more so than most others.

The same-sex marriage lobbyists have been focusing on the Empire State for a long time, pouring millions of dollars into their campaigns to permanently legalize gay marriage. Now they are focused on convincing you and your fellow citizens of the LIE that the fight is over.
He goes on to reiterate how NOM is going to pour $2 million into primary challenges to New York Republicans who voted for marriage equality and repeal gay marriage. Of course, rather than clap, he expects people to send in money to NOM.

Later in the day:
Gay Marriage Legal In California? Not If We Work Together!
Is Mr. Brown presuming that the stay will be lifted when the 9th Circuit upholds Judge Walker? It's irrelevant. The purpose of and for this missive is to solicit contributions.

Brown has never had this kind of fiscal responsibility nor made this kind of money. He's not going away. If the Supreme Court ultimately delivers our equivalent of Loving v Virginia, Brian will try to make a living advocating for a virtually impossible constitutional amendment.
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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Archbishop J. Peter Sartain, Champion of Inequality

Archbishop J. Peter Sartain
Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle is a champion of marriage inequality. According to him (as related by Catholic News Agency), marriage equality poses a "grave challenge to the common good." Exactly what that grave challenge is remains unexplained.

The principles of marriage are "built into human life itself," he told the Washington state Senate’s Government Operations, Tribal Relations & Elections Committee on Jan. 23     whatever that is supposed to mean. He also said that because "only the union of a man and woman can generate new life, no other human relationship is its equivalent."

No sir! You are incorrect! Marriage is marriage!

While it is true that opposite sex marriages and same-sex marriages have differences, they are both marriages. Many marriages have children     including gay marriages. How those children are provided to the couple is irrelevant. How they are provided for is what is important. Marriage is important for the proper care and well being of children regardless of the sexual orientation of their parents.

According to Sartain, marriage equality "ignores the origin, purpose and value of marriage to individuals, families, and society." Really? The origin of marriage had nothing, whatsoever, to do with children or even love. More importantly, who the hell is this unmarried celibate to suggest that the marriages of gay couples are of comparably lesser value? To whom? Certainly not to those wedded. Certainly not to their families. Sartain speaks for his church, nor for society.
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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Those bishops are at it again

It looks like they may have already taken down the post that I am about to refer to     or it could just be a bad link. Either was I have a local copy via their syndication (RSS). The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, led by their anti-equality point man, Sal Cordileone, the Bishop of Oakland, has started a rather "interesting" series on their "Marriage Unique for a Reason" blog.

According to them,  being anti-choice and anti-equality are "intrinsically connected." That's probably true but it is their reasoning that is so odd:

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
“Redefining” marriage makes children secondary. If two persons of the same sex want children, the means used inevitably treat the child as a product in some fashion, whether through in vitro fertilization (IVF) (which normally results in the loss of prenatal life in embryo transfer or through “selective reduction,” that is, abortion) or through adoption that deprives the child of a mother or a father or both.
Silly me. I might want to know a few statistics to support my point of view. Their god may provide certainty but God does not provide wisdom. For that matter God doesn't seem to be terribly interested in the details.
  • I don't know what the ratio of male same-sex marriages in contrast to female same-sex marriages is     and neither do they. 
  • Neither I nor they have any statistics about lesbian couples using IVF to produce children. There are a few old episodes of Queen as Folk if that helps.
  • Moreover, neither they nor I know if same-sex marriage has any effect on the number of children being raised by gay couples.  Indeed, many same-sex marriages probably occur, at least in part, to protect the children already adopted by unmarried gay couples. 

Presumably, there are far more adoptions by gay couples than IVF procedures. In that regard, children adopted by same-sex couples:
  1. Have no mother and no father and;
  2. Are usually harder to place and;
  3. Fare as well as, or better than, children adopted by heterosexual couples according to the available published and peer reviewed scientific research.
Either way, whether through IVF or adoption, all of the children raised by same-sex couples are planned and wanted. That cannot be said for all children of heterosexual couples. While a religious zealot might find a tenuous connection between IVF and abortion (as those bishops "explain"), adoption is one of the most loving things imaginable. What could possibly be more life affirming than for two people to care for and love another couple's child as their own?

The very idea that this would lead the couple to "treat the child as a product in some fashion" is outrageous and offensive to the many children who are adopted or conceived through IVF. It is offensive to the parents of those children as well.

All of this is irrelevant. The agenda of the bishops is clear; they want to stop marriage equality, no matter the cost. Critical thinkers test hypotheses and then draw conclusions based on the results of those tests. These celibates have already drawn a conclusion that marriage equality is bad. Through selective observation and tortured logic, they are coming up with tests that they think will support the preordained result.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Another Child Was Murdered Last Week

Phillip Parker
Gordonsville, TN: Phillip Parker, age 14, died last week. His parents said he was constantly bullied for being gay.

Phillip's family said they reported their concerns over their son's bullying to Gordonsville High School on multiple occasions, but the bullying by a group of students just got worse.

WSMV-TV, Nashville doesn't tell us how Phillip died. Frankly, it is irrelevant. Like tens of thousands of other gay children, Phillip had the audacity to be born in the Bible Belt.  Tennessee is that dark hole with the "Don't Say Gay" bill. Every now and then, Tennessee feels compelled to prove that they can outdo the Scopes Monkey Trial; When it comes to gays they have barely begun the oppression.

These kids are some of the bravest people on the planet. They go to school every day knowing that they will be ridiculed and even physically bullied. The adults who should know better do nothing to intervene. Indeed, some of them actually believe that the bullying is what is required to turn the child into a heterosexual.

Some right wing Christianist whack jobs, like Tony Perkins, tell us that it's our fault for "recruiting" or "indoctrinating" more young people. Those youngsters know that it is wrong to be gay making it inevitable that more kids are killing themselves. Others, like "Dr." (not really) Patrick L. Wooden, Sr., tell anyone who will listen that gays can look forward to "diapers or a butt plug" in their 40's due to anal sex.

A veritable cornucopia of crackpots exist in the ether of the religious right. Making matters worse, they have a willingly ignorant audience and loud microphones. As absolutely insane as this nonsense appears to be, it is received as the "word of God" by some. Furthermore, the bullshit is repeated by candidates for President of the United States.

I'm not making excuses for the bullies but they hear about "perverts," "deviants" and "fags" at the dinner table. It's little wonder that they view gay kids as fair game. For their part, the bullied kids have not yet developed sufficient ego strengths to deal with the constant barrage of derision. They don't get the support that they so desperately need at school. Parents are at a loss.

Our anger and intense sadness won't help Phillip Parker. Phillip Parker couldn't take it anymore. Bravery     even remarkable bravery     has its limits.
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Dishonesty from John Helmberger and Minn. "Family" Council

Minnesota "Family" Council, fighting for marriage inequality, sent out an email titled Clear and Present Threat.
In addition to the usual mindless hyperbole, Helmberger makes the following claim:
One more time:
These are the (condensed) undisputed1 facts:
  1. The facility isn't a "Christian Retreat House." Nor, for that matter, is it a "wedding ministry" as ADF tried (and failed) to describe it. It is an off-site pavilion that advertised as a wedding venue.
  2. The "Pavilion" is owned by the church but is not on church grounds.
  3. The facility was used primarily for church programming but was made available for private weddings, for a fee, based solely on availability.
  4. The facility advertised itself as a wedding venue without disclosing any views on marriage.
  5. In 1989, the church applied for a not-for-profit real estate tax exemption.
  6. The exemption was actually opposed  by the township on the grounds that the applicant was a religious organization. At a public hearing, in September of 1989, the church represented that the facility would be available for public use without reservation.
  7. Thereafter, the tax exemption was approved explicitly conditioned on "equal access" and compliance with applicable non-discrimination laws.
  8. In 2007, the church would not permit a lesbian couple to use the facility for a commitment ceremony.
The administrative law judge found that the facility violated the law against discrimination by a public accommodation when they refused to allow a lesbian couple's commitment ceremony. The fact that the facility was owned by a church is irrelevant     it was still a public accommodation. The result is that they correctly lost their real estate tax exemption.

The facility has since been designated a religious facility and is no longer a public accommodation. The church is using the facility for programming and now enjoys the renewed real estate tax exemption.

Oh      and New Jersey is not (yet) a marriage equality state.

1 Both parties agreed to submit the matter to summary decision which meant that there were no material facts in dispute.

Home Depot Affirms Diversity Commitment - Pisses Off AFA

English: Logo for The Home Depot. Category:Bra...
The American "Family" Association is having a renewed hissy fit over Home Depot.

Last week we reported that Home Depot appeared to be pulling back its support to homosexual activists. We spoke too soon. Immediately after we released our findings, Home Depot said it will continue to support homosexual activities. Home Depot issued this email statement to AFA:
We have never changed our commitment to diversity and inclusion of all people, and we have no intention of doing so. Nor have we changed our apron policy or the guidelines for our charitable giving.
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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Believing Their Own BS

The greatest obstacle to marriage equality is neither the Catholic Church nor any right wing Evangelical Christian organization. Rather, it is the dearth of intellectual curiosity and then critical thinking that allows one citizen to want to deny equal protection under law to another citizen because of a difference in sexual orientation.

Blaming religion is convenient but simplistic. Doing so relieves individuals of personal responsibility for their actions towards others. National Organization for Marriage, as defenders of the faith, have implied, with little subtlety, that gay people are a threat to children. I hold     and society will ultimately hold     Maggie Gallagher, Robert George and Frank Schubert personally responsible for that bigotry. But I digress.

In an email, Washington State Representative Jamie Pedersen wrote:
I believe that our state has a strong interest in not discriminating against — and harming — the families of same-sex couples based on the religious views of a small and dwindling minority.
NOM's Thomas Peters:
. . . I take State Rep. Jamie Pedersen of Washington to task for sending this message to a Christian constituent of his who asked him to stop his attacks on marriage.

Peters then explains that he is outraged that Rep. Pedersen would claim that not extending marriage to gay couples harms their families. Aside from the fact that discrimination is harm, per se, his lack of empathy is appalling. In addition to the harms done by denying marriage to loving gay couples, Peters and his ilk overlook the harm done to the children of gay couples by not allowing those couples to be legally wed. Don't those kids deserve equal stability and security? Apparently, Peters is wed to the notion that his religion supersedes the rights of others. Peters believes his own bullshit.

Then Peters indulges in proforma self-victimization:
The attempt to call believing Christians a “small and dwindling minority” is offensive, and speaks more of his bigotry against people of faith than anything else.
Sorry Thomas but being offended by facts is intellectually dishonest. It is also another example of believing your own bullshit. Furthermore, there are many "believing" Christians (and Jews) who are proponents of marriage equality. What is offensive is the suggestion that people who don't agree with you are sacrilegious.

In 2009, Referendum 71 (Washington civil unions) passed with comfortable margins     close to a ten point spread if memory serves me correctly. Over time, attitudes towards gay marriage have only improved. Furthermore, Washington's largest employers (including Microsoft and Nike) have come out in full support of marriage equality early in the process. Microsoft has explained how important it is to their business.

So yes, the religious zealots are a small and dwindling minority. While they whine about religious liberty, what they really seek is the "liberty" to impose their religion on others. If your religion prohibits gay marriage then do not enter into one. If your religion provides a service for which it accepts some of my tax dollars then you don't get to discriminate. Doing so is not religious liberty; it is religious tyranny.

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Saturday, January 21, 2012

NOM's Brian Brown is a Desperate Little Bigot

National Organization for Marriage's Brian Brown is a Busy Little Bigot. Just in the last 24 hours:
  • "ALL HANDS ON DECK!! - Time to stop gay marriage in Washington!"
  • "EMERGENCY ALERT - Marriage Hearing in Trenton on Tuesday!"
  • "MARRIAGE ALERT: Tell your legislators to vote YES on HB437 to Repeal Same-Sex Marriage" 
Brown's problem is that we are past critical mass. The alliance of mayors for marriage equality should have removed all doubt. Brian, Robby, Maggie and all of their Knights Templar; along with all of  the bishops and the Pope himself aren't going to change the fact that US marriage equality is inevitable. The next shoe to drop could be Illinois. How about Wisconsin once Walker is recalled? Who knows?

Brown's own strategy assures us that we don't have to win every battle to win equality. Even when we lose     we win! NOM still has to divert energy and financial resources to punish those who dared to defy them. Otherwise, their numerous threats become meaningless.

It's something that Frank Schubert should have considered before he ever congratulated NOM on "breaking the back of the gay marriage movement."

Right now, Tom Monaghan, the K of C and wherever else NOM is getting their funding have bags of increasingly worthless receipts. They now require even more donations to chase diminishing returns. At some point they have to concede that enough is enough.

Like Elaine Donnelly before him, Brian Brown is going to need a new hobby.
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Friday, January 20, 2012

GLSEN vs Focus on the Family

GLSEN has released a toolkit for teachers that is extremely well organized, reflects considerable effort and was obviously developed with the help of primary school teachers. The toolkit, Ready, Set, Respect (pdf) is designed to "Prepare Teachers for Teaching About Respect in Elementary Schools."

One of the "tips for teaching more inclusively" is:

Write math problems with contexts that include a variety of family structures and gender-expressions. For example, “Rosa and her dads were at the store and wanted to buy three boxes of pasta. If each costs $.75, how much will all three boxes cost?” or “Darren wants to bake a special cake for his grandmother. The original recipe calls for 2 cups of flour. If he is doubling the recipe, how much flour does he need?”
After several paragraphs of preposterous hyperbole, Focus on the Family (Citizen Link) recasts this as:
Look for “teachable moments” to incorporate promotion of homosexuality into classroom activities. For instance, “Write math problems with contexts that include a variety of family structures and gender-expressions. For example, ‘Rosa and her dads were at the store and wanted to buy three boxes of pasta…’ ”
As you might guess, I have some observations to share:
  1. If Rosa has two dads it is a virtual certainty that Rosa was adopted.
  2. If Rosa was adopted (having no dad), would Focus on the Family presume to isolate her and subject her to ridicule?
  3. If Rosa was adopted by a gay couple, chances are that she was hard to place. Would Focus on the Family prefer that Rosa be "in the system?"
  4. It is a fact that some children go to school with other children who are being raised by same-sex parents. If we pretend that is not the case, will it cease to be a fact?
  5. Why did Focus omit the fact that GLSEN also recommended a "traditional"  family example in the same paragraph?
  6. Can we ever get Focus on the Family to settle on the consequences of "promoting homosexuality?" If children learn that some kids have parents who are the same sex, are they more likely to be gay? How long does this take to occur? It is permanent queerness or just temporary? Do they have some published and peer reviewed research to support their hypotheses? 
There is much more to both the GLSEN program and Focus' bigotry about it. What makes this troublesome is that there are some parents who actually believe this nonsense.

How many children have to murder themselves before Focus on the Family acknowledges that there is a problem in our schools?
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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Mayors for Freedom to Marry Set to Announce Friday

Approximately 75 US mayors, including such notables as Mike Bloomberg and Rahm Emanuel, will announce their new marriage equality coalition tomorrow, January 20. The launch coincides with the US Conference of Mayors meeting in Washington, DC.

This interlude of reasonable sanity occurs as seemingly unhinged Republican presidential candidates are falling over each other to outdo the homophobia displayed by their competitors. Any gay person who would even think of voting for NOM-Pledged Mitt needs a good shrink. Contact me for referrals. Ugh!
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WA Marriage Equality has Broad Corp. Support - Including MS

Today, Microsoft went Public with a strong endorsement of marriage equality in Washington State.
Marriage Equality in Washington State Would Be Good for Business 19 Jan 2012 11:25 AM

Today, Microsoft is joining other Northwest employers Concur, Group Health, Nike, RealNetworks and Vulcan Inc. in support of Washington State legislation recognizing marriage equality for same-sex couples. We believe that passing this bill would be good for our business and good for the state’s economy.
The post is signed:
Brad Smith
General Counsel & Executive Vice President,
Legal & Corporate Affairs, Microsoft

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Anti-Gay Bigots Sponsor Tonight's GOP Debate

As the Human Rights Campaign notes:

English: Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Logo. HRC...
NOM is among the organizations sponsoring tonight’s GOP presidential debate as part of this year’s Southern Republican Leadership Conference (SRLC). The Southern Poverty Law Center calls NOM “one of the most visible and active anti-gay marriage groups,” and says the organization propagates “known falsehoods” about LGBT people. 
Try as they might to look mainstream, National Organization for Marriage is an extremist Catholic auxiliary closely connected to Opus Dei. GOPers should be ashamed of themselves.
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Confused Crackpottery

J, Scott Moody
J. Scott Moody
J. Scott Moody, "economist" for the anti-gay Cornerstone organization in New Hampshire, claims that marriage equality is bad for the economy. He claims that marriage equality leads to a shrinking population. He also claims that "many" states have repealed same-sex marriage recognition. Seriously?

Cornerstone seems to have a staff of four and an operating budget of $72,000/year. Mr. Moody is also married to the organization's executive director.  He made these, and other claims, to the editorial board of Foster's Daily Democrat newspaper.

In a rambling and incoherent "presentation" Mr. Moody apparently asserts that declining birth and marriage rates in the United States are the direct result of the recent recognition of same-sex marriages in six states plus the District of Columbia. I remain mystified how Moody correlates his data to marriage equality. As the editorial board noted:
Moody did not provide charts or actual sources for this claim.
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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Bitchy Bishops

Kiss your WHAT?
Oakland's Bishop, Salvatore Cordileone, is the Church's point man on marriage inequality. While he doesn't take personal credit, except within the hierarchy, he tends to be the anti-gay coordinator within the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Were he     and they     simply honest that same-sex marriage is offensive to their religious beliefs, their position might not seem quite so homophobic.

Instead, they torture to offer a secular argument in order to impose their religious beliefs on our government and our populace. The Church hasn't had that kind of power in three or four hundred years.

Today, we have statements from the Bishops of Colorado and Washington State opposing civil unions and marriage equality respectively. Both statements are via Catholic News Agency. First, in Colorado:
“Nearly every benefit being sought by this legislation is already legally available to Coloradans. The truth is the movement for recognition of ‘same-sex marriage’ and ‘civil unions’ is less about benefits and rights and more about societal acceptance and approval of homosexual relationships,” they said.

 “Marriage and the family are cornerstones of every culture,” the bishops stated. “Civil unions may attempt to mirror the marital relationship, but they lack the essential fruits of marriage. The marital relationship ensures the future of society through the creation of new human life.”

Upholding the truth of marriage helps everyone by promoting “a culture where children can profit from the unique and complementary gifts of a mother and a father,” they said.
Keep in mind that the official position of The Church is that we should be "chaste." Imagine a society with 30 or 40 million horny and celibate gay people. But I digress. They speak of our hidden agenda. I wish that the bishops would accept one simple precept:

We neither need nor seek their approval!

Then we get to the core of the bullshit. First they claim that civil unions are insufficient (I agree) but that it cannot be marriage without procreation which is utter nonsense. Then we have a variety of "every child needs a mommy and daddy." Aside from the science affirming that gay couples make good parents, how the hell does marriage equality deny any child a mommy and daddy? Gays adopt. Gays often adopt hard to place children. Those kids, otherwise, have no mother and no father. What part of that logic is too difficult to grasp?

As for Washington, apparently, marriage equality will end civilization as we know it:
Washington bishops say push for gay 'marriage' undermines family
. . .
In a January 2012 statement, the bishops stressed that the “stability of society depends on the stability of family life in which a man and a woman conceive and nurture new life.”
. . .
In response to the move, the bishops explained that defining marriage in terms of the relationship between a man and a woman and its “important role” in guaranteeing future generations, the state recognizes the “irreplaceable contribution” married couples make to society.
Much of the release includes the same boilerplate which I have chosen to omit. According to their "logic," somehow gay marriage will reduce heterosexual marriage leading to fewer children and our ultimate doom. Sure.

If the bottom line is really about children, these celibates should consider the benefits of marriage to the children of loving gay couples. Those kids surely deserve the stability and security afforded by married parents. Today, Bishop Sal has turned himself into a pretzel.

For the bishops, this isn't about children or society. This is about religious doctrine which has no bearing on equal protection under the law     something that they, as clerics, enjoy to its fullest extent.
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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Layers of Christian Deceit, Conceit and Hypocrisy

In most academic circles, the gratuitous use of "Dr." is considered pretentious. In right wing Christian circles, however, the honorific is almost mandatory; So much so that they have created their own degree mills just to "award" worthless Ph.D's. These "institutions," in turn, have created vanity Christian accrediting agencies that are unrecognized for any educational purpose.

Take, for example, the case of "Dr." (he insists) Patrick L. Wooden, Sr., one of the preachers who is part of Peter LaBarbera's bigot brigade at the SPLC. According to his biography at his Upper Room Church of God in Christ:
Dr. Patrick L. Wooden, Sr. Dr. Wooden has received national notoriety for his work and efforts. The North Carolina College of Theology recognized the work of Dr. Wooden and afforded him the opportunity to use some of his years of experience as credits in his pursuit of a Doctorate of Theology of [sic] which he received in June 2007.
That, in turn, leads us to The North Carolina College of Theology.  According to them:
Accreditation: The North Carolina College of Theology is a member and independent subsidiary of the Southern Accreditation Association of Christian Schools and Colleges, the American Association of Theological Institutions, and the American Accrediting Education Association of Christian Schools.
The problem here is that not one of those "accreditors" is recognized by the US Department of Education as an accrediting agency. Not one!

But it get worse. The "college" goes on to claim:
Very Important: We do not sell degrees. Many pastors, missionaries, and church workers have earned their degrees and should have them. NCCT is accredited by Southern Accreditation Association of Christian Schools and Colleges . . .
Furthermore, the "doctoral" program requires no more prior education than a high school diploma or GED. However "a thesis is required." Not surprisingly, that requirement can be waived.

Just to sum it up, the devout Christians have created worthless, unrecognized accrediting agencies in order to provide mail-order Christian degree mills with worthless accreditations in order to provide Christian pastors with worthless degrees. This is done to mislead people into believing that the good preacher has a level of erudition and educational accomplishment that he or she simply does not possess.

Whatever happened to that "bear false witness" thing?

     The Very Highly Reverend David Cary Hart
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Christian parents fight for right to discriminate against LGBT students at Anoka Hennepin

Every time I think that "they" cannot possibly get more unhinged or ignorant:

A slew of conservative Christian parents — and even an orthodox rabbi — implored the Anoka-Hennepin School District to purge schools of any mention of homosexuality and demanded that teachers teach about the “ex-homosexual” movement and “gay-related immune deficiency.” One district member even assailed Dan Savage’s It Gets Better campaign as vulgar and accused the popular columnist of teaching children about “three-ways.” Several people testified using little more than versus from the Bible that are often used to demean and degrade the LGBT community.
Here’s the full resolution as recited by Lindquist and Skaalerud
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Monday, January 16, 2012

The Little Peter has become painfully tedious

It's not even fair. Peter LaBarbera simply lacks the critical thinking to make him a worthy adversary.

With the usual whack jobs (Linda Harvey, Matt Barber, Brian Camenker, Rachel Conner et al), Pete is joined by Arthur Goldberg (who is a convicted criminal) and a couple of rabbis. Porno Pete and that rabble have made their way to SPLC to protest their designation of Pete's little band of bigots and similar organizations as hate groups. I am certain that the leaders of SPLC will be highly impressed. Ugh!

Pete quotes Patrick Wooden (a preacher who is part of the group):
[Wooden] said that the SPLC’s gambit of labeling mainstream pro-family groups that oppose homosexual activism as “hate groups” is seriously damaging the SPLC’s credibility. Wooden also debunked the “civil rights” analogy used by “gay” activists, saying it is wrong to compare “my beautiful blackness” with homosexual perversion (Pete repeated the slur).
They might as well (and probably do) call me a "fag." And Pete wonders why he is considered a hater. The notion that Pete is "mainstream" is astonishingly moronic. Moreover, Pete is not "pro-family" (which would include our families). Oh, no! Pete is an anti-gay bigot who needs a more productive hobby.

According to Pete,anyone who thinks that gays should enjoy equal protection under the law is an evil activist. As for Mr. Wooden (who uses a phony "Dr." honorific), Julian Bond, Ben Jealous, James Clyburn, the UNCF, the NAACP and a host of other black leaders and organizations affirm that LGBT Americans are struggling for equal civil rights. I am not sure what Pete thinks he "debunked." I am not sure if Wooden thinks at all.

As I said, the Little Peter has become spectacularly tedious. I'll ignore him for another month or so.
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I was a GOPer - 'til I found Prozac

I give Log Cabin Republicans much credit for the repeal of DADT. Moreover, they seem to be considerably saner than their counterparts at GOProud. I doubt that anyone at LC would pay to have Ann Coulter insult them.

Having said that, LC has announced its first Miami meeting of the 2012 election season. That announcement includes the following verbiage:
We are truly excited about the possibilities for our party and our group as we head into a very important 2012. We are focused and stand ready, willing and able to ensure Republican Victories to the most viable candidates that have our best interests at heart. Not just on the social issue of Gay & Lesbian Equality, which we struggle for on a daily basis, but on our core beliefs of small government, a strong national defense and fiscal responsibility.
In 2008, they endorsed McCain. Are they going to endorse Mitt Romney? Surely they know that Mitt signed the National Organization for Marriage pledge to:
  • Support and send to the states a federal marriage amendment defining marriage as one man and one woman,
  • Defend DOMA in court,
  • Appoint judges and an attorney general who will respect the original meaning of the Constitution,
  • Appoint a presidential commission to investigate harassment of traditional marriage supporters,
  • Support legislation that would return to the people of D.C. their right to vote for marriage.
Really? After all of their hard work on DADT, could Log Cabiners really align with this pledge?

They also throw in the "small government" platitude. Didn't they learn anything from the economic meltdown? What "small government" really means is relaxed regulations on Republican donors     usually at the expense of our environment, consumers and middle-income wage earners. The Republic ideology creates two classes of people; predators and prey.
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Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association: Where intellectual honesty goes to die

This is one of those controversies that has been mischaracterized for almost five years. Ironically, while the facts of this case are often misstated by the religious right, the parties to the case mutually submitted the matter to a summary decision. That means that the facts were undisputed and the parties sought a determination of applicable law. The written decision is here.

These are the (condensed) facts:
  1. The "Pavilion" was owned by the church but was not on church grounds.
  2. The facility was used primarily for church programming but was made available for private weddings for a fee based solely on availability.
  3. The facility advertised itself as a wedding venue without disclosing any views on marriage.
  4. In 1989, the church applied for a not-for-profit real estate tax exemption.
  5. The exemption was actually opposed  by the township on the grounds that the applicant was a religious organization. At a public hearing, in September of 1989, the church represented that the facility would be available for public use without reservation.
  6. Thereafter, the tax exemption was approved explicitly conditioned on "equal access" and compliance with applicable non-discrimination laws.
  7. In 2007, the church would not permit a lesbian couple to use the facility for a commitment ceremony.
The administrative law judge found that the facility violated the law against discrimination by a public accommodation when they refused to allow a lesbian couple's commitment ceremony. The fact that the facility was owned by a church is irrelevant     it was still a public accommodation.

In other words, if a Christian Identity church purchased a restaurant they would be required to serve Jews and blacks. Their white supremacist beliefs are irrelevant.

As a postmortem, the church changed the status of the facility to a religious organization years ago and it is exempt from real estate taxes again. It is no longer used as a public accommodation. The plaintiffs held their commitment ceremony elsewhere. The judge found no malice and awarded no damages.

In spite of all of the applicable facts, Alliance Defense Fund is in a huff; insisting that the church could not be forced to hold the event. National Organization for Marriage continues to mindlessly assert that this case serves as a "consequence" of marriage equality in spite of the fact that New Jersey doesn't recognize same-sex marriages.

One interesting passage in the ruling demonstrates the judge's frustration with ADF's bullshit:
While a motion for summary decision is not the place for fact finding, neither may an opponent of the motion blunt summary decision with bald oppositional statements, Brill, supra, 142 N.J. 520. Respondent filed a certification repeatedly referring to a “Wedding Ministry.” Yet, respondent’s interrogatory answers concede that it created no writing on the subject before March 2007, though weddings at this location had been conducted for at least ten years. There is no indication that couples, particularly those that chose secular vows, or that were of other faiths, were ever told that they were participating in a ministry.
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NOM kinda forgot to mention . . .

From today's National Organization for Marriage blog:
In an interview with Reason TV, author and libertarian icon George Gilder explains why he opposes gay marriage: "The family is critical to raising civilized, creative, responsible people who can exploit and enjoy freedom." When asked how he is defining the family in this sense, Gilder responds: "Nuclear family, a man and woman and children."
Just for context, Gilder is one of the founders of the creationism propagandist  Discovery Institute. Need I say more?
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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Get your ass registered to vote!

Official photographic portrait of US President...
President Obama has done more for gay rights in the last three years than anyone thought possible. However, that is somewhat irrelevant!

English: Clarence Thomas, Associate Justice of...
The next President of the United States will nominate two or three justices of the supreme court     maybe more. Our next President could shape the court for decades to come. For example, Clarence Thomas has been an Associate Justice for more than 20 years. He could serve for another ten to 20 years. Assuming that he is the nominee, Romney would likely nominate more people like Thomas, Scalia and Alito. He has signed a written pledge to the National Organization for Marriage to do just that.

We cannot take that chance. Our very liberty is at risk. Marriage equality as well as all of the accomplishments of the Obama administration could be in peril.

Every LGBT citizen needs to take 2012 very seriously. Don't procrastinate.
  1. Find out what the requirements are to vote in your state.
  2. If you need photo ID to vote, start the process. It can take considerable time to obtain.
  3. Register to vote. The national mail registration form is here.
The prospect of more justices like Thomas scares the hell out of me. If you are LGBT or the loved one of an LGBT citizen, it should  scare the hell out of you too. If we all do our part, we can make a substantial difference. You must know that people like Tony Perkins, Maggie Gallagher, Harry Jackson and Jim Daly are going to use the pulpit to get their people to the polls.

When Miami-Dade was culture-war central

Anita Bryant at a rally to repeal
Dade County's gay rights ordinance
A superb article in today's Miami Herald:

Thirty-five years ago, Dade passed a gay-rights law, helping fuel the culture wars that still rage, especially during primaries. 

The culture-wars caravan is rolling into town. Assuming the Republican field isn’t whittled to one in South Carolina, the campaign will arrive in full force in advance of Florida’s Jan. 31 primary, and with it will come reinvigorated debates over “family values” and gay rights.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/01/14/2589758/when-miami-dade-was-culture-war.html#storylink=cpy
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