Sunday, March 31, 2013

Tweet of the Day: March 31, 2013

The Religious Right: Let The Boys Dance

Two guys want to go to a dance together at a Catholic school. We all know how this is going to go, right? Well think again:

March 27, 2013 

Dear Sisters and Brothers of our McQuaid Jesuit Community: 

Our new Holy Father, Pope Francis, in the homily for his Inaugural Mass, had encouraging and inviting words: "Today amid so much darkness we need to see the light of hope and to be men and women who bring hope to others. To protect creation and to protect every man and every woman, to look upon them with tenderness and love, is to open up a horizon of hope, it is to let a ray of light break through heavy clouds." 

Darkness and heavy clouds have gathered here at McQuaid recently because of misinformation, fear, misunderstanding, and even anger. That misinformation, fear, misunderstanding, and even anger came about after two of our brothers asked whether they could attend the Junior Ball together. Into the darkness of misinformation, fear, misunderstanding and anger, together with Pope Francis, I invite and encourage each and every one of us in the McQuaid family to be men and women who bring hope to one another. I invite and encourage each and every one of us in the McQuaid family to be men and women who look upon one another with tenderness and love. I invite and encourage each and every one of us in the McQuaid family to open up a horizon of hope, to let a ray of light break through heavy clouds. 

I myself would like to let a ray of light break through by correcting some misinformation. It is simply not true, as was reported and as many seem to have assumed, that a decision had been made by McQuaid authorities not to allow the young men in question to attend the Junior Ball. No decision had been made. 

I would like to let a ray of light enter into the darkness of fear. I, together with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, who in their Pastoral Message, "Always Our Children," ". . . call on all Christians and citizens of good will to confront their own fears about homosexuality and to curb the humor and discrimination that offend homosexual persons. We understand that having a homosexual orientation brings with it enough anxiety, pain and issues related to self-acceptance without society bringing additional prejudicial treatment." 

I would like to let a ray of light enter into possible misunderstanding of the Church's teaching. In that same message, Always Our Children, the Bishops are clear --"Nothing in the Bible or in Catholic teaching can be used to justify prejudicial or discriminatory attitudes and behaviors." The Bishops continue: "It is also important to recognize that neither a homosexual orientation, nor a heterosexual one, leads inevitably to sexual activity. One's total personhood is not reducible to sexual orientation or behavior." In that same message, the Bishops refer to a 1986 Letter from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith which emphasizes that "Respect for the God-given dignity of all persons means the recognition of human rights and responsibilities. The teachings of the Church make it clear that the fundamental human rights of homosexual persons must be defended and that all of us must strive to eliminate any forms of injustice, oppression, or violence against them." 

The Bishops continue, "It is not sufficient only to avoid unjust discrimination. Homosexual persons 'must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity' (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2358). They, as is true of every human being, need to be nourished at many different levels simultaneously. This includes friendship, [brotherhood] which is a way of loving and is essential to healthy human development. It is one of the richest possible human experiences. Friendship can and does thrive outside of sexual involvement." 

Lastly, I would like to let a ray of light into the darkness that anger can bring. Based on the misinformation circulating and a certain misunderstanding of Church teaching, some people began posting prejudicial and humiliating comments in the social media. Speaking or writing or acting out of anger is not usually helpful. Others, however, deeply concerned for the dignity and respect of all persons, wrote thoughtful and encouraging e-mail messages to McQuaid officials. 

In conclusion and in the hope that I and all of us at McQuaid Jesuit will let a ray of light break through the darkness and the heavy clouds that have surrounded us, I have made the decision that, if our two brothers who have asked to attend the Junior Ball together wish to do so, they will be welcomed. 

With this decision I am not contradicting the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church with regard to human sexuality; I am not encouraging nor am I condoning homosexual activity just as I do not encourage or condone heterosexual activity at a dance. I am not contradicting the Church's opposition to the redefinition of marriage. With this decision I invite and encourage us all, as Pope Francis does, to exercise care, protection, goodness which calls for a certain tenderness "which is not a virtue of the weak but rather a sign of strength of spirit and a capacity for concern, for compassion, for genuine openness to others, for love. We must not be afraid of goodness, of tenderness." 

Sincerely in the Lord, 

Edward F.Salmon, S.J. President

I love it when religious groups surprise me, and I love being able to do this feature. Both things happen very rarely. Of course, as he says, Father Solomon is far from waving around a rainbow flag. but at least the boys can go to their dance together.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Tweet of the Day: March 28, 2013

Say No To Gray Marriage

DoMA & the Budget Deficit

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that DOMA increases the deficit by roughly $1 billion a year, and while that amount is small, striking it down would save far more than ending subsidies to NPR or some of the other “deficit reduction” ideas Republicans have pursued in the past. 
Those savings would come from numerous sources. Tax revenues would rise by more than $400 million a year, and though costs on programs like Social Security and federal benefits would increase, costs for safety net programs like Medicare, Supplemental Security Income, Medicaid, and other programs would go down. 
That’s significant, because the largest benefit from recognizing same-sex marriages comes from what it would do for individual couples and families. Same-sex couples aren’t allowed to file joint taxes, which prohibits them from claiming some tax credits and deductions that would benefit their families. They also aren’t eligible for spousal health, Social Security, or federal pension benefits, making it harder for some LGBT families to make ends meet. Older LGBT couples are more likely to live in poverty than married heterosexual seniors, which is why ending DOMA would reduce costs for programs like Medicaid and SSI — access to spousal benefits would lift many LGBT Americans out of poverty and off of the social safety net.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Tweet of the Day: March 26, 2013

An Outpouring of Support

For those who are somehow unaware, oral arguments took place today in the Supreme Court regarding California’s infamous Proposition 8, a voter initiative which denied same-sex couples the right to marry under the law (the law was passed in 2008). In honour of this, a campaign was begun to bring awareness and spread support for the freedom to marry. This campaign included wearing red or changing Facebook icons to red to symbolize love.

I did not expect to see much of an effect from this campaign except from the usual sources such as friends I have who are gay, organizations like the Human Rights Campaign, and so on. However, I saw a much larger outpouring of support for equality than I expected, including some unexpected sources. There were personal sources like former school and university mates, family members, friends and acquaintances, several of my fraternity brothers, and co-workers. There was also support from some more far reaching sources such as YouTube sensations like Philip DeFranco, bands like Carbon Leaf (one of my favourites), various political groups (not including the ones are that are LGBT-specific). Brendon Ayenbadejo of the National Football League was speaking at a rally in front of the United States Supreme Court building. Even Ben & Jerry’s ice cream voiced their support.

This is also coming on the heels of several United States senators (Warner of Virginia, Tester of Montana, Begich of Alaska, and McCaskill of Missouri) affirming their support for marriage equality in the span of about three days. While I have been cognizant of the ever-spreading support for equality, I am truly and happily astonished at the flood of support over the past several days for which I am truly thankful (as I am sure the rest of the LGBT community is as well). So much progress has been made recently and it is so important that we as a nation keep moving forward in our quest to being a more perfect union with liberty and justice FOR ALL!!!

What Anti-Gay Arguments Have Devolved Into

Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) Supports Equality

From Buzzfeed:
...Although Begich's office did not respond to an earlier request for comment about his views on marriage equality, the Human Rights Campaign informed BuzzFeed Monday afternoon that Begich's office had told the LGBT rights organization that Begich supported the following statement:
"Gay and lesbian couples should not be denied the ability to pledge their love and commitment through the civil institution of marriage. I believe that two committed adults of the same sex should be able to receive a government-issued marriage license, while religious institutions retain their right to determine which marriages they will perform."
When asked about HRC's claim Monday evening, Begich's office provided BuzzFeed with the direct statement of support for marriage equality...

CostCo Proves GOP Wrong on Minimum Wage

Monday, March 25, 2013

Sen. Warner (D-VA) Supports Marriage Equality

From his Facebook page:

I support marriage equality because it is the fair and right thing to do. Like many Virginians and Americans, my views on gay marriage have evolved, and this is the inevitable extension of my efforts to promote equality and opportunity for everyone. I was proud to be the first Virginia governor to extend anti-discrimination protections to LGBT state workers. In 2010, I supported an end to the military’s ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy, and earlier this month I signed an amicus brief urging the repeal of DOMA. I believe we should continue working to expand equal rights and opportunities for all Americans.
I'm really glad I voted for this man.

Starbucks CEO Supports Raising Minimum Wage

Now, [Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks] is tentatively putting his weight behind the Democratic push to increase the minimum wage from $7.25 to something more like $9 or $10 an hour. In an interview with CNBC, Schultz said, “I am a supporter of the minimum wage going up“:
Howard Schultz, the head of the global coffee giant, told CNBC Wednesday that “the minimum wage issue is a double-edged sword,” because while boosting it would mean higher wages for workers, it may also discourage businesses from hiring more people.
“On balance, I am a supporter of the minimum wage going up,” he said. “We’ve got to be very careful what we wish for because some employers — and there could be a lot of them — will be scared away from hiring new people or creating incremental hours for part-time people as a result of that wage going up.”
Last week, House Republicans voted down a proposal pushed by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) that would have raised the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. The Senate has made no motions to improve the wage. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), however, has pointed out that the minimum wage would be $22 an hour if it had been adjusted for inflation and worker productivity. Indexed to inflation alone, it would stand at $10.40.

The American Shift on Marriage Equality

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Tweet of the Day: March 20, 2013

As a frame of reference, Reince Priebus is the chairman of the Republican National Committee. While Priebus has recently been talking about the need to be more inclusive, he is simultaneously saying that the GOP stance is that marriage should only be between one man and one woman. So much for being inclusive...

This Is An Offensive Photo...Apparently: UPDATE!!!

If you happen to follow this blogs website on Facebook, you probably saw this photo which I posted this week. It seems as though someone did not take too kindly to me doing so however. When a awoke this Wednesday morning, there was a message which started a conversation. Here is how that conversation went:

Them: Hey Commonwealth Commentary, there's something about this photo that bothers me. Would you please take it down? Thanks.
Me: What about this photo bothers you?
Them: every thing the colors of the house etc
Me: I'm not really understanding the problem. Besides which, this photo is all around the internet. If there is a specific issue I can address then I will if I can.
Them: im just asking u to take it down i find it offensive and insulating to me im being nice here
Me: How is this photo offensive?
Them: it just is
Me: So, you're saying it's offensive, but you will not tell me why?
Them: don't pissme off i find it offensive and heres why its way to graphing for me do u have a problem with that?
Me: You're telling me it's "offensive" and graphic (I think that's what you meant), but you aren't telling me how so. There is nothing discriminatory, illicit, vulgar, or profane here. I am asking you very simple direct questions and being as respectful as I can but you are meeting me with naught but answers so vague that they can not truly be deemed answers. If you find this photo offensive then tell me how so. Otherwise, I see no reason to take this photo down, especially given that the positive responses to it far outweigh the one negative response I have received from you.
As you can see, I tried to keep it civil and address this person's concerns, to no avail. After this, the exchange broke off, partially because it was time for me to go to the day job. Several hours later when I checked the Facebook page, the "offending" photo had been removed...sort of. The photo itself was removed, though it is still there in another form (i.e. from the Twitter account attached to the page). There is also the fact that this photo is all over the internet, so (sort of) removing it from this one page really has no affect.

When this whole conversation started, my immediate assumption was that this was some conservative homophobic troll trying to rile me up. I checked his page just to be sure and he had liked many of the same pages I had, including Elizabeth Warren, Barack Obama, and Equality Maine. Whoever this person is, they never told me why this photo is offensive and never told me how it was insulting. This whole scenario makes zero sense. The good news is that this photo, and its message, is spread far and wide throughout the internet. There is not a damned thing that can be done about that.

P.S. the moral of this story is that you can not reason with unreasonable folks. Pick your battles.

UPDATE: The fun continued later that night...

Him: y r u hassrassing me over a stupid picture dude i don't think u UNDERSTAND AT ALL UR picture is a stupid picture take it down NOW IT HAS OFFENED ME TOTHE POINT WERE I FIND IT SEXUAL & DESRUPTIVE TO ME PERSONALLY U R SAYING TO ME THAT " GAY" PEOPLE R GOING TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD

Me: First, why are you even on this page if you find it insulting? Second, how is a picture of a house sexual or disruptive? Third, how can you claim I'm harassing you when you are the one who started all of this by making baseless claims? Fourth, how can you take this personally when you were in no way personally addressed with this photo?

If you don't like the photo, I'm not making you look at it. I'm not making you come to this page. I have tried to be respectful, but you clearly don't deserve that respect, so I suggest you find somewhere else to troll. If you don't like what is on this page, then do not come to the page. No one is stopping you from leaving, so just leave and find some like-minded homophobes with whom to commiserate.
After this final exchange, I was done with this guy and simply blocked him. I have better things to do with my time than trying to reason with internet trolls.

Losing the War on Marriage Equality

Sunday, March 17, 2013

CNN Fails Miserably On Rape Coverage

This has got to be some sick joke. These two young men were found guilty of a violent, unconscionable act against an innocent girl, and CNN is talking about how this conviction has destroyed the lives of the convicted rapists?

If you watched this clip, you will notice there was zero mention of how the 16 year-old victim has been affected. No mention of the physical trauma that may or may not heal. No mention of the emotional trauma that will last for a long time to come. None. Were this Fox, I would not be surprised, but this is a very poor indictment on CNN, the self-styled "most respected name in news." I for one hope that this conviction helps to bring at least some closure to the victim of this violent act, though only time itself will be able to heal the wounds that can be healed.

There is yet another element that CNN got completely wrong. This conviction did not destroy the lives of the young men found guilty, their own decisions and actions destroyed did that. They made the choice to take advantage of this young girl and they will pay the price for it. They will be branded as sex offenders for the rest of their lives because of what they did. If they do not like that, then tough. Perhaps if they had thought how reprehensible it is to expose a vulnerable person in such a callous manner, they would have vastly better futures ahead of them. It is a true shame they made the choice to tread down such a dark path.

There is no gray area here. Forcing yourself on someone is not morally ambiguous. It is wrong, it has always been wrong, and it will always be wrong. One does not have to be particularly intelligent to understand that, they just have to be decent human beings. What happened to these rapists is their own fault and they have no one else to blame but themselves for their lot. Justice was served and I for one will not be shedding a tear for either of these guys. If any good can come from this, it is that this crime and the verdict may serve as a cautionary tale for other people who hear this story.

So much for CNN being the most respected name in news. This was a sorry excuse for journalism.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Tweet of the Day: March 15, 2013

Some Thoughts on Senator Rob Portman & Equality

This morning, the news spread like wild fire that Senator Robert Portman (R-OH) has formally endorsed marriage equality. Like so many other allies, his change of heart (he had previously been against marriage equality) happened as a result of a very personal connection. In Portman's case, it was his son coming out as gay privately two years ago. Ideally this change of heart would happen from talking to people about their experiences with homophobia, not being able to marry under the law, and the problems associated with those inequities, or simple empathy. The fact of the matter is, however, that all too often it is not until a particular issue hits very close to home that we have our eyes opened and form a more sensible opinion on the matter at hand.

What is important here is that Senator Portman is a Republican and most of the opposition to marriage equality has come from his party. Even so, the GOP is ever so slowly shifting on this issue. Despite the strong influence of the religious right, there is a growing proportion of Republicans who support legal equality for same-sex couples. Earlier this year, many prominent Republicans - many of whom are former congress members, governors, pundits, etc. - signed an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in support of equality. Younger Republicans also have a more inclusive mindset, which will have a growing affect on the party as a whole moving forward. Two sitting congress members openly support the repeal of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act. And now there is Senator Portman, who is the first sitting U.S. Republican senator to endorse marriage equality. To be fair, his endorsement is not exactly complete. He is on record as saying it is better to build a consensus through the democratic process so that "enduring change is forged" versus "judicial intervention" which would (in his estimation) circumvent the democratic process.

As one might expect, Senator Portman is already getting grief from the more socially conservative elements of the conservative movement. A group called "Government is Not God PAC" said in a statement that his gay son will get AIDS, as though that is an inevitability. Bryan Fischer, director of analysis for the so-called American Family Association (considered by many to be a hate group) tweeted the following: "@ gay son, SSM: A father can still love a son who robs a bank without changing his mind about the morality of bank robbing," as though being gay is the same as robbing a bank. Some people will just never learn.

The Republican party being what it is, I do not expect the flood gates to open releasing an avalanche of sitting GOP politicians supporting marriage equality. The countervailing forces are simply to strong for that to be a realistic hope. Let us remember that just this past Summer the GOP platform was strongly against marriage equality. However, maybe this will induce a trickle of support from other GOP politicians and voters. Given existing support, this may tip the balance at what is already a critical juncture in the fight for LGBT equality. If nothing else, Senator Portman's statement reopens the dialogue here an America. This is another opportunity for hearts and minds to be changed, an opportunity to bring more people onto the right side of history, another opportunity to bring America closer to truly being the land of the free.

A Father's Letter To His Gay Son

GOP Senator Evolves On Marriage Equality

Republican U.S. Sen. Rob Portman on Thursday announced he has reversed his longtime opposition to same-sex marriage after reconsidering the issue because his 21-year-old son, Will, is gay. 

Portman said his son, a junior at Yale University, told him and his wife, Jane, that he's gay and "it was not a choice, it was who he is and that he had been that way since he could remember."

"It allowed me to think of this issue from a new perspective, and that's of a Dad who loves his son a lot and wants him to have the same opportunities that his brother and sister would have -- to have a relationship like Jane and I have had for over 26 years," Portman told reporters in an interview at his office.

The conversation the Portmans had with their son two years ago led to him to evolve on the issue after he consulted clergy members, friends -- including former Vice President Dick Cheney, whose daughter is gay -- and the Bible.
This makes Senator Portman the first sitting U.S. Republican senator to endorse marriage equality.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Tweet of the Day: March 13, 2013

Study: Gay Parents As Good As Straight Parents

A study conducted by Cambridge University concluded that gay British parents are just as good as heterosexual parents.

The report, released by the British Association of Adoption and Fostering on March 4, chronicles the experiences of 130 families with adopted children. Of those, 49 are heterosexual couples, and 41 are gay and lesbian couples.

"Overall we found markedly more similarities than differences in experiences between family types," professor Susan Golombok, director of the Centre for Family Research and co-author of the report, told the Gay Star News.
Most people don't need a study to know this. There was another study that said quite the opposite, except it was revealed that that study had been manipulated to show unfavourable results that made gay couples look like bad parents. Between that revelation and this study, it has not been a good week to be against same-sex couple having kids.

"Pray Away The Gay" Group Loses Tax-Exemption

From Raw Story:

On Monday, the IRS notified the public that it has revoked The National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality’s (NARTH) tax-exempt status for failure to file proper forms for three consecutive years, according to psychology professor Warren Throckmorton, who focuses on sexual identity, religion and public policy.

While NARTH “respect[s] the right of all individuals to choose their own destiny,” the group — like similar ones across the country — believes that being gay is purely a choice. NARTH, according to its website, is a “professional, scientific organization that offers hope to those who struggle with unwanted homosexuality” disseminating “educational information, conduct and collect scientific research, promote effective therapeutic treatment, and provide referrals to those who seek our assistance.”

The IRS’ revocation occurred in September 2012. NARTH’S loss of its tax-exempt status is but one small blip in recent battles regarding the controversial “reparative therapy.”

Monday, March 11, 2013

Judge Halts New York City's Large Soda Ban

While we definitely need to take steps against obesity in this country, this ban was nowhere near the answer.

Tweet of the Day: March 11, 2013

Emails Show Anti-Gay Parenting Study Manipulation

Mark Regnerus has admitted his “family structures” study didn’t actually measure gay parenting, comparing the children of separated parents who had same-sex relationships with those of married opposite-sex parents. An internal auditor of the journal that published the Regnerus study last year concluded its findings were “bullshit” because this false comparison doesn’t adequately measuring same-sex parenting. Nevertheless, conservatives have repeatedly cited the study, even to the Supreme Court, claiming same-sex couples are unfit to raise children to substantiate their opposition to marriage equality, even though medical professionals have thoroughly debunked its claims. Now, documents reveal that the anti-gay conservatives who originally funded the study conspired before data was even collected to produce results that could influence “major decisions of the Supreme Court.”

The American Independent collected internal documents through public-records requests from the anti-gay Witherspoon Institute, which funded the Regnerus study, and found that its President intended the study to produce a result against gay parenting before it was even conducted. This is not surprising, as both the Witherspoon Institute, as well as the study’s other funder, the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, are connected to Robert George, founding co-chair of the National Organization for Marriage and prominent legal opponent of marriage equality. Now these emails confirm that suspicion...
The study that was manipulated has been constantly used by social conservatives to "prove" that same-sex couples should not be parents, should not be allowed to adopt, etc. You can bet that despite this revelation, they will continue to site this study, as facts mean little to some groups of people.

Marriage News Watch: March 11, 2013

The Religious Wrong: No Gay Football Players

Florida GOP Seeks To Breach 1st Amendment

From The Examiner:
At issue is the language of the [Florida] constitution which currently says:
There shall be no law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting or penalizing the free exercise thereof. Religious freedom shall not justify practices inconsistent with public morals, peace or safety. No revenue of the state or any political subdivision or agency thereof shall ever be taken from the public treasury directly or indirectly in aid of any church, sect, or religious denomination or in aid of any sectarian institution.
Republicans would desperately like to change the wording to this:
There shall be no law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting or penalizing the free exercise thereof. Religious freedom shall not justify practices inconsistent with public morals, peace, or safety. No individual or entity may be discriminated against or barred from receiving funding on the basis of religious identity or belief.
You will note the language will not be changed to explicitly say "it is legal to spend public money on religious institutions." It adds the word discriminated, which adds no legislative power to the document as discrimination is a subjective term. However, barred is specific. What was illegal before -- spending public money on religious institutions -- will now be legal, if the amendment is passed it will be illegal to make it illegal to stop public money from being spent on religious institutions.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

A New Reason To Fear Homosexuals

...Still, rather than use our dark, perverted magic to do something useful, like, say, secure equal employment protections or prevent hate crimes, we wily queers have instead spent our time scheming to find ways to destroy the holy sacrament of marriage (wait, aren't straight people doing a competent job on their own?) and cause meteorological mischief like Hurricane Katrina and superstorm Sandy.

Now, as if we weren't busy enough dooming entire nations and civilizations, a new, even more terrifying threat to mankind is apparently brewing, and in recent weeks a hot-pink alert has been sounded: Gay men want to play sports, and, even worse, we expect to use the same locker rooms as straight men.

That's right: Not only do we want to be able to get married, adopt children and be free from discrimination; we now have the audacity to believe that we should be able to play on professional sports teams without cowering in the closet! And after we've practiced or played a game, we want to be able to take a hot shower...

Friday, March 8, 2013

Tweet of the Day: March 8, 2013

Chicago Clergy to Ban Pro-Equality Politicians

Some African-American clergy and conservative Catholics say they’ll ban Illinois lawmakers who vote for same-sex marriage from their churches.

About two dozen priests and pastors joined the Catholic Conference of Illinois to form a new religious coalition yesterday.

“We want to make sure that we a send a message to our elected officials that as a collective community and a collaborative, we will not allow you to speak in our churches, you will not be invited to our church when you’re running for office because we as a community are incensed," said Bishop Lance Davis, senior pastor at a church in Dolton, who's part of the group.
Since when was Christianity about banning people with whom you disagree?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Rand Paul Shocks America By Being Right

Rand Paul is right, Obama is wrong, and Hell has frozen over.

Michigan May Have Marriage Equality By Day's End

As their [same-sex adoption] case progressed, the judge — the conservative, federal court judge – unexpectedly invited April and Jayne to amend their lawsuit to contest Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage, something the couple hadn’t considered.

They decided to contest Michigan’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in September, sadly with little to no help from state and national LGBT organizations, who wrote the case off as not part of their strategy.

Last month, one of the defendants, Oakland County, refused to defend Michigan’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples, leaving Governor Rick Snyder and Michigan Attorney General Bill Schute with having to tell the court why these two super-heroes should not be allowed to adopt their children and raise them as a loving family with two legally-married parents.
[U.S. District Court] Judge Friedman has been known to deliver rulings from the bench, and LGBT groups believe there is a possibility, however slight, that if the judge rules in favor of Jayne and April, same-sex marriage equality could be the law of the land by the end of the day.

Of course, even if that’s the case, there likely will be an appeal, so don’t plan your Michigan same-sex wedding just yet. But you can hope.

Bill O'Reilly Loses His Cool...Again

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Tweet of the Day: March 6, 2013

I would have put news and education in quotation marks, but you get the idea.

Teen Suspended After Disarming Gunman

Georgia City To Mandate Gun Ownership

A city in Georgia is considering a proposal as soon as next month that requires every homeowner to own a gun. Citing limited police resources and slow response time, Nelson City Councilman Duane Cronic said armed residents would deter crime instead:
“When he’s not here we rely on county sheriffs–however it takes a while for them to get here,” said Nelson City Councilman Duane Cronic. [..]
“It’s a deterrent ordinance,” Cronic said. “It tells the potential intruder you better think twice.”
Another city, Kennesaw, Georgia, already has a mandatory gun ownership law, although it is not enforced. And outside of Georgia, a Milwaukee, Wisconsin sheriff recently urged residents to “get in the game” with a gun for emergencies, rather than call 911.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Tweet of the Day: March 5, 2013

What is Next For Venezuela?

Jeb Bush Flip-Flops on His Own Book

March 5, 2013: The Day In 100 Seconds

Robertson: Environmentalists Are Religious Fanatics

Most Tennesseans Are Against "Don't Say Gay"

A new poll from Middle Tennessee State University shows that a solid 62 percent of Tennesseans oppose marriage equality, while only 28 percent in favor. This opposition is significantly higher than is often found across several southern states. Nevertheless, 57 percent also oppose the odious “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which prohibits schools from discussing sexual orientation until after 8th grade — which includes related anti-bullying efforts — and only 31 percent support it. Additionally, 49 percent oppose the bill’s new provision requiring school officials to notify parents of students’ sexuality, while only 33 percent such a provision. Interestingly a position on marriage was not necessarily predictive of a position on the “Don’t Say Gay” legislation.

It seems clear that Tennessee is a particularly toxic place for LGBT people, but even so, even Tennesseans realize that the outright censorship of homosexuality and violation of young people’s privacy are wrong.

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Horrors of Gay Marriage

Welfare Drug Testing Bill Introduced In Congress

To fight the specter of poor people spending taxpayer money on drugs, a Republican congressman has reintroduced legislation to make welfare applicants pee in cups to prove they're clean. 

Rep. Stephen Fincher's (R-Tenn.) bill would require states to randomly test 20 percent of people receiving benefits from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, which spends roughly $16 billion per year supporting poverty-stricken parents with monthly checks averaging $392.

"Currently the federal government enables drug abusers a safety-net by allowing them to participate in the TANF program," Fincher said in a statement. "Instead of having to make the hard-choice between drugs and other essential needs, abusers are able to rely on their monthly check to help them pay their bills."

In Congress and in state legislatures across the country, Republicans have sought to implement welfare drug testing programs in recent years. Few measures have become law, as testing can be expensive and there's not much data reflecting a widespread drug problem among welfare recipients. Civil liberties advocates successfully sued to halt the most sweeping drug screening law, implemented in Florida in 2011.
So despite evidence to the contrary, Republicans think that if you are poor, you are probably on drugs as well. This has the added affect of increasing government spending with nothing to show for it in terms of results. So much for fiscal conservatism.

Tweet of the Day: March 4, 2013

Heterosexual Awareness Month

Marriage News Watch: March 4, 2013

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Baby With H.I.V. Is Called Cured

From the New York Times:
The baby, born in rural Mississippi, was treated aggressively with anti-retroviral drugs starting around 30 hours after birth, something that is not usually done. If further study shows this works in other babies, it will almost certainly change the way newborns of infected mothers are treated all over the world. The United Nations estimates that 330,000 babies were newly infected in 2011, the most recent year for which there is data, and that more than 3 million children globally are living with H.I.V. 

If the report is confirmed, the child born in Mississippi would be only the second well-documented case of a cure in the world, giving a boost to research aimed at a cure, something that only a few years ago was thought to be virtually impossible.

Tweet of the Day: March 3, 2013

Another Homophobe in Another Gay Sex Scandal

From the Huffington Post:
A Scottish cardinal on Sunday acknowledged having engaged in unspecified sexual misbehavior, apologized for his actions, and promised to stay out of the church's public life in a statement that comes at an awkward time for the Vatican.

Cardinal Keith O'Brien had been Britain's highest-ranking Catholic leader until he resigned Monday from his position as archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, a departure prompted by a newspaper report about unnamed priests' allegations that he acted inappropriately toward them.

O'Brien initially rejected the claims, saying he was resigning because he did not want to distract from the upcoming conclave of cardinals that is due to pick a successor to Benedict XVI, who resigned the papacy Thursday. O'Brien also became the first cardinal to recuse himself from the conclave because of personal scandal; other voting-age cardinals have in the past stayed home because of infirmity or because they were prevented by their governments from participating.

On Sunday, the Catholic church in Scotland issued a statement quoting O'Brien as saying that there had been times "that my sexual conduct has fallen below the standards expected of me as a priest, archbishop and cardinal."

"To those I have offended, I apologize and ask forgiveness," the statement continued. "To the Catholic church and people of Scotland, I also apologize. I will now spend the rest of my life in retirement. I will play no further part in the public life of the Catholic church in Scotland."

LGBT Demographics

From the Washington Post:

About one in five gay and lesbian couples is raising children under age 18. One in 10 men with a male partner or spouse is a military veteran. As many as 6 million Americans, roughly 2 percent of the population, have a parent who is lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT).

These nuggets of demographic insight into same-sex couples were contained in an amicus brief filed in connection with cases before the Supreme Court on the constitutionality of California’s gay marriage ban and the Defense of Marriage Act. 

A decade ago, such precise statistics were impossible to come by. Even now, many of the numbers commonly used to shape government policies are, for gays and lesbians, nonexistent. 

But as gays become more visible in politics, demographic research into lesbians and gays is emerging from the shadows. Some gay advocates say it’s time for surveys to ask people their sexual orientation point-blank...

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Another Republican Makes Stupid Rape Comment

Celeste Greig, president of California Republican Assembly, the state’s oldest and largest GOP volunteer organization told The Bay Area News Group this week that pregnancies resulting from rape are rare “because it’s an act of violence, because the body is traumatized.”

Bizarrely, Greig made the comments while criticizing similar remarks from Todd Akin, who falsely claimed that “legitimate rape” rarely causes pregnancy since the female body “has ways of shutting that whole thing down.”

Akin lost his bid for the Senate, along with other candidates who made insensitive comments about rape in the last election cycle. However, that hasn’t stopped other members of the GOP from chiming in with similar statements this year.

Tweet of the Day: March 2, 2013

NFL's Scott Fujita: Openly Gay Player Not An Issue

From On Top Magazine:

During a radio interview on Cleveland's WKRK-FM – 92.3, Fujita said an openly gay teammate would be just another player.

When asked, “Do you think a gay player in the Browns locker room would be an issue?” Fujita answered: “It would not be an issue at all.”

He went on to state that the novelty would wear off soon after the first player came out.

“Once a guy comes out, yeah, it'll be very newsworthy,” he said. “It'll be a huge, huge breakthrough and then it'll be another one and another one and another one. Then it'll be just another guy in the locker room. So the sooner we get to that point, we can get past all the difficult things the PR staffs feel they might have and should be ashamed they even feel that way, but once we get over that first hurdle then everything should be just fine.”

RWNJ: Does Obama Have A Soul?

Friday, March 1, 2013

Tweet of the Day: March 1, 2013

PA School Board Illegally Bans GSA's

Recently, the board voted 5-4 not to allow a Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) club at Chambersburg Area Senior High School. A news report on the vote did not include any comments from the five who voted against the club, but the story did make one very important point: The 1984 Federal Equal Access Act requires secondary schools to allow a variety of student-run religious and non-religious voluntary clubs that meet during “non-instructional” time. This law was later upheld by the Supreme Court.

And the board cannot plead ignorance, here. Before the vote Stephanie Metz, an educator in nearby Shippensburg who is a Chambersburg resident, warned the board of the consequences that could come from banning a GSA. She said, according to the Chambersburg Public Opinion, that she doesn’t want her tax dollars to be used on a court case because the Constitution allows equal opportunity when it comes to student club formation.

At least one board member, Kim Amsley-Camp, who voted to allow the club, seems to be well aware of what’s at stake here. Public Opinion reported that Amsley-Camp said prior to the vote that she contacted the Pennsylvania Association of School Boards about the GSA club and was informed that the district has to allow the club under the Equal Access Act.

A Look Into the White House Anti-Prop 8 Brief

From the Washington Post:

The key to the brief is that it makes two arguments. The first is that it agrees with the ruling of a lower court — which found Prop 8 unconstitutional — that challenges to the constitutionality of such laws should require that they are subjected to “heightened scrutiny.” That means the court should hold their rationale for discriminating to an extremely high standard, and strike them down if they fail to have a credible justification. The brief does that here, in a reference to previous Supreme Court ruling in cases involving challenges to discriminatory laws:

"[C]lassifications based on sexual orientation call for application of heightened scrutiny. Each of the four considerations identified by this Court supports that conclusion: (1) gay and lesbian people have suffered a significant history of discrimination in this country; (2) sexual orientation generally bears no relation to ability to perform or contribute to society; (3) discrimination against gay and lesbian people is based on an immutable or distinguishing characteristic that defines them as a group; and (4) notwithstanding certain progress, gay and lesbian people — as Proposition 8 itself underscores — are a minority group with limited power to protect themselves from adverse outcomes in the political process. [...]

Because a classification based on sexual orientation calls for the application of heightened scrutiny, petitioners must establish that Proposition 8, at a minimum, is “substantially related to an important governmental objective.”

The second key to the brief is that it argues that when you apply “heightened scrutiny” to Prop 8, it is found to violate the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.

What this means is that the government, while focusing its brief on Prop 8 itself, has, for all practical purposes, asked the Supreme Court to set a precedent that can be applied to all state laws banning gay marriage — the arguments that these laws must survive “heightened scrutiny,” and that they violate the Constitution.