Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tweet of the Day: April 30, 2013

I'll bet you forgot about this segment.

CISPA Is Dead Again...For Now

An NBA Player Is Openly Gay. Now What?

Jason Collins

Anyone with a grain of sense already knew that gay people were in the major leagues here in the States. Statistically, it was a no-brainer. What we did not know was the who. This week, one of them stepped forward: a man from the National Basketball Association called Jason Collins. In an interview that will appear in the May 6th edition of Sports Illustrated Collins talks about his experience, and Collins’ twin brother Jarron (also in the NBA) was also interviewed. You can read those interviews online HERE and HERE, so I will spare you the details.

From what I have seen in the hours since the news broke, the responses have been overwhelmingly positive, from Magic Johnson to President Obama and many others. I have only seen two pointedly negative reactions thus far. One was from ESPN commentator Chris Broussard who lambasted Collins saying he is a sinner (as if the world is not filled with billions of them) and said Collins is no Christian. The other was from Liberty Council’s Matthew Barber who decided to talk about sodomy and how Collins should not be celebrate or praised. Then again he is a leader of a hate group so no surprises there. Sidenote: it is ironic (read: hypocritical) how the most ardent religious folk are the most hateful in their rhetoric and act as though Christ would say the things that they say. Now back to our topic…

Gay men in sports has been a topic that was talked about for a very long time and even more so in the past several months. In March, Robbie Rogers (who is only 25 years old) came out but retired in the same announcement. Given his age and health, he could and might come back. In the last few weeks, Alan Gendreau - a kicker formerly from Middle Tennessee University - made news as he decided he was making an attempt at the National Football League this season or the next. Gendreau this season is a long shot just because of the timing and how getting on a team works for kickers, though this season is not impossible. Nike recently said they would sponsor the first man to come out in one of the major leagues. Two things that once seemed diametrically opposed - gay men and sports - have now become inextricably linked in the media. 

Jason (right) & brother Jarron
Having said all of that, what was my reaction? To be honest, it was relief. It is a milestone that has been hyped to the nth degree and people like myself who pay a lot of attention to the topic of gay men in sports have been hearing many of the same talking points ad nauseum. This is another barrier that has been broken and history has been made…hopefully. I am not much of a basketball person but I have friends who are. One of them told me that at age 34 and currently being a free agent, the chances of Collins getting on a team now are not that great, sexuality notwithstanding. This is reminiscent of a soccer player called David Testo. Shortly after he was released by the Montreal Impact, he also released himself from the closet. That was in 2011. While he had hoped to make it back into a football club, he has not played since then (at the “old” age of 30). Since I do not watch - or particularly understand - basketball, I have no idea how good or bad he is. He has lasted about 12 years in the league, so I am guessing he is not terrible. 

Time will tell whether or not he gets signed with another team. Lots of people support him including basketball‘s biggest name, Kobe Bryant. Even Presidents Clinton and Obama and the current First Lady have voiced their support. Time will also tell how this all plays out. There are always the naysayers that predict disaster. Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association (do not be fooled by the title, this is yet another anti-gay hate group) is on record as saying that a team that has an openly gay player would implode because of the denigration of team cohesion. He and others said the same about the United States military when Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was repealed in 2010, but I am pretty sure the military is as intact as it was before. My hunch is that most of his teammates will not care. Even the ones that may not like having a gay teammate will be brought in line by Collins merely being himself and a productive player on the court. Basketball is not just a sport after all, it is a business. These guys want to win. They get paid to win. If an openly gay teammate can help them do those things, there is little else that will matter. Collins now has the opportunity to do this and prove the naysayers wrong.

*In case you are wondering why I am focusing on gay men in sports and not mentioning lesbians in sports, I can assure you it is not a sexist thing. It is that when it comes to stereotypes, there is quite a gulf between gay men and lesbians. It is assumed that lesbians are butch/manly and thus, them being in sports is no surprise to anyone. Conversely, the stereotype of gay men is one of weakness and girliness. These difference stereotypes are part of why we have had lesbians out in team sports for many years now but we have only had an openly gay man in these sports for, literally, a few hours.

Monday, April 29, 2013

An ESPN Commentators Inner-Ugliness

Let me make sure I understand what just happened here. This guy is a sports broadcaster. He is on ESPN, a sports network. He is here to talk about something that happened in the sports world. He is here to talk about an athlete. But what is he actually talking about? Religion. That is all he is talking about. His statement is almost completely detached from the actually story. He does not even mention Jason Collins (the player who came out), basketball, or anything else sports related. It would be one thing if this was CBN and he was talking to Pat Robertson on the 700 Club. It would be one thing were he talking about religion in the context of the reactions of Jason Collins' current/future teammates. But that is not what happened here. He just gives a holier-than-thou sermon.

This response is something I would expect from a Westboro sympathizer. Let me put into perspective. There are certain people who actually agree with Broussard. These people include the likes of Bryan Fischer and Matt Barber. These two people are leaders of hate groups. That is right, Broussard is aligning himself with leaders of hate groups by trying to cloak his anti-gay animus in religion, so congrats to him on that.

This response sounded less like it was from the senior writer of a major sports magazine and more like something you would hear from the pulpit on Sunday morning. It was terrible journalism (and I am using "journalism" loosely) and ESPN would do well to distance themselves from this quickly. It was completely out of place, completely irrelevant to the story, and drenched in hatred. ESPN Magazine may also want to rethink their relationship with him. Having someone so willing to show their inner darkness in a senior position is not the best marketing strategy. This story has shown how caring and supportive people can be, but it has also shown how ugly some people's thoughts are. Unfortunately, Chris Broussard fall into the latter category.

Marriage News Watch: April 29, 2013

What's More Dangerous Than Terrorism?

Friday, April 26, 2013

Public School Has Mandatory Religious Assembly

A high school in central Mississippi finds itself in court after allegedly holding a mandatory religious assembly earlier this month.
The first speaker talked about his addiction to pornography. The second speaker talked about issues with his father. The third speaker also talked about problems with his family,as well as promiscuity and suicide. The fourth speaker said he had a great family that introduced him to the church. He said at first he did not think he could measure up to Jesus Christ so he sought hope in “other things.” 
The first speaker said he used to find hope in “cars and clothes.” The second said he “used to find hope in people” and in “other guys.” He looked to these people for “brotherly love” and “fatherly love.” He said he then struggled with suicidal thoughts, and resorted to “cutting himself.” [...] 
About five minutes into the video, Speaker One stated: “But now I find my hope in something that’s more eternal that is not in this world.” 
In turn, each of the speakers explained how turning to Jesus Christ solved their problems and recommended that other people turn to Jesus Christ as well.
Soon after, “the assembly immediately turned into a full-blown lecture on the supposed miracles, powers, and teachings of Jesus Christ and the Church Representative encouraged all students to find sanctity in him,” and no one was permitted to leave. “The School’s truancy officer, Jeff White (“Officer White”), harassed several students who attempted to leave and told them to sit back down,” read the complaint.
The full text of the complaint can be read HERE.

Welcoming God's Children

The NFL Is Tax-Exempt

Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn (R) today introduced an amendment to the Marketplace Fairness Act that would end the practice of allowing professional sports leagues to qualify as tax-exempt organizations, a move that would hit leagues like the National Football League, the Professional Golfers Association (PGA) Tour, and the National Hockey League, among others. 
In his 2012 Waste Book that chronicled government waste, Coburn said that taxpayers were losing as much as $91 million a year subsidizing professional sports leagues because of their non-profit status:
The National Football League (NFL), the National Hockey League (NHL), and the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) classify themselves as non-profit organizations to exempt themselves from federal income taxes on earnings. Smaller sports leagues, such as the National Lacrosse League, are also using the tax status. Taxpayers may be losing at least $91 million subsidizing these tax loopholes for professional sports leagues that generate billions of dollars annually in profits. Taxpayers should not be asked to subsidize sports organizations already benefiting widely from willing fans and turning a profit, while claiming to be non-profit organizations.
Senator Coburn (R-NE)
The 501(c)(6) provision, specifically amended in 1966 to add “professional football leagues,” states that “[n]o part of a business league’s net earnings may inure to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual and it may not be organized for profit to engage in an activity ordinarily carried on for profit.” That would seem a hard standard for most professional leagues to meet, given the amount of revenue they make and the benefits they provide to the people involved. Individual team owners, in fact, benefit substantially from the league’s structure and even its classification as a non-profit organization.
While I disagree with Senator Coburn on about 99% of issues, this would be in the 1% where we are on the same page.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Marriage Equality Is "Permitted In New Mexico"

The Santa Fe Council has adopted a resolution stating that gay marriage is already legal in New Mexico. 
Mayor David Coss and City Councilor Patti introduced the resolution declaring such unions legal in the state. Five councilors out of eight voted in favor of the resolution... 
...The resolution urges county clerks to begin issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples who wish to get married and is based partly on an opinion issued by City Attorney Geno Zamora. 
Zamora's legal memo states, “New Mexico's statutory definition of marriage is gender-neutral. Since New Mexico does not define marriage as between a man and a woman, and since New Mexico does not prohibit same-sex marriage, same-sex marriage is permitted in New Mexico.”
I have no doubt that the pro-discrimination lobby will make a move preclude equality in the state as they often do. 

Fox News vs. the Bill of Rights

NOM Officials Laments Rhode Island Marriage Equality

Brian Brown
Brian Brown (President of NOM): 
"The Senate has abandoned society's most important institution and put their constituents on a collision course with the law. Lawmakers have allowed themselves to be fooled into thinking they have protected people of faith when in fact they have put those who believe in true marriage in the crosshairs of the law and gay 'marriage' activists. It won't be long before the repercussions begin to be felt."
Scott Spear (advisory board member of NOM Rhode Island):
"Citizens in other states that have redefined marriage have heard the same shallow promises from elected officials that nobody will be negatively impacted by redefining our most important social institution. It won't be long before gay 'marriage' activists start pressing hard their new found rights on the faithful in Rhode Island. In Vermont, Christian innkeepers were sued. It was Christian florists in Washington state. Elsewhere photographers, bakers, event venue operators, notary publics, justices of the peace and town clerks have all been targeted for punishment if they do not agree to go along with gay 'marriage' in violation of their deeply-held beliefs."
In other words, they are perfectly fine with discrimination, so long as it is against someone who is not them. How christian and how American of them. You can read the full text of the article on NOM's website HERE.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Gov. Chafee (RI) on the Marriage Equality Act

I am always proud to be a Rhode Islander, but never more so than today.

After yesterday’s Judiciary Committee vote, I expressed my hope that the full Rhode Island Senate would pass a bill that chooses tolerance and fairness over division and discrimination. In passing the Marriage Equality Act, they have done just that.

I thank the Senators who have taken a stand to move Rhode Island forward and commend the Senate President for calling the roll. Great credit should go to Ray Sullivan, everyone at Rhode Islanders United for Marriage, and the countless volunteers who knocked on doors and participated in phone banks. Finally, I want to applaud the pioneers, such as the late Julie Pell, who for decades have fought for the fundamental rights of gay and lesbian Rhode Islanders. This day would not have been possible without their efforts.

Pending the final vote by the House of Representatives, Rhode Island will no longer be an outlier in our region. We will have the welcome mat out. We will be open for business, and we will once again affirm our legacy as a place that is tolerant and appreciative of diversity.

Rhode Island Makes 10 (Plus D.C.)

The Rhode Island Senate just voted 26-12 to approve marriage equality, guaranteeing that The Ocean State will be the 10th state to allow same-sex couples to legally marry. Because the Senate made some revisions to the bill, it still requires a final passage in the Rhode Island House, which will likely happen by early next week. Back in January, it passed easily there by an overwhelming 51-19 vote. Gov. Lincoln Chafee (I) has promised to sign the bill. 
The Senate had previously been the bill’s primary obstacle. In 2011, Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed (D) refused to let the Senate vote on the marriage equality bill passed that year by the House. Though she still opposes it, advocates have applauded her for not using her leadership position to block its advance this year. All five Republicans in the Senate also came out in support of the bill this week.

Employers Could Demand Your Facebook Password

Killing Americans on American Soil With Drones

Let’s look at Paul’s comments just before his 13 hour spectacle of a filibuster where he attacked the Obama administrations comments about the usage of drones on American soil: 
“The U.S. Attorney General’s refusal to rule out the possibility of drone strikes on American citizens and on American soil is more than frightening — it is an affront the Constitutional due process rights of all Americans.” 
Those are words directly from Rand Paul’s own website
Now let’s take a look at his comments yesterday regarding the usage of drones on American soil against Americans: 
“Here’s the distinction: I have never argued against any technology being used when you have an imminent threat, an act of crime going on.  If someone comes out of a liquor store with a weapon and $50 in cash, I don’t care if a drone kills him or a policeman kills him.” 
Paul supporters, you can spin those comments any which way you want, but what he just advocated was using drones to kill an American on American soil without trial... 
...In fact, he used one of the very same arguments I have used—drones are controlled by people.  They’re not artificial intelligence operating outside the bounds of human control.  How is it any different if a police officer uses a gun to shoot and kill an armed suspect or a specialized drone to do the same thing?  Either way, the armed suspect is dead.
For the record, my personal opinion is that drone usage is wrong in either scenario. I am a fan of due process. Apparently, some folks are not.

Anti-Gay Protesters Turn Violent

From Times Union

Earlier in the day, there appeared to be more police than protesters outside the Parliament building on Paris' Left Bank, but that calculation soon shifted as night fell and thousands gathered to protest the bill. The protest dwindled to a few stalwarts shortly before midnight, when the violence began among a few hundred demonstrators including some who carried signs saying "Socialist dictatorship." 
Claire Baron, 41, a mother of two, said that she "will oppose the bill until the end."
"I'll keep going to the protests, I don't give in. The bill is not effective yet, the president of the Republic must listen to our voices. We are here to defend family values. Children need a mom and a dad," Baron said. 
In recent weeks, violent attacks against gay couples have spiked and some legislators have received threats — including Claude Bartelone, the Assembly president, who got a gunpowder-filled envelope on Monday. 
One of the biggest protests against same-sex marriage drew together hundreds of thousands of people bused in from the French provinces — conservative activists, schoolchildren with their parents, retirees, priests and others. That demonstration ended in blasts of tear gas, as right-wing rabble-rousers, some in masks and hoods, led the charge against police, damaging cars along the Champs-Elysees avenue and making a break for the presidential palace.

Two Gay Dads, Two Kids, A Normal Family

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Senator Warner (D-VA) & The Market Fairness Act

France Approves Marriage Equality!!!

The lower house of the French parliament had their final vote today which was 331-225 in favour (that is a lot of MP's). The upper house has already approved the bill and President Hollande has already pledged to sign the bill into law. Despite all of the homophobic violence the country has seen in the past few weeks, or may be because of it, it is great to know that the forces of hate failed miserably. The vote was not even close. Congratulations France. Now, if only the land of the free would follow this example and stand up for equality.

NY Lawmaker Supports Torturing American Citizens

Corporations Buying Our Privacy

Will Caucasians Be Profiled Post-Boston?

Civil Disobedience to Fight Equal Rights

Monday, April 22, 2013

Marriage News Watch: April 22, 2013

Pro-Equality French Politicians Face Terrorist Threats

From The Local
  Claude Bartolone, the Socialist president of France’s AssemblĂ©e Nationale (lower house of parliament) on Monday received a threatening letter containing gunpowder and demanding he defer a parliamentary vote, expected to definitively legalize gay marriage on Tuesday... 
  "...Allowing marriage for all would be the same as destroying all marriage," the letter says, before making the chilling threat: "If you were to carry on regardless, your political family will have to suffer physically." 
Last week, Socialist deputies Sylviane Bulteau and Hugues Fourage were sent letters from anti-gay marriage extremists, threatening to kidnap and kill them or their loved ones, if the gay marriage bill is not withdrawn. 
Earlier this month, Senator Esther Benbassa said her car was trashed – a move she believed was linked to her support for the bill – and that she had received threatening phone calls, emails and letters. 
Erwann Binet, a Socialist MP who supports the bill, has been forced to cancel planned debates for security reasons after being heckled by far-right militants, who have taken a front seat in the current furore over the bill.
And no, I do not believe that terrorism is not too strong a word for what is going on in France with these threats. It is one thing to say "If you vote for this, we will vote you out of office." That is democracy in a nutshell. It is quite another thing to say "If you vote for this, we will physically hurt you." That  is terrorism, pure and simple. The lengths that these violent people are willing to go to stop equality exemplifies how important that equality actually is. No one should be subject to this whether it is because of who they are or what they believe, especially if they believe that we should all be seen as equals under the law. Of course, the irony is that many of these people are doing what they are doing in the name of Christ, who would never advocate or participate in such actions.

Boston Bombing Suspect Was Booted From Mosque

From the Boston Globe:

Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the older and apparently more radical of two brothers suspected in the deadly Boston Marathon terror bombings, objected to a sermon at a Cambridge mosque close to Martin Luther King Day this year in which the speaker compared the Prophet Muhammad with King, known for his advocacy of nonviolence, a mosque official said. 
Yusufi Vali, a spokesman for the mosque, said Tsarnaev told the speaker, “You are a kafir [an unbeliever],” and said he was contaminating people’s minds and was a hypocrite. 
Vali said, “The congregation then said, ‘You are the hypocrite.’ The congregation shouted him out of the mosque.” 
Later, a respected volunteer talked with Tsarnaev and told him he needed to decide whether to stay and not shout out or stop coming to the congregation. 
Vali said it was the second time that Tsarnaev had made an outburst during one of the speaker’s sermons.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Why CISPA Is Dangerous For All Of Us

CISPA is back before Congress. In fact, while we were all focused on the unfolding tragedy in Boston, the House of Representatives passed the measure. So what is CISPA? It stands for the "Cyber Intelligence Sharing & Protection Act." Its intent is to prevent a "Cyber Pearl Harbour." Unfortunately, the bill goes much farther than that. This is Congress' second crack at this bill. It passed in the House along a fairly partisan line, but President Obama threatened to veto the bill on the grounds that it goes too far. The bill currently before Congress is virtually the same and President Obama has yet again threatened to veto the bill. In an article from Congress' first attempt to pass this bill last year, Think Progress enumerated why CISPA is so dangerous to the privacy of all Americans:
CISPA’s broad language will likely give the government access to anyone’s personal information with few privacy protections: CISPA allows the government access to any “information pertaining directly to a vulnerability of, or threat to, a system or network of a government or private entity.” There is little indication of what this information could include, and what it means to be ‘pertinent’ to cyber security. Without boundaries, any internet user’s personal, private information would likely be fair game for the government. 
It supersedes all other provisions of the law protecting privacy: As the bill is currently written, CISPA would apply “notwithstanding any other provision of law.” In other words, privacy restrictions currently in place would not apply to CISPA. As a result, companies could disclose more personal information about users than necessary. Ars Technica writes, “if a company decides that your private emails, your browsing history, your health care records, or any other information would be helpful in dealing with a ‘cyber threat,’ the company can ignore laws that would otherwise limit its disclosure.” 
The bill completely exempts itself from the Freedom of Information Act: Citizens and journalists have access to most things the government does via the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), a key tool for increasing transparency. However, CISPA completely exempts itself from FOIA requests. The Sunlight Foundation blasted CISPA for “entirely” dismissing FOIA’s “fundamental safeguard for public oversight of government’s activities.” 
CISPA gives companies blanket immunity from future lawsuits: One of the most egregious aspects of CISPA is that it gives blanket legal immunity to any company that shares its customers’ private information. In other words, if Microsoft were to share your browsing history with the government despite your posing no security threat, you would be barred from filing a lawsuit against them. Without any legal recourse for citizens to take against corporate bad behavior, companies will be far more inclined to share private information. 
Recent revisions don’t go nearly far enough: In an attempt to specify how the government can use the information they collect, the House passed an amendment saying the data can only be used for: “1) cybersecurity; 2) investigation and prosecution of cybersecurity crimes; 3) protection of individuals from the danger of death or physical injury; 4) protection of minors from physical or psychological harm; and 5) protection of the national security of the United States.” This new version still “suffers from most of the same problems that plagued the original version,” writes Timothy Lee. Because terms like “cybersecurity” are so vague, the bill’s language could encompass almost anything. 
Citizens have to trust that companies like Facebook won’t share your personal information: CISPA does not force companies share private user information with the government. That being said, Ars Technica makes the point that “the government has a variety of carrots and sticks it can use to induce private firms to share information it wants.” For instance, many companies receive federal contracts or subsidies and would be hesitant to deny any request from the government that might jeopardize future business. Companies may not be legally required to turn over information, but they “may not be in a position to say no.” 
Companies can already inform the government and each other about incoming cybersecurity threats: While proponents of CISPA claim it’s needed to allow agencies and companies to share information about incoming cybersecurity threats, opponents of the bill point out that “network administrators and security researchers at private firms have shared threat information with one another for decades.”
Wherever you are on the political spectrum, this is an issue about which we should all be concerned. It is not a left/right argument, it is a security/liberty argument. We should not give up one for the other, because we may end up with neither if we do.

Conspiracy Theories & the Immigration Bill

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Rep. Peter King (R-NY) Supports Profiling Muslims

From National Review:
“Police have to be in the [Muslim] community, they have to build up as many sources as they can, and they have to realize that the threat is coming from the Muslim community and increase surveillance there...We can’t be bound by political correctness. I think we need more police and more surveillance in the communities where the threat is coming from, whether it’s the Irish community with the Westies [an Irish-American gang in New York City], or the Italian community with the mafia, or the Muslim community with the Islamic terrorists.”

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Texas A.G.: Democrats More Dangerous Than N. Korea

“One thing that requires ongoing vigilance is the reality that the state of Texas is coming under a new 
assault, an assault far more dangerous than what the leader of North Korea threatened when he said he was going to add Austin, Texas, as one of the recipients of his nuclear weapons,” [Texas Attorney General Greg] Abbott told the McLennan County Republican Club on Monday, according to the Waco Tribune. “The threat that we’re getting is the threat from the Obama administration and his political machine.” 
Abbott drew the contrast while offering a warning to local Republicans about the newly formed Democratic group, Battleground Texas. The group, helmed by former Obama campaign operatives, is seeking to turn Texas blue, or at least make it competitive in 2014 and beyond. While reliably red Texas hasn't voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1976, officials with Battleground Texas have tapped into support from key Democratic backers, seeing hope for the future in demographic trends. Their effort has been bolstered by early polling that showed Hillary Clinton could win Texas if she ran in 2016.

First, saying that Democrats are more dangerous than a nuclear bomb is another example of a Republican making the party look like the “stupid party.” I know, he was just using colourful language as I have done on numerous occasions, but it is an infantile comparison. It also makes light of a nation whose leader is seeking to acquire nuclear arms and has no love of the United States.

Second, if Texas - a reliably GOP state for the last several decades - does become competitive in the next few elections, it is further evidence of the failure of the GOP to adapt to changing demographics. The main driving force behind Texas potentially becoming a swing state would be the state’s growing Latino population, and Republican politicians have a way driving Latino voters towards the Democratic party. If the GOP wants to hold on to Texas, the national party must change how they approach many policies, namely immigration and race relations. Just recently, a Republican politician (though not one from Texas) nonchalantly referred to Latinos as “wetbacks.” One GOP representative used the Boston Marathon bombing as an excuse to oppose comprehensive immigration reform even though there was then no proof of any connection to an immigrant. The GOP supports voter identification laws which would disproportionately affect, among other groups, Latinos. By supporting the policies they support - and not just the ones affecting Latinos specifically - the GOP is steadily taking once reliably red states and putting them in play. It happened in Virginia before, it may be happening now In Texas.

If a political shift were to happen in the Lone Star state, it would be yet another symptom of a larger systemic problem which has been well documented: the GOP is driving voters away in droves. American attitudes towards many issues are changing very quickly, whereas conservatives are adjusting to these changes very slowly, if at all. Most people think equal pay for equal work is a no-brainer, but Republicans routinely vote against it. Most Americans think big oil companies do not need multi-billion dollar subsidies, but Republicans (and some Democrats, to be fair) keep voting for them. Most Americans believe you should not be fired for being gay, but Republicans keep voting against employment non-discrimination policies at all levels of government. And yet again, it is not just the policies, but also the messages coming from members of the party. The phrase "legitimate rape" comes to mind. The governor of Georgia is calling an effort to desegregate the prom of a Georgia county’s school a “publicity stunt.” Democrats tend to have more inclusive policies like the Lily Ledbetter Act (i.e. equal pay), employment non-discrimination policies, and the Dream Act for children of undocumented immigrants because those children did not come to America of their own volition. Even some voters who may agree with the GOP on economic policies are kept away by many of the controversial policies and statements coming from the party.

Assuming Republicans want to stay in the proverbial game, they have to adjust to a new American reality. The voting bloc that they are accustomed to relying on no longer exists. They will either adapt and overcome, or they will hold on to the past and become politically irrelevant. The choice is theirs.

Ex-Gay Superstar Renounces Ex-Gay Movement

John Paulk (center)
From PQ Monthly

Paulk’s emailed response to PQ’s interview questions suggest that he might, in fact, be moving toward accepting who he is. 
“Until recently, I have struggled all my life in feeling unloved and unaccepted,” Paulk said. “I have been on a journey during the last few years in trying to understand God, myself, and how I can best relate to others. During this journey I have made many mistakes and I have hurt many people including people who are close to me. I have also found a large number of people who accept me for who I am regardless of my past, any labels, or what I do.” 
Paulk continued, “I no longer support the ex-gay movement or efforts to attempt to change individuals — especially teens who already feel insecure and alienated. I feel great sorrow over the pain that has been caused when my words were misconstrued. I have worked at giving generously to the gay community in Portland where I work and live. I am working hard to be authentic and genuine in all of my relationships.”

Mark Sanford Loses GOP Backing

From Politico:

“Mark Sanford has proven he knows what it takes to win elections. At this time, the NRCC will not be engaged in this special election,” said Andrea Bozek, an NRCC spokeswoman.

Sanford is facing Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch, a Clemson University administrator and sister of comedian Stephen Colbert, in a race that has grabbed the national spotlight.

The NRCC’s move comes hours after Tuesday night’s report by the Associated Press that Sanford’s ex-wife, Jenny Sanford, filed a court complaint accusing him of trespassing at her home in early February – which would be a violation of the terms of their divorce agreement.

Republicans said they were caught off guard by news of Jenny Sanford’s complaint. They worry other damaging revelations about Mark Sanford’s personal life that they aren’t aware of could come out in the coming weeks.

The NRCC has spent a nominal amount on the race on polling and other activities. But officials determined that devoting potentially millions more — which was under discussion — isn’t worth it.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Ohio To Ban "Gateway Sexual Activity" Discussions

From Think Progress:
Under the amendment [in Ohio], sex ed classes wouldn’t be permitted to provide students with any information that might “condone” that type of gateway activity. That includes dispensing contraception. The legislation would also empower parents to sue if their children end up receiving this type of sexual instruction, and sex ed teachers could be subject to thousands of dollars in fines:
The sex education addition says that any instruction conducted under the state’s model health education program must not promote “any gateway sexual activity or health message that encourages students to experiment with sexual activity.” 
It goes on to prohibit distributing certain materials, conducting demonstrations with “sexual stimulation” devices, or distributing contraception. If a student receives such instruction, a parent or guardian can sue for damages, and a court may impose a civil fine of up to $5,000.
Ohio isn’t the first state to worry about students being corrupted by learning about “gateway sexual activity.” Almost exactly one year ago, Tennessee Republicans pushed to strengthen their state’s abstinence-only law by defining kissing and hand-holding as gateway activities that could lead teens to engage in sexual intercourse. Of course, whether or not U.S. teenagers are taught abstinence in their health classes, most of them still become sexually active. By their 19th birthday, seven in ten American teens will have had sex.
Of course we all know that where there is abstinence-only sex education, the incidents of teen pregnancies are above the national average. Some people are bound and determined to ignore empirical facts...unfortunately. 

Teacher: Legislators Sold Kids Out

New Zealand Becomes 13th Nation With Marriage Equality

Monday, April 15, 2013

Tweet of the Day: April 15, 2013

The GOP's Rightward Spiral

From Daily Beast
...It’s not just that states that are now bright blue once elected moderate Republicans to the Senate. Conservative states used to elect Republican moderates too. The other four Republicans who backed the assault-weapons ban were Missouri’s John Danforth, Kansas’s Nancy Kassebaum, and Richard Lugar and Dan Coats from Indiana. What happened to each is instructive. Danforth soon left the Senate, and later condemned his party’s “fixation on a religious agenda.” He called last year’s Republican primary debates “embarrassing.” For her part, Kassebaum endorsed Chuck Hagel’s nomination to be Defense secretary, a nomination that most current Senate Republicans not only opposed but filibustered. A year ago, a Tea Party challenger defeated Lugar in the GOP primary. In his concession statement, Lugar warned that if the kind of ideological zealotry that defeated him “expands in the Republican Party, we will be relegated to minority status.” Six months later, a Democrat claimed Lugar’s seat. Of the four, only Coats remains in the Senate. (Actually, he left and returned.) But he now opposes any new limitations on gun ownership, despite having voted for them repeatedly in the 1990s. 
Today, according to the Pew Research Center, Americans are 4 points more likely to support “gun control” than “gun rights.” That’s almost identical to where Republicans were in 1993, when they favored gun control over gun rights by 2 points. The problem? Republicans now favor gun rights over gun control by 50 points. Which is to say: the party has gone off a cliff...

Marriage News Watch: April 15, 2013

Gays Can't Donate Organs Either

A Canadian woman has said she believes her late son’s organs were rejected for donation because he was gay. 
Nancy Campana says she was asked if her son Rocky, who was an organ donor, was gay after his death.
‘I was asked if he was a gay male and I said, “yes.” And I was asked if he was a sexually active gay male or if he had a partner and I said, “yes”,’ Campana told CBC News. 
She said the tone of the conversation changed, and the family was told they could not donate her son’s organs... 
‘...When I got off the phone to relay that to both [Rocky's father] Rob and a lot of Rocky's friends ... many of them broke down,’ she said. ‘The gay ones said, “Nancy, we can't donate blood; they're not going to take our organs.”’

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Marriage Equality In New Zealand

From TVNZ:
Politicians look set to make history this week with gay marriage likely to become legal.  

However, the first wedding will not take place until mid-August. 
Labour MP Louisa Wall's marriage equality member's bill is due to have its third reading in Parliament on Wednesday night. 
The bill passed its committee stages with 77 votes to 43 last month and little change was anticipated for the final vote. 
Big crowds, including a few celebrities, were expected to be in Parliament's public gallery to witness the vote.

Tweet of the Day: April 14, 2013

Catholic League Leader Doesn't Know the Bible

The GOP's Civil War Over Marriage Equality

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The GOP & Political Suicide

Rick Santorum said in an interview yesterday that the GOP embracing marriage equality would be political suicide. I have to say that Santorum's grasp on reality is slipping.

We all see the trend in the polls. Not only are Americans increasingly supportive of marriage equality, the trend is happening relatively quickly. It is not just happening with folks on the left or even people in the center, but also folks on the right as well. With so many people following this trend, people like Rick Santorum who are primarily known for their stance on social issues are increasingly marginalizing themselves.

If the GOP wants to be successful going forward, they must shake off their archaic views on many issues. They have people like Santorum comparing marriage to napkins and paper towels (no seriously, this happened last year), people Todd Akin talking about "legitimate" rape, and people like Michele Bachmann who is at least 70 kinds of crazy. With people like this, they are scaring away people who may agree with them on economic principles and such, but do not want to vote for the crazy candidate. These right-wingers are scaring away conservative-leaning moderates and independents, leaving them with a coalition too small to win at the national level. This is how the lost the presidency, the Senate, and the popular vote in the House.

If anything, not embracing marriage equality and not recognizing the changing attitudes of Americans would be political suicide for the GOP. That was the lesson of 2012 and the months that have ensued. Apparently, that is a lesson that Santorum has yet to learn.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

NRA's Wayne LaPierre Flipped on Background Checks

Circa 1999:

And now:

I wonder what could have changed his mind...


Man Arrested At Hospital For Refusing To Leave Gay Partner

From Raw Story
A gay man was arrested at a hospital in Missouri this week when he refused to leave the bedside of his partner, and now a restraining order is preventing him from any type of visitation. 
Roger Gorley told WDAF that even though he has power of attorney to handle his partner’s affairs, a family member asked him to leave when he visited Research Medical Center in Kansas City on Tuesday. 
Gorley said he refused to leave his partner Allen’s bedside, and that’s when security put him in handcuffs and escorted him from the building. 
“I was not recognized as being the husband, I wasn’t recognized as being the partner,” Gorley explained. 
He said the nurse refused to confirm that the couple shared power of attorney and made medical decision for each other...
This is why anti-gay marriage bans HAVE to go.

Ann Coulter "Jokes" About Killing Sen. McCain's Daughter

From The New Civil Rights Movement

Ann Coulter, in her latest column, which focuses on gun violence and gun control, “jokes” about killing Meghan McCain, daughter of famous Republican Senator john McCain. Writing, “Obama has been draping himself in families of the children murdered in Newtown,” Coulter offers this remedy: 
MSNBC’s Martin Bashir suggested that Republican senators need to have a member of their families killed for them to support the Democrats’ gun proposals. (Let’s start with Meghan McCain!)
Needless to say, Meghan McCain didn’t find it amusing...

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Uruguay House Votes For Equality

The lower house of Uruguay voted 71 of 92 in favour of marriage equality and the bill is now a presidential signature away from finalization. Great for them, but shame on the "land of the free" being beaten by yet another nation on this issue.

Why We Call You Bigots

I cannot tell you how many times I have heard you social conservatives against LGBT equality say “…but we aren’t bigots,” “we can have a civil discussion without calling folks bigots,” or “we can disagree without being bigots.” If we were having a simple policy disagreement, perhaps those claims would be correct. However, this is no simple policy disagreement. This is not about infrastructure funding, this is not about renewable energy versus fossil fuels, this is not about how to address the national debt. This is about what rights people will or will not have. Given how “George Wallace” you have decided you will be, how are we not to think you are bigots? While not every person against LGBT equality has done all of the below, you as a community have given no shortage of reasons to be justifiably called bigots.

We call you bigots because whenever something bad happens, you blame gay people. Hurricane Katrina? Blame the gays. A bunch of birds falling from the sky? Blame the gays. 9/11? Blame the gays. Seriously, we were blamed for all of that and more. And now, with North Korea ratcheting up threats against the United States, Fred Luter of the Southern Baptist Convention, you guessed it, blaming the gays. It would be great if being gay allowed me to control weather so I would never have to suffer through Winter weather again. Alas, we are not so powerful as you make us out to be.

We call you bigots because many of you have voluntarily dedicated your lives and/or careers to subjugating and demonizing gay people, and that is quite a time commitment. There are multitudes of people that work for organizations whose mission is to deny gay people legal equality; organizations including the Family Research Council, the National Organization for Marriage, Focus on the Family, and more. Despite many of these people citing some spiritual calling as an excuse for their personal views, the net affect is still that they have singled out a minority group against whom to systematically discriminate based on characteristics over which there is no control. History will not look kindly on people who spend their lives away in such a manner. 

We call you bigots because every year, you spend tens of millions of dollars in an effort to deny gay people equal rights. This is particularly disgusting given all of the good you could be done with that money; the naked you would cloth, the homeless you would shelter, the sick you would heal, the hungry you would nourish. Instead of all of the undeniable good that you would accomplish, all of that money is aimed at a concerted campaign to misinform people into believing that equal rights for gay people will destroy humanity. I would suggest you do an about-face on your priorities.

We call you bigots because whenever the subject of marriage equality comes up, you equate our relationships to screwing farm animals. Do you really think that same-sex couples in a loving and committed relationship will lead to farmer Joe marrying Bessie the Cow? Eleven countries (with France and Uruguay poised to join their ranks) have marriage equality and none of them have given rise to legalized man-horse marriage. Gay people are not the ones with bestiality on the minds, it is always you, the social conservatives, who bring that up. The fact that you constantly bring it up says something of you that you may not realize.

We call you bigots because you think we are all pedophiles. The ironic thing is that there are far more straight pedophiles than gay pedophiles but that is beside the point. Equating homosexuality and pedophilia is as offensive is it is factually incorrect. When you attempt to compare same-sex couples in a consenting relationship on the one hand with an adult taking advantage of an innocent child on the other hand,  you are showing how little you know about both scenarios. Just like with bestiality, constantly having pedophilia on the brain is more a social conservative tendency than a gay tendency. Seriously, we are not NAMBLA and it is utterly foolish to think otherwise.

We call you bigots because many of you take a very American concept - equal protections under the law - and call it radical. How is it radical to want to be treated as a first class citizen? How is it radical to want the 14th Amendment to actually mean something? Do you know who else has been considered radical? People who had the crazy idea that women should be able to vote were considered radical. A black woman who decided she would not be told where on a bus to sit was considered a radical. The founders of this very country who decided that taxation without representation was wrong, broke the American colonies away from the most powerful empire in the world, and plunged the fledgling nation into a war with the most powerful military of its day were also considered radicals. All of these radicals fought, all of these radicals won, and all of their radical causes are today seen as no-brainers. These causes had a common thread: the “radicals” had no intention of settling for Citizenship-Light. Gay people have no intention of settling either.

And lastly, we call you bigots because you have thrown a barrage of excuses against us in an attempt to justify your anti-gay animus and those excuses have been summarily thrown down, proven false, or been debunked. We have empirical studies on our side. We have common sense on our side. We have the Constitution on our side. Despite all of the evidence supporting equal rights and the facts that stand in opposition to your views, you still hold onto those views. While you are certainly entitled to your opinion, you are not entitled to deny the rights of your fellow citizens. And we are just that: YOUR FELLOW CITIZENS!!! It is high time you treated us as such.

Kansas Republicans Banning Sustainability

Monday, April 8, 2013

Gay Son of Anti-Gay Congressman Speaks Up

Marriage News Watch: April 8, 2013

Being Gay At Liberty University

From The Atlantic

...It's a typical story, really. Boy meets girl. Girl goes to college. Boy follows her to college. Girl decides to date other boys. Boy decides that's a good idea, and also dates other boys. Like I said, typical. 
No one in my family is a college graduate, so when my girlfriend announced she was going to Liberty, it was just understood that I'd go there, too. My parents were extremely religious, so they liked that Liberty was a Christian school. My dad was actually a pastor. We went to one of those obnoxious churches where people pray in tongues and parade around the sanctuary carrying banners that said "Maranatha." Because this church marched to the beat of its own drum-driven worship music, we thought we were liberal Christians. The irony, though, was that the congregation was incredibly legalistic and nitpicky. If you smoked, you were going to hell. If you drank alcohol, you were going to hell. If you listened to secular music...well you weren't necessarily going to hell, but you were backslidden. You can imagine, then, that even if I felt same-sex desires, I was scared to act on them, let alone think about them. And anyway, I wasn't free to think about my sexuality because I was dating the girl God sent me to marry. 
Of course, that all changed when we got to Liberty and broke up. I was on my own, away from my parents, away from my church, and surrounded by charming Southern gentlemen. Everywhere I turned there were hot guys: in the dorms, in the showers, in the pool, in the gym. They ate with me, and studied with me, and wrestled with me during "Man Games" on Thursday nights. But I wasn't about to make a move on any of them. After all, this was Liberty...
Side-note: it was a little weird reading this story because Liberty University is in my hometown.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Will Multiple NFL'ers Come Out As Gay At Once?

From the Baltimore Sun
"I think it will happen sooner than you think," [Brendon] Ayanbadejo said. "We're in talks with a handful of players who are considering it. There are up to four players being talked to right now and they're trying to be organized so they can come out on the same day together. It would make a major splash and take the pressure off one guy. It would be a monumental day if a handful or a few guys come out. 
"Of course, there would be backlash. If they could share the backlash, it would be more positive. It's cool. It's exciting. We're in talks with a few guys who are considering it. The NFL and organizations are already being proactive and open if a player does it and if something negative happens. We'll see what happens."
Ayanbadejo, who has been an outspoken advocate for LGBT equality and gays in the NFL, was released by the Baltimore Ravens.

Two More Senators Announce Support For Equality

From the statement of Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND):
“In speaking with North Dakotans from every corner of our great state, and much personal reflection, I have concluded the federal government should no longer discriminate against people who want to make lifelong, loving commitments to each other or interfere in personal, private, and intimate relationships. I view the ability of anyone to marry as a logical extension of this belief. The makeup of families is changing, but the importance of family is enduring.”
 And Senator Joe Donnelly (D-IN):

“In recent years, our country has been involved in an important discussion on the issue of marriage equality. While serving in the House of Representatives, I had the opportunity to act on a core belief of mine: we are a stronger country when we draw on the strengths of all Americans. I voted to repeal ‘don't ask, don't tell’ and was an original supporter of the bill that would make it illegal to discriminate against someone in the workplace because of their sexual orientation. It is also for that reason that I oppose amending either Indiana’s or our nation’s constitution to enshrine in those documents an ‘us’ and a ‘them,’ instead of a ‘we.’ With the recent Supreme Court arguments and accompanying public discussion of same-sex marriage, I have been thinking about my past positions and votes. In doing so, I have concluded that the right thing to do is to support marriage equality for all.”

When Parents Discriminate Against Their Kids

I do not have children myself. However, what I do know from friends who are parents is that having kids and watching them grow into being their own person changes how a parent views things they once thought they had a handle on. While parents spend so much time and effort (and money) trying to teach their children they ways of the world, the children have the effect of teaching their parents. Often times, the child can open their parents‘ eyes to a perspective they may not have thought of as viable.

It was a major news story last month when Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) announced his support for marriage equality in the wake of his son Will coming out as gay about two years beforehand. The Senator is certainly not the first person to site a familial connection as the catalyst for supporting LGBT equality, nor will he be the last. Many people - be they public figures or private citizens - who once stood in opposition to equality viewed those issues differently when they could put faces on them as a result of someone close to them coming out of the closet. 

For many people, even such a personal connection as a gay family member is not enough to induce open-mindedness. Case-in-point, Representative Matt Salmon Sr. (R-AZ). Like Portman, Salmon has a gay son (named Matt Jr.). Unlike Portman, Salmon is utterly unmoved on marriage equality, even though he has had more time with an openly gay son than Portman. Even though it takes longer for some folks to come around than others on any given topic, it appears that Rep. Salmon feels no need to make a change regardless of how the policies he advocates negatively effect his own flesh and blood.

What does it say about a parent when they are unable or unwilling to alter their views for the sake of their child‘s freedom and equality under the law? The bottom line is that a parent who is comfortable with the institutionalized discrimination their child faces is a prime example of poor parenting. It is hard to fathom that some people have such an unwavering disregard for the well-being of those they profess to love. On the positive side, in terms of the quest for LGBT equality, evidence points to Representative Salmon being far more the exception while Senator Portman is far more the rule.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

NRA Lobbyist: "Time to Hunt Democrats"

In an interview with NPR, former NRA lobbyist and founder of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners Dudley Brown compared deer hunting season with election season, when gun owners would be free to “hunt Democrats”:
Brown complains universal background checks are just a step towards identifying gun owners so the government can seize their weapons, and he calls the 15-bullet limit on ammunition clips arbitrary. He’s promising political payback in next year’s election that could cost Colorado Democrats their majorities.  
“I liken it to the proverbial hunting season,” Brown says. “We tell gun owners, there’s a time to hunt deer. And the next election is the time to hunt Democrats.”
The analogy between elections and hunting is a favorite among conservatives; former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin was widely condemned for her website’s map placing crosshairs over vulnerable Democratic districts in 2010.

NC GOP Want An Official State Religion

..The bill, filed Monday by two GOP lawmakers from Rowan County and backed by nine other Republicans, says each state "is sovereign" and courts cannot block a state "from making laws respecting an establishment of religion." The legislation was filed in response to a lawsuit to stop county commissioners in Rowan County from opening meetings with a Christian prayer, wral.com reported.

The religion bill comes as some Republican-led states seek to separate themselves from the federal government, primarily on the issues of guns and Obamacare. This includes a proposal in Mississippi to establish a state board with the power to nullify federal laws...

Fox's Bill O'Reilly vs. Fox's Laura Ingraham

This is so good it has to be fattening.

Seriously though, I'll take issue with a particular thing that was said. Laura Ingraham says that this debate over marriage equality is new and if given time, those who support "traditional marriage" will come up with better reasons than just the Bible. That statement is factually incorrect all over. The Defense of Marriage Act is about 17 years old and we have been having this debate at least that long. This debate is, thus, not new. Those opposing equality have had decades to come up with a justification for their position beyond the Bible, and they have. The problem for them is that justification is based on "social science" from sources (these sources being primarily biased towards social conservatives) which have been debunked one by one by social science from sources of good repute. The Regnerus study for example is one that, since its publication, has been sited time and again by social conservatives. Unfortunately for them, this study is plagued by methodological problems, the fact that it was funded by decidedly conservative forces, and the man behind the study has said it was skewed to sway the Supreme Court when they took up the issue of marriage equality.

Despite the supposed justifications from social conservatives, people are less and less inclined to buy into their view on this issue. With the science demonstrably against them, thumping the Bible is pretty much the best thing social conservatives have left. It is too bad for them that it is not enough, and America is not a Christian theocracy.