Saturday, April 25, 2015

Having Lost in America, NOM to Go Global to Keep Money Coming In

I said it before and I will say it again, the National Organization for Marriage ("NOM") and its allied "family values" organizations like Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, American Family Association (and The Family Foundation here in Virginia), etc., are parasites that prey on the ignorant and uneducated and fan the flames of hate, bigotry, and more subtly, racism. Having largely lost the culture war on same sex marriage in America - the final nail in the coffin will hopefully be delivered by the U.S. Supreme Court in late June - NOM is now going to go global.  While officially stating other reasons, the real reason for the move is that Brian Brown, Maggie Gallagher and others have become too accustomed to living well while marketing hatred and homophobia.  Heaven forbid that they get real jobs that do something productive for society.  BuzzFeed looks at NOM's announcement that it will go global in the spread of lies and homophobia.  Here are excerpts:

The National Organization for Marriage is continuing to work towards the creation of an International Organization for Marriage, NOM President Brian Brown told BuzzFeed News in an interview just before the start of NOM’s March for Marriage in Washington on Saturday.

A planning meeting was held around last year’s March for Marriage, convening members of groups opposed to marriage equality from around 70 countries to begin working to that goal, BuzzFeed News reported last spring. This year’s march does not feature the international speakers that last year’s did, perhaps because of the pending U.S. Supreme Court ruling on state bans on same-sex marriage.

Although “we have our hands full here in the U.S.” at the moment, Brown said, the group was “definitely” still working to establish “an organization that focuses on uniting people of different faiths and different backgrounds internationally” to oppose same-sex marriage. 

Brown wasn’t certain of when an International Organization for Marriage would officially launch, but said, “I think there will be a formal launch” at some point. . . . . Brown said an international group is needed to counter the influence of organizations like the International Lesbian and Gay Association, which he said has had great “success” at advancing LGBT rights at the United Nations and the European Union.
Fundamentalist Christianity  - and other fundamentalist faiths - is a cancer on the world that needs to be eradicated.   Thankfully, more and more Americans seem to be coming to recognize this reality.

Gays Who Hosted Ted Cruz Face Blowback and Boycotts

Cruz and a traitor
Two gay New York City hoteliers - Mati Weiderpass and Ian Reisner who seemingly like to view themselves as "A-listers" -  hosted a diner this past week for virulently anti-gay Senator Ted Cruz at their duplex on Central Park.  The pair have gone to great lengths to say it was not a fundraiser, yet most gays who put self-worth, truth and dignity above money see the event for what it was: the equivalent of 1930's Berlin Jews hosting a diner for Adolph Hitler.  Underscoring the idiocy of Weiderpass and Reisner, the next day Cruz introduced two bills: (i) a proposed Constitutional amendment to protect states who want to block gay marriage and (ii) a bill to protect "Christians" who want legal protection for fabricated "discrimination."  One commenter on the Facebook page established to urge a boycott of Weiderpass and Reisner's properties described the situation this way: "we can't understand the benefit of welcoming such aggressively hateful people to a "fireside chat"...Gee Mrs. Lincoln let's have coffee and chat about how much you enjoyed the play. It just doesn't make any sense."  Another said "what douche bags."  Supporting such an enemy doesn't make sense.  Politico looks at the growing blowback.  Here are highlights:
Two gay businessmen who held a reception for Sen. Ted Cruz continued to face blowback Friday as a nonprofit canceled an event at one of their nightclubs.

Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, an AIDS fundraising nonprofit prominent in the New York City theater community, announced it would be canceling its fundraiser scheduled for next month at 42West, a nightclub owned by Mati Weiderpass and Ian Reisner. Weiderpass and Reisner hosted Cruz, the Texas senator and presidential candidate — and vocal opponent of same-sex marriage — at their duplex apartment earlier this week for a “fireside chat” and dinner.

“We cannot in good conscience hold an event at a venue whose owners have alienated our community,” Broadway Cares executive director Tom Viola wrote in a statement on Friday.

“It is a rare instance where the actions of a donor negatively impacts us as an organization and potentially jeopardizes our relationship with others whose support is integral to our success,” Viola added. “But when it does occur, in a way that’s blatantly against all we stand and work for, we can’t pretend it doesn’t come with consequences. Silence is not a neutral position. It is complicit.”

Weiderpass and Reisner have faced criticism from the gay community since a New York Times report detailing the meeting with Cruz. A Facebook page urging supporters to boycott two establishments owned by Reisner — including a New York City hotel co-owned with Weiderpass aimed at serving gay customers — had more than 4,700 subscribers as of Friday evening.

Earlier this year, Reisner hosted a fundraiser for Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, who also opposes same-sex marriage.

In the past, the senator has called himself a supporter of traditional marriage, harshly criticized the Supreme Court for effectively allowing same-sex marriage to move forward in five states and said in a 2011 email that “engaging in homosexual conduct is a choice.”
Weiderpass and Reisner live in a gay friendly state and apparently believe that they have enough wealth so as to avoid the toxic consequences of what Cruz seeks to do to gays.  Most of us are not in that position - especially those of us living in anti-gay red states - and their betrayal deserves to carry a strong negative consequences.

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

"Religious Freedom" Laws Losing Public Support

Some positives seem to be flowing out of the efforts of Christofascists and their groveling political whores in the Republican Party to enact license to discriminate laws paraded about as "religious freedom" laws.  Public support for these laws has dropped markedly and perhaps the efforts to pass them are finally waking the larger public up to the true ugliness of the "godly Christian" crowd and its demands to have special rights that put them above the civil laws.  The Washington Post looks at this welcomed development.  Here are highlights:

One of the apparent side effects of the religious freedom controversies in Indiana and (to a lesser extent) Arkansas: More Americans now oppose such laws than before.

While a Pew Research Center poll conducted in September showed Americans were split on whether businesses with religious objections should be able to refuse service to a gay wedding (with 47 percent in favor), and a January AP-GfK poll showed a clear majority (57 percent) thought they should be able to, a new CNN/Opinion Research poll suggests increasing skepticism of religious freedom laws.

The new poll shows just 41 percent think businesses should be able to refuse service to gay weddings, while 57 percent disagree.

Similarly, a Suffolk poll from earlier this month showed 58 percent opposed to such an exemption.

Defending such business protections might still play well in Republican audiences, but not among Democrats or independents. The CNN poll found 70 percent of Democrats and 60 percent of independents say businesses should be required to provide wedding services despite religious objections -- both slightly higher than in Pew’s poll before the Indiana controversy. But 67 percent of Republicans still support businesses having the freedom to refuse same-sex marriage clients -- a number that is hardly changed from the fall (68 percent).

The fact that even the more-palatable idea of refusing services just to gay weddings appears to be falling out of favor is bad omen for religious freedom laws -- in case it wasn't already clear from what happened in Indiana that they were in trouble.
Let's hope the trend continues and that more and more members of the public will oppose the Christofascist push for special rights. 

The Anti-Gay Far Right Can't Run Forever From Its History of Bigotry

As noted in the previous post, Bruce Jenner's coming out will likely prompt more spittle flecked rage from the Christofascists.   Hate is the one constant with the Christian Right - these people hate virtually everyone who doesn't look like them and cling to the same sick, perverted version of Bronze Age and 1st century myths.  And if one inspects the current "family values" organizations, most have antecedents in white supremacy groups that have fanned racism and often sought to marginalize anyone they deem as "other."  Scratch the surface of The Family Foundation here in Virginia, and you find the descendants of those who supported Massive Resistance who closed down the public schools rather than allow black children attend.  Many of the christian schools that are part of TFF's network of hate trace back to Massive resistance.  Simply put, these folks are not nice or decent people and their history needs to be exposed.  Blogger friend Alvin McEwen has piece in Huffington Post that reminds of that these people need to be held accountable for their history of hate and bigotry.  Here are excerpts:
There is a brazenly dishonest new tactic emanating from the anti-gay right which must be called out on a larger scale. That lie is the idea that somehow the progression of marriage equality and popularity of the LGBT community is suddenly making them isolated and derided for supposedly simply stating their opinions. Suddenly the LGBT community is being portrayed as bullies seeking to shut anti-gay figures down and deride them for speaking against marriage equality and LGBT equality. It's a skilled talking point helped along by think tank finances, intellectuals paid by these finances and a "news" network which mistakes omitted information, one-sided interviews and sloppy (probably in some cases deliberately sloppy) journalism as conservative opinion and ideology.

Almost weekly, we read or hear about anecdotal incidents drudged up by Tony Perkins and the Family Research Council, Ryan T. Anderson and the Heritage Foundation or Fox News personality Todd Starnes about supposed innocent Christians who are besieged by aggressive gays. 

The anti-gay right seem to be painting a portrait of victimhood in anticipation of further progress by the LGBT community and the goal is most likely to stop this progress.

But I have one question. How in the hell can anyone forget how we got to this point? I mean really.
For decades, anti-gay organizations and their supporters have portrayed the LGBT community as child molesting, diseased, sexually aggressive miscreants whose sole desire is to cause chaos before being sent to the lower pits of hell after we die for our supposed sins. Through lies, distortions and bad science, anti-gay groups made it difficult for laws to be passed to protect our interests, health and families. They created and repeated ad nauseam the false mantra that we are a "public health hazard" and our lives are fraught with pain, sadness, loneliness and early death.

But suddenly, . . . . anti-gay groups are attempting to rewrite the so-called culture war. . . . .  They want the world to forget all of the ignorance they exploited, the lies they told and the tactics they undertook to dehumanize the LGBT community.

They want us to forget the times when folks like Anita Bryant accused LGBTs of "recruiting" children to "refreshen" our ranks.

They want us to forget the officials in the Reagan Administration who kept the president from adequately addressing the AIDS crisis in its early days.

They want us to forget the names and faces of people whose lives were destroyed via homophobic violence or suicide most likely spurred on by the nods of societal homophobia.

Sorry guys, you are not victims. You never were. . . . . you can't erase your history of being bullies.

LGBTs don't forget and we don't let others forget, either.
For but one example of the lies Alvin is call out, look no farther than Mike Huckabee - a detestable individual in my view who would happily be another Himmler if he could to implement a "final solution" for gays and non-whites.  This from The New Civil Rights Movement:
The likely 2016 Republican presidential candidate who has spent a large portion of his time since his term as Arkansas' governor ended attacking the LGBT community, on Thursday spoke on a conference call organized by Tony Perkins' anti-gay hate group, the Family Research Council.

“Christian convictions are under attack as never before,” Huckabee old listeners. “Not just in our lifetime, but ever before in the history of this great republic. We are moving rapidly toward the criminalization of Christianity.”
Huckabee and those like him deserve to be social outcasts and pariahs.  They are a blight on decent society.  

Bruce Jenner Comes Out As Transgender

As anticipated by many, last night during a one-on-one interview with Diane Sawyer, former Olympian Bruce Jenner came out as transgender.  I have a lot of respect for him being brave enough to go on national television to share his story.  Coming out as gay was terribly difficult for me - as two suicide attempts underscored - so I cannot imagine the how difficult it must be to come out as transgender.  Unfortunately, being gay in today's society is a cake walk compared to what transgendered individuals face - particularly given the foul, hateful campaigns the Christofascists love to launch about men in dresses in women's restrooms.  One can only hope that Jenner's coming out will open minds and change hearts.  Each of us is born with a given sexuality and internalized gender.  We do not pick and choose, yet far too many individuals - myself included for many years - feel compelled to try to conform to family and societal expectations.  The internal, psychological cost is horrific.  Jenner conceded that he was unfair to the women he married, yet the sad truth is he likely felt that he had no option but to conform.  In addition, even though wives of gays who later don't often grasp it, we do/did love them when we married them.  Just not in the y way they deserved.  Also, let's not forget that even homosexuality was classified as a mental illness until 1973.  Would anyone happily have admitted they were transgendered?  Of course not.  Here are highlights from The Advocate:
For decades we knew this person as Bruce Jenner, as a man, an Olympian, the guy on the Wheaties box, the man who married into the Kardashian clan and became a reality TV celebrity. Now we also know Jenner is a woman, and that his transition began 30 years ago.

The interview with ABC's Diane Sawyer started with Jenner explaining having "always been confused with my gender identity, since I was this big." Jenner imagines God creating "a smart kid" with "all these qualities." But, "wait a second, got to give him something to deal with. Let's give him the soul of a female."

Sawyer asked, "Are you a woman?"  "For all intents and purposes," said Jenner, "I'm a woman."

Jenner, who Sawyer said prefers male pronouns at this time, even though he also referred to himself as "Bruce" and "her," said his transition actually began 30 years ago.

Sawyer's interview was the culmination of more than a year of rumor, speculation, mockery and tabloid sensationalism. Some of that is due to the nature of Jenner’s participation in Keeping Up With The Kardashians on E!, and being a part of a family that lives in the public eye, open to nearly 24/7 scrutiiny by paparazzi. But it's also a reflection of the state of society when it comes to acceptance of trans people and understanding of gender identity.

"Were you fair to these women you married?" Sawyer asked.

"No, I was not as fair as I should have been," Jenner says.

"Do you look back and say, I apologize for that?"

"Yeah, and I have apologized to everyone. Everybody. I’ve apologized for my entire life."
Jenner brushed off the suggestion the coming out interview is all a publicity stunt by promising to turn this moment into a chance to help others. "What I am doing is going to do some good," Jenner promised, "we’re gonna make a difference in the world."

Even before the interview ended, activist groups such as GLAAD were already praising the example set to the world and the potential impact it will have on its own.

"Today, millions of people learned that someone they know is transgender," said GLAAD President Sarah Kate Ellis in a statement. "By sharing this story, Bruce Jenner has shined a light on what it means to be transgender and live authentically in the face of unimaginable public scrutiny. Though Jenner's journey is one that is deeply personal, it is also one that will impact and inspire countless people around the world."

I wish Jenner luck as he moves forward and hope that his family will be supportive.  I expect that he will face many vile attacks, especially from the foul "godly Christian" folk.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Friday Morning Male Beauty

Four Ways Republicans Grovel to the Christian Right

The Founding Fathers set out to establish a secular government and a nation where there was no established religion and where church and state were to remain separate.   This vision is constantly under attack by the Christofascists as evidenced by everything from David Barton's fantasy rewriting of history, claims that America is a "Christian nation" to attempts to inject far right Christian belief into the civil laws.  Aiding and abetting this process are American law makers, especially Republicans who are only to happy to trample on the religious freedom rights of other Americans if it will bring them votes from the spittle flecked, knuckle dragging Christofascists.  A piece in Salon republished from Alternet looks at four of the ways in which the members of the GOP continue to prostitute themselves to the Christian Right.   Here are highlights:
The proportion of conservative Christians is declining in the U.S., yet right-wing lawmakers are flipping out. Legislatures everywhere are passing religious-minded bills likely to be struck down after costly legal battles, merely to prove their allegiance to the Christian right. From Bibles to vouchers to school prayer, here’s how they’re signaling their religious stripes, even as the electorate scurries away.

1. The Ten Commandments
The Ten Commandments has long been the fighting symbol of those who try to join state and religion—perhaps because its Old Testament roots makes it slightly more inclusive. The most public example is Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, who was evicted from the bench in 2003 for refusing to remove his Ten Commandments display from his courtroom under federal court order.

But some states tried to go further than Moore. Last month the Arkansas Senate did just that, passing a bill, almost unanimously, that would allow the state to officially erect Ten Commandments monument on government property. The bill claims the monument would be constitutional, but the funds it provides for legal defense suggest they’re not too sure about that.

2. Prayer
As Kentucky’s attempt to get the Bible into classrooms demonstrated, schools often become the arena for religious pandering. And there’s no pandering like school prayer, which is perfectly constitutional as long as the state doesn’t endorse it — which, of course, is exactly what legislators want.

The most egregious example in recent years was Alabama’s 2014 bill requiring prayer in public schools. 

School prayer bills are often struck down, largely because they protect a right already guaranteed by the Constitution in a manner that seems to entail the state endorsement of a particular religion. In response, lawmakers have located a crafty workaround: school religious anti-discrimination laws. The bills take as their impetus cases, often anecdotal, of students being told they can’t make god the subject of assignments. The bills ostensibly would protect students’ ability to make explicitly religious material their subject matter.

Or so they claim. But critics argue the bills are simply school prayer mandates in disguise, and those who sponsor them don’t exactly dissuade anybody from that theory.

3. Vouchers
Another backend way to intertwine religion and schooling is to reverse the process: rather than force religion onto students, export students into religion. That’s been the path of Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, who’s overseen a massive voucher program, essentially privatizing—and pietizing—his state’s education system.

Many of the private schools endorsed under the program would effectively be delivering religious education (read: creationism) paid for by Louisiana taxpayer funds.
This plan backfired hysterically when Rep. Valarie Hodges discovered that, though the voucher plan mostly supports Christian organizations as it was intended, it could also end up supporting a private Muslim school. She voted for Jindal’s bill but “mistakenly assumed ‘religious’ meant ‘Christian.’ ”

Lest anybody mistake the obvious purpose of these bills, Hodges spelled it out. “I actually support funding for teaching the fundamentals of America’s Founding Fathers’ religion, which is Christianity, in public schools, or private schools,” she told the paper. “[But] we need to ensure that [the new law] does not open the door to fund radical Islam schools.
4. Religious Freedom Bills
Thanks to the unexpected pushback against Indiana’s so-called religious freedom bill last month, which caught everybody, especially Indiana Governor Mike Pence, by surprise, religious freedom restoration acts are now the subject of public scrutiny.

It was almost too late. The federal RFRA was signed into law in 1993 by then-President Bill Clinton, in response to a Supreme Court decision leaving religious minorities vulnerable to federal laws. The RFRA was an example of Clinton’s patented triangulation, which also gave us the Defense of Marriage Act and don’t ask, don’t tell, though this one has been arguably less damaging.

But in recent years the RFRAs have gotten nastier (see Kansas) as right-wing lawmakers have realized that “religious freedom” laws could be used as cover for discrimination against gays and lesbians.  . . . When the RFRAs pass in states that don’t have anti-discrimination protections for gays and lesbians (as, for instance, Connecticut does), they become effectively weaponized. For instance, earlier this year in Michigan the state considered a bill that would allow doctors and EMTs to refuse to treat gay patients over religious objections.

Not learning the lesson, Louisiana is still considering a similar bill that would allow someone in the wedding industry carte blanche to refuse service to gay couples. IBM is now warning the state to make similar changes to the bill as Arkansas and Indiana did, or risk losing business and investment—which, as you could probably tell from the desperation over its school system, is all the state has going for it.

GOP Presidnetial Aspirants Continue the Assault on Social Security and Average Americans

I often post an image above of a redneck who votes Republican in juxtaposition to a fat cat plutocrat who realizes that the GOP uses racism, religious extremism, and plays on down right ignorance to dupe far too many voters into supporting Republican candidates even those those candidates are pushing policies that are directly opposed to the best interests of the misguided voters.  This phenomenon was on display in New Hampshire where among GOP "fixes" were proposals to increase the age of eligibility for Social Security - even though it would save little money and hurt average workers.  A column in the New York Times looks at this effort to yet dupe the uninformed and prejudiced into cutting their own financial throats.  Here are excerpts:

Last week, a zombie went to New Hampshire and staked its claim to the Republican presidential nomination.

Mr. Christie gave a speech in which he tried to position himself as a tough-minded fiscal realist. In fact, however, his supposedly tough-minded policy idea was a classic zombie — an idea that should have died long ago in the face of evidence that undermines its basic premise, but somehow just keeps shambling along.

But let us not be too harsh on Mr. Christie. A deep attachment to long-refuted ideas seems to be required of all prominent Republicans. Whoever finally gets the nomination for 2016 will have multiple zombies as his running mates.

Start with Mr. Christie, who thought he was being smart and brave by proposing that we raise the age of eligibility for both Social Security and Medicare to 69. Doesn’t this make sense now that Americans are living longer?

No, it doesn’t. This whole line of argument should have died in 2007, when the Social Security Administration issued a report showing that almost all the rise in life expectancy has taken place among the affluent. The bottom half of workers, who are precisely the Americans who rely on Social Security most, have seen their life expectancy at age 65 rise only a bit more than a year since the 1970s. Furthermore, while lawyers and politicians may consider working into their late 60s no hardship, things look somewhat different to ordinary workers, many of whom still have to perform manual labor.

And while raising the retirement age would impose a great deal of hardship, it would save remarkably little money. In fact, a 2013 report from the Congressional Budget Office found that raising the Medicare age would save almost no money at all.

But Mr. Christie — like Jeb Bush, who quickly echoed his proposal — evidently knows none of this. The zombie ideas have eaten his brain.

And there are plenty of other zombies out there. Consider, for example, the zombification of the debate over health reform.

[T]he act [Affordable Health Care Act] has produced a dramatic drop in the number of uninsured adults; premiums have grown much more slowly than in the years before reform; the law’s cost is coming in well below projections; and 2014, the first year of full implementation, also had the best job growth since 1999.

So how has this changed the discourse? On the right, not at all. As far as I can tell, every prominent Republican talks about Obamacare as if all the predicted disasters have, in fact, come to pass.

Finally, one of the interesting political developments of this election cycle has been the triumphant return of voodoo economics, the “supply-side” claim that tax cuts for the rich stimulate the economy so much that they pay for themselves. In the real world, this doctrine has an unblemished record of failure. . . .  Kansas, whose governor promised a “real live experiment” that would prove supply-side doctrine right, has failed even to match the growth of neighboring states.

In the world of Republican politics, however, voodoo’s grip has never been stronger. Would-be presidential candidates must audition in front of prominent supply-siders to prove their fealty to failed doctrine.

So why has the Republican Party experienced a zombie apocalypse? One reason, surely, is the fact that most Republican politicians represent states or districts that will never, ever vote for a Democrat, so the only thing they fear is a challenge from the far right. Another is the need to tell Big Money what it wants to hear: a candidate saying anything realistic about Obamacare or tax cuts won’t survive the Sheldon Adelson/Koch brothers primary.

Whatever the reasons, the result is clear. Pundits will try to pretend that we’re having a serious policy debate, but, as far as issues go, 2016 is already set up to be the election of the living dead.

U.S. Muslims and Hindus More Accepting of Gay Marriage that Evangelicals

click image to enlarge
While homophobia and anti-gay laws (and violence) remain significant problems in the Middle East and India, a new Public Religion Research Institute study reveals that American Muslims and Hindus are more accepting of gays and same sex marriage than the "godly" evangelical Christian crowd.  These findings underscore just how extreme evangelical Christians are and show that "non-American religions" from the perspective of the Republican Party are more assimilated into main stream American culture than the Bible thumpers and their sycophants in the GOP.  Leading the pack in the knuckle dragger set are the Jehovah's Witness (16% support) followed by the evangelical Baptists (23%) and Mormons (27%).  
On the modernity embracing side, 61% of Catholics support same sex marriage signally the reality that Pope Francis and the bitter old men in dresses at the Vatican have lost the anti-gay jihad still pushed by Rome.   Among Muslims, 42% support marriage equality and among Hindus, support is at 55%.  Here are highlights of other findings:

The most supportive major religious groups are Buddhists (84 percent), Jews (77 percent), and Americans who select “Other religion” (75 percent); additionally, more than three-quarters (77 percent) of the religiously unaffiliated also support same-sex marriage.

More than six in ten (62 percent) white mainline Protestants support same-sex marriage. Among white mainline Protestant denominations, support ranges from 69 percent support among white mainline Presbyterians and 68 percent among both white Episcopalians and white Congregationalists/United Church of Christ members, to lower support among white mainline Baptists (53 percent) and white mainline Church of Christ/Disciples (50 percent).

And while the Catholic Church officially opposes the legalization of same-sex marriage, about six in ten white (61 percent), Hispanic (60 percent), and other non-white Catholics (60 percent) support allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally. A majority of orthodox Christians (56 percent) also support same-sex marriage.
The study findings further confirm that the GOP is pandering to a shrinking ignorance embracing demographic.