Saturday, November 26, 2011

Iowa GOP Still Insists on Voting Away LGBT Rights

With the myriad important issues facing the nation and the individual states - e.g, saving the families from losing their homes in this economy, repairing a collapsing infrastructure, closing budget gaps, etc. - one would think that the Iowa GOP would have more important things to obsess about other than same sex marriage. But such is not the case. It seems that nothing gives the the GOP members of the Iowa legislature and their Christofascist supporters a near orgasm more than wanting to vote away same sex marriage rights. It's pretty f*cked up, but such is the bizarre world view of today's GOP. Think Progress looks at the continued - and fortunately doomed - effort of the Iowa GOP to vote away the civil rights of LGBT Iowans. Here are some highlights from a set to between senate majority leader Mike Gronstal (a Democrat) and senate minority leader Jerry Behn (a Christianist boot licking Republican):

Jerry Behn insists that Iowans should have the right to vote on gay people’s marriage rights during the legislative session beginning Jan. 9, despite the GOP’s recent loss in a special senate election that failed to change the balance of power in the senate. Behn debated the issue with senate majority leader Mike Gronstal, who reiterated his commitment to keeping the issue off the floor, saying, “people’s rights should not be put to a popular vote“:

GRONSTAL: If I can put, if you can put my rights to a popular vote of the people then I can put your rights to a popular vote of the people and eventually, and eventually — well, we didn’t put slavery to a vote of the people in Iowa, we didn’t put the right to go to a school in your neighborhood to a vote of the people of Iowa, we didn’t put public accommodations law to a vote of the people in Iowa. The Supreme Court said certain inalienable rights — you either — when you say the Pledge of Allegiance, one nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all, you don’t say for all except for gay people, you don’t say that. [...]

BEHN: It’s about Iowans being allowed to decide.

GRONSTAL: … to a vote of the people. Churches are not required to marry anybody. I just think it’s fundamentally wrong to put to a popular — it’s the whole principle …

GRONSTAL: … to protect people’s individual rights. That is, the Constitution is to protect that.

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

The GOP Presidential Candidates Want Never-Ending War

The Republican Party slate of would be presidential nominees gives the typical GOP lip service to "supporting the troops." Unfortunately, as we saw during the years of misrule under Chimperator Bush and Emperor Palpatine Cheney, this claimed concern for the troops doesn't actually translate into providing needed equipment or proper care for troops that are injured or the psychologically damage from the fool's errand wars that Bush/Cheney brought to the nation. Yet the GOP base continues to eat up these disingenuous platitudes of support and the current GOP presidential candidates seem only too happy to talk of a never ending war on terror. Perhaps part of it is the mindset of the Christianist/Tea Party base that requires that there always be an "enemy" be it domestic or foreign. Or maybe it's a related psychosis that requires that the GOP base always needs to have someone to look down upon. A column in The Daily Beast looks at the never ending war promised by the current GOP line up. Here are some highlights:

Should the United States be permanently at war? Listen carefully to this week’s Republican presidential debate on national security and the answer becomes pretty clear. For most of the major GOP candidates, the answer is yes.

Within the first few minutes of the GOP debate, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, and Rick Santorum had all declared the United States at war while answering a question about the Patriot Act. In making this assertion, none of them mentioned Afghanistan or Iraq, the two countries where large numbers of U.S. troops have in recent years actually been fighting. No, for the Republican presidential candidates, talking about Iraq and Afghanistan is thinking small. They were talking about America’s “war against terror,” a war they believe should define the way the U.S. government approaches civil liberties, and spends money, for, in Gingrich’s words, “the rest of our lives.”

[A]t the debate, the major Republican candidates didn’t even bother to explain why. They simply declared that because there is a threat, America remains at war. Sure, there’s a terrorist threat and there always will be, even if Al Qaeda itself goes out of business. But if that’s all it takes for the United States to be at war, the United States will never be a peacetime nation again, which means we’ll never be able to regain the civil liberties we enjoyed before 9/11, or tame a defense and homeland security budget that has grown so massively in the last decade.

They would never dream of suggesting that America’s “war on terror” requires higher taxes, a draft or anything else that would burden the ordinary American. And yet they keep using the language of war to insulate America’s defense budget from serious scrutiny and to suggest that people accused of terrorism don’t deserve basic protections under the law.

As George Orwell famously noted, bad public policy often hides behind dishonest language. Nations that truly are permanently at war generally go bankrupt or become police states or both. Nations whose leaders pretend they are permanently at war when they are actually not simply suffer a profound distortion of their national priorities. In the United States today, that is bad enough.

A Great Marriage Equality Ad From Australia

A reader e-mailed me the link to this marriage equality ad put out by GetUp! - Action for Australia. It's well done in my opinion and is a reminder that anti-gay discrimination is still embedded in the civil laws of many nations - even those we often think to be progressive. Unfortunately, in too many countries, special rights given to conservative Christian (or Muslim) religious beliefs continue to trump the civil law rights of far too many citizens.

Many of the comments on the video advertisement are positive. Sadly, some sound like they were written by some of the knuckle draggers one encounters here in Virginia. Among the worse are those that try to depict gays as promiscuous sluts. The irony, of course, is that straights are just as slutty - if not more so. I could name some married former law partners who took promiscuity to new heights while cheating on their wives. They certainly saw nothing sacred about their marriages. Yet the relationships of committed same sex couples who have been together and monogamous for decades receive zero recognition. All so that the Christianists can pat themselves on the back and feel superior. It's disgusting.

Victim of Bullying Has the Last Laugh - And a Video Message from Lady Gaga

As noted in past posts, junior high school and much of high school were not good periods in my life and I suffered my share of taunts of "fag," "pansy"and other derogatory names since I wasn't the butch, macho type. Add to that the fact that I was regarded as being one of the smartest kids in my class, so I had the nerd image to further enhanced my misery. Summers at the family lake house were a totally different matter, but did little to get me through the school year. Then came snow skiing that made a big difference later in high school. I excelled and was better than many of the high school jocks - even some of the sports stars would go skiing with me. My point is that I know that one can be bullied and yet ultimately have the last laugh. A case in point is Jacques St. Pierre, a 17 year old student at the Etobicoke School of the Arts in Toronto, Canada. St. Pierre under went bullying but decided to fight back and organized a school assembly with an anti-bullying theme. He also sought out celebrities to back up the assembly's message. Lady Gaga was one of those asked and did a video for St. Pierre. Here are highlights from the Vancouver Sun followed by the video:

The Fame Monster herself is putting her popularity to good use — Lady Gaga recently acknowledged a Toronto student’s tremendous endeavour to raise awareness and put an end to bullying.

Jacques St. Pierre, 17, was motivated to make a change after being bullied himself growing up. As the student council president of the Etobicoke School of the Arts, he organized a school assembly with an anti-bullying theme.

“I got called the gay kid, the fag, because I liked to be in the school plays,” St. Pierre told CBC. “I lost my best friend because he joined in with the bullies. It’s not fun, I’ve been there, I’ve been bullied. Before that, I didn’t know bullying could affect people so severely.”

Gathering pledges from fellow students and contacting an array of celebrities for their support, St. Pierre was overjoyed and emotional after he received Gaga’s heartfelt video voicing her unconditional support for his actions.

“I just wanted to tell you how proud I am of you for being such a strong advocate of the LGBT community in your school. There should be more little monsters like you,” Gaga said. “It is important that we push the boundaries of love and acceptance. It is important that we spread tolerance and equality for all students.”

St Pierre said Gaga’s high profile will help spread a positive message. “Young or old, people know who Lady Gaga is, because she’s such as character and she does so much to stand up against bullying in any way she can. And someone as inspiring as her, taking 20 minutes out of her day to write down a speech, sit in front of a Teleprompter, get all made up and read it to us directly at our school. It’s fantastic,” he told CBC.

Friday, November 25, 2011

More Lies and False Claims of Death Treats from PFOX

For those unfamiliar with PFOX - a/k/a Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays - the organization is basically an anti-gay front organization funded historically by a who's who of anti-gay organizations. I often use the term "ex-gay for pay" on this blog and it certainly applies to the "ex-gays" at PFOX who will happily lie not only to themselves but anyone they can get to listen to them in exchange for a pay check and/or a front that gives them some semblance of respectability amongst the Kool-Aid drinking followers of Christianist set and far right extremist who desperately want to maintain the myth that sexual orientation can change for political reasons among others. Truth and veracity and PFOX are generally mutually exclusive and PFOX's current president Greg Quinlan takes the untruths to new levels and accuses legitimate researchers of falsifying or lying about their research.

In fact, Quinlan has gone even further and alleged in television interview that Wayne Besen of Truth Wins Out who I've known for over 8 years and have worked with a number of times (e.g., we collaborated to expose national level "ex-gay" poster boy Michael Johnston as a fraud and dug up the information to expose Arthur Abba Goldberg, the head of JONAH, a/k/a Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality and a board member of NARTH to be a disbarred attorney and convicted felon- he was part of a multi-billion dollar fraudulent securities offering). Wayne is considering a lawsuit against PFOX (which is conveniently based in tiny Reedville, Virginia) and Quinlan. I'd be more than happy to be local counsel. Here are highlights from Ex-Gay Watch's coverage of Quinlan's blatant lies:

Current PFOX president Greg Quinlan appeared for an interview recently on a local D.C. station. While the interviewer, Mark Segraves (WDCW-TV), was better prepared than most, it doesn’t seem he understood the depth of misinformation Quinlan is willing to put forth. It would take a week to tease through the factual errors in this short interview, and much of it has been covered before. For example, claims that PFOX won a suit in D.C to have ex-gays considered a protected class have been confronted before.

Quinlan goes on to accuse noted geneticist Dean Hamer of lying about his research, Dr. Robert Spitzer of not knowing what his own research says on the possibility of sexual orientation change, and claims that AIDS is a “homosexual disease.” This is not the first time Quinlan has been accused of distorting a researchers work.

Most astounding were Quinlan’s claims that Truth Wins Out director Wayne Besen wanted someone to run him over with a bus, or inject him with AIDS:

Truth Wins Out if you look further, including Wayne Besen. He’s asked for people, you know, somebody needs to run Greg over. He needs to be hit with a bus. Somebody should inject him with AIDS. Those are the things that Wayne Besen and Truth Wins Out says about me. That’s pretty hateful rhetoric.

These are serious allegations and demand a solid source for confirmation. For the record, Besen denies ever making the comments and we join him in challenging Quinlan to produce evidence of this claim. It’s worth reviewing the video in full just to see how fast and lose Quinlan plays with the truth.

As is the norm for PFOX, it's the one that spreads hateful rhetoric not to mention deliberate untruths. Grove City College professor and licensed therapist Warren Throckmorton also gets into the act of underscoring Quinlan's dishonesty:

Really? Besen has said some critical and dismissive things about ex-gays but I’ve never heard anything like that. Quinlan may soon have to provide proof of that since Besen absolutely denies the charges and may sue for defamation.

There are other questionable aspects to Quinlan’s claims. In the interview, Quinlan says that both APAs say that sexuality is fluid (not really, they say identity can shift but that orientation is pretty fixed). He says he is not paid to be ex-gay (sorry, I know the history there, his reputation is founded on his status as an ex-gay). He says that is acceptable for him to refer to gays as “faggots” because it is acceptable for blacks to use the “N” word referring to themselves (I’ll let readers ponder that one).

When confronted with the fact that Richard Cohen was expelled from the American Counseling Association, Quinlan said at 11:40, “But he hasn’t lost his license.” To my knowledge, Richard never had a license and he certainly does not now. Then he told Sagraves that Richard has a 90% success rate helping people change. If Richard claims that, I have never seen it.

Frankly, nothing would be more enjoyable that seeing a lawsuit go forward against PFOX and Quinlan. The thought of Quinlan in depositions with potential perjury charges hanging over his head almost makes my giddy. Add to that the discovery process in general that would force PFOX to produce documents and answer interrogatories in writing, and it could be a death knell for PFOX. I'm very confident that there is ZERO legitimate research or documentation to back up any of Quinlan's outrageous statements.

Friday Morning Male Beauty

Paul Krugman - We Are the 99.9%

Once again, Paul Krugman gets to the heart of what's happening to the middle class in America and the soaring inequalities in wealth and power that are making the USA look more and more like a 1950's banana republic rather than a nation of opportunity and liberty for all. It's not a pretty picture - especially for the early 20's generation that is facing bleak employment prospects and which is likely to never see the economic security know to my parent's generation. Most distressingly, the power holders in Washington seem to care little about acting in any meaningful way to address the middle class' downward spiral. Here are highlights from Krugman's column in the New York Times:

“We are the 99 percent” is a great slogan. It correctly defines the issue as being the middle class versus the elite (as opposed to the middle class versus the poor). And it also gets past the common but wrong establishment notion that rising inequality is mainly about the well educated doing better than the less educated; the big winners in this new Gilded Age have been a handful of very wealthy people, not college graduates in general.

If anything, however, the 99 percent slogan aims too low. A large fraction of the top 1 percent’s gains have actually gone to an even smaller group, the top 0.1 percent — the richest one-thousandth of the population.

And while Democrats, by and large, want that super-elite to make at least some contribution to long-term deficit reduction, Republicans want to cut the super-elite’s taxes even as they slash Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid in the name of fiscal discipline.

The recent Congressional Budget Office report on inequality didn’t look inside the top 1 percent, but an earlier report, which only went up to 2005, did. According to that report, between 1979 and 2005 the inflation-adjusted, after-tax income of Americans in the middle of the income distribution rose 21 percent. The equivalent number for the richest 0.1 percent rose 400 percent.

For the most part, these huge gains reflected a dramatic rise in the super-elite’s share of pretax income. But there were also large tax cuts favoring the wealthy. In particular, taxes on capital gains are much lower than they were in 1979 — and the richest one-thousandth of Americans account for half of all income from capital gains.

[I]f you look at who really makes up the 0.1 percent, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that, by and large, the members of the super-elite are overpaid, not underpaid, for what they do.

For who are the 0.1 percent? Very few of them are Steve Jobs-type innovators; most of them are corporate bigwigs and financial wheeler-dealers. One recent analysis found that 43 percent of the super-elite are executives at nonfinancial companies, 18 percent are in finance and another 12 percent are lawyers or in real estate. And these are not, to put it mildly, professions in which there is a clear relationship between someone’s income and his economic contribution.

Meanwhile, the economic crisis showed that much of the apparent value created by modern finance was a mirage. . . . . So should the 99.9 percent hate the 0.1 percent? No, not at all. But they should ignore all the propaganda about “job creators” and demand that the super-elite pay substantially more in taxes.

Lady Gaga Again Proves She's a Powerful Ally

In A Very Gaga Thanksgiving, the 90-minute special that aired last night on ABC, Lady Gaga once again demonstrated that she's a powerful ally to the LGBT community with her anti-bullying remarks and her self-affirming message to youths. She also showed that she's far more complex than the often crazy caricature that she sometimes comes across to be.

Yes, I am sure she will have her detractors, but I respect her willingness to use her celebrity to send out a message be it on ending bullying or in the past on the repeal of DADT. Perhaps I'm biased having watched her from 20 feet away at the National Equality March, but her activism is most refreshing compared to the mindless conduct of supposed celebrities that seem to exist only to promote themselves. Kim Kardashian, are you listening?

More Batshit Craziness from the Virginia GOP

With Christofascist Bob Marshall having pre-filed a "personhood" bill (even after the public overwhelmingly voted down such a measure in Mississippi), one would think that there's not more in the way of insanity and hatred of religious freedom for all citizens that the Republican Party of Virginia could dredge up. But you'd be wrong to fall for that conclusion. Loudoun County Board of Supervisors member Eugene Delgaudio frighteningly makes Marshall look nearly gay-friendly at times. As Blue Virginia notes, even some Republicans are belatedly getting fed up with Delgaudio's batshit craziness and obsession with all things homosexual. The man is seriously mentally disturbed in my opinion - as are those who keep voting for him - and he is so vitriolic about gays that it's probably safe to assume he's a self-loathing closet case. Here's how the Northern Virginia Republican blog Too Conservative described Delgaudio in a post captioned "Embarrassment, Thy Name is Eugene Delgaudio":

As much as I bag on other politicos for unbecoming behavior, there is no one, and I mean no one, that even remotely compares to the embarrassment brought upon us all by Eugene Delgaudio. His latest missive, full of ridiculous distortions and outright lies, proves my point.

Under Public Advocates’ letterhead, Delgaudio voices his opposition to a federal bill, HR 998, put forward by Democratic lawmakers to outlaw discrimination against homosexual students. . . . suffice it to say that Delgaudio’s hair is, once again, on fire – claiming this time that the bill would “require schools to teach appalling homosexual acts.”

Frankly, even if he were to shovel my driveway, cook my dinner and wipe my kids’ butts, no level of constituent service could justify voting for, much less openly supporting, such an individual.

The Too Conservative post then goes on to look at the actual language of the federal bill and then contrasts it with the lunacy Delgaudio is disseminating (with a request for money, of course):


(a) In General- No student shall, on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity of such individual or of a person with whom the student associates or has associated, be excluded from participation in, or be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance. (b) Harassment- For purposes of this Act, discrimination includes, but is not limited to, harassment of a student on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity of such student or of a person with whom the student associates or has associated. (c) Retaliation Prohibited-

(1) PROHIBITION- No person shall be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination, retaliation, or reprisal under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance based on his or her opposition to conduct made unlawful by this Act.

From that, Delgaudio get’s this:

You see, the Homosexual Classrooms Act contains a laundry list of anti-family provisions that will:

*** Require schools to teach appalling homosexual acts so “homosexual students” don’t feel “singled out” during already explicit sex-ed classes;

*** Spin impressionable students in a whirlwind of sexual confusion and misinformation, even peer pressure to “experiment” with the homosexual “lifestyle;”

*** Exempt homosexual students from punishment for propositioning, harassing, or even sexually assaulting their classmates, as part of their specially-protected right to “freedom of self-expression;”

*** Force private and even religious schools to teach a pro-homosexual curriculum and purge any reference to religion if a student claims it creates a “hostile learning environment” for homosexual students.

And that’s just the beginning of the Homosexual Lobby’s radical agenda.In fact, it will set them up to ram through their entire perverted vision for a homosexual America.

The Republican Party of Virginia truly seems to want to make Mississippi look like a wildly progressive state compared to Virginia when it embraces individuals like Bob Marshall, Ken Cuccinelli and Eugene Delgaudio. It's hard to find individuals more mentally unhinged in elected positions (Sally Kern, of course, excepted). And these clowns think they are making Virginia attractive to new and progressive businesses?

Tim Tebow Needs to Read His Bible!

No one enjoys wearing their religion on their sleeve and congratulating themselves more than the Christianist and the professional Christian set - think Tony Perkins, Maggie Gallagher, etc., etc. Oh, and then there's the increasingly delusional Tim Tebow, who seems to be belatedly getting on the nerves of his fellow football players. Indeed, Tebow seems more concerned with engaging in constant displays of his religiosity than he does playing football. Frankly, I find him insufferable. Moreover, while playing the role of super Christian, he certainly seems to have not bothered to read his Bible. Note Christ's purported description of such public displays: "hypocrites." Don't believe me? Here it is:

Matthew 6:5-6: "And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men....when thou prayest, enter into thy closet and when thou has shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret, and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly."

I guess I should not be surprised by Tebow's conduct since no group ignores the dictates of the Bible more than the Christianists and those who like to exalt themselves publicly. Andy Towle has a good take on Tebow's lunacy here in a post captioned "Tim Tebow's Wife is in a Brokeback Marriage".

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Will the Gay Marriage Battle Hurt the GOP in the 2012 General Election?

I suspect that some of the would be GOP presidential contenders are cursing the New Hampshire wing of the GOP for its effort to repeal New Hampshire's gay marriage law. While they likely would not have been able to duck the issue given the strong Christianist control in the GOP - not to mention NOM's intention to ignite the issue in New Hampshire - the repeal effort makes ducking the issue virtually impossible. While Bible thumping and gay bashing may help win the votes of the most hate filled elements in the New Hampshire primary, the positions the candidates take may hurt whichever one of the comes out the eventual nominee in 2012. A piece in Huffington Post looks at this potentially double edged sword for the GOP. Here are highlights:

Whether they like it or not, Republican presidential candidates are joining New Hampshire's intensifying gay marriage debate.

State lawmakers plan in the coming weeks to take up a measure to repeal the law allowing same-sex couples to wed and a vote is expected at some point in January – the same month as New Hampshire holds the nation's first Republican presidential primary contest.

Already, candidates have been put on the spot over the divisive hot-button social issue when most, if not all, would rather be talking about the economy, voters' No. 1 concern.

The impending focus on gay marriage carries risk for several of White House contenders – including former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former businessman Herman Cain – whose inconsistencies on the topic are well documented. The GOP candidates' increasingly vocal support for "traditional marriage" also threatens to alienate a growing number of younger Republicans and independents here who support legal recognition of same-sex couples. That note of divisiveness could bode poorly for the eventual GOP nominee come the general election.

While the issue hasn't yet become a regular talking point on the campaign trail, most Republican candidates declare support for the effort to repeal the law. And groups like the National Organization for Marriage hope to force the presidential contenders to publicly embrace the repeal.

Despite the presidential candidates' support for the New Hampshire repeal, younger Republicans in this state are skeptical, especially as voters are focused on the economy.

"Why is the NH House wasting time trying to repeal gay marriage? Capital ugh," Robert J. Johnson, chairman of the New Hampshire College Republicans, wrote on Twitter.

Polling suggests it may not be a winning issue. A recent University of New Hampshire poll found that 62 percent of state residents oppose repealing the same-sex marriage law.
And nationally, public opinion has gradually shifted toward supporting same-sex marriages, even among Republicans.

Democrats hope to use the Republican contenders' positions against them in the general election next fall. "While these radical stances might win them a few votes in their primary, it will lose them the support of the majority Americans, and ultimately put them on the losing side of history,"
said Ty Matsdorf, spokesman for American Bridge, an independent group aligned with Democrats.

Until the GOP overthrows the vice gripe of the Christian Right and ceases to be a de facto sectarian party, with each passing year the anti-gay platform will cost the GOP more and more votes as the oldest gay-haters simply die off..

Thursday Morning Male Beauty

Federal Court Deals Blow to GOP Gerrymandering in Texas

For a party that claims to honor democracy and the integrity of the electoral system, the Republican Party goes to extreme lengths to limit the ability of minorities to vote - through new ID requirements and sometimes outright intimidation - and to gerrymander voting districts so as to neutralize minority populations who have little reason to vote Republican given the Party's efforts to often demonize them . Such behavior by the GOP is the norm here in Virginia. Texas is no different. But it appears that GOP efforts in Texas may be hitting a road block in the form of the federal courts which are poised to rewrite the GOP redistricting effort. Under the GOP plan, 3 out of 4 new Congressional seats would have tilted to the GOP and all GOP encumbrances would have held safe seats. The court plan would flip this outcome on its head. Here are some highlights from Politico:

A federal court-proposed map positions Democrats to gain as many as three congressional seats in Texas, dealing a sharp blow to Republicans who had hoped the state would help solidify their new majority.

Under the plan, Democrats could capture three of the four new seats Texas is gaining in the current round of reapportionment, and would be positioned to compete against one of the state’s freshman Republicans, Rep. Quico Canseco, whose southwestern Texas district would become considerably less GOP-friendly.

The interim plan was crafted by a San Antonio court, which was tasked with providing a congressional map until a Washington, D.C.-based court determines whether a Republican-drawn plan, approved by the state legislature earlier this year, adequately accommodates the state’s exploding Hispanic population. The Justice Department, along with several minority groups, instigated legal action earlier this year, alleging that the GOP blueprint dilutes minority voting strength.

The court-drafted map is a devastating reversal for Republicans, whose map would have positioned the GOP to win three of the state’s new seats and would have allowed each of the party’s 23 incumbents to run in safe districts.

“This is a big win for Democrats and minority groups in Texas,” said Matt Angle, director of the Texas Justice Fund, which helped craft the legal strategy combating the GOP plan.

Several other Republican-held districts would also be less safe under the interim plan. Veteran GOP Rep. Joe Barton would see his seat grow less Republican-friendly, as would the Galveston-area seat held by retiring GOP Rep. Ron Paul.

The proposed map is not final – Republicans will have until the end of this week to provide input and suggest changes before the plan is finalized. The interim plan was released just ahead of Monday’s opening of the filing period for candidates to declare their intentions to run in Texas races.

Anne Rice on the Allure of Vampires

I will confess that I have read every one of Anne Rice's vampire novels. I love the homoerotic subplots and I identify with the need to deal with being "other" that the main characters such as Lestat grapple with. While the vampire genre had always been around, Rice was one of the first authors to take it to new levels with The Vampire Chronicles. In an interview with The Daily Beast, Rice talks about the derivation of her own books and her thoughts on the burgeoning genre in the form of True Blood and the Twilight series. It is noteworthy what she has to say about the parallels between gays and vampires in society. Here are some highlights from the interview:

So what’s your take on the Twilight series? It really does seem to go against the grain in its depiction of vampires.

I think the concept is so rich in itself. It’s like the concept of the cowboy or the detective. Vampires have become almost like a genre, like the Western. What I see happening, with writers like Charlaine Harris and Stephenie Meyer, is the domestication of the vampire. I was more interested in a powerful, Old World figure that had a lot of knowledge, experience, and was surrounded by a lot of glamour and mystery. I wanted to keep the romance. I loved the idea of these people gaining wisdom as they aged, and how that might cause them to be ever more tormented by the fact that they don’t really belong in the world and they prey on human beings, who they’ve really come to appreciate. Charlaine Harris is doing something different by imagining what it’s like if vampires are legal and you have them living in your Southern town, and I think she gets a tremendous amount of energy out of that.

True Blood is set in your native Louisiana, and it really uses vampirism as a metaphor for outsiders, including the gay community. What are your thoughts on using vampirism as a metaphor for the disenfranchised?

It’s a given! The vampire is an outsider. He’s the perfect metaphor for those things. He’s someone who looks human and sounds human, but is not human, so he’s always on the margins. When I write and assume the point of view of the vampire, I understand the agony of being a public outcast—someone who doesn’t belong anywhere, yet longs to be part of something and gravitates to other outcasts of his own kind. I remember the year Interview With the Vampire was published, a young man came to me at Berkeley and told me he thought Interview With the Vampire was “the longest sustained gay allegory in the English language.” I was kind of amazed and honored that he was unpacking that from it, but it wasn’t a conscious thing.

I saw your cheeky Facebook post about how your vampires would “feel sorry for vampires that sparkle in the sun.”

[Laughs] Oh, I was just joking. People ask me what I think about that, and I finally pretended that Lestat and Louis were real and gave their opinion on what they thought of the vampires in Twilight. Unfortunately, I think some of Stephenie Meyer readers took it the wrong way, came to my Facebook page, and were quite unpleasant. But I think they’re very … young. It was quite a ruckus!

Back to True Blood, how do you feel about the show’s depiction of vampires as these uninhibited, primal, sexual beings?

I’m a fan of the show. I see it as a logical part of it all. [Harris] has expanded the sexuality that’s inherent in that idea. I didn’t think of that, but as my books went on, I involved my vampires in more sexuality. But I couldn’t go as far as Charlaine Harris did, because I had said that my vampires can’t have sex; that the act of drinking blood is orgasmic for them. She’s doing it a different way. She’s saying that this blood drinker must also be dynamite in bed. Makes sense!

Atheists Launch a "Coming Out" Campaign

A story in the Washington Post looks at a new movement by atheists to band together and have their own "coming out" campaign. Needless to say, the professional Christian set and the Christianist crowd will be hyperventilating and the spittle will be flying -these merchants of hatred and discrimination will be furious that other citizens are exercising their constitutional right to embrace no religion. The irony is that the campaign is modeled on the gay rights coming out model, another movement subjected to constant condemnation, vilification, and untruths by the professional Christians. One of the best argument around nowadays for being an atheist is the "godly Christian" crowd who set a standard of what not to be. Add to that the scientific evidence that the existence of Adam and Eve is a mere fairy tale - as is "The Fall" and you're well on your way to atheism. I don't view myself as an atheist - I believe that there is a creator or higher power, just not as described in the Old Testament. But I digress. Here are highlights from the Post story:

The young man in the video pulls in close to his computer camera with the trappings of a typical college dorm room — a loft bed and the clutter of cast-off clothes — piled behind him. Alex Fiorentini isn’t talking about girls, beer or football. Instead, it’s a coming-out moment of sorts.

“Is it acceptable to the majority of the population to be an atheist?” he asks the camera. “Nope. Are all of your friends going to accept you as an atheist? Probably not all of them. And yeah, those things are gonna suck. But the real question is, ‘Is it OK to be me?’ That is the real question if you are an atheist.”

For Fiorentini, a student at the University of Illinois, the answer is yes. He and scores of other atheists, young and old, have made similar videos for a new campaign designed to build community and support among nontheists around the world.

Brown, who had founded a gay-straight club in her high school, patterned We Are Atheism on the gay community’s “It Gets Better” video project, launched in 2010 after a string of suicides by bullied gay teens. It Gets Better features self-made videos by gay, lesbian, transgendered and bisexual people who share their coming-out experiences and offer encouragement to those who remain closeted. “The whole point of the website is to let younger atheists know you will face persecution,” Brown said. “But through us knowing each other we can all help.”

Brown’s project also piggybacks on the gay community’s experience that familiarity breeds acceptance: Knowing actual gay people tends to break down homophobia, ignorance and prejudice.

“If the polls are correct, there are literally millions of nonbelievers in America,” said Richard Haynes, president of Atheist Nexus. “However, many atheists feel all alone. This is the primary reason we must come out of the closet. Coming out is the only way to change the public perception of nontheism.”

As noted on this blog before, surveys continue to show that atheists (and Muslims) are actually in many ways more moral in their conduct and treatment of others than conservative Christians.

A Thanksgiving Day Retrospective on Coming Out

It's fairly early and I'm killing time waiting for overnight house guests to wake up. The boyfriend a/k/a "Martha Stewart" is not surprisingly in the kitchen setting up for breakfast. One guest is a former roommate from when I had tenants living with me while I was living in my house in Norfolk. With him is his boyfriend and another friend who will be joining his family for Thanksgiving down in North Carolina. They spent the night with us as a way station while headed south. It's nice having them here even for a brief visit. Thanksgiving is truly a time for friends and family.

But not all of us are so lucky. And I remember some truly horrible Thanksgivings and Christmases from my first years into my coming out journey. By chance I looked at a blog I've been "following" - via the Blogger dashboard on this blog - that's written by a guy who is about 9 months into the coming out process after years of marriage and children. From there I looked at a number of blogs to which he links his blog and saw more stories of other formerly married men struggling for self-acceptance and a sense that their entire lives have not disintegrated. It struck me as to just how many of us formerly married gays there are - and how sad it is that so many of us felt forced to try to me straight whether due to family expectations or religious brainwashing. The pain in many of these stories is palpable and brings back pain that thankfully I have now put behind me even though it often seemed that I'd ever move beyond the pain and sense that I'd harmed my children.

For those struggling as I once did, I want to share this quote from a post one of my daughters put on this blog a few years ago (I never published it):

"You were very obviously unhappy and angry, although for a long time we had no idea why, and I think that you being honest with yourself has been beneficial to our whole family. . . . I hope everyday that we can put all of this behind us so that in one way or another we can all be like family again. Whether or not that will happen, who knows. . . . "

We are still working on the latter part of that situation. But, things are good again with my children and light years ahead of where they once were with my former wife. In further elaborating since that time my daughter said that she can't imagine what I was going through and that even though my coming out created great turmoil in her life - in all our lives - it was the best thing that could have happened. For those who find themselves where I once was this holiday season, my message is to hang onto the fact that you cannot be a good parent if you are living a lie and in constant denial and/or struggling with self-hate. Things will get better - even if not on the time table you might want.

Oh, and as for my former roommate. I remember when he was headed home one time and was going to finally come out to his in someways very traditional family. He was a nervous wreck and sweating bullets. As it turned out, things went just fine and as noted above, his boyfriend is with him as they head to a family gathering. Give your loved ones time and a chance to surprise you. I know my late father surprised me with his total acceptance (my mother was never a worry) and I will always treasure that gift he gave me.

Later today, we will be with most of the boyfriend's family for dinner, including my father-in-law, the retired Baptist minister. My youngest daughter and her boyfriend will be joining us. It's a beautiful sunny morning and the prospects are great for a wonderful day.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

More Wednesday Male Beauty

Will Changing Demographis Pull 2012 Out of the Fire for Obama?

On this blog I look frequently at the changing demographics of the USA and the ways in which the Republican Party seems Hell bent to alienate the growing demographic sectors while kissing the vile, bigoted asses of declining sectors of the overall population. Two of the segments of the population most turned off by the GOP rhetoric are younger voters - 30% of whom identify with no religious denomination - and Hispanics who get treated by Republicans as if the were the new equivalent of the Communist threat of the 1050's and 1960's. So how will all of this play out in the 2012 elections? A new study paper entitled “The Path to 270: Demographics Versus Economics in the 2012 Election” by Ruy Teixeira and John Halpin of the Center for American Progress, suggests that with effort, Obama can make these demographic changes work for his re-election. Not surprisingly, Michael Medved, who is always blinded by his own religious extremism disagrees. Here are highlights from a piece in The Daily Beast that looks at the pro-Obama argument:.

The recent debate among pundits has been over the question of whether the path to 270 for Obama runs through Virginia and North Carolina and Colorado (and appeals to “new-economy voters”) or through Ohio and the Rust Belt (and more class-based appeals). It’s a silly debate. The answer is both. An important new paper by two leading electoral demographers on the progressive side of the fence makes the case and is well worth your time (it’s 68 pages), as it’s chockablock with fascinating information about changes in the electorate, both nationwide and in several key states—changes that may well decide the outcome next November.

The paper is “The Path to 270: Demographics Versus Economics in the 2012 Election” by Ruy Teixeira and John Halpin of the Center for American Progress. You can probably figure out from the subtitle that the basic story is that demography favors Obama, while the likely underlying economic picture (i.e., still bleak) favors whoever is running against him.

Demographically, everything is moving Obama’s way. . . . .
The minority share of the electorate was 26 percent in 2008. It’s likely to be 28 percent in 2012. The white working class will continue to shrink. It will make up 3 percent less of the electorate than it did in 2008, dropping from 39 percent to 36 percent. White college graduates will gain 1 percent, from 35 to 36.

These changes obviously favor the incumbent. So now let’s get to vote margins. Obama took 80 percent of the minority population (26 percent of the country) in 2008. Teixeira and Halpin “conservatively” estimate that his share of the minority vote will go down to 75—basically from less enthusiasm, especially from nonblack minority-group voters. But that decline still translates into an ever-so-slightly-higher percentage of the overall vote (21 percent to 20.8 percent), because the voting pool has expanded. So Obama can suffer some decline in margins among minority groups without it being remotely fatal.

So let’s move on to geography. The authors say that Obama’s core states add up to 186 EVs, and the GOP’s, 191. They identify 12 states that are going to decide the winner, in three regions. Obama won all 12 last time, but that seems completely impossible for 2012. The Rust Belt/Midwest states are Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa. The Southwest states are Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada. The “new South” states are Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia.

Throw it all in the wash and what does it mean? It means first of all that if the economy stinks, none of this demography will matter and Obama will lose. But it also means that he is going to have to assemble different coalitions from battleground state to battleground state around a message that can rally segments of all three groups. For all their differences, there is one thing almost all members of those three groups have in common. They’re part of the 99 percent. The authors want to see “a sustained posture of defending the middle class, supporting popular government programs, and calling for a more equitable tax distribution.”

To see Medved's piece, click here.

Consider Making Thanksgiving Extra Queer And Awkward for Bigots

The year end holidays of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years are often difficult for many in the LGBT community. For some, they've been disowned by the Bible thumping relatives and find themselves creating "new families" to replace what they have lost. For others, the holidays are an period of retreating back into the closet - sometimes leaving life partners at home - rather than encounter debates and possible hard feelings with intolerant relatives. Fortunately, the boyfriend and I both have families where we are fully accepted and we can pretty much talk about any issue. Okay, maybe not some of my views on religion, but pretty much anything else. For those not as lucky, GLESEN has a campaign to encourage LGBT individuals to resit the urge to quietly slink back in the closet or to bite their tongues around the dinner table. Living out and proud and speaking out is the most powerful thing that we can do to change hearts and minds. Here are some highlights from GLESEN's web site:

This Thanksgiving, Let Aunt Betty Feel a Little Awkward…

The LGBT community has a ton to be thankful for from the past year. But we also have a long way to go. And believe it or not, putting down that forkful of stuffing for a minute and just talking about yourself (if you can) this Thanksgiving can make a huge difference.

We've all had those Thanksgiving dinners where Aunt Betty decides this is the perfect time to discuss a year's worth of ailments and medical treatments. Well, you know what? If she can talk about her podiatrist, you can talk about your partner.

The fact is, while you're scarfing down mashed potatoes and staying silent while everyone else at the table is freely speaking their minds, you're missing a golden opportunity to make real, honest progress by talking about your life, and the things you care about. It's okay if Aunt Betty feels a little awkward at first, it's important for her to know that someone she loves cares deeply about LGBT equality. And the more we all talk about what's important to us, the less awkward those conversations will become.

Today some LGBT people can't be open about who they are. But if you do feel comfortable, speaking openly and honestly about your life with your loved ones is one of the best ways for all of us to move forward together.

Yes, speaking out can be scary as Hell. But the changes that can ensue are at times amazing. I don't flaunt that I'm gay to friends or clients. But I don't hide it either. This past Sunday the boyfriend and I went to church with is parents and stayed for a pre-Thanksgiving luncheon. When a woman asked if I was my father-in-law's son, I said no, but said I was the son's domestic partner. She took it in stride and didn't flinch. And this was in a Baptist church albeit not a Southern Baptist church.

Is Virginia's No. 1 Political Whore, Eric Cantor Selling Out the GOP?

As I have noted before I CANNOT stand Virginia Congressman Eric Cantor. The man almost makes NOM's self enriching whore, Maggie Gallagher (she's making over $350,000 a year peddling anti-gay hate) look like an honorable charity worker. Cantor is all about promoting himself and to Hell with anyone else. I suspect he'd sell his own mother for not much more than pocket change. Belatedly, some in the GOP establishment are waking up to the reality that Cantor is out for himself first and last. Anyone who has followed cantor's career and behavior should have figured this out long before now, but then the GOP has embraced ignorance and an abhorrence of objective reality, so I guess these folks have been slow learners. Politico looks at the growing concerns within the GOP establishment. Here are some highlights:

The No. 2 House Republican, Rep. Eric Cantor, plans to help the establishment this cycle — and himself. The star fundraiser is throwing his weight behind a powerful new GOP super PAC backed by Speaker John Boehner, the Congressional Leadership Fund, and a second one, the YG Action Fund, launched by former Cantor deputy chief of staff John Murray.

GOP establishment players question whether Cantor is looking out for his own brand at the expense of the broader party effort after tensions have arisen repeatedly between the top two House Republicans during the past year.

“There’s some concern that Eric’s super PAC is a little too Eric-centric and that donors will support him,” said one Republican strategist, who is not linked to either of the groups. “The real fight is because the House is always third. There’s the presidential fundraising, the Senate, which is kind of sexy. Raising money for Illinois 15, for example, is very pedestrian.”

Another Republican lobbyist echoed those fears, noting that the GOP leadership-backed Congressional Leadership Fund is going to be funding get-out-the-vote efforts and other ground game political tactics, while the Cantor-backed group is expected to have a narrower set of goals that will ultimately benefit the Virginia Republican by expanding his fundraising base.

By going out on his own, Cantor is looking to advance his career, and he’s calling on his friends for help, Davis said. “You’re going to have people who give to Eric Cantor that might not give to leadership,” Davis said. “I don’t think that he’s not going to be doing things for the party as well, but this will help brand Eric.”

Those of us in Virginia who have watched Cantor over time understand that the man is an ego maniac who should not be trusted. His unbridled willingness to prostitute of himself to the Christian Right despite his supposed Jewish faith ought to be an alarm bell to the GOP establishment. Eric Cantor worships one God - his own advancement.

Wednesday Morning Male Beauty

A Scary Glimpse into the World of White Supremacists

With the Republican Party increasingly taking political positions - pandering to bigots might be a more apt description - that are anti-immigrant, anti-minority, and anti-government one has to wonder if white supremacy is going mainstream. It certainly seems to be doing so in Virginia under the Republican Party of Virginia even if moronic voters choose to only hear the no tax mantra that is about all that emanates from most GOP candidates. Newsweek has a lengthy piece that focuses on the under cover activities of an aging FBI informant. It's worth a read and it is pretty frightening that the mindset of anti-government violence exposed by the informant's work is going increasingly mainstream in the GOP. This is something that needs to be exposed and stopped. Here are some article highlights:

Matthews’s story, which Newsweek verified through hundreds of FBI documents and several dozen interviews, including conversations with current and former FBI officials, offers a rare glimpse into the murky world of domestic intelligence, and the bureau’s struggles to combat right-wing extremism.

Since President Obama’s election, the number of right-wing extremist groups—a term that covers a broad array of dissidents ranging from white supremacists to antigovernment militias—has mushroomed from 149 to 824, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Alabama-based civil-rights group.

“What we’re seeing today is a resurgence,” says Daryl Johnson, the former senior domestic terrorism analyst for the Department of Homeland Security. In 2009, the department issued a report warning that “right-wing extremism is likely to grow in strength.” And because today’s extremists, unlike their predecessors, have at their disposal online information—bomb-making instructions and terrorist tactics—as well as social-networking tools, the report said, “the consequences of their violence [could be] more severe.”

The report, which was quickly withdrawn after an outcry from conservatives, seemed prescient months later when an 88-year-old gunman opened fire on visitors at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. Last year, nine members of the Hutaree, a Christian militia, were arrested in a plot to kill police officers in Michigan.

“These people are just plain crazy,” Matthews says. “If they don’t like you, they [would] take you out to have you shot. They don’t care. These people think that if they overthrew the government they’d make a better world. Their world would be a total nightmare.”

At the behest of his FBI handlers, Matthews—a wire often down his pants and a pistol in his shoulder holster—traveled across the country with Posey and others, attending dance parties with the Ku Klux Klan, selling weapons at truck stops and gas stations, sitting in church pews with would-be abortion-clinic bombers, and becoming a regular at gun shows and in paramilitary compounds. Extremist leaders were his frequent guests, sometimes staying the night, and hosted him when he traveled from home. “That’s how well trusted I was. We was one big happy family,” Matthews recalls. It turned out that he was good at his job.

Through Posey, Matthews met—and monitored—a who’s who of the militia movement. One of Posey’s cohorts in Arizona, for instance, planned to attack IRS agents with a homemade mortar gun. For months, Matthews traveled the country with this man, sharing motel rooms with him and networking with other right-wing extremists: “I’m out driving around with explosives in my truck, sleeping at nighttime with a .45 in my pillow because this guy I’m with is a total wacko,” Matthews says.

Posey began having dreams, he told Matthews at the time, that God was directing him to lead a movement to overthrow the U.S. government. He revived his plan to rob the Browns Ferry armory in Alabama, and simultaneously ramped up a plot to take out gas and power lines nearby. For his part, Matthews was increasingly eager to intervene, although he knew that as an informant there was little he could do.

Despite hundreds of hours of recorded conversations, as well as video and personal surveillance, the district attorney’s office had chosen to prosecute Posey and his cohorts only for buying and selling the stolen goggles. A spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office in the Northern District of Alabama said there had been insufficient evidence for anything else. . . . In the end, Posey was sentenced to just two years in prison and fined $20,000.

Will Obama Sell Out to the Bishops on Contraception Coverage ?

While Barack Obama - at least temporarily, and I'm not holding my breath as to how long the newly found spine will last - has shockingly shown backbone and said he will stand up to efforts by Republicans to rewrite the automatic spending cuts that will kick in in January 2013, there are fears that he will show no such backbone in standing up to the Catholic bishops who want to gut requirements that health insurance plans cover free contraception. As noted in a post yesterday, the USA has a embarrassingly high teen pregnancy rate compared to any other developed industrialized nation, the reason being, of course, that contraception is not freely available to many women and that failed Christianist backed abstinence only sex education is still too widely used in many areas. A post in Religion Dispatches looks at Obama's likely sell out to the bitter (and generally porcine) old men in dresses. The result, if this happens, will be more unwanted pregnancies and more abortions. Here are some highlights:

If the Administration does the Bishops' bidding, employers could choose to exclude from insurance coverage the free contraception, mandated by HHS guidelines issued under the Affordable Care Act, based on "religious conscience," even if the employer isn't a church.

Kristen Day issued a statement predicting that the administration would indeed decide to expand the exemption, so that even nominally religious employers could refuse to cover contraceptives. Note the confidence, from her statement: The Administration has no intention of forcing Catholic institutions to provide insurance coverage for services that are directly in opposition to their moral beliefs. It does not make any sense from a public policy perspective and it certainly is not smart politically to alienate Catholic voters.

[P]ro-choice advocates worry that Day's confidence (however out of step her views are with rank-and-file Catholics) is well-placed. They say they expect imminent action from the Obama Administration to broaden the exemption beyond churches and other houses of worship. That action could come as early as tomorrow[today].

David Nolan, a spokesperson for Catholics for Choice, told me today, "Obama's definitely listening to the bishops. . . . . The archbishop, Nolan emphasized, does not represent American Catholics, but rather is "the leader of 271 active bishops, and that's who he represents."

Catholics for Choice has launched a campaign urging its supporters to call the White House and express that "Catholics overwhelmingly reject the bishops’ views on contraception" and that it "is discriminatory to deny these women and men access to this important provision simply because the institution where they work or the school they attend is religiously affiliated." The ACLU has launched a similar campaign, arguing that religious freedom "does not mean that we get to impose those beliefs on others."

[I]f Obama does allow them to declare victory, it will set a dangerous precedent for the "religious liberty" claims of certain religious figures to stand in the way of people who do not share their religion, and in this case, even their co-religionists who challenge the leadership's orthodoxy. Like Catholic women over the age of 18 who are just as likely to have used contraception as the general population. All 98% of them.

Rather than kissing the bishops' very broad asses, Obama ought to be looking for ways to have those who were involved in sex abuse cover ups criminally prosecuted.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

More Tuesday Male Beauty

Watching Fox News Worse Than Watching No News At All

While I don't stay on them for extended periods, I do check out the batshitery that passes as news on some of the far rights alleged news outlets. It's a case of knowing what your enemy is doing and being prepared to counter whatever batshit craziness Republicans and Christianists may bring up in conversation should one find themselves stuck talking with them. I generally cringe at some of the craziness that bears little resemblance to actual reality. Now, a new survey conducted as part of Fairleigh Dickinson University's latest Public Mind poll found that individuals who watch Fox News were less informed than individuals who watched no news channels at all. I've always viewed Fox News asa warped propaganda vehicle for the most deranged elements of the GOP and far right and this poll vindicates that evaluation. Here are highlights from Queerty's coverage:

Not only does Fox News do a horrible job covering LGBT stories but, according to a recent poll, watching it actually makes viewers less informed than if they had just sat around watching a red sock tumbling in the dryer.

Fairleigh Dickinson University’s latest PublicMind poll phoned a random sample of 612 New Jersey adults via landlines and cell phones. They then asked them how they get their news and questioned them about about the success of the revolts in Syria and Egypt, the popularity of Republican presidential candidates, the European financial crisis and the political affiliation of Occupy Wall Street protestors.

Researchers found that the best informed respondents watched Sunday morning news programs. Such shows “tend to spend a lot more time on a single issue than other news broadcasts, and… are less likely to degenerate into people shouting at each other.”

They also found that “there is something about watching Fox News that leads people to do worse on these questions than those who don’t watch any news at all.” Fox News respondents were:
•18 points less likely to know that Egyptians overthrew their government.
•6 points less likely to know that Syrians have not yet overthrown their government.
•No more or less likely to name the Republican frontrunner in the GOP presidential race.

You can also pretty much count on Fox News not reporting this recent study either.

Anti-Gay Cowards Lose Again at U. S. Supreme Court

Protect Marriage Washington- an ally of the liars, self-enriching whores and Christofscists at the National Organization for Marriage - took it on the chin yet again in the legal realm as the U.S. Supreme Court more or less kicked Protect marriage Washington to the curb and found its fairy tale of threats and intimidation against anti-gay bigots to be unconvincing. Indeed, only one Justice (Alito) - sided with Protect Marriage Washington and would have blocked the release of the names of anti-gay petition signers. Even Justices Thomas and Scalia were against the Protect Marriage Washington petition. This ought to be a huge wake up call to NOM should it be stupid enough to try to take its losses in campaign finance disclosure law challenges in seven states to the U.S. Supreme Court. Pam's House Blend looks at this major set back for the Christofascists. Here are highlights:

The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected a request by Protect Marriage Washington that the state be blocked from releasing further copies of Referendum 71 petitions while PMW appeals an earlier Federal District Court decision that ordered their release.

The request had been made to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy who apparently referred it to the entire Court. Justice Alito alone would have granted an injunction and Justice Kagan “took no part in the consideration or decision”, making this a 7-1 decision.

“This means that we can once again release these public records,” said Katie Blinn, the state elections co-director.

In 2010 the Supreme Court ruled 8-1 against Protect Marriage Washington in an earlier phase of the same case, Doe v. Reed. At that time, PMW was trying to strike down all public records laws across the country that give the public access to initiative or referendum petitions once those petitions are submitted to the state. In the current phase of the case, PMW is asking for a special exception to keep only R-71 petitions secret.

In the Supreme Court’s 2010 opinion on the first phase of the case, Justice Antonin Scalia made this now-famous statement: There are laws against threats and intimidation; and harsh criticism, short of unlawful action, is the price our people have traditionally been willing to pay for self-governance. Requiring people to stand up in public for their political acts fosters civic courage, without which democracy is doomed.

Undoubtedly with the Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling in mind, Federal District Court Judge Benjamin Settle rejected in his October 17th ruling PMW’s claims that R-71 signatories needed a special exemption from the state’s Public Records Act (PRA). Rejecting PMW’s claims that R-71 signatories would be threatened or harassed if their names became public, he said: Doe has only supplied evidence that hurts rather than helps its case. … Doe asked the Court to grant an exemption to the PRA based on a few experiences of what Doe believes constitutes harassment or threats, the majority of which are only connected to R-71 by speculation. If Doe’s position were correct, then . . . anyone could prevail under such a standard in the context of referenda, which are often heated, regardless of the subject matter.

PMW is affiliated with the anti-gay hate group National Organization for Marriage. Doe v. Reed is just one in a string of NOM-linked cases seeking — unsuccessfully — to use ballot measures and legislative campaigns about domestic partnerships or marriage equality as vehicles for attacking campaign finance disclosure and other open government laws. Recent articles describing related NOM-linked cases can be found here and here.

Why You Shouldn't Donate to the Salvation Army Bell Ringers

I've written about this topic before, but as we head into the holiday season it's worth stressing that some charities such as the Salvation Army are NOT worthy of our donations. Yes, the organization's web site pretends to be accepting regardless of one's sexual orientation, but as my friend, Bilerico Project editor Bil Browning, notes in a recent blog post, actions speak far louder than words. With many, many worthy charities that do not engage in religious based anti-LGBT discrimination, there is no excuse for donating funds to the Salvation Army. I have absolutely no problem walking right on by the donation kettles. The bigger challenge is to not say what I really think. Here are highlights from Bil's post:

As the holidays approach, the Salvation Army bell ringers are out in front of stores dunning shoppers for donations. If you care about gay rights, you'll skip their bucket in favor of a charity that doesn't actively discriminate against the LGBT community.

The Salvation Army has a history of active discrimination against gays and lesbians. While you might think you're helping the hungry and homeless by dropping a few dollars in the bright red buckets, not everyone can share in the donations. Many LGBT people are rejected by the evangelical church charity because they're "sexually impure."

The church claims it holds "a positive view of human sexuality," but then clarifies that "sexual intimacy is understood as a gift of God to be enjoyed within the context of heterosexual marriage." The Salvation Army doesn't believe that gays and lesbians should ever know the intimacy of any loving relationship, instead teaching that "Christians whose sexual orientation is primarily or exclusively same-sex are called upon to embrace celibacy as a way of life."

On its webpage, the group claims that "the services of The Salvation Army are available to all who qualify, without regard to sexual orientation." While the words are nice, their actions speak volumes. They blatantly ignore the position statement and deny LGBT people services unless they renounce their sexuality, end same-sex relationships, or, in some cases, attend services "open to all who confess Christ as Savior and who accept and abide by The Salvation Army's doctrine and discipline." In other words, if you're gay or lesbian, you don't qualify.

The organization also has a record of actively lobbying governments worldwide for anti-gay policies - including an attempt to make consensual gay sex illegal. (Yes, you're paying lobbyists with those donations.)

Since 1986 the Salvation Army has engaged in five major assaults on the LGBT community's civil rights and attempted to carve out exemptions that would allow them to deny gays and lesbians needed services as well as employment.

***When New Zealand considered passage of the Homosexual Law Reform Act in 1986, the Salvation Army collected signatures in an attempt to get the legislation killed. The act decriminalized consensual sex between gay men. The measure passed over the charity's objections.

***In the United Kingdom, the Salvation Army actively pushed passage of an amendment to the Local Government Act. The amendment stated that local authorities "shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality" or "promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship." The law has since been repealed, but it led many schools and colleges to close LGBT student organizations out of fear they'd lose their government funding.

***In 2001, the organization tried to extract a resolution from the White House that they could ignore local non-discrimination laws that protected LGBT people. While the commitment would have applied to all employees, the group claimed that it needed the resolution so it "did not have to ordain sexually active gay ministers and did not have to provide medical benefits to the same-sex partners of employees." After lawmakers and civil rights activists revealed the Salvation Army's active resistance to non-discrimination laws, the White House admitted the charity was seeking the exemptions.

***Also in 2001, the evangelical charity actively lobbied to change how the Bush administration would distribute over $24 billion in grants and tax deductions by urging the White House deny funding to any cities or states that included LGBT non-discrimination laws. Ari Fleischer, White House press secretary, issued a statement saying the administration was denying a "regulation sought by the church to protect the right of taxpayer-funded religious organizations to discriminate against homosexuals."

In 2004, the Salvation Army threatened to close all their soup kitchens in New York City to protest the city's decision to require all vendors and charities doing business with the city to adhere to all civil rights laws. The organization balked at having to treat gay employees equal to straight employees.

I've seen the discrimination the Salvation Army preaches first hand. When a former boyfriend and I were homeless, the Salvation Army insisted we break up before they'd offer assistance. We slept on the street instead and declined to break up as they demanded.

Instead of donating to the Salvation Army, choose a different charity that will help everyone without prejudice. Find a local secular charity - or here are some national organizations that provide help to anyone who needs it.

Amen to Bil's recommendations. Give your hard earned money to non-discrimiatory charities and hopefully in time the Salvation Army will "see the light" or wither away and cease being a cesspool of bigotry.