Saturday, April 27, 2013

More Saturday Male Beauty

Could There Be Some GOP Support For ENDA?

Other than gay marriage, few thing causes the Christofascists to foam at the mouth and proclaim that civilization is ending than the prospect of the enactment of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act which would bar discrimination in the workplace by employers with 15 or more employees.  The Christofascist opposition to ENDA is part and parcel with their overall agenda to keep LGBT Americans inferior under the civil laws so that the Christofascists can then point to such laws as a justification for their anti-gay hatred and bigotry.  Yes, it is sick, but that's the nature of most Christofascists.  Thus, with ENDA reintroduced into both houses of Congress, the question become whether or not some in the GOP - at least those who hope to save the future of the party - will run the risk of Christofascist wrath and vote for ENDA anyway.  A piece in Huffington Post suggests that some in the GOP may be ready to put the party's future ahead of prostituting themselves to the Christofascists and hate groups.  Here are some highlights:

Pointing to the dramatically-changed political climate on marriage equality and LGBT issues, Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley (Ore.) said yesterday that he’s been having talks with key Republicans in the Senate about supporting the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and which he reintroduced in the Senate on Thursday. Those conversations have included GOP Sen. Rob Portman (Ohio), who came out for marriage equality in March, announcing that he'd reversed his position two years after his son came out as gay. 

“But I can tell you I’ve sat down with a number of Republicans who have not come out publicly yet. They’re still mulling over what they’re going to do, but I think there’s a very good chance they’re going to be supporting this bill. Whether that comes in a co-sponsorship or an affirmative vote when we are on the floor is yet to be seen. But I think that our numbers will be increasing both in sponsorship and in a floor vote than where we would have been had we had a floor vote even two years ago or four years ago.”

“In 1996, we came within one vote of getting employment non-discrimination passed,” Merkley continued, referring to the last Senate vote on the issue, in which ENDA was voted down, 49-50. “That was 17 years ago and the world’s changed quite a bit since then. This bill is way overdue.This is about equality under the law. This is about fundamental fairness. How can you possibly be a full member of society if you’re discriminated against in getting a job?”

Merkley acknowledged, however, that today, in a Senate in which the Republican minority uses the filibuster rule to try to stop just about every Democratic bill, 60 votes would be needed to pass ENDA.

I feel with the bipartisan sponsorship out of the gate, I think we can get the 60 votes that will probably be required,” he sad in an interview on my SiriusXM radio program. “We have a good chance of getting it done. I think if we can put out a bipartisan bill out of the Senate, we have a chance in the House to move forward. I think that many of my Republican House colleagues who’ve stood in the way of this type of fight for fairness have realized they’re wrong, on the wrong side of history, on the wrong side of connecting with our younger folks.”

The Oregon Senator is also pressuring Obama:

Merkley also continued to press President Obama to sign an executive order banning workplace discrimination against gay and transgender people among federal contractors. In February Merkley spearheaded a letter to the president, signed by 37 senators, calling on him to sign the order.

“This is something that can be done tomorrow,” Merkley said. “It would be a huge step forward. I’ve been encouraging the president and his team for several years to take such an action.

Why the GOP has to get over Ronald Reagan

The irony is that given the characteristics - religious fanaticism and extremism in general - of the GOP base, Ronald Reagan could not win the for a state house race much less the nomination for the GOP presidential ticket.  Yet the knuckle draggers of the party base continue to feign worship to Reagan and his ideas.  And never mind that the challenges facing America in 2013 are far different from those back in 1980.  But for a party that claims a base and grassroots that is ever more detached from reality, none of these facts matter.  As noted earlier, the American Unity Fund recognizes that the GOP must change to survive, especially in terms of dropping its open anti-gay animus (even Nancy Reagan supports gay marriage according to her daughter).  A column in the Washington Post likewise makes the case that the GOP needs to face reality, get over Reagan and prepare itself for a far different world than over 30 years ago.   The columnists pleas will go unheeded by the spittle flecked members of the party base, but that fact doesn't make her argument less relevant.  Here are excerpts:

The unfailing reverence on the American right for Ronald Reagan is understandable. He was the only exemplar of modern conservatism to win the White House, and unlike liberal icons such as Roosevelt or Johnson or Obama, he presided over an economic boom and became beloved by voters not normally drawn to his party. No wonder that Reagan, long before his death in 2004, attained mythical status in the conservative movement and the Republican Party.

But that myth has become a burden for the modern GOP. It has bound Reagan’s followers on the right to policies and positions that were time-specific. The old guard has become convinced that Reagan’s solutions to the problems of his time were the essence of conservatism — not simply conservative ideas appropriate for that era.

Today’s Republican Party, however, faces legions of voters and candidates who came of age politically after Reagan’s eight years in office. An entire generation recalls him vaguely as a genial, optimistic president who stood up for America in the Cold War.

The Republican Party can remain a Ronald Reagan historical society, or it can try to endure as a force in national politics. But it can’t do both. The choice matters greatly, for there is no guarantee that the GOP will retain its ability to win national elections or that conservatism has a future as a national governing philosophy.

The Republican Party may survive, but only if its politicians, activists, donors and intellectuals rethink modern conservatism and find new issues to defend and new arguments with which to defend them. The public face of the GOP can no longer be aging, ill-tempered Reaganites such as John McCain and Jim DeMint but must give way to a diverse, media-savvy generation that understands the America we actually live in. Only then can the essence of conservatism — the promotion of personal liberty — survive, and the GOP along with it.

Mitt Romney seemed to be campaigning for the 1980 election, with attacks on welfare recipients and promises of greater defense spending and getting government off our backs.

In the months since Romney’s defeat, there has been a great deal of angst about the party’s future.  .   .  .  .  the problems are more serious than simply who is winning primary races. This is not a matter of individually competent candidates but of the GOP’s outdated worldview.

They confuse the Reagan-era expression of conservatism with conservatism itself. In clinging to it three decades later, the Republican Party has become not conservative but reactionary.

When Sen. DeMint (R-S.C.)decamped in January from Congress to a venerated conservative think tank, the Heritage Foundation, it was not to foster intellectual dialogue, innovation or self-examination. It was to be louder and more resolute on principles that voters had rejected in two national elections. Now DeMint fights innovation on immigration reform, same-sex marriage, economic policy and anything else that could propel the party out of the 1980s. He insists that the GOP’s problem is simply bad marketing.

[D]efenders of Republican orthodoxy have fought advocates of innovative conservative governance. On immigration, we see Rubio taking on DeMint, his former mentor. We see Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) endorsing gay marriage while social conservatives threaten to bolt the party

The fate of the party will be decided in the fight between those few who are determined to revive and rejuvenate conservatism and those who see such efforts as “selling out,” between those who would drag the party into the 21st century and those who would pull it back into the older, white, conservative enclaves that don’t care much for modernity. The new vanguard’s effort to redefine its party is the real story of the post-2012 GOP, and the party’s only hope for survival.

America is no longer Reagan’s America, and the world is no longer fighting the Cold War. A successful political party must not just acknowledge new realities but adjust to them, even embrace them.

[I]in this endeavor Republicans should recognize that America will not return to the pre-New Deal era. Limited government, not small government, must be the aim. That requires low taxes, not taxes that never increase. It requires modest regulation, but some regulation. And it acknowledges that the electorate expects government to solve problems, not merely stand aside. 

A modern GOP must also incorporate the national security lessons of the past 30 years, particularly in the wake of the Arab Spring. That means adapting to the new face of jihadism — often radicalized individuals rather than al-Qaeda leaders. It means showing some common sense in intelligence-gathering but understanding that we cannot label every American who goes astray as an enemy combatant. 

I generally do not like the op-ed author, Jennifer Rubin, but in her analysis of what the GOP needs to do, she is on target.  Sadly, the party base will ignore her message and perhaps call her a RINO or leave her death threats.  That's how intellectually low and extremist the GOP base has become.  An I say this as a former GOP activist who held a city committee position for 8 years.

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

Pushing the G.O.P. to Support Gay Rights

For the most part a majority of Republican legislators both at the state and federal level remain little better than tawdry whores when it comes to their pandering to the Christofascists and, to a lesser extent the white supremacists (who are anti-gay as well) in the GOP base.  Polls reflecting the views of a majority of citizens simply do not matter and time and time again these GOP elected officials vote against the party's long term best interests and continue to pander to the religious extremists and ignorance embracing Neanderthals of the party grassroots.  But, as noted before, some in the GOP want this self-prostitution to the Christofascists to end.  And some of these members of the GOP are major players when it comes to fundraising and they have decided to put their money where their mouth is when it comes to fighting for the soul of the GOP.  A piece in the New York Times looks at the American Unity Fund which is seeking to bankroll gay friendly Republicans.  Not surprisingly, hate group leader Tony Perkins is not a happy camper.  Here are some article excerpts:

When the Rhode Island State Senate tallied up the votes against a same-sex marriage bill passed there on Wednesday, something was missing: Republicans. 

All five of the chamber’s Republican lawmakers had voted for the bill, stunning opponents and sending the measure to the governor’s desk and almost-certain victory next week. 

The vote reflected not only the rapidly shifting tides of public opinion on same-sex marriage, but also the influence of a new Republican advocacy group called the American Unity Fund, which spent weeks helping the state’s gay rights organization cultivate Republican senators. 

Now the group is preparing a major push in Washington and in state capitals intended to reshape the Republican Party, by building support for same-sex marriage and bolstering its acceptance among candidates and party activists around the country. 

Founded and financed by some of the country’s leading Republican fund-raisers and strategists, the fund expects to raise up to $7 million this year, officials said. The fund’s organizers include Paul E. Singer and Clifford S. Asness, libertarian-leaning New York investors; David Herro, a prominent Chicago money manager; and Seth Klarman, a billionaire Boston philanthropist and hedge fund manager.

“The concept of gay unions fits very well within our framework of individual liberty and our belief that strong families make for a stronger society,” Mr. Singer said in an e-mail. “The institution of marriage is in very bad shape in this country, yet gay and lesbian couples want very much to be a part of it, to live as committed husbands and wives with their children in traditional family units. This should be what we want as conservatives, for people to cherish and respect this model and to want it for themselves.” 

The fund is one of several advocacy organizations backed by wealthy Republicans and business leaders to shift their party’s stance in recent months on issues like immigration and same-sex marriage. And the new effort traces a rift between Republican elites and grass-roots voters over a handful of hot-button social issues that one group views as handcuffing the party and the other sees as essential to its identity.

[FRC's Tony] Perkins added: “They have money, but they’re small in number. It’s still a tension between those who care about social issues and those who would rather not deal with them.”

Those involved with the American Unity Fund said its initial efforts would be focused on more socially liberal states, like Illinois and Delaware, where a handful of Republican votes could enable advocates to win passage of same-sex marriage legislation in the coming months. The group has already set up shop in Minnesota, where the Legislature may vote as early as next week on a same-sex marriage bill that advocates do not yet have enough votes to pass. 

But the group is also beginning a long-term push in more conservative states like West Virginia and Utah, seeking to build conservative support for nondiscrimination laws that could help pave the way for same-sex marriage in coming years.

Mr. Singer, the fund’s founder, helped bankroll the successful same-sex marriage push in New York two years ago, persuading Republicans in Albany that some of the party’s top donors would be there to help defend them against primary challenges and attacks from same-sex marriage opponents.

Tension over the issue broke into the open at the Republican National Committee meeting in Los Angeles this month, after a task force charged with assessing the party’s failures in the 2012 election recommended that officials rethink their language and approach to young voters, particularly on same-sex marriage. 

A coalition of religious and social conservatives leaders sent a letter to Reince Priebus, the Republican chairman, accusing the party of seeking to marginalize social conservatives who were urging conservative donors to withhold contributions. Party officials ultimately passed a resolution affirming the Republican commitment to heterosexual marriage.  Mr. Perkins was among those who called Mr. Priebus during the debate. 
People like Perkins and hate groups like FRC are going to be the long term death of the GOP.  One can only hope that Singer and his allies are successful in their efforts both to support pro-gay candidates but in also breaking the power of the Christofascists and ignorant elements of the GOP base.

Why Would Anyone With Any Humanity Want to be a Catholic?

The caption of this post raises a question I have asked before:  how can anyone moral and with any decency remain a Catholic given what we now know about the Church hierarchy's world wide conspiracy to protect sexual predators and cover up their crimes.  Oh, and let's not forget how the victims of sex abuse have been treated.  Or women. Or gays.  Indeed, the Church hierarchy is a study in hubris, contempt for others, and moral bankruptcy.  Yet millions in the Catholic laity continue to provide financial support to the criminal enterprise.  It boggles my mind how anyone with decency can remain a Catholic.  An op-ed in Digital Journal looks at the issue and draws conclusions much like my own.  Here are highlights:
The Catholic hierarchy will never be convinced when it comes to gay marriage – or gay anything at all. There’s little or no point in continuing to try. Never the twain shall meet. 
Which prompts the question: Why do people want to have anything to do with the Catholic Church if they’re either gay or simply do not have a problem with homosexuality? This week we can read in the Washington Post the story of a Long Island Catholic kicked out of his parish jobs for marrying his male partner.

Another story to make headlines this week was that of the Colombian Senate, which has voted down a measure that would have made same-sex marriage legal. And the Catholic News Agency reports that: “The president of the Bishops’ Conference of Colombia, Cardinal Ruben Salazar, had issued a plea to lawmakers to consider the Church’s arguments on the question and to protect marriage as being a union of one man and one woman.”

So that’s it, then, is it? Lawmakers should listen to people with a particular superstitious belief – religion is nothing but superstition, after all – and make their laws to suit those beliefs, instead of looking at the needs of human beings with the capacity to love?

This sort of dangerous nonsense is being told to kids in Catholic schools, of course. Every day, they will be made aware of the Pope’s pronouncements on this and that, including one from the previous Pope, Benedict XVI, in 2010.

“In a strongly worded attack,” Digital Journal reported then, quoting the Daily Telegraph, “Benedict XVI insisted that marriage should be founded on the ‘indissoluble’ marriage between a man and a woman.” He was addressing a large crowd at the shrine of Fatima, when he said that same-sex marriage and abortion were among the “most insidious and dangerous challenges that today confront the common good”.

The Catholic Church ought to be on shaky ground when it comes to criticising others for their sexual orientation and preferences. Not only did we have the mammoth scandal over paedophile priests, only recently in the UK, where I am resident, a prominent cardinal admitted inappropriate sexual behaviour, and it prevented him from being able to go to Rome to choose a new Pope

Yes, despite all of this, senior Catholics continue to bleat about how wrong same-sex unions are, how degenerate, how sinful, how wicked.

We can only hope for small mercies when it comes to the poisoning of young minds in Catholic schools: we can only hope that gay kids will see the Catholic hierarchy for what it is and reject notions that their sexuality is evil, reject the idea that they will go to Hell, reject accusations that they are intrinsically evil and immoral. And let us hope that they will get on with their lives and their loves in the way nature designed for them.

I would argue that if one is truly moral and a decent person, then the only moral thing to do is leave the Catholic Church.  If one must have a church to support one's inner needs, then check out the Episcopal Church or the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.  Likewise, if one wants to help the poor and less fortunate, countless options exist outside the Catholic Church.  Just stop bankrolling a criminal enterprises that markets hate and bigotry.

Virginia Judge Allows Anti-Gay Bully and Negligent School Aministrators Off

Yesterday Circuit Court Judge R. Bruce Long dismissed a lawsuit against administrators at Grafton High School in Yorktown who failed to intervene and stop the incessant bullying of Christian Taylor (pictured at left) who eventually committed suicide on May 31, 2010.  Despite repeated complaints to school officials, the bully in this instance was never suspended and no meaningful steps were taken to protect Taylor.  The message to would be bullies and negligent school personnel- especially in reactionary areas like York County, Virginia -  is have at it, bully all you want and look the other way because there will be no consequences.  One can only hope that Taylor's family appeals this travesty.  The reality is that Virginia's anti-bullying policies remain a joke and seem more focused on protecting school personnel and bullies than their victims.  The second reality is that the lives of LGBT individuals and those perceived to be gay have little value to many in the state's judiciary.   Here are highlights from the Virginia Gazette on this sad result:

A judge on Friday dismissed a $10 million wrongful death lawsuit against three current and former Grafton High School administrators that alleged they did not stop the bullying of a student who committed suicide in 2010.

Circuit Judge R. Bruce Long dismissed the lawsuit after a jury determined the student, Christian Taylor, did not kill himself as the result of an irresistible impulse. Under Virginia law if someone who committed suicide is found to be of sound mind at the time when he or she died — or did not die as the result of an irresistible impulse — it is considered an illegal act, which means the lawsuit could not go forward.

Taylor, who was 16 at the time of his death, was found hanging in his bedroom closet on May 31, 2010. His mother, Alise Williams, filed the lawsuit in July 2010, which alleged the school administrators should be held liable for her son's death because they did not adequately stop the bullying of her son.

The ruling comes after four days of testimony from school officials, Taylor's mother and friends, a psychologist, psychiatrist and former school superintendents from New York and Hanover County who testified as experts in school administration.

Attorney O.J. Labell on Friday told the jury the case had come down to a "battle of the experts" between the testimony of psychologist Earl Flora, a witness for Taylor, and psychiatrist Dr. Eileen Ryan, a witness for the school administrators.

On Friday, Ryan testified that she did not think Taylor was suffering from the clinical diagnosis of major depression nor did she think he was of "unsound mind" at the time of his death or that his death was the result of an irresistible impulse.

In short, to Ryan - who I am certain was paid by the school system - and the judge, Taylor was the law breaker, not his bully or the school administrators who allowed his torment to continue.  As one who had two serious suicide attempts in the past myself (each sent me to the hospital), how any supposed mental health care professional can say that one is of a "sound mind" when they take their own life is ludicrous.  One is at best temporarily not of a sound mind and also likely suffering from depression.  Moreover, many suicides appear in good moods shortly before they act because they have finally decided to act and have a sense that their pain is about to be over.  Again, I've been there.  In my opinion, I pity anyone receiving mental health care treatment  from Ms. Ryan. They should find a new health care provider immediately, in my opinion.

I have said many times before that I would not recommend that any LGBT consider moving to Virginia.   That still holds true.  I give the same advice to any progressive, modern business seeking to relocate.  If Virginia is on your list, you need to seriously reconsider.  Virginia could be a wonderful state, but that will never happen until the power of the Christofascists and the Republican Party of Virginia is broken.  Until that happens ignorance and bigotry will remain hallmarks of the state.

Friday, April 26, 2013

More Friday Male Beauty

Washington State GOP Bill Would Allow Anti-Gay Discrimination, Grants Christofascists Special Rights

I feel like a broken record at times, but no one in America demands special rights more than the Christofascists.  They claim that gays want special rights, but time and time again its the Christofascists - aided by their puppets in the GOP - who want their rights to trump the rights of others and want the special right to pick and choose what laws they will obey.  At its core, this mindset reflects an intense selfishness and a contempt for others - things not at all compatible with the true Gospel message.  But nowadays, the least truly Christian folks you will find are the self-congratulatory modern day Pharisees of the Christian Right and hate groups that parade under the smoke screen of "family values."  In Washington State the Christofascists are showing their hand by pushing political whores in the GOP (bill sponsor GOP State Senator Sharon Brown is pictured above) to introduce legislation that would give Christofascists to openly discriminate against gays.  The majority of America is embracing modernity and the 21st century while the Christofascists and GOP are racing to try to return to the Middle Ages.  Think Progress has an article on the ugly GOP backed legislation in Washington.  One can only wonder when these foul people will start demanding that they also be granted special rights expanded so that can also discriminate against blacks, Jews, non-Christians, etc.  It's all about them and no one else matters.  Here are article highlights:

Republicans in Washington state have proposed a bill that would allow businesses to openly discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation if they want to do so because of their religious beliefs. SB 5927 carves out a specific exception to the state’s nondiscrimination law that says only federal protections — which don’t include sexual orientation — apply when a person’s religious belief is “burdened”:
Nothing in this section may burden a person or religious organization’s freedom of religion including, but not limited to, the right of an individual or entity to deny services if providing those goods or services would be contrary to the individual’s or entity owner’s sincerely held religious beliefs, philosophical beliefs, or matters of conscience. This subsection does not apply to the denial of services to individuals recognized as a protected class under federal law applicable to the state as of the effective date of this section.
Unsurprisingly, the bill’s sponsor is state Sen. Sharon Brown (R), whose district is home to Arlene’s Flowers, a business facing two lawsuits because it refused to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding. Conservatives have claimed that the nondiscrimination protections Arelene’s violated are tantamount to Nazi homofascism, a sentiment Brown seemed to echo by claiming, “There’s a glaring lack of protection for religion in state law.”

Passage of such a law would be truly the beginning of a slippery slope - a favorite GOP phrase - when one remembers that the Bible has been used to justify all kings of horrors, including slavery, segregation and the murder of non-Christians.  This bill needs to be defeated and its sponsor defeated in the next election cycle.

Bill To Ban "Ex-Gay" Reparative Therapy Introduced In New York Senate

First it was California (where the Christofascists are challenging the now enacted law  law), then it was New Jersey where legislation is pending, and now New York State where a bill has been introduced in the New York Senate that would shut down the use of fraudulent "ex-gay" therapy on minors.  No doubt the Christofascists and charlatans of the "ex-gay" ministries will be screeching and shrieking that there "religious liberty" is being threatened.   But the truth is that laws exist that bar parents from inflicting harm on their children based on false religious beliefs - e.g., court ordered blood transfusion over parental objections, etc.  "Ex-gay" or conversion or reparative therapy id no different and needs to be banned.  Here are highlights from a piece in Huffington Post:

 The fight against a controversial therapy that purports to "cure" gay people of their gayness and make them straight has come to New York.

The therapy has been around for decades, but has come under increased scrutiny in the last few years as gay rights supporters have argued it doesn't work and may cause great harm to those who undergo it. Over the past several years, the entire mainstream mental health community has renounced it, and politicians in several states have taken steps to restrict it.

New York's legislation, which will be introduced on Friday, is modeled after a new California law that bans licensed therapists from using the practice, sometimes called conversion therapy or sexual orientation change efforts, on minors. California's bill, the first of its kind, was signed into law last fall and is currently on hold while a federal appeals court considers two lawsuits alleging an unconstitutional violation of free speech and parental rights. 

Despite the unresolved legal challenge, two New York state lawmakers from New York City, Sen. Michael Gianaris and Sen. Deborah Glick, both progressive Democrats, said the time was right to propose a ban.

Glick's interest in the ban grew out of her work with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth, who make up more than 40 percent of the young homeless population in America. "You start to hear the same stories over and over again," she told The Huffington Post on Thursday. "'They tried to make me straight and they took me to ...,' or, 'I couldn't become -- and so they threw me out,'" she continued, listing some of the issues she has encountered in her work with this population.

Opponents of the California law have argued that it attacks free speech, unconstitutionally regulates what therapists and patients can say to each other, and infringes on parents' authority to seek whatever type of professional help they choose for their children. 

"If you really want to educate the public about the risks of these treatments, the fact that there are states that have outlawed these treatments should be a chilling fact," said Dr. Jack Drescher, a New York City based psychiatrist known for his work on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Drescher is a member of the the American Psychiatric Association, a professional group that has joined other major professional health associations in America in concluding that these therapy efforts have never been proven to work and may harm young patients.

"Its symbolic of the overall debate, and what underlies the belief of those who support this kind of therapy is that there is something wrong with being gay or lesbian," Gianaris said on Thursday. Gianaris said he was moved to introduce the legislation after he read about the bill in California, and saw an opportunity for New York to take the lead.

"We're in the middle of a great cultural battle over sexual orientation right now," Gianaris continued. "And it's important that as we're securing victories in the marriage fights that we don't let attacks on our gay and lesbian youth occur in other forms." 

Children are not the property of parents and just because parents suffer from religious based delusions and prejudices should not mean that they are free to subject their children to what in my view amounts to criminal child abuse.   Many fraudulent and deceptive practices are outlawed and conversion therapy needs to be added to that list of prohibited practices.  The shrieks of the Christofascists is really based on their knowledge that once the public becomes convinced that sexual orient cannot be changed as claimed, then the Christofascists will have lost their war against LGBT individuals.

Friday Morning Male Beauty

Five Reasons Republicans Think It Should Be Legal To Fire Someone For Being Gay

Having lost my job for being gay, the need for passage of the Employment Non-discrimination Act is an issue I am passionate about.  Yet the Christofascists and their political whores in the Republican Party remain steadfastly against any laws that would protect gays for discrimination.  It is all part of the Christofascists' agenda that gays should forever be punished for refusing to live their lives in accordance with the hate and fear - and ignorance - based beliefs that help the Christofascists hang on to their house of cards "world view."  With ENDA reintroduced in Congress, the GOP is once again claiming that ENDA is not needed.   Think Progress has compiled five (5) reasons that gays need no employment non-discrimination protections.  Here are highlights (the first reason underscores why the Christofascists are desperate to maintain the "ex-gay" myth):

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act would protect LGBT Americans from discrimination in the workplace, just like women and racial minorities. This is particularly vital for transgender Americans, 90 percent of whom have experienced workplace discrimination.

While most Americans support the measure — which has been introduced in every Congress since 1994 — opponents have come up with creative excuses to distract from their homophobia. Here are the top five reasons Republicans offered ThinkProgress to explain why they think it should be legal to fire people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity:
1. Being LGBT is a choice. Rep. James Lankford (R-OK), the fifth-ranking House Republican, explained that he opposes workplace discrimination protections for LGBT people because being gay is “a choice issue.”
2. LGBT people aren’t fired for their orientation in the US. Former Rep. Allen West (R-FL) dismissed the idea of a law making it illegal to fire someone for being gay because, as he explained, it’s not “a big issue” and “that don’t happen out here in the United States of America.”
3. LGBT people “already” have legal protections. Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-TX) argued that, contrary to reality, a law making it illegal to discriminate against gay employees is “already on the books.” Marchant, incidentally, voted against that very bill when ENDA came up for a vote in 2007.

4. It could allow LGBT people to sue for discrimination. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) refused to support legislation that would make it illegal to fire someone for being gay because it would give LGBT workers “legal rights” that could “spawn a lot of litigation” and “would make it more difficult for employers to feel comfortable.”

5. Anti-LGBT discrimination is not a federal issue. Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) argued that racial minorities deserved federal discrimination protections, but not LGBT workers. “Should [it] be a federal crime, specific to federal law? No,” said Lee.
 The Think Progress piece has video clips of these disingenuous and dishonest statements.  

George W. Bush’s Legacy Keeps Getting Worse

With the opening of his presidential library, George W. Bush, a/k/a the Chimperator, is trying to enhance his legacy and somehow drag his sorry ass from the rankings of one of the worse presidents in American history.  But the man remains delusional and has even said he wants his brother Jeb Bush to run for president, a proposal that his mother squashed immediately recognizing that W has poisoned the Bush name for years to come.  Much of the nations continuing fiscal woes track back directly to the feckless Chimperator and his evil partner in war crimes, Dick Cheney.  A piece in the Washington Post reminds us of what George W. and the Republicans brought to America.  Here are highlights:

[A]nyone tempted to get sentimental should remember the actual record of the man who called himself The Decider. Begin with the indelible stain that one of his worst decisions left on our country’s honor: torture.

Hiding behind the euphemism “enhanced interrogation techniques,” Bush made torture official U.S. policy. Just about every objective observer has agreed with this stark conclusion. The most recent assessment came this month in a 576-page report from a task force of the bipartisan Constitution Project, which stated that “it is indisputable that the United States engaged in the practice of torture.”

We knew about the torture before Bush left office  .   .   .   .  the Constitution Project task force — which included such figures as Asa Hutchinson, who served in high-ranking posts in the Bush administration, and William Sessions, who was FBI director under three presidents — concluded that other forms of torture were used “in many instances” in a manner that was “directly counter to values of the Constitution and our nation.”   .   .   . It may be years before all the facts are known. But the decision to commit torture looks ever more shameful with the passage of time.

Bush’s decision to invade and conquer Iraq also looks, in hindsight, like an even bigger strategic error. Saddam Hussein’s purported weapons of mass destruction still have yet to be found; nearly 5,000 Americans and untold Iraqis sacrificed their lives to eliminate a threat that did not exist.
We knew this, of course, when Obama became president. It’s one of the main reasons he was elected. We knew, too, that Bush’s decision to turn to Iraq diverted focus and resources from Afghanistan.

Bush didn’t pay for his wars. The bills he racked up for military adventures, prescription-drug benefits, the bank bailout and other impulse purchases helped create the fiscal and financial crises he bequeathed to Obama. His profligacy also robbed the Republican Party establishment of small-government credibility, thus helping give birth to the tea party movement. Thanks a lot for that.

As I’ve written before, Bush did an enormous amount of good by making it possible for AIDS sufferers in Africa to receive antiretroviral drug therapy. This literally saved millions of lives and should weigh heavily on one side of the scale when we assess The Decider’s presidency. But the pile on the other side just keeps getting bigger.

Bush and Cheney with the rubber stamp of the GOP controlled Congress did immense damage to America and cost thousands of young American lives in the quest to satiate their hubris.  This is something that must continue to be underscored over and over again.


Catholic Bishops Threaten to Block Immigration Reform if Gays Included

In my view, those who believed that Pope Francis might usher in a new climate in the Roman Catholic Church are either delusional or simply have their head up their ass.  In terms of the Church hierarchy's anti-gay jihad, nothing has changed.  And other than nice words, nothing has changed on the sexual abuse cover ups either.  It is all business as usual in terms of gay bashing and no punishment for the members of the hierarchy who aided and abetted child rapists.  Consistent with this continued moral bankruptcy, the U. S. Catholic bishops have renewed their opposition to comprehensive immigration reform if bi-national same sex couples are included in the legislation.  Of course, the biggest question the bishops' latest tantrum raises is that of why anyone decent with a shred of morality pays them an attention at all. A piece in AmericaBlog looks at this latest example of Catholic Church anti-gay animus.  Here are highlights:

The Catholic church, in its traditional move when it doesn’t get its way at the ballot box, is taking human shields in order to force its minority religious view on 100% of the American people.  This time the Catholic leaders, infamous for their ongoing aiding and abetting of child-rape in their own church, have taken 11 million undocumented Latinos hostage in yet another of their ongoing efforts to gay-bash.

The Catholic bishops, who have no business telling non-Catholic Christians like myself how to live our lives, let alone the rest of non-Catholic America, sent yet another anti-gay nastygram to President Obama, demanding he exclude gay bi-national couples from any immigration reform package, or they’ll torpedo the legislation.

The Catholic bishops threw a similar hissy fit over immigration reform in February.  Oddly, the bishops have yet to throw a hissy fit about their own colleagues aiding and abetting pedophilia.  It’s only the gays’ presumed-pedophilia that worries the Catholic bishops – the real thing, not so much.

The Catholics elders are known from their human-shield-taking.  They’ve taken children hostage in Illinois, Massachusetts and Washington, DC as part of their church’s ongoing political vendetta against the gays.  And the lead Catholic bishop in France recently seemed to justify anti-gay hate crimes.  So if they’re willing to harm children, and tolerate a few hate crimes, in order to get their way, they’re certainly willing to take a swipe at Latinos too.  (Perhaps it’s time Latinos learned that the Catholic church is not their friend – and perhaps this latest move will finally prove it.)

As for the Catholic threat to torpedo immigration reform lest the gays be free – let them try.  The only reason immigration reform is moving at all is because the Republican party is terrified that its lost the Latino vote forever, while Latinos are an ever-growing percentage of Americans.  That, along with traditional GOP bashing of gays, women, and African-Americans, among other people and causes, has so turned off young voters that it’s not clear, other than the South and very old white men, just who is willing to vote for a Republican anytime between now and the next century.

So let the Catholic church just try to torpedo the GOP’s big comeback with Latinos.  That should be fun to watch.

I continue to believe that a government investigation of the Catholic Church is needed in America.  It is the only way the truth will ever come out and the only way that the nasty old men in dresses will ever be held accountable for their crimes against children and youths.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Deported For Being Too Handsome

This blog often focuses on the batshit craziness of the Christofascists.  But the godly Bible beaters do not have a monopoly on craziness or prudishness (even as they flock to online porn sites in secret, especially in the Bible Belt).  Recent actions by the government of Saudi Arabia are a case in point.  Reportedly, three men  - including Omar Borkan Al Gala pictured above and below - have been deported from the country.  Their offense?  Being too handsome and comely and, thus, an improper temptation for the sexually oppressed Saudi women.  Dlisted looks at the insanity which is what one would more likely expect from the bitches at Concerned Women for America, the shrews at American Family Association or One Million Bitches Moms.  Here are highlights:

Omar Borkan Al Gala, one of the hot pieces who was deported from Saudi Arabia for being too sexy for his country.

Saudi Arabia allegedly kicked Omar out of their country and sent him back to Abu Dhabi.  .   .   .   .   A few weeks ago, it was reported that the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vices in Saudi Arabia deported three dudes from the UAE for being "too handsome," because they were afraid that "female visitors would fall for them."

The dudes were in town for the annual Janadriyah Festival and they were there as delegates for a stand promoting the UAE. Asiantown (via Jezebel) says that one of those alluring pieces of pussy flypaper is model, actor, poet, photographer Omar Borkan Al Gala (more like, Omar Porkme, right?). Omar hasn't confirmed or denied that he was deported, but it's pretty obvious that he was. I mean.

And now Abu Dhabi will be bombarded with millions of horny hos who just can't control themselves  . . . .

Perhaps the story is a joke, but it sounds just a little too crazy, which means is likely true given the craziness of the fundamentalist Muslims who are pretty much the same page as the Christofascists when it comes to all things sexual.  Both of these groups need serious mental health care intervention in my view.

Thursday Morning Male Beauty

AFA's Bryan Fischer: Gays Should Face Job Discrimination

It is amazing how the "godly Christian" crowd do all in their power to stigmatize gays and make our lies Hell, yet disclaim any responsibility for gay teen suicides or, worse yet, blame our sexual orientation for our plight rather than recognize the soul killing damage the non-stop campaign of hater takes upon its targets.  And the Christofascists just keep piling on with the anti-gay  hatred.  A case in point: AFA's Bryan Fischer who is applauding the firing of a lesbian Catholic school teacher  who was "outed" when her mother's obituary mentioned her partner.  Right Wing Watch looks at the hate and bigotry flowing from AFA which is rightly a registered hate group:

As part of Bryan Fischer’s attempts to “reclaim the ‘D’ word” — discrimination — the American Family Association spokesman is praising a Catholic school in Ohio which fired a teacher after she named her partner in her mother’s obituary.

“The school discriminated against this teacher, yes they absolutely did and they should have,” Fischer said, “they were absolutely right to do it…. It is right to discriminate against people who engage in aberrant sexual behavior, we should discriminate against people like that.”

Fischer maintained that the school was right to discriminate against her “immoral sexual behavior” in the same way “we discriminate against shoplifters.”

As I have said before, it is far past time that the public treat far right Christians with any deference or respect.  They are mean, nasty and despicable individuals.

Today's GOP: the Politics of Paranoia

If one looks at many of the policies advocated by today's Republican Party, one underlying thread motivates them: fear and paranoia.  Fear and paranoia towards non-whites, fear and paranoia towards those with different religious beliefs (or no belief), fear and paranoia towards the poor who are depicted as shiftless and deserving of their misfortunes, and of course fear and paranoia towards gays who do not love the same way.  The positions seem to always be based on who the GOP base is against rather than for positive, innovative solutions to modern day problems and issues.  Retreating back to a mythical past when only whites enjoyed full citizenship isn't a solution.  Yet the GOP persists in in campaign to play upon the ugliest inclinations of the party base.  A column in the New York Times looks at the poisonous phenomenon.  Here are some highlights:

Out-of-control federal government. An immediate and immense Muslim threat. Gun grabbing, national registries and eventual mass confiscations. Tyranny. The politics of the political right have become the politics of paranoia. 

According to too many of them, the country is collapsing, and the government is not to be trusted. The circle of safety is contracting. You must arm yourselves to defend your own. 

It is no wonder, then, that in this environment, a Washington Post/Pew Research Center poll released Wednesday found that while 47 percent of Americans were angry or disappointed that new gun control legislation in the Senate (including the enormously popular background-checks provision) had failed to pass, 39 percent were very happy or relieved. Fifty-one percent of Republicans had those sentiments, compared with 22 percent of Democrats.

“The growing view that the federal government threatens personal rights and freedoms has been led by conservative Republicans. Currently 76 percent of conservative Republicans say that the federal government threatens their personal rights and freedoms and 54 percent describe the government as a ‘major’ threat.” 

The report continued:  “By comparison, there has been little change in opinions among Democrats; 38 percent say the government poses a threat to personal rights and freedoms and just 16 percent view it as a major threat.” 

Last month, Glenn Beck described the makeup of what he believed was the coming “New World Order.” It did not bode well for America.  “I think you might even have some Nazi influence in the United States, unfortunately, because we’ve had it before. And it will happen there and there, I think,” Beck said, placing dots over the Northwest and the Northeast on a map.

Discussing the Muslim Brotherhood’s “influence,” Beck said:  “I think there’s going to be a slight influence in South America and Mexico and in the United States. I think it is going to be more significant than anyone imagines, and I believe that you are also then going to be co-ruled by a thug-ocracy of this part of the world. 

And Beck delivered this prattle in a suit jacket, not a straitjacket.  This is the constant stream of desperate drivel that has fostered a climate of fear on the far right that makes common-sense consensus nearly impossible. 

As a former GOP activist, I now believe at times that those who remain in the GOP are mentally ill and that everyone sane has fled the asylum.  There really is little else that explains the severe lunacy.

The Dangers of Waiving Constitutional Rights Due to Prejudice

In general, George Will has increasingly become one of the angry old white men of the Republican Party.  But on occasion he still nails it and comes across with a logical and common sense op-ed that counters some of the ugliest inclinations of the GOP and is fellow conservatives.  One such column appears in the Washington Post in which Will argues against the waiving of constitutional rights favored by many of the anti-Muslim, foaming at the mouth members of the GOP and its racist and religious extremist base.  In doing so, he looks at one of America's less shining moments of the past: the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II which ultimately was fueled by plain racial prejudice.  Here are highlights which should be read by those seeking to waive constitutional rights in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings:

Two of the three most infamous Supreme Court decisions were erased by events. The Civil War and postwar constitutional amendments effectively overturned Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857), which held that blacks could never have rights that whites must respect. Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), which upheld legally enforced segregation, was undone by court decisions and legislation.

The third, Korematsu v. United States (1944), which affirmed the president’s wartime power to sweep Americans of disfavored racial groups into concentration camps, elicited a 1988 congressional apology. Now Peter Irons, founder of the Earl Warren Bill of Rights Project at the University of California at San Diego, is campaigning for a Supreme Court “repudiation” of the Korematsu decision and other Japanese internment rulings. Such repudiation, if it occurred, would be unprecedented.

On Feb. 19, 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt authorized the military to “prescribe military areas . . . from which any or all persons may be excluded.” So some 110,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry, two-thirds of them born here, were sent to camps in desolate Western locations. Supposedly, this was a precaution against espionage and sabotage. Actually, it rested entirely on the racial animus of Gen. John DeWitt, head of the Western Defense Command.

Using government records, Irons has demonstrated that because senior officials, including Solicitor General Charles Fahy, committed “numerous and knowing acts of governmental misconduct,” the Supreme Court based its decision on “records and arguments that were fabricated and fraudulent.” Officials altered and destroyed evidence that would have revealed the racist motives for the internments.  

Also kept from the court was a report, prepared for the Chief of Naval Operations and made available to DeWitt, estimating potentially disloyal Japanese as just 3 percent of the Japanese American population and declaring that these were “already fairly well known to naval intelligence” and could be quickly apprehended, if necessary. The suppressed report’s conclusion: “The entire Japanese problem has been magnified out of its true proportion, largely because of the physical characteristics of the people (and) should be handled on the basis of the individual. . . and not on a racial basis.”

The Korematsu decision reflected perennial dangers: panic and excessive deference, judicial and other, to presidents or others who would suspend constitutional protections in the name of wartime exigencies.

It is less important that the decision be repudiated than that it be remembered. Especially by those currently clamoring, since Boston, for a U.S. citizen — arrested in America and concerning whom there is no evidence of a connection with al-Qaeda, the Taliban or other terror network — to be detained by the military as an “enemy combatant.” The Korematsu case is a reminder that waiving constitutional rights is rarely necessary and rarely ends well.

Very well said.  Not that logic and reason or even past mistakes mean anything to the Christofascist/Tea Party elements of the GOP.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

More Wednesday Male Beauty

GOP and Tea Party Heads Explode at Reality that the Tsarnaevs Are White

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One need not follow Christofascist, Tea Party and even GOP sites to figure out that racism is a strong theme that underlies much of the anti-immigrant, anti-minority and, of course, anti-black GOP agenda.  Stated another way, anyone non-white and perceived as non-Christian is suspect to these people (and many other whites) as underscored by the Washington Post chart set out above.   What often goes unstated in these views - and those towards Muslims in particular - is the assumption that all Muslims are non-white.  Enter the Tsarnaev brothers, both of whom are Caucasian.  That's right, they are white.  And this reality is driving the right wingers berserk.  A piece in The Daily Beast looks at the phenomenon.  Here are excerpts:

The day after last week’s attack in Boston, David Sirota wrote a column for Salon entitled “Let’s Hope the Boston Marathon Bomber Is a White American,” arguing that this would limit the resulting crackdown on civil liberties. At first, conservatives were appalled. Then, when police fingered the Tsarnaev brothers, they were triumphant.

But the bombers were white Americans. The Tsarnaev brothers had lived in the United States for more than a decade. Dzhokhar was a U.S. citizen. Tamerlan was a legal permanent resident in the process of applying for citizenship. And as countless commentators have noted, the Tsarnaevs hail from the Caucasus, and are therefore, literally, “Caucasian.” You can’t get whiter than that.

So why did conservatives mock Sirota for being wrong? Because in public conversation in America today, “Islam” is a racial term. Being Muslim doesn’t just mean not being Christian or Jewish. It means not being white.
Think about American history and you can understand why. For centuries, Americans were legally segregated by race. Thus, when newcomers from the Middle East came to our shores, Americans had to decide which side of the line they were on. And in the struggle to be classified as white, Middle Eastern Christians had an advantage: Jesus. In the 1915 case Dow v. United States, a Syrian Christian successfully argued that he was white because Jesus, the original Middle Eastern Christian, was too.

Today, Americans still often link Islam and dark skin. What’s changed is which category we consider more dangerous. For much of American history, the problem with being Muslim was that you weren’t considered white. Since 9/11, by contrast, one of the problems with not being considered white is that you might be mistaken for Muslim. Thus, four days after the Twin Towers fell, Balbir Singh Sodhi, a Sikh gas-station attendant, was gunned down in Mesa, Arizona, by an assailant who had boasted of wanting to kill “ragheads.” Last December, a Hindu American named Sunando Sen was pushed into an oncoming subway train by a woman who explained, “I hate Hindus and Muslims ever since 2001.” Sodhi and Sen, needless to say, weren’t Muslim. They just looked Muslim because they had dark skin.
Even the anti-Muslim epithets that have flourished since 9/11—for instance, “sand n----r”—have a racial connotation. And there’s evidence that Barack Obama’s dark skin is one (though not the only) reason so many Americans still think he’s a Muslim.

You can also glimpse this conflation of religion and race in the demand, which surfaces after every terrorist attack, to single out Muslims for special scrutiny at airports and the like. Often, the politicians and pundits most eager to profile Muslims are the same folks who in the 1980s and 1990s defended the “racial profiling” of blacks.

At base, the reason it’s so hard for people to accept that the Tsarnaevs are white is because, since America’s founding, being white has meant, both culturally and legally, being “one of us.” And since 9/11, in particular, being Muslim has meant the opposite. As a light-skinned Muslim, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev straddles that divide. But he straddles it in other ways, too. He was a pothead, a devotee of hip-hop, a lifeguard, a high-school wrestler, an aspiring dentist. And yet he became, it appears, a murderer on behalf of a fanatical species of Islam. He’s a type that has reappeared again and again in our history, from every faith and in every shade: an American at war with America, both intimately familiar and frighteningly alien at the same time.

Anti-Muslim bigotry isn't just about religious based bigotry.  It has a very pronounced and insidious strain of racism as well.  Would that some of these assholes knew some of my hardworking and decent Muslim clients.   These white bigots and racist are unable to see the common humanity of others if they look different or love differently than they themselves.  It sicken mes.

ENDA to be Re-introduced Tomorrow

In addition to marriage rights, one of the most pressing civil rights needs of LGBT Americans in a majority of the states - Virginia included - is employment non-discrimination protections.  In recognition of this pressing need, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act ("ENDA") will be re-introduced in the House of Representatives and the U. S. Senate tomorrow.   While polls indicate that a majority of Americans support such employment non-discrimination protections, they are anathema to the Christofascists and their political puppets in the Republican Party.  With he introduction of ENDA it may provide an opportunity to call the bluff of the Christofascists who claim they are only seeking to "protect marriage" even though their agenda aims at stigmatizing gays on all fronts. The Washington Blade sums up this situation well in its coverage,  Here are some highlights:

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act is set to be introduced in both chambers of Congress on Thursday, according to multiple sources, but without major changes that were previously under consideration.

The bill will be reintroduced in the House by Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), the most senior openly gay member of the chamber, who’s taking over the legislation now that former Rep. Barney Frank has retired. In the Senate, the legislation will be reintroduced by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.). The lawmakers’ offices confirmed they would introduce ENDA concurrently on Thursday.

The Senate version of the bill will have five original sponsors: Merkley and lesbian Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) will be two Democrats, Sens. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) will be two Republicans and Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chair Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) will round out the quintet.

The number of original co-sponsors in the House remains to be seen.  .   .   .   .  Tico Almeida, president of Freedom to Work, said his organization will push for a committee vote and movement on the Senate floor for ENDA “as soon as possible.”   “ENDA had a recent committee hearing where not a single Republican senator bothered to show up to express any opposition or even ask questions about the drafting of the bill, so I think Chairman Harkin should schedule the committee vote on ENDA as soon as possible in May or June,” Almeida said. “It would be great to have ENDA teed up to go to the Senate floor in July.”

Almeida said the time period immediately after Supreme Court decisions are expected on California’s Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act would make July an excellent opportunity for a floor vote on ENDA, which would ban anti-LGBT employment discrimination.

“After the Supreme Court rules in the Windsor marriage case, many right-wingers are going to denounce marriage equality for same-sex couples, but claim that they don’t believe in discrimination against LGBT Americans,” Almeida said. “That’s the time when we should call some of those bluffs by putting ENDA on the Senate floor and letting all 100 senators go on the record about whether hardworking Americans should get fired just because of who they are or who they love.”

As ENDA advances, many eyes will be on the U.S. senators who’ve recently come out for marriage equality, but haven’t yet articulated a position on the legislation.

Those who’ve come to support marriage equality, but didn’t co-sponsor ENDA in the previous Congress are Sens. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), John Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) — and most notably Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio). Also in question among the U.S. senators who support marriage equality is Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), who’s new to Congress.   Eyes also will be Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who voted for “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal and recently said she’s “evolving” on the issue of marriage equality.

As many readers know, after I came out I was forced from my former law firm when it merged with another law firm.  These homophobes believed that a gay partner would be :offensive to the sensibilities of their conservative clients."  Since neither Virginia or federal law provided me with any protections, I was basically totally screwed.  The irony is that since starting my own firm, my client base of Hindu and Muslim clients has grown exponentially.   Does this indicate that Christofascists are more bigoted and anti-gay than average Hindus and Muslims?

Former Ex-Gay Spokesman Issues Formal Apology

 In addition to the gay marriage defeats in France and Rhode Island, the Christofascists have another reason to be depressed: John Paulk, perhaps the most high profile "ex-gay" has issued a formal apology for his "ex-gay" activities and has admitted that despite previous claims, his sexual orientation never changed as advertised.  Box Turtle Bulletin looks at Paulk's more detailed apology in follow up to his initial recantation last week.  Here are highlights:

John Paulk, the former ex-gay leader who last week recanted his earlier beliefs in the ex-gay movement’s message that change in sexual orientation was both possible and necessary, has followed up with a more full, formal apology for the damage those messages caused:

For the better part of ten years, I was an advocate and spokesman for what’s known as the “ex-gay movement,” where we declared that sexual orientation could be changed through a close-knit relationship with God, intensive therapy and strong determination. At the time, I truly believed that it would happen. And while many things in my life did change as a Christian, my sexual orientation did not.

 So in 2003, I left the public ministry and gave up my role as a spokesman for the “ex-gay movement.” I began a new journey. In the decade since, my beliefs have changed. Today, I do not consider myself “ex-gay” and I no longer support or promote the movement. Please allow me to be clear: I do not believe that reparative therapy changes sexual orientation; in fact, it does great harm to many people.
I know that countless people were harmed by things I said and did in the past, Parents, families, and their loved ones were negatively impacted by the notion of reparative therapy and the message of change. I am truly, truly sorry for the pain I have caused.

From the bottom of my heart I wish I could take back my words and actions that caused anger, depression, guilt and hopelessness. In their place I want to extend love, hope, tenderness, joy and the truth that gay people are loved by God.
Finally, I know there are still accounts of my “ex-gay” testimony out there being publicized by various groups, including two books that I wrote about my journey. I don’t get any royalties from these publications, and haven’t since I left the ministry nearly ten years ago. I discourage anyone from purchasing and selling these books or promoting my “ex-gay” story because they do not reflect who I am now or what I believe today. 

John Paulk
To understand the significance of this statement, it’s important to review how deeply embedded Paulk had been, not just in the ex-gay movement in particular, but as an important spokesman for anti-gay activists broadly. Paulk first became active in the early 1990s when he appeared in the infamous 1992 video, The Gay Agenda, which was produced by the Family Research Council. .   .  .  .  In 1993, Paulk appeared in another video, Gay Rights Special Rights, which proved highly influential as it made the rounds on Capitol Hill during the debates about gays in the military which eventually led to the  ”Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” ban on gays serving openly.

By the late 1990s, Paulk became a principle spokesman for Focus On the Family on anti-gay issues. He headed Focus’s Gender and Homosexuality division and was elected to two terms as chairman of the most prominent ex-gay organization, Exodus International. In 1998, he helped to found Love Won Out, a traveling ex-gay roadshow and infomercial conducted jointly with Exodus International, which was staged in a half a dozen cities across North American each year for the next thirteen years. That same year, he and his ex-lesbian wife, Anne, again became the face of the ex-gay movement in a massive publicity campaign that culminated in their landing on the cover of Newsweek

Make no mistake.  Paulk's apology is a major defeat for the anti-gay industry and the charlatans - like Michele Bachmann's husband - who continue to peddle the "ex-gay" myth in order to enrich themselves are play politics with he lives and rights of LGBT Americans.

Rhode Island Becomes 10th State To Approve Marriage Equality

The gay haters and Christofascists at the National Organization for marriage have not had a good last week and a half.  Uruguay and France approved gay marriage despite the efforts of NOM allies and now Rhode Island has joined the ranks of American states granting full marriage rights to gay couples.  And the Rhode Island Senate vote occurred despite extreme efforts by NOM and the Roman Catholic Church to intimidate senators into voting against the bill.  Worse yet in the eyes of the NOM hate merchants, Delaware seems possibly poised to follow Rhode Island's example - e.g., the Delaware House passed a gay marriage bill today.   Think Progress looks at the developments in Rhode Island today.  Here are excerpts:

The Rhode Island Senate just voted 26-12 to approve marriage equality, guaranteeing that The Ocean State will be the 10th state to allow same-sex couples to legally marry. Because the Senate made some revisions to the bill, it still requires a final passage in the Rhode Island House, which will likely happen next Thursday. Back in January, it passed easily there by an overwhelming 51-19 vote. Gov. Lincoln Chafee (I) has promised to sign the bill.
During today’s discussion, only one amendment was advanced, which would have allowed a referendum on the question, and it was defeated by a 10-28 vote. A similar proposal failed in committee on Wednesday. Though numerous religious exemptions allowing discrimination watered down the civil unions bill passed in 2011, no such amendments were offered for this bill. Rhode Island Sen. Harold Metts (D) was one of the few Senators who spoke extensively in opposition to the bill, launching into a 12-minute religious condemnation of same-sex marriage. Sen. James Doyle (D), who just came out for marriage equality a month ago, countered that if he gets to Heaven and the Lord’s first concern is how he voted on same-sex marriage, then he’s “doing pretty good.” Sen. Maryellen Goodwin (D) notably changed her position to support the bill just before the vote, adding that she was voting on the side of love.

Not only will Rhode Island be the 10th state (plus the District of Columbia) to allow marriage equality, but with it, all of New England will now recognize same-sex couples’s marriages.
 The trend line of history is clear.  The question is whether or not the justices of the U. S. Supreme Court will have the courage to embrace equality under the civil laws for ALL citizens.

Wednesday Morning Male Beauty

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