Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Wednesday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 2

Why Alliance Defending Freedom Is A Hate Group

The latest tactic of anti-LGBT hate groups is to lie - lying is one of their hallmarks - and claim that they are being persecuted and slandered because of their religious beliefs.  The tactic is part of the organized effort to create the myth in America that Christians are facing persecution and, therefore, need to have "religious freedom" laws enacted in their favor.  As noted numerous times, these laws are in fact a license to discriminate and simply allow Christofascists to exempt themselves from non-discrimination laws and ordinances.  They undermine the rule of law and establish a de facto national religion in the form of extremist Christianity.  The Southern Poverty Law Center has a piece that looks at what these hate groups all have in common: spreading know lies and untruths and working endlessly to subject LGBT citizens to discrimination and, sometimes, criminalization.  It is a part of the Christofascists effort to destroy anything and anyone who does not comport with their fear and based beliefs and/or might make others question such beliefs.  Here are highlights from the piece which shows the deliberate dishonesty and viciousness of Alliance Defending Freedom (the same agenda applies to Family Research Council and a host of "family values" groups):
In 2016, The Southern Poverty Law Center added the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF; formerly Alliance Defense Fund until 2012) to its list of anti-LGBT hate groups.
The designation is a result of ADF’s propagation of known falsehoods about LGBT people over the years (including the conspiracy theory that there is a “homosexual agenda” or “homosexual legal agenda” to undermine “the family” and Christianity), its demonization of LGBT people, its support of criminalization of gay sex in the U.S. and abroad and its continued attempts to create state and local policies and legislation (so-called “religious liberty” laws) that allow Christians to deny goods and services to LGBT people in the public sphere and marginalize LGBT students in schools.
The SPLC does not name groups to its anti-LGBT hate list simply for having biblical objections to homosexuality or for opposing same-sex marriage.
Founded by some 30 leaders of the Christian Right, the Alliance Defending Freedom is a legal advocacy and training group that specializes in supporting the recriminalization of homosexuality abroad, ending same-sex marriage, and generally making life as difficult as possible for LGBT communities in the U.S. and internationally. . . . . Since its founding, the ADF has expanded its operations abroad as it battles abortion, LGBT equality, and what it considers the “myth” of the separation of church and state.
The ADF’s longstanding antipathy toward LGBT people has become public through its work on lawsuits, various statements it has made, and materials it has offered on its website over the years. It has also promoted the idea of a “homosexual agenda— a nefarious scheme to destroy Christianity and, eventually, civilization through LGBT people’s efforts to secure equality under the law. To those who believe in this conspiracy theory, LGBT people are not really seeking equality; rather, they are actually seeking to destroy such things as Christianity, the family and culture.
ADF Senior Counsel Erik Stanley at the Gospel, Homosexuality, and the Future of Marriage conference, 2014:  “Alliance Defending Freedom seeks to recover the robust Christendomic theology of the 3rd, 4th, and 5th centuries.
Alan Sears, then-president of ADF (he was president until January, 2017) publishes a book he co-wrote with then-ADF colleague Craig Osten titled The Homosexual Agenda: Exposing the Principal Threat to Religious Freedom Today, which was heavily advertised for sale on the ADF website and offered in fundraising pitches for years. The book is the authors’ attempt to describe how far the conspiracy of “the homosexual agenda” has infiltrated the country and undermined Christianity through things like media and educational institutions. Sears and Osten described the media campaign conducted by LGBT activists in the 70s and 80s (as summarized in the account After The Ball: How America Will Conquer Its Fear and Hatred of Gays in the 90s) to "a war of propagandajust as Hitler did so masterfully in Nazi Germany."
Sears and Osten also claim that homosexual activists are attempting to “indoctrinate children” as early as kindergarten. (p. 52)  The authors link homosexuality to pedophilia . . . .
Lawrence v. Texas amicus briefs . . . ADF files two friend-of-the-court briefs in the landmark Lawrence v. Texas case, which struck down anti-LGBT sodomy laws in the United States. Both briefs support retaining criminalization. One, with ADF attorney Glen Lavy, is a litany of graphic descriptions of sex acts and how dangerous same-sex sexual activity is (more so than opposite-sex sodomy, the brief argues), ultimately claiming that the state (Texas) should continue to criminalize same-sex sexual acts in the interest of public health and “morality.”
A pamphlet titled “The Truth about Homosexual Marriage” — available on the ADF’s website — claims that same-sex marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships are dangerous to children. . . . . The pamphlet promotes ex-gay ministry Exodus (Exodus International shut down in 2013) for its role in helping thousands of individuals stop homosexual behavior.”
According to the ADF website, “The homosexual legal agenda is one of the greatest threats to religious freedom in America today.” The strategy of proponents of this agenda “is twofold: dilute moral values so that homosexual behavior is thought to be normal, natural and good, while suppressing the religious and free speech rights of those who disagree.” Clearly, the ADF says, “The homosexual agenda is at odds with religious freedom.”
Alan Sears speaks in a plenary session (PDF) at the anti-LGBT World Congress of Families gathering in Madrid, Spain. The session is titled “The Homosexual Agenda” and Sears states that, “the homosexual legal agenda” reveals “an extremism that seeks out and persecutes any soul, in any corner of our society, who refuses to publicly embrace and aggressively promote homosexual behavior.”
ADF attorney Piero Tozzi addresses (PDF) an anti-LGBT conference in Jamaica, where he voices his support for the continued imposition of the Jamaican anti-sodomy law which, he says, is a “the bulwark” against a “larger agenda” and falsely links childhood trauma to homosexuality.
ADF attorney Erik Stanley speaks in Tennessee at a conference titled “The Gospel, Homosexuality and the Future of Marriage” where he pushes the myth that Matthew Shepard’s brutal murder was “fabricated” and had nothing to do with his homosexuality. Rather, the story about his murder being a hate crime was to advance the “homosexual legal agenda.”
 ADF sends a letter to school districts around the country stating that no school is legally beholden to implement trans-inclusive policies and allow trans students to access bathrooms and locker rooms of the gender with which they identify. The letter denies the gender identity of such students and claims that such inclusive policies are allowing opposite sex students to access the facilities, which is “dangerous.”
ADF legal counsel Douglas Wardlow testifies in an Anoka-Hennepin school board meeting in Minnesota against allowing trans students to access facilities in accordance with their gender identities. Prior to his testimony, he sent a letter to the board in which he used the discredited research of Mark Regnerus and Paul McHugh to falsely claim that protecting trans students from discrimination is not supported by medical science (it is).

ADF's lies are endless.  Here in Virginia, The Family Foundation spreads the same untruths and amazingly to date has escaped a formal hate group designation, perhaps because its propaganda is limited to within Virginia.  Both groups seek to spread anti-LGBT hatred and to give Christian extremists special rights and need to be recognized as a menace to true religious freedom. 

Trump's "Hitler Youth" Speech to Boy Scouts

Most American presidents are invited to the Boy Scout National Jamboree, but while many attend the event and speak, a significant do not.  Would that Donald Trump, a/k/a Der  Trumpenführer, had passed up the invitation.  What ensued when Trump addressed the Scout gathering sounded more akin to Adolph Hitler addressing a gathering of Hitler Youth members.  Rather than being uplifting and talking about good citizenship and living by the Scout Law, Der  Trumpenführer attacked the mainstream news media, sought to illicit boos against Barack Obama, and made the speech into a political case of verbal diarrhea aimed at harming anyone not swearing fealty to "Dear Leader." While cheers were heard on the audio of Trump's rant, many in attendance and others with strong ties to the Boy Scouts were not happy and the supposedly non-partisan non-profit organization felt compelled to distance itself from Trump's political and personal attacks.  Coverage in the Washington Post looks at this vile and inappropriate screed by a man who sounded more like a peevish child that the president of a global super power.  Here are highlights: 
Trump’s speech at the Jamboree in Mount Hope, W.Va., broke with years of tradition — presidential traditions and Scouting traditions both. Past presidents had used these moments to extol American exceptionalism and civic virtues — such as service and honesty — that have long been pillars of the Boy Scout ethos.
Trump did a little of that before veering into a speech about his own exceptionalism.
“It pivoted to essentially a typical Trump rally. And it was not a campaign-rally audience. It was an audience of young boys and young men, who’ve come from around the country to celebrate Scouting,” said Robert Birkby, a former Eagle Scout who wrote three editions of the Boy Scout Handbook. “He did not share in the event. He shared of himself.”
By Tuesday, Trump’s speech had prompted a backlash from many current and former Scouts and their families, who say it was not only inappropriate but also undermines efforts to diversify and modernize the century-old organization.
On social media and in interviews, many said they thought national leaders should have cut short or condemned the speech, which included strong language — “Who the hell wants to speak about politics when I’m in front of the Boy Scouts?” — and a reference to cocktail parties attended by “the hottest people in New York.” Trump at times tried to raise issues more traditionally discussed at Boy Scout gatherings, such as character and perseverance. But he also lingered on his campaign fight against Democrat Hillary Clinton and seemingly joked about firing his health and human services secretary over Republicans’ inability, so far, to pass health-care legislation.
By midday Tuesday, the organization’s Facebook page included hundreds of comments from former Scouts and parents of Scouts, calling for the organization to make a stronger statement condemning the speech. Many threatened to pull out of Scouting.
The controversy comes as the venerable organization, which has promoted civic engagement and character development among children since 1910, strives to stay relevant and appear inclusive. Membership in the Boy Scouts has dwindled by a third since 2000, to just more than 2 million as of 2016.
The organization has sought to reach out to Hispanics through its Valores para Toda la Vida (Values for Life) program. It founded its co-ed Venturing program, which focuses on outdoor exploration for teens and young adults, in 1998 and has opened some of its other programs to girls, though so far not its prestigious Eagle Scout program. The organization rescinded its ban on gay members in 2014 and in January announced that it will allow transgender members.
The efforts have in part been an effort to keep from driving away parents and students in more liberal areas of the country, said Alvin Townley, a Georgia-based author who wrote “A Legacy of Honor,” a history of the Eagle Scouts, who have earned the highest level of achievement in the organization. He suggested that the political nature of Trump’s speech undermines that goal.
“No president has used the Jamboree as a backdrop to advance a political agenda. . . . . And Scouting’s vitality relates directly to its inclusion of people from different backgrounds and different perspectives.”
Trump’s remarks were the last straw for at least one former Scout. Eric Styner, 31, who works in quality assurance at a technology company in Seattle, said Tuesday that he had decided to renounce his status as an Eagle Scout.
Styner said he gradually became alienated from the Scouts, beginning at age 14, when he was rankled by the requirement that a Scout profess a belief in God to pass his Eagle Scout Board of Review. He was further disillusioned when the Scouts held fast to a gay ban even after many states had legalized same-sex marriage. Trump’s speech clinched it, he said.
Some defended the organization, saying that it did the right thing by inviting Trump. The problem, they said, was Trump.

For the record, I was a scout as was my son.  That said, I have become increasingly disillusioned with the Boy Scouts which seems to aligned with Christofascists and pushes an anti-gay, anti-minority agenda.  That Trump was allowed to engage in such an inappropriate and dishonest rant makes me more resolved to make sure that my grandsons are not scouts.  

Wednesday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 1

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Tuesday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 2

Salvation Army Drug Clinics Rejecting Transgender People

Every year when the holiday season arrives I encourage people to walk on by the Salvation Army kettles without putting in even a dime. Why, because the organization continues to be stridently anti-LGBT despite many mealy mouthed statements aimed at hiding the truth that the organization remains a right wing religious body that is in some ways little better than the "family values" hate groups.  As Think Progress is reporting, in New York the Salvation Army has been caught discriminating despite that state's non-discrimination laws.  There are plenty of worthy charities to which contributions can be made.  The Salvation Army is not one of them.  Here are highlights on the situation in New York:
The New York City Commission on Human Rights (NYCCHR) announced last week that it was charging four different substance abuse centers, one of which is run by the Salvation Army, with discriminating against transgender patients in violation of city law.
[T]he violations found included:
·        Refusing to accept transgender people as patients or tenants
·        Assigning trans people rooms based on their sex assigned at birth instead of their lived gender identity
·        Unwarranted physical examinations to determine if trans people are on hormone therapy or have had surgery
·        Segregating transgender patients into separate rooms.

The discrimination was found through a testing process after the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF) tipped off the commission that mistreatment was happening. One of the clinics told the testers outright, “No, we don’t [accept transgender patients].” Another clinic’s representative said, “People with moving male parts would be housed with men.”
The NYCCHR has the authority to fine violators up to $250,000 and can also require trainings, policy changes, community service, and mediated apologies.
Two of the clinics found to be violating city law have religious affiliations. The Addicts Rehabilitation Center was founded by a church, operates a gospel choir as one of its programs, and is currently run by Rev. Reginald Williams, a baptist preacher.
The Salvation Army is itself a church with a long history of discriminating against LGBTQ people. While that history has mostly focused on its rejection of homosexuality, a Salvation Army-run homeless shelter in Texas was also accused of anti-transgender discrimination in 2014. Their public relations campaign to improve their LGBTQ image has rung rather hollow.

The recent U.S. Trans Survey found that 22 percent of trans people had been harassed or denied treatment when trying to access services from a drug or alcohol treatment program.

Is GOP Support for Trump Starting to Crack?

Having grown up in a family that always discussed politics around the dinner table and at family gatherings - and usually voted Republican - I've heard about politics since I was a child.  Never in my recollection, however, do I recall as much concern about a lawless president who frankly appears to be mentally ill.  Not even during the height of Watergate was there the level of concern that seems to increase daily with Trump as he makes it increasingly clear that he views himself above the law.  His suggestions that he wants an FBI that reports directly to him and, by implication, is loyal only to him smacks of being the beginning of a secret police that would protect Trump at all cost and intimidate citizens and other elected officials. The level of his desperation over the Russiagate investigations increasingly suggests that money laundering and other serious crimes must have occurred.  One simply does not act this way if there is nothing to hide.  And then there is the issue of the company Trump has kept: Mafia figures, Russian mobsters, and Russian oligarchs.  One has to wonder if and when Congressional Republicans will cease averting their eyes to the Frankenstein monster in the White House.  A column suggests that perhaps support for Trump is beginning to crack.  Here are excerpts:
Again and again over the past year, Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan have had to decide what kind of behavior they are willing to tolerate from Donald Trump. Again and again, McConnell and Ryan have bowed down to Trump.
They have mumbled occasional words of protest, sometimes even harsh ones, like Ryan’s use of “racist” last year. Then they have gone back to supporting Trump.
The capitulation of McConnell and Ryan has created an impression — especially among many liberals — that congressional Republicans stand behind the president.
But don’t be fooled: Republican support for the president has started to crack.
Below the leadership level, Republicans are defying Trump more often, and McConnell and Ryan aren’t always standing in their way. You can see this defiance in the bipartisan Senate investigation of the Russia scandal. You can see it in the deal on Russian sanctions. And you can see it in the Senate’s failure, so far at least, to pass a health care bill.
I think many political observers are missing the ways that parts of Trump’s own party have subtly begun to revolt.
Just listen to Trump himself. “It’s very sad that Republicans,” he wrote in a weekend Twitter rant, “do very little to protect their President.” In a historical sense, he is right. Members of Congress usually support a new president of their own party much more strongly than Republicans are now.
They typically understand that a young presidency offers the rare opportunity for sweeping legislation — like the Reagan tax cut, the George W. Bush tax cut, the Clinton deficit plan and the Obama stimulus, health bill and financial regulation.  . . . . partisan loyalty is the norm.
Matt Glassman, another political scientist, is one of the sharper observers of the White House-Congress relationship, and I asked him to put the current situation in context. Glassman said that many progressives have made the mistake of comparing how they want Congress to treat Trump with what it is doing. The more relevant yardstick is how Congress’s treatment compares historically.
“The current congressional G.O.P. seems less supportive and more constraining of the Potus than basically any in history,”
Many of today’s Republicans avoid going on television as Trump surrogates. They mock him off the record, and increasingly on the record, too. In recent weeks, eight senators have publicly stood in the way of a health care bill. Republican senators are also helping to conduct an investigation of Trump’s campaign and have backed the appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel.
One reason is that they don’t fear Trump. About 90 percent of Republican House members won a larger vote share in their district last year than Trump did . . . . Since he took office, Trump’s nationwide net approval rating has fallen to minus 16 (with only 39 percent approving) from plus 4.  So it’s not just Republican politicians who are inching away from Trump. Republican voters are, too.
None of this is meant to suggest that congressional Republicans have been profiles in courage. They haven’t been.
In the months ahead, unfortunately, that level of resistance is unlikely to be sufficient. Trump has made clear that he isn’t finished trying to take health insurance away from millions of people or trying to hide the truth about his Russia ties. “The constitutional crisis won’t be if Trump fires Mueller,” as the A.C.L.U.’s Kate Oh put it. “The constitutional crisis is if Congress takes no real action in response.”

Did Jared Kushner Throw Trump Jr. Under the Bus?

Human nature - especially when immoral and unethical individuals are involved - is such that when the issue comes down to saving one's own ass versus throwing under the bus, many will opt to save themselves and allow purported friends and even family members to go down in flames.  In his prepared statement and testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Jared Kushner seemed to perhaps signaled that if it came down to him or Donald Trump, Jr., and perhaps even Der Trumpenführer himself, Kushner would look out for himself first and foremost.  Of course, given Kushner's past lies and convenient memory losses, all of Kushner's song and dance may yet to prove to be false and could backfire and lead to criminal prosecution - something he seemingly is trying desperately to avoid.   A column in the Washington Post looks at Kushner's apparent willingness to throw  Donald Trump, Jr., under the bus.  Here are excerpts:  
Presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner is set to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee this morning, and what is striking about his extensive opening statement is the degree to which it seeks to insulate Kushner himself from any culpability or responsibility for the problematic known facts about the Russia affair — particularly the known facts that concern Donald Trump Jr.
Kushner’s statement takes exceptional care to separate him, with scalpel-like precision, from the now-notorious meeting that Trump Jr. arranged with a Russian lawyer — a meeting that Trump Jr. had been informed would furnish the Trump campaign with information about Hillary Clinton supplied by the Russian government. Here is what Kushner’s statement says about the meeting (emphasis added):
 In June 2016, my brother-in-law, Donald Trump Jr. asked if I was free to stop by a meeting on June 9 at 3:00 p.m. . . . . He eventually sent me his own email changing the time of the meeting to 4:00 p.m. That email was on top of a long back and forth that I did not read at the time. . . . . I arrived at the meeting a little late. When I got there, the person who has since been identified as a Russian attorney was talking about the issue of a ban on U.S. adoptions of Russian children. I had no idea why that topic was being raised and quickly determined that my time was not well-spent at this meeting.
 [I]n looking for a polite way to leave and get back to my work, I actually emailed an assistant from the meeting after I had been there for ten or so minutes and wrote “Can u pls call me on my cell? Need excuse to get out of meeting.” . . . . No part of the meeting I attended included anything about the campaign, there was no follow up to the meeting that I am aware of, I do not recall how many people were there (or their names), and I have no knowledge of any documents being offered or accepted. 

 It’s not entirely clear that the “long back and forth” that Kushner claims he “did not read at the time” is the email chain that Trump Jr. released, under duress, which demonstrated that the meeting was taken with the express purpose of getting information advertised as coming from the Russian government. But it seems clear that this is what he is referring to. Note that Kushner does not say one way or the other whether he had been sent this email chain before. What we do know, however, is that Kushner says he never read it. And if Kushner is to be believed, he agreed to, and showed up at, this meeting without having any idea why it was being held. This, even though Trump Jr. was quite excited about what this meeting might yield (“I love it,” Trump Jr. exulted in the email chain), and even though Trump’s then-campaign chair Paul Manafort was also present. Also note the exceptional care that went into Kushner’s characterization of the meeting. He claims he arrived just late enough to miss the incriminating part of the meeting. Trump Jr. admitted in his second statement that the Russian lawyer brought up the campaign. . . .
 Kushner’s statement does not deny outright either that the meeting did address the campaign or that any documents had been offered to the Trump camp, which the email chainappears to confirm. All it does is insulate Kushner from those facts. [W]hatever the truth turns out to be on those fronts, what Kushner’s statement does not do is contest any of the known facts about that meeting — known facts that are deeply problematic for Trump Jr. and even for Trump himself. The meeting, at a minimum, shows that Trump Jr. was eager to collude with the Russian government, which, he had been told, was trying to get his father elected president.  Kushner’s statement denies any collusion on his own part, and claims no awareness of any other collusion . . . .
 President Trump himself reportedly signed off on that initial false statement
, which means the president actively participated in an effort to mislead the country about his own campaign’s eagerness to collude with Russia to help him win. Kushner’s statement offers nothing to challenge these underlying facts. It just separates him from them.

Tuesday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 1