Saturday, January 17, 2009

Misspent Tax Dollars: Abstinence-only Sex Education

Among the many fiascos that the Chimperator has brought to the nation during his years of misrule is the handing out of money to Christianist abstinence only sex education programs that do not work and in fact expose teenagers in health dangers and the risk of unwanted pregancies. It goes without saying that legitimate education on the issue of homosexuality for LGBT teens never occurs under these programs either. These programs are nothing more than handouts to far right religious organizations that use the funds to disseminate their poisonous propaganda. And folks like Sarah "Bible Spice" Palin and Mike Huckabee continue to laud such bogus programs. Here are some highlights on this waste of tax dollars:
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Thanks to George W. Bush and a complicit Congress, we currently spend $1.5 billion a year to fund abstinence-only until marriage sex education in our public schools. And yes, that money goes to people like Derek Dye, as he is employed by the Elizabeth New Life Center that received a $800,000 CBAE grant in 2007 to promote abstinence until marriage. His qualifications? A “Bachelor of Fun Arts” from Barnum Bailey Clown College, and an abstinence educator certification that can be purchased for $50.
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Abstinence-only programs censor information about contraception and condoms; make moral judgments students may not share; stigmatize and shame students who have already had sex; and discriminate against GLBTQ students who can’t legally marry. These programs often encourage stereotypical gender roles, use scare tactics, blur religion and science, and contain factual errors, like saying that HIV can be spread through sweat and tears.
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What’s more, abstinence-only programs don’t work – independent study after study has shown that students who receive them don’t have lower pregnancy, HIV, or STI rates. And worse, students who receive abstinence-only programs are less likely to use contraception and condoms when they do have sex.
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So… what can we do to make sure that abstinence-only programs like this one are not funded with our tax dollars? First of all, contact the Obama transition team to make sure that they ZERO OUT these programs in their first budget. Also, ending abstinence-only funding is currently 3rd place on Change.gov's user rankings, so you can go there and vote for it, too.Secondly, we must contact all of our representatives to let them know that we do not want this waste of money being snuck back into the budget through the appropriations process.

Bishops Have Again Deserted Their Flock

An interesting column in the Irish Times looks at the ongoing free fall of the Roman Catholic Church's reputation in Ireland. Hopefully, that free fall will begin to extend out to more country with the chance that maybe, just maybe, Benedict XVI and the bishops and cardinals will for once do the right thing since it will be a necessity if the Church is going to save itself from irrelevance. I am not going to hold my breath, however. I continue to believe that it is difficult for many to grasp just how morally bankrupt the Church hierarchy has become and just how self-centered and uncaring its members are when in comes to account for the misdeeds of so many bishops and cardinals and a number of the Popes, including John Paul II who I believe was anything but saintly. Again, I ask myself, why does anyone continue to show these disgusting men - who care nothing for the lives of children and youths - any deference much less give them money. Here are some column highlights:
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THERE APPEARS to be a view that Cardinal Se├ín Brady’s words of support this week for the Bishop of Cloyne John Magee have drawn a line in the sand where this latest Catholic Church clerical child sex abuse controversy is concerned. They have not. Rather, they have added to a growing deficit in the moral authority of the Catholic Church in Ireland, a deficit now every bit as large as that in the State’s finances, if deteriorating more rapidly. In this, the bishops have only themselves to blame.
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Their first instinct, when alerted in 1987 to the probability of clerical child sex abuse cases emerging in Ireland, was preservation of the institution at all costs. You might say it established what has become a consistent pattern. They took out insurance.
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It would be another eight years before they addressed the protection of children from such abuse. Then, in 1996, they published their first guidelines on child protection. These were updated in 2000 and again in 2005. It was in 1996, coincident with those first guidelines, that Cardinal Desmond Connell, then archbishop of Dublin, let it be known they were “only guidelines”.
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It was believed such thinking in the Irish church belonged to the past. Not so. From what we were told last month it would appear to have been the mindset of Bishop Magee until late 2008. This was disclosed in a report published on December 19th by the church’s own watchdog, the National Board for Safeguarding Children.
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But Bishop Magee’s culpability runs even deeper. This is a man who twice and recently misled the State, in writing, on child protection practices in his diocese. As recalled by Minister for Children Barry Andrews last week, on November 23rd, 2005, “in a direct reply” to then minister for children Brian Lenihan, Bishop Magee said Cloyne “fully complied with” the church’s 1996 guidelines and was “fully compliant” with the State’s guidelines.
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It has meant, as Andrews said, that because of “the discrepancy between stated policies and procedures and the validation of these policies and practices” in the diocese, Cloyne was being referred for investigation to the Dublin Commission. . . . Cardinal Brady thinks differently as to the gravity of Bishop Magee’s omissions. So also do two of the three other Catholic archbishops in Ireland – the Archbishop of Cashel, Dermot Clifford, and the Archbishop of Tuam, Michael Neary. For his part, the Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, chooses silence.

Saturday Male Beauty

Saturday Reflections

UPDATED: We have had a truly relaxing day and good camaraderie. Dinner later and more sightseeing. Oh, and for the benefit of the ex-wife if she's got me under surveillance, the boyfriend is paying for the trip so all of my extra funds can go to paying off the ex-wife off as soon as possible.
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The boyfriend and I and four of the "usual suspects" as he calls some of our gay friends from Hampton, Virginia, are on a brief get away and as always, I find the b/f to be such a sweet and wonderful guy. I was truly most fortunate when he came into my life and I hope that I give him back the happiness he brings to me. I will treasure this time with him and am enjoying to get to know our friends - whom he has known for many years - better. I will post more later in the day or tomorrow. I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend.

Gay Band Will March in Inaugural Parade

As the Seattle Post-Intelligencer is reporting, members of the national Lesbian and Gay Bands Association, including members of Seattle's Rainbow City Band will be taking part in the Inaugural parade for Barack Obama's inauguration. The band group, comprised of 177 gay and lesbian musicians, is seeking funds to help retire the cost of the trip and stay in Washington, D.C., and many bloggers including a number of us who attended the Blogger Summit in December are endeavoring to help. Anyone wishing to make a donation to this cause can do so here. Not everyone is happy, however, with the band's appearance- the usual Christo-fascists are complaining and advising parents to not allow their children to watch the parade on TV. First, some highlights from the Seattle Post:
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If perception is reality, the sight of 177 gay and lesbian musicians in silver baseball jackets and blue berets, playing "Ode to Joy" as they march up Pennsylvania Avenue during Barack Obama's presidential inauguration next week will be no mere gesture.
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Four horn players from Seattle's Rainbow City Band will walk among them, each willing to lose a week of work and put up about $1,000 to participate in the event, the first time in history that a lesbian and gay group will officially march in a Presidential Inaugural Parade.
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Members of the national Lesbian and Gay Bands Association have participated before -- specifically during the Clinton inaugurations -- but only from the sidelines, where they received a "thumbs-up" from the former president, but never as sanctioned members of the procession. "Obama just signals a generational shift," said Scott Rinnan, 25, a math student at the UW who sports a nose ring and plays baritone. "This is the first time I've felt inspired by a politician and proud of a president."
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When word went out through the national gay musicians association that Obama's inaugural committee wanted representation from the group, organizers invited musicians from across the country to register online on a first-come, first-served basis.
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As indicated, not everyone is happy that an LGBT band will be in the parade. There are some, as Mike Tidmus cites on his blog who still believe that this country belongs only to them and they'd like us - and blacks, and Hispanics, and non-far right Christians - to simply disappear. If anyone is polluting the nation, I'd say it's folks like these self-satisfied, self-congratulatory bigots like "Dr." Gary Cass. Here are highlights from the Christo-fascist set:
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Dr Cass, who argues at his organization’s website that President-Elect Barack Obama is not a Christian, has issued an alert that Obama’s inauguration won’t be like any other in history, because this one will be The Flamboyant Homosexual Inaugural. Cass warns Christian families that there will be an openly gay bishop, a queer marching band, a gay men’s chorus, and an African American pastor who does’t hate or fear GLBT people. Gasp! The humanity!
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Inaugural Warning: Rated P for PerverseContact: Dr. Gary Cass, Christian Anti-Defamation Commission
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 16 /Christian Newswire/ — The inauguration of Barack Obama as the President of the United States is going to be historic for many reasons, not all of them good. Obama’s inauguration may help move race relations forward in America, but Obama’s inaugural events are a major step backwards for historic Christian values. CADC must issue this WARNING message: Don’t let your children watch!
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Dr. Gary Cass remarks, “National events ought to unify and elevate the nation by celebrating what is virtuous, such as God and patriotismBarack Obama’s inauguration will have the dubious distinction of being the most perverted in our nation’s history. Obama is not being subtle about either. One of America’s most radical and destructive homosexual activists, “Bishop” Vickie Eugene Robinson of New Hampshire, in official inaugural activities will be offering the invocation at the Lincoln Memorial.. Obama is making a terrible mistake by polluting his inaugural events with sexual sin. Some one ought to remind him that he wasn’t elected mayor of Sodom.”

Thursday, January 15, 2009

More Thursday Male Beauty

Reduced Postings

The boyfriend and I are going to be doing a little traveling over the next day or so, and as a result, I will likely be posting less frequently although I will have my laptop with me and hopefully will be able to access the Internet. If not, I will post again when I have Internet access.

"A Pedophile's Paradise"

"A Pedophile's Paradise" - That's the title to a story on Dan Savage's blog that looks at yet more details of the sex abuse scandal that continues to dog the Roman Catholic Church even though the main stream media with its short attention span has become less fixated on the story line. In the newest lawsuit, the plaintiffs allege a cover up conspiracy which includes the head of the Northwest Jesuits from 1990 to 1996—is named as a co-conspirator. I continue to believe that until bishops and cardinals and the heads of religious orders suffer the consequences of their malfeasance and actions to cover up the sexual abuse of minors, the Church as an institution deserves no respect whatsoever. The truth is that many in the hierarchy knew what was going on, closed their eyes to problem and worked to try to keep the truth hidden. Not very Christian conduct. Here are some highlights:
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This morning (january 14th), 43 Alaskan Natives filed a lawsuit against the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits), claiming a widespread conspiracy to dump pedophile priests in small Alaskan towns and shelter them from exposure. The suit was filed in the Bethel, Alaska Superior Court.
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Attorney Ken Roosa announced the lawsuit at a chilly press conference outside Seattle University this morning and said, as of today, he knows of 345 cases of molestation, only two of them against non-natives. The Jesuits, he said, sent known pedophiles to isolated Alaskan villages—many of them only accessible by boat or plane—to let them abuse children with impunity. "It was a pedophile's paradise," Roosa said. "We are going to shine some light on a dark and dirty corner of the Jesuit order."
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The rate of child molestation by priests in Alaska, he said, "is several orders of magnitude larger" than anywhere else in the United States. (Roosa compared this lawsuit to one in Los Angeles, with 550 cases of abuse and a Catholic population of 3.5 million.) . . . This suit—against the Society of Jesus as a whole—is the latest battle in a long campaign Roosa has been waging against the opaque, secretive way the church responds to accusations of sexual abuse.
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A former Benedictine monk, Patrick Wall, said 28 pedophiles from four countries were specifically sent to Alaska "to get them off the grid, where they could do the least amount of damage" to the church's public image. "The Catholic church has the largest body of documentation of non-incarcerated pedophiles in the world," he said.
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Three years ago, Roosa said, a former head of the Northwest Jesuits testified about the "hell files"—personnel files with information about priests that was "special," "not public," and "not good." Sundborg allegedly would've had those files in his office when he was the head of the Northwest Jesuits. When Roosa tried to acquire those files from the Northwest Jesuits, he was told they didn't exist.

Thursday Male Beauty

European Parliament Supports Recognition of Same-Sex Partnerships

No doubt the Nazi Pope, Benedict XVI, and some of the reactionary former Soviet satellite countries in Eastern Europe will not be pleased, but the European Parliament has issued a report that among other things takes the position that (1) relevant governing bodies in member countries must condemn anti-gay statements and actions and (2) insure equal treatment of gay couples across member countries. It is refreshing to see that some modern democracies recognize that for true freedom and liberty, all people should enjoy equal legal rights. Absent an about face in this country, under Obama, I see the USA falling further and further behind the many parts of the world both in terms of equality for its citizens and economic advancement. A country cannot prosper when an anti-knowledge mindset flourishes as under the Christianist/GOP model and a portion of the population is relegated to second class status. Here are some highlights on the EU report:
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MEPs have adopted a Report on the Situation of Fundamental Rights in the EU. Complied by the European Parliament's Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, it contains recommendations on issues such as poverty, homelessness, xenophobia, the treatment of Roma people and the application of anti-discrimination laws throughout the EU.
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With regard to sexual orientation the report:
72. Takes the view that discriminatory comments against homosexuals by social and political leaders fuel hatred and violence, and calls on the relevant governing bodies to condemn them;
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73. Welcomes the publication of the first thematic report by the Fundamental Rights Agency, drawn up at Parliament’s request, on Homophobia and discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation in the EU Member States and asks to Member States and EU institutions to urgently follow the Agency's recommendations or state their reasons for not doing so;
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74. Reminds all Member States that, in line with European Court of Human Rights case-law, freedom of assembly may be exercised even if the opinions of those exercising that right go against the majority, and that, accordingly, a discriminatory ban on marches and any failure to meet the requirement to give appropriate protection to those taking part breach the principles guaranteed by the European Court of Human Rights, by Article 6 of the EU Treaty on common EU values and principles, and by the Charter;
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75. Calls on those Member States who have adopted legislation on same-sex partnerships to recognise provisions with similar effects adopted by other Member States; calls on those Member States to propose guidelines for mutual recognition of existing legislation between Member States in order to guarantee that the right of free movement within the European Union for same-sex couples applies under conditions equal to those applicable to heterosexual couples;
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76. Urges the Commission to submit proposals ensuring that Member States apply the principle of mutual recognition for homosexual couples, whether they are married or living in a registered civil partnership, in particular when they are exercising their right to free movement under EU law;
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77. Calls on those Member States who have not yet done so, and in application of the principle of equality, to take legislative action to overcome the discrimination experienced by some couples on the grounds of their sexual orientation;
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78. Calls on the Commission to make sure that Member States grant asylum to persons fleeing from persecution on the grounds of their sexual orientation in their country of origin, to take initiatives at the bilateral and multilateral level to stop the persecutions of persons on the basis of their sexual orientation, and to launch a study on the situation of trans-sexual people in the Member States and candidate countries, with regard inter alia to the risk of harassment and violence.
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The full report can be found here.

Labor Coalition Seeks Overturning of Proposition 8

When one thinks of union members, I tend to picture blue collar and hourly union workers who are anything but the "effete liberals" that the Christianists and Sarah Palin like to vent about. They are about as "real American" as you can get and surprisingly, their unions have consistently been supporters of gay-friendly employment non-discrimination laws and now the overturning of Proposition 8. It is yet another aspect of the phenomenon where Christianists oppose what true followers of Christ would support: living wages for workers, medical insurance benefits for all, and non-discrimination. I continue to believe that the Christianists and the Kool-Aid drinker controlled GOP have turned Christianity into something evil. Here are some highlights on labor's opposition to Proposition 8 from the Sacramento Bee:
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A coalition of more than 50 labor unions Tuesday urged the California Supreme Court to overturn a ballot measure that banned same-sex marriage in the state. In their amicus brief, the unions argue that Proposition 8 would amend discrimination into the state constitution and divide Californians into "suspect classifications." "It really does establish the potential for a slippery slope of taking away the rights of one group and then potentially the rights of another group and another group," Art Pulaski, executive secretary-treasurer of the California Labor Federation, said during a teleconference with reporters.
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Joining in the brief were the Service Employees International Union State Council, the California Federation of Teachers, the California Nurses Association, the California Faculty Association, UNITE HERE! and the Screen Actors Guild. Combined, the labor organizations claim 2 million members.
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Sal Rosselli, president of the United Healthcare Workers union, noted that unions and gay rights advocates worked together in the 1970s to defeat the Briggs Initiative, which would have banned gays from working in California's public schools, and to boycott Coors beer for anti-labor policies. "We in labor unions have an obligation to support all our members," said Rosselli, a longtime gay rights advocate. "We have many gay members who want to marry same-sex partners."
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In the brief, the unions argue that Proposition 8 should be overturned by the court because it is not a "constitutional amendment," but an illegal "constitutional revision."

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

More Wednesday Male Beauty


Dedicated to Charlie from West Pittsburgh

Utah Gay & Lesbian Ski Week Cancelled

The backlash against the Mormon Church's support of Proposition 8 apparently has its first significant boycott victim in the form of the cancelled Utah Gay & Lesbian Ski Week. While I feel badly for the non-Mormons who will be impacted financially, I hope that the damage done as a result of the Mormon Church's interference with the civil laws in California will perhaps carry a political cost back in Utah where hopefully non-Mormons will do more to counter the theocratic efforts of the Mormon Church. The Mormons, like the Christianists have only contempt for the religious freedom of others and need to be taught a severe lesson. In my opinion, the LGBT community needs to use much more care to make sure that LGBT dollars are not spent in non-gay friendly states and counties. Here are some highlights from the Park Record:
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A group of gays had planned long ago to be on the slopes of Park City's mountain resorts last week. They had been coming each year since early in the decade, and Park City, seen for years as one of the friendliest places in Utah to gays, had been hospitable to the group But the 2009 edition of what had been dubbed Utah Gay & Lesbian Ski Week was cancelled.
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An organizer told The Park Record many of the gay skiers indicated they would not visit Utah in order to show solidarity with those who have called for a boycott of the state stemming from the passage in California of Proposition 8, the ballot measure against gay marriage supported by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
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The cancellation of the gay ski week, which had been scheduled Jan. 7-11, is the first substantive evidence of Park City's economy suffering from the boycott. There had only been scattered concern in Park City that gays would refuse to visit. Local leaders had hoped gays and their supporters would consider Park City an open-minded enclave in Utah.
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Had the full group traveled to Park City, Harriot estimated the visitors would have spent between $125,000 and $150,000 on lodging, lift tickets, meals and entertainment. . . . The skiers had planned an evening at Kristauf's Martini Bar on lower Main Street, where owner Lisa Christoffersen said they had stopped in during the 2008 trip. She said they probably would have spent a "couple grand" at Kristauf's this year. To me, that would provide my payroll for two weeks" and pay several utility bills, she said, adding, "They spend well and they tip well. It's a big boost for everyone."
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Bill Malone, the executive director of the Park City Chamber/Bureau, said the cancellation of the ski week is the first he is aware of based on unhappiness with Proposition 8. . . . "Obviously, we hate to see groups not feel comfortable coming here as a result of the California proposition," Malone said.

Will Obama End Don't Ask, Don't Tell?

There is much speculation as to whether or not Barack Obama will follow through with campaign pledges to end the horrendous policy known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" which in this area is used in a witch hunt manner to force gays from the military. Now, there are reports based on a transition team website response that Obama does in fact intend to make good on his pledge. Personally, I will believe it when I see the policy actually repealed. However, I truly hope that the policy is repealed inasmuch as it has needlessly ruined so many promising careers. The other impact of the repeal locally where we have a huge number of closeted gays in the military is to potentially overnight increase the number of openly gay residents of the area. No doubt the Pat Robertson and his fellow Christianists will not be pleased. Here are some highlights from the San Francisco Chronicle:
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President Obama will end the 15-year-old "don't ask, don't tell" policy that has prevented homosexual and bisexual men and women from serving openly within the U.S. military, a spokesman for the president-elect said.
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Obama said during the campaign that he opposed the policy, but since his election in November he has made statements that have been interpreted as backpedaling. On Friday, however, Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs, responding on the transition team's Web site to a Michigan resident who asked if the new administration planned to get rid of the policy, said: "You don't hear politicians give a one-word answer much. But it's 'Yes.' "
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"The question isn't if we do it, and the question isn't when we do it, it's how we do it," said Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Walnut Creek, whose 2006 bill to repeal the ban earned broad support among Democrats in Congress but did not move forward in the face of a near-certain veto by President Bush. "I'm going to reintroduce the bill in the next few weeks," Tauscher said. "We've got the American people behind us."
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An ABC poll in July found that three-quarters of Americans supported allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military compared to 44 percent of Americans who expressed the same support in 1993 . . . Colin Powell, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and former Sen. Sam Nunn, D-Ga., both of whom backed the 1993 policy, recently called for it to be re-evaluated. John Shalikashvili, who followed Powell as chairman, has called for its repeal, as has former Georgia Republican Rep. Bob Barr, an opponent of gay rights and legal protections for gays. In an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal, Barr disparaged the policy as wasting money and talent.
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More recent years have seen high-profile discharges of gay Arabic linguists and other troops whose military jobs were deemed essential in Iraq, Afghanistan and the "war on terror" - dismissals that struck many people as inexplicable, said sociologist Melissa Embser-Herbert, author of "The U.S. Military's 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Policy: A Reference Handbook." "We know of gay, lesbian, bisexual veterans who have served in combat theater, and I think that's also a big piece of it," she said. "It's a much harder sell to the general public that that person who died or lost a leg didn't deserve to be serving their country."

My Readers - Charlie from West Pittsburgh

UPDATED: Today (January 15, 2009)I received another contribution - this time from a reader in Blommington, Indiana for which I am most appreciative. Every little bit helps towards retiring the $35,000+ I need to be rid of the former wife once and for all. Thank you for the contribution!
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In the mail today I received a beautiful letter and a contribution to the "Michael Freedom Fund" from Charlie, a 20 year old reader from West Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (The photo is not Charlie, but since he says he appreciates the "Male Beauty" posts, I added some beauty to this post). :) First, I want to thank Charlie for his contribution towards paying off and freeing me fully from the ex-wife. If I had the means to do so, I'd pay her off in full tomorrow. Unfortunately, the current economy has hit my firm hard as is the case with so many other businesses and that's not a possibility at present.
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More importantly, I want to thank Charlie for his sweet sentiments and words of encouragement for me to keep this blog going. I try to be informative in the stories I post and also to share my story so that others can either avoid pitfalls or perhaps find some comfort in the fact that others have been able to survive the coming out journey and move on to happy lives. I truly believe that by sharing our stories we comfort each other and ultimately make ourselves as stronger as a community. Only someone who is gay and who has made the coming out journey can fully understand the emotional upheaval involved. If nothing else, knowing that one is not some lone freak often makes an immeasurable difference.
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Charlie, I wish you the best of luck in your own coming out journey and hope you find self-acceptance which is so empowering. I also hope you will keep on reading this blog and I thank you again from the bottom of my heart for your thoughtfulness and kindness. Oh, and I will be dedicating a Male Beauty post to you in a later post. :)

Wednesday Male Beauty

George Bush's False Morality

As he prepares to leave office after causing untold damage to the USA and world, the Chimperator seems totally lacking in remorse and continues to view himself as a moral and righteous person. Torture: not a problem. Taking the country to war based on lies: not a problem. Ignoring the needs of the poor and sick: not a problem. Unfortunately, Bush is all too typical of the Christianist (and similar fundamentalist) mindsets that ignore objective reality, dismiss scientific knowledge and close their minds to anything that doesn't conform to their simplistic and mindless religious beliefs. Rev. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, a professor of theology at Chicago Theological Seminary and senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, has a column in the Washington Post that analyzes Bush's sick morality. Here are some highlights:
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It may seem contradictory to many that President Bush thinks America's moral standing in the world has not been harmed during his tenure. He believes this despite a widespread practice of torture and systemic civil rights violations of "enemy combatants" during his administration. But if you adopt the President's definition of morality, the contradiction disappears.
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As Bob Woodward documented in his book, Plan of Attack, President Bush's particular kind of Christian faith has given him an extremely high degree of moral certainty that the actions he has undertaken to protect the United States from terror are by definition justified. We are fighting the "axis of evil" and so we must be the agents of the good.
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President Bush's rigid moral certainty has left him no room to see the contradictions between torture and goodness. This rigid moral certainty made it possible for this man, who claims to be a serious person of faith, to have as his legacy the sustained and deliberate policy to torture prisoners and to render them to "black ops" sites outside the United States for horrific maltreatment.
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The world has a different definition of America's moral standing. On May 4, 2004, the graphic pictures of prisoners being tortured at the now infamous Abu Ghraib prison raced around the world. What the world saw was the face of the United States, not as the symbol of freedom and democracy, but as a nation turned rogue state like Argentina under its military junta, South Africa under Apartheid, or Germany in the Nazi era.
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President Bush's definition of what it means for the country to act morally needs to be thoroughly rejected along with the shameful practices of rendition and torture. Candidate Barack Obama promised the country change and the country agreed. One of the biggest things President Obama and the country need to change in the next four years is the definition of what it means for this country to act morally.

Google Maps Highlights Prop 8 Donors

UPDATED: Andrew Sullivan had this comment with which I very much agree:
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I don't get the fear. If Prop 8 supporters truly feel that barring equality for gay couples is vital for saving civilization, shouldn't they be proud of their financial support? Why don't they actually have posters advertizing their support for discriminating against gay people - as a matter of pride?
I noted the other day how Proposition 8 supporters have their panties in wad over the California campaign finance disclosure laws which have exposed anti-equality supporters and their bigotry. Now Interactive Google maps have taken the matter to a new level showing the amounts, names and locations of Prop 8 donors online for three locations so far, including Salt Lake City. It's interesting how these folks want to deprive others of civil legal rights but at the same time want to remain safely anonymous. I can think of few things more dangerous than allowing individuals and/or companies and organizations to seek to influence the civil laws and yet remain anonymous. I have always had the courage to stand openly behind my beliefs and be counted. Thus, if these bigots do not have the courage to publicly stand behind their convictions, then perhaps they ought to rethink their positions. I have no sympathy for these cry babies whatsoever.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

As The World Turns Breaks New Ground

No doubt Don Wildmon and the fundies at American Family Association will be calling a boycott of CBS - after they get over their convulsions and hyperventilating - as a result of the afternoon soap opera, As the World Turns, showing a gay love scene that reveals love and romance rather than mere physical acts. It's about time that the USA entertainment networks acknowledge that gay relationships exist and that we feel love just like our heterosexual couples. A clip of the scene is set out below. Would that I had had a TV show that reflected my inner feelings and depicted gay relationships as normal when I was growing up. Kudos to CBS.

Final Tuesday Male Beauty

Al Sharpton Calls Out the Pharisees

There are generally few issues upon which Al Sharpton and I are in agreement. In fact, I often view Sharpton as little more than a opportunistic demagogue. However, for once Sharpton has hit the nail on the head and directly called out the hypocrisy and dishonesty of the professional Christian set and anti-gay churches who fail to follow the message of Christ except in lip service. Oh yes, they pat themselves on the back for their self-styled piety as they look down on others and turn a blind eye to those in need of love and assistance. Here are some highlights of Sharpton's remarks:
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On Sunday, Rev. Al Sharpton slammed major faiths for using their resources and power to pass California's Proposition 8 while showing indifference to issues affecting Americans such as poverty, social inequality and economic sabotage. The Church, he said, was silent until California affirmed marriage rights for its same-sex couples.
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Sharpton was the keynote speaker at the Human Rights Ecumenical Service held at Atlanta's Tabernacle Baptist Church to welcome the Atlanta-based Alliance of Affirming Faith-Based Organizations, whose mission is to unite gay-friendly churches.
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"There is something immoral and sick about using all of that power to not end brutality and poverty, but to break into people's bedrooms and claim that God sent you," Sharpton told a full house on Sunday.
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"It amazes me," he said, "when I looked at California and saw churches that had nothing to say about police brutality, nothing to say when a young black boy was shot while he was wearing police handcuffs, nothing to say when they overturned affirmative action, nothing to say when people were being [relegated] into poverty, yet they were organizing and mobilizing to stop consenting adults from choosing their life partners."
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"I am tired," he went on, "of seeing ministers who will preach homophobia by day, and then after they're preaching, when the lights are off they go cruising for trade. . . When Bush took us to war chasing weapons of mass destruction that weren't there you had nothing to say. "But all of a sudden, when Proposition 8 came out, you had so much to say, but since you stepped in the rain, we're going to step in the rain with you."
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"This is an issue of human rights," he said. "And I think it is dangerous to give states the right to deal with human rights questions. That's how we ended up with slavery and segregation going forward a long time...Whatever my personal feelings may be about gay and lesbian marriages, unless you are prepared to say gays and lesbians are not human beings, they should have the same constitutional right of any other human being."

Bishop Gene Robinson to Give Inaugural Prayer

I have been extremely critical of Barack Obama's selection of Christianist bigot and fraud, Rick Warren, to give the inaugural invocation next week. I continue to believe that that decision is beyond flawed and that if Obama had any backbone, he'd un-invite Warren as more about the real Rick Warren has come out. Nonetheless, I am happy that Bishop Gene Robinson has now been invited to deliver a prayer at a pre-inaugural event. I have always admired Robinson, particularly after learning even more about his faith journey in the movie "For the Bible Tells Me So," a movie that should be required viewing for all who call themselves Christians. Robinson will offer the prayer at the Lincoln Memorial on Sunday, January 18. Here are some highlights from PageOneQ:
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Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, the first openly gay man to be ordained as such in 2003, has been invited to deliver the invocation at the first Inaugural event the President-elect will attend this weekend. The Episcopal bishop will offer the prayer at the Lincoln Memorial on Sunday, January 18. President-elect Obama and Vice President-elect Biden are both expected to attend.
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For the first time in history, an out gay man will lead the nation in opening the transfer of power from one administration to another -- and every person watching in the U.S. and around the world will have seen it. That, alone, is change." Bishop Robinson has been one of many outspoken critics of Obama's choice of megachurch pastor Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at the January 20 swearing-in. Robinson, in December, called the pick a "slap in the face."
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When asked if the Rick Warren controversy was a factor in choosing Robinson, inaugural committee spokesman Clark Stevens said that Robinson had been chosen because he had advised the Obama campaign, and is an "important figure in the religious community. We are excited that he will be involved."
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"It's important for any minority to see themselves represented in some way," Robinson told the Concord Monitor on Monday. "Whether it be a racial minority, an ethnic minority, or in our case, a sexual minority. Just seeing someone like you up front matters."

More Tuesday Male Beauty

Proposition 8 and the 'Christian Taliban

As the last post concludes, the Republican Party has become the home of religious crazies and moderates are no longer welcome. How did this happen one might ask. Well, Muriel Kane has a good explanation over at Raw Story which traces part of the genesis to Christian Reconstructionist who would abolish the Constitution and make the Bible the law of the land. Fortunately, their plans have not panned out as they would want in the last two campaign cycles, but nonetheless they are inflicting their poisonous social policies on a large scale. Proposition 8 is but the latest and worst fruit of the Reconstructionists' efforts. It is crucial that their agenda be put exposed to the strong light of day and repudiated so that voters are not unknowingly co opted into their sinister plot. What Kane describes in California also applies to how the Republican Party of Virginia has been converted into an extremist organization. Here are some column highlights:
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The Protect Marriage Coalition, which led the fight to pass an anti-gay marriage initiative in California, is now suing to shield its financial records from public scrutiny. . . . Although public access advocates believe this sweeping demand for donor anonymity has little chance of success, it does point up the secretive and even conspiratorial nature of much right-wing political activity in California.
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The man who more than any other has been associated with this kind of semi-covert activity over the past 25 years is reclusive billionaire Howard Ahmanson. Ahmanson is a Christian Reconstructionist, a devout follower of the late R.J. Rushdoony, who advocated the replacement of the U.S. Constitution with the most extreme precepts of the Old Testament, including the execution -- preferably by stoning -- of homosexuals, adulterers, witches, blasphemers, and disobedient children.
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As absurd as this Reconstructionist agenda may seem, the success of Proposition 8 demonstrates the ability of what is sometimes called the "Christian Taliban" to pursue its covert objectives behind the screen of seemingly mainstream initiatives and candidates.
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In 2008, however, a reborn ProtectMarriage.com, flush with nearly a million dollars in funding from Howard Ahmanson and tens of millions from other doners, succeeding in getting Proposition 8 placed on the ballot and approved by 52% of the voters. Proposition 8 is now California law -- at least for the moment, pending challenges to its constitutionality -- and ProtectMarriage.com has turned its attention to demanding that all 18,000 existing same-sex marriages be declared invalid.
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At a Reconstructionist conference in 1983, Johnson outlined an early version of the strategy we see operating in California today. ... The key for the Christian Right was to be able to: 1) remove or minimize the advantage of incumbency, and 2) create a disciplined voting bloc from which to run candidates in Republican primaries, where voter turn out was low and scarce resources could be put to maximum effect. ...
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Although the Christian Right never achieved its original goal of taking over California state government -- which may be why Ahmanson and Johnson have turned their attention to passing socially conservative initiatives instead -- it has been far more successful in establishing dominance over that state's Republican Party.
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"From radical fringe to kingmakers in a decade — how did they do it? 'Basically, there's two places you have influence: one is in the nominating process in the primaries, where you can elect people in ideological agreement with your views, and the other is in the party structure,' says former CRA vice president John Stoos, a former gun lobbyist, member of the fundamentalist Christian Reconstructionist movement, and senior consultant to the State Assembly."
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To many who voted for it, Proposition 8 may have been no more than a nostalgic attempt to keep a changing world more like the way it used to be. But for Reconstructionists like Ahmanson, Johnson, and Stoos, it clearly represents something else -- a dramatic first step towards "the total integration of biblical law into our lives."

The Death of the GOP

As I have noted many times, the GOP of even a decade and a half ago bears little resemblance to the largely religious fanatic controlled part of today. Two recent columns highlight the difference from yesterday's Republican Party to the Christianist party of today. The first is a piece by retired Virginia GOP Congressman Tom Davis (pictured at left), a moderate Republican who no longer has a home in the party of Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee and like minded Kool-Aid drinkers. The second is a piece by Fred Barnes at the Weekly Standard which in delusional heaps praise on that war criminal otherwise known as George W. Bush, a/k/a the Chimperator. First, some highlights from Tom Davis who maintains that the GOP needs to return to moderation and jettison the far right positions that are causing the party to lose at the polls:
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Republicans must be wondering: Can it get any worse? As late as 2006, we held the White House and a majority in both houses of Congress. Come January, all three will be in Democratic hands – with a near-filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. . . . But let’s not kid ourselves, our party is broken.
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[W]e indulged in more trivial pursuits – and this led to trouble. We talked to ourselves and not to voters. We became more concerned with stem cell policy than economic policy, and with prayer in schools rather than balance in our public budgets and priorities. Not so long ago, it was easy to paint the Democrats as the party of extremists. Now, they say we’re extremists, and voters agree.
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Our candidates are safe in a swath that extends from North Texas across to North Alabama and up through Appalachia. Elsewhere, we are on the run. Almost every voter who can be convinced – who sometimes votes Democratic, sometimes Republican – now votes Democratic.
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We’ve long-since given up on the African-American vote. We’re forfeiting the Hispanic vote with unwarranted and unsavory vitriol against immigrants. Youth vote? Gone. We ask for nothing from these idealistic voters, we offer little except chastisement of their lifestyle choices and denial of global warming, and we are woefully behind the Democrats in learning how to connect with them. Soccer moms? They’re not comfortable with much of our social policy agenda, so many are gone as well.
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So what do we do? First, we eliminate checklists and litmus tests and focus on broad principles, not heavy-handed prescriptions. . . . . Second, remind ourselves the first principle of conservatism is not tax cuts or free trade or even smaller government. It is prudence, and prudence should be our guide. Prudence dictates we take seriously the concerns of those who elect us. . .
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But we won’t get there by waiting for the Democrats to fumble the ball. We won’t get there by trying to divine what Ronald Reagan would do in any given situation. We can get there, though, if we stop the infighting and show we have a better way. The party with the best, freshest ideas always wins. That can be us – that needs to be us – once again.
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In contrast to Davis is Fred Barnes who thinks things were pretty wonderful under the Chimperator and who believes that history will look on the Chimperator kindly (what drugs is he on?) Moreover, Barnes believes that torture and violations of the Geneva Conventions is just fine. Here are some highlights from Barnes' lunacy:
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The postmortems on the presidency of George W. Bush are all wrong. The liberal line is that Bush dangerously weakened America's position in the world and rushed to the aid of the rich and powerful as income inequality worsened.
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Bush had ten great achievements (and maybe more) in his eight years in the White House, starting with his decision in 2001 to jettison the Kyoto global warming treaty so loved by Al Gore, the environmental lobby, elite opinion, and Europeans.
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Second, enhanced interrogation of terrorists. Along with use of secret prisons and wireless eavesdropping, this saved American lives. . . . Bush's third achievement was the rebuilding of presidential authority, badly degraded in the era of Vietnam, Watergate, and Bill Clinton.
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Then there were John Roberts and Sam Alito. In putting them on the Supreme Court and naming Roberts chief justice, Bush achieved what had eluded Richard Nixon, Reagan, and his own father. Roberts and Alito made the Court indisputably more conservative. And the good news is Roberts, 53, and Alito, 58, should be justices for decades to come.
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I sincerely hope that the GOP base ignores Davis and continues down the path to oblivion urged by Barnes and those like him. Only in continued utter defeat lies the chance that at some point to Christianists will be thrown from the party or - perhaps better yet - a new party will arise so that the GOP goes the way of the Whigs.

Tuesday Male Beauty

Yet More Proof Why ENDA is Needed

A Tennessee hotelier has fired a second gay man after previously firing an employee specifically for being gay and then daring the man to try to sue him. Sadly, Tennessee - like Virginia - offers ZERO employment protections to LGBT workers and one is a sitting duck for blatant bigotry regardless of whether or not you perform your employment duties well. The quickest way to remedy this situation is for the passage of ENDA - the Employment Non-discrimination Act - which would outlaw such firings for businesses with 15 or more employees. In time, one would hope that such a law would eventually encourage backward states like Tennessee and Virginia to join the 21st century and enact their own employment protections for LGBT workers. Here are some highlights from PageOneQ:
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A Tennessee man said Thursday that he was weighing his legal options after being fired from a Nashville-area hotel specifically for being gay. "They literally said to me that because of my orientation and my 'alternative lifestyle' that I was not a fit for the hotel," said David Hill, formerly the director of human resources for the former Brentwood Holiday Inn (currently doing business as ARTE' Hotel, with no connection to the Holiday Inn chain). "[Tarun Surti, the hotel's owner] said, 'I don't give a damn. They can sue me. I will not have any of 'the gay leadership role' in my hotel.' And that's a quote."
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"The owner, Mr. Surti, comes from a culture that is not very tolerant to the gay lifestyle," added assistant general manager Leonard Stoddard, who was ordered to dismiss Hill, "and therefore he felt it necessary to have him removed from the workforce at the property."
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Workers in Tennessee are not protected by anti-discrimination law on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. "This points to the need for us to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act," Tennessee Equality Project president Christopher Sanders said, "because in many places our community is not protected." "There are very talented employees who are being singled out because they're gay," he added. "These employees are very brave for fighting back."
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Now, Stoddard himself has been fired:
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The firings continue at a Tennessee hotel after its assistant general manager spoke out against its owner for dismissing a man for being gay. . . . Stoddard, also openly gay, has since been given his walking papers, Out & About reported. "I am here in the office and shocked to hear what you had said to the media," Surti e-mailed Stoddard. "If it is true that you told media that David was fired because he is gay, you obviously told them a lie. Such behavior is subject to immediate termination and I would like you to restrain (sic) from coming to the hotel."
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It is alleged by Hill and Stoddard that a former employee fired for being gay sent a letter to Surti outing Hill and Stoddard. . . . A demonstration is planned outside the hotel, at 760 Old Hickory Blvd. in Brentwood, on Saturday, January 17, starting at 9am.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Right Wing Nutcases and the Politics of Hate

With Barack Obama's inauguration just around the corner, the Christianist nutcases are increasing their whining about a doom and gloom future and disseminating false concerns of upcoming Christian persecution. Naturally, their true goal as always is to scare the ignorant and/or bigoted into sending money into their respective organizations so that they can live comfortably without having to be gainfully employed. Meanwhile, one can only hope that the Obama/Biden administration will roll back the improper intrusion of Christianist religious views into the civil laws. Here are some highlights from Right Wing Watch demonstrating the latest dishonest theatrics from this bunch of hate merchants:
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[O]n a recent Focus on the Family radio program, guest host Frank Pastore was joined by Tony Perkins and Gary Bauer to discuss the threat that Christians will soon find themselves under in this country thanks to the election of Barack Obama and the Democratic majorities in Congress. Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, and Gary Bauer, president of American Values, told Pastore they are both concerned about what's on the line as Barack Obama takes office.
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Perkins said the battle over marriage is on center stage. "We have an administration that supports the redefinition of marriage in many, many ways," he said. "We’ve got a number of issues that are going to be coming out of Washington. The Defense of Marriage Act, Employment Non-Discrimination Act, hate crimes are all going to be on the table right after the Obama administration begins."
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Bauer described the situation as a "witch's brew." "You’ve got people in government, willing to use the force of law to push the radical gay-rights agenda," he said, "and you’ve got a gay-rights movement that is willing to use the tactics of intimidation in the streets of America to silence those that would dare oppose them."
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Perkins went on the warn that liberals "ultimately want to take away the voice of American citizens, primarily those of religious faith" while Bauer proclaimed that "if we lose this [fight over marriage equality], the next generation of American children will be taught about family and about normal relationships between men and women in a way that will completely distort God's plan for mankind and that is something that I think would be devastating for our culture, for our families, and certainly for our country."
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After discussing about the dangers they face from issues like FOCA and the Fairness Doctrine, Perkins warned "don't let your guard down ... [or] we will lose these precious freedoms" while Bauer closed with a call to arms: This is probably the one thing that listeners should take away from this show: you can't take for granted the right to hold these views any more. You're going to have to stand up ... if they go down the road on these issues, I believe [that] with all of our passion, all of our intelligence and all of the freedom that the founders gave to us, we need to resist.
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With this kind of poison being widely disseminated, it is little surprise that non-Christians may be targeted for violence by Christian extremists as in the recent Eldora Ski Resort episode.

More Monday Male Beauty

Equality Virginia's New Straight Executive Director

I have received e-mails form readers who saw the Washington Blade article that announced that Equality Virginia had selected a new executive director to replace outgoing ED Dyana Mason and that her replacement is STRAIGHT. Most of the comments were basically "WTF" was the EV Board doing? I had a chance to meet Jon Blair (center at left), the new ED, last night and to learn more about his background. First, I found him very personable and definitely totally at ease at an all LGBT gathering. Moreover, I learned that he had worked on two successful local campaigns in which the challengers for whom he was campaign manager unexpectedly defeated an incumbent. Personally, I believe that EV must not only endeavor to educate legislators but also make it clear that EV will play hardball with the opponents of civil equality. Perhaps Jon will bring this much needed element to the fore. Here are some highlights from the Blade article:
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The board of directors for Virginia’s statewide gay rights group announced Wednesday it has chosen a straight man to serve as its executive director.Jon Blair, the newly appointed chief executive officer of Equality Virginia, joins the organization after working as campaign manager for freshman U.S. Rep. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) in the 2008 election. Blair succeeds Dyana Mason, the former executive director for Equality Virginia, who left the organization Dec. 31.
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Blair’s experience includes work for Virginia State Sen. Ralph Northam (D-Norfolk) and State Del. Paula Miller (D-Norfolk).Equality Virginia’s 10-member search committee recommended the selection of Blair unanimously, according to the statement. Jay Fisette, a gay member of the Arlington County Board and a member of the committee, said Blair’s “experience and talents will take Equality Virginia to the next level.” Equality Virginia revealed its new executive director as lawmakers readied several pro-gay bills for the General Assembly’s next session, which begins Jan. 14.

Eight Years of Madoffs

Eight Years of Madoffs - That's how Frank Rich most appropriately describes the eight years of the Chimperator's nightmare regime. When interviewed during his last press conference the Chimperator made it clear that he's neither apologetic or remorseful over the havoc he has wrought on the nation and world. The man truly is a cretin and, in my view, mentally disturbed. Waste and incompetence, torture, and the trashing of the nation's image around the world are the hallmarks of the Bush/Cheney years. The biggest crime is that Bush and Cheney will likely escape prosecution for war crimes. Here are some highlights from Rich's column:
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THREE days after the world learned that $50 billion may have disappeared in Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, The Times led its front page of Dec. 14 with the revelation of another $50 billion rip-off. This time the vanished loot belonged to American taxpayers. That was our collective contribution to the $117 billion spent (as of mid-2008) on Iraq reconstruction — a sinkhole of corruption, cronyism, incompetence and outright theft that epitomized Bush management at home and abroad.
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The source for this news was a near-final draft of an as-yet-unpublished 513-page federal history of this nation-building fiasco. . . . . It pinpoints, among other transgressions, a governmental Ponzi scheme concocted to bamboozle Americans into believing they were accruing steady dividends on their investment in a “new” Iraq. The report quotes no less an authority than Colin Powell on how the scam worked.
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The $50 billion also pales next to other sums that remain unaccounted for in the Bush era, from the $345 billion in lost tax revenue due to unpoliced offshore corporate tax havens to the far-from-transparent disposition of some $350 billion in Wall Street bailout money. In the old Pat Moynihan phrase, the Bush years have “defined deviancy down” in terms of how low a standard of ethical behavior we now tolerate as the norm from public officials.
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It took 110 pages for the Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan research organization, to compile the CliffsNotes inventory of the Bush wreckage last month. It found “125 systematic failures across the breadth of the federal government.” That accounting is conservative.
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There are still too many unanswered questions. . . . . How high up were the authorities who ordered and condoned torture and then let the “rotten apples” at the bottom of the military heap take the fall? Who orchestrated the Pentagon’s elaborate P.R. efforts to cover up Pat Tillman’s death by “friendly fire” in Afghanistan? And, for extra credit, whatever did happen to Bush’s records from the Texas Air National Guard?
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While our new president indeed must move on and address the urgent crises that cannot wait, Bush administration malfeasance can’t be merely forgotten or finessed. . . . . we must also “resist Bush administration efforts to hide evidence of its wrongdoing through demands for retroactive immunity, assertions of state privilege, and implausible claims that openness will empower terrorists.”
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The more we learn about where all the bodies and billions were buried on our path to ruin, the easier it may be for our new president to make the case for a bold, whatever-it-takes New Deal.