Saturday, April 11, 2009

Saturday Male Beauty

FRC Hate Message: Bathroom Bills - Havens for Child Predators!

Leave it to Tony Perkins and the mavens of hate at Family Research Council ("FRC") to do all they can to demonize transgender Americans who are consistently portrayed by these "loving Christians" as stealth child molesters. Do they ever pause for even a moment to contemplate what they are doing to numerous living, breathing, honorable people who just want to be left alone to live their lives with some level of self-acceptance and dignity? I think not - especially Mr. Perkins who lives comfortably off of the money his scare campaigns bring into the FRC coffers. I truly cannot understand the mentality that goes with making a living by demonizing and dehumanizing other people. If that's what it takes to be a "Christian" of the FRC model, then thank God I fail the test. Here are some highlights from FRC's latest message of hate:
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Once respected for measured leadership that helped steady the pulse of the free world, appointed judges and elected legislators continue to refashion "freedom" into a dangerous caricature threatening the safety of women and children across America. The latest from the Left has been a twin issue: their aggressive insistence on normalizing same-sex "marriage" and, now, the infamous "Bathroom Bill." Bathroom Bills, which allow men who dress as women access to women's bathrooms, do so at the expense of everyone else.
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In New England, home to 27,010 registered sex offenders, parents are watching in horror as left-leaning legislators aggressively seek to provide the unnatural closeness to women and children that predators and rapists must have to perpetrate their crimes. . . . In New England, home to 27,010 registered sex offenders, parents are watching in horror as left-leaning legislators aggressively seek to provide the unnatural closeness to women and children that predators and rapists must have to perpetrate their crimes.
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Americans must refuse to accommodate such foolhardy legislation, along with officials who support it.
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Now there's a loving Holy Week message! Somehow I doubt the real sex offenders will go through the transition process merely to access women's rest rooms. They don't need to - the straight males who make up the vast majority of sex offenders can all too easily access children in their own homes and neighborhoods.

The Virginia State Bar's Idea of Diversity

Manuel A. Capsalis, the current President of the Virginia State Bar, has made much of the issue of diversity and the need for the membership of the Bar to better reflect the demographics of Virginia. Currently, despite the relatively vast increase in the number of women and black attorneys compared to years past, the Bar continues to be a white male bastion, particularly when one looks at who is in the leadership positions in most major law firms in the state. Worse yet, "diversity" in all of the discussions and columns and letters to the editor in the Virginia Lawyer focus is solely on the number of women lawyers and the number of black lawyers. There is absolutely NO MENTION of LGBT attorneys - or Hispanic or Filipino attorneys - ANYWHERE that I have found.
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I have raised this issue in person and in e-mails to Capsalis and I know someone in a leadership position at Equality Virginia has as well, yet the issue of LGBT attorneys never seems to appear on the radar screen. We remain invisible to the Virginia State Bar. As a consequence, there are no openly gay or lesbian attorneys in any of the larger law firms in all of Hampton Roads - an area with a population of 1.6 million people where I and one other attorney I know are the ONLY locally out attorneys to my knowledge. The irony in this is that ALL of the reputable law schools in Virginia have a nondiscrimination policy that applies to law firms recruiting on their campuses. UVA's policy is typical and reads as follows:
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The University of Virginia School of Law is committed to a policy against discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, political affiliation, sexual orientation, or status as a military veteran or as a current member of any branch of the military services. By returning employer registration forms and using the facilities or services of the Career Services Office, prospective employers are providing assurance of their commitment to observe the principles of equal opportunity stated above. Complaints that employers using the Career Services Office have failed to comply with this Law School policy will be investigated and, where deemed appropriate, sanctions, such as censure or exclusion, may be imposed. The portion of the Law School policy applicable to sexual orientation will not be applied to military employers.
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Do law firms sign these statements and then simply ignore them? I suspect so and due to the Bar's utter failure to support LGBT attorneys the result is that out gays and lesbians remain invisible within almost all of the state's large law firms. What is the solution? I'm not sure. The good old boy system remains so incredibly entrenched. Even women face daunting hurdles in reaching leadership positions in large firms. My former classmate, Elizabeth B. Lacy, the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court of Virginia, remains concerned about the relative scarcity of women on the bench and at the helm of law firms and has said the following on the situation on women in large law firms:
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“The larger law firms in this country have a tremendous impact in a number of different ways,” she said. For one, they have access to the legislative halls, which gives them influence on the direction of the justice system and legal profession. “Women need to be part of this.” In addition to the perspectives they contribute to issues, the presence of women in leadership and on the bench has a “hugely symbolic aspect,” she said.“How many young black men now think they can be president, when they didn’t think that before?”
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What is also alarming is the attitude of members of the Virginia Bar as expressed in letters to the Virginia Lawyer. Far too many seem to condemn the diversity initiative even as pathetic as it is and would like to see the effort ended. Here is a representative example of such sentiments from an attorney in Fairfax, Virginia:
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I have read with growing concern the columns in Virginia Lawyer of Virginia State Bar President Manuel A. Capasalis, beginning in July and continuing in October and December, concerning his Diversity Initiative.
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First, it is sophistry. It is marked by his repeated statements of urgent personal belief in “diversity” and his affront and condescension to anyone who questions his meaning or firm intention. . . . If Mr. Capsalis has evidence that the bar or the courts routinely or systematically discriminate against persons or groups based on race, sex, or national origin, let him put on his evidence and make his case as any other lawyer is required to do.
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Mr. Capsalis offers us little glimpses at it—that it involves “taking into account gender, race, and heritage” in the administration of justice and the practice of law. But he is quick to close the curtain, noting that the “transcendent ideal of diversity” cannot be captured; it must be free to fly to the heavens or wherever it will.
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I urge Mr. Capsalis to disband the Diversity Task Force, withdraw its proposals to the bar council, and cease funding or supporting it immediately. If, in his conscience, he believes that he cannot abandon this initiative, then let him have the honor and courage to resign and pursue it on his own with his own resources.
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The writer wants proof? I regularly receive calls from LGBT Virginians seeking legal counsel who report that they have been rejected as clients as soon as their sexual orientation becomes known. I even have one local Circuit Court that refers transgender individuals seeking to have their birth certificates amended to me because I am the only attorney they know who will take on that type of matter. The sad truth is that many members of the Virginia Bar continue to be racists who also discriminate based on gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation. If there is anything wrong with the Bar's diversity effort it is that it goes nowhere near far enough in addressing the discriminatory reality of how lawyers and law firms select clients, hire new attorneys, and select firm partners, respectively.

Friday, April 10, 2009

More Friday Male Beauty

click image to enlarge

Bullied 11-Year-Old Hangs Himself

There are times when it's hard for me to hold back my anger at the Christianists who seem to do everything in their power to sow hatred against gays and those perceived to be gay with absolutely no regard for the lives being ruined on a daily basis. A sad story out of Massachusetts demonstrates what happens when individuals feel that they are morally superior - and perhaps even doing God's work - in tormenting LGBT youths and individuals. As a parent, I cannot imagine the fury and pain that the family of Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover (in the photo), particularly since his mother made weekly pleas to his school to address the problem of anti-gay bullying that he was enduring. What a horrible waste! I hope the family sues the school since unfortunately it seems that only the fear of large monetary judgments is the only thing that gets school administrators to do what's right. Here are highlights from GLESEN that tell this sad tale:
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An 11-year-old Massachusetts boy, Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, hung himself Monday after enduring bullying at school, including daily taunts of being gay, despite his mother’s weekly pleas to the school to address the problem. This is at least the fourth suicide of a middle-school aged child linked to bullying this year.
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Carl, a junior at New Leadership Charter School in Springfield who did not identify as gay, would have turned 12 on April 17, the same day hundreds of thousands of students will participate in the 13th annual National Day of Silence by taking some form of a vow of silence to bring attention to anti-LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) bullying and harassment at school. The other three known cases of suicide among middle-school students took place in Chatham, Evanston and Chicago, Ill., in the month of February.
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"As was the case with Carl, you do not have to identify as gay to be attacked with anti-LGBT language," Byard said. "From their earliest years on the school playground, students learn to use anti-LGBT language as the ultimate weapon to degrade their peers. In many cases, schools and teachers either ignore the behavior or don’t know how to intervene."
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Nearly 9 out of 10 LGBT youth (86.2%) reported being verbally harassed at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation, nearly half (44.1%) reported being physically harassed and about a quarter (22.1%) reported being physically assaulted, according to GLSEN’s
2007 National School Climate Survey of more than 6,000 LGBT students.
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GLSEN recommends four simple approaches schools can take to begin addressing bullying now. Said Walker in the Springfield Republican: "If anything can come of this, it's that another child doesn't have to suffer like this and there can be some justice for some other child. I don't want any other parent to go through this."

Fear the Rainbow!

A perusal of the morning news seems to indicate that the Christianists fear campaign against LGBT equality may be backfiring at least to some extent. From Rachel Madow playing the audition tapes on her show last night for the actors in the incredibly untruthful National Organization for Marriage video, to sharp questioning on talk shows, to scathing editorials one can only hope that average Americans will begin to get the message that our enemies are paranoid liars and not necessarily dealing with full decks in terms of mental stability. With all the many severe problems in the world and children literally starving to death and dying of treatable illnesses every day, gay marriage is the most pressing disaster facing the nation and the world? I think not. Mark Morford has a great column in the San Francisco Chronicle that takes the Christianists to task with his usual great satire. Here are some highlights:
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My favorite part has got to be the lightning. The fake lightning, that is, flashing just off to the side, a cheap 'n' cheesy special effect that momentarily lights up the actors' faces in the most sweetly melodramatic way as they stand there against the dark 'n' stormy backdrop like devout Christian zombies, delivering delightfully weird and wooden lines about being openly terrified of those openly terrifying gay married people.
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Yes, it's merely another series of strange, alarmist, deeply homophobic ads from yet another seething anti-gay group you've never heard of (the National Organization for Marriage, or NOM), ads which are running right now in five states in response to two stunning, watershed gay marriage upheavals in Iowa and Vermont, AKA two more states now shamelessly roaring down the highway to hell.
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You just gotta see these strange, hateful little ads (as of this writing, the unintentionally hilarious audition reels of the terrible actors reciting the fake lines have been, alas, taken down). The ads emphasize how the gays are moving closer to Christian homes, businesses, schools and genitalia, and many terrified citizens with souls the size of marbles clearly don't know what to do or how to protect their children -- or their crotches -- from the onslaught because, oh my God, I think I just saw two men kissing on the mouth! Help me, Jesus!
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What's most striking, what sets these ads apart from most homophobic campaigns of the past, is the palpable tone of desperation. It's a feeling that these groups are, more and more, clutching at straws, scraping bottom, leaning on the most absurd, least tenable arguments imaginable, each one more shrill and desperate than the last in a losing effort to appeal to an ever-shrinking audience of increasingly indifferent, bored homophobes.

Friday Male Beauty

Explosion of Hate Mocks Christian Values

Since the Iowa Supreme Court ruling a week ago which was soon followed by the legislative triumphs for gay marriage in Vermont and Washington, D.C., the explosion of hate from Christianists and the dehumanizing and untruthful things that they are disseminating about LGBT individuals in my view are a travesty and make a mockery of Christ's message. After all, Christ said that the two great Commandments were to love God and to love thy neighbor as they self. Moreover, the Gospels repeatedly show Christ as condemning the self-righteous and sanctimonious who smugly judged and condemned others in contravention to the command to love thy neighbor. The Christianists claim to believe the Bible is inerrant and must be followed verbatim as "the word of God." Why then do they pick and choose what they want to follow as if the Bible were an al carte menu?
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Let's be candid, from the National Organization for Marriage and it's bogus ad with paid actors pretending to be real ordinary citizens to commentaries in National Review and statements by Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention what we have seen is unbridled hatred for other humans merely because we do not subscribe to a particular set of religious beliefs. The statements are truly hate filled and - in my view - will provide another basis for more citizens to look at the Christian message and walk away shaking their heads in disgust. Andrew Sullivan has it right when he says that these folks hold gay lives in contempt. Here are some highlights of the "love" being disseminated by professed Christians. I begin with the National Review comment:
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Few social goods will come from recognizing same-sex couples as married. Some practical benefits may accrue to the couples, but most of them could easily be realized without changing marriage laws. Same-sex couples will also receive the symbolic affirmation of being treated by the state as equivalent to a traditional married couple — but this spurious equality is a cost of the new laws, not a benefit. One still sometimes hears people make the allegedly “conservative” case for same-sex marriage that it will reduce promiscuity and encourage commitment among homosexuals. This prospect seems improbable, and in any case these do not strike us as important governmental goals.
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Then we have Richard Land at the SBC who is rapidly becoming as extreme a homophobe as Peter LaBarbera and Fred Phelps making Southern Baptists as a whole appear to be a most unloving crowd. Land's official title is "president of The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, the Southern Baptist Convention's official entity assigned to address social, moral, and ethical concerns, with particular attention to their impact on American families and their faith." Here are Land's incendiary statements:
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Once again, it was the judiciary branch of state government rending the nation’s moral fabric, bent on rewriting our country’s social construct. With no residency requirements, the [Iowa] court’s opinion means at the end of April when the order goes into effect, same-sex couples will be free to travel from other states to exchange “vows” in the Iowa Heartland.
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This ruling turns Iowa into a destination for same-sex “marriages.” No doubt there are weekend travel packages already being planned. Iowa will soon be the Las Vegas of same-sex “marriage” for America. And you know those folks won’t be resettling in the Hawkeye State, but will be heading back home–perhaps to your state.
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The Iowa Supreme Court couldn’t have ruled that an amendment to the constitution is “unconstitutional.” If they had done that, then a government “of the people, by the people, for the people” would be imperiled. If the California Supreme Court does this in the case they are currently considering, then we’d have to say that our entire system of government is coming to a tragic end.
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Another comes from the Baptist Press where Eric Schumacher pastor of Northbrook Baptist Church in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, maintains that gay marriage is more catastrophic than a 500 year flood and will"eternal damage" that cannot be repaired and which will "erode" civilization. Here are some highlights:
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On April 3, the Iowa Supreme Court unanimously ruled that a state law limiting marriage to one man and one woman violates the equal protection clause of the Iowa Constitution. Licenses will be issued to homosexual couples April 27. It is not hyperbole to say that this ruling has the potential to be the worst disaster to strike the state of Iowa.
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Flood waters destroy houses, ruin offices buildings and displace families. Yet, recovery happens. Houses are rebuilt. Businesses relocate. Families eventually find housing. Legalized "homosexual marriage," on the other hand, does far more pervasive and irrecoverable damage. Civilization itself is eroded as marriage, the central building block of culture and society, is redefined. Soon, our sons and daughters are confused about what it means to be male and female, as "homosexual marriage" gains both legal status and visibility in neighborhoods and the classroom.
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Flood waters erode the soil. "Gay marriage" erodes the soul. A flood impacts for a decade. "Same-sex marriage" destroys generations. A flood draws a community together. "Homosexual marriage" tears the family apart. Communities recover from floods. The promotion of un-natural unions has an eternal consequence.
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As I have said in prior posts over the nearly two years I have been actively blogging, messages like these are akin to how the Nazi regime dehumanized and denigrated Jews in the run up to the Holocaust. How many people will hear these messages and feel totally justified in violence against LGBT citizens. It is bigotry and religious based discrimination of the worst order.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Virginia GOP Rejects Federal Help for Unemployment

Providing yet further proof that they are out of touch with reality and care nothing for individuals and families finding themselves unemployed - and likely without medical insurance - the GOP controlled Virginia House of Delegates voted to reject $125 million in federal funds that would have expanded unemployment benefits to Virginians. These folks worry about an unborn fetus but care nothing about the already born - typical hypocrisy for the GOP in general and RPV in particular. I truly do not understand the mentality, but then maybe it's a good thing that I don't get it. I'm an employer and I cannot fathom leaving people without relief when it would only cost $4.50 per year per employee. Here are some highlights from the Virginian Pilot:
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House Republicans turned down $125 million in federal stimulus money for expanded unemployment benefits to Virginians on Wednesday, saying the windfall ultimately would force higher business taxes. The deeply partisan, 53- 46 vote in the GOP-controlled House of Delegates made Virginia one of the first states to formally reject stimulus dollars and looms as a key issue this fall when all seats in the chamber are up for election.
Earlier in the day, the Democratic-controlled Senate narrowly chose to accept the money on a party-line 21-19 vote.
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A visibly angry Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, who is chairman of Democratic National Committee, denounced the vote as "completely unfathomable." Kaine is scheduled to appear this morning in Martinsville, a city whose 20 percent unemployment tops the state's jobless rate.
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"This wasn't a debate about when we're going to say 'no' to Washington except for people who are sunk in a party of no mentality," Kaine said. "It was about could we find a way to provide meaningful relief to Virginians who are hit by the toughest economy this state has faced in the past 50 years?"
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To receive the federal dollars, Virginia was required to enlarge its unemployment program, which offers fewer benefits than all but a handful of states. Kaine asked lawmakers to provide benefits to idled part-time workers who do not want to seek full-time jobs and extend the length of time unemployment aid is available to those enrolled in job retraining programs.
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Democrats said it was ludicrous not to take the federal money. They said the new programs could be rescinded when the stimulus runs out. Should the General Assembly decide to keep the programs for the long term, they would cost companies about $4.50 per employee per year in additional unemployment taxes. "Unemployed people are in crisis, and this money can help them," said Del. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond. "These are people who are hurting, who through no fault of their own lost their jobs and in many cases cannot pay their bills."

Thursday Male Beauty

Tony Blair Tells the Pope: You're Wrong on Gays

Personally, I am not sure why anyone would currently want to convert to Catholicism given the moral bankruptcy of the Church hierarchy not to mention the 12th century mindset that prevails at the Vatican. I'd feel dirty if I were still a Catholic knowing all that is now known about the chilling indifference that did and still does characterizes the hierarchy's attitude towards the sexual abuse f children and youths. But if people do feel compelled to join the Catholic Church, I hope more of them will publicly challenge the Vatican's hateful approach towards gay Catholics and gay Christians in general. Former UK prime minister Tony Blair is one such convert who has directly scolded Benedict XVI for his anti-gay stance. Only when more members of the laity stop kissing the generally large, fat asses of the bishops and cardinals - and yes the Pope too - and demanding that the "natural law" formulated in the 12th century be updated will the Church really have any chance for change. I'm not optimistic that this will happen anytime soon, but Blair's public stance is a good start. Here are some highlights from the London Times:
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Tony Blair has challenged the “entrenched” attitudes of the Pope on homosexuality, and argued that it is time for him to “rethink” his views. Speaking to the gay magazine Attitude, the former Prime Minister, himself now a Roman Catholic, said that he wanted to urge religious figures everywhere to reinterpret their religious texts to see them as metaphorical, not literal, and suggested that in time this would make all religious groups accept gay people as equals.
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The Pope, who is 82, remains firmly opposed to any relaxation of the Church’s traditional stance on homosexuality, contraception or any other area of human sexuality. He has described homosexuality as a “tendency” towards an “intrinsic moral evil”.
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In the interview Mr Blair spoke of a “quiet revolution in thinking” and implied that he believed the Pope to be out of step with the public. “There are many good and great things the Catholic Church does, and there are many fantastic things this Pope stands for, but I think what is interesting is that if you went into any Catholic Church, particularly a wellattended one, on any Sunday here and did a poll of the congregation, you’d be surprised at how liberal-minded people were.” The faith of ordinary Catholics is rarely found “in those types of entrenched attitudes”, he said.
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He said: “When people quote the passages in Leviticus condemning homosexuality, I say to them — if you read the whole of the Old Testament and took everything that was there in a literal way, as being what God and religion is about, you’d have some pretty tough policies across the whole of the piece.” He continued: “What people often forget about, for example, Jesus or, indeed, the Prophet Muhammad, is that their whole raison d’ĂȘtre was to change the way that people thought traditionally.
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Conventional wisdom was not necessarily wise, he said. “It can be wrong and it can be just a form of conservatism that hides behind a consensus. If you look back in time, through the suffragette movement, the fight against slavery, it’s amazing how the same arguments in favour of prejudice crop up again and again and again.

Gay Marriage and Homeownership

With gay marriage so much in the news during the last week the Washington Post has a brief story that looks at one of the ways in which LGBT couples are placed at a legal disadvantage when they are denied marriage rights: home ownership and the ability to hold title as "tenants by the entirety." Holding title in this manner adds a great level of protection from claims of creditors unless both members of the couple are on the debt. Thus, credit card debt or an auto loan in the name of one spouse that has gone bad due to a job loss or illness will not be able to attach to the couple's residence unless both were on the card or loan. This is a huge benefit and but one of over an estimated 1000 benefits denied to gay and lesbian couples who are not allowed to enter into civil marriage. Currently, the best that LGBT couples can do is hold title as "joint tenants with right of survivorship," but this form of title provides none of the protections from creditors enjoyed by heterosexual couples. Here are some story highlights:
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One of the benefits to being married is that in many states, including the District, Maryland and Virginia, couples can choose to take title to their home as "tenants in the entirety." It means that each person is 100 percent owner of the house. If one dies, the house is automatically owned by the survivor without the need for probate. And it's much more difficult for a creditor (aside from the IRS) to take away the home because of the non-mortgage debts of only one owner. An irresponsible spouse can't gamble away the house; a spiteful spouse can't sell it out from under the other. In happily-ever-after land, those problems should never come up, but in the real world, they sometimes do, and this kind of ownership is a great protection.
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More gay couples who marry elsewhere and live in Washington, D.C. -- and those thinking of moving here -- will probably be able to take advantage of that protection soon. Yesterday, the D.C. Council
voted unanimously to recognize gay marriages performed in other states. The District already allows civil unions that permit partners to hold property as tenants by the entirety.
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Yesterday's action still requires another vote, and Congress always has a say over the District's affairs, so it's not a done deal. But it's a big step closer.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Evidence that Faux News Encourages Violence

I posted recently about the shooting spree in Pittsburgh where white supremacist, Richard Poplawski, killed three police officers who responded to what outwardly was a minor disturbance. While the main stream media has been reluctant to place blame on the far right set who promulgate conspiracy theories or on far right news outlets like Fox News, it seems that my conjecture that Poplawski was motivated in part by the constant noise put out by these folks may have been directly on point. Crooks and Liars has new information that demonstrates that Poplawski was following the rants on the faux news channel and Glenn Beck in particular. I believe that Beck, O'Reilly and those like them have a duty not to spew untrue bullshit stories that may well be just enough to put someone on the edge over the line with violence as the consequence. Simply put hate speech and ridiculous conspiracy talk can have disastrous consequences. Here are some story highlights:
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An astonishing thing seems to have happened to the case of Richard Poplawski and the three dead Pittsburgh policemen: It's been turned into a story about dog pee -- and not about the fact that Poplawski was fueled by a toxic mix of white-supremacist/conspiracy-theorist paranoia and mainstream-media fearmongering, including from the likes of Glenn Beck and Fox News.
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Maybe the media are collectively embarrassed by the way this case demonstrates how they play an important role in whipping up the far-right crazies out there --
and they should be. Because not only did Richard Poplawski avidly participate in white-supremacist online forums and right-wing conspiracy-theory sites, he also avidly consumed mainstream conservative media, particularly Fox. The classic instance of this: A few weeks ago, Poplawski posted a clip of Beck talking about FEMA concentration camps on the neo-Nazi Stormfront forum site.
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Well, at least Dennis Roddy of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette -- who was one of the first reporters on this story -- carried most of the details and more in his Monday story:
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Accused cop-killer Richard Poplawski spent hours posting racist messages on an extremist right-wing Web site, decrying blacks and Latinos and warning of forthcoming economic collapse fueled by the "Zionist occupation" of America, an expert in political extremism has determined. Earlier, he had praised the "AK" rifle as his ideal weapon.
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It was an AK-47 that police say Mr. Poplawski used to gun down three Pittsburgh police officers who arrived at his house Saturday morning in the midst of a domestic dispute. An account kept on Stormfront, a gathering place for racial extremists and others from the far-right show Mr. Poplawski's increasing belief in a coming economic and political collapse in the days leading up to the time of the deadly standoff in which he is charged with killing three Pittsburgh police officers.
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[W]hen the memes regarding "suppressed knowledge" that these extremists organize around suddenly appear in the mainstream media -- in places like Glenn Beck and Lou Dobbs' and Sean Hannity's cable-network shows -- it has a real amplifying effect: Not only is it final and consummate confirmation of their beliefs in these conspiracy theories, but it induces an extreme apocalypticism, a fear that things must be even worse than they suspected.
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I am sure that Beck and company do not want to admit that they had a part in causing the deaths of three police officers. However, constant incendiary messages laced with hatred towards minorities, gays, or whatever other target is perceived to be good for ratings DO have real and tragic consequences. One would hope that Beck, O'Reilly, et al, would clean up their acts, but I am not optimistic.

More Wednesday Male Beauty

Christianist Conniptions Continue

In the aftermath of the Iowa Supreme Court ruling last week and the legislative action yesterday in Vermont and Washington, D.C., the Christianists are in overdrive in terms on conniption fits and anti-gay rants. The reactions have ranged from the duplicitous plan of the Nation Organization for Marriage ("NOM") to run a sinister ad attacking gay rights and gay equality employing paid actors to pose as concerned citizens to yet another rant by professional Christian and self-hating closet case Robert Knight who bounces from one anti-gay organization to the next. HRC has a expose on the nasty national ad being disseminated by NOM and the fact that the ads are not what they appear to be. Personally, the NOM ads while not intentioned to do so show the dark and sinister hearts of our Christianist enemies. Here are some highlights from HRC:
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The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, released a statement and a factual rebuttal today on a television spot produced by the National Organization for Marriage and set to run on CNN, the Fox News Channel, and MSNBC in the coming days. In the ad, actors make disproven claims about marriage for lesbian and gay couples.
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According to sources, the phony ad (the photo above is from it) is set to run eight times per day in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and California. The ad can be viewed here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4AzLrn5JVIo The National Organization for Marriage hired actors to peddle their lies about marriage for lesbian and gay couples. The audition reels can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lRjVDZxho54 and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cwqNFBt33o4
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The facts recited in the ad are not true - something that is the norm for Christianists who deem themselves exempt from the Commandment against Lying and baring false witness - and the actual facts behind the examples cited are as follows:
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The California doctor entered a profession that promises to “first, do no harm” and the law requires her to treat a patient in need – gay or straight, Christian or Muslim – regardless of her religious beliefs. The law does not, and cannot, dictate her faith – it can only insist that she follow her oath as a medical professional.
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The New Jersey church group runs, and profits from, a beach side pavilion that it rents out to the general public for all manner of occasions –concerts, debates and even Civil War reenactments— but balks at permitting couples to hold civil union ceremonies there. The law does not challenge the church organization’s beliefs about homosexuality – it merely requires that a pavilion that had been open to all for years comply with laws protecting everyone from discrimination, including gays and lesbians.
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The Massachusetts parent disagrees with an aspect of her son’s public education, a discussion of the many different kinds of families he will likely encounter in life, including gay and lesbian couples. The law does not stop her from disagreeing, from teaching him consistently with her differing beliefs at home, or even educating her child in a setting that is more in line with her faith traditions. But it does not allow any one parent to dictate the curriculum for all students based on her family’s religious traditions
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As if the NOM ad is not enough in the smears and lies category, Robert Knight - most recently a writer for Coral Ridge Ministries, a vitriolic anti-gay organization - totally lost it in a recent column on Townhall.com, afar right "news" and opinion website where an author's being in touch with reality is never a requirement. Over the years, I have had numerous encounters with Mr. Knight and he has proven to be someone who lies with no concern whatsoever for the truth. I have even suggested to Knight directly that he hire himself a trick and get over transferring his self-hate towards the rest of us self-accepting LGBT Americans. Surely former "ex-gays" John Paulk or Michael Johnston could advise Knight on some good cruising spots. Here is a sampling of Mr. Knight's latest spittle spewing rant:
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To a disturbing number of judges, most of the media, and now the Vermont legislature, marriage was created only to shut out homosexuals. That’s it. There’s no other reason for its presence in the law.
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The creation of counterfeit “marriage” is a finger in the eye of God, who created marriage as the first human institution. Jesus reminded the Pharisees: “Have you not read that He which made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, for this cause shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife and they shall be one flesh?” (Mark 19:4,5, Gen. 2:24). But in America’s kookier courts and trendy New England, the Bible – the founding document of Western legal thought – is ruled irrelevant, and marriage is a speed bump on the road to sexual liberation.
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Society would survive without a single homosexual relationship, but it would collapse without marriage. The law recognizes that marriage is unique and irreplaceable. Lots of homosexuals are wonderful, caring people, and some have close relationships, but that does not make them “married” any more than a brother and sister can be “married.”
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God Almighty created marriage thousands of years before the men of Sodom thought they had a better idea. If judicial tyrants have their way, America will outdo Sodom and even decadent Greece and Rome, where same-sex “marriage” was unthinkable.
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When are citizens going to tell public officials at all levels that they simply don’t have the authority to radically redefine marriage and set up our children and grandchildren for mandatory lessons about same-sex coupling? While it’s still legal, the resistance had better get organized – and busy.

Triumph for Equality

The Washington Post's lead editorial today lauds the advance for marriage equality in Vermont and Washington, D.C., yesterday. I suspect the editorial board will be excoriated in letters to the editor and applaud the board's statement of what ought to be evident to thinking Americans who support the separation of religion from the civil laws. Unfortunately, the Christian Taliban set will likely never accept gays as equal humans much less the legitimacy of our relationships and loves. Here are some highlights:
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THROUGH VERY different means and under very different circumstances, lawmakers in Vermont and the District yesterday came to the same conclusion: Common decency and the protections guaranteed to all citizens by the rule of law demand that the relationships of gay men and lesbians be respected and recognized.
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Conservatives often criticize judges for legislating from the bench; last week's unanimous decision by the Iowa Supreme Court to strike down a ban on gay marriage came under fire for this very reason. But even conservatives who disagree passionately with the results in Vermont should be able to respect the right of the duly elected peoples' representatives to take such action.
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District lawmakers also took a courageous step in unanimously voting to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. The bill must still be voted on again by the council, signed by Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) and approved by Congress before it becomes law. Some congressional overseers and opponents of gay marriage will no doubt seize on the legislation to score political points. But the council should be commended for taking the correct stance in defense of fairness for those who live in the nation's capital.
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There may be understandable arguments for refusing to define same-sex unions as marriages, but there are no legitimate reasons for denying legal protections to an entire group of people simply because of who they are and whom they love. One hopes the votes in Vermont and the District augur better things to come.

Another "Loving" Christian Message

Jeremy Hooper at Good As You (GAY) has a great post that exposes more of the nastiness which is a hallmark of the anti-gay Christianist set. Not only do they disparage LGBT citizens but they also mock our family relationships. The scene above is the handiwork of Peter LaBarbera who continually puts out knowingly untrue information - he once in an e-mail to me claimed ignorance of the bogus nature of Paul Cameron's work - and cares nothing for the harm that he and those like him do to the children of LGBT citizens. As Jeremy notes:
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No Pete, what Bre needs is for you to butt out of her life. Let her at least turn 18 before you exploit her existence for your own political gain! Or wait, Pete: Maybe we should go ahead and bring your wife and children into this here "culture war" mix. After all, it seems your newly enacted rules do not require one to have actually signed up for this gay rights fight in order to become fair game!
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*Note: Unscrupulously enough, this is the very same family
whose happiness was called into question by Focus on the Family back in February of this year.
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Note2: We of course would never bring Pete's family into any of this. In fact, even though we may despise their gay rights views, we never call any of our opposition's home and family lives into question. And that, my friends, is but one of many differences between our two movements.

What Kind of Party Does Virginia GOP Want?

As I have alluded to a number of times before, I used to be an active Republican. As did most of my family going back for many years. That ended, however, a number of years back as the GOP both in Virginia and nationally lurched from being a party of moderate conservatives believing in fiscal conservatism and small government to a party of theocracy that sought to inflict a poisonous version of Christianity on all citizens. Many of the moderates in the Party that I once called home likewise have walked away from the GOP since their views on "social issues" as the extremists in the GOP call them became too unacceptable to the Kool-Aid drinkers who increasingly came to make up the party base. As someone who strongly believes in the separation of church and state there came to be no place for me in the as someone who is gay, I was no longer even welcome by the wingnuts and was widely disparaged as people in the party came to know that I had "come out." The final nail in the coffin is the fact that every anti-gay measure in Virginia over the last decade has been championed by the Republicans. The trend of driving away moderates or those who are not anti-abortion and anti-gay continues to this day. The Lynchburg New & Advance - the home town paper of Jerry Falwell's Liberty University - has a surprising editorial that looks at this phenomenon and suggest that unless this situation changes, the GOP can expect more election defeats. Here are some highlights:
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For the fifth time in as many years, there is a new state chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia. . . . At just the point in time when state Republicans ought to be coalescing behind their presumptive gubernatorial nominee, former Attorney General Bob McDonnell, ahead of the November election, instead they’ve embarked on yet another battle in their ongoing civil war.
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At the heart of the divide in the Republican Party, both nationally and in Virginia, is the question of who is a true Republican. Is the party a big-tent party, welcoming people of divergent views on most topics but who fundamentally believe in small, efficient, unobtrusive government or is it a litmus-test party that strictly enforces ideological discipline? Guns, gay marriage, abortion … they’re all hot-button topics that invigorate a portion of the GOP base but turn off an increasingly large portion of the electorate.
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At one point in time not too long ago, the leaders of the party were people who believed that small, efficient government is better than large, bloated government; that taxes are necessary for government to provide citizens with the services for which it’s contractually obligated; that government should be loathe to interfere in the private lives of individuals; that government has a legitimate regulatory and oversight role in the economy.
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Today, far too many people who identify themselves as Republicans deride those who disagree with the party’s right as RINOs, “Republicans In Name Only.” . . . He’s just one in a long line of traditional conservatives who’ve run afoul of so-called “movement” conservatives, who believe it’s their way or the highway. And in the meantime, Republicans have taken drubbings in one election after another.
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Today, the Democrats have wised up and at least publicly don’t trash moderates. Republicans could learn a lesson or two from them, in that respect. When the Republicans will learn that lesson is anyone’s guess. If it’s not soon, then the bloodletting will only continue.
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Will the GOP learn this much needed lesson? I doubt it. The far right element within the party is utterly detached from the reality of a changing society. Anyone who doesn't support God, guns and gay bashing isn't likely to be welcome any time soon.

Wednesday Male Beauty

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Ousted GOP Head Likely to Defy Party

Former Republican Party of Virginia chairman Jeff Frederick who was ousted from the top RPV slot over the weekend is the gift that keeps on giving. Not one to go quietly, the Washington Post is reporting that Frederick is making noises that he will stand for re-election for the chairmanship at the Party convention in May. Personally, nothing would make me happier than seeing the RPV tearing itself apart in a civil war that could act as a sea anchor of Bob "Taliban Bob" McDonnell's effort to be elected as governor in November, 2009. From my days as a member of RPV, there is some merit to Frederick's complaint that some within the Party think that they rule the sand box and should be allowed to dictate to the rank and file members how to think and how to vote. On the other hand, Frederick is part of the loony far right element in the party that has turned the GOP into a quasi-religious party - something that caused me to leave the GOP nearly a decade ago. Here are some highlights on the ongoing intra-party fight:
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Ousted Virginia Republican leader Jeffrey M. Frederick said Monday he will probably run for party chairman again in May, setting up another clash with the GOP's gubernatorial nominee, Robert F. McDonnell, as Republicans struggle to unite for the November election.
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Frederick, 33, a conservative delegate from Prince William County, acknowledged that his pursuit of the party chairmanship could distract from McDonnell's campaign. But Frederick blamed McDonnell and other Republican elected officials for intervening. "What they need to figure out is, they are not the party," Frederick said. "I'm sick of things being run from the top down."
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The State Central Committee is expected to select Pat Mullins, Louisa County's Republican chairman, or Alexandra Liddy Bourne of Fairfax, an unsuccessful House candidate, as the party leader May 2. But party rules require the election of a chairman four weeks later at the Republican state convention May 30. There, 8,000 to 10,000 activists are expected to gather in Richmond to unite behind McDonnell.
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Frederick would not comment on whether he is considering an alternative post, such as a third-party bid for governor or other elected office.

The Red Cross Torture Report: What It Means

The International Committee of the Red Cross released a report which can be viewed here that is the subject of a review by the New York Book Review. The report sets out the findings of the International Committee of the Red Cross on the Treatment of Fourteen "High Value Detainees" in CIA Custody. The report is not pretty and it underscores the lawlessness of the Bush/Cheney regime and documents that the Chimperator, Emperor Palpatine Cheney and/or their minions authorized torture techniques once used by the Nazi regime and in the gulags of the former USSR. In reading the report what continued to strike me is that this type of conduct is something condemned by the Gospel message and yet it is the Christianists who to this day continue to back Bush/Cheney and all the crimes that were perpetrated. I can only conclude that despite the self-anointment of these people, they are Christian in name only. Here are some highlights:
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Cheney's story is made not of facts but of the myths that replace them when facts remain secret: myths that are fueled by allusions to a dark world of secrets that cannot be revealed. . . . . To keep the country safe "the gloves had to come off." What precisely were those "gloves" that had to be removed? Laws that forbid torture, that outlaw wiretapping and surveillance without permission of the courts, that limit the president's power to order secret operations and to wage war exactly as he sees fit.
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Working through the forty-three pages of the International Committee of the Red Cross's report, one finds a strikingly detailed account of horrors inflicted on fourteen "high-value detainees" over a period of weeks and months—horrors that Red Cross officials conclude, quite unequivocally, "constituted torture." It is hard not to reflect how officials concerned about protecting the country arrived at this particular "alternative set of procedures," and how they convinced themselves, with the help of attorneys in the White House and in the Department of Justice, that these "procedures" were legal.
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The effort began early in the days after the September 11 attacks. . . . on February 7, 2002, President Bush signed a memorandum stating that the Third Geneva Convention in effect didn't apply to prisoners in the "War on Terror." This decision cleared the way for the adaptation of SERE techniques to interrogation of prisoners in the "War on Terror."
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[I]n interviewing the fourteen "high-value detainees," who had been imprisoned secretly in the "black sites" anywhere from "16 months to almost four and a half years," the Red Cross experts were listening to descriptions of techniques applied to them that had been originally designed to be illegal "under the rules listed in the 1949 Geneva Conventions." And then the Red Cross investigators, as members of the body designated by the Geneva Conventions to supervise treatment of prisoners of war and to judge that treatment's legality, were called on to pronounce whether or not the techniques conformed to the conventions in the first place. In this judgment, they are, not surprisingly, unequivocal: The allegations of ill-treatment of the detainees indicate that, in many cases, the ill-treatment to which they were subjected while held in the CIA program, either singly or in combination, constituted torture.
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They are also illegal under the Convention Against Torture of 1984, to which the United States is a signatory, and illegal under the War Crimes Act of 1996 (though the Military Commissions Act of 2006 makes an attempt to shield those who applied the "alternative set of procedures" from legal consequences under this law). What is more, as the report concludes, The totality of the circumstances in which the fourteen were held effectively amounted to an arbitrary deprivation of liberty and enforced disappearance, in contravention of international law.
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In short, the report is damning and I for one believe that those who ordered torture that violated international law and which constituted war crimes need to be held accountable and tried for their crimes - and that includes Bush and Cheney. The latter is sadly unlikely to happen, but by not holding these individuals liable under international law undercuts the message that was sent at the end of World War II when both Nazi and Japanese officials were tried and punished for war crimes.

More Tuesday Male Beauty

Christian Bigots Apoplexy Over Marriage Advances

All too predictably the Christianists and professional Christian set are beside themselves in the wake of the Iowa ruling on Friday and today's votes in Vermont and Washington, D.C. What is amazing is just how hate filled some of these alleged Christians are when it comes to vilifying LGBT Americans. To these folks we are definitely less than human and they truly do not care what type of violence their messages of hate may incite. Perhaps the most vile remarks were made by radio bigot Michael Savage who said the following:
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"So there are the vermin now celebrating twisted perverse marriage in the middle of America. It's a victory for perversion in my opinion. You want me to tell you what makes me sick? When I see two puffy white males kissing each other, I wanna puke. When I see two women kissing each other, on the lips, as lovers, I wanna vomit. Why? It's unnatural. It's against all of the laws of mankind. It's against all the laws of humankind. It is suicide for a society to embrace such behavior."
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Speaking of "puffy white males," I guess Savage must have been looking at his own image in a nearby mirror. Not far behind Savage was the ever reliable Klan loving Tony Perkins from Family Research Council who likewise denigrated gays and anyone who would treat us as citizens deserving equal civil rights. Here is a sampling of the loving words from this professional Christian who relies on promoting anti-gay hate for his livelihood:
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"Same-sex 'marriage' is a movement driven by wealthy homosexual activists and a liberal elite determined to destroy not only the institution of marriage, but democracy as well. Time and again, we see when citizens have the opportunity to vote at the ballot box, they consistently opt to support traditional marriage," said Perkins.
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"The vote today by the D.C. City Council was a direct affront to the federal Defense of Marriage Act. The radical Left wants to destroy the traditional union of one man and one woman across the country and they will not rest until they do so.
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Then there are the remarks of the ever anti-gay columnist, Cal Thomas, who likewise slammed gay Americans but who at least recognized the fact that professional Christians like Tony Perkins, James Dobson, Peter LaBarbera, et al, who denigrate gays for a living ought to be doing more to support heterosexual married couples. Here are some highlights"
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One must hand it to the gay rights movement. They have taken advantage of a morally exhausted nation that tolerates so many things that used to be intolerable—from abortion, to easy divorce, to pornography. And they have attacked American traditions at their strongest points, from the military, to pressuring Disney to allow “gay days” at their amusement parks, to marriage.
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The problem with the Iowa Court ruling is that it vitiates a standard that defined marriage as between two people of the opposite sex, which was God’s idea, not government’s (see
Genesis 2:24), while failing to substitute a new standard. . . . As Iowa and other courts continue to dismantle the foundations of our nation without the approval of its citizens (each time the public gets an opportunity to vote on marriage, it votes to uphold the male-female version), they have an obligation to say where they intend to take us. What is the new standard for human relationships? Or do we make this up as we go, bowing to whatever pressure group makes the most noise?
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To those on the political and religious right who are intent on continuing the battle to preserve “traditional marriage” in a nation that is rapidly discarding its traditions, I would ask this question: What poses a greater threat to our remaining moral underpinnings? Is it two homosexuals living together, or is it the number of heterosexuals who are divorcing and the increasing number of children born to unmarried women, now at nearly 40 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention?
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Most of those who are disturbed about same-sex marriage are not as exercised about preserving heterosexual marriage. That’s because it doesn’t raise money and won’t get them on TV. Some preachers would rather demonize gays than oppose heterosexuals who violate their vows by divorcing, often causing harm to their children.
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The battle over same-sex marriage is on the way to being lost. For conservatives who still have faith in the political system to reverse the momentum, you are—to recall Harold Hill—“closing your eyes to a situation you do not wish to acknowledge.”
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Since we LGBT citizens are being depicted as vermin, destroyers of society, and those seeking to destroy democracy by these Godly folk, I can only wonder how soon it will be before we see the next news story of a some gay - or perceived gay - citizen murdered by someone who feels that God supports the murder of gays and that that person (or all of us) deserve to die.

Marriage Advances in Vermont and D.C.

To the delight of LGBT Americans the Vermont Legislature this morning voted to override Governor Jim Douglas' veto and made Vermont the first state to legislatively grant gays and lesbians full marriage rights equal to those of heterosexual couples. I applaud the action although I confess I was more than a bit worried that the 100 required votes in the Vermont House might fall short. With modern medical and mental health experts affirming that one's sexual orientation is immutable and not a choice, nothing less than full marriage affords LGBT couples equality under the CIVIL marriage laws. The reality is that there is no reason to bar same sex marriage other than religious based bigotry - something that has no place in the civil laws as noted by the Iowa Supreme Court this past Friday. Here are some highlights from the Burlington Free Press:
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Vermont has become the fourth state to legalize gay marriage — and the first to do so with a legislature’s vote. The Legislature voted Tuesday to override Gov. Jim Douglas’ veto of a bill allowing gays and lesbians to marry. The vote was 23-5 to override in the state Senate and 100-49 to override in the House. Under Vermont law, two-thirds of each chamber had to vote for override.
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Tuesday morning's legislative action came less than a day after Douglas issued a veto message saying the bill would not improve the lot of gay and lesbian couples because it still would not provide them rights under federal and other states' laws.Gov. Jim Douglas, who vetoed legislation, said, "I prepared myself for this outcome and predicted it. The outcome was not unexpected."He had called the issue of gay marriage a distraction during a time when economic and budget issues were more important.
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House Speaker Shap Smith's announcement of the vote brought an outburst of jubilation from some of the hundreds packed into the gallery and the lobby outside the House chamber, despite the speaker's admonishment against such displays. The true jubilation didn't start until everyone gathered downstairs where they congratulated legislative leaders who championed the cause.
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Adding to the day's amazing results was the vote of the Washington, D.C., Council to recognize marriages that are legitimate in the states in which they were performed. The District already provides domestic partnerships for its LGBT couples, but today's vote will now cause relocated gay married couples as married. With Congress having the final say - since D.C. does not afford its citizens full self rule as would be the case in any of the 50 states - the vote will likely cause Republicans and Christianists to exert efforts to override the Council vote. Here are some highlights from the Washington Post:
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The D.C. Council voted today to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, on the same day that Vermont became the fourth state to legalize same-sex unions. Domestic partnerships are already legal in the nation's capital. But today's vote, billed as an important milestone in gay rights, explicitly recognizes relocated gay married couples as married.
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The initial vote was 12-0. The unanimous vote sets the stage for future debate on legalizing same-sex marriage in the District and a clash with Congress, which approves the city's laws under Home Rule. The council is expected to take a final vote on the legislation next month.
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Council member David A. Catania (I-At Large), who is also gay, predicted it was only a matter of time before the council also takes up a bill to legalize same-sex marriage in the District. "It's no secret that I have been working on legislation that would take us further," he said. "This is the march toward human rights and equality. This is not the march toward special rights. This is the equality march and that march is coming here."
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Council member Phil Mendelson (D-At Large), who has been chipping away at barriers for same-sex couples for years, said he saw the legislation as one that is in keeping with the city's laws. "Some are saying it's an important step. I am saying it's a simple step," said Mendelson, who authored the legislation.