Saturday, February 11, 2012

More Saturday Male Beauty

The 11th Biblical Plague: Virginia Beach’s Jeffrey McWaters

I've noted several times that Virginia - once Governor Bob "Taliban Bob" McDonnell signs the bill - expressly allow adoption and foster care agencies receiving state funding to openly discriminate against would be adoptive and foster home parents based on "moral beliefs." This travesty is allegedly describe to protect faith based agencies even as it tramples over the civil and religious rights of others. And all of this is done on the state's dime. Tax payer funds are directly used to discriminate against other taxpayers. One can only hope that this abortion of a law gets challenged in court and struck down as unconstitutional. Local online news site AltDaily has an op-ed that looks at, Jeffrey McWaters (pictured at left), the principal architect of this Christianist wet dream of a law. Given McWater's willingness to kiss the asses of the folks at The Family Foundation and his homophobia, one can only wonder how long it will be before he's caught using Mega Phone like former Congressman Ed Schrock - will McWaters falsely describe himself as "buff" like Schrock? - or having a "wide stance" malfunction like Larry Craig. Here are some column highlights:

The bill, SB 349, codifies discrimination for the explicit purpose of protecting adoption agencies’ “moral beliefs.” Not only that, agencies will be able to knowingly place gay children with anti-gay foster parents, even those who would send the kids to “reparative” therapy programs that are well-known for causing teen suicide.

McWaters, who has represented the eastern half of Virginia Beach since 2010, founded Amerigroup in 1994 and built it into a Fortune 500 company. If he hasn’t yet made himself a billionaire off Amerigroup, he’s surely close to it. The company’s website claims its “only business is managing publicly funded health programs for our Nation’s most vulnerable.” In other words, McWaters created a middleman that profits off Medicaid funding and drives up the cost of indigent care.

A few years ago Amerigroup settled for $225 million in a lawsuit over accusations that it categorically blocked eligible pregnant women from coverage. Since there’s relatively little media scrutiny of state-level candidates in Virginia, McWaters won a Senate seat despite the ethical stain of that lawsuit. Now he’s on the Education and Health committee, fighting against attempts to put Virginia in compliance with the Affordable Care Act and crafting legislation that will further enrich Amerigroup.

McWaters attends the ultra-conservative Trinity Church in Virginia Beach. According to the church’s website, every last word in the Bible is “infallible” and divorce “is always contrary to God’s original intention.” Given that McWaters is a church elder, I’m guessing he had a hand in Trinity’s decision in 2007 to split from the Episcopal Church and “launch a new congregation outside the denomination they accuse of heresy.” The heretical act in question: the Episcopal Church’s ordination of Gene Robinson, a gay man, in 2003.

While I’m used to the brand of homophobia mandated by Leviticus, it’s not every day you hear folks in the infallible-Bible set speaking highly of the Plagues of Egypt. But Jeff McWaters isn’t your everyday Bible-thumper. The day before Hurricane Irene hit Virginia — at a time when many of us were scared for our safety — McWaters wrote cheerily on his Senate website that “The good news is that after this weekend, we will have endured five of the ten ancient biblical plagues.”

I’ve always figured that if a legislator uses his public platform to scream loudly and daily that gays are attacking his family and country and morals and marriage, we might as well attack. So I’ve tried to shine lights on the Virginians who fill that bill, but I’ve overlooked McWaters. I regret any role my omission has played in the success of SB 349. From now on I’ll write about him in a manner that achieves parity with his own conduct toward gay people, especially since his ambition of late suggests a desire to maybe run for statewide office. It will be a pleasure, Senator.

Want to let Jeff McWaters know how you feel? Here are some ways to reach out to him: Here’s his Facebook page. Legislative aides: Ross Grogg; and Cheryl Simmons; Capital office: 804-698-7508. District office: 757-965-3700. General: Amerigroup on Facebook.

Unfortunately, McWaters is an example of the type of self-enriching religious extremist that makes up so much of the Republican Party of Virginia. The irony is that one of McWaters' co-conspirators in the Trinity break away from the Episcopal Church was a former law partner of mine who - yes, you guessed it - is divorced and remarried. Funny how the "infallible word of God" only applies to gays while Christianists are free to pick and choose what they want to ignore. Why do I feel the word hypocrites on my lips?

GOP Senator: Employers Have the Right to Fire Workers Because They Are Gay

Echoing the attitude of Republican members of the Virginia General Assembly - who killed legislation that would have prevented the Commonwealth of Virginia and its agencies from firing LGBT employees based on their sexual orientation - Utah GOP Senator Mike Lee says that employers are well within their constitutional rights to fire gay employees. It's apparently one of the few rights that lee finds constitutional. Among the many things that lee finds unconstitutional are child labor laws, unemployment assistance, food safety protections, etc. Apparently, Lee was behind the door when eBay was advising Utah law makers that it might move 3,000 jobs out of Utah if that state did not enact employment non-discrimination protections for LGBT workers. Lee was spouting his batshitery at CPAC. Here are highlights from Think Progress:

Lee’s version of the Constitution protects employers’ rights to fire workers just because they are gay.

Thursday at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), ThinkProgress asked Lee if he supported the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), legislation that would prohibit discrimination against employees on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Lee explained that he didn’t, saying that the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause was only intended to protect against racial discrimination:

KEYES: ENDA is something that rumbles every now and then in Congress. What’s your take, do you think it should be legal to fire someone just because they’re gay or transgender, or do you think that’s not in the purview of the Constitution?

LEE: Look, I think employers ought not make their hiring decisions based on categories like that, and I don’t think most of them do.

KEYES: But whether or not it should be a crime.

LEE: Whether it should be a federal crime, specific to federal law? No.

KEYES: Is there any difference between firing someone for being gay rather than firing someone because of their race?

LEE: Yes, yes. The 14th Amendment — in fact the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments — were adopted specifically around th erace issue. So, yeah, there is a difference.

Why does part of me suspect that Lee's not really all that fond of the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments either?

GOP Candidates and Elected Officials Appear with White Suprmacists at CPAC

If one wants to see the face of hate in America, CPAC provides quite a cavalcade of haters ranging from anti-gay extremists to white supremacists. And what's really frightening is that Santorum, Gingrich and Romney are busy pandering to them - as are many others in the Republican Party. Would that average Americans would wake up and pay attention to the vile groups and individuals who now call so many of the shots in the GOP. These individuals wrap themselves in religion and patriotism but spew nothing but contempt for many of their fellow countryman. In my view, these individuals and groups are a clear and present danger to constitutional government and religious freedom in this country. So why isn't the mainstream media telling the public about this? Right Wing Watch has a number of posts that ought to alarm thinking Americans. Here is a sampling:

Rick Santorum Just Had Dinner with White Nationalist Bob Vandervoort.

You’ll recall that Vandervoort, the executive director of Pro-English, was previously the leader of the white nationalist group Chicagoland Friends of the American Renaissance. He is scheduled to appear at a panel tomorrow morning at CPAC along with two Republican members of Congress and the Kansas Secretary of State, Kris Kobach.

Despite all of this, Rick Santorum just had dinner with Vandervoort. We can hope that Santorum did not yet know Vandervoort’s full background. Now that he does, will he denounce white nationalists, including Vandervoort, and say they have no place within the GOP and conservative movement?

CPAC: Anti-Muslim Activist James Lafferty Says He's 'Proud' of Attacks against Mosques

The Conservative Political Action Conference panel “Islamic Law in America: How the Obama Justice Department Is Selling Us Out,” featured numerous anti-Muslim speakers including Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer, Ilaria Pantano and James Lafferty of the Virginia Anti-Sharia Task Force. Lafferty, whose wife Andrea runs the Traditional Values Coalition, dedicated his speech to his activism against mosques in his community and a Muslim Republican’s candidacy for the state House of Delegates.

Lafferty told the guests that “we are being outgunned by them, literally and figuratively” and claimed, “This is a spiritual war we are fighting.” At one point in his talk, Lafferty described a Justice Department “hate crimes summit” he attended. He expressed pride in the fact that most of the mosques that had been attacked were in the South.

CPAC: Austin Ruse Condemns Efforts to Stop Violence against LGBT Community

During a CPAC panel on supposed U.S. spending “to promote abortion and homosexuality worldwide,” Austin Ruse of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Initiative (C-Fam), attacked protections for people based on their sexual orientation and gender identity in United Nations studies on violence and execution. Ruse first lamented that an initially-removed reference to sexual orientation was restored to a resolution condemning summary, extrajudicial and arbitrary executions, and went on to bemoan a decision by the Human Rights Council to study “discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity, in all regions of the world.” He argued that such a resolution is “just the nose of the camel under the tent” and lashed out at supporters of LGBT rights, maintaining that “their theory of international law is that it’s done by lying, coercion and trickery.”

And naturally, despite all the hatred and intolerance being spewed and disseminated, these folks pat themselves on the back as "godly Christians." No wonder the younger generation is fleeing organized religion.

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

Bigots at Suffolk, Virginia Schools Draw National Coverage

Earlier in the week I described the effort at the Suffolk City Public Schools - apparently spearheaded by a lone school board member (pictured at left) - to create a solution to a non-existent problem and in the process trample on the rights of transgender students in particular. Now, the story has been picked up by MSNBC and the Hampton Roads area is again getting coverage that makes all of us look like knuckle dragging Neanderthals. As noted before, while not the most reactionary of the local communities, Suffolk is certainly no pillar of modernity either and is best known for its peanut festival - at least until now. before it's over, I won't be surprised to see the school division getting sued and wasting funds on legal fees when the moneys could have been better used for education. The Bible beaters always claim to care about others but prove by their actions that it's really always about themselves and forcing their beliefs on others. Here are highlights from MSNBC:

A Virginia school district is considering a ban on cross-dressing by students to minimize what administrators say are “safety risks, disruptions and distractions.”

The Suffolk School Board studied the proposal at a meeting Thursday night, but members did not vote on it. The proposal explicitly bans “clothing worn by a student that is not in keeping with a student’s gender and causes a disruption and/or distracts others from the educational process or poses a health or safety concern.”

School district representative Bethanne Bradshaw told that Board Vice Chairwoman Thelma Hinton first raised concerns about students’ cross-dressing.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia said that, rather than banning the “nonconforming behavior,” schools should instead address the bullying or harassment. In a letter to the school board, Rebecca Glenberg, legal director of the ACLU of Virginia, called the gender-related dress restriction “unlawful and unfair to students.”

The ACLU believes that, while schools may impose a requirement of proper attire, “to mandate dress based on notions that girls must wear one type of clothing and boys another is impermissible.”

In the letter, Glenberg also brings up a recent case in a Mississippi public school that refused to publish in its yearbook the senior portrait of a female student wearing a tuxedo. The ACLU sued the school in August 2010. As part of the settlement, Copiah County School District decided to ditch gender-specific outfits for senior portraits and instead require all students to wear a cap and gown.

Diane Ehrensaft, a Bay Area psychologist who studies gender and child development, told that the proposed ban is “a subtle form of harassment” and the school district should focus instead on monitoring bullying. . . . . “To blame the victim by saying you can’t dress that way anymore is inappropriate,” Ehrensaft said.

[N]o other school district in the southeastern region of South Hampton Roads includes a cross-dressing policy in its student dress code.

It would seem the real problem is Ms. Hinton and other closed minded bigots. I hope the attention she is receiving isn't helpful to her political career.

Conservatives Cruising for Gay Sex at CPAC

The Catholic bishops and cardinals don't have a lock on hypocrisy it seems based on some investigations done by HyperVocal concerning the coven of haters and extremists in Washington, D.C., for the CPAC gathering. While gays and everything about us are under attack in numerous speeches and no doubt all kinds of hate-filled propaganda leaflets at CPAC, some of the attendees - obviously self-loathing closet cases - are out trolling for gay sex. I frankly cannot understand how anyone LGBT could be involved with CPAC. It's the equivalent of a Jew belonging to the Nazi party or a black seeking membership in the KKK. I just don't understand the twisted mindset. Here are highlights (go to Hypervocal) for all of the craigslist ads:

The Conservative Political Action Conference, the annual Republican Woodstock, kicked off in our nation’s capital on Thursday. The weekend-long event draws about 10,000 center-right to far-right politically motivated activists and elected officials from around the country to set up camp in DC.

For most conference attendees, CPAC offers them the chance to not only attend workshops, vote in the famous straw poll and take in high-profile speeches, but to meet like-minded folks who share similar worldviews. And for some of them, it offers up the chance to meet really like-minded folks who share a particular secretive predilection. Since Grindr wouldn’t be able to tell us who’s in town for CPAC and who’s just on the prowl, we called up Craigslist on our Netscape Navigator browser and looked around for who’s cruising for good times away from the prying eyes of friends and family back home.

These were all posted within the last day or two. We did not plant any of them or alter them in any way.

Milwaukee Archdiocese List 8,000 Instances of Sex Abuse - A Glimpse at the True Magnitude of the Crimes

Of late the Roman Catholic bishops have continued an aggressive campaign against the civil rights of LGBT citizens and manufactured a "religious freedom" controversy over contraception coverage. Could the real motivation - besides the usual quest for power and control that have been hallmarks of the Church hierarchy for centuries - been to create enough "noise" in the news media that stories like the one coming out of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee are lost to most of the public? The bishops and Rome have tried to down play the magnitude of the sex abuse crimes against children and youths and rarely have willingly given up information from their files to police and prosecutors in the hope of salvaging some vestige of the Church's reputation. Personally, I have long suspected that the true figures stashed away in secret files in bishoprics and the Vatican are staggeringly higher than those acknowledged. Bankruptcy court filings in Milwaukee now seem to confirm that the Church fathers have been lying most likely on a worldwide basis.

In criminal and civil court proceedings, the Church has always had a natural motivation to down play its sins. Bankruptcy proceedings are a far different matter. If one hopes to limit or even avoid claims in bankruptcy, they must be listed in full and the claimants be afforded an opportunity to file what's called a proof of claim. If the the Milwaukee Archdiocese hoped to limit and discharge claims of victims of sexual abuse, it was necessary that it actually tell the truth an list the potential claims. It did, and the numbers are staggering - especially if extrapolated across other dioceses in America and around the world (there are 630 archdioceses and 2,167 dioceses world wide). Instead of tens of thousands of victims, we are talking about not hundreds of thousands of victims, if not well into the millions. Indeed, the Church's cover up effort would rate as one of the largest criminal conspiracies.

One can only conclude that the arrogance, narcissism and criminality of the bishops, cardinals - and yes the Popes - are almost without precedent outside of dictators and despots who engaged in crimes on a massive basis look modest. The other conclusion is that the on-going conference at the Vatican to supposedly address sex abuse is a ruse. It's probably no more legitimate than one of Stalin's show trials. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has details. Here are highlights:

Sealed documents filed in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee bankruptcy identify at least 8,000 instances of child sexual abuse and 100 alleged offenders - 75 of them priests - who have not previously been named by the archdiocese, a victims' attorney said Thursday.

Archdiocese spokeswoman Julie Wolf said she did not have enough information to respond to the assertion, made by attorney Jeffrey Anderson during a pivotal hearing before U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Susan V. Kelley. Anderson represents about 350 of the 570 victim-survivors who have filed claims in the case.

But Peter Isely of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests speculated that some are likely members of religious orders, such as Capuchins or Franciscans. . . . . "This is a public safety crisis, a child safety crisis that needs to be investigated," Isely said at a news conference on the federal courthouse steps, surrounded by fellow survivors and reporters. "We need to know who they are and where they are. How can there be 8,000 crimes committed by over 100 offenders and there be no accountability?" he said.

[Judge] Kelley let stand, at least for now, two survivors' claims that the church had sought to bar, arguing they were beyond the statute of limitations. In the split decision, Kelley also granted the church's motion for summary judgment, effectively dismissing a third claim in which a victim had signed a prior settlement agreement with the church.

Allowing the two claims to stand doesn't guarantee they will be paid in the bankruptcy, only that the legal debate over when the statute of limitations begins ticking must be decided at trial.

The archdiocese had sought the dismissal of three claims involving two priests and a parish choir director who were accused of molesting boys in the 1970s and '80s. Church lawyers argued that the cases were beyond the statute of limitations and involved a victim who signed a previous settlement agreement and a perpetrator - the choir director - who was not a direct employee.

Adding to this moral cesspool is the fact that Timothy Dolan - now Archbishop of New York and a major opponent of gay rights and proponent of the myth that Catholic religious freedom is under attack by gays and the Obama administration - is suspected of having hidden $130 million of the Milwaukee Archdiocese's assets when he was posted there so as to avoid paying victims of sexual abuse. Oh, and then there's Cardinal Egan's retraction of his apology for the sex abuse scandal. All of this leaves two questions: (1) why does anyone continue to listen to the Catholic Church hierarchy on any issue and (2) why aren't Egan, Dolan and many others - including Benedict XVI - under criminal prosecution? The Mafia, in my opinion, is highly ethical compared to these foul, despicable men.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Friday Morning Male Beauty

Rick Santorum Moves From Attacking Gys to Attacking Equality for Women

I sometimes add a logo to posts that describes the Republican Party as the "Bridge to the 11th Century." The slogan is all too appropriate when one looks at Rick Santorum. Not content with attacking LGBT citizens and supporting a re-criminalization of gays through new sodomy laws, "Frothy Mix" now has moved on to insult women and intimate that they are emotionally unfit for combat and other positions in the U.S. military. For Santorum, gays belong hidden in the closet and women belong barefoot and pregnant in the home. Oh, and did I mention that Santorum would like contraception made unavailable to women? It's lunacy that hopefully will wake people up to just how out of the mainstream the GOP has become and motivate them to get out in November and vote for the Democrats to take back the House of Representatives. What's currently happening in the Virginia General Assembly under GOP control ought to be setting off alarms across the country. Here are highlights from the Washington Post on Frothy Mix's insults to women:

When asked about the Pentagon’s plan to allow women to serve in some combat roles, Santorum told CNN’s John King: “I want to create every opportunity for women to be able to serve this country . . . but I do have concerns about women in front-line combat.

“I think that could be a very compromising situation, where people naturally may do things that may not be in the interest of the mission because of other types of emotions that are involved. It already happens, of course, with the camaraderie of men in combat, but I think it would be even more unique if women were in combat,” Santorum added. “And I think that’s not in the best interests of men, women or the mission.”

Such remarks may please some social conservatives who were never that keen on women serving in the military, but this may not sit well with women who work, sometimes in male-dominated jobs.

This is not the first time Santorum has ventured into this territory. In 2005 the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported:

So not long after his first book, “It Takes a Family: Conservatism and the Common Good,” hit Washington bookstores over the Fourth of July weekend, his opponents were sifting through the 430 pages at warp speed -- culling controversial passages in which the Pennsylvania Republican criticizes public schools, America’s “divorce culture” and argues that more American families should consider whether both parents really need to work. . . .

Many women, he adds, have told him that it is more “socially affirming to work outside the home than to give up their careers to take care of their children.”

That ideology, he says, has been shaped by feminists who demean the work of women who stay at home as primary caregivers.

“Sadly the propaganda campaign launched in the 1960s has taken root,” said Santorum. “The radical feminists succeeded in undermining the traditional family and convincing women that professional accomplishments are the key to happiness.”

Santorum might want to rethink that and figure out a way to walk back some of that. With women making up almost half the workforce (and now out-numbering men among workers with at least a bachelor’s degree), Santorum’s remarks sound badly off-key.

It's Santorum who is the radical, not feminists or working women. The man needs to be sent into permanent political retirement.

Last Dinner on the RMS Titanic

Given the arrogance and contempt for the poor, blacks, Hispanics - basically every one other than white conservative Christians (preferably with lots of money) on display in the Virginia General Assembly, it is perhaps fitting that the Mariners Museum in nearby Newport News will be hosting a major fundraiser event on April 14, 2012, to mark the 100th anniversary of the night the RMS Titanic struck an iceberg and subsequently sank two hours and forty minutes later. At the time, little did the ruling classes realize that within a decade their world would be markedly changed particularly after World War I swept away numerous monarchies and never again would class distinction s and barriers be as powerful. Not, of course, that the Republican Party is not actively trying to bring back that bygone age. The country is experiencing wealth disparities likely last seen a century ago and as Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, and others are demonstrating, contempt for the poor and minorities are at a new high amongst the GOP base. One can only hope that the current GOP meets a fate akin to that of the Titanic.

But I digress. The Mariners Museum is a wonderful facility and has artifacts that range from the turret of the ironclad U.S.S. Monitor to items from the super liner U.S.S. United States to a collection of vintage Chris-Craft runabouts. The event is pricey because of its fundraiser objective. Here's a description from the Museum's website:
On the evening of Saturday, April 14, 2012, we will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the RMS Titanic’s fateful maiden voyage with a black-tie Last Dinner on the Titanic event. Participants will dine in either “first class” or "third class" style as they mingle with “passengers” from the past. We’ll conclude with a special remembrance at the exact time the ship struck the iceberg. Proceeds from this event will support the 2012 programs and exhibitions at The Mariners’ Museum.

First Class Dinner in the Museum Grand Lobby

The experience begins at 6:30 p.m. as you are greeted by Captain Edward J. Smith and welcomed into the Grand Salon of the RMS Titanic. A sumptuous 5-course re-creation of the Last Dinner awaits you as you are serenaded by the sounds of a chamber quartet. Enjoy the company of John Jacob Astor & Benjamin Guggenheim.

$250 per person, $2,500 per table (seats 8), Black tie or period costume.

Third Class “The Real Party” in the Huntington Room

This event begins at 7:30 p.m. when you pass through Immigration inspection and are sent to the Dining Hall. There you will enjoy hearty fare & beverages and enjoy rousing Irish tunes.

$125 per person, Period costume optional.

Yes, the Boyfriend and I will be attending and we will be taking my youngest daughter with us a birthday gift. A neighbor is on the Museum's board and we fully support the Museum's mission. More information on the event can be found here. We have one friend who is going that we think would make a perfect "Unsinkable Molly Brown." We love her to death and she's a great ally to the LGBT community.

Virginia Senate Passes Anti-Gay Adoption Bill

While most of the country and world moves forward, Virginia is lurching backwards in time under the theocratic rule of the Republican controlled Virginia General Assembly. Bills that are the wet dreams of far right fanatics are advancing and the rights of minorities are under constant threats. Even the Commonwealth itself - at least under state law - can openly fire LGBT employees, voter suppression bills aimed at blacks and Hispanics are moving forward in both legislative houses, and a bill that will allow state financed private adoption agencies to openly discriminate gays, those of unpopular religious faiths, and even those with unfavored political views has passed the Virginia Senate and is guaranteed to be signed into law by Governor Bob "Taliban Bob" McDonald. If McDonnell thinks he can run for the GOP VP slot as a "moderate conservative" he needs to get his head out of his ass. It's depressing and underscores why no LGBT individual and no modern, progressive business should move to Virginia. Instead, they need to turn down job offers and locate else where and tell the religious extremists in Richmond exactly why Virginia is an unwanted destination. Here are highlights from the Washington Post on this travesty:

The Virginia state Senate passed legislation Thursday allowing private adoption agencies to deny placements that conflict with their religious or moral beliefs, including opposition to homosexuality.

The mostly party-line 22-18 vote virtually ensures the Republican-backed bill will become law. The House of Delegates has an identical version of the bill and Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell says he will sign it. Virginia would become just the second state with such a law, which supporters said was modeled after North Dakota’s.

State Sen. Jeffrey McWaters, a Republican from Virginia Beach, said his “conscience clause” bill protects the religious rights of private child placement agencies, including dozens that contract with the state to provide foster care and adoption services.

Sen. Adam Ebbin, D-Alexandria and the only openly gay member of the General Assembly, suggested all the talk about religious freedom is a smokescreen for discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people. “It has always been about denying LGBT Virginians the right to form families, no matter what we say,” Ebbin said.

He said the bill will endanger gay and bisexual children, who make up a disproportionate share of youths awaiting a home, by allowing agencies to place them with parents opposed to homosexuality.

The Family Foundation of Virginia, which lobbied for the legislation, lauded the Senate’s action. “The passage of conscience protection for private child placement agencies by a bipartisan majority in the Senate is a tremendous victory for religious liberty and for the thousands of children and families around Virginia that are served by these agencies,” Victoria Cobb, the foundation’s president, said in a written statement.

The Child Welfare League of America had sent a letter to senators earlier in the week urging them to reject the bill, saying it would just make it more difficult to place the approximately 1,300 Virginia children waiting for a home.

I'm sure passage of the bill made Victoria Cobb's day. If one wants to see the face of hate and bigotry, a good place to start is with Ms. Cobb. If there is a God, I suspect she has a reserved seat in Hell. She surely is a strong reason NOT to want to be considered a Christian.
Here's Adam Ebbin's statement in opposition to the bill:

Thursday, February 09, 2012

More Thursday Male Beauty

A Coven of Haters and Extremists Arrive for CPAC - Where Were They in the Prop 8 Trial?

As the Washington Post and many main stream news outlets are reporting, a coven of hate merchants and religious extremists have descended on Washington, D. C., for the annual CPAC gathering where the batshitery and far right extremism is off the charts. Barack Obama, gays, liberals of all types are under attack and hate and down right mean spiritedness seem to be the principal hallmarks. As is so often the case with the far right, one is left wondering whether there is anyone that they don't hate. With this week's ruling in Perry v. Brown, however, one has to ask where were these out spoken defenders of "traditional marriage" and "Judeao-Christian morality" when the defenders of Propostion 8 Needed credible witnesses. I suspect that the answer is very simple: they love to rant and spew lies to equally deranged audiences of Christofascists. When they have to testify under oath and the threat of a perjury conviction, they vanish from the scene. Alvin McEwen at Pam's House Blend looks at these self-styled cultural warriors who were missing in action when it came to testifying in the Proposition 8 trial. Here are some highlights:

In celebration of yesterday’s Appeals Court ruling against Proposition 8, I was going to write something uplifting about the perseverance of the lgbtq community. But I decided not to. For one, I am sure that there are so many others who are going to be dwelling on that subject. For another, based upon the reactions coming from the religious right, I feel that another direction is in order, i.e. a missive directed to Maggie Gallagher, the National Organization for Marriage, the Family Research Council, and all of those other folks whining about Tueday’s ruling.

Just where were these folks when the original trial was taking place last year? Why didn’t any of these folks testify as to why Prop 8 was needed? Remember, the pro-Prop 8 side could only find two witnesses and both did a poor job defending the law. One witness, David Blankenhorn, inadvertently made the case for the anti-Prop 8 side! Where were Gallagher, Brian Brown, Peter Sprigg, Tony Perkins, or any of these other folks who put so much work in getting the law passed?

All of this outrage after the fact is bogus. It’s a diversion and a pitiful one at that. It’s an attempt to obscure a basic fact. And that basic fact is that Proposition 8 was built with deliberate lies that Maggie Gallagher, Tony Perkins, Peter Sprigg, and the rest of those pushing it were too fearful to defend in court.

None of these people – not one – had the guts to stand up in court, take an oath, and attest to the veracity of the claims they made regarding what allegedly would happen should marriage equality become legal in California, because they knew that the lawyers attacking the law – David Boies and Ted Olson – would call them out and reveal their deception.

So, Maggie dearest and the rest of you folks, please stop whining. You are not fooling anyone. You dug this hole yourself, so you have no reason to cry out when the dirt comes in to bury you.

Nothing would have been more satisfying than seeing Maggie Gallagher, Brian Brown, Peter Sprigg, Tony Perkins, et al, testify under oath and be utterly demolished by Ted Olsen and David Boies. Other than hate and fear based religious beliefs, they have NOTHING to support their claims. We know that and they know that. Would that the simple minded and ignorant that they shake down time and time again for money would get the message.

The Hypocrisy of Newt Gingrich - He Talks Like a Pastor But Lives Like a Porn Star

My activist friends at Truth Wins Out are taking on the hypocrisy of Newt Gingrich head on. Gingrich, a thrice married serial adulterer would have the simple minded dolts of the evangelical Christian set believe that he's a champion of the "sanctity of marriage." His personal conduct tells a very different story. Therefore, in response to Gingrich's unfathomable hubris and hypocrisy, Truth Wins Out has placed a full page ad - it's pictured above - in Roll Call, a Capitol Hill newspaper. In addition, John Becker, who did a masterful job going under cover at "Marcia" Bachmann's ex-gay myth peddling "Christian counseling center" has an op-ed at The Advocate Linkthat takes on Gingrich's batshitery. Here are some op-ed highlights:

Truth Wins Out placed an admittedly provocative full-page ad in today’s edition of Roll Call, a Capitol Hill newspaper, headlined “Newt Gingrich: Talks Like a Preacher, Lives Like a Porn Star.” In it, we admonish Gingrich for his stunning hypocrisy on the issue of marriage equality, taking him to task for the way that he, a serial adulterer with multiple marriages, works tirelessly to prevent same-sex couples from marrying because of a professed belief that marriage is “sacred.”

This ad was strategically timed to coincide with the start of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, DC.

The speaker’s list for this year’s conference reads like the roster of a conservative Dream Team: Rick Perry, Scott Walker, Michele Bachmann, Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, Tony Perkins, Ann Coulter, Herman Cain, John Boehner, and GOP presidential wannabes Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich.

It also comes in the midst of a white-hot week for the freedom to marry movement — a week in which the House and Senate in Washington state passed a marriage equality bill, a similar bill was introduced in the Illinois Assembly, and California’s Proposition 8 was ruled unconstitutional in a federal appellate court. And it’s only Thursday!

TWO launched the ad because we believe that when the LGBT community is attacked, we should fight back. . . . . And Gingrich has certainly attacked. He recently demeaned married same-sex couples in lifelong committed relationships as nothing more than “friends.” He has repeatedly pledged to advance a constitutional amendment excluding same-sex couples from marriage. He funneled $200,000 into the successful effort to oust three Iowa Supreme Court justices whose ruling allowed LGBT couples the freedom to marry. And he wasted no time lambasting Tuesday’s historic Proposition 8 ruling as an unconscionable judicial assault on the “Judeo-Christian foundations of the United States.”

Conservatives, including Gingrich, proclaim marriage to be a holy sacrament and position themselves as the valiant defenders of this tradition. Even that doesn’t go far enough for the former Speaker, who would have you believe his moral beacon shines so brightly as to render him the “definer of civilization.” But as we all know, Newt’s personal life proves the hollowness of these words. He has behaved reprehensibly in at least two of his three marriages, yet tells anyone who will listen that LGBT Americans should be forbidden from marrying at all. And the social conservatives at the base of his party are eating it up.

Pointing out Newt Gingrich’s serial hypocrisy undermines our opponents’ core argument about marriage being too sacred for same-sex couples. Doing so at CPAC implicates social conservatives for aiding and abetting behavior they purport to oppose when they slavishly support Gingrich.

To describe Gingrich (and his supporters) as a hypocrite is indeed an understatement.

A Product of Gay Parents Speaks Out Eloquently

As fellow LGBT blogger Jeremy Hooper notes, the far-right loves to talk about kids of gays in the abstract and would have the ignorant and uninformed believe that these children are deprived and somehow maladjusted. I can only conclude that such critics are attributing their own failings to others. Listen to one such child of a same sex couple headed family speak for himself on the meaning of the 9th Circuit's ruling earlier in the week on Proposition 8. He's far more eloquent in my view that the ranting, spittle spraying hate merchants of the Christian Taliban who seem to have no grasp of what love is really all about:

I suspect that my youngest daughter in particular would concur with this young man.

Trevor Project

As longer term readers know, I am a member of the advisory board for the Old Dominion University Gay Cultural Studies Endowment which has as it goal establishing a self-sustaining endowment for a permanent full time post-doctorate position at the University focused on LGBT studies and cultural contributions. This endowed position will focus on the contributions, concerns, and challenges associated with LGBT culture, promote academic research and provides graduate and undergraduate educational course opportunities. In addition, the holder of the position would engage the local Hampton Roads LGBT community and larger business community through ongoing dialogue and community involvement.

In furtherance of our fundraising goal, last night the ODU Gay Cultural Studies Committee hosted an invitation only salon with ODU alumni David McFarland (1984) as the featured speaker. McFarland - pictured in the center of the photo above that includes myself, two other board members of HRBOR and the Executive Director of Equality Virginia - is Interim Executive Director and CEO of The Trevor Project (the leading national organization for awareness and prevention of suicide among LGBT youth). David did a masterful job in tying the efforts of the Trevor Project to prevent gay suicides with the educational and cultural enhancement efforts of the ODU Gay Cultural Studies Endowment.

It is so very important that LGBT youth - both teens and college students - realize that they do have a future and than LGBT individuals in the USA and elsewhere have made amazing contributions to society and civilization. If one listens to the hate merchants of the far right and the Christian Taliban, one would believe that LGBT people contribute little or nothing to society. The truth, of course, provides a very different and positive story. Fortunately, local benefactors seem to be listening and word has it that last nights effort landed a five figure donation.

Anyone who would like to donate to this worthy - and tax deductible cause - can do so here. Be sure to click on enter "Gay Cultural Studies Endowment" as your desired beneficiary.

Thursday Morning Male Beauty

Suffolk, Virginia Public Schools Seek to Ban Cros Dressing

In a move that is being disingenuously described as motivated by" safety concerns" - even though zero problems have been reported - the City of Suffolk School Board appears headed toward imposing dress code regulations that would bar what they describe as "cross dressing." The move seems to be the pet project of one school board member - Thelma Hinton - who I suspect is perhaps motivated less by any real safety concerns and more by her own prejudice and/or religious beliefs. Hampton Roads overall is a backwards region and Suffolk is nowhere near the top of the list of more enlightened local cities and most likely has a higher percentage of Bible beaters amongst its citizenry. Quite frankly, the move seems guaranteed to provoke a well deserved lawsuit since transgender students will be ridden over rough shod. But then, this is Virginia, and if one is watching the actions of the Virginia General Assembly, the clear message from that GOP controlled body is that LGBT Virginians have no rights. Here are some highlights from the Virginian Pilot coverage:

Last summer, when a School Board member shared concerns about teen boys wearing long wigs, dresses and makeup to class, the principals of the three city high schools insisted they hadn't seen it. Superintendent Deran Whitney said he had heard no complaints and had observed only one boy - in jeans and a shirt - dressed in "what is traditionally viewed as female clothing."

Now, Whitney has proposed modifications to the student dress code that include a change that addresses cross-gender clothing. The regulations, to be considered by the board tonight, ban clothing "that is not in keeping with a student's gender and causes a disruption and/or distracts others from the educational process or poses a health or safety concern."

No other South Hampton Roads school division includes that type of reference in its student dress code. Board Vice Chairwoman Thelma Hinton, who initiated the dress code discussion, said Wednesday that she's pleased with the superintendent's proposal.

The gender-related dress restriction Suffolk is considering is "deeply flawed," said Kent Willis, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia. It's too vague to be understood by students, entirely subjective and based on gender stereotyping, which is a violation of federal law, Willis wrote in an email. "If a boy were to wear a dress to school, he would almost certainly create a buzz that could be interpreted as a distraction," Willis said, "but it would be perfectly legal for him to do it."

In June, when Hinton first raised a concern, she said teachers and parents had contacted her about male students at one school wearing nail polish, lipstick, sundresses, strappy sandals and spandex. Teachers considered it a distraction, Hinton said, but were afraid to speak about it publicly. She would not identify the school.

John Whitehead, an attorney and president of The Rutherford Institute, a Virginia-based civil liberties organization, also described the proposal as vague and added that it doesn't use the proper legal language. Students can express themselves as long as they don't cause "a substantial disruption of the orderly operation of the school," he said. "Will that really detract from learning today - a boy wearing a dress?" Whitehead said. "That's ridiculous."

At the suggestion of board member Phyllis Byrum, Whitney also is proposing a detailed dress code for employees. Those regulations list denim, spaghetti straps, flip-flops and excessively tight clothing as attire considered inappropriate. Exceptions for some of the rules would be made for special events, including "school celebrations" and "thematic instructional days."

With all the problems in public schools today, one would think that both the Division Superintendent and the School Board would have more important issues to worry themselves about.

Cardinal Edward Egan Rescinds Apology For The Catholic Sex-Abuse Scandal

The hubris and moral bankruptcy of the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy is breath taking at times. One has to wonder what planet these nasty douche bags come from. A glaring case in point is Cardinal Edward Egan, former Archbishop of New York, and further back in his clerical career, one of Cardinal Bernard Law's enforcers who intimidated victims and their families in the Boston archdiocese from speaking out about sexual abuse by priest. In short, in my view, Egan is nothing less than an accessory to the sexual abuse of children and youth. Yet the pompous bastard now has had the audacity to withdraw the apology he once made for the sex abuse scandal. I ask again, how can anyone with a shred of moral decency support the Church hierarchy and financially support these foul men? The Business Insider has details on Egan's arrogant action. Here are some highlights:

St. John Chrysostom, once said "The road to hell is paved with the skulls of bishops." Here's proof that he was right.

In an interview this week with Connecticut Magazine, Cardinal Edward Egan, withdrew his 2002 apology for the Church's handling of the sex-abuse scandal, which was once read in all New York parishes.

A decade after that letter, the former archbishop of New York, and former bishop of Bridgeport, now describes the handling of the priest-abuse crisis under his watch as “incredibly good.” He said of the letter, "I never should have said that,” and added, “I don’t think we did anything wrong.”

“I never had one of these sex abuse cases.” he said, before adding pompously, “If you have another bishop in the United States who has the record I have, I’d be happy to know who he is.” He also claimed that the Church had no obligation to report abuse to the civil authorities. These are lies, strutting around with pride.

Bishop Egan ran a diocese that was notoriously dangerous for children. Contrary to his claim, during his twelve-year enthronement at Bridgeport, Egan repeatedly failed to investigate priests where there were obvious signs of abuse, according to The Hartford Courant. His diocese had to settle the cases and awarded victims some $12-15 million in damages.

In short: Egan coddled child-abusers, and persecuted decent priests during his ignominious reign as a Prince of the Church. His entire interview reeks of a narcissism and self-regard that is so palpable it makes your eyes water.

Again, speaking as a Catholic, God is merciful with those who repent and do penance.
It is time for Egan to repent before his victims and before God.

And sadly, Egan seems to be the norm within the Church hierarchy: pompous, arrogant, contemptuous of others, and utterly devoid of decency and even minimal morality.

Do Our Enemeies Celebrate Every Time a Gay Teen Commits Suicide?

From personal experience, I know few people who are more self-congratulatory and at the same time vicious than far right Christians. Despite claiming to be followers of Christ, hate, not love, seems to be the sole basis of their professed religious belief. Anyone who doesn't subscribe to their perverted world view is condemned and in the case of LGBT citizens, depicted as less than human, diseased, a threat to society, etc. It's precisely the propaganda approach that the Nazi regime used to justify the Holocaust. And yet our news media refuses to draw this direct comparison and foul individuals like Tony Perkins are repeatedly given a platform on national news outlets. In an address at the University of North Texas, Dan Savage uttered the words that I believe are true: every time a gay teen ends their life, folks like Perkins celebrate. Another "faggot" is gone from the world and the Christianists have tangible proof that their hate campaign is having the desired deadly effect. It's sickening, but then that's what Christianity has become under this monsters who wrap themselves in the cloak of religion. Here are some highlights from the Dallas Voice on Dan's remarks:

“Every time LGBT bullying kills a kid, Tony Perkins gets up from his desk and dances a jig,” sex-advice-columnist-turned-LGBT youth advocate Dan Savage said of the anti-gay Family Research Council president during Savage’s keynote speech at the 12th Annual University of North Texas Equity and Diversity Conference on Tuesday.

“Every LGBT youth suicide for them is a victory, a rhetorical and moral victory,” Savage added.

When some LGBT teenagers come out to their parents, Savage said, the parents do “what the Christian right tells them to do”— cut them off financially and emotionally, disown them, turn them out into the streets or send them to camps meant to “turn them straight,” often repeating the lies spread by so-called Christian groups like the Family Research Council — which say that LGBT people are child-molesting sexual predators whose mere existence threatens families and the very survival of the planet (a line uttered by the Pope just this last month).

Savage admitted to the crowd made up mostly of students that the It Gets Better project can’t end bullying. “[However, that] does not excuse or preclude us from doing more …” Savage continued, “from confronting bullies, from holding schools and teachers and preachers and parents responsible for what they do or don’t do or fail to do for LGBT kids in pain.”

That’s why Savage’s project has supported Sen. Al Franken’s Student Non-Discrimination Act as well as the efforts of groups like the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, the Trevor Project and the American Civil Liberties Union.

“[The Trevor Project] is there to talk kids off the ledge,” Savage said, “GLSEN is there to make sure there are fewer kids in our schools climbing out onto that ledge and the ACLU is there sue the crap out of schools that push kids onto that ledge.”

Citing studies from the University of Illinois and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Savage said rates of teenage suicide (LGBT and straight) and sexual violence against girls is much higher in schools where anti-LGBT bullying is tolerated — in short, that anti-LGBT bullying makes schools unsafe for everyone. And yet the religious right continues to oppose campaigns against anti-LGBT bullying as “indoctrination.”

Savage asserts that he isn’t hostile to religion, citing his good relationship with his Catholic father and the fact that his last act of love for his mother as she lay dying in an Arizona hospital bed was to find a priest to initiate her last rites.

But instead of letting kids act out the violence of their adult role-models who bash gays at the pulpit and the ballot box, Savage called on school members to actively oppose anti-LGBT bullying and on liberal and more progressive Christians to stop “the complicit silence … aiding them and abetting [the religious right] in their crimes.”

I agree with Dan - especially his call for other Christians to stop their complicity in the conservative Christian anti-gay agenda. Silence is deadly and if these other Christians refuse to speak out, then they become part of the problem.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

More Wednesday Male Beauty

How Maggie Gallagher's Unwed Pregnacy and Hatred of Men Created an Anti-Gay Marriage Zealot

I have long believed that the majority of the most outspoken and vitriolic opponents of same sex marriage are in fact seriously psychologically disturbed individuals and that their anti-gay animus stems from their own personal demons and the continuing mental and emotional damage they suffered in their formative years from being raised in religious extremist homes. Some, like Robert Knight and Peter LaBarbera are in my opinion self-loathing closeted gays who hold nothing but unadulterated hatred against gays who have been able to move on in their lives and accept that God - if there is one - gay. And then there are others who seem to have been severely damaged bu their own life experiences who have funneled their rage and anger against LGBT citizens who they believe threaten a fantasy world that exists only in their own minds. Maggie Gallagher, founder of the National Organization for Marriage and hate merchant and liar extraordinaire is a case in point. Salon has a lengthy article on Gallagher and it is pretty unflattering. Indeed, one can easily conclude that her anti-gay propaganda and hate trace directly back to the fact that she got knocked up in college, was thrown over by her "boyfriend," and has been seeking vengeance ever sense. Rather than attack LGBT equality under the civil laws, in my opinion, Gallagher needs serious mental health care intervention. Here are some highlights from the Salon article:

Today, they have different memories of the relationship — how long they had been dating, how close they were — but on one fact they agree: 30 years ago this spring, months before she was supposed to graduate, Gallagher discovered she was pregnant. Then, as now, Yale students did not get pregnant — or if they did, no baby came of it. But Gallagher knew she would have this baby.

Counterfactual history is a dangerous business, but it seems fair to say that Gallagher’s was the non-marriage that changed the world. If that sophomore cad had married Gallagher, she might never have become a writer. “I don’t know what I would have done,” she tells me. “I became a writer because I had a baby and had to make money.” And what she writes about is same-sex marriage: why it’s bad for children, bad for America, simply bad.

Gallagher’s unplanned pregnancy — so great a rupture in a young conservative woman’s sense of life’s proper path, coming at so young an age — focused her politics, and gave her traditional-family conservatism a messianic tinge. I]in 1989, when Patrick was 7, Gallagher published a book that remains startling for its combination of sadness and anger; it’s hard to believe any author can sound so hopelessly disappointed before the age of 30. In a sense, “Enemies of Eros,” a jeremiad about the sorry state of sexual culture and gender relationships, must have been gestating since her son was born. Its author is sad that lifelong marriage is no longer an accepted norm; that many children do not grow up with fathers; that sex has been decoupled from marriage and parenthood. And she is angry at everyone she finds culpable for these changes, . . . .

Gallagher writes, “Men need a role in the family. What men need, loath though we are to utter the word, is a sex role.” Gallagher approvingly offers the example, drawn from a Wall Street Journal article, of one Millie Stephens, “a 28-year-old manager for Bell of Pennsylvania who earns $46,000 a year.” Her husband, Carl, a state trooper, earns $31,000 a year, and “to disguise her salary, they put all of her earnings in the bank and live off his income.” “Mrs. Stephens” also washes the dishes and irons her husband’s shirts. “I don’t mind treating him like a man,” she says.

Reading Gallagher’s portion of “Debating Same-Sex Marriage” and watching numerous clips of her debates, what surprises me is how little Gallagher talks about gay people, or even gayness. Gallagher’s opposition to gay marriage seems to have very little to do with gay people, indeed with people at all. What really excites her is a depersonalized idea of Marriage: its essence, its purity, its supposedly immutable definition.

The great trauma of Gallagher’s youth, her unplanned pregnancy and subsequent alienation from the father of her child, was rooted in failing to understand that sex and procreation are connected. It is understandable that, having grasped the truth, she is intent on emphasizing its importance. So it follows that gay marriage and, above all, gay parenthood, more than gay people themselves, presents a real challenge to her belief system. Same-sex marriage advocates offend her hard-won wisdom in two ways. First, they imply that sex and love can in fact be separate from procreation, and no less valid for it. Second, and perhaps more troubling for Gallagher, the increasingly visible column of attentive, loving gay parents — gay male parents in particular — mocks her own romantic choices.

For Gallagher, the principal problem with gay couples is not the act of sodomy: It’s that they cannot be a mother and a father. Gallagher believes that what is best for any child is to be raised by its natural mother and father — what happens when Marriage succeeds — and any law that honors an alternative arrangement is thus harmful. Adoptive parents may succeed in raising a child well, single parents may succeed, but they are both inferior to biological mother and father, the paradigm that Marriage has always supported, throughout history.

Gallagher is unwilling to make any predictions of what doom will befall families after the legalization of same-sex marriage. She just has faith that marriage, the central institution of good child-rearing, will be weakened if same-sex couples are allowed its prestige and protections. When I ask her if any kind of evidence could change her mind, she says that in theory such evidence could exist, but it would be awfully hard to come by: “Yes, you could produce the evidence that children are just as well off in same-sex couples, and that the change isn’t bad for the institution of marriage as a whole.

And even if somehow the evidence showed, conclusively, that same-sex marriage were good for children? Gallagher would still be dissatisfied: “Nothing could make me call a same-sex couple a marriage, because that’s not what I believe a marriage is.”

Gallagher’s people are dying off; her enemies are breeding. Meanwhile, the repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy proceeded without incident last year: a non-event that surely bodes well for same-sex marriage, one more aspect of gay men’s and lesbians’ full inclusion in civil society. One prominent ally of Gallagher’s told me that the “fight is over.” There will be minor victories to come, but “we’re going to lose,” the ally said.

Those would seem to be the hard facts, the evidence on which pure thought would operate. But for Gallagher these facts are temporal, contingent and ultimately meaningless.

At the risk of sounding crude, Maggie Gallagher - who by the way NEVER uses her Hindu husband's last name when shaking down the weak minded Christianists - committed what her Church describes a sinful act, got herself pregnant in college and made what she obviously sees was a huge mistake. Sadly, she's never gotten over it and now seeks to inflict her bitterness on the the world at large and on gays in particular. Compounding the problem is her brainwashing - and likely self-loathing due to her unwed motherhood - associated with her Catholic upbringing. Having been raised Catholic myself, I know only too well the mental health damage the Church can do. Therefore, in my opinion, Gallagher needs to get serious mental health care to exorcise her personal demons and get out of everyone else's life. She's screwed up her own and now wants to screw up the lives of others.

Washington State House Passes Same Sex Marriage

The Seattle Post Intelligencer is reporting that the Washington State House has passed the same sex marriage bill previously passed last week by that state's Senate. The next stop will be the desk of Governor Christine Gregoire (she's pictured above center) who has made it clear that she will sign the measure into law. Meanwhile the forces of hate lead by - at least in my view - psychologically disturbed Christofascists (more on this in a coming post) - are threatening to place marriage equality up for vote on a referendum. Given yesterday's ruling by the 9th Circuit in Perry v. Brown, even if this effort were to prevail, the rescission would be unconstitutional. Consequently, it will be interesting to see whether or not the forces of hate and intolerance move to make good on their threat. Here are some story highlights:

The state House of Representatives, after two hours of intense debate, voted 55-43 on Wednesday to make Washington the seventh state to legalize same-sex marriage. The legislation passed the State Senate last week, and goes to Gov. Chris Gregoire who has promised to sign it into law. Gregoire, one of several Catholic governors who support marriage equality, watched House debate from the wings.

“This is truly a historic day in Washington state and one where I couldn’t be more proud,” Gregoire said in a statement. “With today’s vote, we tell the nation that Washington state will no longer deny our citizens the opportunity to marry the person they love.”

But opponents have vowed to collect 120,577 valid voter signatures required to force a referendum in this November’s general election. They have until June 6th to do so.

“Separate by name and act is not equal,” said Rep. Glenn Anderson, R-Fall City, one of the few Republicans to vote for marriage equality. Anderson spoke of his brother, who is gay, and argued that the state’s domestic partnership law does not convey the full societal benefits and recognition of legal civil marriage.

Lawmakers spoke intensely of their religious beliefs.

“Mr. Speaker, Washington State has truly separated God from government,” warned Rep. Jim McCune, R-Graham, adding: “God would hold us all accountable for our actions here today.”

But Rep. Drew Hansen, D-Bainbridge, said he was urged by his pastor to vote for marriage equality, quoting C.S. Lewis on the difference between civil and religious marriage, and adding: “We have a lot of gay brothers and sisters in church, you know.” (Hansen’s mother is a minister.)

The fact that Republicans in particular spoke about religious belief underscores the fact that today's Republican Party has nothing but contempt for the U. S. Constitution and its guarantee of equal rights and religious freedom and liberty to ALL citizens. They may wrap themselves in the flag and profess respect for the Constitution and the rule of law, but their actions indicate that they are seeking to subvert the Constitution and, at least arguably, are guilty of breaching their oath of office and committing treason. This country is NOT a Christianist theocracy and religion needs to be purged from the civil laws.

The Evolving State of Gay Marriage

This map via Joe.My.God gives a quick overview of the status of the fight for marriage equality across the country. Click on the image for a larger view.

Wednesday Morning Male Beauty

"Frothy Mix" Wins Colorado, Missouri and Minnesota

I guess Colorado needs to be added to the list of states where water quality needs to be investigated - Rick "Frothy Mix" Santorum (pictured above with his wife, the former long term mistress of an abortion doctor) won the GOP presidential nomination contest in that state as well. Of course, the other explanation was that voter turn out was low and it was the Kool-Aid drinking set that went to the polls yesterday. As noted last night, the good news for rational, cognitive citizens is that the GOP circular firing squad will continue with Mitt Romney likely trying to track so far to the lunatic right that he may be damaged goods should he eventually win the nomination. Meanwhile, I suspect the so-called Republican establishment is none to pleased with the prospect of Frothy Mix as the party nominee. The Obama camp, in contrast is likely salivating at the prospect of an extremist like Santorum continuing to remain in the GOP fray. The New York Times looks at the reactions to yesterday's GOP circus performance. Here are highlights.

His candidacy all but dismissed just days ago, Rick Santorum won the Minnesota and Colorado caucuses and a nonbinding primary in Missouri on Tuesday, an unexpected trifecta that raised fresh questions about Mitt Romney’s ability to corral conservative support.

With his triumphs, Mr. Santorum was also suddenly presenting new competition to Newt Gingrich as the chief alternative to Mr. Romney, the front-runner. Where Mr. Gingrich has won one state, South Carolina, Mr. Santorum has now won four, including Iowa. His performance added another twist to an unruly nominating contest that has seen Republican voters veering among candidates and refusing to coalesce behind anyone.

The results on Tuesday shook the political world, which appeared to once again make the mistake of believing the Republican race for the presidency was finally set on a stable trajectory. But it was an open question whether the defeats were a momentary embarrassment or a prolonged setback for Mr. Romney. His disappointing night notwithstanding, Mr. Romney goes into the next round of primaries and caucuses much better financed than his opponents in what will be much more of a nationwide campaign, capped off by the 11 Super Tuesday competitions on March 6.

[H]is victory in Colorado was a genuine upset in a state that Mr. Romney easily carried in 2008. Combined with the victory in Minnesota, it gave him an important lift that his campaign hoped would translate into an infusion of new donations and support from the conservative Republican voters — evangelicals and Tea Party adherents — who have told pollsters all year that they are searching for someone whom they view as a true conservative.

Mr. Romney’s aides played down the significance of the night, noting that he did not compete very hard, especially in Missouri, and adding that four years ago Senator John McCain had lost many state races before ultimately winning the nomination.

If there was any bright spot for Mr. Romney, it was that Mr. Santorum’s new strength promised to potentially split the anti-Romney vote in two with Mr. Gingrich, reducing its potential threat. Speaking before the results in Ohio, where he was campaigning, Mr. Gingrich said the results should raise doubts about what has been portrayed as Mr. Romney’s inexorable march to the nomination.

Mr. Romney is hoping to do well in the elections in Arizona and Michigan in three weeks, as well as in the Super Tuesday contests next month, when he is expected use his organizational and financial advantages to maximum effect.

Get out the popcorn and get set to watch the continuing circus.

The Catholic Hierarchy's Disingenuous Rage at Obama

With a high profile criminal case pending in Philadelphia where a retired cardinal avoided the witness stand only by conveniently dying, a plethora of lawsuits brought by victims of sexual abuse at the hands of priests virtually all over the USA, and major investigations of the Church leaderships protect on child rapists in Europe, the bitter old men in dresses within the Church hierarchy are desperate to change the conversation about the Church. Hence the manufactured rage at new federal regulations on the availability of contraception under health care plans. Twenty-eight states already have nearly identical requirements and the world has not ended as claimed by the chicken little sycophants of the bishops and cardinals. But then, truth and honesty are not exactly hallmarks of the Roman Catholic Church leadership which prefers to engage in lies and demagoguery- not to mention the coddling of sexual predators. Michelle Goldberg has a piece in The Daily Beast that looks at the intentionally manufactured rage against the Obama administration. And the dishonesty of GOP politicians like Mitt Romney who are acting as the Church's trained circus dogs. Here are some highlights:

Mitt Romney has been railing again the Obama administration’s refusal to exempt Catholic-affiliated institutions like hospitals and universities from its mandate that health insurance cover contraception. “Such rules don’t belong in the America that I believe in,” he writes in a Washington Examiner op-ed. Perhaps no one told him that such rules were in place in Massachusetts the entire time he was governor, because as far as I’ve been able to tell, he never raised a word of objection then.

From the enraged response to Obama’s policy, one would think it represented some sort of radical break with the status quo. In The Daily Beast, Kirsten Powers suggests the administration is threatening to put Catholic institutions out of business. “One thing we can be sure of: the Catholic Church will shut down before it violates its faith,” she writes.

But many Catholic institutions are already operating in states that require contraceptive coverage, such as New York and California. Such laws are on the books in 28 states, and only eight of them exempt Catholic hospitals and universities. Nowhere has the Catholic Church shut down in response.

Time and again, when these laws were being considered, Catholic bishops and their sympathizers made the same sort of hysterical arguments we’re hearing today. . . . . the [New York] law passed—it was signed by Republican Gov. George Pataki—with exactly the same sort of exemptions we’re now seeing at the federal level. There’s a conscience clause that applies to Catholic churches, grade schools, and parishes, but not institutions that serve the broader community, such as universities and hospitals. The church sued, but New York’s State Court of Appeals ruled against it; in 2007, the Supreme Court let the ruling stand. Likewise, California’s Supreme Court upheld that state’s version of the mandate.

And yet, somehow, Catholic institutions have continued operating. Nationwide, major Catholic universities including Fordham, Georgetown, and DePaul all offer birth-control coverage. So does Dignity Health, until recently known as Catholic Healthcare West, the fifth-largest health system in the country. In Massachusetts, the six former Caritas Christi Catholic hospitals, which were recently acquired by Steward Health Care System, all complied with the state law.

And make no mistake: health plans that exclude services used only by women constitute a form of discrimination. That’s why in 2000, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled that employers that cover prescription drugs but do not cover contraception are in violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Such employers have “circumscribed the treatment options available to women, but not to men,” it said. The EEOC’s ruling made no exemptions for religiously affiliated organizations. Indeed, in 2009, responding to a lawsuit, the EEOC ruled that the Catholic college Belmont Abbey discriminated against women when it refused to cover birth control.

The bottom line is that the wailing and lies coming from the Catholic Bishops and their lackeys need to be ignored. Given the Church leadership's role in a worldwide criminal conspiracy to protect sexual predators who were allowed to time and time again prey on children and youth, no one with a shred of moral fiber should listen to a single word these nasty old men have to say - on anything.