Saturday, July 07, 2012

Far Right GOP Congressman Resigns Seat After Filing Fraudulent Primary Petitions

One thing that is seemingly the norm with "conservative," "family Values" Republicans: they lie and make a mockery of the Ten Commandments and the Gospel message just like their Christianist supporters.  Yet another case in point is GOP House Representative Thaddeus McCotter (MI) who resigned from Congress yesterday.  It seems his staff had filed primary ballot petitions which contained either fraudulent or duplicate signatures. So much for not lying and being a crook. Meanwhile, he had voted against the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act, voted against repealing DADT, and had voted for a federal amendment banning same-sex marriage.  Not surprisingly, he had a 100% rating from the Christian Coalition.  Here are highlights from the Boston Globe:

U.S. Rep. Thaddeus McCotter of Michigan resigned from Congress on Friday, capping a bizarre political downfall that started after the Republican’s campaign failed to submit enough valid petition signatures to get him on the ballot for re-election.

On Friday, he said the “nightmarish’’ experience, with its “calumnies, indignities and deceits,’’ had made it impossible for him to retain his post and meet his family’s needs.

His staff turned in 2,000 signatures supporting his candidacy, twice as many as needed to be eligible for the Aug. 7 primary ballot. But 80 percent were found to be fake or duplicates.

McCotter initially said he would conduct a write-in campaign but eventually dropped the effort. An attorney, he was first elected to the House in 2003 after serving as a state senator and county commissioner.

One can only wonder if we will next hear that McCotter "has a wide stance" or some  other batshitery.  If you want to really support family values, the GOP ought to be the last place that one looks for candidates who actually care about families.  The same holds true for the "family values" organizations.  Their endorsements ought to be a red flag that hypocrisy and dishonest - not to mention insanity -  are the candidates' real attributes.

Saturday Morning Male Beauty


Federal Judge: Crackpots and Lunatics in the GOP Have Made Me Less Conservative

Judge Richard Posner of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago has long been one of the nation's most respected and admired conservative jurists.  But like many others, he finds that the sickness - an almost mental illness that combines religious extremism, greed and a total lack of compassion for others, and a refusal to deal with objective reality - that predominates in today's Republican Party is driving him away from conservatism. As a former Republican and party activist, I fully relate to Posner's disgust with what the GOP has become and how it has truly made the label "conservative" into something ugly.  Frankly, I don't see things getting any better as Mitt Romney continues to prostitute himself to the nastiest elements in the GOP.  NPR has a piece on Judge Posner's retreat from conservatism.  I particularly enjoy his use of the terms "crackpots" and "lunatics."   Here are excerpts:

Judge Richard Posner, a conservative on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, has long been one of the nation's most respected and admired legal thinkers on the right. But in an interview with NPR, he expressed exasperation at the modern Republican Party, and confessed that he has become "less conservative" as a result.

Posner expressed admiration for President Ronald Reagan and the economist Milton Friedman, two pillars of conservatism. But over the past 10 years, Posner said, "there's been a real deterioration in conservative thinking. And that has to lead people to re-examine and modify their thinking."
"I've become less conservative since the Republican Party started becoming goofy," he said.

Posner, who was appointed to the appeals court by Reagan, speculated that the leaks about the deliberations over the national health care law — which are apparently designed to discredit Chief Justice John Roberts' opinion upholding the law — would backfire. "I think these right-wingers who are blasting Roberts are making a very serious mistake," he said.
"Because if you put [yourself] in his position ... what's he supposed to think? That he finds his allies to be a bunch of crackpots? Does that help the conservative movement? I mean, what would you do if you were Roberts? All the sudden you find out that the people you thought were your friends have turned against you, they despise you, they mistreat you, they leak to the press. What do you do? Do you become more conservative? Or do you say, 'What am I doing with this crowd of lunatics?' Right? Maybe you have to re-examine your position."
As NPR notes, in addition to serving as a federal appeals court judge, Posner is the author of several  dozen books on subjects ranging from law and economics to aging and literature.  I don't blame him whatsoever for wanting to distance himself from today's "conservatives."

Calling a Homophobic Bigot a Bigot is Not Bullying

The growing meme among Christianists and the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy is to play the victim card and claim that it is LGBT individuals, not they themselves who are the bullies.  They even go on to allege that any recognition of LGBT civil rights and equality under the CIVIL laws is s threat to and diminution of their "religious liberty."  It's  a disingenuous lie, but then lying and dishonesty seem to be the principal hallmarks of the Christianists/Catholic hierarchy - and the protection of child molesters is yet another distinct attribute of the Catholic hierarchy that involves dishonesty.  

The real bullies, of course, are not LGBT advocates who merely seek equal rights and equal protection under the law for all citizens, gay and straight.  Not to mention the right of citizens to reject the increasingly foul version of Christianity shilled by the professional Christian set and the child rapist protecting Catholic hierarchy.   An opinion piece in the Binghamton Press & Sun Bulletin makes the case as to the true identity of the bullies.  What is the height of hypocrisy is that the Rev. Johannes M. M. Smith (pictured above) referenced in the column is a priest at Mount St. Francis Hermitage in Maine, New York (a Franciscan Friary) whose founder recently plead guilty to felony sexual abuse.  It would seem that Fr. Smith should be focusing his attention on the moral cesspool within the Church before he starts condemning law abiding LGBT citizens.  Here are some column highlights:

[C]alling a homophobic bigot a bigot is not bullying, just like calling a racist a racist or a misogynist a misogynist isn't bullying. And students and teachers actively working to create a school that is free from homophobia certainly isn't bullying; it's heroism.

However, there have been several statements by public figures lately that have suggested that challenging injustice is a kind of reverse prejudice. For example, the Rev. Johannes M.M. Smith wrote a letter to the editor last month responding to my comments at the Pride flag raising at City Hall, in which I stated that coming to our celebration and calling the gay and lesbian residents of this city the "exaltation of immorality," "perversion," "Satanic," a "scandalous abomination" and in league with the "principalities of darkness" was bullying. He suggested in his statement that my characterization of him was libelous and bullying. It was not.

And then last week at the Vestal School Board, in response to the passionate efforts to remove Tennessee state Sen. Stacey Campfield's picture from the school's Wall of Fame for his homophobia, and inaccurate statements about the transmission of HIV/AIDS, school board president Kim Meyer similarly suggested that these efforts were bullying. They are not.

Speaking truth to power is not bullying. But continuing to celebrate a homophobic bigot and forcing your gay and lesbian students to walk by his picture every day is. Taking away privileges (or honors) because of bad behavior is something teachers and schools are familiar with. It should be a pretty easy call for educators that hurting gay kids (as research shows the senator's statements actually do) is bad behavior.

But just in case you're not sure, on July 1 the Dignity for All Students act became law in New York. This law mandates that schools intervene whenever possible to correct and prevent bullying and harassment and protect gay and lesbian kids (along with so many others that are often the targets of bullies).

For too long bullying and hatred have been allowed to hide behind the cloak of "religious belief."  I for one am long over giving ignorant, bigoted and harmful religious belief special privileges.  In a secular society such as the United States, the Christofascists are free to hold their beliefs, but when they seek to inflict them on others and/or harm others, their rights stop and the rights of others take precedence. LGBT citizens living their lives as fully equal citizens harms no one.  And those who believe that it does should be focusing their efforts on curing their own damaged and warped psyches, not persecuting gay citizens.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Friday Morning Male Beauty


Ann Romney - A Whining Hypocrite

Some people can dish it out but don't like it when they and their spouses are on the receiving end.  Even when the things being said about them is pretty much 100% accurate.  A case in point? Ann Romney who is whining that Barack Obama wants to "kill her husband."  Ms. Romney benefited from her husband's rapacious business practices and financial dealings that appear to have hidden assets around the world in order to avoid paying taxes in America.  But God forbid that Barack Obama and Democrats expose these dealings to the public.   And God forbid that Obama remind Americans that her husband wanted to let two-thirds of the U.S. auto industry go bankrupt.  Yes, the woman has been through a lot with her battles with cancer and multiple sclerosis.  But those trials do not give her a license to be a whining, lying bitch.  A column in the Washington Post looks at Ann Romney who clearly doth protest too much.  Here are highlights:

Recently, the Republican presidential candidate’s wife told the Miami Herald that what she most wants the public to know about her is “that I am pretty direct and pretty honest and I don’t pull any punches.’’ Message received, Mrs. R! After your latest remarks about President Obama wanting to ‘kill Romney,’ though, you might consider dialing back on the “kapow.”

But was Ann Romney’s over-the-top assertion that Obama’s campaign strategy can be summed up in two words -- “kill Romney’’ – even an oopsie? I don’t think so, because later in the same joint CBS interview with her husband, she interrupted him to repeat herself.

Asked about the president’s suggestion that Romney lacks compassion, she said, “It makes you realize they’re going to do everything they can to destroy Mitt … I feel like all [Obama’s] doing is saying, ‘Let’s kill this guy.’ ’’

Goodness, madam, didn’t we agree to demilitarize the language of politics after Gabby Giffords was shot last year? I don’t think that Ann Romney was being intentionally incendiary so much as gleefully clueless.  .   .   .   although nothing is more natural than taking criticism of one’s mate to heart, has she so soon forgotten her guy’s own take-no-prisoners handling of his fellow Republicans during the primary season?

So far, nothing the president has said about Mitt matches the meanness of his fellow republican Newt Gingrich’s Florida robocalls accusing Romney of denying kosher food to Holocaust survivors in nursing homes.  The worst the Obama campaign has said, in the ad that pegged him as a “vampire capitalist,’ was on a par with, and in fact inspired by, Rick Perry calling him a “vulture capitalist.”

But Ann Romney distinguished herself Thursday, saying, “Early on, we heard what their strategy was; it was ‘kill Romney.’ That was the memo that came out from their campaign. It’s like, ‘Not when I’m next to him, you better not.’  

In the Thursday interview, the Romneys shared a good long laugh over her response.

Candidly, the more I get to know about both Mitt and Ann Romney, the more I dislike BOTH of them.  She's had some tough things thrown at her, but overall she's a spoiled child of privilege who has no clue what life is like for the rest of us.  Worse yet, I suspect that she doesn't even care.

Episcopal Church Expected to Approve Same-Sex Couple Liturgy

In a move that will no doubt cause the spittle to fly among the Neanderthal elements of the Anglican Communion, especially in arm pit of the world nations in Africa where anti-gay rhetoric is used to distract the ignorant and gullible populace from the abysmal failures of the political and religious leaders, the Episcopal Church is poised to approve a liturgy for ceremonies solemnizing same sex relationships.  While the unions are not expected to be called "marriage" the recognition of same sex love and commitment will drive the Bible thumpers berserk for certain.  I can just imagine the volumes of spittle and vitriol that will be flying in local congressman Scott Rigell's break away Anglican coven of haters - I mean church.  The Los Angeles Times reports on the development.  Here are excerpts:

Sixteen years after allowing gays and lesbians to become priests, the Episcopal Church appears poised to introduce a rite that would specifically bless the unions of same-sex couples.  If the liturgy is approved, which is expected, Episcopalians will become the first major denomination to endorse such a ritual for homosexual couples.

On its face, the blessing seems similar to that of a marriage rite -- including “I do,” “we have gathered together today” and an exchange of rings. Notably absent are the words “husband,” “wife” and “marriage.”

Supporters of the liturgy emphasize that the rite would acknowledge and bless same-sex unions, but would not sanctify them as marriage in most states. Churches in states where gay marriage is legal -- six, as well as Washington, D.C. -- have had the option of blessing gay marriage, but do not currently use a formal liturgy.

“While the liturgy we have developed is not called ‘marriage,’ we recognize significant parallels,” the committee wrote in its handbook on blessing same-sex marriages, called "I Bless You, And You Will Be a Blessing." “Two people publicly make a lifelong, monogamous commitment to one another with the exchange of solemn vows in a ritual that pronounces God’s blessing on their life together.”

Passing official recognition for gay couples would be a major advance for gay congregants, Bishop Charles E. Bennison Jr. of the Diocese of Pennsylvania told the Philadelphia Inquirer.  Bennison is a member of the legislative committee that will present the measure. A 300-member House of Bishops and a 800-member House of Deputies must both approve the same-sex liturgy for it to become official.

A commission on liturgy and music spent three years putting together the proposed blessing, which includes a script for responses from the congregation, a series of faith reflections for the couple and a discussion guide for congregants who are curious or upset.

In my view, those who look down on gays and want to keep us inferior under the civil laws not to mention religious dogma are the today's Pharisees.  The turn the Gospel message into a message of hate so that they can find a means to feel superior and better about themselves. They'd be better served getting some good psychiatric help.

Roanoke Club to Allow "Household" Memberships After Lawsuit by Gay Couple

The Christianists always pretend to be "concerned about the children" even as their anti-gay policies and bigotry deliberately harm the children of same sex couples.  The latest example of this standard practice of harming children to punish same sex couples took place in Roanoke, Virginia where the Roanoke Athletic Club rescinded membership to Will Trinkle and Juan Granados (pictured below) once their status as a gay couple was realized.  The ultimate victim of the club's bigotry?  Their young child.  A similar situation arose in Norfolk a few years ago when a lesbian couple was denied membership in the Mallory Country Club.  The couple had sought a family membership so that their daughter could swim at the club's pool with other neighborhood children.  The Roanoke couple, unlike the Norfolk mothers, filed suit against the RAC and Carilion (which owns the club), claiming they applied for a family membership that was accepted and later withdrawn.  As the Virginian Pilot reports:

In a statement, Trinkle said he'd been told by an unnamed Carilion representative "they were 'tightening policies' so no families like us would ever 'get as far' as we had."

The suit drew considerable public attention, including a petition posted on Change.org in support of Trinkle that today listed more than 50,000 signatures.

Faced with the lawsuit and withering negative national publicity, the RAC announced via Facebook that it was changing its policies:

Our goal has been, and always will be to encourage and inspire health and wellness among all members of the communities we serve.

In keeping with this goal, and in recognition of the many contemporary households that can benefit from our facilities through discounted membership fees, we are pleased to announce that we have expanded our Family Membership into a new Household Membership with the following criteria:

Household Membership:

A household consists of a primary member and up to one additional household member that permanently lives in the household, and any of their dependent children under the age of 22 who also reside in the household on a permanent basis.

Club dues will not change; dues for the Household Membership will be the same as the Family Membership it is replacing. There is no requirement to amend your membership, but should this change be advantageous to you, please contact our sales office. If we may answer any questions, do not hesitate to contact us.

Sadly some of the comments on the Virginian Pilot article demonstrate that there are lost of knuckle dragging bigots in Hampton Roads.  The Gospel message of love of others and not judging others is totally lost on these self-righteous, self-congratulatory assholes.


Thursday, July 05, 2012

More Thursday Male Beauty


Military Chaplains Cite Few Problems After DADT Repeal

Remember all of the shrieking and predictions of a mass exodus of members of the armed forces and the chaplain ranks if DADT was repealed?  Shrill hater like Elaine Donnelly and Tony Perkins and others went on and on ad nausea about how DADT repeal would cripple the military and deter meeting recruitment targets. So what has happened during the nine months since DADT repeal?  Absolutely nothing to support the claims of the gay haters.  That's right, nothing.  Yes, there have been a few chaplain retirements, but few have been linked to DADT repeal.  It would seem that the chaplains themselves, not to mention the ranks of the military, are not the religious zealots and bigots that the professional Christian set painted them to be.  The Virginian Pilot reports on the fact that DADT repeal continues to be a non-event outside the ranks of hate groups like Family Research Council and the worse Kool-Aid drinking elements of the GOP's Christofascist base.  Here are highlights:

WRIGHTSTOWN, N.J. - Col. Timothy Wagoner has been an Air Force chaplain for 20 years, serving a denomination — the Southern Baptists — that rejects same-sex relationships.  Yet here he was at the chapel he oversees, watching supportively as an airman and his male partner celebrated a civil union ceremony.  "I wouldn't miss it," Wagoner said at the McGuire Air Force Base chapel, days later. "I don't feel I'm compromising my beliefs ... I'm supporting the community."

Wagoner didn't officiate at the ceremony — he couldn't go quite that far. But his very presence at the gathering was a marker of how things have changed for active-duty clergy in the nine months since the "don't ask, don't tell" policy was repealed and gays could serve openly.

Prior to repeal, various conservative groups and individuals — including many conservative retired chaplains — warned that repeal would trigger an exodus of chaplains whose faiths consider homosexual activity to be sinful. In fact, there's been no significant exodus — perhaps two or three departures of active-duty chaplains linked to the repeal.
Moreover, chaplains or their civilian coordinators from a range of conservative faiths told The Associated Press they knew of virtually no serious problems thus far involving infringement of chaplains' religious freedom or rights of conscience.  "To say the dust has settled would be premature," said Air Force Col. Gary Linsky, a Roman Catholic priest who oversees 50 fellow chaplains in the Air Mobility Command. "But I've received no complaints from chaplains raising concerns that their ministries were in any way conflicted or constrained."

Wagoner would not have been willing to officiate at the June 23 civil union ceremony at the McGuire chapel, nor would his Catholic or Mormon colleagues. But he had no problem with another member of his team, Navy Chaplain Kay Reeb of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, doing so.

Reeb, who will be will leaving the Navy in a few weeks after 20 years as a chaplain, held a couple of pre-ceremony consultations with the couple — Tech. Sgt. Erwynn Umali and civilian Will Behrens — and was impressed by their commitment to one another.

On hand at the chapel were the couple's family and friends, several gay-rights activists, and Sgt. Elizabeth Garcia, the chaplain's assistant who handled logistical arrangements. And then there was Wagoner, whose denomination preaches that homosexuality is sinful and is "not a valid alternative lifestyle."  "As a Southern Baptist, why was I here? I was here to lend support," Wagoner said. "I was here supporting Airman Umali. I've worked with him. He's a comrade in arms."

He [Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services] concurred with the estimates that only a handful of chaplains have left the military because of the repeal. He said "two or three" Catholic chaplains had resigned their commissions in recent months, and guessed that repeal may have been a factor though they didn't cite that specifically.

Another conservative denomination with a large contingent of chaplains — 114 on active duty — is the Assemblies of God.  Scott McChrystal, a retired Army chaplain who oversees them, said the concerns that preceded repeal had not been borne out.

Bishop James Magness, the coordinator for about 75 active-duty and reserve Episcopal chaplains, said he'd heard a common, positive verdict about repeal from his more conservative Catholic, Mormon and Southern Baptist colleagues.

"The whole argument about religious liberty is so incredibly uninformed, and inflamed by some of the very conservative legal groups," Magness said. "In reality, there's been very little if any of the services forcing any ministerial activity on a chaplain against his or her will."

What likely frightens the gay haters the most is the real likelihood that as chaplains from conservative denominations become more familiar with gays and same sex couples,  they will change their perceptions on gay relationships and ultimately gay marriage.  Familiarity breeds not just tolerance but acceptance.  Nothing would hurt the bank accounts of hate groups more than having military chaplains counter their anti-gay message.

Obama Launches Campaign "Betting on America" - Meanwhile, Romney Defends His Tax Havens

With auto sales increasing in June, Barack Obama seeks to capitalize on his efforts to save the U. S. auto industry while Mitt Romney said that Detroit should be allowed to go bankrupt.  One would hope that Obama also hits home on just how out of touch Romney - with many overseas bank accounts and tax haven investments - is when it comes to the needs of everyday Americans who go sleepless at night worrying about how they are going to pay their bills and keep a roof over their families or pay for medical costs.  Between his many homes, hidden bank accounts, and plans to tear down a seaside mansion to build a larger one Romney seems to think the the Gilded Age has returned.   Meanwhile, he wants to repeal Obamacare and deny health care insurance to some 30 million Americans.  Personally, Romney strikes me as totally incapable of having empathy for others.  To him, everything is a calculated question of "what's in it for me."  Merely doing the right thing because it IS the right thing never crosses his mind.  Yes, many politicians can't be trusted, but Romney seems not only as untrustworthy but uncaring to boot. The Washington Post looks at Obama's rust belt campaign swing.  Here are highlights:

The 2010 Republican electoral rout in the industrial Rust Belt was decisive and complete, with the GOP sweeping the gubernatorial and Senate races in the key presidential battleground states of Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan. In the aftermath, Democratic prospects for 2012, particularly President Obama’s, seemed bleak.

But less than two years later, the dynamics have changed. Things are looking up for the president, and the best evidence may be three Senate Democrats who will head into the final sprint of this year’s campaign as clear favorites, having weathered the worst of the tea party storm in the region.

Obama is helped by the better-than-average employment picture in Ohio and Pennsylvania, both of which recorded rates of 7.3 percent in May, while the national level remained at 8.2 percent. Michigan’s unemployment rate in May was 8.5 percent.

On the bus tour his campaign is calling “Betting on America,” Obama spent his first day emphasizing gains in manufacturing and his administration’s bailout of the American auto industry, hoping to appeal to workers in heavily union areas. The title is an unsubtle jab at Romney, who has faced questions about offshore personal bank accounts and investments by Bain Capital, made during his time as head of the firm, in companies that eventually outsourced jobs abroad.

“When the American auto industry was on the brink of collapse. . .Governor Romney said we should just let Detroit go bankrupt,” Obama told a crowd of 500 supporters in this manufacturing town just south of Toledo. “I refused to turn my back on communities like this one. . . And three years later, the American auto industry is coming roaring back.”

 Obama is paying special attention to Ohio where he kicked off his 2012 campaign with a speech in Columbus in May and delivered a major address on the economy in Cleveland last month. Ohio has voted for the winning candidate in 10 consecutive presidential elections and no Republican has ever won the presidency without winning Ohio. Consequently, both campaigns are spending heavily here in advertising dollars and manpower hours.

A pair of polls released last week gave Obama an edge in both Ohio and Pennsylvania: 47 percent to 38 percent in Ohio, and 45 percent to 39 percent in Pennsylvania, according the Quinnipiac Poll. 
Eugene Robinson has a column in the Washington Post that underscores Romney's out of touch nature when it comes the rest of us.  Here are excerpts:

Most Americans, for example, do not have an individual retirement account valued at between $20 million and $101 million, as Romney stated last year in a financial disclosure report.

When Romney was running Bain and building up his IRA, the maximum annual contribution permitted by the tax code was $2,000. So how did Romney’s IRA get so huge? He won’t say. It’s possible that he rolled over some money that was originally in a 401(k) retirement plan of the kind offered by many employers. But annual 401(k) contributions were then capped at $30,000, including an employer match — in Romney’s world, chump change.

Then there’s the question of a Bermuda-based company that Romney and his wife, Ann, own, Sankaty High Yield Asset Investors Ltd. According to the Associated Press, the company has been part of Romney’s portfolio for nearly 15 years, but it was not mentioned in any state or federal disclosure reports. It surfaced in Romney’s 2010 tax returns, which he reluctantly released earlier this year.

Channeling private-equity and hedge-fund investments through offshore firms in places such as Bermuda and the Caymans can allow investors to avoid a tax on what is known as “unrelated business income.”

[O]ne of the sources of anger and anxiety in this country — on the left and the right — is the sense that there are two sets of rules, one for the rich and powerful and one for everybody else. I don’t think voters want a “regular guy” as president; they want someone who is exceptional. But there is a point at which opportunism begins to shade into rapacity.

In making and managing his money, Romney appears to take every possible, conceivable, imaginable inch that the law arguably allows. That’s good finance. But I doubt it’s good politics.

Thursday Morning Male Beauty


Justice Department Seeking Expedited Supreme Court Review of OPMA Cases

In follow up to the Congressional GOP's request that the U.S. Supreme Court hear an appeal of the First Circuit Court of Appeal's ruling striking down DOMA as unconstitutional, the U. S. Justice Department has upped ante and is seeking a review of of the DOMA cases in both the First and Ninth Circuits.  The move will expedite the process in the Ninth Circuit case and potentially secure a prompter resolution of the unconstitutionality of DOMA.  Here are highlights from Prop 8 Trial Tracker where copies of the petitions for certiorari can be found:

The Department of Justice is asking the Supreme Court to hear two challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act, in an unexpected move. The announcement comes in the form of a letter to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals as part of the DOMA challenge in that circuit, Golinski v. OPM. The Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG), who is representing the Republican-led House in defense of DOMA, had filed for a writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court in a different challenge, Gill v. OPM/Massachusetts v. HHS, this past Friday. The letter notes that the Solicitor General has filed petitions for certiorari in both cases.

The Golinski case is scheduled for oral argument at the Ninth Circuit the week of September 10, but the Justice Department is asking to bypass the Ninth Circuit hearing and ruling entirely and head directly to the Supreme Court where they can review issues such as the level of scrutiny and past precedents that may conflict with a ruling striking down DOMA.

[P]utting the issue squarely before the Justices is a significant step. And in fact, in their certiorari petition, the Justice Department tackles the issue of heightened scrutiny for laws affecting gays and lesbians head on. They write:
The district court concluded that Section 3 cannot survive under heightened scrutiny because the denial of federal benefits to same-sex couples who are legally married under their States’ laws bears no substantial relationship to any important governmental purpose that motivated Section 3’s enactment. App., infra , 36a-44a. Alternatively, the district court concluded that Section 3 would fail even rational basis review because Section 3 is not rationally related to any conceivable legitimate interest of the federal government. Id at 44a-59a. This case squarely raises important questions about the Constitution’s equal protection guarantee as it applies to a federal statute that draws distinctions among persons who are legally married under their States’ laws on the basis of their sexual orientation. For the reasons given in the government’s Massachusetts petition, those questions, and the ultimate question of the constitutionality of Section 3 of DOMA, warrant authoritative resolution by this Court.
They suggest that because the district court ruling addressed the level of scrutiny, it’s time for the Supreme Court to decide that important issue once and for all. The Supreme Court could accept one petition or both in its October conference.
It is time for the Supreme Court to strike down DOMA and end the infusion of religion into the civil laws so as to punish gays for noncompliance with an increasingly toxic and bigotry based form of religion.

Is Virginia a Microcosm of the 2012 Election?

Things are changing in Virginia albeit at a snails pace in many ways - especially in the area of gay rights.  Sadly, the backwards and ignorant rural areas of the state and Kool-Aid drinking Christianist orchestrated by the the theocrats at The Family Foundation still control the puppet strings of the Republican Party of Virginia.  The result has been legislative action by the General Assembly that looks like a Christian version of the Talban's agenda.  The shifts in population will hopefully change this dynamic over time as the urban areas grow and can simply out vote the reactionary elements in the rural areas of the state.  A piece in Politico looks at how this may play out in the 2012 presidential contest.  Here are highlights:

The University of Virginia's Center for Politics has published a good primer on the electoral geography of Virginia, Ohio and North Carolina, and neatly crystallizes the sense among national operatives that the state has become a bellwether for the country as a whole:
Of the state's 13% growth in population between 2000 and 2010, a large portion occurred in Northern Virginia, the diverse suburbs and exurbs of Washington, D.C. Examples of rapid growth abound: Prince William County grew 40% while Loudoun County led the state with a growth rate of 84%, making them the third and fifth-most populous entities* in the state, respectively. Fairfax County crossed the 1 million resident threshold …

But Northern Virginia is just one part of the story. The other two important population centers are Greater Richmond, mainly composed of the state’s capital and the counties of Henrico and Chesterfield; and Hampton Roads, dominated by five of the seven biggest independent cities in the state: Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Newport News and Hampton. Together, these three regions form what is known as the “Urban Crescent.” Making up more than two-thirds of the state’s population, the Urban Crescent holds the key to victory in the Commonwealth, particularly for Democrats. As Barack Obama showed in 2008, a candidate who wins all three can make the rest of the state’s vote irrelevant.

More and more, Virginia looks and feels like a microcosm of the country as a whole in federal elections. While Democrats look to turn out their supporters in urban areas, Republicans look to run up the vote totals in rural regions. The two parties then battle for the suburbs and exurbs.
[T]here are also themes specific to the 2012 race that could manifest themselves acutely there. Any number of national dynamics have particular application to Virginia: white suburban disappointment with Obama, upscale female voters' concerns about the Republican Party, Latino voters' concerns about Mitt Romney, slackening enthusiasm for the president among the young voters and black voters who helped him win in 2008, suspicion of Romney among voters tied to the manufacturing sector and more.

Singer/Song Writer Frank Ocean Comes Out

Many readers - especially those in my age bracket - may not know who Frank Ocean is, but odds are you've heard one of his songs performed by other artists.   But what matters is that he's well known in many circles and particularly with the younger generation.  Hence why it is a fairly big deal that he has acknowledged that his first love was another man.  Coming on the heels of Anderson Cooper's final public admission of who he is, this coming out helps under score that LGBT individuals are found across all groups of society and that not living a lie or carrying secrets is very liberating.  In part of his coming out, Ocean - who is the subject of a lengthy New York Times profile - stated: “I don’t have any secrets I need kept any more.” Having been in the closet for decades myself, I know how soul killing it is living in fear of discovery and never being able to simply be.  Here are a few excerpts from the Times profile:

“Channel Orange” (Island Def Jam), his beautiful first full-length studio album, will be released this month, and it’s rife with the sting of unrequited love, both on the receiving and inflicting ends. Mr. Ocean, 24, is an extremely unflashy songwriter, avoiding big proclamations and broad brush strokes, instead leaning on conversational gambits and the power of detail. He makes warm, cloudy soul with echoes of Stevie Wonder, Prince and Pharrell Williams that’s almost never about seduction. In Mr. Ocean’s universe, pretty much everyone is broken beyond repair. While clearly part of a robust historical lineage Mr. Ocean is also at the forefront of a larger push-back against the stasis in contemporary R&B, something in evidence in his organic vamps but also in the Weeknd’s narcotized lust and even mainstream dance music hybrids. And Mr. Ocean’s dissents are starting to have wider effect. He’s written for BeyoncĂ© and has collaborated with Jay-Z and Kanye West.  

On Tuesday night, Mr. Ocean took to his Tumblr to tell the story of his first love, which was with a man. “I don’t have any secrets I need kept any more,” he wrote. (That was too late to include in the print version of this article, which will appear in the Arts & Leisure section on Sunday.) 

As a young songwriter Mr. Ocean was profligate, writing for and with a variety of artists, hoping to establish himself. Songs he wrote were recorded by Brandy and Justin Bieber, among others. “I had to change my circumstance,” he said of the urgency that gripped that part of his life. “The artist in me hates to say that now, but it was about money, it was about access, it was about nice things.”  
Like Anderson Cooper who chose to come out via an e-mail to Andrew Sullivan, Ocean avoided a press conference or People Magazine style interview and instead sent out a tumblr message:

Whoever you are, wherever you are, I'm starting to think we're a lot alike.  Human beings spinning on blackness. All wanting to be seen, touched, heard, paid attention to. My loved ones are everything to me here. In the last year or 3 I've screamed at my creator. Screamed at clouds in the sky.  For some explanation. Mercy maybe. For peace of mind to rain like manna
somehow. 4 summers ago, I met somebody. I was 19 years old. He was too. We spent that summer, and the summer after, together. Everyday almost. And on the days we were together, time would glide. Most of the day I'd see him, and his smile. I'd hear his conversation and his silence..until it was time to sleep. Sleep I would often share with him. By the time I realized I was in love, it was malignant. It was hopeless. There was no escaping, no negotiating with the feeling. No choice. It was my first love, it changed my life. Back then my mind would wander to the women I had been with, the ones I cared for and though I was in love with. I reminisced about the sentimental songs I enjoyed when I was a teenager..the ones I played when I experienced a girlfriend for the first time. I realized they were written in a language I did not yet speak. I realized too much too quickly.  Imagine being thrown from a plane. I wasn't in a plane though. I was in a Nissan Maxima, the same car I packed up with bags and drove to Los Angeles in. I sat there and told my friend how I felt. I wept as the words left my mouth. I grieved for them, knowing I could never take them back for myself. He patted my back. He said kind things. He did his best, but he wouldn't admit the same. He had to go back inside soon. It was late and his girlfriend was waiting for him upstairs. He wouldn't tell me the truth about his feelings for me for another 3 years. I felt like I'd only imagined reciprocity for years. Now imagine being thrown from a cliff. No, I wasn't on a cliff, I was still in my car telling myself it was gonna be fine and to take deep breaths. I took the breaths and carried on. I kept up a peculiar friendship with him because I couldn't imagine keeping up my life without him. I struggled to master myself and my emotions. I wasn't always successful.

The dance went on. I kept the rhythm for several summers after. It's winter now. I'm typing this on a plane back to Los Angeles from New Orleans. I flew home for another marred Christmas. I have a windowseat.  It's December 27, 2001. By now I've written two albums, this being the
second. I wrote to keep myself busy and sane. I wanted to create worlds that were rosier than mine. I tried to channel overwhelming emotions. I'm surprised at how far all of it has taken me. Before writing this I'd told some people my story. I'm sure these people kept me alive, kept me safe.   Sincerely, these are the folks I wanna thank from the floor of my heart.  Everyone of you knows who you are.. great humans, probably angels. I don't know what happens now, and that's alrite. I don't have any secrets I need kept anymore. There's probably some small shit still, but you know what I mean. I was never alone, as much as I felt like it.. as much as I still do sometimes. I never was. I don't think I ever could be. Thanks. To my first love. I'm grateful for you. Grateful that even though it wasn't what I hoped for and even though it was never enough, it was. Some things never are.. and we were. I won't forget you. I won't forget the summer. I'll remember who I was when I met you. I'll remember who you were and how we've both changed and stayed the same. I've never had more respect for life and living than I have right now. Maybe it takes a near death experience to feel alive. Thanks. To my mother, you raised me strong. I know I'm only braved because you were first.. so thank you. All of you. For everything good. I feel like a free man. If I listen closely.. I can hear the sky falling too.
I wish him the best of luck.


Wednesday, July 04, 2012

More Wednesday Male Beauty


Support JC Penney - Go Shopping!

I've posted a couple of times about the Christiannist onslaught and boycott effort against retailer JC Penney because (1) the company hired Ellen Degeneres as a spokeswoman and (2) because the company included a photo of two gay dads in the Father's Day catalog (see the image above).  The haters are apoplectic because JC Penney acknowledges that gays exist and that we have family values too.  Our family values, however, are not based on fear, self-inflicted ignorance and hatred of others who are different from ourselves.  I have also encouraged LGBT consumers to spend their money at JC Penney  as a way of saying "thank you" to the company for not knuckling under to the hate merchants and Christofascists.

Today I took my own advice and ran by the local JC Penney store before heading down the street to a 4th of July party at a neighbor's home that looks out across Hampton Roads harbor with a panoramic view of the harbor and the U.S. Navy Atlantic Fleet at the Norfolk Naval Base.   JC Penney is not a high end designer stre, but I was able to find some nice things and left the store with five items that included some designer names at a great price.  In fact,  wore the Joseph Abboud shorts I bought to today's party.

We as a community need to support those who don't surrender to the demands of our enemies.  I for one will continue to target my spending toward gay friendly companies and businesses.


Chick-Fil-A's Anti-Gay Donations Totaled Nearly $2 Million In 2010

Chick Fil-A = Anti-Gay Bigotry
This blog has previously looked at Chick Fil-A's finding of anti-gay ororganizations based on data available through 2009.  Now data for 2010 is available and it hows that Chick Fil-A has continued to fund groups and organizations that promote anti-gay bigotry and which disseminate lies and malicious anti-gay propaganda.  Personally,  I stopped frequenting Chick Fil-A years ago when I first learned that the privately held business is owned by right wing Christianist extremists.  I sincerely hope that others will join me in this boycott.  Yes their food is good, but part of every dollar spent at a Chick Fil-A store finds its way to an anti-gay hate group.  Here are highlights from the Huffington Post:

Chick-fil-A is quickly becoming more well-known for its alleged anti-gay donations than for its fried chicken.
As reported by Equality Matters and The Advocate -- among other publications -- a newly-released analysis of Chick-fil-A's charitable work has found that the fast found chain donated nearly $2 million to anti-gay groups over the course of 2010.

Among the many groups to receive donations through Chick-fil-A's WinShape Foundation, which was created by Chick-fil-A founder and chairman S. Truett Cathy in 1984, were the Marriage & Family Foundation ($1,188,380), Exodus International ($1,000) and the Family Research Council (also $1,000), Equality Matters reported.

Meanwhile, The New Civil Rights Movement's David Badash presents an even more disturbing figure: that Chick-fil-A has donated an estimated $5 million to anti-gay organizations and hate groups between 2003 and 2010. 

Not surprisingly, the revelation has already sparked a number of impassioned responses from lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights advocates and media outlets. "Let's face it: despite what the company's president says, Chick-Fil-A is an anti-gay corporation," wrote Tyler Coates for BlackBook. "And, on that note, I'm just going to have to assume that anyone who spends their money there are completely fine with the fact that an anti-gay corporation not only exists, but pushes money to other groups to continue the widespread practice of discriminating against everyone in the LGBT community." 



Mitt Romney's Tax Havens - How Do You Say Hypocrite?

Click image to enlarge
Mitt Romney talks a good game - at least if one doesn't know the real facts.  But his actions speak far louder.  Click the image above to see some of the ways Romney has avoided or reduced paying taxes.

What Today is Realy All About - The Declaration of Independence

With barbecues and other social events, it's easy to forget the meaning behind today's 4th of July holiday.  I have highlighted the portion of the Declaration of Independence (set out in full below) that still needs work to live up to the document's bold language about equality.  I believe that if he were alive today,the document's author, Thomas Jefferson, would be an advocate for full equality for all Americans.


IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

— John Hancock

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

Massachusetts:
John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry
Rhode Island:

Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Connecticut:
Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York:
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Pennsylvania:
Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Delaware:
Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Maryland:
Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Virginia:
George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina:
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Georgia:
Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

Obama's White Voters Problem

The increasingly visible racism that is being fanned by the GOP and its Christianist base is one of the hurdles facing Barack Obama in the 2012 election.  And some in the Christianist ranks of the GOP base no longer even try to hide their racism as the image above from a church group in Alabama illustrates as it invites "all white Christians" - the organizers of the event tried to explain away the racism this way:  

Organizers of the "all white" annual pastors conference explained why it's open to only white Christians.  William Collier said, "We don't have the facilities to accommodate other people. We haven't got any invitations to black muslim events. Of course, we are not invited to Jewish events and stuff."  Mel Lewis said, "We have a right as Americans to meet, to pray, to assemble. If someone is offended too bad."

But I digress from Obama's challenge.  There are simply too many whites who cannot seem to put Obama's race aside and support a president whose policies are actually in their own best interests.  Here are excerpts from Huffington Post that look at the issue of white voters and Obama in historical context:

 In the year after the bill that would become the Civil Rights Act was introduced into Congress, the president who stumped for it would be killed, his successor would face serious pushback from within his own party and a cadre of southern senators would spend more than seven weeks filibustering it..  .  .  .  .  The Civil Rights Act formally made it illegal to discriminate in public institutions, employment, union membership and federally funded programs.

Behind closed doors, however, Johnson was pessimistic about the electoral fallout of the law’s passage. "I think we just delivered the South to the Republican Party for a long time to come," he told Bill Moyers, his speechwriter.

Although though Johnson would win the presidency in a landslide that November -- bolstered by 94 percent of the black vote, a record that would hold until President Barack Obama's win in 2008 -- his concerns about the South proved justified.
 
As black voters flocked into the Democratic fold after the act's signing, white voters -- particularly in the South -- bolted. The 1964 election was the last time a Democratic candidate for president would win more than half of the nation’s white vote.  Richard Nixon would use the racial resentments of southern whites to help propel himself to the White House. The South has been solidly Republican in every election since.

"It's similar to white physical flight, but what we have here with white political flight," said Rick Jones, a political scientist at the University of Louisville.  It's an electoral problem that is especially pronounced for Obama. No president has won the White House with a smaller sliver of the white vote. The president's approval among white voters has dropped below 40 percent, and he trails Mitt Romney with that group by 13 percentage points.

“President Obama does not currently have enough white support to win re-election, even if he retains his minority base from 2008,” wrote David Paul Kuhn at Real Clear Politics. Obama won about 43 percent of the white vote in 2008, but needs about 38 percent of the white vote to win this fall, according to one pollster. (Obama pulled in 80 percent of the non-white vote in 2008.) 


Will Opposition to Gay Marriage Drive Young Christians from Church?

A piece on CNN that I bookmarked thew other day asks the question of whether the Christianist battle against gay marriage could end up driving young Christians away from church.  Based on the rate at which the so-called millenial generation is leaving organized religion, I would argue that we are already seeing the answer to the question.  And, as the CNN piece suggests, the situation may worsen - at least if one is an anti-gay advocate - as more young evangelicals become increasingly receptive to same sex marriage like their peers.  The irony in all of this is that the Christofascists blame gays for the decline of religion, yet it's really their own foul behavior and hatred and bigoty that is killing the Christian brand.  Based on my own children and their friends, they want nothing to do with denominations that spew constant anti-gay vitriol.  Here are some excerpts from the CNN piece:

As the battle over gay marriage heats up in this election year, one evangelical Christian writer is calling for a truce, fearing that the outspoken opposition to gay marriage among some church leaders could alienate an entire generation of religious youth.

“Evangelicals have been so submitted to these culture wars for so long, so that’s hard to give up,” evangelical writer and speaker Rachel Held Evans, 31, told msnbc.com. But “the majority of young Christians really, really, really want to stop with the political emphasis.”

A 2011 survey by the Public Religion Research Institute shows the generation gap between young Christians and their elders is large, with 44 percent of white evangelicals aged 18-29 in support of marriage equality compared to only 12 percent of those 65 and older.

According to the same survey, nearly 70 percent of young Christians also agree that religious groups are alienating young people by being too judgmental about gay and lesbian issues.  “For young Christians, having gay and lesbian friends is just a part of our life,” Held Evans said. “It’s just really hard for us to see them as mere issues to debate, because we’re talking about our friends here.”

To Held Evans, American churches’ attitude toward gay rights will play an important role in the retention of young Christians. In an article she wrote following North Carolina’s recent vote to ban gay marriage, Held Evans points to data mentioned in David Kinnaman’s book You Lost Me, which shows that 59 percent of teens who were raised Christian abandon the church when they become adults. One of the main reasons, the article says, is the church’s attitude toward gay rights.

While young Christians may be divided on whether gay relationships should be celebrated in the church, Held Evans said, they’re increasingly unified on their stance against legislative action, such as North Carolina’s gay marriage ban and others that will be up for votes this fall.

"Even young Christians who think that gay relationships are not God’s design, a lot of them will still say ‘but I think it should be legal for gay people to get married, because this is America,’” Held Evans said.

“I think the main problem we have is that a lot of the folks voting about homosexuality, voting about gay marriage, don’t know any gay people,” she said. “And I’m certain that if they did, it would change their attitude.”

I guess the cynic in me almost hopes that the Roman catholic Church hierarchy and the Southern Baptist Convention  continue their anti-gay jihad.  It may be the key to killing their foul version of Christianity - something that would be a net gain for the world.

Wednesday Morning Male Beauty


Argentine President: Equality as Important as Liberty

On this 4th of July, America sadly still has a long way to go before it realizes the stated promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all citizens.  Religious based bigotry and racial bigotry are alive and well - especially within today's Republican party which pretends to love and support the U.S. Constitution - and both LGBT Americans and other minorities are faced with daily discrimination often as a matter of government policy, especially in reactionary states like Virginia.  As a nation, the USA could really stand to learn somethings from other nations and we need to dump the myth of American exceptionalism (more on that in a future post).  A case in point is Argentina where this week Argentina's president (pictured at right) personally delivered the nation's first identity cards to people who legally switched their genders under a law that sets a global precedent.  We hear so much about equality under the law in America, but it is too often a fiction.  My fellow blogger AndrĂ©s Duque looks at this inspiring event in Argentina in his blog Blabbeando.  Here are some highlights followed by a video clip (in Spanish):

Argentinean president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner celebrated passage of the world's most progressive gender identity law by inviting a number of transgender leaders and personally handing them their new identity cards. The law was adopted by the Argentinean congress in May by a vote of 55-0 and became law last month after getting the president's signature. It allows transgender individuals to change their name and gender on government documents without having to prove that they have undergone gender reassignment surgery or need for court approval as had been the case before. It also grants government health coverage for transgender individuals who want to undergo a gender reassignment surgery.

[T]he Argentinean president also signed a presidential decree yesterday which put an end to a legal loophole that kept same-sex parents who began raising children before the 2010 marriage equality law passed from registering as co-parents of those children. If I understand correctly, the decree gives same-sex parents that weren't covered by the marriage equality law a full year to legally register their children as their own.

"Today is a day of tremendous reparation," the president said at the start of her speech, "today we do not shout for liberation but instead we shout for equality, which is just as important as freedom." 
Noting that the average age at which transgender individuals die in Argentina is 32, the president argued that part of it was due to the stress of being repressed and ignored and not having any rights and said this would change that.
"I do not want to use a word that bothers me greatly: Tolerance. No. I do not believe in 'tolerance'. To tolerate is to say I'll allow you to be because I have no other choice", she said, "I want to talk about equality and I want to talk about all of you who will now have the same rights I have enjoyed from the moment I was born and the rights that so many millions of Argentinians have enjoyed from the moment they were born. This is the society we want."




Yes, Argentina has its problems.  But as a society its civil laws are become a standard on how ALL citizens ought to be treated.  It's also ironic that while many America consider themselves to be "good Christians"  Argentina is far out stripping the USA from a legal perspective when it comes to treating others as demanded by the Gospel message.  I for one am very much over the hubris and hypocrisy of the Christianists and their boot licking puppets in the Republican Party.  Here's the video:


The Role of Gay's in America's War for Independence

UPDATED:  If you're interested in learning more about The United States's queer past, check out LGBT lecturer Michael Bronski's "Queer History of the United States of America."  It sells for $20.55 on Amazon.com.

For the last fourteen month's I have been writing an LGBT issues column in the print issue of Veer Magazine, a local alternative magazine that covers news, arts, entertainment, dining and cultural events.  Like this blog, my monthly column topics range from political issues to LGBT history.  The July, 2012, column (the print version of Veer hits the newsstands on the 15th of each month) will address the often forgotten role that gays played in winning America's war for independence (the boyfriend came up with the idea).  It is an aspect of American history that for too long has been hidden from the public eye and consciousness. Thus, it's an appropriate topic this 4th of July.  The following are excerpts from the upcoming July, 2012, column - locals can pick up a copy of Veer for the whole piece - followed by additional thoughts:

[M]any of us have heard familiar stories about the Declaration of Independence and the Founding Fathers.  What we have not heard due to revisionist history and a sanitizing of reputations of many of the nation’s early leaders is the vital role that gays played in winning the United Sates’ independence from Great Britain.  Legislation recently enacted in California seeks to remedy this silence by requiring the inclusion of the contributions of LGBT individuals in the history curriculum.

However, until more progress is made on this front, most Americans remain ignorant of the critical roles played by some individuals who would likely be labeled as gays under today’s understanding of sexual orientation is literally non-existent.  .  .  .  .  Who am I talking about?  Four individuals immediately spring to mind: Major. Gen. Frederich Wilhelm von Steuben, the Prussian military genius and chief of staff to George Washington, his young French assistant, Pierre Etienne Duponceau, Alexander Hamilton and John Laurens.

Yes, it’s true that at the time of the Revolutionary War the terms “homosexual” or “gay” had yet been coined.   But looking at historical accounts and existing correspondence, the major loves of these men’s lives involved those of the same sex.  And what’s even more significant is the fact that Benjamin Franklin and George Washington were well aware of the romantic inclinations of these significant contributors to the nation’s war for independence.  

Perhaps the greatest role was played by Frederich Wilhelm von Steuben.  Some maintain that the United States and its formidable military might not exist but for the contributions of this brilliant homosexual soldier from Prussia (modern-day Germany).  Von Steuben was recruited to the American military cause by Benjamin Franklin while he was in France.   For his part, von Steuben jumped at the opportunity since things were becoming too hot for him in Europe due to his many affairs with young men,  



As for von Steuben’s sexual orientation, historian Victoria A. Brownworth has noted that:

That Washington looked the other way with same-sex couples is most obvious in his dealings with Maj. Gen. Frederich Wilhelm von Steuben   .   .  .  Benjamin Franklin who provided the letters of recommendation to Washington, but Franklin was aware that von Steuben had been implicated in relationships with boys and young men and had been expelled from the court of Frederick the Great for homosexual behavior and was on the verge of being prosecuted when he left Germany for France.  .  .  .  Von Steuben’s relationship with Washington was close and there were no conflicts with Washington over von Steuben’s sleeping arrangements at Valley Forge with his young Frenchman, Duponceau.
There's considerably more in the column about Hamilton, Laurens, and Deborah Sampson, who served in the Continental Army disguised as a man under the name Robert Shurtlieff, but readers will get the drift of the column's .   More on von Steuben's many contributions can be found in a piece in the Washington Blade that was written for the gay history project last year.  Here's a sampling from the Blade article:

February 1778: Arrives at Valley Forge to serve under Washington, having informed Congress of his desire for paid service after an initial volunteer trial period, with which request Washington concurs.

March 1778: Begins tenure as inspector general, drilling troops according to established European military precepts.

1778-79: Writes “Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States,” which becomes a fundamental guide for the Continental Army and remains in active use through the War of 1812, being published in over 70 editions.

1780-81: Senior military officer in charge of troop and supply mobilization in Virginia.

1781: Replaced by Marquis de Lafayette as commander in Virginia.

1781-83: Continues to serve as Washington’s inspector general, and is active in improving discipline and streamlining administration in the army.

Spring 1783: Assists in formulating plans for the postwar American military.

Washington rewarded Von Steuben with a house at Valley Forge (still in existence and open for visits) which he shared with his aide-de-camps Capt. William North and Gen. Benjamin Walker. Walker lived with him through the remainder of his life, and von Steuben, who neither married nor denied any of the allegations of homosexuality, left his estate to North and Walker. His last will and testament, which includes the line “extraordinarily intense emotional relationship,” has been described as a love letter to Walker.

The nation that von Steuben helped found has memorialized him with numerous statues, including those at Lafayette Square near the White House and at Valley Forge and Utica, N.Y. (where he is buried) and German Americans celebrate his birthday each year on Sept. 17, hosting parades in New York City, Philadelphia and Chicago.

If George Washington was the father of the nation, then von Steuben, a gay man, was the father of the United States military.
Wikipedia also has this:

Steuben was the surname of Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben (1730-1794), a Prussian officer who aided the colonials in the American Revolutionary War.  Places in the United States of America named after Steuben include:  Steuben, Maine; Steuben, New York; Steuben, Wisconsin; Steuben County, Indiana; Steuben County, New York;Steubenville, Indiana;Steubenville, Ohio

It is far past time that American citizens learn the real history of  the contributions of LGBT individuals to this nation.  Will the Christiansts scream and throw a fit?  Most definitely - one only need look at their opposition to the LGBT history law in California.  The fact that bigots and demagogues don't like the truth doesn't make it any less the truth.  This country needs to know the truth, not just disingenuous Christianist lies and anti-gay propaganda.