Saturday, December 01, 2012

Sally Field: Prents Need to Embrace Their Gay Children

This blog has looked at the issue of homeless LGBT youth on a number of occasions.  Typically, these youth become homeless because of rejection by their families who have listened to the toxic message from the pulpit about gays and homophobia.  I was lucky and my parents embraced me when I came out - hence the scholarship I started in their honor that supports graduating LGBT high school seniors - but I have close friends who found themselves largely disowned by parents.  Oscar winning actress who has a gay son has a message to parents who may find themselves with a gay child.  The message?  Embrace them and be proud of them.  Here are excerpts from Gay Star News:

Sally Field guests on Oprah's Next Chapter Sunday (2 December) and talks to host Oprah Winfrey about being the mother of a gay son.

The acclaimed actress, winner of two Oscars and three Emmys, received the Human Rights Campaign's Ally for Equality Award last month in Washington DC and was introduced by her gay son, Sam Greisman.

Greisman, 25, is the youngest of Field's three sons and told the crowd that night that when he came out, his mother didn’t bat an eye and was, in fact, overjoyed. Field said after she took the stage that it has been 'one of the great privileges of my life' to be a part of her son's coming out process.

'It’s important to have a parent speak about raising a magnificent, proud, intelligent, funny, lovable, sexy gay son,' Field tells Winfrey. 'There are so many parents who are frightened of that and who don’t embrace their children as they struggle. Those children are struggling to embrace who they are, who nature — what nature intended them to be.'

Quote of the Day: GOP State Rep. Mike Fleck: I’m Gay

Coming out is never an easy process, especially if one has been subjected to religious brainwashing and has been active in today's GOP where gays are largely treated as lepers.   Such is the journey of Pennsylvania State Rep. Mike Fleck (R-Huntingdon) publicly acknowledged Saturday that he is gay, making him the first openly gay Republican lawmaker in Pennsylvania. has full details.  I suspect that while Fleck knows that he's the same person that he was before he came out, the Christofascists in the GOP will view things otherwise.  In his coming out release, Flecked made some very true statements that more closeted men need to take to heart:

While his professional dreams were becoming reality, Fleck said he was also weathering personal battles, namely his same-sex attraction which, contrary to all he believed and was taught, remained.
“So I just prayed harder and put it in God’s hands,” he said, adding that as one of the county’s most visible couples, the unresolved feelings and pressure of public scrutiny took its toll and Fleck opted for therapy.

“I sought out treatment from a Christian counselor, but when that didn’t work out, I engaged a secular therapist who told me point blank that I was gay and that I was too caught up in being the perfect Christian rather than actually being authentic and honest,” Fleck said.

He said the hardest part of the process has been reconciling his faith with his sexuality.
“Through years of counseling, I’ve met a lot of gay Christians who have tried hard to change their God-given sexual orientation, but at the end of the day, I know of none who’ve been successful,” he said. “They’ve only succeeded at repressing their identity, only to have it reappear time and time again and always wreaking havoc not only on themselves, but especially on their family.”

Fleck said once he was able to be honest with himself, he could finally be honest with others, because no one in his life had any clue about his personal struggle, not even his wife.

Being honest and authentic is far superior to living a lie to either please others or some version of a God who, if he hates his own creations, isn't worth worshiping in the first place.  Hopefully, if Fleck wants to remain an active Christian he will find a gay accepting church and flee the poisonous belief system that he seemingly was raised in.

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

Homophobia: Alive and Thriving in Our Public Schools

While things in general are getting better in terms of societal acceptance of gays, one sad exception remains many of the nation's public schools where the slightest action that might be deemed LGBT supportive can endanger a teacher's job and where administrators continue to suggest that being gays is something abominable.  I've written a number of times about the way in which gay bashing and anti-gay bullying continues as an unofficially endorsed sport in the local York County, Virginia school division.  True, the division purports to have an anti-gay bullying, but it seemingly is never enforced.  At least when the victims are gay or perceived to be gay.  But the foul anti-gay agenda of administrators who are either homophobes themselves or who lack the spine to stand up to bigoted parents spreads across the county.  Hence the story of a teacher who was suspended for playing a gay supportive song at the request of a student:

A Seattle-based hip-hop star is speaking out after a Michigan teacher was suspended for playing his gay-inclusive song in class.

In a Nov. 29 blog on his website, Macklemore called the suspension of Centennial Middle School teacher Susan Johnson "completely out of line and unjust." Johnson had allowed a student to play Macklemore's "Same Love," which contains lyrics like "I might not be the same, but that's not important/No freedom 'til we're equal, damn right I support it," in class.
Macklemore noted:
"This incident is just one of tens of thousands that have happened across the country where schools have exposed a latent homophobia, preventing safe space for all young people to feel confident in being themselves. It’s clear that Ms. Johnson felt bullying and 'gay bashing' were issues that needed to be addressed, and by doing so, was punished."
Saying that he wrote "Same Love" in hopes that the song "would facilitate dialogue and through those conversations understanding and empathy would emerge," Macklemore concludes:
"It’s discouraging that a song about love and civil rights has led to a teacher getting suspended from her job. But that’s where we are at. For those of us who get a pit in our stomach when reading a story like this, it just makes it abundantly clear there is far more work to be done."
And then there's this story out of Arizona where two male students were punished by having to hold hands in front of the entire school so as to subject them to anti-gay taunts:

A first-year principal in Mesa, Ariz., has been thrown into the spotlight for employing a controversial -- yet apparently effective -- method of student discipline.

When two Westwood High School students got in a fist fight during class this week, Principal Tim Richards gave the teens an choice: suspension or public humiliation -- by sitting next to each other holding hands in the school courtyard.

The students chose the latter, hanging their heads as peers watched and taunted them from all sides. Westwood students found the stunt funny.

"Kids were laughing at them and calling them names asking, 'Are you gay?'" student Brittney Smyers told ABC 15

Photos of the freshman and sophomore hand-in-hand gained attention online, drawing praise from some who called the punishment effective. Charles Crockett, 14, one of the boys involved in the tussle, admitted to KPHO that he won't fight again. And while the punishment only lasted an hour, Charles says he skipped school the next day because the teasing became unbearable.

But critics say that the punishment encourages bullying, allowing students to publicly taunt the teens. Others have suggested that it sends a negative message about gay students by asserting that two males holding hands is an embarrassent.

[T]e district isn't standing behind the principal's move. District officials have released a statement, which reads in part:
The district does not condone the choice of in-school discipline given these students, regardless of their acceptance or willingness to participate. District leadership will address this matter with the school principal, and review district protocol regarding student discipline with all administrators.
Thankfully, the school division in Mesa, Arizona isn't backing the principal's actions.  But generally, such is not the case.  And what motivates all this anti-gay hate and bullying.  You guessed it, the "godly Christian" set and their insistence that anyone who doesn't conform to their Neolithic era derived religious beliefs be punished.  There is no better argument against Christianity than many of its alleged followers who worship hate and fear and trash the Gospel message.

GOP Fratricide in Virginia?

I have commented recently on the potential civil war brewing in the Republican Party of Virginia and the party's all but the coronation ceremony in which the, in my view, mentally ill and possibly closeted homophobe, Ken "Kookinelli" Cuccinelli will be the GOP's 2013 standard bearer in the race for Governor of Virginia.  Today, the Virginia GOP bears little resemblance to the party in which I was very active (for 8 years I was a City Committee member for Virginia Beach) at a time Christofascists and Tea Party extremists did not rule the party.  Indeed, to be a Republican in Virginia nowadays requires that one (i) be insane, (ii) have had a lobotomy, (iii) be a fire breathing Christofascist seeking to establish a theocracy, (iv) be utterly untethered from objective reality, (v) be a white supremacist, (vi) hold one's noise and chug gallons of Kool-Aid, or (vi) exhibit some combination of the foregoing.   Now the Washington Post comments on the ongoing lunacy within the Virginia GOP.  Here are excerpts:

REPUBLICANS IN VIRGINIA have been busy downsizing their tent for some time, mainly to their own detriment. Despite some success in state legislative elections, which owe much to gerrymandered districts, they have lost three straight elections for the U.S. Senate, two for the presidency and two out of the last three for governor. Not coincidentally, that anemic record coincides with the party’s sharp tilt to the right, which has made centrists feel unwelcome.

So it was that Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II, a right-wing firebrand who has flirted with birtherism, denied climate change, bashed gays and waged a jihad against abortion, managed to outmaneuver Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling. By any measure, Mr. Bolling qualifies as a rock-ribbed conservative. But his pragmatic streak and mild demeanor paled in comparison to Mr. Cuccinelli’s flame-throwing appeal to tea partyers and other GOP radicals. On Wednesday, Mr. Bolling announced that he was bowing out of contention for the Republican nomination for governor.

[T]he method by which Mr. Cuccinelli secured the GOP’s nod — by forcing a nominating convention instead of a primary, thereby excluding most of his party’s voters from the process — is a reminder of the internecine bitterness that has gripped the Republican Party in Virginia for years.

Limiting voter participation in elections is anti-democratic; it’s also frequently self-defeating. Republicans in a number of states, including Virginia, tried to obstruct voting by minorities, the young and the old by means of tougher voter ID rules in this year’s presidential elections. It didn’t work. But it certainly reinforced the impression that Republicans are hostile to those voters.
Little wonder that Mr. Bolling, in withdrawing from the GOP contest, has refused to endorse Mr. Cuccinelli.

West Point Chapel to Host First Gay Marriage

Get out the foul weather gear.  The spittle is going to be flying by the bucket full amongst the Christianists and professional bigot Christian set - and their political whores in the GOP will be similarly convulsing - as they get wind of the fact that the cadet chapel at West Point is going to be the scene of a same sex wedding.  The happy couple are Brenda Sue Fulton and Penelope Dara Gnesin and their wedding will be held today.  A story in USA Today looks at the coming nuptials which will be yet another example of the mainstreaming of same sex marriage despite the efforts and shrieks and howls of  far right religious extremists who seek to inflict their toxic religious beliefs on all Americans.  I can easily envision Elaine Donnelly writhing and convulsing on the floor in a pool of spittle in reaction to the story.  Here are story highlights:

The first same-sex marriage at the U.S. Military Academy's Cadet Chapel at West Point will be celebrated Saturday as Brenda Sue Fulton and Penelope Dara Gnesin exchange vows.  The ceremony comes a little more than a year after President Obama ended the military policy banning openly gay people from serving.

Fulton, a veteran and the communications director of an organization called Outserve — which represents actively serving gay, lesbian and bisexual military personnel — confirmed in an e-mail to USA TODAY Friday night: "We will be the first same sex couple to wed at the Cadet Chapel at West Point."

The wedding will be the second gay marriage West Point has hosted. The first was a small, private ceremony last weekend between two of Fulton's friends in a smaller venue on the campus.

In September 2011, the Pentagon issued guidance stating that "determinations regarding the use of DOD real property and facilities for private functions, including religious and other ceremonies, should be made on a sexual-orientation neutral basis, provided such use is not prohibited by applicable state and local laws."

Fulton, 53, said she is getting married at the academy because "West Point has been an important part of my life," but also because Gov. Chris Christie in her home state of New Jersey vetoed a gay marriage bill earlier this year. 

"We had always said that we wanted to get married in New Jersey," Fulton told USA Today, but "we didn't want to wait any longer," particularly because Gnesim, 52, is a breast cancer survivor and suffers from multiple sclerosis.

"It is wonderful for us to celebrate the recognition that New York state will give our marriage," Fulton said, but "there is also some regret that we can't get married in our home state."

Are GOP Voters Rejecting the Party's Anti-Gay Stance?

An article in the Washington Post looks at data from the November 6, 2012, for the four states that saw same anti-gay marriage measures defeated in each instance.  What is so interesting is that even in precincts that Romney carried by large margins, the anti-gay effort lost.  In short, significant numbers of Republicans ignored the Christofascist drafted GOP party platform (hate group leader Tony Perkins was a principal drafter) and instead voted for marriage equality.  The GOP's anti-gay positions have already cost the party the vast majority of voters under 30.  Now, the evidence suggest that anti-gay initiatives may no longer be working as envisioned by the Christofascists even with many in the over 30 age brackets.  Poll after poll shows that only in the over 65 age group does an anti-gay agenda resonate and guess what?  That anti-gay demographic is literally dying off with each passing elections cycle and being replaced by non-religious extremists.  Will the GOP get the message that the party's institutionalized homophobia may increasingly be a liability?  I'm not going to hold my breath.  Here are some article excerpts:

After years of defeats, same-sex-marriage advocates scored a remarkable 4-0 sweep of state ballot contests on Nov. 6. One major reason: This year, significant numbers of Republicans voted their way. That should give pause to a GOP establishment that has alienated many younger voters and independents with its stance on the issue and now faces the prospect of dissent among its core constituents as well.

The evidence comes straight from a close study of the election returns in Maryland, Maine and Minnesota. (Washington state, with its unique system of mail voting, has been slower to report its results in detail. I’ve based my analysis on the other three states that had same-sex-marriage contests.)

The Maryland ballot referendum, Question 6, essentially asked voters to confirm or reject a new law allowing same-sex marriage. In 11 of the 18 counties that Mitt Romney carried, Question 6 fared better than President Obama, a sign that GOP voters had crossed over in support. While the phenomenon could be seen everywhere from farm towns to blue-collar inner suburbs, the biggest swings tended to come in affluent bedroom communities. At one precinct in Hunt Valley, north of Baltimore, with 2,116 votes cast, there was a 28 percentage-point swing, leading to a landslide for Romney and the ballot question: Obama drew a paltry 37 percent, but Question 6 carried the precinct with a whopping 65 percent.

In Minnesota, where voters were asked to ban same-sex marriage through a state constitutional amendment, precinct returns show that suburban Republicans broke from their party in droves to defeat the ban. According to the Pioneer Press of St. Paul, 47 towns around the Twin Cities area voted for Romney while opposing the measure, known as Amendment One. Exurban Scott County, the state’s fastest growing, narrowly turned down Amendment One, even as it gave Romney a comfortable 56.5 percent of its vote.

[W]ithin commuting distance of the Twin Cities, the defections from the Republican line were deep and unmistakable. Romney won easily in such lakeside Hennepin County towns as Orono, Deephaven and Shorewood. Conventional wisdom would have them voting for the marriage ban as well — but they rejected Amendment One by 60 percent or more.

Maine voters were asked to legalize same-sex marriage through a referendum that lost narrowly in 2009. This time it won, with 53 percent of the vote. Again, Republicans helped secure the victory.

The Bangor suburb of Hampden voted both for Romney and for freedom to marry. The other four towns, all Portland suburbs — Cumberland, Falmouth, Yarmouth and Cape Elizabeth — went for Obama by votes ranging from 53 to 63 percent, and then in each case registered a further 10- to 13-point swing toward same-sex marriage.

So where next for the Republican Party on this issue?  .  .  .  .  one plausible path would be a GOP call for leaving the issue to the states, with New York going one way, for instance, and Texas another. That would probably capture a consensus among a broad range of active Republicans, fit reasonably well with the party’s other ideological stands and still distinguish its position from the Democratic Party’s support for same-sex marriage in its 2012 platform.  The GOP has left itself little room to maneuver.

Although many national polls now show support for marriage equality, the national Republican platform continues to endorse the same deeply out-of-touch proposal.  If and when the party’s leadership changes its mind, a whole lot of suburban Republicans will be murmuring under their breath, “About time.”

Frankly, the quickest way for the GOP to regain popularity with younger voters and independents is to kick the Christofascists to the curb where they belong.  Unfortunately, this will not be an easy task since the embrace of the Christofascists by the GOP has caused so many one time Republicans to flee the party and comfortably become independents or even Democrats.

Friday, November 30, 2012

More Friday Male Beauty

Jon Huntsman to GOP: Avoid "Fringe Issues"

Personally, I continue to believe that if any of the original pack of GOP presidential nomination contestants might have been able to defeat Barack Obama it is Jon Huntsman.  The problem, of course was that Huntsman wasn't crazy or extreme enough to attract the increasingly deranged and theocratic GOP base.  Like Bruce Bartlett and some other rational conservatives who have been ridden out of the GOP on a rail, Huntsman seems to be having some saying "I told you so."  In his latest salvo, Huntsman tells the GOP to avoid "fringe issues."  The problem is that the entire GOP base is now made up of a faction of fringe issue extremists: Christofascists, anti-abortion extremists, anti-tax maniacs, and last but not least the white supremacists.   Thus, Huntsman's recommendation is largely impossible to implement.   Here are highlights from Politico on Huntsman's advice to the GOP:

Jon Huntsman said Friday that if the GOP can stay away from “fringe issues” and instead focuses on bread-and-butter Republican principles, the party will be better for it.

“If we stick to a mantra that says strong individual liberty and economic freedom and a right-sized government, that’s always going to be relevant for the American people based on our constitutional government,” the former Utah governor and presidential hopeful said on CNN’s “Starting Point.” “But we kind of drift in areas where we take on fringe issues, and it gets us stuck in the alleyways of life that take our focus away from what is really important for the American people, and that is individual freedom and that is getting the budgets balanced so people can get on with their lives.”

Huntsman praised the soul-searching the GOP has undertaken since it’s Nov. 6 losses, but added that ultimately, the party needs a simplified “mission statement.”

“We have some structural issues,” he said. “I think the deliberation about the Republican Party that we’re having is a very healthy thing. And if we don’t wind up at the end of the exercise with a mission statement that is one sentence long, then we’re toast. That one statement ought to be, ‘Balance the budgets and get out of people’s lives.’

“So what did the two most important people in this country sit down and talk about yesterday at lunch?” Huntsman said, referencing President Barack Obama’s Thursday meeting with GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. “When everything else is done, and the election is wrapped up, it isn’t about social issues. It isn’t about the fringe issues. They sat down and talked about America’s leadership in the world. So at the end of the day, that’s what matters most, to Republicans, and to Democrats. How do you get to where we need to be?”

Of course, jettisoning social issues would drive the Christofascists berserk.  Let's be candid, the far right wants to interfere in everyone's life and dictate what they can believe, how they can or cannot control their own bodies and who they can love.  By all appearances, the Christofascists still have gotten the message that the larger public does NOT want what the Christofascists are selling.

U. S. Supreme Court Fails to Identify Gay Marriage Case to Be Considered

There had been an expectation that the U.S. Supreme Court would identify today which, if any, of the gay marriage/DOMA appeals that have landed on its doorstep.  The expectation turned into additional waiting as the Court remained silent on these cases and those following the case will be waiting with baited breath to see if the Court will show its hand on Monday.   In some ways I can understand the Court's hesitation: no matter what it does, factions within America will be unhappy.  The Christofascists will rant against judicial tyranny if the Court upholds gay marriage and/or strikes down DOMA.  On a longer term, however, if the Court does not uphold a constitutional right to same sex marriage, they risk being viewed by history as being akin to the Justices who ruled against blacks in the infamous ruling in  Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. 393 (1857), also known as the Dred Scott Decision.   For those who do not recall their American history, in the Dred Scott Decision, the Court held that the federal government had no power to regulate slavery in the territories, and that people of African descent (both slave and free) were not protected by the United States Constitution and were not U.S. citizens.   In short, with the younger generations being supportive of gay marriage  by significant majorities, it is virtually guaranteed that over time any Justice ruling against marriage equality will be viewed by history as a bigoted monster.  One has to wonder whether this is the type of legacy far right blow hards like Antonin Scalia to be how they are remembered by posterity.  A piece in SCOTUS Blog looks at this dilemma facing the justices.  Here are highlights:

These are the most significant cases these nine Justices have ever considered, and probably that they will ever decide.

I have never before seen cases that I believed would be discussed two hundred years from now. Bush v. Gore and Obamacare were relative pipsqueaks. The government’s assertion of the power to prohibit a loving couple to marry, or to refuse to recognize such a marriage, is profound. So is the opposite claim that five Justices can read the federal Constitution to strip the people of the power to enact the laws governing such a foundational social institution.

The cases present a profound test of the Justices’ judgment. The plaintiffs’ claims are rooted in the fact that these laws rest on an irrational and invidious hatred, enshrined in law. On the other hand, that describes some moral judgments. The Constitution does not forbid every inequality, and the people must correct some injustices (even some grave ones) themselves, legislatively.

The striking feature of these cases – not present in any others I have ever seen – is that that they would have been decided by the Justices’ predecessors one way and would be decided by the Justices’ successors another way.

The painful but sometimes unspoken truth is that seminal Supreme Court rulings sometimes reflect the era in which they were decided. In 2012, it is ridiculous to believe that the government could ban inter-racial marriage. But that was the law in much of the country for most of its history. In fact, it was a serious argument, and there were a number of similar laws on the books, when the Court declared them unconstitutional in 1967 in Loving v. Virginia. Society moved over the course of our history, and so did the Court’s understanding of the Constitution.

[T]he arc of history tilts towards equality and justice, and our society is rapidly but unevenly coming to the judgment that same-sex marriage is just and right. The claims presented by this case would just as inevitably prevail (probably by a wide margin) in the Supreme Court twenty years from now. By then, it will be broadly (if not uniformly) accepted that discrimination against homosexuals related to marriage is invidious and irrational. Our attitudes are shifting that fast.

Given the inevitability of same-sex marriage, if the Court rules against those claiming a right to have such unions recognized, it will later be judged to be “on the wrong side of history.”.

But the verdict of history cannot decide the legal questions presented by these cases. The cases arrive today, in this moment, before our cultural transition has completed. In a sense, it is a shame that there is such pressure to hear the cases now; the judgment for the rest of the nation’s history would certainly favor these claims. But if they do decide to grant review, the Justices cannot merely choose to embrace the past or the future. They will have to make a judgment now.

One option that the Court could decide to pursue is to hear none of the cases.  This would by default restore same sex marriage to California via the 9th Circuit's ruling and and leave the 1st and 2nd Circuit rulings against DOMA standing, although this latter option would leave potential chaos on a number of issues impacted by DOMA.   I'm sure that perhaps four of the Justices may not care if they are viewed as horrible individuals by history.  The question becomes whether five Justices do want to be viewed as having been on the right side of history.   

Friday Morning Male Beauty

Hate Group FRC: Uganda Is Exemplary and "Prospered by God"

FRC president and white supremacist loving Tony Perkins continues to whine about FRC's designation as a hate group, but then continues to make statements and support positions that do nothing but confirm that the Southern Poverty Law Center's hate group designation of FRC was 100% on the money.  With horrific anti-gay legislation before Uganda's joke of a Parliament, Perkins is lauding Uganda as "exemplary" and stating that Uganda is a "modern example of a nation prospered by God." Obviously, Perkins either has never been to Uganda or he's drinking even stronger Kool-Aid than usual.  I have a friend working with a support agency in Uganda and while their is much natural beauty, by any other measure the country is an utter hell hole.  If it's an example of a nation "prospered by God," we all need to be fleeing Uganda's example as quickly as possible.  Here are article highlights from The Advocate on Perkins' batshitery:

Tony Perkins claims that his tweet supporting Uganda's president had nothing to do with the headlines the country's Parliament generated by renewing consideration of the so-called "kill the gays" bill.

The timing of his tweet, he claims, is a coincidence. Perkins blames the media for a conflation and specifically calls out the Human Rights Campaign, which condemned Perkins as president of the Family Research Council for supporting Uganda at this critical moment.

In a newsletter today, Perkins downplayed his tweet, in which he said "American liberals are upset that Ugandan Pres is leading his nation in repentance — afraid of a modern example of a nation prospered by God."

As he often does, Perkins attacked the media. "With fewer journalists able to separate the news from their personal politics, groups like FRC are no longer fighting bias — but outright deception," he wrote today. 

Saying that Uganda is a "modern example of a nation prospered by God" apparently doesn't necessarily include its active consideration of a law that criminalizes homosexuality and potentially puts gay people to the death penalty. Activists are watching the country's Parliament with renewed alarm in recent days after its leaders pledged to pass the bill.

It's unclear what the FRC believes should be the consequence for engaging in "gay and lesbian acts," but in the very least it has in the past backed campaigns to stop shopping at businesses that support LGBT employees. It has also defended so-called "reparative therapy" as a plausible remedy despite the dangerous consequences warned of by top psychological associations.

No one knows more about lies and deception than Perkins.  Virtually every word that comes out of his mouth is a lie and deception of one sort or another.  Nowadays, the best way to identify "family values" Christians is by the incessant lies they disseminate.

Is the Virginia GOP Headed Toward Civil War?

Numerous posts on this blog have looked at the growing disconnect between the insane Christofascist/Tea Party element of the GOP where ideological extremism and a push for theocracy are now the norm and what's left of the so-called party establishment who don't need commitment in a mental institution like their far right brethren.  The strained relations between these two elements is brewing at the national level but so far the establishment Republicans are refusing to stand up to the extremists in the party.  The going nowhere "fiscal cliff" negotiations are an indication as the GOP controlled House hangs on to a "no new taxes" agenda even though some 70% of Americans want tax increases for the wealthy.  Here in Virginia, it now looks like the first battle of the coming intra-party civil war is may be beginning as Bill Bolling is hinting at an independent run for governor which would almost assure a Democrat victory next year.  Here are highlights from the Virginian Pilot:

Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling's exit from the governor's race could tear a chasm within the Republican Party between conservatives and moderates just weeks after the party suffered disappointing losses at the polls and just ahead of next year's high-profile gubernatorial contest.

Even if Bolling doesn't pursue an independent candidacy — a prospect he has left conspicuously open — he can do plenty of damage just by withholding his endorsement from the likely conservative GOP standard-bearer, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.

And already, that possibility has led to some finger-pointing within the party.  Tea party leader Jamie Radtke, a Cuccinelli supporter, says Bolling and "establishment Republicans" such as Gov. Bob McDonnell who are accustomed to having their way in dictating nominations aren't happy that conservatives elbowed Bolling out.

Bolling supporter Brandon Bell, a moderate two-time Republican state senator from Roanoke County who lost a 2007 primary to conservative Ralph Smith, said he fears Bolling's exit illustrates a rift within the GOP where moderates are exiled.   "This is not the time you want to be coming apart at the seams," said Bell, who lost an independent comeback bid for his old Senate seat in 2011.

"We've got to decide: Do we want to be a party that engages in the great ideological debates of the day or do we actually want to be a party that wins elections, earns the right to lead and then leads effectively," he[Bolling] said.

That was a jab at the socially conservative mission Cuccinelli has assumed as an activist attorney general since he was sworn in three years ago. He was the first state attorney general to challenge the "Obamacare" health coverage reforms, sued the federal government over clean-air regulations, launched a two-year inquest into a former University of Virginia climate researcher and backed down the state Board of Health's effort to soften the building standards on abortion clinics.

I hold no love for Bill Bolling who in many ways is a far right extremist himself.  The difference is that unlike Cuccinelli, he's not certifiably insane.  If Cuccinelli turns out to be the GOP nominee, he MUST be defeated.  I shudder to envision the lunatics he'd appoint to positions across Virginia.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

More Thursday Male Beauty

More Evidence That Abraham Lincoln Was Gay

I spent much of the 1970's in Charlottesville as an undergraduate student and then as a law student at the University of Virginia.  For those not familiar with Charlottesville, Thomas Jefferson is referred to constantly as "Mr. Jefferson" and one almost expects that he will suddenly materialize on the university grounds or somewhere in town.  During my student days, the stories about Jefferson and Sally Hemings were circulating, but if one asked a question about their relationship to one of the docents at Monticello, the generally female staff would act like they were about to have a stroke or a fit of the vapors.  Not surprisingly, once they regained their composure, the docents always vehemently denied that Jefferson and Hemings had any amorous relationships. It turns out that the oral family stories handed down through the Hemings family were true and the prim efforts to sanitize and deify Jefferson were false.  Now a piece in Huffington Post points to another family's oral history that adds further fuel to modern day speculation that Abraham Lincoln was in fact a gay man.  Here are excerpts:

Over 16,000 books have been written about Abraham Lincoln, our greatest president. Many of these books either allude to or specifically report on Lincoln's ambiguous relationships with men. Lincoln lived with and shared a bed with Joshua Speed for four years, and they remained friends years after they no longer lived together. He also had a close relationship with Captain David Derickson, who would stay with Lincoln overnight at the Soldier's Home (a retreat from the White House) when Lincoln's wife Mary left town. There were reports of Captain Derickson wearing Lincoln's nightshirt, and Lincoln has been quoted as saying, with a "twinkle" in his eye, "The captain and I are getting quite thick."

Many historians are quick to say that men shared beds due to a bed shortage and that surely Lincoln, the savior of the Union, could not have been gay. The studied impulse to make Lincoln absolutely heterosexual reflects a discernible societal discomfort with the complexities of human sexuality and sexual orientation, as well as deeply embedded streaks of homophobia.

American history is written not only in books but in the sacred narration of family stories that endure as indelible parchment in our hearts. Thomas Jefferson had an affair with his slave Sally Hemings, fathering many children with her. The family history of Sally Hemings' descendants never wavered from the fact of Jefferson's paternity, though their claims were disputed by many offended historians. Surely, these historians protested, the author of the Declaration of Independence would not have had sexual liaisons with a slave. Genetic testing proved them wrong.

Growing up, my mother told me that we were from Blair House, the White House's official guest house. She stated that her great-grandmother was a servant at Blair House, had an affair with the master of Blair House and also babysat Lincoln's kids. The affair produced a child, Mattie, born Oct. 20, 1860.

As a sexologist, I posit that Lincoln was a Kinsey 4 -- homosexual with more than incidental opposite-sex contact. But as I studied Lincoln's magnificent life, I realized that William Herndon, Lincoln's law partner for 20 years and the keeper of Lincoln's legacy, never mentioned anything that would leave one to believe that Lincoln was gay.

One day I was having lunch with Rev. Cindi Love, the executive director of Soulforce. I was telling her about my family history, my burgeoning love affair with Abraham and my quest for more information. "I have been researching Lincoln and found a lot about his relationships with men, and I am getting this from a many sources," I told her. "But I am puzzled about one thing: William Herndon has not mentioned or written anything that would indicate that Lincoln was gay."

She gave me a telling look and said, "Well, here is the missing piece of your puzzle. My maiden name is Herndon. William Herndon was my great-great-uncle, and he was gay, and he was Lincoln's lover." She went on to talk about how this information was handed down from generation to generation in the Herndon family.

I still hope a lost diary or a writing of Lincoln's will surface and make these speculations conclusive fact.  True, I'd love to have a new gay icon.  Better yet, I'd love to watch the shrieks, wailing and flying spittle from the professional Christian set. 

Asian Americans Turn Dramatically Towards Democrats

Click image to enlarge
With all of the chatter among the pundit class about the Republican Party's alienation of Hispanic voters another emerging demographic has been largely missed, especially in areas where its members are not plentiful as yet.  An article in the Los Angeles Times looks at this other demographic that the GOP has lost by dramatic margins over the last two decades: Asian voters.   Not coincidentally, in my view, this dramatic shift tracts directly with the rise of the Christofascists and white supremacist elements within the Republican Party.  It is the same time period that has seen a steady exodus of moderates and non-religious extremists from the GOP.   Here are some article highlights:

As the dust settles on the presidential election, there seems to be a new theory daily as to why Mitt Romney lost and what it signals for the future of the Republican Party. Common to nearly all the speculation are the partisan implications of demographic change. The United States is shifting gradually toward a majority-minority electorate, with ever-growing numbers of Latino and Asian American voters. Notably, these groups are increasingly voting as Democrats. According to exit polls from Nov. 6, 73% of Asian Americans and 71% of Latinos voted for President Obama.

The high levels of Latino support for Obama were in line with expectations.  .  .  .  . But the fact that nearly three out of every four Asian Americans voted for Obama caught most pundits by surprise. Moreover, Asian Americans, who voted in record numbers in 2008, appear to have mobilized an even higher turnout in 2012. Asian Americans are no longer a swing vote or a crouching tiger in the electorate; their political stripes are now distinctly Democratic blue.

Many people have begun to ask: Why are Asian Americans so Democratic, and how did thy get that way? These questions take on greater intrigue when we look at exit poll data over the last two decades. Asian Americans have demonstrated the biggest shift in their presidential voting preferences of any demographic group, whether by race, gender or age.

First, it is no accident that the move toward the Democratic Party started during Bill Clinton's presidency. Although detailed polling data on Asian Americans in the 1990s are lacking, this is a period when the Democratic Party developed a new pro-business image, economic growth was strong, Asian Americans naturalized in unprecedented numbers and Clinton made public efforts to woo them, including nominating the first Asian American to the Cabinet.

Since 2000, the Republican Party has moved more sharply to the right than the Democratic Party has to the left, especially on issues that resonate with Asian Americans. For example, Republicans in Congress escalated their heated rhetoric on immigration and, despite the Bush administration's efforts, consistently scuttled efforts toward comprehensive immigration reform. Our 2008 National Asian American Survey also found very strong support among all Asian American groups for universal healthcare and for bringing a quick end to the Iraq war, two issues on which the Republican Party did itself no favors with these voters.

[T]he Republican Party has not been helped by its close liaison with the tea party movement, which received low favorability ratings in our 2012 survey, nor by presidential candidates and party activists emphasizing Christian values. Thus a Pew report on Asian American religion showed the highest Democratic Party support among Hindus and the religiously unaffiliated who, together, account for more than 35% of the Asian American population.

As noted many times on this blog, the GOP sold its soul to the Christofascists (and their close cousins, the white supremacists) and now social moderates, non-whites, and non-Kool-Aid drinkers are fleeing in droves.  Yet, as reflected by Ken Cuccinelli's rise to apparent GOP standard bearer here in Virginia, the GOP apparently has not gotten the message that extremism loses voters and loses elections.

Virginia Commonwealth University Coach Fired for Being Gay

Many readers may be shocked by the title of this post, but hear in Virginia, LGBT citizens have absolutely zero state law employment protections and since Congress has never passed ENDA, there are no federal law protections either.  This was made abundantly clear by (1) Governor Bob McDonnell's refusal to sign an Executive Order adding sexual orientation to the Commonwealth of Virginia's employment non-discrimination policy, and (2) the refusal of the Virginia Supreme Court to consider an appeal by Michael Moore a state employee fired for being gay in Moore v. Virginia Museum of Natural History.  With virulently anti-gay Ken Cuccinelli the apparent GOP nominee for governor in the 2013 elections, a GOP win would likely guarantee that more anti-gay witch hunts would ensue throughout state agencies and universities.  GayRVA looks at the latest travesty at Virginia Commonwealth University ("VCU").  Here are highlights:

For eight years James Finley went to work for VCU’s women’s volleyball team. For eight years he poured his heart and soul into his team of women. And on Monday November 19th, James Finley was fired. Finley says the reasons for his contract termination are simple. It wasn’t his winning record. It wasn’t his personal commitment to the team. It wasn’t the move to a tougher competing conference his team earned under his guidance. According to Finley, it was because he was openly gay.

People picked the Rams to take 6th place. Instead they took 3rd, with a final record of 25-6 overall in the regular season- they got as far as the semi finals – a solid standing for a team in their first A10 championship.

On Nov. 19th, the Monday after they returned from the championships, Coach Finley had a message waiting for him from AD McLaughlin’s secretary. “They wanted a confidential meeting,” said Finley. He figured it was to discuss his contract renewal – most VCU coaches are on year-to-year contracts, and at the end of seasons, coaches and administration get together to discuss their future together.

But when Finley met with McLaughlin this time, the conversation was different. “He said they wanted to go in a different direction,” said Finley. The new direction did not include Finley as the head coach of his team. It did not include Finley on staff at all.

[T]here were several red flags that popped up throughout the season leading up to this moment.

“From the beginning he interacted with other coaches, staffs, other teams. He participated [with them], and  with ours he didn’t…  At booster events, he avoided me whenever I was there. [I'd be] having a conversation with him and he’d walk away when I was trying to talk to him. I’d say ‘Hi’ and he’d look up at me, and put his head back down and not acknowledge me.”

Finley didn’t think much of the issue as the season passed, but on Oct. 5th, when Pat Stauffer, a 30-year-veteran of VCU athletics and an open lesbian, was demoted from Senior Women’s Administrator to  Sr. Associate AD for Sports Administration. It was too much for Finley, it was another red flag.

Since his meeting with McLaughlin, Finley has taken action within the university system to solve his problem. He met with VCU’s VP of Diversity this week. He was told diversity was one of VCU’s core values, and that an investigation was started to examine his dismissal and his charge of discrimination. When asked what he wanted, Finley said “I’d like to have my job back.”

Virginia lacks sexual orientation in its list of protected classes for employment. However, VCU does include it in their anti-discrimination policy. Finley believes this policy was violated.

John Sternlicht, Finley’s husband and a lawyer, admits it’s very hard to prove discrimination in most cases – you have to look at the entire circumstance to understand what has happened. He believes his husband’s situation, with the lack of normal treatment and the demotion of the other LGBT employee, is evidence enough. “You have to have enough evidence to get your case to a jury or your case is thrown out,” said Sternlicht, “and this would be enough to get to a jury.”

The language McLaughlin used also caused Boyd and her teammates some concern.

“He said ‘We want someone to better represent the school,’ and coach had never done anything to misrepresent the school – he’s always very appropriate and nice to people, even when people are rude to him. I’ve never seen him in my 5 years misrepresent the school in any way.”

Boyd agrees with Finley and does not think this issue comes from the college’s higher-ups. “Our school is very diverse, I wouldn’t really expect this… I don’t think it’s VCU, I think it’s on the administrative side. I don’t want to throw the AD under the bus, but we never had an issue until he got here.”

And if a law suit ensues, who will represent VCU?  You guessed it, Ken Cuccinelli.  Anyone in their right mind should not want to move to Virginia.  And as I have noted many times before, were circumstances different, I'd move from Virginia in a heart beat.  Under Bob McDonnell and the Christofascists at The Family Foundation, an FOTF and FRC affiliate, Virginia is best suited for knuckle dragging Neanderthals.

Thursday Morning Male Beauty

Quote of the Day: Virginian Pilot Slamming Cuccinelli

As the previous post indicated, Ken "Kookinelli" Cuccinelli is an extremist by any measure.  All too often the Virginia Pilot - whose publisher has Christofascist ties and endorsed extremist like hate group endorsed Scott Rigell - would avoid immediately slamming a darling of The Family Foundation like  Kookinelli.  But not today.  In its main editorial, the Pilot basically tells the Virginia GOP think twice and pick someone else over Kookinelli. Here are excerpts:

During his tenure as attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli has distinguished himself as that rare politician whose missteps and bullying style have inflicted more damage to the commonwealth than to his own career. And so he trudges on, ascending the political ladder.

Cuccinelli's sights are set on becoming Virginia's next governor, and his prospects improved markedly this week, when fellow Republican Bill Bolling bailed out of the race rather than fight him for the party's nomination at a convention.

Bolling's latest decision effectively serves notice that the Republican Party of Virginia is poised to surrender to its more extreme, and temperamental, wing. The result is bad for the party and worse for Virginia.

Cuccinelli has repeatedly conducted himself in a manner that reflects poorly on the Old Dominion. His recent comments on a Washington radio show about voting laws that don't require photo IDs helping President Barack Obama win re-election represent the type of partisan nonsense he so often reflexively contributes to the public domain.

His attraction to hot-button social issues is of the same piece that alienated so many moderate and swing voters Nov. 6, contributing to Republican losses in contests that never should've been close.

Early in his term, Cuccinelli insisted on reversing a long-standing policy preventing discrimination against gay state employees, a mean-spirited move that McDonnell overrode.

More recently, Cuccinelli strong-armed the state's independent Board of Health when it appeared ready to defy him over new and expensive requirements for abortion clinics.

Republicans will gather this weekend in Virginia Beach for their annual advance, in which they'll likely plan for the upcoming legislative session and refine strategies leading to the 2013 elections and beyond.

They would do well to consider whether Cuccinelli is the right choice to represent Virginia Republicans, and whether he represents the best opponent to former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe, the only Democrat to announce his candidacy so far and one that many Virginia voters view with skepticism.

Virginia GOP to Back Ken "Kookinelli" Cuccinelli for Governor

One can only assume that the Republican Party of Virginia learned absolutely nothing from the election earlier this month.  How else to explain the fact that Ken "Kookinelli" Cuccinelli - one of the most extreme and deranged politicians in Virginia today other than perhaps Del. Bob Marshall - will be the GOP standard bearer in the 2013 race for governor of Virginia.  Kookinelli is virulently anti-gay rights, anti-women's rights, a full blown science denier, and makes Bob McDonnell look like a flaming liberal.  I'm sure that the Christofascists at The Family Foundation will be orgasmic, but anyone sane in Virginia ought to be terrified.  Kookinelli belongs in an asylum and is like Rick Santorum, Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock all rolled into one. The job will be for the Democrats to turn out their base and hopefully see Kookinelli defeated by a landslide.  Politico looks at this situation as Bill Bolling drops out of the GOP race.  Here are highlights:

It’s only been three weeks since Republicans explained their thumping in the 2012 elections by saying they needed to reach out to women, Hispanics and young voters.

But it now seems that one of their chief standard-bearers in 2013 will be a national conservative firebrand who has aligned himself with some of his party’s most controversial causes: Virginia Republican Ken Cuccinelli.

On the day his chief rival for the GOP gubernatorial nod dropped out of contention, Virginia Republicans rallied around Cuccinelli — their attorney general who spearheaded a lawsuit against Obamacare and ruled in 2010 that police officers are allowed to check the immigration status of those they stop or arrest.

Virginia Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling dropped out of the governor’s race Wednesday after it became abundantly clear he had no real chance to win the nomination at a May party convention that will be dominated by conservative activists.

Many party leaders and top GOP strategists on Wednesday hinted at private anxieties about “Cooch” — his nickname — and his position on the right side of the ideological spectrum. But most Republicans think that clearing the field now improves their chances of winning the governorship next fall by allowing Cuccinelli to move early into general election mode.

But there’s no doubt that picking the high-profile Cuccinelli as their standard-bearer could cause something of a public relations headache for Republicans, fresh off a defeat of Mitt Romney that was largely caused by his inability to attract enough non-white, non-male voters.

As attorney general, Cuccinelli sued the Environmental Protection Agency over greenhouse gas regulations. He lost a court fight to release the emails of a University of Virginia professor who studies climate change. He pushed for building regulations that make it harder for abortion clinics to operate. He issued advisory opinions that made it harder for schools to prevent students from bringing guns onto campus.

On immigration, Cuccinelli’s own language on his 2013 gubernatorial campaign website is harsh in tone.

“It’s going to be a hard race mostly because the image people have of Ken Cuccinelli … is not good,” he said. “I’m a moderate. He’s a conservative. But he’s a very, very smart and honest person. Ken’s always supported me, too. He’s not one of these guys on a mission to eradicate all people [from the GOP] who aren’t super conservative.”  Albo tells constituents who express concerns about the tea party favorite that they should go listen to him speak, believing that the more people get to see him, the more they will like him.

A top Democratic strategist involved in the race said that one of the major knocks on the presumptive Republican nominee will be that he has traded everyday issues that voters care about for the national spotlight.

“I would love Bolling to stay in and have a bloody primary,” the strategist said. “But there’s always the fear that Bolling could win. Cuccinelli is the perfect candidate for us. He has the potential to say any of these outrageous things. He’s got a lot of baggage and a lot of great quotes to pull out from the past. He’s divisive. He’s not focused on jobs and the economy.”

By most accounts, many Germans thought Hitler was a good speaker.  That did not make him any less crazy and any less of a threat to many Germans such as gays, Jews and those who tried to oppose him.  Kookinelli needs to be defeated and the Democrats will need to pull out the stops to defeat him and his Christofascist backers decisively.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

More Wednesday Male Beauty

Dedicated to Maggie Gallagher and NOM

National Organization For Marriage Warns Against Allowing Students to Have Gay Friends.

Sometines I really believe that the National Organization for Marriage ("NOM") is working desperately to garner a hate group designation.  Originally, NOM's fat cow spokeswoman, Maggie Gallagher (who is married to a Hindu, by the way) bloviated incessantly about how NOM's sole agenda was to "protect marriage."  But then a funny thing happened.  Nom's deep seated loathing for gays started to seep out as it advocated in support of fraudulent "ex-gay" therapy, declared gays to be a threat to religious freedom, and now is advocating that parents discourage their children from having gay friends.  God forbid the little darlings learn that we are normal humans and not some sort of vermin to be eradicated.  Is it a coincidence that (1) the tactics being used by NOM - a Catholic Church front group in my assessment - look to be increasing  modeled on the Nazi propaganda plan against the Jews and (2) the Catholic Church is headed by a Pope who is a former Nazi youth member?   I think not, although readers are free to draw their own conclusions.  A piece in Think Progress looks at NOM's latest hate initiative.  Here are excerpts:

The National Organization for Marriage has sunk to a new low of intolerance. In a “Thanksgiving Message” from Jennifer Roback Morse of NOM’s Ruth Institute, she warns that young people are being “pressured” to support LGBT equality because they have gay friends and peers.  Morse relates a story of a Catholic resident assistant (RA) at a college who didn’t want to participate in the “drag party” being organized by her gay supervisor.

MORSE: I think a lot of our students are encountering this type of situation in their dorms and on their college campuses… What I want to say to you, is that the other side has RAs in the dorm where your young people are going to school. There’s no TV message that is going to do the job of countering that type of influence. Somebody’s got to be there talking to young people one at a time in the places where they’re hanging out and doing the things that they’re doing. There’s no mass media strategy by itself that will solve this problem. [...]

And this holiday season, when your young people come home from college, ask them about this. Ask them if they have a gay RA in their dorms… So please, talk to your young people about this and see what kind of pressure they may be under that maybe even they don’t realize how much it’s having an impact upon them.

Apparently, simply knowing a gay person now constitutes “pressure” that conservative Christians are unfairly subjected to. Morse’s inherent solution seems to be that young people should ostracize (or disobey, in the case of someone in a supervisory position like an RA) anybody who might be openly gay and to only talk to other equally anti-gay people, like those provided by NOM.

NOM is surely right to be concerned about the growing generation gap on marriage equality and overall LGBT acceptance. Encouraging a culture of exclusion, however, will not likely endear many young people to the group’s cause.

Gay Marriage and DOMA: What Will the U.S. Supreme Court Do On Friday?

Many of us who have been following the Proposition 8 case and the various cases in which the federal Defense of Marriage Act ("DOMA") are waiting with a mix of anticipation and dread to see what the U. S. Supreme Court decides to do on Friday when it decides which, if any of the Prop 8 and DOMA cases it will consider this current term.  If the Court refuses the Proposition 8 case, then marriage will be legal again in California and the Court will have ducked making a ruling that would potentially have national application.   In the case of the DOMA appeals, the Court cannot as easily side step the issue since there are split decisions in the federal courts and typically the Supreme Court will act to set consistent precedent across the country.  Some legal experts now speculate that the Edie Windsor case (Windsor is pictured above) may be the one most likely to be taken up by the Supreme Court.  As readers may recall, both the U.S. Department of Justice and the City of New York have supported Windsor's claim that DOMA is unconstitutional.  An article by the American Constitution Society lays out why such is the case.  Here are excerpts:

While marriage equality supporters have been giving thanks for the recent ballot box victories and the Second Circuit’s Windsor v. U.S. decision, the most recent Defense of Marriage strike-down by a federal court in mid-October, the law-focused among us are also looking ahead to the next big question: What will the U.S. Supreme Court do on Nov. 30, when it is scheduled to decide on the marriage-related cert petitions pending before it?

Notably, Windsor is now looking, to many, like the leading candidate among cert-worthy marriage cases and, for marriage equality advocates, a particularly promising one for at least three reasons. 

Perhaps most importantly, Windsor presents a powerful – and personal – story of DOMA’s discriminatory effects on lesbian and gay married couples. Edie Windsor and Thea Clara Spyer were together for 42 years, from the early 1960s through Speyer’s death in 2009, two years after the couple married in Toronto, in a relationship so committed and moving that it became the subject of a widely acclaimed documentary, Edie and Thea. Yet because of DOMA, the United States refused to recognize their relationship and, when Thea died, sent Edie a $300,000+ tax bill that would have been $0 had the government acknowledged their marriage.

In addition to its facts, Windsor also adds a new dimension to the DOMA jurisprudential landscape. Among the ten federal court rulings to invalidate DOMA thus far, Windsor is the first where a circuit court applied heightened scrutiny to the statute’s sexual orientation-based classification. In the 2-1 ruling, Chief Judge Dennis Jacobs followed the high court’s traditional analysis, asking whether gay people have suffered a history of discrimination; whether sexual orientation is a distinguishing characteristic; whether sexual orientation relates to an individual’s ability to contribute to society, and whether gay people are relatively politically powerless. All of these inquiries, he found, warrant intermediate scrutiny for classifications that, like DOMA’s, distinguish between gay and non-gay people. 

Finally, many believe that Justice Elena Kagan is likely to recuse herself if the Court accepts the First Circuit’s Gill case for review because she had some involvement in the case during her Solicitor General service. By all accounts, the full Court, including Justice Kagan, would be available to hear and decide Windsor.
 As has been noted on this blog many times, there is no rational basis for DOMA at any level of scrutiny because it's sole basis flows from granting special privileges to certain Christian religious beliefs over the rights of citizens.  Not only does it violate the Equal Protection Clause, it also is rank religious based discrimination and a violation of the First Amendment grant of religious freedom to all citizens, not just Christofascists.

Douche Bag Rick Warren: Being Gay Is Like Consuming Arsenic

Many will recall that I - and many other LGBT bloggers - went ballistic when Barack Obama had Christianist snake oil merchant Rick Warren give the invocation at the 2009 inauguration ceremony.  Time and time again Warren has demonstrated that he and his organization deserve a hate group because of the deliberately derogatory and untrue statement Warren disseminates against LGBT citizens.  And that's not even considering his possible role in inciting anti-gay fervor in Africa.  As Think Progress is reporting, the porcine Warren again showed his true colors when he equated being gay with taking poison. As for Warren's "having a feeling doesn't make it right," the same holds true about the tub of lard's "feelings" that he wants to/must cling to the writings of Neolithic goat herders that science is proving false.  Just because Warren is psychologically damaged himself and/or enjoys preying on those who are so he can shake them down for money, doesn't make it right.  Here are highlights from Think Progress:

Megachurch pastor Rick Warren remains as ill-informed on gay identity as ever. Unfazed by the notion that there may be a biological cause for homosexuality, Warren told Piers Morgan on CNN this week that acting on same-sex attractions is no different from “punching a guy in the nose” or consuming arsenic:
WARREN: Here’s what we know about life. I have all kinds of natural feelings in my life and it doesn’t necessarily mean that I should act on every feeling. Sometimes I get angry and I feel like punching a guy in the nose. It doesn’t mean I act on it. Sometimes I feel attracted to women who are not my wife. I don’t act on it. Just because I have a feeling doesn’t make it right. Not everything natural is good for me. Arsenic is natural.
Warren has a long history of opposing marriage equality. Four years ago, he defended his support of California’s Proposition 8 by claiming that same-sex marriage is “equivalent” to incest, pedophilia, and polygamy. He also claimed that gays are “evil” and have “Christ-o-phobia.” Warren tries to offset his anti-gay beliefs by boasting his anti-AIDS work in Africa, but he has ties to conservative anti-gay leaders in Uganda who oppose using condoms to prevent transmission of HIV. The results of his particular efforts are unclear, but studies have shown that abstinence-only efforts have failed to lower HIV rates in Africa, and anti-gay stigma also contributes to the epidemic.

I again have to wonder why responsible and supposedly serious news outlets continue to provide this nasty individual from which he can spew hate and untruths.   The man is disgusting and I surely hope that Obama has severed his ties from this foul douche bag.

Wednesday Morning Male Beauty

Are Republicans Still Trying to Trash the Economy?

During the first four years of Barack Obama's presidency, the Congressional Republicans did everything possible to obstruct measures that would have helped American workers and families and lessened the economic turn down.  In the GOP's sick mind, it was better to harm millions of Americans than to allow Obama to be successful.  Now, in the wrangling over what must be done to keep the U.S. government from going over the "fiscal cliff" it seems that the GOP is continuing to seek to trash the economy at the expense of the country's average citizens.  In today's GOP, the party always trumps the best interests of the nation.  But, some would ask why would the GOP do this?  The answer is found in an article by David Frum in CNN that looks at the GOP's bleak future if Obama and the Democrats are perceived as bring about a growing economy.  My prediction?  The Congressional GOP will seek to push the country off the "fiscal cliff" for partisan gain.  Here are highlights:

Here's the next thing the Republican party needs to rethink. What does it say if and when the United States returns to prosperity?

For five years, U.S. politics have been shaped by economic hardship. In 2008 and 2010, voters rejected the party in power, booting Republicans out of the White House, and then sweeping Democrats out of Congress.

Mitt Romney campaigned in 2012 on the slogan, "Obama isn't working." President Obama responded by attacking Romney as out of touch, assuming (probably correctly) that he could not win by running on his record.

But the indicators are suggesting that by 2013 and 2014, the Obama record will begin to look a lot better, assuming, that is, that the two parties in Washington don't recklessly push the country off the fiscal cliff at the end of the year.

The nation's economy added 171,000 jobs in October 2012, for a total of almost 700,000 in the four months before Election Day. More than half the jobs lost in the crash of 2008-2009 have now been recovered, even as public-sector employment has shrunk by a net 500,000.

As household debt burdens become lighter, consumers express more confidence. They are allowing themselves to spend a little more. They are even buying new homes again. Housing starts in October 2012 rose to a level 41.9% over a year before.

Accelerating economic activity is rapidly reducing the budget deficit. The deficit has contracted since 2009 at the fastest rate since the end of World War II, faster even than during the late 1990s boom.

As they do glimpse that better future, two things will happen in politics:

1) President Obama will begin to claim more credit. In 2012, the word "stimulus" went unmentioned by Democrats. It was Republicans who tried to make political use of the $800 billion spent on job creation in 2009-2011. In 2013-2014, however, the shoe may suddenly rematerialize on the other foot.

2) Republicans will discover that their old "Obama isn't working" theme has become obsolete. By 2014, again assuming that Congress does not leap off the fiscal cliff, it will likely look as if Obama is working. What then? If negative messaging failed in 2012, it will fail bigger in 2014.

For too long, the Republicans have predicted apocalypse, debt crisis, the loss of freedom, the overthrow of the constitution. As the economy improves, that doom-saying will seem even more out of touch than ever.

Wal-Mart’s Strategy of Deniability of Responsibility

I noted recently the horrific fire in a garment factory in Bangladesh that claimed well over 100 lives - likely mostly women and children.  One of the principal clients of the sweat shop fire trap is Wal-Mart, a company that has long cut corners on adequate pay for its workers, shifted purchasing from American factories to China and third world nations, and which I am sure applauds the Republican Party quest to gut meaningful regulations on business and block unionization by employees.  In short, Wal-Mart symbolizes the GOP quest to return America to the state that employees faced during the Gilded Age, the excesses of which gave rise to the progressive movement in America.  A column in the Washington Post looks at Wal-Mart's efforts to shift blame and deny responsibility for the horror that happened in Bangladesh.  Here are excerpts:
Bangladesh is half a world away from Bentonville, the Arkansas city where Wal-Mart is headquartered. This week, Wal-Mart surely wishes it were farther away than that.

Over the weekend, a horrific fire swept through a Bangladesh clothing factory, killing more than 100 workers, many of whose bodies were burnt so badly that they could not be identified. In its gruesome particulars — locked doors, no emergency exits, workers leaping to their deaths — the blaze seems a ghastly centennial reenactment of the Triangle Shirtwaist fire of 1911, when 146 workers similarly jumped to their deaths or were incinerated after they found the exit doors were locked.

The signal difference between the two fires is location. The Triangle building was located directly off New York’s Washington Square. Thousands watched the appalling spectacle of young workers leaping to the sidewalks 10 stories down; reporters and photographers were quickly on the scene. It’s not likely, however, that the Bangladesh disaster was witnessed by anyone from either the United States or Europe — the two markets for which the clothes made inside that factory were destined. For that, at least, Wal-Mart should consider itself fortunate.

If this were an isolated incident of Wal-Mart denying responsibility for the conditions under which the people who make and move its products labor, then the Bangladeshi disaster wouldn’t reflect quite so badly on the company. But the very essence of the Wal-Mart system is to employ thousands upon thousands of workers through contractors and subcontractors and sub-subcontractors, who are compelled by Wal-Mart’s market power and its demand for low prices to cut corners and skimp on safety. And because Wal-Mart isn’t the employer of record for these workers, the company can disavow responsibility for their conditions of work.

This system isn’t reserved just for workers in faraway lands: Tens of thousands of American workers labor under similar arrangements. Many are employed at little more than the minimum wage in the massive warehouses in the inland exurbs of Los Angeles, where Wal-Mart’s imports from Asia are trucked from the city’s harbor to be sorted and packaged and put on the trucks and trains that take them to Wal-Mart stores for a thousand miles around.

The warehouses are run by logistics companies with which Wal-Mart contracts, and most of the workers are employed by some of the 200-plus temporary employment companies that have sprung up in the area .  .  .  . Wal-Mart itself was not cited. That’s the beauty of its chain of deniability.

A small band of these warehouse workers has been demonstrating for the past couple of months to bring attention to the bizarrely contingent nature of their employment and the abuses that flow from it. Their numbers were augmented Friday by actual Wal-Mart employees in stores around the nation, calling attention to the everyday low wages and absence of benefits that the vast majority of the company’s 1.4 million U.S. employees receive.

Other discount retailers — notably Costco and Trader Joe’s — pay their workers far more, train them more extensively, have much lower rates of turnover and much higher rates of sales per employee, according to a Harvard Business Review article by Zeynep Ton of the MIT Sloan School of Management. Costco is a very profitable business, but Wal-Mart maintains an even higher profit margin, which it achieves by underpaying its employees.
But Wal-Mart neither pays its own nor takes responsibility for those who make and move its wares. For America’s largest private-sector employer, the emergency exits are always open.

Meanwhile, the Walton family members wallow in billions of dollars of wealth.  They obviously view their employees and those who indirectly work for their company as little better than serfs.