Saturday, February 22, 2014

Will GOP Gov. Jan Brewer Veto Arizona Gay Segregation Bill?





The degree to which Republicans will prostitute themselves to the ugliest elements of the Christofascists often knows few limits.  Indeed, I often note that a tawdry whore has more integrity than most GOP legislators.  With both houses of the Arizona legislature having passed a special rights for Christians, gay segregation bill that would allow Jim Crow like treatment of gays in Arizona, Gov. Jan Brewer will have to decide if she will join the ranks of the GOP prostitutes or do what is best for Arizona and veto the bill.  Brewer is receiving huge amounts of pressure from the Arizona business community to veto the bill which business interests rightly fear will harm the state economically and prompt a raft of boycotts.  Two stories in the Arizona Republic look at Brewer's dilemma.  Here are highlights from the first piece on the business community blow back:

Economic-development groups and business leaders, perhaps stung by memories of the backlash from a tough anti-immigration law in 2010, expressed concern over the latest controversial bill headed to Gov. Jan Brewer’s desk.

Just as the Arizona economy begins gaining momentum, the new legislation could hurt its recovery — and the state’s reputation as a place to do business — they said. In 2010, boycotts of the state hit the tourism industry especially hard after Senate Bill 1070 was passed.

The Greater Phoenix Economic Council urged a veto of the controversial legislation that would allow discrimination against gays, saying it could affect Super Bowl XLIX in Glendale and have “profound, negative” economic effects for years.

[M]any other business owners — and the Arizonans who buy from them — expressed frustration Friday over a potential law that could make the state and its people appear unwelcoming.

“The state already is known as being discriminatory,” said Howard Fleischmann, majority owner of six Community Tire Pros and Auto Repair outlets in the Valley. “This would muddy the water and give Arizona a more terrible reputation.”

The controversy comes at a time when Arizona’s economy appears to be shifting into higher gear. BMO Capital Markets, in a report this month, said Arizona’s economy is poised to grow faster than the nation both this year and next.  The legislation clouds the economic picture, some business leaders said.

Representatives of Arizona’s tourism industry are especially worried, with hotel occupancy and other measures on an upswing and with the nation’s biggest sporting event scheduled in Glendale on Feb. 1, 2015.   “We’re greatly concerned,” said Kristen Jarnagin, senior vice president of communications for the Arizona Lodging & Tourism Association. “We’ve already received countless phone calls and e-mails from people canceling trips or threatening not to return.”

Many of those raising objections Friday cited the impact of the right-to-refuse-service bill on the state’s reputation, the likelihood of the relatively affluent gay community to spend its dollars elsewhere, and the potential challenges in recruiting workers to a state that might feel less than inclusive.

“With major events approaching in the coming year, including Super Bowl XLIX, Arizona will be the center of the world’s stage,” the letter says. “This legislation has the potential of subjecting the Super Bowl, and major events surrounding it, to the threats of boycotts.

“In addition to the concerns with the growing negative attention already being portrayed across both national and social media, we have already been contacted by four companies we are working on with the Arizona Commerce Authority who will look to locate elsewhere if this legislation is signed.”
The second article looks at Brewer's double speak as she is facing sharp attacks from Christofascists if she vetoes the bill and perhaps even more dangerous attacks from the business community if she doesn't veto it.  Here are excerpts:
As usual, Brewer has been tight-lipped about how she will act — she rarely comments before bills reach her desk. But she told a cable news network she planned to closely review the “controversial piece of legislation” that, among other things, would allow individuals to use religious beliefs as a defense against a lawsuit. Gay rights activists say the law would permit outright discrimination.

The Republican governor plans to meet with advisers in and out of her office, members of the business community, lawmakers and others as she weighs whether to sign the bill into law, her advisers said.

“They’ll go over every aspect of the bill — the pros and the cons, the risks — all of it,” said one insider familiar with the inner workings of the Governor’s Office and how Brewer approaches legislation. “In this instance, you have a bill that had a party-line vote. It puts her in a difficult spot.”

Brewer was in Washington, D.C., attending a conference of governors and wasn’t expected to return until Tuesday. But some factions set to work Friday attempting to influence her decision.
Brewer’s Twitter feed blew up, with people from the business community, gay and lesbian activists and others urging her to veto the bill.

Business leaders, including the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, warned SB 1062 could have “profound, negative” effects on the state’s recovering economy by alienating businesses looking to relocate here and hurting tourism even as the state readies to host next year’s Super Bowl.
If the bill is not vetoed, I for one will make a point to NEVER visit the state (where I had relatives for over 60 years) or buy a product from an Arizona based business. 
 
 

Out In The Line-Up - Gay Surfers


UPDATED:  Here are links to more information on "Out In the Line-Up":
Watch Trailer : http://outinthelineup.com
Pre-order DVD: http://outinthelineup.com/pre-order/


If one reads various post in this blog, one will learn that besides being gay I am also a surfer.  And I have gay friends who are also surfers.  Yet surfing like NFL football remains a very homophobic sport with gays seen as somehow not masculine enough to fit the image of the macho surfer stereotype.  This is true especially in the pro-surfing world.  And like all other anti-gay stereotypes it is without any empirical basis.  Gays can and do compete it every sport - some at very high levels.  Too often we/they are simply too afraid of rejection or adverse career consequences to let the world know who they really are in fact.  s a result wrongheaded stereotypes and bigotry continue.  When Gaysurfers launched in Australia I wrote about it and have stayed in contact with the group.  Here's a little bit on the organization which now has members across the globe:

Objectives

To bring gay surfers together. by maintaining an informative and interactive site where gay men and women can:
  • Gather – create a global community which includes members from around the world who may be isolated geographically or socially.
    • Contact and liaise with local media
    • Organise events in local communities
  • Share their passion for surfing
    • Publish on a regular basis articles, stories, photos and videos that are relevant to Gay Surfers
    • Create new topics for discussion in the forum
    • Facilitate user generated content (photos & videos)
    • Provide the tools for members to communicate privately and publicly.
    • Maintain a safe environment which values the privacy of members
    • Ensure quality control by moderating the forums and photos
    • Continuously improve the site with new functionality
  • Plan surf trips
    • Build geo-specific GROUPS in which members can relate to their local communities.
    • Facilitate opportunities for surfers to network around the world
    • Provide MAPS for each of the GROUPS which show where the members are located, where they surf, and give access to relevant local information including accommodation, caf├ęs, surfshops, etc.
  • Improve the public image of gay by:
    • showing that gay people actively participate in a variety of sub-cultures within society, including surfing. Ensuring that GS is represented at gay celebrations such as MARDI GRAS
    • showing that we share a common passion for surfing and we represent part of a broadening surf culture around the world.
    • informing the general public of who we are Creating an open, informed and inclusive environment (we are gay and we welcome everyone who is open minded).
Now, to further this objective GaySurfers has produced a documentary on gays in surfing.  At its premier, the movie received a great review.  Here's a portion:

“It started with a Google search. I typed in the words 'gay' and 'surfer'”
 
They're not the first words spoken in Out In The Lineup but they make a fitting starting point for a review. Because although Out In The Lineup is a documentary it's also a journey and those words are the embarkation point.

They're spoken by David Wakefield, one-time state champion (beat Richard Cram!) and the main protagonist in the film. Out In The Lineup is a documentary made by Thomas Castets and Ian Thompson. Thomas is the founder of gaysurfers.net, Ian is a filmmaker, they're both surfers.

Thomas and Ian ask many questions in Out In The Lineup, yet their central mission was simply to find other gay surfers and have them tell their stories. They do this by loosely tacking the film's narrative journey to David's own journey, the one that began when he typed those two words into Google.

[H]is story is similar to many who are interviewed in the film. There was simply no room in the surfing culture for them to be the person they are. I speak in past tense though little has changed in the present. As David sets off on his journey to connect with others around the world, Thomas seeks to find out why the current surfing culture won't accept gay surfers.

Right about now many straight surfers will be saying that they do accept gay surfers. And individually that may be true, yet Thomas interviews surfers who show by way of media representation, sponsorship restrictions, and peer rejection that homophobia, however passive it may be packaged, is still present. The argument mounts.

If anyone questions why this film should be made then I'll point them to that moment.

And if that ain't enough then maybe I'll point out the surfing footage. Fortunately for the filmmakers David fair rips, as do many of the other interviewees: Keala Kennelly of course, Franco Vergara from Ecuador, and a couple of others. But I feel kinda churlish speaking about the surfing; the stories told are more powerful than requisite athletic talent, and the people who tell them braver than the boldest big wave rider.

Out In The Lineup will be following the movie festival circuit and I'd advise every surfer to go along and watch it.
Hopefully, the film will play in Hampton Roads, perhaps at the Naro Theater in Norfolk.


Saturday Morning Male Beauty


Is Homophobia a Form of Mental Illness?

Some of the far right conservatives that I have encountered have truly left me wondering if these folks weren't simply mentally ill.  Not in a raving lunatic sort of way, but rather a seriously unbalanced way.  Their fear of anyone or anything different or "other" was irrational.  As was their extreme need to (i) feel superior about themselves (e.g., a need to see others as unworthy sinners) and (ii) have an exact certainty that by checking off certain boxes on their list of "God's rules" they would go to Heaven.  Anyone different and/or any uncertainty is enough to send them into psychological overload.  An article in The Atlantic looks at homophobia and the mental/emotional attributes of homophobes and conservatives more generally.  The take away?  That these people DO have mental issues.  Here are excerpts:
[Homophobia] It’s a term that’s still too useful to abandon. Social psychologists have mounds of research on the role that emotions like fear and repugnance play in distorting our assessments of reality—that is, in creating bias. For starters, they’ve found that conscious reasoning is a much newer human capacity—evolutionarily—than gut feeling, and that the brain often deploys reasoned thought to rationalize feelings we already have. Rather than justifying a position—like, say, opposing gay marriage—based on how we actually feel, we often dream up non-existent dangers. Indeed, scientists have shown that our brains developed fight-or-flight mechanisms to help us avoid danger before our rational, deliberative machinery even perceives the threat.

Interestingly, researchers at Cornell and Yale (including Atlantic contributor Paul Bloom) have also shown that conservatives, on average, experience stronger levels of disgust than liberals do, and that an overall sensitivity to disgust correlates with anti-gay sentiment. “Our data show that disgust and politics are linked most strongly for issues of purity, such as towards homosexuality,” the authors explain.

Even more strikingly, researchers have found that people with negative views of gay people are prone to overstate the risks that gay rights pose. In one study, psychologists at Berkeley and Carnegie Mellon University measured subjects’ emotional dispositions and their risk preferences, giving them separate scores for each. When the two sets of variables were correlated, they found that “fearful people expressed pessimistic risk estimates and risk-averse choices.”

It’s no surprise that fearful people would be risk-averse. But this research showed not just that such people avoid risk but that they exaggerate it—in consistent and predictable ways. Researchers concluded that certain emotions, such as fear, activate “a predisposition to appraise future events in line with” whatever the person dreaded to begin with. In other words, fear makes people lose perspective on what the odds of danger really are. These visceral feelings often bypass consciousness, so we’re not even aware of what we’re feeling.

Haidt says people consult their feelings to help them decide what to believe. This sounds fair enough at first blush, but we’re not just talking about values here. Moral intuitions change the way people see the world around them. When your perceptions of reality are refracted through strong feelings, that’s a recipe for bias. It explains the “harms” arguments about gay rights, and why they persist even though there’s no factual information to back them up.

Using a process called Implicit Association Tests, Yale’s Paul Bloom and his colleagues documented a gap between how people say they feel about gays and how they actually feel. Researchers at the Yale Cultural Cognition Project dug deeper, exploring the role of rationalizations against same-sex parenting. Most opponents of gay parenting claimed their position was based on concern for the well-being of children raised by gay couples. But when given convincing evidence that kids with gay parents fare as well as others, very few changed their minds. Their brains sought to avoid the cognitive dissonance of holding beliefs that conflicted with their emotions.

In one of the few areas of life that allows for true, rational deliberation—the courtroom—this is exactly what’s being found. Recent rulings striking down gay marriage bans have found that those laws were rooted in prejudice, making them impermissible under the U.S. Constitution. The Supreme Court reached the same conclusion last June when it struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act. The law, said the Court, was “motived by an improper animus” and its purpose was to impose “a disadvantage, a separate status, and so a stigma upon all who enter into same-sex marriages.”

[O]ften-cited fears—that it will trample religious freedom, cause distractions in the lockerroom, harm kids and families—have no empirical basis.

[U]nderstanding these rationalizations—both the predictions of harm, and the insistence that prejudice is not a factor—is different from accepting them at face value. In fact, as states like Arizona struggle to find logical explanations for anti-gay laws, it’s clearer than ever that bias, and not reason, is the motivating force behind them.

The GOP Is Moving Backwards On Gay Rights


In the movie Latter Days - a great movie by the way - one of the Mormon missionaries when asked about gay rights makes a statement to the effect that "there is nothing right about gays."  While most Americans are belatedly coming to see LGBT individuals as fully human and "just like everyone else," the GOP mindset seems to be for the most part intensifying in its position that there is nothing right about gays and that gays should have no rights.  Indeed, we are not even human.  The license to discriminate against gays which just passed the GOP controlled Arizona legislature is but one example.  A piece in The Week looks at the GOP's regression on LGBT issues as it becomes ever more beholden to Christofascists.  Here are excerpts:
To be sure, the GOP has softened on the issue[of gay rights] to a certain degree. Three GOP senators last year announced their support for same-sex marriage. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) publicly rebuked [Rep. Randy] Forbes' request that the party financially cut off gay candidates. And in California, an openly gay GOP House candidate — who has received support from some leading GOPers — released an ad showing him and his partner at a gay pride parade.

Still, the dissonance between the two camps further underscores the GOP's broader ideological divide. And it calls attention to the vocal influence of its more regressive, unflattering corners, further hindering the party's attempt to broaden its appeal to younger voters, many of whom are gravitating en masse to the Democrats because of social issues like gay marriage.

Even Liz Cheney, whose father supported gay marriage way before it was cool, felt the need to come out against same-sex marriage during her short-lived Senate campaign, prompting a messy public spat with her lesbian sister.

Though the nation as a whole is rapidly warming up to gay marriage — a majority now supports it — conservatives remain overwhelmingly opposed.

So even when given the opportunity to advance causes dear to the gay community, elected Republicans have shied away. For instance, the Senate last year passed the historic Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) — which would ban workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation — but Boehner hasn't even brought it up for a vote in the House, calling the measure "unnecessary."

Embracing gay marriage is one thing. But if the GOP can't bring itself to extend discrimination protection to gays — and in one case is even encouraging such discrimination — then it will have problems connecting with younger voters for a long time to come.

Frankly, I do not think change from within is possible for the GOP.  The only "cure" is to kill the GOP as a national party and hope that a new, rational, non-hate  filled conservative party can arise and become a national party.  Until that happens, expect the ugliness of the GOP to only worsen.

 

The Lost Battle for the GOP's Soul





We hear much about the GOP wanting to re-brand itself and making itself more attractive to voters outside of the angry white far right racist and homophobic GOP base.  Yet try as they might, establishment Republicans simply cannot silence that knuckle dragging Neanderthals who keep exposing the GOP for what it has become: a bunch of self-centered, greedy, racist religious extremists who have contempt for democracy and a majority of the American citizenry.  As I have expressed before, I truly do not know how the GOP will get itself out of this long term death spiral given the way in which the Christofascists and their Tea Party cousins were allowed to infiltrate and hijack local committees across the country.  Its a case of a metastasizing cancer that can only be "cured" by killing the patient.  Here are some highlights from a Washington Post column that looks at some of the current ugliness of the GOP:


Arthur Brooks, head of the American Enterprise Institute, had the unorthodox idea to invite the Dalai Lama to exchange views on capitalism with a panel of scholars at the conservative think tank Thursday.

The Tibetan spiritual leader gently suggested that there might be “more sense of universal responsibility and commitment,” even as he listened politely to the Americans’ praise for the morality of the free market.

It is indeed a good thing that some conservatives are beginning to accept that government is not the enemy. But even as Brooks and his ilk push in one direction, the conservative movement and the Republican Party continue to be pulled forcefully toward the opposite pole.

The same week Brooks was contemplating brotherhood and compassion, Greg Abbott, the attorney general of Texas and favorite to be the next governor, was campaigning with Ted Nugent, the vulgar rocker who last month called the president of the United States a “communist-raised, communist-educated, communist-nurtured subhuman mongrel.” Abbott wouldn’t criticize Nugent’s abhorrent speech. “That’s just Ted,” Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) said.

Yep, that’s just Ted, referring to President Obama with the same language (“subhuman mongrels”) the Nazis used to justify exterminating Jews. After an uproar, Perry condemned the remarks and Nugent issued a grudging apology.

As the Dalai Lama came to AEI, the world was learning of another Republican expression of brotherhood and compassion — this one in the form of bigoted e-mails sent and received by people working for Scott Walker, now the Wisconsin governor and a prospective presidential candidate. The e-mails, released as part of a lawsuit, include one joke sent by Walker’s then-chief of staff in 2010 saying “I can handle being a black, disabled, one armed, drug-addicted Jewish homosexual on a pacemaker who is HIV positive, bald, orphaned, unemployed, lives in a slum and has a Mexican boyfriend, but please, Oh dear God, please don’t tell me I’m a Democrat!”

A different e-mail, forwarded to Walker’s deputy chief of staff in 2010, joked that welfare recipients, like dogs, are “mixed in color, unemployed, lazy, can’t speak English and have no frigging clue who [their] Daddys (sic) are.”

“That is hilarious. And so true,” replied Walker’s aide.

Which will prevail in the battle for the conservative soul: the conciliatory idealism of Brooks? Or the crude animosity of Nugent and Walker’s aides? I’m rooting for Brooks, but I wouldn’t bet money on him.

Virginia Senate Kills GOP Gay Marriage Defense Bill





Following Attorney General Mark Herrings decision to cease the state's defense of the unconstitutional Marshall-Newman Amendments, the usual Republican gay haters in the Virginia House of Delegates rushed to introduce a bill that would have allowed any member of the General Assembly to represent the state in defending a law or constitutional provision that the Office of the Attorney General failed to defend.  The measure, which sailed through the GOP controlled House of Delegates which always does the bidding of Virginia Christofascists, would have been a recipe for chaos and would have allowed crack pots like Del. Bob Marshall to engage in all kinds of lunacy.  Thankfully, the bill has been killed in the Virginia Senate.  Expect much spittle flecked convulsions from the gay haters.  Here are highlights from the Virginian Pilot:

The Democratic majority on a Virginia Senate committee this morning predictably quashed a bill from the Republican House of Delegates to let Virginia lawmakers defend state laws when a governor or attorney general declines to do so.

That measure, HB 706 from Shenandoah County Del. Todd Gilbert, was tabled in the Senate Rules Committee on a 12-4 party line vote, with the panel's GOP minority powerless to prevent that.

Gilbert's bill to empower the General Assembly or any individual member to intervene in protection of a state law not being defended by top executive branch officials doesn't mention any particular law.

But it comes against the backdrop of new Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring's decision to seek the overturn of a state ban on same-sex marriage, rather than preserve it.

The GOP-dominated House passed Gilbert's bill by a wide majority earlier this month, just ahead of a U.S. District Court hearing in Norfolk on a lawsuit by two gay couples challenging Virginia's marriage restrictions.

Last week, the judge who heard that case ruled the state's same-sex marriage laws unconstitutional.

Although Gilbert's bill failed Friday, the House is also attempting to rein in Herring with language in its budget directing the attorney general to abandon his legal assault on Virginia’s gay-marriage ban.
Until the power of the religious extremists at The Family Foundation over the Virginia GOP is broken, don't expect much sanity from the House of Delegates.


Friday, February 21, 2014

"Christians of Good Faith" Picket School of Federal Judge's Children


If one wants to see the real level of sickness of the "godly Christian" crowd, it was on display here in Norfolk, Virginia, where these foul folks were picketing Norfolk Christian School where the children of federal judge Arenda Wright Allen are enrolled.  Worse yet, two of the bitches women protesting wrote a letter to the school in what appears to be an attempt to have Wright Allen's children thrown out of the school.  People really need to open their eyes to the fact that these "godly Christians" are neither nice nor decent people.  I also hope that the proper authorities look into this effort to harass a federal judge.  The local NBC News affiliate has details:

Protesters lined Granby Street at Norfolk Christian School Thursday to speak against Judge Arenda Wright Allen’s ruling on Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban.

Wright Allen ruled on Bostic v. Rainey, the lawsuit challenging Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage, last week, stating the ban was unconstitutional. Wright Allen is a parent of a student at Norfolk Christian Schools.

“Does Norfolk Christian support Judge Allen’s same-sex marriage court decision?” one protester’s sign said.

WAVY News’ Stephanie Harris spoke with those picketing outside the school. 

“We are not here to hurt any child, including her child,” said Kerr. “We’re making a statement, that a child does best when they have a mother and a father in the home.”

One driver stopped in the middle of Granby Street to argue with protesters. Self-proclaimed atheist Stephanie Cox said, “In government, it shouldn’t be up to Christians to decide what’s in government or not … the government does not make moral law. That’s not their job. They’re to protect and serve everybody, whether you’re Muslim, Hindu, Atheist or gay.”

10 On Your Side reached out to Judge Wright-Allen and her pastor, Jim Woods, but neither responded.
The judge stayed her decision, which means same-sex couples cannot get married in Virginia now. The case will go before another judge on appeal.

Angry parents sent the following letter to Norfolk Christian Thursday, announcing plans to protest:

Dear Norfolk Christian School,

We will be picketing your school today because Judge Arenda Wright Allen is a parent there.
We respect Norfolk Christian as one of the leading private and Christian schools in Hampton Roads. 

Some of us have had a child or grandchild attend there.

Knowing Norfolk Christian’s statement of faith – particularly that “The Holy Scriptures are verbally inspired by God and are our only infallible rule of faith and practice,” we are protesting the fact that Judge Arenda Allen has made a federal court decision allowing same-sex marriage in Virginia. This directly violates God’s Word in the Holy Scriptures.

Because Judge Allen is a parent in the school who must adhere to the statement of faith, we feel her court decision goes against all that Norfolk Christian stands for in the community.

All Christians of good faith in Virginia have been assaulted by Judge Allen’s decision – particularly our children. We Christians in Hampton Roads are totally against Judge Allen’s decision because it is totally against God. 

We are asking Norfolk Christian to reevaluate Judge Allen’s qualifications as a parent in good standing at the school.

This letter will be included in our press release to the media today.

Respectfully,
Louantha Kerr      Frances Bouton

18 U.S. Code § 115, makes it a crime to threaten assault, kidnap, murder or bodily harm against a federal judge or their family members "with intent to retaliate".  While this episode clearly appears to be with "intent to retaliate," it likely doesn't rise to that level of physical threat contemplated by the U. S. Code.  Nonetheless, it would be nice if Ms. Kerr and Ms. Bouton and others involved received a visit from the FBI.  These "godly folk" need to learn that they are NOT above the law nor are they entitled to special rights.

Friday Morning Male Beauty


How US Evangelicals Helped Create Russia's Anti-Gay Movement





Increasingly it seems wherever one sees oppression towards gays and brutality towards common citizens one also sees the finger prints of American Christofascists who are exporting hate, bigotry and ignorance at a record pace.   Corrupt regimes in Africa - many of which need to distract an ignorant population from their gross misrule - are aided and abetted by American Christofacists.  Wherever repression occurs, the American Christofascists seem to be there.  Russia is a case in point where American Christofascists  have teemed up with reprehensible leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church to support Vladimir Putin's dictatorship and used anti-gay extremism as a distraction to shift focus from Putin's misrule.   A piece in Mother Jones looks at the foul role played by American Christofascists in Russia.  Here are excerpts:


In November 2010, Russia's Sanctity of Motherhood organization kicked off its first-ever national conference. The theme, according to its organizers, was urgent: solving "the crisis of traditional family values" in a modernizing Russia. The day opened with a sextet leading 1,000 swaying attendees in a prayer. Some made the sign of the cross, others bowed or raised their arms to the sky before settling into the plush red and gold seats of the conference hall at Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral.

On the second morning of the conference, the only American in attendance, a tall, collected man, stepped up for his speech. Larry Jacobs, vice president of the Rockford, Illinois-based World Congress of Families (WCF), an umbrella organization for the US religious right's heavy hitters, told the audience that American evangelicals had a 40-year track record of "defending life and family" and they hoped to be "true allies" in Russia's traditional values crusade.

The gathering marked the beginning of the family values fervor that has swept Russia in recent years. Warning that low birth rates are a threat to the long-term survival of the Russian people, politicians have been pushing to restrict abortion and encourage bigger families. Among the movement's successes is a law that passed last summer and garnered global outrage in the run-up to the Sochi Winter Olympics, banning "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations to minors," a vague term that has been seen as effectively criminalizing any public expression of same-sex relationships.

Anti-gay groups have made tormenting the LGBT community a national and organized affair: Vigilante gangs have used social media to lure hundreds of gay people to fake dates and then disseminate videos of them being beaten or sexually humiliated, garnering hundreds of thousands of followers. Arrests and beatings at gay rights demonstrations are commonplace. This month, LGBT activists were arrested in Moscow and St. Petersburg hours before the Olympic opening ceremony and have been detained in Sochi itself.

Since Jacobs first traveled to Russia for the Sanctity of Motherhood conference, he and his WCF colleagues have returned regularly to bolster Russia's nascent anti-gay movement—and to work with powerful Russian connections that they've acquired along the way. In 2014, the World Congress of Families will draw an international group of conservative activists together in Moscow, a celebratory convening that Jacobs foreshadowed on that first visit, when he ended his speech triumphantly: "Together, we can win!"

WCF has since put on conferences in Europe, Mexico, and Australia that have been attended by thousands. The group has deep ties with the most powerful organizations in America's religious right, including Concerned Women for America, Focus on the Family, and Americans United for Life. These groups and many others pay $2,500 annually to be WCF partners, and some give additional funds—Focus, the Alliance Defense Fund, and the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute each chipped in $20,000 to help put on the 2012 World Congress in Madrid. In Russia, they've tapped the support of the nation's religious right and its billionaire sponsors.

Since 2010, WCF has helped host at least five major gatherings in Russia where American evangelicals put their views before Russian audiences.
These gatherings have helped WCF's American leaders establish tight relationships with key Russian government officials, like Duma member Elena Mizulina, the country's foremost anti-gay legislator, who has met with Jacobs in Moscow at least three times and is a frequent attendee at WCF events. This June, National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown, who serves on WCF's Moscow 2014 planning committee, flew to Russia two days after the lower chamber of parliament approved her gay propaganda ban to meet with Mizulina about crafting her next piece of landmark legislation, a gay-adoption ban.

WCF has lent its support to anti-gay politics elsewhere in Eastern Europe—Serbia, Lithuania, Romania—but it has had its biggest and most notable successes in Russia. Indeed, the rise of anti-gay laws in Russia has mirrored, almost perfectly, the rise of WCF's work in the country, with 13 new anti-gay laws passed since Jacobs first traveled there. When I ask Jacobs if WCF's work has contributed to this pattern, he laughs and says, "Yes, I think that is accurate."

Russians have increasingly adopted the kind of language the American religious right has long deployed to fight acceptance of homosexuality—terms like "natural family," "traditional values," and "protecting children," with rarely a mention of the word "gay."

[E]lements of the US religious right have come to see Russia as a redoubt in a global battle against homosexuality. "The Russians," Jacobs has said, "might be the Christian saviors of the world."

That's in large part due to the Russian Orthodox Church's immense political influence. Post-Soviet Russia saw a huge revival in Orthodoxy after communism's restrictions were lifted, and harsh new economic realities increased the appeal of the faith. By making common cause with the church and its goals, Putin has not only cast his regime's opponents as enemies of Russian tradition, but shored up his popularity: Today, about 90 percent of Russians identify as Orthodox. The church is a marker of national identity, a source of political endorsements, and an official participant in the legislative process: In a 2009 agreement with Putin's ruling United Russia party, the country's top Orthodox official, Patriarch Kirill, won the right to review (and suggest changes to) any legislation being considered by the Duma. Since then, both Putin and Patriarch Kirill have stated explicitly and repeatedly that they believe in collaboration between church and state—a partnership that is helping to drive the government's campaign against homosexuality.

"We don't even use the word 'gay.' We use the word 'homosexualists,'" Archpriest Dmitri explains. "What's 'gay' about it? I think it's pretty sad, actually. We see homosexualism as a sin. And not just homosexualism, but also alcoholism, drug use, murder of people on the streets, or robbing a bank."

The commission has worked closely with Mizuluna's Duma committee on family policy, and confers with a variety of international organizations; of these, Dmitri says, "our main connection is the World Congress of Families."
There is much more to the story that needs to be read in full to understand the pervasive evil being done by American Christofascists.  It should be of little surprise that they are teaming up with dictators and corrupt tyrants since fundamentalist Christianity is all about the control and repression of others who have been given the label of "sinner."  It is a very ugly picture.
 

A Member of Pussy Riot Condemns Putin





I have nothing but respect for the Russian people who sadly seem to have been fated to have been ruled by horrific rulers for much of the nation's history.   Nowadays, the rule of the Tsars looks almost benevolent compared to what is happening under Vladimir Putin (not to mention his Soviet predecessors) who seemingly sees himself as a new Tsar.  The man's ego is off the charts.  As is his ruthlessness - something that should come as no surprise given his KGB background.  A member of the band Pussy Riot has a column in the New York Times that looks at what is really happening in Russia beyond the faux image Putin has constructed in Sochi.  It is worth a full read.  Here are excerpts:

ON Feb. 7, the opening day of the Olympics, several people walked out onto Red Square in Moscow. When they attempted to sing the Russian national anthem, all were arrested and taken to the nearest police station. “We were holding small rainbow flags to show support for the L.G.B.T. community,” wrote my protester friend, who found herself taken into custody for the first time in her life.

The following day, the police arrested a group that had gathered in Manezhnaya Square, in Moscow. The arrests came immediately after about 60 people unfurled umbrellas in support of Russia’s only independent television channel, Dozhd. The channel was recently dropped by all major cable operators under pressure from the government, which appeared to have been exacting revenge for a viewer poll question it didn’t like.

This week in Sochi, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, another member of Pussy Riot, and I were detained three times and then, on Wednesday, assaulted by Cossack militiamen with whips and pepper spray. Mr. Putin will teach you how to love the motherland.

More than $50 billion was sunk into the construction of Olympic venues — giant, meaningless, alien objects whose purpose is to feed the ego of the country’s president, elevating him to the rank of a pharaoh or emperor. The host city of Sochi has essentially become a closed military facility. Access to the city is restricted and will remain so for another month after the Olympics end.

Environmentalists’ concerns about illegal construction, enabled by corrupt business dealings, are well founded. Mr. Putin has turned the wartime siege of Leningrad into a sacrosanct event, all while imposing a new siege on Sochi.

Can a pharaoh shut down a city, can he declare a blockade in time of peace? Yes, if he lives and rules in Russia. This is how Dozhd came to be denounced by the government — for posing a question about a siege during a siege.

The face of these Olympics is deceptive, as is the entire authoritarian regime. At first, the authorities do not strike out at you directly. Rather, they systematically force you to adopt the only stance they deem proper, which is to move passively, apolitically, through the entire chain of post-Soviet institutions, from primary school to the grave.

Nikolai Zabolotsky, a Russian avant-garde poet who was repressed under Stalin and spent eight years in exile, compared progressing through life’s stages to being transferred through the gulag’s series of transit prisons. The realities of the Stalin era made the voicing of a direct metaphor like this necessary, even at the cost of losing one’s freedom.

The reality of contemporary Russia, and Mr. Putin’s goal, is to kill such metaphors — by force, if necessary — and to kill the reflection, analysis and criticism they carry. The quasi-fascist direction of this regime over the past 13 years depends on this deadening of the intellect. For as soon as obliviousness ends, so does Mr. Putin’s power.

Those who are writing about the Olympics and who are currently present at the Games should not fall into this forgetfulness, because it is fatal. When you talk about the Olympics — whether you like it or not — you are talking about Russia. For this is a country where people are arrested for waving umbrellas and little flags, where they are sent to penal colonies, like the environmental activist Yevgeny Vitishko, for writing a slogan like “the forest is for everybody” on a governor’s fence, and where they may be sentenced to five or six years in prison for voicing their dissent against the status quo.

Because of their dissent, the most honest people in our country are currently in jail as defendants in the Bolotnaya Square case. They came to the Moscow square on May 6, 2012, to join a protest against fraud in the presidential elections, and they chanted, “Putin, get out!” They were beaten with truncheons by riot police officers, arrested, jailed and put on trial.

For the past year and a half, they have had to make repeated appearances in a kangaroo court, where, day after day, they are being silently tortured as part of Mr. Putin’s broader policy. On Feb. 5, they made their final pleas; their verdicts are due on Feb. 21.

This story is bigger than the Olympic venues, bigger even than the Olympics. This is a story about the real Russia of today. It exists, and the price of its existence is prison sentences for innocent people who speak out.

It should not be forgotten that aiding Putin in repression is the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church which throughout most of Russia's history has sided with tyrants and betrayed the Russian people as the Church leaders have pursued wealth and power.  
 

Feel the Love: Kansas Restaurant Bans Gays

The sense of entitlement that the Christofascists feel and the open bigotry they proudly display appears to be growing.   Case in point?  A restaurant in Kansas - which has no public accommodation law - has put up a sign stating that gays will not be served at the restaurant.   It may be but the opening round of a new aspect of the culture wars where we will see the Christofascists do whatever they want because they believe they are above the law not to mention devoid of common decency.  These people are rank hypocrites as they divorce, lie, cheat others in business and ignore countless passages in the Bible while clinging to select passages to justify bigotry towards others. The situation shows that there is a need for a national public accommodation law.  I hope it also will prompt businesses and professionals to begin turning away Christofascists on the basis that their "sincere religious beliefs" prevent them from serving modern day Pharisees.  These people truly need to become social and business pariahs.  Topeka News has details on this new, open bigotry:

Proposed Jim Crow laws for gay people are already taking effect in Kansas.   38-year-old Johnny Quinns-Smith wanted to get an egg-salad sandwich for himself and his fiance, Erique Boltzman.  He went to his local diner outside Franton, near Scranton, a place where he and Boltzman had occasionally ate over the past 6 years.  In fact, it was at this diner that the two met during a lunch hour.

But today, Quinss-Smith encountered something he thought he would never see in his lifetime:  a sign.  A sign that said, “Service Refused To Gay Couples.”

“I was in absolute shock, I mean, I could not even fathom what was going on,” he said.  When he went into the restaurant, all went silent.  The locals looked at him, with several pointing and whispering.  Wiping out a cup, a server behind the restaurant’s main ordering station stared at him and then looked over at one of the newest signs next to the cash register.

“I looked at where several people’s eyes were tracking.  Then there it was, it was a sign that said ‘No Gay Eating Here’.”Shock: “No Gay Eating Here”.

Not wanting to make a scene, Quinns-Smith quickly walked up to the stand where he had always been able to order his food.  The server who had taken his order and brought him his food for years stood there in front of him and asked, “How can we help?”

“What is wrong.  What is this sign meaning,” Quinns-Smith asked, feeling uncomfortable as eyes rested on him.

“It means you and your boyfriend can’t come eating in here no more, unless you find God,” a customer seated offered a response before staff said anything.

“You need to find God and the Bible,” someone else yelled out.  The floodgates were open.

“We don’t want your germs on the silverware.”  ”Just repent son, you can still be forgiven and be normal.”  ”Being gay is not natural.  It is not God’s way.”

The Kansas House of Representatives recently passed a bill with a 73-49 vote that  allows government workers and businesses the right to refuse services to gay couples.  Fortunately, the bill lost traction in the Kansas Senate, but it is still alive and could become law in the state.   The story of this restaurant will become reality for more gay couples across the state, facing an unprecedented showing of ignorance that has unfortunately reached back from the turbulent 1960s and into our modern age of progress.

I hope states like Kansas will become pariahs in the larger business community and that when given the option, businesses will choose to locate elsewhere - and tell officials in Kansas why they are doing so. Backward bigoted areas need to decline economically so that bigotry has an increasingly high price associated with it.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

More Thursday Male Beauty


New Study: Homophobic People Die Earlier





The findings of a new study cannot help but make one think that perhaps there is divine justice after all.  Why?  Because extreme homophobes seemingly die younger that non-gay haters.  Perhaps Tony Perkins, Brian Brown, and a host of others might want to rethink their hate filled anti-gay bigotry.   Again as note, given the harm homophobes do to others, it is perhaps appropriate that they go to earlier graves.  MetroWeekly has coverage.  Here are some story highlights:

The findings of a study called "Anti-Gay Prejudice and All-Cause Mortality Among Heterosexuals in the United States", led by Mark L. Hatzenbuehler of Columbia University, in the February issue of the American Journal of Public Health. The study included 20,226 respondents between 1988 and 2008 -- 4,216 of those involved had passed away by the end of the study. The study found that there existed a "2.5-year life expectancy difference between individuals with high versus low levels of anti-gay prejudice." Homophobia specifically was "associated with increased risk of cardiovascular-related causes of death."
 
The study used four questions to establish the personal biases of participants:
  • If some people in your community suggested that a book in favor of homosexuality should be taken out of your public library, would you favor removing this book, or not?
  • Should a man who admits that he is a homosexual be allowed to teach in a college or university, or not?
  • Suppose a man who admits that he is a homosexual wanted to make a speech in your community. Should he be allowed to speak, or not?
  • Do you think that sexual relations between two adults of the same sex is always wrong, almost always wrong, wrong only sometimes, or not wrong at all?
I have long argued that bigotry carry a price and now we know that it means foul homophobes die younger than non-haters.

Oregon AG Joins 5 States in Refusing to Defend Gay-Marriage Ban


As noted in my February column in VEER Magazine, an attorney's highest ethical duty is to the Court, not his or her client.  An attorney is ethically bound to (i) not proffer untrue facts or (ii) not misrepresent binding case law authority.  Here in Virginia, Attorney General Mark Herring recognized this ethical duty (much to the hysterical distress of Christofascists and the Republican political prostitutes) and refused to defend Virginia's foul Marshall-Newman Amendment and refused to lie to the Court about the stat of the case law on anti-gay measures.  Today, yet another state attorney general, this time Ellen Rosenblum in Oregon (pictured above), refused to defend that state's gay marriage ban stating that Oregon's ban could not be meet the level of scrutiny required.  Bloomberg.com has details.  Here are excerpts:
Oregon’s attorney general said she won’t defend her state’s ban on same-sex marriage, joining other top law enforcement officials in refusing to fight challenges to similar prohibitions in five other states. 

The law “cannot withstand a federal constitutional challenge under any standard of review,” Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said in a court filing today in Eugene. She said the state will continue to enforce the ban unless it’s overturned by a court.

Rosenblum followed fellow Democratic attorneys general Kamala Harris of California, Mark Herring of Virginia, Lisa Madigan of Illinois, Kathleen Kane of Pennsylvania and Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada in refusing to defend lawsuits challenging gay-marriage bans.

Litigation over the issue has spiked since a June U.S. Supreme Court decision invalidating part of a law that limited federal recognition to heterosexual marriages. Since then, four courts have overturned state bans on same-sex unions. Three of those decisions are on hold pending appeal.

Rosenblum announced her refusal to defend the Oregon ban in an answer to federal lawsuits brought last year against her and Democratic Governor John Kitzhaber.

“State defendants admit that performing same-sex marriages in Oregon would have no adverse effect on existing marriages, and that sexual orientation does not determine an individual’s capacity to establish a loving and enduring relationship,” she wrote in the filing. 

“The Attorney General has taken a close look at the facts, and came to the same conclusion that courts around the country and freedom-minded Oregonians have: there is no reasonable or legal justification to exclude committed gay and lesbian couples from marriage,” Mike Marshall, campaign manager for Oregon Untied for Marriage, said today in a statement. 

Rosenblum said in her own statement that while her office usually defends the state in litigation, “there is no rational basis for Oregon to refuse to honor the commitments made by same-sex couples in the same way it honors the commitments of opposite-sex couples.” 

Katharine Von Ter Stegge, who represents the Multnomah County assessor, a defendant in the lawsuits, had no immediate comment on the attorney general’s court filing.

The cases are Geiger v. Kitzhaber, 13-01834, and Rummell v. Kitzhaber, 13-02256, U.S. District Court, District of Oregon (Eugene).
No doubt Rosenblum will be pilloried by the Christofasicts who prefer lies, untruths and unethical conduct over a perceived betrayal of their hate and fear based religious beliefs.
 

Faith Key for Judge Who Invalidated Virginia Same Sex Marriage Ban

One of the problems facing America today is the growing insistence on the part of Christofacists that (i) they are above the laws that govern everyone else and (ii) that those who do not conform to their hate and fear based religious beliefs should be deprived of civil rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution.  These beliefs and action are against founding principles of this nation that go back to Founders such as Jefferson who stated in his draft of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom that civil rights are not dependent on religious belief:
. . . . that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry; that therefore  he proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages to which in common with his fellow-citizens he has a natural right . . . .

. . . no man shall . . . suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish enlarge, or affect their civil capacities. 
Today's Christofascists and self-anointed protectors of traditional marriage hold the foregoing principles in nothing less than contempt.  Fortunately,  U.S. District Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen DOES honor and respect these founding principles and was able to put her personal religious beliefs aside when rendering her ruling in Bostic v. Rainey which declared Virginia's same sex marriage ban to be unconstitutional.  Here are highlights from the Richmond Times Dispatch on Wright Allen's recognition of the concept of separation of church and state:
U.S. District Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen wears her Christian faith proudly, at least to the extent that federal judges can.

At her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee three years ago, Wright Allen began by thanking God for her very existence. She spoke confidently about how her late father and an attorney friend were “in heaven” watching the proceeding. And she recognized her pastor, from a religiously conservative church in Norfolk, who had driven to Washington for the hearing, pointing him out to the senators.
Wright Allen struck down Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage, saying the prohibition violates federal constitutional provisions on equal protection and due process of law. She said the definition of marriage that’s been in place in Virginia since colonial times — one man and one woman — must change.
There’s little dispute that laws on marriage were “rooted in the principles embodied by men of Christian faith,” Wright Allen wrote. Still, she added, marriage has “evolved into a civil and secular institution,” and marriage laws are “an exercise in governmental power” that warrant federal protections.

Walter D. Kelley Jr., a former Norfolk-based federal district judge and now a partner at the Jones Day law firm in Washington, said Wright Allen is a friend. They met more than 10 years ago at First Presbyterian Church in the Ghent section of Norfolk, where they both attended, and have kept in touch.

“She’s a very devoted Christian,” Kelley said. “She and her family are very active participants at the church. It’s more than just a Sunday morning thing. The church is an integral part of their life all week long.”But though “church doctrine would not smile on gay marriage,” Kelley said, “church doctrine doesn’t have anything to do with her job.”

[W]hatever her personal preference might be or might not be is sort of irrelevant,” Kelley said. “The oath that you swear to uphold as a judge is to uphold the law, not to uphold your personal beliefs. She would never flinch for a moment in applying that standard.”

“Unanimously, prosecutors and defenders who have worked with her on either side have attested to her talent, dedication and above all her exceptional character,” then-Sen. Jim Webb told the Judiciary Committee at the time. After he met her, Webb told his colleagues, “It was clear to me that she possesses the judicial temperament and dedication to make an excellent judge.”
There is more to the article that deserves a read.  The bottom line is that Wright Allen's critics have contempt for the separation of church and state and want their personal religious views imposed on all citizens.  They are precisely the kind of hypocrites and tyrants that Thomas Jefferson warned about and condemned.

The GOP's Obamacare Repeal Problem





So far the Republican Party's only real plank going into the 2014 midterm elections is to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act, a/k/a/ Obamacare.  The problem, however, is that the GOP has nothing to offer to replace it and, if it were to be repealed, many Americans would suddenly see themselves losing popular benefits.  Thus, outside the lunatic world of the Tea Party/Christofascists this single focus could be a problem.  A piece in the Washington Post looks at this substantive problem.  Here are excerpts:

Here’s more evidence — culled from a new interview with a leading GOP Senate candidate – that the GOP Obamacare repeal stance is deeply problematic, even in states where the law is very unpopular and has Dems on defense.

North Carolina is ground zero in the Obamacare wars. The Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity has already spent over $8 million in ads battering vulnerable Dem Senator Kay Hagan over the law. A Dem Super PAC is hitting back with an ad that blasts her likely GOP opponent — State Rep. Thom Tillis — for wanting to return to a time when insurance companies could discriminate against preexisting conditions and prescription drug costs for seniors were higher.

Now watch how Tillis responds to that charge in the interview.  Tillis is asked whether he supports a proposal championed by Senator Richard Burr — also from his state — to replace Obamacare with an alternative that would supposedly reduce government spending and regulations while keeping the good parts of the ACA, i.e, consumer protections and expanded coverage.

Tillis responds by saying that of course he would replace Obamcare with something. But he makes two key concessions. While reiterating he supports repeal, he implicitly admits Obamacare’s core goals are worthy. And he adds: “Republicans need to communicate that we agree that there are serious health care issues among the American people that we need to solve”.

This is the GOP repeal dilemma. Tillis effectively concedes repeal alone is unsustainable. But he can’t bring himself to support the leading GOP alternative, referring to it as an “outline” worth considering.

The upshot: GOP candidates who understand that repeal alone is unsustainable — as Tillis clearly does — will not have an easy time escaping the implications of their own position. This gives Dems like Hagan a way to call for fixes to the law — achieving some distance from its problems — while blasting the opposition for wanting to go back to the old system, which is unpopular. It reframes the argument as flawed problem solving versus ideological hostility to government improving people’s lives.

Thusday Morning Male Beauty


Homophobia, not Homosexuality, Is Alien to Traditional African Culture

It drives me crazy to watch American Christofascists play blacks - both here in America and in Africa - for suckers and, worse yet, to see blacks allow themselves to be played for fools due to a lack of knowledge of true history.  Here in America, white Christofascists are the same group who used the Bible to justify segregation, bans on interracial marriage, racist views of blacks, and now back Republican Party efforts to disenfranchise blacks across the country.  Any black citizen that knows who these folks are ought to run screaming away from them.  Yet, here in Virginia, the racists and theocrats time and time again get black pastors to do their bidding like trained circus dogs.  Now we see the same thing happening in Africa where American Christofascists have been busy exporting hate and homophobia even as they see themselves losing the war against gays in America.  A piece in The Guardian looks at the fact that anti-gay violence and homophobia are NOT traditional to Africa.  It's all an import brought by colonial rule and white missionaries, many of who are Christofascists.  In my view, blacks who listen to American Christofascists would do well to have their foreheads tattooed with "I'm a cretin." Here are some story excerpts:
While the Sochi Olympics have understandably brought much needed attention to the prevalence of homophobia in Russia, the crisis for LGBT communities in African countries has only been given footnote status by comparison. Homosexuality is a crime in 38 of 54 sub-Saharan countries but even as tougher laws are being enacted in Uganda that would, for example, make it a crime not to report gay people to the police, there is a strain of cultural relativism often evident in debates on LGBT rights in Africa. This has allowed the apparent misconception among some people, both in Africa and the west, that homosexuality is an imperial import and that those opposed to the human rights of gay communities are simply reclaiming their pre-colonial cultural values.

Any person with the time to study the history of sexuality in traditional African cultures will discover that this claim is baseless. Indeed, the history of sexuality in traditional African societies has always been characterised by diversity in sexual practices and identities. Homosexual practices and identities are not new to Africa. What is new is the campaign for LGBT rights that has arisen in reaction to the revival of a homophobic legal and religious tradition inherited from European colonialism.

In the past few years, the movement against LGBT rights in Africa has brought together very strange bedfellows, African Muslim and Christian preachers with strong backing from rightwing American Christian organisations.

The dehumanisation of members of the gay community across Africa has been justified by invoking both God and traditional African culture. However, for over a century the same religious groups now claiming to be the custodians of traditional African cultures have been at the centre of programmes to systematically efface Africa's traditional cultures on grounds that, in their view, such cultures are un-Christian and un-Islamic. Thus, the position adopted by many of Africa's political and religious elites on issues relating to LGBT rights owes more to their colonial religious education than it does to their traditional African roots.

The very existence of "sodomy laws" imposed on many African cultures by British colonial rulers in an attempt to stem what they thought of as the sexual immorality of African cultures point to the presence of diversity in sexual practices among Africans prior to their encounter with Europeans.
I venture to suggest that indeed the absence of words for homosexuality in some African languages, if this is true, is in itself proof that gay people were never considered as existing outside of the norm in such traditional African societies. Thus, it is more likely that the language of "othering" now used to discuss and describe gay communities in Africa is a remnant of colonialism.
As I said, if blacks want to be true to their cultural history, it is the American Christofascists who need to be rejected and criminalized, not gays.   I'd further add another reason that American Christofascists have focused on Africa: their poisonous version of Christianity needs ignorant, uneducated populations to flourish.  African doing the bidding of these Christofascist are demonstrating their own ignorance and stupidity.  Harsh statements?  Yes, but all too true.  Fundamentalist Christianity is nothing less than a pestilence that needs to be eradicated.


Hate Group NOM Threatens to Sue Indiana Over Gay Marriage Ban





The last six to eight months have been really bad for the National Organization for Marriage ("NOM"), an anti-gay hate group which claims to want to "protect traditional marriage" yet has disseminated all manner of anti-gay lies and falsehoods.  Starting with United States v. Windsor and continuing through last week's ruling in Virginia that struck down Virginia's same sex marriage bans, nearly every lawsuit filed has prevailed in invalidating state marriage bans.  NOM keeps shrieking for money, but its not good for NOM's fundraising - or NOM president Brian Brown's comfortable life style - to have nothing but a string of defeats to show for millions of dollars in spending.  Hence NOM's hysteria over the development in Indiana that has ended the possibility of an anti-gay ballot initiative in November, 2014.  As the Windy Channel is rporting, Brown is now making spittle flecked threats that NOM will sue the State of Indiana if the ballot measure doesn't move forward.  Apparently, standing doesn't matter to NOM nor do the string of court cases which have struck down amendments such as the one NOM seeks to force on Indiana.  Here are some highlights:

A national group that promotes traditional marriage is considering whether to take legal action to force HJR-3 on the Indiana ballot in November 2014.

The measure came to a halt on Monday, when the Senate did not return the bill its original status, in which it would impact civil unions.

The National Organization for Marriage tells RTV6 that they met with the House Speaker Brian Bosma on last Wednesday.  "We are building a coalition of the willing and looking for legislators who are willing to join in this task," said Chris Plante, regional director of NOM.

Freedom Indiana has been the leading group opposing HJR-3.

"The fact is people don't want this issue taken to a constitutional amendment. They don't think it should be done with this issue of same-sex relationships and legal recognition. To me it reeks of desperation," said Freedom Indiana spokeswoman Megan Robertson. "They couldn't get a vote in the House. They couldn't get it in the Senate. The legislative process worked and a court case is trying to go around democracy."  Robertson has been the voice and face of the bi-partisan campaign.  She went on to say about any challenge,"I think they will be unsuccessful."
With no wins to show for its efforts, Brown no doubt is worried that he may lose his plush six figure income and have to - God forbid - get a real job.  As I said before, the most tawdry whore has more integrity than Brian Brown and his fellow Christofascists who are leeches who prey on the ignorant and bigoted.

Is Virginia's Other Marriage Case On Hold?





While the news has been full of coverage of the ruling in Bostic v. Rainey, there has been far less coverage of Virginia's other lawsuit challenging Virginia's same sex marriage ban.  The case of Harris v. Raney - which has class action certification - is pending in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia.   Technically, the ruling in Bostic is not controlling for the Harris case, but as the Washington Post and Richmond Times Dispatch are reporting the judge in Harris is pondering whether or not to delay ruling in that case pending an appeal of the ruling in Bostic that found the Marshall-Newman Amendment to be unconstitutional.  Here are highlights from the Washington Post article:

A Virginia federal judge said Wednesday that he has not decided whether he needs to rule on a class-action lawsuit seeking the right for same-sex couples in the state to marry, since another federal judge already has struck down the state’s ban.

U.S. District Judge Michael F. Urbanski asked lawyers at a hearing in Harrisonburg whether he should put the case in front of him on hold. U.S. District Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen ruled last Thursday in a separate case filed in Norfolk that the law violates constitutional protections of due process and equal protection.

Wright Allen stayed her decision, and same-sex marriages cannot take place at least until her ruling is reviewed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in Richmond. Wright Allen is a judge in Virginia’s eastern district, while Urbanski is in the western district.

Joshua A. Block, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union representing some of the plaintiffs, said he urged Urbanski to add his voice to the debate. The appeals court “will benefit from having more courts weigh in,” Block said.

Urbanski said he would make his decision “in due course” but would not hold oral arguments either way. The lawyers agreed arguments were unnecessary and said Urbanski could rely on briefs in his own case and arguments made before Wright Allen earlier this month if he decides to rule on, rather than postpone, the case.

The cases are in a peculiar stance since November’s elections, in which Democrats won Virginia’s statewide offices. Unlike their Republican predecessors, Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Attorney General Mark R. Herring support same-sex marriage. Herring created a political storm in Richmond when he announced last month that he has concluded that Virginia’s ban is unconstitutional and that he would not defend it.

In the Norfolk case, Bostic v. Rainey, two circuit clerks have retained lawyers who defended the Virginia ban. But in the Harrisonburg case, Harris v. Rainey, Staunton Circuit Clerk Robert E. Thomas has taken no position on the law’s constitutionality.

Virginia Solicitor General Stuart Raphael told Urbanski he could rely on the state’s previous defense of the constitutional amendment as well as the defense from lawyers in the Norfolk case to make sure the case was properly briefed.
[F]ederal judges in Utah and Oklahoma struck down bans in those states, just as Wright Allen has done, and judges in Ohio and Kentucky have said those states must recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere. Additionally, the Supreme Court’s reasoning was used by the highest state courts in New Jersey and New Mexico to allow same-sex marriage there.

The next step in the legal process will be come at the appellate level. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Denver will review the Utah and Oklahoma decisions. Raphael said that if all proceeds as scheduled in Virginia, the first briefs could be filed with the 4th Circuit next month.

Those could lead to the Supreme Court receiving the issue in time for its term that begins in October.