Saturday, June 28, 2014

Saturday Morning Male Beauty


Discriminatory Insurance Companies - Farmers Insurance; Optima Health





As the cited column in the New York Times referenced in the previous posts noted, legally married same sex couples residing in anti-gay states continue to suffer discrimination as a result of their home state's bigotry.  But the bigotry stems not only from state sponsored discrimination.  Sadly, a number of insurance companies use anti-gay state laws as an excuse to discriminate against married same sex couples.  I've experienced two examples of late.  The lesson to same sex couples? Shop around for coverage.


The first case of gay discrimination involved Optima Health through which both the husband and I had small group plans for our respective businesses.  When we married in April, we investigated to see whether we could be insured as a married couple under either of the two plans.  The answer was "No" since Virginia does recognize your marriage.  The result was that we would have had to maintain the two separate plans and pay steep premiums under both.  When I took my new job with the national title insurance agency, I got coverage through the company's Blue Cross/Blue Shield plan and could secure coverage for the husband.  The savings: roughly $500.00 per month.  I terminated my firms old small group plan through Optima (my daughter was hired by the same company and got health coverage too).  

The more recent case of discrimination involves Farmers Insurance through whom I have had my autos and rental property insured.  When I bought a newer Mercedes last week, the dealership - Tysinger Mercedes which is a huge supporter of HRBOR - indicated that Mercedes has a plan with Liberty Mutual Insurance where Mercedes owners can get discounts (ironically, my new employer has a similar set up).  As a result, I got a quote from Liberty Mutual to price shop for identical coverage.  While the Mercedes discount helped, the big savings - almost $500 per year - was from the fact that Liberty Mutual will recognize the husband and I as being married.  Farmers Insurance, like Optima, is using Virginia's anti-gay laws as an excuse to treat us as single and hit us with higher premiums.  As of Monday morning, my vehicles (two are driven by my daughter) will be insured through Liberty Mutual. 

Again, if you are legally married and live in an anti-gay state, if you can, shop your insurance coverage.  You may have options and you may save money.  In our case, $6,500 a year.  You can also send a message to companies like Optima and Farmers Insurance that they are going to lose business by relying on state sponsored discrimination as an excuse to charge you higher premiums.

A Milestone Week for Same-Sex Marriage

As noted in prior posts, this past week was a good one for those who believe in equality under the civil laws, including the right of civil law marriage.  If one is a Christofascist, the week will probably not rate as a good one.   Both the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals and a U.S. District court in Indiana struck down state law bans of gay marriage.  While the usual hate merchants and snake oil merchants of the professional Christian class are shrieking and whining, the New York Times comments on these positive developments.  Here are editorial highlights:
The battle to legalize same-sex marriage saw a historic victory this week when the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Denver became the first federal appeals court in the nation to declare that same-sex couples have a “fundamental right” to wed.

The decision, striking down Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage, extended a remarkable string of favorable federal court rulings; a similar ruling was issued on the same day by a Federal District Court in Indiana. The decision also provides a vehicle for the issue’s possible return to the Supreme Court next term.

“To claim that marriage, by definition, excludes certain couples is simply to insist that those couples may not marry because they have historically been denied the right to do so,” Judge Carlos Lucero, a Clinton appointee, wrote in a majority opinion in the Utah case, joined by Judge Jerome Holmes, a George W. Bush appointee. “One might just as easily have argued that interracial couples are by definition excluded from the institution of marriage.”

All in all, this has been a year of extraordinary progress on same-sex marriage. Almost exactly a year ago, the Supreme Court left standing a lower-court ruling overturning Proposition 8, California’s ban on same-sex marriage; that case has given rise in recent weeks to two books and an HBO movie.

But the prime factor behind the explosion of lawsuits challenging state bans, as well as the many court rulings rejecting discrimination in both red and blue states, is United States v. Windsor — the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling striking down the Defense of Marriage Act’s denial of federal benefits to lawfully married same-sex couples. The 10th Circuit decision in the Utah case included many references to the Defense of Marriage Act ruling.

A recent report from Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. shows why the court should act promptly. The report documents the Obama administration’s progress in making federal benefits available to married same-sex couples in the wake of the Windsor decision.

But it also concludes that some vital Social Security and veterans benefits cannot be provided because they are tied to a couple’s “place of domicile” rather than a “place of celebration” standard. Congress is unlikely to fix that.

Only a strong decision from the Supreme Court making same-sex marriage legal nationwide can resolve this problem and end a whole array of indignities and disadvantages the current legal patchwork inflicts on gay people and their families every day.
The husband and I were at a local Pride fundraiser last night and spoke with our friend Tim Bostic of Bostic v. Rainey who said that the 4th Circuit is expected to release its ruling any time now.   Let's keep our fingers crossed that it follows the 10th Circuit example.

A Century Later the Ghosts of Sarajevo Live On


One hundred years ago today the spark that ignited World War I was lighted when Gavrilo Princip fired the shots that killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie, in Sarajevo.  Franz Ferdinand was the heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian empire which at the time included far flung and very different ethnic and religious groups including parts of the Balkans which have been a powder keg for wars and sectarian violence over the centuries.  I am currently reading a book on Franz Ferdinand and his wife and the irony is that had he lived, Franz Ferdinand might have brought the reforms that Austria Hungry desperately needed but which his elderly, out of touch uncle, Emperor Franz Josef, refused to permit.  The other irony is that Sophie, who ended up dying with her husband, had been treated like dirt by much of the Court in Vienna for not being "sufficiently royal" to marry a Hapsburg even though she was from the aristocracy and had relatives in other royal houses in Europe.  Their murder was prompted in some ways by Serbian nationalism, but also involved was that always perverse factor: religion.  The empire included Catholics, Orthodox and Muslim citizens and, as seems always to be true of religion, hate and animosity were the results.  (Dislosure: my father's parents came to America from Austria-Hungry in 1913) A piece in the New York Times looks at the still smoldering divisions.  Here are excerpts:
As the 100th anniversary approaches, the clusters of visitors have thickened at the street-corner museum in Sarajevo’s old town that stands where Gavrilo Princip claimed his place in history on June 28, 1914, firing the shots that killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie, and setting off World War I.

But for all the excited chatter among the tourists on the sidewalk where the 19-year-old Princip fired his Browning semiautomatic pistol, killing the 50-year-old heir to the Hapsburg throne and his pregnant consort, there is a pervasive ordinariness in the setting. Little about it conveys the enormity of the assassination and its aftermath: the major European powers and their allies — Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and the Hapsburg and Ottoman Empires — marching in lock step into war.
In the centenary commemorations in Sarajevo, culminating on Saturday with a concert in the old city hall, peace is the official theme. But the ethnic and nationalist divisions that motivated Princip are anything but history in this part of the world, which was ravaged only two decades ago by bloody sectarian fighting and is even now the scene of dueling efforts to define Princip’s legacy. As Europe diligently promotes an ideology of harmony, broad areas of the continent, the Middle East and elsewhere continue to struggle with versions of the destructive forces unleashed that day.

“To me, what is happening across Bosnia today, and what is happening in many other parts of the world, is very much like the beginning of the 20th century,” said Vera Katz, a scholar at the University of Sarajevo’s History Institute. “Seeing how some of our communities have made Princip into a mythical figure has made me think that we have hardly moved on at all.”

A century later, Bosnia’s Serbs, Muslims and Croats remain deeply divided in their attitudes toward Princip. Many Serbs view him as a heroic fighter against Austro-Hungarian rule — on behalf of Serbs first, but also, they say, on behalf of Croats and Muslims — and thus as an early standard-bearer for the South Slav kingdom of Yugoslavia, which emerged from the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 and disintegrated amid the resurgent nationalist and sectarian passions of the 1990s.

Among the largely Catholic Croats and some Bosnian Muslims, many of whom looked to the authorities in Vienna at the time of the assassination for protection against Balkan domination by the mainly Orthodox Serbs, it is more common to condemn Princip as an anarchist or terrorist, as the Sarajevo court did when it sentenced him to 20 years’ imprisonment. He died of tuberculosis, proud and unrepentant, in a Hungarian prison in 1918.

So it is small wonder that the centenary has revived the passions that made Bosnia a hotbed of violence in both world wars and again in the 1990s. In the last conflict, a vote by Bosnian Muslims and Croats in 1992 to secede from Yugoslavia set off a civil war with Serbs in which about 110,000 people were killed, including more than 11,500 under artillery siege in Sarajevo, according to records compiled since the war.

Despite the boycott by hard-line Serbs, the hope is that the centenary can be used to move sectarian groups toward a new sense of the benefits of a shared political life, and away from the political paralysis that has characterized Bosnia since the Dayton agreement.

That accord, which ended the 1990s blood bath, gave Bosnia a multilayered political structure, with more than a dozen governmental and parliamentary bodies — all elected on sectarian lines, and all now tottering under the weight of endemic corruption and fierce personal rivalries.

Nearly two decades later, Bosnia remains one of the poorest nations in Europe. It has an official youth unemployment rate nearing 50 percent and an economy that is still 20 percent smaller than it was when the fighting broke out here in 1992. Hundreds of thousands of refugees remain scattered across Europe, wide areas of the country are virtually depopulated, and tens of thousands of homes are still abandoned and in ruins.

Many Bosnians of all creeds say the country has already turned that corner. What is impeding the building of a modern, multidenominational state, they say, are the narrow-minded, sectarian politicians  . . .

When shells and mortars were falling in the 1990s and Serb artillery batteries were targeting bread and water lines, hospitals and schools

Visegrad, whose population was once two-thirds Muslim, is overwhelmingly Serb now. It suffered some of the worst Serb atrocities, including mass rapes and incinerations of whole families locked into burning homes, in the first months of “ethnic cleansing” in eastern Bosnia in 1992. 
You get the drift: Orthodox versus Catholics and Muslims.  Hate, murder, violence and atrocities spurred on by religion.  Religion is one of the foulest forces in the world.  As for the "narrow minded, sectarian politicians," here in Virginia the phrase could describe the Virginia GOP.   Some defend religion and claim it is a force of good, but if one reviews history, its main fruits are wars, death and violence.  Trying to pretend otherwise doesn't change the true facts.


Vatican Diplomat Convicted of Sexual Abuse and Defrocked


While the Vatican continues to do nothing to punish bishops and cardinals who covered up and aided and abetted predator priests around the globe, in a positive move it has convicted former Vatican ambassador to the Dominican Republic, Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski of sexual abuse and defrocked him.  There is no word yet on if and when he will be turned over to civil authorities to face criminal prosecution - something Dominican authorities say is most justified.  I suspect that there are many other bishops who should join the ranks with Wesolowski given the attitude of droit du seigneur attitude the priestly cast toward molesting children.  Here are highlights from the Washington Post:

A former Vatican ambassador to the Dominican Republic, Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, has been defrocked and is likely to face criminal prosecution at the Vatican after a church inquiry convicted him of child sexual abuse.

Wesolowski, who is originally from Poland, was removed from his post in the Dominican Republic and recalled to the Vatican in August amid claims that he had abused boys in Santo Domingo.

The 65-year-old envoy is the highest-ranking Vatican official to be investigated for sex abuse. He was found guilty after an inquiry conducted by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which has jurisdiction over all sex abuse cases in the Roman Catholic Church.

In a brief statement released Friday (June 27), the Vatican said the verdict was issued “in the past few days” and the former diplomat was facing arrest due to the “gravity of the case.”

“Measures will be taken so he is in a precise restricted location, without any freedom of movement, since he has been found guilty of a serious crime and is awaiting further legal action,” said the Vatican’s chief spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi.

A bishop from the Dominican Republic was recently reported to say that he was shocked to see Wesolowski walking freely on the streets of central Rome. Prosecutors in the Caribbean nation have said they have convincing evidence that the prelate molested young men.

He has also been accused of abuse in his native Poland. The Vatican rejected an extradition request from the Warsaw prosecutor’s office on the grounds he was “a citizen of the Vatican” and holds diplomatic immunity.

His case appears to be the most tangible demonstration of what Pope Francis called his “zero tolerance” for child sex abuse as he returned from the Middle East at the end of May.

At the time, the pope said three bishops were under investigation. While he did not name names, he was likely referring to Wesolowski; Scottish Cardinal Keith O’Brien, who resigned in 2013 amid allegations of improper conduct; and Chilean Bishop Cristian Contreras, who has been accused of abuse by other priests in his diocese.

In September, the Peruvian Bishops Conference defrocked Bishop Gabino Miranda on orders from the Vatican after he was accused of abusing children.

The real problem that Francis faces is that if he is going to punish those involved in cover ups, he needs to start with Benedict XVI who for over 20 years ran the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith - a/k/a the Inquisition - which failed to prosecute sexual predator priest and their enablers.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Friday Morning Male Beauty


Same Sex Weddings: Spend Less and More Innovative


As same sex couples marry in growing numbers - our friends are getting married in droves it seems and we attended a wedding last weekend and have another one this weekend - one phenomenon that is appearing is that we gays spend less but have more innovative weddings. I like to think a case in point is the husband and my own wedding in Washington, DC, which used the Kennedy Center roof terrace for the site of the actual ceremony.  In a few weeks we will be having a family reception and then likely two more receptions for  differing groups of friends rather than one massive event.  Like many same sex couples, we wrote our own vows.   The Advocate looks at the findings of a survey on innovative aspects of same sex weddings.  Here are highlights:
A new survey conducted by The Knot in partnership with The Advocate finds that one year after the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark ruling and marriage equality's spread across the country, same-sex couples are starting new traditions.

With a wave of new U.S. states with marriage equality in the past year, most same-sex couples (82 percent, up from 70 percent in 2013) are making it very clear to attendees that their ceremony is a wedding, by calling it this term in invitations. A minority of same-sex couples label their event a celebration (7 percent), a commitment ceremony (4 percent), or a civil union (2 percent).

Among engaged same-sex couples, 58 percent indicated there was a formal proposal (and for 38 percent of this pool, it was a surprise occasion), compared to straight couples, who had a much higher proposal rate of 94 percent. A sizable portion of same-sex couples (38 percent) mutually decided to wed.
77 percent of respondents in same-sex couples did not ask the family’s permission before getting engaged. . . . . Conversely, 71 percent of straight fianc├ęs did ask the family's permission. And 26 percent of same-sex couples said that, of all the possible surprises that were involved with wedding planning, they were most pleased to learn that their families were accepting and willing to help them throughout the process.

In planning their matrimonies, same-sex couples are spending less on average ($15,849) than straight couples ($29,858). However, same-sex couples tend to invite fewer guests, meaning the amount spent per person is only slightly less ($205) than in a straight couple’s wedding ($220).  . . . .only 13 percent of straight couples are paying for their weddings out of their own pockets, compared to 85 percent of same-sex couples.

Some 81 percent of same-sex couples indicated that they would not hire a wedding planner. So they're being very hands-on when deciding how to adopt traditions.

Same-sex couples are far less likely than straight couples to have a religious service or officiant. Only 38 percent of those who responded to the survey said they would include a religious element to their wedding, favoring either a justice of the peace (23 percent) or a family member or friend (21 percent) to conduct the proceedings. By contrast, 63 percent of straight couples favored a religious service. In this vein, more same-sex couples (49 percent) are writing their own vows, although 29 percent said they did or would incorporate a religious component to the speech.

The practice of having one partner change a last name after marriage is not being adopted by most same-sex couples. Only 23 percent of gay couples and 41 percent of lesbian couples are going with this practice, with 54 percent keeping their own names and 15 percent creating a hyphenated surname. In contrast, 79 percent of straight brides-to-be marked “I'm changing my name to his.”

Virginia GOP Offered Puckett Job Before He Resigned from Virginia Senate

Puckett - a whore by any other name
As the investigation into the GOP's bribing of Sen. Phillip P. Puckett to resign from the Virginia Senate in exchange for a Tobacco Commission job and a judgeship for his daughter continues, it is beginning to appear that GOP denials about the bribery scheme are - surprise, surprise not true.  Some pesky e-mails disclose that the scheme predated Puckett's resignation after all.  The Washington Post reports on the continuing disclosures.  Here are excerpts:
The head of the state tobacco commission warned that the panel would create the appearance of “manipulating” power in the Virginia Senate if it announced that it was hiring Sen. Phillip P. Puckett on the same day he gave up his seat, according to e-mails released Thursday.

Tim Pfohl, interim executive director of the commission, said in a June 5 e-mail to Puckett, a Democrat from rural Russell County, that he had begged Del. Terry G. Kilgore (R-Scott) to delay making it known that Puckett was getting a top staff job with the commission. Kilgore is chairman of the commission.

“Phillip: Terry spoke to us today about announcing your role w/ the Commission in conjunction with what he said is your intention to announce your Senate plans tomorrow,” Pfohl wrote. “I implored him to ‘decouple’ those announcements for the sake of the appearance of the Commission manipulating the Senate balance of power and starting WW3 w/ the Governor’s administration.”

Pfohl went on to say that the commission’s executive committee still planned to meet a few days later to give Puckett the job.

“I mention all this so you know what’s being planned on our end to give this the most defensible appearance of due process,” Pfohl added.

The message is among 74 pages of e-mails that The Washington Post obtained Thursday under a Freedom of Information Act request.

The e-mail messages indicated that the commission was creating the post especially for Puckett, who was asked to help come up with his own job description. The position was to come with state employee benefits, a cell phone and possibly a car, according to the e-mails. The salary was not specified.

Puckett and Kilgore did not respond to messages seeking comment Thursday night. Nor did Puckett’s attorney, Thomas Bondurant. Kilgore’s attorney, Thomas Cullen, declined to comment.

The e-mail trail regarding the job offer begins on May 29, when Pfohl sent a message to Ned Stephenson, the commission’s deputy director. It indicates that Kilgore wanted to tailor a job at the commission to Puckett.  

Obviously, Puckett is a sleaze bag and one can only hope that his daughter does not get her promised judicial appointment.  Meanwhile, let's hope the feds make Terry Kilgore's life - and political future - a living hell.

The GOP's Bizarre Disregard for Facts


More and more the one of the hallmarks of today's GOP - in addition to its transformation into a largely sectarian party ruled by Christofascists - is that objective facts simply do not matter.  Instead, it is all about adhering to an ideology driven by hate, fear and often greed.  The examples of this contempt for facts ranges from GOP denial of climate change to the growing acceptance of gays by a majority of Americans to the constant refrain that the Affordable Care Act is a failure.  On this latter issue, Paul Krugman rips the GOP a new one and in the process also sheds light on the cynicism of some on the right who ought to know better, but continue to lie and misrepresent the truth.  Personally, I blame the GOP's retreat from honesty and objective reality of the Christofascist take over - after all, no one lies more than the "godly folk."  Here are highlights from Krugman's column:
Have you been following the news about Obamacare? The Affordable Care Act has receded from the front page, but information about how it’s going keeps coming in — and almost all the news is good. Indeed, health reform has been on a roll ever since March, when it became clear that enrollment would surpass expectations despite the teething problems of the federal website.

What’s interesting about this success story is that it has been accompanied at every step by cries of impending disaster. At this point, by my reckoning, the enemies of health reform are 0 for 6. That is, they made at least six distinct predictions about how Obamacare would fail — every one of which turned out to be wrong.

[T]o be that consistently, grossly wrong takes special effort. So what’s this all about?

Many readers won’t be surprised by the answer: It’s about politics and ideology, not analysis. But while this observation isn’t particularly startling, it’s worth pointing out just how completely ideology has trumped evidence in the health policy debate.

What was especially odd about the incessant predictions of health-reform disaster was that we already knew, or should have known, that a program along the lines of the Affordable Care Act was likely to work. Obamacare was closely modeled on Romneycare, which has been working in Massachusetts since 2006, and it bears a strong family resemblance to successful systems abroad, for example in Switzerland. Why should the system have been unworkable for America?

But a firm conviction that the government can’t do anything useful — a dogmatic belief in public-sector incompetence — is now a central part of American conservatism, and the incompetence dogma has evidently made rational analysis of policy issues impossible.

It wasn’t always thus. If you go back two decades, to the last great fight over health reform, conservatives seem to have been relatively clearheaded about the policy prospects, albeit deeply cynical. For example, William Kristol’s famous 1993 memo urging Republicans to kill the Clinton health plan warned explicitly that Clintoncare, if implemented, might well be perceived as successful, which would, in turn, “strike a punishing blow against Republican claims to defend the middle class by restraining government.” So it was crucial to make sure that reform never happened. 

But that was before conservatives had fully retreated into their own intellectual universe. Fox News didn’t exist yet; policy analysts at right-wing think tanks had often begun their careers in relatively nonpolitical jobs. It was still possible to entertain the notion that reality wasn’t what you wanted it to be.

It’s different now. . . . . And let’s be clear: While it has been funny watching the right-wing cling to its delusions about health reform, it’s also scary. After all, these people retain considerable ability to engage in policy mischief, and one of these days they may regain the White House. And you really, really don’t want people who reject facts they don’t like in that position. I mean, they might do unthinkable things, like starting a war for no good reason. Oh, wait.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

More Thursday Male Beauty


Inside George W. Bush’s Closet



Like myself, a number of LGBT activist and bloggers are former Republicans who finally reached a point where we could no longer live a lie and/or be involved in a political party that held us in contempt at best in terms of official party platform.  Yet others were willing to live a closeted life for advancement and/or political opportunities.  In my view, they basically were willing to sell their souls.  Now, Politico Magazine has a length piece that looks at the closet that existed in Chimperator George W. Bush's failed regime.  Here are some highlights, although one needs to read the entire article:

It was a slap in the face.” Steven Levine is remembering that day in 2006 when President George W. Bush took the stage in a small-town school gym in Indiana. It was October 28, right before the midterm elections, and Levine was a 22-year-old White House advance aide. He’d been camped out in Sellersburg all week, working to get the details just right for Bush’s campaign rally. The flags hung just so, the big presidential seal on the podium. Then Bush started talking, his standard stump speech about taxes and supporting the troops. But a new applause line took Levine by surprise. “Just this week in New Jersey,” the president said, “another activist court issued a ruling that raises doubt about the institution of marriage. We believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman, and should be defended. I will continue to appoint judges who strictly interpret the law and not legislate from the bench.”

The crowd loved it. Levine was crushed.

He was gay and working for a Republican and convinced it was possible to be both at the same time.

Like dozens of other gay colleagues in the Bush White House, many of them closeted, Levine had been sure that Bush himself was personally tolerant even if the GOP was not—and uncomfortable with gay-bashing as a way to win elections. But this was a rebuff, and it was hard not to take it personally: “To be working extraordinarily hard with all of your energy, working through many nights for somebody that you believe in, and to hear that person that you work so hard for come out against something that you are.”

Levine stayed with Bush right upuntil the president hopped into the armored presidential limo for the ride to Barack Obama’s inauguration 27 months later. As the taillights disappeared down Pennsylvania Avenue, Levine left town. A few months later, one of his gay friends who had also worked in the White House sat down in front of Facebook and counted the Bush White House staffers he knew to be gay. He came up with at least 70 (only two of them women).

That number—and after speaking with two dozen sources I have no doubt it was an incomplete tally—has surprised almost everyone I’ve told.

“Did we have a lot of people in the closet in the administration?” says one former senior official in the Bush White House whose office included at least three gay staffers. “I used to say we had an entire warehouse.”

In recent months, I’ve reported extensively on life in the closet of the Bush White House, and a number of his former aides are quoted on the record in this story for the first time about their experiences as gay Republicans in an administration that was perhaps the last of the era when institutionalized discrimination against gays and lesbians was still legal, if increasingly frowned upon. Their accounts offer a time-capsule view of a Republican Party—and a president—at war with itself over an issue on which public opinion and the law have now changed dramatically. At the time, it seemed to be great politics for Bush

For some of his [George W. Bush's] gay aides, it was a struggle to reconcile the decency they usually saw up close with the frequent reminders, both large and small, that theirs was a party very publicly committed to the view that they were not entitled to the same legal protections as other Americans.

Personally, I cannot grasp the mindset of someone who would sell his/her soul to such a regime and imagined advancement. In my case, when the GOP in Virginia welcomed in the Christofascists and began to intertwine religion and the civil laws, I left the GOP and cited my disgust in my resignation later.  Since that time I have endeavored to see the GOP defeated whenever and wherever possible,  I am convinced that the GOP cannot be changed from within and that only repeated electoral defeats may, and I stress the word may, lead to change.

Pennsylvania Neighborhood Watch Member Shows the Danger of "Religious Belief" Exemptions


Republicans who are selling themselves to the Christofascists in the GOP base in a manner that would embarrass even the tawdriest of whores keep pressing for "religious exemptions" from both state non-discrimination laws  and federal laws such as the version of DOMA passed by the U.S. Senate.  As I have noted many times before, these efforts are symptomatic of the Christofascists' belief that they are above the laws that govern others.  If one want to see how ridiculous such exemptions might be, look no farther than William Walters, a former member of the Tacony Town Watch in Philadelphia, who is claiming that he was removed from the watch because of his “religious belief” in the superiority of the white race.  It needs to be also noted that Walters is the Grand Dragon of Ku Klux Klan-affiliated group East Coast Knights of the True Invisible Empire.  Walters epitomizes the type of individual who now comprises the GOP base.  Here are more highlights from The Raw Story:
A former member of the Tacony Town Watch in Philadelphia is claiming that he was removed from the watch because of his “religious belief” in the superiority of the white race.

William Walters, the Grand Dragon of Ku Klux Klan-affiliated group East Coast Knights of the True Invisible Empire, told Philadelphia that the organization is “a Christian group,” and on his Facebook page, he regularly argues that his racist beliefs are religious in origin:
STOP INTERRACIAL RELATIONSHIPS; The Mixing of the Races has been forbidden by God since the beginning of time. It is in the Bible, God told Moses to choose his wives from his own tribe (race) and to keep his tribe (race) pure. Interracial partnerships were banned in most states until 1955 and should be now!!! Since laws have evolved to the terrible state they are in today: it is up to those of us to keep our races pure and to teach our children and their children!!!
“My rights were infringed upon,” he said. “I can’t believe in what I want to? This has infringed on my First Amendment rights. It’s reverse discrimination.”

He also insisted that the Klan is no longer a hate group. 

Obviously, I hold Walters and those of his ilk in contempt - I can only imagine his views on gays.  But increasingly my contempt extends to Republicans who blindly continue to support the party (usually because of their aversion to paying taxes) and as a result enable individuals like Walters and Tony Perkins, et al.   Of course, the ultimate irony is that religious belief among adults is 100% a choice unlike race, national origin or sexual orientation.  If any category of non-discrimination laws deserves to have limitations placed on them it is those that protect religious belief.
 

Boehner Pulls a Bachmann; Virginia GOP Engages in Break In of Governor's Office

click image to enlarge
As a former Republican from a family of generations of Republicans the GOP's continued descent into insanity and lawlessness is difficult to watch.  And I'm not talking just about Tea Party and Christofascist extremism and detachment from objective reality.  Cases in point?  House Speaker John Boehner who says he is going to sue Barack Obama for his "excessive use of executive orders."  Meanwhile, as the chart above shows, Obama has signed fewer executive orders than George H.W. Bush (who only held office for 4 years), George W. Bush, and Ronald Reagan.  With today's GOP facts simply do not matter.  Demagoguery and pandering to the insane elements of the GOP base is all that matters.   One of Andrew Sullivan's posts looks at Boehner's disgusting dishonesty:
Never underestimate the cynicism of today’s GOP. Christopher Ingraham politely points to the above chart:
Back in February I analyzed the numbers on executive order frequency and found that Obama has actually been less likely to resort to the pen and phone than any president since Grover Cleveland. Just a few days ago, John Hudak at Brookings updated the chart through June 17 of this year and found that those numbers haven’t budged, at all. … As John Hudak writes, “claims that President Obama is issuing more than his predecessors is just flat wrong—and continues to be a talking point completely at odds with real data.”
Never underestimate the contempt for reality within today’s GOP. Here’s Beutler on Boehner’s nonsense:
[T]he fact that he hasn’t decided which laws the president isn’t faithfully executing, or which of those ill-executed laws merits legal action not to mention his indifference to executive overreach during the Bush yearsall pretty much give the game away. This really isn’t about the integrity of the legislature, and in a way, it really is about impeachment.
 Meanwhile, back here in Virgina, the Virginia GOP - perhaps illegally - broke into Gov. McAuliffe's offices.  Like the Christofascists in the party base, in Virginia the Virginia GOP seemingly sees itself as above the law.  These people are a clear and present danger to constitutional government and the rule of law.    The Richmond Times Dispatch reports on this batshitery.  Here are excerpts:

At the urging of House Speaker William J. Howell, the clerk’s office of the House of Delegates enlisted the help of the Capitol Police to enter Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s unoccupied, secure suite of offices on a Sunday afternoon to deliver the state budget.

The highly unusual entry on June 15 took place without the permission of administration officials or the knowledge of the Virginia State Police, which is in charge of protecting the governor. McAuliffe was not in the building.
Three days later, McAuliffe’s chief of staff, Paul Reagan, fired off a letter to Col. Anthony S. Pike, chief of the Capitol Police. Reagan copied Howell, R-Stafford, and Senate Finance Co-chairman Walter A. Stosch, R-Henrico, as well as the superintendent of the Virginia State Police, Col. W. Steven Flaherty.

“This letter is to inform you that under no circumstances are you or any of your officers authorized to allow employees of the General Assembly to enter the secure areas of the governor’s office without my express permission, or the express permission of Suzette Denslow, the governor’s deputy chief of staff,” Reagan wrote in the letter to Pike, dated June 18.

Reagan’s letter adds: “For good reason, it is an area that is surrounded by three security perimeters. Even on a normal business day, very few people — including members of the governor’s Cabinet — can gain access to this suite of offices. We certainly do not expect to have agents and employees of the General Assembly roaming through these offices on weekends.”

Thursday Morning Male Beauty


Louisiana Judge Wants to Rule on State's Gay Marriage Ban

The Christofascists are still reeling from the 10th Circuit ruling and the ruling striking down Indiana's same sex marriage ban.  Now U.S. District Court Judge Martin Feldman seeks to expand the scope of the case before him involving Louisiana's ban on same sex marriage.  No doubt we will be hearing screeches about "judicial tyranny" from the usual suspects.  With the tide continually turning against their agenda of hate and division, the "godly folk" will become even more hysterical and extreme.  The Advocate looks at developments in Louisiana.  Here are excerpts:

U.S. District Court Judge Martin Feldman threw a curveball Wednesday at the lawyers arguing both sides of a case over gay marriage in Louisiana, deciding he will rule not only on whether same-sex marriages performed in other states should be recognized in Louisiana, but also on whether gay and lesbian couples should be able to wed in the state.

Scores of similar lawsuits are working their way through courts across the country, some of them taking on the issue of recognizing existing marriages and others aiming more directly at the right to marry in a particular state.

The case before Feldman includes six couples, all of whom argue that Louisiana should recognize marriages performed elsewhere.

But at the end of 90 minutes of oral arguments in New Orleans, Feldman said he wanted to hear debate on all of the questions involved, saying it would be unfair to the public and the parties involved to issue a “piecemeal” ruling.

“I feel uncomfortable resolving some issues one way or the other and not all the issues one way or another,” Feldman said, asking for additional briefs within three weeks but putting off a decision about whether to hear more oral arguments.

The judge’s decision will likely mean a short delay in any ruling on the recognition issue, but it could greatly speed up a decision on whether same-sex couples can get a marriage license in Louisiana.

 Another outstanding issue before Feldman is whether Louisiana is violating the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech by forcing married same-sex couples to list themselves as single on tax returns.

GOP Fringe - i.e. the Tea Party - Blame Voter Fraud and "Uncle Toms" for Mississippi Loss


Rather than face the reality that a majority of Americans view them as not only insane, but also frightening, Tea Party forces are claiming that Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel lost his primary challenge to incumbent Senator Thad Cochran due to "voter fraud" and "Uncle Tom" blacks who chose to vote in the GOP primary.  Truth be told, McDaniel is not short of an extremist who would have brought yet more insanity to the Congressional GOP.  Thankfully, enough Mississippi residents recognized McDaniel's toxicity and went to the polls to support Cochran.  Talking Points Memo looks at the spittle flecked rants coming from the Tea Party lunatics.  Here are highlights:
"I wonder what the campaign slogan was in Mississippi the past few days, 'Uncle Toms for Thad'? Because I thought it was the worst thing you could do as an African American, vote for a Republican. The worst thing you could do," Limbaugh said on Wednesday. "But somehow they were made to believe that voting for old Thad would be fine and dandy. And why? Because they were told Thad's done a lot for black people in Mississippi. Must be the first time they were told that."

Cochran's turnaround victory in the race on Tuesday was immediately met with criticism by McDaniel and tea partiers over his strategy of reaching out to not only Republicans but also Democrats and African-Americans, a move that dismayed tea partiers but isn't illegal under Mississippi's open primary laws. 

Matt Drudge, for instance, posted a link to a New York Times story with the line "Black vote used." Another link on Drudge said "The flier 'that got Cochran elected'..." and linked to a National Review blog post on Wednesday reporting that a flyer that had allegedly been circulated in heavily black precincts of Mississippi that was titled: "The Tea Party intends to prevent blacks from voting on Tuesday."

Sarah Palin on Wednesday said there should be some kind of investigation of voting behavior because something clearly was fishy.  

[C]onservatives have also thrown out the idea of leaving the GOP party all together. Amy Kremer, a conservative political operative who formerly led the Tea Party Express warned that if Cochran won, the GOP would be "done." 

Erickson wrote. "In essence, tea party activists are the RINOs. A Republican Party campaigning on making the Senate “conservative,” used liberal Democrats to preserve an incumbent Republican and defeat a conservative. The actual conservatives are the outsiders with the GOP establishment doing all it could to preserve its power at the expense of its principles."

But Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who is often considered a tea party favorite, suggested that such reactions might be overblown. "I'm for more people voting, not less people voting," Paul told reporters Wednesday, according to the Washington Post.

The Tea Party - most of which is also Christofascist - is a swamp fever that must be broken if the GOP is to ever regain its sanity.  Killing the Frankenstein monster will be very difficult.

Ending Internalized Homophobia: The Next LGBT Movement


When I get contacted by readers seeking advice on their coming out process one of the things that often becomes quickly apparent: like myself before I got over it, these individuals have internalized large amounts of homophobia which is causing them to feel shame and even disgust with themselves.  While they have come to the realization that living in the closet simply isn't going to work for them any longer, they are having a horrific time letting go of the poison they have internalized in the form of religious based brainwashing/bigotry and the larger society condemnation of gays - something that while lessening can still be very powerful in many regions of the country.  During my own coming out journey, letting go of the internalized homophobia that had been instilled in me largely by my Catholic upbringing was the first and perhaps the hardest part of the process.  A piece I came across suggests that ridding gays of this internalized sense of shame and self-hate needs to be the next part of the larger LGBT movement.  Here are excerpts:
[W]hile progress for LGBT equality has undoubtedly been made since his childhood, he says, there are still plenty of issues left unaddressed.

One in particular: internalized homophobia.

"It's something that's really well-known to anyone who's gay," he says, "but not many people in the mainstream world think about it. Most people don't even know what it is — and that's dangerous."

So, what is internalized homophobia?

If it sounds like a fancy clinical term, it's because it is.  Definitions vary between therapists, but it generally refers to the internalization of a society's homophobic attitudes within lesbian, gay or bisexual people.

Researchers say it can correlate with a number of psychological and medical outcomes, including depression, shame, substance abuse and dangerous sexual behaviors.

For Thorpe, his environment shaped his internalized homophobia. The shame he felt, almost subconsciously, was a direct result of the "facts" against homosexuality he had been taught while growing up.

"You're impressionable when you're young. When I came to terms with my sexuality, I was trying to accept who I was," he says.

Matthew Weissman, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in Washington, D.C., works predominately with gay teens and adults. Most of his patients struggle with some form of internalized homophobia. Like Thorpe, the root cause is typically the home environment.

"People hear disparaging comments from friends, parents, political leaders," Weissman says. "The church, of course, creates a huge stigma against it — that one still affects a lot of people."

Geography plays a big role, too. For gay people living in communities where those stigmas still exist, he says, it's best to just move to a more progressive area. But it's not always an option — especially for teens and high schoolers.

"But I still had all these notions I'd been taught while growing up. It's easy to put aside those prejudices and acknowledge that that's all they are — but still, there's this lingering default feeling that sticks around. You can't just put that aside."

"When you're a social minority, it's so important to make contact with communities to avoid feeling isolated," he says. "That can't be stressed enough."

What can we do?

The solution is both easy and extremely challenging at the same time. For a social issue to change, the overall mindset needs a makeover. It's a tall order.

"The best thing is to identify the source of the stigma. I tell my patients to think: 'Who, or what, was it that made me feel this way for the first time?'" Weissman says. "Then go from there. If it's a certain group that you're still associated with, leave; if it's an organization, get out of it."

The Internet has definitely helped, he adds. It's easier to build communities online — an especially helpful tool for anyone who feels geographically constricted.

"If we want to end internalized homophobia, we need to first end homophobia," she says. "It's as simple as that."
The experts are right: if your church or family are the problem and refuse to accept you and modern knowledge, put distance between them and yourself.   I have friends who are plagued with internalized homophobia and they refuse to stop attending toxic, anti-gay churches which continue to reinforce the internalized sense of shame and self-loathing.  They worry about family acceptance too.  Candidly, as a parent myself, any decent parent who truly loves their child will accept a gay child.  If they won't then it's time to move on.  The problem is theirs, not yours. One of the best things I did was to leave the poisonous Catholic Church.  One of the other positives was getting involved in LGBT organizations where I was able to make many friends and learn that we are kind, good and decent people contrary to what the hate merchants preach.  Remaining isolated can literally be deadly.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

More Wednesday Male Beauty


Susan Collins: Fourth Republican Senator To Support Same-Sex Marriage


While most Congressional Republicans remain utter pandering political whores to the Christofascists base of the GOP, some Republican members of Congress seemingly seem to see the hand writing on the wall and are shifting their support to advocates of gay marriage.  As noted yesterday Republican Senator Johnson of Minnesota has urged the GOP to drop its opposition to marriage equality.  Now Susan Collins of Maine (pictured above) has joined Johnson and two other GOP Senators in calling for marriage equality.  It goes without saying that NOM and the "godly Christian" hate merchants will be most unhappy with Collins.  Here are highlights from Think Progress:

Susan Collins became the fourth Republican senator to support marriage equality on Wednesday, announcing her position in a questionnaire from Maine’s Bangor Daily News. “A number of states, including my home state of Maine, have now legalized same-sex marriage, and I agree with that decision,” Collins wrote. Voters in Maine outlawed same-sex marriage in 2009, but legalized it in 2012.

Collins’ spokesperson clarified that the senator had previously remained silent on marriage equality because “she doesn’t want to get involved in state-level referendum issues.” “She’s a U.S. senator, and she stays within the purview of her office,” Lance Dutson told the paper. “But when asked [today] about her personal stance on this issue, she said she supports it.” Collins publicly announced her position after receiving the endorsement of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT advocacy organization. HRC also endorsed the senator in 2008.

Despite remaining silent on marriage, Collins had long been acted as an ally of the LGBT community, sponsoring legislation to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell — the military’s ban against openly gay servicemembers — and supporting a measure to prohibit employers from discriminating based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

With twenty states now allowing same-sex couples to marry, Republican lawmakers have steered clear of the matter in recent years. On Monday, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) urged the party to avoid discussing social issues and Republican leaders have previously preached greater tolerance towards gay people.

Collins joins Republican senators Rob Portman (OH), Mark Kirk (IL) and Lisa Murkowski (AK) in supporting equal marriage rights. Almost all Democratic senators have evolved on the issue, with the exception of Sens. Mark Pryor (D-AR), Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Mary Landrieu (D-LA).
It is a safe bet that as they become more and more of a backwater among normal Americans and as they lose their hold over the GOP, the Christofascists and the "profesional Christian" crowd will become even more shrill and extreme - all of which will hasten their much deserved banishment into the political wilderness.

Christofascists and GOP Suffer Double Loss in 10th Circuit and Indiana Rulings.

First gay marriage in Indiana
In the wake of its pathetic "March for Marriage" the National organization for Marriage ("NOM") and similar gay haters suffered double losses as the U. S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit upheld the District Court rulings that struck down the gay marriage bans in Utah and Oklahoma (the opinion is here).  Meanwhile, a U.S. District Court struck down the gay marriage ban in Indiana.  The momentum truly seems to be building for either the U.S. Supreme Court to (i)  refuse to hear the almost guaranteed appeal from the 10th Circuit decision and thereby make same sex marriage across the 10th Circuit, or (ii) the take the appeal and strike down gay marriage bans nationwide.  In the wake of the DOMA ruling last year, the rapidly growing support for gay marriage and the plethora of lower court rulings striking down gay marriage bans, it is becoming increasingly hard to believe that the Supreme Court would uphold such bands.   First here are highlights from Think Progress:
In the first federal appellate level consideration of same-sex marriage since the Supreme Court overturned the Defense of Marriage Act last year, the 10th Circuit has agreed with the lower court that Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. In a 2-1 decision, the panel ruled that the Constitution guarantees that “those who wish to marry a person of the same sex are entitled to exercise the same fundamental right as it is recognized by persons who wish to marry a person of the opposite sex.”

The ruling was immediately stayed, recognizing that the Supreme Court had stayed the district court’s original ruling earlier this year.

The majority of the panel rejected the state’s arguments that marriage must be linked to procreation: “Appellants’ assertion that the right to marry is fundamental because it is linked to procreation is further undermined by the fact that individuals have a fundamental right to choose against reproduction.” They were also not persuaded by claims that the inherent definition of marriage demanded unions between a man and a woman, because “nothing logically or physically precludes same-sex couples from marrying, as is amply demonstrated by the fact that many states now permit such marriages.”

“Plaintiffs in this case have convinced us that Amendment 3 violates their fundamental right to marry and to have their marriages recognized,” they wrote. “We may not deny them relief based on a mere preference that their arguments be settled elsewhere. Nor may we defer to majority will in dealing with matters so central to personal autonomy. The protection and exercise of fundamental rights are not matters for opinion polls or the ballot box.”
 Meanwhile, the Indianapolis Star reports on the demise of the Indiana gay marriage ban:

A federal judge struck down Indiana's ban on same-sex marriages Wednesday, leaving state officials, lawmakers, social conservatives, gay rights supporters and legal experts scrambling to sort out exactly what the decision means — and what will happen next.

But for the hundreds of gay and lesbian couples who rushed to courthouses across the state for impromptu weddings, the judge's words meant something simple, yet significant: They could finally be married in Indiana.

The monumental ruling by U.S. District Judge Richard Young said Indiana's law that limits marriage to one man and one woman, and that denies recognition of same-sex marriages legally performed in other states, is unconstitutional. It mirrored more than a dozen recent federal court opinions that have struck down same-sex marriage bans in other states.

"In less than a year," Young wrote in his opinion, "every federal district court to consider the issue has reached the same conclusion in thoughtful and thorough opinions — laws prohibiting the celebration and recognition of same-sex marriages are unconstitutional."

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller's staff quickly filed a notice of appeal and an emergency request for a stay of Young's order, which could halt same-sex marriages pending outcome of an appeal. The motion for a stay, according to spokesman Bryan Corbin, which has been granted in other jurisdictions, "is intended to prevent confusion and inconsistency between county clerk's offices regarding license issuance, while the appeal is pending."

But opponents of same-sex marriage viewed the ruling as yet another attack on traditional marriage.

"It's a disappointing but not unexpected ruling," said Curt Smith, president of the Indiana Family Institute. "We are deeply disappointed at the lack of respect for Indiana statute and our legislature. ... It is very distressing to see that marriage licenses are being issued and that presumably marriages will be performed in the near future on couples that are not authorized under state law."

Just minutes after Young's ruling was released, Marion County Clerk Beth White began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples and conducted what was likely the state's first such wedding — the spur-of-the-moment union of Craig Bowen and Jake Miller of Indianapolis.
 The Christofascists are on the wrong side of history just as they were on desegregation and interracial marriage.  One would think that they would learn from history, but when the open embrace of ignorance, hate and bigotry are applauded, I guess that is too much to expect or hope for.

Wednesday Morning Male Beauty

click image to enlarge

Survivors of Upstairs Lounge Recall Mass Murder of Gays


Yesterday was the 41st anniversary of the largest mass murder of gays in U.S. history.  The fire at the Upstairs Lounge in New Orleans claimed 32 lives and others had their lives and careers ruined in the aftermath.  To date, no one has every been charged for the crime and the New Orleans police at the time seemed indifferent to the murder of gays and lesbians.  Queerty looks at this sad anniversary which should be a reminder that the hate that motivated that crime is still alive and well with many of our opponents.  Here are highlights:
On June 24, 1973, an arsonist set fire to a gay bar in New Orleans called the Up Stairs Lounge, killing 32 gay men and women in what has gone down in history as the largest gay mass murder in U.S. history.

Today is the 41st anniversary of that tragedy, which has been documented by Robert L. Camina in the new film “Upstairs Inferno”. According to the first official teaser trailer below, the horrific event led to even more reprehensible acts in its wake – several bodies from within the club were never claimed by family members, those survivors featured in the news went on to lose their jobs and livelihoods, and the New Orleans police department lagged its feet and attempted to cover up the deadly crime.

To this day, no one has ever been charged with setting fire to the Up Stairs Lounge.
A piece in the Times Picayune recalls the horror of one witness and the aftermath:

Flames shot from the building like "blowtorches" into the night, Lambert said. Men could be seen struggling hopelessly against the security bars on windows, escape impossible. People on the street screamed for help. A sickening smell hung in the air.

The fire was quickly brought under control, the firefighters said, but so much damage and misery had already been caused.

"It was horrible," Gilbert said. "These people, they were literally roasted alive. When your skin is exposed to open flames, you just melt, like candle-wax. It's horrific." 

Gilbert, who had just returned from a tour in Vietnam, was almost in shock.  "I don't think anything could have prepared you for something like that," he said. "No one deserves to die like that."

Once they were able to get inside the charred lounge, a grisly task lay ahead for the firefighters and volunteers helping out at the scene. A pile of bodies lay heaped on the floor near the windows facing Chartres Street.

A week after the fire, after some churches refused to bury the dead, mourners attended a memorial at St. Mark's United Methodist Church in the French Quarter. At the end of the memorial, in what many at the time said marked a major shift for the gay community, mourners had the option of walking through a side door, to avoid being caught by the local media on camera. Instead, most of the 300-plus attendees chose to exit through the front of the church.

Some remember the event as the catalyst that brought the gay community together and helped push the gay rights agenda in the city forward. 

"That was a huge step," Perez said. "In the aftermath of the fire, the gay community in New Orleans was forced to confront itself, finally."
Note how some families refused to accept the bodies of family members and how some churches refused to conduct funerals.  Evil and the "godly folk" are synonymous.
 

Ted Olson: Ted Cruz Sounds Like A Racist


As readers have likely figured out, I have no love for Texas Senator Ted Cruz who in my view seeks to be another Joe McCarthy.  Cruz panders to the worse instincts of an already racist and extremist GOP base.  Sadly, too many prominent Republicans are afraid to directly call Cruz out.  Now, Ted Olson - who is already viewed as a heretic by anti-gay elements in the GOP - has stated the obvious and said that Cruz sounds like a racist when he wants the majority to be able to strip minorities of civil rights.  Think Progress looks at Olson's remarks.  Here are highlights:

A leading Republican litigator argued on Tuesday that Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) opposition to marriage equality was reminiscent of the sentiment advanced by racists during the 1970s. Ted Olson made the accusation during an appearance on SiriusXM radio’s The Agenda.

A new New Yorker article by Jeffrey Toobin quotes a Cruz speech this month in which the first-term Senator condemned the Supreme Court’s ruling that effectively struck down down California’s unconstitutional Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage. Cruz told the Texas Republican Convention that “marriage is under assault,” adding, “You want to know what judicial activism is? Judicial activism is judges imposing their policy preferences on the words of the Constitution.”

The Agenda host Ari Rabin-Havt asked Olson, who served as President George W. Bush’s solicitor general and joined with former Al Gore campaign counsel David Boies to challenge Proposition 8, about Cruz’s remarks. Olson slammed Cruz’s thinking as “very, very sad,” “very unfortunate,” and reminiscent of the argument advanced by backed anti-miscegenation laws:
OLSON: It’s the same sort of thing that people said forty-some years ago when the Supreme Court overturned the laws of 17 states, supported by two-thirds of the population of the United States, that made it a felony to marry someone of a different race. That case, called Loving v. Virginia, is a landmark in the jurisprudence of the SC, striking down as unconstitutional a law that would have prevented the president’s mother and father from getting married and being in Virginia at the time that he was born. It’s a sad thing when people don’t understand that the people cannot vote away the rights of minorities, that people cannot engraft into their constitution provisions that discriminate against a segment of our society — whether that be persons of a particular race or nationality, or laws that discriminate against women. We’ve had hundreds and hundreds of laws that have discriminated against women over the years that the Supreme Court has struck down. Ted Cruz is just plain wrong about that and it’s unfortunate because that is not and should not be the future of the Republican Party.
Olson concluded by noting that his party “should embrace conservative values which include liberty, happiness, equality for all persons, and marriage is a conservative value.

Thad Cochran Fends Off Tea Party Insurgent in Mississippi


In some ways Senator Thad Cochran is symbolic of what's wrong with the Republican Party in the South - big on bringing home far more pork in the form of federal tax dollars than those states contribute while thwarting progressive policies that would help states that are footing the bill.  Yet compared to his Tea Party challenger which he defeated in yesterday's run off election, Cochran looks sane and reasonable in comparison.  The frightening reality speaks volumes about the state of the Republican Party in general.  Making the situation even more bizarre, to save his ass, Cochran courted Democrats and black voters - voters typically abused and loathed by Cochran's party compatriots.  Politico looks at how Cochran managed to squeak by with about a 1.5% victory margin.  Here are excerpts:


Thad Cochran’s political resurrection began with a campaign shakeup and ended with a Hail Mary television ad.

Just three weeks ago, in the dead of night on June 3, the Mississippi senator’s staff sat shaken and dejected, crestfallen at the results of a primary that deprived the six-term incumbent of an electoral majority. With Cochran forced into a runoff fight against an aggressive and energetic challenger, a dark mood shadowed his backers in Washington and Mississippi.

Yet almost immediately, the Cochran coalition began bouncing back. Even on that gloomy night of June 3, Cochran adviser Stuart Stevens was insisting to staffers: “We’re going to win.” One Cochran aide paraphrased Stevens’ primary-night message: “We’re going to figure this out and it’s going to be something you remember for the rest of your life.”

Within a week, a powerful operation had swung into motion to save the 76-year-old legislator. Rather than making peace with his firebrand challenger, state and national Republicans redoubled their efforts to tear down Chris McDaniel, whom they considered a political lightweight taking advantage of a virulently anti-Washington mood. In interviews on the day and night of the runoff vote, strategists and party leaders described the campaign as a near-perfect turnaround – considering the slimness of Cochran’s victory, it had to be.

By the time the second round of balloting rolled around on June 24, a collection of groups that might be dubbed the Emergency Committee for Mississippi had spent millions on new television ads, knocked on tens of thousands of doors and reached out to voters – including African-Americans and Democrats – who had likely never voted before in a GOP primary.

The hoped-for payoff came Tuesday night, when Cochran bested McDaniel by some 6,400 votes – a margin of less than 2 percentage points. In a gut punch to conservative activists, Cochran’s survival proved just how much swat national party leaders have when they compete to win by any means necessary.

For the pro-Cochran alliance, the race came down to a huge strategic gamble: That the universe of Mississippians who wanted to see Cochran back in the Senate was substantially larger than the group that voted in the primary – and that rather than serving as a death knell for Cochran, the June 3 ballot would serve instead as a wake-up call for apathetic Mississippians.

In his speech after the race was called, McDaniel delivered a wholesale denunciation of the campaign against him. “Today, the conservative movement took a backseat to liberal Democrats in Mississippi,” he said. It’s a sentiment his advisers and outside allies share. They see the race as a heist by national power brokers who were cynical enough to pad a Republican primary with non-Republican voters.

Pickering says the ad “turned the momentum on the air” while Cochran’s campaign and the super PAC “won it on the ground.” Speaking after polls closed Tuesday night, he hailed the outcome of the race as a glorious moment for Mississippi, estimating that “somewhere between 25- and 35,000 crossover votes made the difference here.”
The GOP establishment created the Christofascist/Tea Party Frankenstein monster and if that foul element of the GOP base is to be defeated and hopefully eradicated, then efforts like the one in Mississippi need to become the norm.