Saturday, December 17, 2011

More Saturday Male Beauty

Yesterday's DOMA Hearing in San Francisco

I have long maintained that the federal Defense of Marriage Act ("DOMA") is blatantly unconstitutional and nothing more that a federal codification of anti-gay conservative Christian religious belief. Moreover, DOMA tramples on the long standing practice of having marriage laws - except to the extent that they violate the U.S. Constitution (e.g., anti-interracial marriage laws) - left to the purview of the states. Yesterday, in San Francisco a federal court considered whether DOMA's federal definition of marriage unconstitutionally limits plaintiff Karen Golinski's ability to secure health insurance for her wife. Golinski and her same sex spouse are legally married under state law. The Department of Justice appeared and argued in support of Golinski's argument that DOMA is unconstitutional. Arguing in support of DOMA was an attorney for House Republican leadership-controlled Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG). Here are highlights from Metro Weekly on the courtroom showdown:

The Department of Justice sent one of its top lawyers to federal court in San Francisco today [yesterday] to argue that the Defense of Marriage Act's federal definition of marriage unconstitutionally limits Karen Golinski's ability to secure health insurance for her wife.

Pitting the House Republican leadership-controlled Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG) against Golinski and the Obama administration, today's hearing presented the question to U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey S. White whether Golinski's challenge should be dismissed and, if not, whether she should be granted a decision in her favor without a trial.

Assistant Attorney General Tony West, the head of the civil division of DOJ, appeared in court to argue DOJ's position. Lambda Legal's Tara Borelli and Morrison & Foerster's Rita Lin represented Golinski.

As to his treatment of the arguments advanced by BLAG to support DOMA's constitutionality, Borelli said of White, "He really expressed some serious, significant skepticism at some of the arguments they were making."

In White's questions, he not only appeared skeptical of BLAG's arguments but also appeared at least curious about BLAG's view of its constitutional basis to be there at all. In one question, he asked, "What is the statutory authority for and evidence of compliance with the role that the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group has assumed in this matter? Is this group actually bipartisan? Does BLAG have the support – and funding for the increasing cost of defending DOMA – from a majority of Congress or just from the House of Representatives?"

White went on to cite an earlier Supreme Court case about congressional representation in the courts, INS v. Chadha, in which he wrote that the court held that "Congress is the proper party to defend the validity of a statute when an agency of government charged with enforcing the statute agrees that the statute is unconstitutional."

Borelli also referenced the historic nature of the hearing, pointing out, "This is the first time that the lawyers BLAG has hired [to defend DOMA] have appeared in court. This is the first time DOJ has appeared ... to argue" its position that heightened scrutiny should apply to sexual orientation classifications and that, under that standard, DOMA should be found unconstitutional.

The judge had previously set out a list of questions that counsel for both sides were to address that can be viewed here. My favorites are the following:

3. In Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558, 567 (2003), the Supreme Court, in overruling Bowers v. Hardwick, 478 U.S. 186, 190 (1986), noted that the Bowers Court had “misapprehended the claim of liberty presented to it” and had failed “to appreciate the extent of the liberty at stake.” Here, BLAG advocates defining the right at issue as the right to same-sex marriage. Is that too narrowly defining the right at issue? What is the authority for the position that only the right to opposite-sex marriage is fundamental as opposed to the right to marriage generally?

4 Are classifications based on religious affiliation treated as suspect class and subject to heightened scrutiny under an Equal Protection analysis? How does BLAG distinguish the line of authority treating classifications based on religious affiliation as a suspect class from classifications based on sexual orientation?

6. How does BLAG distinguish the ruling in Gill v. Office of Personnel Management, 699 F. Supp. 2d 374 (D. Mass. 2010), which found that DOMA does not pass constitutional muster under even rational basis scrutiny?

8. How does the sharing of benefits with another group of lawfully married persons
denigrate the importance of the benefits already conferred upon the original group? In other words, how are heterosexual lawfully married persons affected by the sharing of benefits with lawfully married homosexual persons?

American Family Wants Its Own Version of Sharia Law

I have said time and time again that marginalizing LGBT Americans and re-criminalizing same sex relationships are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the overall agenda of the Christianists. Not only do they want gays treated as criminal, but they want to ultimately establish their own version of sharia law that would criminalize sex between unmarried individuals - i.e., "fornication" - and adultery. Then there is the "personhood" movement that wants to outlaw all abortion and many forms of contraception. Indeed, if fully implemented, the Christianst plan would be a Christian version of what the Taliban sought to do in Afghanistan. The Christianists are religious fanatics plan and simple and their goal is to make all Americans live under their sick, hate and fear based version of Christianity. Right Wing Watch caught registered hate group American Family Association's Bryan Fischer expounding on this radical agenda. Here are highlights:

On his American Family Association radio program yesterday, Bryan Fischer sought to make the case against Ron Paul on the grounds that Paul "does not have a biblical view of the law and sexuality," meaning that he doesn't believe that things like fornication and adultery must be illegal, like Fischer does:

Whether it is fornication or whether it is adultery, [the Apostle] Paul says there ought to be laws against those behaviors since they are so destructive to human beings. They represent a great danger to human health, adultery destroys families, it chews up children it creates poverty. Adultery does enormous social damage, it does enormous social harm. Sexual immorality, it leads to the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases, that makes it a public health issue. It leads to out-of-wedlock pregnancies, out-of-wedlock births, those children have to be born somewhere, you've got costs involved, you have now single moms bringing children into the world with no husband, no father around, that puts a strain on welfare budgets. That means fornication, sexual immorality, is properly a matter of public policy concern. It ought to be against the law.

Who I s the Biggest Threat to Marriage? Gays or Newt?

Joe Jervis had this cartoon on his blog. It speaks volumes about Newt Gingrich's hypocrisy - as well as that of evangelical Christians who claim to honor marriage, but are only too eager to support a serial adulterer.

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

Minnesota Archbishop: Pray Against Gay Marriage. What About the Sex Abuse Victims?

The true heinousness of the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy continues to be on open display. Even as a report in the Netherlands reveals that easily 20,000 children and youths were molested in Catholic institutions, what does the morally bankrupt Archbishop of St. Paul-Minneapolis focus on? Denying loving, committed same sex couples from CIVIL marriage rights. Rights that would increase family stability and as one new report indicates the general health conditions of individuals in same sex marriages. The image above shows the message being circulated throughout the archdiocese. Frankly, I suspect that God has a reserved seat in Hell for Archbishop John Nienstedt - along with so many other members of the Church hierarchy who directly or indirectly supported a worldwide policy to protect sexual predators rather than children and youths. Obviously, Nienstedt wants to distract the sheep in the pews from focusing on the fact that they are being duped and manipulated by those who ought better be behind bars. Here are highlights from Think Progress on this anti-gay jihad (note the contrast between the Catholic Church and the Episcopal Church):

Minnesota Archbishop John Nienstedt is asking Catholics to recite a “special prayer” condemning the right of gay and lesbian people to marry, the Star Tribune is reporting. The request is just the latest effort in the archdiocese’s campaign to whip up support against the state’s pending constitutional amendement to outlaw marriage equality. The prayer explains that marriage is “a source of blessing and joy,” before asking parishioners to deny this happiness to gay people

In October, the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis called on priests to appoint special committees to “spearhead this effort at the local level” so as to prevent a “detriment to the common good of society.” The Catholic Conference is one of three arms of “Minneosta for Marriage,” the coalition advocating for the discriminatory amendment. In a joint statement, the MCC and Archdiocese proclaimed that anyone who does not support the amendment is not in “good standing” with the church, although Catholics largely support marriage equality, even at higher rates than the general public in some polls.

Fortunately, the Episcopal Church in Minnesota, has passed a resolution opposing the proposed constitutional amendment, explaining, “The Episcopal Church in Minnesota has always stood with the marginalized” and “embraced both the Gospel mandate of love of neighbor and the Baptismal Covenant imperative to respect the dignity of every human being.”

Given the Catholic Church's blatant forays into supporting legislation - something 501(c)(3) non-profits are forbidden to do - when is the IRS going to get off its ass and start the process of revoking the archdiocese tax-exempt status? Hit the bastards where it really hurts.

The Republican Whitewash of the Iraq War to Come

With the disastrous fools errand in Iraq launched by the delusional Chimperator Bush and the evil Emperor Palpatine Cheney now officially over - except, of course for (i) the families of the roughly 4,500 service members whose lives were thrown away to satisfy the Chimperator's hubris and Cheney's greed, (ii) those service members who serviced but are grievously maimed, and (iii) Iraqis who lost loved ones or were left maimed - the question looms as to how quickly the GOP will try to re-write history to present the disaster as a triumph. I think we all know that this will happen and it is important that the effort not succeed lest America again find itself led into war based on lies and a mindset that wrongly believes America is never wrong. As the saying goes, those who don't know true history are doomed to repeat it. A piece in The Daily Beast looks at this question and makes some interesting conjectures. Here are some highlights:

Recall the moment in Stripes when Bill Murray yells: “But we’re American soldiers! We’ve been kicking ass for 200 years! We’re 10 and 1!” We all know what that “1” is—we argue fiercely about who lost Vietnam, but we do at least seem to agree it was a loss. And I’m not so sure we’re unblemished beyond that: Korea and 1812 seem like draws to me. So we’re more like 8-1-2. Or is that now 8-2-2? We will be fighting about this for decades, and if the Vietnam revisionism is any guide, there will be a concerted effort one day to move Iraq into the win column—and to be certain to assign the win to George W. Bush and not Barack Obama.

There are the 32,000 American soldiers who were injured, many quite gravely. The 10,000 or so Iraqi soldiers killed; the 100,000-plus Iraqi civilians killed; the 1.2 million Iraqis displaced; and the 1.6 million who were turned into refugees (all these numbers from this). The price of war, you say, nothing to be done about it. No. Of all the lessons we might carry away from this conflict, let us never forget that this carnage is a direct result of specific decisions and choices made by the Bush administration. Donald Rumsfeld’s conviction that the war could be won quickly with 130,000 soldiers and Paul Bremer’s decision to proceed with de-Baathification stand out here, less well-remembered examples include the State Department’s 17-volume guidebook on what to do after we toppled Saddam that Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, et alia threw in the trash can. Virtually all the human costs, virtually all the little children’s lives lost, came from the Bush people’s arrogance. Not their miscalculations, as is sometimes said. Their arrogance, in not listening to—and indeed in firing (Eric Shinseki)—experts who tried to tell them otherwise.

And then there’s the money: more than $800 billion in direct costs that Bush kept off-budget, contributing significantly to our financial nightmares right now. There’ll be another half-trillion or so, give or take, in the care of the war’s veterans as the years wind on. Also worth noting: we are spending more on reconstruction assistance in Iraq than we did in Germany and Japan combined ($62 billion to $52 billion, in constant dollars).

The final indictment of this war goes back to its beginnings—the way we were so repeatedly and insultingly lied to about its justifications. . . . . all that garbage about WMD and nuclear capabilities were obvious lies. A policy constructed around such dishonesty is corrupt at its very essence, and this war was corrupt from Day 1.

But now that it’s over, we will enter the next phase, when the war will be over how the history books tell the story of Iraq. This will go one of two ways. First, if Iraq stabilizes on its own, we will see some time pass, enough for Americans to forget the things they didn’t like, maybe four or five years. And then sure enough we’ll get a big book from one of the conservative imprints arguing that the war was an unalloyed victory, and specifically building the case that the victory was Bush’s. The unspeakable lies and blunders will be given short shrift;

The second scenario, should Iraq not stabilize, will be even worse. Then, the unanimous verdict will be that it was indeed a loss, and in that case, the important thing will be the pinning of the blame. Given that right-wing Vietnam revisionism got its start in the early 1980s, we can fully expect, in about seven years or so, an array of books and panels and seminars and maybe even films or television shows (hello, Joel Surnow) that will somehow argue that the liberals lost Iraq. All that carping about withdrawal, you see.

Will it work?
Vietnam revisionism has not exactly worked overall, but at crucial moments—i.e., the Swiftboating of John Kerry—it has performed adequately enough to muddy the truth. There is no doubt, though, that the fight is coming.

For the good of the country, I sincerely hope that the real truth of this inglorious disaster is never forgotten nor who politically was responsible.

Friday, December 16, 2011

More Friday Male Beauty

Two for One Night: - "Family Values" GOP Senate Majority Leader Resigns Due to Affair

I swear to God the hypocrisy of today's Republican Party is exceeded only by the hypocrisy of the Roman Catholic Church Hierarchy. Among those leading the charge to ban same sex marriage in Minnesota and to "protect the sanctity of marriage" has been GOP state Senate majority leader Amy Koch (pictured at left). The only problem is that Koch apparently thinks very little of the sanctity of marriage - especially her own. It seems that Ms. Koch has been having an affair with a Senate staffer who is not her husband. In Ms. Koch's f*cked up world, it's a travesty if gays are allowed to marry, but banging someone not your spouse is apparently OK. Or at least until one gets caught. As noted in the last post, I can actually feel some sympathy for Mayor Davis. For Ms. Koch, not one shred of sympathy. And sadly, I suspect that she's more representative of the GOP's hypocrisy than Davis. What's even worse, Koch isn't even very good looking. To quote my former mother-in-law, the only explanation is that she must "know tricks." Here are highlights from Twin Cities Fox News:

Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch resigned Thursday and said she wouldn’t seek re-election in 2012, while on Friday her fellow Republicans dealt with shocking allegations that led to her decision.

At a Capitol news conference Friday, Sen. Geoff Michel (R-Edina) said Senate staff recently brought up allegations of an “inappropriate relationship between Majority Leader Koch and a Senate staffer.”

"We sit here with a lot of humility, sadness, and shock,” Michel said. Michel said multiple staffers reported allegations to Senate leaders. He said he doesn’t know how long the relationship was going on and legally cannot discuss the name of the Senate staffer involved with Sen. Koch. . . . He said the Senate is "potentially" at a legal risk as a result of these allegations, which is why leaders are speaking and proceeding so carefully.

Of course, the only thing that would make the situation even more fun is if Koch was having a relationship with an underage staffer - preferably a female. Hypocrisy, thy name is Republican.

Another "Family Values: Republican Gets Outed - By Himself

I do not want to sound mean spirited and I truly feel sorry for the wife and family of Southaven, Mississippi, Mayor Greg Davis, who basically "outed" himself via the travel expense receipts he tried to charge back to his city. It seems some of the charges were made at Priape, a store in Toronto, Canada, that is described on its website as "Canada's premiere gay lifestyle store and sex shop." Oops!!! Sadly, Davis is all too reminiscent of former local Congressman Ed Schrock who ran on a conservative anti-gay platform and had the second most anti-gay voting record in Congress - even as he was out trolling for gay sex trysts. Truth be told, Davis' wife and children are victims of his stupidity. But Davis and his family are also victims of a f*cked homophobic society that (i) hangs onto ignorant writings attributed to nomads from 2000+ years ago and (ii) too often rejects modern medical/mental health knowledge on sexual orientation. Davis no doubt felt he had not option but to marry and have children. I've been there and done that myself. However, before coming out I at least did not deliberately cheat on my wife and openly live a lie. Better to have lied a life of self-denial that be a hypocrite. The Commercial Appeal looked at Davis' outing of himself. Here are highlights:

Receipts from embattled Southaven Mayor Greg Davis reveal that he had the city pay for wide-ranging expenses including thousands of dollars worth of liquor, expensive dinners at a local restaurant and a visit to an adult store catering to gay men while on a recruitment trip to Canada.

As details emerged Thursday from the receipts, provided by state auditors to Southaven aldermen and subsequently obtained by The Commercial Appeal, Davis conceded publicly for the first time in an interview with The CA that he is gay and has struggled to keep the issue from affecting his public life as mayor of Mississippi's third-largest city.

"At this point in my life and in my career, while I have tried to maintain separation between my personal and public life, it is obvious that this can no longer remain the case," Davis said Thursday afternoon at his Southaven home.

I think that it is important that I discuss the struggles I have had over the last few years when I came to the realization that I am gay."

As for the receipts, Davis, a Republican who ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2008 on a conservative, family-values platform, said he couldn't discuss specifics on the advice of his attorney.

[A] review by The CA shows that Davis spent thousands of dollars at the Mesquite Chop House in Southaven and thousands more at local liquor stores. Also included in the receipts is a charge for $67 at Priape, a store in Toronto that is described by its website as "Canada's premiere gay lifestyle store and sex shop."

"The only apology I would make to my supporters if they are upset is the fact that I was not honest enough with myself to be honest with them. But I have lived my life in public service for 20-plus years, and in order for me to remain sane and move on, I have got to start being honest about who I am."

R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans, a national organization for gay and lesbian conservatives, said he hoped Davis would still be seen as the same person. "What would be helpful to the mayor is if the community recognizes that he is still the same person," Cooper said. "This is a part of who he is that people just didn't know."

I wish Davis and his family well and hope for the day when individuals no longer feel the need to live a lie in a desperate effort to please the expectations of church, family and society. So many lives and families have suffered needless hurt because of the homophobia that drives men and women to try to be straight when in their hearts they know that they are not.

Friday Morning Male Beauty

GOP Economic Madness

Personally, I am fairly convinced that most of the Republican Party is out to destroy the nation's economy solely for the purpose of trying to block Barack Obama's re-election. Sadly, the damage done to families and workers doesn't appear anywhere on this purely partisan radar screen. Average Americans are purely disposable to this element in the GOP. In addition, there are those in the GOP that put economic ideology over objective reality and similarly threaten the lives and economic well being of many Americans who, unlike the very wealthy so loved bu the GOP, are not in a position to fall back on their wealth and ride out the economic storm. Paul Krugman looks at this bleak picture in a column in the New York Times. Here are some highlights:

Apparently the desperate search of Republicans for someone they can nominate not named Willard M. Romney continues. New polls suggest that in Iowa, at least, we have already passed peak Gingrich. Next up: Representative Ron Paul.

In a way, that makes sense. Mr. Romney isn’t trusted because he’s seen as someone who cynically takes whatever positions he thinks will advance his career — a charge that sticks because it’s true. Mr. Paul, by contrast, has been highly consistent.

Unfortunately, Mr. Paul has maintained his consistency by ignoring reality, clinging to his ideology even as the facts have demonstrated that ideology’s wrongness. And, even more unfortunately, Paulist ideology now dominates a Republican Party that used to know better.

Mr. Paul identifies himself as a believer in “Austrian” economics — a doctrine that it goes without saying rejects John Maynard Keynes but is almost equally vehement in rejecting the ideas of Milton Friedman. For Austrians see “fiat money,” money that is just printed without being backed by gold, as the root of all economic evil, which means that they fiercely oppose the kind of monetary expansion Friedman claimed could have prevented the Great Depression — and which was actually carried out by Ben Bernanke this time around.

[T]here has, indeed, been a huge expansion of the monetary base. After Lehman Brothers fell, the Fed began lending large sums to banks as well as buying a wide range of other assets, in a (successful) attempt to stabilize financial markets, in the process adding large amounts to bank reserves.

Austrians, and for that matter many right-leaning economists, were sure about what would happen as a result: There would be devastating inflation. One popular Austrian commentator who has advised Mr. Paul, Peter Schiff, even warned (on Glenn Beck’s TV show) of the possibility of Zimbabwe-style hyperinflation in the near future.

So here we are, three years later. How’s it going? Inflation has fluctuated, but, at the end of the day, consumer prices have risen just 4.5 percent, meaning an average annual inflation rate of only 1.5 percent. Who could have predicted that printing so much money would cause so little inflation? Well, I could. And did. And so did others who understood the Keynesian economics Mr. Paul reviles. But Mr. Paul’s supporters continue to claim, somehow, that he has been right about everything.

Still, while the original proponents of the doctrine won’t ever admit that they were wrong — my experience is that nobody in the political world ever admits to having been wrong about anything — you might think that having been so completely off-base about something so central to their belief system would have caused the Austrians to lose popularity, even within the G.O.P.

What has happened instead, however, is that hard-money doctrine and paranoia about inflation have taken over the party, even as the predicted inflation keeps failing to materialize.

[I]t’s still very unlikely that Ron Paul will become president. But, as I said, his economic doctrine has, in effect, become the official G.O.P. line, despite having been proved utterly wrong by events. And what will happen if that doctrine actually ends up being put into action? Great Depression, here we come.

I guess it must be the Christianist influence on the GOP that explains this lunacy. After all, who more than the Christianist make ignoring objective reality (and scientific fact) a matter of doctrine and policy?

Report Findings: Thousands Abused in Dutch Catholic Institutions

In a report that echos what has been seen over and over again literally all around the world a new report released in The Netherlands indicates that thousands of children and youths were sexually abused in Catholic institutions in that nation. Indeed, abuse and cover ups again were the official policy of the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy. The Church's latest lame excuse is to claim that it is being singled out and that abuse occurs in other institutions. True, but these other institutions don't claim infallibility, condemn others as "inherently disordered," oppose modern knowledge and engage in the rank hypocrisy that is the norm for the Vatican and its corrupt (and general porcine) hierarchy. The Dutch report confirms that no regard was given to victims and that "avoiding scandals" was all that mattered to the morally bankrupt hierarchy. Again, I ask, why on earth does anyone listen to these horrible individuals much less contribute to their financial support? Here are highlights from the Virginian Pilot on the crimes and cover ups in The Netherlands:

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) -- Thousands of children suffered sexual abuse in Dutch Catholic institutions, and church officials failed to adequately address the abuse or help the victims, according to a long-awaited investigation released Friday.

The report by the an independent commission said Catholic officials failed to tackle the widespread abuse in an attempt to prevent scandals. The suspected number of abuse victims who spent some of their youth in church institutions likely lies somewhere between 10,000 and 20,000, according to a summary of the report investigating allegations of abuse dating back to 1945.

Based on a survey among more than 34,000 people, the commission estimated that one in 10 Dutch children suffered some form of abuse broadly in society. The number doubled to 20 percent of children who spent part of their youth in an institution - whether Catholic or not.

"What was happening was sexual abuse, violence, spiritual terror, and that should have been investigated," Smeets told The Associated Press. "It remains vague. All sorts of things happened but nobody knows exactly what or by whom. This way they avoid responsibility."

The commission identified about 800 priests, brothers, pastors or lay people working for the church who had been named in the complaints. About 105 of them were still alive, although it was not known if they remained in church positions, the report said.

Deetman said the inquiry could not establish a "scientific link" between priests' celibacy and abuse, but he added, "we don't consider it impossible ... maybe if there was voluntary celibacy a number of problems would not have happened."

The Dutch branch of the Catholic church agreed last month to launch a compensation system that clears the way for victims of abuse by priests and other church workers to receive payments. The new compensation system has a scale starting at euro5,000 ($6,500) and rising to a maximum of euro100,000 ($130,000) depending on the nature of the abuse.

GOP Senators Prove They Actively Support Homophobia

In yet another nasty display of just how vile the Republican Party has become under the puppet strings of the Christofascists who now more or less control the Party, the U.S. Senate on a party line vote blocked the appointment of Mari Carmen Aponte (pictured at left) as the U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador. Apone's great crime? She wrote an op-ed that opposed homophobia and violence against LGBT El Salvadorans. This heresy was just too much for asshole extraordinaire Jim DeMint who led the charge against Aponte. No doubt DeMint is patting himself on the back for being a "godly Christian" even as he has made a mockery of the Gospel message. As I have noted before, it's folks like DeMint that make me want to have nothing to do with Christianity. Yes, there are "good Christians" but they seem content to sit with their thumbs up their ass as the haters are allowed to carry the day without opposition. CNN looks at this lynching of Aponte solely because she opposed mistreatment of other human beings. It's beyond sick. Here are highlights:

Citing an op-ed she wrote condemning violence against gays and lesbians, Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) for weeks led the charge in the U.S. Senate to block the nomination of Mari Carmen Aponte to be the U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador.

At issue for Senator DeMint and the 48 Republicans (and one Democrat, Senator Ben Nelson [NE]) was Aponte's op-ed titled “For the Elimination of Prejudices Wherever They Exist” in the El Salvadoran daily La Prensa Gráfica on July 28th this year. The offending op-ed declared that everyone has a responsibility to “inform our neighbors and friends about what it means to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender” and praised El Salvador for signing - along with the U.S. and 80 other nations - a U.N. declaration for the elimination of violence against gays and lesbians.

Never mind the fact that Ambassador Aponte - posted in El Salvador for the last 15 months on a recess appointment - was only implementing the administration's initiative in support of Gay Pride Month, which really means this is a policy issue better taken up with the President. The larger issue should be whether making locals uncomfortable on issues of human rights should be the way we gauge our policy and diplomats. Would we pursue the same course in other civil and political rights? Human rights in Syria? Voting rights in Russia? When did homophobia or violence against the LGBT community become a matter of local culture that deserves respect?

Sadly, though, with the exception of Scott Brown (MA) and Susan Collins (ME), 39 Republican senators and Senator Nelson voted against the nomination. None registered even the slightest objection to the reasoning that the nominee was unfit for office because she had written an anti-homophobia essay that had “stirred controversy and was rebuked throughout Latin America,” as claimed by the Republicans . . .

they cast doubt on the U.S.’s commitment in opposing violence against homosexuals and LGBT rights. For Republicans who have actively fought homophobia here and gay Republicans, I couldn’t help wondering this morning how they felt. Proud that they had scored a victory against the Democrats? Or scared that the rights many uphold and enjoy overseas had been attacked without a word of objection?,

I suspect that some day - if there is a God - DeMint and his GOP cohorts will join many, many other "godly Christians" like Maggie Gallagher, Tony Perkins, John Paul II, Benedict XVI, etc., in Hell for the evil they do while patting themselves on the back for their piety.

West Virginia is Now More Progressive than Virginia

West Virginia is often the brunt of a lot of jokes and unflattering comments by Virginians with much of the commentary focusing on West Virginia's backwardness and lack of sophistication. But now, with West Virginia School Board's passage of anti-gay bulling regulations that specifically protect LGBT students, West Virginia has turned the tables of Virginia and it is Virginia that is now backwards on LGBT issues. In Virginia, LGBT students - and LGBT individuals in general - are open game for discrimination and bullying. Oh, school divisions will claim with a wink and a nod that "all students are protected," but the claims are typically disingenuous bullshit. Just ask Christian Taylor's family how this supposed protections are utterly ignored and bullies allowed to get off free of any consequence. The Charleston Gazette looks at West Virginia's history making regulations (note the whining from the usual hate merchant groups):

For the first time in state history, gay and lesbian students will be expressly protected from school bullying after the West Virginia Board of Education unanimously adopted a new anti-bullying policy Wednesday.

Under the new policy, bullying based on 13 categories including race, religion, ethnicity, and sexual orientation and "gender identity or expression" qualifies as a Level 3 disciplinary offense.

Punishments for harassment can range from detention to suspension from school for 10 days. Students can also be punished for "vulgar or offensive speech" online if it disrupts school learning.

"Students and teachers alike are entitled to a safe educational environment," said state Superintendent of Schools Jorea Marple. "This policy addresses behavior and school safety comprehensively by addressing inappropriate behaviors proactively to promote safe and supportive learning conditions."

Bradley Milam, executive director of Fairness West Virginia, called the board's approval a major victory for civil rights in the state.

"We all know that students are targeted because of physical appearance, disability, or perceived sexual orientation every day in schools all across West Virginia," said Milam. "This policy will ensure that these kinds of bullying incidents and many others will decrease. This could make all the difference in the world to students across West Virginia who are bullying victims."

The policy drew ire Wednesday from conservative groups that said the rule-change would curb students' free speech and seemed to condone homosexuality.

"Why include sexual orientation and gender identity?" asked Tom Fast, of Fayette County. "This is an attempt to sanction the homosexual agenda and lifestyle."

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Gingrich: Being Gay Is a "Choice" - Did He Choose to be a Douce Bag?

I found Newt Gingrich hard to take even when I was a Republican years ago. Things have not improved in this regard over the intervening years. Especially, given Gingrich's latest bigoted episode of diarrhea of the mouth during which he insisted that gays can choose to be straight just like someone can “choose to be celibate.” Gingrich, of course, ignores all of the legitimate mental health and medical consensus to the contrary as he continues to prostitute himself to the ignorance embracing Christianist/Tea Party base of the GOP in a manner that would embarrass a tawdry whore. He also reiterated that he would work to re-institute DADT. So, my question is: Did Gingrich choose to be a corrupt, lying douche bag? Think Progress has coverage of Gingrich's ignorant statements to the editorial board of the Des Moines Register. Here are highlights followed by a video:

Newt Gingrich told the Des Moines Register’s editorial board this morning that gay people have a “significant range of choice within a genetic pattern” and can choose to be straight just like someone can “choose to be celibate.”

Q: Do you believe that people choose to be gay?

GINGRICH: I believe it’s a combination of genetics and environment. I think both are involved. I think people have many ranges of choices. Part of the question is, do you want a society which has a bias in one direction or another?

Q: So people can then choose one way or another?

GINGRICH: I think people have a significant range of choice within a genetic pattern. I don’t believe in genetic determinism and I don’t think there is any great evidence of genetic determinism. There are propensities. Are you more likely to do this or more likely to do that? But that doesn’t mean it’s definitional.

Q: So a person can then choose to be straight?

GINGRICH: Look, people choose to be celibate. People choose many things in life. You know, there is a bias in favor of non-celibacy. It’s part of how the species recreates. And yet there is a substantial amount of people who choose celibacy as a religious vocation or for other reasons.

Gingrich also reiterated that he would reinstate Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell if elected President and suggested that military commanders have been pressured to accept the policy change. “I think that it would be a career ending conversation,” he said.

What an asshole!!

Thursday Morning Male Beauty

Gingrich, Santorum, and Bachmann Sign "Personhood Pledge

With the failed conservative policies - dare we say reactionary policies - of the Republican Party and its ignorance embracing party base dragging the country (and the middle class) downward, what are some of the GOP presidential candidates doing? Signing on to even more extreme batshitery! Newt Gingrich, Rick "Frothy Mix" Santorum and Michele "I'm Married to a Gay" Bachmann have all signed Personhood USA's pledge to support and promote both state and federal "personhood" laws. Laws like the one that went down in flames last month in Mississippi. Right Wing Watch has details on the lunacy:

Last month, the radical "personhood" amendment in Mississippi was trounced in the polls, with 58% of voters rejecting the Religious Right's effort to implement draconian anti-choice restrictions in the state.

But that has not stopped supporters of this "personhood" movement from moving ahead with plans to try and pass similar amendments in states across the nation.

And now Personhood USA has announced that Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich have all signed the organization's pledge to support and promote both state and federal "personhood" laws . . .

The "Personhood Republican Persidential Candidate Pledge" reads as follows:

I oppose assisted suicide, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, and procedures that intentionally destroy developing human beings.

I pledge to the American people that I will defend all innocent human life. Abortion and the intentional killing of an innocent human being are always wrong and should be prohibited.

If elected President, I will work to advance state and federal laws and amendments that recognize the unalienable right to life of all human beings as persons at every stage of development, and to the best of my knowledge, I will only appoint federal judges and relevant officials who will uphold and enforce state and federal laws recognizing that all human being at every stage of development are person with the unalienable right to life.

Hampton Roads Ranks in Bottom Tier for Economic Recovery

A new Brookings Institute report doesn't hold good news for the Hampton Roads region of Virginia. The report ranks the area among “the 20 weakest-performing metro areas” based on rebounding economies. Richmond likewise falls in this category. For anyone following the local economy and cognizant of the backwards policies of Virginia and the brain drain of the college educated ranks, the low ranking is no surprise. The rest of the world is moving forward into the 21st century while Virginia is racing backwards in time as evidenced by the new adoption regulations commented upon in a prior post. Indeed, it seems Virginia wants to challenge South Carolina and Mississippi for bottom rankings in myriad categories if the current policies continue. The equivalent of a huge sign has been placed on the state that reads "progressive and innovative businesses and individuals not welcome." Here are some highlights from the Virginian Pilot:

Hampton Roads ranks in the bottom tier of metro areas in terms of recovery from the recession, according to a Brookings Institution report to be released today.

The area, listed as “Virginia Beach,” had placed in the top 20 of 100 metropolitan regions in Brookings’ quarterly reports as recently as June 2010. The December report put Hampton Roads among “the 20 weakest-performing metro areas” based on rebounding economies. That bottom group also includes Richmond and Greensboro, N.C.

[F]actors that contributed to the region’s poor showing:

- “Your housing market hasn’t even started to recover,” he said. “In most places, housing prices hit bottom in the second quarter of this year and started to recover.”

- The “gross metropolitan product,” defined as “the total value of goods and services produced,” has risen more slowly in Hampton Roads than in most regions.

Like other economists, Wial noted the region’s reliance on military and government employment. “You actually gained government jobs” since the low point of the recession, he said. But “looking forward, if we’re going to be in a period of federal government cutbacks – which, unfortunately, is looking that way – that doesn’t bode well for your region’s economy.

So are most of the city fathers looking to do anything different? Of course not with the possible exception of City of Hampton which is seemingly willing to embrace LGBT innovators. One cannot continue to employ the same failed measures and expect a different result. Yet that's precisely what one sees in most of Hampton Roads. And as a result, the "creative class ' for the most part flees the area.

Census Data Shows 1 In 2 People Are Poor Or Low-Income

Welcome to the sick world of the GOP where the extremely rich are favored and everyone else? We're kicked to the curb and told to fend for ourselves. Making the picture even more obscene is the fact that the political party that champions this inequity wraps itself daily in religion and pretends to be the party of "family values." Wealthy families' values perhaps, but surely not the values of most Americans. The hypocrisy could hardly be more stark. And things are likely to get only worse as social mobility in America plummets and the wealth disparities sky rocket. A new release of census data shows just how bad things are becoming with 50% of the population either poor or low income. Here are highlights from the Huffington Post:

WASHINGTON -- Squeezed by rising living costs, a record number of Americans – nearly 1 in 2 – have fallen into poverty or are scraping by on earnings that classify them as low income.

The latest census data depict a middle class that's shrinking as unemployment stays high and the government's safety net frays. The new numbers follow years of stagnating wages for the middle class that have hurt millions of workers and families.

"Safety net programs such as food stamps and tax credits kept poverty from rising even higher in 2010, but for many low-income families with work-related and medical expenses, they are considered too `rich' to qualify," said Sheldon Danziger, a University of Michigan public policy professor who specializes in poverty.

"The reality is that prospects for the poor and the near poor are dismal," he said. "If Congress and the states make further cuts, we can expect the number of poor and low-income families to rise for the next several years."

Mayors in 29 cities say more than 1 in 4 people needing emergency food assistance did not receive it. Many middle-class Americans are dropping below the low-income threshold – roughly $45,000 for a family of four – because of pay cuts, a forced reduction of work hours or a spouse losing a job. Housing and child-care costs are consuming up to half of a family's income.

States in the South and West had the highest shares of low-income families, including Arizona, New Mexico and South Carolina, which have scaled back or eliminated aid programs for the needy.

About 97.3 million Americans fall into a low-income category, commonly defined as those earning between 100 and 199 percent of the poverty level, based on a new supplemental measure by the Census Bureau that is designed to provide a fuller picture of poverty. Together with the 49.1 million who fall below the poverty line and are counted as poor, they number 146.4 million, or 48 percent of the U.S. population. That's up by 4 million from 2009, the earliest numbers for the newly developed poverty measure.

Paychecks for low-income families are shrinking. The inflation-adjusted average earnings for the bottom 20 percent of families have fallen from $16,788 in 1979 to just under $15,000, and earnings for the next 20 percent have remained flat at $37,000. In contrast, higher-income brackets had significant wage growth since 1979, with earnings for the top 5 percent of families climbing 64 percent to more than $313,000.

Anti-Gay Bigotry Triumphs Again in Virginia

The Commonwealth of Virginia has again demonstrated its open contempt for LGBT Virginians and that the Christianist hate merchants at The Family Foundation continues to set all social policy for the Republican Party of Virginia. And gays are not the only targets for permissible discrimination under the just approved adoption regulations. Discrimination on the basis of age, gender, disability, religion, political belief and family status in adoption matters is likewise permissible. Needless to say, I hope a lawsuit is filed challenging this unvarnished discrimination. Meanwhile, my advice to anyone contemplating a moved to Virginia is don't do it. And for those unlucky enough to reside in Virginia, if your circumstances allow it, move to a state that's not racing backwards towards the Dark Ages. The Richmond Times Dispatch has coverage on this travesty. Here are some highlights:

Virginia's Board of Social Services on Wednesday approved final regulations on adoption that, starting in the spring, will effectively allow state-licensed private agencies to deny the adoption of a child by same-sex couples.

The regulations also will allow the adoption agencies to deny services to prospective parents on the basis of age, gender, disability, religion, political belief and family status.

The board voted 5-1 to approve the regulations, with Social Services Board Chairwoman Bela Sood casting the lone "no" vote. "The science really doesn't substantiate the notion," she said, referring to the traditional family structure of a married man and woman, "that that is the only way children should be raised."

The regulations are set to take effect May 1. They will govern the 81 private adoption agencies licensed in the state, roughly half of which are affiliated with religious organizations such as the Catholic Church.

Under Virginia law, single people — heterosexual or homosexual — and married couples may adopt, but unmarried couples may not.

The change followed an earlier public comment period and a review of the proposed regulations by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who sent a memo to the board that said the broader protections of the original regulations were not covered by "applicable state law and public policy." Cuccinelli advised that the state Board of Social Services did not have the authority to adopt them.

Note Ken "Kookinelli's" Cuccinelli's nasty finger prints on these regulations. I truly hate Virginia and, if circumstances were different, I'd leave and never, ever come back. Never ever.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

More Wednesday Male Beauty

Quote of the Day - A Black Veteran Commending Gay Service Members

Living in an area that is home to the world's largest naval base, several U.S. Army installations, an Air Force base and a major Coast Guard installation, I know only too well the huge number of LGBT service members. Likewise, I know how honorably most have served the USA. Yet bigots and spineless cowards like Mitt Romney cannot even see these brave men and women as fully human or that their spouses deserve the same treatment as the spouses of their heterosexual counterparts. In response to this issue, Andrew Sullivan shared the comments of a black Army veteran from a family with a strong military tradition. Here are highlights from those comments:

When I think of the generations of gays and lesbians who served in our military, I think that whether the likes of Romney (or a non-trivial swath of the GOP for that matter) realize it or not, they are in the debt of these folks and are in the presence of the very best of America.

I am not trying to blow my own horn. This is not about my service. I went in because I felt that I had grown up in a nation that did consider me an actual citizen and if my father could put on the uniform when he was, at best, a second-class citizen I could do no less. I just want us, as Americans, to acknowledge that gays and lesbians have served and continue to do so and that these are the very best of our nation. They get up and they do their duty knowing that the man or woman they love back home is not considered their actual, wedded spouse and yet they do it anyway. We should honor them as the exceptional Americans they are.

December 25th Isn't Owned By Christians

One of the favorite myths that the Christianist like to promote is that there's a war on Christmas or that Christians are under attack. Related to this myth is the assault by registered hate groups such as the American Family Association ("AFA") against retailers and businesses that recognize that America is a nation of diverse faiths and, therefore reasonably opt for "Happy Holidays" or "Season's Greetings." And the holiday season this year is no exception. As the Washington Post recently reported, AFA has targeted Barnes & Noble for false accusations of being anti-Chistian and anti-Christmas. It's all hog wash, of course, but its par for the course with these unsavory folks. The truth is that for many citizens, December 25th is just another day in the year. Moreover, it's not even really the date of Christ's birth. Rather, it's a date that was cynically commandeered by the Roman Catholic Church from other groups to further the Church's own agenda. Civil Commotion takes a great look at the REAL history of December 25th and, if one is historically accurate, the date originally was deemed to be the birth date of the Eastern god Mithras (pictured above) - who bore some uncanny parallels to the Christ image promoted by the Church. Here are some highlights:

Only an ignoramus believes that December 25th is, in fact, Jesus’ birthday.

Pagan Rome had a policy of allowing conquered peoples to keep their gods and observe their holidays. Virtually all faith traditions observed the Winter Solstice, however, albeit on slightly different days thanks to custom and calendar differences. Eventually, the holidays and observances became disruptive of public order, and it was decreed that everybody would party-down on December 25th.

Eventually, when Constantine declared Rome Christian, they took over. The actual birthday of Jesus was forgotten by the early Christian movement. in those days, various groups celebrated his birth on JAN-6, APR-21 and MAY-1. By the 4th century, the church selected the approximate time of the winter solstice as the date to recognize Jesus’ birth. They picked up this date from Pagan sources.

But believers in other parts of the world refused for centuries to honor the Christmas holiday, for the reason of its pagan origins.
**Eastern churches began to celebrate Christmas after 375 CE.
**The church in Jerusalem started in the 7th century.
**Ireland started in the 5th century.
**Austria, England and Switzerland in the 8th century.
**Slavic lands in the 9th and 10th centuries.

But the real killer is this:

Mithra was a Persian savior. Worship of Mithra became common throughout the Roman Empire, particularly among the Roman civil service and military. Mithraism was a competitor of Christianity until the 4th century. Their god was believed to have been born on DEC-25, circa 500 BCE. His birth was witnessed by shepherds and by gift-carrying Magi. This was celebrated as the “Dies Natalis Solic Invite,” The “Birthday of the Unconquered Sun.” Some followers believed that he was born of a virgin. During his life, he performed many miracles, cured many illnesses, and cast out devils. He celebrated a Last Supper with his 12 disciples. He ascended to heaven at the time of the spring equinox, about March 21.

Ignoramus? Yep, that's a most apt description of the folks at AFA. And to that term, I'd add "hate-filled," "bigoted," "false Christian," "religious extremists," and "modern day Pharisees." This kind of Christianist batshitery underscores the need for high school students to learn detailed ACCURATE history. It is one of the best tools to defeat Christianist lies.

More Blaming Their Victims by the Christianists

One of the favorite memes of the Christianists is that LGBT individuals have purportedly more mental health issues and, if one believes the Christianist hate merchants, unstable relationships and promiscuity issues. Never mind that to the extent theses claims are true, much of the causation traces directly back to the Christianists who strive virtually daily to make our lives Hell and denigrate our humanity. As a piece in Huffington Post notes, just recently the conservative, religious website LifeSiteNews in response to Newsweek's recent cover story on sex addiction: "[H]omosexuals are known for having superficial, short-term relationships and hundreds of lifetime sex partners..." Meanwhile, of course, it's the evangelical Christians who have the highest divorce rate in the country. Here are highlights from the Huffington Post article that ties LGBT dysfunction directly back to the poison that the Christianists continue to sow:

Support for gay marriage is on the rise. Every new survey shows greater tolerance and greater acceptance of the fact that homosexuality is a personally integral and relational truth that warrants equal rights.

With this support, we also see the rise of greater diversity in gay culture depicted by the media. Certainly the suburban gay parent is a fairly recent standard prototype in the collective consciousness that has gained traction from popular fiction, namely Modern Family and The Kids Are All Right, and from real-life celebrity parents like Rosie O'Donnell and Neil Patrick Harris.

The suburban gay parent does much to humanize the prevailing stereotype that depicts lesbians and gay men solely as promiscuous and unstable, propagated just last month by the conservative, religious website LifeSiteNews . . . .

I have to wonder about the degree to which any so-called "deviant" lifestyle traits displayed by LGBT people are ultimately an inherent psychological reaction to institutionalized homophobia at every level.

Let's take this trip. First, there's the closet, this toxic idea that it's not OK to be gay, compelling LGBT children to hide their truth. Gay kids live in silence for fear of the repercussions of disclosure, which can include rejection, abandonment, and bullying to the point of suicide. Gay bullying is perpetrated by peers, parents, teachers, community leaders, and world leaders.

While many minorities suffer oppression, from disenfranchisement to outright discrimination to persecution, few minorities additionally experience such extreme degrees of intimidated relational repression during formative years as the LGBT community.

One of the roots of sex addiction is an inability to cope with trauma and shame, feelings that LGBT people may struggle with as a community more so than their non-LGBT counterparts.
However, gay sex addiction is no different from straight sex addiction.

Still, there can be impenetrable denial on the part of the gay sex addict, who often equates promiscuity with personal empowerment, a self-avowed lifestyle choice that expresses hard-won gay rights. Likewise, sex addiction treatment via professionals or 12-step support can appear as a moralistic judgment against LGBT freedoms . . . .

Wednesday Morning Male Beauty

Romney Continues to Get Blasted Over Anti-Gay Marriage Stance

As noted yesterday, Mitt Romney continues to receive negative fall out from his encounter with a married gay Vietnam veteran in New Hampshire. Among Romney's excuses for opposing same sex marriage was a claim that the Founding Fathers did not support it. This fall back to "originalsim" is the standard ploy utilized by the GOP when common sense tells you that the Equal Protection Clause of the U. S. Constitution demands a result not to the GOP's liking. One of the fallacies in this effort is that the 14th Amendment wasn't even written by the Founders. Perhaps an accurate history lesson is required. A piece in the New York Times blasts Romney for engaging in this bull shit excuse making. Here are highlights:

Yesterday in New Hampshire, Mitt Romney gave the laziest possible explanation for why it’s OK to deny same-sex couples the right to marry: Originalism. . . . . . After an intense exchange [with Vietnam vet Bob Garon], Mr. Romney said that “at the time the Constitution was written it was pretty clear that marriage is between a man and a woman, and I don’t believe the Supreme Court has changed that.”

Republicans tend to go on about original intent when a constitutional question comes up especially if they may not be comfortable with the underlying issue. But it’s also ridiculous.

The word “marriage” isn’t in the Constitution. It’s simply not mentioned. And whether the Constitution does — or does not —protect gay couples against state-sanctioned discrimination has nothing to do with whether the framers did — or did not — anticipate that one day men would want to marry other men, and women marry other women.

When the Supreme Court invalidated Virginia’s miscegenation law in Loving v. Virginia, the justices did not scrutinize James Madison’s diaries to see whether he would have approved of interracial marriage. (If they had, interracial marriage would probably still be illegal in some places.) Nor did they confine themselves to the parts of the Constitution that Madison and the other framers wrote, reaching instead to the 14th amendment, adopted in 1868. Virginia’s law, the justices determined, violated the 14th amendment’s due process clause because it interfered with “the fundamental freedom” of marriage.

[I]t’s dangerous to resort to originalism when it comes to civil rights. When the Constitution was written, it was pretty clear that only men and women were marrying each other. It was also pretty clear that white people could own black people, and that women did not have the right to vote.

Sadly, I suspect that many in the Christianist/Tea Party base of the GOP would like to return to the original status - slavery for blacks (or at least disenfranchisement) and restrictions on the rights of women.

U. S. Attorney General Slams GOP Efforts to Bar Voters

Having just seen Russia go through a cycle of election fraud under Vladimir Putin's regime, it's easy to see where some in the GOP are getting their ideas from in terms of suppressing the vote of those you don't like (or who don't like you) - i.e., blacks, Hispanics, youth voters - so as to maximize friendly voters who can cast ballots. It's the antithesis of democracy, but something all too characteristic of today's Republican Party. If your policies stink and screw most voters, just keep those most screwed over away from the ballot box. To counter this GOP agenda item, U. S. Attorney General Eric Holder said he intends to fully enforce the civil rights laws. Here are highlights from a Washington Post story that looks at this issue:

Attorney General Eric Holder vowed Tuesday to fully enforce civil rights protections in next year’s elections amid a flurry of activity by states to redraw political boundaries and impose requirements that could reduce voting by minorities who enthusiastically supported Barack Obama in the 2008 election.

Giving his most expansive speech on civil rights since taking office, the nation’s chief law enforcement officer declared that “we need election systems that are free from fraud, discrimination and partisan influence — and that are more, not less, accessible to the citizens of this country.”

Currently, the Justice Department is reviewing new requirements in Texas and South Carolina requiring voters to produce a photo ID before casting ballots. The department also is examining changes that Florida has made to its electoral process — imposing financial penalties on third-party voter registration organizations like the League of Women Voters when they miss deadlines and shortening the number of days in the early voting period before elections.

Most of the changes have been promoted and approved by Republicans, who argue they are needed to avert voter fraud. Democrats, citing studies suggesting there is little voter fraud, say the measures are actually aimed at reducing minority votes for their candidates.

“Over the years, we’ve seen all sorts of attempts to gain partisan advantage by keeping people away from the polls — from literacy tests and poll taxes, to misinformation campaigns telling people that Election Day has been moved, or that only one adult per household can cast a ballot,” said Holder.

“The most recent census data indicated that Texas has gained more than 4 million new residents — the vast majority of whom are Hispanic,” said Holder. “However, this state has proposed adding zero additional seats in which Hispanics would have the electoral opportunity envisioned by the Voting Rights Act.”

In September, the Justice Department’s civil rights division said it needed the racial breakdown and counties of residence of the estimated 605,500 registered voters in Texas who do not have a state-issued license or ID. The division also asked how many of voters have Spanish surnames. Under the federal Voting Rights Act, the new Texas law needs Justice Department approval to take effect.

Marriage Rate Falls to Record Low - Gays No Part of Cause

The shrill professional Christian set and the Christianists have spent millions of dollars opposing same sex marriage under the disingenuous banner of "protecting marriage." A new Pew Research Center report shows that these liars, hate mongers and charlatans have been fighting the wrong foe. It's not the gays who pose a threat to marriage but rather the heterosexuals and societal trends to marry later and, for the elderly, an inability to re-marry without losing vested benefits. Not that these facts will prevent Maggie Gallagher, Tony Perkins and their like from disseminating untruths and lining their pockets with cash in the process. Indeed, because of the efforts of such hate-filled Christianists, nowadays, the term Christian and liar have almost become synonymous in the minds of many. The Washington Post looks at the Pew report results. Here are some highlights:

The proportion of adults who are married has plunged to record lows as more people decide to live together now and wed later, reflecting decades of evolving attitudes about the role of marriage in society. Just 51 percent of all adults who are 18 and older are married, placing them on the brink of becoming a minority, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of census statistics to be released Wednesday. That represents a steep drop from 57 percent who were married in 2000.

They are a byproduct of a steady increase in the median age when people first marry, now at an all-time high of older than 26 for women and almost 29 for men.

The marriage patterns are a striking departure from the middle of the 20th century, when the percentage of adults who never wed was in the low single digits. In 1960, for example, when most baby boomers were children, 72 percent of all adults were married. The median age for brides was barely 20, and the grooms were just a couple of years older.

The decline in marriage rates has affected people in every age and ethnic group, but it has been steepest among the young. A Pew survey last year determined that more than four in 10 Americans younger than 30 consider marriage passe. “They see it as an obsolete social environment,” said D’Vera Cohn, a Pew researcher who co-wrote the analysis. “People say they want to get married, but Americans are much less likely to actually be married than in the past.”

The slide has worsened with the economy.. . . .last year that 7.5 million couples were living together without being married, a 13 percent jump in just one year. Many had a partner who had lost a job, or they could not afford to maintain two homes.

W. Bradford Wilcox, head of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, said marriage is fading fastest in communities with many residents with the least education. “Half the births to high school-educated moms are out of wedlock,” he said. “Among that group, we’re at a tipping point. Marriage is losing ground among middle Americans.

“Living together, that’s a safer first step,” he said. The generation born during a time of rising divorce rates in the 1970s and 1980s say that watching their parents split convinced them not to rush.

The irony is that if the Christianists truly wanted to keep marriage from seeming passe to they younger generation, then they should be encouraging same sex marriage to slow the obvious societal trend away from marriage. Happy same sex married couples raising children might actually burnish the image of marriage.