Thoughts on Life, Love, Politics, Hypocrisy and Coming Out in Mid-Life
Saturday, January 28, 2012
eBay Pressures Utah to Enact LGBT Non-discrimination Protections
Sen. Ben McAdams hosted a panel discussion Thursday at the Utah State Capitol to discuss his proposed law, which seeks to add gender identity and sexual orientation to Utah’s existing list of prohibited discrimination characteristics. The bill has received a wellspring of support from Utah’s business community, including the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce.
The panel was composed of McAdams, Tim Sullivan (CEO of Ancestry), Brandon Pace (general counsel for eBay), Jay Magure (VP of 1-800-Contacts) and Cliff Rosky (Professor of Law, University of Utah). The bottom line, according to the panelists, is that discrimination isn’t just wrong, it’s bad for business.
All of the panelists agreed that there is a perception problem outside of Utah, making it difficult for them to recruit and retain the best talent for their companies. That perception, said Magure, “is reality and it creates real harm.” eBay’s Pace indicated that his company is planning to add up to 3,000 workers this year and if they can’t bring workers to Utah because of the perception that Utah is intolerant of the LGBTQ community then they’ll be forced to fill those jobs in other places.
The panelists agreed, urging the state legislature to enact the proposed law in order to send a clear message to people and businesses around the country: that Utah doesn’t tolerate discrimination.
Currently there are 21 states and over 300 municipalities in the United States that include sexual orientation and gender identity as part of non-discrimination protections. More than half of America’s Fortune 500 has such policies in place, including major Utah employers such as Adobe, American Express, Zions Bank, and the companies involved in the panel: eBay, 1-800-Contacts, and Ancestry.
71.3% of Incoming College Freshmen Support Same Sex Marriage
An unprecedented 71.3 percent of incoming college students indicated that same-sex couples should have the right to legal marital status, compared with 64.9 percent in 2009, a remarkable 6.4 percentage-point increase over a two-year period. While support for same-sex marriage is highest among female students and those who identify as liberal, a significant amount of conservative students (42.8 percent) and an increasing number of male students (64.1 percent in 2011 vs. 56.7 percent in 2009) expressed support for this issue."Among students entering college, we're seeing a more unified support for same-sex marriage that reaches across political party lines," said John H. Pryor, lead author of the report and director of CIRP. "Given the influence of young voters in the last presidential election, candidates may want to pay careful attention to the student perspective on these and other civil rights issues."
Has Newt Gingrich Peaked?
The question that emerges from Thursday night’s debate is: Have we seen the end of Newt? Not only did he not have any South Carolina-style moments; he blew the chances he had for such moments, and blew them badly. The big moment came right before the first commercial break, when Gingrich tried to hit Mitt Romney on his investments in Fannie and Freddie, and Romney fired back about Newt’s lobbying (or advising or whatever it was). If Romney wins this nomination, that new debate coach deserves an awfully nice bonus out of that blind trust.
What arrow does Gingrich have in his quiver besides the great debate one-liner that expresses right-wing grievance? He’s an adrenaline junkie. When he has that from a crowd, he can go out on the hustings for the next two or three days with the kind of joyous malevolence we’ve seen so often over the years. But when he doesn’t, he deflates like a Macy’s balloon on Thanksgiving afternoon. And I hear the hissing of air, as I’m sure a lot of people do. Gingrich needs to play some kind of big card in the next three days. . . .
Gingrich’s only hope is to throw something new against the wall and hope that it sticks.
I think that a month or two from now, the epitaph of this contest might well end up being something like: The establishment guy won, the next-in-line guy won, but he got pushed a little farther this time than the next-in-line guy did in 2008 or 2000 or 1996. If Barack Obama wins reelection, will the next-in-line guy in 2016 finally be pushed off the cliff? Will the insurgent vote finally say, “It’s Our Time!” Who will the next-in-line guy even be in 2016, anyway? All interesting questions, but all far off. For now, it looks like Newt peaked last week.
Oral Roberts’ Gay Grandson Launches "Gay Agenda" Tour to Fight Homophobia
Randy Roberts Potts—whose grandfather Oral Roberts was a pioneering 20th-century televangelist and healer — is now touring the country hoping for his own kind of revival, comforting gay people like him, who have been told by their evangelical communities that they’re destined for hell.
Potts spoke about coming out as gay in the Roberts family on CNN recently. He lives in Dallas, where he and his fiancé do a performance art piece called “The Gay Agenda,” basically doing boring day-to-day activities like cooking and watching TV together while on display downtown. They’re now taking their show on tour.
The late Oral Roberts was a dramatic, charismatic preacher, and—like most big-name televangelist of his time — would warn audiences about the dangers of homosexuality. His eldest son ended up coming out as gay in the ‘80s, committing suicide shortly after ending his marriage.
“I think (Oral Roberts) was convinced that homosexuality killed his son,” Potts said in Details magazine profile. “Some evangelicals see it as a spirit or a demon of homosexuality that invades you, that it’s an almost personified thing that will completely strangle and kill you. Not even so much as a choice, but something you give in to, something that can afflict anybody.”
Potts’ own “It Gets Better” video was inspired by Ronnie’s experience among evangelicals and eventual suicide. He’s wearing a yellow T-shirt with an image of praying hands printed on it, much like the giant sculpture at his grandfather’s namesake university.
“My uncle and I were both raised in a world dominated by Evangelicals who taught and still teach that the fires of Hell await all gay men and women,” the clip said. “This is the Evangelical ‘Christian’ legacy for gays like my uncle and me: threats, bullying, death.”
Potts says his last visit with his grandfather was a friendly one, and Roberts did not bring up Potts’ homosexuality. His mother, though, continues to remind him of her views on his “lifestyle” (Potts told Details his parents don’t even use the word “gay”) and how it’s destined him to hell.
Through his performance art and speaking tours, he finds that a message of acceptance from a member of Roberts’ “royal family” means a lot to people who have been told the same thing.
“It’s an amazing thing that I know is a lot bigger than me. I’m just the guy who’s Oral Roberts’ gay grandson, and I don’t even think it matters what I say a lot of the time. It’s just the fact that I’m up there, gay and open about it and saying it’s okay—it’s just this huge release,” he said in the Details story.
The referenced Details magazine article can be found here. A CNN video clip on Potts' effort is here. His message is definitely needed here in the Hampton Roads area.
White House Launches Politically Motivated LGBT "Charm Offensive"
Where's the Executive Order enforcing ENDA like protections? Where's the "evolution" on same sex marriage? LGBT Virginians currently have ZERO legal protections under state or federal law unless we are beaten to death, in which case the federal Hate Crimes Law applies, albeit too late to help us while we are living. Here are highlights from the Washington Blade story:
The White House announced on Friday it plans to host a series of LGBT conferences throughout the country in early 2012 so the public can “hear directly” from the administration on efforts “to ensure health, well-being, security, justice, and equality for LGBT Americans.”
In a statement, the White House identified the White House LGBT Conference on Health — which will be held in Philadelphia on Feb. 16 — as the inaugural event for the initiative. The conference is set to feature remarks from Secretary of Health & Human Services Kathleen Sebelius.
The statement says the events — which will take place from February to June 2012 — will be a collaboration between the White House Office of Public Engagement and other departments and agencies. Expected attendees include grassroots leaders, community organizers, advocates, students and others.
Absent from the list of planned topics for discussion at the conferences is employment discrimination. No federal law prohibits workplace discrimination against LGBT people. Advocates have been pushing President Obama to issue an executive order barring federal dollars from going to contractors that lack LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination policies.
Asked whether one of these conferences would address employment discrimination, a White House official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said, “The list of topics is not comprehensive.”
I doubt the conferences will come to Hampton Roads even thought we are more or less in Washington, D.C.'s backyard.
Ron Paul Approved Racist, Anti-Semitic, and Anti-Gay Newsletters
Ron Paul, well known as a physician, congressman and libertarian , has also been a businessman who pursued a marketing strategy that included publishing provocative, racially charged newsletters to make money and spread his ideas, said three people with direct knowledge of Paul’s businesses.
[P]eople close to Paul’s operations said he was deeply involved in the company that produced the newsletters, Ron Paul & Associates, and closely monitored its operations, signing off on articles and speaking to staff members virtually every day.
“It was his newsletter, and it was under his name, so he always got to see the final product. . . . He would proof it,’’ said Renae Hathway, a former secretary in Paul’s company and a supporter of the Texas congressman’s.
Jesse Benton, a presidential campaign spokesman, said that the accounts of Paul’s involvement were untrue and that Paul was practicing medicine full time when “the offensive material appeared under his name.” Paul “abhors it, rejects it and has taken responsibility for it as he should have better policed the work being done under his masthead,” Benton said. He did not comment on Paul’s business strategy.
[L]ast month, he told CNN that he was unaware at the time of the controversial passages. “I’ve never read that stuff. I’ve never read — I came — was probably aware of it 10 years after it was written,’’ Paul said.
A person involved in Paul’s businesses, who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid criticizing a former employer, said Paul and his associates decided in the late 1980s to try to increase sales by making the newsletters more provocative. They discussed adding controversial material, including racial statements, to help the business, the person said.
“It was playing on a growing racial tension, economic tension, fear of government,’’ said the person, who supports Paul’s economic policies but is not backing him for president. “I’m not saying Ron believed this stuff. It was good copy. Ron Paul is a shrewd businessman.’’
The articles included racial, anti-Semitic and anti-gay content. They claimed, for example, that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. “seduced underage girls and boys’’ . . . . The June 1990 edition of the Ron Paul Political Report included the statement: “Homosexuals, not to speak of the rest of society, were far better off when social pressure forced them to hide their activities.”
Paul's campaign is trying to claim that Paul's not a racist, an anti-Semite or anti-gay per se, but past actions would seem to speak louder than current defensive denials.
Former Survivor Cast Member Rudy Boesch Proves He's a Bigot at Military Event
Boesch apparently behaved himself until asked if he keeps in touch with any members from "Survivor" cast, Boesch's response was that "I don't talk to queers — and when I say queer I mean homosexuals." Not only was the comment uncalled for and inappropriate, placing those in active military status in an awkward position, it's not true. First, I have known several gay SEAL team members, so it's all too likely Boesch has in fact spoken to gays in the military. He's simply too ignorant to know it. Moreover, years ago when we lived in the same neighborhood, Boesch spoke with me more than once. I was precinct captain for a political party and every time Boesch went to vote he spoke to yours truly. Boesch typifies the ignorance of those who think they don't know and interact with gays on a regular basis. Here are highlights from the Daily Press on the unfortunate display of bigotry:
Rudy Boesch, a retired Navy SEAL and former cast member of the reality TV show "Survivor," was one of two featured speakers at the SEALS' 50th anniversary ceremony. He spent much of his speech reflecting on his 45-year career in the military. His speech took an unexpected shift in his final remark. Boesch said when people ask him if he keeps in touch with any members from "Survivor," he responds: "I don't talk to queers — and when I say queer I mean homosexuals."
Lt. Arlo Abrahamson, a public affairs officer for Naval Special Warfare Group 2, said, "Those were his views as a retired Navy SEAL. Those views do not reflect the views of the United States Navy or Naval Special Warfare."
Members of gay-rights organizations, when told of Boesch's comment Friday, expressed dismay. "How is that pertinent to the purpose of the event?" said James Hermansen-Parker, president of Hampton Roads Pride, a gay rights organization in Norfolk. "How is that pertinent to the celebration of 50 years as Navy SEALs? I find it very closed-minded of him."
"I'm disappointed and I thought he was better than that," said Michael Hamar, a gay activist and Norfolk attorney. "I think with 'don't ask don't tell' ended, it's inappropriate now. He's making a bigoted remark at a military function where the military now — at least formally — says it's a non-issue."Boesch was speaking at about the same time that The Virginian-Pilot reported that Navy Capt. Owen Honors would retire April 1. Honors was relieved of command of the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise for making videos that included anti-gay jokes.
Fortunately, the mindset of those like Boesch will eventually die out as bigots die off. Meanwhile, it's unfortunate that he needlessly tarnished what might otherwise have been an honorable event.
Friday, January 27, 2012
Indicted Philadelphia Monsignor Now Pointing Finger at Superiors
An indicted Catholic church official is showing signs he won't take the fall alone for the priest abuse scandal in Philadelphia, with his lawyer saying Wednesday that a successor threw him "under the bus."
Monsignor William Lynn, 61, is the only official from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia facing trial for allegedly failing to remove accused predators from the priesthood. He served as secretary of clergy from 1992 to 2004. Defense lawyers argue that Lynn took orders from then-Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua and other superiors in the church hierarchy.
Prosecutors hope to include dozens of old abuse allegations to show a pattern of conduct at the trial, which is scheduled to start in late March and last several months. One such case involves a West Chester University chaplain accused in 1994 of taking pictures of students in their underwear. He next became chaplain of Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, worked with a parish youth group and later admitted taking boys on overnight trips, one to Jamaica, before retiring to the New Jersey shore, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors call the archdiocese "an unindicted co-conspirator" in the case. A 2005 grand jury report blasted Bevilacqua and his successor, Cardinal Justin Rigali, for their handling of abuse complaints, but they were never charged. Bevilacqua is now 88 and in failing health.
A judge will hear more arguments Monday on whether 27 of the 63 priests described in that grand jury report can be referenced at Lynn's trial. Prosecutors want to show that Lynn kept them on the job despite knowing of complaints stored in "secret archives" at the archdiocese. Continued...
They have detailed the cases over a three-day pretrial hearing this week. The cases include a priest who allegedly pinned loincloths on naked boys playing Jesus in a Passion play, and whipped them, in keeping with the drama; a priest who held what prosecutors called "masturbation camps" at the rectory, having boys strip naked and teaching them to masturbate; and a pastor written up for disobedience for complaining to Bevilacqua about an accused priest being transferred to his parish.
Defense lawyers hope to limit the trial evidence to Lynn's handling of the priest and ex-priest on trial with him. The Rev. James Brennan, 48, and defrocked priest Edward Avery, 69, are charged with rape. All have denied the charges. The archdiocese declined to respond to the comments made Wednesday about Monsignor Senior, citing a gag order in the case.
Let's face it. Most of the Catholic Church hierarchy is cesspool filled with morally bankrupt hypocrites who cared nothing for the lives of children and youths subjected to sexual abuse. Worse yet, legislators in Washington State, Maryland and New Jersey are allowing the affiliates of these foul individuals to claim that allowing normal, loving same sex couples CIVIL marriage rights threatens humanity. It's disgusting.
Study: Low IQ Correlates With Prejudice and Bigotry
There's no gentle way to put it: People who give in to racism and prejudice may simply be dumb, according to a new study that is bound to stir public controversy.
The research finds that children with low intelligence are more likely to hold prejudiced attitudes as adults. These findings point to a vicious cycle, according to lead researcher Gordon Hodson, a psychologist at Brock University in Ontario. Low-intelligence adults tend to gravitate toward socially conservative ideologies, the study found. Those ideologies, in turn, stress hierarchy and resistance to change, attitudes that can contribute to prejudice . . .
The findings combine three hot-button topics. "They've pulled off the trifecta of controversial topics," said Brian Nosek, a social and cognitive psychologist at the University of Virginia who was not involved in the study. "When one selects intelligence, political ideology and racism and looks at any of the relationships between those three variables, it's bound to upset somebody."
Polling data and social and political science research do show that prejudice is more common in those who hold right-wing ideals that those of other political persuasions . . .
Earlier studies have found links between low levels of education and higher levels of prejudice, Hodson said, so studying intelligence seemed a logical next step. . . . As suspected, low intelligence in childhood corresponded with racism in adulthood. But the factor that explained the relationship between these two variables was political: When researchers included social conservatism in the analysis, those ideologies accounted for much of the link between brains and bias. People with lower cognitive abilities also had less contact with people of other races.
Hodson was quick to note that the despite the link found between low intelligence and social conservatism, the researchers aren't implying that all liberals are brilliant and all conservatives stupid. The research is a study of averages over large groups, he said.
Nonetheless, there is reason to believe that strict right-wing ideology might appeal to those who have trouble grasping the complexity of the world. "Socially conservative ideologies tend to offer structure and order," Hodson said, explaining why these beliefs might draw those with low intelligence. "Unfortunately, many of these features can also contribute to prejudice."
They found that what applies to racism may also apply to homophobia. People who were poorer at abstract reasoning were more likely to exhibit prejudice against gays. As in the U.K. citizens, a lack of contact with gays and more acceptance of right-wing authoritarianism explained the link.
Interestingly, this study would seem to affirms some prior reports that found that evangelical Christians had lower IQ's and lower levels of education than denominations such as Episcopalians and Lutherans.
The GOP Circular Firing Squad Continues
Newt Gingrich got slammed in the debate by a remarkably invigorated Mitt Romney, an impressive Rick Santorum and CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, who really wouldn’t let him get away with much.
Romney was clearly on his game, ready to swat down Gingrich. He vigorously defended his success in business and skewered Gingrich on his carping about his capital gains. He tied Gingrich to Freddie Mac and wouldn’t let go, making it clear that Gingrich was a cheerleader for the entity that contributed mightily to the financial crisis. When Gingrich accused him of investing in Freddie, Romney pointed out that they both had investments in mutual funds which held Freddie bonds. On Gingrich’s loony moon colony, he was restrained but emphatic that this was fiscally irresponsible.
He did get slightly tangled up by an ad citing Gignrich for calling Spanish the language of the “ghetto,” saying he didn’t know if it was his ad. When Blitzer later confirmed that it was, however, Romney cornered Gingrich, whose defense boiled down to: I didn’t say the word “Spanish.” The Romney team quickly put out its research form Politifact showing that Romney’s ad was “mostly true.” More impressively, he faced down Gingrich for calling him anti-immigrant in a radio ad, reminding the audience that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) had rebuked Gingrich and forced the former Speaker to take down the ad. For once, Gingrich looked dumbfounded.
Gingrich had a perfectly dreadful night, appearing angry and then sheepish, nasty and then defensive. He didn’t have well-prepared defenses on his time with Freddie or strong attacks on Romney’s earnings. He played to type in defending his fantastical idea for a space colony. And he sniped at conservatives who have come forward to question whether he was all that close to Reagan . . . Conservatives have had enough of him, and have come forward out of fear he might actually get the nomination. After tonight they have less to fear. Not only did Romney have the best debate of the primary season, but Santorum’s strong showing should bleed votes away from Gingrich as well.
Finally, Wolf Blitzer did a commendable job, rebuffing Gingrich’s attempt to duck away from a question on his anti-capital gains language. He kept the proceedings lively and substantive.
A NARTH Versus Exodus Internationl Cat Fight
Now, a cat fight if you will has broken out between the National Association for the Research and Therapy (NARTH) and Exodus International, heretofore one of the biggest marketers of the "ex-gay" myth. Why one might ask? Because Exodus is distancing itself from the claim that gays can actually change their sexual orientation - a lie that Exodus has been marketing for at least two decades. Warren Throckmorton looks at the cat fight and the almost laughable defense put up by NARTH even as it admits that "change" doesn't eliminate attraction and desire for those of the same sex. Reparative therapy is and always has been a cold, calculating lie. Here are highlights from Warren's post:
Until recently, Exodus sold reparative therapy books in their bookstore but recently removed them. Also, Alan Chambers recently told an audience at the Gay Christian Network conference thatThe majority of people that I have met, and I would say the majority meaning 99.9% of them have not experienced a change in their orientation or have gotten to a place where they could say that they could never be tempted or are not tempted in some way or experience some level of same-sex attraction.
I asked Alan Chambers about the reason for the removal of the reparative therapy books and he told me that Exodus wants to be clear that Christian discipleship is how they want to be known.
Apparently, these developments are troubling to NARTH leaders. One of them, David Pickup, recently penned an article at the Anglican Mainstream in defense of reparative therapy. He wrote the article in direct response to the comments by Alan Chambers, noted above. Pickup writes:Chambers’ remarks essentially indicate that:
1. Exodus will no longer indicate or specifically claim that change from Gay to 100% straight is possible for anyone except for a few rare cases.
2. Exodus has apologized and will continue to do so for making these unrealistic claims, which they now believe have contributed toward misinformation, hurtfulness and homophobia.
3. Exodus will work to achieve a deeper understanding of the truth of homosexuality, which will allow them to minister more effectively and compassionately to those dealing with homosexuality.
Pickup then offers his slant on why change in orientation should be recognized even if a same-sex attracted person is still same-sex attracted after they say they have changed:Let’s take other challenges common to many people: depression or anxiety for instance. How many people who have successfully dealt with these issues are 100% changed so that they are not susceptible to later feelings of depression or anxiety? Can a therapist guarantee a client will never have those feelings again? Of course not. The same is true for homosexuality. Real change has occurred; however, no apologies should be made if much successful change has occurred even though homosexual feelings occasionally surface.
Alan [Chambers] seems to want to extract himself from this semantic debate by sticking to experience – the vast majority of people he knows retain attractions to the same sex. Pickup wants to explain that away by making sexual attraction analogous to depression or anxiety. Since he sees same-sex attraction as a disorder which stems from childhood wounds, that may work for him, but it won’t work for those who do not see it that way.
One problem here is political. NARTH wants to be able to say SSA people have changed if they experience a reduction in awareness of SSA and perhaps an experience of opposite sex attraction. This is a kind of change and if left in the therapeutic context, . . . . However, NARTH does not stay in the therapeutic context. They provide support for political groups who want change to mean complete change from gay to straight. Change is such a volatile concept because a modicum of change in the therapeutic setting is then exaggerated in the political and legal settings to argue against same-sex attraction as something intrinsic to the vast majority of people who experience it.
I think Chambers is much more on the right track than Pickup. Although Exodus continues to refer to reparative therapists and there are member ministries that are quite reparative in their approach, I think a move toward ministry and honesty about what people can expect is valuable.
This debate IS important because right now as the marriage equality legislation is working its way through the New Jersey legislature, the New Jersey Family Policy Council is busy marketing the ex-gay myth to members of the legislature. As noted before, no one lies more than the "godly Christian" set. They make a very strong case that one's best course is to walk away from Christianity entirely.
Thursday, January 26, 2012
Wings - The Original Broke Back Mountain?
Pretty passionate if you ask me and filled with angst and a feeling of lost love. The reviewer had this to say:
If you've never seen it, it's totally worth a look and not just for the gorgeous flyboys. Charles "Buddy" Rogers and Richard Arlen play Jack and David, two fighter pilots who are initially at odds. In one early military training scene they're constantly giving each other the eye. Their drill master calls them "powder puff guys" -- I'm not making this up -- and then they proceed to beat the shit out of each other. Jack regularly has David flat on his back but David won't give up. Finally Jack stops and smiles.
"Boy you're game!" he says in a title card and just like that they're besties, tenderly wiping blood from mouths (with boxing gloves still on). It's all macho ridiculous and incredibly hot if you ask me. Their super tight friendship, threatened by sharing the same love ("It" girl Clara Bow), finally leads to one of the most famous embraces in early cinema:
The Christianist Struggle to Ignore the Non-Existence Adam and Eve
While the reality of this enormous theological crisis has not trickled down to local parishes and pastors, the danger to Christianity (especially the fundamentalist version) as we know it has not been lost by some in the upper tiers of various denominations or in more intellectually inclined seminaries. And frankly, the problem is not one that can be easily circumvented unless one is willing to simply embrace ignorance and close one's eyes to the truth - something that unfortunately many fundamentalist seem all too ready to do. In a piece on Huffington Post, Pete Enns, former Professor of Old Testament at Westminster Theological Seminary for 14 years and currently a professor of Biblical Studies at Eastern University, tries to paper over the devastating blow the non-existence of Adam and Eve. Ultimately, while he tries to explain away why Adam and Eve should not be taken to be historic personages, he fails to address the fact that without them, the whole Christian messages collapses. Here are highlights from his post:
If evolution is right about how humans came to be, then the biblical story of Adam and Eve isn't. If you believe, as evangelicals do, that God himself is responsible for what's in the Bible, you have a problem on your hands. Once you open the door to the possibility that God's version of human origins isn't what actually happened -- well, the dominoes start unraveling down the slippery slope. The next step is uncertainty, chaos and despair about one's personal faith.
That, more or less, is the evangelical log flume of fear, and I have seen it played out again and again.
In recent years, the matter has gotten far worse. Popular figures like Richard Dawkins have done an in-your-face-break-the-backboard-slam-dunk over the heads of defenders of the biblical story. They've taken great delight in making sure Main Street knows evolution is true, and therefore the Bible is "God's big book of bad ideas" (Bill Maher) and Christians are morons for taking it seriously. Evangelicals have been on high alert damage control mode.
Evolution is a threat, and many evangelicals are fighting to keep Adam in the family photo album. But in their rush to save Christianity, some evangelicals have been guilty of all sorts of strained, idiosyncratic or obscurantist tactics: massaging or distorting the data, manipulating the legal system, scaring their constituencies and strong-arming those of their own camp who raise questions.
These sorts of tactics get a lot of press, but behind them is a deeper problem -- a problem that gets close to the heart of evangelicalism itself and hampers any true dialogue. It has to do with what evangelicals expect from the Bible.
Evangelicals look to the Bible to settle important questions of faith. So, faced with a potentially faith-crushing idea like evolution, evangelicals naturally ask right off the bat, "What does the Bible say about that?" And then informed by "what the Bible says," they are ready to make a "biblical" judgment.
This is fine in principle, but in the evolution debate this mindset is a problem: It assumes that the Adam and Eve story is about "human origins." It isn't. And as long as evangelicals continue to assume that it does, the conflict between the Bible and evolution is guaranteed.
Israel's story was written to say something about their place in the world and the God they worshiped. To think that the Israelites, alone among all other ancient peoples, were interested in (or capable of) giving some definitive, quasi-scientific, account of human origins is an absurd logic. And to read the story of Adam and Eve as if it were set up to do such a thing [explain human origins] is simply wrongheaded.
Reading the biblical story against its ancient backdrop is hardly a news flash, and most evangelical biblical scholars easily concede the point. But for some reason this piece of information has not filtered down to where it is needed most: into the mainstream evangelical consciousness. Once it does, evangelicals will see for themselves that dragging the Adam and Eve story into the evolution discussion is as misguided as using the stories of Israel's monarchy to rank the Republican presidential nominees.
Evangelicals tend to focus on how to protect the Bible against the attacks of evolution. The real challenge before them is to reorient their expectation of what the story of Adam and Eve is actually prepared to deliver. These kinds of conversations are already happening, though too often quietly and behind closed doors. Evangelicals owe it to their children and their children's children to bring the discussion out into the open.
The fact that the Bible is not inerrant - indeed, it's flat out wrong on many things - terrifies evangelicals and fundamentalists. Their entire neat little world falls apart and, perhaps most terrifying of all, they have to think for themselves and find a way to live with uncertainty. As a corollary to this, I continue to believe that gays are a flash point with evangelicals because if the Bible is wrong about us, then it's likely wrong about most if not everything. Which means they have wasted their lives and often been miserable for no legitimate reason. And that realization is the worse of all.
A High School It Get's Better Message to Gaga's "Hair"
Lady Gaga's song, Hair. Hair is about being yourself, being true to who you are; as the song exemplifies, "you are the spirit of your hair, it's all the glory you bare", YOU are your #hair."As most of us know, growing up isn't easy. Countless young people are faced with daily tormenting and bullying, causing them to feel isolated and alone. This is an especially harsh reality for LGBT kids and teens, who often hide their sexuality for fear of bullying. In many instances, gay and lesbian adolescents are taunted, sometimes even tortured, simply for being themselves.
For a better understanding of Lady Gaga's advocacy for LGBT youth, watch the "Very Gaga Thanksgiving" version of "Hair" set out below. Yes, I will concede that I am a Gaga fan and I am moved to see the way she uses her celebrity to truly try to make things better for others. In my opinion, she gets the Gospel message of love and compassion that is so lost on the Christianists and leadership of the Catholic Church. I am happy that the Boyfriend and I were able to see her close up at the National Equality March in 2009.
Rid Me of God and Toxic Religion
I tried to kill myself when I was a teenager. It seemed like a natural progression for a young lesbian, growing up in the South. I kept my sexual orientation hidden until college, but that didn’t stop the taunting and the bullying I encountered in high school. I was teased relentlessly for my manner of dress—I wore boys’ shirts, jeans, jean jackets and boots or tennis shoes. I was teased for my short hair, my boyish mannerisms and, oh, yeah, my funny name.
It was torture—but school wasn’t the only place. There was also church; that good old Southern Baptist house of worship where I learned that my secret yearnings made me a sworn enemy of the God I had loved (and who I thought loved me) since childhood.
All that condemnation, from my peers, from my church, from my God, came to a head one night and I decided to put an end to it all by putting an end to me. Thankfully, my plan failed — and as the videos being produced by LGBT people who, like me, survived their childhood say, it does, indeed, get better.
I blame the religious right and their insistence on their “religious freedom” to condemn and bully LGBT people for this continuing trend of spiritual violence . . . . One young man who took his life recently was 19-year-old EricJames Borges whose “extremist Christian” parents tried to exorcise his gay demon and called him “disgusting and perverted” before kicking him out of the house. Borges had the best support around as a volunteer for The Trevor Project (the org that works to prevent LGBT suicide). He even did his own It Gets Better video.
But I fear it was finally the religious condemnation that led this beautiful young man to take his own life. Everyone under the sun can tell you it gets better, but the bottom line is this: If you believe God will send you to hell for who you love, there will be nothing anyone can say to convince you that it gets better—since God never changes, right?
I have seen too many in my community struggle with God—and the image of the bullying God they have been given by their churches and their families. This image of God as a loving destroyer, whose acceptance is conditioned on your strict adherence to “His” rules, has ruined too many lives. What needs to change is not the LGBT child, but this horrible and terribly wrong image of God as a holy bully that is being purveyed by religious institutions and believers.
The trouble is, though, this image of God has worked very well for those in power.
It is exactly this vision of God as “backyard bully” that puts LGBT youth on the path to suicide, and it must stop. But, it won’t as long as the GOP and anti-gay religious right groups can raise cash using this image of God as divine bully. This is why the “religious freedom” debate is so important; and why it highlights the hypocrisy of the religious right. They can certainly crow all they want about how they condemn LGBT people out of “love” for them, but one surefire test of true love is that it leads to life—not death.
It is these religious undertones—and outright blatant anti-LGBT preaching—that makes children choose to end their own lives no matter how many role models and videos they have telling them it gets better. It’s hell for them right now, and that’s all that matters to them.
The problem lies not with the child, but with the messages they are receiving from authorities like parents, preachers, and politicians. When money and power become more important than the lives of children, then God is truly and finally dead. It was the 15th-century mystic Meister Eckhart who prayed: “God, rid me of God.” If we are to have true religious freedom for everyone in this country, that must be our prayer as well.
The column's author is 100% on point. Religion has truly become one of the great evils of this world.
More on the GOP's Alienation of Hispanic Voters
In the 15 states that are likely to decide who controls the White House and the Senate in 2013, Hispanic voters will represent the margin of victory.For the Republican Party, the stakes could not be greater. Just eight years after the party’s successful effort to woo Hispanic voters in 2004, this community — the fastest-growing group in the United States, according to census data — has drifted away.
Here are four suggestions on how Republican candidates can regain momentum with the most powerful swing voters.
First, we need to recognize this is not a monochromatic community but, rather, a deeply diverse one. Hispanics in this country include Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans and many others. Some came here 50 years ago to make a better life; others came last year. Some have lots of education, some have none.
Second, we should echo the aspirations of these voters. The American immigrant experience is the most aspirational story ever told. Immigrants left all that was familiar to them to come here and make a better life for their families.
Third, we should press for an overhaul of our education system. . . . . But we have to move beyond simplistic plans to “get rid of the Department of Education” and focus on substantive, broad-based reform that includes school choice, robust accountability for underperforming schools and the elimination of social promotion, in which kids are passed along without mastering grade-level skills. . . . Hispanic voters, who often feel their children are trapped in failing schools, notice.
Finally, we need to think of immigration reform as an economic issue, not just a border security issue. . . . Republicans should reengage on this issue and reframe it. Start by recognizing that new Americans strengthen our economy. We need more people to come to this country, ready to work and to contribute their creativity to our economy. . . . We need to connect immigration to other pro-growth policies, so that new Americans can apply their talents here and succeed.
And when they come, as surely they will, we must welcome them, no matter whether they speak Spanish or Creole or Portuguese.
It's actually an intelligent message. However, given the GOP base's zero sum view of things in this country, I suspect gains by Hispanics will be viewed as something lost by the white evangelical Christian crowd.
Florida Mom Confronts Santorum on His Anti-Gay Bigotry
During a campaign stop in Florida, Rick Santorum told a mother that her gay son doesn't have the right to adopt children. "I'm a proud mother of a gay son graduating from Georgetown law in May," the woman said during a campaign rally in Stuart, according to a video posted by ThinkProgress. "I want to know why he can't have the same rights as you have?"
Santorum said that while God has granted everyone some rights, the government has control over what's leftover and issues those "privileges" to people who are "healthy for society."
“There are certain things that government does that gives people privileges in order to promote activity that are healthy for society and are best for society," he said, according to the Post. "And those things we promote would give people advantages or benefits, government benefits because we think that is healthy activity."
Santorum has said that he hopes to outlaw same-sex adoption nationwide by amending the U.S. Constitution to ban same-sex marriage, which he says would make it a moot issue. He's also said that having an absent father in prison would be a better option for a child than being raised by two mothers, claiming to cite a researcher's conclusions on the question.
"He found that even fathers in jail who had abandoned their kids were still better than no father at all to have in their children's lives," Santorum told voters earlier this month, according to the Los Angeles Times.
If a same-sex couple were to raise a child, he said they would be "robbing children of something they need, they deserve, they have a right to. You may rationalize that that isn't true, but in your own life and in your own heart, you know it's true."
My comment: What a bigoted asshole. He must be a truly self-loathing closet case to be so hysterically focused on denigrating and marginalizing gay Americans. Not surprisingly, Frothy Mix was campaigning at a so-called Christian Academy which no doubt is teaching the embrace of ignorance and bigotry. Here's the Think Progress video clip:
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Starbucks, Google, Alcoa Endorse Gay-Marriage Legislation
Starbucks, Google and Alcoa are the latest large corporations to endorse legalizing gay marriage in Washington, according to the group Washington United for Marriage, which backs the legislation.
Microsoft, Nike and Group Health Plan have already endorsed the legislation, which picked up the 25th and final vote needed in the state Senate for pass the law.
The article also includes a lengthy list of businesses that support the same sex marriage bills. They range from small businesses and restaurants to corporate behemoths. Starkly missing so far from the list of marriage equality supporters is Boeing. Once again, I remind readers that we need to give our bushiness to companies that support our equality. Those that don't can look to Christianists and bigots for their business and patronage.
A Conservative Describes Newt Gingrich As the GOP's "Bill Clinton"
How long have I been saying it? At least for 15 years, but in private, I have been aware of it longer. Newt Gingrich is conservatism's Bill Clinton, but without the charm. He has acquired wit, but he has all the charm of barbed wire.
Newt and Bill are, of course, 1960s-generation narcissists, and they share the same problems: waywardness and deviancy. Newt, like Bill, has a proclivity for girl-hopping. It's not as egregious as Bill's, but then Newt is not as drop-dead beautiful. His public record is already besmeared with tawdry divorces, and there are private encounters with the fair sex that doubtless will come out. If I have heard of some, you can be sure the Democrats have heard of more.
Newt up against the Prophet Obama would be a painful thing to watch. He might be deft with one-liners, but it would be futile. There are independent and other uncommitted voters to be cultivated in 2012 — all would be unmoved by Newt's juggling of conservative shibboleths.
He now says Republicans in the House were exhausted with his great projects. Nonsense. I knew many of them, and they were exhausted with his atrocious leadership. He is not a leader. He is a huckster. Today Mitt Romney has 72 congressional endorsements. Newt has 11. Possibly the 11 have yet to meet him.
After Newt's and Bill's disastrous experiences in government, both went on to create empires — Bill in philanthropy and cheap thought, Newt in public policy and cheap thought. As an ex-president, Bill has wrung up an unprecedented $75.6 million since absconding from the White House with White House loot and shameless pardons. I do not know how much Newt has amassed, but he got between $1.6 million to $1.8 million from Freddie Mac, . . . Now, after a lifetime in Washington, he is promoting himself as an outsider.
Back in 1992, I appeared with Chris Matthews on some gasbag's television show. Was it Donohue? At any rate, I said candidate Clinton had more skeletons in his closet than a body snatcher. It was a prescient line then, and I always got a laugh. I can apply the same line today to Newt, though he has skeletons both inside and outside his closet. Conservatives should not be surprised by the scandals that lie ahead if they stick with him.
Ouch!!! However, what Tyrrell says is all true. Obama must relish the tought of Newt Gingrich as his opponent.
GOP Demagoguery in New Jersey
To borrow an old Washington joke about another self-promoting politician, the most dangerous place in politics is between Chris Christie and a TV crew. Most weeks, he clamors for national attention with rhetoric about small government (for the poor, that is, not the rich). This week, he’s taken up gay marriage.
Mr. Christie, the governor of New Jersey, is a clever politician who has mastered the role of plainspoken tough guy. A lot of Republicans, upset that their leading candidates are either phony right-wingers or so genuinely far right that they alienate the vast majority of Americans, have high hopes for him.
So Mr. Christie has assiduously polished his national image as a conservative. . . . The glitch is that Mr. Christie is governor of a state where even the hard-right Republicans are not as hard right as they are elsewhere, and you need moderate support to win statewide.
This tension between the demands of his state, and of his desire to be a big player in a party that does not tolerate the slightest deviation from orthodoxy, explains his obvious discomfort to a renewed effort by state lawmakers to pass a marriage equality bill.
Mr. Christie knows perfectly well that ballot initiatives are a terrible way to handle government. They are easily manipulated and generally attract a low turnout. In any case, it is his and the state legislature’s duty to set right this fundamental wrong.
“Marriage equality isn’t like sports betting,” said Senator Raymond Lesniak, a Democrat. “It’s a civil right, which is already guaranteed in our Constitution. It’s up to the Legislature to guarantee these rights.” That’s very well put.
By the way, Mr. Christie’s bad faith is a real contrast with the actions of Gov. Martin O’Malley of Maryland, who introduced a bill in that state’s senate to make good on the constitution’s promise of equality. A marriage rights bill also seems to be getting decisive support in the Washington State Senate—despite a hearing in which bigots compared supporters of equal rights for all Americans with Adolf Hitler, and same-sex marriage with polygamy.
Adding to Mr. Christie's well deserved bashing is the reaction of two of New Jersey's most influential black leaders blasted Gov. Christie obviously, can't have things both ways and deserves the trashing that he is now receiving. Here are highlights from CBS News on the black leadership's reaction:
Two of New Jersey's most influential black leaders blasted Gov. Chris Christie on Wednesday for proposing gay marriage be put to a popular vote in November, but the Republican governor insisted he's offering a reasonable compromise amid his personal opposition to same-sex nuptials.
Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver and Newark Mayor Cory Booker said in separate forums that civil rights are guaranteed by the Constitution and don't belong on the ballot.
Booker said baseball great Jackie Robinson would not have had the opportunity to break the sport's color barrier had the matter been put to a vote, and the mayor himself would not have had the opportunity, years later, to be elected to lead New Jersey's largest city. Oliver said in a statement she was offended by Christie's comment Tuesday that bloodshed may have been avoided in the South, and people would have been happier, if the civil rights issues of the 1960s were settled by public referendum.
"Governor, people were fighting and dying in the streets of the South because the majority refused to grant minorities equal rights by any method," Oliver said. "It took legislative action to bring justice to all Americans, just as legislative action is the right way to bring marriage equality to all New Jerseyans."
Booker said during a news conference in Newark: "Dear God, we should not be putting civil rights issues to a popular vote, to be subject to the sentiments, the passions of the day. No minority should have their rights subject to the passions and the sentiments of the majority. This is the fundamental bedrock of what our nation stands for."
Other black Democrats weighed in later in the day. "If the governor was hoping to defend his reprehensible stance on marriage equality by suggesting that those who fought and died for civil rights in this county would have preferred a referendum, that by all historical accounts would have been most likely defeated, he failed miserably," said Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson-Coleman, former Assembly majority leader.
North Carolina Anti-Gay Marriage Foes Launch Lie Filled Website
Conservatives supporting North Carolina’s proposed constitutional amendment banning recognition of all same-sex relationships have launched a new website called Vote For Marriage NC. The site describes same-sex marriage as a “threat” and a “new legal orthodoxy” that would “redefine” marriage as “genderless” for all couples, and those who do not agree “will be treated under the law just like racists and bigots, and will be punished for their beliefs.” Unsurprisingly, none of the claims made stand up to scrutiny:
CLAIM: “Religious groups who have refused to make their facilities available for same-sex couples have lost their state tax exemption.”
REALITY: The only example conservatives ever cite is a New Jersey Methodist pavilion, and that pavilion did not actually have a religious exemption.
CLAIM: “Religious groups like Catholic Charities in Boston and Washington DC have had to choose between fulfilling their social mission based on their religious beliefs, or acquiescing to this new definition of marriage.”
REALITY: Catholic Charities have never been obligated to shut down their services, but have done so voluntarily when they are no longer subsidized by the state because they discriminate.
CLAIM: “Nonprofit groups are faced with abandoning their historic mission principles in order to maintain governmental contracts (for things like low-income housing, health clinics, etc.).”
REALITY: Again, no group has been forced to close, though some may lose state funding. In one case, the Maine Catholic Diocese shuttered a homeless support agency as punishment for supporting marriage equality.
CLAIM: “Whenever schools educate children about marriage, which happens throughout the curriculum, they will have no choice but to teach this new genderless institution.”
REALITY: Marriage equality or not, same-sex families are a part of all communities. To refuse to acknowledge their existence stigmatizes the children who are being raised by gay couples and deprives all young people of understanding the world around them.
CLAIM: “Wedding professionals have been fined for refusing to participate in a same-sex ceremony. Christian innkeepers in Vermont and New Hampshire are being sued over their refusal to make their facilities available for same-sex weddings.”
REALITY: This is a red herring. When businesses are fined for not renting to same-sex couples, they are violating state non-discrimination policies, like in the case of the Wildflower Inn in Vermont. Inns and reception halls should be no less publicly accessible than lunch counters and water fountains.
CLAIM: “Doctors, lawyers, accountants and other licensed professionals risk their state licensure if they act on their belief that a same-sex couple cannot really be married. A counselor, for example, could not refuse “marriage therapy” to a same-sex couple because she doesn’t believe in gay marriage.”
REALITY: This is another red herring, as licensing laws and professional certifications have no connection to marriage laws. The 11th Circuit ruled last month in favor of a university that required a counseling student to affirmatively counsel LGBT clients.
CLAIM: “Those people – a strong majority of North Carolinians – who believe marriage is between one man and one woman, would be the legal equivalent of bigots for acting on their heartfelt beliefs… Not only will the law penalize traditional marriage supporters, but the power of government will work in concert to promote this belief throughout the culture.”
REALITY: No law has ever “penalized” opponents of marriage equality, but more importantly, there is no “strong majority” in support of the amendment. In fact, a December poll found that 56 percent of North Carolinians support at least civil unions — which this amendment also bans.
If they are Christians, nowadays, you will know them by their lies.