Saturday, March 24, 2012

A Bizarre Rick Santorum Anti--Obama Ad

As most readers likely realize if they've visited this blog very often, in my opinion, Rick "Frothy Mix" Santorum is more than a bit insane and plagued with deep seated pychological issues to boot. Hence, it should come as no surprise that Santorum has a new You Tube ad that is really bizarre - just like Frothy Mix himself. Andy Towle has a good description of the ad which is posted below:

Entitled Obamaville, it presents a horror-show vision of America in the dread year 2014. In Obamaville the streets are empty, and scary-looking crows are everywhere. Children's shoes are discarded in the dirt -- and where are the children? They're gone! Look at the abandoned playgrounds, the equipment therein manipulated by naught but the lonely wind. (Or is it something more sinister?) This is 28 Days Later, reimagined in the rustbelt. Lookit the little lonesome baby, squirming in what might be a bathtub. Lookit the psychotic smiling nurse wearing too much lipstick, saying "Shhhhhhh" -- is she euthanizing us? Is that horrible nurse lady euthanizing the American Dream? And see the man who appears to be blowing his brains out with a gasoline pump.

The narrator intones: "A rogue nation, and sworn American enemy, has become a nuclear threat." As the narrator says "sworn American enemy," Ahmadinejad's face is replaced for just an instant with Barack Obama's. They are one and the same, goes the implication; brother jihadis beneath the skin.

The ad's got no ideas, no arguments, no obvious references to the actual objective reality inhabited by actual citizens in the actual world. Whoever made it doesn't think the American people are smart enough to be swayed by such things. Rather, the ad's an appeal for the votes of idiots and paranoiacs -- which, you'd think, would be galling to the potential Santorumites at whom it's aimed.

It may sometimes be difficult to discern who the good guys are in American politics, but the really bad guys are never hard to locate. They're the ones who make ads like this:

More Saturday Male Beauty

Ill Papa Visits Mexico

I noted recently that a new book on the sex abuse scandal surrounding the Legion of Christ, founded in Mexico, by a horrific sexual abuser, was released just in time for Pope Benedict XVI/s arrival. As the sign above indicates, not everyone is pleased to have on of Fr. Marcil's protectors in their country. Here are some more details from Blabbeando:

A number of Mexican LGBT and sexual health advocates gathered yesterday at Mexico City's Glorieta de La Independencia yesterday to extend a less than warm welcome to Pope Benedict XVI.

Chanting "You are a foe to many human rights" and "You protect pedophiles and then act saintly", activists asked the Pope to leave.

Ricardo Baruch, Director of the Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights, said that the protest was not meant to be an attack on those who believe in God. Instead, he said it was a direct condemnation of Pope Benedict XVI and the Catholic leadership and their attempt to impose the retrograde policies of the Vatican on the nation of Mexico.

Baruch also questioned the use of federal tax funds in support of the three-day visit, the Pope's refusal to meet with victims of pedophilia in the hands of the Mexican Legionaries of Christ and his opposition to reproductive rights for women.

The world is changing even if the Catholic hierarchy refuses to accept modernity. And I agree with the protesters - if the Pope wants to visit places around the world, then the Vatican can pay for all of the costs.

Federal Court Rules against Catholic HHS Contracts

We've hear a great deal of disingenuous whining from the Catholic bishops about contraception and theats to "religious liberty" of late. What the enablers and protectors of child rapists are actually peeved about is the refusal of the Obama administration to write specific religious beliefs into aspects of health care regulations. And the bishops are all about having special rights and deference to the detriment of those who hold differing religious views. In short, the bishops want it their way and to Hell with everyone else. In this mentality, they are of a like mind with the Protestant Christianists who likewise demand that their beliefs be written into the nations laws and regulations (in Virginia, a prime example are the "private" adoption agencies funded with state money who have been granted the right by the Virginia GOP to discriminate against would be adoptive parents based on the agencies' "religious beliefs"). Yesterday, a federal court in Massachusetts ruled against special rights for Catholic agencies since it would violate the establishment clause of the U. S. Constitution. Here are highlights from Religion Dispatches:

Late yesterday a federal court in Massachusetts ruled [PDF] in favor of the American Civil Liberties Union in a challenge it brought against the Department of Health and Human Services over contracts with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. When the ACLU first brought the case in 2009, HHS permitted the USCCB to prohibit the referral of victims of sexual assault to be referred for contraception and abortion services. Although HHS did not renew the USCCB contract last year, the ACLU proceeded with the case "to ensure that taxpayer dollars are not misused to impose religious restrictions on vulnerable trafficking victims that receive U.S. aid," according to a statement.

Judge Richard Stearns agreed the case was not moot, and in holding that the policy permitting the Bishops to restrict trafficking victims' access to reproductive health services violated the Establishment Clause, noted, "[t]o insist that the government respect the separation of church and state is not to discriminate against religion; indeed, it promotes a respect for religion by refusing to single out any creed for official favor at the expense of all others."

Judge Stearns' decision shows that the Bishops were not, in fact, entitled to use taxpayer money to refuse to refer victims of sex trafficking and rape for a full range of reproductive health services. That, Judge Stearns held, amounted to an impermissible government endorsement of a particular religious view because, although "[b]eliefs about the morality of abortion and the use of contraceptives need not be based on a religious viewpoint," in this case "there is no reason to question the sincerity of the USCCB’s position that the restriction it imposed on its subcontractors on the use of TVPA funds for abortion and contraceptive services was motivated by deeply held religious beliefs." In other words, the Free Exercise Clause does, of course, protect one's expression of deeply held religious beliefs. But the Establishment Clause prohibits the government from favoring particular religious beliefs, no matter how deeply held they are.

Rest assured, we will be hearing shrieks and belly aching from Cardinal Dolan and various Christofascists that the "religious liberty" is under attack. But, again, it's really the rights of all others that are under attack by the Catholic bishops and Christianists

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

Bullied Gay Ohio Student in Coma After Attempting Suicide

The list of lives damaged by religious based anti-gay bigotry and the the bullying it engenders continues to grow. Not the Maggie Gallagher, Tony Perkins and the other professional Christians and anti-gay hate groups give a flip about the lives they damage and destroy. No, to them, it's all about making a buck and allowing them to feel superior and self-congratulatory because of their "piety." I find it sickening, but it's the norm for the enemies of LGBT equality. The latest victim is Austin Rodriguez (pictured above), a gay teen at Wellsville High School in Ohio, whose so-far unsuccessful suicide attempt to escape constant bullying has left him in a coma. WFMJ-TV 21 has coverage and here are some excerpts:

AKRON, Ohio - An openly gay student at Wellsville High School is on a ventilator with lung complications after attempting to take his own life. His mother says her son was bullied at school. Bonnie Rodriguez of Wellsville says her son, 15-year-old Austin Rodriguez, was really lethargic on Friday evening, and when she asked him what was wrong, he collapsed.

She immediately took him to a local hospital and on Saturday morning he was flown by medical helicopter to the main campus of Akron Children's Hospital. 21 News traveled to Akron to sit down with the mother of the Wellsville teenager.

Bonnie Rodriguez says her 15-year-old son declared his homosexuality just six to eight months ago. First telling family, then friends, and then no longer hiding it from classmates at school.

The teenager's mother says it was shortly after coming out that her son, who is a straight-A student, began getting bullied at school. She says at first her son appeared happy and relieved, and then she thought he may have been going through a depression and asked him about it several times, but he never really explained the extent of what he was going through.

Austin Rodriquez is now heavily sedated, and on a ventilator to help him breath. His mother says her son swallowed more than 100 of his own prescription pills. She has now learned from his friends that the bullying became overwhelming. Rodriguez says, "I actually didn't know how bad it was for him in school until he actually did this. And until friends came out of the woodwork saying we knew Austin was going through this, we thought he was handling it a lot better. We didn't know what to do."

[T]he bullying was not only cruel, but enough to make a teenager who was already introverted, feel like an outcast. "It was electronic, it was face to face bullying, they were hiding his gym clothes because they didn't want him changing in the locker room with them. They didn't want him to eat by them, or in the school lunchroom," Rodriguez said.

The Wellsville mother prays that what happened to her son will spark open discussions on the issue of bullying in school. She warns parents that if you feel there's something going on with your child, trust those instincts and be aggressive in getting to the bottom of it. . . . . she's determined to raise awareness about the dangerous impact of bullying and how it nearly cost her son his life.

Yet more of the foul fruits of the "love" peddled by the Christianists, professional Christians and GOP presidential nominee candidates who oppose the National Day of Silence and any form of decency towards LGBT individuals. It makes me feel like vomiting.

Reversing the Sixties: The 2012 Republican Agenda

There's a good column at Huffington Post that summarizes the over all GOP agenda at both the state and federal level. It is entitled"reversing the Sixties: The 2012 Republican Agenda" and lays the mindset behind the agenda - an agenda that ought to frighten not only women, but also gays and minorities of all stripes. It's as if the GOP wants to roll the clock back to the 1950's or earlier, forgetting in the process that those earlier periods in history were not so good for many in society and even among the "traditional families" reality and the fond reminiscences of today were actually often very different things. In this idealized world of yesteryear, gays would be back deep in the closet, women would be subservient to men, and blacks and other racial minorities would know their place. Here are some column highlights:

One of the most surprising aspects of contemporary Republican politics has been their across-the-board attack on women's health services and women's rights. Rather than an isolated misogynistic program, these attacks should be viewed as one part of a conservative agenda to role back gains made in the sixties.

Recently, MoveOn reported Top 10 Shocking Attacks from the GOP's War on Women ranging from changing the definition of rape to denying abortions in all circumstances to limiting access to contraception to defunding preschool programs and family planning agencies. It's not only the women's movement that's being attacked, but also the civil-rights movement, the consumer movement, the environmental movement, and the gay-rights movement. All the accomplishments of the sixties are under attack by Republicans.

Since the Reagan era, Republicans have been adept at mobilizing resentment based upon the notion of the "culture of victimization." In campaign after campaign Republicans have fueled the anger of lower and middle-class whites and redirected it to imaginary groups: liberal elites who promote "sixties values," black welfare "queens," promiscuous women who want abortion on demand, aggressive homosexuals who seek to convert others to their "lifestyle," and most recently illegal aliens who steal American jobs and benefits. Tom Frank described this process in What's the Matter with Kansas: within the Republican Party, economic conservatives distract social conservatives with inflammatory social issues in order to get their votes and keep them from noticing the life-threatening problems caused by conservative economic policies.

What we're seeing from the 2012 Republican Party is more than a strategy. . . . there is now an overriding "conservative moral logic." This is inherently patriarchal: "The idealized conservative family is structured around a strict father." Family values are the values established by the strict father. By extension, they are set by a Republican candidate such as Romney or Santorum.

Lakoff observes that conservatives project the "strict father" model onto all societal institutions. A proper church is governed by a strict father God, the Christian Old Testament God. The marketplace is controlled by a mythical strict father, whose invisible hand ensures that business transactions ultimately benefit society. The military is run by a strict father without interference from civilians. And so forth.

To incite their conservative base, the Romney and Santorum campaigns have turned away from the economy to family values. And they have focused on women's rights and health services. From their perspective men -- the strict fathers -- control reproduction.

The GOP objective is reverse the gains made in the sixties -- gains they link to "sixties values." Republicans plan to destroy the civil-rights movement, the consumer movement, the environmental movement, the gay-rights movement, and the women's movement.

It's all frightening and, if the GOP agenda succeeds, this nation will not be a welcoming place for many of us.

Another Gay Mormon Suicide

Last Sunday a relatively young Mormon man took his own life. While one can never know what constitutes the last straw that makes one decide that suicide is the perceived best option, there is obvious speculation the the religious tensions of Chris Beers' upbringing and the dictates of his church may have tipped the scales toward suicide as a final solution. Having engaged in two serious suicide attempts myself in the past that landed me in the hospital, besides the constant tension of inner religious conflict, living in the larger and still homophobic society is likewise a major contributing factor. Having to face literally daily legal discrimination in Virginia and many other states is soul killing. None of us should have to make a daily effort to justify our own humanity and right to the same civil rights as other members of society. Here are highlights from The Advocate on this sad loss:

As friends mourn the death of Chris Wayne Beers, a gay man and former Mormon missionary and church employee who took his own life Sunday, some are noting tensions between LGBT people and the church, which opposes gay relationships.

Utah native Beers, 38, had worked in the missionary and travel departments for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, according to a Web posting by Affirmation, a group working for LGBT equality within the LDS church. At the time of his death he was employed by the University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City.

“While struggles with his faith may not have been the direct reason he took his own life, I’m hard pressed to imagine that there isn’t an indirect cause, at least. If we, as Mormons, did what we were supposed to do for all of our brothers and sisters — love them unconditionally — Chris would never have been stripped of his family of faith. He would not have been forced to choose. He would have had a deeper, richer and more spiritual support network to walk him through what life brought his way. Sadly, like many, he was given the ‘Sophie’s Choice:’ live life according to a heterocentric cultural practice and do so alone, without a partner — or live life without your family of faith and the strength of that spiritual community.”

Fortunately, my family did not desert me. But along the way in coming out, I was forced from a law firm and my career severely damage, in my divorce case, I was largely put on trial for being gay by reactionary judge who thinks being gay is a "choice" and I had to leave the church in which I was raised. All because some cling to a few antiquated Bible passages (while ignoring many, many others) and others make a lucrative career hawking anti-gay bigotry. At times I still experience an overwhelming weariness with having to rally and justify my existence daily in a manner that straights will never know. Rest in peace, Chris Beers.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Virginia and USA Rank Poorly on Gay Travel Index

Spartacus International Gay Travel has prepared a gay tourism advisory index that ranks the various states in the United States and foreign nations based on their acceptance (and legal protection) of or hostility towards LGBT individuals. Scroll down to find the state rankings. The company describes the compilation effort this way:

The Spartacus International Gay Travel Index rates all of the Spartacus destinations listed in the Spartacus International Gay Guide according to the laws and local customs of each country. We have 15 categories ranging from gay-marriage to death penalty for homosexuals.

As for the individual states in the United States, the company had this to say:

As the legal situation for homosexuals in the different US states is so varied, we have listed each of the 50 states which make up the USA.
In the state rankings, Virginia is ranked in the third from the bottom category and 35th overall. It wins a zero total in points. The only positive pointed cited for Virginia is that it has an equal age of consent for straight and gay individuals. This positive is negated by the notation "locals are hostile." Not exactly positives in attracting one of the most resilient tourism market niches.

As for the international rankings, the United States - the supposed land of liberty and religious freedom - comes in nine tiers down from the top ranking, behind all of pretty much all of Europe, Canada, Australia, a number of South American nations and even places like New Caledonia. One of the reasons for the poor ranking is the lack of any non-discrimination laws at the federal level. Yes, the image that the USA likes to project of itself is sadly, largely a myth. The truth is that the USA is a land of special rights for far right Christians.

Friday Morning Male Beauty

GOP Insanity and Paranoia Deepens

It's getting to the point where to be a Republican on needs to be clutching a Bible - a KJV, of course - and wearing a tin foil hat. A lobotomy might also be helpful. There seems to be no alleged plot and conspiracy that the Christianist/Tea Party base of the GOP won't embrace. And actual facts and reality do nothing to dissuade them. Having Mitt Romney fan the flames of crazy conspiracy theories, obviously doesn't help. Now, Mitt :Etch A Sketch" Romney is fanning the flames that gasoline prices are rising because of an Obama administration conspiracy. It's just as disingenuous as the mantra of many in the GOP "drill, baby drill" who conveniently leave out the detail (known to anyone honest in the oil industry) that drilling, even if successful in finding new oil production, often doesn't truly increase supplies for a decade. That's right, drilling today might lead to more gas supplies in 2022, but certainly not this summer. Yet the cretins in the GOP base - there really is no other term to adequately describe them - buy the lies and deliberate bullshit from slippery politicians like Romney time and time again. Paul Krugman demolishes this latest conspiracy myth in a column in the New York Times. Here are some highlights:

Stop, hey, what’s that sound? Actually, it’s the noise a great political party makes when it loses what’s left of its mind. And it happened — where else? — on Fox News on Sunday, when Mitt Romney bought fully into the claim that gas prices are high thanks to an Obama administration plot.

This claim isn’t just nuts; it’s a sort of craziness triple play — a lie wrapped in an absurdity swaddled in paranoia. It’s the sort of thing you used to hear only from people who also believed that fluoridated water was a Communist plot. But now the gas-price conspiracy theory has been formally endorsed by the likely Republican presidential nominee.

[L]et’s get the facts on gas prices straight. First, the lie: No, President Obama did not say, as many Republicans now claim, that he wanted higher gasoline prices. . . . .The claim that Mr. Obama wanted higher prices is a lie, pure and simple.

And it’s a lie wrapped in an absurdity, because the president of the United States doesn’t control gasoline prices, or even have much influence over those prices. Oil prices are set in a world market, and America, which accounts for only about a tenth of world production, can’t move those prices much. Indeed, the recent rise in gas prices has taken place despite rising U.S. oil production and falling imports.

Finally, there’s the paranoia, the belief that liberals in general, and Obama administration officials in particular, are trying to make driving unaffordable as part of a nefarious plot against the American way of life. And, no, I’m not exaggerating. This is what you hear even from thoroughly mainstream conservatives.

As Richard Hofstadter pointed out in his classic 1964 essay “The Paranoid Style in American Politics,” crazy conspiracy theories have been an American tradition ever since clergymen began warning that Thomas Jefferson was an agent of the Bavarian Illuminati. But it’s one thing to have a paranoid fringe playing a marginal role in a nation’s political life; it’s something quite different when that fringe takes over a whole party, to the point where candidates must share, or pretend to share, that fringe’s paranoia to receive the party’s presidential nod.

And it’s not just gas prices, of course. In fact, the conspiracy theories are proliferating so fast it’s hard to keep up. Thus, large numbers of Republicans — and we’re talking about important political figures, not random supporters — firmly believe that global warming is a gigantic hoax perpetrated by a global conspiracy involving thousands of scientists, not one of whom has broken the code of omertà.

Why is this happening? At least part of the answer must lie in the way right-wing media create an alternate reality. For example, did you hear about how the cost of Obamacare just doubled? It didn’t, but millions of Fox-viewers and Rush-listeners believe that it did.

But what about the broader electorate? If and when he wins the nomination, Mr. Romney will try, as a hapless adviser put it, to shake his Etch A Sketch — that is, to erase the record of his pandering to the crazy right and convince voters that he’s actually a moderate. And maybe he can pull it off.

But let’s hope that he can’t, because the kind of pandering he has engaged in during his quest for the nomination matters. Whatever Mr. Romney may personally believe, the fact is that by endorsing the right’s paranoid fantasies, he is helping to further a dangerous trend in America’s political life. And he should be held accountable for his actions.

The past generations of Republicans in my family would be utterly horrified over what has become of a party where facts and rational though used to matter.

Walking While Black - Bigotry is Alive and Well in America

The tragic death - actually, murder seems a more appropriate term from the facts available - of 17 year old Trayvon Martin continues to make headlines and put in sharp detail the continued hate and bigotry still too prevalent in American society. Especially, the so-called conservative elements of society that rally to the GOP message of hate and the playbook of God, guns and gays. This sickness of having to have others to look down upon and hate in order to feel good about one's self is the common thread that traces through the undisguised anti-immigrant, anti-black, anti-gay - even anti-woman mindset that are the pillars of Republican Party policy and the "purity tests" of the white males who predominate the GOP. This inability and/or refusal to see the humanity of others is both scary and disturbing. Eugene Robinson has a column in the Washington Post that looks at the frightening reality faced by black males in America. Here are some highlights:

For every black man in America, from the millionaire in the corner office to the mechanic in the local garage, the Trayvon Martin tragedy is personal. It could have been me or one of my sons. It could have been any of us.

How many George Zimmermans are out there cruising the streets? How many guys with chips on their shoulders and itchy fingers on the triggers of loaded handguns? How many self-imagined guardians of the peace who say the words “black male” with a sneer?

We don’t yet know every detail of the encounter between Martin and Zimmerman in Sanford, Fla., that ended with an unarmed 17-year-old high school student being shot dead. But we know enough to conclude that this is an old, familiar story.

We know from tapes of Zimmerman’s 911 call that he initiated the encounter, having decided that Martin’s presence in the neighborhood was suspicious. We know that when Zimmerman told the 911 operator that he was following Martin, the operator responded, “Okay, we don’t need you to do that.” We know that Zimmerman kept following Martin anyway.

“This guy looks like he is up to no good,” Zimmerman said on the 911 tape. Please tell me, what would be the innocent way to walk down the street with an iced tea and some Skittles? Hint: For black men, that’s a trick question.

Some commentators have sought to liken Martin’s killing to the 1955 murder of Emmett Till . . . When Till was killed in Mississippi at 14 — accused of flirting with a white woman — this was a different country. State-sanctioned terrorism and assassination were official policy throughout the South.

I hear from people who contend that racism no longer exists in this country. I tell them I wish they were right. Does it matter that Zimmerman is himself a member of a minority group — he is Hispanic — or that his family says he has black friends? Not in the least. The issue isn’t Zimmerman’s race or ethnicity; it’s the hair-trigger assumption he made that “black male” equals “up to no good.” This is one thing that hasn’t changed in all the eventful years since Emmett Till’s mutilated body was laid to rest.

Whether Zimmerman can or should be prosecuted, given Florida’s “stand your ground” law providing broad latitude to claim self-defense, is an important question. But the tragic and essential thing, for me, is the bull’s-eye that black men wear throughout their lives — and the vital imperative to never, ever, be caught on the wrong street at the wrong time.

Unlike blacks, gays can "pass" much of the time. But that doesn't mean there isn't often an undercurrent of fear in some settings. As recent anti-gay assaults in Washington, D.C., have underscored, like being black, simply being gay can put one's life in danger. Generally, one doesn't worry about it - not until you're being mocked and jeered in uncomfortable settings by folks who cheer on politicians like Rick Santorum - or even the local police as once happened to me right in Norfolk. Then the fear becomes palpable and one feels what Robinson describes..

Bayard Rustin - Civil Rights Hero, Balck and Gay

While black pastors continue to allow themselves to be played like violins by the white Christianist descendants of the very people who supported slavery, then segregation and then bans on interracial marriage, most in the black community still close their eyes to the reality that Bayard Rustin, one of Martin Luther King's most important lieutenants, was a gay man. Sadly, the homophobia so rampant in the 1960's forced Rustin to often remain in the shadows. And one result is that due to their own ignorance of accurate history, many black pastors continue to serve as water carriers for groups that in actuality despise them and their communities. One sees it here in Hampton Roads time and time again as black pastors rally on orders from the stealth racists and Christofascists at The Family Foundation based in Richmond. My friend and fellow LGBT Blogger Summit alumni, Irene Monroe, has a piece at Huffington Post that looks at Rustin's role in the battle for civil equality. Here are some highlights:

This month around the country, LGBTQ communities are celebrating Bayard Rustin's 100th birthday anniversary. Next month, AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts will have their annual Bayard Rustin Breakfast, and last month, the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association awarded State of the Re:Union, a nationally aired radio show distributed by NPR and PRX, first place in the Excellence in Radio category for the Black History Month special they did on Bayard Rustin, titled "Bayard Rustin: Who Is This Man?"

To date, he's still largely unknown because of the heterosexism that has canonized the history of last century's black civil rights movement.

Rustin was born March 17, 1912 in the Quaker-settled area of West Chester, Penn., one of the stops on the Underground Railroad. A handsome 6-footer who possessed both athletic and academic prowess, he is most noted as the strategist and chief organizer of the 1963 March on Washington that catapulted the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King onto the world stage. Rustin also played a key role in helping King develop the strategy of nonviolence in the Montgomery Bus Boycott (1955-1956), which successfully dismantled the longstanding Jim Crow ordinance of segregated seating on public conveyances in Alabama.

During the civil rights movement Bayard Rustin was always the man behind the scene, and a large part of that had to do with the fact that he was gay. As Albert Shanker, then president of the American Federation of Teachers and friend of Rustin's, stated in a review on Jervis Anderson's biography Bayard Rustin: The Troubles I've Seen, Rustin "was the quintessential outsider -- a black man, a Quaker, a one-time pacifist, a political, social dissident, and a homosexual."

African-American ministers involved in the civil rights movement would have nothing to do with Rustin, and they intentionally spread rumors throughout the movement that King was gay because of his close friendship with Rustin.

In a spring 1987 interview with Rustin in Open Hands, a resource for ministries affirming the diversity of human sexuality, Rustin recalls that difficult period quite vividly:

Martin Luther King, with whom I worked very closely, became very distressed when a number of the ministers working for him wanted him to dismiss me from his staff because of my homosexuality. Martin set up a committee to discover what he should do. They said that, despite the fact that I had contributed tremendously to the organization ... they thought I should separate myself from Dr. King . . .
As a March on Washington volunteer in 1963, Bayard Rustin was Eleanor Holmes Norton's boss. The renowned Congresswoman of D.C. recalls the kerfuffle concerning Rustin's sexuality. "I was sure the attacks would come because I knew what they could attack Bayard for," Norton stated to Steve Hendrix in a 2011 interview. "It flared up and then flared right back down," Norton stated. "Thank God, because there was no substitute for Bayard."

"When the anniversary comes around, frankly I think of Bayard as much as I think of King," stated Norton. "King could hardly have given the speech if the march had not been so well attended and so well organized. If there had been any kind of disturbance, that would have been the story."

To many conservative African Americans Rustin wasn't only "queer" in the literal sense but was perceived also as one who didn't have any of the approved and appropriate black sensibilities.

It is very sad that to this day, many in the black community know little or nothing about Rustin and the debt that they owe him. Hopefully, some day anti-gay black pastors will stop allowing themselves to be cynically manipulated by those who hate them.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

More Thursday Male Beauty

Warren Throckmorton: Day of Silence Derangement Syndrome is Breaking Out

As I have noted before, years ago Warren Throckmorton and I had very heated e-mail exchanges arguing about the Christianist backed myth that gays can change their sexual orientation. At the time, Throckmorton was an advocate for the change myth. With the passage of time, additional research studies and APA findings that so-called reparative therapy is basically snake oil that doesn't work and, in fact, can be dangerous, Throckmorton has evolved and now disavows and writes against the most virulent anti-gay poison of the Christianists. Would that more conservative Christians would accept scientific knowledge and recognize that their anti-gay views might just possible be wrong. Next month on April 20th is the annual "Day of Silence" which focuses on anti-gay bullying. It goes without saying that the anti-gay hate merchants are once again having fits over the event which candidly aims to stop the bullying and humane treatment advocated by the Christianists. Warren comments on the whining and shrieking of the haters in part as follows:

On April 20, thousands of students will remain silent for part of the school day to call attention to anti-gay bullying and harassment. Called the Day of Silence, the event is sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network.

In 2008, some Christian right organizations called on parents to keep their kids home on the Day of Silence. This is happening again this year.

The Day of Silence brings out some really odd statements from those opposed to it. One would think that sending your kids to school on that day is sinful. Take for instance this exchange, reported on Right Wing Watch, between Linda Harvey and Laurie Higgins:

Harvey: You can keep your kids home that day if you suspect or you find out that teachers are going to accommodate this protest silence in order to honor homosexuality, let’s be clear about what this is, this is a God-dishonoring day that honors sin, sinful, immoral behavior that most parents don’t want their children involved in.

Higgins: Christian teachers out there and if you’re working in a public school plan activities that involve student communications so students are not allowed to do this.

Laurie Higgins says the Day of Silence people promote kids remaining silent in class. While the organizers are fine with teachers who allow this response, GLSEN is clear that students do not have the right to remain silent if the class activities call on them to speak.

The irony is that Higgins and Harvey accuse the Day of Silence participants of violating school rules by remaining silent, and then turn around and urge truancy. Higgins and Harvey are fine with skipping an entire day of school, but become unhinged when those opposed to anti-gay bullying want to remain silent during non-instructional times.

I urge parents to resist Day of Silence Derangement Syndrome and send their kids to school on the Day of Silence (and even the misguided Day of Dialogue the day before). Send them to school and encourage them to become part of the solution via opposition to bullying. Students may want to remain silent, or take part in the Golden Rule Pledge which can take place any day of the year.

Did I mention that Linda Harvey's anti-gay cottage industry, Mission America is a registered anti-gay hate group (Harvey is pictured above at left)? As for the supposed "Day of Dialogue" pushed by hate merchants like Harvey, the participants basically focus on telling LGBT students that they are sinners and doomed to Hell for eternity because of their sexual orientation. Friendly Atheist as a parody of the "you're a sinner who is damned to Hell" cards the Christianist minions will be trying to hand out to LGBT students and their allies:

Contemplating Frothy Mix's Campaign End Game

There is much speculation that Rick "Frothy Mix" Santorum's chances of succeeding in his presidential nomination bid are dwindling rapidly and that, if he hopes to retain as much positive maneuvering space for the future, he needs to end his campaign soon. That, of course, assumes that Santorum is sane and rational - something I'm not willing in my opinion to concede. I would argue that if Santorum was sane and rational, he would not have championed half the batshitery that has been the hallmark of his campaign. That said, if the nation is lucky, Santorum will ignore the good advices of others in the GOP and utterly kill his political future. Would that his Kool-Aid drinking, knuckle dragging supporters be similarly driven into the political wilderness. Here are highlights from a Washington Post story:

“If Santorum runs a principled campaign and then concedes graciously then he has a big future ahead,” said Steve Schmidt, who managed McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign. “If he runs a character campaign attacking Romney, then Santorum’s future is more limited.”

Santorum could follow a similar path, according to conversations with a number of GOP strategists, both those aligned with Romney and those not.Early returns aren’t promising for those hoping for a peaceful wind down of the Santorum campaign — either now or in a month’s time.

The former Pennsylvania senator has seized on the “Etch-a-Sketch” comment made by a Romney aide on Wednesday. Not only did Santorum buy a bunch of the children’s toy at a Toys R Us in Louisiana but he’s also added an Etch-a-Sketch line into his stump speech. “You’re not looking for someone who is the Etch-A-Sketch candidate,” said Santorum on Wednesday. “You are looking for someone who writes what they believe in in stone and stays true to what they say.”

It remains to be seen whether Santorum will continue down that rhetorical road after Louisiana’s primary vote, which he is expected to win, on Saturday.

If he does, watch for more major establishment figures to come forward to both support Romney and carry a more overt warning to Santorum about what his continuing on his current course could mean to his political future.

Whether Santorum listens or not depends on what he wants. In 2016, Santorum would only be 58 years old (and only 62 in 2020) and, given how much he has overperformed expectations in this presidential race, he would almost certainly have a constituency on which to build a bid. (Of course, the potential 2016/2020 field is packed with talent on the Republican side and Santorum would not likely be in the first tier of candidates.)

On the other hand, if Santorum genuinely believes nominating Romney would send the Republican party not only to defeat in 2012 but to a place that it shouldn’t go ideologically, he may well stay in until he feels more comfortable with where the GOP is headed. And, Santorum knows that he is currently one of the last two men standing in this race — a prime spot that he may never be able to replicate in future races.

Remember: It’s not when Santorum decides to begin winding down his campaign that matters. It’s how he does it.

Book on Legion of Christ Sex Abuse Scandal to Overshadow Pope's Visit to Mexico

I have long maintained that the Roman Catholic Church sex abuse scandal epitomizes the moral bankruptcy of the Roman Catholic Church's utter moral bankruptcy. However, few of the disgusting vile stories track directly to the Vatican than that of Rev. Marciel Maciel, the Mexican founder of the disgraced Legion of Christ religious order who was a drug addict and pedophile - and a protected favorite of the far less than saintly Pope John Paul II. The story of Marceil is an indictment of both John Paul II and his successor, Benedict XVI who as the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, a/k/a the Inquisition, knew full well about the horrible and tawdry behavior of Marceil. Thankfully, a new book on the sins and sexual abuse of Marceil is being released just in time for Pope Benedict XVI's disingenuous PR trip to Mexico. In my view, Benedict XVI needs to have Marceil hung around his neck. Yes, his apologists will try to shift blame to John Paul II, but Benedict XVI could have done more to stop Marceil and he chose not to do so. Failures to act can be just as damning as acts of malfeasance. Here are some highlights from Huffington Post on what is likely to greet the Nazi Pope:

Pope Benedict XVI arrives in Mexico this week to a very public reminder of one of the Catholic Church's most egregious sex abuse scandals: A new book says internal Vatican documents show the Holy See knew decades ago of allegations that the Mexican founder of the disgraced Legion of Christ religious order was a drug addict and pedophile.

The documentation has been compiled in a book "La voluntad de no saber" ("The will to not know"), which is co-authored by Jose Barba, a former Legion priest who along with other priests in 1998 brought a church trial against the Legion's founder, the Rev. Marciel Maciel, for having sexually abused them while they were seminarians.

While details of the abuse were made public years ago, the new documents seem to solidify proof that the Vatican knew of the allegations long before taking action. Excerpts of the book were published by the Mexican magazine Proceso on Sunday.

"The importance of this book is that it documents the irrefutable evidence and proof that the Vatican has been lying about Maciel," said Bernardo Barranco, an expert from the Religious Studies Center of Mexico and author of the prologue of the new text.

The former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Benedict, headed the office that received their complaint in 1998, but it took the Vatican eight years to sanction Maciel for the crimes, while the accusers were branded as liars and discredited by the Legion.

Maciel, meanwhile, continued to enjoy Pope John Paul II's highest regard as the founder of one of the world's fastest-growing religious orders, able to attract money and vocations to the church despite the mounting accusations against him. . . . . Benedict took over the Legion in 2010 after the order finally admitted Maciel had molested seminarians and fathered three children with two women. A Vatican investigation determined Maciel, who died in 2008, was a religious fraud who had built an order based on silence and obedience that allowed his double life to go unchecked.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Barba said the book was based on information from some 212 documents in a Vatican archive that he said he had obtained from unnamed church officials.

The documentation, he said, demonstrates that the Vatican had information against Maciel as early as 1944 and particularly in the mid-1950s, when the Holy See launched its first investigation into the Mexican-born Maciel. The so-called apostolic visitation lasted from 1956 to 1958, during which time Maciel was suspended as the Legion's superior, though he was subsequently reinstalled.

The documents "show with complete clarity that the Vatican knew the true nature of this man, the accusations, the opinion of experts, the revision of other experts on top of previous experts, and the opinions that the apostolic visitors gave," Barba said.

"The revelation of these documents, previously unknown to the great majority of Legionaries who acted in good faith, shows that there were solid grounds for the removal of Fr. Maciel more than 50 years ago," Gill said in an email, calling anew for the Vatican to further investigate how Maciel could have hidden his behavior from public view for so long.

The Catholic blogger Cassandra Jones, for example, has cited letters sent in 1956 from the bishops of Cuernavaca, Mexico, and Mexico City to the Vatican's office for religious orders recommending Maciel's removal and a Vatican investigation into what Cuernavaca's then-bishop Sergio Mendez Arceo termed "devious and lying behavior, use of narcotic drugs, acts of sodomy with boys of the congregation."

But "La Voluntad de no saber," which comes out on Benedict's first full day in Mexico, promises more complete documentation from the Vatican's own archives. While the book is only being published in Spanish in Mexico with an initial run of 6,000 copies, the documentation will be available on a website, , organizers said.

Benedict himself has acknowledged Maciel was a "false prophet" but has insisted that he only learned the true nature of the allegations against Maciel in 2000. His office received Barba's complaint in 1998 and the Vatican's office for religious orders received the Mexican bishops' charges in 1956.

Barba and other victims have said they would never agree to a meeting with Benedict since it was his old office – the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith – that sat on the case for eight years while they suffered the Legion's defamation campaign to discredit them.

"For nothing in the world would I ever meet with someone who protected Maciel when he should have been punished," said Jose Antonio Perez Olvera, a former Legionary who was sexually abused by Maciel. "We don't make deals with criminals, nor with those who were their protectors and accomplices."

Sadly, too many Catholics refuse to admit that the Vatican is a foul criminal enterprise that has protected child rapists on literally a global basis. And if the sex abuse wasn't enough in and of itself to expose the criminality of the Vatican, now it appears that the Vatican Bank may have been laundering money - something that has caused JP Morgan Chase to close accounts with the Vatican Bank. The Daily Beast has coverage on this new banking scandal. Here are some excerpts:

The Vatican is in public-relations panic-mode ... again. But it’s not the pedophile priest scandal or Vatileaks that has the pope’s image-makers hopping. This time the Holy See faces serious allegations that its curious accounting practices are really a cover for a money-laundering scheme.

On March 30, the Milan branch of the global investment bank JPMorgan Chase will officially close the Vatican bank’s account No. 1365—held by the Institute for Works of Religion, or the IOR—on speculation that the account is being used for less-than-immaculate financial deeds. JPMorgan Chase sent a letter to the Vatican on Feb. 15 to notify them of the closure after the Vatican bankers were “unable to respond” to a series of requests about questionable money transfers from the account. The JPMorgan Chase account was a “sweeping facility” that was zeroed out at the end of each business day. The account, which was opened in 2009, had processed some $1.5 billion in funds to other Vatican accounts—mostly in Germany—during the short time it was open, . . . . the fact that Vatican bankers couldn’t quite explain the reason they moved so much money in such a short period of time led the bank to close the account.

Earlier this month, the U.S. State Department named the Holy See on a list of its own, as a “jurisdiction of concern” for money-laundering practices in its annual International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, alongside countries like Honduras and Syria.

“The best way for the Vatican to come clean would of course be to close the bank: it’s hard to see why it’s needed other than to shroud the Church’s financial dealings in a veil of obsessive secrecy,” he [Reuters financial columnist Pierre Briançon] wrote in a recent blog post. “Barring such a radical exorcism, a clean sweep is in order.”

Sexual abuse of children, protecting and covering up for sexual predators and money laundering - what does it take to make rank and file Catholics to open their eyes to the truth about the putrid Church leadership in Rome? If one has a shred of moral decency, I honestly do not understand how they can continue to hand money over the the Catholic Church.

Thursday Morning Male Beauty

Mitt Romney - The Etch A Sketch Candidate

Mitt Romney and his campaign staff clearly believe that voters are a bunch of cretins with no ability to recall Mitt's batshit crazy statements and shameless pandering to the worse elements in the GOP base. Why else, as noted at Think Progress, would a Romney Communications Director Eric Fehrnstrom make the statement in response to a question as to whether Romney's positions on issues during the primary campaigns might hurt his chances in November:

FEHRNSTROM: Well, I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign. Everything changes. It’s almost like an Etch A Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and restart all of over again.

Is Fehrnstrom equating independent and moderate voters with the knuckle draggers in the GOP base? Romney is already plagued by questions as to what - if anything - he really believes on a number of issues. This arrogance certainly will do nothing to improve the situation. Moreover, one can only hope that the media will not allow Romney to erase some of his more nasty statements made during the GOP circular firing squad primary campaign battles. Here's more from Think Progress:

Mitt Romney can’t be held accountable for his extreme right-wing views, at least according to his campaign’s senior adviser, who said the candidate should be given a “reset button” on any positions he’s taken during the primary campaign if he wins the nominations and faces off against President Obama in the fall.

Appearing on CNN this morning, Romney Communications Director Eric Fehrnstrom was asked if he’s concerned that Romney may alienate general election voters with some of the hard-right positions he’s taken during the primary to appeal to conservatives. Fehrnstrom brushed this concern off

It’s unclear if Fehrnstrom expects people to just forget some of the fairly radical stances Romney has taken on everything from immigration, to contraception, to climate change, or if he expects the candidate to change his positions on those issues in the coming months — something Romney is certainly known for doing. As Fox commentator Brit Hume said of Romney last year, “You are only allowed a certain number of flips before people doubt your character.”

2 Men Arrested on Gay Cruise in Dominica

I have long advocated that LGBT tourists boycott anti-gay destinations (including Virginia) and instead take their tourism dollars to friendlier nations. The arrest of two men aboard an Atlantis gay cruise on the Celebrity Summit cruise ship underscores why such boycotts are a wise move. The men who were arrested weren't even onshore but instead were accused by "someone on the dock." Moreover, some sources suggest that "having sex" might have in fact been merely holding hands or kissing. One can only hope that after this incident Atlantis will seriously rethink the ports of call on its cruises and leave backward, bigoted destinations like Dominica off the itinerary. The homophobic countries need to be hit where it hurt them most most: in the wallet. If enough cruise lines delete places like Dominica from their sailings and make it clear to locals why they are being boycotted perhaps financial needs will override the bigotry fanned from pulpits. Here are highlights from a Washington Post story on this outrageous bullshit:

Two California men on a gay cruise of the Caribbean were arrested Wednesday in Dominica, where sex between two men is illegal.

Police Constable John George said police boarded the cruise ship and arrested the two men on suspicion of indecent exposure and “buggery,” a term equivalent to sodomy on the island. He identified the men as John Robert Hart, 41, and Dennis Jay Mayer, 43, but did not provide their hometowns.

George said the men were seen having sex on the Celebrity Summit cruise ship by someone on the dock. The two were later charged with indecent exposure and are scheduled to appear before a magistrate Thursday morning. If found guilty, they could be fined $370 each and face up to six months in jail.

The ship carrying about 2,000 passengers departed Puerto Rico on Saturday and arrived in Dominica on Wednesday. It departed for St. Barts without the men, who are being held in a cell at police headquarters in the capital of Roseau.

The pastor of Dominica’s Trinity Baptist Church, Randy Rodney, praised the police for their intervention. “I am very pleased that the police were called in and have arrested the people in question. I have warned about gay tourism and its implications for Dominica,” said Rodney, who is a vocal critic of homosexuality and lesbianism.

The presence of gay cruises in the Caribbean has riled several conservative islands including Jamaica and Grenada, where anti-sodomy laws are enforced with strong backing from religious groups.

According to, no gay cruise lines sail to Jamaica or Barbados for fear of homophobia and possible violence. It said other places like the U.S. Virgin Islands welcome gay cruises.

Obviously, Dominica needs to join Jamaica and Barbados on the list of ports avoided by cruise lines, especially those hosting gay cruises.

The Worse Anti-Gay Bullying: By Political Candidates

The news is full of news about anti-gay bullying and the often tragic results that follow. Thankfully, more people in society - outside of Christianists circles, of course - see such bullying as wrong and are willing to see policies and laws adopted to stop such inhuman treatment of others. Sadly, there remains a huge area where gratuitous anti-gay bullying is allowed free reign and continues to set the stage for the continued denigration of LGBT individuals. No, I am not talking about anti-gay hate spread from pulpits across the country even though that too is a poisonous well of hate. I'm talking about gratuitous anti-gay venom spewed by politicians and political candidates. An article in The Guardian asks the question of which is worse, school and college bullying or that seen daily on the campaign trail and in legislatures across America. Not surprisingly, in making the argument against the conduct of anti-gay politicians Rick "Frothy Mix" Santorum is held up as Exhibit A. But there are many others who are equally foul - Virginia certainly has a long list that includes Bob "Governor Ultrasound" McDonnell, Attorney General Ken "Kookinelli" Cuccinelli, and of course, gay hater extraordinaire, Del. Bob Marshall. Here are some article highlights:

In a halfway decent world one wouldn't need to ask this question but, sadly, one must, this week more than ever.

Which of the following homophobic actions and statements do you find more despicable and more deserving of the most severe punishment possible: an 18-year-old in his first term at university spying with a webcam on his gay roommate and sending out tweets such as: "I saw him making out with a dude. Yay."

Or: a 53-year-old man on a high-profile political stage saying that gay marriage will cause America to "fail"; that homosexuals do not perform activities "that are healthy for society" and therefore do not deserve certain "rights" such as raising children; that gay "sexual activity" is not "equal" to heterosexual "activity"; that repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell is "playing social experimentation with our military ... And that's tragic"; that gay marriage is analogous to polygamy and, most infamously, bestiality.

Both of these examples are utterly horrible and it is a decidedly depressing state of affairs that they happened at all. So to compare them is not to say that one is, relatively speaking, forgivable. Yet when one results in a now 20-year-old man facing up to 10 years' imprisonment and possible deportation, and the other leads to this particular politician doing unexpectedly well in the Republican presidential primaries, one does have to question, shall we say, the consistency of national attitude, and what, really, is condemned and condoned.

Being against gay marriage, gay adoption and gay soldiers serving openly in the military is pretty much de rigueur for a Republican presidential candidate these days, as is inferring – obliquely or very openly – that being gay is a perversion and therefore not deserving of full rights. Rick Santorum has been the most vocal about this although, to be fair, sex in all of its forms appears to repulse him judging from his beliefs regarding contraception and pornography. Yet his statements about homosexuality have been especially disgusting, hardline and toxic.

There is, as far as I know, no evidence that anything Santorum or any of his Republican rivals has said has led to a gay person killing themselves. However, Ravi has not been convicted of causing Clementi's death, although it's hard not to suspect he is being punished for it.

Ravi deserves to be punished, without question. Yet it seems unlikely that making an example of him will do anything to fight against homophobia among teenagers when politicians seemingly legitimise the bigotry by spouting their noxious beliefs. The Republican candidates – Santorum especially – seem to think that a focus on social issues prove their morality. Yet what they do and say is bullying on a national scale, of kids just like Clementi and beyond.

Ravi will soon find out if he must leave America. Santorum et al, meanwhile, compete to run it. Like I said, the world we live in has some way to go towards decency.

Personally, I believe that people like Santorum have a special place in Hell reserved for them. I'd love to see their reaction when they get their just deserves. I always like to imagine such bigots meeting God who turns out to be a black lesbian.That would truly be divine justice.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

More Wednesday Male Beauty

William Levy Gutierrez - now on Dancing with the Stars

Virginia Voters Strongly Disapprove of the Virginia GOP's Christianist Agenda

I have noted many times that in Virginia, the Republican Party of Virginia ("RPV") is a de facto arm of the Christianist hate merchant organization known as The Family Foundation, an affiliate of Focus on the Family and the registered hate group, Family Research Council. Rather than seeking to implement policies and legislation that will respect and improve the lives of all Virginians, RPV's - and often Bob "Governor Ultrasound" McDonnell's - sole concern is not offending or disappointing the demands of the dominatrix like President of The Family Foundation, Victoria Cobb. In fact, the image at left, in my opinion, well illustrates the sick relationship of the Virginia GOP to Cobb and haters at The Family Foundation. If Cobb and her fellow religious extremists are happy, RPV's attitude is that the rest of Virginia's citizenry can literally go to Hell. Happily, this brazen disregard for the majority of Virginians and slavish obedience to The Family Foundation appears poised to bite RVP and Bob McDonnell in the ass. As Blue Virginia is reporting, the results from Quinnipiac Polls indicates that a majority of Virginians are none too pleased with the Virginia GOP. Here are some poll highlights:

Virginia voters disapprove of two hotly debated measures, to make it harder to get an abortion and easier to buy a handgun, as job approval ratings for Gov. Bob McDonnell and the State Legislature both drop, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

Voters approve 53 - 32 percent of the job Gov. McDonnell is doing, down from a 58 - 24 percent score February 9 and McDonnell's lowest rating [since the polls began]

Virginia voters disagree 52 - 41 percent with a new law that requires women seeking an abortion to undergo an ultrasound examination at least 24 hours before the procedure.

Voters say 72 - 21 percent that government should not make laws which try to convince women seeking an abortion to change their minds.

Voters also prefer 53 - 40 percent Virginia's old law which limited an individual's handgun purchases to one per month, over the new law which has no limits.

McDonnell gets a 77 - 13 percent approval among Republicans compared to 83 - 7 percent last month. His 53 - 33 percent approval rating among independent voters compares to 59 - 19 percent then. Democrats disapprove 49 - 35 percent, little changed from 47 - 34 percent last month.

The state's other statewide elected officials all retain their net positive ratings:

• U.S. Sen. Mark Warner 62 - 23 percent;
• U.S. Sen. Jim Webb 49 - 28 percent;
• Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling 36 - 21 percent;
• Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli 45 - 32 percent.

Women disapprove of the new ultrasound/abortion law 49 - 44 percent, while men disapprove 56 - 38 percent. Republicans approve 61 - 31 percent, while disapproval is 67 - 27 percent among Democrats and 56 - 39 percent among independent voters.

Women want the one-per-month limit of Virginia's old gun law 58 - 33 percent while men are split 47 - 48 percent.
Hopefully, kissing the bigoted asses of The Family Foundation while ignoring the desires of other Virginians will continue to cost McDonnell support and dash his dreams - or perhaps delusions - of a vice presidential nominee nod.

Quote of the Day: Christianists Are Creating Agnostics and Atheists

A number of studies and surveys have shown that the fastest growing religious category is the so-called "Nones." These nones espouse no religious affiliation and are reacting to the increasingly ugly face of religion and Christianity in particular in America and around the world. Andrew Sullivan sums the situation up wonderfully in a post today. Here's the pertinent part of the post:

Is Christianism Breeding Atheists? Why would it not? The way in which the next generation has been exposed to Christianity this past decade has been toxic to the faith. Christianism isn't just corrosive of our political order; it is deeply destructive to Christianity itself. Go to any college campus and ask the uncommitted their views of Christianity. What I hear is intolerance, anger, anti-gay prejudice, sexual obsession, and hatred of Islam. How many people Rick Santorum has scared off Christianity for life is beyond reckoning. And the bile directed at gay people has been deeply damaging in getting across to people what Jesus' message really was: which is, in many cases, almost the opposite of that of his current most prominent representatives in the media.

But the anti-gay Christianists are not solely responsible for the decine in religion among the younger generations. The "good Christians" have responsibility too although to a far lesser extent. Their failing? Not standing up to the hate merchants who have hijacked the Christian moniker. Andrew sums it up this way:

So Christianity in America, as Ross Douthat's excellent forthcoming book explains, is undermined by both the political temptation and degeneracy on the evangelical right and the failure of mainline Protestantism to advance a Christianity that is both at ease with modernity but also determined to transcend its false gods of money, celebrity, and power, and to require more from its adherents.

I've noted that the Episcopal Church and Evangelical Lutheran Church in America have in some instances found the spine to openly oppose the far right hate merchants (e.g., in Washington State and some parts of Minnesota) but they and other "good" denominations need to do much, much more. They need to put doing what is right ahead of what avoids intra-denominational frictions. The truth is that Christianity needs to change for the positive or else long term it will die. Frankly, the death of Christianity as marketed by the Christianist would be a positive development for society and the world.

Starbucks CEO Smacks Down Anti-Gay Marriage Bigots

Maggie Gallagher of NOM and other professional gay haters (e.g., Tom Strobar, President of Citizen Action) attended the annual shareholders meeting of Starbucks and tried to cause a stink over the corporation's very public support of same sex marriage in Washington State. Things did not go according to plan for the Christofascists to say the least. In response to NOM's complaint about Starbucks' support for marriage equality, Starbucks CEO Howard Shultz responded as follows:

"Any decision of this type or magnitude has be made with great thoughtfulness and I would assure you that a senior team at Starbucks discussed this. To be very candid with you, this was not something that was a difficult decision for us and we did share this with the board as well. [snip] We made that decision, in our view, through the lens of humanity and being the kind of company that embraces diversity."

As Joe Jervis reports, The assembled Starbucks stockholders responded with strong applause to Shultz's remarks. Not surprisingly, NOM's panties are in a total knot and has started a "dump Starbucks" petition. I for one will make a point of increasing my patronage of the Starbucks located a few doors down from my office.