Thoughts on Life, Love, Politics, Hypocrisy and Coming Out in Mid-Life
Saturday, April 21, 2012
America’s - and the GOP's - Christian Hypocrisy
As the Pew Research Center recently discovered, “Most people who agree with the religious right also support the Tea Party” and its ultra-conservative economic agenda. Summing up the situation, scholar Gregory Paul wrote in the Washington Post that many religious Christians in America simply ignore the Word and “proudly proclaim that the creator of the universe favors free wheeling, deregulated union busting, minimal taxes, especially for wealthy investors, and plutocrat-boosting capitalism as the ideal earthly scheme for his human creations.”
The good news is that this may be starting to change. In recent years, for instance, Pew has found that younger evangelicals are less devoutly committed to the Republican Party and its Tea Party-inspired agenda than older evangelicals.
- Nearly 6-in-10 college age millenials favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally.
- 8-in-10 college millenials attending a private college or university support same sex marriage.
- Almost two-thirds of millennials say that "anti-gay" describes present day Christianity.
- 6-in-10 say that present day Christianity is judgmental.
- 58% agree that "hypocritical" describes present day Christianity.
- Milleninials across all major religious groups favor the DREAM ACT.
Anti-Gay Manhattan Declaration Author, Watergate Felon, Chuck Colson Dead at 80
Chuck Colson, the virulently anti-gay theocrat, Evangelical Christian Prison Fellowship founder, Watergate felon, and Manhattan Declaration co-author, died today at the age of 80, after a brain hemorrhage earlier this month. President Richard M. Nixon’s self-described “hatchet man,” Colson — who turned to religion just before he began serving a prison sentence as one of the Watergate Seven — had the reputation of a “dirty tricks” man, but later became highly-regarded within the ranks of the radical religious right. Colson in recent years was a chief religious flag waver falsely claiming the rights of Christians are being compromised.Colson co-authored the Manhattan Declaration with National Organization For Marriage (NOM) founder Robert P. George, whom Colson routinely praised.
The Los Angeles Times described Colson’s Manhattan Declaration as incautious, “apocalyptic,” “disingenuous,” “irresponsible and dangerous,” and chastised its “Christian religious leaders who, even as they insist on their right to shape the nation’s laws, are reserving the right to violate them.” The Times also labeled the Declaration’s attack on same-sex marriage as a “canard,”. . . .Colson repeatedly attacked same-sex marriage and homosexuality. He wrongly stated “homosexual behavior” is more “dangerous than smoking, it lowers the life expectancy dramatically.” Colson also falsely stated that legalizing same-sex marriage was “sanctioning behavior known to be dangerous.” And, again falsely, stated that gays and lesbians “don’t want marriage; they want their sexual choices affirmed as normal and moral.”
And as late as last year, despite years of research to the contrary, Colson was publicly advocating that homosexuality was both a choice and avoidable if parents “properly” raised their children.
Author Jeff Sharlet, who has researched and written extensively on the radical religious right, upon learning of Colson’s passing, today wrote via Twitter: Chuck Colson was a cruel, vain, and arrogant man in all phases of his life, a dissembler & a hater to the end. RIP.
Anglican Priest - Jesus Was 'Probably Gay'
Preaching on Good Friday on the last words of Jesus as he was being executed makes great spiritual demands on the preacher. The Jesuits began this tradition. Many Anglican churches adopted it. Faced with this privilege in New Zealand's capital city, Wellington, my second home, I was painfully aware of the context, a church deeply divided worldwide over issues of gender and sexuality. Suffering was my theme. I felt I could not escape the suffering of gay and lesbian people at the hands of the church, over many centuries.
Was that divisive issue a subject for Good Friday? For the first time in my ministry I felt it had to be. Those last words of Jesus would not let me escape. "When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, 'Woman behold your son!' Then he said to the disciple. 'Behold your mother!' And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home."
That disciple was John whom Jesus, the gospels affirm, loved in a special way. All the other disciples had fled in fear. Three women but only one man had the courage to go with Jesus to his execution. That man clearly had a unique place in the affection of Jesus. In all classic depictions of the Last Supper, a favourite subject of Christian art, John is next to Jesus, very often his head resting on Jesus's breast. Dying, Jesus asks John to look after his mother and asks his mother to accept John as her son. John takes Mary home. John becomes unmistakably part of Jesus's family.
Jesus was a Hebrew rabbi. Unusually, he was unmarried. The idea that he had a romantic relationship with Mary Magdalene is the stuff of fiction, based on no biblical evidence. The evidence, on the other hand, that he may have been what we today call gay is very strong. But even gay rights campaigners in the church have been reluctant to suggest it. A significant exception was Hugh Montefiore, bishop of Birmingham and a convert from a prominent Jewish family. He dared to suggest that possibility and was met with disdain, as though he were simply out to shock.
Had he [Jesus] been devoid of sexuality, he would not have been truly human. To believe that would be heretical. Heterosexual, bisexual, homosexual: Jesus could have been any of these. There can be no certainty which. The homosexual option simply seems the most likely. The intimate relationship with the beloved disciple points in that direction. It would be so interpreted in any person today. Although there is no rabbinic tradition of celibacy, Jesus could well have chosen to refrain from sexual activity, whether he was gay or not. Many Christians will wish to assume it, but I see no theological need to. The physical expression of faithful love is godly. To suggest otherwise is to buy into a kind of puritanism that has long tainted the churches.
I am only too aware how hurtful these reflections will be to most theologically conservative or simply traditional Christians. The essential question for me is: what does love demand? For my critics it is more often: what does scripture say? In this case, both point in the same direction.
Whether Jesus was gay or straight in no way affects who he was and what he means for the world today. Spiritually it is immaterial. What matters in this context is that there are many gay and lesbian followers of Jesus – ordained and lay – who, despite the church, remarkably and humbly remain its faithful members. Would the Christian churches in their many guises more openly accept, embrace and love them, there would be many more disciples.
Concern in GOP Over State Focus on Social Issues
[T]his year, with the nation heading into the heart of a presidential race and voters consumed by the country’s economic woes, much of the debate in [Republican controlled] statehouses has centered on social issues.Tennessee enacted a law this month intended to protect teachers who question the theory of evolution. Arizona moved to ban nearly all abortions after 20 weeks, and Mississippi imposed regulations that could close the state’s only abortion clinic. Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin signed a law allowing the state’s public schools to teach about abstinence instead of contraception.The recent flurry of socially conservative legislation, on issues ranging from expanding gun rights to placing new restrictions on abortion, comes as Republicans at the national level are eager to refocus attention on economic issues.Some Republican strategists and officials, reluctant to be identified because they do not want to publicly antagonize the party’s base, fear that the attention these divisive social issues are receiving at the state level could harm the party’s chances in November, when its hopes of winning back the White House will most likely rest with independent voters in a handful of swing states.One seasoned strategist called the problem potentially huge. But others said that actions taken by a handful of states would probably have little impact on the national campaign.John Weaver, a Republican strategist who worked on the presidential campaigns of Senator John McCain and Jon M. Huntsman Jr., said that the attention Republicans were paying to social issues at the state level could cost the party support from several important blocs of voters, including independents, women and young people voting for the first or second time. “I think it’s problematic,” he said, “not just for this national election we’re facing, but for the long-term health of the party.”When Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia, the chairman of the Republican Governors Association, appeared on the MSNBC program “Morning Joe” last week to talk about his state’s successful efforts to lower its unemployment rate, he found himself facing a number of questions about something else: the law he signed requiring women to undergo an ultrasound before getting an abortion, which received a great deal of attention this year.Now, as legislative sessions continue in many states, social issues continue to be debated and, sometimes, passed. On Tuesday, a Tennessee legislative committee advanced a measure that some have dubbed the “don’t say gay” bill because it “prohibits the teaching of or furnishing of materials on human sexuality other than heterosexuality” in elementary school.
Obama Endorses Federal Safe Schools and Anti-Bullying Laws
The White House today announced that President Obama is endorsing the Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA) and Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA), two bills pending in Congress to address bullying and discrimination faced by students across the nation
White House spokesman Shin Inouye tells Metro Weekly, "The President and his Administration have taken many steps to address the issue of bullying. He is proud to support the Student Non-Discrimination Act, introduced by Senator Franken and Congressman Polis, and the Safe Schools Improvement Act, introduced by Senator Casey and Congresswoman Linda Sanchez. These bills will help ensure that all students are safe and healthy and can learn in environments free from discrimination, bullying and harassment."
The SSIA would amend the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act to include bullying- and harassment-prevention programs, including ones based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The SNDA, modeled after Title IX, would add sexual orientation and gender identity to federal education nondiscrimination law.
The news comes, Inouye wrote, as "the White House Office of Public Engagement is holding a screening of the documentary Bully at the White House with bullying prevention advocates from a wide range of communities."
More than a year ago, the president held the first White House conference dedicated to discussing bullying prevention and sharing ideas and strategies for combating the problem.
Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network executive director Eliza Byard said in a statement, "Today's announcement is a vital show of support to students everywhere of all identities, backgrounds and beliefs who face bullying and harassment in school," said Byard. "By speaking out on GLSEN's Day of Silence in support of these two critical bills, the President has given greater hope to students who often feel that they have nowhere to turn.
Susan Bentley Joseph - The Loss of An Amazing Straight Ally
GOP Senate Candidate Joins Pro-Bully Caucus
State and federal lawmakers have responded to the wave of school anti-gay bullying and the suicides that they contribute to by introducing legislation prohibiting schools from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Conservative Republicans oppose such efforts and have characterized anti-bullying legislation as an infringement of religious freedoms and free speech.
Heather Wilson, a Republican running for U.S. Senate in New Mexico, joined the so-called pro-bullying chorus when she staked out her opposition to SB 555, the Student Non-Discrimination Act. . . . . Wilson argued that the bill would violate students’ free speech rights and criminalize “teasing”:
WILSON: I mean if somebody gets bullied for having, gosh a low voice — that’s never happened to me. … But I think one of the things why I don’t support the act is because I think it’s misplaced. They are things I’m willing to tolerate that I’m not willing to approve.
With respect to this particular agenda we have to recognize as parents that children tease each other because you’re short or you’re tall or you’re a redhead or because you’re ugly or because you’re smart or because you’re dumb or all kinds of differences and as parents we have to deal with that and strengthen our children to be comfortable with themselves and also to show empathy and acceptance towards others, but that particular act is so broad it would actually punish children and say that it’s prohibited to express an opinion with respect to homosexuality in the schools. I just think that’s wrong and it’s a violation of the First Amendment.
I'm sorry Ms. Wilson, but you are a lying, hateful douche bag - and that's being kind. Needless to say, I hope Ms. Wilson goes down to defeat. We do NOT need such bigots in the U.S. Senate.
Friday, April 20, 2012
Romney Hires Openly Gay Man as National Security Spokesperson
Rachel Maddow called it! Wednesday night she wondered why Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney delivered what was billed as a major talk in North Carolina – and never mentioned the antigay Amendment One on that state’s May 8 ballot. Mark this day, April 18, as the day Romney pivots to appeal to mainstream voters for the general election.
Well, given the Pew Research Center Poll two days ago indicating that gay marriage is the issue of least importance to voters, it may not be surprising then that Thursday afternoon the Romney campaign announced that Romney has hired openly gay Richard Grenell, a former spokesperson for the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations appointed by by President Bush, as his national Security and foreign policy spokesperson.
Grenell brings foreign policy chops and more than a decade of political experience to the aggressive but relatively young Romney staff. His is one in a series of hires as the presumptive Republican nominee rapidly expands his small staff as it moves into the general election against President Obama.Grenell has also blogged on the Huffington Post, where he wrote this piece entitled: Gay Leaders Need a Tea Party Style Shakeup — 111th Congress a Total Failure. An excerpt:
Gay Americans from outside Washington should demand that they stop sacrificing progress to further their personal political careers. It’s time we found some young gay leaders who will work for equality and not be concerned about pleasing the Democratic Party.
Gay politics are not black and white. It isn’t true that all Democrats are good on gay issues and all Republicans bad. The outcome of the Prop 8 vote in California, where the traditionally Democratic state also overwhelmingly voted for Barack Obama for president, proves that Democrats have a lot of work to do in their own party. Republicans have failed us, too. I am not suggesting we dismiss the GOP sins of advocating for small government policies while practicing intrusive, big government tactics. But Republicans who advocate laissez-faire principles can be great allies, just as liberal Southern Democrats can be strong opponents working against us.OK – now that Grenell is probably the highest ranking openly gay member of Romney’s campaign, might we see the GOP candidate pivot in a more pro-equality direction?
Personally, I will not be holding my breath waiting for any shift in the GOP approach to LGBT Americans. It would mean that the leadership would have to collectively stand up to the Christianists - something they have shown themselves afraid to do time and time again even though long term it would be the best possible move for the GOP's future. Meanwhile, it will be interesting to watch for the Christianists' reaction to Grenell's appointment
The Threat of the Extreme Right
Confessed mass killer Anders Behring Breivik planned to capture and decapitate former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland during his shooting massacre on Utoya island, he said Thursday. . . .
On the fourth day of his trial on terror charges, Mr. Breivik said he also planned to kill many more than the 69 people who died on the island, where nearly 600 people from Labor youth groups from around Norway were gathered for their annual summer retreat. “The goal was not to kill 69 people on Utoya. The goal was to kill them all,” Mr. Breivik said.
Mr. Breivik has confessed to the attacks but rejects criminal guilt, saying he was acting to protect Norway and Europe by targeting left-wing political forces he claims have betrayed the country by opening it up to immigration. . . . he said the “Knights Templar” will lead a revolt against “multiculturalist” governments around Europe, with the aim of deporting Muslims.
The bit about protecting one's nation sounds familiar? Breivik merely put this kind of anti-minority and anti-diversity rhetoric into practice and in the process demonstrated what the the fruits of unrelenting hatred towards others can look like. His actions should have been a wake up call, yet we see the same extremism continually voiced by America's far right right up to the present. A column in the Washington Post looks at the dangerous rhetoric here in America. These are excerpts:
Not all overheated political rhetoric is alike. Delusional right-wing crazy talk — the kind of ranting we’ve heard recently from washed-up rock star Ted Nugent and Tea Party-backed Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) — is a special kind of poison that cannot be safely ignored.
Let me be clear: I’m saying that the extreme language we hear from the far right is qualitatively different from the extreme language we hear from the far left — and far more damaging to the ties that bind us as a nation. Tut-tutting that both sides should tone it down is meaningless. For all intents and purposes, one side is the problem.Nugent, who delivered his foaming-at-the-mouth peroration at a National Rifle Association convention, earned a visit from the Secret Service with his promise that “if Barack Obama becomes the president in November again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year.”
That might or might not constitute an actual threat to the president of the United States. More chilling, to me, was the way his audience of gun enthusiasts applauded in agreement as Nugent compared the Obama administration to a bunch of “coyotes in your living room” who deserve to be shot. Nugent ended by exhorting his listeners: “We are Braveheart. We need to ride into that battlefield and chop their heads off in November. . . . “If you can’t go home and get everybody in your lives to clean house in this vile, evil, America-hating administration, I don’t even know what you’re made of.”
Vile? Evil? America-hating? Nugent doesn’t just characterize those with different political views as misguided or wrong. He seeks to paint them as alien and anti-American — as enemies of this nation, rather than citizens with whom he disagrees.
It would be one thing if this sort of vicious intolerance came only from aging rockers whose brains may have been scrambled by all those high-decibel performances. But it comes, too, from an elected member of the House of Representatives. At a town hall meeting last week in Palm City, Fla., West was asked how many Marxists there are in Congress. He replied, “I believe there’s about 78 to 81 members of the Democratic Party who are members of the Communist Party.”
So this is what I want to know: Mitt Romney, do you agree with your prominent endorser Ted Nugent that the Obama administration is evil and hates America? House Speaker John Boehner, do you agree with your star freshman West that “78 to 81” of your colleagues are card-carrying communists?
For too long the GOP leadership has refused to denounce this kind of extremist and potentially violence inducing rhetoric. This silence sends a strong message to the vilest haters that their incendiary talk is perfectly fine and acceptable. When will we see an American version of Breivik take this language to heart and act on it?
LaBarbera Rants About "Pathological Gay Rights Advocates"
Americans For Truth About Homosexuality president Peter LaBarbera thinks about gay people a lot, even admitting that he talks about issues concerning gays and lesbians “all the time.” Therefore, it wasn’t a surprise to see him appear on VCY America’s Crosstalk with Jim Schneider where he disparaged the Day of Silence for making students “celebrate perversion” and creating “pro-homosexual indoctrination zones,” and criticized same-sex parents and their children for appearing at the White House’s Easter egg hunt. And after all that, LaBarbera grumbled that gays and lesbians have “an almost pathological drive” to their activism
LABARBERA: I think there is great harm in the schools becoming pro-homosexual indoctrination zones and that’s what’s happening Jim. Now GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network, has created a whole host of events, National Transgender Remembrance Day, all these various activities all designed to celebrate perversion, what we as Christians consider sin and perversion. So the school, a place of authority for schools, you have your parents and you have your teachers for your children and if the teachers and the administrators of the school are basically telling the kids that celebrating homosexuality is OK, then our schools are directly promoting immorality and corruption to children, and that’s wrong. This is one reason why many parents are just getting out of the public school system altogether.
LABARBERA: It’s so obnoxious, Jim, and I know we agree on this because we talk about it all the time. Everything they can use, the homosexual activists are using, even innocent events like an Easter egg hunt at the White House to promote homosexuality, because it’s all about the homosexual activists, right? Every institution, every event they can use to promote their lifestyle, they do. It’s an almost pathological drive to gain and to promote the acceptance of that which is unacceptable—homosexuality—so we see these innocent, wholesome events like the Easter egg hunt, being hijacked by the LGBT, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender movement, and this is one of those cases.
LABARBERA: When you open up the military to perversion, which is what President Obama and largely the Democrats although some Republicans helped, this is what you would expect. We shouldn’t be surprised when we assaults happening and Jim again, this administration, we’re going to see more homosexual activism in the military. Now they’re going to be lobbying hard for bases, for families, so-called gay families, to be allowed on bases. What does that mean? That means if you have a family with a young son or a young daughter next door could be homosexual soldiers modeling that immorality to your youngsters, right there in the military. . . . We’re seeing what we predicted which is that under the Obama administration, with the homoseuxalization of our military, the Pentagon has become the world’s largest so-called gay rights organization.
Porno Pete, in my opinion, needs serious mental health help. He might also do well to find himself a trick, have some hot sex and then realize that no lightning bolt is going to strike him dead. It is long past time that he cease inflicting his own pathological behavior on law abiding LGBT individuals and working to create an atmosphere where gay youth feel suicide is their best option.
Thursday, April 19, 2012
Bishop of Wheeling-Charleston Accused of Abuse in Philadelphia Trial
Complaining that he was blindsided while on church business in the Vatican, the bishop of Wheeling-Charleston, W.Va., on Thursday angrily denied trial testimony in Philadelphia alleging that he sexually abused a child during the late 1970s.
"I have never sexually abused anyone," Bishop Michael J. Bransfield said in a statement the diocese released. Bransfield, 68, issued his statement after two witnesses at the child sex-abuse and conspiracy trial involving Archdiocese of Philadelphia priests referenced him while describing their own alleged abuse, and a prosecutor said Bransfield had been accused in a separate instance of fondling a minor.The witness said he was building a flagstone wall when a car pulled up driven by then-Father Bransfield that contained several teen boys." 'They're his fair-haired boys,' " the witness said Gana told him after Bransfield drove away. " The one in the front seat he is having sex with.' " The witness said Gana and Bransfield were close friends and added that he was once sexually abused by Gana during a visit to Bransfield's Shore house in Brigantine.
"The implication was clear," the prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney Patrick Blessington, asserted in court Tuesday after the jury had been sent home for the day. "Bransfield is having sex with those boys, the same as Gana is having sex with Gana's boys." Prosecutors are also aware of a separate allegation "of a fondling of a student by Bransfield," . . .
On Monday, another accuser told jurors that once, after abusing him, Gana put him on the phone with Bransfield, who was then in Washington. He said Bransfield told him: "I'm going to have Stanley put you on a train and come down and see me sometime." Bransfield has never been charged with sexually assaulting any children, although his friendship with Gana was mentioned in the 2005 grand jury report of clergy sexual abuse in the archdiocese.
Bransfield said Philadelphia prosecutors had been told he was not aware of or present at the Brigantine house when the alleged sexual encounter occurred between Gana and the witness. The bishop added that he let "numerous friends and priests" use the Shore house. Gana, 69, was removed from ministry in 2002. He was laicized in 2006.
Wednesday's testimony about the friendship of Gana and Bransfield came after city prosecutors told Sarmina a West Virginia judge had refused to honor a "material witness petition" from the District Attorney's Office. According to Blessington, the unnamed West Virginia judge had prevented him from calling to the stand Msgr. Kevin Michael Quirk, one of three church judges in the 2008 canonical trial of the Rev. James J. Brennan on child sex-abuse charges.
The failure to address that question was again criticized Thursday by the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests: "Every day that Bransfield refuses to make Father Quirk testify, he is helping to keep alleged clergy sex crimes and cover-ups covered up. We have to wonder what Bransfield fears about Father Quirk's testimony."
What is truly disgusting is that these predatory priests felt that they could sexually molest youths as a matter of right - sort of a Droit du seigneur mindset - and their superiors seem to have gone right along with it - at least until such time as the talk and rumors could no longer be suppressed or the civil authorities became involved. What a cesspool. Yet these freaks and accessories to crimes continue to try to direct others on how they should live their lives. Why does anyone continue to listen to them?
Social Issues Rank as Lowest Priorities With Voters
[V]oters [are] rating the economy and jobs as the issues that are "very important" to their vote. Some hot-button social issues, like gay marriage and birth control, rank at the bottom of the list of voter concerns.
The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted April 4-15, 2012 finds that those who say the economy and jobs will be very important to their vote divide their support almost evenly between Obama and Romney. But the candidates each have advantages on other top-tier issues. Health care and education voters favor Obama by double-digits. Those who rank the federal budget deficit as a top priority favor Romney by a 19-point margin. Romney is also the preferred candidate among those who rank Iran as very important, while Obama leads among those who cite the environment.
Obama continues to owe his lead to support from women, college graduates, blacks, Latinos and lower income voters -- all of whom support him over Romney by double-digits.
While I remain less than thrilled with Obama, Romney's stance on LGBT rights, his contribution in support of Proposition 8, and his desire to gut the social safety net while giving huge tax cuts to the rich, make it impossible for me to consider voting for him under just about ant circumstances. Obama may not be the LGBT community's friend, but he's not our confirmed enemy either. Better to have a luke warm friend in the White House than an enemy.
Out of Touch: Mitt Romney Gives His Horse a Soundtrack
Mitt Romney may be running for president, but he still has time for his horse. Romney personally selected the music accompanying the choreographed performance of a horse competing in an international dressage championship beginning Wednesday.JFK at the wheel of a sailboat off Hyannis Port is something average folks can at least distantly understand. Choreographed horsemanship in fancy cloths to music just doesn't equate to anything most people experience in their lives. Yet Romney pretends that he's just an average guy.
Romney and his wife Ann co-own Rafalca, a highly regarded 15-year-old Oldenburg mare they have sponsored in numerous dressage competitions including this year’s World Cup Final, which takes place in the Netherlands. Dressage is a highly disciplined form of horsemanship that can appear to look like dancing.
The Romneys can’t attend the competition this year—due to that little thing known as running for president—but Romney kept up tradition by picking the music for Rafalca’s performance.
Anti-Gay "Day of Dialogue" Promotes Shame and Hate
On Friday, LGBT students and their allies will participate in the GLSEN-organized Day of Silence as a form of protest for the anti-gay and anti-trans bullying abuse that takes place in schools every day. Tomorrow [April 19th], however, is the conservative Christian response, Focus on the Family’s ironically-named Day of Dialogue (formerly “Day of Truth”), which encourages students to express God’s condemnation of homosexuality to their gay peers. Over the past week, various anti-gay groups have promoted the Day of Dialogue’s harmful message while decrying the Day of Silence as anti-Christian intolerance that children shouldn’t be exposed to. Here are some examples:
- A coalition of anti-gay groups promote a Day of Silence Walk Out because “homosexuality and cross-dressing are immoral.”
- The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins said the Day of Silence should be banned because it’s a “cover for the promotion of homosexuality.”
- The Liberty Counsel encourages parents to remove their students from school on the Day of Silence, and the group’s chairman, Mathew Staver, described the day as “a radical and forced agenda of homosexuality.”
- The American Family Association sent out an alert to its subscribers, encouraging parents to pull their students from school because GLSEN promotes “controversial, unproven, and destructive theories on the nature and morality of homosexuality.”
- Truth in Action Ministries described GLSEN’s efforts as using bullying to “promote and essentially indoctrinate children” into the “deadly lifestyle” of homosexuality.
- Barb Anderson (Minnesota Family Council), Peter LaBarbera (Americans for Truth About Homosexuality), and Laurie Higgins (Illinois Family Institute) condemned the Day of Silence as”evil propaganda,” “brainwashing,” and “child abuse” comparable to the Nazi Party and slavery.
- Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX) is encouraging students to hand out fliers encouraging students to believe their homosexuality can —and should — change.
[A]ll of Focus on the Family’s materials on the Day of Dialogue encourage students to use the Bible to condemn homosexuality as “broken” and promote ex-gay therapy that is known to be traumatic and ineffective. Given the overt antipathy encouraged against any LGBT-inclusive information, the day is perhaps better described as a Day of Monologue. This is a concerted effort to paint blatant in-school evangelism as welcome free speech and the stark silence of LGBT awareness as indoctrination, intolerance, and an unprotected disruption to school activities.
The Day of Dialogue is nothing short of encouragement to bully. Even if DoD participants do not attack or harass their targets, the stigma they encourage through condemning homosexuality helps maintain an unsafe climate for students with consequences that can last a lifetime.The Day of Dialogue is a direct attack on our nation’s youth, a campaign to impose not just religion in schools, but harassment, shame, and a lifetime of consequences. Not only do social conservatives oppose visible day of silence, they don’t want there to be a place in our schools for LGBT students at all.
War on Women Wounds GOP at Congressional Level
The Republican casualties in the “War on Women” are mounting. According to a new Democracy Corps/Women's Voices. Women's Vote Action Fund battleground poll, the current GOP agenda is sending unmarried women back into to the arms of Congressional Democrats.
Previous polling has shown President Obama gaining significantly among women, but Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg and women’s voting expert Page Gardner, who conducted the poll, say this is the first survey to show similar gains at the congressional level. Bottom line: in the entire battleground represented in this survey, including both Republican and Democratic districts, Democrats hold a 51 to 41 lead over Republicans among women.
The poll found Democrats making significant gains among women in districts held by Republican incumbents. They report: “In the Republican-held districts where we have data from last year, Democrats picked up a net 10 points among women since December and now lead by 4 points. Among unmarried women, Democrats lead by 20 points in Republican held districts.” Page Gardner said in an interview, “Unmarried women don’t like the GOP economic arguments and they don’t agree with what is happening in terms of argument about birth control.” President Obama should send embossed thank you notes to the GOP leadership and, of course, Rush Limbaugh. “Do not underestimate the power of what is happening on this contraception issue,” said Greenberg in a conference call with reporters. “Contraception is a Terri Schiavo moment; there is a sense of government intrusiveness.”
Obama should dash off a note to Congressman Paul Ryan as well. Unmarried women are feeling that the Republican Party is hostile to them on the economic front, thanks in large part to the Ryan budget—which voters give a big thumbs down.
The survey of likely voters was conducted in 56 congressional battleground districts with Republican incumbents and 23 Democratic-held battleground districts between March 29 and April 4 . . .
But before Democrats break out the champagne, the authors of the poll offer a warning: unmarried women are not as energized as their married sisters about voting in the 2012 election. They point out that unmarried female voters have the potential to significantly affect the outcome of the presidential and congressional elections in battleground districts, but much depends on Democrats ability to turn them out. The unmarried women are coming back after their 2010 fling with Republicans and the trend is in the right direction, but the numbers for Democrats among women are still not what they were in 2008.
The GOP's wounds are self-inflicted. Democrats need to pound on the issues that are driving women away and make sure they get to the polls in November.
Virginia Priest Who Headed Child Protection Office Accused of Abuse
Meanwhile, the Washington Post is reporting on the Vatican's crack down on American nuns - who in my opinion seem to get the true Gospel message far better than the power and control hungry bitter old men in dresses in Rome. Here are some highlights on this sad issue:
The Catholic priest who headed the diocese’s Northern Virginia office responsible for protecting children from sexual abuse was placed on administrative leave Wednesday while he is investigated for alleged sexual misconduct with a teenage boy.
From 2004 until last year, [Rev. Terry W.] Specht was director of the Office of Child Protection and Safety, which trains church employees and volunteers to spot abuse and monitors youth activities “to ensure that all contact with young people is appropriate,” its Web site says.
Specht, a native of Pennsylvania, became a priest in Arlington in 1996. He worked with multiple ministries focused on youths. From 2000 to 2004, he was chaplain and assistant principal at the 1,000-student Paul VI Catholic High School, one of four Catholic secondary schools in the diocese.
Specht has been more visible than many priests, and until late Wednesday he maintained a Twitter account on which he posted and commented on various conservative issues, poking fun at President Obama and more liberal Catholics who support gay rights. The photo on the account was of a bulldog.Neither he [diocesan spokesman Michael Donohue] nor the police would specify if the allegation involved one incident or more, or what sort of evidence was presented. Donohue said that an accusation itself would not automatically trigger the administrative-leave process. “The bishop has looked at the information provided from the very beginnings of this and made a determination that it was best to put Rev. Specht on the administrative leave,” he said.
Becky Ianni, an advocate for clergy sex-abuse survivors in Northern Virginia, said the allegation is disturbing. “It’s just frightening to think that this is the person educating people and perhaps he is a predator,” she said.
WASHINGTON — The Vatican has launched a crackdown on the umbrella group that represents most of America’s 55,000 Catholic nuns, saying that the group was not speaking out strongly enough against gay marriage, abortion and women’s ordination.
Rome also chided the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) for sponsoring conferences that featured “a prevalence of certain radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.”
The directive, which follows a two-year investigation by Rome, also comes as the Vatican appeared ready to welcome a controversial right-wing splinter group of Catholic traditionalists back into the fold, possibly by giving the group a special status so that they can continue to espouse their old-line rites and beliefs.
It added that “crucial” issues like “the church’s biblical view of family life and human sexuality, are not part of the LCWR agenda in a way that promotes church teaching. Moreover, occasional public statements by the LCWR that disagree with or challenge positions taken by the bishops, who are the church’s authentic teachers of faith and morals, are not compatible with its purpose.” Many bishops were angered when LCWR and Network, along with the Catholic Health Association, endorsed President Obama’s health care reform over the bishops’ objections.
In 2009 the Vatican launched a wide-ranging investigation of all women religious in the U.S., prompted by concern over their commitment to doctrine and tradition as well as the sharp decline in vocations. The number of nuns in America has dropped from 179,954 in 1965 to just 55,000 today.
I suspect the Vatican's actions will only serve to further reduce vocations. I truly look forward to the day Hispanic Catholic open their eyes to the moral bankruptcy of the Vatican and join the exodus of American Catholics from the Church. Once this happens, the Vatican will find it difficult to hide the step decline in membership in the American Church which has been masked by the influx of new Hispanic immigrants.
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Living Out and Proud - Returning to and Facing the Pst
Sometimes it is hard to let go off past hurts and slights no matter one's age or the age at which one came out and finally admitted to themselves and others who they really are. Not surprisingly, not many of my former neighbors were at the event. But some did attend, including a great straight couple with whom I had lost contact. The husband was my son's boy scout leader and my oldest daughter coached the neighborhood pool swim team that their boys swam for over a number of summers. They no longer live in the old neighborhood either, but it was great reconnecting and having them meet the boyfriend. The irony is that they confessed that they never liked the old neighborhood which they viewed as rather right wing in retrospect. Not that I knew their thoughts at the time that I lived in the neighborhood. Moreover, their favored circle of friends now includes many members of the gay community. I suspect that we will do more with them socially in the future.
Facing the past and old haunts and demons can indeed be frightening. But facing past demons can be liberating and prove that not all of you fears were justified. The best revenge is to be proud of who you are and refuse to allow others to diminish who you are. It's a lesson that sadly took me too many years to learn. I hope readers don't make my mistakes.
On a different note, the evening provided a great opportunity to get to speak with Paul Hirschbiel who is running for Congress and challenging hate group endorsed Scott Rigell. Check out Paul's website and support his effort. The nation doesn't need haters and Christianists like Rigell in Congress.
The Impermanent Republican Majority
[T]here was no more jaw-dropping figure from the 2004 presidential election than this finding from the nation’s far-flung metropolitan frontier: George W. Bush carried 97 of the nation’s 100 fastest growing counties. . . . . New century America was pulling young families and newly middle class immigrants to the far exurbs, creating a vibrant new habitat for the Republican Party.
Many of the cities, at least some of the more hollowed-out and aging urban cores, were written off as inconsequential. The new electoral game was in the places where farm fields were being plowed under for asphalt. In Karl Rove’s strategy for a “durable Republican majority,” as he called it, lasting at least a generation, the exurbs were a key component of his master plan.
After a monumental housing collapse, and eight years of less-predictable changes in where Americans live, that thinking has been thrown out.
[N]ow the population boom to the exurbs is over, at least for the moment, according to Census Bureau figures released earlier this month. An analysis of those numbers done by William H. Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, found that growth in the cities, and densely-populated older suburbs, has eclipsed that of the exurbs since 2010.
For political strategists reading the fine print in county-by-county population shifts, Frey’s point is one of several reasons to junk Rove’s majority scenario. Among the factors driving the urban growth spurt are a desire by young people to live closer to the urban core than the urban frontier, high gas prices and the toxic housing and lending environment. More American live alone than ever before — about 33 million people, 28 percent of all households — and most of them live in cities.
All of which bodes well for Democrats, the urban party. Obama won 21 of the 25 largest metro areas in 2008. Among population clusters in swing states, he carried the Denver metro area by 17 points, Las Vegas metro by 19 points and Orlando, the fastest-growing urban area in Florida, by 9. He also won the Tampa-St. Petersburg area, by five. Each of these showings were big moves for Democrats.
By winning the urban vote — which made up 30 percent of the electorate in 2008 – in such a lopsided manner, Democrats could afford to lose rural areas, which were 21 percent of the overall vote. When Sarah Palin talked on the campaign trail about the “real America,” she was referring to a shrinking one.
The trends since the housing collapse have made older suburbs denser, and thus more likely to vote Democratic in the minds of some strategists. Racial diversity, and the need for more government services and infrastructure, tend to make the older suburbs more like cities in their voting behavior, said Ruy Teixeira, who has written extensively about changing election demographics.
Teixeira has been predicting an emerging Democratic majority since 2002 – based on voting trends of young people, ethnic minorities and white, college-educated city dwellers. . . . The new population figures have only fortified Teixeira’s view. At the same time, turnout in this year’s Republican primary has been dominated by aging white male voters, not exactly a roadmap for the future, given the trends.
But before these Home Depot-cluttered counties can be painted blue, some caution is in order. It’s misleading to think the exurban frontier is closed, or even emptying out. What has settled down is the growth rate. . . . . Low interest rates, stable gas prices and a bounce back in the housing industry could bring fresh life to the far fringes.
Still, for Democrats, the geography of tomorrow is the urban renaissance – a boundary that now includes big parts of suburbia.