Saturday, December 29, 2012

More Saturday Male Beauty

Indiana Attorney General Wants States to Ban Gay Marriage

In a move that will likely prompt Virginia Attorney General Ken "Kookinell" Cuccinelli to follow suit Indiana Attorney General Gregg Zoeller (pictured at left) plans on filing an amicus brief with the U. S. Supreme Court in the Prop 8 appeal.    Rather than admit that he's a gay hating bigot, Zoeller is using a smoke screen of claiming that as Attorney General he has responsibility to defend state's rights.  It sounds like just the kind of bullshit excuse that would appeal to Kookineeli who never missing an opportunity to denigrate and undermine the rights of LGBT Virginians.   It will be interesting to see whether Kookinelli jumps on this band wagon in the midst of his campaign for Governor.  As noted in previous posts, unlike virtually every other attorney general to run for Governor over the last 30+ years, Kookinelli has not reigned from office so as to avoid the appearance of (i) politicizing the dispensation of justice in Virginia and (ii) forcing taxpayers to help underwrite his insidious campaign.   Here are highlights from the Evansville Courier& Press:

Simply put, my legal obligation as attorney for my client, the Indiana Legislature, is to defend state laws legislators have passed. Indiana has a statute defining marriage as between a man and a woman. If the Supreme Court were to strike down a similar California law, Proposition 8, as unconstitutional, then it would put Indiana's statute at risk.

Under our system of justice, both sides in a case must be zealously represented. Although Indiana is not a plaintiff or defendant in either of the cases the Supreme Court will hear, our state and other states have an undeniable interest in asserting each state's legal authority to define marriage as it sees fit within its borders. That's why my office, representing Indiana, jointly filed a friend-of-the-court brief along with 14 other states that urged the Supreme Court to keep the marriage-definition legal authority at the state level.

In the two Supreme Court cases, we are not arguing to strike down the legal authority of other states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex partners, if those states so choose. Instead we defend the authority of each state to pass and enact its own traditional marriage-definition laws at the state level — either through its legislature or directly by voters if it has a referendum process.

Defining marriage is an intrinsic function of state government that ought not be stripped from states as happened to California in one of the cases now being appealed. This is an important question of our time and therefore we asked the U.S. Supreme Court to exercise its role in our constitutional process to provide answers. Representing Indiana's case is my responsibility as Attorney General, an obligation that I will do to the best of my skill and ability.

Apparently Zoeller is to stupid to realize that he has made pretty much the same case as was made by first those who claimed that states had the right to determine whether or not slavery would exist within their boundaries and later by those who supported anti-miscegenation laws.   It goes without saying that Zoeller is an ignorance and bigotry embracing Republican.

Important Bills Blocked By Republicans In 2012

Looking back over the year that was 2012, it is timely to look at pro-equality and fair campaign finance legislation in Congress that was blocked by Congressional Republicans.  It was just LGBT citizens who were screwed over by GOP bigotry.  Women and even the disabled were targets of GOP batshitery.  Think Progress has a summary of six important bills that dies because of the GOP's anti-equality extremism.  Here are excerpts:

1. A minimum wage increase.  House Democrats proposed legislation in June that would have raised the national minimum wage to $10 an hour, but Republicans blocked it. The minimum wage is currently $7.25 an hour, even though it would need to be raised to $9.92 to match the borrowing power it had in 1968. If it was indexed to inflation, it would be $10.40 today.
2. Campaign finance transparency. The DISCLOSE Act of 2012, repeatedly blocked by Congressional Republicans, would have allowed voters to know who was funding the attack ads that flooded the airways from secretive groups like Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS.

3. The Buffett Rule.   Senate Republicans in April filibustered the Buffet Rule, which would have set a minimum tax on millionaires. Huge majorities of Americans consistently support the rule, which would raise tens of billions of dollars per year from Americans who have seen their incomes explode while their tax rates plummeted.

4. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act.   ENDA, which would prohibit discrimination in hiring and employment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, has languished in Congress for decades, and Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) “hasn’t thought much” about bringing it to a vote. 

5. U.N. treaty to protect the equal rights of the disabled.   Republicans blocked ratification of the United Nations treaty to protect the rights of disabled people around the world, falsely claiming it would undermine parents of disabled children. In fact, the treaty would require other nations to revise their laws to resemble the Americans With Disabilities Act and had overwhelming support from veterans and disabilities groups. It failed by 5 votes.

6. The Paycheck Fairness Act.  It’s about to be 2013, and women are still getting paid less than men for the same job. This year the Paycheck Fairness Act came up for a vote again (previous efforts to pass the law have been unsuccessful), but the Senate GOP still couldn’t get it together to pass the legislation. Republicans oppose the measure, saying it helps trial lawyers instead of women. But the country’s female doctors, lawyers, and CEOs might be inclined to disagree. 

Anyone who isn't an angry heterosexual white male with Christofascists tendencies truly needs to have their head examined if they vote Republican.  And, yes, this comment includes the self-loathing loons in the Log Cabin Republicans who remind me of a woman subjected to domestic violence who keeps returning to her abuser.

Will GOP Budget Cuts Mean Missing The Next Hurricane Sandy?

(Image credit: Getty Images North America via @daylife)
In their quest to slash and burn all kinds of government programs while seeking to retain tax cuts for the wealthy, Congressional Republicans may be setting the stage for a horrific loss of life if NOAA doesn't receive adequate funding to replace its aging weather satellite system - the system that allowed most recently predictions of where Hurricane Sandy would make landfall and the potential size of the storm surge.  As a Forbes article indicates, America may be looking at a time period when there will be no weather satellite coverage.  As a result, thousands of lives may be at risk due to a lack of adequate warning of approaching hurricanes and northeasters.  Do Congressional Republicans give a damn?  Apparently not based on their obstructionism and apparent desire to push the country over the "fiscal cliff."  They'd rather pander to and curry the favor of the rabid dogs of the GOP base.  Perhaps Scott Rigell's constituents in vulnerable Virginia Beach, Hampton and Newport News need to get on Rigell's ass and demand that their safety be put ahead of his partisan political games. Here are article highlights:

One of the government services that most of us take for granted is weather forecasting. It’s the satellite data provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that meteorologists in the U.S. rely on for accurate atmospheric data to make weather predictions. In particular, predicting the path of extreme weather conditions like hurricanes absolutely depend on NOAA’s polar weather satellites.

For example, if it weren’t for NOAA satellites, weather forecasters likely would not have been able to predict that Hurricane Sandy’s “left hook” into the Eastern Seaboard, which enabled local governments to undertake emergency preparations for the storm.

Unfortunately, due to what Undersecretary of Commerce Jane Lubchenco called, “chronic management problems,” it appears increasingly likely that the U.S. will have to suffer a at least a year without satellites starting around 2017 as the old satellites reach the end of their life cycle and the new ones are launched. And right now there’s no other alternative for getting that data,. The government is scrambling to do what it can to minimize the amount of time between the death of the old satellites and the launch of the new, but right now it looks like there will be at least some small gap.  But if we hit the Fiscal Cliff, all bets might be off.

According to the Aerospace Industries Association, a trade association representing aerospace manufacturers, the spending cuts mandated if the U.S. hits the Fiscal Cliff would include an 8.2 percent cut to NOAA’s weather satellite program. The association estimates that this would cost the jobs of 1,000 people who “design, build and operate weather satellites that have no equivalent or redundant system in the public or private sector.”

Regarding the potential for a loss of weather data, Craig J. Craft, commissioner of emergency management for Nassau County told the New York Times in October that ”We cannot afford to lose any enhancement that allows us to accurately forecast any weather event coming our way.”

Scott Rigell personifies much of what is wrong with today's GOP: he's an extremist on both social issues and taxation and puts the interests of special interests ahead of average Americans. Of course, Rigell looks down right sane compared to Ken "Kookinelli" Cuccinelli who will be the GOP nominee for Governor of Virginia.

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

The 25 Worst Anti-LGBT Villains Of 2012

Even though it makes my head nearly explode at times, I regularly follow some of the wingnut "news" sites and the leading anti-gay Christofascists out of a "know your enemy and what he/she is up to" approach.  One cannot combat lies and batshitery unless one stays informed about the activities of the forces of evil as I see many of these anti-gay zealots.  Most are motivated by religious fanaticism and/or making money by peddling hatred (e.g., Kirk Cameron who is desperate to avoid total obscurity).  Whatever the motivation, it is important to stay informed.  In this same vein, Huffington Post has assembled a collection of the twenty five worst anti-gay villains of 2012, although many have been villains for far longer.   Here are highlights from the post followed by a slide show:

While it's been a historic year for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, opponents have also come out in spades. From Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy to '80s teen heartthrob Kirk Cameron, who said homosexuality is "detrimental" and "destructive," we've certainly heard our fair share of anti-LGBT rhetoric in the last 12 months.

Some of the pundits, politicians and pastors who spoke out against LGBT people made claims so outrageous they were often unintentionally comical. Patrick Wooden, an influential pastor in North Carolina, claimed gay men need to wear diapers "because of what happens to the male anus" after sex. And hardly a week went by without Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association lashing out with a new ridiculous statement about how we live our lives and what we're supposedly doing to America.

Because what we don't know can hurt us and it's critical to be aware of who is working to deny, take away or keep us from our equal rights. So take a look at our slide show of the biggest anti-LGBT villains of 2012

The Insane Asylum That is Today's GOP

While it has now been many years since I resigned from the Republican Party and gave up the seat on the Virginia Beach City Committee that I had held for eight years, I continue to shake my head in dismay at what has become of a political party I was once proud to belong to and support.  I ask my self at times WTF happened?  But I know the one word answer: Christianists.  Out of short term political expediency, these folks were welcomed to the party and voted into positions on committees across the country and as their influence grew, rational moderates fled the increasing push for a theocratic agenda and attendant greed, fear and hate based policies.  Some may ask about the Tea Party's role in the now rampant insanity within the GOP, but with some 85% of the Tea Party identifying as conservative Christians, the two groups are actually one and the same.  Those who carry the Tea Party banner simply disguise their religious extremism, in my view.  With sane individuals fewer and farther between within the GOP, there now are no leaders who are brave enough or willing to take on the patients within the insane asylum the GOP has become.   A piece in BuzzFeed looks at the leadership void.  Here are excerpts:

WASHINGTON — Forget the Republican Party’s need to rebrand itself. Forget party elders' promises that they will start reaching out to minorities. And forget the supposed soul-searching that is meant to sweep over the GOP as it undergoes a serious reexamination of its future.
Right now, Republicans are having trouble even getting out of their own way.

Conservative groups are splintering. The Romney campaign has dissolved into backbiting and billing disputes. A “plan B” to avert the fiscal cliff proved to be a colossal embarrassment. A teetotaling Idaho senator has been charged with drunk driving. But the most striking symptom of the GOP’s horrible moment is the party’s inability to get done what virtually everyone here knows is in its political best interest: A hasty surrender.

It’s difficult to find a Republican operative who is willing to say on the record that going over the fiscal cliff next Tuesday is a good idea. Provoking a crisis is bad politics: Republicans are resigned to taking the blame. And it’s bad for their policy agenda: They will likely be cornered into a broader tax hike than the best deal they could get from President Barack Obama today, and with none of the spending cuts that might now be on the table.  And yet, the dominant emotion among most Republicans here is one of sheer resignation.

“It’s a shit show,” one prominent Republican told BuzzFeed of the GOP’s messaging position. “Tax rates are going to go up on everyone, and we’re going to get the blame.”

The Republican woes have many roots, but here on Capitol Hill, one of the problems is particularly clear. Without a Republican president — or even a presidential nominee — leadership has fallen to two men who are in no position to actually lead a national party anywhere: Boehner and, to a lesser degree, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

McConnell is a tactical master and one of the best politicians in the country. But he is not equipped to be the party's national face, nor is he the sort to quickly impose a firm grip on the floundering party in order to lead it out of the wilderness.
As for Boehner, since the election he’s seen his standing within the party and conservative circles crumble. Conservative news outlets are openly discussing ousting him, accusing him of ideological crimes against his party and in some cases openly mocking him and questioning his honesty.
Expect more chaos within the GOP as the insane base continues to demand policies and positions that harm the country and make the exodus on rational people accelerate.  When the base of a political party no longer is tethered to objective reality bad things are bound to happen.  Today's GOP is in essence an extreme sectarian party that is welcoming to fewer and fewer Americans.


Gay Marriages Commence in Maine

After successfully reversing that state's ban on same sex marriage and handing the Christofascists the first of what would turn out to be four straight losses on election day, same sex marriages commenced in Maine in the early hours this morning.  I am over joyed for LGBT citizens in Maine who have achieved equality under the civil marriage laws.  At the same time, I am left to wonder if and when Virginia - which is currently under a GOP controlled General Assembly that basically enacts whatever extremist legislation The Family Foundation demands - will similarly arrive in the 21st century.  In a future post I plan on summarizing the batshitery that the Virginia GOP will be promoting in the upcoming legislative session.  But, to get back to the happy scene in Maine, the Bangor Daily News has coverage of the first early morning weddings.  Here are highlights:

PORTLAND, Maine — The first gay couple to be married in the state of Maine took their vows in a short ceremony in the Portland city clerk’s office at approximately 12:25 a.m.

“We finally feel equal and happy to live in Maine,” said Steven Bridges, who married Michael Snell less than a half-hour after same sex marriages became legal in the state.

By 2 a.m. Saturday, the line had emptied out after a total of 15 gay and lesbian couples had acquired marriage licenses in Portland, with six of those couples exchanging vows on the spot. Another couple was married on the city hall’s front steps and then went back inside to return their license.

The hand-holding grooms sported purple carnation corsages, matching T-shirts printed with the phrase “love is love,” and grins so big they hardly seemed to fit on their faces.

Snell and Bridges, both of Portland, have been together for nine years and had a commitment ceremony six years ago, but late Friday night they were more than ready to make their love legal. The couple was the first in line to be married beginning at 12:01 a.m. Saturday in one of the state’s first legal same-sex marriage ceremonies.

Katie Snell, 27, of Lexington, Mass., Snell’s daughter, said that the couple weren’t the only delighted members of the family.  “It’s been a long time coming,” she said of the imminent nuptials. “I’m absolutely ecstatic. I’m so happy for this. I couldn’t be happier.”

Portland was one of the state’s municipalities that opened offices early so that eager couples could go ahead and tie the knot. In addition to having a clerk at hand to provide marriage licenses, the city made a notary public available to make wedding vows official. Maine no longer has a waiting period before couples can get married.

Steven Jones and Jamous Lizotte, both of Portland, wore tuxedos and arranged laurel wreaths on their heads while waiting for midnight, when they could get married.  “After nine years of being together, we decided to go all the way,” Lizotte, formerly of St. Agatha, said. When he learned that the first day that same-sex marriage would be legal fell on his 35th birthday, it seemed like a sign.  “It’s a finale,” he said. “It’s been a long time.”

Not that despite the dire predictions of the Christofascists, the world did not end and civilization did not collapse.  Also note the way the couples mentioned finally feeling equal.  The bans on same sex marriage have nothing to do with "protecting marriage."  No, their sole goal is to keep LGBT citizens inferior and to punish them for refusing to subscribe to the Christofascists' hate and fear based version of Christianity.  There will be no true freedom of religion in America until the Christofascists are defeated politically in ever state in the nation and driven into much deserved political irrelevance.  They are a cancer that needs to be removed from the political realm entirely.

Obama Gives Republicans an Ultimatum on the “Fiscal Cliff.”

The game of chicken in Washington continues as the Congressional Republicans - some of whom are insane themselves in my view - continue to pander to the Neanderthal know nothings and modern day Pharisee like extremists of the admittedly toxic base.  Rather than offend these ignorance embracing, hate filled and down right horrible elements of the party that the party leadership cynically allowed to gain ascendancy, the GOP members of Congress are willing to allow the nation to go over the "fiscal cliff" and possibly start a new great recession, throw countless unemployed Americans literally to the wolves, and allow draconian cuts to social programs.  Once again, I find myself ashamed that I was ever a Republican and I wonder how anyone decent can continue any party affiliation with the GOP.  A column in the Washington Post looks at the latest effort by Barack Obama to avert this disaster and to set the stage where Congressional Republicans will be forced to show their real priorities to the American people.  Here are excerpts:

President Obama, during a brief statement to the press just now [yesterday], said Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell are in the process of working out a deal to avert the “fiscal cliff” tax hikes, and pronounced himself optimistic about the talks. The key to Obama’s statement, though, is that he spelled out the political reality Republican leaders will be left facing if a deal is not reached:
Senators Reid and McConnell are working on such an agreement as we speak. But if an agreement isn’t reached in time between Senator Reid and Senator McConnell, then I will urge Senator Reid to bring to the floor a basic package for an up or down vote, one that protects the middle class from an income tax hike, extends the vital lifeline of unemployment insurance to two million Americans looking for a job, and lays the groundwork for future cooperation on more economic growth and deficit reduction. I believe such a proposal could pass both houses with bipartisan majorities, as long as those leaders allow it to actually come to a vote. If members of the House and Senate want to vote No, they can.
The key word there is “majorities.” Obama is demanding that Mitch McConnell allow a straight up-or-down vote on Harry Reid’s fallback proposal, if the two sides cannot reach a deal. If no deal is reached, Obama is daring McConnell to filibuster a continued tax cut for the middle class and daring Boehner not to hold a vote on it.

A senior Senate Dem aide tells me that the fallback proposal Reid is working on would extend tax cuts on income just up to $250,000, not up to $400,000, as Obama’s most recent compromise proposal did. What this means is that if Senate Republican leaders fail to agree with Senate Dems on a proposal, the fallback plan Reid will offer will essentially rescind Obama’s offer to raise the income threshold to $400,000.

[B]y daring Republicans one last time to refuse to allow simple majority votes on extending the middle class tax cuts, Obama is signaling that if we do go over the cliff, he intends to extract maximum political pain for it.

The GOP needs to experience severe political pain.  It has become the chief obstacle to improving the nation's economy and future prospects.  It is also the chief proponent of throwing the Gospel message of aiding the poor, the sick, and the homeless down the toilet.  The hypocrisy of these alleged "family values" politicians is shocking.  In truth, they only care about the wealthy and white male conservative Christians.  Given their preference, the rest of us are simply supposed to disappear from America.


Friday, December 28, 2012

Friday Morning Male Beauty

The Insidiousness of Internalized Homophobia

I've written about the struggle that many of us in the coming out process encounter: overcoming the insidiousness of internalized homophobia.  Letting go of all the religious brainwashing and stigma ingrained in us from the surrounding society that until recently had only a 100% negative message about being gay.  For me, it took years of therapy to undo the Catholic Church had done f*cking up my mind.  And that was just the beginning of the process.  But it isn't just LGBT individuals who have to overcome this internalized homophobia.  One friend who is an amazing LGBT ally and an Equality Virginia "legend," has spoken about how she had to "come out" to be an active and open ally to the LGBT community.  A piece in The Atlantic looks at the realization by a straight actor that he too suffers from internalized homophobia.  Here are some excerpts:

I am not gay. I have no shortage of gay friends. My uncle is gay. I've marched in a gay pride parade. More than half of the roommates I have lived with are gay. I support marriage equality.

So it comes as a shock to me when I realize that, actually, if I am honest with myself, I'm not comfortable with kissing another man on camera. I really don't want to book this part.

I don't want people to think I'm gay. And I'm even more uncomfortable because that isn't a thought that I want to have.

Acting is a curious profession. The Oscars tend to award actors who transfigure themselves. Think of Charlize Theron in Monster or Phillip Seymour Hoffman in Capote. And most actors actively want to stretch outside of themselves. That is, after all, why we tried to make a career out of pretending. But people tend to assume things about you after they have seen you onstage. The character and the person are conflated.

Still, I wouldn't turn down a commercial that required me to pretend to slap a child, or one where I played a Nazi. And—assuming the ad wasn't advocating child abuse or Nazism—I don't think I would feel odd about the audition.

I ask my theatrical agent if there is any industry stigma about doing a gay role. "No," he says, "not since Will and Grace in the '90s."  I call my commercial agent to ask him the same question. "No," he says. "Ikea was doing ads with gay couples in the '90s. Will and Grace really changed things." "But you had to ask me two times if I was comfortable," I protest. "We would do that on any spot where you have to kiss," he tells me.

Gigi Nicolas, the director of on-air promotions at Logo, tells me that at least I was not alone in my discomfort. "We had to do a second round of casting," she says. "Far fewer people auditioned than I expected. Most of my top choices just didn't show up."

There is a long history of discomfort within the industry on gay actors playing straight roles and vice versa. Perhaps more significantly, there is a long history of discomfort within the industry—and across the globe—that gay people exist at all.

The number of straight people playing wildly lauded roles where the character is gay or vice versa seems to corroborate my agents' contention that any stigma these roles may once have had has disappeared. Tom Hanks, Neil Patrick Harris, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Portia De Rossi, Heath Ledger, Ian McKellen, Michael K. Williams, Cynthia Nixon, Eric McCormack, Ving Rhames, Sean Penn, Michael C. Hall, Wesley Snipes, John Leguizamo, and so on.

While there is no ready tool or survey to measure homophobia or its absence within Hollywood, it seems that I can't blame my own discomfort with the Logo commercial on the prejudices of others. 

If you ever want to feel really wretched about what a big jerk you are, there are worse ways to do it than logging onto Harvard's Project Implicit. Psychologists at Harvard created a series of tests that measure your reaction time when you associate positive and negative concepts with different social groups. The results give you an indication of how racist or sexist or agist or generally prejudiced you are on a subconscious level.

I take some solace in the fact that my preferences are only moderate. But even if it's temperate about it, my subconscious is essentially racist, agist, and homophobic. It is the backwater redneck of my brain. And, apparently, I'm prejudiced against backwater rednecks.

The essential, uncomfortable, flaw with all the progress on gay rights is that even after legislation is passed and everyone's rights are equal on paper—which still sometimes seems a long way off—there is the longer, trickier work of trying to divest each person of the ugly human prejudices we all inherited when we were born.

I, at least, am sorry. You don't have to believe in a Judeo-Christian god to find something redeeming in confession. I am sorry that I balked at the idea of pretending to be gay. I am sorry that my uncle went home alone all those years. I am sorry for the whole ugly human history of slights and hate crimes and exclusion.

In contrast to the author of the article, the Christofascists are not the least bit sorry for the hate they sow and harm they do.  Indeed, the professional Christians and the child rapist protectors in the Catholic Church hierarchy revel in the stigma and bigotry they strive so hard to keep alive.  It's beyond ugly.  Meanwhile, the ruminations of the author may give straight readers of this blog an inkling of what we gays go through and have to face every single day.  It's no wonder many of us have psychological issues to overcome.  The hate merchants have been all too successful in creating a toxic world within which we must live.  The good news is that things are getting better, albeit not quickly enough for some - like the LGBT youth who continue to take their own lives.  As things improve, we can expect the Christofascists and Catholic Church hierarchy to become even more foul in the lies that disseminate against LGBT people. 

Will the GOP Cause the Stock Markets to Collapse?

Anyone with money invested in the stock market - and that equates to anyone with mutual funds or a pension or 401(k) - ought to be blowing up the phones of the GOP extremists in the House of Representatives and making it very clear what the consequences will be for them at the polls in 2014 if these members of Congress do not get their heads out of their asses and strike a deal to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff.  Locally, readers need to call Randy Forbes, Scott Rigell and Bob Wittman and rip them a new one.  All three are extremists who happily prostitute themselves to the Christofascists and Tea Party fanatics.  They care NOTHING for average Americans who aren't white, preferably male, evangelical Christians.  And all three hold LGBT citizens in open contempt.  An article in the Washington Post looks at the likely crash of the stock markets if these bastards do not stop the game playing with peoples lives and financial well being.   Here are highlights:

Wall Street is finally waking up to the troubling prospect that lawmakers may not reach a deal to avert the “fiscal cliff” before the new year, with stocks swinging dramatically Thursday in response to news from Capitol Hill.

[W]ith the final days trickling away before the year-end deadline, the markets Thursday experienced their greatest volatility since the summer. It was also the fourth consecutive day of losses on Wall Street.

Investors responded almost instantly to pronouncements from leading lawmakers. Shares plunged in the morning after Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) predicted a deal would be unlikely by Tuesday and, with investors grasping at a straw of hope, bounced back in the afternoon when House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said he would call members back to work Sunday.

Analysts and economists said investors were finally recognizing that a typical last-minute Washington deal could prove elusive and instead lawmakers were gearing up for hand-to-hand combat over the weeks to come. If there’s no deal before Tuesday, taxes would rise for most Americans and deep government spending cuts would begin, dealing the economy a painful blow.

“There’s a realization sinking in,” said Vincent Reinhart, chief U.S. economist at Morgan Stanley. “It’s a learning process. People are beginning to think that the cliff is with us for a while longer.”

Beyond unsettling the markets, the fiscal cliff of automatic tax increases and spending cuts is already beginning to take a bite out of the U.S. economy, which had been showing signs of accelerating growth.

On Thursday, a new report on consumer confidence came in well below the analysts’ expectations, reversing months of steady gains. The Conference Board consumer confidence index plunged to 65.1 from 71.5, most of the drop driven by declining consumer expectations about what the future will hold.

For most Americans, going over the fiscal cliff would mean declining confidence in the economy, rising anxiety and a near-immediate hit to take-home pay as higher taxes take effect. But the unemployed would be especially hard hit. Unless an agreement is reached, many jobless Americans will not be able to apply for unemployment benefits after Saturday, and no more checks will arrive after next week.

As noted before on this blog and elsewhere, today's Republican Party is unfit to govern and needs to be driven to a permanent minority status with so few elected officials that it can no longer play insane games with the lives of working Americans.  The GOP truly deserves to become extinct.  It has become the political equivalent of a rabid dog and needs to be shot.

Thousands of Dutch Catholics Seek to "De-Baptize" Over Pope's Anti-Gay Statements

In a movement that I would like to see really take root in America, thousands of Dutch Roman Catholics are seeking to "de-baptize" themselves and formally leave the Roman Catholic Church.  The movement has taken on steam after Pope Benedict' recent claims that gay marriage threaten humanity and similar hate filled batshitery.  By "de-baptizing" individuals formally leave the Church which has them stricken from Church membership rosters and bars the Church from carrying inflated membership numbers.  Simply no longer attending church services does not get one removed from the membership roles - a phenomenon that allows the Church to publicly claim that its membership numbers are not tanking as individuals flee the Church's Medieval social strictures.  (I had myself formally removed from the membership roster of the Diocese of Richmond a number of years ago).  Here are highlights from Yahoo News:

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Thousands of Dutch Catholics are researching how they can leave the church in protest at its opposition to gay marriage, according to the creator of a website aimed at helping them find the information.

Tom Roes, whose website allows people to download the documents needed to leave the church, said traffic on - "" - had soared from about 10 visits a day to more than 10,000 after Pope Benedict's latest denunciation of gay marriage this month.

"Of course it's not possible to be 'de-baptized' because a baptism is an event, but this way people can unsubscribe or de-register themselves as Catholics," Roes told Reuters.

In a Christmas address to Vatican officials, the pope signaled the he was ready to forge alliances with other religions against gay marriage, saying the family was threatened "to its foundations" by attempts to change its "true structure".

Roes, a television director, said he left the church and set up his website partly because he was angry about the way the church downplayed or covered-up sexual abuse in Catholic orphanages, boarding schools and seminaries.

A report by an independent commission published a year ago said there had been tens of thousands of victims of child sexual abuse in the Netherlands since 1945 and criticized the church's culture of silence.

Benedict XVI - who engaged in cover ups himself in Germany - is fine with sexual abuse of minors by priests as long as the story does go public, but recognizing committed, loving same sex couples through CIVIL laws is a threat to the family and humanity itself.  The man is beyond horrible.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

More Thursday Male Beauty

Discover Annapolis Tours Axes Wedding Services Rather Than Service Gay Weddings

In general we LGBT Virginians look across the Potomac to Washington, D.C., and Maryland with envy.  Compared to Virginia where ant-gay bigotry is virtually incorporated into the state's laws, our neighbors to the north are beacons of liberalism and equality - especially since both have passed legislation allowing same sex marriage.  But that does not mean that those locales are devoid of anti-gay bigots, Christofascists and modern day Pharisee types.  A case in point comes from the picturesque City of Annapolis, Maryland where the Christofascists who own  Discover Annapolis Tours are axing all wedding services rather that provides services to same sex couples as required by the Maryland public accommodation laws (Virginia, of course, has no such laws that would protect same sex couples or single LGBT citizens).  Both the Annapolis Patch and the Baltimore Sun have coverage of the smug bigotry of the company's owner, Matt Grubbs (pictured above) that resulted in the move.  First highlights from the Sun article:

An Annapolis company whose old-fashioned trolleys are iconic in the city's wedding scene has abandoned the nuptial industry rather than serve same-sex couples.

The owner of Discover Annapolis Tours said he decided to walk away from $50,000 in annual revenue instead of compromising his Christian convictions when same-sex marriages become legal in Maryland in less than a week. And he has urged prospective clients to lobby state lawmakers for a religious exemption for wedding vendors.

Yes, you read that correctly, Grubbs and his fellow bigots want the special right to ignore the law and a special privilege of discriminating against everyday citizens.   The selfishness and self centered focus of the Christofascist truly knows no boundaries.  The Patch article contains this:

The email was provided to Patch by Chris Belkot on Nov. 29. He received it from Grubbs after Belkot inquired about using the company's wedding services this spring.

Grubbs confirmed the email, and said his attorney advised him to shut down the wedding part of his business immediately because he could be sued for refusing services to same-sex couples.

"We’re a Christian-owned company, and we just can't support gay marriages," Grubbs said. "We're not trying to make a statement. We're not trying to make a point. We're just trying to be faithful Christians."

Grubbs' business, which provided trolley cars to transport wedding parties and guests from churches to receptions, still provides tours and other site seeing services.
Frankly, the "faithful Christian" batshitery makes me want to vomit.   If Grubbs is like other Christofascists, he likely votes Republican and would give tax cuts to the obscenely wealthy while cutting services to the poor and hungry.   He by extension also likely opposes extending health care to the uninsured, wants to disenfranchise blacks, and wants to control women's bodies.  Not exactly the stuff Christ spoke of in the Gospels.  The feigned piety and hypocrisy is simply unbelievable.  But, nowadays, that is what most often defines those who like to loudly proclaim themselves as being "faithful Christians."

GOP House Members and GOP Christianist Base Are All Modern Day Pharisees

While eating at late dinner - the year end craziness at the office has been a bitch - I was watching a  MSNBC segment on the impact the fiscal cliff will have on the unemployed who will lose coverage and/or see significant decreases in coverage as of January 1, 2012.  Once again I was struck by the almost unbelievable hypocrisy of John Boehner (not surprisingly, a Catholic), the GOP House members and, of course, the Christofascist elements of the GOP base all of whom go about professing their religiosity, wearing their religion on their sleeves, and congratulating themselves on their piety.  Meanwhile, they all seek a reverse Robin Hood social policy and view the unemployed as so must disposable garbage.  The Pharisee of the Gospels are downright kind and virtuous compared to these people.  There are indeed few better examples of why one would want to walk away from Christianity not to mention the Republican Party.   A piece in Politico looks at Boehner's intention to continue to play political games to please the modern day Pharisee crowd while destroying the lives of millions of other Americans.  Here are highlights:

House Speaker John Boehner told House Republicans that he’s “not interested” in passing a fiscal cliff deal with “mostly Democrat votes,” his most direct comments about how he’ll manage the remaining negotiations over tax increases and spending cuts.

Boehner’s comment is significant because it means he is going to push for an agreement that most of the 241 House Republican could support. Just a week ago, rank-and-file Republicans rejected a Boehner-authored proposal that would have extended tax breaks on income of less than $1 million — a number far higher than what they would get under plans offered by President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

On Thursday’s conference call, which almost all House Republicans dialed in to, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) told lawmakers to “plan on being in town through the following week to conduct the business at hand,” according to a source.

Boehner’s message to House Republicans was the same as what he’s saying privately to other party leaders. Boehner said the nation is “on the edge of the fiscal cliff” and added that the Senate hasn’t given the House a reason to return.

But the Ohio Republican also offered some new details to his Republican colleagues.  Rep. Tim Griffin (R-Ark.) asked about the debt limit and what leverage that gives House Republicans. Boehner said he still sees February and March as the true deadline.  The optics of not being in Washington are still of concern to House Republicans. Members were worried about being hammered in the press for not being in Washington. The Senate is in town at least Thursday and Friday, and Obama returned from Hawaii to deal with the fiscal cliff.

Boehner’s move on bringing the House back into session on Sunday.  .  .  .  .  is an attempt to protect Republicans from getting blamed if the country goes over the fiscal cliff, which looks more likely by the hour.

There have been continued staff-level discussions on Thursday, but neither side has put any new offer on the table in order to break the deadlock.

Let's be clear.  Boehner and most in the GOP House conference are assholes and most likely deserve a special place in Hell for their callousness towards other citizens, their open racism and bigotry against all but their white Christofascist and millionaire supporters.

Thursday Morning Male Beauty

Republicans: Their Own Worse Enemy on Healthcare

While much political focus has been on the so-called "fiscal cliff" which the GOP seems bound and determined to take the country over, within the nation's fiscal problems lies an issue that is driving much of the increased spending on what the GOP derisively calls entitlements: exploding healthcare costs.  Exploding healthcare costs that are driving up Medicare and Medicaid costs sharply.  But rather than address the real issue behind the growing budget deficit, the GOP as a party prefers to coddle big medicine and big pharmaceutical companies while treating millions of Americans as disposable trash.  And this from the political party that claims to embrace Christian values which ought to by any interpretation include caring for the poor and the sick.  A piece in the Washington Post looks at the GOP's ass backwards behavior which defies common sense.  Or at least common sense among rational people.  Here are column excerpts:

Conservatives once genuinely interested in finding market-based ways for the government to expand health insurance coverage have, since the rise of Obamacare, made choices that are dysfunctional, even from their own perspective.

Start with the decision of the vast majority of Republican governors to refuse to set up the state insurance exchanges required under the law. The mechanisms would allow more than 20 million Americans to buy coverage. They were originally a conservative idea for large, trustworthy marketplaces where individuals and families could buy plans of their choice.

So, irony of ironies, in declining to set up state exchanges, conservative governors are undermining states’ rights and giving liberals something far closer to the national system they hoped for. As Robert Laszewski, an industry critic of Obamacare, told The Post’s N.C. Aizenman, conservative governors are engaging in “cut-off-your-nose-to-spite-your-face” behavior.

This is one of many forms of conservative health-care unreason. The “fiscal cliff” debate has been distorted because the problems confronting federal finances are consistently misdescribed. We do not have “an entitlement problem.” We have a giant health-care cost problem. 

Our major non-military fiscal challenges lie in Medicare and Medicaid. In principle, conservatives should seek to find ways of holding down health-care inflation in both the private and public sectors.

The result is that conservatives would either let government get bigger, or they’d save money by throwing ever more risk onto individuals by undercutting core government guarantees.

Their most outrageous move was the big lie that the original health-care bill included “death panels.” This would have been laughable if it had not been so pernicious. The provision in question would simply have paid for consultations by terminally ill patients — if they wanted them — with their physicians on their best options for their care.

Is it any wonder that our fiscal politics are so dysfunctional? Yes, we liberals are very reluctant to cut access to various government health-insurance programs. With so many Americans still uninsured, we are wary of depriving more people of coverage. But we fully accept the need to contain government health spending.

Yet given the conservatives’ habit of walking away even from their own ideas (the exchanges, for example) and of rejecting progressive efforts to save money, is it any wonder that liberals suspect them of greater interest in dismantling programs than in making them more efficient? We won’t find genuine common ground on deficits until we resolve this dilemma.

The GOP has become a pack of rabid dogs that reject their own former ideas and seem Hell bent on destroying the nation's economy and throwing millions of Americans overboard.  All so that they can appease a shrinking group of insane Christofascists and Tea Party Neanderthals who comprise the party base.

Will Cuccinelli's Refusal to Resign as Attorney General Prove Fatal to His Campaign?

For decades the political custom has been that sitting Virginia attorney generals who have run for governor have resigned from the position as attorney general in order to campaign full time and avoid the appearance that (i) the dispensation of justice by the AG's office is political and (ii) that taxpayers are being forced to finance the candidate's campaign via the AG's salary.  Not surprisingly, Ken "Kookinelli" Cuccinelli thinks that he is above the unspoken political rules - actually, rules and even the Virginia and U. S. constitutions in general - and has refused to resign his office.  A piece in Blue Virginia looks at how this might prove fatal to Kookinelli's campaign.  Here are highlights:

But again: appearances matter in the law. Justice is suppose to be blind to such factors. Those responsible for the conduct of our legal system have to accept the importance of this ideal.

Moreover, the AG is by law a full-time position with real authority under the Constitution of Virginia. When the public sees someone campaigning full time for governor - as is required - they naturally want to know why this person is being paid a full-time AG's salary. The media will ask. There is no answer that will pass the "smell" test.

in politics, as in business, the customer is always right in that regard. Thus in politics, the winning candidate tries not to give voters a reason to question their judgment, moreover leave himself or herself vulnerable to the inevitable Murphy's law of politics: "Stuff happens."
Accordingly, AG Jerry Baliles in 1985, Mary Sue Terry in 1993, Jim Gilmore in 1997, Mark Earley in 2001, Jerry Kilgore in 2005 and Bob McDonnell in 2009 all resigned while seeking the governorship. They did it at different times in the election year, each calculating the right moment to make the move depending on how they saw the pluses and minuses of holding the post at any point in time.

But they all did it: because when you do the political math, it is the only smart play given game theory. In that regard, they weren't merely doing the mental math of politics: they had a concrete example of what can happen if you try to outsmart common sense.

In 1981, Republican Attorney General Marshall Coleman refused to resign as AG. There were several reasons for his decision, one having to do with money: He didn't have much of it and thus needed the paycheck. Yet the money issue isn't really that big a thing in VA politics: The voters accept the AG resigning, and joining a law firm, being paid a good salary without actually doing any real work. Yes, there is always the appropriate fig leaf of claiming he or she actually does work to earn the paycheck. But give Virginians a break: we aren't dumb. Besides, the role of big law firms in lobbying and having sway over a governor is known to us. We accept that as part of the realities of politics. So they pay a buddy money to run. If he wins, they were going to get a lot of business from him anyway even if he were independently wealthy.

EVERY AG HAS SEEN THE LIGHT...Because they saw what happened to Coleman. By not resigning, Mr. Coleman gave Democrats - and his opponents inside the GOP - a way to keep him on the defensive for the entire campaign. It was a continuous drip, drip, drip, of criticism, even the biggest boulder can be whittled down to a small rock by such constant erosion.

Finally, after months of the drip, drip, drip, Coleman announced that he was going to accept only half-salary. But instead of ending the debate over his refusal to resign, his actions only proved the point: he couldn't do the AG's job and campaign for governor at the same time. Bottom line: Coleman's refusal to resign showed bad judgment. In political terms, he took a risk way out of proportion with the potential gain.

Cuccinelli would show extremely bad judgment, for the post of governor, by failing to resign. Why? Because the only reason for him not to resign is to make some obscure ideological or personal point about some imagined philosophic issue or refusing to be pressured by the media, and the like.

This may make him happy, this may make him a hero to his base, but it doesn't show the judgment to be governor at this point in Virginia's history. He would daring McDonnell to criticize him, and he would be daring Democrats to use McDonnell's words to criticize him.

Net, net: If Cuccinelli actually intends to stay on the job through the election, then it will prove to be a metaphor for his campaign in my view. He will be seen as putting his personal and political ideology ahead of what was good for the people of the state who don't want their legal system drawn into partisan politics if it can be avoided.  In the end, voters wants to see if you see the job as a "me" thing, or a "we" thing.
The perverse side of me hopes that Cuccinelli refuses to resign through until the end.  He is a clear and present danger to Virginia's future and, in my view, belongs in a mental ward, not the Governor's mansion.

62% In UK Support Gay Marriage

Despite the efforts of Neanderthals in the Anglican Church and the child rapist protectors in the Roman Catholic Church to derail the Tory push for passage of gay marriage legislation in the United Kingdom, the Tories seem to have popular support and two recent polls showed that 62% of the populace support same sex marriage - which is exactly what should be the case in any country that claims to support freedom of religion.  For too long in the western world the fear and hate based beliefs of conservative Christians has been forced down the throats of all citizens.  Would that more in America could see this reality.  Here are highlights from The Guardian:

More than three in five voters support David Cameron's wish to introduce gay marriage, according to a poll conducted for the Guardian. The strong backing for a change in the law comes after the archbishop of Westminster queried the democratic legitimacy of the coalition plans.

Vincent Nichols, head of the Roman Catholic church in England and Wales, used a strident Christmas Day message to blast the "shambolic" process that could soon put provision for same-sex weddings on the statute book. "There was no announcement in any party manifesto; there's been no green paper; there's been no statement in the Queen's speech. And yet here we are on the verge of primary legislation," Nichols told the BBC.

The plans also came under fire from a high court judge, who said the government should instead be looking at the "crisis of family breakdown". Sir Paul Coleridge said too much time and energy had been put into the debate on gay marriage for "0.1% of the population".

The ICM poll conducted just before Christmas found 62% of voters now support the proposals, with half this number – 31% – opposed.  .  .  .  .  That significant hardening of opinion during the year will encourage Cameron, whose embrace of gay marriage has proved controversial, not only with religious leaders but also with the Tory backbench. And the new poll reveals a particularly significant swing towards the reform among the Tory base.

Both men and women support gay marriage, although the majority is bigger among female voters, 65% of whom support gay marriage, compared with 58% of men. Gay marriage is backed by 60%+ majorities across every nation and region, the 74% majority recorded in Wales being the most emphatic. There is a pro-gay-marriage majority, too, in every social class – although the majority is somewhat smaller in the DE class, which contains the lowest occupational grades. 

I sincerely hope that religious freedom and equality prevail and that the arguments of the opponents - all of which are based on religion - are rejected and thrown on the trash heap of history.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

More Wednesday Male Beauty

Fiscal Cliff Deal Increasingly Unlikely Due to GOP Intransigence

If the nation goes over the fiscal cliff early next week it will be thanks to the intransigence of the House GOP and their only slightly less insane compatriots in the Senate.  Apparently, now totally lost in their own private alternate university the members of the GOP House caucus have not even returned to Congress after Christmas and seem only to happy to figuratively fiddle as Rome burns.  And the losers because of this GOP insanity?  Millions of working and middle class families among others.  As Politico is reporting, it looks as if no budget deal will be worked out even if the Senate and White House work strenuously.  Here are story highlights:

Nearly all the major players in the fiscal cliff negotiations are starting to agree on one thing: A deal is virtually impossible before the New Year.  Unlike the bank bailout in 2008, the tax deal in 2010 and the debt ceiling in 2011, the Senate almost certainly won’t swoop in and help sidestep a potential economic calamity, senior officials in both parties predicted on Wednesday.

With the country teetering on this fiscal cliff of deep spending cuts and sharp tax hikes, the philosophical differences, the shortened timetable and the political dynamics appear to be insurmountable hurdles for a bipartisan deal by New Year’s Day.

Hopes of a grand-bargain — to shave trillions of dollars off the deficit by cutting entitlement programs and raising revenue — are shattered. House Republicans already failed to pass their “Plan B” proposal. And now aides and senators say the White House’s smaller, fall-back plan floated last week is a non-starter among Republicans in Senate — much less the House.

On top of that, the Treasury Department announced Wednesday that the nation would hit the debt limit on Dec. 31, and would then have to take “extraordinary measures” to avoid exhausting the government’s borrowing limit in the New Year.

Senate Democrats are drafting a fallback bill to resolve the crisis, but they have little optimism that Republicans will accept their proposals. The White House, a senior administration official said, is in close coordination with Senate Democrats. Late Wednesday, Reid’s office pushed Republicans to pass a bill to extend tax rates for income below $250,000.

The House sidestepped a decision Wednesday to bring the chamber back into session, putting the burden squarely on the Senate, where the stars will need to align for swift action in the next few days. Speaker John Boehner’s leadership team said bluntly: the “Senate first must act” before the House will consider additional legislation to avoid the cliff. So that they’re all on the same page, House Republicans will have a members only conference call Thursday.

Democrats also have good political reasons to hold out until after the New Year, when the new Congress convenes Jan. 3.  Democrats are slated to increase seats in both chambers in the next Congress -- with a robust 10-seat majority in the Senate, and the White House believes it has little incentive to cave to GOP demands ahead of the fiscal cliff.

To some, last week’s debacle in the House looked a lot like several of the near-misses from year’s past; most notably in 2008 when the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 778 points after the House rejected the initial version of the Troubled Asset Relief Program before the Senate ended up cutting a bipartisan deal to right the country’s finances.

Debunking the Christianist Claim that America Descending to Godlessness

As a history major in college and one who has always done massive amounts of historical reading on my own, I constantly am distressed by the manner in which the religious extremists of the far right - the Christofascists who seek to force their beliefs on all citizens - demonstrate a very selective reading of history.  They leave out whatever is inconvenient - much as they do with their recitation of Bible verse - and fabricate entire new story lines when the truth doesn't fit their theocratic purposes.  Faux historian David Barton is a prime example of the latter phenomenon.  An op-ed in the New York Times written by a history professor looks at the rantings of  the likes of Bryan Fischer at AFA and then looks at the real history of religion - and Christianity in particular - in America.  The true picture is not surprisingly far different from that painted by the truth and veracity challenged mouth pieces of the Christianists.  Here are some column highlights:

Conservative activists insist that they protest these developments not to defend special privileges for Christianity, but to respect the founders’ desire for universal religious liberty — rooted, they say, in the Christian tradition. The controversial activist David Barton has devoted his career to popularizing this “forgotten history” through lectures, books and home-school curriculums. 

Bryan Fischer, spokesman for the American Family Association, told me that he saw the “nones” as proof that “the foundations of our culture are crumbling.”  

How accurate is this story of decline into godlessness? Is America, supposedly God’s last bastion in the Western world, rejecting faith and endangering religious liberty? 

The truth is that “nones” are nothing new. Religion has been a feature of human society since Neanderthal times, but so has religious indifference. Our illusions of the past as a golden age of faith tend to cloud our assessment of today’s religious landscape. We think of atheism and religious apathy as uniquely modern spiritual options, ideas that Voltaire and Hume devised in a coffee house one rainy afternoon sometime in the 18th century. Before the Enlightenment, legend has it, peasants hurried to church every week and princes bowed and scraped before priests. Historians have yet to unearth Pew studies from the 13th century, but it is safe to say that we frequently overestimate medieval piety. 

In 1584, census takers in Antwerp discovered that the city had a larger proportion of “nones” than 21st-century America: a full third of residents claimed no religious affiliation.  

Rates of church attendance have never been as sterling as the Christian Right’s fable of national decline suggests. Before the Civil War, regular attendance probably never exceeded 30 percent, rising to a high of 40 percent around 1965 and declining to under 30 percent in recent years — even as 77 percent still identify as Christians and 69 percent say they are “very” or “moderately” religious, according to a 2012 Gallup survey.

We know, then, that the good old days were not so good after all, even in God’s New Israel. Today’s spiritual independents are not unprecedented. What is new is their increasing visibility.  .  .  .  Americans are drifting out of the grip of institutionalized religion, just as they are drifting from institutional authority in general.

‘Religious authority’ is no longer clergy in the pulpit saying ‘Vote for Eisenhower,’ but forwarded URL links or gossip exchanges in chat rooms. There is no referee.”  For a very long time, Protestant leaders were those referees. If individual impiety flourished in centuries past, churches still wielded significant control over civic culture: the symbols, standards and sexual mores that most of the populace respected in public, if not always in private. Today, more and more Americans openly accept extramarital sex, homosexuality and other outrages to traditional Christian morality.

For most of our history, the loudest defenders of the separation of church and state were not rogue atheists, but Protestants worried about Catholics seeking financing for parochial schools or scheming their way into public office to take orders only from mitered masters in Rome.  Activists on both the left and the right tend to forget this irony of the First Amendment: it has been as much a weapon of religious oppression as a safeguard for liberty.

Conservative Christian activists hold those sectarian foundations more dearly than they admit, and they are challenging the Obama administration’s efforts to frame access to contraception and same-sex marriage as civil rights immune to the veto of “private” conscience.  

These legal efforts are less an attempt to redefine religious liberty than a campaign to preserve Christians’ historic right to police the boundary between secular principles and religious beliefs. Only now that conservative Christians have less control over organs of public power, they cannot rely on the political process. Now that the “nones” are declaring themselves, and more Americans — including many Christians — see birth control as a medical necessity rather than a sin, Mr. Sears sees a stark course of action for the Catholic and evangelical business owners he represents: “Litigation is all that our clients have.” Their problem, however, is more fundamental than legal precedent. Their problem is that America’s Christian consensus is fragmenting. We are left groping for something far messier: an evolving, this-worldly, compromise.

A Story of Family Acceptance

I have noted many times on this blog as to how fortunate I was to have parents who accepted me without hesitation when I finally came out of the closet after decades of denial and endless amounts of self-hate.  Indeed, to reflect my endless gratitude and appreciation to my parents, I endowed the George D. and Marion Phelps Hamar/HRBOR Scholarship that benefits LGBT graduating high school students (a link to the scholarship is at right on this blog).  But far too many LGBT individuals are not as lucky as I was.  Some find themselves disowned and cut off from their families both emotionally and financially.  This past weekend, New York Times columnist Frank Bruni shared a story of his own father's method of dealing with having a gay son.  Some of Bruni's father's initial ways of dealing with the news and his assessments of those who are not accepting of gays are reminiscent of my own dad's views.  Here are some column highlights:

FOR a long while, my father’s way of coping was to walk quietly from the room. He doesn’t remember this. I do. I can still see it, still feel the pinch in my chest when the word “gay” came up — perhaps in reference to some event in the news, or perhaps in reference to me — and he’d wordlessly take his leave of whatever conversation my mother and my siblings and I were having. He’d drift away, not in disgust but in discomfort, not in a huff but in a whisper.

And I was grateful. Discomfort beat rejection. So long as he wasn’t pushing me away, I didn’t need him to pull me in. Heart-to-hearts weren’t his style, anyway. With Dad you didn’t discuss longings, anxieties, hurts.

But at some point Dad, like America, changed. I don’t mean he grew weepy, huggy. I mean he traveled from what seemed to me a pained acquiescence to a different, happier, better place. He found peace enough with who I am to insist on introducing my partner, Tom, to his friends at the golf club. Peace enough to compliment me on articles of mine that use the same three-letter word that once chased him off. Peace enough to sit down with me over lunch last week and chart his journey, which I’d never summoned the courage to ask him about before. 

It’s been an extraordinary year, probably the most extraordinary yet in this country’s expanding, deepening embrace of gays and lesbians as citizens of equal stature, equal worth. For the first time, an American president still in office stated his belief that two men or two women should be able to marry. For the first time, voters themselves — not lawmakers, not courts — made same-sex marriage legal.

He’s 77. Closing in fast on 78. Hasn’t voted for a Democrat in a presidential election since Kennedy. Pledged a fraternity in college. Served as an officer in the Navy. Chose accounting as his profession. Remained married to his high school sweetheart, my mother, until she died in 1996, just shy of their 40th anniversary. He still mentions her daily.

She was the freer spirit, and I told her I was gay back in 1981, when I was 17. She implored me not to tell him — too risky, she said — and to let her handle it. A few years later, she informed me that she’d done so, and that was that. Dad said nothing to me. I said nothing to him. 

I was sure that he’d resolved simply to put what he’d learned about me out of his mind and pretend it didn’t exist. I was wrong. He was mulling it over, trying to figure it out. “It was just so unusual to me,” he recalled, groping for the right word. 

He’d heard it said that gay people were somehow stunted, maybe even ill. But that made no sense to him, because he was confident that I was neither of those things.  He’d heard it said that peculiar upbringings turned children gay. “I thought about it a lot,” he said, “and I came to the conclusion that it had to be in your genes, in you, because I couldn’t think how the environment for you was any different than it was for your two brothers.” 

He said he worried that I was in for a more difficult, less complete life than they and my sister were. I asked him why he’d never broached that with me. He said that it would have been an insult — that I was obviously smart enough to have assessed the terrain and figured out for myself how I was going to navigate it.

[W]hen I would write candidly about my life, as I did on occasion, he’d flinch a bit. Still does.
But he has decided that such writing is necessary. “There’s prejudice out there, and it’s good to fight that,” he said, adding that visibility and openness are obviously integral to that battle. “I’m convinced that people who don’t accept gays just don’t really know any of them.”  He’s increasingly irked at his political party, which he thinks is signing its own death warrant with its attitude toward gays, toward guns, toward immigrants. 

[H]e’s not prepared to say that what two committed men or two committed women share is anything less than what a man and a woman do. In any case, he noted, society is moving in only one direction on this front. And he’s O.K. with that. 

He shook his head: “I almost think I love you more for it — for being what you are rather than what was expected of you.” 

For far too many years I tried to be what I thought was expected.  Yes, I have three amazing children as a result, but it cause me, them and their mother much avoidable misery.   As for my dad, he went further than Bruni's father - he left the GOP in disgust over its anti-gay agenda.  Sadly, my dad did not live to meet the boyfriend, but he accepted my ex and the two of them used to call each other and chat on the phone.  That men like Bruni's dad and my late father can get it give hope that we are going to win the war against the Christofascists.

Wednesday Morning Male Beauty

Mark Regnerus Says Viewing Porn Increases Straight Male Support For Gay Marriage

Remember sociologist Mark Regnerus who conducted a slanted and biased study on gay parenting earlier in 2012 that was embraced by Christofascists and gay haters as proof that gay parents were detrimental to children?  Not by chance the "study" had been funded by far right groups with documented anti-gay agendas.  While the study was subsequently largely denounced and shown to be a biased hatchet job on gays, Regnerus continues to be making a name for himself as a nut case.  His latest claim is that watching pornography makes straight males more supportive of gay marriage.  A piece in Huffington Post looks at this latest batshitery from Regnerus.  Here are highlights:

Could watching porn make straight men support marriage equality?  That's what Mark Regnerus, who became infamous earlier this year when he published a now widely discredited study that supposedly found children of gay parents are worse off than those of straight parents, claimed on the Witherspoon Institute website late last week.

In his piece Regnerus states that porn "undermines the concept that in the act of sexual intercourse, we share our 'body and whole self ... permanently and exclusively'" and "reinforces the idea that people can share their bodies but not their inmost selves, and that they can do so temporarily and (definitely) not exclusively without harm."

He also notes that porn does not "discriminate" or rank one kind of sex act over another and therefore viewers are treated to a "veritable fire-hose dousing of sex-act diversity" (can this guy paint a picture, or what?) and end up believing that sex has nothing to do with "marital meaning."

Regnerus reveals that "of the men who view pornographic material 'every day or almost every day,' 54 percent 'strongly agreed' that gay and lesbian marriage should be legal, compared with around 13 percent of those whose porn-use patterns were either monthly or less often than that."
What's more,
The same pattern emerges for the statement, "Gay and lesbian couples do just as good a job raising children as heterosexual couples." Only 26 percent of the lightest porn users concurred, compared to 63 percent of the heaviest consumers. It's a linear association for men: the more porn they consume, the more they affirm this statement. More rigorous statistical tests confirmed that this association too is a very robust one.
What about women you ask? Regnerus avoids the topic of why women support marriage equality all together. He notes that, "women typically aren't as into porn as men are, and yet women in general tend to support same-sex marriage more readily than do men. A recent Gallup poll noted that 56 percent of women favor it, while only 42 percent of men do. No, this theory is not about women..."

It is telling that Regnerus published his findings on a far right website.  And obviously, Regnerus seems to have the theory backwards: prissy Christofascists don't view porn while those not obsessed with sex as something foul and dirty likely not only are more inclined to watch porn and not be far right religious zealots.

Virginia Republicans Continue to Drink Kool-Aid

With the holiday season in its final leg, thoughts among Virginia's political class and pundits are quickly turn to the 2013 session of the Virginia General Assembly and even more so to the 2013 Virginia elections.  At the national level soul searching is taking place among Republicans but no so with the Republican Party of Virginia which is bent on continuing the far right lunacy that damaged Bob "Taliban Bob" McDonnell's chances for a VP nod from Mitt Romney and which likely helped seal Obama's second win in Virginia.  In short, those in the Virginia are continuing to drink Kool-Aid by the bucket full.  Nothing personifies this more than the all but crowned Ken "Kookinelli" Cuccinelli who will be the GOP standard bearer for governor of Virginia.  In my view, the man is seriously mentally ill, but then so are most people who have remained in the Virginia GOP.  A lengthy piece in the Virginian Pilot sourced from Politico looks at the coming year politically in Virginia.  Here are some excerpts:

Look no further than Virginia to catch a glimpse of the GOP’s national dilemma.  As the Old Dominion becomes a firmly centrist state, more closely resembling the rest of the country demographically and politically, Virginia Republicans are shifting rightward.  After President Barack Obama carried the state twice, it’s plausible that the party will nominate a slate of three movement conservative white males for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general next year.

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, the GOP’s presumptive gubernatorial nominee, was defiant at the gathering, citing Virginia Republican revivals in past years following Democratic presidential wins.
Cuccinelli scorned what he said were “media” calls for GOP “change, re-evaluation, remake, retreat.”

What gnaws at Virginia campaign veterans, though, is the degree to which Cuccinelli is already defined as a polarizing culture warrior at a moment when Republicans seem to be clamoring for kinder and gentler candidates. McDonnell was able to remake his political persona in large part because he wasn’t well known outside Virginia’s political class. But after three years of making headlines for suing the federal government to block healthcare reform, telling Virginia’s public colleges they can’t legally ban discrimination against gays and targeting a former University of Virginia professor’s work on climate change, the attorney general is far better known than most down-ballot statewide office holders.

Bolling, who last month quit the race and has since refused to endorse Cuccinelli, said flatly what is on the minds of many other Virginia Republicans.  “I question his electability in a statewide campaign for governor,” the lieutenant governor said on a Virginia radio show recently.

Virginia GOP Chair Pat Mullins insisted at the state party’s “Advance” that Republicans still have a winning formula.  “Virginia’s a conservative state, and when we stick up for our beliefs, and our values, and our principles … we win elections,” Mullins said, according to the Washington Post. “When we choose to run like Democrats, we lose elections because we haven’t given anybody a choice.”  Mullins’ assertion, even with latitude given for the rah-rah circumstances of a party rally, confounds many longtime observers of Old Dominion politics.

“Their election analysis is a predictable one-note samba,” said U.Va. political science professor Larry Sabato. “It’s never their issues or their inclusiveness. Therefore, the solution is always to look for a better messenger for hard-core conservatism, ignoring the hard reality that some of their message, especially on social issues, is alienating large segments of the population in an increasingly diverse and moderate state.”

“There’s this tremendous disconnect,” added one Richmond Republican hand of how the GOP has become more conservative even as Democrats have won two presidential races, two of the last three gubernatorial contests and both Senate seats. “It seems that both in Virginia and nationally the movement conservatives are getting more and more rabid and less enthralled with establishment conservatives like George Allen and more into the crusaders.”

What heartens Virginia Republicans, at least in the short-term, is that the composition of the electorate in the state’s odd-year gubernatorial races includes fewer “federal voters” – those urban and suburban dwellers who usually only turn out in presidential years. If such Virginians don’t show up at the polls in 2013, Cuccinelli, who enjoys fervent grassroots support, will find his task easier.

It will be crucial that blacks, Hispanics, non-Christians and gays among others turn out in force in November 2013 to save Virginia from placing a truly insane madman in the Governor's mansion.