Saturday, August 24, 2013

Alabama GOP Votes Against Removing Member For Supporting Gay Marriage

Click image to enlarge

Perhaps there is some hope for my former state of Alabama yet.  I frequently lament that Alabama is far more insane now that it was in the late 1970's when I lived there and George Wallace was governor (I got to meet Wallace once).  In a move that frankly took me by surprise, the Alabama GOP voted down a rule change aimed at expelling the president of the state College Republicans organization for committing the heresy of supporting gay marriage.  One can only assume that the Christofascist behind the proposed rule change failed to ladled out enough Kool-Aid to addle the minds of the governing board of the state GOP.   Talking Points Memo looks at the surprising and welcome move.  Here are highlights:

The Alabama Republican Party voted Saturday against a proposed rule that would have removed a junior member from its steering committee because of her support of gay marriage, the Associated Press reported.

The measure was aimed at Stephanie Petelos, the chairwoman of the Alabama College Republicans, who had made public comments in support of the Supreme Court's decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act. Petelos told the AP she hopes her ordeal "doesn't scare or shy anyone away from the party."

Bonnie Sachs, an executive committee member who proposed the rule change, told the AP that steering committee members need to serve "in such a way that we don't go to the media with an agenda that we may have." Other committee members said they didn't share Petalos' view on gay marriage, but did respect her First Amendment right to expressing that view.

"We're not the Taliban. We're not the Third Reich," committee member Clay Barclay told the AP.

Perhaps the GOP isn't yet the Taliban or Third Reich, but that is exactly the type of regime that the Christofascist who drafted the 20112 GOP party platform would like to implement.   Candidly, I can see FRC's Tony Perkins happily playing a role equivalent to that of Joesph Goebbels in the Third Reich.  Or if not Perkins, then Gary Bauer. 

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

GOP Senator Claims Pentagon Policy Allowing Gays To Marry Harms Straight Couples

One of the worse gay haters and homophobes in the United States Senate is GOP Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe who I suspect in truth would favor establishing a Christofascist ruled theocracy in America after an over throw of the U.S. Constitution in substance.  There seems to be no end to the man's anti-gay batshitery.  Now he is claiming that Pentagon policy allowing gay service members to marry is harming heterosexual couples.  Like most of what comes out of Inhofe's mouth its crazy bullshit.  Inhofe over looks one important fact: unlike gays, straights can marry in every state in America.  It's a huge difference. Think Progress looks at this batshitery erruption.  Here are highlights:

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) blasted a proposed Pentagon policy aimed at giving same-sex couples the time to travel to states where they can legally marry on Thursday. Inhofe, who takes great pride in having no LGBT relatives, wrote to Sec. of Defense Chuck Hagel that doing so would amount to “special uncharged leave benefits” for same-sex partners.

Following the Supreme Court’s June ruling striking down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the Department of Defense has been working to update its systems to ensure it treats same-sex marriages equally, as required by the ruling. Since just 13 states and the District of Columbia have statewide marriage equality, the military is reportedly considering granting a few days of uncharged leave to soldiers and sailors who need to travel to a state where they can legally marry.

Inhofe, the ranking minority-party member of Senate Armed Services Committee, objects to the idea, suggesting it is an illegal benefit and that it would amount to discrimination not to offer the same amount of leave to those entering into opposite-sex unions:

Inhofe’s claim that he supports fair and equal treatment seems to conflict with his record. His official Senate website boasts that he has “consistently supported and defended traditional marriage between one man and one woman as a cornerstone to the strength of our society,” and that he strongly opposes “the Obama Administration’s attack on traditional marriage and attempts to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act.” Inhofe voted for the unconstitutional DOMA law in 1996 and co-sponsored a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages.

Of course, if his concern about “disparate treatment” is sincere, the solution is obvious: he should work toward making sure same-sex couples, especially those who serve their country, are free to marry in all 50 states. He could start with his own state of Oklahoma,

New York Times to Work With The Guardian on NSA Spying Stories

It seems that with each passing day more information on the endless scope of the NSA's domestic spying and the NSA's violations of legal constraints unfold.  And sadly, Barack Obama can't seem to get ahead of the unfolding revelations and continues to come across as lame and belatedly trying to do damage control.  Now, as BuzzFeed reports, the New York Times is teaming up with The Guardian to do a series of stories that will likely drop some additional bomb shells on the full extent of the police state spying that has been utilized against American citizens.  Here are details from BuzzFeed:

The New York Times is in the Snowden game.   The paper — which NSA leaker Edward Snowden deliberately avoided over his fear that it would cooperate with the United States government — is now working with the Guardian on a series of stories based on documents that detail National Security Agency cooperation with its British counterpart, the Government Communications Headquarters, known as GCHQ.

“In a climate of intense pressure from the UK government, The Guardian decided to bring in a US partner to work on the GCHQ documents provided by Edward Snowden,” Guardian spokeswoman Jennifer Lindenauer said in an email. “We are continuing to work in partnership with the NYT and others to report these stories.”

The London-based newspaper has been under intense British government pressure this summer, its editor, Alan Rusbridger, revealed earlier this week.

The decision to publish the revelations concerning the British intelligence service jointly with the Times may give the Guardian leverage in its battle with the British government, which is trying to prevent the stories’ publication. It may also relate to the stronger protections for free speech and press freedom under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution; Britain has no such protections, and its Official Secrets Act is aimed at keeping government secrets secret. Sources at both papers declined to discuss the motives beyond the spokeswoman’s reference to the “climate” of pressure.

The Guardian’s Rusbridger has used the Times’s megaphone before, to spectacular effect: When the British paper’s coverage of the phone hacking scandal at News Corp. appeared to hit a dead end, a collaboration with the the Times revived it, and helped lead to criminal charges against top News Corp. executives.

Snowden said he did not go to the Times because the paper bowed to Bush Administration demands to delay a story on warrantless wiretapping in the interest of national security; he was afraid, he said, the paper would do the same with his revelations.

Now, Times reporter Scott Shane is at work on a series of stories expected to be published next month jointly with the Guardian, a source familiar with the plans said.

Now the Times or an agent for the paper, too, appears to have carried digital files from the United Kingdom across international lines into the United States. Discussions of how to partner on the documents were carried out in person between top Guardian editors and Times executive editor Jill Abramson, all of whom declined to comment on the movement of documents. But it appears likely that someone at one of the two papers physically carried a drive with Snowden’s GCHQ leaks from London to New York or Washington — exactly what Miranda was stopped at Heathrow for doing.

I suspect these stories will prove very embarrassing not only to the British government but also to  American politicians and bureaucrats.

Christofascists File Suit to Block New Jersey Ban on "Ex-Gay" Therapy

As promised, the theocrats and Christofascists at Liberty Counsel - which is affiliated with Liberty University, another huge blight on Virginia's image - have filed a federal lawsuit seeking to block New Jersey's newly enacted ban on subjecting minors to fraudulent witch doctor like "ex-gay" therapy.  As noted before, maintaining the myth that gays can change their sexual orientation is a crucial part of the Christofascists' effort to block gay rights and anti-discrimination protections.  Never mind that every legitimate medical and mental health association in America condemns the therapy.  And never mind that there is a long history of courts and statutes protecting minors form abuse and/or dangerous religious based practices.  Would that courts would begin imposing sanctions on Liberty Counsel and Matt Staver (pictured above) for the frivolous cases that are routinely filed.  The Washington Blade looks at the lawsuit.  Here are details:

Liberty Counsel filed the 46-page complaint before the U.S. District Court of New Jersey against Christie, who signed a law on Monday barring sexual orientation conversation therapy for minors within his state, as well as other state officials.

The lawsuit alleges the law violates freedoms of speech and religion under the U.S. and New Jersey Constitutions. Additionally, the lawsuit contends the law violates parental rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

The group filed the lawsuit on behalf of two Christian counselors who practice sexual orientation conversion therapy and two fringe psychological groups that have endorsed it: the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality, or NARTH, and the American Association of Christian Counselors.

“This law went into full effect immediately, upon being signed by Governor Christie on August 19, 2013, and thus time is of the essence to obtain judicial relief because plaintiffs, their clients, and the members of the plaintiff associations are currently suffering immediate and irreparable injury to their most cherished constitutional liberties,” the filing states.

Mat Staver, founder and chair of Liberty Counsel, said in a statement on the day the lawsuit was filed that the law is “a tyrannical overreach of government authority.”

“With this law, parents may face Child Protective Services investigating their home and even law enforcement taking their children if they seek change therapy,” he said said.

“Ex-gay” conversion is widely discredited and refuted by major mainstream psychological groups, such as American Psychological Association. In June, the largest ex-gay group, Exodus International, closed its doors after its executive director Alan Chambers issued an apology acknowledging “the pain and hurt others have experienced” through failed attempts at conversion therapy.
Still, plaintiffs in the lawsuit contend its effective.

One of the plaintiff counselors, Tara King, . . . . holds a Masters Degree in Christian counseling from Liberty University . . .

The other plaintiff counselor in the lawsuit is Ronald Newman, a licensed psychiatrist who obtained advanced degrees in psychology from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.

Wayne Besen, executive director of Truth Wins Out, which has spoken out about “ex-gay” therapy and its dangers, criticized the lawsuit as a waste of time for the judicial system.

“The Liberty Counsel has filed a frivolous lawsuit that confuses religious liberty with license to abuse LGBT youth,” Besen said. “The claim is without merit, relies on perpetuating junk science, and is in defense of a fraudulent product. With evidence and facts on our side, the Liberty Counsel is wasting time and money — similar to the clients of ex-gay therapists.”

Wayne - who I have worked with for a decade to expose ex-gay frauds like ex-gay poster boy Michael Johnston and JONAH founder and former NARTH board member Arthur Goldberg as an ex felon - sums it up well.  And yes, parents should be subjected to child protective services investigations if they place their children in "ex-gay" programs. 

Pat Robertson: Obama Inciting 'Black-On-White Violence'

Regional embarrassment and racist Pat Robertson has let off another explosion of verbal diarrhea.  This time he is blaming Barack Obama for "inciting black-on- white violence."  The data to support this claim?  There is, of course, none.  And its all an delusion in the mind of a man who seems increasingly out of touch with any kind of objective reality who daily panders to the sense of outrage of the white supremacists of the GOP and conservative Christian groups.  These people just cannot get over their hate and bigotry and go off every time they remember a black man is in the White House.  As I have said before, it's a wonder that today's GOP city and county committee meetings don't start with all attendees donning white robes and hoods. And for non-Virginians, it is important that they remember that Robertson is historically the largest GOP donor in Virginia.  Right Wing Watch has these details:

Pat Robertson today, while discussing the shooting of an Australian baseball player in Oklahoma by three teenagers, two of them black and one white, accused President Obama of inciting anti-white violence. The 700 Club host said, “We are having a tremendous amount of this black-on-white violence and I have a feeling that instead of bringing racial harmony, having an African-American president has exacerbated the problem.”
“He seems to be wanting to bring division among people instead of bringing them together; he is one of the most divisive leaders this country has ever had,” Robertson continued. “It just seems he wants to rub the edges raw every chance he gets.” Robertson argued that Obama is trying to divide people by race and class: “There’s always something there to stir up controversy.”
- See more at:
Pat Robertson today, while discussing the shooting of an Australian baseball player in Oklahoma by three teenagers, two of them black and one white, accused President Obama of inciting anti-white violence. The 700 Club host said, “We are having a tremendous amount of this black-on-white violence and I have a feeling that instead of bringing racial harmony, having an African-American president has exacerbated the problem.”

“He seems to be wanting to bring division among people instead of bringing them together; he is one of the most divisive leaders this country has ever had,” Robertson continued. “It just seems he wants to rub the edges raw every chance he gets.” Robertson argued that Obama is trying to divide people by race and class: “There’s always something there to stir up controversy.”
As Blue Virginia reminds us, some of Robertson's other statements include:

For the record, back in my GOP activist days I got to meet Robertson in person.  In my opinion, he is an arrogant egomaniac who is having a tempestuous love affair with himself.  Obnoxious doesn't even begin to describe him. His mere presence - not to mention Regent University and CBN - are a huge negative for Hampton Roads.

Friday, August 23, 2013

More Than 30% Of Americans Think Gays Can Become Straight

In a post earlier today I looked at the dumbing down taking place in America led in large part by the embrace of ignorance and idiocy by today's republican Party and it's knuckle dragging party base.  Not coincidentally, the party base is dominated by "conservative Christians" and "evangelical Christians."  These folks reject any scientific knowledge that doesn't comport with their child like religious beliefs or threaten their sense of self-worth.  A new Pew Research Center survey found that 30% of Americans believe that gays can become straight.  The 30% figure interestingly correlates to the percentage of the population that identifies as conservative/evangelical Christians.  The logic - or more accurately, utter lack of logic - of these folks who believe in "pray away the gay" by extension should believe that one can pray away being fat ot pray away being ugly.  The number of ugly fat people in the Bible Belt alone shows the idiocy of such a belief system.  Here are highlights from Huffington Post:

In the wake of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's announcement that he will sign a bill banning so-called "conversion therapy" for gay teens, the Pew Research Center pointed to recent research that more than one in three Americans believe sexual orientation can be changed.

On Tuesday Pew republished the data -- gathered in 2012 -- in a sobering reminder of just how far this country has to go in terms of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender acceptance. The survey concluded that slightly more than half of all Americans believe an LGBT individual cannot change sexual orientation -- while 36 percent believe it's possible.

Over the past decade the percentage of white evangelical Protestants and black Protestants who consider homosexuality sinful has remained relatively stable, according to Pew Research Center studies. Among white evangelical Protestants, 78 percent still consider homosexual activity a sin, as do 79 percent of black Protestants. The percentage of black Protestants opposed to homosexual behavior actually rose slightly during the last 10 years.

This relatively strong undercurrent of anti-gay sentiment among certain religious Americans may also help explain why the U.S. continues to lag behind much of the Western world in terms of LGBT acceptance. An international survey conducted by Pew researchers between March and May of this year found Americans generally less accepting of LGBT individuals -- and more religious -- than their peers in Spain, Germany, Britain and Canada.

These graphs speak volumes: its the uneducated, conservative church goers and those in the South who believe that gays can change.

 Oh, can we talk about hypocrisy:


Changing Virginia Demographics: An Ill Omen for the GOP

As noted in many posts on this blog, the Republican Party, both at the national level and in Virginia, has increasingly focused its efforts on older white voters and white supremacists and far right Christian elements.  The unfortunate thing for the GOP is that these groups as a share of the over all population are declining.  Meanwhile, the GOP policies that excite the GOP base repel the population groups that are increasing as a share of the overall population.  A piece in The Atlantic looks at how this demographic change could spell disaster for the Virginia GOP this November - a potential made all the greater by the extremism of the GOP statewide ticket.  Here are article highlights:

If things keep going the way they have in Virginia for the past 36 years, Ken Cuccinelli will win the governor's race. As The New York Times pointed out Thursday, the party that occupies the White House consistently loses the governor's mansion in Virginia. In 2013, however, the state's changing demographics are giving Democratic contender Terry McAuliffe an advantage. He knows this, and he's running on it.

Right now, McAuliffe is leading Cuccinelli 48 percent to 42 percent, according to a Quinnipac poll released Wednesday. The poll also showed that more Democratic voters intend to vote in this midterm election than usual — likely Democratic voters outnumber Republicans 39 percent to 32 percent. The Washington Post notes that's the same split that caused the state to swing for Obama in 2012. 

The Times reports that there's been a decrease in white voters in Virginia since 2009 — from 78 percent to 75 percent. Suburban, minority voters make up more of the electorate than ever before. And the makeup of white voters is also changing — more of them are young, recent college grads, who are more likely to vote for a Democrat because of the party's stance social issues.

Republicans are naturally worried about these shifting demographics, and Democrats are trying to ride the wave.

In Virginia, McAuliffe has especially reached out to Latino voters. At a July campaign stop in Woodbridge, he met with Todos Supermarket owner Carlos Castro, and called him an example of the "American Dream":
We can’t grow our economy unless we ensure that Virginia is an open and welcoming state to everyone. I’d love to see thousands of more Carloses by the end of my term as governor. We need to help the Carloses of the future grow and diversify this economy.
McAuliffe has vowed to enact a state-level DREAM Act. He also also campaigned to Asian-American groups, and he hasn't been shy about calling out his opponent's often less-tolerant party. McAuliffe told Politico earlier in August:
This is probably the starkest difference you’ve had between two candidates running for governor. My opponent is on a social-ideological agenda. In my bones, you cannot grow an economy and diversify it when you have these hate-filled statements — as it relates to women’s  health centers, gay Virginians, the issues on immigration . . . I want to stop all that.
So Cuccinelli will keep pretending demographics are no big deal, and McAuliffe will continue to call for more "Carloses." And with the white vote shrinking nationwide, what happens in Virginia in 2013 could be a peek at what's to come nationally in 2016.

Friday Morning Male Beauty

America's Growing Ignorance: Welcome to the Age of Denial

Once upon a time the Republican Party valued science, intellect and knowledge.  Indeed, Democrats were at times looked down upon as being ignorant and the unwashed rabble.  Now, the picture has been totally reversed and the GOP actively campaigns against scientific knowledge whether it be on climate change or sexual orientation and a host of issues in between and party leaders wear ignorance and idiocy on their sleeves as a badge of honor.  What caused this reversal?  In my mind, the rise of the Christofascists in the GOP for whom modernity and knowledge are a growing threat because they destroy the infantile house of cards faith system that these individuals need to find a distorted sense of self-identification and security.   A column in the New York Times by a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Rochester looks at America's increasing ignorance which is fueled by snake oil merchants in the pulpit and the Republican Party base.  Here are excerpts:

ROCHESTER — IN 1982, polls showed that 44 percent of Americans believed God had created human beings in their present form. Thirty years later, the fraction of the population who are creationists is 46 percent

In 1989, when “climate change” had just entered the public lexicon, 63 percent of Americans understood it was a problem. Almost 25 years later, that proportion is actually a bit lower, at 58 percent. 

This is not a world the scientists I trained with would recognize. Many of them served on the Manhattan Project. Afterward, they helped create the technologies that drove America’s postwar prosperity. In that era of the mid-20th century, politicians were expected to support science financially but otherwise leave it alone.

Today, however, it is politically effective, and socially acceptable, to deny scientific fact. Narrowly defined, “creationism” was a minor current in American thinking for much of the 20th century. But in the years since I was a student, a well-funded effort has skillfully rebranded that ideology as “creation science” and pushed it into classrooms across the country. Though transparently unscientific, denying evolution has become a litmus test for some conservative politicians, even at the highest levels. 

Meanwhile, climate deniers, taking pages from the creationists’ PR playbook, have manufactured doubt about fundamental issues in climate science that were decided scientifically decades ago. And anti-vaccine campaigners brandish a few long-discredited studies to make unproven claims about links between autism and vaccination. 

What do I tell my students? From one end of their educational trajectory to the other, our society told these kids science was important. How confusing is it for them now, when scientists receive death threats for simply doing honest research on our planet’s climate history? 

Americans always expected their children to face a brighter economic future, and we scientists expected our students to inherit a world where science was embraced by an ever-larger fraction of the population.

My professors’ generation could respond to silliness like creationism with head-scratching bemusement. My students cannot afford that luxury. Instead they must become fierce champions of science in the marketplace of ideas.  

[A]s we know from history’s darkest moments, even the most enlightened traditions can be broken and lost. Perhaps that is the most important lesson all lifelong students of science must learn now. 

The irony is that the Christofascists are obsessed with America's declining influence in the world, yet they are the ones that will lead to further decline.  As noted before on this blog, many historians blame the rise of Christianity for the fall of Ancient Rome.  Now, the "godly Christians" are working to destroy America and bring back ignorance and a new Dark Ages.

New Mexico Supreme Court: Photographer Cannot Deny Services to Gay Couples

In a unanimous - and completely common sense - opinion, the New Mexico Supreme Court has ruled that a photographer (and by extension, any business that offers services to the general public) cannot refuse to provide goods or services to same sex couples citing "religious belief."  If one is going to market to the public, then one has to provides goods and services to ALL of the public, gays included.  Not surprisingly, the Christofascists who see themselves above the laws governing others are apoplectic that they cannot discriminate at will against those they don't like and screaming that they are being persecuted.  In truth - as is increasingly the case, it is they who are the ones persecuting others.  Metro Weekly looks at the important ruling.  Here are highlights

The New Mexico Supreme Court ruled in a unanimous decision Thursday that a wedding photographer who refused to provide services to a same-sex couple violated the state's Human Rights Act.

"[W]e conclude that a commercial photography business that offers its services to the public, thereby increasing its visibility to potential clients, is subject to the antidiscrimination provisions of the [New Mexico Human Rights Act] and must serve same-sex couples on the same basis that it serves opposite-sex couples," the state's highest court ruled. "Therefore, when Elane Photography refused to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony, it violated the NMHRA in the same way as if it had refused to photograph a wedding between people of different races."

The ruling comes in the case of Elane Photography v. Vanessa Willock, which was filed after Elaine Huguenin, co-owner of Elane Photography in Albuquerque, turned away Vanessa Willock and her partner in 2006 on the grounds that photographing the ceremony would violate her religious beliefs.
An investigation by the state Human Rights Commission that found the company was guilty of discrimination based on sexual orientation was upheld by the New Mexico Court of Appeals in June of 2012.

In its decision today, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled that the state's Human Rights Act, which was amended in 2003 to add "sexual orientation" as a class of people protected from discrimination, does not violate free speech because it does not compel the photographer to either "speak a government-mandated message or to publish the speech of another."

"The purpose of the NMHRA is to ensure that businesses offering services to the general public do not discriminate against protected classes of people, and the United States Supreme Court has made it clear that the First Amendment permits such regulation by states," the decision states. "Businesses that choose to be public accommodations must comply with the NMHRA, although such businesses retain their First Amendment rights to express their religious or political beliefs.
Illustrative of the bullshit coming from the Christofascist is the rant by Bryan Fischer of the hate group, American Family Association, who says the ruling is tantamount to the Jim Crow laws and that Christians are the "new blacks."  Right Wing Watch reports on Fischer's disingenuous screed:

Bryan Fischer is incensed at the New Mexico Supreme Court’s unanimous decision that a wedding photography business violated the state’s anti-discrimination law by refusing its services to a same-sex couple. The American Family Association spokesman called on the business, and others, to file countersuits and “fight fire with fire” by alleging that preventing them from discriminating against customers is religious discrimination.

“Essentially what this court has done and what the Obama administration has done with this abortifacient mandate is that they have turned Christians into Dred Scott,” Fischer claimed, arguing that the New Mexico court “said that Christians have no rights which this court is bound to respect. So to me this looks like Jim Crow is alive and well, we’ve got Jim Crow laws right back in operation, Christians are the new blacks.”
Hate, bigotry, selfishness and, of course endless lies, are the hallmarks of conservative Christians.  Kudos to the New Mexico Supreme Court for making it clear that these vile people are not above the law.

Charlottesville, Virginia Considering Same-Sex Mariage Ordinance

Charlottesville City Hall
Charlottesville, Virginia, the home of the University of Virginia is among the most liberal cities in Virginia outside of perhaps Alexandria located just across the Potomac from Washington, D.C. Now, Charlottesville is considering an ordinance that will drive Ken Cuccinelli, the lunatic "Bishop" W. W. Jackson, and Mark Obenshain to have spittle flecked conniption fits: an ordinance extending benefits, including health care, to city employees with same-sex partners who were legally married outside Virginia.  The animus based Marshall-Newman Amendment seeks to bar any legal recognition of same sex relationships whatsoever.  Hence, such an ordinance would be tantamount to giving the knuckle dragging Neanderthals who pushed passage of the Amendment - and falsely advertised what it would mean - the middle finger.  The Daily Progress has details:

The Charlottesville City Council is considering an ordinance extending benefits, including health care, to city employees with same-sex partners who were legally married outside Virginia. In Monday’s council meeting, Councilor Dave Norris presented the legislation, which is identical to a July proposal in Richmond City Council.  
“Spouses, at such time it is permitted by state law, should be defined to include same sex partners in marriages that legally occurred in another state,” Richmond’s ordinance summary reads. “With the recent Supreme Court opinion regarding the Defense of Marriage Act … this definition of spouse is consistent with the federal definition of spouse.”

“I thought it was something that Charlottesville should do,” Norris said.

“The value in taking a symbolic stance is that Charlottesville supports equality,” Norris said.
Norris said he would like to see if there are ways to proceed with the ordinance “in the spirit of the Supreme Court ruling and fairness,” he said. “But it may end up that it would be symbolic.”

Vice mayor Kristin Szakos, who also supports the ordinance, said she thinks it can be a message of intent, even if it is not able to be acted upon.

Szakos said the city does currently provide “certain benefits to married couples,” but is not able to extend some benefits, including health care, to same-sex partners.

“If public response is any indication, the proposal will be supported overwhelmingly,” he said.  “I’ve heard only positive responses so far,” Szakos said.
Charlottesville needs to pass the ordinance and grant benefits.  Let Cuccinelli then file suit to enforce and unconstitutional Amendment.  Although Cuccinelli doesn't grasp the concept, the U. S. Constitution trumps the Virginia Constitution.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

More Thursday Male Beauty

Colin Powell Slams North Carolina Voting Law

Retired General and former Secretary of State Colin Powell like myself once considered himself to be a Republican.  But, like me, most of my extended family members and many others, Powell is repulsed by the agenda of today's Republican Party.   Especially its agenda of disenfranchising minority voters, particularly blacks.  One would think that the GOP has merged with the KKK.  A piece at Talking Points Memo looks at Colin Powell's slamming of North Carlina white supremacist favored voter ID law in the presence ot North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory who signed the vile legislation into law.  Here are highlights:

Colin Powell spoke out forcefully Thursday against a sweeping new voting law in North Carolina, arguing that Republicans should be courting minority voters rather than driving them away from the polls.

"I want to see policies that encourage every American to vote, not make it more difficult to vote," the former secretary of state said in a speech at Raleigh, N.C., according to The News & Observer. 
Powell added, "It immediately turns off a voting bloc the Republican Party needs. These kinds of actions do not build on the base. It just turns people away."

Powell's remarks were even more notable given North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory's (R) presence at the CEO Forum in Raleigh.

McCrory (R) signed the voting bill — passed by the GOP-controlled legislature — with little fanfare earlier this month. The law, slated to take effect in 2016, will require government-issued photo IDs at the polls while shortening the early voting period in the state. Democrats and groups such as the NAACP and the ACLU have criticized the law for its punitive effects on minority and young voters.
Powell, who endorsed President Barack Obama in both 2008 and 2012, has addressed his party's problems with minorities before. In January, he said that he still considers himself a Republican but acknowledged the presence of "a dark vein of intolerance in some parts of the party."

He revisited that theme in a big way on Thursday, arguing that measures like North Carolina's voting law punish minority voters.

Mexican Catholic Bishop: Homophobia is a Mental Illness

I can hear heads exploding at the Vatican and bishopric around the globe (they probably had to call 911 for blowhard Bill Donohue of the Catholic League) over remarks by Mexican Bishop, Raúl Vera (pictured above), who believes that homophobes are actually the depraved ones, not gays.  While Bishop Vera doesn't get all of the theories of what causes some of us to be gay, he does get right the theory a prominent researcher explained to me some years ago that hormones play a role in determining sexual orientation in vitro.  In short, unlike most of the Catholic Church hierarchy he comes close to accepting modern scientific knowledge rather than the ignorant writings of wandering nomads from 2500 years ago. Blabbeando has details.  Here are excerpts:

A lot has been said about Pope Francis' recent of the cuff comments on gays ("Who am I to judge?") and hundreds of religious leaders world wide have been asked to share their thoughts but I was still surprised to see this interview with Saltillo Bishop Raúl Vera posted by Terra Mexico yesterday ("Homophobia is a mental illness: Saltillo bishop").

The Bishop has some funky theories on what determines whether someone is born gay (he chalks it up to hormonal differences) but speaks forcefully against religious based homophobia and calls homophobes the perverse ones. 

Here is Bishop Vera on a mother who worried her son was hanging out with a bunch of "degenerate gays':

One mother came to me and said that she was being watchful of her son because he was hanging out with "those degenerate gays" and I said "so blame yourself for it because that's the way your son developed in your womb and he didn't develop into a degenerate or a perverse person. He was born with a certain constitution you are trying to ignore. Calm down, you are the mother of that child and he began to be who he now is inside your womb. So the first one I'd kick out would be you because you are the perverse one who is first in line." That's what I said.
And on homophobes:
Why would I immediately think a gay or lesbian person is perverse or depraved the moment they approach me? That's how people who are homophobic react. It's a mental illness in which you see gays as depraved and promiscuous.  You have to be sick in the head for that.
He also tells the reporter people have to stop bashing gays with the words of the Bible and that they should read the passages they use to condemn gays within a historical context to realize the Bible does not condemn homosexuality.
Yesterday's interview is not the first time Bishop has supported LGBT issues. The AP says that he backed a same-sex civil unions law in the region and was called to the Vatican two years ago to explain an outreach program he organized for gay youth.

He has also received death threats for his outspokenness.

Kudos to Bishop Vera.  Would that the self-loathing queens in Rone (and in Richmond and Arlington, Virginia) were so enlightened.  One humorous aside on the blog post is this:

Over at Reddit, there has been some back and forth on whether Bishop Vera was insensitive in calling homophobia a "mental illness" from people who feel it unfairly groups people diagnosed with mental illness with people who hate gays.
For those who don't follow Blabbeando regularly, it has excellent coverage of LGBT issues in Central and South America.  Interestingly enough, some years back both this blog and Blabbeando were listed in the top 100 LGBT blogs by the UK's Lesbian and Gay Foundation.  It was the editor of Blabbeando, Andrés Duque, who let me know this blog had been so honored.

Tennessee Church Kicks Out Family For Supporting Lesbian Daughter

The Christofascists go on and on about the importance of heterosexual marriage and raising children, but in truth, they care little or nothing for married couples who don't tow the official line of denomination dogma and they would have parents throw their gay children on the trash heap.  As Bob Felton at Civil Commotion likes to point out, obedience to the cult and the ignorant, unscientific writings from 2500 years ago trumps all else, including family ties.  The recent behavior of a church in Tennessee underscores this reality.  A family that had been church members for three generations has been expelled from church membership because they family has supported their lesbian daughter.   The Tennessee Free Press has details.  Here are highlights:

Collegedale's decision to grant benefits to same-sex couples was a victory for Kat Cooper, a gay detective who championed the months-long effort that made the Chattanooga suburb the first city in Tennessee to offer benefits to same-sex spouses of its government employees.

Cooper's mother, Linda, stood by her side throughout the process. She held tight to her daughter's hand at a July meeting over the issue. And the two embraced after the City Council's 4-1 vote on Aug. 5.

But those small acts of support translated into collateral damage that left Linda Cooper and other relatives separated from their church family of more than 60 years. 

Leaders at Ridgedale Church of Christ  met in private with Kat Cooper's mother, aunt and uncle on Sunday after the regular worship service. They were given an ultimatum: They could repent for their sins and ask forgiveness in front of the congregation. Or leave the church.

Their sins?  "My mother was up here and she sat beside me. That's it," said Kat Cooper. "Literally, they're exiling members for unconditionally loving their children -- and even extended family members."

But the family's support of Kat Cooper was as good as an endorsement of homosexuality, said Ken Willis, minister at Ridgedale Church of Christ.

Linda Cooper's parents were practically founding members of the Dodds Avenue congregation, Hunt Cooper said. Her father was a church elder and his picture still hangs on the wall there. Kat Cooper grew up helping her grandfather clean the pews and helped her grandmother hang bulletin boards for Sunday school.  "This is not just some casual church they dropped in on," he said.

Hunt Cooper said his family rejects the notion that being gay is a lifestyle choice. And his wife, along with her brother and sister, believed repentance would be hypocritical. So the decision to leave, devastating as it was, was a simple one.

"There's no sin to repent for," he said. "And she's not going to turn her back on her daughter."

Good for the Coopers!!   Conservative Christianity has become a pervasive evil.  It's fruits are hate, bigotry and hypocrisy.  The world will be a better place when it ceases to exist.