Saturday, June 07, 2014

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

Federal Judge Strikes Down Wisconsin's Gay Marriage Ban

The dominoes continue to fall as Wisconsin joins the list of states where federal courts have ruled bans on same sex marriage to be unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.  The full ruling can be viewed here. Those who oppose such rulings time and time again can offer no legitimate justification for such bans other than religious based animus and, by implication, the sick need of the Christofascists to maintain their superiority by keeping others inferior under the law.  One can only hope that the tide of decisions striking down such bans continues.  As of this past week, every state ban in America is under legal challenge or has been struck down and/or is pending appeal.  Here are highlights from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

A federal judge in Madison on Friday overturned Wisconsin's gay marriage ban, striking down an amendment to the state constitution approved overwhelmingly by voters in 2006 and prompting an emergency action by the state to halt the scores of weddings that began in the state's two largest cities.

In the 88-page decision, U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb ruled that the prohibition on same-sex vows in the state violated the rights of gay and lesbian couples to equal protection under the federal constitution and fair treatment under the law.

She did not stay her ruling but also did not immediately issue an order blocking the enforcement of the ban, sparking a heated and hasty debate on whether the ruling meant that couples could immediately marry in the courthouses of Wisconsin.

"Quite simply, this case is about liberty and equality, the two cornerstones of the rights protected by the United States Constitution," Crabb wrote in her decision.

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, a Republican, said that "current law remains in force" in Wisconsin and took immediate action to try to halt the surge of gay couples seeking to wed, filing an emergency request for a stay from Crabb. Van Hollen could also file a similar motion before the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago.

Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell, a Democrat, began issuing marriage licenses at 5 p.m. Friday as gay couples were married there throughout the night. He said state Department of Justice officials advised him not to issue the licenses but McDonell moved forward despite that.
"They don't get to tell me that," he said of DOJ. "A judge gets to....If someone comes to me, how could I say no to them?"

Milwaukee County Clerk Joe Czarnezki, also a Democrat, issued marriage licenses through Friday night and planned to do so again on Saturday.

In her decision, Crabb said the state failed to show that the ban is "substantially related" to an important state goal. She questioned whether the state could even count as important public interests its stated goals of tradition, procreation and avoiding a "slippery slope" toward polygamy or incest.

She said that many other policies later found unconstitutional, such as segregation, were longstanding and popular among a majority of a state's voters.

[Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond], who believes there is a constitutional right for same-sex couples to marry, called Crabb's decision the "most thorough and probably most careful" treatment of the issue and one that other judges would look to as they decide similar cases.

New Study - Gays Are Born This Way

This past week the Texas Republican Party endorsed reparative therapy even though every legitimate (i.e., not funded by anti-gay organizations) medical and mental health association in America condemns such therapy and deems it dangerous.  Never let it be said that the Christofascists don't still call the shots in the GOP.  Meanwhile, a new study adds more evidence that gays are "born this way" to quote from Lady Gaga's song.  Will this new knowledge change any minds in the GOP?  Probably not.  The Christofascists cannot abide the fact that their mythical Bible may be wrong and few elected Republicans will cease prostituting themselves to those who embrace ignorance and bigotry.  An article in the Washington Post written by Jenny Graves, Distinguished Professor of Genetics at La Trobe University, looks at the new study and its implications.  Here are some highlights:
The claim that homosexual men share a “gay gene” created a furor in the 1990s. But new research two decades on supports this claim – and adds another candidate gene.

To an evolutionary geneticist, the idea that a person’s genetic makeup affects their mating preference is unsurprising. We see it in the animal world all the time. There are probably many genes that affect human sexual orientation.

But rather than thinking of them as “gay genes,” perhaps we should consider them “male-loving genes.” They may be common because these variant genes, in a female, predispose her to mate earlier and more often and to have more children.

Likewise, it would be surprising if there were not “female-loving genes” in lesbian women that, in a male, predispose him to mate earlier and have more children.

In 1993, American geneticist Dean Hamer found families with several gay males on the mother’s side, suggesting a gene on the X chromosome. He showed that pairs of brothers who were openly gay shared a small region at the tip of the X, and proposed that it contained a gene that predisposes a male to homosexuality.

Hamer’s conclusions were extremely controversial. He was challenged at every turn by people unwilling to accept that homosexuality is at least partly genetic, rather than a “lifestyle choice.”

This year, a larger study of gay brothers, using the many genetic markers now available through the Human Genome Project, confirmed the original finding and also detected another “gay gene” on chromosome 8. This has unleashed a new flurry of comment.

But why such a furor when we know of gay gene variants in species from flies to mammals? Homosexuality is quite common throughout the animal kingdom.
The puzzle is not whether “gay genes” exist in humans, but why they are so common (estimates from five percent to 15 percent). We know that gay men have fewer children on average, so shouldn’t these gene variants disappear?

There are several theories that account for the high frequency of homosexuality. A decade ago I wondered if gay gene variants have another effect that boosts the chances of leaving offspring (“evolutionary fitness”), and passing the gay allele on. This is a well-known situation (called “balanced polymorphism”) in which an allele is advantageous in one situation and not in another.

Perhaps “male-loving” alleles in a female predispose her to mate earlier and have more children. If their sisters, mother and aunts have more kids who share some of their genes, it would make up for the fewer children of gay males.

And they do. Lots more children. An Italian group showed that the female relatives of gay men have 1.3 times as many children as the female relatives of straight men. This is a huge selective advantage that a male-loving allele confers on women, and offsets the selective disadvantage that it confers on men.
Why the furor over such study findings?  It's very simple.  To the Christianists - and fundamentalist Muslims would be in the same category - if the Bible [or Koran] is wrong about homosexuality, then the question becomes what else is it wrong about.  Those who through ignorance or mental disorders cannot deal with a lack of absolute certainty in their lives simply cannot tolerate anything that might upset their simplistic, childish belief systems.  Since the very existence of gays suggests that the Bible/Koran is wrong, we are treated as enemies of the first magnitude.

Houston's "Godly" Freak Out and Threaten to Kill the Mayor

I've noted before the sick need of the self-anointed "godly Christians" to be superior to others - to demand and need special rights in order to feel good about their miserable selves.  With the city of Houston's recent passage of non-discrimination protections that include LGBT people, some of the godly folk have simply gone berserk.  Having others be equal to them under the law and not being able to discriminate and mistreat others is, in their warped minds, discrimination against them.  And it's not just gays they dislike, although we always seem to engender at special level of animus.  No, its anyone who is "other" due to race, faith, or sexual orientation.  These godly folk are truly nothing less than mentally disturbed.  A piece in Transadvocate looks at the hate and venom being spewed by these :godly Christians" simply because others have been guaranteed equality.  Here are some excerpts:

On Wednesday, May 28, 2014, the Houston City Council approved a sweeping non-discrimination ordinance barring discrimination against 15 protected classes, including an explicit protection against discrimination due to one’s religion. The city’s right-wing community immediately claimed to be oppressed, threatened to recall everyone who voted for the ordinance and pledged to put their own religious protections up for a popular vote in the November election. More worrisome, the Mayor of Houston is now protected around the clock due to death threats.

If you’re having trouble understanding what has the foes of equality so upset it’s simple: equality isn’t supremacy and they want supremacy. For instance, a well-known Houston area Christian pastor asserted that people should have the right to discriminate against Jewish people.  

Speaking before City Council, anti-equality activist Karina Alvarez said, “I feel [that] I have been discriminated against today!” The nature of the oppression she said she faced was that queer people weren’t forced to give up their seat to her, a heterosexual women. Having shown up late to the City Council proceedings, Alvarez had to stand because all of the seats were taken. Since some of the seats were occupied by LGBT supporters of the ordinance, Alvarez complained, “The [ordinance supporters] have seats and I had to stay standing and I see this as a very discriminatory situation!”

Imagine, a world in which a Jew was equal to a Christian and a queer person didn’t have to surrender their seat to a hetero person. For the forces of anti-equality, equality is unacceptable because it means surrendering their status as a members of a superior class.

Those who benifit from oppressive systems are generally never truly honest about what bothers them about equality. Instead, bigots have devised a set of attacks that they use to obfuscate the reality of their true purpose. In practically every anti-equality moment, the plays are the same:

The one-two punch: appeal to authority while demonizing the oppressed
   The Klan Fallacy: cherry pick data to make sweeping generalizations about the oppressed  (often  used as “proof” that demonizing is warranted)
           Violence: the threat of violence is made known and/or carried out

I’ll refer to the the foes of equality - the racists, homo/transphobes, anti-Semites, etc – simply as bigots. They – in one way or another – want to privilege their group(s) at the expense of another precisely because, to them, equality is a resented loss of superiority within society. Equality feels oppressive to the privileged because instead of being superior to those they once oppressed, the’re now no better than the group they hate and that’s unacceptable to them.

In a perverse twist of irony, the group that stood against the most recent Houston equality ordinance recruited may black Christian pastors to be voice of their bigotry. While waving their bibles in the air, these bigots asserted this fight for equality was in no way reminiscent traditional civil rights efforts. However, PoC leaders like past City Council Member, Jolanda Jones, the TransAdvocate Editor, Monica Roberts, Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, the NAACP, the Urban League and LULAC didn’t see it that way.
This is a human rights issue. It is a civil rights issue and if people haven’t noticed, I happen to be black since people seem to think there is a distinction between being black and being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. It is the same. You are who you are; you are born like that. I am hurt [begins to weep] that I hear people using religion to figure out ways to discriminate… I hope that those who vote do it for the right reasons because god forbid you have a GLBT person in your family; I’ve had 2 friend’s kids commit suicide over discrimination against that community. So, I urge you to vote for it because it’s a human rights issue!   – City Council Member, Jolanda Jones
Republican State Representative Dwayne Bohac claimed that the Houston equality ordinance is a “threat to religious liberty” because it would force people to treat LGBT people equally. Furthermore, he claimed that equal rights would mean that children may be molested.
 The take away from all of this?  That the "godly folk" are neither nice or decent people.  The sooner that society as a whole recognizes this reality, the better off the nation will be.

Friday, June 06, 2014

Friday Morning Male Beauty

Memo to GOP: The War Over Health Care is Over

Just like those who centuries ago refused to believe that the world wasn't flat and that the earth revolved around the Sun and not vice versa, Republicans refuse to accept the reality that the war against the Affordable Health Care Act is largely over except in their minds.  Even the Virginia Chamber of Commerce is in the process of setting up a private health insurance exchange to make up for Virginia's failure to do so because of Virginia GOP opposition to anything that relates to Barack Obama.  Meanwhile, we see Mitch McConnell lying to voters in his state about the benefits that "Obamacare" has brought to over 300,000 citizens of Kentucky.  A piece in the Washington Post looks at GOP blindness to reality.  Here are highlights:

The federal government has released new data on Medicaid enrollment showing that with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, six million Americans were added to the program’s rolls. 

That’s six million low-income people who now have health coverage, who can see a doctor when they need to and who don’t have to worry about whether an accident or an illness will send them spiraling into utter financial ruin.

The numbers reveal something else, too, something that should horrify conservatives: we’re well on our way to health-care socialism.

Okay, that’s an exaggeration. But only a slight one. And at a time when the press is realizing that Republicans are losing their taste for anti-Obamacare bloviating (more on that in a moment), it shows that Bill Kristol’s nightmare has nearly come true.

Back in 1993, Kristol wrote Republicans an enormously influential memo advising that the best approach to Bill Clinton’s health reform plan was notto do everything they could to kill it outright. If any plan managed to pass, he warned, “it will re-legitimize middle-class dependence for ‘security’ on government spending and regulation. It will revive the reputation of the party that spends and regulates, the Democrats, as the generous protector of middle-class interests. And it will at the same time strike a punishing blow against Republican claims to defend the middle class by restraining government.”

[T]here are now 64 million Americans on Medicaid and CHIP.  On top of that, there are now over 52 million seniors on Medicare. There are another 9 million veterans enrolled in the Veterans Health Service.

That’s a total of 125 million Americans getting their insurance from the federal government (or, in the case of Medicaid, a federal-state program). The current U.S. population is 318 million. That means that 39 percent of us, or just under two out of every five Americans, are recipients of government health insurance.

Conservatives, on the other hand, view this as a disaster. What they’ve only partly come to terms with is the fact that it’s going to be almost impossible for them to do anything about it. 

It’s true that Republicans appear to have realized that while the ACA remains unpopular, the idea of repealing it is even less popular. Which is why, as the November election approaches, they’ve almost stopped trying to elevate the issue. 

[M]ultiple Republican Senate candidates are now mouthing support for Obamacare’s general goals and have essentially been reduced to gibberish when trying to explain their “repeal and replace” 

[E]ven if Republicans took back the White House and both houses of Congress, moving people off their government insurance would be next to impossible.

Any Republican plan to unwind the ACA is going to run headlong into people’s fear of change and be stopped in its tracks. Are you going to push 64 million Medicaid and CHIP recipients off their current insurance and onto private plans? Are you going to move away from employer-provided coverage? Are you going to privatize Medicare?

The Climate Domino

It is hard not to belabor the extent to which Republican denial of climate change parallel's the party's general descent into insanity.  The precipitating cause for the phenomenon?  In my view, it ties directly to the rise of the Christofascists and their equally delusional Tea Party first cousins.  When vast numbers of the party base reject the theory of evolution and remain locked in the mythical creation story laid out in Genesis as if it were historic fact, it is little surprise that climate change and global warming are anathema to the GOP, especially in view of the party leadership's unwillingness to call out the base as nearly clinically insane.  Paul Krugman has a column in the New York Times that looks at the situation.  Here are excerpts:

Maybe it’s me, but the predictable right-wing cries of outrage over the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rules on carbon seem oddly muted and unfocused. I mean, these are the people who managed to create national outrage over nonexistent death panels. Now the Obama administration is doing something that really will impose at least some pain on some people. Where are the eye-catching fake horror stories?

For what it’s worth, however, the attacks on the new rules mainly involve the three C’s: conspiracy, cost and China. That is, right-wingers claim that there isn’t any global warming, that it’s all a hoax promulgated by thousands of scientists around the world; that taking action to limit greenhouse gas emissions would devastate the economy; and that, anyway, U.S. policy can’t accomplish anything because China will just go on spewing stuff into the atmosphere.

I don’t want to say much about the conspiracy theorizing, except to point out that any attempt to make sense of current American politics must take into account this particular indicator of the Republican Party’s descent into madness. There is, however, a lot to say about both the cost and China issues.

[Conservatives] they insist that businesses will be unable to adjust, that there are no alternatives to doing everything energy-related exactly the way we do it now.

That’s not realistic, and it’s not what careful analysis says. It’s not even what studies paid for by opponents of climate action say. As I explained last week, the United States Chamber of Commerce recently commissioned a report that was intended to show the terrible costs of the forthcoming E.P.A. policy — a report that made the least favorable assumptions possible in an attempt to make the costs look bigger. Even so, however, the numbers came out embarrassingly small. No, cracking down on coal won’t cripple the U.S. economy.

[T]he United States accounts for only 17 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions, while China accounts for 27 percent — and China’s share is rising fast. So it’s true that America, acting alone, can’t save the planet. We need international cooperation.

That, however, is precisely why we need the new policy. America can’t expect other countries to take strong action against emissions while refusing to do anything itself, so the new rules are needed to get the game going. And it’s fairly certain that action in the U.S. would lead to corresponding action in Europe and Japan.

China is enormously dependent on access to advanced-country markets — a lot of the coal it burns can be attributed, directly or indirectly, to its export business — and it knows that it would put this access at risk if it refused to play any role in protecting the planet.

More specifically, if and when wealthy countries take serious action to limit greenhouse gas emissions, they’re very likely to start imposing “carbon tariffs” on goods imported from countries that aren’t taking similar action. Such tariffs should be legal under existing trade rules — the World Trade Organization would probably declare that carbon limits are effectively a tax on consumers, which can be levied on imports as well as domestic production. Furthermore, trade rules give special consideration to environmental protection. So China would find itself with strong incentives to start limiting emissions.

The new carbon policy, then, is supposed to be the beginning, not the end, a domino that, once pushed over, should start a chain reaction that leads, finally, to global steps to limit climate change.
Denial and a refusal to accepting a changing reality is not leadership.  And it's why the GOP remains unfit to lead America - or any state for that matter.

Ryland Wittington - True Parental Acceptance

As Andrew Sullivan so rightly noted, one of the principal sicknesses of Catholicism and much of Christianity is its obsession with repressing individuals sexuality.  This obsession extends to forcing rigid gender roles on males and females and anyone who does not conform with the preconceptions of the bitter old men in dresses at the Vatican or the pompous, self satisfied bible thumpers in pulpits across America (and now Africa thanks to the efforts of American Christofascists) is targeted as deserving a life of living hell.  Gays, of course, are met with open animus.  For those who are transgender, the fate is often even worse, easily explaining why transgender individuals experience an attempted suicide rat nearly ten times higher than the general public.

The reality is that none of us has any role in choosing what nation we will be born in, what faith tradition our parents will follow, whether we are gay of straight, the color of our skin, or if we are transgender.  Yet too many, especially the "godly Christian" crowds in modern day Pharisee like behavior act as if they did make these decisions.  Worse yet, they seek to play God and dictate to others of who they must be and how they must live their lives.  It is part of what in my view makes the "godly Christian" crowd a social cancer on society.

I noted recently that I had established a scholarship for LGBT students in honor of my late parents in recognition of their unconditional acceptance of me when I came out in mid-life.  As The Raw Story reports, the parents of Ryland Wittington, a six year old transgender boy, have taken parental acceptance of their child to new heights,  I encourage readers to watch the video above.  Here are details from The Raw Story:

A family’s video detailing their 6-year-old trans son’s declaration of his male gender has gone viral and sparked fierce debate about the nature of gender and identity in our society and the changing beliefs around those topics.

Wisconsin’s WAOW Channel 9 reported that the video story of Ryland Wittington, whose family lives in San Diego, CA, received millions of views in its first days on YouTube.

Jeff and Hillary Wittington’s baby Ryland announced as soon as he could speak that he was not a girl, but a boy. He insisted on being referred to as his sister’s brother and, after conferring with psychiatric professionals, the Wittingtons allowed Ryland to express his gender as male at the age of 5.

“I’m a transgender kid,” said Ryland in the video. “I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my whole life. Thank you to my parents.”

Some reactions to the video, however, have been hostile.  “I would NEVER do this to my CHILD,” wrote one People magazine reader after the publication ran a story about Ryland.

Experts like Tando, however, say that allowing trans kids to express their gender is the best thing for them.  “There’s huge benefits to doing this earlier in life,” Tando said. “It’s like they’ve been given this gift where everyone around them recognizes them for who they really are.”
The sooner religious based animus and discrimination is purged from the world, the better life will be for everyone.  Kudos to Ryland's parents.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

More Thursday Male Beauty

Quote of the Day: Andrew Sullivan on Catholicism’s Crimes Against Humanity

As one who was raised Catholic knew would happen, apologists for the Catholic Church have rushed forward to describe those outraged by the news of the bodies of over 800 babies discovered in a septic tank at a former Catholic home for unwed mothers as "anti-Catholicism."   Sadly, there are those within the Church who simply refuse to open their eyes to the horrors that Catholicism and a Church hierarchy have wrought over the centuries.  Amazingly, Andrew Sullivan, who too often closes his eyes to the inherent sickness of the Catholic Church, simply could not take the lies and historical re-constructionists who sought to excuse the Church  for the evils done in Ireland.  Here are money quotes from Sullivan:
In Ireland, there are stirrings for a full investigation into the staggering news that a former home for unmarried mothers and their children was effectively a death camp for infants, and close to 800 were buried in a septic tank.

There are now calls to investigate all the sites once run by this sadistic, wicked order in order to discover how many children were neglected, abused and thrown away like so much trash. I’d say that’s a start. In my view, the entire order should be shut down by the Vatican until we have a much better understanding of these crimes, who knew about them, and when. There should also surely be a thorough attempt to find anyone still connected with this cover-up for investigation and possible prosecution. Like war crimes, these horrifying abuses should know no statute of limitations.

Meanwhile, it simply staggers me to find bloggers deflecting blame away from the church.

These children were treated as sub-human because their births violated a Catholic doctrine that there can be no sex outside of marriage. The young women – denied contraception, of course – were equally subject to horrifying stigmatization, hatred, and inhumane rules that took their children away from them. None of this would have ever taken place without this doctrine, and the insistence that it be enforced without exception and relentlessly. No society has ever lived up to this standard, but in Ireland, where the church was fused with the state, they gave it about as good a try as possible. And in order to enforce it, in order to inculcate shame at the deepest level imaginable to prevent human love, passion and sex breaking out, cruelty was necessary.

[W]hen you look at societies which are still like Ireland once was, where church and state were fused, you see much of the same horror: the dehumanization and subjugation of women, female genital mutilation, male genital mutilation, and the brutal murder of gay people. Does Rod not see a pattern here? And the entire fiction of a more virtuous past is only made possible by literally making its victims as invisible as those infant bodies in a septic tank. The countless gay lives of intense psychic pain, the innumerable heart-breaks, the forced separation of mothers and children, the brutalization of innocents, and the immiseration of people whose only crime was to experience their own bodies in ways unsanctioned by authority: these are all buried in order to retain the lie that this sexual ethic is the only virtuous one.

[T]he absolutist paradigm in which any sex outside marriage is anathema is such an impossible standard for most that it will fail if not enforced with the kind of brutality seen in Ireland in the 1940s or Iran in the 2010s. My contention is that the rigidity of this standard is inextricably tied up with cruelty. And that cruelty is far, far greater a sin, than surrendering to our deepest nature, hurting no one.
 I suspect we will see more disingenuous apologies from the Vatican, but ultimately it will all be lip service. No one and no religious orders will be punished for the evils they wrought.  Thus, members of the Church will be forced to either become complicit in immoral behavior or vote with their feet and walk away from the Catholic Church.  Over a decade ago, I chose the latter option.

Jamaica Gleaner Endorses Marriage Equality

Having visited Jamaica years ago before the rise of the rampant homophobia that is now the government sponsored norm, I have advocated for a boycott of travel to Jamaica.  Yes, Jamaica is a beautiful country and most Jamaicans are lovely people.  But when the government encourages and enforces religious based bigotry, then it is time to avoid indirectly supporting government endorsed bigotry by not spending a penny in such a country.  Now, in an interesting development, the Jamaica Gleaner, one of Jamaica's leading newspapers has come out and not only condemned homophobia but gone even further and endorsed marriage equality.  Here are editorial highlights:
Their motivation, mostly, is because they love each other and want to commit their lives together, or so they believe. This sometimes includes having children and raising a family.

But judging from the statistics, marriage is not a particularly popular institution in Jamaica, and is becoming increasingly so. For instance, according to the national census of 2011, nearly 70 per cent of Jamaicans over 16, the age at which people can legally marry, never did.

And those who marry are abrogating the contract at an increasingly faster rate. For example, in 2005, there were just under 26,000 marriages in the island and Jamaicans were tying the knot at the rate of 9.78 per 1,000 population. Five years later, the number of couples walking down the aisles had dropped by approximately 5,500, or 21 per cent.

At the same time, divorce was on the increase. At the middle of the last decade, there were around 1,800 divorces annually, or approximately seven divorces per 100 marriages. By 2010, the number of divorces had climbed by 31 per cent, or at a rate of 111/2 per 100 marriages. A not unexpected upshot of all this is that 80 per cent of Jamaica's children are born out of wedlock and the bulk of them have no registered fathers on their birth certificates.

We draw attention to these statistics neither to ridicule nor undermine marriage, for this newspaper appreciates its potential as an institution of social stability and respect its centrality to Christian and other religious ideologies. But by taking the marriage to its contractual core, it bares the persistence of hypocritical and anachronistic attitudes that perpetuate discrimination.

In Jamaica's case, we refer to Section 28 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms, which defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman, thereby ruling out the possibility of formal recognition of same-sex relationships. It is a provision that has its foundation in a deep-seated, if slowly receding, homophobia that has caused us to maintain the buggery provisions, which, essentially, criminalise male homosexuality and allows the State the role of commissar of sexual preferences and to invade the privacy of people's bedrooms. It matters nought that the power is little used; its existence is chilling.

Further, it is unassailable logic that Section 28 represents an assault on the principle of equality of people; people's right to forge relationships, especially when the exercise of those rights does not impinge on the rights of others; and their right to equal protection under the law. Indeed, a denial of these human rights is also an attack on the dignity of individuals who are prevented from the public expression of the powerful human emotion of love within the sanctity of marriage, although same-sex couples could well give the institution a shot in the arm.

The religionists and churches who are not willing to embrace same-sex marriages, but who already co-exist in a morally plural society, need not fear that they may have to compromise their ideologies. While civil registers are not so precluded, ministers of religions who are marriage officers are exempt, at Section 8 of the Marriage Act, from performing weddings that are contrary to the rules of their denominations.
It goes without saying that American Christofascists who have funded the fanning of homophobia in Jamaica cannot be happy with the Gleaner's editorial.  However, some times the real truth hurts.

Thursday Morning Male Beauty

How Republicans Blew It on Climate Change

Among the ignorance embracing unwashed masses of the GOP's Christofascist/Tea Party controlled party base, denying climate change is a matter of faith - just like Bible inerrancy even though the human genome project has documented that Adam and Eve never existed as historical people.  One thing about the GOP base is that it NEVER lets facts and objective reality get in the way of its crazed ideology.  But with belief in the reality of climate change and global warming inching up with the general public, as with gay marriage, the GOP may be charging toward a cliff in Thelma and Louise fashion.  A piece in Mother Jones looks at the GOP's approaching self-immolation on climate change.  Here are excerpts:
If you care about the place of science in our culture, then this has to be the best news in a very long time. Last Sunday night, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odysseywhich airs on Fox and then the next day on the National Geographic Channel—actually tied ABC's "The Bachelorette" for the top ratings among young adult viewers, the "key demographic" coveted by advertisers. And it did so by—that's right—airing an episode about the reality of climate change.

Tuesday evening, I had the privilege of sitting down with the show's host, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, to discuss this milestone, and how he feels generally as the 13-part series comes to a close.

 And yet, many members of our species still deny that the globe is warming thanks to human activities—a point that Cosmos has not only made a centerpiece but that, the program has frankly argued, threatens civilization as we know it.

[I]n the political sphere, denying the science is just a bad strategy. "The Republican Party, so many of its members are resistant to embracing the facts of climate change that the legislation that they should be eager to influence, they're left outside the door," said Tyson. "Because they think the debate is whether or not it's happening, rather than what policy and legislation can serve their interests going forward."

One day after Cosmos' highly rated climate episode aired, the EPA announced its new regulations for power plant carbon dioxide emissions. The whole reason that the Obama administration went this route—regulating carbon via the Clean Air Act—was that climate legislation (the first option, and the more desirable option) was impossible.

Republicans are extraordinarily upset by the EPA's rules, as the agency moves in to fill a legislative vacuum. But thanks to their denial, they may well have lost their chance to find a more ideologically desirable solution, like a carbon tax

Over 95% of the scientific community believes that climate change is real and that mankind is influencing it.  How much longer can the GOP remain in denial? 

Let’s Give Mississippi - and Rural Virgina - Less Federal Money

Mississippi Republicans
I noted yesterday how compared to many other states, on a per capita receipt of federal funds, Mississippi is like a pig gobbling down food at a trough.  One Mississippi politician even remarked that without the large volume of federal that it receives, Mississippi would be a "third world nation."  I'd argue that with or without federal funds, much of the Mississippi electorate acts as ignorant as voters in a third world country.  In the wake of Tuesday GOP primary election, perhaps the solution is to give Mississippi Republicans what they want: less government spending by slashing the funds sent to Mississippi.  The same approach should be applied to rural areas of Virginia controlled by GOP elected representatives to Congress and the Virginia General Assembly.  These regions receive far more state and federal funds than they pay out.  Give them what they want and see how long they want to have to be self-sufficient.  A column in the New York Times looks at giving the Tea Party lunatics what they want by first slashing the government spending that they receive.  Here are column highlights:
Good news, Mississippi! This is your week. On Tuesday, the state had the most dramatic election of this primary season, and we are all looking your way. Actually, we are fascinated to know exactly what you had in mind.

Voters dealt a stunning rebuke to their courtly Republican senator, Thad Cochran, who is famous for his ability to direct federal cash in Mississippi’s direction. Cochran, who’s been in office since 1978, failed to win the necessary 50 percent of the ballots cast. Now he’s headed for a messy runoff with a fiery state legislator who opened his campaign by announcing: “For too long we’ve been addicted to federal monies.”

 Perhaps you did not expect a state that gets $3 back from Washington for every $1 it sends to be so bitter about federal spending.

“Sadly, Thad Cochran voted for billions in wasteful spending — like the Bridge to Nowhere,” said the anno uncer in a McDaniel campaign ad, as a grainy black-and-white picture of Mississippi’s senior senator flashed over a map of Alaska.

“Some cuts to spending have to take place, and Mississippi is a good place to lead that charge because we are still the most conservative state in the Republic,” McDaniel told Breitbart News. Notice that he did not say that Mississippi was a good place to lead the charge because federal spending accounts for 46 percent of all the state’s revenue: defense contracts, Social Security, farm aid, highway building, you name it.

McDaniel has been pretty darned vague. . . . .  

It may be up to us to suggest ways the state might want to trim back. What about the cotton farmers? “Their subsidies are even more generous than the usually ridiculous subsidies,” said Scott Faber of the Environmental Working Group. From 1995 to 2012, he noted, the state’s cotton farmers got $4.6 billion from Washington. The top 1 percent of the subsidy recipients got an average of $4.8 million while the bottom 80 percent got $20,372.

Great way to begin! Obviously this is the sort of thing a waste-hater would be adamant about.

“The Cochran campaign never effectively responded with an argument of: Look what I’ve done for the state,” said John Bruce, the chairman of the political science department at the University of Mississippi. “Their strategy was to ignore.”

One thing the Mississippi Republican establishment and the Tea Party seem to agree on is that you’re not supposed to remind people that their state is way more dependent on Washington than the average food stamp recipient.

Again, if rural and southern Republicans want spending cuts, let's start by ending the lopsided amounts of government spending they receive.  I suspect if this happened, the Tea Party would disintegrate were quickly.   They need to be careful what they ask for.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

More Wednesday Male Beauty

Tea Party Idiocy Run Amok in Mississippi

Mississippi and Conservative States - Pigs at the Federal Trough
Not to sound mean, but increasingly I find myself thinking that in order to be a Tea Party supporter one must be either (i) incredibly stupid, (ii) out right insane, or (iii) have had a lobotomy.  A case in point is the State of Mississippi, perhaps the largest recipient of federal government welfare on a per capita basis, where Tea Party loons are pushing to unseat a sitting Republican Senator who brought lots of federal money to the state.  Sadly, Tea Party supporters in Mississippi are not unique in their apparent stupidity.  One sees a similar phenomenon in Southwest Virginia which receives far more state and federal tax dollars than it pays.  A column in the Washington Post looks at this idiocy.  Here are highlights:
Can you hate the federal government but love the money it spends on you?   The electoral earthquake that was Mississippi’s Republican Senate primary has pushed this question to the forefront of U.S. politics.

In conventional terms, the success of state Sen. Chris McDaniel in outpolling Thad Cochran, a 34-year Senate veteran, on Tuesday and forcing him into a June 24 runoff was a triumph for the tea party movement. Outside conservative groups such as FreedomWorks and the Club for Growth spent millions trying to oust a gracious and civil incumbent they saw as far too cozy with Washington’s big spenders. 

Mississippi taxpayers get $3.07 back for every $1 they send to Washington, according to Wallet Hub, a personal finance Web site . The Tax Foundation ranks Mississippi No. 1 among the states in federal aid as a percentage of state revenue. 

Strange numbers, you’d think, for a Beltway-hating state, but Marty Wiseman, the former director of the Stennis Institute at Mississippi State University, explained the apparent inconsistency. “Our anti-Washington politics has been to make sure that we got as much of it here as we could,” he said. “You’ve got the tea party excited that they’ve corralled a big spender, but he was bringing it back to Mississippi. That’s the paradox of all paradoxes.”

Indeed. “If Mississippi did what the tea party claims they want . . . we would become a Third World country, quickly,” said Rickey Cole, the state Democratic chairman. “We depend on the federal government to help us build our highways. We depend on the federal government to fund our hospitals, our health-care system. We depend on the federal government to help us educate our students on every level.”

Cole noted that the hospital he was born in “wasn’t built by the taxpayers of Mississippi, it was built with federal money that was collected from taxpayers in New York and Chicago and L.A. and San Francisco.”

McDaniel, Stevens said, “is always talking about cutting spending. No one has ever asked Chris McDaniel what he’s going to cut.” Stevens added: “Is he going to cut community colleges in his district? Is he going to cut highway funds to his district?” 

These queries will certainly appeal to Democrat Travis Childers, the rather conservative former member of Congress who handily won his party’s Senate nomination on Tuesday. Cochran supporters believe that a McDaniel nomination could lead to the unthinkable. “The concern is that this would open the door for a potential Democratic senator,” Philip Gunn, the Republican speaker of the Mississippi House, told me the night before the primary. Childers’s “chances against McDaniel are better than his chances against Cochran.”

Yes, Childers could run as a Thad Cochran Democrat — except he wouldn’t be saddled with the need to appease an ideology that has to pretend federal spending doesn’t benefit anybody, least of all the people of Mississippi.

Del. Bob Marshall Continues to Reveal Anti-Gay Animus

One of the ironies of the U.S. District Court case in Bostic v. Rainey was that past comments of Del. Bob Marshall and Ken Cuccinelli were utilized by the plaintiffs to document that anti-gay animus was the real motivation behind passage of the heinous Marshall-Newman Amendment.  Apparently (at least in my view), the certifiably insane Bob Marshall still hasn't learned to keep his mouth shut and to stop making statements that prove the the case that anti-gay hatred and nothing else was the motivation behind passage of Virginia's gay marriage ban and Marshall's continued jihad to keep LGBT Virginians inferior under the law.  Faced with the reality that even the generally delusional Virginia GOP leadership doesn't want to bring impeachment charges against Attorney General Mark Herring, yesterday Marshall when on a deranged screed yesterday seeking to ramp up anti-gay hatred even further.  The Richmond Times Dispatch has details.  Note who some black pastors continue to allow themselves to be manipulated like circus dogs by Marshall and Virginia Christofascists who long for the "good old days" of Jim Crow.   These pastors need to have "I am a moron" tattooed on their foreheads. Here are highlights:

Allowing gay couples in Virginia to marry would result in “significant alteration, change and radical modification of every aspect of both individual, family and tax law in Virginia,” Del. Robert G. Marshall, R-Prince William, warned at a news conference in Richmond on Tuesday.

“Every church and every Catholic or Protestant hospital will lose its tax (exempt) status. There is no restricting once it happens. This has effects that I can’t even contemplate at this time,” Marshall said.
The delegate stood at the state Capitol with several African-American church leaders who have united behind the Republican’s push to impeach Attorney General Mark R. Herring for his refusal to defend Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban in court.

“If people simply think that the so-called same-sex marriage is just a circumstance of whether two people are cohabiting in the same residence, they are profoundly mistaken,” said Marshall, a co-sponsor of the 2006 amendment to the state Constitution that defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

Congress does not grant tax-exempt status to organizations that are racially discriminatory such as the Ku Klux Klan, and organizations that do not support same-sex marriage once it is legal would face the same fate, Marshall said.

“If the courts decide that the 14th Amendment requires same-sex marriage, no church in Virginia will keep its status (and) every charity that’s feeding the poor, clothing the poor, funding medical care, repairing houses — all that will be gone,” Marshall said.

Carl Tobias, a constitutional law professor at the University of Richmond, said that even if there were any arguable grounds for impeachment, the state Senate would never convict.

“This is a huge distraction when the General Assembly has critical matters before it like a possible shutdown of state government,” said Tobias, one of three constitutional law professors who filed a court brief in April backing Herring’s refusal to defend Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban.

Herring spokesman Michael Kelly said these “unsubstantiated and untrue claims” come as “court after court concludes, as Herring did,” that bans on marriage equality are unconstitutional. 

Someone needs to have Marshall committed to a mental institution.

U.S. Supreme Court Rejects NOM Attempt to Stay Oregaon Gay Marriages

Trying desperately to remain relevant - at least among Christofascist donors - and to continue to attract right wing donors like the Catholic and Mormon Churches the National Organization for Marriage ("NOM") petitioned the U. S. Supreme Court to stay a Federal District Court ruling that allowed same sex marriages to take place in the State of Oregon while NOM appeals the District Court ruling that rejected NOM's effort to intervene in the case. That appeal is  now before the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.   NOM sought to intervene in the District Court case after Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum indicated that she declined to defend Oregon's same-sex marriage ban.  The Ninth Circuit previous kicked NOM's request for a stay to the curb.  Apoplectic that it was not allowed to intervene, NOM filed its request with Justice Anthony Kennedy who referred the request to the full court. The justices denied NOM's request without comment.  For those trying to read the tea leaves of what the U.S. Supreme Court may do when a direct appeal of a ruling striking down a state same sex marriage ban, today's rejection of NOM's effort may not provide an accurate reading.  Here are details from BuzzFeed:
NOM’s appeal of the denial to intervene is the only matter left pending in the case because Oregon state officials had not fought the lawsuit, having agreed with the plaintiffs that the ban is unconstitutional. They had said that they would not appeal the decision if U.S. District Court Judge Michael McShane struck down the ban.

In another case, that challenging Utah’s ban on same-sex couples’ marriages, the Supreme Court issued a stay in January, which has led most judges hearing marriage cases since to issue a stay during any appeal. Here, however, the argument was not about whether there should be a stay of marriages during an active appeal from state officials, but instead whether NOM was likely to succeed in its attempt to intervene in the lawsuit in the first place.
Opponents of the ban were delighted with NOM's failure to intervene and futile effort at the Supreme Court.  Here is a quote via LGBTQ Nation:
We are delighted that the court has rejected NOM’s attempt to derail marriage equality in Oregon,” said David Fidanque, director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon, which represented two of the four gay and lesbian couples who challenged the marriage ban. “We are confident that marriage equality in Oregon will help pave the way for marriage equality nationwide.”

Hampton Roads Targeted for National Sea Level Rise Project

Norfolk a few Fridays ago - high tide and heavy rains.  AltDaily photo
While most Virginia Republicans - including the former chair of the Republican Party of Virginia Beach - remain climate change deniers with their heads up their asses, climate change and related rising sea levels is happening.  With the Hampton Roads area considered the most endangered area on the east coast other than New Orleans, it is no surprise that Hampton Roads has been targeted for a new project aimed at devising ways to deal with the reality of what is happening.  It is noteworthy that while the Virginia GOP remains in denial, the U.S. military is taking the matter seriously. A piece in the Virginian Pilot looks at the announced project.  Here are highlights:

Hampton Roads will be the site of a national pilot project to figure out how different levels of government, the private sector and academia can work together to combat the effects of sea level rise and climate change.

The two-year initiative, supported by the White House, was unveiled Tuesday at a conference at Old Dominion University on preparing for rising water and flooding.

To aid the effort, ODU President John Broderick also announced the creation of a university institute to research solutions.

A combination of rising seas and sinking land makes Hampton Roads one of the nation's most vulnerable regions to flooding and storms.

ODU professor Hans-Peter Plag, director of the Mitigation and Adaptation Research Institute, called Hampton Roads - with its port, military installations and coastal communities - a "natural laboratory" for studying the issue.

Task force members will be appointed, and a charter will be developed in the next year as the group works on long-term strategic and policy recommendations for sea level rise and major storm surges, said Ray Toll, ODU's liaison to the Navy and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Rear Adm. Kevin Slates, director of the Navy's Energy and Environmental Readiness Division, said one of the task force's big challenges will be how to plan for an uncertain future.

Rear Adm. Dixon Smith, Commander of the Navy's Mid-Atlantic Region, said it will be essential for the task force to have clear objectives and get support from the community.

If that doesn't happen, he said, "the funding will not flow, and we'll end up putting this on the shelf."