Saturday, September 20, 2014

When the GOP Went insane:

As I have often noted, I was once a Republican activist and served on a local city committee for the GOP before the GOP went insane - which large equates with when the Christofascists infiltrated and took over the party grass roots and threw moderation, compromise and basic sanity out the window.   A piece in Salon argues that the mid-1990's is the crucial time period when the drift to insanity became irreversible.  The timing largely coincides with what I witnessed, although in Virginia Beach, it took the Christofascist and their political prostitutes a bit longer to hijack the party in that city.  In other regions of Virginia, the takeover occurred even earlier.  Here are article highlights which, in my view, under plays the role of the Christofascists:

The Republican sweep of 1994 gave Movement Conservatives a free hand to set the terms of political debate, although reporters noted that they seemed to articulate only what they opposed, not what they favored. What they opposed was very clear: they hated what they claimed was the socialist system that was turning America into a nation of dependents. Destroying it, they thought, was simple: just get rid of the taxes that paid for it.

Rush Limbaugh, whose support had been so instrumental that the Republican revolutionaries of 1994 made him an honorary member of their incoming congressional freshman class, outlined their agenda. They must “begin an emergency dismantling of the welfare system, which is shredding the social fabric,” bankrupting the country, and “gutting the work ethic, educational performance, and moral discipline of the poor.” Next, Congress should cut capital gains taxes, which would drive economic growth, create hundreds of thousands of jobs, and generate billions in federal revenue. Limbaugh kept staff in Washington to make sure the positions of the Movement Conservatives got through to voters. In exchange, every congressman knew that taking a stand against Limbaugh would earn instant condemnation on radio stations across the country.

The Gingrich revolutionaries hit the ground running. They took over control of key positions in the House—Gingrich became Speaker; Armey, House majority leader; Texas’s Tom DeLay, majority whip. In April 1995, an internal memo laid down the theme of cutting taxes, rather than paying down the national debt, as the main principle of Republicanism.
In the end, the inability of Gingrich’s revolutionaries to compromise meant they went too far. Pieces of the agenda triumphantly passed in the House were watered down in the Senate and fell to the president’s veto. Frustrated when Clinton refused to sign the Republican budget slashing funding for Medicare, public health, the environment, and education, Gingrich refused to compromise. The federal government shut down all nonessential activity for twenty-eight days between November 1995 and January 1996 . . . The crisis pushed Clinton’s poll numbers higher than they had been since his election as American blamed Republicans for the shutdown.

Disaffected Americans began to see plots everywhere: politicians were selling out America to socialism. It was imperative for regular citizens to take matters into their own hands, just as the boys in Red Dawn had done, and return the nation to the traditional values Buckley had asserted in the 1950s: religion, the free market, and a strong military.

Antigovernment extremism forced its way into American consciousness on the morning of April 19, 1995, when a bomb exploded in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City.

In October 1996, the movement gained its own television network, with Roger Ailes as its founding CEO. The Fox News Channel (FNC) was the brainchild of Australian-born media mogul Rupert Murdoch, who recognized the frustration of Movement Conservatives with what they insisted was a Liberal media biased against their version of the world. . . . . presented a mythologized America based on the ideology of Movement Conservatism. Its Americans were overwhelmingly white and rural and wanted just to be independent individuals. They hated taxes and intrusive government, and they would do fine if they could just get the socialistic Democrats to leave them alone.

Movement Conservatism had always been based in ideology, not reality. As far as Movement Conservatives were concerned, Clinton was a mistaken president, an abomination, and they had finally been able to prove it.

They swung toward conspiracy theories and pure Clinton-bashing, aided by talk radio and by new websites, especially the Drudge Report. In 1997, Matt Drudge and his assistant, Andrew Breitbart—who was a fan of Limbaugh—began aggregating anti-Democratic gossip and news. They sensationalized rumor and began to build a community of likeminded right-wing radicals on the increasingly powerful Internet.

The Collapse of Arab Civilization

During the Middle Ages the Arabs showed a strong interest in assimilating the scientific knowledge of the civilizations they had conquered. Many classic works of antiquity that might otherwise have been lost were translated into Arabic and Persian and later in turn translated into Turkish, Hebrew, and Latin. They assimilated, synthesized, and advanced the knowledge gained from the ancient Greek, Roman, Persian, Indian, Chinese, Egyptian, and Phoenician civilizations.  Centers of learning and of transmission of classical wisdom included colleges such as the School of Nisibis and later the School of Edessa, and the renowned hospital and medical academy of Jundishapur; libraries included the Library of Alexandria and the Imperial Library of Constantinople and other centers of translation and learning.  Fast forward to today and what sees is a vastly different picture wrought in large part by the fundamentalism that has taken over much of Islam and made opposition to modernity a key element of its agenda.  A piece in Politico Magazine looks at the sad decline of the Arab world.  What's frightening is that fundamentalist Christians would have a similar decline over take America.  Here are article excerpts:
With his decision to use force against the violent extremists of the Islamic State, President Obama is doing more than to knowingly enter a quagmire. He is doing more than play with the fates of two half-broken countries—Iraq and Syria—whose societies were gutted long before the Americans appeared on the horizon. Obama is stepping once again—and with understandably great reluctance—into the chaos of an entire civilization that has broken down.

Arab civilization, such as we knew it, is all but gone. The Arab world today is more violent, unstable, fragmented and driven by extremism—the extremism of the rulers and those in opposition—than at any time since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire a century ago. Every hope of modern Arab history has been betrayed. The promise of political empowerment, the return of politics, the restoration of human dignity heralded by the season of Arab uprisings in their early heydays—all has given way to civil wars, ethnic, sectarian and regional divisions and the reassertion of absolutism, both in its military and atavistic forms.

Is it any surprise that, like the vermin that take over a ruined city, the heirs to this self-destroyed civilization should be the nihilistic thugs of the Islamic State? And that there is no one else who can clean up the vast mess we Arabs have made of our world but the Americans and Western countries?

No one paradigm or one theory can explain what went wrong in the Arab world in the last century. . . . . No one theory can explain the marginalization of Egypt, once the center of political and cultural gravity in the Arab East, and its brief and tumultuous experimentation with peaceful political change before it reverted back to military rule.

Nor is the notion of “ancient sectarian hatreds” adequate to explain the frightening reality that along a front stretching from Basra at the mouth of the Persian Gulf to Beirut on the Mediterranean there exists an almost continuous bloodletting between Sunni and Shia—the public manifestation of an epic geopolitical battle for power and control pitting Iran, the Shia powerhouse, against Saudi Arabia, the Sunni powerhouse, and their proxies.

Iraq’s story in the last few decades is a chronicle of a death foretold. The slow death began with Saddam Hussein’s fateful decision to invade Iran in September 1980. Iraqis have been living in purgatory ever since with each war giving birth to another. In the midst of this suspended chaos, the U.S. invasion in 2003 was merely a catalyst that allowed the violent chaos to resume in full force.

The polarizations in Syria and Iraq—political, sectarian and ethnic—are so deep that it is difficult to see how these once-important countries could be restored as unitary states. In Libya, Muammar al-Qaddafi’s 42-year reign of terror rendered the country politically desolate and fractured its already tenuous unity. The armed factions that inherited the exhausted country have set it on the course of breaking up—again, unsurprisingly—along tribal and regional fissures. Yemen has all the ingredients of a failed state: political, sectarian, tribal, north-south divisions, against the background of economic deterioration and a depleted water table that could turn it into the first country in the world to run out of drinking water.
True, there is no single explanation for the collapse of a once decent and relatively tolerant civilization - homosexuality was actually common under the Ottomans and homosexuality was decriminalized in 1858. But behind much of the extremism is fundamentalist religion.  Ironically, some of the fundamentalist seek to restore the glories of the past yet their closed mindedness, abhorrence of education and modern thought are the antithesis of the golden age that these extremist claim to want to recapture.

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

The NFL's Wink and a Nod to Domestic Violence

I'm no fan of the NFL for any number of reasons, not the least of which is the homophobia that remains rampant throughout the league and its owners, coaches and players.  Yet another reason to view the NFL is its continued willingness to overlook bad behavior by players, especially when it comes to domestic and sexual violence.  Rather than worrying about Michael Sam's sexual orientation, the NFL needs to be purging its player ranks of thugs and criminals.  Perhaps recent bad publicity will finally force a much needed housecleaning. A piece in the New York Times looks at the NFL's sad record when it comes to players involved in domestic violence.  Here are highlights:
On April 10, 2007, after more than 50 National Football League players had been arrested in the previous football season, Commissioner Roger Goodell was widely hailed for instituting a newly stringent personal conduct policy. Mr. Goodell threatened to banish players for off-the-field transgressions and installed himself as the judge and jury presiding over every case.

Mr. Goodell insisted that he would mete out discipline without waiting for the judicial system.
“It is my job — not law enforcement’s job — to protect the National Football League,” he said at the time.

But in his role as the N.F.L.’s hard-bitten sheriff, Mr. Goodell appears to have had a major blind spot: domestic violence cases. Players charged with domestic violence routinely received considerably lighter punishments than players accused of other offenses, like drug use or drunken driving. Often, they were not punished at all. On Friday, seven years after he implemented the personal conduct policy, Mr. Goodell acknowledged publicly that it had failed and would be overhauled.

An examination of dozens of arrests of N.F.L. players since Mr. Goodell established his personal conduct policy in 2007 — and the fines and penalties doled out by the league — shows that suspensions of two to four games, and sometimes more, were far more likely for players arrested on drunken driving, marijuana possession or weapon charges. A vast majority of players charged with domestic violence crimes, if they were disciplined by the league at all, received one-game suspensions even after pleading guilty to lesser related charges or entering pretrial intervention programs.
The disparity in punishments within the league is illustrated in numerous cases.

“I don’t think the N.F.L. did anything more than give lip service to the notion that they were taking domestic abuse seriously,” said Ann DeLaney, an advocate for victims of domestic violence and the former executive director of the Julian Center in Indianapolis, a victim support group.  Referring to the Ray Rice case, Ms. DeLaney continued, “That’s what they did this time until it was caught on video.”

[T]he recent high-profile episodes have led to a firestorm of protest from inside and outside football.  Tyrone Thomas, a Washington lawyer who advises on sports cases, said the N.F.L. had always had the power to take a tougher tack in instances in which there were accusations of domestic violence, but had chosen not to. 

Besides the Rice case, the N.F.L. has also been harshly criticized for its handling of three other recent abuse cases — those of Adrian Peterson, a star running back for the Minnesota Vikings, who has been accused of injuring one of his children; Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy, who was convicted of assaulting his girlfriend; and San Francisco 49ers defensive end Ray McDonald, who was arrested last month on suspicion of domestic violence.

Nita Chaudhary, a founder of UltraViolet, a women’s rights advocacy group, remained critical of the N.F.L. on Friday despite Goodell’s pledge to revamp the league’s personal conduct policy and penalties. . . . . . We call on all of the N.F.L.’s sponsors to take a stand against domestic violence by withdrawing their support for the N.F.L. until Goodell is out of office.”
The root of the problem?  Likely the macho mindset that thinks being homophobic is fine also sees beating you wife/girlfriend as being fine too. 

Lunatic Ken Cuccinelli Blames 2013 Loss on "Scam Pac"

Proving that he is becoming even more detached from objective reality, failed Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ken "Kookinelli" Cuccinelli has filed a lawsuit against a conservative political action committee ("PAC") claiming that the Pac, Conservative StrikeForce PAC, misled would be donors and hurt Kookinelli's ability to fund raise.   Cuccinelli refuses to accept the fact that his own extremism and efforts to push a theocratic social agenda while attorney general is what caused his loss.  The man truly belongs in a mental ward (he also needs to come out of the closet so that he can get past his self-loathing and internalized homophobia that may be the source of much of his lunacy).  Here are excerpts from a Washington Post on this latest batshitery from Kookinelli:
Former Virginia attorney general Ken Cuccinelli (R) is accusing a conservative group of misleading supporters of his 2013 gubernatorial campaign through a “malicious ‘Scam PAC’ operation.” 

Cuccinelli alleges that $10,000 of “approximately $2.2 million” raised by the PAC was donated to the campaign. Nor did the group follow through on promises of independent expenditures to support Cuccinelli with get-out-the-vote efforts, direct mail, phone banks, radio ads, canvassing and other election work, the suit says.

An attorney for the defendants, Mark Braden, said he and his clients were “mystified” by the lawsuit. “This is the classic definition of no good deed goes unpunished,” Braden said.

Cuccinelli’s fundraising lagged throughout the 2013 race. McAuliffe — a top Democratic Party fundraiser before he was a candidate — raised more than $38 million. Cuccinelli — hobbled by party infighting and concern among business-oriented Republicans that he was too focused on social issues — raised $21 million. 

Cuccinelli accuses the defendants of false advertising, breach of contract and unauthorized use of his name and image.  

Larry Noble, former general counsel for the FEC and now at the nonprofit Campaign Legal Center, said he has long seen PACs “that have been set up to basically support the people that are running it.”
He said that as long as the activity is accurately reported and the money raised was not earmarked for a campaign, there’s no FEC requirement to spend the money on politics. 
One can only hope that through this lawsuit Cuccinelli makes it even more impossible for him to ever run for political office in the future.

The Islamic State is Also Homophobic

the homophobia starts at around 7:25.

The reasons to oppose the self-style "Islamic State" or ISIS are many beginning first and foremost with the fact that it embraces a fundamentalist religious agenda that seeks to force its will and beliefs on others.  Its from this source of extreme Sharia law that all the rest of the horrors and atrocities flow: rape, murder, beheadings, mistreatment of women - and hatred of gays.  Like all fundamentalist strains of Abrahamic religions, gays are targets for hate and murder.  The Washington Post  follows up on the Washington Blade and reminds us that in the minds of the Islamic State - as with the "godly Christian" set in America - we gays are the lowest of the low and deserve death.  Fundamentalist religion truly is a perverse evil that needs to be eradicated from the earth. Here are article highlights:
The young men swarming across Syria and Iraq in black balaclavas commit genocide, chop off journalists’ heads, kidnap aid workers, rape women and seek to impose a theocracy on millions who don’t want it.

And one more thing: They’re homophobic.

In a video first reported by the Daily Mirror in April, a man it identified as a former professional soccer player describes the benefits of jihad. It’s the typical Islamic State recruitment video — an English-speaking adherent trying to bring fellow travelers to the cause.

On Tuesday, the Washington Blade took another look at the video, focusing on its anti-gay content. Toward the end of the video, an Islamic state fighter holds forth on children’s exposure to homosexuals in public schools.

“Who’s gonna teach your children?” the fighter says. “It’s gonna be maybe a gay, maybe a drug dealer, maybe a pedophile, you know? So it’s very important for you to protect your children from these animals, from these dirty people, Allah says that they are the worst of creatures.”

“The treatment of LGBT people by Islamic extremists is one of the most overlooked human rights issues there is,” Jimmy LaSalvia, co-founder of the gay conservative organization GoProud, told the Blade. “Many world leaders routinely site radical Islam’s treatment of woman and religious minorities, we have certainly heard a lot about how ISIS treats Christians, but rarely do political leaders or the media draw attention to the plight of LGBT people in that part of the world.”

Islam’s connection with homophobia is hard to shake. In a list of the “Top Twelve Most Homophobic Nations in the World” published in February, Newsweek included Saudi Arabia for its religious-based anti-gay position. Basing its law, it says, on a strict interpretation of Islamic law, the current Saudi regime has made gay sex punishable by death by the lash,” the magazine wrote.

Meanwhile, others were critical of those putting the spotlight on the Islamic State’s homophobia. The self-described “right-leaning” Web site Downtrend published a piece critical of of the Blade report.
It's easy to understand why the American right wing doesn't like too much focus on Islamic homophobia - the right wing Christians are peddling a very similar message and some of them have even  argued for concentration camps and/or death for gays.  They don't want the public to connect the dots and realize that it  is fundamentalist religion of every stripe that is the real evil be it Islamic or Christian. Hate, mistreatment of others, the rejection of modern knowledge and the perpetration of evil are the principal fruits either way.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Friday Morning Male Beauty

House of Delegates Seeks to Take Mark Herring Off Gay Marriage Case

Proving yet again that the Republican Party of Virginia is little more than a band of political prostitutes that always seek to do the biding of the hate merchants at The Family Foundation - and that the Virginia GOP cares nothing about the Virginia Constitution or Code of Virginia - the House of Delegates in a partisan vote authorized Whore-in-Chief House Speaker William J. Howell to hire outside legal counsel to replace Attorney General Mark Herring in the same-sex marriage lawsuit now on appeal to the United States Supreme Court.  It's yet another example of the Virginia GOP seeking to waste taxpayer funds on a cause not supported by a majority of Virginians.  The Richmond Times Dispatch has details:

The House of Delegates voted 65-32 on Thursday to approve a resolution that empowers the speaker of the House to hire outside legal counsel to replace Attorney General Mark R. Herring in the same-sex marriage lawsuit filed against the state but supported by the Attorney General’s Office.

The resolution also empowers the speaker to hire outside counsel if Gov. Terry McAuliffe were to try to expand the state’s Medicaid program without legislative approval or in any other case in which the governor or attorney general declined to defend a state law.

The resolution states the position of the House and does not require Senate or gubernatorial approval. 

Michael Kelly, a spokesman for the attorney general, said in a statement:
“The House should focus on the reason it is here, which is to find a way to extend health care coverage to low-income Virginians, not to waste taxpayers’ money and time on a meaningless resolution that flies in the face of our constitution’s separation of powers.”
Herring had announced in January that he found Virginia’s amendment to the state constitution defining marriage as between a man and a woman to be in violation of the U.S. Constitution. He refused to defend the law in a federal suit seeking to overturn the same-sex marriage ban.
A federal court in Norfolk has since thrown out the state ban. The ruling was affirmed by a panel of federal appeals court judges in Richmond in June. The case is now headed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Today's Republican Party of Virginia is just a reworked version of those who fought to maintain Virginia's ban on interracial marriage.  Bigotry is the main pillar of the party.

Scotland Rejects Independence From Britain

In a historic vote that had many wringing their hands in fear, Scotland has voted against independence from Great Britain.  Now, with the "No" vote having prevailed, many expect Britain to make moves that will lead to more Scottish autonomy within the larger nation - a more federalized system, if you will.  Like the perennial separatists in Quebec, I am sure that those on the losing side will continue to roil the political waters.  Here are highlights from the New York Times:
Voters in Scotland decisively rejected independence from the United Kingdom in a referendum that had threatened to break up the 307-year union, but also appeared to open the way for a looser, more federal Britain.

With results tallied from all 32 voting districts, the “no” campaign won 55.3 percent of the vote while the pro-independence side won 44.7 percent. The margin was greater than forecast by virtually all pre-election polls.

The outcome was a deep disappointment for the vocal, enthusiastic pro-independence movement led by the Scottish first minister, Alex Salmond, who had seen an opportunity to make a centuries-old nationalist dream a reality and forced the three main British parties into panicked promises that they would grant substantial new power to the Scottish Parliament.

The decision spared Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain a shattering defeat that would have raised questions about his ability to continue in office and would have diminished his nation’s standing in the world.

Mr. Salmond, while conceding defeat, insisted that the 1.6 million people who voted for independence showed the depth of yearning for the promises made by British political leaders to stave off disunion.

“Scotland will expect these to be honored in rapid course,” Mr. Salmond said, while promising to work to heal the divisions the referendum created.

The vote preserved a union molded in 1707, but it left Mr. Cameron facing an angry backlash among some lawmakers in his Conservative Party, angered by the promises of greater Scottish autonomy that he and other party leaders made just days before the vote, when it appeared that the independence campaign might win. Some lawmakers called for similar autonomy for England itself, and even the creation of a separate English parliament.

The outcome headed off the huge economic, political and military imponderables that would have flowed from a vote for independence. But it also presaged a looser, more federal United Kingdom. And it was unlikely to deter Scottish nationalists from trying again, in the future, to attain independence.

President Obama had made little secret of his desire that the United Kingdom remain intact. Indeed, Britain has long prided itself on a so-called special relationship with the United States, and Britain’s allies had been concerned, among other things, about Mr. Salmond’s vow to evict British nuclear submarine bases from Scotland, threatening London’s role in Western defenses.

The Secret Antigay U.S. Money Behind The Global Evangelical War on LGBT Rights

I and - others - increasingly believe that supposedly religious "charities" that blatantly violate the ban on political activities under the Internal Revenue Code need to lose their tax exempt status.  Many of the organizations under close analysis do little or no charitable work and instead funnel huge amounts of money into anti-gay (and sometimes anti-minority) political activities.  American taxpayers should not be forced to indirectly underwrite the activities of what are little more than hate groups.   The piece in looks at the money flowing from supposed "Christian" charities to fund a global war against LGBT rights and which, in the process whip up hate and homophobia that often leans to anti-gay violence.  Pieces kike this one underscore why conservative "Christians" need to become social pariahs in America. They are anything but nice and decent people.  Their mindset is separated from ISIS only by the degree of violence they use on those who refuse to conform to the ugly version of religious belief.  Here are article highlights:
Note to readers: this is the first installment in a Against Religious Extremism series that will examine extensive ties - both financial, organizational, and ideological - between the community of philanthropists, evangelical leaders, and Christian organizations that revolve around the event known as The Gathering and evangelical promotion of anti-gay hatred and anti-LGBT rights activism on a global scale, from Uganda to Russia.

"The Homosexual Agenda: Exposing the Principal Threat to Religious Freedom Today" (B&H Publishing Group, 2003), which states "[homosexual] activists have followed a strategy akin to what Hitler used back in the 1920s and 1930s to take over Germany” and is currently distributed by the Alliance Defending Freedom, one of the top American organizations participating in WCF events. The ADF is linked to anti-LGBT rights activism in nations spanning three continents, from the United States and Belize to Russia. In 2012, ADF received over 25% of its funding from the National Christian Foundation; . . . . .

A analysis shows that out of the 101-odd American speakers featured at major World Congress of Families congresses from WCF I, held in Prague in 1997, to WCF VI, held in Madrid in 2012, 48 of those speakers, almost half, were attached to organizations that have been funded by the National Christian Foundation, the biggest foundation at the yearly event known as The Gathering (featured in the April 2014 special report The Gathering: The Religious Right’s Cash Cow) – an event at which leaders of top Christian right anti-LGBT groups such as the Family Research Council, Focus on The Family, and the Alliance Defending Freedom (formerly the Alliance Defense Fund) frequently mingle with billionaire financiers of the religious right, representatives from the right-wing DeVos, Coors, Friess, Ahmanson, Prince, DeMoss, and MacLellan families and the rapidly growing National Christian Foundation – now America’s 12th biggest charity according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy and which funds multiple “ex-gay” ministries.

By its own description, the event known as The Gathering – whose attending nonprofit foundations give out, according to a analysis, over $1 billion dollars a year in grants – was launched in 1985 from a meeting at the Arlington, Virginia headquarters of The Fellowship, which hosts the annual National Prayer Breakfast.  

Speakers scheduled this year for The Gathering 2014 include NYT columnist David Brooks,  . . . . . Among those Joining Brooks at The Gathering 2014 will be Terry Parker, co-founder and board member of the National Christian Foundation, which since 2005 has given over $1.5 million dollars to the His Servants ministry of Don Schmierer, producer and vendor of a Fieldstead & Company-commissioned line of “ex-gay” books and curricula translated into dozens of languages . . . 

In 2006 Family Research Council head Tony Perkins told The Gathering that the “second greatest threat:” to America, besides “radical Islamists” was “radical homosexuals”. 

Despite ongoing critical media coverage of the World Congress of Families, that over the past decade has come to the fore as a leading U.S.-based initiative which has helped export the culture war agenda of the American religious right – including anti-LGBT hatred and hostility to reproductive freedoms – to Russia and Eastern Europe, one transcendent question has largely been neglected: who funds the American nonprofits that have comprised the dominant presence at WCF events ? And, are the efforts of these nonprofits uncoordinated or are there traceable strategic and leadership connections between these groups ?

The answer to both questions points directly to the elite annual event known as The Gathering and to its biggest nonprofit foundation, the National Christian Foundation, exposed in an ongoing investigation of NCF 990 tax forms from 2001-2012 as probably the biggest – and without a doubt the most prolific – anti-LGBT rights funder in America.

$10,065,726: that’s the amount of funding that the Alliance Defending Freedom – whose leaders have spoken at and helped organize four major World Congress of Families events, and is “easily the most active antigay legal group” according to Human Rights Campaign Vice President Frederick Sainz – received in 2012 from the National Christian Foundation . . . . 

Consider the following quotes, from the Alliance Defending Freedom’s top leaders: . . . . “[Homosexual] activists have followed a strategy akin to what Hitler used back in the 1920s and 1930s to take over Germany… The very future of our nation is at risk if the homosexual agenda continues to advance unchecked.” — from pages 27-28 of The Homosexual Agenda, a 2003 book by ADF President Alan Sears and Craig Osten currently offered for free by the ADF to contributors who donate over $10

[A]s detailed in the special report The Gathering: The Religious Right’s Cash Cow, from 2001-2012 the National Christian Foundation provided $163,384,988 in funding to the ADF, FoF, FRC, and five other major anti-LGBT rights activist groups: the Alliance For Marriage, the American Center For Law and Justice, the American Family Association, Campus Crusade For Christ, and the National Organization For Marriage.  

In a column in the Summer 2012 The Gathering newsletter, President of the 501(c)(3) nonprofit The Gathering Fred Smith discussed the results of a survey done by a private consultant hired to ask Gathering participants “what makes them reluctant to recommend people they meet to The Gathering.” More than a few participants, it seems based on Smith’s column, considered The Gathering to be a “secret society”. 

But judging by a survey of audio recordings from The Gathering, it is not hard to understand why participants might hold such a view; Gathering speakers often describe the need to “infiltrate” secular society: the use of stealth and deceit to further the dominionist “Seven Mountains” mandate, the goal of bringing the seven major spheres of society – government, business, education, media, arts and entertainment, religion, and the family – under the influence of control of “the kingdom” and its ranks of “believers”.

Such an anti-democratic and anti-pluralist, religious supremacist ethic – which has influenced disturbingly wide swaths of the global evangelical missions movement – is interwoven through the culture of The Gathering. 
There is more and readers should read the entire piece.  These organizations not only further a global war against LGBT individuals but ultimately, would overthrow the U.S. Constitution.  In my view, that is tantamount to treason and should be dealt with accordingly.  These are not decent organizations.  They and their agenda are frightening. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Thursday Morning Male Beauty

Mitch McConnell Refuses To Debate Alison Lundergan Grimes

The ever despicable Mitch McConnell, facing a possible defeat in November, has reversed course and is now refusing to debate his Democratic challenger, Alison Lundergan Grimes.   God forbid that McConnell have to answer unrehearsed questions - such as why he wants to throw thousands of his state's residence off of health insurance - or respond to Grimes' challenges. Few things would be sweeter than seeing McConnell defeated come November.  Politicususa looks at McConnell's disingenuous decision to back out of his agreed debate.  Here are highlights:
After appearing to agree to a debate with his Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes in late October, Sen. Mitch McConnell abruptly flip-flopped and refused to debate the fiery Democrat.

According to WHAS11, McConnell turned down the debate because he would be on a bus tour of KENTUCKY during the potential dates,
The chances for more than one U.S. Senate debate in Kentucky narrowed Tuesday afternoon when the campaign of U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) declined specific dates agreed to less than two hours earlier by Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes.
McConnell’s biggest issue with the format seemed to be that Grimes was going to be there, and he was going to have to answer questions. Mitch McConnell objected to a live audience being present, and the moderator being allowed to ask questions. Sen. McConnell’s excuses are getting more flimsy with each passing day. There is only one current debate scheduled on October 13. 

The only conclusion that can be drawn from McConnell’s behavior is that he is afraid to debate Alison Lundergan Grimes. Mitch McConnell is trying to hide and ride out the storm. His strategy is to win reelection with an onslaught of negative ads against Grimes. McConnell doesn’t believe that voters in all parts of Kentucky deserve to see the candidates live together. 

The Grimes campaign had this to say about Yellow Mitch’s duck and run act, “Mitch McConnell had to invent a phantom bus tour to hide from the fact that he has done next to nothing to help create jobs in 30 years, while we’ve lost thousands of good-paying jobs. Rather than accept multiple opportunities for Kentuckians to hear two very different visions for the future, McConnell is strangely comfortable hiding behind the dark money millionaires and billionaires trying to buy his way back to Washington.”

If Mitch McConnell has his way, he will speak more to the Koch brothers this year than to Kentucky voters.   Sen. McConnell is running scared.

Pray that this foul man is defeated.  Kentucky readers need to get out and vote for Grimes and encourage family members and friends to do likewise.

Air Force Forcing Members to Swear Religious Allegiance

Past posts have looked at the problem of Christofascists in the senior ranks of the U.S. military who have tried to force their religious beliefs on subordinates - a year or so ago, there was an incident at nearby Ft. Eustis here in Virginia.  The problem continues and once again the U.S. Air Force appears to be a major center of Christofascist efforts to force service members to swear religious affiliation.  It goes without saying that such actions are in direct contravention of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution which officers have sworn to uphold.  It is yet another example of the Christofascists' belief that they are above the law as the pursue their theocratic agenda.  A piece in Salon looks at the latest problems in the Air Force.  Here are excerpts: 
Somewhere a high-ranking (but confused) general in the U.S. Air Force has lost his damned mind.  The Air Force has instituted a completely illegal, illogical and unconstitutional mandatory religious oath in order to serve.  A technical sergeant stationed at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada is being denied reenlistment unless he agrees to swear “so help me god.”

Modern attempts to force “god” into inappropriate parts of the public sphere is a Cold War relic. Think of the ’50s when “Under God” was unceremoniously shoehorned into the Pledge of Allegiance.  Contrary to popular belief, George Washington did not utter “so help me god” when taking office.  Despite irritating and ongoing attempts to force god into every orifice of the state, there has been a secular option for decades to “affirm” rather than swear to god. Until now.

This sergeant, who remains anonymous, is only the first of a soon-to-be avalanche of conscientious service members.  Today, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) sent a letter to the Department of Defense with 17 more Air Force noncommissioned officers (NCOs) who want to reenlist without having to conform to government-imposed religiosity. 

This latest attempt at religious conformity by military “leadership” is only the most blatant in an ongoing battle for the soul of the U.S. armed forces.  The Air Force always seems to be at the wrong end of this debate, and the MRFF [Military Religious Freedom Foundation] often fields calls and complaints from service members who are often pressured to convert to a very warped view of fundamentalist Christianity or being punished for not doing so, said Weinstein.

This attempt to force service members to swear a prescribed religious oath is the single biggest blunder by Christians since the Salem witch trials. It is an obvious loser, which is what I cannot understand.  How can anyone, Christian, Muslim or atheist (or nothing at all), think that any government or private institution other than a church has the right to require religious oaths?

Only the Air Force of all the service branches tries to “go rogue” and fails so spectacularly.

If this is a guaranteed loser, why do it?  The answer lies in a culture of Dominionism rampant in the armed services.  The Wikipedia definition of this is helpful here: “Dominion Theology or Dominionism is the idea that Christians should work toward either a nation governed by Christians or one governed by a conservative Christian understanding of Biblical Law.” This small slice of extreme Christianity exerts ever more power and influence in the nation’s capital among not only befuddled old generals but defense contractors, consultants, nonprofits and, most of all, badly educated Congress members, like Michele BachmannLike the war between Muslim factions in Iraq that hurts mostly Muslims, most of the victims of Dominionism are other Christians.

This ham-handed religious coercion is so stupid that it would be funny, except horrible, permanent damage has already been done to individuals. Imagine that you are a person of a minority faith, like Buddhist or Hindu, or a person of no faith at all. Would you feel welcome in an organization that tried to force you to declare allegiance to not only a service branch but also to a monotheistic god and against your will?

An obvious first step is to fire the generals and senior officers behind this effort.  A severe example needs to be made of them to send a message that officers either support the U.S. Constitution first and foremost and their sick version of Christianity second or they need to leave the U.S. military.  Far right Christians continue to constitute a clear and present danger to the nations form of constitutional government.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Disappearing Federal Budget Deficit

Remember the GOP forced government shut down which was supposedly motivated by GOP concerns over out of control spending by Barack Obama?  Remember seeing anti-Obama bumper stickers proclaiming "Stop the Spending" - I saw one just this morning on a car with tea Party license plates?  Like so much of what the GOP says, the truth is that contrary to GOP sound bites, the budget deficit is dropping rapidly - or at least it is until the GOP drags the country into another fool's errand Middle East war.  This fact, of course means little to the GOP party base which remains incensed that a black man occupies the White House.  Forbes looks at the real truth about the nation's budget deficit and provides news one will never see on Fox News, a/k/a Faux News, or hear from the lips of GOP demagogues.  Here are highlights:
The U.S. Treasury announced last Thursday that the federal deficit was $128.7 billion in August. That’s 13 percent lower than it was during the same month last year.

Washington typically records a budget surplus in September and $80 billion or so in black ink is in fact projected for next month. If that occurs as expected, the deficit for all of 2014 will be about $500 billion. That will be more than 26 percent below 2013 and the smallest federal deficit by far since 2008.

[T]he Treasury’s report should have provided an excuse for all of the participants in the budget debate to say something about the numbers. . . . . Instead there was nothing.

In other words, the federal deficit has almost completely disappeared as an issue.

Some of the reason for this incredible disappearing act is that a rapidly declining deficit just isn’t as valuable inside the beltway as one that is quickly rising.

That’s one reason why the recent political focus has been shifting from the deficit, which has been dramatically declining, to the national debt, which even with a smaller deficit is still increasing.

But the bigger reason is that most everyone involved in the federal budget debate likely has concluded that it’s not in his or her interest to talk about the deficit before the election.

The GOP doesn’t want to remind people about the budget, which was the reason for its lowest approval rating of the past few years. The tea party doesn’t want to be asked about why it isn’t shutting down the government again.

And the deficit groups, which exist largely to reduce the deficit, have a much tougher time justifying their existence when it’s falling.

Put this all together and you get a federal deficit that has all but disappeared from view, at least until the election is over.
In the meantime, the deficit will continue to be in the political equivalent of a witness protection program.

The GOP hates a declining deficit because it makes demand spending cuts in exchange for tax increases far harder to see - even with the cretins in the GOP base.   It also takes away a major distraction from the reverse Robin Hood policies of the GOP which seek to give to the wealthy at the expense of the middle and lower classes.

Wednesday Morning Male Beauty

Republicans Rush Toward Ground War in Syria and Iraq

Not content with having saddled the nation with the Bush/Cheney fool's errand in Iraq and Afghanistan and all of the nightmares that went with it, included wasted American lives and squandered taxpayer funds , Congressional Republicans are now hell bent to take America into a ground war in Syria and Iraq against ISIS.  Yes, ISIS is a horrible phenomenon and shows the evil of the intertwining of religion and political movements.  It needs to be defeated, but American involvement will likely only aid in the recruitment efforts of ISIS and other extremist Islamic groups.  Moreover, as Iraq and Afghanistan have shown, short of maintaining a large occupying force  indefinitely, religious based strife in the Middle East is impossible to keep suppressed.  A column in the Washington Post looks at the GOP's race to repeat the mistakes of the past (I am definitely happy that my son-in-law got out of the military).  The cynic in me suspects that this move by the GOP is political: nothing excites the racist/religious extremist base of the GOP more than killing Muslims and the GOP wants these folks to come out in droves in November. Here are highlights:
With extraordinary speed, the nation and its leaders have rallied behind war to defeat the Islamic State terrorist group. President Obama still holds to a “no boots on the ground” pledge, but to listen to recent pronouncements in the House and Senate, it would appear that many Republicans are clamoring for a new ground war in the Middle East — a position even hawks hesitated to take a few weeks ago.

Consider one member of the Senate panel, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who three months ago said: “I don’t think we need boots on the ground. I don’t think that is an option worth consideration.” After Obama announced a no-boots-on-the-ground plan last week that sounded much like what Graham was asking for, Graham revised his view. “This idea we’ll never have any boots on the ground to defeat them in Syria is fantasy,” he said Sunday on TV.

At Tuesday’s hearing, Graham practically pleaded with Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to endorse the use of U.S. ground troops against the Islamic State.

The sudden desire for a ground war is a bit suspect, both because many Republicans adopted this view only after Obama came around to their previous view and because many Republicans oppose even the modest funding Obama has requested to train Syrian fighters. (Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) said she opposed “giving even more money to the so-called vetted moderates who aren’t moderate at all.”)

It may be that Republicans embraced the boots-on-the-ground position because Obama rejected it. Whatever the cause, the militancy is spreading — even though polls indicate that while Americans favor military action against the Islamic State, they aren’t keen on ground troops.

Rep. John Fleming (R-La.) was more blunt. He told the Associated Press that, rather than depending on “undependable” foreigners, he favors “all-out-war” waged by American forces.

The Republicans were almost unanimous in wanting a broader war than Obama outlined. Sen. Jim Inhofe (Okla.), called it “foolhardy” for Obama to rule out ground troops. “There was a collective sigh of relief at ISIS headquarters in Syria when they heard him say that,” Inhofe alleged, using an acronym for the terrorist group.

The Republican Party has quickly assembled a veritable cavalry brigade of warhorses.
 Would that the GOP was as eager to go after religious extremists in its own party base.  ISIS and the Christofascists share a common trait: they hate those with other beliefs and they seek to force their views on all. 

The Homophobia-Christianity Complex's Myth of Christian Persecution

While gays can be fired at will in 29 states, in 31 states same sex marriage is still illegal or in limbo under stays of court rulings, and Christianity continues to receive undeserved deference right and left, according to the Christofascists - especially those who make a living disseminating hatred and untruths - it is nonetheless the "believing Christians" who are the ones facing daily persecution.  As I've said repeatedly, when it comes to the professional Christian set, the safest assumption is that if their lips are moving, they are lying.  In their world, there are seemingly only nine Commandments.  A piece in Edgeonthenet looks at the lies that continue as the Christofascist strive to whip up homophobia and, just as importantly, keep the flow of money coming in.  Here are excerpts:
Since the dawn of recorded time, aggressors have shared one common trait: They believe - or would have others believe - that they are the aggrieved party. 

The latest iteration of this guiding principle has consumed the airwaves, ether and pulpits among the Christian right: Practicing Christians have declared themselves a persecuted minority. These activists and commentators fail to add that we remain very much a nation far more devout than Western Europe and much of the rest of Christendom.

The Nazis, who were masters at this, found a convenient scapegoat in "the Jews," who were blamed for everything from Germany's loss in World War I to inflation, rampant communism, rampant capitalism and bad crop yields. For today's Christian right, the blame falls squarely on the gays, widely known to them as "homofascists." Among those leading the charge is Scott Lively, whose "scholarly work" got the ball rolling back in 1995 with his book The Pink Swastika, a work of historical revisionism that argued homosexuals were not only not persecuted by the Nazis, but remained the bulwark of its power base through the entire Third Reich. 

Somewhere along the way, gay men morphed from limp-wristed, dyed-miniature-poodle-walking hairdressers into muscle-bound, jack-booted thugs, the Storm Troopers of the progressive elite.   Lesbians in the collective Christian consciousness didn't have nearly as far to go to fit the gross stereotype. Those who are transgender are still too busy invading restrooms to man the barricades.

Lively is typical of the way hard right-wing Christian activists have made a name for themselves - and a tidy income - by continually evoking the Homosexual Agenda, which, in its mystery, reach and power, apparently makes the Elders of Zion (a conspiracy of Jews invented by the czarist secret police) look like amateurs.

Indeed, there's a whole industry based on this meme. I call it, with apologies to Eisenhower's military-industrial complex, the homophobia-Christianity complex. 

Their list of grievances is long, but they boil down to four categories:
• Marginalizing those opposed to "the escalating gay tyranny" via the media, entertainment, sports figures and anyone else who happens to be around.
• Making the good bad, the bad good, until the good succumbs to the bad, as happened with the Boy Scouts and the Armed Forces.
• Silencing brave martyrs to the cause, such as the patriarch of cable reality show Duck Dynasty and Brandon Eich, the short-lived CEO of Mozilla.
• Turning the law on its head, such as the ongoing claim that antidiscrimination statutes mandate Christians turn their backs on their faith to stay in business and pervert the privacy of public restrooms. 

Although it's easy - OK, really easy - to dismiss these self-styled activists as crackpots, they retain a powerful hold on a significant number of Americans. Powerful fellow travelers in the media like Fox News, where the "war on Christmas" is as regular an annual event as the Rockefeller Center tree-lighting ceremony, have given them a nationwide platform. And politicians are listening. 
How do we combat this evil agenda?  A first step is coming out of the closet to family, friends and neighbors.  Nothing destroys the stereotypes the Christofascists seek to uphold more than having people know who you are and that, in fact, you are not any different than they are.  A second step is to get involved politically and socially and challenge these hate merchants.  Yet a third step is to get out and vote against politicians who happily prostitute themselves to the Christofascists. 

Richmond, Virginia Makes Appeal to Gay Tourists

Even as The Family Foundation ("TFF") and its political whores in the Virginia Republican Party continue to do all that they can to keep LGBT Virginians inferior under the laws of the Commonwealth, Richmond, the capital city of Virgina has launched a new effort to court LGBT tourists.  Sadly, the greater Norfolk area has yet to wake up to the need to make a similar marketing effort, the problem being particularly acute in Virginia Beach where the tourism bureau would overall rather court the low spending blue collar "family" market.   It goes without saying that the hate merchants at TFF are probably not too happy with the city's effort. The New York Times looks at Richmond's new effort to free itself from Virginia's anti-gay image.  Here are excerpts:
The cry “Come out, come out, wherever you are” has taken on new meaning as more Americans who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (L.G.B.T.) come out of the closet, telling friends and family about their sexual orientation. A regional tourism organization is now echoing the process a person goes through in coming out to present a city as a welcoming destination for L.G.B.T. visitors.

The organization, known as Richmond Region Tourism, is declaring that Richmond, Va., is “coming out” as a city where L.G.B.T. tourists will feel comfortable. A campaign that began this month includes a microsite, or special website, with the address; print advertisements; banner ads online; a blog; a video clip; a presence in social media that include Facebook, Instagram and Twitter; and stickers for the windows of stores, shops and businesses that read “OutRVA,” a nod to residents’ name for the city, “RVA.”

The premise of the campaign, which uses “OutRVA” as a logo, is that Richmond is coming out the way a person would, spreading the word through posts in social media or missives that are known as “coming-out letters,” which may be literal, ink-on-paper letters or read aloud on videos.

So the print ads — running in newspapers aimed at L.G.B.T. readers in cities that are not far from Richmond and have large L.G.B.T. populations — begin with salutations like “Dear Atlanta,” “Dear Boston” and “Dear Washington”; include phrases like “So here it is. I’m gay” and “The fact is, I’m gay”; and conclude, “Love, Richmond, Virginia.”

The campaign presupposes that potential visitors have images of Richmond derived from its history or heritage, or perhaps because Virginia is a state where same-sex marriage is illegal and there are no statewide protections for L.G.B.T. employees in their workplaces. Those attitudes are, according to Richmond Region Tourism and the campaign, obsolete and at variance with how tolerant the city is today.

For instance, in the video clip, an announcer says: “Of course, outsiders think they know Richmond. The capital of the Confederacy, the stuck in the past, the unwelcoming, the intolerant Richmond. We’ve heard the comments, and they hurt.”

“It’s time for the world to see the L.G.B.T. community we’re proud to call our own, and the people that have risen up to support it,” the announcer continues. “We’re saying goodbye to the closet, and you’re going to have to say goodbye to your old opinion of Richmond.”

The campaign is part of recent initiatives by Richmond Region Tourism to portray the city as a lively, interesting, even sophisticated destination for tourists.

The campaign may be something new for Richmond, but many other cities, counties and states have been running ads aimed at L.G.B.T. tourists, who, according to research data, travel more frequently than their heterosexual counterparts. 

The campaign also offers “a grass-roots way for businesses to raise their hands and make a statement,” she adds, “and say they support the L.G.B.T. community regardless of what the legislators” approve or disapprove of.
Candidly, the husband and I always have a good time when we visit Richmond thanks to its museums and many wonderful dining opportunities in the Carytown area, long the city's most gay friendly neighborhood. It's time for the Cities of Hampton Roads to wake up and court the LGBT tourism market.  It's an issue that HRBOR, the region's gay and gay friendly chamber of commerce needs to push.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

More Tuesday Male Beauty

Sarah Palin - Proof of the GOP's Moral Bankruptcy and Hypocrisy

By now many readers may have heard about the brawl that took place at a house party in South Anchorage, Alaska, involving Sarah Palin and her white trash family.   Yes, white trash.  Decent, quality, educated people don't engage in drunken physical brawls.  How anyone with half a brain can deem Sarah Palin as a role model or a candidate for even a job as dog catcher is mind numbing.  Yet, many in the GOP base continue to idolize this foul, self-aggrandizing nut case.  Some of these fools even thinks she's attractive (God knows why based on the photo above!).  A piece in The Daily Mail looks at the real Sarah Palin and her latest exhibition of her lunacy.  Here are excerpts:
Sarah Palin was photographed sweaty and make-up free [and wedding ring free] as she ran errands around Anchorage, Alaska on Monday - marking the first time she's been seen in public since a violent family fight this weekend. 

A fight allegedly broke out at a house party most of the Palin family was attending on Saturday night in south Anchorage, when daughter Willow's ex-boyfriend Connor Cleary tried to get in a Hummer limousine after engaging in some unspecified 'questionable behavior'. 

Sarah's eldest son Track left the fight with four broken ribs and husband Todd suffered a bloody nose.
RealClearPolitics spoke with a source close to the Palin family, who wanted to provide their version of the events in question. 

The source said oldest son Track, 25, soon found himself struggling against four men who had 'piled on him'.

That was when father Todd Palin - who was celebrating his 50th birthday that night, although it was not his party- became involved.

Partygoer Eric Thompson told Good Morning America: 'I heard Sarah Palin scream out, 'You know who we are, don't you?''

The former vice presidential candidate has yet to publicly comment on the brawl. 

On Monday, she left a shopping mall dressed casually, and without wearing her wedding ring.
One report suggested host Korey Klingenmeyer was allegedly punched in the face seven times by Bristol when he politely asked her to leave the party. 

Another report claimed that Willow and Bristol apparently tried to go after the mother of Willow's ex-boyfriend.

The fight involved 'roughly 20 people' and alcohol is believed to have been a factor in the incident, which took place around 11pm on Saturday night, The Anchorage Police Department said. 

'Anchorage police responded to a report of a verbal and physical altercation taking place between multiple subjects outside of a residence,' police spokesperson Jennifer Castro told Alaska Dispatch News. 
Although none of the parties wanted to press charges at the time of the incident, police confirmed that the case is still an active investigation and is being reviewed by APD and the Municipal Prosecutors Office. 

The Ugly Fruits of Conservative Religion: A Rising Number of Homeless Gay Teens

One of the very first post I wrote on this blog addressed what I see as a form of child abuse: LGBT youth being raised in conservative Christian homes (the same, of course, holds true for conservative Muslim and Jewish homes).  The enemies of LGBT rights and equality time and time again claim that gays make unfit parents when the truth is that it is they, the Christofascists and other religious fundamentalists who are unfit.  Sadly, even as gays are find increased societal acceptance, religious conservatives continue to disown their gay children and throw them out literally on the streets.  Indeed, some reports indicate that the number of homeless LGBT youth is growing.  For children under age 18, I believe that such parental behavior ought to result in criminal prosecution of the parents, but unfortunately this almost never happens.  A piece in Rolling Stone looks at the moral bankruptcy of religious conservatives and the toll it is taking on literally hundreds of thousands of LGBT youth.  Here are highlights:
[Jackie] she got a call from her older brother. "He said, 'Mom and Dad don't want to talk to you, but I'm supposed to tell you what's going to happen,'" Jackie recalls. "And he's like, 'All your cards are going to be shut off, and Mom and Dad want you to take the car and drop it off at this specific location. Your phone's going to last for this much longer. They don't want you coming to the house, and you're not to contact them. You're not going to get any money from them. Nothing. And if you don't return the car, they're going to report it stolen.'

Jackie's story may be distinctive in its particulars, but across America, it is hardly unique. Research done by San Francisco State University's Family Acceptance Project, which studies and works to prevent health and mental­health risks facing LGBT youth, empirically confirms what common sense would imply to be true: Highly religious parents are significantly more likely than their less-religious counterparts to reject their children for being gay – a finding that social-service workers believe goes a long way toward explaining why LGBT people make up roughly five percent of the youth population overall, but an estimated 40 percent of the homeless-youth population. The Center for American Progress has reported that there are between 320,000 and 400,000 homeless LGBT youths in the United States. Meanwhile, as societal advancements have made being gay less stigmatized and gay people more visible – and as the Internet now allows kids to reach beyond their circumscribed social groups for acceptance and support – the average coming-out age has dropped from post-college age in the 1990s to around 16 today, which means that more and more kids are coming out while they're still economically reliant on their families. The resulting flood of kids who end up on the street, kicked out by parents whose religious beliefs often make them feel compelled to cast out their own offspring (one study estimates that up to 40 percent of LGBT homeless youth leave home due to family rejection), has been called a "hidden epidemic." Tragically, every step forward for the gay-rights movement creates a false hope of acceptance for certain youth, and therefore a swelling of the homeless-youth population.
[N]ot only were more kids showing up, they were also disappearing. "Every couple of months one of our kids would get killed," Siciliano says. "And it would always be a gay kid." In 2002, he founded the Ali Forney Center, naming it after a homeless 22-year-old who'd been shot in the head on the street in Harlem, not far from where the organization's drop-in center currently resides. Siciliano had been close with Forney and felt that had he had a safe place to go, he might be alive today.
In one survey, approximately one in five LGBT youth were unable to secure short-term shelter, and 16 percent could not get assistance with longer-term housing – figures that were almost double those of their non-LGBT peers. However, it's clear that funding is also a problem.

Currently, Lewis tells me, "there are no legal federal protections in place to bar discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in RHYA programs." At one residential placement facility in Michigan, LGBT teens were made to wear orange jumpsuits to "warn" other residents about their sexuality. 
Since 2002, when President George W. Bush issued an executive order that permitted faith-based organizations to receive federal support for social services, an increased amount of federal funding has gone to churches and religion­affiliated organizations where LGBT youth may not feel welcome.

In New York, a city with nearly 4,000 homeless youth, there are only around 350 spots in youth shelters, and less than a third of those spots are designated for LGBT kids, despite their disproportionate share of the homeless-youth population. (And considering that many homeless youth may not openly identify themselves as LGBT when seeking services, many providers believe that the estimate of 40 percent may be far too low.) Across the country, there are only 4,000 youth-shelter beds overall, while an estimate derived from the National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway and Thrownaway Children put the number of homeless minors at 1.7 million. 

For LGBT kids who remain homeless, the stakes are clearly life and death. They are seven times more likely than their straight counterparts to be the victims of a crime, often a violent one. Studies have shown they are more than three times more likely to engage in survival sex – for which shelter is the payment more often than cash. They are more likely to lack access to medical care, more likely to attempt suicide, more likely to use hard drugs and more likely to be arrested for survival crimes. According to the Equity Project, leaving home because of family­ rejection is the single greatest predictor of involvement with the juvenile-justice system for LGBT youth.
In America, we lose six queer kids a day to the street. That's every four hours a queer kid dies, whether it be from freezing to death or getting the shit beat out of them or a drug overdose. This is our next real plague."

"LGBT­advocacy groups don't want to talk about religion," says Mitchell Gold, founder of Faith in America. "One, they don't want to come across as anti-religion. And two, they just aren't familiar with it. But the number-one hurdle to LGBT equality is religious­based bigotry. The face of the gay-rights movement shouldn't be what I call '40-year-old well-moisturized couples.' The face of the gay-rights movement should be a 15-year-old kid that's been thrown out of his house and taught that he's a sinner."
There's more that will make your blood boil.  As readers know, I am not afraid to talk about religion or hide the fact that I hold open contempt for "godly Christian" parents who disown their children.  Being gay is not a choice.  Adhering to hate-filled, bigoted religious beliefs based on what is being increasingly demonstrated to be pure myth and fiction, however, IS A CHOICE. Religious conservatives truly need to become societal outcasts and subject to child abuse prosecution for mistreatment of their LGBT children.   They are NOT nice or decent people. The rest of us need to fully open our eyes to this reality.