Saturday, March 21, 2015

New Study: Same Sex Marriage Have Existed for Centuries in America

While the Christofascists and bigots like Justice Samuel Alito claim that same sex marriage is a new creation and a redefinition of marriage.  In truth, same sex marriages have existed for centuries in America - even before the arrival of white Europeans - and that the only change is much belated legal recognition of such relationships.  As noted before, I had a step great uncle in law who was in a same sex relationship for over 40 years.  He and is life companion lived as a couple and were wholly accepted by my grandparents and extended family and they live out the balance of their lives together and, when one died, the other died soon thereafter of a broken heart.  Their story was not unique as chronicled in a new study (subscription required) in the latest issue of the Journal of American History which looks at 500 years of same-sex unions in the United States. Once again, the Christofascists and their ignorance embracing allies know nothing of accurate history.  A piece in the Washington Post looks at the study and the long story of same sex marriages in America.  When you hear the godly folk rant against same sex relationships, all they are doing is underscoring their own ignorance and unworthiness of respect. Here are excerpts:
“Our popular narrative of same-sex marriage says it’s this brand new thing,” said Rachel Hope Cleves, an associate professor of history at the University of Victoria and the author of a new study in the latest issue of the Journal of American History chronicling 500 years of same-sex unions in the United States. “But the reality is that it came over with human migration” — contrary, for example, to Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.’s comment during oral arguments on California’s Proposition 8 case that it’s an “institution which is newer than cellphones or the Internet.”

Long before United States vs. Windsor — before the Defense of Marriage Act, even before the Stonewall Riots — gays and lesbians in North America found ways to live as married couples, in practice if not in law, according to Cleves’s research. In the mid-16th century, Spanish conquistador Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca wrote about a custom of “one man married to another,” which he saw in several Gulf Coast communities. Newspaper accounts from the 18th and 19th centuries tell sensationalized stories of “female husbands,” women who passed as men and married other women for love or money. California miners Jason Chamberlain and John Chaffee lived together for more than 50 years and were thought of as “wedded bachelors” by those who knew them.

But Bryant and Drake’s 44-year marriage is by far the best and most explicitly documented example of an early same-sex union, said Cleves, who has also written a book about the relationship, “Charity and Sylvia: A Same-Sex Marriage in Early America.”

It began in 1807, when Bryant was visiting Drake’s older sister in Weybridge. Drake was something of an enigma to her family, who couldn’t understand why the 22-year-old — practically an “old maid” by the standards of the early 19th century — continually rejected her male suitors. Bryant, on the other hand, had a reputation: By 27, she had spent several years traveling around Massachusetts as an itinerant teacher and had a number of relationships with other women. She was visiting Vermont, in part, to escape the gossip that dogged her, Cleves said.

But Bryant was also worldly, fascinating and a talented seamstress — whatever her reputation, townspeople seemed happy to have her stay in Weybridge to make their clothes. Shortly after meeting Drake, she hired the younger woman as her assistant. When their friendship turned into a romance and Bryant asked Drake to move in, they were able to use their tailoring business as an excuse for the unusual arrangement.

“But from the beginning, their choice to live together was about their shared relationship,” Cleves said in a phone interview with The Washington Post. “They worked together in order to live together, not the other way around.”

“What made their relationship work was how public it was,” Cleves said. “Charity and Sylvia were enormously valued in the community. They did everything from leading the local charitable organizations to contributing money to the church … and people just chose not to know what was inconvenient to know.”

Though they turned a blind eye to the romantic aspect of Bryant and Drake living together, the couple’s families and neighbors widely referred to them as close to or nearly “married.”

Another local named Hiram Harvey Hurlburt recounted meeting the couple in his diary: “I heard it mentioned as if Miss Bryant and Miss Drake were married to each other,” he wrote. “I always heard they got along pleasantly together … Miss Bryant was the man, this I thought was perfectly proper.”

“All acknowledged Bryant and Drake’s marriage while denying its possibility,” Cleves wrote in her study. Comparing their relationship to a marriage without explicitly calling it one allowed the traditional residents of Weybridge to recognize Bryant and Drake as a couple without confronting the fact that they were lesbians, she said.

For their part, Bryant and Drake considered themselves married, according to Cleves. They celebrated the day they moved in together as their anniversary, and Bryant referred to Drake as her “helpmeet,” a common 19th-century synonym for “spouse.”

In her study, she said that opposition to gay marriage has long relied on the argument that marriage is a traditional institution, something that has always involved just one man and one woman — a viewpoint that ignores the infrequent but documented occurrences of relationships like Bryant and Drake’s.

That Bryant and Drake are buried together, under an expensive headstone with raised lettering, “is a testimony to the regard that the people who knew them held them in,” Cleves said. “The people of the town and the family chose to remember them as a married couple, and they spent extra money to make it beautiful.”
After 37 years of struggle to deny my sexuality, I know that it is not a choice - something confirmed by all legitimate medical and mental health care associations.  Religious belief, in contrast is 100% a choice.  If anything should have not recognition and deference it is religion, which can be changed like a pair of socks or shoes.

More Saturday Male Beauty

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Backlash Coninues Against Dolce & Gabbana

When one's work is in the fashion industry, it is perhaps best to avoid making commentary on hot button social issues - especially if you are gay and are giving fodder to the anti-gay hate merchants.  Just as Italian pasta maker Barilla caused itself a PR nightmare with comments about "traditional families" now fashion house Dolce & Gabbana has followed suit.  The biggest difference is the the heads of D&G are gay and were once a couple, yet they maligned gay parenting and in vitro fertilization.   While they have tried to walk back their comments, the protests continue, including a protest at D & G's flagship London store.  The London Evening Standard has details.  Here are highlights:

Gay rights protesters gathered outside a Dolce & Gabbana store in central London today after the fashion designers' "homophobic" comments about IVF babies.
Campaigners from The Out and Proud Diamond Group held placards which said "D&G Homophobia is not fashionable!" in the protest next to the shop in Bond Street.

They were joined by leading gay rights activist Peter Tatchell as they called for shoppers to boycott D &G after the duo claimed children conceived through IVF were "synthetic".

Other protest banners read "Dolce & Gabbana - put labels on clothes, not families" and "Boycott D&G over their disrespect for gay families".

Singer Elton John, who has two IVF children with husband David Furnish, waded in on the row this week, adding to calls for a boycott of the fashion brand.

The Italian designers, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, are said to be shocked by the public backlash over their comments.

Jeb Bush Signals Support for License-to-Discriminate Laws

Jeb Bush - pandering political whore

After hiring an openly gay media consultant, Jebbie Bush is now on a tear to totally prostitute himself to the hate-filled, modern day Pharisee set in the GOP party base.  Not only has he hired a virulently anti-gay adviser, but now he has signaled that he supports license-to-discriminate laws being pushed across the country by Christofasicts and political whores like Jebbie in the Republican Party.  One of the ironies is that some of these laws are so broad that they open the door to all kinds of discrimination - and, in theory, could be used to discriminate against the "godly folk" themselves.  A piece in Salon looks at Jebbie Bush's shameless self-prostitution.  Here are highlights:
Courting conservatives in Atlanta on Thursday, likely GOP presidential contender Jeb Bush threw his support behind efforts to allow businesses and individuals to refuse services to gay people on religious grounds, arguing that while couples in “long-term committed relationships” deserve respect, others “have a right” to discriminate.

Though Bush did not explicitly endorse a proposed measure in the Georgia legislature that would allow such discrimination, he expressed sympathy for the movement to sanction religiously-based discrimination.

“I don’t know about the law, but religious freedom is a serious issue, and it’s increasingly so, and I think people that act on their conscience shouldn’t be discriminated against, for sure,” Bush told reporters, speaking on the steps of the Georgia Statehouse. “There should be protections, and so, as it relates to marriage equality — and that may change, the Supreme Court may change that. That automatically then shifts the focus to people of conscience, and, I don’t know, have their faith make — they want to act on their faith, and may not be able to be employed for example.”

Bush reaffirmed his support for “traditional marriage” during his appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference. Since then, Bush has hired Jordan Sekulow, an ardent evangelical whose American Center for Law and Justice has defended the criminalization of gay sex internationally, to serve as an emissary to conservatives.

While Bush may realize that his party has all but lost its fight against marriage equality, his emphasis on “religious liberty” points to the next front in the gay rights battle. As marriage equality has taken effect throughout much of the nation, conservatives lawmakers have responded with a spate of measures aiming to protect those who would discriminate  against gay couples on religious grounds. Even if he’s not inclined to back specific proposals just yet, Bush has clearly taken note of the trend, and shows every sign that he buys the right’s religious liberty narrative.

As LGBT rights advocates note, however, that brand of discrimination contravenes the well-established precedent that businesses and individuals offering services on the public market must adhere to generally applicable non-discrimination policies. At the end of the day, license-to-discriminate legislation isn’t about recognizing religious rights. It’s about creating special ones.

"The Bitchy Gay Community" Responds To The Aaron Schock Apologists

Its been amazing to see some "journalists" come to the defense of the seriously corrupt and unethical Aaron Schock and argue that gays are being "bitchy" and "mean" to Schock and suggesting that we have been brutal on him because we "want him."  A pretty face and toned body does not automatically make one an object of desire - ok, perhaps it does in the straight world wealthy older men all too often have brain dead "trophy wives" half their age - if there is no soul or moral substance behind the veneer.  A piece in Queerty has a great response to the Schock apologists that is down right fun to read.  Here are some highlights:
Kirchick, referring to those who’ve taken issue with Mr. Schock, his extravagant spending and antigay voting record, writes the “bitchy gay community” is up in arms because of “rumors” that Schock is a closeted gay man and that the real reason many people have disdain for the chiseled, Ken Doll-esque congressman is because we all “want him.”

Really? We all want him? That’s a little presumptuous, Mr. Kirchick. Was there a poll taken? I remember taking a poll for CrossFit and I definitely got the one for not eating carbs, but I must have clearly missed the “Who Wants To Shtook Schock” poll. 

Our disdain for Schock has nothing to do with his alleged good looks. It’s because of his character. Or lack of it, to be precise.     It seems in this day and age, you can’t dislike anyone for honest reasons, such as a person’s character.

Now as far as me not liking Aaron Schock because I want him — child, please. I will personally stand next to Schock in a Speedo and go muscle to muscle any day of the week (except Sunday — that’s my “cheat day”). In fact, he could have all the muscles in Chelsea and WeHo combined, but the thing Schock lacks and the thing that most resonates with the “bitchy queens” is the soon-to-be-former Congressman’s lack of ethics. 

Now dare I say, that is the reason we do not like her… I mean, him.

Kirchick writes that Schock has voted against gay marriage, against repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and against the institution of harsher criminal penalties for hate crimes. A mere two sentences later, Kirchick tries to say that, “There’s no evidence that Schock personally discriminated against gay people,” which makes one wonder if he has even read his own article. Call me crazy (I’ve been called worse), but voting against LGBT rights, is a form of discrimination.
These facts alone are enough, more than enough, actually, for the “bitchy gay community” to not like Aaron Schock.  But wait there’s more.. . . .  Schock also billed the Federal Government for logging approximately 170,000 miles on his personal car that, when sold, had an odometer reading of 80,000 miles. So “We The People” also paid for over 90,000 miles on Aaron Schock’s car that were never driven. 
Kirchick and others can try and spin this however they want. The truth is, the fall of Aaron Schock is because Aaron Schock has performed less like an United States Congressman than a privileged party boy who is all show and no substance. 

This card-carrying member of the “bitchy gay community” and many others like me are not supporters of Aaron Schock because he hasn’t earned it. It doesn’t matter where on the spectrum of sexuality he falls — though evidently, it’s somewhere between rabid Downton Abbey fan and Katy Perry backup dancer.
Very well said (the author's image is below, so we see why he'd do a speedo contest with Schock!)

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

Congressional Republicans: Trillion Dollar Fraudsters

The GOP shysters in Congress have yet again prepared a smoke and mirrors budget that would attack the social safety net - or what's left of it - for millions of Americans while yet again cutting taxes for corporations and the wealthiest Americans.  While labeled as a deficit reduction plan, the same old trickle down economics would instead explode the deficit.  Time and time again the GOP pushes the same old policies expecting some miracle to make the numbers work even though they never will balance.  It's a classic example of insanity.  Yet their heads are so far up their asses - or up the asses of the Christofascists and vulture capitalists - that they remain blind to objective reality.  Nobel prize winner Paul Krugman has a piece in the New York Times that rightly rips the Congressional GOP a new one.  Here are excerpts:
By now it’s a Republican Party tradition: Every year the party produces a budget that allegedly slashes deficits, but which turns out to contain a trillion-dollar “magic asterisk” — a line that promises huge spending cuts and/or revenue increases, but without explaining where the money is supposed to come from.

But the just-released budgets from the House and Senate majorities break new ground. Each contains not one but two trillion-dollar magic asterisks: one on spending, one on revenue. And that’s actually an understatement. If either budget were to become law, it would leave the federal government several trillion dollars deeper in debt than claimed, and that’s just in the first decade.

The modern G.O.P.’s raw fiscal dishonesty is something new in American politics. And that’s telling us something important about what has happened to half of our political spectrum.

So, about those budgets: both claim drastic reductions in federal spending. Some of those spending reductions are specified: There would be savage cuts in food stamps, similarly savage cuts in Medicaid over and above reversing the recent expansion, and an end to Obamacare’s health insurance subsidies. Rough estimates suggest that either plan would roughly double the number of Americans without health insurance. But both also claim more than a trillion dollars in further cuts to mandatory spending, which would almost surely have to come out of Medicare or Social Security.

[B]oth budgets call for repeal of the Affordable Care Act, including the taxes that pay for the insurance subsidies. That’s $1 trillion of revenue. Yet both claim to have no effect on tax receipts; somehow, the federal government is supposed to make up for the lost Obamacare revenue. How, exactly? We are, again, given no hint.

Remember the jeering when President Obama declared that he would cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term? Well, a sluggish economy delayed things, but only by a year. The deficit in calendar 2013 was less than half its 2009 level, and it has continued to fall.

So, no, outrageous fiscal mendacity is neither historically normal nor bipartisan. It’s a modern Republican thing. And the question we should ask is why.
One answer you sometimes hear is that what Republicans really believe is that tax cuts for the rich would generate a huge boom and a surge in revenue, but they’re afraid that the public won’t find such claims credible. So magic asterisks are really stand-ins for their belief in the magic of supply-side economics, a belief that remains intact even though proponents in that doctrine have been wrong about everything for decades.

I’m partial to a more cynical explanation. Think about what these budgets would do if you ignore the mysterious trillions in unspecified spending cuts and revenue enhancements. What you’re left with is huge transfers of income from the poor and the working class, who would see severe benefit cuts, to the rich, who would see big tax cuts. And the simplest way to understand these budgets is surely to suppose that they are intended to do what they would, in fact, actually do: make the rich richer and ordinary families poorer.

But this is, of course, not a policy direction the public would support if it were clearly explained. So the budgets must be sold as courageous efforts to eliminate deficits and pay down debt  . . . 

We’re looking at an enormous, destructive con job, and you should be very, very angry.
There are two takeaways: (i) the lying and dishonesty of the GOP has increased as the Christofascist have gained power in the party (no one lies more than the "godly folk") and (ii) the GOP's use of racism and feigned support for "religious freedom" is used to dupe the other cretins in the party base to support policies that will directly harm them.  Cynical doesn't begin to describe the GOP con job.

Archbishop of Dublin: Many Gay Marriage Opponents Obnoxious, Insulting and "Unchristian"

One of the few members of the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy for who I have any shred of respect is Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin who has repeatedly called out members of the hierarchy who aided in sex abuse cover ups and/or threatened and intimidated abuse victims. He seems to be nearly alone when it comes to recognizing that the Church is on a road to suicide if the hierarchy doesn't change its mindset and behavior.  Now Martin is calling out opponents of marriage equality for what they are:  insulting, obnoxious and most significantly, unchristian.  yes, Martin is still wrong in his views, but he at least understands that horrific treatment and statements about gays is only accelerating the exodus from the Church and religion in general.  Would that more Church leaders, including Pope Francis, not to mention American political leaders, had as much honesty and backbone.  Here are highlights from Pink News:
In his address the Archbishop set out his own opposition to the issue, saying: “There is only one marriage and that is marriage as a basic human reality.

“There is a radical difference between marriage between a man and a woman and the union of two people of the same sex.”

However, he also condemned groups for allowing their stance on the issue to become “obnoxious”.  He said: “I have consistently said that the debate must be carried on respectfully without the use of intemperate language.

“I would add that it must be carried on rationally and with respectful argument and not simply with one-liners aimed at stopping debate.

“I do however feel obliged to say that I have received in recent time correspondence from people who support a ‘no’ vote in the referendum in which the language used is not just intemperate but obnoxious, insulting and, unchristian in regard to gay and lesbian people.

“If people use such language to support a position they feel is Christian, then all I can say is that they have forgotten something essential about the Christian message.”
Ultimately, other than ignorance and bigotry embracing religious belief, there is no winning debate against same sex marriage - something that Martin sadly fails to concede.  But at least he isn't coddling the hate merchants. 

Friday, March 20, 2015

More Friday Male Beauty

Dedicated to Marcia

Rep. J. Randy Forbes Continues to Drink Kool-Aid

Randy Forbes - a pandering political whore
As I have noted before, I went to law school wit now Congressman J. Randy Forbes.  In school, Forbes was not a liberal, but he wasn't a right wing nutcase either.  Now, Forbes has either been subjected to a "Stepford Wife" like transformation or is drinking far right Kool-Aid by the truckload.  How else to explain his co-authoring of an op-ed in the Washington Examiner advocating for a license to engage in religious based discrimination.  The principal target, naturally is LGBT citizens, but Forbes batshitery could equally apply to Jews, blacks and others disliked by the "godly folk."  Here are samples of Forbes' vile pandering to hate merchants.  Natuarlly, if and when Christians become a minority, I suspect that Forbes will be singing a different song.  Here are highlights of his batshitery:
Avid Chipotle customers seeking carnitas burritos for dinner may be disappointed over the coming weeks. The restaurant giant is reportedly no longer serving pork at about a third of its locations after it dropped a pork supplier that failed to live up to the corporation's standards of humane animal care.

It is crucial that the same freedom of conscience enjoyed by the leadership of Chipotle remain equally available to business owners of faith. Indeed, much more so, as freedom of religion is explicitly protected by the First Amendment. We cannot simultaneously laud the leaders of a business motivated by a commitment to environmental sustainability and discriminate against the leaders of a business motivated by religious belief.

If a decision based on moral convictions is celebrated, shouldn't a decision based on the free exercise of religion – a right guaranteed in the Constitution – be even more so?

To be sure, religious freedom is not just a choice of convenience – it is a fundamental right given to all Americans by the Constitution. As we recognize Chipotle's decision, let's remember that a clear constitutionally-supported civil right of religious freedom should be cherished and respected in every corner of this nation.

Americans do not check their religious freedom at the door when they leave their home or place of worship and enter the public sphere.  We must not fall prey to the hypocrisy of defending the freedom of operating a business on convictions of sustainability, but reject that same freedom when the convictions are based in faith.
No doubt Mr. Forbes sees himself as virtuous even as he promotes hate and division and the embrace of ignorance and bigotry.  The truth, however, is that (i) religious belief is 100% a matter of choice and (ii) the most tawdry whore has more integrity and virtue and Forbes and his fellow Republicans who shamelessly prostitute them to the ugliest elements of the party base - the Christofascists and the white supremacists.

Why the GOP Can't Quit the Christian Right - At Least Not Yet

The ugly bigotry of today's GOP - and the rejection of modernity and knowledge that goes hand in hand with it - traces in large part to the rise of Christofascists within the party ranks.  Moreover, as the influence of the  insane religious extremists has grown, rational, sane Republicans have fled the insane asylum. I and my extended family were all among those fleeing the GOP after years and years of involvement in the party. With the GOP base now effectively controlled by the Christofascists, it is hard to convince GOP elected officials that long term they are committing political suicide.  The good news however, is that time is not on the side of the Christofascist.  A piece in Salon looks at the coming crisis for the Christofascists and the GOP.  Here are highlights:

[N]early every Republican, regardless of their sincerity in saying so, aligns with conservative Christianity, whether Catholic or Protestant, an affiliation reflected in their policy preferences.

That the evangelical right already controls the GOP shouldn’t really be in dispute. Not only do the Republicans do exactly as the Christian right tells them on every social issue, such as reproductive rights or gay rights, but Republicans also pay fealty to the Christian right by targeting Muslim countries with their hawkish posturing or using Christian language to rationalize slashing the social safety net. If you were trying to come up with a quick-and-dirty description of the Republican Party, “coalition of corporate and patriarchal religious interests” would be it.

A common claim is that the Republicans just use the Christian right as foot soldiers but screw them over when they get into office. As nice as that would be if it were true, the legislative record shows the opposite.

It seems that the Christian right, while not there yet, has a very real reason to fear that the numbers of people they can command to the polls are slipping, enough so that the Republican Party, if they want to stay viable as a national party, is going to have to start appealing to other groups to get votes–which, in turn, might mean turning down the Bible-thumping, the gay-hating, and the attacks on women’s rights.

That concern was openly voiced by Republican Rep. Renee Ellmers in January, when Republicans were preparing some anti-abortion bills to pander to the religious right. While toeing the Christian right line and saying all the right things about hating legal abortion, Ellmers hedged, saying that perhaps the Bible-thumping should be de-emphasized a bit, saying, “The first vote we take, or the second vote, or the fifth vote, shouldn’t be on an issue where we know that millennials—social issues just aren’t as important.”

White Christians are now a minority in 19 states and it’s trend that is only picking up steam. A huge reason for this change is simply that white Christians are leaving the faith in droves. Both liberal and conservative churches are seeing their pews emptying out, of course, but the trend affects the Christian right as a political entity just as much as a spiritual one. Nor are they going to be able to restore their ranks by turning to people of color. After all, they’re not just asking voters to vote for conservative policies on reproductive rights or gay rights, but also on stripping the social safety net and becoming more hawkish on foreign policy. That’s an agenda most voters of color have long rejected and there’s no reason to think that’s going to change any time soon.

Right now, the Christian right absolutely controls the Republican Party, as a simple perusal of the field of potential GOP presidential nominees shows. But there will come a time—not this election, but maybe as soon as 2020 – where the Christian posturing and the intolerant attitudes about religious diversity, reproductive rights and gay rights starts to turn off enough voters that the Republicans will either have to start shaking off the Christian right’s death grip on their party or start really losing a lot of elections. It’s not surprising that people like David Lane fear for the Christian right’s power, but, for the rest of us, the sooner this happens, the better.
The day cannot come soon enough when, to survive, the GOP  will need to kick the Christofascists to the curb and send them permanently into the political wilderness.  They are a blight on America.

Friday Morning Male Beauty

New Gallup Study Finds Gays Everywhere in America

A new analysis of Gallup survey data is offering perhaps the most detailed data yet about where people in the LGBT community live.  Cities in the West lead the way in the percentage of residents who identify as LGBT, but the analysis also finds that gays are pretty much everywhere across America - even in backwaters of ignorance and bigotry in the South.   Gays also tend to be more numerous in college and university towns that attract more educated populations that bring increased tolerance.  Overall, the conclusions are bad news for the Christofascists who claim gays are much less numerous than is the case and for the anti-gay GOP which can lose a close election if the LGBT vote goes heavily Democrat (as has happened in Virginia).  A piece in the New York Times looks at the findings.  Here are highlights:
The Gallup analysis finds the largest concentrations in the West — and not just in the expected places like San Francisco and Portland, Ore. Among the nation’s 50 largest metropolitan areas, Denver and Salt Lake City are also in the top 10. How could Salt Lake be there, given its well-known social conservatism? It seems to be a kind of regional capital of gay life, attracting people from other parts of Utah and the Mormon West.

On the other hand, some of the East Coast places with famous gay neighborhoods, including in New York, Miami and Washington, have a smaller percentage of their population who identify as gay — roughly average for a big metropolitan area. The least gay urban areas are in the Midwest and South.
Significant as these differences are, the similarities are just as notable. Gay America, rather than being confined to a few places, spreads across every major region of the country. 

Nationwide, Gallup says, 3.6 percent of adults consider themselves gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. And even the parts of the country outside the 50 biggest metropolitan areas have a gay population (about 3 percent) not so different from some big metropolitan areas. It’s a reflection in part of increasing tolerance and of social connections made possible by the Internet.

One factor behind the data — in Portland and elsewhere — may be people’s willingness to tell a pollster that they’re gay, lesbian or bisexual. In addition to having a larger gay population, places like Portland may also have a larger share of their gay population who publicly identify as such.

It’s no accident that some of the country’s most educated metro areas have some of the largest gay populations. Gay and lesbian Americans are not substantially more educated than the rest of the population, according to Gary Gates, a co-author of “The Gay and Lesbian Atlas,” who has studied the Gallup data. But university campuses — and the spillover neighborhoods from them, where college graduates congregate — have long been more accepting.

Boston, a city famous for its colleges, is the only East Coast metropolitan area to crack the top eight of Gallup’s ranking. Austin, home of the University of Texas, joins New Orleans as the only Southern city to be so high on the list.

Besides education, a few other factors correlate with having bigger gay populations. Metro areas with a greater share of gay and lesbian residents tend to lean Democratic. They have more adults under the age of 45 and larger Latino and Asian-American populations.

Many of the areas with the lowest percentages of L.G.B.T. people are in the South, and none have a lower share than Birmingham, where 2.6 percent of the population identifies as gay. Throughout the South, conservative Protestantism has shaped many people’s views.  

Below is a list of all 50 of the largest metro areas, along with Gallup’s estimate of the L.G.B.T. population in each:

San Francisco, 6.2 percent
Portland, Ore., 5.4
Austin, Tex., 5.3
New Orleans, 5.1
Seattle, 4.8
Boston, 4.8
Salt Lake City, 4.7
Los Angeles, 4.6
Denver, 4.6
Hartford, 4.6
Louisville, Ky., 4.5
Virginia Beach, 4.4
Providence, R.I., 4.4
Las Vegas, 4.3
Columbus, Ohio, 4.3
Jacksonville, Fla., 4.3
Miami, 4.2
Indianapolis, 4.2
Atlanta, 4.2
Orlando, Fla., 4.1
Tampa, Fla. 4.1
Phoenix, 4.1
New York, 4
San Antonio, 4
Washington, 4
Riverside, Calif., 4
Philadelphia, 3.9
Baltimore, 3.9
Buffalo, 3.9
Detroit, 3.9
Sacramento, 3.9
San Diego, 3.9
Charlotte, N.C., 3.8
Chicago, 3.8
Dallas, 3.8
Cleveland, 3.7
Kansas City (Mo. and Kan.), 3.6
Minneapolis-St. Paul, 3.6
St. Louis, 3.6
Oklahoma City, 3.5
Richmond, Va., 3.5
Nashville., 3.5
Milwaukee, 3.5
Houston, 3.3
San Jose, Calif., 3.2
Raleigh, N.C., 3.2
Cincinnati, 3.2
Memphis, 3.1
Pittsburgh, 3
Birmingham, Ala., 2.6
Note the percentages for Richmond and Virginia Beach.  I suspect Northern Virginia has even higher percentages but doesn't make the list due to how metro areas are defined.  The Virginia GOP needs to take note and accept the reality that its anti-gay bigotry is helping to make it non-competitive in state wide races. 

Will GOP Efforts to Compare Hillary Clinton to Nixon Backfire?

The GOP and right wing noise machines are always on the attack against Hillary Clinton and now, in addition to seemingly never ending conspiracy theories, the attacks seek to compare Hillary to Richard Nixon.  There is certainly no lack of irony in the GOP now comparing Hillary to one its own who won two terms at the polls only to ultimately resign.  But then again, since the party lacks any real positive agenda attractive to most sane Americans (e.g., those outside  the lunatic Christian Right and new Gilded Age robber baron who endorse the GOP's reverse Robin Hood campaign), the GOP must attack anyone who might have a different vision for governing.  A column in the Washington Post looks at the GOP effort to turn Hillary into a modern day Richard Nixon.  Here are excerpts:

The comparison to Clinton [to Nixon] can certainly be overplayed. By all accounts, she lacks Nixon’s personal awkwardness and strangeness. But a portion of the characterization “Nixonian” is a compliment: hardworking, untiring, relentless. While another portion — wary, secretive, ruthless — can lead down some dark alleys.

Right now, Clinton is generally benefiting, not suffering, from this reputation. The next president, from either party, will need to provide a contrast of strength and purpose to President Obama’s foreign policy of disengagement that has resulted in disaster and led to inadequate, ad hoc responses. Despite her association with the failed “Russian reset,” Clinton is generally positioned to Obama’s interventionist right on foreign policy (especially on Syria). She is a Democrat who would be seen as a tougher, more responsible alternative to her former employer.

And this reputation is also helping Clinton within her party. Her pre-campaign has been rusty — her awkward book tour, her claim that she left office “flat broke,” her exorbitant speaking fees, her foundation’s acceptance of donations by foreign governments. Democratic concerns about her skills are real, but criticisms are rare and mild. Some of this reflects Clinton’s position as a prohibitive front-runner, but some is also the intimidating effect of her style of politics. No Democrat wants to be on the wrong list.

Clinton is not unbeatable, but the effort to label her as Nixonian will not beat her. Republicans face a difficult electoral map; their party is still viewed more negatively than the alternative; they have alienated large numbers of working-class and minority voters; and all of their prospective presidential candidates are losing to Clinton by double digits.

If the next election is viewed by Republicans as a referendum on Hillary Clinton’s scandals — and this distracts from the task of reconstituting the Republican message and appeal — then Clinton may take the Nixonian path to the Oval Office.
The GOP continues to alienate gays, woman, younger voters, Hispanics, and other religious and racial minorities.  Yet rather than admit that pandering to a shrinking demographic of aging far right religious extremists and vulture capitalists, the GOP prefers to find a conspiracy under every bush and ignore America's changing demographics.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

More Thursday Male Beauty

The Consequences of GOP Policies: Racism, Religious Extremism, Poverty, Obesity and Incarceration

While the Republican Party holds itself out as the guardian of "American values" - as do the Christofascists who control much of the GOP's policies - when one looks at the consequences of the GOP's policies and agenda, the picture is pretty ugly.  Among the consequences/fruits are racism, religious extremism and bigotry, poverty, obesity and incarceration (this latter one is tied to the first, racism).  Yes, some of these problems are historic ones, but over all decent Americans over time have sought to lessen their impact and poisonous consequences.  That changed when the Christofascists hijacked the GOP.  A piece in the Daily Kos looks at these ill fruits.  Here are excerpts:
Evangelical Christians and their willingness to force their beliefs on the rest of us through vociferous political activism and promotion of Biblically based public policies are a huge problem for the future of the planet. . . . . They believe all other religions are false; that science is only good so long as it doesn't contradict a literal interpretation of the Bible, that the Constitution is a Christian document and all non-believers are going to hell. Therefore they vote faithfully for candidates who will govern accordingly. Republicans and even some Republican-lite Democrats, are only too willing to pander to this constituency.

The GOP's leveraging of white evangelicals into Republican votes fits right in to the divide and conquer playbook of the Southern Strategy, which was designed and implemented 40 years ago by Richard Nixon. This strategy of stoking the fires of ignorance and racism has delivered the southern states to the Republicans ever since. 

An internet search of pretty much any demographic data regarding the South, quickly reveals the harm this Southern Strategy has inflicted upon the region. In addition to being highly religious, racist and Republican, the region also suffers the blight of poverty, obesity, incarceration, and almost any other social malady you care to type into your browser. Of course these maladies exist in the other states, some in high ratios, but none rival the depth and intensity of the southern infection.

Evangelicals and racists have walked hand-in-hand for over two centuries. The region has had a strongly entrenched evangelical movement since the nation's founding, long before being referred to as the Bible Belt by American journalist and social commentator H L Mencken in 1924.

While the practice of Christianity, unlike racism, has redeeming qualities the evangelical practitioners have often been complicit in the holy blessing of slavery, lynching and institutional discrimination. Slaveholders justified slavery by citing the Bible: "slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling" (Ephesians 6:5), or "tell slaves to be submissive to their masters and to give satisfaction in every respect" (Titus 2:9).

The former Party of Lincoln has had its grips on the South since 1968 and no doubt owns the abject misery of the region. The maps and graphs below the fold reveal in stunning visual relief the desperate circumstances in which many of the citizens of the former Confederacy find themselves.

1. Southern states are the most religious: Earlier this month, Gallup released a survey based on more than 175,000 interviews that asked residents of each state how often they attend a weekly religious service. What they found was that the most religious states were in the South, which was home to all but one of the top 12.

2. Southern states are the most evangelical: Evangelical Christians are the base of the Republican party and of that group the Southern Baptists are the dominant sect in the region. 

3. Southern states have the most racist residents: Analysts at Floating Sheep, a website run by a group of independent cyber-geography researchers, found there was a spike of racist tweets on Twitter during and after President Obama’s 2012 re-election.

4. Southern states are controlled by Republicans: The Republican Party is the chef that stirs the pot of racism and evangelical religiosity in the south, and as you can see, where those ingredients are strong so is the GOP. This is no accident. This is the insidious result of "The Southern Strategy". 

5. Southern states have the lowest wages:  In 2010, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Arkansas had the largest share of people earning sub-povery wages, EPI [Economic Policy Institute] found.

6.  Southern states are the most impoverished: This is an obvious side effect of low wages.

7.  Southern states have the highest food stamp usage of any region: An obvious side effect of poverty. In fact, contrary to what Republicans would like you to think, of the 32 states that receive more federal dollars than they contribute, 27 of them are controlled by Republicans, which includes 15 southern states. (Ref:AATTP

8.  Southern states have the highest rates of teen pregnancy:  Also contrary to what the teen-mother-shaming Republicans want you to believe, teen pregnancies do not cause poverty, rather poverty causes teen pregnancy.  Teens who get pregnant tend to come from more disadvantaged families than those who do not become pregnant. Moreover, among pregnant teens, those who choose abortion tend to be more advantaged than those who opt to carry the baby to term.

9.  Southern states have the highest rates of obesity: Obesity is a risk for all groups of Americans, but is especially high among Americans with the lowest levels of education and the highest poverty rates

10.  Southern states have higher rates of heart disease and strokeStudies have consistently shown that people with low incomes and less education generally have higher rates of heart disease than their more-educated, higher-income counterparts.

11.  Southern states have higher rates of cancer mortalityAccording to Dr. Samuel Broder, former director of the National Cancer Institute, "Poverty is a carcinogen". Research cited in the annual Cancer Facts and Figures 2011 released by the American Cancer Society, showed that poverty rivals both tobacco and obesity as a carcinogen.

14.  Southern states have the highest rates of incarceration:  Since the 1980s the attitude of many law and order types has been lock 'em up and throw away the key, "three strikes and you're out" that will solve the problem. But actually this policy of increased incarceration has actually exacerbated the problem of poverty, which has been shown to be the root of so many other miserable statistics.
The shift to tougher penal policies three decades ago was originally credited with helping people in poor neighborhoods by reducing crime. But now that America’s incarceration rate has risen to be the world’s highest, many social scientists find the social benefits to be far outweighed by the costs to those communities. 

“Prison has become the new poverty trap,” said Bruce Western, a Harvard sociologist. “It has become a routine event for poor African-American men and their families, creating an enduring disadvantage at the very bottom of American society.”

Among African-Americans who have grown up during the era of mass incarceration, one in four has had a parent locked up at some point during childhood. For black men in their 20s and early 30s without a high school diploma, the incarceration rate is so high — nearly 40 percent nationwide — that they’re more likely to be behind bars than to have a job.

There are non-southern states that pop in and out of the list of misery to be sure, some even controlled at least in part by Democrats. But the pattern is clear. This is no coincidence. These are the states that consistently show up either at the top of a bad category or at the bottom of a good one. These are the consequences of sustained Republican control.

Democratic leaders have not forcefully called out the GOP for their Southern Strategy and faith-based idiocy, possibly fearing offending moderate Christians. Well it is time to start offending people. Democrats need to put Republicans on the defensive by pounding on the disastrous results of Republican policies over and over and over again, instead of getting drawn into false equivalency debates on Sunday morning talk shows.
The GP and evangelical Christians are toxic to the nation's future.  Their dominance and any deference they receive needs to end.

Thursday Morning Male Beauty

San Francisco Saint Mary’s Cathedral Drenches Homeless With Water

Archbishop Cordileone - a total asshole
In yet another example of the "Christian love" that is now the norm with "conservative Christians" and the Catholic Church hierarchy in particular, news comes out of San Francisco that Saint Mary's Cathedral, seat of homophobic Archbishop Cordileone, has had a water system installed to drench homeless individuals seeking shelter in alcoves for doors to the cathedral.  The water system intermittently soaks the doorway areas to drive the homeless away.  KPIC TV5 has details.  Here are excerpts:

KCBS has learned that Saint Mary’s Cathedral, the principal church of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, has installed a watering system to keep the homeless from sleeping in the cathedral’s doorways.

The cathedral, at Geary and Gough, is the home church of the Archbishop. There are four tall side doors, with sheltered alcoves, that attract homeless people at night.

“They actually have signs in there that say, ‘No Trespassing,’” said a homeless man named Robert.
But there are no signs warning the homeless about what happens in these doorways, at various times, all through the night. Water pours from a hole in the ceiling, about 30 feet above, drenching the alcove and anyone in it.

The shower ran for about 75 seconds, every 30 to 60 minutes while we were there, starting before sunset, simultaneously in all four doorways. KCBS witnessed it soak homeless people, and their belongings.
A neighbor who witnessed the drenching told KCBS, “I was just shocked, one because it’s inhumane to treat people that way. The second thing is that we are in this terrible drought.

A cathedral staff member confirmed to KCBS the system was installed, perhaps a year ago, to deter the homeless from sleeping there.

Then, suggests this church neighbor, turn it off. “I would hope that they would stop doing this, both for environmental reasons and for common decency.”

KCBS has also learned from a review of city permit records that the system was installed illegally, and may violate water use regulations.

Yet again, the "godly folk" show hatred for others and a sense that they are above the laws that apply to others.  Is it any wonder that the ranks of the "Nones"  are soaring.  What moral, decent person wants to be a Christian if this is what Christians do to others. 

House Judiciary Committee Approves Asylum Bill for Homeschoolers

America does not need any more reality denying, creationists and far right Christians - the ones we already have are doing far too much damage to the country through their embrace of ingnorance and extremism.  Yet, the political whores on the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee have approved a bill that would grant homeschoolers asylum in this country.  Meanwhile, the bill makes it more difficult for those fleeing gang violence to gain asylum.  Who is backing this batshitery?  The hate group Family Research Council and its white supremacist leader Tony Perkins (also note the comments of certifiable nutcase, Mike Farris who once ran for office here in Virginia).  And in due course, Republicans fell in line with FRC's craziness.  USA Today looks at this very bad bill.  Here are highlights:
The House Judiciary Committee passed a bill Wednesday that would allow people to seek asylum in the USA if they are persecuted by their governments for homeschooling their children. At the same time, the bill would make it tougher for children fleeing gang and drug violence in Central America to gain refuge here.

"Shouldn't children who are fleeing child abuse and violence be afforded the same protection as a child who is denied homeschooling?" said Rep. Luis Gutiérrez, D-Ill. "If we're going to have this unprecedented carve-out for homeschooling, we should put at the same level children fleeing abuse, rape, gangs and murder."

The Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act, sponsored by Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, would make it more difficult overall for refugees to win their asylum cases, while opening a category of relief for families who live in countries that outlaw homeschooling. The bill would allow up to 500 grants of asylum per year to families fleeing persecution for homeschooling their children.

"No one should be forced to flee their homeland in order to homeschool," said Michael Farris, chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association. "But that is what ... families have had to do in order to escape crushing fines, criminal penalties and even the seizure of their children in countries like Germany and Sweden."

Gutiérrez said he does not object to the provision in Chaffetz's bill but thinks it's unfair to help homeschool families without aiding children fleeing drug and gang violence and abuse in countries such as Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. . . . "Isn't fearing for your life at least equal to fearing persecution because of homeschooling?" he said. He offered an unsuccessful amendment that would have offered asylum to children fleeing violence in their home countries.

Rep. Raúl Labrador, R-Idaho, said asylum has always been reserved for refugees persecuted by their governments.  "Asylum law is not there to protect crime victims, it is there to protect those persecuted by government," Labrador said.
"These bills are a conscious, premeditated attack against millions of American families and a direct blow at the heart of the Latino community," said Clarissa Martinez De Castro, a deputy vice president at the National Council of La Raza.
Only in the bizarre world of today's GOP would countries like Germany and Sweden be deemed oppressors while murder and mayhem in Central America be deemed unworthy of concern.  These people are frightening!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Wednesday Morning Male Beauty

Rally Against Oppressive ‘Religious Freedom’

The rallying cry and Trojan Horse of the Christofascists and far right politicians who prostitute them selves to them is "religious freedom" and now laws that claim to protect it while, in fact, granting broad licenses to discriminate.  While the chief targets of such laws are gays, the language is often so broad that any number of other laws may be ignored if one bases one's actions on "religious belief," opening the right to discriminate against blacks, Jews, and a host of other minorities.  These laws thus grant a wide array of special rights to the hate-filled, bigoted set.  A piece in Salon looks at efforts to rally against such a law under consideration in Georgia (amazingly, a similar law was just defeated in West Virginia).  Here are highlights:
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Georgians had another reason to be drinking yesterday besides the obvious one. A new bill could make Georgia one of the least LGBT-friendly states in the country and there’s less than a month left to stop it. . . . the “Georgia Religious Freedom Restoration Act” (GRFRA).

The GRFRA—also known as SB129—is headed to the Georgia House of Representatives after clearing the Senate by a wide margin and, if passed, it will become what The Daily Beast’s Jay Michaelson has called “the nation’s harshest ‘religious freedom’ law,” granting business owners unprecedented latitude to refuse service to LGBT people and potentially even impeding child abuse investigations.

The law itself makes no reference to these consequences, only citing the need to defend “persons whose religious exercise is substantially burdened by government.”  

“We know that this is about discrimination,” said Executive Director of Georgia Equality Jeff Graham at the start of the rally.

SB129 is just one of many state-level RFRA laws that have become the religious right’s reactionary response to recent same-sex marriage gains. With a Supreme Court ruling in favor of same-sex marriage expected this year, the fight over LGBT rights is quickly moving from weddings to wedding cakes—specifically to whether or not a Christian baker can refuse to make one for a same-sex couple.

The speakers at yesterday’s rally to stop SB129 seemed like an unlikely group of allies: a rabbi, a Republican, a lawyer, a Baptist. One organizer told The Daily Beast that it was “like the start of a bad joke.”  But the diverse array of speakers revealed the breadth of groups who oppose the bill while highlighting the fact that LGBT Georgians will need to make some strange bedfellows to keep it off the governor’s desk.

 While LGBT Georgians continue to write emails and flood phone lines, the fate of SB129 remains uncertain in the House. On one hand, Speaker David Ralston (R) has been skeptical of SB129 in recent comments on Georgia public television.

But Ralston’s caution has already earned him the ire of those further to his right. Erick Erickson of RedState has concluded from his comments that “Speaker of the House David Ralston does not believe Christians need their faith protected” and that Ralston is “willing to see Christians surrender their ability to live their faith outside of 11 AM to noon on Sunday.” The religious right in Georgia will be making phone calls as well.
 The hatred of others and extreme selfishness of the "godly folk" is chilling. Again I ask, when are moral and decent folk going to stop giving them - and religion in general - undeserved deference?

Oregon House Votes to Ban "Ex-Gay" Conversion Therapy

One can already hear the shrieks and wailing among Christofascist circles as Oregon appears to be headed toward joining the list of states than ban the use of bogus, witch doctor like "ex-gay" conversion therapy on minors.  The myth that gays can "change" or be "repaired" - hence the term "reparative therapy" - has long been a keystone in the Christofascists' efforts to bar any advancement in LGBT rights.  The Columbian looks at the development that suggests that modern medical and mental health knowledge may be about to trump voodoo like religious batshitery.  Here are excerpts:

The Oregon House has voted to outlaw a therapy that purports to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of young people. 

The bill would make it illegal for social workers or licensed mental health professionals such as psychologists or psychiatrists to practice what's called conversion therapy on children younger than 18.

Laws banning the therapy have passed in New Jersey, California and Washington, D.C. Advocates say bills have been introduced in about two dozen more states.

Rep. Rob Nosse, a Portland Democrat, said the therapy has been widely discredited. He said the therapy can often lead to depression or anxiety in youths.  The vote Tuesday was 41-18.
In the state senate, Democrats hold an 18 to 12 majority.  As is typical, the Christofascists are claiming the law tramples of "religious free speech rights."  In their minds, the torturing children and youth is  perfectly fine if it helps abusive parents ignore modern reality and/or the fact that their "deeply held religious beliefs" are based on myths and the writings of ignorant goat herders.

House GOP Budget Departs from Reality

The House Republicans have passed a proposed budget that departs from both economic and political reality.   Like everything the House Republicans do, the budget demonstrates that the GOP is incompetent at governing and that the only concern is pandering to the lunatic party base.  The budget continues the GOP reverse Robin Hood agenda by slashing programs that help low- and middle-income people, and cutting taxes on those with high incomes, capital gains, and multinational corporations.  This policy of harming the poor and less fortunate is applauded by the Christofascists in the party base that underscore that greed and hatred of others are what it means to be a conservative Christian in today's America.  Here are excepts from a Washington Post column:
The policies put forth in this document suggest that America’s main problem is that the poor have too much and the wealthy, too little. The budget plan “corrects” this perceived imbalance by deeply cutting programs that help low- and middle-income people, and cutting taxes on those with high incomes, capital gains, multinational corporations and “pass through” business income.

Programs that provide affordable health coverage for the middle class (Obamacare, which they repeal) and the poor (Medicaid, which is “block granted”) face large spending cuts. Future elderly persons do not escape unscathed, either, as Medicare is “voucherized” beginning in 2024. The budget includes more than $1 trillion in unspecified cuts that would appear to fall on nutritional support for the poor and tax credits for low-income, working families.

These cuts are inevitable in the following sense. The budget plan purports to balance spending and tax revenue in 10 years. Meanwhile, the Republican caucus will not raise any tax revenue, though it does, as I’ll show in a moment, propose tax cuts (or at least such cuts are implicit in the plan). The one area where the Republicans boost spending is defense.

What’s left to cut? All the low- and middle-income programs noted so far, along with “non-defense discretionary” spending: the annual appropriations for many education and training programs, research, infrastructure, and investments in less advantaged kids.

Though cuts in top tax rates are largely unspecified — Republican budget writers have learned over the years to leave out specifics — the budget does include cuts in taxes on capital gains and stock dividends (through the repeal of Obamacare), along with cuts for business income and the foreign earnings of multinational corporations.

The only way to get there [to balance] — and we’ve seen this in all the previous House budgets written by Paul Ryan — is the magic asterisk that assumes extra revenue comes from somewhere (i.e., somewhere other than higher tax rates): Don’t ask, they won’t tell. 

Based on demographics alone, the plan departs from reality:The share of elderly Americans is expected to rise from about 15 to about 20 percent over the next 20 years. According to economist Larry Summers, about a third of the federal budget is spent on those above age 65.

I don’t believe you could find majoritarian support for this sort of a budget in America. In fact, I doubt you’ll see much support for it even among partisans on Capitol Hill. We’ve already seen Senate Republicans, particularly those running for office in swing states, expressing discomfort with the non-reality of the plan.
With the GOP clowns in Congress, the last thing we need is a Republican in the White House. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

More Tuesday Morning Male Beauty

Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Approves Same Sex Marriage

Yet another major Protestant denomination has voted to accept same sex marriage and recognize committed, loving same sex relationships.  Whether the move will help staunch the exodus of younger generations from religion (and Christianity in particular) will remain to be seen.  Regardless of how that issue plays out, the move by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) will likely add pressure to other denominations grappling with society's changed views on gays and gay relationships. The New York Times looks at the vote.  Here are highlights:

After three decades of debate over its stance on homosexuality, members of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) voted on Tuesday to change the definition of marriage in the church’s constitution to include same-sex marriage.

The final approval by a majority of the church’s 171 regional bodies, known as presbyteries, enshrines a change recommended last year by the church’s General Assembly. The vote amends the church’s constitution to broaden marriage from being between “a man and a woman” to “two people, traditionally a man and a woman.”

The Presbytery of the Palisades, meeting in Fair Lawn, N.J., put the ratification count over the top on Tuesday on a voice vote. With many presbyteries still left to vote, the tally late Tuesday stood at 87 presbyteries in favor, 41 against and one tied.

The church, with about 1.8 million members, is the largest of the nation’s Presbyterian denominations, but it has been losing congregations and individual members as it has moved to the left theologically over the past several years. There was a wave of departures in and after 2011, when the presbyteries ratified a decision to ordain gays and lesbians as pastors, elders and deacons, and that may have cleared the way for Tuesday’s vote.

With many conservative Presbyterians who were active in the church now gone, as well as the larger cultural shift toward acceptance of same-sex marriage, the decisive vote moved quickly toward approval, according to those on both sides of the divide.

Plenty of moderates and conservatives, however, have chosen to stay within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), one of the nation’s historic mainline Protestant denominations, which has its headquarters in Louisville, Ky. Ministers who object will not be required to perform a same-sex marriage.

Other religious denominations that have officially decided to permit their clergy to perform same-sex marriages include the Episcopal Church, the United Church of Christ, the Quakers, the Unitarian Universalist Association of Churches and, in Judaism, the Reform and Conservative movements. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America left it open for individual ministers to decide.