Thursday, February 19, 2015

Your Move, Godzilla

This seems like a reasonable solution to the marriage equality debate.

An obscure, two-page opinion by an Alabama Supreme Court justice contains an ominous warning. If marriage equality remains the law in Alabama, Justice Glenn Murdock may vote to abolish marriage in his state altogether.

Justice Murdock’s opinion is attached to a brief order from the state supreme court as a whole declining to offer further guidance to Alabama probate judges regarding whether they must comply with a federal court order holding that same-sex couples are entitled to the same marriage rights as straight couples. In a brief opinion concurring in that order, Murdock hints that, if this federal court order is permitted to stand, then his own court should strike down all marriages within the state of Alabama.

This is like a kid who doesn’t like the roll of the dice in Parcheesi so he knocks over the table.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Nothing Better To Do?

After more than four years in office and overseeing the deliberate implosion of the state’s economy, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) has decided to rescind an executive order that banned discrimination based on sexual orientation.

So what does it tell you about a governor who scrambles out of the smoking ruins of the state’s public school funding and abyss of debt caused by massive tax cuts to purposefully reach out to a community and deprive them of their rights to be left alone?  That’s a priority?

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Civics Test

Todd Starnes is a particularly obnoxious reporter for Fox News who now has the monumental sadz because the state of Oregon has told a couple of Christian bakers that they violated the state’s public accommodation law by refusing to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding.  He sums up his veil of tears by citing the Constitution thus:

The evidence seems to indicate that Christian business owners are being intentionally singled out for persecution. And it appears the courts are consistently ruling that gay rights trump everyone else’s rights. The Constitution guarantees every American a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Melissa Klein makes wedding cakes. That’s her pursuit of happiness. Should she be denied that right simply because of her Christian faith?

Raise your hand if you see the flaw in his argument.

Okay, I’ll give it to you: The Constitution does not guarantee “every American a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”  Those words are in the Declaration of Independence, which has no force of law.  There is nothing in the Constitution about those guarantees.  There is, however, the right to equal protection under the law which has been interpreted by the courts and just about anyone who went to law school to mean that you can’t have a business that is open to the public and choose not to serve a certain segment of the public because you think they’re icky.

Monday, February 2, 2015

We Get It

Mike Huckabee likes to use folksy metaphors and ignorant analogies to get his views out there and suck up some pixels and airtime on blogs and the TV.  He does it not only just to make sure that we all know that he thinks Teh Gay is icky but also so he can pluck the pigeons and grift along with the grifters.

Yes, we get it; he’s a sniveling but charming homophobic bigot like your cranky old uncle who makes everyone laugh uncomfortably at the family reunion with racist jokes and rants about kids these days.  The good news is that Mike Huckabee will never get close to being in any position of power again unless they bring back Hee Haw.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Nice Try

The American Family Association is now trying to put as much distance as they can from their freshly-fired paid spokesperson Bryan Fischer and all the garbage that he spewed out over the American landscape.  They put out a long list of his rants about gays, Native Americans, Muslims, and the so forth and told the world not to associate his claims with AFA.

To quote JMG: “FUCK THAT.”

Mr. Fischer still has his daily radio show, he is still paid by the AFA, and, as the Southern Poverty Law Center says, as long as the AFA keeps doing that without renouncing Mr. Fischer and his bilge, no dice.  He’s all yours and will be forever and ever, amen.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Monday, January 12, 2015

Rights and Wrongs

Frank Bruni in yesterday’s New York Times:

I’ve been called many unpleasant things in my life, and I’ve deserved no small number of them. But I chafe at this latest label:

A threat to your religious liberty.

I don’t mean me alone. I mean me and my evidently menacing kind: men who have romantic relationships with other men and maybe want to marry them, and women in analogous situations. According to many of the Americans who still cast judgment on us, our “I do” somehow tramples you, not merely running counter to your creed but running roughshod over it.

That’s absurd. And the deference that many politicians show to such thinking is an example not of religion getting the protection it must but of religious people getting a pass that isn’t warranted. It’s an illustration of religion’s favored status in a country that’s still working out this separation-of-church-and-state business and hasn’t yet gotten it quite right.

We’re at an interesting crossroads, brought about by the rapid advance of same-sex marriage. It’s now legal in 36 states, including, as of last week, Florida. Equality is increasingly being enshrined into law, and one response from those opposed to it is that the law shouldn’t apply to them.

Why? Because it contradicts their religious beliefs, which they use as a fig leaf for intolerance.

Fifty years ago the opponents of civil rights and integration asserted that “states’ rights” affirmed their belief that discrimination should stand.  Today “religious liberty” bears the same burden, and it fails to carry the weight.

Friday, January 9, 2015

The Base Player

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is a graduate of the University of Miami School of Law, Class of 1996.  Someone should look into who taught him Constitutional law because they need to fire that professor.

On the matter of same-sex marriage in Florida, Mr. Rubio noted,

“I do not believe that there is a U.S. constitutional right to same-sex marriage,” Rubio told the media. “Now, as I’ve said before, states have a right to change their laws. I don’t believe it’s unconstitutional. I just don’t believe there’s a constitutional right to it.”

Okay, I’m not a lawyer and I didn’t go to law school like he did, but even I know history and that way back in 1967 — four years before Mr. Rubio was born — the United States Supreme Court held in Loving v. Virginia that the right to marriage — in that case between two people of different races — was a fundamental right.

Marriage is one of the “basic civil rights of man,” fundamental to our very existence and survival…. To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State’s citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discrimination. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.

So, Mr. Rubio has it wrong on the concept of the constitutionality of marriage as a right and is apparently unaware of the precedent.  (I do hope that he’s not harboring the belief that people of different races shouldn’t marry.)  He also seems to lack the basic understanding that there is a difference between the laws that get passed or referenda that get tacked on to the state constitution and the rights we have as citizens.  Under our present form of government, we have a judiciary branch — co-equal with the legislative and executive — whose primary purpose is to decide whether or not the actions of the other branches are following the rules.  The courts exist to prevent the legislatures or the people from violating the law or taking away the fundamental rights of the people.

Mr. Rubio also seems to forget that the courts have overturned laws passed by Congress that I’m sure he’s glad they did: Citizens United, for one.  In his nascent plans to run for president, he’s probably thrilled that corporations have had their fundamental rights to pour money into a campaign, and I’m sure he’s going to take advantage of it.

What’s happening is that Marco Rubio is trying to outflank his fellow Floridian and mentor Jeb Bush in cornering the market on right-wing nutsery, and bashing marriage equality and the LGBT population is his way of doing that.  As I’ve noted before, he has yet to come up with a reason to oppose marriage equality that isn’t based on bigotry, discrimination, and intolerance.  But that’s what sells to the Republican primary voters, and no one ever lost an election by pandering to the basest base.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Wedding Bell Blues

Aw, the poor babies have the marriage equality sadz:

U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle of Tallahassee declared the state ban unconstitutional in August, but stayed his decision through Monday to give some time for legal appeals. Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, a Republican, sought extensions of the stay from the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court, but both turned her down.

[…]

In a statement issued Monday, the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops said it was “deeply disappointed” by Hinkle’s decision and by the appeals courts’ refusal to grant Bondi an extension.

“Marriage based on the complementarity of the sexes is the lifeblood of family, and family is the foundation of our society,” the bishops said. “The crisis that sadly the family is experiencing today will only be aggravated by imposing this redefinition of marriage. Society must rediscover the irreplaceable roles of both mother and father who bring unique gifts to the education and rearing of children.”

With their record of obstruction of justice and sheltering of pedophiles, the Catholic bishops are in no position to lecture anyone on morality and the lifeblood of the family.  The “crisis” isn’t because same-sex couples are being granted their equal rights; it’s because absolute strangers are imposing their personal morality and peccadilloes on everyone else.

Here is why Jeb Bush will not be the 2016 GOP nominee:

As gay couples began to wed in Florida after a court ruling, Jeb Bush, the state’s former governor and long an opponent of same-sex marriages, struck a conciliatory note on Monday, telling The New York Times that “regardless of our disagreements, we have to respect the rule of law.”

[…]

“We live in a democracy, and regardless of our disagreements, we have to respect the rule of law,” Mr. Bush said in a statement. “I hope that we can show respect for the good people on all sides of the gay and lesbian marriage issue – including couples making lifetime commitments to each other who are seeking greater legal protections and those of us who believe marriage is a sacrament and want to safeguard religious liberty.”

This “conciliatory” shrug from Mr. Bush isn’t going to cut it with the True Believers in the Republican base.  He’ll be seen as caving in to the Sodomites on South Beach to pander for their votes, and no self-respecting homophobe would vote for anyone who says we have to respect the rule of law.

Also, marriage is not a sacrament when it’s done in a civil ceremony; it’s a legal contract.  Sacraments are reserved to those who think their god is somehow involved in determining and upholding their marriage.  That’s fine if that’s what makes it mean something to them, but the government isn’t in the ritual business, and religious liberty is not at stake when two men go down to the courthouse and fill out a form.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Happy Holidays

In the spirit of loving goodness and holiday cheer, a preacher in Arizona has come up with the way to have a merry Christmas:

Moved by the Christmas spirit, [Faithful Word Baptist Church Pastor Steven] Anderson laid out his final solution for all those homos spreading the AIDS — execute them all, preferably before the day Christians celebrate the birth of that blessed little baby, Hallelujah!

Pastor Anderson has also prayed for the death of President Obama, took on women speaking in church, and went after the Jewish people for killing Christ.

To quote the immortal Molly Ivins, it sounded better in the original German.  Arbeit macht frei and all that.

HT to Steve Bates.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

NOM Broke

Get out the tiny violin.

On Wednesday, the viciously anti-gay National Organization for Marriage finally released its 2013 tax filings—two days late, in direct violation of federal law. The results are nothing short of brutal. NOM raised $5.1 million last year—a 50 percent drop-off from its 2012 earnings. Two donors accounted for more than half of that money. And the group’s “Education Fund,” which churns out anti-gay propaganda and homophobic calumny, raised less than $1.7 million, a 70 percent decline from 2012. NOM closed out the year more than $2.5 million in debt.

Heh.  Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of bigots.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Stop Helping

When the right wingers are running out of things to carry on about, it’s probably not a good idea to hand-deliver them something to shake down the gullible.

Earlier this year Houston passed an ordinance to protect the LGBT community from discrimination.  A bunch of pastors took it upon themselves to get a petition drive going to repeal it.  They lost, so of course they sued.  After all, what good is judicial activism if you can’t use it yourself?  In the course of the lawsuit, the City subpoenaed the sermons of the pastors who railed against the ordinance, and that had the predictable result.

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, was on Fox News last night claiming that Houston Mayor Annise Parker (D) is “taking a bulldozer to that wall of separation [of church and state]” and trying to “dictate what pastors preach.” Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) tweeted that the subpoenas constitute a “march against our freedoms.” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) called the subpoenas a “grotesque abuse of power.” And Texas Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott (R) wrote to the Houston City Attorney that the subpoenas should be unilaterally withdrawn because they reflect “hostility to religious beliefs.”

Because discovery in a lawsuit violates everything we hold sacred in our judicial process.  Just ask Kenneth Starr.

But on the whole it’s not a good idea to go after spouting preachers.  For one thing, it skates way too close to the wall of separation of church and state (although it’s ironic that many pastors who claim there’s no such thing suddenly discover it when there’s a subpoena on the pulpit).  Second, it gives them a status of martyrdom that they don’t deserve.  Martyrs should be in jeopardy for a good cause: one that will enlighten the human condition, not feed the bigotry and fear that these terrible-tempered ministers shout into the headlines.

Mayor Parker is only adding to the flames with this.  She needs to find another way to beat them at their own game.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Beginning Of The End

Looking at some of the reactions to the Supreme Court’s non-decision on marriage equality by the anti-equality folks — outragejudicial activism by unelected judges, a violation of God-given rights, and so on — tells me that the battle for same-sex marriage is coming to the end the way I thought it would: by the slow inexorable march, state by state, court battle by court battle, until finally the freedom to marry is as ordinary as any other exercised right.

The losers are outraged because they believed that they had the right to encode their bigotry and religious prejudice into law.  They also have gone over the top because they hear the distant approach of oblivion.  It won’t happen overnight; history tells us that overcoming pride and prejudice (h/t Jane Austen) takes a long time.  But they know the jig is up and the anti-gay movement will in time become as relevant and forceful as the temperance movement.

This may not be the solution some of us wanted: a firm holding from the Supreme Court that the Fourteenth Amendment, contrary to Sen. Cruz’s assertion, does guarantee equal protection under the law and that marriage, established as a fundamental right in cases going back generations, should be available to all citizens regardless of genitalia.  Those who criticize the Court for not taking up the case should understand that in order to do so they had to have conflicting rulings: a ruling for and a ruling against.  So far no federal bench has sided with the anti-same-sex side, therefore there’s no decision to make, and they let the lower courts rulings stand.  In baseball, it would be called a walk-off: there’s no need to have the final out when the winning run has scored and the other team has no more at-bats.

They’re going to go out in the same way they came in, though.  They will grift the foolish and the fearful of their money and hope to hang on to their cash while desperately finding some other line of work.  They know that the lies they tell and the fundamental misstatements about the make-up of our government are meant only for their pigeons.  They carry on about “unelected judges,” knowing full well that the federal judiciary doesn’t face the voters for a very good reason: they — at least it is to be hoped — should not be swayed by political or financial ambition (even if that concept has been put to the test by the current Supreme Court).  Judicial activism is clearly in the eye of the beholder.  These same people praised the genius of the Court when it decided that corporations themselves can hold religious beliefs and that a checkbook is the same thing as a soapbox; two decisions that legal scholars of every stripe agree were outside the scope of the original cases.  And while appealing to heaven and the Almighty make for some thunderous rhetoric and get the money flowing, using a religious argument to enforce an untenable violation of the Constitution should automatically disqualify it from consideration.

A federal court could rule against marriage equality and that could set up a hearing before the Supreme Court.  But yesterday’s move basically opened the door and hundreds of couples have already tied the knot in places such as Virginia, and Utah (!); states that up until yesterday morning did not have marriage equality.  Even the losers concede that undoing those bonds would be impossible.

This is not the end.  Florida still has the ban — for the moment — as do nineteen other states.  But it is only a matter of time, and I’m not talking years.  It will be months, perhaps weeks now.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Their Stupid

A teacher has been fired from an English-language school in Utah for using the word “homophone” in a sentence.  This is not from The Onion:

Homophones, as any English grammarian can tell you, are words that sound the same but have different meanings and often different spellings — such as be and bee, through and threw, which and witch, their and there.

This concept is taught early on to foreign students learning English because it can be confusing to someone whose native language does not have that feature.

But when the social-media specialist for a private Provo-based English language learning center wrote a blog explaining homophones, he was let go for creating the perception that the school promoted a gay agenda.

Tim Torkildson says after he wrote the blog on the website of his employer, Nomen Global Language Center, his boss and Nomen owner Clarke Woodger, called him into his office and told him he was fired.

As Torkildson tells it, Woodger said he could not trust him and that the blog about homophones was the last straw.

“Now our school is going to be associated with homosexuality,” Woodger complained, according to Torkildson, who posted the exchange on his Facebook page.

I’ll bet he thinks drinking homogenized milk turns you gay.

HT to J.M.G.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Camp It Up

Rick Santorum is still clamoring for attention.  Now he’s saying that people who refuse to bake wedding cakes for same-sex marriages are being sent to “re-education camps.”

“You now see situations with bakers and florists and photographers who are being forced to provide services for same-sex weddings or get fined, lose their business,” Santorum said during the appearance on the American Family Association’s “Focal Point” radio program on Monday. “In the case of Colorado, there was a Colorado case recently where someone had to go to a re-education camp if you will. And the amazing thing is that in Colorado gay marriage isn’t even legal!” [Emphasis in original.]

In reality — a place Mr. Santorum has rarely visited — the baker in question is required to submit reports on how he’s implementing a policy to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.  Since it’s a civil matter, there’s no possibility that he could be sent to jail or even to camp.

By the way, can you imagine how much fun it would be to have a camp to teach people how to be nice to gay people?  Ooh, how fabulous.  That would so kick vacation bible camp’s ass.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Genetic Disorder

On a visit to San Francisco, Texas Gov. Rick Perry told a group of supporters that being gay is like being an alcoholic: you may be predisposed to it, but you don’t have to take that first cock.

The Texas Republican Party this month adopted a platform supporting access to “reparative therapy” for gays and lesbians, a widely discredited process intended to change sexual orientation. In response to an audience question about it Wednesday night, Perry said he did not know whether the therapy worked.

Commonwealth Club interviewer Greg Dalton then asked him whether he believes homosexuality is a disorder.

“Whether or not you feel compelled to follow a particular lifestyle or not, you have the ability to decide not to do that,” Perry said. “I may have the genetic coding that I’m inclined to be an alcoholic, but I have the desire not to do that, and I look at the homosexual issue the same way.”

The large crowd gathered at the InterContinental Mark Hopkins hotel on Nob Hill included many Perry supporters. But the comment still drew a murmur of disbelief.

I think that Mr. Perry’s genetic coding inclines him to be a fucking idiot, which outweighs just about everything else.

I do hope he runs for president in 2016.  I need a good laugh.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Let’s Get Stoned

Here’s the latest news from the American Taliban:

Scott Esk is a conservative Republican running for a seat in the Oklahoma state Legislature, and he says he wants to apply Biblical principles to Oklahoma law. He also thinks that gay people should be put to death by stoning. And he isn’t doing much to hide the fact that he believes gay people deserve to be murdered, either.

Rob Morris, who runs a local political website, discovered Esk’s views about gay people while researching each of the candidates running this year. “This is the first time I’ve ever come across an Oklahoman with this kind of fringe attitude,” he told KFOR News Channel 4.

Remember a couple of years ago when the right wing in Oklahoma got all freaked out about the slim-to-none chance that Islamic Sharia law would be imposed on us?

What they were worried about wasn’t the laws against homosexuality or women taking control of their own bodies or science; it was being sued for copyright infringement by the mullahs.

I have no doubt whatsoever that Mr. Esk will win.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

He’s On To Us

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) told some folks that Democrats are trying to repeal the First Amendment.

Cruz was speaking to pastors at a Family Research Council conference when he warned that Democrats were moving to quash political speech and “muzzle” pastors and their communities, according to video of a portion of Cruz’s speech posted online by Right Wing Watch.

“I’m telling you, I’m not making this up,” he said as the audience offscreen gasped. “Sen. Chuck Schumer [D-N.Y.] has announced the Senate Democrats are scheduling a vote on a constitutional amendment to give Congress the plenary power, the unlimited authority to regulate political speech. Because elected officials have decided they don’t like it when the citizenry has the temerity to criticize what they’ve done.”

Cruz was referring to a proposed constitutional amendment from Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) that would reverse recent Supreme Court rulings invalidating campaign finance limits, including Citizens United and McCutcheon. Schumer said the Senate would vote this year on the constitutional amendment, which seeks to capitalize on the unpopularity of the Citizens United decision in an election year.

Rats.  Now we’ll have to come up with some other plan to keep the Koch brothers from buying the next election.

It’s ironic that Sen. Cruz would bring this up in front of the Family Research Council, a group whose very existence is founded on the belief that certain people don’t deserve all the rights guaranteed under the Constitution and who raise a shitload of money to advance their point of view.