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.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Spin and Martyr

Some folks — guess who — are upset that Michael Sam, the first openly gay NFL player, is getting heaped with praise while Tim Tebow, the umpeenth openly Christian player in the NFL, was mocked for his faith.

No, actually, Tim Tebow was mocked because he wasn’t as good he was as hyped to be.  Two teams — the Broncos and the Jets — gave him a fair try and he bombed out.  It had nothing to do with his public display of his faith.  But the fundies and the wingers can’t help but make it all about that — how he’s a martyr for his faith — instead of the fact that he couldn’t throw a pass to his own teammates.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

But Not For Thee

I was wondering when this would happen.

In a novel legal attack on a state’s same-sex marriage ban, a liberal Protestant denomination on Monday filed a lawsuit arguing that North Carolina is unconstitutionally restricting religious freedom by barring clergy members from blessing gay and lesbian couples.

The lawsuit, filed in a Federal District Court by the United Church of Christ, is the first such case brought by a national religious denomination challenging a state’s marriage laws. The denomination, which claims nearly one million members nationwide, has supported same-sex marriage since 2005.

“We didn’t bring this lawsuit to make others conform to our beliefs, but to vindicate the right of all faiths to freely exercise their religious practices,” said Donald C. Clark Jr., general counsel of the United Church of Christ.

The denomination argues that a North Carolina law criminalizing the religious solemnization of weddings without a state-issued marriage license violates the First Amendment. Mr. Clark said that North Carolina allows clergy members to bless same-sex couples married in other states, but otherwise bars them from performing “religious blessings and marriage rites” for same-sex couples, and that “if they perform a religious blessing ceremony of a same-sex couple in their church, they are subject to prosecution and civil judgments.”

The United Church of Christ is joined in the case by a Lutheran priest, a rabbi, two Unitarian Universalist ministers, a Baptist pastor and several same-sex couples. They said the state’s marriage law “represents an unlawful government intervention into the internal structure and practices of plaintiffs’ religions.”

This has been one of the points about marriage equality that I’ve made here many times before: banning same-sex marriage violates the religious freedoms of a number of denominations, including the Quakers, who recognize and welcome all people and who perform same-sex marriage ceremonies.  (In the case of Quakers, it’s called “Meeting for Worship with a Concern for Marriage.”  Mazel tov.)  It’s about time someone took it seriously.

This did not sit well with the sniveling bigots.

But Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the North Carolina Values Coalition, which opposes same-sex marriage, derided the legal action as “the lawsuit of the week filed by those who want to impose same-sex marriage on North Carolina.”

“It’s both ironic and sad that an entire religious denomination and its clergy who purport holding to Christian teachings on marriage would look to the courts to justify their errant beliefs,” Ms. Fitzgerald said in a statement. “These individuals are simply revisionists that distort the teaching of Scripture to justify sexual revolution, not marital sanctity.”

“Revisionist”?  Seriously?  The United Church of Christ is the descendent of the original colonists who came here in the 17th century to escape religious persecution, as did the Quakers.  In other words, to get away from people like Ms. Fitzgerald.

And who the hell is she or anyone else to sit in judgment on what exactly are someone else’s Christian teachings?  She and her group are perfectly happy to dictate religious terms to the rest of the world, secular or not, but not let anyone else inform the world that not all Christians are homophobic dictators.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Halfway to Nowhere

The half-assed compromise that the Boy Scouts made last year to allow openly gay boys in but ban openly gay leaders made no one happy.  The fundamentalists didn’t like it because scouting is pure and wholesome and no kid under 18 could possibly be gay, and the realists said that it was blindingly stupid to say that a 17-year-old gay Eagle Scout was a paragon of Scouting virtues until his 18th birthday when he suddenly became a predator.

A lot of so-called “traditional” Scout troops chartered by fundamentalist churches threatened to pull out and start their own groups, and some have, with their own odd requirements for membership.  Meanwhile, other scout troops chartered by churches that are inclusive are being told that they can’t have openly gay leaders even if it violates the principles of their faith.

The Boy Scouts of America has revoked the charter of a Seattle troop over its refusal to remove an openly gay troop leader, according to Scouts for Equality.

Geoffrey McGrath, believed to be the first openly gay troop leader, was banned from the Boy Scouts at the beginning of April.

Rainier Beach United Methodist Church’s Troop 98 and Pack 98 defended their Scoutmaster, however, and refused to force him out.

“Based on our religious principles, we will continue to act as an autonomous church that does not discriminate,” the church’s Rev. Monica Corsaro said in a statement to Scouts for Equality. “We will continue to have our Troop meetings here, every Thursday night, with business as usual.”

McGrath said he was “disappointed” with the BSA’s decision.

“Pastor Corsaro specifically sought out someone with my Scouting background to help get these units off the ground, and her church is now being told to violate their religious convictions. It’s unconscionable and irreverent,” he said in a statement to Scouts for Equality.

BSA Communications Director Deron Smith told Time that the Scouts had no choice but to remove the Seattle troop’s charter since it violated BSA policy.

The BSA policy fails because it doesn’t recognize reality.  There have been gay scouts and gay scout leaders as long as there have been scouts.  Let the bigots go off and form their own troops because for every Jesus-shouting chapter that leaves, there will be one that welcomes everyone to take its place.  And if the BSA truly wants to live up to what they say they believe in, they’ll survive in the wilderness for as long as it takes.

Friday, April 11, 2014

The H Word

Yesterday I wrote about former Gov. Mike Huckabee and his denial that he’s a homophobe: “I’m not against anybody. I’m really not. I’m not a hater. I’m not homophobic.”  He just hides behind the bible, a book which he says commands him to “hate the sin” of being gay.  As I pointed out, that’s a bullshit excuse and he’s a coward for not coming out of the closet, so to speak, and saying he’s doing what he does because he has an irrational fear of gay people.  Why he’s like that isn’t really important; he just is, and that makes him a homophobe.

So is Brendan Eich, the former CEO of Mozilla who resigned after it was revealed he gave money to the campaign to support the ban on marriage equality in California.  He wasn’t forced out of his job; he chose to leave when it became clear that the people who worked for him didn’t care for his opinions.  He’s been getting a lot of support from the anti-gay community who say he was “bullied” out of his job.  (That’s an interesting claim from the likes of Mr. Huckabee and the ironically-named “family values” groups, who, to be fair, are experts on bullying since they spend most of their time and money doing it on behalf of their causes and the Baby Jesus.)  But if you give money to a group that is actively working to deprive the gay community of its rights, that means you are showing all the signs of homophobia.  Mr. Eich is entitled to his opinions, of course.  But he’s also entitled to be held responsible for them, the actions he takes on behalf of them, and the consequences of them.

I am sure that both Mr. Eich and Mr. Huckabee can vehemently deny the charge that they’re homophobic and haters and tell us all about their gay friends and how they just feel that traditional marriage and society need to be defended and preserved; it’s not personal.  But that is, as us old hippies used to say, a cop-out.  Supporting policies and candidates that would deprive LGBTQ citizens of their equal rights, no matter the rationale, makes you homophobic.

So they and all the other people who speak and act the way they do might as well get used to being called homophobes because that is what they are.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Mississippi Passes Anti-Gay Law

Picking up the turd that Arizona dropped:

Mississippi lawmakers on Tuesday passed the final version of a bill that says state and local governments cannot put a substantial burden on religious practices, a measure that sparked debate about possible discrimination against gay people and other groups.

An early version of the bill, considered weeks ago, was similar to one that Arizona’s Republican governor, Jan Brewer, vetoed after business groups said it could hurt that state’s economy.

Of course the poor persecuted Christians see it as a victory against the rampant discrimination that they face every day.

Senate Bill 2681 is called the Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and its main sponsor is Republican Sen. Phillip Gandy of Waynesboro, a Baptist pastor.

“It protects Christians in the state from discrimination,” Rep. Andy Gipson, R-Braxton, who is also a Baptist pastor, told his House colleagues.

Here’s a thought: if you demonize an entire community based on nothing but mythology and superstition, perhaps you should face discrimination because you’re a flaming asshole and a sniveling bigot.

Put that on your cross and burn it.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

She Was For It Before She Was Against It

It turns out that Gov. Jan Brewer (R-AZ) had her office working on the anti-gay legislation and vetted it before it was introduced.

Capitol Media Services reported Monday on the meetings that Brewer’s advisers, Michael Hunter and Joe Sciarrota, had with the Center for Arizona Policy, which drafted and pushed the bill. They began in January before the legislative session commenced; the bill was introduced Jan. 14.

CAP president Cathi Herrod told the news agency that her organization made every change Brewer’s aides asked for. One of the biggest alterations was a three-pronged test to determine if somebody’s exercise of a religious belief was covered by the proposed law.

“The intent of the meetings… was to thoroughly vet the language, address their concerns, and make changes in the language pursuant to their concerns,” Herrod said.

It was only after it went off in her hand that she decided the bill was “broadly worded and could result in unintended and negative consequences.”

So the choice is that Gov. Brewer was not smart enough to figure all of this out before the bill was passed, or that she did not have the courage of her convictions to stand up for what she believed in the face of the backlash and bear the brunt of her decision if she had signed the bill.

Either way, she comes across as less than honorable.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Huh?

Via TPM:

Conservative radio host Michael Medved said Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference that no state has ever banned gay marriage and any claim to the contrary is “a liberal lie.”

“There has never been a state in this country that has ever banned gay marriage,” Medved said during a panel titled “Can Libertarians and Social Conservatives Ever Get Along?” after another panelist referenced historical discrimination against LGBT couples. “That is a liberal lie.”

[...]

To be clear: 30 states have banned same-sex marriage in their state constitution, usually by legally defining marriage as between a man and a woman, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

His logic is to assert that the language states use in their definition of marriage as of it being between two people of the opposite sex; it never says that two people of the same sex can’t get married.

This is the same logic used by racists to defend bans against interracial marriage: sure black and white people can get married; they just can’t marry each other.

Instead of taking a stand for what he really believes — that marriage equality is wrong — he weasels his way out of having to defend the indefensible.  What a coward.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Today’s Irony

A Catholic school refuses to march in Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day parade because there will be LGBT veterans in the parade, too.

Brother Thomas Dalton, principal of The Immaculate Heart of Mary School in Harvard, reacted on Monday by saying that band members and students from his school would not attend for the first time in decades.

“The familiar scene of Saint Patrick joyfully giving his blessing to the crowds has, sad to say, come to an end,” Dalton told WCVB. “In the footsteps of Saint Patrick, IHM does not condone and will not appear to condone the homosexual lifestyle.”

“Homosexual acts are gravely immoral and are not to be promoted in any way,” he added.

Glass houses/stones.  Yeah, we get it.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Annals of Asshattery

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) says that being gay doesn’t deserve legal protection under the civil rights laws.

KING: It’s clear in the civil rights section of the code that you can’t discriminate against people based upon — and I’m not sure I’ve got the list right — but race, creed, religion, color of skin — those kind of things. And there’s nothing mentioned in there on self-professed behavior. And that’s what they’re trying to perfect is special rights for self-professed behavior. And I think it’s difficult for us to define a law that would protect behavior.

His point — aside from the one under his comb-over — is that people choose to be gay and therefore don’t deserve civil rights protection.  Unlike religion, which everyone knows is innate… right?

He’s worried that people will pretend to be gay just so they can sue some businesses.

KING: The one thing that I reference when I say “self-professed” is: how do you know who to discriminate against? They about have to tell you. And, you know, are they then setting up a case? Is this about bringing a grievance or is it actually about a service that they’d like to have? And doesn’t free enterprise provide that service if the demand is there? Someone can open up a cake shop, can’t they?

Oh, damn, he’s on to us.  Now I have to come out to my friends and family that I’m really straight and all that I’ve been going through my entire life, including fifteen years with a really great guy, but also being bullied and threatened by bigots on several occasions, was so I could put the squeeze on some baker in Arizona.

And I would have gotten away with it, too, if it wasn’t for that meddling douchebag Steve King.

Via ThinkProgress.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Find Another Baker or Florist

The veto of the anti-gay law in Arizona may have settled the issue for the moment in that state — although bigotry always needs feeding and I’m sure the proponents of the law are planning a comeback.  But the people on the losing end of it are still saying that the law was not really that big a deal and that if there are businesses like bakers or florists who don’t want to participate in a same-sex marriage ceremony, you can always find another one who will.

That’s not the point.

Aside from the practical matter that not everyone lives in a place where you have a lot of bakers or florists to choose from, the idea of having to choose where to shop shouldn’t be based on a social policy — separate but equal — that was supposed to have been killed off sixty years ago.  It is, in the words of the United States Supreme Court, inherently unequal.  It doesn’t work for public education, public accommodation, or city planning, and it shouldn’t work for catering and decoration.

More to the point, though, is why should the burden of proving to be worthy up to the customer?  No one should have to prove anything to a business other than their honest ability to pay for the services purchased.  Anything else is a big mistake.

The only time that anyone should have to find another baker or florist is when the first one has gone out of business because they’re bigoted assholes and no one — gay, straight or anything — doesn’t shop there anymore.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

And Another Ban Bites the Dust

This time it’s the same-sex marriage ban in Texas.

A federal judge in San Antonio declared Texas’ ban on gay marriage unconstitutional Wednesday.

But U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia issued a stay along with the ruling, so the ban remains in place for the time being. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott (R), who is running for governor against state Sen. Wendy Davis (D), is expected to appeal the decision.

Garcia, a Bill Clinton appointee, wrote in his decision that Texas’ constitutional ban on same-sex marriage violates equal protection rights under the Fourteenth Amendment.

That makes Texas the fifth state in the last few months to have its law concerning marriage equality overturned: Utah, Kentucky, Oklahoma, and Virginia have all ended up on the losing end of the gavel.

Of course the homophobes are going to carry on about the Tenth Amendment and activist judges.  But I have yet to hear anyone on that side of the argument make the persuasive case that banning same-sex marriage is not a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment and that it is done to serve a vital government or state interest.  Neither has any judge who has ruled in any of the cases.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Message Received

The state legislature in Georgia was on the verge of passing their own version of the Arizona law codifying gay-bashing, but got cold feet.

One of the most controversial bills considered by the state House this year is likely dead for the session. However, a companion bill in the Senate remains alive.

Critics of House Bill 1023, or The Preservation of Religious Freedom Act, say it would allow private business owners to cite their religious beliefs as a reason to deny service to gay customers.

The bill is currently in the House Judiciary Committee. After two packed subcommittee meetings in recent weeks, Judiciary Chair Wendell Willard, R-Sandy Springs, says more vetting is needed on the bill. He says it likely won’t make Monday’s Crossover Day deadline, the date in which legislation must be approved by at least one chamber to remain alive.

“Can’t see it happening. It came in rather late in the session. Too many proponents and opponents,” said Willard.

It looks like they saw what was happening in Arizona and thought better of it.  It’s a convenient way to get out of a sticky situation.

Courage is measured by doing the right thing, not by not doing the wrong thing.  But we’ll take what we can get.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Too Little Too Late

Some Arizona lawmakers are having second thoughts about passing their gay-bashing bill.

Three Republican senators who voted for Senate Bill 1062 say they made a bad decision in a rushed process and are now asking Gov. Jan Brewer to veto the right to refuse service bill.

“We feel it was a solution in search of a problem,” Sen. Bob Worsley, R-Mesa, said in an impromptu news conference outside the state Senate. He was joined by Sen. Steve Pierce, R-Prescott.

The two, along with Senate Majority Whip Adam Driggs, R-Phoenix, sent Brewer a letter this morning asking for a veto.

“While our sincere intent in voting for this bill was to create a shield for all citizens’ religious liberties, the bill has instead been mischaracterized by its opponents as a sword for religious intolerance,” the three wrote. “These allegations are causing our state immeasurable harm.”

Such courage.  Even after realizing that they really screwed up, they can’t help blaming others for the bad press: “the bill has instead been mischaracterized.”  Yeah, right.  Nice try, fellas.  You knew exactly what you were voting for when it was being debated on the floor of the Senate because just about everyone who spoke against it said the intent was to codify discrimination against the LGBT community or anyone else who didn’t fit into your neat little white bread definition of “sincerely held religious beliefs.”

Friday, February 21, 2014

Not In Kansas Anymore – Ctd.

They did it.

PHOENIX — The Arizona Legislature passed a measure on Thursday that allows business owners asserting their religious beliefs to refuse service to gays and others, drawing backlash from Democrats who called the proposal “state-sanctioned discrimination” and an embarrassment.

The 33-to-27 vote by the House sent the legislation to Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican.

Governor Brewer does not comment on pending legislation, but she vetoed a similar measure last year. That action, however, came during an unrelated political standoff, and it was not clear whether she would support this plan.

Let the lawsuits begin.

It’s been at least fifteen years since I was last in Arizona, and this pretty much insures that I won’t be going back there as long as this law is on the books.  It’s not a boycott; rather, it’s my Quakerly view that I do not wish to offend or embarrass the people of that state by putting them in the position of having to tolerate someone they clearly do not want among them.  I can take a hint.