Monday, July 20, 2015

Pick A Side, Jeb!

Via ThinkProgress:

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush (R) no longer believes that it should be legal to discriminate against LGBT people in employment and housing — but he still does not back federal legislation to remedy the problem.

Bush was asked by a gay employee at a San Francisco tech startup he visited on Thursday about his position on legislation to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, Time reported. Bush responded by denouncing discrimination in general, but also diminishing the need for legal protections and saying they should be only enacted at the state level.

“The fact that there wasn’t a law doesn’t necessarily mean you would have been discriminated against,” Bush told the worker. Studies have shown that between 15 percent and 43 percent of gay people have experienced some form of discrimination and harassment in the workplace and 90 percent of transgender workers reported experiencing some form of workplace harassment or mistreatment.

Bush then invoked the “religious liberty” argument made by anti-LGBT organizations, suggesting that while a florist should have to sell flowers to everyone, they should not be obligated to do so for a same-sex wedding.

Invoking the “states’ rights” argument is his way of weaseling out of the discussion.  Oh, sure, he’s against discrimination, but let’s let the states decide for themselves.  If we went that route on civil rights, schools would still be segregated as would lunch counters and bathrooms.  Using the fallacious “religious liberty” point is just the new version of the old “if God had meant for the races to mingle, he’d have made us all one color” line.

I’d just as soon Mr. Bush come out and join his fellow Republicans such as Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal, and Mike Huckabee and unalterably stand for homophobia enshrined into law such as a constitutional amendment banning marriage equality and denying equal protection by statute for the LGBT community.  He was certainly in favor of it when he was the governor of Florida, so if he’s going to stand on his record back then, he can do it now.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Next Battle

Now that the Supreme Court has made marriage equality the law of the land, what’s next?  Paul Waldman at the Washington Post says it’s going to be the “religious liberty” issue.

While there’s a political calculation at work and a lot of the rhetoric travels into the territory of the absurd, there are also some legitimate legal questions that have to be worked out.

First, let’s place this in context. For some time now, conservative Christians have told themselves a story of their own oppression, one that testifies to their courage in holding to their faith when hostile forces would rip it from them and send them cowering to the shadows. This is in large part a reaction to the diversification of our society, in which the proportion of Americans who are Christian is indeed declining. As a result of that change, many of the features of civil and commercial life have changed as well, so that instead of being the only religion expressed, Christianity is one among many. Some Christians would obviously prefer it if their particular faith had a monopoly on government expressions and things like signs in department stores, and are genuinely horrified when they see a sign reading “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.”

Since those Christians are mostly Republicans, and evangelicals are particularly numerous in the state of Iowa, GOP presidential candidates almost inevitably echo those sentiments back to the voters, repeating the narrative of oppression. “I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a Christian,” said Rick Perry in a famous ad from his presidential run four years ago. So brave, to admit that! “But you don’t need to be in the pew every Sunday to know that there’s something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military but our kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school.”

For the record, people still celebrate Christmas pretty openly last time I checked, and every kid is free to pray in school; what’s forbidden (in most but not all cases) is prayers sponsored and organized by the public school itself.

In any case, the gay marriage decision is easy to turn into a story of Christians oppressed, like the baker who doesn’t want to bake a cake for a gay couple. Conservatives have successfully expanded the realm of the religious beyond things like rituals, worship, and sacraments into other realms like commerce, and if they’re feeling despondent over the Court decision, they should remember that this Supreme Court has agreed with them, holding in the Hobby Lobby case that a corporation can have its own religious beliefs and thus excuse itself from laws it doesn’t find congenial.

The course from there is pretty obvious: the Religious Right and their political allies running for president will use their vast lung power and internet reach to grift money from the foolish and the weak.  Every victory scored by the Radical Homosexuals (which sounds like an ’80’s heavy metal band) will generate e-mail blasts with pleas for money.

The conventional wisdom is that the ruling on marriage equality was greeted privately by the GOP and the Religious Right with, if not joy, at least relief.  For the Republicans, it removes it from the immediacy of the campaign and into the abstract (see Huckabee, Mike, and his plans to fight “judicial tyranny” with tyranny).  For the Religious Right, now they have a whole new flock of pigeons to pluck in the name of fighting non-existent persecution.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Do Your Job

Via TPM:

Rather than grant licenses to gay couples in light of the Supreme Court decision in favor of same-sex marriage, at least two county clerks in Kentucky are not issuing marriage licenses to any couples — gay or straight — for the time being.

The clerks offices of Casey County and Rowan County confirmed to TPM Tuesday that at the moment the clerks are not granting any marriage licenses. The Clinton County clerks office would only tell TPM “no comment” when repeatedly asked whether marriage licenses of any type were being issued there.

Here’s a comment: if you can’t do your job because you don’t like the people who are coming to you for your service, then quit.  This also goes for pharmacists who won’t fill birth control prescriptions for women you know aren’t married or dudes selling hardware to people you suspect of being gay.

When you work for a government entity, your first duty is to obey the law, and when you open a business to the public, your first duty is to serve the public; all of them.  So do it or get out.  God will understand.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

He Can Dream

Mike Huckabee says that once he’s elected president he’ll block all federal recognition of same-sex marriage.

If the Congress decides that they want to pass enabling legislation, they could put it on my desk and I would veto it, and they can attempt to override it. That’s the process.

Yes, but since the chances of him becoming president of anything more than his HOA are nil, there’s not a lot to worry about unless you happen to be gay and live on the same cul-de-sac as he does.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Defying Logic

Via TPM:

Fearing a huge setback to their cause, opponents of same-sex marriage, including some of the major contenders for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, are darkly warning that they will not “honor” an adverse Supreme Court decision. Some are calling for civil disobedience. Others are moving to strip the Supreme Court of its authority to decide whether gay couples should be allowed to marry, while others have questioned whether the court has that jurisdiction in the first place. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has said that such a decision would be “fundamentally illegitimate.”

So what are they going to do?  Other than stand around and hiss and splutter, there’s not a whole lot that these folks can do to not “honor” marriage equality.  What kind of “civil disobedience” is there for them to commit?  Peruse the society columns of the New York Times and then stand outside a wedding reception holding up a sign?  Or perhaps the numerous GOP closet cases will not marry their secret f-buddy that they’ve been going to see while they tell their wives they’re going to Home Depot?

Friday, June 12, 2015

Putrid Michigan

From the Detroit Free Press:

On Wednesday, Republican majorities in both chambers approved a bill that would allow faith-based adoption agencies — including those who take taxpayer dollars to place children who are in the state’s custody — to discriminate in the practice of their work. They can deny services to families that violate the agency’s religious beliefs, including unmarried couples, same-sex couples and those who hold different religious beliefs.

The legislation is a craven attempt to cloak discrimination in faith, and it leaves the best interests of the 13,000 children in the state’s care — entirely out of the equation.

Even worse, it sends Michigan in the exact wrong direction just weeks before the U.S. Supreme Court could invalidate all legislative or constitutional provisions that permit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Should that happen, this statute, along with bigoted laws in states around the country, would fall like their predecessors — Jim Crow-era laws and regulations — after landmark rulings in the 1960s.

That’s lousy moral company for Michigan to keep. It’s lousy business company for Michigan to keep. And it’s especially shameful for a governor whose own preachings about tolerance and acceptance obviously mean less than appeasing his party’s religious conservatives.

The bills Gov. Rick Snyder signed Thursday spell nothing but trouble for the children in this state who are waiting, desperately, for the chance to join willing families.


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Gay Bank & Trust

Via TPM:

The bank hosted a fundraiser for Miami Beach Gay Pride in February to honor “Legacy Couples,” where the bank also held a wedding ceremony for a gay couple at a makeshift chapel in the bank’s South Beach branch.

I have a suggestion as to where Franklin can stick his money, but he probably won’t like it.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Quote of the Day

Joseph Farrah in World Net Daily on the prospect of life in America with marriage equality:

I know there are millions of Christians, Jews and others who would pull up stakes and move to another country that honored the institution of marriage as it was designed by God – a union between one man and one woman.

I will happily sign up to drive them to the airport, to the train station, to the sea port, or to the border.  See ya.

Via Joe. My. God. because I don’t link to WND.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Annals Of Pearl-Clutching

This ad was too controversial for the NBC affiliate in Chattanooga.

Via Buzzfeed:

“It’s just a very controversial and personal issue, and we just choose to not air a commercial on either side of that debate,” Tom Tolar, the president and general manager of Chattanooga-based WRCB, told BuzzFeed News in a phone interview.

The ad crossed the station’s lines, he explained, because “people probably have really strong opinions on one side or other of the debate. It’s just an emotional debate for many people.”

And that’s the reason not to talk about it AT ALL.

Aunt Pittypat Still 06-01-15Oh Melly, pass me the smelling salts.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Discrimination By Decree

Because the Louisiana legislature didn’t pass a law legalizing anti-gay discrimination, Gov. Bobby Jindal has issued an executive order doing just that.

Trying to regain ground after a setback in the legislature, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal issued an executive order Tuesday to protect people who exercise their religious beliefs on matters related to same-sex marriage.

Jindal outlined the order in a statement: “This Executive Order will prohibit the state from denying or revoking a tax exemption, tax deduction, contract, cooperative agreement, loan, professional license, certification, accreditation, or employment on the basis the person acts in accordance with a religious belief that marriage is between one man and one woman.”

The order — which comes a day after Jindal formed an exploratory committee to seek the GOP nomination for president — is posted in full [here].

The order came just hours after the state legislature essentially killed the Marriage Conscience Act, a bill similar to the executive order that he now seeks to impose using his authority as governor.

So let me see if I have this right: Congress is useless on matters such as immigration, the minimum wage, and climate change, so President Obama issues executive orders to deal with them within the scope of his powers.  The Republicans claim that he’s lawless, overriding the will of Congress, stomping on the Constitution, and should be impeached.  Gov. Jindal does it and he’s upholding freedom and doing the work that the legislature refuses to do.

I hope he runs for president, I really do.  It will be the acme of karma to see him get his head handed to him in the first primary and then wait for him to show up on late night TV hawking reverse mortgages.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Jeb Steps In Another One

Just when he thought he had extricated himself from the war quagmire, Jeb Bush has stepped in another one.  This time it’s marriage equality.

Jeb Bush reiterated his opinion on a same-sex couple’s right to marry on Sunday, going so far as to say he doesn’t believe in a constitutional right to marriage equality, an issue currently being deliberated in the Supreme Court.

Speaking during an interview with The Brody File on the Christian Broadcasting Network, Bush, whom BuzzFeed dubbed “2016’s Gay-Friendly Republican,’ called traditional marriage ‘a sacrament.’

“To imagine how we are going to succeed in our country unless we have committed family life, a child-centered family system is hard to imagine,” he told David Brody. “So, irrespective of the Supreme Court ruling … because they are going to decide whatever they decide, I don’t know what they are going to do, we need to be stalwart supporters of traditional marriage.”

First, let’s unpack some of this garbage.  He’s right; there is no explicit constitutional right to same-sex marriage.  Nor is there an explicit constitutional right to straight marriage.  There is no mention in the Constitution about marriage at all.  However, the Supreme Court has said that marriage “is one of the ‘basic civil rights of man,'” so they’ve got you there, Mr. Bush.

Second, traditional marriage may be a sacrament to some people and faiths, but it is also a legal contract that doesn’t require the blessings of a religion to be binding.  (For that matter, circumcision is also a sacrament in certain faiths, but I can provide evidence that in at least one case it had nothing whatsoever to do with religion.)  Marriage, however you define it, does not depend on religion.  If you want to have a nice wedding in your choice of a place of worship, whether it’s in a cathedral with a priest, a synagogue with a rabbi, or a meeting house with the Friends gathered around, knock yourself out.  But twenty minutes in front of a judge at the courthouse has just as much legal weight.

Third, it is demonstrably false that same-sex couples cannot provide for a “committed family life [and] a child-centered family system.”  Same-sex couples who adopt or go through surrogacy want children and want to raise them; they don’t get them because someone forgot to make a trip to Walgreens or things got a little too hot and heavy behind the DQ in their mom’s minivan.  So marriage equality could actually make the home better for a child who is wanted by the parents, and there is no scientifically valid study to show that having two moms or two dads is any different than being raised by straight parents.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s look at Mr. Bush’s transparent toadying to the homophobic base of the GOP.  Not so long ago he was saying comparatively moderate things about marriage equality, asking people to “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.”  But once he’s playing in Pat Robertson’s ball park, all bets are off, even going so far as to muse that discrimination against a gay couple buying flowers is okay because we’re a big country and there’s always room for bigotry dressed up in “religious freedom” drag.

This is beginning to be a pattern with him.  First he blew the Iraq war question, which he had to know would come up given that it’s his family’s business.  Now he turns into a culture warrior, apparently trying to horn in on the schtick of Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal, none of whom will give any ground on being sniveling homophobes of the first order.

It makes you wonder what the next turd pile he’s going to step in… Hey, Jeb, how about that auto bailout?  Should we have let Detroit go bankrupt?

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Thursday, April 30, 2015

In Case You Cared

Via Balloon Juice, who got it from Town Hall, a site that doesn’t get linked here because ick.

“We will not obey.”

That’s the blunt warning a group of prominent religious leaders is sending to the Supreme Court of the United States as they consider same-sex marriage.

“We respectfully warn the Supreme Court not to cross that line,” read a document titled, Pledge in Solidarity to Defend Marriage. “We stand united together in defense of marriage. Make no mistake about our resolve.”

“While there are many things we can endure, redefining marriage is so fundamental to the natural order and the common good that this is the line we must draw and one we cannot and will not cross,” the pledge states.

The signees are a who’s who of religious leaders including former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum, National Religious Broadcasters president Jerry Johnson, Pastor John Hagee, and Franklin Graham, president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse.

Try to imagine within your wildest dreams how much anyone cares what a bunch of sniveling bigots think.  All this tells us is that they know how irrelevant they have become to the discussion.

And how exactly will they “not obey”?  Not get gay-married?  (On behalf of gay men everywhere, may I say “Whew!”)  Open a bakery or a flower shop?

Friday, April 24, 2015

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Screed From Baton Rouge

In an op-ed in today’s New York Times, Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) gives a whiny defense to his stand against marriage equality.

I hold the view that has been the consensus in our country for over two centuries: that marriage is between one man and one woman. Polls indicate that the American consensus is changing — but like many other believers, I will not change my faith-driven view on this matter, even if it becomes a minority opinion.

Fine, but it’s been less than fifty years since marriage between one man and one woman was the consensus as long as they were of the same race or color.  Which means that in Louisiana, Mr. Jindal could not have married a white woman.  To a lot of people, that view was faith-driven.  And that law was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Those who believe in freedom must stick together: If it’s not freedom for all, it’s not freedom at all. This strategy requires populist social conservatives to ally with the business community on economic matters and corporate titans to side with social conservatives on cultural matters. This is the grand bargain that makes freedom’s defense possible.

In short, religious bigotry has a long and proud tradition in America, and no bunch of radical liberals and people of conscience are going to put an end to it.

I doubt that Mr. Jindal is self-aware enough that “if it’s not freedom for all, it’s not freedom at all” (just pithy enough to fit on a bumper sticker) is exactly what the fight for gay rights is all about.  No one is asking him to change his faith-driven view on anything.  You are free to discriminate against anyone you want in your church or in your mind, but if you’re going to sell cakes, flowers, and hotel space to the public, you have to sell to all the public or not at all.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Friday, April 10, 2015

Florida House Bashes Gay Families

Despite the fact that courts have invalidated Florida’s ban on gay people adopting children, the state legislature still wants to interfere with gay families.

The Florida House voted today for a “conscience protection” bill allowing private adoption agencies to refuse placement of children with gay couples.

The 75-38 vote sending the proposal to the state Senate came after more than 90 minutes of often impassioned debate.

Proponents said the measure by Rep. Jason Brodeur, R-Sanford, would prevent some adoption agencies from halting services because of moral convictions against gay marriage. Opponents, mostly Democrats, argued that the bill (HB 7111) amounted to state-sanctioned discrimination against gays.

The bill does not specifically mention gays. It permits agencies with written codes of ethics to refuse adoptions sought by parents whose lifestyles are at odds with the agency.

Rep. David Richardson, D-Miami Beach, told the House about feeling fear as a boy in 1977, seeing Anita Bryant conducting her notorious campaign to repeal a Miami-Dade County gay-rights ordinance. He said 36 states now recognize same-sex marriage and predicted that the issue will be resolved nationwide in a Supreme Court ruling next summer.

“This fight is over,” Richardson told the GOP majority. “Your fight is not with me. Your fight is not with the Democratic Party. Your fight is not with the gay community.

“Your fight is among yourselves because certain factions in the Republican Party are not going to yield to what is happening in society.”

Brodeur and other supporters of the bill said they do not support discrimination. They said church-affiliated agencies in Boston, San Francisco and Illinois have curtailed adoption services rather than comply with legal edicts to place children with gay parents.

I call bullshit on Mr. Brodeur for the simple reason that the bill was proposed with the encouragement and endorsement of the state’s chief panty-sniffer and buttinsky John Stemberger.

John Stemberger, president of the Florida Family Policy Council, cheered the House vote. Last week, the chamber passed a large adoption package which included a section striking down Florida’s ban on gay marriage — which was invalidated in court a few years ago. The Senate is set to pass that package (HB 7013) next week, including the repeal of the adoption ban.

“The house has atoned for its mistake last week and done the right thing,” Stemberger said of the “conscience protection” bill.

Enough said.  Mr. Stemberger has a long history of  support for state-sanctioned homophobia and bigotry.  So if he’s in favor of a law, you know it’s going to be mischief and hatred for the LGBT community.

The bill still has to get through the Senate, and there’s hope that it will not make it.  But the simple fact that the House still thinks it’s okay to allow discrimination is shameful.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Unforced Errors

Sally Kohn at TPM explains why the government isn’t “forcing” anyone to sell pizza to a gay wedding when it outlaws discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

… somehow a fringe set of rightwing conservatives want us all to believe that hapless business owners are somehow being forced, against their will, to serve pizza to gay people. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you don’t want to serve pizza to gay people, by all means, don’t—which, by the way, is legal in Indiana and 28 other states, but even where it is illegal, you’re still free to do so and deal with the consequences of breaking the law. That, pizza shop owner, is your choice. And if you don’t want to deal with those consequences, well, no one is forcing you to be in the pizza business. You’re free to do something else.


In the United States, private businesses get all kinds of government support—a functional monetary system, police that safeguard private property, roads that help deliver customers and goods, public schools that educate workers, telecommunications infrastructure, legal protections against copyright and patent infringement, tax benefits for business expenses and employee health care, legal shields for owners and more. No one is forcing businesses to take advantage of all those benefits, nor forcing you to start a business to begin with nor forcing you to do so in a state with non-discrimination laws or in the United States to begin with.

Don’t like following the laws that apply to businesses—including serving all customers equally? Then don’t start a business. That’s your choice.

And yet being forced to comply with messed-up Christian beliefs that it’s okay to demonize your fellow human being because of an obsession with their sex lives is “freedom.”

Monday, April 6, 2015

It’s The American Way

The owners of the pizza place in Indiana that got all the attention last week for saying they’d refuse to cater a gay wedding because Jesus have parlayed that into nearly $900,000 in donations from like-minded people.

So the lesson is that if you broadcast to America that you’re a religious bigot and when you get the appropriate backlash, you rake in a fortune and retire, resting assured that that’s what Jesus would do.

There’s a business model for the ages.