Saturday, February 28, 2015

SC marriage equality opponents rally in poorly attended 'Pickett's Charge'

The issue of marriage equality in South Carolina has been settled at least for now. Barring a different decision from the Supreme Court later this year, gay and lesbian South Carolinians fairly won the right to marry. And that should be the end of that.

However, don't break the news to the sparse group of folks who assembled earlier today at the State House. They assembled in support of a bill which they hope would stop marriage equality, no matter what the courts say. The bill, proposed by SC State Rep. Bill Chumley,  would defund gay marriage in the state and punish state employees who issue or recognize same-sex marriage licenses

Their argument, which was repeated continuously by various speakers from the stage, including Chumley and State Sen. Lee Bright, was that the federal government was overstepping its bounds and interfering with the sovereignty of South Carolinians who voted overwhelmingly to ban marriage equality in 2006.

What the crowd, made mostly of elderly South Carolinians, lacked in numbers, they made up for greatly in enthusiasm, particularly when speakers talked about an "over-reaching" federal government.

Friday, February 27, 2015

'Anti-gay Family Research Council pushing bogus religious liberty poll' & other Friday midday news briefs

FRC's ridiculously bunk new poll (*from partisan polling firm) - The Family Research Council pushes a transparently deceptive poll on religious liberty. Whatever happened to the good old days when fraud and chicanery had a certain style. Now I know there are some folks on my side who want to be nonchalant and jaded over this. I wouldn't recommend it. Any time we can catch FRC in a lie and publicize it, it is another chop in its tree of credibility. Besides, one day I will  relate to you the days when there was no one exposing FRC lies. It was NOT a good time. Be thankful for those of us willing to jump into the breach.

WATCH: Homophobes Have Invented a Scary New Tactic to Undo Equal Rights - It ain't pretty and eventually, it may backfire spectacularly. However, I cringe to think of the damage it may do BEFORE it self-destructs.  

AL Gov's Pastor Urged Him To Defy Federal Courts On Marriage To Prevent America's Collapse - Gasp and swoon! How dare Alabama's governor remember that he was elected to serve all the people of Alabama and not the church! The meanie! 

 U.S. Churches: Banning Same-Sex Marriage Has Nothing To Do With Homosexuality - There isn't enough snarkiness in the world for me to make a comment about this #@!*!

 Jeb Bush, 2016’s Gay-Friendly Republican - Naturally other Republicans aren't exactly ready to jump on THIS train. Oh this is going to be sooooo much fun to watch!

Anti-gay Family Research Council moves on to another discredited researcher

Mark Regenerus - FRC's newest discredited researcher?

For years, the Family Research Council was one of the many anti-gay groups who relied on the work of discredited researcher Paul Cameron, a man who had been criticized for poor techniques methodologies, as well as dismissed or censured from organization such as the American Psychological Association, the American Sociological Association, and the Canadian Psychological Association

FRC and other anti-gay groups used his bad research to prove negative theories about the lgbt community However, when Cameron was exposed for being the fraud that he is, FRC and other anti-gay groups slyly distanced themselves from his work.

According to a recent email I received from the organization, however, FRC may have found another discredited researcher it can use:

Yesterday, respected University of Texas professor Dr. Mark Regnerus spoke at FRC about "Stability and Change in Americans' Relationships." His presentation was based on an exhaustive survey he conducted of more than 15,700 people from every background and walk of life. The survey's findings showed some change in Americans' attitudes towards marriage, cohabitation, and homosexuality, but one of the most striking findings is that only 42 percent of the American people support same-sex marriage, a percentage that roughly mirrors FRC's survey, released earlier this week, showing that 53 percent of people agree that marriage should be defined only as a union between one man and one woman.

Despite the sexual revolution of the past several decades, less than half (44 percent) of Americans believe cohabitation before marriage is a good thing. And as to infidelity, a whopping 74 percent say adultery is never acceptable. Dr. Regnerus noted that "so much is up for grabs" but made clear that religious commitment and the strength of one's family "track together."

"Marriage is not considered outdated," Dr. Regnerus observed, and "people regard marriage as concerning children." As the Supreme Court ponders same-sex "marriage" later this year, let's hope and pray their listening to those they have been appointed to represent -- the American people -- when it comes to redefining an institution still held in high regard throughout our society.

Regnerus is NOT respected. He is the author of a 2012 badly done, much rebuked, disputed, and discredited negative study on same-sex parenting.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Anti-gay AFA doesn't know which deception to push about Washington state florist, so it pushes two


As witnessed by these posters, anti-gay groups can change talking points quickly.

 When it comes to the case of Barronelle Stutzman, the Washington State florist who was found guilty of breaking that state's anti-discrimination laws by refusing to serve a same-sex couple, anti-gay groups had to play a quick game of message switching.

At first, she was portrayed as a Christian grandmother who was in danger of losing her home, business, and life-savings supposedly because she was "standing up her her values" against evil government officials and lgbts attempting to "make" her "participate" in marriage equality.

However, when the news came down that she actually refused to accept a settlement from Washington State's attorney general of $2001, quicker than Diana Prince would change into Wonder Woman on the 1970s television show, anti-gay groups suddenly transformed her into a person who would not sell out her values even if this could possibly, but really not proven as would, cause her to lose her life savings, business, and homes.

That's not to say though that one particular anti-gay group isn't brazen enough to push both talking points at the same time.

This afternoon, I received an email from the anti-gay American Family Association:

Barronelle Stutzman has rejected a deal by Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson that would have forced her to betray her religious beliefs and start providing flowers for gay weddings.
"You are asking me to walk in the way of a well-known betrayer, one who sold something of infinite worth for 30 pieces of silver," Stutzman wrote in a letter to Ferguson. "That is something I will not do."

  . . . Feeling the heat from the Christian community, Ferguson had offered to settle the case if she paid a $2,000 penalty for violating the Consumer Protection Act, a $1 payment for costs and fees, and agreed not to discriminate in the future.

First of all,  the claim that Ferguson was "feeling the heat from the Christian community" and offered to settle because of it is a lie.

'AFA's silly 'bigotry map' declares the Carolinas 'gay-free' zone' & other Thursday midday news briefs

Gay Marriage Opponents To Rally - Now you just KNOW that South Carolina wasn't going to be left out of this wildness. Folks will be assembling at the State House this weekend to push support for "protection of marriage bills" in my state. Barring the weather, I will be there taking pictures. As for the possible success of these bills, I have tremendous faith in the statewide organization, SC Equality, in its efforts to stand for our community. The organization is hard at work even as I speak. 

N.C. Senate passes anti-LGBT religious discrimination bill - Meanwhile, a bill which would allow magistrates and registrars of deeds to not do their job for same-sex couples passed. I don't see a bright future for this law. 

 American Family Association proclaims the Carolinas a safe, queer-free zone - According to the American Family Association's 'bigotry map,' the Carolinas (North and South) have no lgbt groups at all. Now we all know this isn't true on so many levels. On one hand, I am incredibly insulted. However, on the other, the James Bond villain in me is thrilled that our secret homosexual organization dedicated to bringing down America and having Judy Garland's birthday declared a national holiday hasn't been detected yet. This means (fake European villain accent) "no one has made me cross enough to feed them to my piranha fish."  

Texas Bill Would Punish Businesses If They Don’t Discriminate - It's an old adage, but I can safely say that yes, I have now "heard everything."  

Facebook, Fox Entertainment Executives Spoke At Media Conference Featuring Anti-LGBT, Islamophobic Extremists - Fox News I can understand, but Facebook? Shame! 

 Fired for Being Trans - This should NEVER happen EVER.

Washington Post gives the 'skinny' on the anti-gay discrimination wars of 2015

 . . . the fight over gay rights continues in conservative corners of the country, where legislators are advancing laws that would, intentionally or not, ensure that gay people can be refused service, fired or evicted simply for being gay.

There are no national laws protecting against these forms of discrimination, so the matter has been left up to individual communities. A growing list of cities, for instance, are passing gay anti-discrimination ordinances, which has raised the ire of their more conservative state houses.In this year’s legislative session, similar bills in several states are striking back against gay rights.The proposed state laws fall into two categories.

Some are anti-anti-discrimination measures that would prevent a state’s cities or counties from creating protections for gay people. . . . In another, more classic category are laws that would protect people who discriminate against gay people on religious grounds. There has been tremendous legal murkiness concerning when and in which contexts religious rights trump gay rights. These religious freedom bills would have religious rights triumph, always.

Everything You Need To Know About The Gay Discrimination Wars in 2015, The Washington Post

Those who want to celebrate thinking that the lgbt community is about to win marriage equality need to get off their asses. As one war ends, another begins. So it shall be if the religious right and their allies have anything to say about it.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

'Religious liberty, marriage equality battles all over place' & other Wednesday midday news briefs

Fox News Rallies Behind Florist Who Refused To Serve Gay Couple - I wish the anti-gay industry would make up their minds when it comes to this mess. First they portrayed this woman as in danger of losing her home, business, and life savings because lgbt folks are suing her. And now when it comes out that she refused a settlement of $2001 (one dollar to pay for court costs), suddenly they shift the situation to her being a hero for her supposed values.

Alabama Same-Sex Couple’s Marriage Recognized, But Joint Adoption Still Denied - This dance is called the "Homophobia Boogie." You take two steps forward and they drag you back one (apologies to the tv show "Good Times" where I freely pilfered for the above sentence.) 

 Walmart Comes Out Against Anti-LGBT Bill - Why gee, thank you Wal-Mart (and everyone else) who are finally opposing this bill . . . AFTER it became law. 

 It's not a 'marriage debate' simply because pro-discrimination lawmakers say it is - Jeremy Hooper makes a GOOD point about framing the issue here. 

 Iowa Radio Host: Jeb Bush Gave Conservatives 'A Middle Finger' By Hiring Gay Spokesman - I just KNEW when Bush hired this guy, all hell would break loose. And it starts . . .

 Indiana Senate passes ‘religious freedom’ bill - This just in . . . and it ain't pretty. With the situation in Arkansas, then here and several other places, folks are asking what are organizations like ACLU or HRC doing to fight this. I understand the need to not reveal battle plans, but y'all, we really need some type of assurances that we aren't sitting ducks here.

  'Walking Dead' Fans Upset Over Gay Kiss, Tweet Homophobic Comments - So let me get this right - in a show about a post-apocalyptic world where humans are fighting zombies (and not the 'Scooby-Doo' type but the hungry, fast, cannibalistic type made famous by George Romero and Lucio Fulci), folks are angry because two male characters kissed? ARE YOU $#@!&!; KIDDING ME?!!!!!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

American Family Association's 'bigotry map' is a ridiculously unoriginal fraud

A while back, the American Family Association claimed that it had a huge project in the works. I have a feeling that the following is the project:

According to the AFA:

The American Family Association has identified over 200 groups and organizations that openly display bigotry toward the Christian faith.

The website includes an interactive map that identifies groups whose actions are deeply intolerant of the Christian religion. Their actions have endorsed efforts to silence Christians and to remove all public displays of Christian heritage and faith in America.
A common practice of these groups is threatening our nation’s schools, cities and states. By threat of lawsuit, they demand that prayer be removed from schools and city council meetings, Ten Commandments monuments stricken from courthouses and memorial crosses purged from cemeteries and parks.

Because of anti-Christian bigotry, private business owners have been sued and forced to close their businesses. Families and businesses that express a Christian worldview on social issues often face vicious retaliation from anti-Christian zealots.

Some members or supporters of these groups have committed violent crimes against Christians and faith-based groups. Physical and profane verbal assaults against Christians are methods frequently exercised in their angry methods of intimidation.

The AFA is copying, or rather stealing, the idea of the Southern Poverty Law Center's Hate Map.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Judge Roy Moore - homophobia so stupidly put that it actually burns

Generally when I showcase anti-gay figures and their comments, I always provide some expository. However,  the following comment by marriage equality opponent Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore is so mind-blowingly stupid that it can stand on its own.when it comes to illustrating the basic ignorance of many of those who oppose marriage equality and lgbt equality in general:

"You're taking any definition of a family away. When two bisexuals or two transgendered marry, how large is that family? Can they marry two persons, one of the same sex and one of the opposite sex? Then, you've got a family of four or how many?" - Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore

Hat tip to the Associated Press by way of Right Wing Watch.

'Anti-gay groups planning war of attrition against marriage equality?' & other Monday midday news briefs

Has the Anti-Gay Right Found Its Gay 'Partial Birth Abortion'? - This excellent piece by Michelangelo Signorile inspired today's morning post. He makes the point while the lgbt community is taking it for granted that we may receive nationwide marriage equality, anti-gay groups are meticulously planning to create a long-term war of attrition via "religious liberty" bills. Our community simply has to stop taking these anti-groups lightly and get on the offensive rather than the defensive. If we get caught "napping" this time, we have no one to blame but ourselves. 

Man Who Once Defended Georgia Sodomy Ban To Oppose Religious Liberty Bills - And this is one way to be on the offensive - not waiting to be attacked but gathering our allies together and planning the fights.  

HUD Instructs Homeless Shelters To Provide Equal Treatment To Transgender People - Excellent! 

Ten controversies caused by Todd Starnes and his sloppy, homophobic journalism - One of the times I am including my morning post in the news briefs because I feel it NEEDS to be read and shared on a larger scale. 

 Jeb Bush to name openly gay man as Communications Director - Well! This is going to make the 2016 election very interesting. 

 Scott Lively Warns That SCOTUS Could Unleash The Antichrist By September 2015 - Come on folks, you know I had to throw at least a little "crazy" in today's news briefs. If you want to see a strangely cool, but nauseating graphic which illustrates Lively's point, go here to Jeremy Hooper's site.

Ten controversies caused by Todd Starnes and his sloppy, homophobic journalism

Fox News personality Todd Starnes has a history of sloppy journalism.

Faced with the reality that they may actually lose the fight against marriage equality, anti-gay groups, as they are skilled at doing, are switching tactics to fight gay equality.

After decades of claiming that homosexuality is a public health menace which encompasses pedophilia, disease, and all-around negative behavior, they are suddenly shifting the conversation to the idea that Christians and evangelicals like themselves are now seeing their rights infringed upon by a world which is becoming more lgbt-inclusive.

Instead of relying on information such as FBI statistics, because such statistics contradict their claims, anti-gay groups are relying on anecdotes and FOAF (friend of a friend) stories which are for the most part are conjured up by either themselves or members of the media friendly to their point of view.

Such as Fox News personality Todd Starnes.

 Since starting with Fox News a few years back, Starnes, a conservative author, commentator, and author,  has made a name for himself by supposedly uncovering evidence of anti-Christian bias in various places. Subsequently, his articles and columns not only attract a large following but are also used by anti-gay organizations such as the Family Research Council, the American Family Association, and other various groups who claim that the goal of lgbt equality is to suppress Christianity.

According to the site Equality Matters, Starnes serves as a willing mouthpiece to these groups; i.e. their conduit to the mainstream press when it comes to pushing their anecdotes of anti-Christian bias.

Starnes himself has made viciously untrue comments about lgbts such as:

LGBT equality is ushering in 'cultural cleansing, and

LGBT equality will lead to bestiality

Starnes also has a reputation as a sloppy reporter whose personal biases causes him to either embellish or omit details in his articles and columns; details which contradict his overriding claim of anti-Christian persecution.

And this wouldn't be the first time he has gotten into trouble for sloppy journalism. In 2003, Starnes was fired by the Baptist Press for what seemed to be a deliberate misrepresentation of quotes by then U.S. Education Secretary Rod Paige. Apparently, what Starnes did was so bad that before the truth was discovered, several civil rights groups and members of Congress  were demanding Paige's resignation.

Since that time, Starnes has been the stirring stick of several controversies which go beyond the Paige controversy.

Below is a short summary of  a few of  the controversies Starnes  has created. Accompanying these controversies are the facts which he either omitted or didn't investigate further to discover. Not all of these controversies involve claims of gays supposedly persecuting Christians, but they all weave the false theme of anti-Christian bias. And we all know that when there are false themes of anti-Christian bias, sooner or later, these themes filter down to fingers being pointed at the lgbt community.

April 2013:

1. Starnes spin - The United States Military was deliberately blocking access to the official website of the Southern Baptist Convention because of anti-Christian bias.

Truth - The website was blocked because of virus issues. This was confirmed by the Baptist Press, the news source of the Southern Baptist Convention.

From Right Wing Watch

2. Starnes spin - The United States Military will begin court marshaling Christians in an effort to kick them out of the service

Truth  - "As Warren Throckmorton points out, the Defense Department guidelines on proselytizing and religious bias that has so enraged Starnes and others was actually put in place in 2008 during the Bush administration and the language clearly “draws a distinction between simply speaking about one’s faith and coercion.”

"Throckmorton also notes that Starnes twisted a statement from a Pentagon spokesman “to make it seem as though the outcome of religious proselytizing cases would be court martial.” '

From Right Wing Watch

September 2013:

Starnes spin - A San Antonio non-discrimination ordinance will bar all Christians from serving in public office, discriminate against folks for having prior anti-gay beliefs, and will "force churches to allow transgender bathrooms."

Truth - Equality Matters refuted every one of those claims. The site called the last claim regarding churches a boldfaced lie.

December 2013:

Starnes spin - Veterans Administrations Hospitals in two states (Texas, Georgia) refuses to accept Christmas cards made by children in a show of anti-Christian bias

Truth - This was probably the most significant debunking given to Starnes because it was by a fellow Christian, Alan Noble. In an absolutely blistering piece entitled Todd Starnes Sold Us a War on Christianity. We Bought It, Noble outright accuses Starnes of lying:

Last week, Todd Starnes at FOX News published two articles on anti-Christian discrimination at Veterans Administrations hospitals this Christmas season. In both reports, Starnes lies and tactfully omits facts in order to deceive his audience, creating the impression that the government is at war with Christmas. . . .

 . . . Starnes’s wide influence on evangelicals is alarming because he consistently deceives and manipulates facts in order to exaggerate or fabricate incidences of Christian persecution. These reports influence a great deal of people who often respond with hatred, anger, and disgust out of ignorance.

Jan. 2014:

Starnes spin - A first grader was prohibited by her teacher from talking about how her family puts the Star of Bethlehem on top of their Christmas tree. Her teacher then told her to stop talking about the Bible in class

Truth - The school and the teacher involved published a public statement denying the incident.  The student was taking too long in her presentation. The teacher helped her through it but then cut it short because there were other students who had to do their presentations. At no time did the teacher tell the student to stop talking about the Bible in class or that no one is allowed to discuss the Bible in class.

From Right Wing Watch.

April 2014:

1. Starnes spin - As part of a lgbt-inclusive anti-bullying workshop at Linden Avenue Middle School in New York, two female students were forced to kiss each other.and male students were told to carry condoms in their pockets

Truth - The school district investigated and issued a statement that neither of these incidents took place

From the Huffington Post (Full disclosure. I wrote this Huffington Post article.)

2. Starnes spin - A kindergarten student in Florida was told that she could not pray before eating her lunch.

Truth - The school investigated and could find no evidence that the incident took place. An interesting addendum to this controversy was that the child in question was the daughter of Marco Perez. Perez is the vice president of sales of a Christian publishing house (Charisma House) which published Starnes's recent book on - what else - anti-Christian persecution.

From Right Wing Watch , the Orlando Sentinel, and Equality Matters

October 2014

Starnes spin - An church in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho was being forced to marry a gay couple.

Truth - The "church" in question, The Hitching Post, was not a church but a "for-profit" business which also offered secular weddings. In fact, city never even took legal action against it.

From Equality Matters (Equality Matters pointed out that other anti-gay organizations and blogs pushed the story but that Starnes was the first who sounded the phony panic alarm)

February 2015:

1. Starnes spin - An Oregon bakery which refused to bake a cake for a same-sex couple could face a fine of up to $200,000

Truth - “Todd Starnes is writing that the bakery owners face fines of up to $200,000 in damages. That’s false,” said Charlie Burr, (Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries) communications director. “In fact, it’s the Kleins who have asked for $200,000 in damages from our agency for our enforcement of the Equality Act.”

From Raw Story

2. Starnes spin - Students at Acalanes High School in Lafayette, California were bullied during a class presentation put on by the school's Queer/Straight Alliance.

Truth - Acalanes High School District Superintendent John Nickerson sent email to Equality Matters denying Starnes's claims:

It is not clear what other primary source Fox News used for their reporting, but their "opinion" piece on the program does not reflect what actually took place.

From Equality Matters

At a time in which journalistic honesty is being scrutinized because of controversies involving NBC's Brian Williams and Starnes's colleague at Fox News, Bill O'Reilly,  it is amazing that Starnes has gotten away with so many incidents of sloppy journalism and deliberate embellishment of facts

Starnes doesn't care about being truthful because he is too busy presenting an argument. Such a mindset is a dangerous one for a journalist to have. He seems to be determined to prove that there exists an anti-Christian bias in this country (particularly coming from the lgbt community) whether or not such a bias exists.

And it is something for the lgbt community to remember  and remind people of because if we should eventually win marriage equality in all 50 states, Starnes's articles and columns, no matter how sloppy and embellished, will play a huge part in the religious right's argument of anti-Christian suppression.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Anti-gay groups clearly lying about possible fate of Washington state florist

An excellent publication, The New Civil Rights Movement which is run by a good colleague of mine (David Badash), pointed something out which I want to piggyback on because I want to make as much people as possible know this:

"Barronelle Stutzman is now going to lose her business, her life savings, and possibly her own home for putting her faith into practice," Fox News' Erick Erickson claimed, incorrectly, yesterday.
Stutzman "stands to lose her business, her home, and her personal savings," a CNN op-ed today wrongly claimed.

And The Heritage Foundation ran this apparently fictive piece today:
In a phone interview with The Daily Signal, Barronelle Stutzman said the decision—and its accompanying fines—will put her flower shop out of business, or worse.
After the fines and legal fees, “There won’t be anything left,” Stutzman said. “They want my home, they want my business, they want my personal finances as an example for other people to be quiet.”

According to the Huffington Post, this is the story:

Benton County Superior Court Judge Alexander C. Ekstrom found that the florist (Stutzman) violated consumer protections when she wouldn't sell flowers for the same-sex wedding of a longtime customer because of her religious beliefs. The couple was protected by the Washington Law Against Discrimination, which prohibits bias based on sexual orientation, the court ruled.

Since that time religious right and conservative outlets have been pushing the idea that Stutzman is in danger of losing her home and business. To them, she has become the face of their argument for so-called "religious liberty," or the idea using religious beliefs as an excuse for businesses to discriminate mainly against lgbts. As you read above, they have been emphasizing the idea that Stutzman could lose her home, life savings, and business. Even the American Family Association sent the following out:

But the notion that Stutzman could lose her home, life savings, etc for supposedly "opposing gay marriage" is a deliberate stretching of the truth.

'Fox News personality compares gays to terrorists' & other Friday midday news briefs

National attention turns to Charlotte as Franklin Graham, Benham brothers speak out against Charlotte LGBT ordinances - Oh boy. How come "fun stuff" like this hardly ever happens in South Carolina? 

Fox's Erick Erickson: The Only Line Between "Gay Rights Extremists" And "Islamic Extremists" Is "Death" - Which really makes no sense at all, but then again Erick Erickson DOES work at Fox News. One thing he said irritates the heck out of me. It always drives me crazy when folks like Erickson categorize their attempts to stomp on lgbt equality as a "mere disagreement with homosexuality." We're not talking about a "mere disagreement" here but actions (and lies told) geared to making lgbts second-class citizens. Actions usually create reactions. In other words, if you don't want lgbts to react negatively to you, stop acting negatively towards us. ESPECIALLY stop lying on us and then hiding behind your religious beliefs.  

Doctor Who Turned Away Gay Moms Isn't the Real Problem -- Here's What Is (Video) - This is a VERY INTELLIGENT look at the recent controversy of the pediatrician who refused to treat the child of a same-sex couple. Read it all before passing judgement. 

 Kentucky Bill That Would Have Let Students Sue If They Saw Transgender Students In Certain Bathrooms Fails - THANK GOODNESS! The bill was stupid on so many levels.  

Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus Asks President Obama To Remove Brunei, Malaysia, From Trade Deal - Remove all anti-gay countries from this trade deal. Period.

Todd Starnes spreads another false anti-gay story. How does he stay employed?

Todd Starnes
Pretty soon, folks are going to start asking how does Fox News personality Todd Starnes stay employed. According to Media Matters, he got caught pushing yet another false story of anti-Christian persecution:

In a February 9 opinion piece for, Fox News' serial misinformer and mouthpiece for anti-gay hate groups Todd Starnes reported on allegations that high school students at Acalanes High School in Lafayette, California, were "bullied" by the school's Queer Straight Alliance during a class presentation. His report drew heavily from a press release by the Pacific Justice Institute (PJI), an anti-LGBT hate group with a history of fabricating horror stories to combat efforts to make schools welcoming for LGBT students. Starnes concluded his report by asking, "Has it really come to this, America -- forcing students to declare their allegiance to the LGBT agenda?" 

The story spread across right-wing media, being featured on BreitbartWNDMRCTV, and a number of smaller conservative outlets, as well as being shared thousands of times over social media.

The problem was that neither Starnes, nor any of the conservative outlets for that matter, did any further investigation or even waited for the district investigation before raising hell. If they had, this is what they would have found:

 . . .  in an email to Equality Matters, Acalanes High School District Superintendent John Nickerson thoroughly debunked the claims made by Starnes and PJI (emphasis added):
An examination of the program and classroom environment would suggest gross inaccuracies in the Pacific Justice Institute press release. It is not clear what other primary source Fox News used for their reporting, but their "opinion" piece on the program does not reflect what actually took place. Did not happen [quoted directly from PJI's press release]: ridiculed and humiliated / intimidation and interrogation / also had students line up. The peer led classroom activity was a carried out in a respectful environment and under the supervision of the classroom teacher. The activity focused on tolerance and acceptance, with an emphasis on anti-queer harassment and homophobia. It was intended to help students better understand the LGBTQ student experience. The program is in its 15th year at Acalanes High School and his been a model program and replicated throughout the region.

Media Matters also points out that Starnes and Fox News in particular shouldn't have relied solely on PJI for the story because the organization duped them before:

This is the second time Fox News and other conservative outlets have been duped by the Pacific Justice Institute. In 2013, PJI was caught promoting a fabricated story about a transgender student in Colorado harassing girls in the school bathroom - a claim that was also debunked by that school's superintendent. Starnes contacted Nickerson for his own piece, and Starnes quoted Nickerson as writing that the school was aware of the "concerns and allegations raised by two parents and the Pacific Justice Institute" and that it was "investigating the situation."

But rather than waiting for the investigation to be completed, Starnes uncritically parroted PJI's allegations. 

Starnes is swiftly getting a reputation by some as an activist exposing anti-Christian persecution. However to many others, he is actually a sloppy reporter who allows his personal views to cloud his judgement when writing his pieces.

And he is leaving an paper trail of false allegations and bad work.

 Just how long is that paper trail?

Tune in to this blog next week to find out.