Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Three reasons why religious right groups are bigoted - a visual exercise

To hear religious right groups (i.e. the Family Research Council, the National Organization for Marriage, the American Family Association, etc.), they are unfairly attacked because they are standing up for the so-called Biblical view that homosexuality is a sin.

Of course this is a lie and I have used their words to demonstrate this time and time again.

So how about a different tactic.

I have it narrowed down to three reasons why religious right groups are bigoted and rather than use their words, I am going to use graphics, specifically their own graphics which they created to visualize and scare up opposition of the lgbtq community.

1. Stigmatization

As visualized by this awful doctored picture of openly gay Congressman Barney Frank as a leering TSA agent (courtesy of Peter LaBarbera from Americans for Truth), religious right groups have this need to define lgbtqs solely by sex acts.

Whether it be pathological or deliberately planned, to religious right groups such as the Americans for Truth or the Family Research Council, our lives are consumed with sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Never mind that we form long-lasting relationships and have thriving families because those facts don't fit in the mindset they want to push on American about us.

2. Lies

And as these two flyers demonstrate, religious right groups aren't above lying about the legislation which would benefit the lgbtq community. Both of these flyers claim that lgbtq-inclusive hate crimes legislation would lead to pastors being arrested for calling homosexuality a sin.

President Obama signed lgbtq-inclusive hate crimes legislation into law in 2009. Since that time, not one pastor - or anyone else for that matter - claiming that homosexuality is a sin has been brought up on charges of committing hate crimes. Not one.

3. Fear tactics

Now comes the fear. Religious right groups channel actor Kevin McCarthy at the end of the motion picture Invasion of the Body Snatchers. For those not familiar with that scene, that's when McCarthy runs out in the middle of busy traffic screaming at the top of his voice that the aliens are here and "You're Next!" if you ignore his warning.

But rather than telling adults that they are next, religious right groups tell adults that their children are "next," i.e. that they are being "targeted" by the lgbtq community.  The implication is that gays need the young to freshen up our ranks, so to speak. It's a tactic which has worked repeatedly whether done by Anita Bryant in the 70s, or in its more sophisticated form now by Maggie Gallagher, Brian Brown, and the folks at the National Organization for Marriage as well as other groups such as the Traditional Values Coalition and Concerned Women for America. It's really no different than when racists said that integration would lead to black men "rutting" on white women.

 So there you go. Three simple reasons why religious right groups are bigoted.

Any questions?

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'NOM's push for money includes 'censored' pastors' and other Wednesday midday news briefs

 The following picture is what Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage is pushing in his latest "we need money" push:

It truly boggles the mind and it gives me an idea for a nauseating afternoon post. Don't eat before 5:30 folks.For more info about this picture, go to Jeremy Hooper's blog.

And in other news:

Harry Jackson Embarks on Campaign to Repeal Marriage Equality in Maryland - Not accidental of course. Jackson will naturally exploit Maryland's black churches.

Transgender (Mis)Education - Excellent piece which speaks to something missing (including by myself) - proper education regarding the transgender community.

‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill Sponsor: Students Shouldn’t ‘Be Exposed To Alternative Lifestyles’ - If "alternative lifestyles" is defined as same-sex households, then this bill is more nasty and mean-spirited than originally thought.

Archdiocese of Baltimore: Having their tax-exempt cake, eating our rights too - It's amazing how some people abuse their tax-exempt status.

Lesbian Couple Told to 'Get a Room', Asked to Leave Phoenix Restaurant After Kiss: VIDEO - What the hell?

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Religious right continue to slander judge for DOMA decision

It seems that so-called traditional values groups are highly selective when it comes to which parts of the Bible they follow.

While they thunder from the mountains about how the Bible condemns homosexuality, by their words against U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White (the judge who recently declared the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional), these groups seem to ignore the verse prohibiting bearing false witness against one's neighbor.

I've already mentioned how the Family Research Council called White a "San Francisco judge," thereby making a sly implication about his sexual orientation.

Mat Staver and our favorite homophobe, "Porno Pete" LaBarbera accused White of "helping Obama sabotage marriage."

Now Randy Thomasson of SaveCalifornia is getting into the act:

"Judge White is out of order. He is unconstitutional by ruling DOMA unconstitutional," Thomasson contends.

Of course not one of these folks will talk about the following:

White was confirmed to the federal bench by a voice vote in the Senate after being nominated by President George W. Bush in 2002. He’s the only judge confirmed to California federal courts during Bush’s two terms. After being nominated, White was approved by a bipartisan judicial selection committee and received praise from Democrats and Republicans alike. 

Nor will they even comment on the evidence used to defend DOMA:

White’s decision is remarkable for the extent to which it debunked the evidence presented by (Paul) Clement (the lawyer hired to defend DOMA by the Republicans in the House of Representatives) in opposition to same-sex marriage. Long before the decision was released, Clement’s defense was plagued with accusations of distorting research, avoiding cross-examination, and relying on widely discredited junk science. White’s ruling further demonstrated the lack of credible evidence presented in opposition to marriage equality.
Notably, he rejected the claim that same-sex couples were unfit to raise their own children, declaring:
More than thirty years of scholarship resulting in over fifty peer-reviewed empirical reports have overwhelmingly demonstrated that children raised by same-sex parents are as likely to be emotionally healthy, and educationally and socially successful as those raised by opposite-sex parents.
White went on to criticize the evidence Clement provided on same-sex parenting, criticizing his sources as “questionable,” “non-scientific,” and “without peer review.” 

These facts don't matter as long as these supposed Christian groups gain points by slandering Judge White.

And apparently these attacks are working.  Republican lawmakers will be appealing Judge White's decision.

Good luck on that, guys.

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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Black leaders should not ignore same-sex families of color

From Think Progress comes the following needed information:

Today, a coalition of public policy and family advocacy organizations released “LGBT Families of Color: Facts at a Glance,” which sheds light on the disparate impact of outdated laws and family policies on LGBT families of color and their children. The publication explores the challenges that LGBT Families of color face on a daily basis and dispels the myth often perpetuated in the media that LGBT families are largely white and middle class.

According to “LGBT Families of Color,” there are roughly 2 million children in the United States being raised in LGBT families and 41 percent of these families are people of color. Both black and Latino same-sex couples are more likely to raise children than white same- sex couples. Black lesbians for example are twice as likely to be raising children as their white lesbian counterparts. The report also notes that:
Children of color, in particular, are more likely to be raised in diverse family configurations that include de facto parents and are more likely to be raised by LGBT parents. Therefore, antiquated laws have a disproportionately negative impact on children of color.
An alarming number of LGBT families of color are living in poverty. For example, 32 percent of children being raised by black same-sex couples are living in poverty compared to 7 percent of children raised by married heterosexual white parents. Yet many of these families, simply because they are LGBT, are denied access to safety net programs and federal and state tax benefits that would improve their economic situations.

The report gives a number of good solutions to this problem. I have a solution also.

How about the power brokers in the black community give this report some attention.

I'm talking to Roland Martin.

I'm talking to Tavis Smiley.

I'm talking to every organization claiming to speak for the black community, particularly those who publish annual "State of Black America" reports.

This is the time where we need true black leadership. These families need support but unfortunately they don't seem to get it.

What they do get are charlatans turning cute phrases against marriage equality in public while getting their palms and egos greased in private by mostly white-led religious right groups eager to play the black and gay communities against one another.

I get so tired of hearing about a coalition of black pastors standing at a press conference whining - at the behest of the National Organization of Marriage or what ever other religious right group - that one "can't equate sin with their skin" or  "that homosexuality cannot be equated with being black."

It saddens me that these pastors are deliberately ignoring the fact that they know same-sex families of color who would benefit from their support. These families aren't going to disappear no matter how many Biblical verses are spoken.

It pains me that these supposed men and women of the cloth are fooling themselves into thinking that God somehow smiles upon them as they spew rhetoric which makes life difficult for these families and their children.

And it angers me that folks like Smiley, Martin, and many other black leaders will most likely cling to their Bibles as an excuse to ignore these families, as an excuse do the wrong thing rather than a reason to do the right thing.

These pastors and these leaders need to acknowledge same-sex families of color because until they do, they are stabbing their own people in the back.

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'Mega-church pastor wants lesbian mayor to resign' and other Tuesday midday news briefs

More information at

And in other news:

NH Republican Lawmaker: Push To Repeal Marriage Equality Will Create ‘Backlash Against Republicans - Word to with wise: you lay down with the National Organization for Marriage, you will come up with fleas.

Mega Church Pastor Calls On Houston Mayor Parker To Resign For Promoting Marriage Equality - Oh Puleeeeaze!

The Top 10 Ways You Can Help the Global Gay Movement - Every last one of these ideas are excellent suggestions.

Franklin Graham: Political Correctness is 'Persecuting Men and Women of Faith' - Apparently, "persecution" now means giving an assload of radio and television interviews to talk about how "persecuted" you are.

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Family Research Council's new website is pathetic

Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council
The Family Research Council has launched a new webpage and I say that its a victory for the work that has been done to call out the organization's lies.

From Equality Matters:

Family Research Council (FRC) president Tony Perkins sent an email to supporters warning about “The Commitment Campaign,” an effort launched in November by Third Way to reframe the debate over same-sex marriage by discussing the value of commitment between gay spouses. According to Perkins, the campaign is a “deceptively-named” attempt to affirm “fake ‘marriage,’ ” and FRC needs donations to stop it.

Perkins then pushed the following webpage called "Stop Fake Marriage."

Now when this page was first premiered, it was rather sloppy with huge spelling errors. Of course FRC has corrected those spelling errors.

However it's too bad that the organization neglected to correct the errors when it comes to pushing reasons why marriage equality is so-called fakery. FRC makes the following three claims:

Children will be indoctrinated:

If same-sex "marriage" is legalized, sex-ed classes from K-12 will be required to teach that same-sex relationships are virtuous, and that anyone who disagrees "such as parents or pastors" are bigots. One homosexual opinion leader, Daniel Villareal, admitted, "Recruiting children? You bet we are! We wanted to deliberately educate children to accept queer sexuality as normal." FRC experts have documented this agenda, and your donation will help us inform more lawmakers, courts, and parents.

Leave it to FRC to take one point by one gay author and use it to generalize about the entire community. Villareal of the online blog Queerty was merely making a point - albeit in a fashion more suited to shock rather than logic - that the lgbtq community must not allow the right to define the argument when it comes to children and learning about same-sex relationships because not only are these relationships positive but also there are children being raised in same-sex homes. FRC took only paragraph out of his piece. You can read the entire piece here.

You will lose religious freedoms

Same-sex marriage at the local level has already been used to shut down Christian adoption agencies in Boston and the District of Columbia. Consider that. If same-sex marriage is imposed nationally, church facilities, family ministries, Christian officials "like county clerks and justices of the peace" and Christian-run wedding businesses and more will be pressured to compromise their views or face crushing legal consequences. Your donation will help FRC experts expose these dangers.

These agencies were receiving tax dollars to provide services but they refuse to allow same-sex couples to adopt the children in their care. Church facilities are not forced to hold same-sex weddings. Clerks and justices of the peace are elected to follow the law, not their own religion. And if the law says that same-sex couples should be allowed to wed, those officials should either follow the law or resign. Finally "Christian-run" business generally have to follow non-discrimination laws, just like every other business. One wonders if FRC would be so favorable to said business if the owners specifically wouldn't cater to Christians.

Lives will be ruined by deception

Decades of social science research shows that same-sex relationships do not have the same level of commitment as traditional marriages. Promiscuity, mental and physical health problems, and other turmoil in same-sex relationships vastly exceed that of heterosexual relationships. That is not message of hate, as homosexual activists claim. Ours is a message of fact-based, loving concern for all, including those trapped in homosexuality. Silence is not loving. Your donation will help FRC speak the truth in love.

Here lies our victory. Usually when FRC pulls the "homosexuality is a dangerous lifestyle" lie, the organization supplies links to studies and research - albeit the studies are fraudulent pieces written by FRC members such as Peter Sprigg or studies taken out of context. But there is nothing here. FRC doesn't even bother to post any proof of its claims.

Who knows? Perhaps being declared a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center and the constant stream of truth-telling by bloggers like myself is making FRC reluctant to put its phony proof on the table.


All in all, FRC's "Stop Fake Marriage" page is amusing. The only reason why anyone should donate to this page wouldn't be out of righteous indignation, but rather pity in hopes that with more money, FRC could come up with a less pathetic website.

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Monday, February 27, 2012

National Organization for Marriage slapped down by the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court just gave Brian Brown and NOM something to really cry about.

According to Think Progress, the National Organization for Marriage continued its losing streak in front of the courts with a huge loss at the U.S. Supreme Court:

The Supreme Court has decided not to hear the National Organization for Marriage’s challenge to Maine’s campaign finance laws:
The Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear a constitutional challenge to a Maine law that requires those seeking to raise and spend money in state election campaigns to organize as a political action committee for that activity, and make significant disclosures about their financial operations.   That was challenged in a petition, National Organization for Marriage v. McKee (11-599), after the state law was upheld by the First Circuit Court.
Though this may be perceived as a non-event, it represents a huge defeat for the anti-gay organization’s secrecy and as well as its self-victimizing claims that supporters of “traditional marriage” are persecuted for their beliefs. NOM was one of the top fundraisers supporting Maine’s Question 1 in 2009, a people’s veto of marriage equality legislation that ended up passing. For three years, NOM has used this lawsuit to keep the sources of its funding hidden, but now the organization has no other avenues to appeal, having lost every step of the way.

Though their identities remain unknown, NOM has a select group of donors that fund most of its operations. In the meantime, it purports to have a broad base of “members,” even though it doesn’t collect any money from membership dues. It is particularly fortuitous that NOM faces this loss in addition to its similar setback in Washington state, as both states are planning for referenda to approve marriage equality this year. Unfortunately for Brian Brown, John Eastman, Maggie Gallagher, and the rest of the NOM crew, free speech does not come without the cost of accountability, and the world might soon see just how NOM has paid for its.

Just in time for the 2012 marriage equality fights. How very fitting. Now instead of jeering, how about we take some action. We all know where NOM's money is probably coming from. The Supreme Court has set up the coup de grace for us.

Now we need to deliver it.

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'Santorum whining about religious persecution' and other Monday midday news briefs

Santorum Embraces the Religious Right's Latest Lie - Give a bigot a shot at getting a presidential nomination and watch him lose his mind.

Vote For Marriage NC courts the 'all gay men need diapers' vote - "Diaper Pastor" Patrick Wooden is heavily involved in the effort to stop marriage equality in North Carolina and Jeremy Hooper has the pictures to prove it. So much for that "intelligent and reasonable" conversation.

Conservatives Livid at Bush-Appointed Judge who struck down DOMA - Geez. What took them so long.

Nebraska Churches Buy Full-Page Ad To Oppose LGBT-Friendly Nondiscrimination Protections - 214 churches are destroying their own integrity here. This is a secular issue having nothing to do with them.

Know Thine Enemy: The Worst Anti-Gay Moments Of The Week, February 19 - February 26 - Last but not least, a hot mess of crazy.

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Washington Post publishes poor article on marriage equality

The Washington Post published an article last week sure to make the National Organization for Marriage squeal with happiness.

It focuses on the Maryland black pastors who stand against the newly passed marriage equality law in the state:

Nathaniel Thomas spent decades as an administrator in Howard University’s student affairs office, counseling young people not only about their course work but also about their personal quests for justice. He came to the ministry at the dawn of middle age, eager to help people, and especially fellow black men, discover in the word of God a path out of despair.

Over the past couple of years, as Thomas and dozens of other black clergymen in Prince George’s County have stood on the front line of the campaign against same-sex marriage, he has come to see the revolution at hand — in his view, a rebellion against religion and tradition — as an assault on the sustainability of the black family.

Which is why Thomas and his friend Reynold Carr, director of the Prince George’s Baptist Association, are gearing up for the next battle, a statewide ballot referendum in November to challenge the legalization of same-sex marriage, which the state House of Delegates approved last Friday. The state Senate passed a measure Thursday evening; Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) said he will sign the bill. The pastors are not predicting victory in a referendum, but they think they stand a better chance among voters than politicians.

. . . He knows that some gay activists are incredulous that black ministers could oppose a civil rights initiative. “ ‘How dare a black preacher take this position,’ they say, ‘because you’ve felt this pain,’ and I have,” he says. Over the decades, he has marched for voting and housing rights and fought for equal protection for blacks.

But Thomas and the 77 other Baptist ministers in the association do not see same-sex marriage as a civil rights matter. Rather, they say, it is a question of Scripture, of whether a country based on Judeo-Christian principles will honor what’s written in Romans or decide to make secular decisions about what’s right. In Maryland, as in California and New York, opinion polls have shown that although a majority of white voters support recognition of same-sex marriage, a majority of blacks oppose it, often on religious grounds.

Unfortunately the article reads like a NOM press release. Allegedly the pastors are "being picked on." The pastors are allegedly "called bigots." I say allegedly because the article offers no proof of this other than what the pastors claim. The article didn't even talk about black pastors in the state, such as Delman Coates, who supports marriage equality and have actually spoken out for it.

And the worst part? The article doesn't even talk about lgbtqs of color. Nor does it quote any lgbtqs of color. The article pushes the false notion that the gay and black communities are diametrically opposed when we all know that there is some serious overlapping of the two - particularly when it comes to same-sex households.

In 2000, the Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Black Justice Coalition came out with a groundbreaking study which looked at African-American same-sex households. The study found that:

According to the 2000 Census, there are almost 85,000 Black same-sex couples in the United States. Some 14% of all same-sex couples who self-identified on the US Census were Black same-sex couples. These couples and their families will be disproportionately harmed by proposed state and federal anti-gay marriage amendments. Despite the prejudice they may face due to racism and anti-gay bias, Black same-sex couples create and sustain stable families, many of them with children, and defy hurtful stereotypes of both Black people and gay and lesbian people.

. . . Black men and women in same-sex households in the U.S. are about 25% more likely than White men and women in same-sex households to hold public sector jobs (16% of Black same-sex partners hold public sector jobs, vs. 13% of White same-sex partners). Many municipalities and state governments now offer domestic partner health insurance to employees in same-sex relationships (along with spousal health insurance to married employees). Because most of the anti-marriage amendments currently under consideration in the U.S. go beyond banning same-sex marriage and either ban or threaten domestic partner health insurance, such initiatives are a disproportionate threat to Black men and women in same-sex households.

You see the passage of marriage equality is an important issue for the black community. It's not about religious beliefs, but fairness for all families.

Unfortunately you will never hear about that nor will you hear about the presence of black same-sex couples from these pastors who are supposed to be looking out for the welfare of the entire black community.

And unfortunately that same degree of silence seems to be echoed by The Washington Post.

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Friday, February 24, 2012

Know Your LGBT History - Billy Tipton

Billy Tipton (December 29, 1914 – January 21, 1989) was a bandleader and a jazz pianist who, when he died, was discovered to have been a female assigned at birth.

He led a fascinating life and deserves to have a movie made about him:

Past Know Your LGBT History posts:

'Catholic Church promises to stop Maryland marriage equality bill' and other Friday midday news briefs

MARYLAND: Catholic Church Vows To Overturn Same-Sex Marriage Bill - Let's see. That's Minnesota and Maryland. If the Catholic Church is going to interject itself in a secular issue, it should be taxed. The fact of the matter is that the bill does not affect the church at all. And don't give me that junk about Catholic Charities. It's a taxpayers issue. If they get taxpayer's monies, they shouldn't be allowed to discriminate. And while we are talking, someone needs to investigate just how deeply invested is the Catholic Church in the activities of NOM.

FRC Furious with Cheney for Supporting Marriage Equality - Is it just me or is the Family Research Council showing its collective ass today? It's RARE that I agree with Dick Cheney on anything but I am in his corner on this one.

Maryland Republican Lawmaker Describes Himself as a 'Changed Person' on Marriage After Meeting Gay Couples - This is a perfect reason why the religious right doesn't want to talk about same-sex families. When people get to know us for who we are, it's harder for their lies to compete.

You're Not Furious, And It's Killing Us - A MUST-READ post on the importance of taking down religious right lies about the lgbtq community as soon as they come up.

Gov. McDonnell Says Marriage Equality Should Be Left To The States, But Claims Gays Make Inferior Parents - Another person spouting his "personally held religious beliefs" from his tuckus.

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Family Research Council attacks judge who ruled against DOMA

 Thanks to the Family Research Council, it is one of those two post mornings. After reading this and getting angry, pan down to Family Research Council doesn't think same-sex families are worthy of federal benefits

Those who have noticed religious right silence regarding the recent court decision declaring the Defense of Marriage Act  (DOMA) unconstitutional are not imagining the silence.

Religious right groups have been uncharacteristically silent about the decision. The Family Research Council has, to my knowledge, been the only group who made a comment about the decision. And of course, the group is attacking the judge:

Yesterday, a San Francisco judge struck down the part of DOMA that stops the government from offering benefits to same-sex spouses. 

You got that? FRC didn't call  U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey White an "activist judge." Instead, they called him a "San Francisco judge."

The term is an ugly dog whistle to its supporters which plays up to the stereotype that San Francisco is the alleged "gay capital" of the United States. By labeling White as a "San Francisco judge," FRC is implying that either White himself is gay or that he has been "corrupted by the city."

Family Research Council doesn't think same-sex families are worthy of federal benefits

In spite of all their talk about love and Christian values, religious right groups don't like the lgbtq community. They don't think of us as normal nor deserving of support for our families.

You want proof of this accusation? Check out how the Family Research Council is complaining about a recent decision of the Obama Administration:

Homosexuals may not want the government to interfere with their sex lives, but they have no problem asking taxpayers to subsidize them. Under this administration, the President's plan for getting the economy back on track is spending millions on benefits that violate federal marriage law. According to John Berry, the first openly gay director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), his office is close to finalizing a long list of perks for the same-sex partners of federal workers. Under the regulations, significant others would qualify for child care subsidies, insurance and retirement benefits, evacuation pay for overseas work, survivor annuities, eligibility for non-competitive federal jobs, and the employee assistance program. Although couples don't have to be in a legal union to qualify, OPM refuses to give straight workers the same benefits. Only gays and lesbians are eligible for these incentives, making it one of the more discriminatory policies in the federal workforce. 

The following is just a few of these so-called "perks:"

Allowing an employee to obtain child-care subsidies for the children of a same-sex domestic partner.

Providing evacuation pay to cover an employee’s same-sex partner from an overseas location in the event of an emergency.

Treating domestic partners like spouses for purposes of choosing an insurable interest option at retirement. This could provide a survivor annuity for a same-sex partner.

Making same-sex domestic partners of federal employees eligible for noncompetitive federal jobs when a staffer returns from an overseas assignment.

Clarifying that the domestic partner of an employee may take advantage of an agency’s employee assistance program. The basic program services, according to OPM, include free, short-term counseling and referral for various issues affecting employees, such as substance abuse, stress, grief, family problems and psychological disorders.

So to the Family Research Council, providing these things, which are important to same-sex couples and our children, is somehow "subsidizing gay sex."

The implication of that is astounding as well as insulting.  But FRC's complaint does reveal the organization's duplicity, particularly this part:

OPM refuses to give straight workers the same benefits. Only gays and lesbians are eligible for these incentives . . .

Well if that's a problem, then I have an idea. Allow same-sex couples to get legally married like straight couples can.

But of course FRC wouldn't want to advise that.

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Maryland passes marriage equality bill!!

A year after a heartbreaking session in the Maryland legislature in which a bill pushing marriage equality couldn't even get a vote, same-sex couples' right to marry have been vindicated.

The Maryland Senate passed a marriage equality bill by a vote of 25-22. This vote comes on the heels of the Maryland House of Delegates passing the bill. Governor Martin O'Malley is expected to sign it.

However, just like in the case of Washington state, which also passed a marriage equality bill this year, folks are expecting a referendum on the bill.

Last year, the National Organization for Marriage - the group leading the charge against the bill in Maryland - was able to exploit divisions in the black and gay communities in order to keep the bill from coming up for a vote in Maryland's House of Delegates.

My guess is that NOM will be committing that same ugly tactic to garner votes for the referendum.

So while the fight has just begun for marriage equality in Maryland, those who fought for this day should celebrate fully.

More details from the San Diego Gay & Lesbian News are as follows:

 . . . opponents tried to tack on a number of "poison pill" amendments to the bill, but failed on all counts.

The most egregious example was by Sen. David Brinkley. The Republican senator slowly read a lengthy letter in support of an amendment to the bill, droning on and on, spouting faulty science, lies, half-truths and alleged incidents of discrimination against people of faith who oppose the rights of LGBT Americans. He claimed marriage equality would compromise religious freedom in Maryland; nevermind that the bill offers protection from that.

Several senators interrupted Brinkley, asking if he were on point, and Senate President Mike Miller eventually urged Brinkley to "speed read" the rest of the letter, provoking laughter in the chamber.

Witnesses in the chamber tweeted that some members of the gallery, weary of the long interruption by Brinkley, began giving each other massages. One senator shared a box of chocolates with other colleagues, most of whom seemed disinterested in Brinkley's brinkmanship.

The amendment that Brinkley supported was overwhelmingly rejected, 34-11.

Sen. Allan Kittleman, a Republican, stood up and explained his vote for marriage equality. He called it the "civil rights issue of our generation."

Sen. Dolores Kelley, a Democrat, gave a wonderful speech rebutting the argument that marriage is for procreation. She humorously asked if those too old to procreate will have to give up their marriages, under that argument.

Sen. Rob Garagiola said the bill would outlaw state-sanctioned discrimination against gay and lesbian families, calling it a civil rights issue.

The openly gay Sen. Rich Madaleno gave a heart-felt speech on making history in Maryland, and he wished his husband, Mark, who was caught up in traffic, were there in the Senate chamber. The couple have two children.

The Senate's public galleries were packed for the historic vote, and marriage-equality supporters erupted into sustained applause and cheers when the bill passed.

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'Ex-gay group sued for defamation' and other Thursday midday news briefs

NJ Governor Chris Christie went on Morning Joe to defend his decision to veto his state's marriage equality law which was just passed by the legislature. He tried to turn his appearance into an attack on President Obama but was taken down a peg by openly gay journalist Jonathan Capehart. See Think Progress for more details about the exchange.

In other news:

Truth Wins Out Files Defamation Lawsuit Against ‘Ex-Gay’ Organization PFOX - This is going to be GOOD. Go get 'em Truth Wins Out!

Santorum opposes civil unions for same-sex couples - Damn, Rick! Would you at least let us have cheese on a Whooper?

Liberian First Lady Jewel Taylor Submits Bill to Make Homosexuality a Felony with 10-Year Prison Term - Well isn't she a sweetheart.

Maryland’s Baltimore County Council Passes Gender Identity and Expression Anti-discrimination Protections - Way to go, Baltimore County!

Pastor Accuses Google, Starbucks and Amazon of 'Doing the Devil's Work' by Supporting Marriage Equality - Okay who told him? Can't anybody in the lgbtq community stop telling our secrets?

Third Suspect Arrested in Brutal Videotaped Atlanta Gay Bashing - Good. Put that SOB under the jail!

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Powerful documentary sheds light on bullying

I just saw the following trailer courtesy of Towleroad and my God, I am speechless.

There are no words to convey how powerful this documentary is:

"Bully" will be out in limited release on March 30. For more information, go to the official website.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

DOMA ruled unconstitutional . . . as I knew it would be

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) just got a swift kick in the ass:

Moments ago, Judge Jeffery White of the District Court for the Northern District of California ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) violates the Constitution’s equal protections clause in a case brought by Karen Golinski. Golinski, represented by Lambda Legal, “was denied spousal health benefits by her employer, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.” White was appointed to the court by President George W. Bush in 2002. Read the full opinion here. (HT: GinnyLaRoe)

What happens next is anyone's guess. One thing is clear though. Ever since the Obama Administration announced that it would no longer defend DOMA in the courts and Speaker of the House John Boehner (at the behest of several religious right groups) announced that Congress would defend the law, a blind man unconscious from toxic fumes could have predicted this outcome.

And while I'm not a blind man (Thank God) who inhaled toxic fumes (double Thank God), I broke stories on the fact that the defense of DOMA was shoddy.

Boehner's team is defending DOMA against Edie Windsor, an 81-year-old woman suing the federal government for not recognizing her union with her late partner.  Back in August of last year, I broke the story that the lawyer hired to defend DOMA, Paul Clement, was relying on junk science, including studies from discredited researchers Paul Cameron, George Rekers, and Walter Schumm

If that wasn't bad enough, one of the researchers cited by Clement for his defense of DOMA, Lisa Diamond, complained that her work was being distorted.

 And to think that for all of this, we the taxpayers paid over $1 million.

I am happy that DOMA has been declared unconstitutional, but I want to know where in the hell do I go to get my money back.

There will be more details forthcoming.

For more background on the case, see Lambda Legal.

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'NOM having problems with campaign finance laws AGAIN!' and other Wednesday midday news briefs

AFA Tries to Link JC Penney Credit Rating Drop to Ellen DeGeneres - After all, lying is what the American Family Association does best.

NOM EXPOSED: Minnesota has become the Wild, Wild West of campaign disclosure this cycle - For a "Christian" group, the National Organization for Marriage seems to have lots of trouble with following laws on campaign finance disclosure.

How To Bully Gay Kids - Nasty bit of business coming from Focus on the Family.

Tennessee Activists Hold Anti-Gay Lawmaker Accountable - I LOVE it when they realize that lgbtqs vote. It scares the heck out of some folks.

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Gays compared to pedophilies, necrophiliacs (again?)

It's a two-post morning again. Mercy! After retching over this one, pan down to read  Catholic Charities exploiting children in fight against marriage equality

From an online buddy of mine comes this monstrosity of yet another member of that awful religious right group Concerned Women for America maligning our community again:

Testimony on Feb. 21, in the subcommittee of the Georgia House Judiciary Committee on House Bill 630 (State Fair Employment Practices Act) included comments from Tanya Ditty, state director for the anti-gay Concerned Women of America. Ditty asked committee members to oppose the bill because she believes the bill, among other things, would allow such things as necrophilia, zoophilia and pedophilia:

Ditty is no different than another member of Concerned Women for America, Janice Crouse who last year created a video making all sorts of ugly accusations about the lgbt community.

No doubt folks like Ditty and Crouse will swear that they say these things because they love us.

I can do very fine without love like that. In fact, we all can.

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Catholic Charities exploiting children in fight against marriage equality

Think Progress has pointed out something very interest when it comes to the Catholic Church's very pronounced opposition to marriage equality.

An argument of those who oppose marriage equality is that it would force religious entities to violate their personal beliefs. One of these entities is the Catholic Charities, which works to place children in adoptivehomes. According to the National Organization for Marriage and others who oppose marriage equality, allowing same-sex couples to wed would force Catholic Charities to choose between abandoning children who need to be adopted or going against the Catholic Church's beliefs against homosexuality.

However, as  Zack Ford from Think Progress points out, the situation in Colorado involving the possibility of civil unions reveals that this argument may not be true and Catholic Charities could be using children as pawns to stop marriage equality:

During last week’s hearing before the Colorado Senate Judiciary Committee, a spokesperson from Catholic Charities testified that if the state legally recognized same-sex civil unions, the organization would halt all adoption and foster care services in the state, as they have in states like Illinois. Senators Pat Steadman (D) and Ellen Roberts (R) pointed out that — unlike in other states’ laws — the proposed bill clearly says that adoption agencies will not be required to place children with gay and lesbian couples, but Catholic Charities threatened to end its services nontheless:
CATHOLIC CHARITIES: We would not be able to adopt to same-sex couples.

STEADMAN: And the bill doesn’t ask you to.

ROBERTS: I just have one clarification as to whether you think the bill would prohibit those services or if you think, under a state of law, you would choose not to provide those services?

CATHOLIC CHARITIES: Under the state of law, Catholic Charities would have to discontinue our service in adoption and foster care. We would discontinue our service.

You see that? Even when informed that they are excluded from the Colorado civil union law, the Catholic Charities are volunteering to place children in jeopardy of not being placed in adoptive homes.

It's a sad thing to think that stopping marriage equality is a zero sum game to the Catholic Church and if children are to be used as pawns then so be it.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Maryland black pastor gives excellent defense of marriage equality

Rev. Delman Coates
As marriage equality moves closer to becoming a reality in Maryland, it's important to remember something.

The National Organization for Marriage is playing the divide and conquer game between the gay and black community to the hilt and will continue to play this game with the help of some of the area's black pastors.

But not all black pastors are participating in this mockery. From NPR:

Reverend Delman Coates is a pastor at Mt. Ennon Baptist Church, located in Prince George's County, Maryland, where skepticism about gay marriage is high. He talks to us about his evolution of thought on this issue.

From Truth Wins Out comes portions of this excellent interview:

The opening moments of the interview feature a short excerpt from one of Reverend Coates’ sermons; it’s delivered in that intense rhetorical style traditionally favored by fire-and-brimstone preachers, except that he’s using this voice to scold his flock for religion-based bigotry. It makes for remarkable listening, and the interview that follows will put heart into LGBT activists who have despaired of other Christian leaders’ position on civil rights. If he’s a political conservative (and he declines to discuss his personal views on homosexuality), then he’s a rational, intellectually honest one of a type we seldom hear from these days.
“My support for the Civil Marriage Protection Act,” says Reverend Coates, “is rooted in my heartfelt sense that in America, we have to protect public policy from personal and private theology and personal belief.
“I think the principles of our country are founded upon the ideals of our Constitution which protect religious freedom and institutional autonomy, yet at the same time preserve individual liberty as well. I’m really concerned about the way in which in many of our public-policy conversations…people are using theology as a basis for public policy. I think that’s a dangerous precedent.
“Governments fund things that are against people’s religious beliefs, personal theology and doctrine, all the time. Right now, local governments and municipalities allow for alcohol establishments, liquor stores in communities, gambling, and yet at the same time religious institutions teach their parishioners not to engage in these activities.
“There’s a difference between our public policy imperatives and our theological imperatives. Our challenge is to live in our faith…not to legislate it.
“We want foreign policy decisions as Americans to be based on sound intelligence. We want it to be based on credible threats. We don’t want foreign policy decisions for example, to be based on the theology of a particular religious tradition….
“We know that there could come a point in the future when the majority now is no longer the majority…I want to make sure that, 200 years from now, if my local church and those who worship in the local church, are no longer the majority in the local and national community, that our rights are preserved from the theological musings and understandings of whomever might be in the majority at that time. So I think it’s critically important for us to figure out a way to segregate and to separate public policy from theology.”

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'NC anti-gay amendment organizer says even maggots wouldn't have a gay relationship' and other Tuesday midday news briefs

Top @Vote4MarriageNC ally on gays: 'I don't even think maggots would do that' - First "diaper pastor" Patrick Wooden and now this guy, Ron Baity:

According to Jeremy Hooper:

Ron Baity is such a big part of the campaign to put a gay marriage ban into North Carolina's constitution that the Associated Press, The Winston-Salem Journal, and a number of local news stations have used the pastor as a commentator in the past month alone. He's also the guy who organized that big rally last May, at which prominent figure like Tony Perkins showed up to speak.

You gotta love those allies the National Organization for Marriage is counting on for a "respectful conversations" about marriage equality in North Carolina.

 In other news:

Gay ceremony at ag museum nixed - Because apparently lgbtqs don't pay taxes in Mississippi (snark).

Indiana Lawmaker: Girl Scouts ‘Radicalized Organization' Promoting 'Homosexual Lifestyle' - I knew there was something strange about those "thin mints."

Update: El Paso Mayor John Cook wins recall appeal - I love it when homophobic actions backfire.

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My problem with GoProud - where is the pride?

Jimmy LaSalvia and Chris Barron of GoProud

The Republican gay group GoProud has been given a lot of negative names by many in the lgbtq community from "quislings" to "sell-outs" to "Uncle Toms."

While I'm not as descriptive of my displeasure of GoProud, believe me when I say that it's there.

I'm not a fan of GoProud for many reasons.

Now I could go on about how it is representative of the bourgeois myth of the gay male that I found so offensive when it was trotted out by Showtime network via that abysmal show Queer As Folk.

And I could make a point to mention how I have yet to see any gay men of color in the group (although I have been assured that black gay men are members).

But my single problem with GoProud is not necessarily what the organization represents, but what it hasn't done.

There is a consistent degree of immaturity with GoProud which I find annoying. Spokespeople of the group, Chris Barron and Jimmy LaSalvia, seem to go on and on about the so-called intolerance of the "gay left" and how they are "pariahs" because they are conservative Republicans.

They seem to take some sort of demented pleasure in this whining.

Meanwhile . . .

Tony Perkins of the anti-gay hate group the Family Research Council is still looked upon by members of the Republican Party (and members of the media) as a legitimate conservative leader.

Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council is still being called to be an "expert witness" in front of state legislative committees, when he is not creating phony social studies on the the lgbtq community.

Republican speaker of the House John Boehner is still wasting taxpayer dollars defending DOMA via abysmal junk science.

Republican state legislative bodies are attempting to pass all sorts of mean-spirited anti-gay laws, such as the "Don't Say Gay" bill in Tennessee.

And the National Organization for Marriage is trying to wreak havoc on marriage equality nationwide while simultaneously sitting on its haunches and waiting for the Republican primaries to end so it can attach itself to the winner like a fungus.

It's not the "gay left" behind these endeavors, but conservatives and the Republican party.  However, to my knowledge, GoProud has commented on very few - if any - of these anti-gay actions within the enclave it claims to be a member of.

And therein lies the problem I have with GoProud.

I may not agree with its philosophy as a Republican group, but I would respect the organization more if it spent as much time calling out the Republican party  and the religious right for their attacks on the lgbtq community as it does whining about the "gay left."

Pointing the finger at the supposed monsters on the other side of the fence while ignoring the fire breathing dragons in your court makes you look rather hypocritical.

Does GoProud have any gumption? Does it have any guts to challenge the disgusting status quo within the Republican party - the status quo which rewards you in terms of how anti-gay your position is or how many ways you can show your homophobia without shouting the dreaded "f" word.

I doubt it.  Instead, GoProud seems to be going hardcore with the martyr act, thereby devoting too much time and energy to splitting the lgbtq community into opposite and divisive camps.

I sincerely hope that this is not an intentional goal of GoProud. It leaves one wondering just who is really pulling the strings of the organization.

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Monday, February 20, 2012

'Porno Pete' LaBarbera wants you to know what 'anal warts' look like

Over the years, I have joked about and done my best to expose the wanton homophobia of "Porno Pete" LaBarbera, head of the hate group Americans for Truth.

And my best ally in that matter has been him. But today, I think he stooped to a level which even shocks me.

Today, he has decided to post on his site a picture of an STD - anal warts - close up.

Accompanying that morbid picture, he features a guest post from Lara Melton, a woman who has allegedly spent 20 years typing acute care medical record.

Melton proceeds to make the following claims:

Because of privacy issues, I cannot cite the specific contents of the actual medical reports I have transcribed – but the following are some general examples of what they reveal [Editor’s note: AFTAH has added web links giving further information about these maladies]:

Gay-on-Gay Assaults are at the hands of their same-sex domestic partners (not “hate crimes”) and are repetitive. (Reading details of the beatings is highly disturbing.);

Besides the many patients with HIV/AIDS, extremely common conditions are patients with penile lesions, testicle swelling and epididymitis*, anal warts, anal lesions, anal tearing, anal scarring, perirectal fistulas, external hemorrhoids with recurrent bleeding and anal abscesses, requiring surgeries such as colectomy, colostomy and colorectal surgery.

Some have rectal cancer (anal cancer). [See; UCSF;

Many have substance abuse problems and the resultant psychiatric disorders, depression, suicidality.

Anal Laxity: From my work I have learned that repeated sodomy (or anal sex) results in a condition called anal laxity (looseness) that requires surgery or a colostomy bag in order for the bowels to function properly.

Research tells us that when lgbtqs suffer problems of substance abuse, depression, etc, it's generally because the effects of homophobia. Also, that fear of homophobia plays a serious role in gays not going to or trusting their doctors and thereby missing basic health instruction.

No study or research has ever blamed the lgbtq orientation for medical problems.

As for the other stuff Melton alleges, I have a problem its truthfulness, particularly the parts regarding "anal laxity." It's no secret that LaBarbera seems to be on this kick about gay men and "loose bowels" ever since that awful five-part interview with homophobic diaper pastor Patrick Wooden. During the interview, Wooden claimed that gay men have so much sex that they require surgery and diapers. He also claimed that gay men use gerbils and cell phones as sexual instruments.

However, it seems that perhaps LaBarbera is garnering negative attention from his obsession with this mess, hence the need to refer to a "mysteriously anonymous" typist of medical reports.

And also because of his need to post a close-up picture of anal warts.

Now we may shudder in disgust when looking at LaBarbera's page or laugh at his psychological need to go off the deep end when attacking the lgbtq community, but let's not forget one thing.

LaBabera is a living, breathing embodiment of homophobia. He puts stuff like this on his page to demonize us, to make us look like monsters in the eyes of others.But his stridency backfires and he ends up looking like the monster.

But there are others out there who can temper themselves (i.e. the National Organization for Marriage, the Family Research Council, Tony Perkins, Maggie Gallagher, Peter Sprigg) and push a better balance between stigmatizing the lgbtq community and pretending to be concerned experts.

Watch them. They are the real dangers.

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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Maryland vote for marriage equality especially sweet for this black gay man

I'm not from Maryland but Friday's vote advancing marriage equality coming from the House of Delegates there was a sweet victory for me because of what happened last year.

Last year, they didn't even call a vote, particularly because some African-American delegates attacked not only the notion of marriage equality, but lgbtq equality in general:

Delegate Emmett Burns: The Fight For Marriage Equality Is Not Akin To The 1960's Civil Rights Movement Because "Those Who Are Gay Can Disguise Their Propensity": 
If same-sex marriage is to be equated with the movement that I know, then, if you will, show me your Birmingham, Alabama where high-pressure water hoses were turned on us so powerful that it knocked the bark off trees just because we wanted our right. If you want to compare same-sex marriage with civil rights as I know it, show me those who had their homes invaded by the Ku Klux Klan at night and burned down their homes and businesses and churches and lit firey crosses on your lawns because of same-sex marriage.
I am a black man, an African American. I cannot choose my color, nor do I wish to do so. Those who are gay can disguise their propensity. [emphasis added]

While these comments were vicious on their own, I wasn't naive to not know who encouraged those delegates to say these things - the National Organization for Marriage.

Playing the black and gay community against one another is a tactic the organization has mastered in many places from Maryland to New York to North Carolina. Taking the guise of the character Iago in the play Othello, NOM does a venomous whispering game in the ears of black leaders, claiming that gays are trying to piggyback on the struggles of African-Americans.

Last year, I remember how NOM bragged about these statements made by those delegates, like an arsonist who sets a fire and then dances in the middle of his chaos. I also remember how angry and hurt I felt. Not particularly as a gay man, but as a black gay man. The games NOM played in Maryland last year makes it difficult for lgbtqs of color to come out to our own community. But does NOM care? Of course not.

The vote to pass marriage equality by the same Maryland body who rejected it last year was blessed proof that evil only triumphs for a season but good has a way of coming back.

Unfortunately, Maryland still has a long way to go to fully pass marriage equality and I am sure that NOM will play that game it did last year to impeded the progress.

So in anticipation, I am reposting what I wrote after last year's defeat in hopes that someone - anyone - particularly African-Americans living in Maryland will read this and not allow themselves to be played by an organization who doesn't give a damn about them:

From one black man to the black community - stop the homophobic madness!

March 14, 2011

During last week’s legislative session in Maryland when lawmakers were pondering the idea of gay marriage, a few black lawmakers took the time to not only criticize gay marriage but also the notion of lgbt equality in general.

We’ve all heard the hurtful sayings before - “you can’t compare gay rights to black civil rights because you can hide being gay,” “gays and lesbians were never oppressed in the same manner in which blacks were oppressed,” etc., etc.

It would be an awful generalization to say that all in the African-American community have these beliefs. In Maryland many African-Americans, including Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, publicly supported marriage equality.

However, statements voiced by some Maryland lawmakers unfortunately stand out and not in a good way. In answer to these comments, I could go on about the many lives either crippled and lost at the hands of gay bashers like that of Matthew Shepard, or the wholesale genocide of lgbts by the Nazis in German, or the suicides of lgbt youth such as Tyler Clementi, or the present day usage of junk science by religious right groups to demonize the lgbt community.

But why bother. I’ve reached the point where I hate having to do it.

It’s sad how no one ever talks about how this tug of war between the African-American and lgbt community over equality can negatively affect us lgbts of color. For me personally, it’s an awful psychological rending, a forced dividing of myself into two halves which have no business separating in the first place.

And as a gay man, I especially hate it. I hate the idea of us lgbts having to put the history of our oppression on some sort of display. I hate the notion that lgbts are put on a witness stand where we have to list how many times we have been beaten, disrespected, or denied our basic humanity in order to somehow prove our “worthiness.”

It always leaves me wondering are the scars of the lgbt community deep enough? Is our humiliation painful enough? Have we shed enough blood to suit those who would judge on us on those things?

Don’t get me wrong. I am all for understanding the aesthetic differences between the African-American struggle and lgbt struggle for equality. But there comes a time when we must recognize the folly of this constant struggle over whether the two are similar.

And that time is now.

It distresses me to no end that on the subject of lgbt equality, some African-Americans are taking on the guise of those who oppress them.

Those who oppressed (and continue to oppress) African-Americans have the belief that somehow blacks are inferior and will never measure up. Therefore they figure that black people are not deserving of certain basic rights. What’s more awful is how they use the Bible to justify their discrimination.

Now, it seems that some African-Americans have told members of the lgbt community that their suffering is inferior and will never measure up. And therefore, the lgbt community are not deserving of certain basic rights. And guess what? They too use the Bible to justify their discrimination .

It’s a nasty, stupid game. And those who choose to play it should know better.

Being oppressed is not a status symbol. Being oppressed is not a mark of achievement. It should never be used as a pedestal to somehow judge whether or not a group of people are “worthy” of being treated like basic human beings.

Not that it will make a difference in the minds of the people who choose to play this game, but some of those same lgbt scars belong to African Americans. Some of that lgbt pain and humiliation comes from African-American hearts. And some of that lgbt blood shed at the hands of homophobic monsters come from African-American bodies.

And that is the saddest thing about the entire mess. When some African-American leaders rag against lgbt equality, they fool themselves into thinking that they are speaking against hedonistic upper class white gay men sipping fancy cocktails in a ritzy bars.

But that notion is so far from the truth.

African-American leaders who speak against lgbt equality are stabbing their own people in the back - the young black lesbian kicked out of her home for “acting like a man,” the effeminate black gay boy constantly picked on by bullies, the older African-Americans lgbts left adrift and rendered invisible by their own black community, and all of the other assorted black lgbt brothers, sisters, cousins, nephews, nieces, and close friends not given the courtesy of simple public acknowledgement.

And while these self-righteous black leaders may claim that they don’t mean treat their own people in this manner, their pathetic mea culpa don’t mean a drop of water in the bucket to those like myself who have to deal with such things on a constant basis.

Through their barrage of hurtful comments, these black leaders foster a rejection of African-American lgbts like myself, thereby telling us that we are not a genuine part of the black community.

And that hurts.

Whether folks want to admit it or not, the African-American community is linked to the lgbt community, and not just by those who us who belong to both groups. Our oppression is sometimes similar and the folks behind it are sometimes the same entities.

The majority white-led and populated religious right groups who exploit this tug of war between the African-American and lgbt communities are quick to be the so-called protectors of the civil right movement's legacy but render themselves conveniently invisible when issues like socio-economic inequalities in minority health and education pop up.

And that's not by accident.

However, we don’t recognize this because we forget to treat each other with dignity and respect. And because some of us become victims of inaccurate assumptions - be they religious, racial, or otherwise - which deceives us into thinking that the scars we bear due to hate are badges of honor and exclusivity instead of reminders of what we must never become.

Some African-Americans need to be forewarned. Ultimately this battle over lgbt equality will become less about gay rights and more about the soul of the black America.

At the very least, it poses a basic question - have over 400 years of oppression taught black America nothing about dehumanization, being exploited, and having to “prove” worthiness?

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