Monday, October 20, 2014

How anti-gay groups created false story of anti-Christian persecution involving Idaho wedding chapel

There is a lot of controversy and questions about the Idaho for-profit wedding chapel which has supposedly gotten into trouble for not marrying same-sex couples.

Anti-gay groups are playing the case up big time by claiming it proves what they have been saying all along - that marriage equality will force Christian ministers to marry same-sex couples under the penalty of law.

Or in the words of the Family Research Council:

If homosexuals get their way, Pastor Donald Knapp won’t be behind the pulpit -- he’ll be behind bars. That’s the stunning development in Idaho, where the day liberals promised would never come is already here. Two ministers -- a husband and wife team -- have been told by their city government that refusing to “marry” a same-sex couple will send them straight to jail.

After 25 years of owning The Hitching Post wedding chapel, Donald and Evelyn are being faced with a situation neither of them thought possible: being imprisoned for their faith. Like the flood of state amendments steamrolled by activist judges, Idaho’s fell earlier this month. And with it, religious liberty. Fearing the worst, the Knapps reached out to Alliance Defending Freedom, concerned that their chapel would be targeted. Less than a week later, the battle was at their front door.

For Donald and Evelyn, there was never any question what the duo would do. Unapologetically Christian, the husband-and-wife team is overtly religious, marrying couples with faith-driven vows, and even offering marriage sermons on CD to newlyweds. That doesn’t matter to city officials, who had this marriage message for The Hitching Post: Conform or be punished. And not just any punishment, but 180 days in jail and up to $1,000 in fines for every day the ministers refuse to perform the ceremony.

However, once you get past the hysteria and the hyperbole generated by the Family Research Council, their cohorts at Fox News (particularly propaganda artist Todd Starnes), the Heritage Foundation,  and their vast connection of folks on twitter and right-wing blogs willing to push this story, you get a bit alarmed at the deception taking place here.

According to Zack Ford from Think Progress:

Back in May, when a federal judge first overturned Idaho’s ban on same-sex marriage, the Hitching Post Chapel in Coeur d’Alene expressed concern about the possibility of having to marry same-sex couples. The wedding chapel located just across the street from the Kootenai County Courthouse recognized that it would be subject to the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance, which requires that public accommodations (like businesses) offer service equally regardless of sexual orientation. Now that marriage equality is the law in Idaho, the Hitching Post owners Donald and Evelyn Knapp have filed a federal lawsuit for the right to discriminate.

At the time, Coeur d’Alene City Attorney Warren Wilson explained, “If you turn away a gay couple, refuse to provide services for them, then in theory you violated our code and you’re looking at a potential misdemeanor citation.” Wilson clarified that religious entities are exempt under the city ordinance, but apparently told Mr. Knapp at the time that the Hitching Post was not exempt because it is a business, not a religious corporation like a church. As same-sex couples began marrying last week, the Hitching Post did apparently turn away a same-sex couple.

And just who was this same-sex couple? We don't know.

Advice for those attending a same-sex wedding . . .

I know that we are all in a serious battle over marriage equality and the anti-gay groups are pulling lies out of their collected asses, but let's take a moment for a little levity as to gay wedding advice from the comedy team of Key & Peele:

'Anti-gay right exploiting 'for-profit' ministers to create moral panic' & other Monday midday news briefs

Caught ya: Far-right's latest marriage 'victim' edited website to make more solid legal case - A false headline about ministers going to jail here, a crucial webpage change there, add a few more hyperbolic headlines and tweets and boom - you have a phony case of ministers (albeit for-profit, which the anti-gay right won't tell you) allegedly being threatened with jail time for not performing gay weddings. What's worse? The idea that the religious right are actually attempting to create this false moral panic or the fact that they are so sloppily transparent. Whatever to the good old days when villainy had a certain style and mystery?

President Obama Says There's A Constitutional Right to Nationwide Marriage Equality - Religious right major freak out in 5 . . 4 . . 3 . .  

Pelosi endorses openly trans military service - Good for her!

 Flip Benham Crashes Gay Weddings In North Carolina - I feel sorry for this fool if he ever tried to crash my wedding. The thought of what my mother alone would do to him scares the heck out of me.  

GOP Attorney General Says It Is ‘Unethical’ To Keep Fighting Marriage Equality In Court - Like I say, "give it up, turn it loose."

Family Research Council's attack on Politifact backfires

A week ago, Family Research Council president Tony Perkins had a terrible debate performance on Fox News. He was debating former Solicitor General Ted Olson and was reduced to repeating jaded talking points about how the "best place to raise a child is in a home with a mother and a father."

On that same day, Politifact rebuked Perkins for this claim, rating it as false.

Naturally, you really don't think that FRC would take that lying down? Recently, another FRC spokesman, Peter Sprigg posted a piece on the organization's webpage which supposedly calls into question Politifact's claim. In doing so, he cites a bunch of study which supposedly back up Perkins' claim:

Within hours, the “fact-checking” website PolitiFact posted an analysis of the statement—and rated it “False.”

Unfortunately, the PolitiFact article itself gets a failing grade.

That is, unless they think the non-partisan, non-profit research group Child Trends was also telling a “falsehood” when they reported, “An extensive body of research tells us that children do best when they grow up with both biological parents in a low-conflict marriage.”

Sprigg is being deceptive about the Child Trends study, just as he was in 2011 when he cited it to make the same point. I know this for a fact because back then, I pointed out:

The Child Trends study - was published in 2002.  And it never even addressed same-sex households.

Sprigg cites a lot of other studies, but based on the deception he uses with regards to the Child Trends study, one has to wonder if those citations are accurate.

Then he really steps into the puddle of inaccuracy:

 . . . the New Family Structures Study spearheaded by sociologist Mark Regnerus resulted in dramatic (and statistically powerful) results demonstrating the strong advantage held by the “intact biological family” over numerous other family forms. However—as Regnerus made clear from the beginning—even his comparison with “gay fathers” or “lesbian mothers” was only based on the adult respondents having said that at some point between birth and age 18, their father or mother had a same-sex romantic relationship. It was not a comparison with children raised by same-sex couples living and raising the children together (of which very few could be found, even in Regnerus’ large sample).

A key illustration of how the PolitiFact article lacked objectivity is that its description of the Regnerus research sounds as though it were simply cut and pasted from the talking points of “gay” bloggers. It is true that his research was sharply criticized in a variety of quarters—that is to be expected, given that academia is now dominated by liberal elites who are unwilling to tolerate the slightest dissent from the pro-homosexual orthodoxy. It is also true that among his fellow sociologists who distanced themselves from the study were members of the sociology department at his own university, the University of Texas.

To put it more accurately than Sprigg, Regnerus' study was rebuked by over 200 researchers, the sociology department of his own university, and finally a Michigan federal judge, Bernard Friedman. Earlier this year, Friedman not only struck down a law barring marriage equality in Michigan, but he was especially brutal to Regnerus's study and to Regnerus himself:

"The Court finds Regnerus's testimony entirely unbelievable and not worthy of serious consideration. The evidence adduced at trial demonstrated that his 2012 'study' was hastily concocted at the behest of a third-party funder, which found it 'essential that the necessary data be gathered to settle the question in the forum of public debate about what kinds of family arrangement are best for society' and which 'was confident that the traditional understanding of marriage will be vindicated by this study.' ... While Regnerus maintained that the funding source did not affect his impartiality as a researcher, the Court finds this testimony unbelievable. The funder clearly wanted a certain result, and Regnerus obliged."

If you ask me, Sprigg and FRC should have left well enough alone. Not only have they reminded folks of Perkins' sad debate performance, but their pathetic attempt to refute Politifact underscores just how they are willing to go to deceive . . . and all in the name of God.