1086 posts categorized "Current Affairs"

November 07, 2014

Nutso pastor says Starbucks uses semen to flavor lattes

Harlem-pastor-James-David-Manning-YouTube-800x430
(Harlem pastor James David Manning, via YouTube)

Pastor Manning just wants the job himself.

#‎Pointergate

Possibly the most racist news story of 2014.

Real Navy Seals

She's taking your calls

I predict she won't.

The Economist: America after the midterms

Economist_cover_20141108_cna400

The cover art for the latest issue of The Economist appears to put our President more in the role of Gary Cooper in High Noon than in that of the lynching victims in The Ox-Bow Incident. It is, however, a bit of an eyebrow-raising choice.

But going with their Wild West metaphor, it's time for him to reach for his six-shooters (or at least get his veto pen ready). First up, dear POTUS, is the executive order on immigration. If war is what they want, as William Tecumseh Sherman once said, let them have as much of it as they can stomach.

November 06, 2014

Summoning the Ancestors

Drag_Michelle_Obama_at_2014_High_Heel_Race_insert_c_Washington_Blade_by_Michael_Key
(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Joni Ernst channels rape scene from Deliverance

The U.S. Senator-elect from Iowa, Joni Ernst, in her victory speech, appeared to channel the rape scene from the movie Deliverance, Raw Story reports. Her speech is above, the movie scene (NSFW) is below. Ernst will be the malign gift that keeps giving.

November 04, 2014

'Your vote is precious, almost sacred. It is the most powerful non-violent tool we have….'

On this day when many elections may be swayed by aggressive voter suppression laws, it is worth re-watching this powerful speech by Rep. John Lewis, who put his life on the line five decades ago for civil rights and voting rights.

November 03, 2014

The Africa without Ebola

No_Ebola_map

From Adam Taylor at WaPo, to clear things up for those who are unclear about just how small a part of Africa is having a problem with Ebola.

October 31, 2014

Vote for Initiative 71

Cropped-banner_yes_on_712

GLAA endorses Initiative 71, the "Legalization of Possession of Minimal Amounts of Marijuana for Personal Use Act of 2014," and urges you to vote for it.

We have included it in our ratings ad, discussed it in our policy brief, Building on Victory, and discussed it in our testimony this week before the D.C. Council Judiciary Committee decrying racial disparities in police stops:

[W]e appreciate the work of our friends at ACLU of the Nation's Capital, which reported in 2013 on the dramatic racial disparity in marijuana arrests in the District:

"Officers from fifteen different police forces … made marijuana arrests in 2010, however MPD officers made 4,996 of the 5,393 total arrests, or almost 93%.... PSA 602, located in Anacostia, had a 2010 marijuana arrest rate of 2,488 per 100,000. By contrast, PSA 204, located in Woodley Park, had a marijuana arrest rate of just 33 per 100,000."

Given the roughly equal rates of self-reported marijuana use by white and black citizens, the disparity in enforcement must be confronted by this committee. In the meantime, the people are changing the law. GLAA endorses Initiative 71, the "Legalization of Possession of Minimal Amounts of Marijuana for Personal Use Act of 2014." This will not end all problems associated with the disastrously counterproductive war on drugs, but it is a start.

Unfortunately, Ward 7 Councilmember Yvette Alexander, who leans conservative on many issues, is not quite with the program, judging by her comments on Twitter:

I replied to her this morning:

Do not think for a moment that your vote doesn't matter. Please vote on or before November 4, and make sure to vote for Initiative 71. It will be a vote for fairness and justice.

October 30, 2014

Non-news of the day: Tim Cook is gay

Tim_Cook

Apple CEO Tim Cook comes out in Businessweek.

I am so inspired by his bravery, I want to announce that I am gay too. There. A burden lifted!

Kidding aside, maybe courage isn't quite the right word. Sacrifice might be closer to the mark. For an intensely private person to discuss his private affairs can indeed be a big deal for that person. Of course, just mentioning you are gay is not giving blow by blow sexual details. Few straight people consider their sexual orientation a secret. That is one of the most pernicious double standards, enforced socially and tacitly. And for such an eminent man of business to break that silence is a great gift.

42 weighs in:

Is Nick Jonas queerbaiting?

Yeah, sort of, says Towleroad.

I confess I am having trouble caring. But it appears to be a thing.

Jesuit-run university in Nebraska to offer same-sex benefits despite Church objections

Towleroad reports:

Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, has announced that it will soon offer health benefits to employee’s same-sex spouses despite the objections of Catholic archbishop George J. Lucas, reports KETV7 ABC.

Creighton UniversityOutlining the decision in a letter sent Monday to trustees, President Rev. Timothy Lannon, said that although Creighton continues to support the Catholic Church's teaching about marriage, the university is taking this step to meet the needs of its employees and remain competitive with other universities that already offer similar benefits.

Lannon added that 21 of the 28 Jesuit universities in the U.S. already offer similar benefits.

George J. Lucas, Archbishop of Omaha, reacted predictably:

I am dismayed that the recommendation of the University Benefits Committee is thought to supersede divine law regarding marriage. There is no tension between Catholic teaching and social justice; both are grounded in the same truths about the nature of the human person, the complementarity of man and woman and the meaning of human life and love.

Here's to superseding divine law.

(Hat tip: Craig Howell)

Woman who made video about catcalling is getting rape threats

This is very disturbing, even though you would have to be living under a rock to be surprised. Kelsey McKinney writes on Vox:

This video wasn't made for women facing harassment. It was made for men who remain blissfully unaware of how women are treated when they walk down the street. But instead of listening, instead of taking the time to realize how women might feel when men yell at them, these commenters — backed by their anonymity and privilege — have threatened to rape Roberts for daring to talk about it.

Let's lay this out in plain terms. Women are forced to feel uncomfortable and scared for walking down the damn street. Then, when one woman takes the time to show just how uncomfortable those interactions are, people threaten to physically assault her. If the video reminded us that women are constantly made to feel unsafe when they leave the house, the response is a reminder that women are constantly made to feel unsafe when they simply turn on their computer.

The problem here isn't just that men are ignorant of how women are treated. The problem is that many know exactly what they're doing to women, and will try to intimidate and silence women who try to fight back.

Harassment is not a compliment. It is easy to dismiss complaints of this kind of treatment if you are not routinely subjected to it. We need to check our privilege.

I was about to copy a tweet from @Hollaback, the producer of the video, but its Twitter account has been suspended. This appears to illustrate the reality of our misogynistic culture: Men who are called on their sexist and harassing behavior often react angrily and try to silence those who call them on it. Claims of fraud etc. are part of their arsenal. We are so far from done in pushing for equality. We need to defend our sisters.

Now this: Catcalling video edited out the white guys.

And this parody.

October 29, 2014

Kansas couple files brief claiming gays are stealing their marriage

Aclu-straight-couple-JPG

Kansas couple Phillip and Sandra Unruh, whose motion to intervene in marriage equality case Marie v. Moser was denied in federal district court, have filed a brief airing their absurd arguments.

Your Honor, we cannot sleep knowing that down the street those homosatanists are doing the thing that makes Jesus puke!

What's Scarier than Halloween? The Bible!

The latest from Mrs. Betty Bowers, America's Best Christian.

Mayor Parker caves on subpoenas of pastors

Annise_Parker
(Photo By Billy Smith II / Houston Chronicle)

Houston Chronicle reports:

Convinced by clergymen from across the country that she had entered a raging national debate on religious freedom she wanted no part of, Mayor Annise Parker on Wednesday agreed to withdraw controversial subpoenas the city issued to five local pastors in connection with a lawsuit over Houston's equal rights ordinance.

The mayor's announcement came amid an unabated firestorm over the subpoenas, particularly among Christian conservatives and Republican politicians, who blasted Parker for trying to "silence the church."

Parker's decision represented the only viable political option, said University of Virginia law professor Douglas Laycock, a specialist in religious liberty law. Seeking so much material was inflammatory, he said, adding that much of what the city seeks can be obtained through other means.

Did Mayor Parker not anticipate the right-wing backlash? If there is any way she could have handled it worse, I would like to know how.

Olson, Wolfson discuss marriage cases

Olson_wolfson_capehart

One of the sessions I attended at Wednesday's Washington Ideas Forum (hosted by Atlantic and the Aspen Institute) was this discussion by attorneys Ted Olson and Evan Wolfson of the state of the battle over marriage equality in federal courts. Jonathan Capehart moderated. Here's an excerpt of David A. Graham's report:

"We are winning, but winning is not won," Wolfson said. "It's not a done deal until it’s done. It's not going to waft in on waves of inevitability."

Wolfson has been leading the fight for gay marriage for more than three decades; Olson, alongside Democratic lawyer David Boies, has recently been one of its most high-profile advocates. The men were chummy, despite a kerfuffle this spring over Jo Becker's Forcing the Spring, a book some LGBT advocates felt aggrandized Boies and Olson at the expense of Wolfson and others.

There was no rivalry—just a mix of hope and frustration. On the one hand, about two-thirds of states now have gay marriage, and about two-thirds of American citizens live in those states. On the other hand, that means one third do not, and as long as same-sex marriage is not legal everywhere in the United States, they argued, the rights of gay people and their families are painfully compromised.

Other highlights of the Washington Ideas Forum were DefSec Chuck Hagel, who announced that service members returning from West Africa will face a quarantine; and Attorney General Eric Holder, who said that no reporter will go to jail as long as he is AG. Holder was interrupted by a protester decrying DOJ's record on civil liberties under Holder. Capehart, who was also the interviewer in this case, smoothly turned to Holder and asked him what about DOJ's poor record on whistleblowers and journalists. Holder defended himself, but was more credible when he talked about his decision not to defend DOMA in court.

Thanks to Atlantic Washington Editor At Large Steve Clemons for inviting me to the forum, which was held at the Harmon Center and continues on Thursday morning. A Thursday highlight will be an appearance by Secretary of State John Kerry.

October 27, 2014

GLAA: racial disparities in police stops must end

08vigilA1408062911
(Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)

Today I will testify on behalf of GLAA at an oversight hearing of the D.C. Council Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety on the Metropolitan Police Department's stop and contact policies and procedures. In it I cite findings and recommendations by our allies in the ACLU and NAACP. Here is my conclusion:

In looking at citizen complaints of police practices, we keep coming back to disparities by geography, race, and class. This is unacceptable. As I wrote in 2012, "It is easier to make excuses for stopping and frisking if you are never targeted by police based on your skin color."

Not only police but citizens in all eight wards must face the inequities around us with open eyes. When the law is not enforced in a fair and equitable manner, we undermine respect for the law. The standard carved above the entrance to the Supreme Court, "Equal Justice Under Law," is more a mockery than a reality for all too many. Dr. King issued the challenge the day before he was struck down: "All we say to America is be true to what you said on paper." If his words continue to sting, perhaps it is because love of country is all too often an excuse for self-congratulation instead of a call to self-correction.

Read GLAA's full testimony here.

October 24, 2014

A fine proposal for the South to secede

Brian Tashman reports at Right Wing Watch:

Conservative columnist and former Reagan administration aide Douglas MacKinnon is out with a new book calling for Southern states to secede ... again.

While speaking yesterday with Janet Mefferd about his book, “The Secessionist States of America: The Blueprint for Creating a Traditional Values Country…Now,” MacKinnon called for a movement of states, starting with South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, to establish a new country that will adhere to the Religious Right’s political agenda.

Texas, MacKinnon explained, was not included in his secessionist blueprint because “there have been a number of incursions into Texas and other places from some of the folks in Mexico.”

Let them leave this time, with our blessing. The GOP would never win the presidency or control of Congress again.

Ted Cruz’s Deputy Chief Jokingly Blames Ebola Infections on Obamacare

CruzChief

Chris Caesar at Boston.com reports:

The deputy chief of staff for Senator Ted Cruz thinks he knows how Ebola got into America.

Nick Muzin quickly deleted the tweet after receiving a flood of critical comments.

This provoked plenty of responses on Twitter. For example:

Muzin2

(Hat tip: Joe Jervis)

Rick Santorum: 'We're losing' because gays 'silenced the church'

Rick-Santorum-Tea-Party-Candidate

Brian Tashman at Right Wing Watch reports:

Rick Santorum thinks that young people would have come around to his anti-gay political stances if only the “statists” in the gay community hadn’t “silenced” him and other Religious Right figures.

The former senator and likely presidential candidate made the claim yesterday in an interview with Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, where they discussed the case in Houston where pastors sued the city for rejecting their petitions to repeal a non-discrimination ordinance. The city in turn subpoenaed several pastors, which Santorum and Perkins considered an affront to pastors’ rights.

“I really believe in this subject matter at hand with the gay community that a Judeo-Christian worldview cannot survive with a worldview that is as rabidly secular as this movement is,” Santorum said.

Pardon me, but if we silenced the church, why is the church still talking?

John Oliver's solution for Supreme Court video

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver has solved the problem of SCOTUS not allowing television cameras during oral arguments.

Rep. Steve King doesn't expect to meet gays in heaven

Steve_King_1

Douglas Burns at The Jefferson Herald reports:

U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Kiron, suggests gays won't make it to heaven.

What's more, in an interview, King intimated that the divorced or cohabitators could be thwarted in the pursuit of eternal salvation as the Christian faith teaches it.

Those assessments from the conservative western Iowa congressman came during his forceful takes on a preliminary document released by a collection of Catholic bishops that calls for broader acceptance of homosexuals and people who are divorced or living together without being married....

"I'll just say that what was a sin 2,000 years ago is a sin today, and people that were condemned to hell 2,000 years ago, I don't expect to meet them should I make it to heaven."

Cause ya ain't gettin' in, Bozo.

(Hat tip: Hunter at Daily Kos)

October 23, 2014

Stampede to the Exit

Stampede_insert_by_Bigstock
(Photo courtesy Bigstock)

Here is a link to my column in this week's Blade. As the election season winds down, I look at how voters are caught between scary movie and farce. Here is an excerpt:

The real problem the right has with our judiciary is that it interferes with their efforts to stampede the public. A stampede helps you enact your agenda as rapidly and with as little scrutiny as possible. James Madison worried that minorities could be tyrannized by the majority as much as by a king. The federal judiciary is part of the checks and balances he and others designed to prevent tyranny from below as well as above.

In this election, the Republican Party is winning the sweepstakes for stampeding voters to avoid examination of its record. Panic and outrage are the best ways to provoke a stampede. In the late 17th century, an accusation of witchcraft could eliminate a rival. In the early 20th century, the alleged rape of a white woman could set off destruction of an entire black community with nary a whisper of due process. Today, the favored goblins are Islamist head-choppers and sick Africans.

None of this could withstand critical inquiry; but politicians exploit our herd instinct. A beloved Psalm, after all, portrays us as sheep needing a shepherd. The faithful are called a flock. Using the brains that God gave us to think for ourselves is condemned as vanity. One of the strongest social forces is ostracism of anyone who rocks the boat. We picture ourselves as a nation of rugged frontiersmen, yet react to each new threat like a victim in a horror movie.

It is as implausible that we are helpless against ISIS attacks as it is that we are less able to stop Ebola than Senegal.

October 22, 2014

NYT Columnist Apologizes For Attending Fundraiser For Anti-Gay Legal Group

Douthatadf

I am quoted in this article by Carlos Maza and Joe Strupp at Media Matters. They report:

New York Times columnist Ross Douthat apologized for appearing at a fundraising event for Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), an extreme anti-gay legal group working to criminalize homosexuality....

As Media Matters noted, ADF is one of the most extreme anti-gay legal groups in the country, fighting against even basic legal protections for LGBT people and working internationally to repress LGBT human rights, including supporting Belize's draconian law criminalizing gay sex.

On Wednesday, Douthat explained that he did not know ADF's event was a fundraiser and said he plans to decline the honorarium he received from the event.

I note that my quote (follow the link) was given before word of Douthat's apology. I am glad that he apologized and will not accept the honorarium.

October 21, 2014

The Hitching Post Wedding Chapel controversy

Hitching-Post-Idaho-638x425
(Donald and Evelyn Knapp, owners of the Hitching Post Chapel. Photo credit: Alliance Defending Freedom)

The anti-gay Alliance Defending Freedom is suing the City of Coeur D’Alene, Idaho in a "gays are bullies" case. Last Friday, ADF attorneys filed a federal lawsuit and a motion for a temporary restraining order against the city. Here is an excerpt:

This case is about the City of Coeur D’Alene unconstitutionally coercing two Christian ministers, Donald and Evelyn Knapp, to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies at The Hitching Post Wedding Chapel in violation of their religious beliefs, their ordination vows, and their consciences. Coeur D’Alene does so by imposing a Hobson’s choice on the Knapps through City Ordinance §9.56, which bars sexual orientation discrimination in public accommodations: the Knapps can either violate their religious convictions and ministerial vows by performing same-sex wedding ceremonies or follow their religious convictions and vows by declining to perform same-sex ceremonies and face up to 180 days in jail and up to $1,000 in fines.
This was reported by Todd Starnes of Fox News: City threatens to arrest ministers who refuse to perform same-sex weddings

The story was given legs by Eugene Volokh at WaPo: Can ministers who make a living by conducting weddings be required to conduct same-sex weddings?

The claim that those awful gays are bullying ministers does not survive closer inspection. Here are several stories to check out:

A quick Google search shows that the right wing is going nuts over this story. We have to fight back with the truth.

October 19, 2014

Headlines about the Catholic synod that miss the real news

N-SYNOD-large570

Check out these headlines on the failure of the Catholic Church's extraordinary synod to achieve the supermajority needed to adopt even watered-down language reaching out to gays:

All three are accurate, but the Times avoids the wrong emphasis. The real story here is that a Catholic synod voted 118-62 in favor of any slightest move away from its monolithically anti-gay position, not that there was strong opposition to it, not that it fell short this time. The effort Francis has started will not soon be completed, but his sacking of Cardinal Raymond Burke as prefect of the Apostolic Signatura shows he means business.

I left the Church long ago, but I respect those who, having chosen to stay and fight, are sticking with it. We don't all have to make the same choices (unlike in pre-Reformation Christendom). People like the folks at New Ways Ministry deserve our respect for their perseverance. As it happens, they now have a sympathetic pope. But the College of Cardinals is packed with appointees of JPII and Benedict, and the conservatives have a lot of power. It is going to be a long struggle.

October 18, 2014

Pope Francis removes anti-gay Cardinal Burke from Vatican court

Pope Francis has removed the virulently anti-gay Cardinal Raymond Burke (interviewed above prior to this development) as prefect of the Holy See's Apostolic Signatura, the Vatican's supreme court. Excellent news. Timmian Massie reports at NCRM:

American Cardinal Raymond Burke, a darling of conservative Catholics who is virulently anti-gay, has confirmed to BuzzFeed what rumors from Rome have said for weeks. He will be demoted by Pope Francis from the head of the Roman Catholic Church's version of the Supreme Court to a figurehead role as the Patron of the Knights of Malta, a chivalrous order known for its work among the sick....

Burke recently told an interviewer that legally-married gay and lesbian family members should be shunned from family celebrations during the upcoming holidays, asking “what would it mean to grandchildren to have present at a family gathering a family member who is living [in] a disordered relationship with another person?”

Burke's strong criticism of a preliminary document that included more inclusive welcoming of LGBT community members in the life of the Church and his challenge to Francis, who is seen to have had a hand in the drafting of the document, were apparently the last straw for the Pope.

I am not a praying person, but if you are, please pray for the health and longevity of this pope. The cleanup job he faces rivals the Augean Stables.

October 17, 2014

Sen. Cruz attacks Mayor Parker over Houston Equal Rights Ordinance


The battle over the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance continues, with Sen. Ted Cruz demagoguing (see video below) and the city clarifying its subpoena.

Arizona gets marriage equality


Good news from Arizona! Lily Hiott-Millis at Freedom to Marry reports:

Today, October 17, U.S. District Court Judge John Sedgwick ruled in favor of the freedom to marry in Arizona in two federal legal cases that challenged the state’s anti-marriage constitutional amendment.

Attorney General Horne has said that he will not appeal the ruling meaning that marriage licenses could be issued as soon as today.

In celebration of hermaphroditic snails

Snail-shell-on-keys-garry-gay
("Snail Shell on Keys" by Garry Gay)

In an update on my earlier post regarding the new snail species Aegista diversifamilia, Manon Verchot at Treehugger.com quotes me, including my new lyrics channeling Cole Porter:

Bi-curious whales do it, quails do it,
New hermaphroditic snails do it.
Let's do it, let's fall in love.

Below, though sadly without benefit of my special lyrics, Billie Holiday gives her rendition. Use your imagination.

October 14, 2014

Love and snails

Snails
(Photo by Chih-Wei Huang)

Azeen Ghorayshi of the Guardian reports:

Researchers in Taiwan have taken the unusual step of naming a newly identified species of snail in recognition of same-sex marriage rights. Dubbed Aegista diversifamilia, the hermaphroditic species was so named to reflect the “diversity of sexual orientation in the animal kingdom”, said Dr Yen-Chang Lee, who co-authored the study published on Monday in the journal ZooKeys.

Today GLAA received the following media inquiry:

Hi,

My name is Manon Verchot, I am a journalist working at TreeHugger.com. I'm writing a piece about a new species of snail being named in celebration of same sex-marriage (http://bit.ly/1tZE2Jk) and I would love to get a statement from your organisation addressing what your thoughts are on this and what you think it means (if anything).

I will be publishing this piece Thursday morning, I would really appreciate it if you could get back to me before then.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Manon

I like to be helpful to members of the press, so I replied:

Manon,

It seems like a lovely tribute, though I am somewhat reticent because inevitably some confused social conservative will complain that the next thing you know, someone will want to marry his pet snail. As it happens, I have no pet snail, and do not wish to marry one. Thus what began so pleasantly ends up with my having to deny amorous feelings toward gastropods.

Rick Rosendall
President
Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, D.C.

On a more serious note, those interested in the extensive examples of homosexuality that scientists have observed among animals should take a look at Biological Exuberance by Bruce Bagemihl.

October 13, 2014

Roman Catholic Synod points to a pastoral shift on gays

Pope-Francis-arrives-at-the-Vaticans-Paul-VI-Hall-for-the-Synod-on-the-Family-Oct.-6-2014_Credit-Bohumil-Petrik-CNA-2 (Photo courtesy Denver Catholic Register)

Here are the relevant paragraphs from the bulletin issued today by the Synod of Catholic Bishops, which, as you will see, strike a more positive tone without being everything a self-affirming gay Catholic might have hoped:

Welcoming homosexual persons

50. Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community: are we capable of welcoming these people, guaranteeing to them a fraternal space in our communities? Often they wish to encounter a Church that offers them a welcoming home. Are our communities capable of providing that, accepting and valuing their sexual orientation, without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony?

51. The question of homosexuality leads to a serious reflection on how to elaborate realistic paths of affective growth and human and evangelical maturity integrating the sexual dimension: it appears therefore as an important educative challenge. The Church furthermore affirms that unions between people of the same sex cannot be considered on the same footing as matrimony between man and woman. Nor is it acceptable that pressure be brought to bear on pastors or that international bodies make financial aid dependent on the introduction of regulations inspired by gender ideology.

52. Without denying the moral problems connected to homosexual unions it has to be noted that there are cases in which mutual aid to the point of sacrifice constitutes a precious support in the life of the partners. Furthermore, the Church pays special attention to the children who live with couples of the same sex, emphasizing that the needs and rights of the little ones must always be given priority.

Read the bulletin here. New Ways Ministry welcomes the news. Thomas Reese at National Catholic Reporter writes, "Synod document offers new style of being church." (Hat tip for NCR article: Jonathan Rauch)

Continue reading "Roman Catholic Synod points to a pastoral shift on gays" »

October 12, 2014

Gay Marriage Obstacles Fall in Conservative States

WireAP_74697077e87e4732940a17a01f4adaea_16x9_992
(AP Photo/Las Vegas News Bureau, Brian Jones)

AP surveys the remarkable legal developments of the past week. Here's a portion:

The U.S. Supreme Court issued an order Friday that appears to have cleared the way for gay marriages in conservative Idaho. Gay rights supporters are cheering in Boise as state officials were trying to determine when weddings might take place. At least one county clerk in Idaho began issuing same-sex marriage licenses.

Meanwhile, a federal judge in North Carolina has struck down the state's gay marriage ban, opening the way for the first same-sex weddings in the state to begin immediately. The ruling follows Monday's announcement by the U.S. Supreme Court that it would not hear any appeals of cases before the 4th Circuit Court, which has jurisdiction over North Carolina.

As our opponents continue to make noise and talk about the downfall of civilization, it is good for us to savor the simple happiness and decency of so many families gaining legal protections and recognition that they never had before. In winning these battles, we are helping make America live up to its founding principles. This is not the end of the struggle for marriage equality, but it is a sweet moment.

Texas AG: gay marriage ban reduces out-of-wedlock births

Greg_Abbott_10_Commandments
(Greg Abbott poses with 10 Commandments at state capitol. Photo by Jana Birchum, Getty Images)

Houston Chronicle reports on the brief that Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, the Republican nominee for governor, filed with the Fifth Circuit on Friday in that state's fight against marriage equality:

Writing in a brief filed to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday, Abbott said the state was not obligated to prove why gay marriage might be detrimental to the economic or social well-being of Texans. It was only required to show how opposite-sex marriage would be more beneficial for its citizens.

“The State is not required to show that recognizing same-sex marriage will undermine heterosexual marriage,” the brief read. “It is enough if one could rationally speculate that opposite-sex marriages will advance some state interest to a greater extent than same-sex marriages will.”

Abbott may not be charged with contempt of court, but the contempt he shows for the court, the truth, and real families in his preposterous brief could hardly be more clear. It must at last be recognized: we are no longer talking about disagreements, but about lies. Desperate, insulting, cynical lies. Stopping me from marrying the man I love does nothing to advance any state interest. The notion that straight people's marriages are somehow devalued by allowed gay couples to wed should leave any decent and honest person's mouth agape. The final resolution of this nonsense cannot come soon enough.

Go Wendy.

October 10, 2014

Nobel Peace Prize for Malala Yousafzai, Kailash Satyarthi

10nytnow-nobel-master675
(Photo by Andy Buchanan/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images)

NYT reports:

Reaching across gulfs of age, gender, faith, nationality and even international celebrity, the Norwegian Nobel Committee on Friday awarded the 2014 peace prize to Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan and Kailash Satyarthi of India, joining a teenage Pakistani known around the world with an Indian veteran of campaigns on behalf of children.

At age 17, Ms. Yousafzai is the youngest recipient of the $1.1 million prize since it was created in 1901. Mr. Satyarthi is 60.

A fine bit of news.

October 09, 2014

Justice Kennedy's busy day

Anthony-kennedy-supreme-courtjpg-c883337d536561bb_medium

Supreme Court Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy issued a temporary stay Wednesday to the Ninth Circuit's ruling that same-sex marriage bans in Idaho and Nevada are unconstitutional. Later in the day, he lifted the stay on Nevada.

Chris Geidner at BuzzFeed discusses it.

My main reaction is: Hey thanks, Justice Kennedy, for jerking us around. By all means, take your sweet fucking time while thousands of families' lives are up in the air. Would you like more coffee? I just put a fresh pot on. Have another scone.

Update: And now this:

Civil Forfeiture

Introducing Law & Order: Civil Forfeiture Unit, starring Jeff Goldblum. This is funny, but the problem is real, and it is appallingly arbitrary and unjust. Police departments are enriching themselves simply by seizing people's cash during stops and keeping the money without charging the people with a crime, based on arbitrary and evidence-free claims like, "No one carries that much cash for an honest purpose."

October 08, 2014

Diseases and Demagogues

Child_vaccinated-Julien_Harneis
(Photo by Julien Harneis)

My Blade column this week looks at the right wing's political exploitation of Ebola. Here's a portion:

Obama Derangement Syndrome spiked again last week over Ebola, after a man from Liberia was diagnosed with the viral disease in Dallas, Texas.

Radio talk show host Laura Ingraham asked, "Why did Obama let the Ebola virus into the U.S.?" Another radio demagogue, Michael Savage, said Obama "wants to infect the nation with Ebola" as part of a war on white people. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) said that the American troops being sent to West Africa to help fight the Ebola outbreak are really being sent "to go catch Ebola and die." Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX) managed to connect the Dallas Ebola case with ISIS, the IRS, and Benghazi. Fox News host Steve Doocy asked Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Tim Frieden, "Why should we believe you when you're telling us this stuff?" since Frieden works for Obama.

It is difficult enough to confront resurgent diseases without an explosion of unhinged conspiracy mongering.

Read the whole thing here.

Update: I note with sorrow that the Dallas patient, Thomas Eric Duncan, has died. May he rest in peace.