My latest column is now up at Metro Weekly. It is subtitled, "Amid war and plague, right-wing Americans export religious intolerance." Here's an excerpt:
In Entebbe on August 9, more than one hundred LGBT Ugandans celebrated the first Pride Uganda since the Constitutional Court overturned the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Act (AHA) for being passed without a quorum. Entebbe is on Lake Victoria, and the paradise suggested by some of the photos would not make you think the revelers risked mob violence, unless you noticed the masks some wore.
A British name for an African lake is a relic of the same colonial legacy that keeps homosexuality illegal despite AHA being tossed out. African leaders are strangely selective in their outrage over Western influences. They embrace foreign laws, religions, and aid while treating sexual minorities who have always lived among them like hostile aliens. American evangelicals like Scott Lively incited the persecution with the slander that gays recruit and sexually abuse children. This pious vulture denies any responsibility for the consequences, including LGBT Ugandans being hunted like animals.
Fox 9 reporter/anchor Tom Lyden, who is openly gay and in a long-term relationship, interviews Minneapolis-St. Paul Archbishop John Nienstedt. CityPages reports:
Fox 9 reporter/anchor Tom Lyden's interview with the archbishop was especially noteworthy. Lyden, who's married to a man he's been in a relationship with for more than two decades, grilled Nienstedt about his own sexuality and anti-gay views. The line of questioning culminated in the archbishop acknowledging that his beliefs about the sinfulness of same-sex sexual relations don't seemingly make much sense at all.
Click here for the 30-minute raw video of the interview.
We have heard this endlessly, of course; but I've never been clear as to exactly how my right to marry the man I love could endanger all of Western civilization. Still waiting for that explanation.
The latest from the unhinged religious right. Kyle Mantyla of Right Wing Watch reports:
Vision America's Rick Scarborough recently spoke at a church in Florida as part of a "Give Me Liberty Tour" where he declared that every day that passes without God destroying this country is a miracle, especially since President Obama is appointing gay ambassadors to represent America before other nations.
"This thing could all come crashing down," Scarborough warned, saying that if a "series of dirty bombs" or one massive nuclear blast were to destroy America, it would be "perfectly just ... because we have squandered our grace in this country."
And to demonstrate just how vile this nation has become, Scarborough pointed to the fact that our foreign embassies celebrate LGBT Pride Month and that President Obama has appointed several gay ambassadors, agreeing with Islamic fundamentalists that American is now the "Great Satan."
Ian Silverstone at Right Wing Watch reports:
As if their first video didn't quite hammer the point home, Religious Right advocacy group Truth in Action Ministries has returned with part two of "We the People: Under Attack," an exhausting indicment of the federal judiciary and its allegedly anti-Christian agenda.
In the spirit of defending the rights of the “majority,” Phyllis Schlafly paints a grim scenario of judicial tyranny usurping American values:
"We have judges who have created new rights, who have knocked down laws and practices that have been part of our heritage since the beginning, and you can call the roll of what they’ve done: tried to throw up traditional marriage between a man and a woman; throwing out the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag because it has the words ‘under God’ in it; creating new rights that are not in the Constitution, like the right to abortion, the right to sodomy, the right to same-sex marriage licenses, the right to have pornography even with taxpayer’s money. You know these are not in the Constitution, and it is an offense against the American people, against We the People, and against our whole form of government. And the result is that the First Amendment has been turned on its head."
The video above shows excerpts from the film.
Brian Tashman at Right Wing Watch reports:
Religious Right activists often attempt to defend anti-gay remarks by insisting that the remarks are merely expressions of religious faith. And that is exactly how they are handling the controversy over former NFL coach Tony Dungy’s comment that he wouldn’t draft Michael Sam because he wouldn’t want “to deal with” attention over his sexual orientation.
Take, for example, WorldNetDaily columnist Carl Jackson, who today not only suggests that Dungy should be immune from criticism because he is a Christian, but insists that anyone who dared to disagree with his remarks has actually “persecuted” and “crucified” him “because he had the courage to say what everyone else thought about the rookie pick.”
And Miranda Blue, also at RWW, reports that AFA President Tim Wildmon used a fundraising letter to get all steamy over the beefcake in NFL locker rooms:
By the way, having been a sports reporter for a few years I've been in many football locker rooms where the players walk around naked or half-naked, changing clothes and going in and out of the showers. Putting a man like Sam, who says he is sexually attracted to men, in with all that beefcake seems unfair to the straight players and a distraction to Sam.
Speaking of showers, Tim, you sound like you could use a cold one. We completely understand.
The dispute between Truth Wins Out and GLAA over the right of a privately funded Bible museum to open two blocks from the National Mall was highlighted on July 23 by Washington Post reporter Mike DeBonis.
And reporter Tom Sherwood at NBC Washington wrote in his notebook on July 23:
Hobby Lobby high-five? Well, kinda. The owners of Hobby Lobby craft stores won national attention when they won their Supreme Court battle to limit contraception insurance coverage for their employees because of the owners’ religious beliefs.
That recently prompted Wayne Bensen of the advocacy group Truth Wins Out to “strongly urge” District officials to make it as difficult as possible for Hobby Lobby to get all the permits it needs to build a private National Bible Museum in Southwest D.C. (the old site of the Washington Design Center).
Bensen wrote that the project near the National Mall “would make a mockery of surrounding museums, which are based on research, history and scholarship.”
Well, throwing up administrative hurdles didn’t go over so well with local activist Rick Rosendall, who is president of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance.
“There is no legitimate basis to block it,” Rosendall wrote this week in the Daily Chose. “GLAA has a long history of defending our opponents’ First Amendment rights. This allows us to hold the moral high ground. ... We are much better off in the long run by respecting the rights of all, not just those who agree with us.”
Goodness, we better not let that kind of high-mindedness catch on. Maybe even the warring members of Congress might start working together. And then, what would the mean ol’ media report?
Don't worry, Tom. You'll always turn up something. Besides, high-mindedness is about as likely to catch on in Washington as a coherent thought in Rep. Louie Gohmert. Oh, dear, that didn't sound terribly high-minded, did it?
The group Faith and Action says on its "About" page:
The missionary outreaches at Faith and Action are targeted specifically toward our nation’s public policy makers and particularly to Capitol Hill. We believe such a narrowly targeted effort is the most effective method for accomplishing our mission – to challenge our leaders with Biblical TRUTH.
If you suspect they are not big fans of GLAA's work, you are right. But on Friday, I came across this tweet in response to my article, "Free Speech and the Bible Museum":
Religious Freedom: Applause where applause is due. http://t.co/iuC99hnpK1 We’re often too quick to condemn and too slow to compliment....— Faith and Action (@FAADC) July 25, 2014
Here is the praise from Faith and Action blogger kaitlynn:
We’re often too quick to condemn and too slow to compliment. So, this time we wanted to make a point to applaud the writer of this article for standing up for religious freedom to back a cause that we happen to agree with, and HE happens to disagree with.
Richard J. Rosendall (President, Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance) there are plenty of things we fully disagree with you on, but find your willingness to champion the freedom of speech and religious freedoms of everyone (despite the fact that you disagree with their views, and probably taking some heat for it) impressive.
Oh, dear, I'm in trouble now! But thank you. I hear faint echoes of the famous Christmas ceasefire in WWI. Or to quote JFK: "We do these things not because they are easy, but because they are hard."
Best wishes and God bless America,
Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance
A friend joked that I would be run out of town by angry liberals, and offered me sanctuary in another state (which I will keep confidential in case I need it); but joking aside, it is foolish and ahistorical to think we weaken our position by defending the free speech rights of our opponents. Censorship by our side is not only obnoxious and hypocritical, it is (as my article points out) unnecessary because we have the better arguments. As another friend put it yesterday, GLAA's approach demonstrates the maturity of our movement. (Or at least our corner of it, as I said back to him.)
Wayne Besen of Truth Wins Out has responded to my criticism of his effort to get District of Columbia officials to somehow block the planned Bible museum two blocks south of the National Mall. (My piece originally appeared on July 21 at Daily Kos.) Our exchange via Twitter is below.
Washington Should Reject Divisive Bible Museum Near Mall http://t.co/dpT1SlFQto— Wayne Besen (@WayneBesen) July 24, 2014
Very Old Testament. Bibi (and I mean you and your fanatical supporters and not your nation), may you reap what you sow.
I want to draw your attention to an article that I have just published on the Daily Kos blog:
This concerns plans by the owner of Hobby Lobby to create a Bible museum a few blocks from the National Mall, and the response by Wayne Besen of Truth Wins Out to the news. Besen, who has done invaluable work in exposing anti-gay junk science and religious extremism, has called for D.C. Government officials to somehow prevent the planned museum from opening. But since the museum is to be privately funded and located on private property, there is no legitimate basis to block it.
As my article discusses, GLAA has a long history of defending our opponents' First Amendment rights. This allows us to hold the moral high ground, and has won us praise, including from Washington Post columnist Colby King. We are much better off in the long run by respecting the rights of all, not just those who agree with us. Our longtime allies at the American Civil Liberties Union stand with us on this.
Laurie Goodstein at NYT reports:
Just two years ago, the Roman Catholic archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis was making headlines as a leader in the battle against same-sex marriage. But for the last year and a half, the archbishop, John C. Nienstedt, has been battling to hold onto his post in the face of a series of scandals, which further deepened on Tuesday with the filing of an explosive affidavit by the former chancellor of the archdiocese.
Your Holiness, why does this man still have a job? Kindly stop apologizing and take action.
The Blade reports:
The Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance, D.C.’s leading non-partisan LGBT advocacy group, voted at its regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday night to declare its opposition to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA.
GLAA becomes one of the first prominent local LGBT groups to join a growing number of national LGBT advocacy organizations that have announced their opposition to ENDA within the past two weeks.
Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council explains how those Israel is endangered by "those who are pushing to make homosexuality and other forms of sexuality that deviate from God's design not just acceptable by the broader society but in many cases preferred under our law." I'd love to hear the details of how he thinks we are seeking an advantage rather than equality. But more noteworthy is the entire tone of his remarks, which suggests that he is no mere cynic but actually believes the presumptuous, dire nonsense he spouts.
An interesting analysis by Chris Geidner at BuzzFeed.
July 8, 2014
Contact: Rick Rosendall
The Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, D.C. (GLAA) voted at its monthly meeting on July 8 to adopt the following statement. It may be attributed to GLAA President Rick Rosendall.
GLAA joins the growing list of LGBT rights organizations that oppose the present version of the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). In its current form, sweeping religious exemptions in ENDA could enshrine anti-LGBT discrimination into law by allowing far more organizations to bypass civil rights protections than are permitted under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Furthermore, provisions added by Senator Rob Portman through amendment seek, in his words, "to ensure that government cannot penalize a religious employer because it qualifies as exempt from the non-discrimination requirements of ENDA." These assurances could weaken existing state and city non-discrimination protections resulting in a step backwards in protecting the LGBT community.
International poison merchant Scott Lively is unhappy over the above segment by "Last Week Tonight" host John Oliver, whom he calls "a liar and a fraud." Well he would know. Oliver, who recently moved from Comedy Central's "Daily Show" to helm his own show on HBO, is one of the best things on television. I ran a portion of his interview with Pepe Julian Onziema before, but if you haven't seen the full thing, including his intro, I recommend it. Oliver nails it, and Pepe's restraint and quiet confidence and poise in the face of ignorance and hysteria are simply astounding. I saw Pepe at the U.S. Capitol last week, and he is not someone you forget.
My latest column is now online at Metro Weekly, arguing that faith-based advocacy should not be disguised as licensed healthcare. Here's an excerpt:
Encountering the Family Research Council's Peter Sprigg in the D.C. Council Chambers on June 27 took me back five years to our battles over the District's marriage equality bill. This time it was a hearing on a bill to prohibit conversion therapy for minors. Sprigg was furious at the attempt to deny choice to troubled teens seeking to overcome their gay desires.
One should always be skeptical toward right-wing busybodies who use "choice" as a rallying cry, and so it is in this case. Gay and lesbian teens whose ears are filled with cries of abomination know the sound of rejection. If choice is a concern, shouldn't they be given the choice of a supportive environment? And if professional therapy is the way to help, shouldn't we mention that homosexuality was declassified as a mental disorder in 1973?
The anti-gay groups represented at the hearing, including FRC, PFOX, and the International Healing Foundation, are frozen in amber on homosexuality, which they deem forever sick, sinful, and illicit. With the pathologizing and criminalizing of gayness having ended in America, and with many faiths affirming LGBT lives, the dwindling band of demonizers resorts increasingly to shrillness and deception at home and proselytizing overseas.
The homophobes conceal their faith-based motivation behind a veil of pseudoscience. The trouble is, they dictate nature rather than observing it.
Local news station KARE in Minneapolis/St. Paul reports:
Archbishop John Nienstedt, the head of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, has been accused of inappropriately touching a minor in 2009.
In light of the accusation, the Archbishop will step down from public ministry while the church and St. Paul Police investigate the incident. The accuser alleges Nienstedt touched his buttocks during a "public photo session" following a confirmation ceremony.
I am shocked, shocked to learn that a homophobic archbishop has been accused of such a thing.
The Washington Blade and Metro Weekly report on the June 27 hearing on a bill to prohibit conversion therapy for minors. My caption for the above photo, in which notorious reparative therapist Christopher Doyle is testifying, is me (over his shoulder) saying, "Who are these creepy guys?" and Alison Gill of HRC (at left) saying, "I thought they were your friends."
Joseph Tobin, Archbishop of Indianapolis, along with five other Indiana bishops, issued the following statement on yesterday's ruling by U.S. District Judge Richard Young overturning Indiana's ban on same-sex marriages:
The dignity of the human person, rooted in his or her creation in the image and likeness of God, is a fundamental principle of Catholic social teaching. The Church upholds the dignity of every human person, including persons with same-sex attraction, whom we accept and love as our brothers and sisters.
At the same time, the Church upholds the dignity and sanctity of marriage as a natural union established by God between one man and one woman, intended towards the establishment of a family in which children are born, raised, and nurtured. This is not simply a matter of belief. It is at the very heart of the nature of marriage. Thus, it is not within the power of any institution, religious or secular, to redefine marriage since it is God who is its author.
Today’s decision by Richard L. Young, Chief Judge United States District Court, Southern District of Indiana, to redefine the institution of marriage as an emotional partnership between two consenting adults regardless of gender ignores this fundamental and natural truth of marriage and opens its definition to the whims of public opinion.
With deep respect for all our brothers and sisters, we nevertheless see no basis in law or in nature for any definition of marriage that seeks to expand it beyond that of a covenant between one man and one woman. Our position on this matter seeks only the common good of all men and women as well as the health and well being of families.
As pastors, we will continue to preach and teach the truth of marriage as it is ordered by God, encouraging all people to embrace the fullness of that truth, while upholding the dignity of all persons. We will continue to work through the Indiana Catholic Conference to encourage our legislators and judges to uphold this truth as well. We urge all involved in this issue to conduct themselves with mutual respect and civility in public discourse.
Notice the utter blindness to church-state separation. As Frank Kameny would say, "Your God may say that. Mine does not." We are free to believe differently than His Excellency. In addition, his statements about nature are an attempt to dictate what nature is rather than observe it. That suggests unfamiliarity with, if not hostility toward, the scientific method.
Roman Catholic Cardinal Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez, the powerful Archbishop of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and Primate of the Americas, is continuing his vindictive anti-gay crusade against James "Wally" Brewster, the United States' openly gay ambassador to the Caribbean nation.
Cardinal Rodríguez, who made headlines last year when he called Brewster a "faggot," is using the occasion of LGBT Pride Month to attack him again, this time telling him to "take his gay pride elsewhere."
I have tweeted the following:
@Pontifex Your Holiness, why does your foul-mouthed cardinal in Santo Domingo still have a job? http://t.co/ADcZVRq31R
Brian Tashman of Right Wing Watch reported from Friday's "Road to Majority" summit. In this clip, Gary Bauer offers an astonishing catalog of lies about our 44th president, from he destroyed America's military to he declared war on the Little Sisters of the Poor. One wonders how many wars the (in my view) more-than-sufficiently hawkish Obama would have to start in order to avoid the former charge. As to the latter charge, it appears to be based on the nuns having to fill out a form concerning their religious exemption to the contraception mandate in ACA, because they don't just want to avoid providing such converge to their employees--they want to prevent their employees from getting it from anyone.
In short: as usual with the radical religious right, if they are prevented from imposing their intolerant doctrines on others, they claim their own freedom has been infringed. And the commandment against bearing false witness is once again trampled by the ones most loudly announcing their righteousness. As the saying goes, God help us.
In a monumental move, the nation's largest Presbyterian denomination voted Thursday to change its definition of marriage and allow its pastors to officiate same-sex ceremonies in states where gay marriage is legal.
By a vote of 429-175, leaders of the 1.76 million-member Presbyterian Church (USA) voted during the biennial General Assembly in Detroit to change the denomination's Book of Order to describe marriage as being between "two people."
The decision opens a path toward gay marriage across the denomination's 10,000 churches.
A majority of the church's 173 regional bodies, called Presbyteries, must now approve the decision before it's official, a process that can take up to a year. But after years of failed efforts to get the church to approve gay marriages, LGBT activists and pastors said they were optimistic.
It took a long time to reach this moment. But the moment finally came.
SFgate reports the unsurprising news that San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone is doubling down on his plans to speak at Thursday's so-called March for Marriage in Washington.
Does Sal set off anyone else's gaydar?
Joe Jervis reports about a "secretive new anti-gay supergroup" that NOM has formed with Cordileone and others.
More intolerance and slanders wrapped in language of loving concern from San Francisco Archbishop Cordileone, who is to speak this Thursday at NOM's "March for Marriage."
Chris Johnson of the Blade reports:
The Washington Blade polled more than 50 state LGBT groups this week on their position regarding ENDA with its current religious exemption. The language would continue to allow religious institutions, like churches or religious hospitals and schools, to discriminate against LGBT workers in ministerial and non-ministerial positions even if the bill were to become law.
The religious exemption in ENDA is broader than similar exemptions under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for categories of race, gender, religion and national origin.
The most common response from statewide LGBT groups — including Equality Illinois and Equality California — was that they continue to support ENDA, but oppose or have concerns about the bill’s religious exemption.
GLAA is in the latter group. Here is the statement I gave Johnson:
GLAA has long supported ENDA. Our position was to support the best achievable bill, because we understood the value of strategic compromise--not as an end point but as a way station in the ongoing struggle for equality.
But here in DC, as in the marriage equality fight, we have successfully fought against overbroad religious exemptions. Of course religious groups enjoy protections in their core religious functions; outside that sphere is another matter. For example, Catholic Charities demanded to be able to discriminate against same-sex couples as a government contractor providing adoption services. We and the DC Council said absolutely not. Catholic Charities then chose to stop delivering those services, which were taken over by another organization that was prepared to obey the law.
It is time to push back against the religious bullies. Religious exemptions beyond those applying to discrimination under Title VII should not be accepted in ENDA.
Texas congressman Louie Gohmert, at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday, conducted an impromptu inquisition on the religious beliefs of Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. I think Rev. Lynn did quite well.
Igor Volsky reports:
Oklahoma state house candidate Scott Esk wrote on Facebook last summer that gay people are “worthy of death” and should be stoned, later claiming that violence against gays is “in the old testament under a law that came directly from God.”
Ah, what would the Bill of Rights look like if we called a Constitutional Convention today?
I'm told Mayor Vincent Gray just tried putting beads on Westboro Baptist Church protesters at DC Pride pic.twitter.com/xGiNgqajYe— Justin Snow (@JustinCSnow) June 7, 2014
Mayor Vince Gray confronted Westboro Baptist protesters from Topeka, KS during today's Capital Pride Parade. I was not standing near the Westboro nut bags, but Mayor Gray was very warmly received by the crowds along 17th Street.
Jeremy Hooper at Good As You reports:
The Coalition of African-American Pastors is intimately aligned with the National Organization For Marriage (CAAP head William Owens is listed as NOM's religious liaison) and is one of the co-sponsors of NOM's upcoming March For Marriage. Now look on as this organization helps NOM in its stated goal to "drive a wedge between gays and blacks" with a video that promotes the upcoming NOM march by directly comparing "the same-sex marriage agenda" with the KKK, segregation, slavery, racism, and the destruction of the black family. It is beyond disturbing and should disgust many.
Right Wing Watch shares the latest from Bishop Harry "Daddy Bear" Jackson *, the carpetbagging minister from
P-Town Maryland who led the fight against marriage equality in DC:
In this video, Harry Jackson urges the pastors at the Family Research Council's Watchmen on the Wall to fight the "radical homosexual agenda" and teach lay leaders why "God didn't make anyone that way."
* I am just teasing with my reference to bears and P-Town. When I stand close to Bishop Jackson, his ministerial charisma momentarily envelops me in the healing grace of Jesus.
Right Wing Watch describes this clip:
Franklin Graham tells the Watchmen on the Walls conference that pastors must be willing to to oppose gay rights even if it means losing their heads.
RWW's Kyle Mantyla writes:
Graham went on to assert that he loves gays "enough to care to warn them that if they want to continue living like this, it's the flames of hell for you" and he will continue to do so because he will one day have to answer to God and does not want to be found to have been a coward who refused to preach God's laws.
For Graham and his ilk, there is no Constitution and no secular laws that they need pay any respect. There is but one "rule book," as he says in the above video clip, and it's written by God. I am sorry, Reverend, but your God has no authority over me. As to getting your head chopped off, you are the one attacking people. Those of us fighting for LGBT equality are winning in courts of law and in public opinion. If you resort to violence in an effort to impose your crabbed, ignorant, and vicious version of Christianity on everyone else, don't put it on us.