Anti-gay groups sowing lies, hoping to reap chaos in wake of SCOTUS marriage equality ruling

The controversies involving marriage clerks in the South refusing to help gay couples fulfill their legal right to marry has me thinking. And I’ve come to a sad conclusion.

We are all being played for fools. The clerks who are pitifully stalling or outright refusing to marry couples (gay or heterosexual) under the guise of “religious freedom,” and the lgbt community are all being manipulated and exploited.

I am sure that this situation and others like it (luckily there are not that many) will end up in our favor. However, the lgbt community needs to recognize that it is not these clerks who are the problem.

We should be aiming a lot of our fire at the anti-gay organizations and personalities who are instigating this mess. Individuals like Tony Perkins and Bryan Fischer and organizations such as the National Organization for Marriage, the Family Research Council, or the American Family Association want a resistance against marriage equality. They want protests, government employees refusing to do their job, and general chaos. But they aren’t going to get their hands dirty. You won’t see Tony Perkins or NOM president Brian Brown leading a march of non-complying government officials. You won’t see Bryan Fischer standing in front of window of courts clerks in an attempt to bar gay couples.

They reside in the ears of those who think that homosexuality is a sin. Via mass and social media, they create and repeat inane horror stories of persecution and false claims that gays want to destroy Christianity. They imply or outright say that hordes of “homosexuals” will be invading evangelical churches, dragging pastors from the pulpits and tossing them into in prison for refusing to marry gay couples, and probably snatching children on their way out, like some goblin whose name parents speak when they want to keep their offspring in check.

As if they are puppeteers, anti-gay organizations and personalities are pulling the strings, buoying the arrogance and recklessness of clerks and various other government officials and thereby manipulating them to refuse to carry out their duties, while expecting to be paid by the tax dollars of the people whose rights they are infringing upon. And when our community react against these individuals, well that’s a part of the plan, too. Anti-gay groups are attempting to manipulate us all into an unnecessary holy war in which they hope to reap the benefits of pointing and saying “see, we told you so.”

It proves the point that the more things change, the more they remain the same. When lgbts had no or very little political power, anti-gay groups exploited fears and religious beliefs to keep the boot of oppression on our necks. Even though the lgbt community has amassed much political power over the years, the anti-gay propaganda playbook doesn’t change.

And why should it when there are so many folks who can be manipulated by it while the lgbt community as well as lgbt leaders busy themselves with fighting the pawns of that playbook rather than the masters.

The anti-gay right can’t run forever from its history of bigotry

Members of the anti-gay right want people to forget that they cultivated and exploited this false image of lgbt America.

As a gay man, I admit that I am enthused and encouraged by what I see as a more lgbt-inclusive American society.

While we still have some kinks to work on and straighten out, I am happy with our progress. Just a decade ago, we wouldn’t be talking about lgbt issues as openly as we are now. We have more public figures who are out from the get-go, rather than coming out after long rumors and speculation. And marriage equality is closer to becoming a 50-state reality sooner than some of us ever realized (fingers crossed).

But I am nagged by something which is figuratively poking me in the back of the head with the urgency of a classmate eager to annoy the hell out of me.

There is a brazenly dishonest new tactic emanating from the anti-gay right which must be called out on a larger scale. That lie is the idea that somehow the progression of marriage equality and popularity of the lgbt community is suddenly making them isolated and derided for supposedly simply stating their opinions. Suddenly the lgbt community is being portrayed as bullies seeking to shut anti-gay figures down and deride them for speaking against marriage equality and lgbt equality. It’s a skilled talking point helped along by think tank finances, intellectuals paid by these finances, and a “news” network  which mistakes omitted information, one-sided interviews, and sloppy (probably in some cases deliberately sloppy) journalism as conservative opinion and ideology.

Almost weekly, we read or hear about anecdotal incidents drudged up by Tony Perkins and the Family Research Council,  Ryan T. Anderson and the Heritage Foundation, or Fox News personality Todd Starnes about supposed innocent Christians who are besieged by aggressive gays. Often times, the incidents are overhyped, biased, and without the nuance we should demand from journalism; the latter which we rarely receive until days later.

The anti-gay right seem to be painting a portrait of victimhood in anticipation of further progress by the lgbt community and the goal is most likely to stop this progress.

But I have one question.  How in the hell can anyone forget how we got to this point? I mean really.

For decades, anti-gay organizations and their supporters have portrayed the lgbt community as child molesting, diseased, sexually aggressive miscreants whose sole desire is to cause chaos before being sent to the lower pits of hell after we die for our supposed sins. Through lies, distortions, and bad science, anti-gay groups made it difficult for laws to be passed to protect our interests, health, and families. They created and repeated ad nauseam the false mantra that  we are a “public health hazard” and our lives are fraught with pain, sadness, loneliness, and early death.

But suddenly, as if they are recreating the famous scene from the 1978 Superman motion picture in which actor Christopher Reeve soared through the air and flew backwards to alter history, anti-gay groups are attempting to rewrite the so-called culture war.

They want the world to forget all of the ignorance they exploited, the lies they told, and the tactics they undertook to dehumanize the lgbt community.

They want us to forget the times when folks like Anita Bryant accused lgbts of “recruiting” children to “refreshen” our ranks.

They want us to forget the officials in the Reagan Administration who kept the president from adequately addressing the AIDS crisis in its early days.

They want us to forget the names and faces of people whose lives were destroyed via homophobic violence or suicide most likely spurred on by the nods of societal homophobia

They want us to forget all of the times when we fearfully hid in the closets, while being attacked by purveyors of junk science during Congressional hearings or had the quality of our lives reduced to fevered sexual fantasies on a day-to-day basis.

And most of all, they want us to forget that all of this was done either directly by them or through their tacit approval.

Sorry guys, you are not victims. You never were. You can’t pretend that none of these things I just talked about didn’t happen. You can’t pretend that somehow where we are now when it comes to lgbt equality just happened in vacuum.  I don’t expect any of you to atone, but at the very least, you need to acknowledge.

Because you can’t escape the truth no matter how fast you run or how much influence you peddle to distance yourself from it.

Don’t mistake my words as some sort of call to violence or isolation against you. It’s just to say that I’m hip to the game you are running. Nor am I the only one.

So play this game as long as you can because sooner or later, all games must come to an end.

And when THIS game ends, you will be the loser.

Lgbts don’t forget and we don’t let others forget, either.

Related post: How They See Us: Unmasking the Religious Right War on Gay America

The new attack on same-sex families is nasty and rude . . . but will still fail

The groups backing up  Lopez, Stefanowicz, Warwick, etc. don’t provide homes. They take away homes. They don’t offer solutions. Instead they trot  out pretty boxes of perfect family lives to the American people. Unwrap those boxes and you will find an emptiness with an echo as loud as the one in their chests, where their hearts, souls and integrity should be.

Already in 2015, we have seen surreptitious, but nonetheless, vulgar attacks on same-sex families.

Earlier this year, anti-gay groups and spokespeople rallied behind four individuals who filed an amicus brief to the federal courts speaking against marriage equality. What was different about this brief was that these four individuals are adults who were allegedly raised in same-sex households.

According to Zack Ford from Think Progress:

All four are in the spotlight now for their amicus briefs urging federal courts to uphold state bans on same-sex marriage. In these briefs, they explain how having a gay parent scarred them for life. They missed out on a “vital dual-gender influence,” they argue, and allowing same-sex marriage will similarly harm other children because “the gay community” doesn’t put children first, instead using them as “props to be publicly displayed.” In turn, “children lose forever their rights to know and be raised by their married biological father and mother.”

In addition to their briefs — which they are expected to replicate for consideration by the Supreme Court — their own additional writing is attracting a lot of attention. One of the four, Katy Faust, published a piece at conservative outlet Public Discourse . . . asking the Supreme Court to consider her experience. It has been shared about 150,000 times and even crashed the site due to its traffic. Brittany Newmark Klein, writing under a pen-name, followed suit at The Federalist.

Ford also pointed out that the four (Robert Oscar Lopez, Dawn Stefanowicz, Brittany Newmark Klein, and Katy Faust) are known for either their anti-gay rhetoric or aligning themselves with anti-gay groups over the years (Editor’s note – click on the above links to read past statements and posts about Lopez and Stefanowicz).

As if that isn’t enough, a “child’s right activist” by the name of Heather Barwick published a column this month presumptuously called  Dear Gay Community: Your Kids Are Hurting. In this piece, which was  published by The Federalist (the same publication which published Klein’s piece), Barwick claimed that she was raised in a lesbian household, and thus was deprived the love of a father:

Same-sex marriage and parenting withholds either a mother or father from a child while telling him or her that it doesn’t matter. That it’s all the same. But it’s not. A lot of us, a lot of your kids, are hurting. My father’s absence created a huge hole in me, and I ached every day for a dad. I loved my mom’s partner, but another mom could never have replaced the father I lost.

Together these five, as if by coincidence, repeat anti-gay dogma that same-sex households raising children cause harm because they allegedly deprive children of the “traditional mother and father dynamic.”

And they also omit or ignore the mitigating factors which led to their alleged “deprived upbringings,” such as the Barwick’s father abandoning her or Stefanowicz’s father being an all-around negative individual which was independent of his sexual orientation.

Bryan Fischer’s claim about gay sex makes him a laughing stock

Bryan Fischer

According to Right Wing Watch, the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer made an interesting statement on his radio show:

Bryan Fischer asserts that “43% of homosexuals admit that they’ve had more than 500 sexual partners in one lifetime.” (Editor’s note – if you click on the link, Fischer says this at 7:14)

Of course Fischer doesn’t say where he got this statistic from, but I am guessing that he got it from the book Homosexualities: A Study of Diversity among Men and Women, which was published by Alan Bell and Martin Weinberg in the late 1970s. (Editor’s note – Pan down to Distortion – Homosexuals have a lot of sex partners and their relationships do not last Part 1 in this link)

The two wrote the book from a study they took regarding gay white men in the city of San Francisco earlier that decade. This being the case, certainly the statistic cited by Fischer can’t be used to generalize about all gay men. Bell and Weinberg even said the following in Homosexualities:

“. . . given the variety of circumstances which discourage homosexuals from participating in research studies, it is unlikely that any investigator will ever be in a position to say that this or that is true of a given percentage of all homosexuals.

It’s not by accident that Fischer didn’t reveal his source. But what gets me is his phraseology:

  “43 percent of homosexuals admit that they’ve had more than 500 sexual partners in one lifetime.”

There is something seriously wrong with that phrase. In a lifetime? Wouldn’t that mean you have lived your entire life, died, and then was buried?

So how in the hell can you tell anyone how many alleged sexual partners you had?

Can Bryan Fischer raise people from the dead? And if so, isn’t it creepy that possibly the first question he would ask that person he brought back to life is not about Heaven or Hell or about angels, but about their sexual behavior before they died?

Naturally, I am speaking strictly tongue-in-cheek here but I think you get the gist.

It’s always hilarious how foolish how some folks look when they sink to the depths of homophobia. And the fact that they don’t even realize it only make their idiocy much more enjoyable.

Fox News personality Todd Starnes ignores journalism ethics to create false ‘war on Christians’ narrative

Todd Starnes

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

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

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

Such as Fox News personality Todd Starnes.

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

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

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

LGBT equality is ushering in ‘cultural cleansing, and

LGBT equality will lead to bestiality

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

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

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

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

April 2013:

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

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

From Right Wing Watch

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

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

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

From Right Wing Watch

September 2013:

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

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

December 2013:

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

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

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

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

Jan. 2014:

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

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

From Right Wing Watch.

April 2014:

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 2014

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

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

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

February 2015:

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

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

From Raw Story

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

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

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

From Equality Matters

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

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

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

Family Research Council supports punishing clerks who follow the law on gay marriage

When it comes to these “religious freedom” bills, particularly involving clerks and government employees with regards to legal gay marriages, the Family Research Council’s change of semantics is very telling.

On one hand, the group claims that marriage equality is dangerous because it pits a person’s employment and livelihood against their religious beliefs:

“As more states are forced to redefine marriage, contrary to nature and directly in conflict with the will of millions, more Americans will see and experience attacks on their religious freedom.   . . .  As more and more people lose their livelihoods because they refuse to not just tolerate but celebrate same-sex marriage, Americans will see the true goal, which is for activists to use the Court to impose a redefinition of natural marriage on the entire nation.” – October 16, 2014.

Yet when it comes to what we are beginning to see now – state legislators introducing bills to actually punish clerks and government employees for legally issuing same-sex marriage licenses, FRC isn’t so concerned by people’s livelihoods (emphasis on important part of FRC’s statement added by me):

Where’s the resistance to same-sex “marriage?” A better question might be: where isn’t it? While the Left is busy telling the media that Americans have “moved on” from marriage, conservatives everywhere are proving them wrong. In several states, the backlash to the courts’ overreach on marriage is sprouting up in legislative committees faster than reporters can cover them. Even the New York Times is finally admitting that the wave of opposition isn’t subsiding in states where out-of-control judges swung their gavels like sledgehammers against voter-approved marriage laws.

By large numbers, leaders are firing back with all kinds of legislation to stop the spread of court-imposed same-sex “marriage” at their borders, including some bills that take aim at officials who act against the will of the people.

In Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Texas, Republicans are moving quickly on measures that would penalize any government employee caught issuing same-sex “marriage” licenses — regardless of the courts’ orders. – January 30, 2015

Shouldn’t FRC be as concerned for the freedom and livelihoods of employees who may actually want to issue same-sex marriage licenses in accordance to their beliefs or, at the very least, or want to follow the law.

Or perhaps this idea of “religious freedom” is yet another dodge perpetrated by FRC and other so-called morality groups. Perhaps this is about what it’s always been about  – keeping the lgbt community under heel via the exploitation of fear and religious beliefs.

This idea of the preservation of “religious freedom” is merely the latest code phrase.

In the 70s, they claimed to stand against lgbt equality because they wanted to “protect the children.”

In the 80s, it was all about exploiting the HIV/AIDS crisis.

In the 90s, they screamed about “special rights.”

And in the years afterward, it was about “protecting the definition of marriage.”

Now, it’s all about religious freedom; the newest buzzword used to mask old prejudices.

This ado isn’t about religious freedom any more than it was about “protecting the children” or stopping “special rights” or “saving marriage.”

It’s about the unfortunate special ability to wrap up old rotten prejudices in new clean packages and continue to sell them to America.

South Carolina, Texas would punish government employees for recognizing same-sex marriages

SC Rep. Gary Smith

Apparently some legislators in South Carolina got a real bee in their bonnet about losing the marriage equality fight.

And they are going to take it out on government employees who would recognized these marriages. On December 11, SC Reps Gary Smith and Bill Chumley filed House Bill (H.3022) which in part states:


Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:

SECTION 1. Article 3, Chapter 1, Title 20 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:

“Section 20-1-235.    (A)    No state or local taxpayer funds or governmental salaries may be paid for an activity that includes the licensing or support of same-sex marriage.

(B)    No state or local governmental employee officially shall recognize, grant, or enforce a same-sex marriage license. If an employee violates this subsection, the employee must not continue to receive a salary, pension, or other employee benefit at the expense of the taxpayers of this State.

(C)    No taxes or public funds may be utilized to enforce a court order requiring the issuance or recognition of a same-sex marriage license.

(D)    A court of this State shall dismiss a legal action challenging a provision of this section and shall award costs and attorney’s fees to a person or entity named as a defendant in the legal action.

(E)    No person employed by this State or a local governmental entity who violates or interferes with the implementation of this section may continue to receive a salary, pension, or other employee benefit.

(F)    The State is not subject to suit in law or equity pursuant to the eleventh amendment of the United States Constitution for complying with the provisions of this section, regardless of a contrary federal court ruling.

(G)    If a judicial officer violates this section, that judicial officer is disqualified from office pursuant to Section 19, Article V of the South Carolina Constitution, 1895.”

Here is something interesting which should be known. In Texas, legislators are proposing pretty much exactly the same bill, albeit with different text:

A bill has been introduced in the Texas Legislature that if enacted would strip the salary of any Texas-government employee who issues a marriage license to a same-sex couple.

Known as House Bill 623, the recently introduced bill declares that no state funds will go to the distribution of gay marriage licenses.

“State or local taxpayer funds or governmental salaries may not be used for an activity that includes the licensing or support of same-sex marriage,” reads HB 623.

“If an employee violates this subsection, the employee may not continue to receive a salary, pension, or other employee benefit at the expense of the taxpayers of this State.”

Of course these bill are ridiculous and would totally undercut our system of checks and balances as well as infringe upon the rights of same-sex couples who have legally won or could win the right to marriage. But I think the lgbt community, particularly our leaders, activists, and bloggers, would do ourselves a favor to not focus on the “puppets” in this matter, i.e. the lawmakers proposing these bills.  Instead, we should focus on the “puppet masters.”

I am betting that we will see more of these mean-spirited bills pop up in other states because some entity is maneuvering this mess behind the scenes, probably even to the point of providing language for the lawmakers to use.

And I am almost certain that this entity, whoever it or they (meaning more than one organization) may be is obscuring their behind-the-scenes work by continuously claiming that Christians will be “persecuted” because of the onslaught of pro-marriage equality decisions.

It would be certainly embarrassing if these entities were made public, wouldn’t it? After all, you can’t plead victimhood when it shown that you have state legislators in your hip pockets.

But who ever it or they may be, their hypocrisy is duly noted. Gay couples have been winning the right to marry fair and square via the courts. Seems to me that if these folks proposing all of this nasty legislation had any legitimate argument against marriage equality in the first place, they wouldn’t be in the position to have to stoop so low in order to stop it.


Kelvin Cochran and the homophobia hiding behind ‘religious liberty’


The fire chief of Atlanta, GA, Kelvin Cochran, was just dismissed because of a self-published book he wrote which was viewed as homophobic. According to Think Progress:

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed (D) announced Tuesday that he has fired Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran, who had previously been suspended for publishing and distributing a book condemning homosexuality..

. . . Since Cochran’s suspension last month, he has become a bit of a martyr for conservatives, who believe he has been persecuted for his religious beliefs. J. Edgar White, executive director of the Georgia Baptist Convention, suggested that Cochran was among those “who are punished or marginalized for their faith” and called on Christians to purchase his book and support him.

Reed was adamant during Tuesday’s press conference that Cochran’s religious beliefs were not the reason he was fired. His book, Who Told You That You Were Naked?, was published in violation of Atlanta’s Standards of Conduct, which requires approval from the Ethics Officer and the Board of Ethics. According to Reed, Cochran’s “actions and decision-making undermine his ability to manage our fire department” because employees need to feel that they are “a valued member of the team and that fairness and respect guide employment.

That’s the story before conservatives and the religious right will attempt to make Cochran the newest martyr of the concept of  ‘religious liberty.’   ‘Religious liberty’ is a phrase these individuals have coined to claim that those who practice their version Christian faith in America are supposedly being persecuted because of their objections to homosexuality and marriage equality. To them, “persecution” is a wide and loaded term which includes being forced to serve gay customers or, as we see with the above situation with Cochran, not being allowed to “voice objections” to homosexuality in places where such objections aren’t exactly conducive or appropriate to the environment.

It is a concept which is gaining speed now that marriage equality is becoming more accepted and swiftly the law throughout the country.  ‘Religious liberty’ has gained support from the “fire and brimestone” sect, who see persecution behind every bush, to the concern trolls who clamor that since gays are gaining the right to marry, we should “be nice and respectful” to those who oppose our general equality.

In other words, “religious liberty” is a load of nonsense.  It’s equivalent to a good paint job a bad car salesman puts on an busted up clunker in a sad attempt to cover that it’s stinker.

First of all gays were not given the right to marry. It was a right which should have been ours from the start and one which we earned by slowly slogging through the trenches and terrain of this ridiculous so-called culture war.

Then there is the second point. At what point are rights given in “tit-for-tat” compromises? Just where is it said that since gays are winning the right to marry, we have to forfeit our dignity, respect, and rights as taxpayers?  Since when is there a right for businesses treat gays like second-class citizens even though our tax dollars help to keep these businesses safe? Since when is there a right to   minimize our lives to a concept or a “lifestyle” so one can pretend that he or she is not denigrating human beings, even if that denigration is done on the job and, in the case of Cochran, by our bosses?

And why do gays have to deal with such treatment under the guise of “religious liberty” when no other group of Americans have to? Cochran’s book also denigrated women and people of the Jewish faith. If there were no words about gays in his book, would there be any controversy regarding “religious liberty” with regards to his firing?

You can call it “religious liberty” all you want. I call it homophobia and it’s worst kind, too. It’s practiced by folks who are too self-righteous to step down from that nonexistent stairway to Heaven they think they are building for themselves.

Steve Scalise and racist groups, Tony Perkins and racist groups – it’s all relative

Rep. Scalise

Washington is all abuzz about a huge scandal regarding Rep Steve Scalise, soon to be House Majority Whip, and a 2002 speech he made to a meeting of a white supremacist group founded by known racist David Duke:

Twelve years before he was elected by his colleagues as House Majority Whip, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) spoke at a conference hosted by white supremacist group European-American Unity and Rights Organization.

Louisiana political blogger Lamar White Jr. dug up a number of posts on Stormfront, one of the original white supremacist websites, that place Scalise at the 2002 gathering. According to one user who attended the conference, Scalise — then a state representative — spoke to the organization at a workshop “to teach the most effective and up-to-date methods of civil rights and heritage related activism.”

According to another Stormfront post, the National/International EURO Workshop on Civil Rights was held from May 17 to 18, 2002, at the Landmark/Best Western Hotel in Metairie, Louisiana. The conference was also listed on an Anti-Defamation League list of extremist events for that year.

Scalise has admitted to making the speech, but claimed that he was unaware of the group’s racist nature.

Of course to the media, that’s like dipping a bloody toe in shark-infested waters with them being the sharks.  Several members have asked how could Scalise have not known what the group was all about, with others implying that his speech was covertly racist.

Will Scalise be forced to resign? Who knows. It’s too early to tell. But to me, there are two interesting things about this controversy. For one, there is my snarky observation involving the Republican party. It is usually when they have power in Congress that a member or two will make a supreme mind-blowing screw up.


The second is even a bit more to the purpose of this blog.  If one asks will Scalise survive, one needs to look to Family Research Council president Tony Perkins.  While Perkins is now looked upon in Washington as a “voice of morality” by some, he has a history with racist groups probably more checkered than Scalise (at least for now.)

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, in 1996, Perkins tried to buy Duke’s list of supporters and then tried to cover it up unsuccessfully. SPLC also said that for this unfortunate slip of ethics, Perkins was fined by the Federal Elections Commission.

In 2005, FRC offered an explanation for Perkins:

Tony Perkins was the manager of the 1996 U.S. Senate campaign of Republican Woody Jenkins in Louisiana where Impact Media was contracted to make pre-recorded telephone calls for the campaign. In 1999, an unrelated federal investigation uncovered that David Duke had a financial interest in the company, which he did not report to the IRS, resulting in his conviction on federal tax evasion charges. This connection was not known to Mr. Perkins until 1999. Mr. Perkins profoundly opposes the racial views of Mr. Duke and was profoundly grieved to learn that Duke was a party to the company that had done work for the 1996 campaign.

These facts have been widely reported in Louisiana and the reports appearing now in various partisan media are not accurate. In 2003, Mr. Jenkins published a letter in the major daily in Baton Rouge responding to a critical article that resurrected the same distortion. “[I]t is unfortunate,” Jenkins wrote, “for you to smear a good man like [then-] Rep. Tony Perkins. There is absolutely nothing about the matter that should taint Rep. Perkins. His intentions were entirely honorable, and neither he nor I have ever been ‘in bed’ with David Duke as you so crudely and unjustifiably allege.”

That’s all well and good, but then there is the 2001 incident:

 . . .  Perkins was photographed addressing a gathering of the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens. The group, a direct descendent of the segregationist White Citizens Councils of the 1950s and 1960s, has called African Americans a “retrograde species of humanity.” Perkins, who later denied knowledge of the group’s racist views, spoke in front of a Confederate flag (seen here, courtesy of Right Wing Watch).

That would be this photo below:

So Rep. Scalise should take comfort in the fact that even though Perkins tried to buy a list of supporters from a known racist, got caught trying to hide it, and then got caught addressing another racist group, he is still now look upon as a “moral leader” by members of the media, Congress, and lots of supporters.

Heck, that being the case, maybe Rep. Scalise can swing a Nobel Peace Prize nomination from this controversy.

Anti-gay billboard is latest scientific distortion from religious right

PFOX’s billboard backfires on the organization.

crossposted on Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters

Last week, the anti-gay group PFOX (Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays) suffered a huge embarrassment because of a billboard it put up on a Virginia interstate:

The billboard appeared recently beside I-95 in Richmond, Virginia, according to NBC affiliate WWBT. The sign depicts two males, one dressed in a suit and the other in a white T-shirt, and says: “Identical twins: One gay. One not. We believe twin research studies show nobody is born gay.”

As it turned out, the two males featured in the billboard sign was only one man, Kyle Roux, who happens to be openly gay.  This slip provided a delicious degree of schadenfreude
for the lgbt community.

However, in the midst of the laughter and derision, the lgbt community seem to be missing the larger picture which can be potentially beneficial to the community.

The way PFOX cited twin studies is inaccurate, according to lgbt activist and Truth Wins Out Executive Director Wayne Besen:

“PFOX’s billboard underscores the groups scientific illiteracy and shows that ‘ex-gay’ activism is about demagoguery and marketing, rather that truth and results,” said Besen. “In reality, twin studies prove that there is a genetic link to sexual orientation. It is stunning that PFOX would pay for a billboard to showcase its ignorance and incompetence.”

A Truth Wins Out press release accused PFOX and other anti-gay groups of continuously distorting science:

 . . . anti-gay activists consistently distort research. They point to twin studies and say, “if homosexuality was truly genetic, the concordance rate for identical twins would be 100-percent.” Scientists say that this is a gross misunderstanding of the research. According to Dr. Eric Vilain, Professor of Human Genetics, Pediatrics and Urology at UCLA, and the Director of the Institute for Society and Genetics:

“All sorts of traits that are clearly genetic do not show 100% concordance [in twins]. I’ll give you examples, if people look at obesity. Or autism, looking at twins. There is undeniably, no one will even challenge that there is a genetic cause for both obesity and autism. The twin studies do not show that it is 100% genetic. They just demonstrate that there is a genetic influence. There could be other influences on sexual orientation. Some of them might be environmental. For instance, the older brother effect [studies showing the more older brothers a boy has, the more likely he is to be gay] is an environmental influence. That’s what has happened in the past, in the same womb seems to influence the sexual orientation of future pregnancies. So, it is certainly not an all or nothing phenomenon.”

Truth Wins Out’s  press release also quoted  Dr. Marc Breedlove, Michigan State University, Rosenberg Professor of Neuroscience and Dr. Simon LeVay, author of Gay, Straight, and the Reason Why: The Science of Sexual Orientation. They both went into detail about what was omitted by the simplicity of PFOX’s billboard.

PFOX’s  billboard is the latest in a long history of scientific inaccuracies and distortions undertaken by various anti-gay groups to bolster their negative claims against the lgbt community.

And at various times, authors of research distorted by anti-gay groups have been vocal in calling out  how their work was being misused.