"Joy and pleasure are as real as pain and sorrow and one must learn what they have to teach. . . ." -- Sean Russell, from Gatherer of Clouds

"If you're not having fun, you're not doing it right." -- Helyn D. Goldenberg

"I love you and I'm not afraid." -- Evanescence, "My Last Breath"

“If I hear ‘not allowed’ much oftener,” said Sam, “I’m going to get angry.” -- J.R.R. Tolkien, from Lord of the Rings

Monday, June 29, 2015

Marriage News Watch, June 29, 20159 (Update)

Last Friday, the Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution protects marriage for everyone -- including same-sex couples. It is a decision we have been waiting decades for. And now, all our work is, well, actually, not quite done yet. Let's take a look at what the court just decided, and what comes next.

Here's a story on Texas AG Ken Paxton, who is basically blowing smoke:

County clerks can refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples based on religious objections to gay marriage, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said Sunday.

Paxton noted that clerks who refuse to issue licenses can expect to be sued, but added that “numerous lawyers stand ready to assist clerks defending their religious beliefs,” in many cases without charge.

The formal opinion did not specify what constitutes a sincerely held religious belief, noting that “the strength of any such claim depends on the particular facts of each case.”

Here's Paxton's full opinion.

On the basis of a quick skim through, it seems that Paxton is avoiding the question of infringement of the Establish Clause of the First Amendment. Maybe he should take a look at the school prayer and teaching of evolution cases: refusal of a county clerk to issue a license, or of a justice of the peace to perform a ceremony, as agents of the government, because of their "religious beliefs" would seem to violate the Establishment Clause.

Yeah, they'll be sued.

Update: A very good report from CBS News:

And a post from Jeremy Hooper that hits it on the head:

Earlier this year, I vowed to stop paying attention to the fringe activists who have no political connectivity and whose words no longer have any power to effect us on any level. But now, when it comes to the marriage fight specifically, I find myself extending that blind eye and closed ear to even those who are connected enough to run for President of the United States. Sure, they might have a platform and be worth paying attention to in general. However, on this cause, their words are hollow. Their defiance is meaningless. Their vow to keep talking about this is opportunistic for the purposes of fundraising and crude support. There is literally nothing they can say or do that is ever going to stop marriage equality. While some are fighting it locally right now, that is short-lived. By the end of the summer, every single American city will be in basic compliance with the Supreme Court's ruling, or they will suffer the blowback. Because we won. They lost. It's over.

I feel pretty much the same way: there's a lot of empty posturing among the anti-gay bigots, and that's all it is: repeating today's scare words over and over again, and only demonstrating their utter contempt for our basic values. I'm over it.

Images of the Week: Chicago Pride, 2015

From Bernice:

This is how Chicago's police respond to Pride (unlike, say, Istanbul):

And for the bible-thumpers:

Did I hear someone say "Flamboyant"?:

I had actually intended to stop by the Parade for the first time in years. It was a beautiful sunny day, not too hot, and this year is pretty special. Thanks to the CTA, I spent most of the late morning and afternoon waiting for or sitting on a bus. The Parade pretty much turns traffic on the North Side east of Ashland into a total nightmare -- worse than a Cubs game; add in that Devon Avenue, which is where I catch two of my three available buses, was closed due to construction at the east end, and the CTA, in its infinite wisdom had neglected to post a notice at the bus stop informing (potential) riders where they could catch the bus. It gets better: Devon was supposed to be open to westbound traffic. It wasn't. So the bus I took home had to do an ad hoc reroute, because CTA hadn't informed the drivers that the road was closed. So those few remaining riders gathered at the front to advise the driver on the best route to take to her terminal.

Between traffic and reroutes, it took nearly two hours to get home; then, of course, it started raining just before I had to get off the bus -- just heavily enough to be a pain in the ass.

I did, however, see a lot of kids wearing rainbows and a lot of high spirits.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Quote du Jour

From Gov. Steve Beshear of Kentucky, after the Supreme Court's decision in Obergefell v. Hodges:

"Neither your oath nor the Supreme Court dictates what you must believe," Beshear said Friday in a letter. "But as elected officials, they do prescribe how we must act."

In honor of all the "religious freedom" assholes.

One point to note on these various "religious freedom" bills that have already started making their appearance in anticipation of the Court's ruling: they are not about protecting the delicate sensibilities of cafeteria "Christians." They are about allowing those "Christians" to impose their beliefs on everyone else.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

One of My Favorites

And it seems more than appropriate right now:

Yeah, it's a weird video, but the lyrics are apt.

Quote du Jour

From Pennsylvania state rep Brian Sims, with thanks to Joe.My.God.:

Saturday Science: I'm Not Making This Up

An artist's colour reconstruction of Hallucigenia sparsa is shown in this image released to Reuters on June 23, 2015. REUTERS/Danielle Dufault/Handout

This is not an illustration for a science-fiction story. This creature, Hallucigenia sparsa, actually lived -- 508 million years ago. And after a fair amount (ahem) of research, scientists have finally figured out which end was which:

Hallucigenia, 0.4 to 2.2 inches long (10-55 mm), possessed seven pairs of nail-like spines protruding from its back, with an equal number of pairs of long, flimsy legs underneath tipped with claws. There were three pairs of skinny tentacles toward the head, perhaps used to process food or as antennae.

Hallucigenia has long baffled scientists. In the 1970s, it was thought its back spikes were legs, its legs were tentacles along its back and its head was its tail.

Keep in mind that we're dealing with a period in which Nature, so to speak, was being wildly experimental. Anything was possible -- until evolution cast the deciding vote. In this case, we're talking about an example of a group known as velvet worms, which are still around. As a group. Just not this particular one.

The universe is a strange and wonderful place.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Has Anyone Noticed That Huge Silence

from Judge Roy Moore?

Just askin'.

Graphic du Jour

This sort of says it all:

Via Balloon Juice.

It's Done (Update)

The Supreme Court has spoken, and the right of same-sex couples to marry is now the law of the land.

The opinion:

SCOTUS marriage equality opinion

Sunday's Pride Parade is going to be one hell of a celebration.

I can hardly wait for the reaction from Anti-Gay, Inc.

Update: Joe.My.God. has the wailing and rending of garments as the posts get posted. Usual white noise: "Blah, blah, lawless, unconstitutional, tyranny, the voters, Bible blah blah."

Jim Burroway a good summary of the main points of the majority opinion.

And, via Jeremy Hooper, the conclusion:

Health Care and the Social Contract

Jack Balkin has an excellent post at Balkinization about the deeper significance of the Supreme Court's decision in King v. Burwell:

But on a deeper level, King v. Burwell had constitutional overtones. The Affordable Care Act was no ordinary statute-- it was a framework statute like the Social Security Act, the Wagner Act, Medicare, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It significantly changed the terms of governance in the United States by reorganizing the health care industry and creating a new guarantee of (virtually universal) health insurance.

This gets into the kind of discussion that fascinates me because it reflects on my basic question: Why do we form societies?

My answer is, of course, "To take care of each other." The ACA, as an aspect of that "common good" criterion for a successful society, is, indeed, one of those foundational pieces of legislation -- as Balkin terms it, a "framework" statute -- that describe the particulars of how we are going to implement part of that taking care of each other.

Balkin's post is worth reading in its entirety. It delves into the history and sometimes gets a little technical, but it's fascinating. The key concept:

Framework statutes that are central to the American social contract-- like Social Security and Medicare, have a special status in the American system of government, and courts understand this implicitly. (That is what made the Court's decision in Shelby County v. Holder so important and so shocking-- it gutted a key part of framework statute from the Civil Rights Revolution--the Voting Rights Act).

In NFIB v. Sebelius, the Supreme Court decided that the creation of a new framework statute designed to guarantee universal health care was a legitimate innovation in American government.

I think these ideas have ramifications for other cases -- Obergefell v. Hodges being of major concern right now. If the Court rules, as most expect it to, in favor of marriage equality, it's going to have repercussions across the spectrum of civil rights, and I don't think it's going to matter how narrowly the opinion is written: once the Court has decided that, for purposes of the fundamental right of marriage, "queers are people, my friend," it's going to be very difficult to exclude us from the exercise of other rights. There's no law in these cases that could be considered a "framework" -- that's the Fourteenth Amendment. What's important here is the Court restating that, yes, the Fourteenth Amendment, when it says "all persons," means exactly that.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Just in Case You Were Wondering

There's a new study -- from the description, it seems to be a literature review, actually -- that puts another nail in the coffin of "Children do best with a mother and father."

Scientists agree that children raised by same-sex couples are no worse off than children raised by parents of the opposite sex, according to a new study co-authored by a University of Oregon professor.

The new research, which looked at 19,000 studies and articles related to same-sex parenting from 1977 to 2013, was released last week, and comes as the U.S. Supreme Court is set to rule by the end of this month on whether same-sex marriage is legal.

“Consensus is overwhelming in terms of there being no difference in children who are raised by same-sex or different- sex parents,” University of Oregon sociology professor Ryan Light said on Tuesday.

I really had no idea there had been that many studies of same-sex parenting.

Note to TV talk show hosts: The next time Tony Perkins starts in on his "Social science has conclusively proven that children do best when raised by their married biological parents" bullshit, you have permission to laugh at him.

Blowhard du Jour

I seldom mention Ann Coulter here, mostly because she's not as entertaining as the other gasbags on the right: She's basically the Rush Limbaugh Barbie, going for maximum shock value on the least amount of substance. Today, she's taking on SC Governor Nikki Haley for calling for the removal of the Confederate flag from the South Carolina state house.

She then said that many media outlets, such as MSNBC, got the flag's history in South Carolina wrong, noting that the flag first went up at the capitol in 1962 under a Democratic governor and legislature to mark the 100th anniversary of the Civil War.

Coulter then took a shot at South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R), who on Monday called for the removal of the Confederate flag from the state capitol grounds.

"I’m appalled by –– though, I really like to like Nikki Haley since she is a Republican. On the other hand, she is an immigrant and does not understand America’s history," Coulter said.

First off, in 1962, the Democratic party was still the home of the Dixiecrats, who, within in the next few years, all bolted the party and proclaimed themselves Republicans because of the Democrats' push for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Second, Nikki Haley was born in South Carolina, the daughter of Indian immigrants. So Coulter's off by a generation.

It's also worth noting that Coulter ignores the fact that Haley was joined at her press conference by SC senator Bob Corker, and that Sen. Lindsey Graham and Jeb Bush have also called for the flag to be removed. Of course, including them would tend to undercut one of Coulter's recurring themes -- immigrants are bad.

I really think this bit -- "I really like to like Nikki Haley since she is a Republican" -- reveals just how shallow Coulter is.

Oh, by the way -- we're all immigrants here, even the American Indians: there were no people on this continent 40,000 years ago.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Today in Right-Wing Hysteria (Update)

Wow -- as "Decision Day" draws closer (and I'm hoping the decision comes down Friday -- our Pride Parade is this coming Sunday), the usual suspects are in danger of losing it. No -- not in danger: they've lost it.

From Pastor/Governor Mike Huckabee, who still hasn't learned the difference, but who presumes to speak for all Christians:
"For many of us, civil disobedience, when we believe the civil government has acted outside of nature and nature’s God, outside of the bounds of the law, outside of the bounds of the Constitution," Huckabee told Fox News religion reporter Todd Starnes, adding that Christians believe civil disobedience is "the right and moral thing to do."

I have to admit, I'm sort of puzzled as to what form this "civil disobedience" is going to take. Are they going to refuse to marry someone of the same sex? And on the historical side, yes, Christians have often stood against injustice. I find it puzzling that they would even consider standing against justice finally being served.

Rick Scarborough, an evangelical preacher from Texas, is calling for extreme measures:

"We are not going to bow. We are not going to bend, and if necessary we will burn," Scarborough said — suggesting that he'd self-immolate in protest of a forthcoming marriage equality ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Most of the commentators who have covered this story, like the writer here, assume he's threatening to self-immolate, but if you look at it, of course that's not the case: he's a fairly sucessful grifter, and he's not about to give that up. What he's actually doing is calling on others to burn themselves.

I guess that has more impact than stamping your feet and holding your breath.

Speaking of Texas (and how can we not, in this context?), some of the state legislators are almost foaming at the mouth.

“It’ll be a sad day for American values,” the Pampa Republican said. “It’s a sad day when the court decides to meddle into religious affairs and destroy marriage, destroy the foundation of family life.”

Chisum, who represented House District 88 from 1989 until 2013, has plenty of company.

That's just the beginning. I really can't do this one justice -- read the whole article for a catalogue of things they've never heard of in Texas, including separation of church and state and the inviolability of fundamental rights.

And this is just what I've run across so far. There may be additions as I continue my morning surfing.

Footnote: This is all happening because just about everyone is assuming that the Supreme Court will rule in favor of marriage equality. I'm generally reluctant to try to predict the Court (especially this one: who could have foreseen Citizens United or Hobby Lobby based on accepted legal principles?). Here's Rachel Maddow with a caution, and some reassurance from Dahlia Lithwick (and if you don't know who she is, you should: start with "Supreme Court reporter extraordinaire"). The relevant portion begins at about the 34:30 minute mark:

Update: Here's the cherry on top:

Two of the [Republican] field, Huckabee and Santorum, have signed an anti-gay pledge authored by Texas pastor Rick Scarborough – who has threatened to set himself on fire if gay couples are allowed to marry.

The pledge states: “Conferring a moral and legal equivalency to any relationship other than marriage between a man and a woman, by legislative or judicial fiat, sends the message that children do not need a mother and a father.

“As a policy matter, such unions convey the message that mums and dads are completely irrelevant to the well-being of children.

“Such a policy statement is unconscionable and destructive. Authorizing the legal equivalency of marriage to same-sex couples undermines the fundamental rights of children and threatens their security, stability, and future.”

It continues: “A decision purporting to redefine marriage flies in the face of the Constitution and is contrary to the natural created order.

I like that "mums and dads" part. How folksy.

As for the "redefining marriage" part -- well, none of this has anything to do with "redefining" marriage, and frankly, when it comes to interpreting the Constitution, who would you rely on -- Rick Scarborough, or the Supreme Court?

Monday, June 22, 2015

Marriage News Watch: June 22, 2015

We're down to the last few days before the Supreme Court rules on marriage. In the mean time, the National Organization for Marriage is asking all of the GOP presidential candidates to sign an anti-equality pledge. Let's take a look at just how crazy this pledge gets.

Here's the text of NOM's "marriage pledge," courtesy of Good As You:

Of course, most of the Republican candidates are vowing to fight on, no matter what the Court rules. Here's Jeb! on the subject:

Many in the Republican Party have hinted that they would rather the issue simply went away. And while they might prefer that the court not invalidate state laws limiting marriage to heterosexual couples, they would welcome a decision that settled the question once and for all.

But with the court expected to rule before the end of the month on whether gay and lesbian couples have a constitutional right to marry, one of the looming questions for Mr. Bush and the other Republicans running for president is how aggressively they should respond to that ruling.

In his comments to the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority Conference, Mr. Bush, the former governor of Florida, said he was not content to let the defense of traditional marriage fade away.

“It’s got to be important over the long haul, irrespective of what the courts say,” he said.

Of course, the basic question is, "What are they defending 'traditional marriage' from?" If the Court rules in favor of gay couples' right to equal protection, "traditional marriage" isn't going to disappear.

There's a deeper question here, and this comment by Bush throws it, I think, into some relief:

“In a country like ours we should recognize the power of a man and a woman loving their children with all their heart and soul as a good thing, as something that is positive and helpful for those children to live a successful life,” he said.

According to Pink News, he went on to say:

“And while there are people who disagree with this, we should not push aside those who do believe in traditional marriage.”

My first reaction was to wonder "Who, specifically, disagrees with this?" But there's some subtext here that falls into what I call "The 'Christian' Fallacy": the idea that there is only one option, and that is the one approved by whoever is speaking. It's the logical endpoint of a worldview that admits of only one possibility, itself an idea erroneous on its face: anyone who stops to think about it will realize that there are any number of pathways to a given place.

This also comes into play in regard to those poor, persecuted "Christians" who are only trying to bake "Christian" cakes or arrange "Christian" flowers. Aside from the fact that they're trying to set themselves above the law based on their cherry-picked "religious beliefs," they're not being persecuted. Their just being told to mind their own business.

Of course, if you've gotten to be as cynical as I am about politicians and why they say what they say (and never forget, the various avatars of Anti-Gay, Inc., are politicians one and all), a war always makes it easier to raise money.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Who Could Have Predicted This?

The white supremacist right wing is insisting that Dylann Roof has nothing to do with them:

“If starting a race war is what this kid is about, he did it in the worst possible way,” said Kirk Lyons, a prominent lawyer who has defended Ku Klux Klan members, supporters of the old southern Confederacy and a notorious Holocaust denier.

“I’m a Christian,” Lyons added. “I consider the congregants of black churches my fellow Christians. These are the last people you want to hurt.”

On far-right online comment forums, avowed white nationalists and white supremacists substantially agreed, worrying that the Charleston killings might become an excuse for the government they hate to arrest them, crack down on gun ownership and suppress public displays of the Confederate flag many of them revere.
(Emphasis added.)

I suspect we can see the real reason they're distancing themselves: they certainly don't want any closer scrutiny.

While they're claiming no knowledge of who Roof was and swearing that he had no association with anyone in their movement, they're dodging the question of who's responsible for creating the environment:

Whether Dylann Roof had a serious agenda or was just a deeply disturbed individual using the language of racial hatred to justify an irrational act, it is little mystery where he derived his ideas. News reports suggest Roof told either his friends or the police he meant to incite a race war – a term frequently thrown about online in response to the civil unrest in Ferguson, Missouri last year or in Baltimore in April. In the website manifesto, the author referenced the killing of Trayvon Martin, the black teenager from Florida who was shot by a neighbourhood watch leader three years ago.

A picture on Roof’s Facebook page showed him wearing a jacket with flags from apartheid-era South Africa and Rhodesia on the front – an association frequently made by advocates of an all-white America, or an all-white republic within its borders. The website containing the manifesto linked to his name was called The Last Rhodesian.

Where do you suppose he got the idea?

When domestic violence does break out, it reliably sparks panic in groups that skirt close to the wind in their rhetoric but do not want to be identified with acts of gratuitous violence.

Ben Jones of the Sons of Confederate Veterans – a one-time actor who appeared on the TV show Dukes of Hazzard – wasted no time denouncing the Charleston killings as “an act of purposeful evil”. He added: “We must not allow the sickness of one demented individual to become that with which the media and our ‘politically correct’ opponents define us. We are the same good-hearted people that we were last week and last year.”

Somehow, the "good-heartedness" of these groups eludes me. What is in stark relief is their moral cowardice.

Footnote: And why does this remind me of Tony Perkins' reaction to Dan Savage's comment, in the wake of a rash of suicides by gay teenagers, that Perkins went to his office every day and sat on a pile of dead queer kids? As you'll recall, Perkins' reaction was so close to hysterical as to make no difference. I smell a little bit of guilty panic here.


Have you noticed how often the right wing presents questions in terms of either/or? Here's an example from Jeb Bush (hereinafter known as "Jeb!") on same-sex marriage:

At the conference, he affirmed his support for “traditional marriage,” saying: “In a country like ours, we should recognize the power of a man and a woman loving their children with all their soul as a good thing, as something positive and helpful for those children to live successful lives.

“And while there are people who disagree with this, we should not push aside those who do believe in traditional marriage.”

First off, who, specifically, disagrees with his example? No one that I've heard of. Take this as another example of the arrogance and narcissism of the "Christian" right: theirs is the only possibility, and if you hold out other alternatives, which can certainly co-exist, then you're negating their position.

The reality, of course, is that if the Supreme Court rules in favor of the right of same-sex couples to marry, "traditional marriage" will still be around. It's not being threatened at all, and those who support it are not being pushed aside -- they're simply being told to mind their own business.

It's a consequence of seeing the universe as sketched in black and white, a matter of absolutes, which, as we learn more and more about it, we realize isn't the case at all.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

On Charleston

(And isn't it interesting how these mass murders are known by place names?)

The responses to this horror have been coming thick and fast, and rather than do my own analysis (which I was going to do, but as I said, "thick and fast" and a little much to keep up with), I'm going to rely on a couple of other commentators.

First, Jon Green at AmericaBlog has a good recap of the Republicans' attempt to dodge the race issue:

Roof traveled over 100 miles from his home in Lexington, South Carolina in order to target Emmanuel Church specifically. Roof’s Facebook photos showed him sporting and taking pictures with white supremacist flags, ranging from the Stars and Bars of the Confederacy all the way to the apartheid-era flags of South Africa and Rhodesia. The suspect’s former roommate was quoted by CBS as saying that Roof had been “planning something like that for six months,” and “said he wanted to start a civil war.” Roof reportedly told his victims, who were all black, that “you rape our women and are taking over our country.”

This was not a random, senseless act of violence. This was a planned, thought-out terror attack. It fits every one of our criteria for terrorism: Violence committed by a non-state actor with a clear political motive — in this case white supremacy. So, of course, mainstream conservatives — some of whom have a non-zero probability of being our next president — took to the airwaves to remind everyone that, despite the shooter’s clearly-stated motives, the attack really isn’t about race.

It’s actually an attack on Christianity.

Let's keep one idea front and center: this was about race. It was all about race. That's all it was about. The Republicans' problem is that they are, for some reason, reluctant to address racism as an issue -- unless, of course, it's about whites being discriminated against, which isn't really going to fly in this context.

The first one that I saw who labeled this an example of persecution against Christians was that font of wisdom, Rick Santorum. Now, of course, everyone's piling on, especially since President Obama commented on the shooting and the ease of acquiring guns. Don't be fooled -- Rick Perry knows it's about drugs:

Instead of talking about guns, Perry said, we should be talking about prescription drugs: “Also, I think there is a real issue to be talked about. It seems to me, again without having all the details about this, that these individuals have been medicated and there may be a real issue in this country from the standpoint of these drugs and how they’re used.”

He said that such drugs are responsible for high suicide and joblessness rates, adding that “there are a lot of issues underlying this that I think we as a country need to have a conversion about rather than just the knee-jerk reaction of saying, ‘If we can just take all the guns away, this won’t happen.’”

There's more -- pick a Republican presidential candidate, or non-candidate, or Fox News -- and brace yourself for a completely irrelevant reaction.

Another good summary/analysis comes from Digby, who surveys the off-the-wall responses -- this, from WSJ, is worth highlighting:

Today the system and philosophy of institutionalized racism identified by Dr. King no longer exists.

What causes young men such as Dylann Roof to erupt in homicidal rage, whatever their motivation, is a problem that defies explanation beyond the reality that evil still stalks humanity. It is no small solace that in committing such an act today, he stands alone.
Emphasis added.

I'm at a loss for words after that one. (But do remember one of the crimes punishable by death: existing while black.)

If you want to see a prime example of the evil that stalks humanity, read this rant by white-supremacist, arch-homophobe and Duggar defender Tony Perkins. Or at least, as much as you can without ruining your keyboard.

Read both Green's and Digby's posts. I can't do them justice through excerpts.

Curses, Foiled Again!

Something a little lighter than the news has been this week:

Thursday, June 18, 2015

But We Knew That (Update)

At least, those of us who have been paying attention over the past few years, as the discourse on gay rights has focused more and more on marriage. From Tierney Sneed at TPM:

The leading opponents of same-sex marriage have been attempting to re-write recent American history, where decades of sneering public attacks on gays and lesbians, condemnations of their "lifestyle," and blaming them for a decline of America's moral virtue are quietly forgotten.

Their argument, made in front of the Supreme Court, no less, is that gay marriage bans are not motivated by prejudice toward gays and lesbians, but by a more noble if newfound purpose.

If one was paying attention, the fact that marriage bans were prompted by anti-gay animus comes as no surprise. Sneed outlines a number of examples. But that was going to sink them in the courts, so they came up with a brand shiny new argument:

The "problem" that bans on same-sex marriage were solving, in Bursh's view, was keeping biological parents attached to their children. How allowing gay couples to marry threatened that attachment puzzled even some of the justices -- Justice Elena Kagan called the reasoning "inexplicable." But even more bewildering, to longtime observers of the issue, is how divorced such logic was from the original motivation for the bans.

"The states’ arguments don’t pass the straight face test, no pun intended," Judith Schaeffer, vice president of Constitutional Accountability Center, a D.C.-based legal organization, said in an interview with TPM. "These are ridiculous arguments that are being made to cover up the fact that these discriminatory laws are motivated by a desire to keep gay people out of this important legal relationship."

It's rather more far-reaching than that, as witness the spate of "religious freedom" laws in state legislatures now that a Supreme Court decision supporting the right of same-sex couples to marry seems inevitable: the point of those laws is not to uphold "traditional marriage," but to create a special right of discrimination on religious beliefs. One example is the adoption law recently passed in Michigan, which gives religious-based adoption agencies the right to turn away prospective parents they don't approve of. Timothy Kincaid outlines the problem:

But these bills change the ground rules. These specifically say that contractors CAN discriminate, using taxpayer funds, so long as it’s based on a religious reason. And that is an unjustifiable position for a state. If a state contractor cannot provide services to all citizens on an equal and fair basis, then it’s time to go be a charity again.

I think that the legislators and Governor in Michigan will regret this decision. While it is intended to protect religious adoption agencies from placing children with gay couples, laws tend to never stay in the box for which they were intended. Unable to just come out and say “you can refuse gay people”, the legislature used the vaguer concept of ‘religious objection’ and that is a notion that is very broad.

Other laws cover small businesses, with even broader implications: you might as well kiss non-discrimination laws good-bye. And of course, no matter the language in the bills themselves, they are directed against gay people.

I'd like to say that the courts are going to throw these bills out, but we're now dealing with a legal landscape that includes Hobby Lobby, which, as you'll remember, not only assumes that corporations have the rights of natural persons, but they got religion, and the corporation's beliefs supercede the rights of its employees.

Update: And we know that Rick Santorum (google it!) is more than happy to reinforce whatever anti-gay bullshit he can:

Santorum was asked why the government “allows people that hurt children by way of child molestation” to impose their views upon the nation.

My own response would likely have had something to do with restricting access of heterosexual men to minors, especially evangelical preachers and Boy Scout leaders, but since it's Santorum, you can guess the response:

“Depending on what they rule, we would certainly make sure that we are protecting children and that we are creating an optimal atmosphere for every child, as I said, that have their birthright, which is to be raised by their mother and father.”

Have you noticed, by the way, that these proponents of the "traditional nuclear family" (as set forth by the Saints Nelson -- that would be Ozzie and Harriet) never espouse any programs to support families, or help teenagers avoid pregnancy, or anything like that? They're more likely to cut SNAP benefits.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015


No, not the TV series (which I'm anxiously awaiting on Netflix), but leading Republicans reacting to the possibility of the Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality.

Some highlights (if we can call them that):

Rick Santorum:

“We’re not bound by what nine people say in perpetuity.”

"I think it's important to understand that the Supreme Court doesn't have the final word," Santorum told viewers. "It has its word. Its word has validity. But it's important for Congress and the president, frankly, to push back when the Supreme Court gets it wrong."

Given that Santorum is exhibiting his usual clarity of thought, it's hard to know how to address this. Yes, Congress, at least, has the ability to "push back." Congress has tried that twice on this issue, and failed both times. Until Congress does manage to do something, we are bound by what those nine people say.

Mike Huckabee:

“Presidents have understood that the Supreme Court cannot make a law, they cannot make it, the legislature has to make it, the executive branch has to sign it and enforce it,” Huckabee told Fox News’ Chris Wallace. “And the notion that the Supreme Court comes up with the ruling and that automatically subjects the two other branches to following it defies everything there is about the three equal branches of government.”

The Supreme Court can overturn a law, which is what it's being asked to do in this case. And the Supreme Court can indeed come up with a ruling that binds the other two branches, unless and until that ruling is overturned by some legal, constitutional means.

Ted Cruz:

“If the court tries to do this it will be rampant judicial activism. It will be lawlessness, it will be fundamentally illegitimate,” he said during an Iowa campaign stop earlier this spring.

Hmm -- the "judicial activism" mantra in overdrive. I still haven't figured out how a court ruling can be "lawless." It can be bad law, but it can't be lawless.

Cruz is really proving himself to be the wingnut's wingnut. And he's a serious contender for the Republican nomination.

Ben Carson:

"First of all, we have to understand how the Constitution works. The president is required to carry out the laws of the land, the laws of the land come from the legislative branch," Carson said in May. "So if the legislative branch creates a law or changes a law, the executive branch has a responsibly to carry it out. It doesn’t say they have the responsibility to carry out a judicial law. And that's something we need to talk about."

Ben Carson needs to figure out how the Constitution works. He seems to have missed the last couple hundred years of judicial history. A Supreme Court decision is the law of the land.

And of course, Judge Roy Moore:

"When federal courts start changing our Constitution by defining words that are not even there, like marriage, they're going to do the same thing with family in the future,” he later said, doubling down on his order. "When a word’s not in the Constitution, clearly the powers of the Supreme Court do not allow them to redefine words and seize power.”

Wow. Just "Wow!" This is a common thread through all the rhetoric of Anti-Gay, Inc., against marriage equality, and it's total bullshit. The Court is not redefining anything. The Court is addressing the applicability of the Equal Protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the states' ability to abrogate the fundamental right of marriage for a class of citizens with no rational basis. Marriage will still be marriage.

I've skipped some -- Steve King, convicted felon Tom DeLay, Texas state rep Cecil Bell -- but I'm sure, if you care to take the time, you're more well-informed -- and more honest -- than they are: you can come up with your own comments.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Marriage News Watch, June 15, 2015

With the Supreme Court due to rule on marriage any day now, Presidential "candidate" Rick Santorum says he would fight back against a pro-equality ruling. He says that states allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry is a violation of his religious freedom, which is an argument a lot people made about interracial marriage in the 60s. So do couples need to worry about the possibility that Rick Santorum could stop them from marrying? No. For one thing, the president doesn't get to veto Supreme Court rulings. And for another, Rick Santorum will never be president.

More on Santorum's rationale for for refusing to enforce same-sex marriage (and what the hell does that even mean?):

When the United States government comes in and says this is what you are going to believe, this is how you're going to practice your faith, this is a new religion. This violates, in my opinion, the Establishment Clause in the Constitution that says that Congress shall make no law with respect to an establishment of religion. If the government goes around and tells churches what they have to believe in and what their doctrine is, that is something that is a violation of the First Amendment.

If you're sitting there thinking "WTF is he talking about?", join the club.

Or you can take it as just another example of the fundamental narcissism of the "Christian" right: somehow, in their universe, someone else's marriage is about them.

Idiot du Jour

Cal Thomas' take on the upcoming Supreme Court ruling on marriage rights.

Even during the anti-slavery movement, even the pro-slavery movement in the South in the United States, the United States government didn't come in and try to keep pastors from preaching either for or against slavery," he insisted. "They let them have freedom of speech. You hear a lot from the left about the separation of church and state. A lot of evangelicals would would be happy if the state got back on its side of the line.

The only ones talking about keeping pastors from preaching whatever they want are Anti-Gay, Inc., and they're just doing it to scare people and increase their cash flow. As for the line between church and state, the state (and the rest of us) would be happy if evangelicals got back on their side of the line. Note to Cal Thomas: people criticizing you for repulsive opinions is not the same as the government censoring your speech.

If equal protection covers gays, lesbians, transgenders and the rest, what about the polygamists?" Thomas asked. . . .

So, who's going to say no? And based on what?" he continued. "Where's the standard. If it's not the Constitution, if it's not scripture, where is the standard?

Well, the Court is not considering a case brought by polygamists, so there's no need to worry about that right now. And considering Thomas' insistence on scripture, one wonders if he's read it at all. I refer him to King Solomon, for example, who wound up with 700 wives.

Besides, the Supreme Court is not allowed to base its decisions on scripture. Anybody's. So we're stuck with the Constitution, which does guarantee all citizens equal protection of the law and the exercise of their fundamental rights -- which include marriage to the person of one's choice.

If you are going to repeal something that has been part of human history for thousands of years, what's the new standard? And according to whom?

Is someone repealing something? News to me. Somehow, expanding a fundamental right doesn't really seem like repealing anything, y'know?

The more shrill they get, the stupider they sound.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

This Is Promoting Sin

According to Franklin Graham:

I wonder how many disabled children Franklin Graham has adopted.

From Graham:

Every day it is something else! Tiffany’s started advertising wedding rings for gay couples. Wells Fargo bank is using a same-sex couple in their advertising. And there are more. But it has dawned on me that we don’t have to do business with them.

At the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, we are moving our accounts from Wells Fargo to another bank. And guess what—we don’t have to shop at Tiffany & Co., there are plenty of other jewelry stores.

This is one way we as Christians can speak out—we have the power of choice. Let’s just stop doing business with those who promote sin and stand against Almighty God’s laws and His standards.

The punchline:

[Graham]called on Christians to boycott Wells Fargo, and move their money to a bank that does not support LGBT equality.

As NCRM pointed out yesterday, good luck finding one.

Graham yesterday told the Family Research Council that he's settled on BB&T Bank, which is based in his home state of North Carolina.

Someone probably should let him know, as Right Wing Watch points out, that he "may not have done much research, as BB&T has received an 80 percent score in the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index and this year is the sponsor of the Miami Beach Gay Pride Parade, along with the chief sponsor of Miami Beach Gay Pride’s “Legacy Couples” program, which celebrates same-sex couples in “committed relationships of 10 years or longer.”

Note to Franklin Graham: We're everywhere.

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Through the Looking Glass

And the award today goes to Sen. John Thune (R-WTF?), for what is perhaps the most jaw-dropping tweet ever:

Via Joe.My.God.

Monday, June 08, 2015

Marriage News Watch, June 8, 2015

A bill to allow North Carolina officials to refuse to serve any couple they don't like is several steps closer to passing, even after the governor vetoed it. Texas is coming up with new excuses for refusing to issue marriage licenses. And with a federal ruling on marriage due any day now, Judge Roy Moore continues to speak out against the Supreme Court.

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Compare and Contrast

(Be warned: for some reason, Blogger is not accepting my spacing this morning, so there are portions of this that are going to bee somewhat run-on.)

The subject today is real Christians.
First, we have this young woman:

One interesting aspect of this story is that neither Hailey nor her mother even mention their religious beliefs as a motivation for undertaking these projects: “It just doesn’t seem right,” [Hailey] told local KING 5 News, “because I think everyone should have a place to live.” And then there are those who wave their religion around like an AK-47: Joseph Farah, editor of WND, is always good for a laugh:
I know there are millions of Christians, Jews and others who would pull up stakes and move to another country that honored the institution of marriage as it was designed by God – a union between one man and one woman. As Jesus said it: 'For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh.' Is there one state in 50 that would not only defy the coming abomination, but secede in response?
That's been tried. It didn't end well -- for the secessionists, at least. Or Matt Barber:
Certainly, this novelty of so-called gay marriage is going to be one of the primary, I believe, drawbacks that end up potentially leading to the end of western civilization as we certainly know it now, at least.
Cue Ragnarok. (But have you noticed that all those "end of the world" scenarios in all the major mythologies -- at least, the non-Christian ones -- all end with a rebirth into something better?) And of course, Old Reliable, Tony Perkins:
in the last seven years, Americans have witnessed an almost perpetual parade of deviance, with the President grand marshalling them all! Now, the government's rainbow love fest is spilling over into the military, where each branch is racing to out-sexualize the other. Going where no branch has gone before, the Air Force will let high-ranking officials decide the fate of known transgenders in their ranks. Unfortunately, the President has certainly agreed with any LGBT sentiment that undermines marriage, free speech, public health, religious liberty, and now national security.
And that's just a quick sample from the past few days. I'd love to be in a position to ask some of these high-profile "Christians" how many homeless people they've sheltered or how many hungry people they've fed. And remind them about Matthew 25:35-40:
35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ 40 And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Tweet du Jour

Under the heading "Do they even hear what they're saying?"

Embedded image permalink

Words fail me.

Via Mahablog.

Monday, June 01, 2015

Marriage News Watch, June 1, 2015

An NBC station in Tennessee is refusing to broadcast footage of a gay soldier who wants to get married. The governor of North Carolina vetoed a bill that would let state officials turn gay couples away from marriage counters -- but the bill's not dead yet. And Alabama is actually going through with a threat to stop issuing marriage licenses state-wide -- but that might not have the effect they want.

Here's the ad that was rejected in Chatanooga:

Strangely enough, the ad is running in Memphis and Nashville. I guess Chatanooga is special.