"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

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Today in Disgusting People (Update)

I've tended to give Pat Robertson a pass on a lot of things, on the assumption that he's just a nasty man who's gone senile and needs to be kept in the attic or something, as is normally the case in his culture. However, there is always the possibility that he's just as cynically manipulative as the rest of his cronies among the rabidly right-wing "Christians," as this story seems to underscore:

Robertson, who, like Kariuki, believes that LGBT rights will lead to divine wrath against America, said that “those Africans have got it right.”

“One wishes that the president of the United States would listen to some of his fellow Africans, cousins, to what they have to say because they speak truth and they speak wisdom,” he added.

Aside from the fact that Robertson wouldn't recognize truth or wisdom if they were parading naked in front of him, I suppose it's no surprise that he would be praising Africans for clinging desperately to the worst aspects of the colonial period, especially the most pernicious forms of Christianity. As for whether he's senile or cynical, well, just look at that statement: a nice little capsule version of the "Christian" right's racism and homophobia, delivered by your grandfather.

There's even video. I recommend viewing it on an empty stomach.

Update:Make this guy First Runner Up.

I have to confess, I just don't get big game hunting. I subscribe to the idea that if you kill it, you gotta eat it -- unless it bites you first.

Saturday, July 18, 2015


Recovering from a mild case of bronchitis, slowly, but steadily. Hence my absence for the past few days.

Not to mention that it was around 90 yesterday and is expected to reach 95 today. With about 90% humidity. Not helping my breathing at all.

Thought about going to the movies (no air conditioning here -- I didn't really need it last year, and never got around to installing it), then thought about what two or three hours in nice cold dry air would do to my lungs.

Looks like another day in the park, sitting in the shade and reading.

However, on the bright side, this:

In today's ruling, the EEOC states that "allegations of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation state a claim of discrimination on the basis of sex. We further conclude that allegations of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation necessarily state a claim of discrimination on the basis of sex."

Who knew?

Monday, July 13, 2015


I've been sort of following the news from Greece, but not in any great depth. If you'll recall, the European central banking authority and the IMF imposed, or attempted to impose, austerity measures on those countries that got caught in the Bush Economic Disaster of 2008. Iceland, wisely, told them to take a hike, Ireland and Spain somehow survived it, but the Greek government tried to follow the dictates of the Powers That Be -- and got kicked out of office.

Paul Krugman has a terrific column on the latest wrinkle in the Greek situation and how it's likely to affect the European Union:

Suppose you consider Tsipras an incompetent twerp. Suppose you dearly want to see Syriza out of power. Suppose, even, that you welcome the prospect of pushing those annoying Greeks out of the euro.

Even if all of that is true, this Eurogroup list of demands is madness. The trending hashtag ThisIsACoup is exactly right. This goes beyond harsh into pure vindictiveness, complete destruction of national sovereignty, and no hope of relief. It is, presumably, meant to be an offer Greece can’t accept; but even so, it’s a grotesque betrayal of everything the European project was supposed to stand for.

Can anything pull Europe back from the brink? Word is that Mario Draghi is trying to reintroduce some sanity, that Hollande is finally showing a bit of the pushback against German morality-play economics that he so signally failed to supply in the past. But much of the damage has already been done. Who will ever trust Germany’s good intentions after this?

Key phrase: "morality play economics." That perfectly describes the economic theories of the right. There's an element of punishment in conservative economics, but it's not directed at those who actually caused the problem -- if that were the case, a lot of bank executives in this country would be in jail right now.

And the whole austerity idea is crap, even though it probably makes sense to those who aren't thinking very deeply: if you're incurring massive debt, you should cut spending. That might work with a household budget, but to think it's going to work with a national economy is lunacy: as we learned here in 2009-2010, and as the British learned, the last thing you want to do when your economy is tanking is take money out. National economies just don't work that way.

And the Greek situation stands a very good chance of bringing the whole Eurozone toppling down, according to Krugman -- who has committed the politically unpardonable sin of so far being right, all the way down the line.

Via Digby, who has this to say:

Margaret Thatcher is laughing in hell. Along with some other memorable historical figures.

This just appeared in my mailbox from The Guardian:

The government in Athens and its creditors have reached a deal that will shore up Greece’s place in the eurozone after marathon overnight talks.

After 31 hours of acrimonious discussions spread over one tense weekend, a breakthrough came early on Monday morning. Donald Tusk, the head of the European Council, announced that the 19 leaders of the eurozone had unanimously reached agreement.

He said they were “all ready to go” on a new programme for Greece under the eurozone bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism, adding that Athens had signed up to “serious reforms”. . . .

In order to get these desperately needed funds, the radical left government of Alexis Tispras had to submit to draconian economic reforms that the Greek people had rejected in a referendum barely a week before.

This is not going to be pretty.

Well, It's Finally Happening

The notorious Jade Helm 15, Obama's nefarious plot to take over a group of southern and western states, begins this week. Of course, the conspiracy theories are off the charts.

The "unconventional warfare" exercise is scheduled to begin Wednesday and run until Sept. 15. Training is planned for certain areas of Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida. California, Colorado and Nevada had originally been listed as areas where the training was to take place but have since been left out.

Conspiracy theory websites and InfoWars' Alex Jones suggested that the operation could be a cover for the implementation of martial law. One site even alleged that troops were converting shuttered Wal-Mart stores into covert military bases. But the paranoia surrounding "Jade Helm 15" really became headline news in May, after enough concerned Texans convinced Gov. Greg Abbott (R) to take action to protect their civil liberties. Abbott requested that the State Guard monitor the training exercise, asserting that the move was only meant to facilitate communication between the military and residents of the Lone Star state.

It's hard to pick a favorite, although, of course, the "Christians" have to get their plug in:

Right Wing Watch recently flagged a segment from an outlet called TruNews Christian radio in which host Rick Wiles said he believed that the government would go as far as deploying an "EMP" attack -- an electromagnetic pulse generated by the detonation of a nuclear weapon in orbit -- against states that resist the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.

I don't quite know how to break it to Mr. Wiles (who, according to all reports, is really out there), but you can't direct an electromagnetic pulse from an atomic weapon against specific targets.

The prize, however, goes to this commenter at an article in the Houston Chronicle about Tropical Storm Allison, which someone quoted in the comments to the Jade Helm article:

Its no secret that the military can control the weather. Its called the HAARP project and its operated out of secret military bases. There is one in alaska that no one is permitted to go to. They use giant ionizing columns to change the ionosphere that then influence cloud formation, the jet stream and hurricanes.

There is no doubt obama is using this to punish Texas for standing up to him. Governor Perry was an honest leader who stood up to Obama. But Obama being the person he is, used secret army tech such as Brain Controling Microwave to derail the governors presidency bid. What else could be the explanation to how he lost memory when he was on the tv debates. I expect this to happen again this time.

There is no doubt that since Obama Texas has been on the receiving end of so many weather problems. First the hurricanes, then the tornadoes, then the drought, now flooding. Its a cover up for more governement control and take over of second amendment rights and our guns.

I am very suspicious about floods

Not directed at Jade Helm, but you get a good idea of the mindset. It's worth reading the whole article, just for a summary of how nutso the reaction to a routine military training exercise has been. The scary part is not only do these people exist -- they always have, under some rock or other -- but now they have access to the Internet and the airwaves. And of course, there are politicians who will milk it for all it's worth.

And after Jade Helm is over, we're still going to be stuck with Texas.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Quote du Jour

You get to guess who it's from:

What this century needs is a good plague to revive the old values.

Today in Disgusting People:

That would be Dr. Robert Jeffress, pastor of one of those megachurches in Texas, who thinks that Real Christians™ should follow the teachings of the Real Jesus™ and turn over illegal immigrants to the authorities:

Jeffress said that he would not check the immigration status of every person who came to First Baptist Church in Texas, “but we’re also not going to harbor illegal immigrants who are criminals like some of these churches are doing.”

“Look, a lot of these liberal churches that harbor illegal immigrants who are criminals say they are following the example of Jesus, the only problem is they are following the Jesus of their imagination rather than the Jesus of the Bible,” he insisted.

Strange. I remember the Jesus of the Bible saying things like:

35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

It gets worse:

“The real Jesus of the Bible said ‘render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s,’ that is obey the government,” Jeffress continued, adding that the “real Jesus” cared more about American citizens who were victims of violent crimes committed by immigrants.

Right -- Jesus really cared about American citizens -- which, as a group, didn't exist at that point. And as I recall, Jesus was talking about paying taxes. What sort of taxes do you suppose Jeffress and his church pay?

Although, since Jeffress insists that Jesus wasn't some wimpy guy, perhaps he might do well to remember something else that Jesus said:

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

From Matthew 25, verses 31-46, NIV.

Jeffress really is a disgusting little man, who obviously has no understanding of what morality is about.

Remember That Pizza Joint in Indiana?

The one that announced it would not cater same-sex weddings, even though 1) no one had asked them to, and 2) who in the hell would serve pizza at their wedding banquet?

Someone came up with the perfect response:


Coming Soon

Well, OK, eventually: Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, due for release on March 25, 2016.

It's inevitable that I'll see it.

Actually, I just looked at the cast list at IMDb (linked above) -- I'll definitely see it.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Not To Confuse Anyone With Facts, Or Anything

Remember Aaron and Melissa Klein, the Oregon bakers who have vaulted to "Christian martyr" status after the state found them in violation of Oregon's anti-discrimination law? They've been fined $135,000, which the usual suspects are taking as evidence of persecution for failing to "participate" in a same-sex wedding by not selling the couple a cake.

Well, that's not really the reason they were fined:

However, the ruling shows the bakery owners had made Laurel and Rachel Bowman-Cryer the victims of persecution and makes clear the payment was compensation for damages and not a fine or civil penalty, reported the blog Love, Joy and Feminism.

The ruling shows the Kleins “brought the case to the media’s attention and kept it there by repeatedly appearing in public to make statements deriding” the couple who filed the complaint.

“It was foreseeable that this attention would negatively impact (the Bowman-Cryers), making (the Kleins) liable for any resultant emotional suffering experienced by (them),” the agency found.

Not only that, as the blog explains, the bakery owners shared the couple’s personal contact information – which led to death threats that nearly caused them to lose custody of their foster children.

Read the post at Love, Joy and Feminism. It's pretty arresting. And here's the agency's order.

It just seems to me that if you're going to play the "Christian martyr," you should avoid persecuting others.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Image(s) of the Week

Let's see -- what strike my fancy today?

I've done a fair amount of playing with "mosaic" images -- smaller, fragmentary images combined into a larger image. Here's a couple of the simpler ones:

This one was a series of Polaroids:

And this one happened all by itself -- if I remember correctly, the film got misaligned in the carrier:

There are also a number of Polaroid collages, of which I have slides but have never gotten around to scanning them into the computer. Well, that's a project -- when I decide to go ahead and get a new scanner.

Just Work Harder

That's Jeb! Bush's solution to income inequality:

“My aspiration for the country and I believe we can achieve it is 4% growth as far as the eye can see. Which means we have to be a lot more productive. Workforce participation has to rise from its all-time modern lows. Means that people need to work longer hours and through their productivity gain more income for their families.”

And he's supposed to be the smarter brother. He's certainly no better informed. A little dose of reality:

With the early stages of the 2016 presidential campaign underway and millions of Americans still hurting financially, both parties are looking for ways to address wage stagnation. That’s the good news. The bad news is that both parties are offering tax cuts as a solution. What has hurt workers’ paychecks is not what the government takes out, but what their employers no longer put in — a dynamic that tax cuts cannot eliminate.

Wage stagnation is a decades-long phenomenon. Between 1979 and 2014, while the gross domestic product grew 150 percent and productivity grew 75 percent, the inflation-adjusted hourly wage of the median worker rose just 5.6 percent — less than 0.2 percent a year. And since 2002, the bottom 80 percent of wage earners, including both male and female college graduates, have actually seen their wages stagnate or fall.

The Times article is pretty interesting, even for those of us who get lost outside the bare basics of economics. It seems that the problem -- wage stagnation and economic inequality -- is our focus on tax policy, when we know that cutting taxes -- and, necessarily, cutting government spending, or else the Republicans will pout -- has the opposite effect of what's been touted. (I was going to write "intended," but I'm not at all convinced that would be accurate.)

Via Digby.

Also, courtesy of Mahablog, some graphics from Mother Jones. Here's one that demonstrates vividly the information above:

Check it out at the link -- there's more, and it ain't pretty.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Monday, July 06, 2015

Marriage News Watch, July 6, 2015: The Final Installment

Only a few isolated locations in the country remain where same-sex couples can't get married. Those opposed to equality are getting increasingly desperate, with stall tactics and long-shot legal games. We're also likely to see renewed attacks on other civil rights, so there's still going to be a lot of work to do in order to protect equality. But the story of marriage is changing from something we're fighting to achieve to something we're actually living. That's why as of this week I'm wrapping up Marriage News Watch.

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Urban Wildlife

Call this one "Saturday Science a Day Late": interesting article at Raw Story about the resurgence of "wild animals" in urban environments:

In recent years, a host of charismatic wild species, the coyote being only the most famous, have returned to American cities in numbers not seen for generations. Yet the official response in many areas has been, at best, disorganized, and people’s responses varied. The time has come for us to accept that these animals are here to stay, and develop a new approach to urban wildlife.

Most big American cities occupy sites that were once rich ecosystems. New York and Boston overlook dynamic river mouths. San Francisco and Seattle border vast estuaries, while large parts of Chicago, New Orleans and Washington, DC rest atop former wetlands. Even Las Vegas sprawls across a rare desert valley with reliable sources of life-giving fresh water, supplied by artesian aquifers the nearby Spring Mountains. All of these places once attracted diverse and abundant wildlife.

I lived, until recently, in an older neighborhood on Chicago's North Side -- big old trees, large yards, quiet. I would sit out in the back yard in the early morning and observe the opossums and raccoons wandering through the yard. The opossums would walk within a couple of feet, unless I moved -- then they would panic and run. The raccoons were fearless and inquisitive -- one morning, I had to yell at a pair to keep them from climbing on me. And of course, in addition to the squirrels, I'd see an occasional rabbit.

I've never seen a fox or coyote, although there have been regular reports of sightings around the city -- including the coyote that wandered into a Quizno's sub shop downtown on a hot summer day and just flopped down and the nice cool tile floor. And someone posted a video a couple of years back of a deer and half-grown fawn in an alley in Lakeview -- one of the most densely populated parts of the city. Deer are apparently becoming a real problem in the suburbs.

And we have peregrines and kestrels -- the City encourages them, to keep the pigeons in check. (It's interesting to note that in my new neighborhood, pigeons were rampant. They've largely disappeared, at least from my building, where they used to roost on a couple of nice ledges under the stairs. I was wondering why, then one day saw a couple of peregrines coasting around in the sky.) And in recent years I've noticed an increase in songbirds -- those little brown birds that are not sparrows. Maybe that has something to do with the City having planted over half a million trees in the past decade or so.

Note that Chicago has an extensive park system that includes several wildlife refuges, and sits on a major migratory bird flyway, and there have been a couple of programs restoring some areas to a "natural" state -- meaning, basically, restoring native species. North Pond and South Pond in Lincoln Park are the two that I know best.

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Two Must-Reads

The first is an article by Gabriel Arana at Huffington Post on why conservatives think they lost on marriage equality:

In an interview, [Russell Moore, the president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission] told The Huffington Post that one of the movement's main mistakes in the gay marriage fight was assuming traditionalists would always have public opinion on their side. Social conservatives didn't anticipate or prepare for the dramatic turnabout in national sentiment on this issue over the last 10 years, he said, assuming they'd always operate from a position of strength in the culture war. They believed that fundamentally, Americans shared their values.

"I think that many pro-marriage people assumed that we would always represent a majority in American opinion," Moore said. "For a while, that was true. But we needed to be prepared to argue for something that is right regardless of whether or not the majority of Americans agree with us. I think that was a key error."

That is being blind to history. America's social history has been pretty dynamic -- we've gone from voting rights reserved to white landowners to voting being expanded to all white men to all male citizens to women; we've incorporated laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex, religion, race, and in some states a number of other factors (military service, physical or mental disability, marital status) not only into our legal system but into our moral framework. To think that, because most Americans at one time subscribed to a particular set of values (and idea that doesn't really seem to have much basis in reality anyway), they will always subscribe to that set of values, is beyond wishful thinking. (And I might note that the "values" assumed here are not really "American" in any real sense. Yes, there are truly American values, and they are, to some extent, the opposite of the "values" that Moore and his confreres espouse.) And note that Moore is insistent that he and his fellow conservatives are "right," no matter what anyone else thinks.

Moore added that the movement had also failed to put a humane face on its opposition to same-sex unions, though he said he thinks this was not the primary reason for the loss.

"There were some people speaking to this issue from my side who were angry and presented a public face of outrage in a way that I don't think was helpful," Moore said. "Evangelicals don't dislike our gay and lesbian neighbors, and we don't mean them harm."

Two points on this statement: angry, outraged and hateful has been the public face of their movement from the beginning. Take the major voices: Tony Perkins, Brian Brown, Bryan Fischer, Moore himself, among many others: they have consistently pushed a message that labels gays as perverts, pedophiles, Nazis, communists, less than human, which makes that last sentence laughable, at best. It may not be the primary reason for their loss, but it's up there: Americans in general tend not to like extremists very much, and the visible part of the anti-gay movement has been populated by extremists.

On a related note, here's an opinion piece by Amanda Marcotte on the real reason conservatives oppose the ruling in Obergefell, analyzing a piece by Ross Douthat:

While other conservatives moved on to incoherent babbling about “religious liberty”, Douthat used his New York Times column to dig his heels into the argument soundly rejected by Anthony Kennedy’s opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges: that same-sex marriage is somehow an assault on traditional marriage.

Kennedy argued that the case for same-sex marriage “strengthened, not weakened” the institution of marriage by affirming that it upholds “the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family.” Douthat, however, remains skeptical, complaining that “approval of divorce, premarital sex, and out-of-wedlock childbearing” is on the rise and that younger Americans, in particular, take “a more relaxed perspective, in which wedlock is malleable and optional, one way among many to love, live, rear kids—or not.” This sense that marriage is optional offends Douthat greatly, as he sees it as an immoral shunning of duty.

What Douthat objects to -- no-fault divorce, child-bearing out of wedlock, etc., etc. etc., have nothing to do with same-sex marriage, and actually predate the battle over marriage equality by a generation or more. In point of fact, Kennedy was right, and I've said all along that it was more than a little ludicrous for the "Christian" right to loudly proclaim that they were protecting marriage from people who want to be married.

Marcotte does, I think, get to the meat of the resistance:

Douthat isn’t wrong on the facts, even if he’s wrong on his assessment of them. It’s true that women in modern society no longer feel like they have to be married to be granted entrance into adult society. Single women living by and supporting themselves is no longer considered scandalous. Marriage is, bit by bit, becoming more about a partnership between equals who choose each other for the purpose of love and happiness. Which means it’s becoming less about giving men control over women’s lives.

In this sense, Douthat isn’t wrong that “support for same-sex marriage and the decline of straight marital norms exist in a kind of feedback loop.” To accept same-sex marriage is to accept this modern idea that marriage is about love and partnership, instead of about dutiful procreation and female submission. Traditional gender roles where husbands rule over wives are disintegrating and that process is definitely helped along by these new laws allowing that marriage doesn’t have to be a gendered institution at all.

I would say, however, that for most Americans, those traditional gender roles have disintegrated.

I've been wondering why their loss on same-sex marriage has generated such extreme rhetoric on the right. I don't recall that sort of extremism over Loving or even Lawrence. All I can think of is that Obergefell demonstrates beyond any doubt that they have lost any right they might have had to call themselves "mainstream." The country has moved well beyond them, and to their way of thinking, it should be holding still. In one respect, they are right: they're being marginalized, but it's not any great conspiracy doing it to them: they did it to themselves.

Do They Hear What They're Saying?

Nine state lawmakers in Iowa have come out with a remarkable statement on the Supreme Court's ruling in Obergefell:

The Iowa lawmakers suggest in their statement that same-sex marriage violates the separation of church and state.

Separation of church and state means the government cannot interfere with religion, the statement claims. “At the same time, in order for the United States to function at its best, the people who represent the citizens in government must reflect a strong Judeo-Christian ethic in all we do, including having a solid, unmovable moral basis in our laws,” it adds.

Someone has obviously missed the point.

Friday, July 03, 2015

About Those County Clerks

That is, the ones who can't seem to separate their religious beliefs from their jobs. Like Katie Lang in Hood County, Texas, who said:

I am grateful that the First Amendment continues to protect the sincerely held religious beliefs of public servants like me. That has not changed since last Friday.

She, at least, seems to recognize that the First Amendment also protects others from having to cater to her religious beliefs -- there are other clerks willing to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples in Hood County.

And then there's Decatur County, Tennessee, where the entire office resigned.

Clerk Gwen Pope and employees Sharon Bell and Mickey Butler cited their religious beliefs as the reason behind their decision.

Confirming the resignations, County Commissioner David Boroughs praised the employees’ decision because “their faith is so strong and well-rounded that they feel they can do that.”

Chris Hayes has a fairly good report on the phenomenon:

One of those Kentucky county clerks is now being sued:

Now, the ACLU has filed a federal class action lawsuit against one of those clerks, Kim Davis (below right) of Rowan County, on behalf of two gay couples and two straight ones.

From the ACLU’s release:

In explaining the ACLU’s decision to file suit on the couples’ behalf, ACLU of Kentucky Cooperating Attorney Laura Landenwich stated, “Ms. Davis has the absolute right to believe whatever she wants about God, faith, and religion, but as a government official who swore an oath to uphold the law, she cannot pick and choose who she is going to serve, or which duties her office will perform based on her religious beliefs.”

The interview in the Chris Hayes video with Casey Davis, county clerk of Casey County, Kentucky, is instructive, although perhaps not in the way that Mr. Davis expected: as you listen to him, it becomes very clear that the point of this exercise is not to preserve his freedom of conscience -- that's under no attack, in spite of what he says -- but to establish his "right" to enforce his religious beliefs on everyone else. That's really the basis of all of these so-called "religious freedom" bills being introduced in state legislatures: to enshrine one set of religious beliefs above the law and above everyone else's civil rights.

In the case of county clerks and other government agents in particular, I'd be willing to bet that one could make a strong case for violation of the Establishment Clause.

It's going to be interesting to see how this all pans out, although with Liberty Counsel standing ready to take up the defense of these poor, persecuted "Christians" I'm fairly optimistic.

Today's Must-Watch

Kids react to Obergefell:

There is hope for the future.

It's kind of long, but it's worth it.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

This Is Going To Make Waves

The Episcopal Church has voted to allow same-sex weddings in all congregations:

On Wednesday the Episcopal Church overwhelmingly voted to allow religious weddings for same-sex couples. The vote occurred at the Episcopal General Convention in Salt Lake City, and it passed in the House of Deputies just days after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized marriage equality.

The new rule will be implemented after November 1, and will eliminate gender-specific language from church laws on marriage. Instead of words like "husband" and "wife," the new church law will use words like "the couple." Same-sex couples will be permitted to have religious weddings in the church; however the new rule also gives clergy permission to decline to perform the ceremonies.

The vote was overwhelming:

Not everyone is happy about it. From the Institute on Religion and Democracy:
Bishops making these changes have chosen to align themselves with culture rather than the Bible, which puts forth a model of marriage and family life upholding marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman. The vast majority of global Christians affirm traditional marriage. Unsurprisingly, there are no bishops in an official capacity from the Church of England here at General Convention, let alone from Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox churches.

Why would there be representatives of the Church of England (the Episcopal Church is autonomous) or other denominations in any capacity, much less "official"?

This will have repercussions in the Anglican Communion, possibly even leading to schism. We'll see.


We've all heard what a total loss Fox News is as far as actual information is concerned, but the degree of ignorance displayed by their hosts and anchors is genuinely astonishing. We have another Ten Commandments battle, this time in Oklahoma, where the state supreme court ordered the government to remove a monument on the capital grounds.

State Rep. Mike Ritze (R), whose family funded the monument, told Doocy that he was shocked because the judges had never ruled against a Ten Commandments display before.

“Well, you know, it’s curious because in many instances like this, Mike, things in state capitals and on public ground are regarded as historical because that’s where our laws and our heritage comes from, came from in the beginning when this nation was first founded,” [host Steve] Doocy opined.

Hmm -- Enlightenment philosophy, English common law, Roman law, even some Iroquois law, but the Ten Commandments? Sorry, no.

The real problem here is that the Fox audience doesn't seem to value critical thinking skills very much, and they're likely to take this kind of blatant ignorance as gospel. Can I suggest that this has more than a little to do with the state of public discourse in this country these days?

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Today's Must-Read

From Sen. Elizabeth Warren, writing in Time:

Our Constitution fiercely guards freedom and liberty, and strongly disapproves of state-sanctioned discrimination. The Supreme Court’s recent decision in Obergefell v. Hodges recognizing a fundamental right to equal marriage for LGBT Americans sits squarely within both text and tradition. Indeed, what is truly remarkable about this case is not the outcome, but rather the people who made it possible — all of the many individuals across our nation who came forward to fight for the liberty and equality that our Constitution guarantees for all of us.

She takes particular aim at Chief Justice John Roberts' unbelievable dissent:

When looking at this equal marriage decision, Chief Justice John Roberts asserts that the Constitution “had nothing to do with it.” He’s wrong. Our Constitution had everything to do with it — with the liberty of two adults to have their love treated the same as that of any other couple. And it is because of the tireless work of jurists, lawyers, husbands like Jim Obergefell, and countless other LGBT Americans who stepped forward to speak out, that our nation will no longer look away from what our Constitution requires.

Read the whole thing.