The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, April 23

Jim Burroway

April 23rd, 2013

France’s National Assembly To Cast Final Vote on Marriage Equality: Paris. After the French Senate gave its approval to a bill providing marriage and adoption equality for same-sex couples, the bill returned to the lower house to ratify some of the changes made in the Senate after the National Assembly passed its version in February. The National Assembly began debating the final version of the bill last week, and its is expected to complete its work today with a final, final vote. It can’t come too soon. Anti-gay opponents to equality have been whipping up a violent backlash in recent weeks, with assaults on gay people being reported in several cities. Opponents have also threatened the life of the National Assembly’s president, and warn of “blood” and “civil war” if the bill passes.

Assuming the bill does pass the National Assembly as expected today, its next stop might be a referral to the Constitutional Council in an effort to have the law declared unconstitutional. That would happen if sixty Senators or sixty deputies agree to refer the bill to the Council. If that effort fails or of the Council clears the law, it will then be signed into law by President Hollande and published in the Official Journal.

Delaware House to Vote on Marriage Equality Bill: Dover, DE. Things are moving rather quickly in the First State. It was less than two weeks ago that a bill providing marriage equality was introduced in the Delaware House. Within a week, HB 75 quickly moved from the House Administrative Committee to the House floor. The bill has 17 House co-sponsors out of the 41-member chamber. Rep. Melanie George Smith (D-Bear,) the bill’s primary sponsor, believes the House will approve the bill and send it to the Senate.

Rhode Island Senate Committee to Consider Marriage Equality Bill: Providence, RI. The state Senate is made up of 32 Democrats, 5 Republicans, and 1 Independent, so you’d think that a bill granting marriage quality to same-sex couples would be a sure thing, especially considering how easily it passed the House in a 51-19 vote in January. But the Senate is led by Senate President Teresa Paiva-Weed (D-Jamestown, Newport), who opposes legalizing same-sex marriage and in years past vowed to block it from coming to a vote in the Senate. This year, she said that she would a committee to hold hearings on the bill, but she has previously ensured that the selected committee would deep-six any attempts to bring marriage equality to the Senate Floor. The bill today is before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the Providence Journal is having trouble reading the tea leaves:

 But the committee will vote on bills that are different from those introduced weeks ago. The new versions were posted Monday afternoon.

One bill, S 38, is now identical to its companion bill in the House 5015, Sub B. Both would legalize same-sex marriage and contain expanded protections for religiously affiliated organizations that oppose same-sex marriage.

The third bill, S708, would put the issue before voters. But it no longer includes protections for individual small business owners who oppose same-sex marriage.

Hate Crimes Statistics Act Signed Into Law: 1990. Following strong support from the Administration and Congress, President George H.W. Bush signed the Hate Crimes Statistics Act into law in a ceremony at the Old Executive Office Building which, for the first time, included LGBT advocates, along with representatives from the ACLU, NAACP, and other groups that had criticized Bush’s record on civil rights. The LGBT representatives were invited only after agreeing not to turn the signing ceremony into an opportunity to protest the Bush administration’s AIDS policies. The law, which requires the Justice Department to institute a program to systematically collect hate crime statistics based on race, religion, ethnic background and/or sexual orientation, was the first federal law to specifically identify gays, lesbians and bisexuals. The Justice Department and FBI have been issuing annual Hate Crime reports since 1992. All reports from 1995 on are available on the web.

Sen. Rick Santorum’s “Man On Dog” Interview: 2003. In an interview printed in USA Today, Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) was in the midst of blaming the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse scandals on liberals and the “right to privacy lifestyle” (which Santorum made abundantly clear that he did not accept), Santorum then cast his eye toward the pending U.S. Supreme Court case Lawrence v. Texas which would strike down sodomy laws later that summer. Santorum defended sodomy laws and lanched his most infamous polemic against gay families:

AP: OK, without being too gory or graphic, so if somebody is homosexual, you would argue that they should not have sex?

SANTORUM: We have laws in states, like the one at the Supreme Court right now, that has sodomy laws and they were there for a purpose. Because, again, I would argue, they undermine the basic tenets of our society and the family. And if the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything. Does that undermine the fabric of our society? I would argue yes, it does. It all comes from, I would argue, this right to privacy that doesn’t exist in my opinion in the United States Constitution, this right that was created, it was created in Griswold — Griswold was the contraceptive case — and abortion. And now we’re just extending it out. And the further you extend it out, the more you — this freedom actually intervenes and affects the family. You say, well, it’s my individual freedom. Yes, but it destroys the basic unit of our society because it condones behavior that’s antithetical to strong healthy families. Whether it’s polygamy, whether it’s adultery, where it’s sodomy, all of those things, are antithetical to a healthy, stable, traditional family.

Every society in the history of man has upheld the institution of marriage as a bond between a man and a woman. Why? Because society is based on one thing: that society is based on the future of the society. And that’s what? Children. Monogamous relationships. In every society, the definition of marriage has not ever to my knowledge included homosexuality. That’s not to pick on homosexuality. It’s not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be. It is one thing. And when you destroy that you have a dramatic impact on the quality —

AP: I’m sorry, I didn’t think I was going to talk about “man on dog” with a United States senator, it’s sort of freaking me out.

The AP reporter wasn’t the only one freaking out. Dan Savage wrote a New York Times op-ed calling Santorum out for his blatant bigotry. Noting that Sen. Trent Lott had lost his post as Senate majority leader over remarks praising staunch segregationist Sen. Stromm Thurmond’s (R-SC) 1948 presidential bid, Santorum was assured of escaping this outrage with no sanctions. “Unlike the former majority leader, Mr. Santorum didn’t slip up and say something in plain English that every good Republican knows must only be said in code. Unlike Republican appeals to racist voters, Republican appeals to homophobic voters are overt.”

Dan Savage, spreading the, er, word at the 15th Annual Webby Awards on June 13, 2011.

But a month later, Santorum’s comments were largely forgotten, except among the LGBT community. Lamenting that “the Santorum scandal didn’t have legs,” a 23-year-old reader of Dan Savage’s “Savage Love” column suggested holding a contest to “‘include’ (Santorum) in our sex lives–by naming a gay sex act after him.” Savage agreed, and invited readers to send in their suggestions. By June, the votes were counted, and a definition was promulgated:

Hey, everybody: We have a winner. Savage Love readers, by a wide margin, want Sen. Rick Santorum’s name to stand for… THAT FROTHY MIXTURE OF LUBE AND FECAL MATTER THAT IS SOMETIMES THE BYPRODUCT OF ANAL SEX! It was a landslide for that frothy mixture; the runner-up, farting in the face of someone who’s rimming you, came in a distant second. So congratulations to WUTSAP, who nominated that frothy mixture, and a big thank you to the thousands who voted.

The definition was created, but it still wasn’t obvious that Santorum’s name would be equated with the aforementioned byproduct. Four months after Santorum’s infamous comments and two months after the definition was created, the neologism was still struggling to catch on. It wasn’t until the end of the year when a new web site was created that SpreadingSantorum ended up becoming the most successful Google bomb in history. And with that, a callow comment which almost faded into history has become the name by which Santorum will be known for the rest of his life.

If you know of something that belongs on the agenda, please send it here. Don’t forget to include the basics: who, what, when, where, and URL (if available).

And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?


April 23rd, 2013

I want to thank Rick Santorum for helping me realize that I really, really don’t care what fundamentalists think about me. And I am no longer polite to them. I will tell them exactly what I think about their bigotry.

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