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Posts for April, 2015

Texas’ truly stupid anti-equality proposal

Timothy Kincaid

April 27th, 2015

Representative Cecil Bell Jr., one of Texas’ good ol’ boy Republicans, has a game plan as to how the Lone Star State is going to thwart the ruling of the Supreme Court of the United States on same-sex marriage.

Passed by the House State Affairs committee on April 22, the bill would prohibit Texas from using state or local funds to license or recognize same-sex marriages. Even if a court issued “an order requiring the issuance or recognition of a same-sex marriage license,” the bill states, officials would be barred from spending any money to do so.

Now suppose that the state passes this bill and SCOTUS rules for equality, as expected. What would Bell’s bill do?

First, it would not keep things as usual in Texas. Or certainly not for long.

When confronted by an obligation to provide same-sex couples with equal access – but to do so without spending extra funds – I expect that clerks will respond differently. Some will laugh at Bell’s bill, noting that state legislation does not outrank the US Constitution.

Others, maybe most, will just shut down shop until the courts toss this nonsense. Yay, Bell, marriage for no one. That’ll show them.

And there will undoubtedly be some brave soul with little brains and lots of faith who will proudly wave their flag of bigotry and defy the courts. But this will be a violation of civil rights as determined by the US Supreme Court. Which means the active involvement of the Justice Department. And federal judges. And sanctions. And maybe even jail.

And sure Bell will “win” if winning means grandstanding, and “martyrs”, and causing a stink. And, yes, people will hate each other and dig in their heels, and life will be less comfortable for everyone.

But marriage equality is coming to Texas. And there is nothing that Cecil Bell Jr. can do to stop it.

This you must see

Timothy Kincaid

April 24th, 2015
YouTube Preview Image

GOP governor orders change to Arizona adoption policy

Timothy Kincaid

April 23rd, 2015

duceyArizona’s Republican Governor Doug Ducey is angry about gay adoptions and he’s doing something about it.

In October of last year, U.S. District Court Judge John Sedwick found that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. And State Attorney General Tom Horne agreed, so Arizona did not appeal the decision and marriage equality came to the state.

As part of the new legality of same-sex couples, state adoption agencies began to treat all married couples equally.

But in January a new Attorney General was installed and Mark Brnovich decided that just because same-sex couples could wed didn’t mean you couldn’t still discriminate against them in adoption. So he advised the Department of Child Safety to reinstate policies that barred gay married couples from adopting or being joint foster parents.

But no one told the Governor. And he’s pissed. (Tuscon.com)

Gubernatorial press aide Daniel Scarpinato said Ducey only learned of Flanagan’s policy change on Wednesday. Ducey was clearly unhappy with both the policy and having to learn about it after an inquiry from a reporter.

“I have made it abundantly clear since day one that my administration is unambiguously and unapologetically pro-adoption,” the governor said in his prepared statement.

“With 17,000 children under the state’s care, we need more adoption in Arizona, not less,” Ducey continued. “That ís why I feel strongly, as I have said many times before, that all loving families should be able to serve as foster parents and adopt.”

The governor ordered DCS “to immediately ensure that all legally married couples in Arizona are able to jointly serve as foster parents and adopt.”

This is the second time this month that Ducey has had to slap down anti-gay adoption efforts.

The first came earlier this month when he vetoed legislation that would have allowed county attorneys to refuse to help with adoptions.

Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, who sought the change, said it was simply to get rid of a state mandate and allow his lawyers to focus on higher priorities. But it later became public that Montgomery had refused to help a gay couple complete an adoption.

San Francisco Catholics call for Cordileone’s ouster

Timothy Kincaid

April 16th, 2015

ArchbishopCordileoneSalvatore Cordileone is a bit of a superstar in the anti-gay community. He is considered to be the father of California’s Proposition 8, the man who shepherded its drafting, organized the funding for signature gathering, and championed it within the Catholic Church. He is also a on the board of the ex-gay Catholic group, Courage, and chairman of the U.S. Catholic Bishops Conference’s Ad Hoc Committee for the Defense of Marriage.

Cordileone’s anti-gay activism served him well under former Pope Benedict the Malevolent. He quickly rose from auxiliary bishop of San Diego (2002) to Bishop of Oakland (2009) and then, in a deliberate slap to gay Catholics, to Archbishop of San Francisco (2012).

In his new exalted position, Cordileone has been quick to display his contempt to those who are more welcoming in their theological approach. Among his first acts was to snub the gay-friendly Episcopal bishop of Northern California at his installation. He quickly followed by demanding that teachers at the area’s Catholic schools be held to the strictest “morality” clauses, recruited a priest who then banned girls from serving at the altar, and spent more than a little time advocating for his anti-equality obsession.

But this has not sat well with some San Francisco’s Catholic community. They don’t like the Archbishop’s heavy-handed ideology and don’t find it to be an approach that appeals to local Catholics or which promises appeal among the younger faithful. The students and parents of some Catholic schools have held protests against the Archbishop and his policies were mocked at a local Irish Catholic event where he gave benediction.

And the Church’s image has suffered. Under Cordileone’s guidance, they have consistently taken steps that put the diocese in unfavorable light. The archdiocese was embarrassed when Cordileone was arrested for drunk driving and the constant friction between the leadership and the lay people tarnished the institution’s image. The latest shame was the media disclosure of the Church’s installation of pipes that would spray water on any homeless people who sought shelter from the night in the cathedral’s doorways.

Now some prominent observant Catholics in the City by the Bay have had enough. They are asking Pope Francis to replace Cordileone with someone more suited to San Francisco’s culture and values.

They first sought to appeal to the structure of the church. But the internal workings of the Church can be excruciatingly slow and the Church’s structure tends to always protect its own. So when that went nowhere, these Catholics chose to appeal to the Pope in a very public fashion. (SFgate.com)
replaceSal

In an unprecedented move, more than 100 prominent Roman Catholic donors and church members signed a full-page ad running Thursday in The Chronicle that calls on Pope Francis to replace San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone for fostering “an atmosphere of division and intolerance.”

Cordileone is choosing arrogance as his response. Rather than hear the concern that these Catholic worshipers have for the Church, he is denouncing their voice as a misrepresentation.

A statement by the archdiocese provided to us Wednesday called the ad “a misrepresentation of Catholic teaching, a misrepresentation of the nature of the teacher contract, and a misrepresentation of the spirit of the archbishop. The greatest misrepresentation of all is that the signers presume to speak for ‘the Catholic Community of San Francisco.’

“They do not.”

I suspect that they speak for more of the city’s Catholics than Cordileone would like to admit.

It will be interesting to see if Pope Francis responds to the concerns. While Cordileone is consistent with the style of former Pope Benedict the Malevolent, the new Holy Father tends towards a more compassionate message, designed for inclusion and humility. This may be the decision which defines his image as truly reformative, or illustrates the Church to be irreparably hidebound and corrupt.

[NOTE: revised to correct who did the banning of girls from a parish’s altar]

Civil Unions bill signed in Chile

Timothy Kincaid

April 13th, 2015

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From the Washington Blade

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet on Monday signed a bill into law that will allow gays and lesbians in the South American country to enter into civil unions. “The civil union law is a vindication in the struggle for sexual diversity rights,” said Bachelet during the signing ceremony that took place at the Presidential Palace in Santiago, the Chilean capital.

The bill passed the Chilean Congress in January and then went for review before the nation’s Constitutional Court.

Currently there are lawsuits for full marriage equality before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. Bachelet’s administration is not opposing the lawsuits.

More former ex-gay leader support ban on reparative therapy for minors

Timothy Kincaid

April 10th, 2015

So it appears that there is something called Former Ex-Gay Leaders Alliance (FELA) which is comprised of (not surprisingly) former ex-gay leaders. FELA has issued a statement in support of the Obama Administration’s opposition to reparative therapy for minors.

Banning reparative therapy for minors from licensed clinical mental health professionals assures young people can find solace and solidarity in the scientific community, while holding mental health workers accountable. It does not limit them, or their parents, from seeking spiritual advice from clergy. It does however, send a clear message that the practice of sexual orientation change efforts does not work, and should alert and alarm guardians of its potentially dangerous, or even deadly, effects.

As one would never send a patient to a doctor to perform unethical, unnecessary, and outdated medicine, it is time to hold mental health practitioners to similar standards. We welcome President Obama’s statement and stand with him in opposition to reparative therapy for minors, and call on everyone, regardless of political affiliation, to stand with us and put an end, once and for all, to this practice.

Signatories incuded

Brad Allen – Exodus International
Darlene Bogle – Paraklete Ministries
Michael Bussee – Exodus International
Catherine Chapman – Portland Fellowship
Jeremy Marks – Courage UK, Exodus Europe
John Paulk – Love Won Out, Exodus International
Bill Prickett – Coming Back
Tim Rymel – Love in Action
Yvette Cantu Schneider – Exodus International, Family Research Council
John J. Smid – Love In Action, Exodus International
Randy Thomas – Exodus International
Michael D. Watt – Love in Action
Kevin White – Exodus Books

Yesterday Alan Chambers, former President of Exodus International, gave his support to the Administration’s position.

Chambers on Obama’s call for ban on ex-gay therapy for minors

Timothy Kincaid

April 9th, 2015

The Obama Administration has announced it’s opposition to reparative therapy practiced on minor for the purpose of changing their sexual orientation.

The overwhelming scientific evidence demonstrates that conversion therapy, especially when it is practiced on young people, is neither medically nor ethically appropriate and can cause substantial harm. As part of our dedication to protecting America’s youth, this Administration supports efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy for minors.

Alan Chambers has written an opinion piece in the Religious News Service to support the act of the administration.

This ban is in no way an attempt to strip parents of their ability to be good parents or to keep them from helping their child to navigate the complexities of sex and sexuality. Nor is it an infringement on religious liberties.

Regardless of a person’s opinions on sexual morality, efforts to change someone’s primary sexual orientation are dangerous and always unsuccessful. Every adult should have the right to choose his or her own path. And if someone has a religious or moral objection to a particular sexual expression, then who are we to tell that person he or she must embrace a specific act or identity?

But this has nothing to do with that.

This is about protecting kids from unsubstantiated claims that sexual orientation can be changed. This is about protecting the mental health of kids by validating their worth as human beings who are loved by God. This is about reducing shame and stigma and providing an opportunity for them to grow into mature adults who make decisions based on reality, not fear.

I suspect many at the Religious News Service need to hear that message.

What the Bible says to Christian cake bakers

Timothy Kincaid

April 8th, 2015

wedding cake

Personally, I don’t think that bakers and photographers should be compelled to offer their services to anyone they don’t like. We’ve had that discussion many times here at Box Turtle Bulletin and though I understand the arguments of those who wish to compel discrimination out of existence, my libertarian streak just doesn’t let me get there.

Frankly, there are people who I prefer not associate with or provide with services. And I respect that they may feel the same.

That being said, these angry Christians who are furious about bakers having to serve gay couples seem not to have read their Bible or believe the words of Jesus. Because the recorded words of Jesus himself tell you what to do when you are sued to bake a cake.

Matthew 5:38-42:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

So what would Jesus say to Baronelle Stutzman and the other Christian bakers who fear that by baking a wedding cake for a gay couple they are then condoning immoral lifestyles? Even if they think gay people are evil? It’s not very ambiguous:

If anyone wants to sue you and force you to bake a wedding cake, bake them cupcakes as well.

But, of course, that only applies to followers of Jesus. So Stutzman and her ilk may not find it relevant.

Maggies report card on Indiana

Timothy Kincaid

April 8th, 2015

Maggies report card on indiana

Maggie Gallagher has graded several potential Republican presidential contenders on their response to the Indiana FRFA brouhaha.

While Maggie highly regards those who wish Indiana to broadcast its antipathy towards its gay citizens, something I disavow, I think that this chart tells us something else, something useful. What this measures for me is the extent to which these potential candidates have their ear attuned to the nation’s current attitude on gay issues.

It would seem to me that those whom she grades lowest were the best capable of recognizing the quagmire the state had created and avoiding stepping in it.

NOM’s new Dump campaign

Timothy Kincaid

April 7th, 2015

As I’m sure you know, the National Organization for Marriage (theirs, not yours) has been promoting Dump campaigns wherein the get supporters to pledge not to use certain vendors and products.

It all started back in March 2012, when NOM launched their Dump Starbucks campaign in response to the coffee giant’s support of Referendum 71, a pro-equality vote. That was also when NOM still maintained some grasp on relevance, and the media took them seriously.

Helped by cross promotion from other conservatives, NOM was able to garner tens of thousands of signatures from those who promised not to drink Starbucks coffee, nearly 50,000 in three months (they currently have 71,193). Although this was laughably low, considering Starbucks’ ubiquitous presence, it did suggest that the National Organization for Marriage did have some reach.

Next on their Dump list, in July 2012, was General Mills. Although it wasn’t a complete and true boycott (signatories promised to ‘look for alternatives’ to the General Mills products), it didn’t catch quite the same success as their Starbuck effort. Perhaps more people were willing to give up over-priced coffee than were willing to ‘look for alternatives’ to Pillsbury or Green Giant. But for whatever reason, Dump General Mills only pulled about 23,000 in the next few months and now has topped out at 27,930.

That put NOM off the boycott business for a while.

Yes they set up a temporary and limited boycott of Target last August which drew at least 2,756 participants, but that was much more low-key and wasn’t sold on the scale of their Dump campaigns.

But now NOM is making another attempt. Among the hundreds of companies now supporting the gay community, NOM has selected Angie’s List as their next target.

It’s hard to guess why some garner their ire while others slide by. I suppose it must be driven by what they consider to be “theirs” or who they think is betraying them in some way. But, in any case, Angie’s List it is. (For those unfamiliar, Angie’s List is a bit like Yelp in that participants grade the quality of service providers).

In a petition titled “I DUMPED ANGIE FOR LIBERTY“, NOM now has 1,463 people who claim to have cancelled their membership in the service (something I very much doubt) along with another 3,662 non-members who are saying “ANGIE’S LIST: STOP YOUR ATTACK ON FREEDOM“.

It will, of course, go nowhere. But unlike some of their other efforts, you can read what NOM’s supporters think. Which is quite a revelation (if not exactly surprising).

Gold Tinsel Jesus does NOT love all

Timothy Kincaid

April 6th, 2015

Tinsel Jesus

Eureka Springs is a little corner of color and decency in Arkansas. Over the years it has developed a gay community and even managed to pass a local domestic partnership registry.

This did not sit well with the religious conservatives. After all, this tourist town was mostly known for it’s Passion Play and it’s giant Jesus statue. This was, in fact, so horrifying that in 2008 the American Family Association whipped up a video warning the world that the radical militant homosexuals had taken over the little town.

And the conservative Christians decided to fight back, taking a page out of the gay community’s playbook. In 2013, they organized a parade, the Celebrate Jesus Easter Parade.

Now I have nothing against Christians celebrating Jesus at the time of the most holy day in the Christian calendar. After all, it must be frustrating that during the Spring Equinox, bunnies and eggs and symbols of fertility seem to give more honor to Ēostre than to the Christian festival that borrowed her name.

So for the past three years, Christians have march and waved flags and driven floats, all for this stated purpose:

The focus of this family friendly event is simply to celebrate Jesus, bring unity to the body of Christ and be a visible expression of God’s love in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

And all went just fine for a couple years.

But this year there was a little problem. You see, the local United Methodist Church wanted to join the Parade. And they wanted to carry a banner with a very controversial message: Jesus loves all.

Of course every Christian knows – and often announces – that Jesus loves all. But what the conservatives mean and what the Methodists mean by that are very different things.

The First United Methodist Church of Eureka Springs has recently become a Reconciling Congregation, meaning that gay people were welcome to full inclusion in the church and further that the congregation was committing to civil and religious equality for the LGBT community. So when they say “Jesus loves all”, they mean it without asterisks.

And that was quite the opposite message from what the Celebrate Jesus people wanted to say. They don’t really want to celebrate Jesus – or not, at least, the one who kept droning on and on about treating people the way you want to be treated, and who hung out with sinners, and who blew off tradition and argued with the religious exclusionists. Nope, wrong Jesus.

They want to celebrate Gold Tinsel Jesus. He’s the one who had the decency to shut up and die and not talk about feeding the hungry and caring for those in need. And he most certainly is NOT welcoming of the Homosexuals! Especially not into churches.

So they banned the Methodists from participating. Because the Eureka Springs conservative Christians want you to know that Gold Tinsel Jesus most definitely does not love all.

So why all the corporate support?

Timothy Kincaid

April 2nd, 2015

Lately in our efforts to live in a nation in which our lives are treated and valued equally, we have come to rely on certain corporate advocates on our behalf.

For many years allies such as Wells Fargo and Levi Struass have made it clear that they welcomed gay customers and employees. Over time they were willing to help finance our causes and put their corporate name on the line. Then some tech world giants such as HP and Apple joined them, followed by Wall Street.

But no one, not on our side nor that of those who oppose equality, expected the loud, immediate, and very unanimous voice of Corporate America who demanded that Indiana and Arkansas not enact pro-discrimination provisions of their newly passed Religious Freedom Restoration Acts. This wasn’t just the usual somewhat-liberal companies, but CEO’s who had long Republican ties.

And not only did they demand change, they personally met with Republican leaders to be certain that the changes were adequate.

And let’s not fool ourselves. No progressive alliance, nor media demands, nor twitter storm changed these laws. They helped, of course. They created impetus. They undoubtedly put pressure on the Governors.

But only those who had connections and a history of contributions could walk in the door and tell the Republicans in the state legislatures that they were going to change their votes and do it now.

But why did they do it?

Some within Corporate America have very strong personal reasons for supporting the community – family, friends, those they care about. Others live in a world where diversity is respected. And undoubtedly, some were concerned about the impact that a negative image would have on the business in the states.

But I think it comes down to this: discrimination is a huge colossal pain in the ass for large businesses.

Most have gay employees who they value and need and they long ago got over the notion that it’s better moralize than make money. And anything that causes consternation in the workforce is bad for human resources. And unhappy human resources makes everyone tense. Which loses money and causes ulcers.

Frank Gilbreth proved decades ago that the single biggest contributor to productivity is the attitude of the employee. If employers show that they care about their employees, turn-over drops, production goes up and profits rise. So employers know that they have show that they are looking out for their gay employees – not just for their sake but for the other employees who are watching to see how committed they are.

And then there’s logistics.

It’s hard enough planning travel and accommodations for employees without worrying that Sanctimonious Joe’s Bed and Breakfast is going to make your keynote speaker at tomorrow’s conference sleep in her car. Or deciding where to order lunch if the Holy Memories Pizza is going to cancel on you because you have gay employees and they don’t support the homosexual lifestyle.

And what do you do with employee benefits like a gym membership or health discounts or even trivial things like winning the office raffle for a spa trip if you don’t know whether the businesses around you are going to hassle your employees because the gender of their spouse offends someone’s self-righteousness?

It’s one thing to have religious objections. Business people can work around the personal needs of others.

You need to be home by sundown on Fridays? We can do that. You need to be free Sunday mornings? Not a problem. You need a few minutes to face Mecca every day? Sure.

But it’s quite something else to pass a law whose unstated but unmissable intention is to invite discrimination. Because that’s going to cost time, energy, frustration, and money. That’s going to hurt some employees and cause hassle for others. That’s going to involve late night phone calls and interruption of golf games.

And that just won’t do.

Arkansas U-Turn: Gov Calls for Changes to License-To-Discriminate Bill

Jim Burroway

April 1st, 2015

Supporters of the Arkansas License-to-Discriminate bill have argued that their state version of RFRA “mirrors” the federal law signed by President Bill clinton in 1993 — which it clearly doesn’t. Arkansas Gov Asa Hutchison (R) had promised to sign the law as soon as it reaches his desk. It reached his desk yesterday, but Hutchison announced in a news conference today that he is instead calling for changes in the bill. In a statement that acknowledges that the state RFRA’s supporters had been much less than honest in claiming that it mirrored the federal law, Hutchison called on the General Assembly to either recall the bill or amend it to bring it in line with federal law:

Hutchinson said he is asking that HB1228 be recalled so amendments can be added that bring it closer to the federal law. Or, he said, the changes could be made by new legislation. “The bill that is on my desk at the present time does not precisely mirror the federal law,” he said.

Senate President Jonathan Dismang (R-Searcy) and House Speaker Jeremy Gillam (R-Judsonia) stood alongside Hutchison when he made the announcement. Hutchison didn’t say whether he would veto the bill if changes weren’t made, but he did suggest another option of issuing an executive order “to make it clear that Arkansas wants to be a place of tolerance.” He acknowledged however that an order “would not be the same as a legislative fix.” As with Indiana, caution is in order. Without concrete proposals and specific language changes available, we will still have to wait to see whether this represents a true backtrack or another try at a pig’s makeover.

Hutchison also acknowledged that the controversy has deeply divided ths state — and his own family: his son signed an online petition calling on the Governor to veto the bill. Walmart, the state’s largest employer, along with several state chambers of commerce and mayors had earlier called for a veto.

My most quickly-favorited and retweeted tweet ever

Rob Tisinai

March 31st, 2015

More Proof: They Really Want To Discriminate Against You, Eight Times Over

Jim Burroway

March 30th, 2015

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) went into full damage control yesterday with an appearance on ABC’s “This Week.” George Stephanopoulos asked Pence straight up four times whether an Indiana florist is allowed to discriminate under Indiana’s new law, and six times Pence would not give an answer.

If anyone is asked whether a business is allowed to discriminate four times and he refuses to give answer  four times, you can safely take that answer as a yes. You can be doubly assured of that because Stephanopoulos asked four more questions about whether Pence would pursue protections for LGBT Hoosiers. Pence was a bit more direct about that. That answer is no.

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