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“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
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Posts for June, 2015

Franklin Graham call for boycott of everything

Timothy Kincaid

June 8th, 2015

franklin graham

Until he was into his 90’s, famous evangelist Billy Graham was known for his acceptance and inclusion of people of all walks of life. Never an advocate for gay people, he also made a point of avoiding hostility and a demeaning attitude. And he avoided political advocacy or lending his name to commercial ventures.

But Graham is now in his mid-90’s and suffering from Parkinson’s Disease. And in his twilight years, as his son Franklin took more and more control over the evangelist and his organization, suddenly statements attributed to Billy Graham have become the center of anti-gay political campaigns. His picture was used in full page ads asking people to go to the polls to restrict the rights of gay people. And the tone of “Billy Graham” is harsh and condemnatory.

While many of those who know and have worked with Billy Graham find these statements to appear inconsistent with his history, they were right in line with Franklin Graham, now the head of the Billy Graham Evangelical Association.

And irrespective of the extent to which Billy Graham endorses (or knows about) these actions, the organization carrying his name is now becoming one of the more prominent protestant Christian voices in opposition to gay rights and equality. Lacking his father’s compassion and charisma and recognizing that he will never inherit his father’s position as the Nation’s Pastor, Franklin has chosen to seek relevancy instead by being the Nation’s Scold.

While many conservative Christian denominations have been walking back from anti-gay political advocacy and turning their attention inward, Franklin has been ratcheting up his fiery denunciations against gay people and marriage equality and seeking to influence the public sphere. And each of his rants seems more shrill than the last, revealing a Graham that is confident of his superiority and tone deaf as to how those outside his isolated circle live.

But Franklin’s latest wild-eyed nonsense is truly laughable.

Have you ever asked yourself–how can we fight the tide of moral decay that is being crammed down our throats by big business, the media, and the gay & lesbian community? 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. Maybe if enough of us do this, it will get their attention. Share this if you agree.

Ironically, Franklin posted this rant on Facebook, a very vocal supporter of gay rights. And it was likely written either on an Apple product or a computer using Microsoft software, both of which are contributors and advocates for marriage equality.

So I wonder exactly what this boycott of “those who promote sin and stand against Almighty God’s laws and His standards” would look like.

Perhaps Franklin can start his boycott by consulting with the Human Rights Campaign’s Buyers Guide so as to know what companies to avoid.

He could start his day by not using his Keurig coffee machine. Or, if old school, he can avoid his Mr. Coffee or Black and Decker coffee brewer into which he will not load Folgers, Maxwell House, or Seattle’s Best coffee grounds. Or he could just save himself time by not going to Starbucks or McDonalds for his morning joe.

And for breakfast he can enjoy an nice bowl of nothing from Kellogg or General Mills. Nor will he have good ol’ fashioned Quaker Oats with a Hormel meat product and a Pillsbury croissant. But maybe he’d like to toast a slice of bread which he didn’t buy from any of the Kroger (Ralphs, Food 4 Less), Safeway (Von’s, Pavilions), Supervalu (Lucky’s), Mal-Mart, Target, or CostCo stores without I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter nor Smuckers‘ Jam.

Then he’s off to his office in his car which is not a Ford, Lincoln, Chrysler, Alfa Romeo, Dodge, FIAT, Jeep, Ram, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Nissan, Infiniti, Tesla, Toyota, Lexus, Scion, Volkswagen, Subaru, Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, or Hyundai. Of course, his tires are not Bridgestone or Firestone and he doesn’t get gas at Chevron, Shell, BP, Texaco, 76, or Phillips 66.

As he’s out and about, Franklin will likely stop at whatever bank he’s moved to from Wells Fargo. Because unless it’s some regional or local bank, the Billy Graham Evangelical Association can’t bank there. I think a shoebox might be best.

Franklin’s a busy man so he might want to drop in at lunch time for a quick bite at Chick-Fil-A, which his organization recently endorsed. But you can’t eat there everyday, so maybe instead he’ll try a fast food place that isn’t McDonalds, Burger King, Umami Burger, KFC, Taco Bell, Chili’s or TGI Friday’s. Perhaps Carl’s Jr might work for him. But wherever he eats, I’m sure he won’t want Coca-Cola, Pepsi, A&W Root Beer, or Dr. Pepper. Nor will he choose Snapple, 7-Up or Country Time lemonade.

During the afternoon, Franklin will get some work done on his computer which does not use Microsoft products, does not include an Intel chip, and isn’t from Apple. He’ll want to check his email so he’ll connect to the internet without a Motorola router and through an ISP which is neither Comcast, AT&T, Time-Warner, Comcast, AOL, or T-Mobil. He might print something out but not on an HP or Xerox printer.

And if Franklin gets hungry mid day, he can boycott Hershey’s, Reeses, and Healthy Valley products. He also won’t have any Honey Maid Graham Crackers (irony there) nor Famous Amos cookies.

Careful that he doesn’t accidentally support those who promote sin and stand against Almighty God’s laws and His standards by eating at Outback Steakhouse, Franklin with probably have a fresh salad from his own garden at home. But, of course, it won’t be with Hidden Valley dressing.

Then, after a long day of not shopping at Macy’s, Gap, Nordstrom, Sears, Penney’s, Target, Crate & Barrel, or John Deer, he might read a book that he didn’t get at Barnes & Noble or through Amazon or have shipped by UPS or FedEx. Then maybe catch a movie (at home, not AMC Theaters) on his not-Sony TV, provided that it isn’t Disney, Hallmark, CBS, NBC, ABC, Showtime, Bravo, Netflix, HBO, Columbia, Cinemax, CNN, Turner, History Channel, Nickelodeon, Lifetime, New Line, Paramount, or ESPN. Well, maybe he should just stick to Fox News and the Oprah Winfrey Show.

Finally, after a long exhausting day of not promoting sin, it’s time for bed. Gotta get up in the morning and get a fresh start on boycotting more of the companies who “promote sin and stand against Almighty God’s laws and His standards”. Tomorrow he’s planning on tackling the 300 or so companies that signed an amicus brief supporting marriage equality in the Windsor case. And then on to the 379 companies who signed a brief in Obergefell, just to be sure.

Gov. Ricketts in Chicago for a special event

Timothy Kincaid

June 6th, 2015

One of the odder early moments in the 2016 primary season was a week or two in which the presumed GOP candidates were asked whether they would go to the same-sex marriage of a close friend or family member. And in what seemed to be a weird effort to play both sides, several responded that while they oppose the legal recognition of same-sex marriages, they’d happily attend the wedding of someone they love.

But, as it turned out, they weren’t necessarily being cynical. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker had already attended a gay wedding reception and Ohio Gov. John Kasich had RSVP’d and had plans to attend.

So maybe it’s a thing.

It does seem a bit hypocritical, but I suppose one can simultaneously hold the position that society is better off restricting marriage to traditional couples while also celebrating your friend’s happiness. Politicians have certainly held stranger positions.

In any case, Walker and Kasich are not alone. Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts is staunchly defending the state’s ban on marriage equality, insisting that the only a vote of the constituents should bring about equal protection under the law. But while he’s holding firm against gay marriage in Nebraska, he’s attending one in Illinois. (Omaha.com)

Ricketts will attend the wedding of his sister, Laura Ricketts. She is marrying Brooke Skinner, a brand strategist for Twitter.
Laura Ricketts was one of the leaders in the gay-rights movement in Chicago and was active in pushing for the legalization of gay marriage in Illinois, which took effect last year.

It would be reasonable to object to the idea of a politician opposing equality and then showing up for the ceremony. But I can’t help but think that this is positive. It’s hard to hold a continued objection once you’ve been a part of a lovely and touching and beautiful ceremony.

And who knows, maybe this is the tool that is needed not only for them to confront this issue on a personal level, but also to explain an eventual change of heart.

Marriage licenses now a certainty across Mexico

Timothy Kincaid

June 5th, 2015

mexico fireworks

Mexico has a complicated judicial system, particularly when it comes to civil rights. Rather than single marriage rulings that apply broadly to all citizens, individual couples get an amparo which relates specifically to their case. However, once five amparos have been issued in a state, precedent is established and then marriage equality has reached that state.

Or something like that.

Well it now appears that the rule of five also applies on a federal level. (Buzzfeed)

The Supreme Court and several lower courts have already ruled in almost every state that same-sex couples have the right to marry under the Mexican constitution. But because of the Mexican court system’s often confusing technicalities, none of those decisions have been binding in future cases. Theoretically, any court could rule against a couple who has sued for the right to marry even though there have been many cases decided in favor of others couples.

That is no longer true. On Wednesday, Mexico’s Supreme Court issued the first blanket statement that laws prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying are unconstitutional in every state — what is known as “generic jurisprudence.”

This is not the first time the court had resolved a case with that exact sentence. But Colima is the fifth state in which the court had used this language, and five is a magic number in the Mexican system. Along with rulings from Oaxaca, Baja California, Sinaloa, and the State of México, the Colima ruling forms a new “generic jurisprudence” binding on judges issuing rulings in all the states of Mexico.

This does not necessarily mean that marriage licenses will now be handed out by every jurisdiction across the nation, but it means that every legal challenge will now have the same result. Perhaps it can be seen as a technicality that sets a two step process for obtaining a marriage license.

But as each state reaches five amparos (which are now assured) that state will be obligated to issue licenses. Or, in other words, the sixth same-sex couple to marry in a Mexican state will not have to go through the step of a legal challenge. And some states already have reached this threshold.

It may be that we can now say that same-sex marriages are now available across all of Mexico – though perhaps not yet full equality.

Marriage equality comes to Guam

Timothy Kincaid

June 5th, 2015

guam couple

Guam is an island about the size of the Hawaiian island of Molokai located between Papua New Guinea and Japan, east of the Philippines. It was a subject of Spanish colonization from 1668 until 1898 when ownership was transferred to the United States as a spoil of the Spanish-American War.

The island is an unincorporated territory of the United States. It is self governed with a Governor and Senate elected by the population of about 160,000 residents, but comes under the federal jurisdiction of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Politically it is considered to be fairly conservative.

In April of this year, Loretta Pangelinan and Kathleen Aguero filed a lawsuit claiming that the ruling by the Ninth Circuit in favor of marriage equality set precedent for Guam. The Attorney General agreed with the suit and refused to defend the island’s law restricting marriage to opposite sex couples.

Governor Eddie Calvo, a Republican, said that he would not issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples without either an act of the Legislature or a ruling by the court. So yesterday, his counsel went to court and basically begged Federal Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood to issue a ruling bringing the territory into compliance with the Ninth Circuit.

Tydingco-Gatewood issued an order Friday (last evening by continental US time) (ABC)

Guam has become the first U.S. territory to recognize gay marriage after a federal judge struck down the prohibition.

U.S. District Court Chief Judge Frances M. Tydingco-Gatewood issued the decision after a hearing Friday morning local time. It goes into effect at 8 a.m. Tuesday, when gay couples can begin applying for marriage licenses, the Pacific Daily News reported.

Judge Tydingco-Gatewood was appointed by President George W. Bush in 2006. She is the first female Chamorro (indigenous) chief judge.

Guam is the first US Territory to recognize same-sex marriages. There is currently a lawsuit in Puerto Rico which is under the jurisdiction of the First Circuit Court of Appeals. But while all of the states in the First Circuit have marriage equality, this was achieved at the state level either through a challenge to the state constitution (Massachusetts), through legislation (New Hampshire and Rhode Island), or by referendum (Maine) so there is no precedent.

Texas school administrators cause fracas, blame pro-gay students

Timothy Kincaid

June 4th, 2015

A Faubian Middle School in McKinney, Texas, a seventh grade student came out as gay and was subsequently bullied. Several girls in the school decided to take a stance in support of that student.

On the next-to-last day of school about fifteen students wore t-shirts blazed with the message: “Gay O.K.”. But this message was not acceptable to the administrators. (nbcdfw)

“We were doing perfectly fine until lunch,” said Sammy Heiman, a seventh grader who designed the shirts. “And then [the administration] called us all out, all the people wearing them, called us out of the cafeteria.”

And that’s when things got rowdy. The other students in the cafeteria saw what was going on and that the students were being told not to wear the shirts and started chanting “Gay O.K.” One student not wearing the shirt argued with an administrator and knocked a cell phone from their hand.

So, having caused a fracas by forcing the girls to change, the administrators are claiming that they banned the shirts only because they were disruptive.

“In this particular case, a verbal disruption occurred between a large number of students in the cafeteria as a result of the shirts,” said Cody Cunningham, spokesman for the McKinney Independent School District. “This was not a civil debate, but rather yelling and shouting, and [it] alarmed a large number of students.”

“While we respect student free speech, our primary obligation is to ensure a safe and productive learning environment for students in McKinney ISD,” Cunningham added.

See, your shirts caused a disruption when we took away your First Amendment rights.

And, in the worst possible reporting of an event ever, the local news is echoing the administration. “… they were not concerned about what that shirt said, just the results you saw there”.

Of course, there were no “results” until after the administrators called the girls out of the auditorium. So that’s simply a falsehood.

Alabama House kills marriage contract bill

Timothy Kincaid

June 4th, 2015

bama

Earlier this week the Alabama Senate came up with a proposal to eliminate the issuance of marriage licenses and instead honor marriage contracts between individuals. They saw this as a way to prevent mass insurrection from probate judges who do not want to treat all citizens equally, should the US Supreme Court rule for marriage equality. (AL.com)

It was an attempt to prevent chaos from ensuing if the Supreme Court legalizes gay marriage this summer, [Rep. Greg Albritton, R- Bay Minette] said.

“My goal is not to protect a group,” Albritton said. “My goal is to protect the state.”

But chaos will ensue. Because the Alabama House killed the bill.

The legislation passed in the Senate, but it won’t go before the House for consideration. It failed 8-3 in the House Judiciary Committee.

So yeah, there will be probate judges who refuse to do their job. Some will quit. Some will whine. And the Alabama State Supreme Court – led by Chief Justice Roy Moore – will likely issue edicts of varying degrees of lunacy determined to “protect” these people from having to apply the law equally to all citizens.

But in the end, after the tantrums die out, Alabama will comply with the law of the land.

Texas legislature dances a little sidestep

Timothy Kincaid

June 2nd, 2015
YouTube Preview Image

Fellow Texans, I am proudly standing here to humbly see.
I assure you, and I mean it – Now, who says I don’t speak out as plain as day?
And, fellow Texans, I’m for progress and the flag – long may it fly.
I’m a poor boy, come to greatness. So, it follows that I cannot tell a lie.

Ooh I love to dance a little sidestep, now they see me now they don’t –
I’ve come and gone and, ooh I love to sweep around the wide step,
Cut a little swathe and lead the people on.

The musical Best Little Whorehouse in Texas parodied the Texas style politician as a good ol’ country boy with the skill of bamboozling the public with words but never quite saying or doing anything concrete. And this past month, life has mirrored art.

For much of May, the legislature in Texas has been in a whirl of rhetoric about the Lone Star State’s autonomy, upstanding morals, and objection to them gays ruining the sanctity of marriage. No less than 23 bills were presented all designed to either hinder gay marriage, derail gay rights, or just insult gay people. But other than one bill, no legislation seemed to get passed.

First there was a big show of whether Republicans could rush through the pile of bills before the deadline or if Democrats could run out the clock before a bill could be passed that would block funds for the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples. And, whew, it was a squeaker but the clock ran out.

But boy-oh-boy did those Republicans take a stance after the fact. They issued a letter telling the public in no uncertain terms that they pledged to continue to support traditional marriage and the flag and apple pie. A strongly worded letter, mind you.

And there there was the scare that the Republicans in the Senate would revive that bill or some other bill to stick it to the gays. And, by golly, they found the perfect vehicle on which to attach an amendment protecting the sanctity of marriage: some House bill having to do with county administration.

But, darn it, it turns out to everyone’s surprise that the author of the bill in the House was a Democrat and a firm supporter of marriage equality. And he let it be known that he’d pull the bill if they did. So that just didn’t work out.

Well! Gosh! What a disappointment!

But let it be known that they did get one bill passed. And it was a real crowd-pleaser. Senate Bill 2065

A religious organization, an organization supervised or controlled by or in connection with a religious organization, an individual employed by a religious organization while acting in the scope of that employment, or a clergy or minister may not be required to solemnize any marriage or provide services, accommodations, facilities, goods, or privileges for a purpose related to the solemnization, formation, or celebration of any marriage if the action would cause the organization or individual to violate a sincerely held religious belief.

Whew, what a victory. Now pastors don’t have to conduct gay marriages. And if the First Amendment to the US Constitution is ever repealed, Texas will have this bill right here protecting pastors from conducting sacraments contrary to their faith.

Of course, it’s all just window dressing. Meaningless gestures designed to keep the anti-gay rabble happy.

For, as we now know, the Texas Republicans in the legislature never intended to pass anti-gay legislation. Because as much as they love to wave the Lone Star Flag and quote the Bible, the legislators in Texas don’t answer to the religious right. They have an entirely different constituency.

Mark McKinnon, chairman of the GOP group Texas Wins, has a piece today in Politico Magazine explaining how Big Business in Texas came down squarely on the side of their gay employees. And no one can run for office these days without either Big Business or Big Union money.

The Lone Star State just wrapped its legislative session, which included two “religious freedom” constitutional amendments. Learning from what happened in the above states, industry groups and major businesses went out pre-emptively — let me say that again: pre-emptively — before such bills made it too far in the Legislature. The conservative state chamber of commerce, the Texas Association of Business, took the lead.

The amendments “would devastate economic development, tourism and the convention business,” said Bill Hammond, TAB’s CEO. “One has to look no further than Indiana to realize what a detriment this would be, and how hard it would be to sell Texas to the rest of the country. The Super Bowl [in Houston in 2017], the Final Four, all those things would be at risk in Texas if this were to become part of our Constitution.”

More than 250 Texas companies — American Airlines, Dell, Texas Instruments, Dow Chemical, the Dallas Mavericks — went on record with a general pledge in support of treating gay and transgender Texans fairly and equally under the law — and that welcoming and inclusive communities are essential to their bottom line.

Both amendments in the Texas Legislature died a quick death.

But boy has it been fun watching them all dancing a little sidestep and all the activist, right and left, swaying along to the music.

NC Senate overrides veto of magistrates bill

Timothy Kincaid

June 2nd, 2015

Last week, the North Carolina Senate and House both passed a bill which would allow individual magistrates (but not all magistrates in a county) to forego conducting civil marriages for all couples, gay or straight. Republican Governor Pat McCrory vetoed the bill, saying that public officials who swear to perform the duties of their office should not be exempt from doing so.

But the legislature may well be redefining the duties of office. (Reuters)

The Republican-led state Senate reached the three-fifths majority needed to override McCrory’s veto in a 32-16 vote. The legislation now goes back to the Republican-controlled state House of Representatives, which passed it last week by a margin wide enough to override the veto.

As discussed earlier, this bill could result in an inconvenience to all couples, gay or straight, in some counties. But it does not appear to me to be a tool for invidious discrimination and would likely hold up in court.

Alabama Senate votes to abolish marriage licenses

Timothy Kincaid

June 2nd, 2015

At some point this month the Supreme Court of the United States will rule on Obergefell v Hodges and determine whether states may exclude same-sex couples from marriage rights and recognition. And the legislators in Alabama seem to join the rest of the nation in the presumption that the court will rule for equality.

But they don’t like it one bit.

Already the Alabama Supreme Court has postured and pretended to think that their opinions overrule the federal judiciary system. But everyone knows that won’t hold up for long.

So now the state legislature has taken a page from Oklahoma’s playbook and come up with another notion: do away with marriage licenses altogether. Senate Bill 377 has passed the State Senate by a vote of 22 to 3 and is moving on to the House.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF ALABAMA:
Section 1.
(a) Effective July 1, 2015, the only requirement to be married in this state shall be for parties who are otherwise legally authorized to be married to enter into a contract of marriage as provided herein.

(h) Effective July 1, 2015, any requirement to obtain a marriage license issued by the judge of probate is abolished and repealed.

So instead of obtaining a license, couples would fill out a contract form and file it with the clerk after the fact.

I don’t see much advantage that this would give those who oppose equality. It would, I suppose, remove the “permission” aspect of the state authorizing same-sex marriages in advance, and it would allow judges of probate the ability to not sully their hand by giving marriage licenses to people they hate. But they would still have to process and file the contract and same-sex couples would receive all the rights of marriage.

It is entirely possible that the State of Alabama will argue that any ruling in Obergefell applies only to marriage licenses, not marriage contracts. And if they do, the judicial jokesters in the state Supreme Court will rubberstamp that nonsense with glees.

But such a tactic would only delay the process for the amount of time it takes for a federal judge to issue to issue a ruling and the Circuit and Supreme Courts to refuse to stay the ruling.

Despite the unconventionality of the proposal, libertarian minded people may find value in “getting the state out of the marriage business” and those who are not religious or formal may find the civil contract to be less laden with pomp and tradition than a license.

But I suspect most Alabamians, gay or straight, will just find uncertainty with the process and may feel that their marriages have become devalued. And it could cause some confusion for couples, gay or straight, who rely on licenses as evidence of marriage for insurance, federal filings, or other purposes.

While this bill, should it pass the House and be signed by the Governor, could be an inconvenience to everyone. But it isn’t likely to be an effective tool for denying equality to same-sex couples.

NOM’s super-sad money beg

Timothy Kincaid

June 1st, 2015

The National Organization for Marriage is committing one of the internet cardinal sins: it’s getting boring. While at one point you could count on the NOMblog to dote about some vapid mouth-drooler they were sponsoring or hype some ridiculous boycott or post embarrassing pictures showing virtually no one at their bus tours, now it seems all they do is repost commentaries from other sites and beg for money. Well, mostly just beg for money.

It’s pretty pathetic. But the post they put up last Wednesday is even lamer than usual.

After making a bogus claim of “bringing nearly 15,000 diverse supporters of marriage to our nation’s capital for the March for Marriage” (which was in reality about 3,000 Latinos bussed in by Senator Ruben Diaz) they make this appeal:

We have spent everything in our coffers to make the March for Marriage the great success it was.

Wow. They claim to have spent every cent for that colossal waste of time.

I don’t believe them, of course. But just imagine: NOM threw a rally that got virtually zero press, had pitiable attendance, and achieved nothing. And now they are penniless. How very super-sad for them.

I wish it were true.

Warn your children about that homosexual Mexican demon game!!

Timothy Kincaid

June 1st, 2015

gay demon

I understand that people of various faiths have strong beliefs about spiritual matters, including the existence and/or actions of demons. So pervasive is this concept in history and culture that billions of dollars are made off horror movies, television shows and books to read late at night in a dark house.

And I don’t want to be overly disrespectful to those who take such things seriously. Further, I understand that Caribbean cultures have a greater appreciation for the supernatural. But, well… (Nassau Guardian)

Anatol Rodgers [Nassau] High School Principal Myrle McPhee said yesterday that her students have been “experimenting with a homosexual Mexican demon” named Charlie at the school.

So much so, that the school called in pastors to pray to the institution Friday morning.

It seems the game of “Charlie, Charlie” goes like this: draw a two-line grid with “yes” in two boxes catercorner to each other and “no” in the other two boxes. Place pencils on the lines, one balanced on the side of the other. Then call for Charlie to answer your questions and watch the top pencil pivot to either yes or no.

McPhee is quite concerned.

“To me, it looks like it is real. You can’t take chances with this.”

“The concept is that Charlie is a homosexual. That’s how it came out.

So when the students say anything that has a homosexual tone or any sexual tone, the pencil seems to move.”

Well, as she says, you can’t take chances. So by all means, warn your children about the dangers of lisping at pencils in the hopes of summoning homosexual Mexican demons. Especially in Spanish.

Santorum’s comments concern the Box of Rocks

Timothy Kincaid

June 1st, 2015

This weekend, one candidate for the GOP nomination for President has made statements that may suggest an implied threat against another. (HuffPo)

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum said on Sunday that if the Supreme Court legalizes gay marriage later this year, he would dispute the decision, saying that the court “doesn’t have the final word.”

“Of course I’d fight it,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “Roe versus Wade was decided 30 some years ago, and I continue to fight that, because I think the court got it wrong. And I think if the court decides this case in error, I will continue to fight, as we have on the issue of life … We’re not bound by what nine people say in perpetuity.”

Santorum was not specific about how he would go about “fighting” the Supreme Court. However, the Box of Rocks feels this may be threatened retaliation to the Box’ assertion that with Santorum in the race, the Box is not the slowest thinker nor the least coherent candidate.

“If Santorum decides to fight the Court”, said the Box through a representative, “I hope he doesn’t throw rocks. That would be an insult to my community and a personal threat to my integrity.”

Drip, Drip, Drip…

Jim Burroway

May 29th, 2015

Dennis HastertAs Anton Chekov one wrote, “If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it’s not going to be fired, it shouldn’t be hanging there.” Yesterday’s indictment against former GOP House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL)  included allegations that he was paying $3.5 million to Individual A who “has known defendant JOHN DENNIS HASTERT most of Individual A’s life” as part of a cover-up of “past misconduct by defendant against Individual A that had occurred years earlier.” It also began with this particular biographical detail: that Hastert had been a high school teacher and coach at Yorkville, Illinois, for sixteen years before entering politics in 1981. I was convinced yesterday that this detail would not have been included if it hadn’t been somehow relevant.

Well now that gun has now fired its first shot:

One of the officials, who would not speak publicly about the federal charges in Chicago, said “Individual A,” as the person is described in Thursday’s federal indictment, was a man and that the alleged misconduct was unrelated to Hastert’s tenure in Congress. The actions date to Hastert’s time as a Yorkville, Ill., high school wrestling coach and teacher, the official said

…Asked why Hastert was making the payments, the official said it was to conceal Hastert’s past relationship with the male. “It was sex,’’ the source said. The other official confirmed that the misconduct involved sexual abuse.

The New York Times adds:

The man – who was not identified in court papers — told the F.B.I. that he had been inappropriately touched by Mr. Hastert when Mr. Hastert was a high school teacher and wrestling coach, the two people said on Friday. The people briefed on the investigation spoke on the condition of anonymity because they did not want to be identified discussing a federal investigation.

Also, this:

A source familiar with the investigation told BuzzFeed News that U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon considered but did not pursue additional charges against former Speaker Dennis Hastert, which would have included a reference to an Individual B, one of potentially several alleged victims of “prior misdeeds.”

The indictment didn’t include sexual abuse. Instead, Hastert is being charged with making a series of cash withdrawals designed to evade the currency transaction reporting requirements and lying to the FBI about it. This kind of behavior often gets law enforcement’s attention, either because the person is engaged in shady financial dealings or the individual is paying off a blackmailer. Either way, it’s a red flag that something illegal may be happening, hence the FBI investigation. Lying to the FBI doesn’t go over very well. The transactions, according to the affidavit, began in 2010.

Well, That’s Odd

Jim Burroway

May 28th, 2015

Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert agreed to pay $3.5 million in apparent hush money to a longtime acquaintance, then lied to the FBI when asked about suspicious cash withdrawals from several banks, federal prosecutors alleged Thursday.

The stunning indictment of the longtime Republican powerhouse alleged he gave about $1.7 million in cash to the acquaintance, identified only as Individual A in the charges, to “compensate for and conceal (Hastert’s) prior misconduct” against Individual A that had occurred years earlier.

So says the Chicago Tribune, which posted the indictment here. It’s an interesting read:

a. From approximately 1965 to 1981, defendant JOHN DENNIS HASTERT was a high school teacher and coach in Yorkville, Illinois. From approximately 1981 to 2007, defendant JOHN DENNIS HASTERT was an elected public official, including eight years as Speaker of the United States House of Representatives. From approximately 2008 to the present, defendant JOHN DENNIS HASTERT has worked as a lobbyist in Washington, D.C.

b. Individual A has been a resident of Yorkville, Illinois and has known defendant JOHN DENNIS HASTERT most of Individual A’s life.

c. In or about 2010, Individual A met with defendant JOHN DENNIS HASTERT multiple times. During at least one of the meetings, Individual A and defendant discussed past misconduct by defendant against Individual A that had occurred years earlier.

d. During the 2010 meetings and subsequent discussions, defendant JOHN DENNIS HASTERT agreed to provide Individual A $3.5 million in order to compensate for and conceal his prior misconduct against Individual A. …

Australia marriage update

Timothy Kincaid

May 28th, 2015

Since writing about the increased impetus towards marriage equality in Australia, further signs of its inevitability have shown.

After Australian Opposition leader Bill Shorten filed his intent to present a marriage bill, Prime Minister Tony Abbott appears to have realized what a vote on such a bill might mean to his party. If the nation, which supports marriage equality by at least a two to one margin, were to perceive this to be a partisan identified issue (as, well, it is) that could be damaging. (Sydney Morning Herald)

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has hinted that same-sex marriage should be brought before Parliament via a cross-party bill, in a major shift in his language on the reform.

“If our Parliament were to make a big decision on a matter such as this, it ought to be owned by the Parliament and not by any particular party.”

The general interpretation of this message is that Abbott will be giving a conscience vote to the Liberal MPs. He also seems to imply that any marriage bill would need to come from a coalition including members of his party so as to avoid the impression that when marriage comes, it will have been a Labor victory. To Shorten’s credit, he appears to be willing to achieve the goal irrespective of who gets the credit.

Abbott appears not to be the only conservative in Australia who is acknowledging that it is now time to bring about marriage equality in the Land Down Under. Rob Stott at BuzzFeed has an excellent compendium of comments by conservatives either endorsing equality or recognizing its immediate likelihood.

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