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Posts for January, 2012

Box of Rocks coasts on to another day of victory

Timothy Kincaid

January 10th, 2012

Today the Box of Rocks sat quietly and was bothered by no one. However, Rick Santorum found himself subjected to chants of “bigot” as he entered a campaign event. Which got me thinking, what does Santorum say on his website about matters of equality (Santorum, not santorum… that’s a different website).

In the section of “What I Believe” titled “Appointing Constitutionalist Justices and Judges Who Refuse to Legislate from the Bench”, he says the following:

Rick Santorum is no stranger to the issue of judges. … in 2004 when activist judges sought to legislate from the bench and redefine marriage, Rick spearheaded the debate in favor of the Federal Marriage Amendment.

First, let’s consider whether that makes any sense at all. As of 2004, not a single Federal Judge had found anything favorable about marriage. However, a number of state judges had concluded that state constitutions disallowed discrimination against gay people and had demanded that either marriage or some equivalent be provided so that citizens can have equal access, so these must be the judges he’s talking about.

Which seems to suggest that Santorum thinks that as President he could appoint “Constitutionalist” state judges. But surely that can’t be the case. Even a box of rocks knows better than that.

But on to his performance. If I were considering how effective a president Rick Santorum could be, I’d look to the issues he spearheaded. And I’d have to say that on the Federal Marriage Amendment, Rick Santorum was a phenomenal failure.

To pass the Senate and be considered by the states, the FMA had to pass both houses of Congress by a two thirds vote. In the House in 2004 that was 290 votes in favor, and in the Senate it required 67. So Sentorum’s goal, his measure of competency, was obtaining 67 Senate votes in favor of the amendment.

There were at that point 51 Republicans, 48 Democrats and 1 Independent. To achieve his goal, Santorum needed to keep hold of the presumed support of all 51 Republicans and pick up support of a third of Democrats.

But before he could pass the FMA and start campaigning in the states, he had one further roadblock. He needed to get a vote. And if the Senators don’t want to vote on an issue, they can fillibuster – or just keep talking. As long as a Senator wants to talk – be it about the bill or his neighbor’s dog or reading the phonebook (as as happened) – they are entitled to do so.

However, there is a ‘sit down and shut up’ provision to keep any one Senator from disrupting business. If any Senator wishes to end debate and just vote already, he can call for cloture. And if three fifths (60) Senators agree, debate stops immediately and the bill itself is voted on. So before he could get his 67 Senators to send the FMA to the states, he needed 60 who were wanted to take a vote.

He didn’t even get half.

Santorum managed to get three Democrats to vote on whether to vote (Byrd, Miller, and Nelson), but he lost twice as many Republicans who refused to bring the FMA to cloture (Campbell, Chafee, Collins, Snowe, Sununu, and McCain – yes, that McCain). His cloture vote fell flat 48 to 50 (Senators Kerry and Edwards were unavailable.)

So what Santorum is loudly touting on his website is that on the FMA, he is a failure. A colossal failure. The box of rocks doesn’t have a website and is making no claims as to its ability to spearhead anything. On this matter of intellect and wit, the rocks win. Again.

But to really set himself apart from a box of rocks, Rick Santorum goes further to explain his understanding of the judicial process and the roll of the judiciary in a checked and balanced government:

Rick Santorum believes that the Judiciary is a critical part of our system of government, but it is the third branch of government under our Constitution, and should not act like the first. President Obama often prefers when it does legislate instead of Congress. For example, when he refuses to defend the Congressionally approved Defense of Marriage Act.

Okay, it can be difficult to understand the workings of Santorum’s brain, but if I have this correct, when the President chooses not to defend a law he thinks unconstitutional, then the judiciary is acting like Congress. By hearing argument in a lawsuit brought by the State of Massachusetts, the judiciary is, in Santorum’s words, “legislating from the bench” and is “usurping” the role of Congress.

I’m a bit at loss as to what Santorum thinks the Judiciary is to do when a lawsuit is presented. Really, I’m not being facetious. I have no idea what he thinks is the appropriate response when a State sues the federal government for what it perceives to be an encroachment on states’ rights. I suspect that it all depends on what the position of his Church is on the matter.

Although Rick Santorum served in the Senate for twelve years, it’s abundantly clear that a box of rocks has a far better grasp on the separation of powers and role of the judiciary.

Box of Rocks takes impressive 3-0 lead

Timothy Kincaid

January 9th, 2012

In the battle of intellect between Rick Santorum and a box of rocks, the rocks are making a surprisingly strong showing. While the rocks haven’t said anything incredibly stupid at all today, Rick Santorum described his position on recognition of gay couples thusly:

YouTube Preview Image

The question is do I think I can beat President Obama cuz I have strong feelings on the issue of marriage and other social issues. Everyone on the stage yesterday and the day before has pretty much has the exact same position I have on all those issues. President Obama says he has the same position I have on gay marriage. So people always talk about the… the only difference is between myself and any of them is that when someone asks me a question I answer it.

I must have missed the press conference wherein the President announced that he has the same views on gay marriage as Rick Santorum. But, knowing the President’s positions, we can now conclude that:

Or that Rick Santorum is so incredibly stupid that he doesn’t know what President Obama has said on the subject. (One alternate possibility is that Santorum knows Obama’s position and is betting that his audience does not. Frankly, I don’t think he’s bright enough for that sort of political calculation.)

Box of Rocks – 2; Santorum – 0

Timothy Kincaid

January 7th, 2012

GOP Presidential candidate Rick Santorum seems determined to illustrate his inability to grasp basic logic concepts. The LA Times brings us his latest.

Reporting from Manchester, N.H.— For the second time in as many days, Rick Santorum waded into the issue of gay marriage, suggesting it was so important for children to have both a father and mother that an imprisoned father was preferable to a same-sex parent.

Citing the work of one anti-poverty expert, Santorum said, “He found that even fathers in jail who had abandoned their kids were still better than no father at all to have in their children’s lives.”

Allowing gays to marry and raise children, Santorum said, amounts to “robbing children of something they need, they deserve, they have a right to. You may rationalize that that isn’t true, but in your own life and in your own heart, you know it’s true.”

Oddly, my heart doesn’t tell me that depriving children of same sex parents the legal and social protections they need will somehow cause imprisoned heterosexuals to be involved in the lives of their children.

Santorum on discrimination

Timothy Kincaid

January 6th, 2012

CBS News:

“I have a question and it’s about gay people,” asked the first man to be called on at a Santorum town hall meeting here today. “They are children of God too. Do they have the right to marriage? Do they have the right to serve in the military? Should they be treated like any other citizen? Under your presidency, would you protect their rights or would you diminish them?”

Santorum answered that he doesn’t believe marriage or serving in the military are inalienable rights, but “privileges,” adding, “It’s not discrimination not to grant privileges.”

It’s not discrimination not to grant privileges? Really?

The sad thing is that he probably believes it.

Yeah, I know it’s a cheap shot. But really, Rick Santorum is just… well, not very bright. It’s not only that his policies are not well thought through or that his views are theocratic. It’s the man… he’s just… okay I’ll say it, Rick Santorum is stupid.

Santorum’s New Hampshire Catholic problem

Timothy Kincaid

January 6th, 2012

New Hampshire is about 35% Catholic and when you consider those who vote in the Republican primary, I suspect the percentage is higher. Which is really bad news for Rick Santorum, the candidate running to bring US law into conformity with Vatican dictates.

Because “Catholic” in New Hampshire isn’t the same thing as Catholic in the Santorum household (Wall Street Journal)

An October poll by the University of New Hampshire found that state voters overall opposed the repeal bill two-to-one. Among likely GOP primary voters, 47% opposed repeal versus 39% in favor, the poll found.

Pirozzi Monier, a Goffstown, N.H., retiree who was at a town hall held by candidate Rick Santorum Thursday night, says she has “deeply rooted Roman Catholic” beliefs, but said, “Would I be opposed to friends getting married who are gay? No.”

In what she described as a typical New Hampshire attitude, she said she believes in staying out of her friends and neighbors’ business. “I’m old Yankee stock,” she said. ‘Good fences make good neighbors.”

In case you’re exposed to santorum

Timothy Kincaid

January 5th, 2012

Now that Rick Santorum has received some attention in Iowa, it is likely that there will be an uptick in his funding and perhaps an increased expanse in his electioneering. Now I would never dream of telling you to protest Mr. Santorum’s events or even consider hinting to you about of what might be an effective way to make a silent protest… but I think if I were to be exposed to santorum, I’d want some flushable moist wipes with me.

Out Of Many, Fewer

Jim Burroway

January 4th, 2012

One aspect of the GOP race which greatly benefited former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was the splintered tea-party/Evangelical vote across five other candidates: Sen. Rick Santorum, Rep. Ron Paul, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Rep. Michele Bachmann. It’s worth noting that while Romney is the front-runner by virtue of his narrow Iowa win, his massive war chest and a well-established national organization, three out of four Iowa Republican caucus-goers nevertheless voted against him.

Today, with Bachmann dropping out and Perry going back to Texas to ask God if he still wants him to run, we may begin to see a consolidation of the tea party/Evangelical vote around Santorum. That could be significant.  If the Iowa votes cast for those three “Not Mitt” candidates — Santorum, Bachmann and Perry — all went to Santorum, it would have brought his total up to 40% against Romney’s 25%. Sure, not all of those votes would have consolidated to Santorum; some would have likely drifted over to Romney or Paul, but take a quick glance at the polling data (as all of the campaigns are doing right now) and you can quickly see how the Iowa race would have been very different without that split.

Ron Paul, who came in a solid third in Iowa, probably won’t benefit much from such a consolidation, especially in closed primary states where non-Republicans can’t easily cross over to vote in the GOP primary. Whether a smaller field will help Santorum overcome his huge deficit in money and organization is still an open question. I doubt it.  But social conservative extremists are beginning to see this consolidation as the only way to stay in the game. Bob Vander Plaats, head of Iowa’s anti-gay Family Leader, endorsed Santorum just two weeks ago, not long after Santorum’s campaign admitted that Vander Plaats indirectly solicited money from Santorum’s campaign. (The asking price for an endorsement was reportedly as high as one million dollars.) Today, Vander Plaats is calling on Bachmann, Perry and Gingrich to step out of the race:

“The worst thing that can happen to Mitt Romney is to run head to head against Rick Santorum,” he told reporters at Santorum’s campaign headquarters here tonight. “He wants to have a multiple candidate field, so I think some of these candidates — they need to reassess where they are at tonight.”

…”We did this drill four years ago. Had Fred Thompson not stayed in the race in South Carolina and takes nine percentage points, Huckabee wins South Carolina,” he said.

“If Huckabee wins South Carolina, McCain is out of the race and it’s Huckabee-Romney going into Florida. So what I’m saying is that we have to be smart about getting a pro-family conservative to go up against Mitt Romney.”

Perry is re-assessing and Bachmann has announced that she is “suspending” her campaign. And now we have this shot from Newt Gingrich, which should cause the Romney camp a few headaches this morning:

Laura Ingraham: Can you see a scenario under which the two of you would align together to try to defeat the establishment candidate, Mitt Romney?

Newt Gingrich:Absolutely. Of course. I mean Rick and I have a 20-year friendship, we are both rebels, we both came into this business as reformers, we both dislike deeply the degree to which the establishment sells out the American people. We both think Washington has to be changed in very fundamental ways, and we have lots of things that fit together. And the thing that’s interesting is if you take the votes, you add to that Perry and Bachmann, you begin to see the size of the conservative vote compared to Romney…if you take, you know, Santorum and Perry and Bachmann and Gingrich you get some sense of what a small minority Romney really represents.

Update: Mother Jones’s David Corn says that Newt is ready to settle scores in the time-honored tradition he established as the bomb-throwing House Speaker. Meanwhile, it looks like Perry still thinks he’s in the race despite his fifth place showing in Iowa.

It’s Romney By A Perfectly Coiffed Hair

Jim Burroway

January 4th, 2012

After spending millions of dollars and campaigning more or less nonstop for four years, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney barely squished passed the late surging Sen. Rick Santorum by a mere eight votes. Santorum is now the last Not Mitt in the race, having dethroned a long line of other Anyone-But-Mitts who had held the frontrunner or near-frontrunner status over the past several months. And what a line that was, beginning with Rep. Michele Bachmann, then Texas Gov. Rick Perry, then pizza magnate Herman Cain, then former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, all of whom courted the tea party and Evangelical wings of the GOP. When caucus day came, it just happened to line up with being Santorum’s turn. According to entrance and exit polls, Santorum came in first with the tea party vote and the Evangelical vote, both by wide margins. If you were against abortion or wanted a candidate with “strong moral character,” then you almost certainly voted for Santorum. You also voted for him if you had only made up your mind in the past few days, indicating that he likely captured the vote that had been shifting from one candidate to another in search of the socially conservative Not Mitt for the past several months.

While Santorum soundly won the expectations race in Iowa, it’s hard to see how he can carry the momentum forward through the rest of the long primary season. He’s been effectively broke throughout the race, although this win will likely bring a huge fundraising bonus with it. But it will come too late to put together badly needed organizations in the upcoming races. Already, he has lost the ability to appear on the ballot in Virginia; he had no organization there to collect the signatures and turn them in. And so far, he’s been relatively untouched by the so-called super-PACs which played such a huge role in the campaign. That won’t last long now that he has their attention.

Meanwhile, third place Ron Paul’s entrance and exit poll results reveal his challenges ahead. If his critics charge that he is not a “true Republican” — whatever that’s supposed to mean these days — they can probably find data to back that up. Iowa is an open caucus state, meaning that it’s easy for anyone to show up at a caucus and participate even if they hadn’t been registered as a Republican for very long. Of those who identified as independent, Paul captured 43% of those votes, smashing the rest of the filed with that segment. He also captured 40% of those who claimed they were “moderate or liberal” and 33% of those who had never participated in a caucus before.  These numbers demonstrate the challenge he faces. He came in third in a state with a relatively open caucus. We might expect him to do similarly well in other open primary states as well. But his base of support will almost certainly be sharply curtailed in closed primary states where non-Republicans won’t be allowed to easily change their registration or participate.

Which means that it now looks like the GOP nomination is Mitt’s to lose.

But while we’re discussing Paul, here’s another surprising thing about his numbers. He came in second place among Evangelicals, capturing 18% of the vote behind Santorum’s 32%. That’s comfortably ahead of Romney’s 14%. It’s also well ahead of Gingrich’s and Perry’s 14% each and Bachmann’s 6%. The latter three assiduously courted that vote and lost. Paul’s play for the Evangelical vote took place mostly behind the scenes by hiring anti-gay activist Michael Heath to serve a leading role in the Iowa campaign. It won him the endorsement of a prominent Christian Reconstructionist, who advocated for the death penalty for gay people. Not that Rev. Phil Kayser thought it should be necessary to kill very many homosexuals. Just killing a few of them “would have a tendency of driving homosexuals back into their closets.” It turns out that Paul’s campaign platform of effectively demolishing the role of the Federal Government in most affairs fits in very nicely with Christian Reconstructionsist theology, and Paul’s campaign was initially thrilled with Kayser’s endorsement. “We welcome Rev. Kayser’s endorsement and the enlightening statements he makes on how Ron Paul’s approach to government is consistent with Christian beliefs.,” his campaign announced, before quietly erasing that announcement from Ron Paul’s web site with nary an explanation. “We’re thankful for the thoughtfulness with which he makes his endorsement and hope his endorsement and others like it make a strong top-three showing in the caucus more likely.” A top three showing is exactly what he got.

As for the rest, Rick Perry is going back to Texas to find out what God wants him to do next, Michele Bachmann is bowing out so her husband can keep on buying doggie sunglasses in a totally not-gay way, Gingrich has become bored by the whole thing now that he’s not the center of attention, and Jon Huntsman — well, we’re not quite sure where he is exactly.

Paul describes Santorum in one sentence

Timothy Kincaid

December 19th, 2011

Speaking to Jay Leno, republican presidential candidate Ron Paul tagged Rick Santorum in one accurate sentence. And no it didn’t include the phrase “frothy mix”.

CNN reports that when Paul was asked on Friday about former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, he said Santorum does not like “gay people and Muslims.”

Yep, that pretty much covers it.

Oh Yeah — Santorum’s Not Down With It Either

Jim Burroway

December 6th, 2011

From CNN:

“I would suggest that we give out humanitarian aid based on humanitarian need, not based on whether people are promoting their particular agenda,” Santorum said. “Obviously the administration is promoting their particular agenda in this country, and now they feel its their obligation to promote those values not just in the military, not just in our society, but now around the world with taxpayer dollars.”

…“He said he’s for traditional marriage, and now he’s promoting gay lifestyles and gay rights, and he’s fighting against traditional marriage within the courts, and I think he needs to be honest,” Santorum said.

GOP presidential candidate Sen. Rick Santorum joins Gov. Rick Perry in denouncing the Obama Administration’s memorandum on international LGBT human rights abuses.

The Daily Agenda for Saturday, November 19

Jim Burroway

November 19th, 2011

TODAY’S AGENDA (OURS):
Transgender Day of Remembrance: Several locations. While tomorrow is officially the day set aside to remember those who have been murdered as a result of transphobia, some TDoR events are taking place today. TDoR began in reaction to the brutal murder of Rita Hester, who was killed on November 28, 1998. Her murder resulted in the creation of the Remembering Our Dead web site and a candlelight vigil in 1999. In the first nine months of 2011, 116 transgender people have been killed around the world, according to Trans Murder Monitoring (TMM). They also say that there have been at least 681 murders in 50 countries since 2008. Observances for the Transgender Day of Rememberance typically consist of the reading of the names of those who have died because of their gender identity, expression, presentation or perception of gender variance. Observances are being held in cities all around the world. Click here to find an observance near you.

TODAY’S AGENDA (THEIRS):
Thanksgiving Family Forum: Des Moines, IA. The anti-gay Family Leader will host a Thanksgiving Family Forum with GOP presidential candidates Sen. Rick Santorum, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Rep. Ron Paul, former House speaker Newt Gingrich, pizza magnate Herman Cain, and Rep. Michele Bachmann “sitting shoulder to shoulder around a ‘Thanksgiving table’.” That hokey piece of stagecraft is the brainchild of organizer Bob Vander Plaats, who has this as a dress code: “the audience attire will be ‘business casual,’ but the candidates were asked ‘to dress like they’re going to Thanksgiving dinner’.” Which means that one of them will be wearing a loud green sweater with a giant white snowflake.

Noticably absent from the banquet is Gov. Mitt Romney, which has Family Leader’s Bob Vander Plaats steamed at the snub. “Mitt Romney has dissed this base in Iowa and this diss will not stay in Iowa,” he told Fox News. “This has national tentacles. … This might prove that he is not smart enough to be president. …I think what will happen is what happened in 2008. He’s been in this position before. He’s been on top of polls only to find his campaign tanking and sucking air.” Tell us how you really feel, Bob.

Family Leader promises that “ALL the questions will be centered around issues relating to the family and are designed to gauge the constitutional and biblical worldviews of the candidates.” And to make sure none of the candidates move too far from an anti-gay agenda, two ten-minute segments of the two-hour forum will be headed by Focus On the Family’s Tom Minnery, and the National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown. The remainder of the one hour and forty minutes will be moderated by Fox News’ Frank Lutz. It begins at 4:00 p.m. at the First Federated Church in Des Moines. While the event is open to the press, the latest word has it that no major network will be televising it. Thank God for small favors.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
American Council of Christian Churches Calls AIDS “God’s Wrath”: 1989. Peter Steinfels wrote in the New York Times about a gathering earlier in November of U.S. Catholic Bishops in Baltimore that had met to hammer out a document responding to the AIDS crisis. The bishops decided overwhelmingly to reject the theological proposition that AIDS was in any way a punishment from God, a position held by one in four Americans, according to a recent poll. J. Gordon Melton, director of the Institute for the Study of American Religion in Santa Barbara, had published 68 statements on AIDS from 45 different religious groups in the United States, Canada and Great Britain, and found “a remarkable” across both liberal and conservative religious groups recognizing that AIDS was not just a gay problem, and “that special ministries should be established to serve AIDS victims, their families and friends, and that the civil rights of homosexuals or of those with the AIDS virus should be protected.” But, The Times learned, that consensus wasn’t unanimous:

The Bible repeatedly describes God as employing all kinds of terrors, natural and human, to punish those who disobey his commands. These biblical accounts naturally governed the reaction of the American Council of Christian Churches, a fundamentalist group that recently expressed dismay at the consensus discovered by Mr. Melton. The council, which claims to represent about two million ”Bible Christians,” promptly went on record upholding the idea that AIDS is God’s wrath visited on homosexuals and drug addicts, although for their ultimate benefit if they turn to Jesus.

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).

As always, please consider this your open thread for the day.

The Strangest Pitch for the Presidency So Far

Jim Burroway

October 7th, 2011

GOP Presidential candidate Sen. Rick Santorum pitched the most oddest reason for voting for a candidate to the Values Voter Conference so far. Get ready for this one:

“When you look at someone to determine whether they’d be the right person for public office, look at who they lay down with at night and what they believe,” Santorum said.

Let’s see if any of the other GOP candidates can top that for wierdness.

By the way, was that a shot at Rick Perry?

The Daily Agenda for Friday, October 7

Jim Burroway

October 7th, 2011

TODAY’S AGENDA (OURS):
Campus Pride College Fair and Prep Day: Boston, MA. Campus Pride’s College Fair is an opportunity for LGBT students and their families to discuss educational opportunities with participating LGBT-affirming colleges and universities. The fair features expert advice about LGBT-friendly colleges, scholarship resources and even effective tips for campus visits. The Northwest Region College Fair takes place today at Boston’s City Hall, from 1:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. More information can be found here. Future College Fairs will take place in Los Angeles (Oct 15) and New York (Nov 4).

AIDS Walks This Weekend: Columbus, OH; Indianapolis, IN and Kent/Sussex, DE.

Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Atlanta, GA; Orlando, FL; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Tucson, AZ.

Also This Weekend: Iris Prize Film Festival, Cardiff, UK.

TODAY’S AGENDA (THEIRS):
Values Voter Summit: Washington, D.C. The Family “Research” Council, one of only a handful of organizations tracked by the Southern Poverty Law Center for being an anti-gay hate group, kicks off its annual Values Voter Summit in the nation’s capital this morning with a breakfast talk by Mat Staver, Chairman of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty Unversity’s Law School. Members of Staver’s Liberty Counsel and law school staff have been implicated in the Isabella Miller-Jenkins kidnapping case, while teachers have instructed law students to ignore “man’s law” in favor of “God’s law.” And so as you might expect, the Summit just goes straight downhill from there. Other speakers include House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), and GOP Presidential candidate Sen. Rick Santorum. And all of that is before lunch, when voting begins for the Summit’s straw poll. Afternoon speakers include GOP presidential candidates Herman Cain, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, plus Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO). The evening plenary session features another GOP presidential candidate, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), as well as Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. The craziness just goes on and on and on through Sunday morning.

Exodus International Florida Regional Conference. Leesburg, FL. Exodus International will conduct a two-day conference with the theme “Chosen for Freedom,” beginning today and continuing through Saturday. The conference’s featured speakers include Exodus International president Alan Chambers, former Exodus president Joe Dallas, and former Exodus vice president Randy Thomas. Also speaking is Dr. Julie Hamilton, a former president of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) and whose book, Handbook of Therapy for Unwanted Homosexual Attractions, includes a final chapter by discredited ex-gay activist George Rekers. As we reported in our original investigation of Rekers’s “treatment” of four-year-old Kirk Murphy, Rekers claimed that he had successfully turned the “effeminate pre-homosexual” boy into a straight man. He built his entire career on that supposedly groundbreaking success story. Except there were a couple of problems: Kirk grew up to be gay, and he ultimately committed suicide over the lifelong conflicts he struggled with as a result of that therapy. Yet in Hamilton’s book, Rekers boasted that Kirk “had a normal male identity,” six years after Kirk took his life. Hamilton’s book with Rekers’s boast is still on sale at NARTH’s web site, and I have no doubt that it will also be available at the conference, which takes place today and tomorrow at the First Baptist Church in Leesburg, FL.

Minnesota Anti-Marriage Strategy and Briefing Session: Bloomington, MN. The Minnesota Faith and Freedom Coalition, supporters of the latest proposed constitutional amendment to make same-sex marriage even more illegaler in the Gopher state, will hold a Strategy and Briefing Session at the Doubletree Inn in Bloomington, MN this morning from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Invited speakers include GOP presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and former Christian Coalition honcho Ralph Reed.

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?

Google vs Bing vs Yahoo! in the Search for Santorum

Jim Burroway

September 25th, 2011

That’s the claim that GOP presidential candidate Sen. Rick Santorum made last week, and Concerned Women for America’s Peggy Young Nance is working to spread the smear with the help of Fox News. Yesterday, she published this op-ed on Fox News claiming:

Former Senator Rick Santorum (R-Penn.) is the father of seven children, a devout Catholic, and current GOP presidential candidate.  But when someone types his name into the Google search box, the very first result that appears is a website detailing a sex act “by-product” named after the senator.  In fact, the Senator’s own website is the fourth result. By contrast, Rick Santorum’s website is the first result that both Yahoo and Bing give the user.

…Sen. Santorum said that he suspects “if something was up there like that about Joe Biden, they’d get rid of it. … To have a business allow that type of filth to be purveyed through their website or through their system is something that they say they can’t handle, but I suspect that’s not true.”

I tend to agree with the senator.  Why does Bing know that Rick Santorum’s own website is a better match than an explicitly sex-related site?

Nance might want to re-Bing and re-Yahoo! “Santorum”again. First up, Microsoft’s Bing, where you have to go all the way down to #8 before you find Sen. Santorum’s campaign web site:

Bing's search results as of 8:30 a.m. PDT on September 25 (Click to enlarge)

On Yahoo!, Santorum’s campaign web site made #7, including the obligatory news summary at the top. That news summary takes up a considerable amount of real estate, which pushes Santorum’s official web site nearly below the fold:

Yahoo!'s search results as of 8:30 a.m. PDT on September 25 (Click to enlarge)

Meanwhile, Google places Santorum’s campaign web site at #9, just below the fold. Which means that all three search engines place Santorum’s official campaign link within one position of each other:

Googles search results as of 8:30 a.m. PDT on September 25 (Click to enlarge)

Which means that in the world of Search Engine Optimization where it’s understood that the first couple of slots are where 70% of searchers click, Santorum’s Yahoo! problem and Bing problem are hardly better than his Google problem.

Rick Santorum — Why Homophobia is a Psychological Disorder

Rob Tisinai

September 24th, 2011

People are missing the real story.

You’ve probably heard about Rick Santorum and the openly gay solider at the Republican debate.  Watch it here if you like, but so far the outcry has focused on the crowd booing an active-duty soldier just for being gay, the candidates’ failure to condemn the catcalls, and Santorum neglecting to the thank the soldier, as is customary, for his service.

Here’s what the right has claimed in response:

  • Santorum did not hear the boos (possible, though at least one person onstage managed to).
  • The boos came from an isolated source, and those nearby rebuked him (possible, though the lack of audio proof is unfortunate).
  • Santorum’s failure to offer the traditional thanks for the soldier’s service was a meaningless oversight, and was NOT caused by the image  of man-on-dog sex that assaults him when he thinks of gays (doubtful, but possible).
  • Conservatives have rebuked both the booer and the unreacting candidates (true).
  • Santorum himself much later rebuked the booer and thanked the soldier for his service (true).

I’ll concede all that — really, I will — just to get it out of the way.  It obscures the real issue, what we ought to be calling out:  the idiocy of what Santorum actually said, and the way it shows how homophobia induces a genuine mental breakdown.

Look at three bits of his terrible answer. First:

The fact that they’re making a point to include it as a provision within the military that we’re going to recognize a group of people and give them a special privilege and removing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell…

Stop. A special privilege? Having a equal right to serve openly in the military is a special privilege? The right to mention your boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse is a special privilege? Being treated just like your fellow soldiers is a special privilege?  If pressed to the wall and forced to classify this as idiocy or not idiocy, I’d have to choose…idiocy.

Continuing Santorum’s quote:

… removing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, I think tries to inject social policy into the military.

Stop. The irony and idiocy are singing in harmony. “Social policy”?  Banning gays from the military, imposing special silence requirements on them — that’s the social policy.

We ought to make this point more often. The default public policy, according to the Constitution, is equal treatment under the law. Period. You want to argue that the health of society requires anti-gay persecution? Go ahead (you’re wrong, but go ahead). Just remember — that’s the injection of social policy into the military, a political and cultural agenda being imposed by law.  Removing DADT, removing the ban on gays — that’s removing social policy from military matters.

Santorum wrapped up with this reason for re-imposing DADT:

…we would move forward in conformity to what was happening in the past, which is — sex is not an issue. It should not be an issue. Leave it alone. Keep it to yourself — whether you’re heterosexual or homosexual.

Wow!  That last sentence is an amazing and unexpected endorsement of equality. Combine it with his support for DADT, and you’ve got a Republican presidential hopeful declaring that straight soldiers shouldn’t be allowed to talk about getting laid, or their romantic interests, or their spouses, or their family life.  He wants to gag them just as he wants to gag gay and lesbian soldiers. He wants straight soldiers to keep silent on such things, “in conformity to what was happening in the past.”

Wait, stop, what?  This is idiocy all around.  He can’t possibly believe that  straight soldiers of years gone by were forbidden to conceal their straightness. And he can’t possibly believe that letting straights speak freely while silencing gays means treating all soldiers the same (“whether you’re heterosexual or homosexual”).  But he seems to be saying both of these idiotic things — and since they contradict each other, that makes for idiocy squared.

But perhaps Santorum himself is not an idiot.  Perhaps his terror of homosexuals is so intense that it renders his otherwise bright and agile mind  incapable of clear, simple thought.  Perhaps his feelings toward us create an intellectual dysfunction, an impairment, a narrowly-focused mental disability.

Perhaps. And if so, folks, it would make Rick Santorum prime evidence for why we call homophobia a psychological disorder.

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