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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 September, 2013

The Legal Discrimination Against Gay Couples bill

Timothy Kincaid

September 19th, 2013

About 60 US Representatives (they claim bi-partisan) have signed onto a new bill they are calling the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act, which is being described as a bill to protect churches and religious organizations from being targeted by the IRS for punishment over their pro-traditional marriage position. I’ve yet to locate a copy of the bill, but sponsor Raul Labrador (R-ID) summarizes it this way:

The Marriage and Religious Freedom Act would prohibit government discrimination against individuals and institutions that exercise religious or moral conscience regarding marriage as the union of one man and one woman by ensuring that the federal government will not:

· Deny or revoke an exemption from taxation under Sec. 501 of the IRS Tax Code

· Disallow a deduction for Federal tax purposes of any charitable contribution made to or by a person

· Deny or withhold any federal benefit

· Deny or exclude a person from receiving any federal grant, contract, loan, license, certification, accreditation, employment, or other similar position or status

· Otherwise discriminate against any individual organization

I have no problem with the first two bullet points. I don’t know what is meant by the third and find the fifth vague. But the third bullet point it the heart of this bill, the true purpose, and the means by which these legislators are seeking to engage in egregious and un-American behavior.

“Deny or exclude a person from receiving any federal grant, contract, loan, license, certification, accreditation, employment, or other similar position or status”

What this says is that if a solar panel installer seeks a contract from the federal government, the government must allow that contractor to refuse to provide the federal benefit to a gay homeowner. It says that a military contractor spending millions of taxpayer dollars must be allowed to discriminate in hiring against an applicant because his spouse is male. It says that the filing clerk at the social security administration can refuse to process the paperwork of a gay couple. It says that the IRS auditor can pretend that the married filing jointly return in front of her can pretend that it is filed fraudulently. It says that the customs official at the airport can unilaterally decide that your spouse isn’t really your spouse. It says that you can be turned down for student loans, for a camping permit in a national forest, for a White House visit, for any federally related benefit by any person at any level who decides that their religion requires them to discriminate against you.

There is no way that conservative Christians would EVER apply such a bill to themselves. Which gives me my response to Labrador:

I’ll make you a deal. You can pass a bill making sure that people can refuse service based on sexual orientation and marital status if you ALSO pass a bill making sure that people can refuse service based on religious affiliation.

That way Southern Baptist florists can refuse service to gay couples, and gay florists can refuse service to Southern Baptists. And one county clerk can refuse to issue a marriage licenses to gay couples while another can refuse to issue marriage licenses to Catholics and a third can refuse service to anyone with any faith at all.

That way everyone’s religious beliefs are protected, not just the anti-gay conservative Christian religious beliefs.

Rhode Island House passes equality – live blog

Timothy Kincaid

January 24th, 2013

I picked this up part way through. 1/24/13 1:56 (All times P.S.T.)

Right now, Rep. Corvese (D-North Providence) is ranting about “breaking the parameters of marriage”. He just recommended that you pick up What same-sex “marriage” has done to Massachusetts, a extremist publication of the hate-group MassResistance. He’s told us it isn’t about love or civil rights, that the Homosexual Activists aren’t discriminated against, and that trouble’s a-coming. Basically he sounds a lot like a Southern Republican more than a New England Democrat.

The House Speaker, openly gay Gordon Fox, has given Corvese extra time. I assume it’s out of courtesy and in respect that Corvese is on the losing side (both today and in history).

2:02 Rep. Blazejewski (D-East Providence), “Why would anyone want to prohibit two consenting adults from entering into a binding contract to protect their family? Why would you want to do that?”

2:05 Rep. Doreen Costa (R-N. Kingston), “The people don’t support this.” Presents a bunch of signatures… but didn’t she vote “yes” in committee.?

2:06 Rep Edwards (D-Tiverton), “Yes, Rep. Corvese, this is a game changer. For good.”

2:10 Rep McLaughlin (D-Central Falls) offers amendment (Corvese seconds) which I”m not sure what it says. “I fought on two continents. I’m a Roman Catholic. I believe in the Seven Sacraments. But it goes beyond religion. It’s a moral issue.” He’s babbling on about his specific Catholic doctrine. “We have rules in our society. We have rules in Church doctrine.” He’s babbling now, venting really, in an apologetic way. I kinda feel for this guy – he’s really trying not to offend, he’s keeps saying he should judge anyone. He’s just an old guy in a world that has changed in ways he hasn’t.

2:15 It seem’s McLauglin’s bill is to delete the wording and replace it with “marriage is between one man and one woman”. Under Rule 16 it was found out of order.

2:16 Rep Trillo (R-Warwick) “I supported the civil unions bill because I believe gays and lesbians deserve every right. But what I have a problem with is the word marriage.” “The terminology has been the same for 30,000 years. Marriage is defined as being between one man and one woman.” He’s okay with any other words, and thinks the other words will have the same credibility in 10 years as “marriage”.

2:20 Rep Ruggiero (D-Jamestown) “It’s about tax policy”. “Do this for your sons, daughters… whoever that gay person is whom you are thinking about right now.”

2:22 Rep. Tanzi (D-Narragansett) “I felt bad voting for civil unions for telling our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters that their love was different.” “I’m proud to cast my vote for this bill with my daughter beside me…”

2:27 Rep Cimini (D-Providence) She said in testimony in support of equality three years ago, “I don’t want to get married, I don’t know why anyone would want to marry, but I know that no one will stop me.” She just got married.

2:28 Rep Almeida (D-Providence), “This IS a civil rights agenda!” He’s African-American and pissed about what Cervese said. “We were all divided. Not just my skin color, but go way back we all were.” “I remember in the Marine Corp there were a lot of gays and lesbians. I didn’t care when bullets were flying at me.”

2:31 Rep Mattello (D-Cranston) “We all have different religious beliefs in marriage. But that’s not what we’re debating today.” “Three years ago I would have been in opposition. But society has changed.” “If you were given heterosexual attraction by God, you deserve happiness. If you were given gay attraction, you deserve happiness.” “We’re just making the law catch up with where society already is.”

2:37 Rep Newberry (R-N. Smithfield; Minority Leader) “They’ve said this is a civil rights bill. And I agree, that’s why I’m voting for it.” “But this has come up seven years, and it has deserved an up or down vote.” He went on to lecture the Senate and insist that they vote and not let it be a bargaining chip. He’s angry.

2:40 Rep. O’Neill (D-Pawtucket) “It’s a historic day… Enjoy this piece of history.”

2:42 Rep. Ferri (D-Warwick) “It has been a journey getting to this point.” To Speaker Fox: “You have class”. Speaking about his husband “I guess we have to get married now. But we’ve had a ‘marriage’ for 32 years. Call it what you want, but who else in this room had a marriage of 32 years.” He spent time pointing out people “this is for Tony, this is for…”

2:45 Rep Handy (D-Cranston) “I’ve evolved on this.” “I’ll be brief.” He hasn’t been.

2: 48 THEY ARE VOTING

51-19 passes

Lots of applause

Can Hagel’s anti-gay career just be shrugged away?

Timothy Kincaid

December 27th, 2012

It has long been tradition for Presidents to reward supporters and activists with an ambassadorship post to a friendly and strategically non-controversial nation. And so, in 1998, President Clinton nominated James Hormel, a philanthropist and Democratic Party activist, to be the US Ambassador to Luxembourg, a nation about the size of Connecticut and with the population of Tuscon.

But one small problem, James Hormel is gay. And so the usual suspects raised a ruckus, spittle flew, and homophobia stopped its ugly feet all over the place. The Family Research Council and the Catholic League found him simply unacceptable for a Catholic Country and Trent Lott (R-MS), the Senate Majority Leader blocked the nomination.

Luxembourg weighed in saying that they have laws which prohibit anti-gay discrimination in employment (a polite way of saying “we think you’re being asses”) and that Hormel would be welcome. And eventually, in May 1999, Clinton used a recess appointment to put him in the post. As best we can tell, the Ambassador wore the right clothes to all the right dinners and our relationship with the Duchy of Luxembourg survived the ordeal.

But these little events can often be useful. They can give you the measure of a person’s character and the considerations they include in their decision making. And they can have long long legs and former Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NB) is learning just how long.

While some Senators questioned Hormel’s positions, in 1998, Hagel was one of those who opposed Hormel solely on the basis of his orientation. He believed that this, and this alone, was enough to disqualify Hormel from representing the United States in the tiny European nation. Because, you see, ambassador posts are “sensitive”.

They are representing America. They are representing our lifestyle, our values, our standards. And I think it is an inhibiting factor to be gay — openly, aggressively gay like Mr. Hormel — to do an effective job.

Not that he’d oppose all gay ambassadors, you see. No nothing like that. But this is a Catholic country.

I want to be fair to Hagel and he does not have a completely anti-gay record. Along with John McCain, Hagel opposed the anti-gay Federal Marriage Amendment in 2005 (and I thank him for that):

I’m a conservative. I believe the sanctity of the Constitution of the United States is very important, I don’t think you need a constitutional amendment defining marriage. That’s a state issue.

But, for the most part, Hagel has politely and ever-so-nicely opposed every concession towards equality or protection that the gay community has requested. Not out of animus (no, no, assuredly not), but there was always some reason, some explanation why this time gay people had to go without.

And, of course, Hagel is happy to move with the tail end of progress. And the idea of denying an ambassadorship to a qualified candidate based on his or her orientation has been a non-starter since George W. Bush’s appointment of Michael Guest to Romania in 2001.

So, now that he’s in consideration for the role of Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel rushed to offer a 14 years stale apology:

My comments 14 years ago in 1998 were insensitive. They do not reflect my views or the totality of my public record, and I apologize to Ambassador Hormel and any LGBT Americans who may question my commitment to their civil rights.

And those ideologically aligned with the administration have been quick to say, “good enough for me”. The New Yorker called objections to Hagel an “ugly attack” and MSNBC assured us that it was all a long time ago in a different era. And even James Hormel – after describing it as insincere – “accepted” the apology.

Even the Human Rights Campaign decided that this apology illustrates “a change of heart on LGBT issues” and declared Hagel a new ally in our ranks.

But I just can’t get my feet to do the Hagel dance.

Don’t get me wrong. I am a big believer in redemption. I’m first in line to applaud those who wish to repudiate former beliefs and to atone. I am generous in my welcome and effusive in my congratulations to those who have a change of heart.

But I’m not seeing a change of heart. I see an apology for a few words driven by political expediency.

You see, I happen to disagree with Chuck Hagel. I think that his 1998 statement actually does reflect his views and the totality of his public record.

This is not a man who is repudiating his record. He’s not suggesting that any of his votes should have gone differently. This is not a situation of atonement and redemption. He’s just apologizing because his comments were “insensitive”.

But my measure of Hagel’s ability to fairly include gay civil servants and gay service people as Secretary of Defense is not based on comments made 14 years ago – or on this week’s apology. It is based on a career of votes that suggests to me that Chuck Hagel sees himself as a polite and kind man who holds no animus but who, when decisions are made, always has a reason why gay people cannot be treated equally.

And that is how I think he would be as Secretary of Defense.

“queers can…”, part 2

Timothy Kincaid

November 7th, 2012

No, this isn't Michel Bachmann with a bad haircut.

Remember Janice Daniels, Mayor of Troy, Michigan? The one who was elected last year. And then was discovered to have posted “I think I am going to throw away my I Love New York carrying bag now that queers can get married there” on Facebook. Yeah, that Janice Daniels.

Remember her? Well you can forget her now.

Because the lovely Ms. Daniels is mayor no more. She lost last night in a recall election. (Daily Tribune)

It was a tight race throughout, but the effort to recall Troy Mayor Janice Daniels officially passed early Wednesday morning.

With all 31 precincts reporting, the yes vote won 20,763 to 18,993.

I hope she didn’t get around to throwing out her I Love New York bag cuz she may need it to pack up her mementos of her days of public service. And I’m sure there is still a spot for her in the world of real estate.

[Update: to get a real sense of the lovely Janice – and the moment in which her fate was probably sealed – check out this video]

Name me that child

Timothy Kincaid

September 17th, 2012

In the global quest for equality, we regularly hear this (Sydney Morning Herald):

Senator Pratt’s West Australian Labor colleague Mark Bishop said very few of his constituents had raised the issue with him. He said he supported gay couples being allowed to form civil unions but did not support same sex marriage because he believed it impinged on the rights of children.

Nationals Senator Ron Boswell, also speaking against the bill, said all children had a right to both a mother and a father.

“Two mothers or two fathers cannot raise a child properly,” Senator Boswell said.

Though this time presented in Australia, it is the prime objection across the planet. But despite its ubiquity, it suffers from a fatal flaw: they never ever clarify the identity of the recipient of their sympathy and benefactor of their protection.

“Think of the children” is a poor excuse for denying rights in general. But usually there is at least a child to think of.

Even the miscegenists who trotted out their dubious concern about “society being cruel to the poor little mulatto children”, had going for them that some children would be born directly as a result of legalizing mixed-race marriage. And, considering the social climate in which they plead their case, it was true that more mixed-race children would be born from allowing mixed race marriage than without (though their fears about the poor children didn’t really pan out).

But for all those who missed school on sex-ed day, children are not the natural bi-product of a same-sex marriage. There is no “honey guess what” conversation. The stork doesn’t have Mr. and Mr. Jones in its address book.

So I’m confused. In these “think of the children” objections, exactly what children am I supposed to be thinking of? What child, exactly, is being deprived of a mother and a father?

Same-sex couples get children in one of three ways; either they are raising a child when its parents (presumably an opposite sex couple) are not able to, they are jointly raising a child that one parent conceived in an opposite-sex relationship, or they are raising a child that they planned and took extraordinary measures to conceive.

Now on the face of it, there is no causal relationship between same-sex marriage and the first two scenarios. But that is not what anti-gays mean when they bring up this objection. Though they never articulate this, what they really mean is that the increase in acceptance for gay people (of which marriage is only the latest issue) will result in more children being raised by same-sex couples.

And that is true.

In countries in which gay people are executed or imprisoned, very few same-sex couple raise children. In countries in which there is some miserly measure of tolerance, confirmed bachelors or spinster librarians might set up house together “to share expenses”, but they seldom jointly parent children.

Social disapproval and reprisals against gay people would result in fewer children “being deprived of either a mother and a father” (as would banning divorce, revoking all spousal rights, and putting an end to military service or any other occupation that could result in death of a parent, and a number of other things that are not proposed). But that argument presumes that these are the two choices: either marriage equality or fierce reprisals against gay people.

But that is not the situation. No nations are trying to decide whether tis best to allow same-sex couples to marry or to throw them in jail. No legislators are pondering, “Hmmmm. I just can’t decide. Is it treacly songs and bridesmaids in peach taffeta for you, or off to the executioner’s block?”

But, to be fair, it could be that for each incremental degree to which gay people are afforded human dignity, there is an incremental increase in same-sex couples raising children. That’s probably the case. But with each scenario of added dignity, the children impacted are unique and that need to be evaluated in that context.

So, Senator Boswell, you need to be clear. What child are you talking about?

In the first of the above methods through which same-sex couples become parents, the children already have been deprived of a mother or a father. They have been deprived of both. So the choice is not between their parents and a gay couple, and very seldom is it between a straight couple and a gay couple. Considering the minuscule number of people lining up to raise other people’s children and the degree to which gay couples readily welcome children with limitations or difficulties, for this kid it is generally either gay parents or no parents at all.

So if it is this child of whom you speak, please explain how your assertion that that child’s “right to both a mother and a father” is to claimed. Unless you are proposing that the government foist this child upon some hapless heterosexual couple that doesn’t want it, it’s difficult to see how your principle comes into play. (And if that is your proposal, please do let the people know).

I don’t believe that children have a significant advantage in being raised by opposite sex parents. But that issue is irrelevant to the marriage question. If there is some assumption that for each child that would otherwise be raised by a same-sex couple, a happy healthy heterosexual family is waiting (an assumption that seems not to be shared by child welfare professionals, incidentally), then adoption law is the place where you resolve that matter.

If that is your belief, then you can see if you can get public support (and pass constitutional muster in your nation) and ban same-sex couples from adopting. But that has no bearing on whether or not they be allowed to marry.

And if you are going to allow them to adopt, surely for those children who have already been “deprived of a father or a mother” by being placed in a same-sex family it is not preferable or advantageous for those “deficient parent” to be disallowed such tools as could make better of a bad thing.

But perhaps you are speaking of the second method by which a child is raised by a same-sex couple. Perhaps it is either by divorce or separation that one partner acquired a child which they brought into the relationship.

But generally the child’s non-custodial parent is still in the picture (though they might have abdicated their role in the child’s life, or perhaps the died, or maybe they were captured and hauled away by space aliens). And I’m not sure what the solution might be nor how marriage law would complicate matters.

At the present, in most countries in which there is not strong bias against gay people, the courts will assign custody to the parent that is in the best interest of the child. And, I suppose, the laws could be changed such that the best interest of the child is disregarded and sexual orientation be the singular criterion (as some would like), but that would result in the child being raised by a less competent parent and still would not fulfill that child’s “right to both a mother and a father”.

I suppose that in a mixed-orientation divorce, it could be argued that the heterosexual parent has more potential to meet that child’s claim on a mother and a father, provided that step-parents count. But that is not at all related to the matter of whether the homosexual parent should be allowed to subsequently marry a person of the same sex.

If one prioritizes a child’s “right to both a mother and a father” over the best interest of the child, either allowing or preventing same-sex marriage will have no impact. That is a matter for family law courts, not a matter of allowing or disallowing same-sex marriage.

So, Senator Boswell, you must be speaking of the third entry method for children in a same-sex headed family.

You must be talking about those children who are brought into an existing same-sex families. Your concern must be about parents who went through a great deal of planning and considerable expense to bring this child into being.

Now we have nothing to suggest that these parents are any more or less likely to bring children into the world if they can marry. We do know that they take considerable steps to protect their children and to make sure that they have are not legally disadvantaged, to the extent possible. We know that such a decision is seldom hasty and never the result of a momentary passionate night of optimism.

But you may be correct: it is possible that marriage protections would encourage more same-sex couples to have children. The increased stability that comes from marriage’s legal rights and social support might be the determining factor in the decision of whether this couple will kids.

But it’s time to be specific, Senator. If the child about which you are concerned, the one who is being deprived of their right to a father and a mother, is the one brought into the world after careful planning and significant effort, say so. In fact, Senator, let’s not be vague and generic. Give me the name of a child that is in the scenario you are trying to prevent, one that is deprived of a mother and a father, and lets go talk to that child.

Because I want to be right there in the room with you when you look that kid in the face and tell her that she – and the society as a whole – would be better off if she had never been born.

Long lines and pickets at Hollywood Chick-Fil-A

Timothy Kincaid

August 1st, 2012

There aren’t many Chick-Fil-A locations in Los Angeles, so this one in Hollywood was the center for the Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day. I forwent my delightful Healthy Choice frozen meal (I wasn’t in the mood for “Country Breaded Chicken”) and went to see how things were going.

This was the view from the corner:

 

And anti-gays were lined up to show their animosity to equality. The drive-through line snaked through the parking lot and down the street. The man in the first truck in this picture drove in from Sylmar, about 18 miles away.

The woman on the corner seat straddling the post had just finished giving some sort of interview to the man in the plaid shirt. She works for a non-profit that helps out the homeless and hungry. I didn’t catch its name.

More jolly Chick-Fil-A patrons.

-

And a few more. There were far more drive-through customers than sit-down patrons.

For the most part it was a quiet ordeal. No furious ranting, no Bible waving, no screaming. The two fellows here on the left in the blue and taupe, however, argued the entire time I was there. Something about economic policy. I couldn’t figure out which was there to support whom but they certainly were enjoying themselves.


I left and swung by Jack in the Box for something called an All American Combo. It was delicious, but I don’t think my system was ready for two jumbo patties, 1,359 calories, and 80 grams of fat. I guess that means celery for dinner.

Game on, chickenboy

A Commentary

Timothy Kincaid

August 1st, 2012

 

Sarah Palin helps politicize eating at Chick-fil-a

Today is Chick-fil-a Appreciation Day and some half-million people have pledged to each fried chicken sandwiches out of appreciation for something or other. What that something or other consists of depends of how politically savvy the person interviewed happens to be. The less sophisticated are “standing up for what the Bible says”, though they are a bit at loss to know what it says as few have actually read the book. Those more sophisticated are “defending free speech” and “opposing the political correctness that is pervasive in our culture”. The strident few who genuinely think that they still have a chance of winning will talk about “defending the family and the biblical definition of marriage”.

Mike Huckabee, today’s sponsor, says

Let’s affirm a business that operates on Christian principles and whose executives are willing to take a stand for the Godly values we espouse by simply showing up and eating at Chick Fil-A on Wednesday, August 1.

You’ll notice that nowhere in his objection to “vicious hate speech and intolerant bigotry from the left” does he even mention exactly why Chick-fil-a is in the news. And no one, I repeat NO ONE, is “showing I’m opposed to those perverts” or even “fighting the homosexual agenda” (or, at least, not while the cameras are on).

And that is important – more important than today’s bump in sales for the chicken filleters. Today’s battle is over an issue that those who oppose us are afraid to articulate.

We’ve stayed out of the chicken wars. Mostly – for me, anyway – because it’s inconsequential and silly. What Dan Cathy said was offensive and his contributions to anti-gay groups long ago dissuaded me from eating at his fried chicken emporium. But they were not so far past the vale that most Americans would be shocked or horrified. He’s a “Standing up for Jesus and the Family” type of bigot, not a “God Hates Fags” type of bigot and most people don’t have a problem with personal belief, so long as they aren’t the Phelps’ brand.

And that’s one reason why social-position boycotts are largely ineffective.

While a hundred million Americans or so do not favor marriage equality, the National Organization for Marriage couldn’t get 50,000 people to pledge to stop drinking Starbucks Coffee. Because while they may not support equality, they don’t really care that you do. They aren’t going to stop lending their next door neighbor their lawnmower just because he has a “support Referendum 74″ sign on his lawn and they sure as hell aren’t going to give up frappe mochachinos. It’s just coffee, get over it.

So we have not joined any call to formally boycott Chick-fil-a.

Will I encourage you to make personal buying preferences? Absolutely. But I’m not signing on for some big media-driven, failure-destined, effort to convince the public that the organizations which Dan Cathy supports with the profits from his business are objectionable because they support the ex-gay ministry which is dangerous and ineffective and so, hey, wake up I’m still talking here.

And we aren’t alone. Other than a few well-intentioned souls on Facebook, no one else – GLAAD, HRC, prominent leaders – has been calling for a boycott. There have been efforts to educate, protesters, people debating on TV, but no boycott.

Until now.

Although none has been called, a “boycott” of sorts is under effect. And, oddly enough, it wasn’t supporters of marriage equality that have created this boycott.

Mike Huckabee has made a statement. He has caught the ear of the media. Today all the news outlets are reporting his Chick-fil-a Appreciation Day. It’s not some nameless protesters on some corner who turned the spotlight on Chick-fil-a’s anti-gay activism, it’s those who support it.

Eating at Chick-fil-a has now become politicized. It is a statement. And the statement is only vaguely about marriage. Eating at Chick-fil-a, especially today, says “I can’t come right out and say it, but I oppose homosexuality and the social inclusion of those who so engage”. It’s an unnamed, but well understood, declaration that you either support or oppose gay people being fully included members of society. At its core, the media stunt is all about being “pro-gay” or “anti-gay”.

And that is about the worst thing that could possibly happen for Chick-fil-a. The company has a new label: “the brand of choice for anti-gay people”.

Positions of opposition – and regardless of how it’s phrased, this is unquestionably a position of opposition – are hard to feel good about. One can “stand up for my side”, but a campaign of “I don’t like those people” leaves one feeling nasty and dirty and kind of like those people you saw when you were young and swore you’d never become. And that is exactly what Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin have created.

For such a campaign to work, Chick-fil-a would have to draw enough new consistent customers to make up for lost customers. There would have to be a majority (or sizable minority) of Americans who define themselves in terms of opposition to gay people. Those who run to buy their paper bag full of self-righteous arrogance and contempt for others today would need to sustain this drive far beyond one day and become day after day, year after year, chicken eaters.

That isn’t going to happen; these aren’t new customers; its just a political statement. And it’s a statement that can draw half a million people for one day, but one that is out of tune with the 75% or so of Americans who supported dropping Don’t Ask – Don’t Tell and the two thirds who think civil unions would be okay. It doesn’t even sit well with many who couldn’t find a gay issue they support but, well, they just don’t like to think of themselves as anti-anybody.

As Chick-fil-a’s champions clearly fail to understand, the lost customers are not just gay people, not just equality supporters, but also those who don’t wish to make a statement at all. While half of the country doesn’t fully support equality, few want to wear the “anti-gay” label. Most would be happy eating their chicken and a pickle on a buttered bun without a thought as to how it impacts their neighbors, but now they can’t. Anti-gay activists aren’t letting them.

So they won’t.

McDonald's alternative: Southern Style Crispy Chicken Sandwich

Chick-fil-a, from this day forward, has a subconscious association. It has a vague connection with politicians and television preachers and bigotry. And that vague subconscious association will cost them dearly. We need not boycott – and I very much hope that we do not. We don’t have to.

Mike Huckabee has shifted the game. There’s now a new definition of winning. We don’t have to illustrate a loss of business to show that some boycott is effective.

Rather, Huckabee has doubled-down and the risk is all his. If Chick-fil-a chugs on along, it says nothing about us; we didn’t boycott. If they lose business share, as I predict, it paints anti-gay activists as being cause for failure.

And that’s a “boycott” I can support: one which I don’t have to articulate or even support. One in which my opponent does all the work and takes all the risk and one that costs me nothing.

I can’t know for certain that the ill will created today will have sufficient impact to show up as a serious loss in long-term business. It may be that most Chick-fil-a customers are already part of a demographic that is comfortable with the anti-gay label. It may also be that Huckabee’s stunt will make too little impact and fade too quickly. But I think I can say with confidence that it will be a long time before a sizable chunk of the American public will consider Chick-fil-a in their fast-food choices and their growth potential has been severely curtailed.

So give today your best shot, Huckabee. Game on, chickenboy.

What they said…

Timothy Kincaid

June 25th, 2012

They said that if Don’t Ask – Don’t Tell was repealed that homosexuals would cause chaos for the Military and – if allowed to have their relationships recognized on base – would make a mockery of marriage in a holy space. (Army Times)

“We are so honored to be a part of this historic moment to be one of the first gay couples allowed to unite in a civil union on a military base,” the couple said in a statement after the ceremony.

“We hope to be an inspiration to others in the LGBT community that struggle with the challenge of marriage equality. And that this issue is not just about the military, but the equal sacrifice and shared burdens of our loved ones who are civilians.”

They said that chaplains were horrified and feared being pressured into performing marriages against their will.

It was presided over by Kay Reeb, a Navy chaplain with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, who also serves at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.

Reeb, who had never presided over a civil union ceremony before, said she was delighted to take part.

“I told them the same thing I tell every couple — love each other and trust in each other and in God, that’s what keeps us together,” he said.

They said that if allowed to serve openly, everyone would suffer: the heterosexuals who would be made uncomfortable and have their deep religious beliefs offended and the homosexuals who be subjected to abuse.

Air Force Capt. Ryan Quinn, who also attended the event, said he was “amazed by the beauty” of the ceremony.

“I really do think this is an important event. And I was happy to be here with them and their families,” he said. “The amount of support I’ve seen for them from the people (at the base) and the military community makes me proud to serve in the Air Force.”

Somehow, I think the changes we see for the better are due at least in part by people listening – and weighing – what they said.

How to recognize a homophobe

Timothy Kincaid

April 27th, 2012

Here at Box Turtle Bulletin we don’t throw around the term “homophobe”. People may have positions that differ with mine without holding personal animus and labeling them with a pejorative term pretty much precludes any future efforts to reach them with reason.

For example, many libertarian minded people may oppose non-discrimination policies not out of any personal desire to discriminate, but out of the desire to be free to do so without their government coming in and telling them that some hiring decisions are unacceptable. They might laugh at those who eliminate a qualified candidate due to race or orientation and figure that such decisions will hurt their business.

Others may seriously believe that marriage equality is a detriment to society, or are – at least presently – not yet ready to go as far as marriage. Yes, sometimes those objections are based in undue deference to tradition or to fear or even to prejudice, but that does not make them homophobes. For example, New Jersey Governor Christie opposes marriage equality, but still publicly advocates for civil unions and has no hesitation about socializing with gay people or appointing them to the supreme court. And I doubt anyone would describe President Obama as a homophobe.

But homophobes do exist. (And for the fools who say “homophobe means afraid of homosexuals and I’m not afraid of no pansies”, no, that isn’t what ‘homophobe’ means, you homophobe). And sometimes a situation arises that allows you to identify those who base their policies on principle and those who act out of animus.

Such a situation has arisen.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has selected Richard Grenell as his foreign policy spokesman. Grenell is gay and, as seems to be the case with virtually every gay person from the most liberal to what some call “sell-out quislings” (i.e. all gay people registered Republican), Grenell believes that gay citizens are entitled to the same rights and recognitions to marriage as heterosexual citizens.

To most Americans – hell, to most Republicans – this is not exactly worth noting. Republicans claim to support meritocracy and hire those who are best qualified without regard to race, religion, and sexual orientation – and most probably do (or, at least, have convinced themselves that they do). So for Romney to select Grenell, who served as Director of Communications and Public Diplomacy for the United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations under George W. Bush, is hardly an eyebrow raiser.

(And to be honest – okay, to be cynical – Romney’s opposition to marriage equality is probably as firmly committed as his opposition to mandated health care or any other position he happens to be espousing today. He seems to share with our current president – and most of our past ones – a strong devotion to whichever way the wind is blowing.)

But for some, hiring a gay man is unacceptable. Those folks are called homophobes.

Now 20 years ago homophobes would have railed about the homoSEEEXshulls infiltrating positions of power and proudly announced that they would have nothing to do with no perverts. Today that doesn’t sell well. So instead they come up with criteria that precludes hiring gay people and rant about that instead. It’s not their orientation that we object to, it’s their liberal anti-american position on fill in the blank.

For example, Matthew J. Franck – Director of the William E. and Carol G. Simon Center on Religion and the Constitution at the Witherspoon Institute – ranted in National Review.

Grenell has made a particular crusade of the marriage issue, with a kind of unhinged devotion that suggests a man with questionable judgment. And when the Obama State Department is already moving to elevate the gay-rights agenda to a higher plane than religious freedom in the foreign policy of the United States, it is reasonable to wonder whether Grenell, after taking such a prominent place in the Romney campaign’s foreign-policy shop, would be in line for an influential State posting where he could pursue his passion for that same agenda.

You see, it’s not him being gay or even supporting equality, it’s his unhinged devotion.

(To his credit, National Review columnist Kevin D. Williamson snarked all over Franck’s head: “…surely to preemptively attack an aide to Mitt Romney because he disagrees with you on a single issue — an issue that is not a very large part of the foreign-policy portfolio, one that ought to be about No. 13,479 on our national to-worry-about list — might to the uncharitable eye appear to be something like “unhinged devotion,” and in any case those of us who work at think tanks or journals of opinion might want to be a bit circumspect when arguing that a man should be distrusted because his devotion to a cause is too zealous.”)

Such a nice easy example: Matthew J. Franck is a homophobe.

He’s not alone, of course. Plenty of others, like American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer (who I really do believe is mentally ill) joined the fray. And, of course, there are haters of the other brand (Republiphobes?) who hate (yes, that is the accurate term) Grenell for his party affiliation (I suppose they absurdly believe that we are better served by having no gay people advise or have positions of power in Republican administrations – but we’ll save that for another time.)

For today, we’ll just note that Franck stands out as an excellent illustration on how to recognize a homophobe.

GLAAD regains focus with new accountability project

Timothy Kincaid

March 14th, 2012

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation has contributed mightily to the way in which gay and lesbian people are perceived and treated in society. Organized to oppose hysterical and defamatory coverage of the AIDS epidemic in the New York Post in 1985, GLAAD soon expanded to address media image in general and through its Hollywood office began to influence television and cinema. And few organizations can claim greater success.

Those who recall the public presentation of gay and lesbian people in the 80′s will recall that the rare gay person included in a news story or entertainment seemed to be a creature to pity or to scorn. Flamboyant – or sinister – this was the murderer, the molester, the schemer, or the freak. You could laugh at him or fear him (lesbians didn’t exist) but to empathize or in any way associate with him was unthinkable.

And every media story about gay people required a counterpoint of condemnation. Homosexuality was an “issue” so while coverage of the Lotus Festival and Octoberfest and St. Patrick’s Day Parade included information about attendance and events, the Pride Parades included the reminders that sin abounded.

Things have changed. Now, media is so careful of responsible presentation that it is rare that GLAAD has to publicly object about a television show or news coverage. In fact, public image of gay people has so shifted that a what might once have been thoughtless stereotyping of a gay man’s flamboyance now, in Eric Stonestreet’s playing of Cameron on Modern Family, is quirky and endearing. And even the Unification Church-owned Washington Times, the last significant hold-out, has agreed to refer to gay people as such rather than “homosexuals” (which, in the United States, had become a code word connoting disapproval).

And no where was GLAAD more successful than in Hollywood. In the 80′s and early 90′s, many a good Hollywood liberal would tell a reporter that they supported gay rights, but well when it came to actually being in the presence of both a gay person and a camera, well… there was their career to consider.

The early years of the GLAAD media awards were not well supported. Awards were given primarily on the basis of who would show up to receive one. And, considering that this was a laudable action, that wasn’t such a bad criterion. But thanks to hard work, committed support from people like producer Gary Marshall and the incomparable Elizabeth Taylor, gradually it because little risk to be seen at the show. By the mid 2000′s the GLAAD Media Awards was a must-show for studios and Hollywood insiders who used the opportunity to not only be counted among the “good guys” but also informally connect and network.

And their success was not accidental or incidental. GLAAD held themselves to an idea that seems to elude so many activist organizations: define your parameters and stay in them. GLAAD did media advocacy; not lobbying politicians, not supporting gay soldiers, and certainly not “supporting our comrades in the struggle”. Just media advocacy.

GLAAD also adopted another tactic that is seldom employed by activists (other than Log Cabin and other duel-identity groups). They were as quick to praise good behavior as to condemn bad. And when they went after a studio or a director or newspaper, there was a road to redemption. The horrible thing you did resulted in you being a “bad guy”; but if you would just meet with gay film students or spend time with lesbian victims of violence or headlined an AIDS event, you could not only stop the criticism but be praised as a hero.

And it worked.

But success is difficult for advocacy groups. What do you do when you accomplish your goals?

If you are a marriage equality group in a Vermont, you might disband. But if GLAAD folded tent then the next television season would have lovely little gems like this year’s “Work It” (which managed to offend both my values and my lenience towards stupid television) with no organized objection. Theirs is not a “mission accomplished” type of work.

Another problem came from GLAAD’s shift from gay activists to Hollywood players. Gradually GLAAD had become the group that you went to with a script to be sure you were not offensive, the organization who helped you be a good guy rather than slapped your hand when you were not. And with the increased profile of the Media Awards, their funding came more from studios and corporations than from gay people.

There is no question that it is better for our community to avoid defamation than to protest it. But to protect gay people, GLAAD needed to be connected to the gay community. And they found this challenging.

They tried to be media advisors to local marriage advocacy groups, but that only goes so far. And the behind the scenes work where they are so effective is invisible to the gay public.

Sadly, the few efforts they made were ill advised. For a while GLAAD became The Word Police but they were so out of touch that they chastised our friends and allies for using ‘bad words’, much to the consternation of the community. And seen as part of “Gay, Inc.”, they have become a group that appeared (wrongly) irrelevant and unnecessary.

Which has made me sad. I have an emotional investment in this group and tremendous respect for the work they have done. But when every dollar and every moment of time is essential, “what have you done for me lately” is not an invalid question.

So it is with pleasure and relief that I can report on a new project of GLAAD: the Commentator Accountability Project.

In what surely was a “duh” moment, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation decided to take on, of all things, defamation of gays and lesbians. Or, more specifically, they had decided that those who defame us and lie about us and take positions that are unconscionable towards us when they are in the safe confines of their own communities should not be free to pretend to be just ‘concerned citizens’ or ‘defenders of religious freedom’ when they go on news shows.

If you can say that gay people are a public health risk and that anti-bullying programs are an assault on religious freedom, then people who see you in a nice suit talking to the pretty lady on the boob tube about “protecting the people’s right to define marriage” deserve to know that you don’t represent their opinions at all. If you tell Aunt Thelma to send you money because gays hate Western Civilization and must be stopped before they enact their evil plan to destroy marriage and bring down the government, then you should explain to CNN just what that plan entails and how you came to know about it before you spout your equally-valid opinions about gays in the military.

Any reporter appreciates a tool that simplifies their research, and who better to track, compile, and report defamation than GLAAD? They already have the inroads with media, and they are seeking a partnership with that collection of unique individuals who – for reasons we will not dwell on – enjoy reading decades-old newsletters from obsolete local religious-right political groups: us bloggers.

This is a project that lies at the heart of their existence. So I commend GLAAD and congratulate them on regaining focus.

But, sadly, I can’t end this commentary there. I don’t think they’ve got a product that is ready for usage. While in time this should become a valuable tool, currently it lacks nuance and perspective.

Unforunately, GLAAD is utilizing the snip-quote method of criticism. They take one sentence out of context, assume that our objection reflects inherent offense, and ignore both motivation, implementation, and impact of that person’s views. The goal appears to be “make this person look bad” rather than an accurate portrayal and little effort seems to have gone into distinguishing credible respected voices from bit-players.

And some of the objectionable material is outdated and no longer reflects the speakers public positions. Does Maggie Gallagher still oppose non-discrimination policies like she did in 1996? Does that matter to why she would be invited?

The result is a listing that presents Scott Lively, who endorses execution of gay people, with Alan Chambers, who opposes sodomy laws. The president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Dr. Albert Mohler, who broke ranks recently to question the ‘no one is born gay’ mantra, is there with Joseph Farah, the wacky huckster who runs WorldNetDaily and published a series claiming that homosexuality is caused by soy products. Jim Daly, the president of mega-lobbyist Focus on the Family, is on the same page as two-second-sensation Frank Turek, the guy Bank of America dropped from presenting a ‘team building’ exercise when they found out that gay employees would not easily overlook his assertion that they hate the constitution. Maggie Gallagher, whose high-profile anti-gay activism has for years been limited to relationship recognition is cater-corner from Peter LaBarbera, the go-to guy for an over-the-top quote on all things homosexual who has little impact and less respect.

Each of these has said things that are offensive. Each has engaged in defamatory language. But without context or contrast the uninformed guest booker doesn’t find much guidance here.

I think it would be useful to know that when Dr. Mohler speaks about religious freedom, he does so from his concerns about how proposed changes will impact the abilities for his church or his fellow Southern Baptists to respond in certain ways, while when Bill Donohue speaks of religious freedom, he is using a rhetorical tool in defense of his church’s aggressive pro-active attack on the lives of gay people.

It is useful to know that Gallagher, though wrong, is articulate and presents a thoughtful argument while Brian Camenker is a loon that believes in conspiracy theories and thinks that Mitt Romney secretly supports gay marriage (ignore those legal scholars; Romney could have used an obscure article in the Massachusetts constitution to block it).

It might be important for an interviewer to know that David Barton’s anti-gay position is part of his belief that he is not only entitled but mandated by God to bring about theocracy and impose dominion over government and society, while Bishop Harry Jackson’s anti-gay position is heavily tied to his ideas about what it means to be a black man. This is not an immaterial difference.

This is not to suggest that they are “wrong”, just that while the tool holds promise, it needs further work. In current state it’s a hammer made of plaster of paris, the right shape but not yet functional.

So my congratulations and commendations to GLAAD are, for the moment, tempered. I am delighted to see them going in a direction of usefulness rather than nannyism and I look forward to the time (soon, I hope) when their Commentator Accountability Project is a tool I can use and recommend.

Too complicated for children to understand

Timothy Kincaid

February 28th, 2012

Anti-gays have an immense sense of entitlement. They should not ever have to be confronted with the fact that gay people exist, and especially not at a “family” venue like Disneyland, a park, a toy store, or anywhere else they drag their grubby little darling. Because the mere existence of a gay person will have catastrophic results to the psyche of children who will be forced to ask questions far beyond their age appropriateness.

You know, like:

Mommy, if neither of the women have a penis, how can they have penetration?

And what exactly is the proper anal cleaning process when that man gets ready for his husband?

And if Ellen keeps her hair short, never wears an dress and is married to Portia de Rossi but also is the spokesperson for a cosmetics company, does that make her lipstick or butch?

Clearly, such topics are just too complicated for children to understand. So it’s best if gay people are invisible where children might be present. Or so the AFA’s “Million” Moms have decided.

Thus, in the name of protecting the innocence of children, the Moms are protesting Toys “R” Us, a national toy retailer.

Select Toys ‘R’ Us stores are now selling ‘Archie’ comic books with a same-sex wedding displayed on the front cover. The front cover reads “Just Married” with two men marrying and one is wearing a service uniform. This comic book is being sold in select stores across the country. One example is the Queensbury, NY location in the upstate New York area.

Toys ‘R’ Us employees do not actually set up the displays; they leave this up to the vendor, but they should be aware of the merchandise being sold in their stores nonetheless. These comic books are sold at the front checkout counters so they are highly visible to employees, managers, customers and children. Unfortunately, children are now being exposed to same-sex marriage in a toy store. This is the last place a parent would expect to be confronted with questions from their children on topics that are too complicated for them to understand. Issues of this nature are being introduced too early and too soon, which is becoming extremely common and unnecessary.

A trip to the toy store turns into a premature discussion on sexual orientation and is completely uncalled for. Toys ‘R’ Us should be more responsible in the products they carry.

Personally, I think that if exposure to a comic book with two men marrying turns into an uncalled-for premature discussion on sexual orientation with your kids, someone should call social services. Because that’s not healthy parenting.

Yes, kids will ask questions. If they have been raised in a household without any exposure to gay people whatsoever, they may want to know why those men are holding hands and where are the brides. But it is not premature to respond with matter of fact, age appropriate answers, that explain the existence of men who like to hold hands with each other. Even when one is wearing a service uniform.

For example, a famous actor’s daughter tells about how her father explained about a family friend:

I was about eight or nine years old when I learned that some people are gay — although the word ‘gay’ wasn’t used in those years. I don’t remember what defining word was used, if any; what I do remember is the clear, smooth, non-judgmental way in which I was told. The scene took place in the den of my family’s Pacific Palisades home. My father and I were watching an old Rock Hudson and Doris Day movie. At the moment when Hudson and Doris Day kissed, I said to my father, “That looks weird.” Curious, he asked me to identify exactly what was weird about a man and woman kissing, since I’d certainly seen such a thing before. All I knew was that something about this particular man and woman was, to me, strange. My father gently explained that Mr. Hudson didn’t really have a lot of experience kissing women; in fact, he would much prefer to be kissing a man. This was said in the same tone that would be used if he had been telling me about people with different colored eyes, and I accepted without question that this whole kissing thing wasn’t reserved just for men and women.

See how easy it is? Nothing premature. Nothing inappropriate.

In fact, unless you have some compulsion to insist that the whole kissing thing is indeed reserved just for men and women, lest some vengeful god smite a rebellious nation, there’s no difficulty at all in explaining their existence. I’ll agree that words like abomination and perverse are difficult for children to comprehend, that notions that the couple picking out a toy for their child are destroying the sanctity of Mommy and Daddy’s marriage are complex indeed, and that it is far too soon to pull out the bogus ‘gay bowel syndrome’ hate speech and dump it on your kids.

But maybe, just maybe, you don’t have to pass on your bile to the next generation. Maybe, just maybe, you can use clear, non-judgmental, language and save all the fire and brimstone for when they are old enough to understand that Mommy is just a little bit off the deep end.

After all, if Ronald Reagan – the man you think is second only to Jesus – can explain gay people to an 8 year old Patti Davis in a child appropriate way, you can do likewise.

As a service to the anti-gays

Timothy Kincaid

February 1st, 2012

I know it is unfair of me to insist that anti-gays boycott every business that supports equality without at least offering them some other opportunities. So I have taken it upon myself to make some inquiries. And, assuming that I receive appropriate responses, I’ll be certain to let the anti-gays know of just which companies can be a suitable alternatives.

To Smith Corona

Hello,

A number of conservative organizations are currently upset that significant manufacturers of computers and operating systems – including Microsoft and Apple – have taken public positions in favor of allowing same-sex couples to marry. They are seeking to boycott, but are having difficulty finding alternatives.

I would like to recommend that they use the manual typewriter as an option for their word processing, but before I do so I want to make certain that there are typewriter manufacturers who have not expressed support for same-sex marriage.

I understand that you no longer manufacture typewriters but do provide supplies. But before I offer this option, can you please let me know whether or not your company has taken a position on the matter.

To Crosley Appliances

Hello,

A number of conservative organizations are currently upset that significant communications providers – including Google and Apple – have taken public positions in favor of allowing same-sex couples to marry. They are seeking to boycott, but are having difficulty finding alternatives.

I would like to recommend that they use the rotary telephone as an option for their communication needs, but before I do so I want to make certain that there are rotary telephone manufacturers who have not expressed support for same-sex marriage.

I know that you manufacture the Crosley Desk Phone (CR 58-IV). But before I offer this option, can you please let me know whether or not your company has taken a position on the matter.

To Central Tools

Hello,

A number of conservative organizations are currently upset that significant manufacturers of computers and operating systems – including Microsoft and Apple – have taken public positions in favor of allowing same-sex couples to marry. They are seeking to boycott, but are having difficulty finding alternatives.

I would like to recommend that they use the slide rule as an option for their calculating, but before I do so I want to make certain that there are slide rule manufacturers who have not expressed support for same-sex marriage.

I know that you manufacture the Central Tools 65060 Caliper Slide Rule. But before I offer this option, can you please let me know whether or not your company has taken a position on the matter.

Bulgarian Culture Minister’s unique perspective

Timothy Kincaid

January 6th, 2012

The Bulgarian Culture Minister, Vezhdi Rashidov, has demeaned the gay community in comments to a magazine. Well, actually, he pretty much demeaned everyone and with a flair that leaves American homophobes looking dowdy and uncreative. (novinite.com)

“I find the gays to be the most unpleasant community, since they combine the worst qualities of women and the most despicable qualities of men,” Rashidov has told Biograph.

Rashidov’s revelation came after he was asked whether he behaves in an authoritative manner towards women.

“I am not a domineering person, but I have a strong personality. I love it when women have a womanly nature…I can’t stand it when a woman looks like a transvestite,” the Culture Minister also said.

Rashidov, a prominent sculptor, remarked that he was the only contemporary Bulgarian artist whose work has never included the female body.

“I have always been attracted to drastic things,” he admitted.

The Minister revealed that he draws portraits of people he loves in his spare time, including Al Pacino, John Lennon and Hristo Stoichkov.

I have no idea what to say. But I am getting a mental image of a closet door festooned with pink lights and rhinestones.

Big Centralized Government is a Michigan Republican Value

Timothy Kincaid

December 27th, 2011

The Michigan Republican Party claims the usual litany of principles that most state Republican Party organizations claim. Their listing of beliefs speak a great deal about equality and nearly every point uses the word “individual”. The two beliefs that stand out as defining characteristics of Republicans, those that really differentiate from Democrats, are probably the following:

I BELIEVE the proper role of government is to provide for the people only those critical functions that cannot be performed by individuals or private organizations, and that the best government is that which governs least.

I BELIEVE the most effective, responsible and responsive government is government closest to the people.

Reading the full eight statements of belief, one might believe that Michigan Republicans believe in small government, individual self-determination, and equality under the law. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In reality, Michigan Republicans believe in utilization of state power to coerce compliance by counties and local governments, dictated values, and a class system based on religious dogma. And nothing illustrates that truth more effectively than House Bills 4770 and 4771.

The synopsis of HB 4770 pretty much says everything that needs to be known about its intent or the mentality of those who passed it:

A bill to prohibit public employers from providing certain benefits to public employees.

This bill prohibits local governmental employers – county, state, fire departments, etc. – from providing local governmental employees – librarians, firemen, teachers, lifeguards, etc. – with benefits under certain conditions. It removes from the ‘government closest to the people’ the ability to make decisions that reflect the values and needs of the people and puts the state in the position of dictating the terms and conditions of local employment contracts.

Specifically, the Public Employee Domestic Partner Benefit Restriction Act (yes, this really is it’s name), dictates that “a public employer shall not provide medical benefits or other fringe benefits for an individual currently
residing in the same residence as an employee of the public employer” unless they are an opposite-sex spouse or a dependent (or an intestate successor). Those gay employees of villages or towns who receive the same compensation package as their heterosexual office-mates will now be stripped of a portion of their pay.

The sole purpose is to impose the beliefs of the state legislators onto those municipalities that do not share their beliefs. Unable to convince local communities to engage in anti-gay discrimination, Republican legislators will now use the power of the state to force them to do so.

Companion bill HB 4771 adds the following language into the collective bargaining law: “(11) Health insurance or other fringe benefits for any coresident of an employee of a public employer on terms that conflict with the Public Employee Domestic Partner Benefit Restriction Act.”

I will give them this much: they are not pretending that this bill is anything other than what it is. As the bill puts it, “that group of employees” is it’s target. And while the bill would strip unmarried heterosexual couples eligible for domestic partner benefits (should any municipality provide such coverage), there’s no pretense that this is not a blatant attempt to strip gay people of equal pay.

Earlier this month, the Republican majorities in the House and Senate passed HB 4770 and 4771 on a party line vote (with the support of one Democrat) and on Thursday, Governor Rick Snyder (R) signed the bills into law.


[L]ead sponsor Rep. David Agema, R-Grandville, praised the governor’s decision, saying, “Time and again, Michigan residents have said ‘no’ to paying for the health benefits of the roommates and unmarried partners of public employees, and the governor’s signature today gives the people’s voice the rule of law.”

I don’t know of any municipalities that provide domestic partnership benefits to roommates and I don’t think Agema does either. Rather, I suspect that is just his way of demeaning gay people by pretending to think that long-term committed same-sex relationship are just “roommates”. Having imposed his religious views on those who do have different beliefs, he now is blaring his contempt for you.

And Agema is quite clear that it is truly his intention to impose his religion on the land, regardless of the beliefs or desires of others. Describing himself as a servant of “God, family, and country” (in that order) Agema runs Saboath House Ministries, a dominionist organization.

In today’s language, Sabaoth means “Taking Back God’s Property”. That is what Sabaoth Ministries is all about…going into the city and taking back God’s property.

Looking back over the past few years, it is clear that Michigan Republicans have become increasingly known for their anti-gay activism (and bizarre antics). Which is fine, I suppose. If the Michigan Republican Party truly wishes to be the political vehicle for extremist dominionists who seek to impose a talibanish form of theocracy, then they should have the right to present those views. If they want to be the party of strong centralized government and dictated social policy, that’s their right.

But I do object to them claiming to be the opposite. It’s time they give up the pretense of favoring the rights of the individual or the principle of smaller, local, less intrusive government.

GOProud becomes even less gay

Timothy Kincaid

December 15th, 2011

GOProud is a rightwing political organization masquerading as a gay group. Yes, there are gay members – at least three – but their goals, intentions, and actions reveal them to be interested in gay issues only in the context of how they can be spun for partisan advantage.

Indeed, the irony of their existence can be seen in their self description: “GOProud represents gay conservatives and their allies.” Implicit in that definition is the understanding that by “conservatives”, GOProud means social conservatives generally and advocates of anti-gay policies specifically. While they claim to be “committed to a traditional conservative agenda that emphasizes limited government, individual liberty, free markets and a confident foreign policy” their alliances and admiration are restricted to those who oppose individual liberty and they have disdain for any whose beliefs in limited government cause them to see DOMA as a violation of freedom that strikes at the core of the US Constitution and who is dedicated to seeing it stricken down.

GOProud is an organization that sees itself primarily in terms of what it is not. And number one to its member is their identity as NOT being part of what they call “the Gay Left”, a moniker they apply to anyone regardless of their place on the political spectrum who believes that gay people are equal and that such a notion is worth fighting for. To GOProud, I am the Gay Left, the writers at the Independent Gay Forum are the Gay Left, all Europeans regardless of ideology (or sexuality) are the Gay Left, and if you read Box Turtle Bulletin, you too are the Gay Left. In fact, it would seem that the only gay people who are not the Gay Left would be the handful (I count three) of gay people involved with the loud but irrelevant group itself.

GOProud is also NOT the Log Cabin Republicans. In fact, GOProud is so much NOT Log Cabin that they split from Log Cabin over that organization’s priorities. You see, Log Cabin didn’t see much value to, say, lobbying Congress in favor of second amendment rights, though most members do hold those rights as valuable. Rather, they put their emphasis in explaining, clarifying, lobbying and seeking to influence those who they agree with on gun rights on issues about which they are better acquainted, i.e. gay rights.

So these fellows left to start GOProud, organization that is comprised mostly of gay men but which doesn’t want to talk about gay issues but instead wants to lobby on other issues like gun rights but doesn’t want to join a gun rights group choosing instead to be a gay group but not gay first but Republican first but not like that other gay group with is really pro-gay but instead we are the ones who don’t want to get along Democrats at all ever and if they support something we promise to criticize it and be really good and never ever criticize a conservative Republican no matter what he says or does and we promise to call any pro-gay Republicans “squishy” or RINO or anything else you want so please please love us please.

In case you haven’t caught on, I don’t have much respect for the group. As of today I have even less.

GOProud has imploded. It had to happen eventually. When an organization is created solely so it’s members can behave like 13 year old boys, it’s inevitable that they will. And this week leaders Jimmy LaSalvia and Chris Barron proved that true.

Rick Perry killed any vestige of hope of being President by running an amazingly homophobic ad. But the most interesting part of that story was about how Perry’s advisors were not of one mind on the ad. Specifically, Anthony Fabrizio went public with his opposition – something I can’t recall from an active part of a candidate’s team.

GOProud’s response was to out Fabrizio.

Now a part of me would like to give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe DiSalvia and Barron were not trying to punish Fabrizio for rocking the boat. Maybe.

In response to a virulently homophobic ad by presidential candidate Rick Perry, Jimmy LaSalvia and Chris Barron outed Perry campaign consultant Anthony Fabrizio as being gay, saying it was “the height of hypocrisy for Tony Fabrizio to have been a part of that.” Follow up by the Washington Post found that Fabrizio was not “a part of that” and that the ad was created over his objections. To which LaSalvia and Barron responded that “he should have quit”.

In consequence, conservative prankster Andrew Brietbart quit as an advisor to GOProud. He, like myself, opposes outing (though I suspect for different reasons). And then the Board issued a statement opposing outing.

And finally, Chris Barron stepped down from his role as Chairman of the board. In his place, the board has appointed Lisa de Pasquale, a far right social conservative activist, to head the organization.

I don’t know de Pasquale’s orientation. The only references google gave for “Lisa de Pasquale” and “lesbian” were nasty comments she’d written which clearly suggest that she sees lesbians as inherently objectionable.

If de Pasquale is lesbian, she is of the closeted variety. The nasty vicious hateful closeted variety.

Which makes GOProud accomplish something I would have thought unlikely a week ago: become even less relevant.

Sure gay groups have straight members. Some are in leadership. And that is part of inclusiveness.

But when you choose a not-openly-gay person to head the board because you don’t actually have any other gay people, you don’t get to call yourself a gay group anymore.

At this point I think perhaps we should treat GOProud like PFOX: an irrelevant group claiming to represent people who don’t know or care that they exist.

Jimmy and Chris, your little stunt was fun while it lasted, but it’s time you just went home and did something productive with your lives.

[Revised to correct the timeline on the outing of Tony Fabrizio]

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