Box Turtle Bulletin

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Posts for December, 2013

Bryan Fischer Celebrates

Jim Burroway

December 20th, 2013

 

Bryan Fischer Cheers Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality BIll

Jim Burroway

November 25th, 2012

And he’s having “the Father of the Ugandan Homosexual Movement” — whatever that means — on his show tomorrow. We can expect that Lively will likely endorse Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill, especially now that there are unconfirmed rumors that the death penalty will be removed. (Don’t believe those rumors until you see it in writing. They’ve tried to pull that lie many, many times before, and Lively was happy to play along.)

Which “Good People” Did the Boy Scout’s Double Super-Secret Panel Talk To?

Jim Burroway

July 18th, 2012

Well, for one, Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association, an SPLC-certified hate group. Jeremy Hooper has this clip of Fischer bragging about getting a call from “Boy Scouts headquarters”:

So many of you called that I got a call from the Boy Scout Headquarters. “Call off the dogs! We’re not going to do it! We’re not going to change our standards. And now we find out today that what we were told… You know that the head of the boy scouts called me, and called me after the program from Boy Scout headquarters and… it’s a testament to your listening audience how many of them have called in, we’re not doing a poll and we’re not thinking about changing the policy. And today we get official confirmation, unanimously, this panel decides that the Boy Scouts are going to maintain their ban. We are fighting a winnable war.

Romney Talks Marriage at Liberty U, With a Shout-Out to Rick Santorum

Jim Burroway

May 12th, 2012

Gov. Mitt Romney gave a shout-out to Sen. Rick Santorum during today’s commencement address at the late Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA:

The power of these values is evidenced by a Brookings Institution study that Senator Rick Santorum brought to my attention.  For those who graduate from high school, get a full-time job, and marry before they have their first child, the probability that they will be poor is 2%.  But, if those things are absent, 76% will be poor.  Culture matters.

As fundamental as these principles are, they may become topics of democratic debate.  So it is today with the enduring institution of marriage.  Marriage is a relationship between one man and one woman.

Those were just two of Romney’s applause lines today, the second one earning him an standing-O. By the way, when I typed that last sentence, I miss-typed “applause” and my spellcheck suggested changing it to “appease.” My iMac may be trying to insert its own commentary into this post, but I think it’s not as smart as it thinks it is. Not if the AFA’s Bryan Fischer is any indication:

Bryan Fischer: "Mitt's speech at Liberty: did not hurt him with evangelicals, did not help him. Needle didn't budge."

GOP Pollster: Time To Evolve

Jim Burroway

May 12th, 2012

Jan van Lohuizen is a Republican pollster who worked on President George W. Bush’s 2004 campaign. He is also the GOP’s Daniel reading the writing on the wall when he sent memo out yesterday to Republican operatives with an overview of poll numbers on marriage equality and suggestions on how the GOP should address same-sex marriage if it wants to stay relevant. You can read the entire memo here.

Van Lohuizan notes that through 2009, the uptick in support for same-sex marriage was at a rate of about 1% per year. Beginning in 2010, there was a noticeable elbow in the curve, with support for marriage equality increasing by approximately 5% per year on average. And while that support is greater among Democrats and Independents than Republicans, support is growing in GOP ranks as well, with a majority of registered Republicans supporting a growing list of protections for gays and lesbians.

Van Lohuizan has a come up with a list of talking points which he thinks that Republican candidates ought to adopt if they want to stay relevant, beginning with:

“People who believe in equality under the law as a fundamental principle, as I do, will agree that this principle extends to gay and lesbian couples; gay and lesbian couples should not face discrimination and their relationship should be protected under the law. People who disagree on the fundamental nature of marriage can agree, at the same time, that gays and lesbians should receive essential rights and protections such as hospital visitation, adoption rights, and health and death benefits.”

This is somewhat similar to Gov. Mitt Romney’s talking points following President Barack Obama’s announcement that he supports full marriage equality. The main difference is that Romney reiterates his opposition both to marriage equality and to civil unions which would approximate marriage equality. Van Loguizan’s suggested talking points addresses neither. But he does explain to the GOP under the guise of another talking point why the party is going to have to change it’s approach to gay people sooner rather than later:

“As more people have become aware of friends and family members who are gay, attitudes have begun to shift at an accelerated pace. This is not about a generational shift in attitudes, this is about people changing their thinking as they recognize their friends and family members who are gay or lesbian.”

Meanwhile, Sen. Rick Santorum has some very different advice for Romney. Santorum told an Arknsas television station that Romney needed to “tep up and take advantage of a president who is very much out of touch with the values of America.”:

“Hopefully Governor Romney will continue to stand tall for his position on this issue and understand how detrimental it would be for society for it to have this changed,” Santorum also told the Arkansas station.

“Governor Romney has to talk about his values,” he added. “That’s the most important thing.”

AFA’s Bryan Fischer expands on that advice here.

Fear the Fischer: AFA’s Spokesman Calls Romney To Heel Again

A commentary.

Jim Burroway

May 4th, 2012

On April 26, the very day when Gov. Mitt Romney’s openly gay foreign policy spokesman Richard Grenell was muzzled during an important foreign policy conference call with reporters, American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer told his national radio audience that if Romney wants to win in November, “you had better start listening to me.” According to Republican insiders speaking to reporters at several news outlets, it looks like that’s more or less what the Romney campaign was doing. And so on Tuesday when news of Grenell’s resignation broke, Fischer made a victorious prediction:

And here’s what’s important. This is why it’s important that I take Gov. Romney on, that we as a pro-family movement take Gov. Romney on, is I will flat-out guarantee you he is not going to make this mistake again. There is no way in the world that Mitt Romney is going to put a homosexual activist in any position of importance in his campaign.

Today, Bryan Fischer, whose campaign to force Grenell off of Romney’s campaign resulted in that campaign stuffing Grenell in a different sort of closet, is not just claiming credit for Grenell’s departure. He is now extending that credit to the Romney campaign itself:

Richard Grenell, the homosexual marriage crusader Mitt Romney hired to be his foreign policy spokesman, is gone because Romney wanted him gone. Romney’s camp said not a single solitary word in his defense when the issue of his gay activism was raised.

They slapped duct tape on his mouth to keep him from saying a word, even on a conference call he himself organized (some “spokesman,” eh?), then remained studiously silent until he got the message and fell on his sword.

Whatever anyone may think of Fischer, his recounting is events does seem to match up with what many others within the Republican party are saying privately. Romney’s mistake is that he thinks that he can wait out the likes of Bryan Fischer, which anyone with a passing familiarity with anti-gay activists knows is astoundingly naive. And as if that point needed any proof, Fischer is again furious over Romney’s milquetoast attempt at defending Grenell on Fox News earlier this morning, which Fischer calls a “tripple Etch-A-Sketch moment”:

1. Throw conservatives under the bus by hiring Grenell as a shout-out to the homosexual lobby.

2. Throw Grenell under the bus when supporters of natural marriage complain.

3. Then throw conservatives under the bus again to give another shout-out to the homosexual lobby.

You can get whiplash trying to stay up with this guy.

Fischer is calling Romney to heel again, this time demanding that Romney publicly answers whether he agrees with the Mormon church’s position that homosexuality is sinful. Clearly Fischer is not going to allow one inch of wiggle room for Romney’s half-hearted stab at pivoting to the middle. And if this episode is any indication, Romney’s not going to struggle very hard. Romney’s whole campaign has been an exercise in ceding power to the most radical voices of his party. Fischer brags that he can effectively call the shots on who the Romney campaign can hire, and so far his boast appears to be correct. And Fischer’s still not satisfied.

And by the way, Romney is scheduled to speek at Liberty University a week from tomorrow. Which means that he has at least another whole week of cowering to the radical right.

Did Grenell Jump or Was He Pushed?

This post has been updated with more information from the New York Times and Talking Points Memo

Jim Burroway

May 3rd, 2012

Or did he just simply let go?

On April 19 when Gov. Mitt Romney named Richard Grenell, a longtime GOP communications strategist as his national security and foreign policy spokesman, conservative blogger Andrew Sullivan hailed the announcement as “a real outreach to gay Republicans” while Karen Ocamb said is marks “the day Romney pivots to appeal to mainstream voters for the general election.”

But if that was a pivot, it ended Tuesday when Grenell resigned from the campaign. His very brief announcement hinted at why he left such a high-profile post in a national presidential campaign: “My ability to speak clearly and forcefully on the issues has been greatly diminished by the hyper-partisan discussion of personal issues that sometimes comes from a presidential campaign.”

What “hyper-partisan” discussions was he referring to? At first, some speculated that it may have been related to the initial criticisms from pundits and bloggers over provocative Twitter posts that he made about Rachel Maddow’s appearance, Newt Gingrich’s wife Calista’s appearance, Hillary Clinton’s appearance, Michele Obama’s accent, and other snarky tweets. But it quickly seemed unlikely that those criticisms led to Grenell’s sudden departure. Most of them came from left-of-center and beyond, which Republicans tend to wear as a badge of honor (as many Democrats do with criticism from the right). And besides, by April 22 when Grenell deleted some 800 tweets and took his personal web site offline, those criticisms were already loosing traction. The world quickly moved on to the next outrage.

Well, most of the world anyway. One key component of the restive GOP base didn’t. SPLC-certified hate-artist Bryan Fischer of American Family Association called Grenell’s appointment “a deliberate poke in the eye” to Christian conservatives, and mounted a campaign for Grenell’s removal with a six-point list of demands for Gov. Romney. Family “Research” Council warned that Grenell’s support for same-sex marriage would have him lobbying “for foreign policy more in line with the current administration than the last Republican one.” National Review’s Matthew Franck wrote that Grenell supported marriage equality “with a kind of unhinged devotion that suggests a man with questionable judgment.” He even suggested that Grenell’s gayness would cause him to turn traitor to the Republican cause and switch teams if Obama were to come out for same-sex marriage.

Those criticisms apparently spooked and paralyzed the Romney campaign. Andrew Sullivan did some “actual reporting from yours truly” and got to the bottom of Grenell’s resignation:

It seems clear from sources close to Grenell and reporters on the foreign policy beat that his turning point came last week. He’d been part of organizing a conference call to respond to Vice President Biden’s foreign policy speech, now known best for the “big stick” remark. So some reporters were puzzled as to why Grenell, a week into his job as Romney’s national security spokesman, was not introduced by name as part of the Romney team at the beginning of the call, and his voice completely absent from the conversation. Some even called and questioned him afterwards as to why he was absent. He wasn’t absent. He was simply muzzled. For a job where you are supposed to maintain good relations with reporters, being silenced on a key conference call on your area of expertise is pretty damaging. Especially when you helped set it up.

Sources close to Grenell say that he was specifically told by those high up in the Romney campaign to stay silent on the call, even while he was on it. And this was not the only time he had been instructed to shut up. Their response to the far right fooferaw was simply to go silent, to keep Grenell off-stage and mute, and to wait till the storm passed. But the storm was not likely to pass if no one in the Romney camp was prepared to back Grenell up. Hence his dilemma. The obvious solution was simply to get Grenell out there doling out the neocon red meat — which would have immediately changed the subject and helped dispel base skepticism. Instead the terrified Romneyites shut him up without any actual plan for when he might subsequently be able to do his job. To my mind, it’s a mark of his integrity that he decided to quit rather than be put in this absurd situation. And it’s a mark of Romney’s fundamental weakness within his own party that he could not back his spokesman against the Bryan Fischers and Matthew Francks.

This confirms what the Washington Post learned shortly after Grenell’s resignation, when Jennifer Rubin wrote: “The ongoing pressure from social conservatives over his appointment and the reluctance of the Romney campaign to send Grenell out as a spokesman while controversy swirled left Grenell essentially with no job.” She later reported that many members of the campaign privately reached out to Grenell over the weekend to try to persuade him from resigning, but they were unsuccessful. She then reiterated the root of the problem: “Despite the controversy in new media and in conservative circles, there was no public statement of support for Grenell by the campaign and no supportive social conservatives were enlisted to calm the waters.”

[Update: The New York Times this morning has more. During that foreign policy conference call:

It turned out he was at home in Los Angeles, listening in, but stone silent and seething. A few minutes earlier, a senior Romney aide had delivered an unexpected directive, according to several people involved in the call.

“Ric,” said Alex Wong, a policy aide, “the campaign has requested that you not speak on this call.” Mr. Wong added, “It’s best to lay low for now.”

For Mr. Grenell, the message was clear: he had become radioactive.

After interviewing more than a dozen aids and advisers, The Times describes the episode as "halting attempts by the campaign to manage its relationship with the most conservative quarter of the Republican Party."

"It’s not that the campaign cared whether Ric Grenell was gay,” one Republican adviser said. “They believed this was a nonissue. But they didn’t want to confront the religious right.”]

This leaves many wondering if there is any room for gay Republicans in visible positions. GOPRoud’s Jimmy LaSilva said, “This was an opportunity to send an important message that Mitt Romney wants everybody to get behind him and to support his campaign. They let that opportunity pass.” [Update: Go Proud's Christopher Barron added, "It doesn’t bode well for the Romney campaign going forward if they couldn’t stand up to the most outrageous attacks about him being gay.” Fred Karger, who ran against Romney as an openly gay candidate told TPM,

"It’s going to be difficult for Romney to take other steps like this. And that’s what’s really frightening to me. It’s just too tough to stand up to these groups because they have a lot of money and power. You’ve got to be able to do that, that’s leadership.”]

Sullivan was more direct:

So if all gay Republicans who support marriage equality are banned even from speaking on other topics entirely (like Iran or Afghanistan, where Grenell is a fire-breather), who’s left? The answer, I’m afraid, is no one. Grenell was prepared to stay silent on gay issues entirely and do his job. But that wasn’t enough. Romney’s anti-gay agenda is therefore deeper and more extreme than Bush’s.

Meanwhile, AFA’s Bryan Fischer is declaring Grenell’s resignation a huge win. With continued silence from the Romney camp, this leaves likes of Fischer to operate as the de-facto gatekeepers of acceptable members of the Romney campaign — and perhaps even of a Romney administration.

Bad Christian B*tches? OneMillionMoms vs. GCB

Jason Cianciotto

March 16th, 2012

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of all contributors to Box Turtle Bulletin.

Update: OnMillionMoms has posted a new alert claiming that “most of last week’s sponsors…did not sponsor this week’s episode.” While the reasoning behind any change in advertising is unclear, GCB’s ratings did drop from 7 million to 6.33 million viewers and to a share of 5 in the 18-49 demographic. By comparison, the highest rated show last Sunday evening was “Once Upon a Time,” which attracted 8.6 million viewers and an 8 share of the coveted 18-49 demographic. Given the content of “Once Upon A Time,” which includes witchcraft, murder and adultery, I’m surprised OMM hasn’t targeted it as well. However, since the show does not poke fun at the hypocrisy of the religious right, maybe I shouldn’t be so surprised…

One million moms are on the march again. Well, not literally.

The conservative group OneMillionMoms (OMM) has abandoned its unsuccessful attempt to oust Ellen Degeneres as the spokesperson for JC Penny, targeting the advertisers for ABC’s new hit show, “GCB.”

According to the group, “OMM is disgusted with the new program…which is blasphemy at its worst! It is based on the book “Good Christian B*tches”…[and]…blasphemes God…”

Blasphemy is the act of speaking sacrilegiously. If the definition fit, OMM would have good reason to target GCB. Freedom of religion is a human right that should be protected from defamation, whether Christian- or any other faith-bashing.

However, the devil is in the details for the fundamentalists at OMM, who are missing a critical difference: GCB does not mock Christians. It mocks those who blaspheme Christianity, abusing it as a justification for hypocrisy.

This may be hitting too close to home for OMM, a subgroup of the American Family Association (AFA), an organization on the “frontlines [sic] of America’s culture wars.”

Labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the “sins” perpetrated by AFA’s spokespeople include calling Islam “the spirit of Satan,” claiming that “homosexuality gave us Adolf Hitler,” and stating in a recent Twitter post that efforts to mandate insurance coverage for contraception are “totalitarianism on hormones.”

Like the wealthy characters in GCB, the AFA ignores the commandment to “love thy neighbor” in exchange for a religion that not only justifies defamation, but also is very profitable. AFA reported over $19 million in revenue in 2010.

ABC is clearly luring its “Desperate Housewives” audience with a neighborhood populated by wealthier, Texas socialites. These ‘Christians’ are still angry about how they were treated in high school by Amanda, the protagonist, who returns home to live with her mother after her Ponzi-scheming, adulterous husband dies.

This “come to Jesus” experience converts Amanda to a life that honors real moral values like supporting her children through hard,  honest work—even if it’s in a Hooters-like restaurant called “Boobylicious.”

Despite Amanda’s genuine efforts to make amends, her neighbors respond with anything but forgiveness. Altered by plastic surgery and dressed in the finest stereotype of gold-plated, gun-wielding, Texas couture, these characters use Bible verses like bullets to rhetorically inflict vengeful wounds that, while not mortal, are always aimed at the heart.

The Lord saith “vengeance is mine,” but these Texans have selectively forgotten that verse, which is precisely the point.

Trading gun for Bible verse slinging, the ladies attempt to “out-Christian” each other, leading to outrageous displays of hypocrisy. For example, After Amanda revealed during ‘prayer’ before the congregation that Boobylicious is actually owned by Carlene, GCB’s villainess, Carlene is too bedridden with embarrassment to attend church the following Sunday.

Holding his Bible, her husband offers spiritual support. “There is nothing in this book that says you can’t own a boobie bar.”  Paraphrasing Proverbs 31, he continues, “You are a virtuous woman, priceless beyond rubies.”

After a friend offers to sing this week’s choir solo in her place, Carlene is far more motivated to go to church, jumping out of bed and yelling for her maid, “Carmelita get in here! The show must go on! Where are my rubies?”

While OMM is blind to its hypocrisy, the abuse of religion that occurs at the intersection of faith, money, and politics is obvious to many Americans and to GCB’s heroine. “God, she’s such a Pharisee,” laments Amanda, comparing Carlene to the legalistic religious leaders chastised by Jesus.

“Well, someone’s been reading her new testament,” replies her mother.

“No, I just googled ‘hypocrisy,’” quips Amanda.

As the series progresses, I think Amanda will continue to struggle with what it means to be a real Christian, while Carlene demeans salvation into an excuse for behavior that is anything but loving.

In the mean time, OMM continues to target the show’s advertisers. In a recent update, the group claimed “victory,” including a purported direct quote from Kraft foods. “Philadelphia [cream cheese] has decided to pull its advertising from GCB … We have received complaints from consumers and their opinions about our advertising are important to us.”

However, Kraft’s response to a GCB supporter was entirely different. “The brand has decided to redirect advertising to other programs with an established audience…. [T]his decision was not linked in any way to the content of this particular show.”

So much for the commandment to not bear false witness.

GCB puts religious hypocrisy on display before over 7 million viewers, according to the show’s latest ratings. Perhaps that’s the real reason OneMillionMoms is so upset. GCB lifts the proverbial choir robe worn by these modern-day Pharisees, and what’s underneath ain’t pretty.

Bryan Fischer Wants To Put Everyone In Jail

Jim Burroway

October 14th, 2011

At least he’s not just picking on gay people:

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These are behaviors that can be made illegal, and should be made illegal: those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral – that means it’s perfectly appropriate to have laws against what the law calls fornication, absolutely appropriate to make that illegal; men who practice homosexuality, perfectly permissible – in fact, we’re directed, we’re told in the Scriptures that it’s a good idea, this is the purpose of the law, it’s for the lawless and disobedient to engage in homosexuality – it’s perfectly appropriate for that kind of behavior to be against the law.

Bryan Fischer: “Homosexual Agenda” is America’s “Greatest Threat”

Jim Burroway

October 9th, 2011

Bryan Fischer, who followed GOP presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney to the podium during yesterday’s Values Voter Summit, delivered some of that poisonous language which Romney denounced.  Right Wing Watch has posted his entire talk here. During this portion of his speech, Fischer denounced “the homosexual agenda” as the “greatest greatest immediate threat to every freedom and right that is enshrined in the First Amendment”:

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I believe we need a president who understands that just as Islam represents the greatest long range threat to our liberty, so the homosexual agenda represents the greatest immediate threat to every freedom and right that is enshrined in the First Amendment. It’s a particular threat to religious liberty….

We need a president who understands that every advance of the homosexual agenda comes at the expense of religious liberty. We need a president who understands that we must choose as a nation between homosexuality and liberty, because we cannot have both. A president who understands that we must choose between homosexuality and liberty, and who will choose liberty every time.

Mitt Romney Mildly Scolds Bryan Fischer

Jim Burroway

October 9th, 2011

The American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer, who has stated that the First Amendment’s religious freedoms should only apply to Evangelical Christians and not to Mormons or Muslims, was given a very visible speaking slot at yesterday’s Values Voter Summit immediately following GOP presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Romney just happens to be one of those Mormons that Fischer believes isn’t protected by the First Amendment. Romney took his turn at the podium to call out Fischer on his “poisonous language.”

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Our values ennoble the citizen and they strengthen the nation. We should remember that decency and civility are values too. One of the speakers who will follow me today, has crossed that line I think. Poisonous language does not advance our cause. It has never softened a single heart nor changed a single mind. The blessings of faith carry the responsibility of civil and respectful debate. The task before us is to focus on the conservative beliefs and the values that unite us. Let no agenda, narrow our vision or drive us apart. We have important work to accomplish.

A very mild rebuke, given to very mild applause — all of which serves to illustrate Romney’s difficulties in retaining his frontrunner status in the Republican race for the nomination. But as timid as that rebuke was, it certainly elicited a howl from the bully who is now outraged of the “public attack,” and like all bullies who get caught, he responds screaming that someone else started it:

Dr. Robert Jeffress started the fracas on Friday by referring to Mormonism as a “cult” in interviews with reporters after he introduced and endorsed Gov. Rick Perry on Friday.

According to MSNBC, Gov. Romney’s people got in touch with Bill Bennett and they decided to tag team – Bennett would kneecap Dr. Jeffress first and then Mitt would kneecap me right before I took the podium after his speech.

Here’s how Politico reported it:

“Rather than answering Jeffress directly, Romney came to the summit on Saturday and rebuked another hardline social conservative: Bryan Fischer, a controversial official at the American Family Association who has disparaged Mormonism, as well as homosexuality, Islam and more.

And there’s this nice touch:

I spoke immediately after Romney, who apparently was goaded into attacking me by the New York Times, the Boston Globe and other media outlets who wrote eagerly about the anticipated brawl. Here’s the breathless headline, for instance, from the Deseret News: “Mitt Romney vs. Mormon critic Bryan Fischer: Showdown Saturday?”

Ya see? The reference to The Deseret News conclusively proves that the Mormon Church put Romney up to the “attack.”

Bullies typically scream the loudest when they are startled by their target rising up to defend themselves, no matter how tentatively. Romney mildly suggested that Fischer went too far in a timid half-dozen sentences. Fischer’s cri de coeur goes on for more than nine hundred words. That means that Romney’s mild slap stung Fischer pretty hard. And I have a feeling Fischer still isn’t done crying.

The Daily Agenda for Saturday, October 8

Jim Burroway

October 8th, 2011

TODAY’S AGENDA (OURS):
First Openly Gay Ordination for the Presbyterian Church, USA: Madison, WI. Last May, the Presbyterian Church USA became the fourth mainline Protestant Church to allow the ordination of openly gay clergy. Today, that promise becomes a reality as Scott Anderson is ordained at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Madison, Wisconsin. The Princeton Theological Seminary graduate had served as Co-Moderator of More Light Presbyterians before moving to Madison to become the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Council of Churches.

Anderson’s ordination will mark his return to a ministry he was forced to abandon twenty-one years ago. In 1990, while working as a parish minister in Sacramento, he was threatened with exposure by a couple who wanted him to help raise money for a cause they were advancing that he disagreed with. Rather than submit to the couple’s threats, he outed himself instead, and in keeping with the church’s rules he stepped down as minister and embarked on the long process of working to change the church’s stance toward ordination of openly gay people. Anderson will be supported by his partner of twenty-one years at today’s ordination. Anderson is being ordained by the John Knox Presbytery, which consists of 60 congregations in Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

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. Whenever the Family “Research” Council and the American Family Association team up to put on their annual Values Voter Summit, you can pretty much guarantee that they will more than live up to their reputation for being on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of anti-gay hate groups. Yesterday, we saw GOP presidential candidate Sen. Rick Santorum give his most bizarre qualification yet for the presidency, when he told the conference that voters should “look at who they lay down with at night and what they believe.” That will be hard to top, although Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver gave it his best shot by saying that gay equality will lead to the destruction of Western Civilization.

Today’s lineup will be about as crazy as yesterday’s. The AFA’s Bryan Fischer, whose sheer lunacy knows no bounds, will be a featured speaker, along with FRC’s Tom McClusky and Tony Perkins, National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown, American Values’ Gary Bauer, AFA’s Ed Vitagliano, Alliance Defense Fund’s Alan Sears, Eagle Forum’s Phyllis Schlafly, Glenn Beck and Bishop Harry Jackson, among many others. GOP Presidential candidates speaking today will be Texas Rep. Ron Paul and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

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?

Matt Barber Says Gays Committing “Economic Terrorism” And Want To Jail Christians. Meanwhile, AFA Boycotts Home Depot And Wants To Jail Gays.

Jim Burroway

August 31st, 2011

There is a fundraising group called the Charity Give Back Group (CGBG), whose innocuous sounding name hides its political activities. When customers shop with major name-brand companies through their virtual shopping mall, proceeds go to CGBG affiliated groups including the Family “Research” Council, Focus On the Family, Liberty Counsel and others. LGBT activists have pressured companies to cut ties with CGBG, and so far Apple, Microsoft, Delta Airlines and Wells Fargo are among the big names that have withdrawn from the program.

Anti-gay groups are now crying foul over “homo-fascist” tactics, despite their own well-established pattern of boycotting companies who don’t fall lockstep into their program of anti-gay politics. Liberty Counsel’s Matt Barber calls the pressure against companies participating in CGBG “economic terrorism” with the ultimate goal of putting conservative Christians behind bars:

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it right now. The sexual anarchist lobby, this radical, militant lobby, wants three things in this order: they want to see those of us who hold traditional values and have a biblical view of sexual behavior and sexual morality; they want to see us behind bars. Absent that, if that doesn’t work, they want to see us discredited, our licenses, my law licenses revoked, unable to teach in schools and so forth. They want us completely discredited and marginalized to the fringes of society. Finally and included in that is the inability, they want to see people like us not able to make a living. And that’s why they’re going after these organizations and they’re using economic terrorism, for lack of a better phrase.

He might want to try to come up with a better phrase. In 2008, Barber joined with Peter “Porno Pete” LaBarbera and others for a bit of “economic terrorism” of their own when they announced a boycott of McDonalds and rallied in front of their headquarters. The American Family Association regularly launches acts of “economic terrorism” against such big name companies as Home Depot and Pepsi. And by the way, their jihad against Home Depot is on again, in case you’ve had difficulty keeping track.

And speaking of wanting to put people behind bars, AFA’s spokesman Bryan Fischer yesterday pined for the days when homosexuality was a felony in all fifty states and says, “There is no reason why it cannot be a criminal offense once again. Absolutely none.”

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LaBarbera Award: Bryan Fischer

Jim Burroway

June 2nd, 2011

Admittedly, the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer could qualify for this award virtually every day, so we’ve had to raise the bar for his nomination for this award. (He’s won three times before.) Yesterday, Right Wing Watch caught Fischer saying this:

You’re going to have the homosexual lobby committing one hate crime after another against service members, especially officers, who have deeply held convictions about the acceptability of homosexual behavior. And so I’m predicting that things are about to get very ugly in the United States military for people of faith. We are going to see principle-driven officers, one after another, are going to become to victims of systematic hate crimes. This is going to be a pogrom, this is going to be virtual genocide, military genocide, career genocide for people of faith in military, perpetrated by the homosexual lobby.

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Newt Gingrich and Tim Pawlenty have both appeared on Fischer’s program trolling for anti-gay votes.

Newt Gingrich Promises To “Slow Down” Gay Rights Progress

Jim Burroway

March 30th, 2011

New Gingrich is running for President like it’s 1996.

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Gingrich is the third major GOP figure running for president to appear on American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer’s radio program. Fischer has said that LGBT people should be legally disqualified from holding public office because “gay sex is a form of domestic terrorism” and should be declared a felony. And he is attracting a line of GOP presidential hopefuls to his microphone. Warren Throckmorton asks, “Is Bryan Fischer the new GOP Kingmaker?

Anti-Gay Activists React to DOMA Announcement

Jim Burroway

February 23rd, 2011

Brian Brown from National Organization for Marriage lost his already limited capacity for original thought and channels John Paul Jones:

We have not yet begun to fight for marriage,” said Brian Brown, president of NOM.“The Democrats are responding to their election loss with a series of extraordinary, extra-constitutional end runs around democracy, whether it’s fleeing the state in Wisconsin and Indiana to prevent a vote, or unilaterally declaring homosexuals a protected class under our Constitution, as President Obama just did,” said Brown. “We call on the House to intervene to protect DOMA, and to tell the Obama administration they have to respect the limits on their power. This fight is not over, it has only begun!”

Maggie Gallagher chimes in:

On the one hand this is a truly shocking extra-constitutional power grab in declaring gay people are a protected class, and it’s also a defection of duty on the part of the President Obama,” said Maggie Gallagher, Chairman of NOM, “On the other hand, the Obama administration was throwing this case in court anyway. The good news is this now clears the way for the House to intervene and to get lawyers in the court room who actually want to defend the law, and not please their powerful political special interests.”

Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver, who charged that allowing same-sex marriages would lead to an epidemic of violent crime, called Obama the most divisive President in US History:

Regardless of President Obama’s own ideological agenda, as President, he and his Attorney General have a duty to defend lawfully passed legislation, especially when the essence of the law has been upheld by many courts. Thirty states have passed marriage amendments affirming marriage as one man and one woman. Today President Obama has abandoned his role as President of the United States and transformed his office into the President of the Divided States. He has been the most divisive president in American history. He has today declared war on the American people and the fundamental values that are shared by most Americans. His radicalism resulted in the historical push-back in the 2010 elections. His radicalism today will come back around when the people respond to this betrayal in 2012,” said Staver.

Focus On the Family’s Tom Minnery wants Congressional Republicans to drop whatever they’re doing and pick up the flag:

“We would hope Congress uses the tools at its disposal to counter this decision and defend marriage,” Minnery said.

What should Congress do? Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins wants Congress to take Holder’s bait by dropping their “only interested in the deficit” mantra and reveal what many suspect to be their true colors:

“With this decision the President has thrown down the gauntlet, challenging Congress. It is incumbent upon the Republican leadership to respond by intervening to defend DOMA, or they will become complicit in the President’s neglect of duty,” concluded Perkins.

American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer, who recently said that he would “fight to the last ditch” for marriage discrimination, has Perkins’s back:

“I think it’s a clear sign that we simply cannot avoid engaging on the social issues,” Bryan Fischer, director of issue analysis for the group, told TPM. “Mitch Daniels has called for a truce on social issues and that would be fine if the homosexual lobby was willing to lay down arms, but they’re obviously not and this proves it. A truce is nothing more than a surrender.”

So far, House Speaker John Boehner is staying on message and has declined to take the bait:

A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, criticized the administration change of position. “While Americans want Washington to focus on creating jobs and cutting spending, the president will have to explain why he thinks now is the appropriate time to stir up a controversial issue that sharply divides the nation,” said spokesman Brendan Buck.

Update: Potential GOP Presidential candidate and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee found a clever way to blame gay marriage for increasing the deficit:

Nonetheless, Huckabee opposes gay marriage on the grounds that, according to him, it destroys traditional families.  “There is a quantified impact of broken families,” Huckabee said. “[There is a] $300 billion dad deficit in America every year…that’s the amount of money that we spend as taxpayers to pick up the pieces because dads are derelict in their duties.”

Pawlenty Supports De-Funding DADT’s Repeal

Jim Burroway

February 7th, 2011

Last month, Minnesota governor and prospective GOP presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty made waves when he went on a radio program hosted by American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer — yes, that Bryan Fischer — to say that if he were elected president, Pawlenty would reinstate “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Today, Pawlenty is doubling down on that statement:

Appearing at the Family Leader’s Presidential Lecture Series in Iowa, which ThinkProgress attended, Pawlenty reiterated his argument for why the policy should not have been repealed and then, when pushed, agreed with ThinkProgress that taking away the funding “would be a reasonable step”:

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ThinkProgress notes that just three days ago, Bryan Fischer also called on Congress to de-fund DADT’s repeal.

Wherein I agree with Bryan Fischer about special rights

Timothy Kincaid

December 24th, 2010

When it comes to anti-gay activists, there are few people nastier than the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer. Yes, there are plenty who share his aversion to any policy, practice, or social attitude which does not presume that gay people are vile creatures deserving of derision and harsh abuse, but Fischer is among the few who boldly use language that others reserve for the private company of those who share their animus.

And it is primarily due to Fischer and his nasty rants that the AFA has earned the rare distinction of being added to the short list or organizations recognized by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an Anti-Gay Hate Group.

But on occasion, even certified haters say something that rings true. And while Fischer makes his point using contemptuous stereotypes and sneering smugness, I think he makes a good point:

If a homosexual signs up now, he’s stuck with the whole magilla. Go to your superior officer now and say, hey, I’m a flaming homosexual, I hate the army, let me out of here, the superior officer will say, tough darts, those days are gone. You’re stuck with us now, Nancy-boy.

The more this message resounds, the fewer homosexuals will want to enlist. It’s one thing to be gay, and say, hey, I’ll give it a few weeks and then bail if I don’t like the food, can’t get enough action in the barracks, or thought I’d enjoy ogling male soldiers in the shower more than I did.

Those days are now shortly to be a distant memory for our homosexual friends. They enlist, they’re stuck with the whole program just like everybody else.

In other words, they had preferential treatment and special privileges, a status and privileges and an exit strategy denied to their honest and straight counterparts. And homosexuals just bargained it away. Now, they will discover to their dismay, they’re back to having equal rights instead of special rights.

Besides the palpable hatred, Fischer also plays a lot with insinuation, equating “basis of statements by the Service member” – which could simply mean that the servicemember wasn’t caught in the act, so to speak – with “throwing themselves out”. Further, he entirely dismisses the idea that servicepeople may wish to be honest, a principle about which he knows nothing.

But he’s right. One of the things that bothered me about the administration of DADT was that it truly did give unhappy gay and lesbians soldiers an advantage. Once a DADT expulsion became an Honorable Discharge, then the policy harmed committed soldiers wishing to continue their noble service and rewarded those who just wanted out.

Now I doubt that many soldiers considered a policy that demeaned their existence and forced silence and dishonesty on them to be “preferential treatment.” And from what I’ve read, many revealed their orientation only after enduring unbearable treatment by homophobes, from which they had no recourse.

But to the extent that there were gay people who saw their orientation as an escape clause from a poorly chosen contract, that “special right” is gone. Once DADT is fully dead, everyone will be treated the same.

And I think that’s a good thing.

LaBarbera Award: Bryan Fischer. Again.

Jim Burroway

August 5th, 2010

Disenfranchising LGBT Americans from the institution of marriage isn’t enough for the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer. He also thinks LGBT Americans should be legally banned from public office:

He is Exhibit A as to why homosexuals should be disqualified from public office. Character is an important qualification for public service, and what an individual does in his private sexual life is a critical component of character. A man who ignores time-honored standards of sexual behavior simply cannot be trusted with the power of public office.

He also thinks that this should have disqualified Elana Kagan from the Supreme Court:

This, by the way, is why Elana Kagan should not be elevated to the Supreme Court. Although she has not come out of the closet herself, her lesbian partner has, and Ms. Kagan’s sexual preference is an open secret in Washington circles. Her indulgence in sexually aberrant behavior should make her ineligible to serve on the highest court in the land.

Kagan’s lesbian partner? Where did this rumor come from?

Bryan Fischer is a repeat honoree. The Prop 8 decision has spawned two other award winners in the past twenty four hours so far. Prop 8 is really bringing out the crazy, isn’t it?

AFA’s Bryan Fischer: Protestant Immigrants Good, Catholic Immigrants Bad

Jim Burroway

July 23rd, 2010

The American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer has some reservations about the fact that some Evangelical conservatives support President Barack Obama’s immigration reform proposals. Those evangelical see Latinos, who make up the bulk of the expected beneficiaries of immigration reform, as being sufficiently anti-gay and, therefore, desirable future voters for socially conservative causes. Fischer disagrees:

Not so fast. According to the Christian Post, 57% of Latino Catholics in California support homosexual marriage. Let’s not forget that Latinos make up 36.6 percent of California’s population.

The good news, if you happen to be an evangelical, is that just 22 percent of Latino Protestants support gay marriage.

If getting pro-family illegals legalized is the goal, perhaps Dr. Land can be persuaded to amend his recommendation and give preference to Protestant illegal aliens.

Leave it to Fischer to suggest a religious test for entry to the U.S. The American Family Association, according to former AFA attorney Joe Murray, isn’t just anti-gay, but anti-Catholic as well.  This, of course, shouldn’t be too surprising. Where there’s one form of bigotry, there’s almost never a good reason to refrain from indulging in other forms as well.

Update: Details behind Fischer’s numbers are discussed here.

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