Box Turtle Bulletin

Box Turtle BulletinNews, analysis and fact-checking of anti-gay rhetoric
“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…”
This article can be found at:
Latest Posts

Posts for July, 2013

A rapturous day in NOMville

Timothy Kincaid

July 22nd, 2013

It’s Working!

So declares the National Organization for Marriage (theirs, not yours) on their NOMblog site. Due to NOM, and their vast army of members (several dozen, at least), the House of Representatives is quickly surging forward to support the anti-gay Federal Marriage Amendment introduced by Rep. Tim Huelskamp.

A few weeks ago when I wrote to you urging you to contact your federal legislators urging them to support the Marriage Protection Amendment introduced by Rep. Tim Huelskamp, you were quick to respond. Well, now I can write to you to tell you that when you spoke up, your elected leaders listened!

The proposed amendment now has over 40 cosponsors signed on! [emphasis in the original]

Oh rapturous day!! Forty cosponsors!! And in just three weeks!!!

Now only 250 more Representatives to go to get the needed vote. And then on to the Senate where there are neither sponsors nor supporters. But surely once NOM’s mighty army marches forth they’ll fall into place.

It’s Working!

The Proposed Federal Marriage Amendment Has Gone Bipartisan

Jim Burroway

July 20th, 2013

Soon after the the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, Rep .Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) introduced the Federal Marriage Amendment (now re-named the Marriage Protection Amendment) into Congress. At that time, Huelskamp was joined by twenty-eight other Representatives as co-sponsors, all Republicans. Since then, that list of co-sponsors has grown to thirty-eight, including the first and (so far) lone Democrat, West Virginia’s Rep. Nick Rahall.

Heulskamp introduces his Federal Marriage Amendment

Timothy Kincaid

July 1st, 2013

Tim Huelskamp (R – KS) has, as threatened, introduced his Federal Marriage Amendment:

Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman.

Considering that a number of states have enacted marriage equality either through the legislature or the ballot box, this language seems a bit confusing. But as this amendment has about the same chances as an ice cube on a Vegas sidewalk, I guess language is irrelevant.

And Huelskamp is not alone in his clown car. Squeezing in with him are a collection of nobodies hoping to attain a little attention. No Democrats, of course, but about 12% of the House Republicans were happy to plan for a future of political shame and awkward questions from their grandchildren.

Joe Barton (Texas), Jim Bridenstine (Okla.), Mo Brooks (Ala.), Paul Broun (Ga.), Jeff Duncan (S.C.), John Fleming (La.), Trent Franks (Ariz.), Louie Gohmert (Texas), Ralph Hall (Texas), Andy Harris (Md.), Randy Hultgren (Ill.), Sam Johnson (Texas), Walter Jones (N.C.), Jim Jordan (Ohio), James Lankford (Okla.), Mark Meadows (N.C.), Randy Neugebauer (Texas), Steven Palazzo (Miss.), Stevan Pearce (N.M.), Robert Pittenger (N.C.), Joe Pitts (Pa.), David Schweikert (Ariz.), Bill Shuster (Pa.), Chris Smith (N.J.), Steve Stockman (Texas), Tim Walberg (Mich.), Lynn Westmoreland (Ga.) and Frank Wolf (Va.)

New FMA proposal has four flat tires and a busted radiator

Timothy Kincaid

June 28th, 2013

Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) saw the DOMA decision as an opportunity, his ride out of obscurity. So he was the first to trot out with an announcement the he, Rep Huelskamp, would be introducing a federal constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. Surely this is a proposal that will fire up the base, get him in the spotlight, and soon he’d be cruising the political fast lane in a pink Cadillac with white-wall tires.

But so far it’s been a bit of a bumpy ride. Turns out that not even red state Republicans are ready to climb on board. Not even his fellow Kansans. Not even his own district.

One local state representative didn’t have an opinion because its “a federal matter and he is a state legislator” (oddly, most Republicans in Washington had the opposite opinion). His local GOP Chairman “was in county commission meetings all day yesterday” so he wasn’t following the news.

But the best response had to be this one: (HuffPo)

State Rep. J.R. Claeys (R-Salina) stressed that a gay marriage ban is not a “legislative priority of mine” and said he doesn’t see a chance for Huelskamp’s amendment ever passing. Asked if he believes Huelskamp should have made the proposal, Claeys answered: “I am not sure how to diplomatically sidestep this question.”

So to Huelskamp, I offer this advice: yeah, about that political clunker you have on cinder-blocks in your front yard… you may want to lose that, you’re bringing down property values in the neighborhood.

Cain Flips, Now Supports Constitutional Ban on Same-Sex Marriage

Jim Burroway

October 24th, 2011

Only six days separate two opposite positions staked by Godfather Pizza magnate and GOP presidential aspirant Herman Cain on same-sex marriage. On Sunday, October 16, Cain appeared on NBC’s Meet the Press and said that he “wouldn’t seek” (his emphasis) a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. But six days later, while appearing on Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network’s The Brody File, Cain flipped his stance before the evangelical audience and said that he now supports a federal constitutional ban on same-sex marriage:

YouTube Preview Image

(On October 16, Meet The Press)

David Gregory: A couple more. Same-sex marriage: would you seek a Constitutional band on same-sex marriage?

Herman Cain: I wouldn’t seek a constitutional ban for same-sex marriage, but I am pro-traditional marriage.”

Gregory: But you would let the states make up their own mind as they do now?

Cain: They would make up their own minds, yes.

– — –

(On October 22, The Brody File)

David Brody: Just so I understand, you’re for a constitutional marriage amendment as well?

Cain: Marriage should be protected level also. I used to believe that it could be just handled by the states, but there’s a movement going on to basically take the teeth out of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act and that could cause an unraveling. So we do need some protection at the federal level because of that. And so, yes, I would support legislation that would say that it’s between a man and a woman.”

Brody: Because there is a concern that the defense of marriage act could be overturned?

Cain: It could be overturned because there are already attempts by some states and some groups to weaken the Defense of Marriage Act.

The Perry approach to the Constitution

Timothy Kincaid

August 1st, 2011

Texas Governor and Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Perry supports the Constitution. But his support appears to be based not on principle or conceptual idea but on legality. He endorses what it says, but seems at a loss as to what it means.

Perry invokes the Tenth Amendment when he says that he supports the right of New York to define marriage as they wish. This fits well with the ‘don’t mess with Texas’ independent streak that has been a part of that state since it gave up its separate nation status. This individualist desire for self-determination, though bipartisan, fits nicely with Republican rhetoric about smaller more localized government.

But Texas, Perry, and the Republican Party are also very socially conservative. And this combination results in policy and positions that often could best be paraphrased as “give me the freedom to chart my own destiny, but you must do as I say”. And it is the second half that Perry invokes when he endorses a constitutional amendment to overrule New York’s right to its own marriage criteria.

His thinking is revealed in an interview with Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins. Gov. Perry leaped at a peculiar notion that allowed him to support Texas’ individuality while denying New York’s self determination (FRC Blog):

TONY PERKINS: Governor, we are about out of time but I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but I think I hear what you are saying. The support given what’s happening across the nation, the fear of the courts, the administration’s failure to defend the defense of marriage act.

The only and thin line of protection for those states that have defined marriage, that have been historically been defined between a man and a woman. The support of a marriage amendment is a pro-state’s rights position, because it will defend the rights of states to define marriage as it has been.

GOV. PERRY: Yes sir, and I have long supported the appointment of judges who respect the constitution and the passage of a federal marriage amendment. That amendment defines marriage between one man and one woman, and it protects the states from being told otherwise. It respects the rights of the state by requiring three quarters of a states vote to ratify. It’s really strong medicine but is again our founding fathers had such great wisdom and their wisdom is just as clear and profound today as it was back in the late eighteenth century.

Perry has some small connection with principle in this statement, but it is based on false premises, perverted self interest, and results-driven thinking.

There are marriage-related issues which, one could argue, threaten a state’s right to self government. Divorce is a prime example. There is a pretty decent argument that having united two people for life, a state’s authority is challenged when another state undoes this act. But states have long since come to all provide for divorce and Perry is not challenging divorce laws.

And, using a real-case example, should Virginia refuse to recognize the custody decisions of Vermont, one could find a threat to the underlying function of federalism. But Perry is not coming down on the side of recognition.

And it must be noted that Perry is not predicating his support for a Federal Marriage Amendment on the repeal of DOMA, nor does his support extend only to protecting Texas’ autonomy. While I would oppose a constitutional amendment that was limited to giving states the right to refuse to recognize marriages conducted in other states as being deliberately discriminatory and a nightmare to negotiate or administer, I could respect those who supported such a “solution” as having some measure of consistency and logic to their position. But this is not Perry’s goal.

And it also must be clarified that Perkin’s assertions about the Defense of Marriage Act, upon which Perry leaped, are flat out distortions. The legal challenges and the government’s determinations have been limited in all instances to “Section Three: Definition of Marriage” of DOMA – that which deals with the Federal Government’s recognition of a state’s laws – and does not challenge “Section 2. Powers reserved to the states”.

Should Governor Perry truly respect a state’s right to define marriage within its borders (even over another state’s right to expect recognition of its acts by other states) then he would not be troubled by challenges to DOMA3 at all. Rather, he would support efforts to throw out this federal disrespect of states’ autonomy.

But Perry has a results-driven agenda. He wants marriage to be restricted according to his religion’s doctrines and is willing to impose those restrictions on others with no regard to self determination or personal freedoms. But to do so without contradicting his admiration for the Tenth Amendment, he spills out a justification that lacks any basis in principle.

The Tenth Amendment was not handed to Moses on Mount Sinai. It is, rather, language written to formalize and give structure to a principle. The notion underlying the words is that individuals should be governed according to shared community values and that such restrictions as are imposed on the individual should not be the result of some other community’s goals or dreams.

Interestingly, this notion is also seen in the provisions laid out for constitutional amendment. Recognizing that states would seek advantage, the authors set the rules of change to be so strict as to make imposition of unfair local or regional values on the entire nation very difficult.

And it is to these provisions that Perry appeals when he says that the rights of New York and its citizens are respected “by requiring three quarters of a states vote to ratify.” Perry argues that New York has the ability to convince just a quarter of other states to protect their autonomy. And yes, is just such an attack that the founders sought to avoid.

However, while Perry praises the language of the Constitution, he fails to see his role.

Yes, New York can appeal; but to whom? And with what argument? When the state of New York comes calling, asking for those who champion a state’s autonomy, what will Perry say?

And that is where Gov. Perry reveals his support for states’ rights to be a sham. He doesn’t really support the rights of a community of individuals to self-determination. Rather, he supports such rights such rights for him and his state, but others have this right only so long as they determine what he want them to determine.

Republican Chair Michael Steele: The GOP and NOM Are “On The Same Page”

Jim Burroway

December 31st, 2010

Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele’s job is up for grabs, even though he very much wants to keep it. And so he’s pulling out the issue that nearly all conservative politicians turn to when they want to shore up a base of support: marriage equality.

During the campaigns for midterm elections, the GOP and the Tea Party embarked on a concerted effort to downplay LGBT-related issues in order to reassure LGBT people and their allies that the GOP was no longer interested in fighting the culture war. But now that the elections are over and there are signs of growing discontent in the GOP over Steele’s numerous gaffs as party chief, Steele agreed to sit down with the National Organization for Marriage’s Frank Cannon for an in depth interview on the party’s plan to fight same-sex marriage.

YouTube Preview Image

In particular, Steele celebrated the GOP gains in the governorships and state legislative seats where “the battle is going to be, my friend.” He also praised the GOP’s partnership with NOM “and others in the movement to make very clear that this is a line that we want to draw.” He added:

For us, going forward, we’ll look to the leadership in Washington, yes, for any legislative or federal efforts to address the issue of marriage, between man and woman, traditional marriage. But most especially at the state level where I think the battle is really going to be fought over the next couple years, and we want to be in partnership through our state party organizations working with state legislative leadership to stand firmly and squarely behind the defense of marriage.

But Cannon disputed that marriage was just a state issue, and asked Steele what he would do to  “extend the branding, if you would, of the Republican Party platform’s support of marriage out in the public domain.” Steele answered:

You and I are actually on the same page here. I did not want to give the inference that somehow one side of this fight is less important than the other or less effective than the other. We’re going to have to come at this as a pincer move from the federal and the state level because that’s exactly how it’s being played out nationally. It’s not just what we’re seeing happening at the state level at the state legislatures, but it’s also a national move afoot to block attempts to, for example, to get the Defense of Marriage Act passed [sic] in Congress or to propose some of the legislation at the federal level that weakens the efforts by pro-family movements at state legislatures from being effective. So we’re on the same page there.

My only point was that really is the front line right now because that’s where we see the battle being won and lost, if you will, on a day to day basis.

Steele then goes on to defend his position by saying that not only is it not anti-gay, but it is also not exclusionary. And in incredible Animal Farm fashion, Steele intends to reconcile that fallacy by controling the terms of debate. “How we approach people and how we let others approach us really defines how this debate is going to unfold,” he explained. Which means that it’s alright to talk about marriage, as long as we only talk about marriage on his terms, and no one else’s. So he’s not only being exclusionary in his position on marriage, he also intends to be exclusionary on the very parameters of the debate.

But was terms does Steele want to debate marriage? This is where it gets to be the most insulting.

My father died as a young man from alcoholism. So my family, from a very, very early age when I was four years old, was broken. My father was an alcoholic. He was abusive. I saw what he did to my mother, and I saw  what he did to our family over time. So I have this understanding of family and how it’s held together and why it’s so important. And despite the shortcomings of my father, despite the difficulties and his own personal demons that he had to go through, he was still a very important part of my life. And my mother would share with me that while he may have been difficult with her, he was gentle with me and he understood at least, through some mechanism in his brain, that this child that he was holding was of some value. And so he would then impart to me certain things and tell me certain things about himself. And so the reality of it is, that cohesion is important.

Steele then goes on to say that as Maryland’s Lt. Governor, he met with many young men in jail who did not have “the definitional structure” of a one-man-one-woman family — not even one as dysfunctional as his family. And after having met so many criminals who violated the law,  he believes that it is vitally important for children of LGBT couples to be denied the societal support that families headed by straight families receive. In Steele’s view, if teen gang members and petty criminals who grow up without a father represent some sort of second class existence, then teenage boys and girls who grow up in LGBT families are third class — behind everyone else, including families headed by the gold standard of fathers who drink themselves to death.

And so his fight, then, is to preserve that order, and he is happy to modify the Federal Constitution in the process:

Oh, absolutely. Without hesitation or doubt. In fact we would partner with our leadership in the House and certainly our governors and leadership in the state legislatures to create a very very strong front line if you will, on that issue. I can’t again stress how important that is for how we will lead as a people, and how we will see ourselves as a nation down the road. And again, that is not to the exclusion of anyone, it’s not anti- anyone, or any group. It is just so fundamental and foundational, I think it needs to be protected.

At least three others are vying with Steele for the GOP chairmanship. But before you pin your hopes on Steele’s downfall, consider this: they, too, agreed to interviews with NOM. Former RNC political director Gentry Collins said that same-sex marriage “devalues” his marriage, Wisconsin GOP Chairman Reince Priebus vows to protect “the sanctity of marriage given to us by God,” former Missouri Republican Chairwoman Ann Wagner calls efforts to ban same-sex marriage “a pillar of our Republican party and our platform,” and that the GOP should not shy away from it, and the Tea Party-aligned Save American Jobs Project Chairman Saul Anuzis — you know, he leads the people who really only care about economic issues — says that defending one-man-one-woman marriage is “part of our faith.”

McCain Begins to Flip On Federal Marriage Amendmet

Jim Burroway

August 6th, 2010

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) famously opposed the Federal Marriage Amendment in 2004 and 2006 when it came to the Senate Floor, saying that “it usurps from the states a fundamental authority they have always possessed and imposes a federal remedy for a problem that most states do not believe confronts them.” It’s not that McCain supported marriage equality (he supported California’s Prop 8 and Arizona’s Prop 102 in 2008), but that he saw it as a states rights issue. Now that a Federal Judge has found California’s Proposition 8 unconstitutional, McCain is reconsidering his opposition to the FMA:

Asked whether he thinks backing the Federal Marriage Amendment, or a U.S. constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage, would be an appropriate response to the ruling, McCain said he hasn’t decided what action at this time is appropriate.

“I haven’t looked at the impact of the decision yet as far as what, if any, action needs to be taken,” he said. “I’ve been on the immigration issue, the defense authorization bill and this START treaty, so I really have not had an opportunity to talk to my people about it.”

A Few Silver Linings

Jim Burroway

November 5th, 2008

As we continue to watch California’s results trickle in, there are some silver linings to report. Arizona State Sen. Tim Bee (R-Tucson) lost his congressional race against Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, 55% to 43%, with 73% of precincts reporting. Bee is the guy responsible for casting the crucial sixteenth vote which put Prop 102 onto the Arizona ballot. His political career is now, fittingly, over.

And perennial Federal Marriage Amendment sponsor Marilyn Musgrave (R-CO) has lost her bid for re-election. With 67% of precincts reporting, Betsy Markey is thumping her 57% to 42%.

Update: With 99% of the precincts reported, Bee is down 56% to 43%. The Arizona Daily Star is reporting that Bee has still declined to concede as of 1:30 am. What a loser.

Update: After the lights went out and the cameras left, Bee finally conceded via email this morning.

Palin Tells Dobson McCain Will Implement Full GOP Platform

Jim Burroway

October 26th, 2008

GOP Vice Presidential Nominee Sarah Palin told Focus On the Family’s James Dobson that she believes that John McCain will implement the full Republican Platform on taking office. That platform includes total bans on stem cell research, abortion and gay marriage — position which are far more conservative than those taken by McCain himself during the campaign.

Dobson began the interview on his radio program Wednesday by calling the GOP platform the “strongest pro-life, pro-family document to come out of a political party.” Palin responded that she believes that a President McCain will implement the full platform:

“I do, from the bottom of my heart. I am such a strong believer that McCain believes in those strong planks and we do have good conversations about some of the details too, about the different planks and what they represent.”

McCain has previously stated his opposition to the Federal Marriage Amendment on federalist grounds, but he has endorsed state constitutional amendments to ban same-sex marriage.

CBN: Palin Supports Federal Marriage Amendment

Jim Burroway

October 20th, 2008
YouTube Preview Image

Christian Broadcasting Network’s Senior National Correspondent David Brody interviewed GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin over the weekend for a segment scheduled to appear on Tuesday on the 700 Club. Here is what she had to say:

Brody: On Constitutional marriage amendment , are, are you for something like that?

Palin: I am, in my own, state, I have voted along with the vast majority of Alaskans who had the opportunity to vote to amend our Constitution defining marriage as between one man and one woman. I wish on a federal level that that’s where we would go because I don’t support gay marriage. I’m not going to be out there judging individuals, sitting in a seat of judgment telling what they can and can’t do, should and should not do, but I certainly can express my own opinion here and take actions that I believe would be best for traditional marriage and that’s casting my votes and speaking up for traditional marriage that, that instrument that it’s the foundation of our society is that strong family and that’s based on that traditional definition of marriage, so I do support that.

See also:
Joe Biden: “If I Lived In California, I’d Clearly Vote Against Prop 8″

Marilyn Musgrave Trailing in Polls

Hallelujah!!

Timothy Kincaid

October 3rd, 2008

Recall Marily Musgrave, the chief sponsor of the Federal Marriage Amendment? Get ready to say “Buh-bye”. The Washington Blade reports:

A poll published Aug. 28 by SurveyUSA found that 50 percent of respondents favored Markey while 43 percent favored Musgrave.

Birds of a Feather: “Monogamous” Marriage Defenders

Jim Burroway

June 27th, 2008

I mentioned earlier this morning that another anti-marriage amendment was introduced in the Senate. What I didn’t know was that these two upright paradigms of traditional “monogamous” heterosexual marriages were co-sponsors: Larry “Tap-Tap” Craig (R-ID), and David “D.C. Madam” Vitter (R-LA).

Of course, they’re only monogamous in that peculiar way in which heterosexuals define monogamy.

Honestly, you just can’t make this stuff up.

Gee… Is There A Presidential Election Coming Up?

Jim Burroway

June 27th, 2008

Must be. Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) introduced the so-called “Marriage Protection Act” to amend the U.S. Constitution to deny marriages to gays and lesbians. This is a companion measure to Rep. Paul Broun’s (R-GA) bill in the house. Neither is likely to go anywhere this time.

A Strange Way To Commemorate An Anniversary

Jim Burroway

June 2nd, 2006

Monday, June 5th will be the 25th anniversary of the first CDC Report of what would later become known as AIDS. Since then, it is estimated that some half a million Americans died of AIDS. Today, more than 415,000 people in the U.S. are living with AIDS, and according to some estimates more than a million are HIV-positive.

PBS’s Frontline aired a very informative two-part documentary Tuesday and Wednesday of this week entitled “The Age of AIDS.”

In an act with impeccable timing, President George W. Bush will commemorate the anniversary on Monday with a quiet ceremony in which he will announce his support for the proposed constitutional amendment to prohibit gay couples from marrying.