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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…”
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Posts for September, 2013

Anti-gay sports commentator can’t find a job

Timothy Kincaid

September 7th, 2013

In February 2012, Craig James was running for the Republican nomination for US Senator from Texas. He figured that as an ESPN Sports Commentator, he had face and name recognition, but the pols (and polls) were against him. So at that time it seemed the smart and bold choice to be as anti-gay as possible, even giving (eventual) Sen. Ted Cruz competition.

During a debate, Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert (also running) was trying to explain that even though he had participated in Dallas Gay Pride, he was not in favor of gay marriage (he just believed in representing everyone in the city) when James saw his opportunity to get some press. (keranews)

Former television sports analyst Craig James then weighed in.

James: I think right now in this country, our moral fiber is sliding down a slope that is going to be hard to stop if we don’t stand up with leaders who don’t go ride in gay parades. I can assure you I will never ride in a gay parade. And I hear what you’re saying, Tom, but leaders – our kids out there people need to see examples.

Moderator: Do you think people choose to be gay?

James: I think it’s a choice, I do.

Moderator: It’s not in the genes?

James: I think that you have to make that choice. But in that case right there, they are going to have to answer to the Lord for their actions. We should not give benefits to those civil unions.

Later Texas Republicans went on to elect Ted Cruz, who has certainly missed no opportunity to advance his opposition to civil rights or equality for gay citizens. David Dewhurst, who came in second, remains as the state’s Lieutenant Governor and Tom Leppert, third, went to work as President of Kaplan, Inc. an education company.

But James, who finished fourth with 4% of the vote, has had trouble returning to his former career.

ESPN said that there wasn’t a place for him at their network after his anti-gay comments. And since then he has been “decompressing” and “been busy with business activities”.

But last Friday it looked like he had a break, a chance to get back on television. It looked like FOX Sports Southwest, targeting good ol’ Texas boys, wasn’t so concerned about his anti-gay statements. (Houston Chronicle)

When FSSW general manager Jon Heidtke, an A&M former student, heard of James’ interest, he approached him about joining that network.

“Jon said he heard I was interested in getting back in, and this came together overnight,” James said. “I think it was the Lord putting us together. I went to the studio (Thursday) for rehearsal, and when I drove past the airport I had a big smile on my face.”

James will work with Erin Hartigan and former Texans quarterback Tony Banks. “Big 12 Live,” which airs at 11 p.m. Saturdays, is hosted by Ric Renner with Gary Reasons.

But it turns out that neither the Lord nor Heidtke had cleared the decision with FOX Sports upper management. And, after only one Saturday, James is out again.

And though James’ shaky reputation among college sports fans may have made it an easier decision, FOX is saying that he was booted because of his phoby antics. (Dallas Morning News)

During the campaign James took a strong anti-gay stance.

“We just asked ourselves how Craig’s statements would play in our human resources department,” said a Fox spokesman. “He couldn’t say those things here.”

No doubt the usual rabble will claim that James is being persecuted and blacklisted because of his stance for traditional marriage. And James will no doubt have a new gig as keynote speaker for the type of dinners that specialize in professional martyrs, where he can rant his bile to appreciative elderly ladies and Peter LaBarbera.

But it won’t be televised. Not even on FOX.

Fox News Ignores Marriage Equality Wins

Jim Burroway

May 17th, 2013

In just one two-week span, three states — Rhode Island, Delaware and Minnesota — have approved marriage equality. But the “fair and balanced” Fox News only devoted one minute of coverage for Rhode Island and Minnesota combined, and ignored Delaware altogether. But on the day before Rhode Island’s vote, Fox’s Bill O’Reilly devoted more than three minutes to a speech by an obscure Russian lesbian journalist who said “it’s a no-brainer that the institution of marriage should not exist.”

Fox Nation Reacts

Jim Burroway

May 9th, 2012

Then they re-reacted with a new headline. Fox News’ Shep Smith, on the other hand, injects some sanity: Republicans are “”sitting very firmly without much question on the wrong side of history.”

[Screencap via Andrew Sullivan]

Will Fox let Karger debate?

Timothy Kincaid

August 5th, 2011

I love the audacity of Fred Karger. There’s something just delicious about a gay man running for the Republican Party presidential nomination. But when he polls higher than Rick Santorum, it just makes me giggle. From the August 2-4 Harris Poll:

If you are a registered Republican or Independent, which of the following candidates would you be most likely to support for the Republican nomination for President in 2012?

Base: Registered Republican/Independent

16% Mitt Romney
10% Ron Paul
10% Michele Bachmann
6% Herman Cain
4% Newt Gingrich
2% Tim Pawlenty
2% Fred Karger
2% Jon Huntsman
1% Rick Santorum
1% Gary Johnson
1% Thadeous McCotter
1% Buddy Roemer
46% None of these

Admittedly Fred is a novelty candidate. His chances of winning the Presidency of the United States are rather slim. And there is some merit to those who want to limit debates to “legitimate candidates” so as to give Americans a choice without adding the clutter of wacky nutjobs. Declaring that you are running for President does not and should not give you immediate access to a national audience.

But Fred, though a novelty is serious. And he’s not just some loon. He has significant political experience (this is his tenth presidential campaign), far more than Herman Cain, and his views on fiscal policy are mainstream Republican. Additionally, his social policies could position him as the only fully supportable candidate for the not-insignificant percentage of moderate Republicans.

And Fred is treating his campaign as real. He has done more real face to face campaigning than many of those who are considered legitimate and is beginning to catch the attention of political writers seeking an amusing that doesn’t center around the latest banal utterance of Michele Bachmann. And when readers find out that Fred was a successful high-level Republican political consultant whose most significant differences with the party are over social issues, his message can resonate.

But neither the Party nor the media hosting debates want anything to do with Fred. The Party wants to avoid the issues that he will bring up, and the media wants to keep the Party happy. Fox News, of course, wants both.

But Fox has a problem. They are finding it difficult to define the rules for inclusion in such a way as to keep people like Rick Santorum and Tim Pawlenty in, but to keep Fred out.

And Fred is demanding that they play be their own rules. He has sent a letter to Fox to inform then that as he is registered with the Federal Election Commission and has gotten on average 1% of the last five national polls, that he therefor qualifies to be included in next Thursday’s televised debate.

I suspect that Fox will just ignore Fred. Santorum will we there and maybe Huntsman and Johnson, but there will be no place for a marginal candidate such as Fred (though I think more Americans would vote for Karger than Santorum).

But I hope that I’m wrong. I hope that he is granted the position that he has earned and to which he is entitled.

First, I think that Republican voters need to hear what Fred has to say. One of the Party’s biggest problems is that when they get together, no one is willing to challenge – in language that Republicans understand – the presumptions that are not only illogical but are in conflict with core principles.

But even more importantly, Fred represents one of cherished myths of our country: Anyone, anyone at all, can be President. It doesn’t matter how rich you are or how many powerful people you know, if you stand up and tell the truth and follow the rules and can somehow convince enough people to support you, you have the chance at the office as any other citizen.

And I want this myth to be true. I want for the outsider to at least be given the same chance as the power broker. Sure criteria have to be met. But if he can meet it – and Fred has – then it is intensely UnAmerican to deny him his voice.

For every little boy or girl who has been promised this possibility, this chance to compete for the nation’s highest office based not on who they are but on what they can do, I hope Fox keeps its word and plays fairly and lets Fred Karger join the debate.

UPDATE:

The answer is in. No, of course Fox News will not let Fred debate. (Des Moines Register)

Michael Clemente, vice president of news for the network, said Karger doesn’t qualify.

Clemente said each of the polls cited by Karger are either online, interactive or out of date and do not qualify for the purpose of meeting the debate criteria.

Well, yes and no, Mr. Clemente.

Two of the polls included by Fred are “online, interactive”. Fred included, as his basis, two IBOPE Zogby International polls.

However Mr. Clemente’s insinuation that these polls are fluff and nonsense is dishonest. These are not American Family Association polls that can be freeped, or even a newspaper’s “poll” of its readers. These are polls which seek to measure the views of a statistically valid representations of the electorate:

IBOPE Zogby International conducted an online survey of 1,103 likely Republican primary voters. A sampling of IBOPE Zogby International’s online panel, which is representative of the adult population of the U.S., was invited to participate. Slight weights were added to region, party, age, race, religion, gender, and education to more accurately reflect the population. The margin of error is +/- 3.0 percentage points. Margins of error are higher in sub-groups. The MOE calculation is for sampling error only.

And if these are pish, pish, not worth a mention, then why did Fox News not mention that when reporting the results of zogby polls?

But there was one poll listed that Clemente may have some basis for finding flawed: a Fox News Poll from April 28. I have to assume that Clemente knows more about that poll than we do.

And the final poll was one in which Fred got less than 1% and is immaterial. I can’t think of a reason to consider a McClathy-Marist poll invalid, but fine toss it out. Give him a zero. He still averages 1% and is qualified.

Fred does have an issue: he can’t force pollsters to include him. Those who want to make the gay guy invisible can simply not include him as an option. But behind Clemente’s deceptive position remains one truth: whenever Fred Karger is included in a poll, he does better than Rick Santorum. And unlike most of the other second-tier candidates, Fred’s numbers are increasing.

So Fox News’ and Michael Clemente’s “explanation” reek of exclusion and arrogance. Freg Karger isn’t being excluded due to the type of poll, he’s being excluded because they want to shut him up.

Why I oppose the effort to get Orbitz to cease advertising on Fox News

A Commentary

Timothy Kincaid

May 19th, 2011

A collection of gay and progressive groups have banded together to demand that Orbitz Travel not advertise on the Fox News Channel. The coalition consists of:

  • Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation
  • Courage Campaign (a multi-issue advocacy organization seeking progressive change in California)
  • Equality Matters (a new media and communications initiative in support of gay equality)

Here is the reasoning:

Fox News has a conservative bias. It tends not to be pro-gay but to instead give a voice to those, like Bill O’Reilly, who are conservative and do not speak out as favorably on gay rights issues as we would wish. Therefore they should not receive any ad revenue from companies that want gay customers.

Fox News demonstrated an indefensible bias in its coverage of core issues for the LGBT community. An analysis of coverage on everything from gay marriage to the repeal of DADT to gay individuals supports a conclusion that Fox’s coverage is driven by a political agenda and cannot be considered an objective news source.

Or, as the more histrionic dropfox.com put it:

Fox News gave Mike Huckabee his own show despite a history of comparing homosexuality to drug abuse, incest, pedophilia, and necrophilia. Huckabee has repeatedly used his Fox platform to campaign against gay marriage, even insultingly suggesting that marriage equality poses a threat to stable society.

Bill O’ Reilly has repeatedly used his popular and prime time show to warn against the “dangers” of allowing gay people near children, to assert that same-sex marriage could lead to nuptials with turtles, ducks or dolphins, and to baselessly claim that implementing a hate crimes bill could protect pedophiles.

First, it’s pretty clear that those who are leading this campaign have never ever actually watched any of the programs about which they complain.

Their depiction of Bill O’Reilly, for example, is so far from reality that it embarrasses me for my community. While O’Reilly is by no means an advocate for our community and opposes basic equality, he has also advocated for the end of DADT, has spoken favorably at times about civil unions, and conditionally supports gay adoption. He is not “progressive” in his views, but they are not outside the realm of reasonable political positioning.

O’Reilly is prejudiced, biased, and opinionated, but his show also features regular guests, like Margaret Hoover, who use that time to argue in favor of marriage equality and other pro-gay positions. And I would argue that more conservative families have been exposed to pro-gay arguments – made by conservatives – through The O’Reilly Factor than by any other venue.

The sort of caracatures that this coalition set up are best left for the Peter LaBarberas and Linda Harveys of the world, not for organizations which purport to be advocating for accurate portrayal of gay people or for equality for all.

But I don’t think the anti-gay defamation or marriage equality really have much at all to do with this campaign. These organizations don’t like Fox’s perspective or viewpoint – in general – and want to silence the network. The gay angle is just convenient. So they are seeking to pressure a gay-supportive company to stop advertising with Fox (and you can be sure that it won’t stop with Orbitz).

And this campaign cares nothing for the fact that at least a third of gay Americans are not “progressive”. While these openly gay Americans may object to statements made on Fox, they do share many of their underlying values and perspectives. But that is ignored.

“You can’t appeal both to gay customers and conservative customers!” this campaign tells Orbitz, “so you must choose what kind of customers you want!”

And that is the sort of stupid, hard pressure, arrogant nonsense that only feeds anti-gay activists with the ammunition that they need to portray our community as intolerant, demanding, and totalitarian. Because this tactic IS intolerant, demanding, and totalitarian.

If we disagree with O’Reilly – and we do – then let’s challenge his views. Let’s demand that he retract extremist positions. And let’s inform his specific advertisers of where he is taking positions or making statements that are offensive and based in prejudice and fear.

But demanding that those who like us must also hate those we hate has not been an effective strategy since sixth grade. And frankly, if we go down that path we may find ourselves losing more friends than they do. Most successful business people don’t respond well to bullies.

GOP State Sen.: Why Not Civil Liberties For Everyone?

Jim Burroway

April 30th, 2011

Maryland State Sen. Allan H. Kittleman

The Log Cabin Republican’s national convention got underway in Dallas Thursday evening, with the Friday sessions featuring several GOP politicos challenging the Republican Party to change its stance toward LGBT people or face the prospect of “los(ing) every Republican young person … if we don’t get on board.”

Maryland state Senator Allan Kittleman, a straight ally and the lone Republican to vote in favor of an unsuccessful marriage equality bill during this year’s session, issued that warning to the Republican Party. His support for marriage equality came at a great political cost, when he voluntarily stepped down as Senate minority leader. His position also led colleagues to ask whether he was himself secretly gay or had a gay family member. Kittleman’s response:

I said, ‘Well, why can’t it just be that he’s for civil liberties for everyone?’” Kittleman recalled. “For someone to say you can’t be a real Republican if you support gay rights, that’s just a bunch of bull.”

…Kittleman choked back tears as he recalled his response to a reporter who asked why he voted for marriage equality considering the potential political consequences. “What I told them was that 20 years from now, when my grandchildren want to ask me what I did to support civil rights, that was more important to me than the next election.”

Fred Karger

Also speaking at the convention was Fred Karger, who is running for the GOP nomination as the nation’s first openly gay presidential candidate. Karger announced to the group that he has qualified for a GOP presidential debate to be held next week in South Carolina. However, Fox News, which is organizing the debate, has not yet confirmed that Karger will be allowed to join Tim Pawlenty, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, Gary Johnson and Herman Cain for the face-off — even though not all of them met all of Fox News’ entry criteria either.

J. Crew Ad Features Boy In Pink Toenails

Jim Burroway

April 12th, 2011

Fox News points to this ad, and Exodus International President Alan Chambers sees another potential gay-identified activist in the making.

By the way, the Fox News piece is by Keith Ablow, who co-wrote a book with Glenn Beck about parenting. Many have suggested that the cover art to that book, on first blush to those who don’t recognize the two, can easily be mistaken for portraying some gender-nonconforming issues of its own. Makes devoting an entire op-ed to a single photo look kinda silly, doesn’t it?

Fox News Commenters on Obama’s DOMA Announcement

Jim Burroway

February 23rd, 2011

FoxNewsInsider has an exclusive video of Fox News personallity Judge Andrew P. Napolitano defending the Obama Administration’s announcement that they will no longer defend the constitutionality of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” in Federal Court.

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I assume Judge Napolitano will be making the same points on air, perhaps — perhaps — countering Fox News personality Monica Crowley’s calling President Obama “Mubarak Obama.”

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Why Fox didn’t run first-person gay soldier stories

Timothy Kincaid

December 20th, 2010

Fox News runs a lot of military stories. Their pro-military reporting has made them a welcome sight on bases around the world and they often have access that is not as ready (or perhaps even as desired) by other news outlets.

One thing they also had over the past year was a steady stream of gay soldiers wanting to tell their story. But they did not choose to tell that story. Embedded reporter Dominic Di-Natale tells us why.

Oddly, it wasn’t resistance on the part of network execs. Nor was it hostility to the political efforts to lift the ban. Rather, according to Di-Natale, it was a matter of logistics and timing. The entire article is an interesting read and suggests to me that implementation may be less difficult than the handful of elderly retired veterans would have us believe.

(The Gay Soldiers that Wanted to be on Fox)

Truth is it’s a new layer of resilience both sides are now obliged to acquire. Straight soldiers will need to assimilate. And gay soldiers will need thicker skins, too, because as open as they will now be allowed, frank, confrontational responses will come from those with firm convictions against them.

But if each serviceman and woman remembers, as they must, it’s mission first, soldier second, I believe over time the military will be better balanced and, yes, stronger.

Greg Gutfeld on marriage

Timothy Kincaid

August 25th, 2010

Lately a number of conservatives have been making statements that throw all of our assumptions out the window. Those we expect to be the most obnoxious about gay issues suddenly announce that they don’t care in the slightest whether gay folk get married. You’d think we’d learn when Glenn Beck put gay marriage in the “meh, whatever” category.

But presumptions are a hard thing to kill and I’m no less guilty than others. So when I heard (via snippet) that Fox News’ Red Eye host Greg Gutfeld was proposing a gay bar for Muslims (specifically to annoy the builders of the “Ground Zero Mosque”), I jumped to the immediate conclusion that Gutfeld was, at best, not sympathetic to gay rights. I jumped too quickly.

Now, I’m not without cause. After all, GLAAD declared Gutfeld “one of the worst voices of 2008” saying that

Gutfeld criticized Ellen DeGeneres for announcing her upcoming wedding, saying Ellen should “shut the hell up about it.”

And I foolishly took GLAAD’s word rather than go hear the clip for myself, so I didn’t realize that Gutfeld’s monologue was on how talking about your marriage will doom it – which is why he doesn’t talk about his own. Today, I listened hard to hear the homophobia, but it appears that GLAAD’s ear may be better fine-tuned than mine.

The Daily Caller followed up on Gutfeld’s satirically proposed bar and reports the following:

5.) I heard you have a proposal to build a gay bar near the Ground Zero mosque with fun names like “Heaven and Halal.” Where does that currently stand?

I actually haven’t decided on the name yet. I like the name — and this is Bill Schulz’s idea –“Dialogue” because that way I really am building dialogue and I think that is a really smart idea.

6.) Have you had any financing offers for the bar?

I’ve had literally hundreds, maybe a thousand offers anywhere from $10 to thousand and thousands of dollars, from all over the world. This thing hit a nerve. I spent the last week just trolling through my emails and dividing them into files, “okay this guy is serious, this guy doesn’t have any money but wants to get involved, this person is offering to be my bouncer.” This guy, a former Green Beret, I think, offered to be my bouncer. Other people are offering real estate advice, people from the hospitality business offering consultation. After almost 18 years of being in the media, I’ve never seen this kind of a response to a story or an idea or a proposal. It’s really great because people get the idea. They understand what I am talking about. Because really, what is true tolerance? What is real tolerance? It is not about words. It’s about deeds.

7.) Along with all this gay talk, I’m wondering, where do you stand on gay marriage?

I have no problems with it. Look, gays deserve everything straights have, that’s just the bottom line. If it makes it easier for everybody, just remove the whole idea of marriage from government. I think it’s more of a religious question. They attach marriage to their religious beliefs and I can understand, it’s about the word. You know, I don’t care what they call it. And this thing out in California — so confusing to me. But you know what, whatever makes you happy and doesn’t hurt anybody — which sounds really contrived — is basically the way it should be, in my mind.

Fox News: DADT a failure and absurd

Timothy Kincaid

February 9th, 2010

On Fox and Friends Weekend, Col. David Hunt, a Fox military analyst, called Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell an “abject failure”. Fox host Clayton Morris agreed, calling it a civil rights issue and absolutely absurd.

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They said Sen. John McCain is “flat wrong.”

Fox’s foolish reporting of non-news

Timothy Kincaid

December 26th, 2009

fox newsI am not among those who dismiss Fox News as nothing but partisan propaganda. In today’s news practice of activism masquerading as information, I find that they provide a balance to other news sources and between them all I get a better sense of what is true.

But sometimes the editorial slant of the entire network becomes laughable. Take, for example, this story, entitled “Gay Marriage Opponents Push to Let Voters Decide“.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Opponents of Iowa’s gay marriage law are promising to push hard during the 2010 legislative session for a vote on a constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex unions.

In equally exciting (and likely) news, opponents of the sun rising in the East are promising to push hard to reverse the Earth’s rotation. Ugh.

What this breathless press-release pretending to be a news story fails to mention is that there is just about zero likelihood that their pressing – hard or otherwise – will result in a constitutional amendment any time soon.

Democrats hold a majority in both houses by sizable margins: 56-44 in the House and 32-18 in the Senate. While there are no doubt some in the Democratic delegation that would never affirmatively vote for equality – and might even vote in opposition if given the chance – no such votes will arise. Both House Speaker Pat Murphy and Senate Majority Leader Michael Gronstal have stated that they will not be entertaining such a debate.

Republicans will rally and protest and campaign on this issue. But unless they have other vastly more compelling arguments, this is unlikely to shift power in the legislature. A poll in September found that the state is about evenly divided on the idea of a constitutional amendment, but that 63% say that other issues are more important to them. A huge 92% say that same-sex marriage hasn’t impacted their life at all.

Even supposing that the 2010 election could be argued to be a referendum of the people calling for discrimination, a constitutional amendment requires that two back to back legislatures vote affirmatively before presenting the issue to the voters (oh, wise Iowa). The soonest that voters could face a proposition to change their constitution would be November 2014.

I don’t think it is unreasonable to believe that after five years of marriage equality, Iowans would be immune to warnings of impending doom – which is really all the anti-gay side has to offer.