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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, 2012

GOP Senators Try Again to Curb Religious Freedoms on Military Bases

Jim Burroway

September 13th, 2012

From the Tulsa World:

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) and Roger Wicker (R-MS)

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe hasn’t given up his resistance to the acceptance of gays and lesbians in the military or same-sex marriage.

On Tuesday, Inhofe and fellow Republican Roger Wicker of Mississippi introduced a measure that would ban same-sex marriages on military bases and protect military chaplains from “pressure” to perform such ceremonies.

The two senators described the Military Religious Freedom Act as an effort to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act, known as DOMA, on the Defense Department in the wake of the December 2010 repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which ended the official ban on gay men and lesbians serving openly in the military.

The Defense Department directive on marriages, in keeping with the First Amendment which guarantees the free practice of religion, says, “A military chaplain may participate in or officiate any private ceremony, whether on or off a military installation.” The operative word here is “may.” This is in now way binding, as chaplains are not required to officiate ceremonies which run counter to their religious beliefs. On the other hand, the so-called “Military Religious Freedom Act” is a complete misnomer, since it would actually prohibit pastors from denominations which solemnize the marriages of their same-sex couples from practicing their faiths and the faiths of their members.

Incredibly stupid comments at the Values Voters Summit

Timothy Kincaid

September 17th, 2010

Sen. Jim Inhofe asking the participants to lobby against repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell:

Your message is this: “Vote ‘no’. If you vote ‘yes’, you are voting for open gay activity in the military and you’re voting for abortions in our hospitals.”

Cuz ‘open gay activity’ leads to abortions, ya know.

UPDATE: Sen. Inhofe’s incredibly stupid comment may need context. It seems he wasn’t suggesting that ‘open gay activity’ is related to abortions. But…it isn’t really that much less incredibly stupid.

Far Right gathers for Value Voters weekend

Timothy Kincaid

September 17th, 2010

Earlier this month we discussed the wackadoodle extravaganza which was the Taking America Back convention. But this weekend, that seminar’s cousin the 2010 Value Voters Summit is meeting for roughly the same purpose: rallying the troops to impose their religious beliefs on non-believers by use of governmental force. And while Taking America Back consisted primarily of the delusional, the excitable, and the social misfits, the Family Research Council’s Value Voters Summit draws “respectable” activists and recognizable politicians.

But make no mistake, the agenda of the Voter Voters Summit is no less radical or unAmerican than that of its low-rent cousin. And no small part of their obsession is on the extent to which gay people should be disallowed from participating in society.

The plenary session presentations consist of:

* We Still Hold These Truths: Rediscovering Our Principles, Reclaiming Our Future
* ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Panel
* We the People: The Tea Party’s Place in American Politics
* Parental Choice Education: Beyond One-Size-Fits-All Schools
* Hollywood Panel

Although only one of the five plenary discussions focuses solely on gay issues, it is without question that much of the other sessions will also be dedicated to “opposing the homosexual agenda”. That is, after all, the number one complaint that social conservatives have with the schools and Hollywood. And for those who really want to spend their weekend on nothing but “evil sodomites”, they can attend Saturday’s 3:30 breakout session entitled The falsehood of the inevitability of same-sex “marriage”.

The entire event will be filled with speeches and presentations by familiar names in the anti-gay movement. But unlike Taking America Back, most of these have social grace and appearance of sanity. With one notable exception: the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer will be speaking tomorrow morning and is likely to spout things that are so irrational as to confuse even that sympathetic audience.

These conferences are useful; they help us separate political opponents from those who truly are devoted enemies of our lives, freedoms and liberties. Many conservative Republicans hold positions that are unfavorable to us, but do so more from ignorance or distorted principle than out of zealous animus. But those who participate at these conferences do so because the believe that they are authorized by God to destroy our cause and our lives.

This year, perhaps even more than most, participation at the Value Voters Summit is a clear indication of animus towards the gay community. And by going there this year, politicians are making a visible statement that they are not just in disagreement with some of our cause but rather that they see us as a threat and an enemy and that they will do whatever they can to harm us.

Most of these names will not surprise us:

Governor Mike Huckabee
Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK)
Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.)
Representative Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.)
Representative Mike Pence (R-Ind.)
Governor Mitt Romney
Senator Rick Santorum
Christine O’Donnell
Newt Gingrich
Governor Bob McDonnell (R-Va.)
Governor Tim Pawlenty (R-Minn.) (via video)
Representative Gregg Harper (R-Miss.)

Sen. Inhofe Says Military Won’t Fight For Gay Comrades

Jim Burroway

May 13th, 2010

Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) told American Family Association Radio yesterday revealed his abysmally low opinion of the men and women serving our our Armed Forces. In an interview with Bryan Fischer, Inhofe said that the men and women aren’t serving “for the flag or the country, [they're] doing it for the guy in the next foxhole.” And he declared those men and women too bigoted to protect “the guy in the next foxhole” if they knew he was gay.

Inhofe and Fischer were discussing Elena Kagan’s nomination to the Supreme Court, and they both agreed that her nomination should be “resisted with every weapon at our disposal,” citing her opposition to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”:

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Fischer: Well, and Sen. Inhofe, I commend you for coming out so quickly because I do believe that this is a nomination that needs to be resisted with every weapon at our disposal, and I appreciate you centering on her attitude toward military recruitment on college campuses… [edit]

Inhofe: For those of us -— and I’m one of them —- who have gone through the military, gone through basic training, and you stop and think —- it just doesn’t make any sense. First of all, it’d be very expensive. Secondly, it’s just not working. You have women, men, then you have a third group to deal with, and they’re not equipped to do that.

And you know — you hear the stories all the time. A military guy — I happen to be Army, and Army and Marines always feel that when we’re out there, we’re not doing it for the flag or the country; we’re doing it for the guy in the next foxhole. And that would dramatically change that.

A December 2006 Zogby poll found that 73% were very comfortable in the presence of gays and lesbians, and only 27% believed that DADT’s repeal would have a negative impact on unit morale. Those serving in today’s armed forces work with much greater integrity and professionalism than Inhofe did, if indeed that was his attitude when he was in the military. Inhofe owes our men and women an apology.

Eleven Republican legislators reveal that they oppose equality more than they oppose big government

Timothy Kincaid

February 3rd, 2010

One of the much-touted principles of the Republican Party is that government which is closer to the people is preferable to big centralized Federal government. For some Republican legislators that is just rhetoric to be ignored when big government better suits their personal agenda.

Nine Republican Senators and two Republican House Members have signed as co-sponsors to a bill to override the near-unanimous decision of the elected representatives of the District of Columbia to allow for marriage equality in that municipality. Although local elected officials and local election boards and local judges agree that this is a local decision and that it is not appropriate for the rights of some citizens to be up for majority veto, these Senators and Representatives believe that Federal intervention is the answer.

    The 9 Senate co-sponsors are Senators

    Robert Bennett (UT) – Mormon
    Sam Brownback (KS) – Catholic
    Jim Bunning (KY) – Catholic
    John Cornyn (TX) – Church of Christ (Restoration Movement)
    Mike Enzi (WY) – Presbyterian
    James Inhofe (OK) – Presbyterian
    Pat Roberts (KS) – Methodist
    David Vitter (LA) – Catholic
    Roger Wicker (MS) – Southern Baptist

    The 2 House co-sponsors are Representatives

    Jason Chaffetz (UT) – Mormon
    Jim Jordan (OH) – Grace Bible Church (independent)

This bill is going nowhere. It will not be brought up for a vote in either the House or the Senate. So the only reason to sign on is to publicly identify with the idea of forcing the city to do what the they want by use of the full power of the Federal government. These eleven Republicans do not really believe in what the Party claims to believe about local v. centralized power.

Conservatives are quick to claim that moderates who verge from the party platform on an issue or two are RINOs (Republicans in Name Only). I wonder if they will use the same term for these Republicans who have flipped the bird to one of the central tenets of the Party.

“The Family” Opposes Uganda’s “Kill Gays” Bill

Jim Burroway

December 16th, 2009

Jeff Sharlet, of The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, wrote a guest post on Warren Throckmorton’s web site which updates his November appearance on NPR’s Fresh Air where he revealed ties between the secretive Evangelical movement known as “The Family” and Uganda’s politicians behind the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill. In this latest guest post, Sharlet says that The Family opposes the bill and key members are working behind the scenes to stop it from becoming law.

In Sharlet’s book, he identified Bob Hunter as a key organizer for The Family in Uganda during the 1980′s becoming friends with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and helping him establish the Ugandan Prayer Breakfast. Sharlet was finally able to get in contact with Hunter and spent an afternoon detailing the events in Uganda. Sharlet writes:

We agreed that the first step was a statement making clear Bob’s opposition to the bill. Moreover, Bob adds “I know of no one involved in Uganda with the Fellowship here in America, including the most conservative among them, that supports such things as killing homosexuals or draconian reporting requirements, much less has gone over to Uganda to push such positions.”

That’s very, very good news. The Fellowship prefers to avoid the limelight; Bob has forsaken that to make clear his position and that of his American associates: The Fellowship, AKA the Family, opposes the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill. [Emphases in the original.]

In his book, Sharlet pointed out that while the Family has a strongly conservative bent, they do not exclude liberals or moderates from their ranks. Hunter had previously served in the Ford and Carter administrations, and had a strong background in consumer advocacy. Sharlet continues:

Over the course of the afternoon he [Hunter] shared with me his experience working with the Fellowship in Burundi, Rwanda, and South Africa. While I may take issue with the Fellowship’s behind-the-scenes approach, there’s no denying that in each of these cases Bob and his associates were working toward extremely admirable ends, and that in the case of Burundi Bob’s efforts helped make the difference that brought a truce to that country’s warring factions. Bob did what he did with the best of intentions, and, in several instances, achieved the best of outcomes.

While Sharlet exonerates Hunter’s role in the development of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, and further says that no American Family member has played a direct role in it’s promotion, he notes the religious revival that has taken place in Uganda since the 1980′s and the prominent role Americans, including Family members, have played in shaping the rhetorical nature of that revival including its anti-gay aspects. And he believes that those Family members have a special responsibility, which many of them are not living up to:

I’d add that through the Fellowship, a number of anti-gay American politicians have involved themselves with Ugandan affairs, most notably Senator James Inhofe, who has spoken of having “adopted” Uganda and who has been a guest at multiple Ugandan National Prayer Breakfasts. I don’t believe James Inhofe told David Bahati to push this legislation. I believe Inhofe when he says – under pressure – that he’s opposed to it. But the fact is, these powerful politicians, representatives of the most powerful nation on the world and its foreign aid generosity, are clear and candid in their opposition to homosexuality. That’s their right. But I believe they should therefore be even more clear and candid in their opposition to its criminalization. Theirs is a personal, religious position.  They should extra precautions to make clear that these positions are in absolutely no way linked to the relationships between the United States and foreign aid recipients. Not only have they not done that, they resisted even condemning the bill.

Click here to see BTB’s complete coverage of recent anti-gay developments in Uganda.

Uganda’s “Kill Gays” Bill Sparks Schism Inside The Family; U.S. Sens. Remain Silent

Jim Burroway

December 10th, 2009

Rachel Maddow had author Jeff Sharlet on her program last night. Sharlet is the author of The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, and has been following the connections of The Family to the current attempt in Uganda to legislate LGBT people out of existence through its draconian Anti-Homosexuality Act. That proposed Act is now reportedly being modified to drop the death penalty but add forced conversions. If true, that would provide even more evidence that the anti-gay conference last March by three American ex-gay proponents was a major factor in propelling this bill to where we are today.

Sharlet had earlier identified Ugandan Member of Parliament David Bahati, who introduced the Anti-Homosexuality Act in Uganda’s Parliament, as a “rising star” and member of The Family. It is The Family that organizes the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., and Bahati has played a role in organizing the Ugandan National Prayer Breakfast for some time.

While the March anti-gay conference in Kampala played a huge role in providing impetus for the proposed legislation, Sharlet reports that the idea for the draconian bill predates that conference. According to Sharlet, Bahati got the idea for the Anti-Homosexuality Act at the October 2008 Ugandan National Prayer Breakfast where he floated the idea during a private meeting. Sharlet reports that other Family members tried to dissuade Bahati from his plans, but in the end they work a balance “between access and accountability” and the decided that access to Ugandan political figures was more important than holding them accountable for the lives of a reviled minority.

Sharlet reports that Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) may have attended this particular prayer breakfast, although he’s still trying to get confirmation of that. He has been very active in Ugandan Prayer breakfasts in the past and travels to Uganda about twice a year. Ugandan Family members credit Inhofe for making the Ugandan National Prayer Breakfast a success.

Sharlet reports that the bill has caused something of a schism between the Ugandan and American branches of The Family. While several American members of The Family are quietly trying to put a stop to the bill, Sens. Inhofe and Sam Brownback (R-KS) have refused to step up, characterizing the bill as an internal Ugandan matter that they don’t want to “interfere” with — despite the fact that they’ve had no reluctance to “interfere” in Ugandan matters where condom distribution to fight AIDS is concerned.

David Bahati and Ethics and Integrity Minister James Nsaba Buturo plan to come to the American National Prayer Breakfast in February 2009. Sharlet reports that the Ugandans pushing for this bill may be dis-invited to the Prayer Breakfast.

L-R: Unidentified woman, American holocaust revisionist Scott Lively, International Healing Foundation's Caleb Brundidge, Exodus International boardmember Don Schmierer, Family Life Network (Uganda)'s Stephen Langa, at the time of the March 2009 anti-gay conference in Uganda.

L-R: Unidentified woman, American holocaust revisionist Scott Lively, International Healing Foundation's Caleb Brundidge, Exodus International boardmember Don Schmierer, Family Life Network (Uganda)'s Stephen Langa, at the time of the March 2009 anti-gay conference in Uganda.

This is important news to help place the line of events into context. While it appears that the anti-gay conference put on by three American ex-gay proponents wasn’t the source for the idea of outlawing LGBT people, it certainly played a major role in making this proposal a reality by putting a public face on the “pressure” for the legislation. That conference served as a launching pad for a public campaign demanding that “something be done” — a campaign that included further meetings and demonstrations, culminating in an orgy of public outings and denunciations as part of a national vigilante campaign. Throughout the campaign, the words and writings of the three American activists were used as fuel to propel the hysteria further. All of this breathed new life into a germ of an idea hatched five months earlier.

Click here to see BTB’s complete coverage of the past year’s anti-gay developments in Uganda.

Rachel Maddow: Should US Politicians Try To Stop The “Kill Gays” Bill?

Jim Burroway

December 5th, 2009

Rachel Maddow last night reviewed the role that Rick Warren has played in Uganda, including his siding with the Ugandan Anglican Church against the U.S. Episcopal Church over the ordination of gay clergy and bishops even though Warren’s background is Baptist.

Maddow also reviewed the role that several U.S. politicians — specifically Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS), Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), Sen. John Ensign (R-NV), Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA), and Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) — in their own meddling in Uganda’s political affairs, mostly in changing Uganda’s previously successful fight against AIDS by insisting on abstinence only education. These politicians, it should be noted, are also all members of the secretive Evangelical group The Family, which seeks to “take over” (in Family leader Doug Coe’s words) the political, business and other power spheres around the world in a sort of “trickle down” national salvation plan, as opposed to focusing on individual salvation that is at the core of orthodox Christianity.

Rachel’s panel last night consisted of Congressman Anthony Wiener (D-NY); Melissa Harris-Lacewell, Associate Professor of Politics and African American Studies at Princeton University; and New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof. She asked them a very pertinent question:

“Is it reasonable to expect that American politicians who have been, frankly, pretty interventionist in Uganda in the past, should be trying to stop the ‘kill the gays’ bill there?”

Click here to see BTB’s complete coverage of recent anti-gay developments in Uganda.