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Posts for January, 2011

Scott Lively’s New Leaf?

Jim Burroway

January 5th, 2011

The Boston Globe has an interesting profile of Scott Lively this morning, in which he claims that he is turning aside his old ways and focusing more on helping the downtrodden in his adopted hometown of Springfield, Massachuetts:

Every day, patrons stream to the Christian folk shows and Bible classes at Holy Grounds Coffee House, the café he opened about two months ago on a block not far from downtown. A thousand people turned out for the March for Jesus he led from the café to the steps of City Hall on the day before Easter. And dozens of children and parents flocked to a city park for his annual Family Day celebration, featuring a water slide, face painting, and grilled food. Even the mayor stopped by that event.

“You can’t walk down the street without being greeted by somebody saying, ‘Hey, Rev. Scott!’ ’’ said Lively, an evangelical pastor who moved to Springfield from California in January 2008. “It’s very satisfying.’’

…“He has won the hearts of his people with his sincerity and the things he’s doing in the community,’’ said Archbishop Timothy Paul, pastor of the Basilica of the Holy Apostles and president of the Council of Churches of Greater Springfield. “But I don’t believe people in Springfield really know who he is.’’

Who Scott Lively really is, is the virulently anti-gay activist whose Abiding Truth Ministriues has been on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s very short list of  anti-gay hate groups for a few years now.  Not only that but Lively is co-founder of Watchmen On the Walls, another identified hate group (it was those Watchmen connections that brought him to Springfield), and he has worked with Massachusetts-based School of Christian Activism and MassResistance, two more identified hate groups. He is the author of author of the widely discredited book, The Pink Swastika, in which he claims that the Nazi movement was, at its core, a gay movement, and that the inevitable result of LGBT equality would be the imposition of murderous fascism.

In 2009, he took his message to Uganda with Exodus International board member Don Schmierer and International Healing Foundation’s Caleb Lee Brundidge (Brundidge went on behalf of IHF head Richard Cohen). He would later brag that his messages was  a nuclear bomb against the gay agenda, which helped to prepare the groundwork for the introduction of the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda’s Parliament.

The Globe provides considerable coverage of those events. Lively is unrepentant in his views about gay people, but he now says he has changed his focus.

“We’re not fighting the culture wars here in Springfield,’’ he said. “The issues here are more fundamental than that. You can’t deal with the culture wars with people who are struggling to survive. Those issues are not relevant. These are people who are trying to live.’’

“This whole mission in Springfield is to show by example the positive side of all this — that when you follow the Biblical approach and try to be as true to him [God] as you can, you get the maximum positive benefit for yourself and society,’’ he said. “It’s completely different from all the things that I’ve done in the past, which is going against the wrongs. We’re working toward what is right.’’

…Lively’s café features soft music and free Bibles, but no copies of “Pink Swastika,’’ or “7 Steps to Recruit-Proof Your Child.’’ On a recent day, two teenagers chatted at one table, and two lounged on a sofa, while a few regulars talked with the long-haired manager, Michael Free, who offers blessings to patrons.

So, has Lively fully abandoned the culture war? I doubt it. He’s made similar noises before, but since then has argued that repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” would result in a Nazi takeover of the U.S. military, and he went on The Daily Show to say that gay men exhibit absolutely no moral restraint whatsoever. More recently, he ran as a write-in candidate for Massachusetts governor with MassResistance’s endorsement.

The Globe closes with Lively saying;

“If someone were looking for Scott Lively to stop being involved in the other stuff, this is it,’’ he said in an interview in his café. “Those people who criticize me, they should be happy.”

Believe me, I will be very happy when I never have to write about him again. Let’s see where we are, say, a year from now.

Couple recognition, state by state

Timothy Kincaid

December 1st, 2010

Upon the governor’s signature, Illinois will become the second state that is currently offering civil unions to same-sex couples. The status of the various recognition mechanisms is as follows:

Marriage
on the same terms as heterosexual marriage – 5.1% of US Population:

Massachusetts
Connecticut
Iowa
Vermont
New Hampshire
District of Columbia

Civil Unions
– a rights except the name – 7.1% of US Population:

New Jersey
Illinois

Domestic Partnerships will all the rights except the name – 16.3% of US Population

California
Oregon
Washington
Nevada

Limited recognition of same-sex couples – 6.2% of US Population

Hawaii – Reciprocal Benefits
Colorado – Reciprocal Benefits
Wisconsin – Domestic Partnerships
Maine – Domestic Partnerships
Maryland – Domestic Partnerships

In addition, the states of Maryland and New York (6.4% of US Population) will give full recognition to same-sex marriages conducted where legal. Rhode Island may possibly do so also (it’s a bit uncertain) and offers unregistered Domestic Partnerships with a scant handful of rights.

Also, there are dozens of cities offer some form of recognition and protection for same-sex couples.

Obama Administration appeals DOMA ruling

Timothy Kincaid

October 12th, 2010

From NPR:

The U.S. Department of Justice on Tuesday defended the federal law defining marriage as between a man and a woman by appealing two rulings in Massachusetts by a judge who called the law unconstitutional for denying federal benefits to gay married couples.

In two separate cases, U.S. District Judge Joseph Tauro in July ruled the federal Defense of Marriage Act, known as DOMA, is unconstitutional because it interferes with a state’s right to define marriage and denies married gay couples an array of federal benefits given to heterosexual married couples, including the ability to file joint tax returns.

The notice of appeal filed Tuesday did not spell out any arguments in support of the law. The appeals eventually will be heard by the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston.

According to GLAD, briefs will be filed before First Circuit Court of Appeals probably between now and next spring, with oral arguments likely to be heard in the fall of 2011.

The Department of Justice had an obligation to defend the law. But there is no legal obligation to appeal the rulings of the court.

Fierce advocate in action.

Will DOJ respond today in appeal of DOMA?

Timothy Kincaid

October 12th, 2010

By my counting, today is the day that the Department of Justice must file an appeal to the court ruling which found that portions of the Defense of Marriage Act to violate the US Constitution. If not challenged, this decision would allow residents of Massachusetts who are in a same-sex marriage to have federal recognition of their marriage.

MassResistance Endorses Scott Lively As Write-In Candidate for Governor

Jim Burroway

August 13th, 2010

Scott Lively calls Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Bill "the lesser of two evils."

MassResistance, the most prominent group in Massachusetts that has been fighting a quixotic battle against ‘the state’s same-sex marriage law since the Goodridge decision, has become increasingly rabid in its anti-gay opposition. So much so, that they are one of only fourteen anti-gay hate groups tracked by the Southern Poverty Law Center. (That’s out of 932 active hate groups in the United States the SPLC tracked in 2009.) But to give you an indication of how firmly entrenched they are in the politics of personal vilification, MassResistance has now endorsed holocaust revisionist Scott Lively as write-in candidate for Massachusetts governor in the GOP primary:

Lively is everything that (GOP primary front-runner) Charlie Baker is not. He is principled, pro-family, pro-life, pro-traditional marriage, pro-2nd-amendment, pro-religion, pro-parents’ rights, and utterly fearless.

Send a clear message to the RINO establishment

There’s nothing quite like voting for someone you actually support, rather than the lesser of two (or three) evils.

And by thousands (we hope!) of people voting for Scott Lively as a write-in candidate in the September 14 Republican Primary, a very strong statement will be made to the RINO Republican establishment, especially since relatively few people vote in most primaries. Don’t assume you own us. What you’re selling, we’re not buying. The people running the Massachusetts Republican Party love to use social conservatives to do the grunt work on campaigns, but they arrogantly see themselves as above “dirtying” themselves with the principled issues that conservatives care about.

Scott Lively is best known as the author of the widely discredited book, The Pink Swastika, in which he claims that the Nazi movement was, at its core, a gay movement, and that the inevitable result of LGBT equality would be the imposition of murderous fascism. He recently argued that repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” would result in a Nazi takeover of the U.S. military, and he told The Daily Show that gay men exhibit absolutely no moral restraint whatsoever.

In March 2009, Lively was one of three American anti-gay activists to deliver what he called his “Nuclear Bomb against the gay agenda” at a conference in Kampala, Uganda which ultimately led to the introduction of the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda’s Parliament. That bill calls for the death penalty against LGBT people under certain circumstances, and virtually criminalizes knowing or providing services to gay people. Lively has called that bill “a step in the right direction” and “the lesser of two evils,” although he claims to oppose the death penalty and has falsely claimed on multiple occasions that the death penalty has been removed from the bill. It has not. The bill, while unchanged, now appears stalled in two Parliamentary committees following international outcry.

Scott Lively himself is no stranger to the SPLC’s list of anti-gay hate groups. His own Abiding Truth Ministries, now based in Springfield, Massachusets, is also listed as an anti-gay hate group. He has worked closely with the other two Massachusetts-based anti-gay hate groups. He delivered a series of lectures at the School of Christian Activism, which is a ministry of the New Generation Christian Center. New Generation itself is a ministry of Latvia-based pastor Alexey Ledyaev, founder of the New Generation Movement. Lively and Ledyaev co-founded an international anti-gay movement known as Watchmen On the Walls, which is also listed as an anti-gay hate group by the SPLC.

(By the way, here’s a trivia note. The picture that MassResistance posted in their endorsement of Scott Lively is a cropped version of my screen-capture from video of Lively speaking on the first day of a Watchmen On the Walls conference in Riga, Latvia. What, they couldn’t get a headshot from their good friend?)

Which means, for those of you keeping track, that Lively is now working very closely with four of the fourteen anti-gay hate groups tracked by the SPLC.

Scott Lively’s ties with MassResistance are deep. He has appeared on MassResistance’s podcast as far back as 2006, and his writings are promoted in MassResistance’s web site. Last March, Lively joined Peter LaBarbera to speak at a MassResistance banquet. Last March, Lively joined Peter LaBarbera to speak at a MassResistance banquet.

MassResistance’s Brian Camenker spoke at a rally put on by the Plymouth Rock Tea Party last July. This appearance followed the cancellation of another Tea Party rally on the Lexington Battle Green due to controversy over Camenker’s participation.  Camenker will also appear at a South Boston Tea Party rally on Aug 22, where the featured speaker will be Don Feder. It should come as no surprise that Feder, who once described himself as being “to the right of Attila the Hun,” was also a featured speaker at the Watchmen’s Riga conference. Anti-gay extremism forms a very tight little world.

Prop 8 Rallies Planned

Jim Burroway

August 4th, 2010

As Timothy mentioned yesterday afternoon, we received word that a decision in Perry v. Schwarzenegger is expected this afternoon between 1:00 and 3:00 pm (PDT). Already, Prop 8 supporters have already filed a request for stay of judgment pending appeal, in case Judge Walker strikes down Prop 8. If granted, this would prevent any marriages taking until the Court of Appeals hears the case.

Meanwhile, a large number of rallies are planned in California and across the U.S., forty so far and counting. Rex Wockner is keeping up to date with the latest additions.

Margaret Marshall to retire

Timothy Kincaid

July 21st, 2010

From the Boston Globe

Marshall, 66, was appointed to the Supreme Judicial Court as an associate justice in 1996 by former governor William F. Weld, becoming just the second woman on the SJC, which claims to be the oldest appellate court in the Western hemisphere, having dealt with its first case in 1692. Marshall was elevated to her current post in 1999 by then-governor Paul Cellucci.

In 2003, Marshall authored the court’s majority decision that for the first time in Western legal circles, found that same-sex marriages were a lawful extension of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights, the state’s Constitution.

“The Massachusetts Constitution affirms the dignity and equality of all individuals,” Marshall wrote for the 4-3 majority. “It forbids the creation of second-class citizens.”

Marshall wishes to spend more time with her husband who has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. We owe this woman a great debt of gratitude and wish her much happiness in her retirement.

GOP Gubernatorial candidate marches in Boston gay pride

Timothy Kincaid

June 20th, 2010

We are accustomed to Democratic candidates – often for high office – showing support and seeking voters among their gay constituents. But last weekend an event occurred that is telling about the future of our community. Charlie Baker, the Republican candidate for Governor, joined the Democratic candidate Deval Patrick, by marching in Boston’s gay pride parade.

Well, yes, it is Massachusetts. And Baker’s running mate is openly gay. But still, this is the GOP candidate.

And perhaps the most interesting aspect is that no one even seem to think that this is in any way interesting. No national party members are ranting. Local GOP officials are happy. Senators from Alabama and Oklahoma are not calling for his head. Rush isn’t frothing and Newt isn’t out looking for a write-in to support.

No one cares.

Oh, the MassResistance crowd is angry (especially because he marched with the guys who set up KnowThyNeighbor.org). But they can’t get anyone to return their calls these days.

And that is an encouraging sign.

Massachusetts Legislature Passes Anti-Bullying Measure

Jim Burroway

April 29th, 2010

Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover

Both houses of the Massachusetts legislature approved an anti-bullying law spurred on by the deaths of two youths who committed suicide following episodes of bullying by their classmates. The unanimous votes in both houses was on a reconciling bill which ironed out difference in two earlier bills from each house. The legislation will require school employees to report all instances of bullying and require principals to investigate them. A spokesman for the governor’s office said that Gov. Deval Patrick (D) will review the bill, but that he saw its passage as a “top priority.”

The impetus for the bill came from the suicides of Phoebe Prince and 11-year-old Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, who killed himself just over a year ago over taunts about his perceived sexuality.

Baker/Tisei win MA GOP nomination

Timothy Kincaid

April 19th, 2010

The Republicans in Massachusetts have selected their nominee for Governor. And this year, they can choose between a Democrat, a Republican, and an Independent, all of whom are pro-choice and all of whom support same-sex marriage.

Charles Baker, the Republican, had a primary opponent going into the state convention. Christy Mihos also supports gay marriage but believes that “the people should be able to vote on it.” As Mihos did not get at least 15% of the nomination vote, and Baker will be the candidate without a primary election vote.

The convention also endorsed Baker’s running mate, Senate minority leader Richard Tisei; as the sole candidate he won unanimously. If Tisei is elected as Lieutenant Governor, he will be the highest ranking openly gay politician in the nation.

It is six years since same-sex marriage became legal in Massachusetts and it is so non-controversial that there were no candidates who favor “traditional marriage” laws. And the one candidate who supports “let the people vote” wasn’t able to get more than 11% of Republican Party delegates to vote for him.

How does that fit with your “poll“, Maggie Gallagher?

Nearly half of all Americans live where there is some recognition of same-sex couples

Timothy Kincaid

March 3rd, 2010

US Map

About 5.1% of Americans (15.5 million) live in areas in which same-sex marriages are legal and equal to opposite-sex marriages: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, and the District of Columbia.

Another 58.4 million (19.2%) live in states which have either civil unions or domestic partnerships that offer all the rights and protections of marriage without the name: California, New Jersey, Oregon, Nevada, and Washington. To that we can add two more states (New York and Maryland) in which the local state government will honor marriage occurring elsewhere and we have a total of 32.6% of Americans living with the rights and responsibilities of marriage available to their family.

There are also five states which recognize same-sex couples and offer them limited itemized rights. They are Hawaii, Colorado, Wisconsin, Maine, and Rhode Island and they add an additional 14.2 million Americans (4.7%).

But recognition does not stop there. There are dozens more counties and cities who provide what local recognition and benefits as they can, adding another 14.2 million local residents (4.7% of Americans) who can appreciate that their city officials see them as a couple. Local municipalities include the populations of Salt Lake City, UT; Phoeniz AZ; Tuscon AZ; Duluth, MN; Minneapolis, MN; St. Paul, MN; Lawrence, KS; Columbia, MO; Kansas City, MO; St. Lewis, MO; Ann Arbor, MI; Cook County, IL (Chicago); Urbana, IL; Cleveland, OH; Cleveland Heights, OH; Toledo, OH; Philadelphia, PA; Pittsburgh, PA; Harrisburg, PA; El Paso, TX; Travis County, TX (Austin); Eureka Springs, AK; New Orleans, LA; Carrboro, NC; Chapel Hill, NC; Clarke County, GA (Athens); Fulton County, GA (Atlanta); Broward County, FL (Fort Lauderdale); Key West, FL; Miami-Dade County, FL; and West Palm Beach, FL.

In total about 140 million Americans – about 46% of the nation’s population – live where there is some form of official notice of same-sex couples. So NOM can proclaim “victory” when they have an election in California or Maine, but this ball is rolling and the momentum is in the direction of recognition.

Senator-Elect Scott Brown talks gay issues

Timothy Kincaid

January 31st, 2010

walters brownMassachusetts’ newly elected Senator, Scott Brown, spoke with Barbara Walters on ABC This Week and part of the conversation included his stance on issues of importance to the gay community.

On Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the Military’s ban on service by openly gay men and women.

WALTERS: You have been a member of the National Guard for 30 years. You’ve talked about how important that service is.

BROWN: Yes.

WALTERS: You’re a Lieutenant-Colonel. On Wednesday the president announced that he wants to work with Congress to repeal don’t ask, don’t tell. What’s your view?

BROWN: I think it’s important, because as you know we’re fighting two wars right now. And the most — the first priority is to — is to — is to finish the job, and win those wars. I’d like to hear from the Generals in the field — in the field — the people that actually work with these soldiers to make sure that, you know, the social change is not going to disrupt our ability to finish the job and complete the wars.

WALTERS: But Senator, your own view.

BROWN: That’s my view.

WALTERS: So you can’t say whether you’re for or against it?

BROWN: No. I’m going to wait to speak to the generals on the ground.

I find this exchange both encouraging and troubling.

Obviously Scott Brown has an opinion and is just hedging his bets. And I am not happy that he is discussing the issue as a “social change” and see it in terms of “disrupting”. But it is also nice that the Republican whom the party is lauding as the face of a cultural change is not speaking against the repeal.

Also encouraging is that much of the information that we hear suggests that our problem is with the Pentagon, not with generals in the field. If Brown is sincere – and for now we should give him the benefit of the doubt – there is a good chance that if he does speak to field operations, he’ll hear that good troups are more valuable to the war effort than anti-gay policies. It all depends on whether the officers to whom he speaks have had to lose soldiers that they valued and did not want to let go.

But if Brown is simply looking for an excuse to take an anti-gay position, I’m certain that he can readily find “generals on the ground” who will agree with him. When reporting what you heard from “generals on the ground” (anonymously, of course), they can say anything that your imagination can contrive.

On marriage:

WALTERS: And gay marriage is legal in the state of Massachusetts. But the Republican party platform language calls for the overthrow of Roe v. Wade, and they want a federal ban on gay marriage. Are you out of step with your party, or do you think that the party has to broaden, and change its platform?

BROWN: Well I’ve always been a big tent person, you know? We need more people to come into our tent to express their views in a respectful and thoughtful manner.

And on the marriage issue that you brought up, it’s settled here in Massachusetts, but I believe that states should have the ability to determine their own destiny and the government should not be interfering with individual states’ rights on issues that they deal with on a daily basis.

Again, this seems to be language that can leave open a lot of options.

It would seem clear that Brown will not support a Federal Marriage Amendment. But if the Supreme Court overturns Proposition 8, will that be justification for him to vote for a federal amendment to reverse that decision?

And what does this mean for DOMA? Can one truly be “states’ rights” and not support having the federal government honor the marriages of states that provide marriage equality?

We know from his efforts in the Massachusetts legislature that he is not an advocate for marriage equality. But he’s had five years to see that the sky hasn’t fallen and that churches aren’t being shuttered and that his neighbors, liberal and conservative, have come to accept and support the change.

I think there is much to hope for from Scott Brown. We should not expect an ally or even a secure vote on any issues, but if we do not approach him as an enemy I think that it is possible that we will find that Scott Brown could be a crucial bi-partisan vote on some issues of concern to our community.

Scott Brown wins Massachusetts Senate seat: what does that mean?

This commentary is the opinion of the author and may not necessarily reflect that of other authors at Box Turtle Bulletin

Timothy Kincaid

January 19th, 2010

A month ago it was all but certain that Martha Coakley would be the successor to the US Senator from Massachusetts seat that had been held by Teddy Kennedy for four decades. And the Whitehouse, along with congressional leadership made a decision that now seems foolhardy and arrogant: they assumed that they would have a filibuster-proof majority for another year.

So they made the strategic decision to freeze out Republican involvement in running the government, most specifically in reforming healthcare. Choosing to have this reform be the centerpiece of the Party’s image for the next decade, they excluded Republicans from the talk, instead negotiating among Democrats behind closed doors.

Today this looks to have been a major mistake. With the election of Scott Brown to the Senate, Republicans now control 41 votes, effectively killing President Obama’s efforts to revise the health industry as he wishes. Scott Brown’s election has put the brakes on what has been a rapid gallop in a new direction, definitely eliminating such possibilities as a “public option”.

What Brown’s election means to the administration is that the honeymoon is over. And the election of a Republican to represent the state of Massachusetts sends a signal that November may be a sad time for Democratic Party leadership.

But what does Brown’s election mean for our community?

Not good, but perhaps not catastrophe.

The irony is that while many progressive gay activists support the “public option” and were hoping that Coakley’s election would allow Democrats to pursue this dream, it may be advantageous to our community that such a provision is no longer likely.

Any movement of health care coverage from private industry to federal oversight could have disastrous impact on the lives of gay men and women. While a great many private companies provide spousal coverage to same-sex partners, such provisions are banned by the Defense of Marriage Act. And as I understand it, the legislation that has been proposed takes little notice that gay people and gay couples exist.

On specific gay issues, Martha Coakley would have been an ardent supporter of our community in the Senate (filling in Kennedy’s shoes). I think, however, there are signs that Scott Brown will likely not be an ardent opponent.

Although Brown has recently been cast as “homophobic”, it does not appear that he is comparable to, say, Sam Brownback. Brown is a dedicated enemy to marriage equality but has stated that he supports civil unions. Further, he has commented that in Massachusetts, the decision has already been made.

On a Federal level some have suggested that he would support a Defense of Marriage Act to change the US Constitution to ban same-sex marriage, but that appears to conflict with the following statement on his website:

I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. States should be free to make their own laws in this area, so long as they reflect the people’s will as expressed through them directly, or as expressed through their elected representatives.

And Brown appears to have avoided running an anti-gay campaign.

None of which suggests that he is a friend. The Boston Globe says that he opposes the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (I would welcome a more direct source, which I’m having difficulty finding). He also is credited with opposition to lifting the ban on open service in the military. Also, Brown may feel that he owes much of his success to social conservatives, like National Organization for Marriage, who provided substantial financial and strategic support.

So I think we can safely assume that he will not vote with us on marriage or military issues. But I don’t see him as a likely to seek to attract too much attention by being sharply anti-gay. He does, after all, still have to answer to the voters in Massachusetts who prefer their Republicans to be at least moderately supportive.

I am reasonable hopeful that on such issues as discrimination, immigration, and the like we have a decent chance at competing for Scott Brown’s vote. Perhaps now is a good time to try think about building bridges to the Senate’s newest member.

Church marriage comes to E. MA Episcopalians

Timothy Kincaid

November 30th, 2009

Bishop ShawA favorite tactic of anti-gay activists is to pretend that changes to civil marriage law will require churches to change their religious practices in some way. But to do so requires a willful determination to ignore the evidence to the contrary (or a willful determination to lie).

And a decision made by an Episcopal Bishop in Eastern Massachusetts proves the point. Although gay and lesbian couples have had the right to legally marry in that state, they could not do so in an Episcopal Church or with an Episcopal priest presiding. Priests could “bless their union”, but not declare “by the power vested in me” that they were married.

Until now. (Boston Globe)

Five years after same-sex marriage became legal in Massachusetts, the local Episcopal bishop yesterday gave permission for priests in Eastern Massachusetts to officiate at same-sex weddings.

The decision by Bishop M. Thomas Shaw III was immediately welcomed by advocates of gay rights in the Episcopal Church, who have chafed at local rules that allowed priests to bless same-sex couples, but not sign the documents that would solemnize their marriages.

This change in policy should cause anti-gays to worry. But not for any reason that they will admit.

Contrary to the political ads and fiery denunciations from pulpits, changes to civil marriage laws do not require churches to do anything. But they do provide the framework under which same-sex couples can live exemplary lives and show conscientious religious leaders that their objections are based not in principle but in presumption and false impression.

Civil marriage equality will in time lead many many churches to not only adapt to including same-sex marriages but to also hold up such commitments as the most appropriate venues for love and sexual expression for same-sex attracted persons. But this change will be voluntary, a change of heart based on decency, empathy, compassion, and their observation of married couples in their pews.

Anti-gays speak loudly of “religious freedom” and of the fear of coercive efforts to compel them to follow man-made laws rather than God’s laws. But I believe that a voluntary change of heart is something that anti-gays fear far more than any coercion from government.

And I believe that their efforts to ban marriage equality are designed and intended more to deny religious freedom to those who, like the Episcopal Church, would celebrate such marriages than they are to stop that small percentage of the population who would avail themselves of the opportunity.

Yes, anti-gays lost political battles in Massachusetts over the last five years. But their real losses are felt in the announcement of Bishop Shaw.

Gay MA Lt. Gov. Candidate

Timothy Kincaid

November 23rd, 2009

Massachusetts residents are going to have the opportunity to vote for an openly gay Lieutenant Governor. Or, at least if they are Republican, they will be. (Boston.com)

Gubernatorial candidate Charles Baker followed a Massachusetts Republican tradition on Monday by selecting a veteran state legislator to be his running mate in next year’s election.

Baker, the former Harvard Pilgrim Health Care president, tapped Sen. Richard Tisei as his ally for a primary against fellow Republican Christy Mihos. The winner faces the Democratic incumbent, Gov. Deval Patrick, and state Treasurer Timothy Cahill, who is running as an independent, in the November 2010 general election.

Tisei is the minority leader in the Senate. And while it was long an “open secret” that he’s gay, last week he made his orientation public, saying “It is not exactly a news flash. I don’t think people really care these days.’”

Tisei, who owns a real estate company in Lynnfield, is the most veteran Republican in the Senate, have first won election in 1984 at the age of 22. Now 47, he served six years in the House before winning the first of ten consecutive two-year terms in the Senate.

While describing himself as a fiscal conservative, Tisei is considered a social liberal. He revealed last week that he is gay, and he has supported efforts to legalize gay marriage in Massachusetts. Baker recently revealed his brother is gay, and he has been a longtime supporter of gay marriage.

Baker has the support of the Republican party structure in Massachusetts and the endorsement of the four prior Republican governors (yes, including Mitt Romney).

Administration to Massachusetts: “You Can’t Force Us to Treat Gay People Equally”

Timothy Kincaid

November 2nd, 2009

The State of Massachusetts is suing the Federal Government over what is, at heart, a states-rights issue.

For the history of our nation, the states have the right to determine and define marriage. Although the US Supreme Court placed limitations on the definition, barring states from denying mixed-race marriages, the states have enjoyed broad freedoms in this area. The age one can marry varies, as does blood test requirements, residency rules, pre-marital counseling, closely related relative rules, and a number of other issues.

And for the history of our nation, the Federal Government has said that if your state recognized your marriage, they would as well.

Until 1996. That year the Federal government passed the Defense of Marriage Act, in which it said “The federal government defines marriage as a legal union exclusively between one man and one woman.”

In 2004 Massachusetts began allowing marriage between persons of the same sex. But the federal government, for the first time, refused to recognize the state’s legal marriage. So Massachusetts is suing the feds claiming that not only do they not have the right to define marriageas “a legal union exclusively between one man and one woman”, they don’t have the right to define it at all.

The Obama Administration, announced that while the President opposes DOMA, his administration will defend it in court. On Friday we got a taste of the direction of that defense.

The Department of Justice is entirely ignoring the rights of states to have their marriages recognized and is instead posturing the argument as that of a state trying to dictate the benefits policies of the Federal Government.

Stating that “There is, however, no fundamental right to marriage-based federal benefits,” the feds are saying that therefore they can pick and choose to whom they will provide benefits. They are, of course, failing to acknowledge that such benefits are, and have always been, based on qualifications that are defined by states. (A/P)

Justice Dept. spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler said any state “can allow gay and lesbian citizens to marry and can make its own decisions about how to treat married couples when it comes to state benefits.”

“Massachusetts is not being denied the right to provide benefits to same-sex couples and, in fact, has enacted a law to provide equal health benefits to same-sex spouses,” she said.

But the issue isn’t about forcing the Feds to offer joint tax returns; rather, it is much bigger. It is about whether the State of Massachusetts is truly free to define marriage for the residents of their state or whether that determination has been transferred to Congress.

Perhaps the administration believes that DOMA will be reversed before the SCOTUS could hear this case. Otherwise, I’m not sure that they are pursuing an argument that holds much weight.

Either the Federal Government recognizes marriages as defined by the states, or it has some unique recognition of its own. Either it accepts the registration of the states, or it applies a consistent nation-wide registry with rules relating to age, blood-line, testing, counseling all consistent from sea to shining sea. And considering that states have jealously held family law as their purview, such a usurpation of states’ rights would likely result in political revolt.

But without such a registry, the feds may be facing a tough legal challenge. It is difficult to argue for recognition as defined by the various states – with a narrow exception solely to exclude same-sex marriages – without running foul of the problems that Colorado found in Romer v. Evans. You cannot create and define a group of people solely for the cause of denying them the rights shared by others. And with a handful of states now recognizing, registering, and solemnizing same-sex marriages, excluding just those couples seems to me to be a clear violation.

Consequences of Same-Sex Marriage: Lowest Divorce Rate Since WWII

Jim Burroway

September 4th, 2009

Massachusetts was the first state in the union to grant full marriage rights to same-sex couples. They’ve been at it now for five years, and what do we have to show for it?

According to the most recent data from the National Center For Vital Statistics, Massachusetts retains the national title as the lowest divorce rate state, and the MA divorce rate is about where the US divorce rate was in 1940, prior to the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor that triggered the US entrance into World War Two.

Provisional data from 2008 indicates that the Massachusetts divorce rate has dropped from 2.3 per thousand in 2007 down to about 2.0 per thousand for 2008. What does that mean ? To get a sense of perspective consider that the last time the US national divorce rate was 2.0 per thousand (people) was 1940. You read that correctly. The Massachusetts divorce rate is now at about where the US divorce rate was the year before the United States entered World War Two.

Mass Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Is Pro-Gay

Jim Burroway

July 30th, 2009

A fiscal conservative and pro-gay in Massachusetts. Could this be the future of the Republican Party?

Republican Charles D. Baker officially entered the governor’s race this morning, filing his paperwork and then swiftly launching into an attack of Governor Deval Patrick’s handling of the state’s budget and economy.

Baker immediately pledged not to raise taxes as governor, and even said he would try to lower the state’s increased sales tax – which will go from 5 percent to 6.25 percent on Saturday – if he is elected.

…He said he was prochoice and was in favor of gay marriage – “My brother’s gay, and he’s married, and he lives in Massachusetts, so I’m for it. Is that straight enough?”

Showing Christ

Timothy Kincaid

July 21st, 2009

Christians speak of “showing Christ” to the world around you. Sadly, too often this is expressed in forms of self-righteousness and public condemnation of others. Frankly, I often think that if this is Christ that you are showing me with your arrogance, condescension, and careless condemnation of those whom you don’t think are as good as you, then I want nothing of him.

But some have found a Christ to show the world that is quite unlike the one whose primary purpose seems to be passing laws to impose religious adherence by non-believers. Their Christ is more interested in helping the needy, healing the hurting, and loving the loveless.

Such a Christ is observed in the actions of Christians in Worcester County, Massachusetts. They have become a haven of safety and help to gay men and women from around the world who are fleeing oppression and torture in their homelands. (Worcester Telegram)

For the past year, Hadwen Park Congregational Church has provided gay immigrants with food and money for clothes and rent, as well as spiritual and emotional support. Lutheran Social Services, which helps many immigrants apply for asylum, established a program to help gay immigrants apply for asylum.

Immigrants such as the Ugandan tortured for two days by men trying to get him to give the names of the patrons of his gay bar. Or the Jamaican who was beaten by crowds four times. Or the Lebanese man sent to the hospital with a broken neck.

The United States government allows those persecuted for their orientation elsewhere to see asylum in America. But few social service programs are available for these victims of brutality, and they are not allowed to work while waiting.

The church’s program is unique in the United States, church members believe; the Lutheran Social Services asylum program for gay immigrants is one of only a handful nationwide.

And theirs is no hand-off missions program designed to placate liberal guilt.

The church started by feeding the gay immigrants with its food pantry, then paying their rent and cell phone bills. Parishioners took immigrants on shopping trips for clothes and other essentials. Two parishioners offered to host two immigrants in their home. The immigrants started coming to the church, telling their stories, and connecting with people who don’t judge them.

Now the Christ of the Hadwen Park Congregational Church and Lutheran Social Services in Worcester, Massachusetts, is a Christ that the world could see much more of.

“We’re Going To Suffer Some Kind Of Infrastructure Collapse” — All Because Of The Gays

Jim Burroway

July 16th, 2009

In an amateur video posted this week on YouTube, Scott Lively talked about his work in “re-Christianizing America,” which is threatened by an “infrastructure collapse” brought on by that dreaded gay agenda:

Frankly, I see things simply disintegrating very rapidly and I believe that we’re going to suffer some kind of infrastructure collapse in this society because of the failure of moral culture, and that Christians have a responsibility to continue to oppose this disintegration.”

Scott Lively is famous for his book, The Pink Swastika, which claims that the Nazi party was, at it’s core, a murderous homosexual movement, and that fascism is the inevitable result of any expansion of gay rights. Last spring, he appeared at an anti-gay conference in Kampala, Uganda with Exodus board member Don Schmierer. That conference called for a strengthening of that country’s already draconian law against homosexuality which already provides for a lifetime imprisonment for those convicted. That conference kicked off a long-running public anti-gay vigilante campaign which is still reverberating through the country. A bill has been announced before Uganda’s parliament to rescind free-speech protections for LGBT people and place an outright ban on all advocacy on their behalf.

In this latest video, Lively sees himself as a missionary to Massachusetts, saying he moved to Springfield from Temecula, California, because “Massachusetts is the most morally corrupt state in the union.” He offered his latest brain-droppings while preparing to speak before a committee of the Massachusetts House against a bill which would provide hate crime and non-discrimination protections on the basis of sexual identity and expression.  Lively identified that bill as one of “two hundred other bills that’s being heard today” which he thinks are just as bad, so he has to pick and choose his battles. “We don’t have time to deal with them all,” he shrugs. You can guess which one he chose:

The only solution we have to this kind of a problem is for good people, godly, god-fearing people who hold to the truth of the Bible to be sitting in those seats and making the decisions. Lacking that, we have to scramble to try to come and testify on the ones that are the most critical, like this transgender hate crimes bill, and sort of live with the frustration that our efforts are not sufficient to stop the trend.

Lively is optimistic though. He’s convinced that things will get so bad that people will eventually turn back to his particular version of God:

…[A]s it has always happened in the past, people are going to cry out to God, and they’re going to repent. They’re going to look for a way out of that problem, out of that crisis, just like happened right after 9/11. You remember it lasted three weeks or so after 9/11 you saw a little glimpse of that. But I think that’s going to happen again, and if those of us who are true to His Word are preparing ourselves for that day, then we will be able to begin to rebuild on a more Biblical and more logical and more family-friendly footing.”

Watch it:

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Scott Lively’s Abiding Truth Ministries is one of only twelve groups on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of anti-gay hate groups. His is also co-founder of Watchmen On the Walls, another international group that is listed by the SPLC as an anti-gay hate group. Last January, he was a featured speaker at the MassResistance fundraiser, and appears to be forming links with that group. That would be a third SPLC anti-gay hate group he has ties to. The man certainly gets around.

Earlier this month, Lively announced that he would “no longer be monitoring the day-to-day developments of the culture war regarding homosexuality as closely.” I was skeptical. He’s not going away anytime soon.

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