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Posts for June, 2014

Supreme Court Declines to Review California’s Conversion Therapy Ban

Jim Burroway

June 30th, 2014

In other less-talked about Supreme Court news today, the high court declined to hear an appeal challenging California’s ban on sexual orientation change therapy for minors. This leaves in place a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling stating that the state of California had a legitimate interest in banning professional treatments that were considered harmful. As is customary, the Supreme Court didn’t give a reason for declining the appeal.

While California’s converstion therapy ban prohibits licensed professionals from providing change orientation therapy to minors, it does not apply to unlicensed religious-based ex-gay ministries, nor does it prohibit licensed professionals from providing sexual orientation change therapy to adults. Nevertheless, it’s likely to have a serious financial effect on licensed providers. In 2012, Joseph Nicolosi, co-founder of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) which bills itself as the professional arm of the ex-gay movement, admitted that about half of all NARTH clients are teens. NARTH, which had appealed the case to the Supreme Court with the help of Liberty Counsel, has not yet issued a statement responding to the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear their case. Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver issued a statement however that is about as nasty as it gets:

I am deeply saddened for the families we represent and for the thousands of children that our professional clients counsel, many of whom developed these unwanted attractions because of abuse of a pedophile. …These children have been victimized twice –  first by the likes of Jerry Sandusky, and second by legislators and judges who have essentially barged into their private therapy rooms and told them that they must pursue their unwanted and dangerous same-sex sexual attractions and behavior.

Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver: Recognizing People’s Marriages Is Just Like Slavery, Eugenics and the Japanese Internment

Jim Burroway

June 28th, 2013

They’re still chattering. Via Right Wing Watch:

I’m very dissapointed in this decision. I think this decision represents a line that the court has crossed into illegitimacy. We’ve seen this before in its history, where it decided the Dred Scott decision, which was an illigitimate decision; the Korematsu decision which was the Japanese interment decision; the Buck v. Bell decision that says its okay to force people to be sterilized, an illegitimate decision. All of which we say were dark spots in the Court’s history. I think today’s decision falls into that same category. This decision is by five justices that cut the tether between themselves and the Constitution. They are in their own fantasy world that there is somehow an equal protection right to mame-sex marriage.

Speaking of illegitimate: Mat Staver founder of Liberty Counsel. He’s also a vice president at Liberty university and the dean of its law school, which teaches his law students should ignore the law counsel their clients to break the law in favor of “God’s Law.” And according to a RICO lawsuit filed last year connecting his law school to the Miller-Jenkins kidnapping case, his law school practices what he teaches.

Mat Staver Reacts

Jim Burroway

November 8th, 2012

The Deaon of Liberty University Law School says elections don’t matter:

The event we have just witnessed was far more than a general election – it was a referendum on the soul of America. We grieve today like we have lost a friend or a close relative. Millions of Americans looked evil in the eye and adopted it. Some Christian observers called the Democratic Party platform for 2012 a “Romans 1 Platform,” and they were right. Abortion, same-sex marriage, and immorality carried the day.

God is not through with our nation! God calls us to remain faithful, no matter the consequences. We might be a Bonhoeffer in Nazi Germany who never lived to see the fruit of his faithful labor. We might be a Wilberforce in England who saw the fruit of his labor (the abolition of slavery and reformation of morals), but died soon after, never getting the chance to enjoy the results. We might even be a David who stood up against popular opinion and defeated a giant who blasphemed God Almighty.

We have a higher calling than the world. Our calling and our values do not depend on a survey or an election. Whether we are on the verge of revival or are soon to face the death chamber makes no difference in how we respond or how we act. Our obedience is to Christ and to Christ alone!

Not a surprising stand for him to take. His law school teaches his law students to ignore the law — and even counsel clients to break the law — in favor of “God’s Law.” And according to a RICO lawsuit filed in August connecting his law school to the Miller-Jenkins kidnapping case, his law school practices what he preaches.

RICO Suit Filed Against Liberty University and Others Over Isabella Miller-Jenkins Kidnapping

Jim Burroway

August 15th, 2012

Yesterday, Mennonite minister Kenneth Miller was convicted of aiding and abetting the abduction of Isabella Miller-Jenkins by her mother, Lisa Miller, who fled to Nicaragua with Isabella in violation of a court order transferring custody of Isabella to her former partner Janet Jenkins. (Kenneth Miller is reportedly not related to Lisa Miller.) During the trial, jurors heard testimony which revealed a wide-ranging conspiracy to illegally transport Lisa Miller and Isabella to Nicaragua, which has no extradition treaty with the United States. That conspiracy included several people, including those with ties to Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University

While the jury was deliberating, Janet Jenkins filed a lawsuit (PDF: 415KB/17 pages) with the U.S. District Court in Vermont under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), naming the following as defendants in an alleged international conspiracy to facilitate the kidnapping of Isabella Miller-Jenkins:

  • Kenneth L. Miller (No relation to Lisa Miller)
  • Lisa Ann Miller f/k/a Lisa Miller Jenkins
  • Timothy D. Miller (No relation to Lisa Miller)
  • Andrew Yoder, individually and as an agent for Christian AID Ministries, Inc.
  • Christian AID Ministries Inc.
  • Response Unlimited, Inc.
  • Philip Zodhiates, individually and as an agent for Response Unlimited, Inc.
  • Victoria Hyden f/k/a/ Victoria Zodhiates, individually and as an agent for both Repsonse Unlimited, Inc and Liberty University School of Law and its related ministry, Thomas Road Baptist Church
  • Liberty University School of Law and its related ministry, Thomas Road Baptist Church
  • Linda M Wall, individually and as an agent for Thomas Road Baptist Church.
  • Douglas Wright

The filing ties these names together in a remarkably detailed timeline in its charge against the defendants. Some of the info in this document have been reported before, and some of it appears to have come from the FBI’s original criminal complaint against Timithy Miller. The lawsuit alleges that by late summer of 2009, Lisa Miller, who had moved to Virginia with the assistance of Thomas Road Baptist Church:

35. On September 19, 2009, two days before her departure for Nicaragua, Lisa Miller and Isabella travelled back to Winchester, VA. During this trip, Lisa arranged to meet Defendant Wright in a parking lot so that she and Isabella could say “good-bye” to him. Defendant Wright testified under oath that by good-bye, he understood that Lisa and Isabella were leaving and he would not be seeing them again. At this meeting, Lisa Miller also asked Defendant Wright to help her dispose of some personal items. Pastor Wright understood that Lisa Miller would be taking Isabella away, and he did nothing to notify law enforcement of the situation

36. Unbeknownst to Plaintiff Janet Jenkins, on September 21,2009, Lisa Miller and Isabella were transported, in disguise as Amish-Mennonites, to the Canadian border by Philip Zodhiates and at least one other Response Unlimited, Inc. employee. Lisa Miller and Isabella crossed the border at the Rainbow Bridge in a taxi in the early morning hours of September 22, 2009, just days prior to the contact ordered by the Rutland Family Court in its September 2009 Interim Order.

37. In the days prior to September 22, 2009, Lisa Miller and Philip Zodhiates conspired with Kenneth Miller, a member of the Virginia Beachy Amish-Mennonite Brotherhood with whom both Victoria and Philip Zodhiates were acquainted, to arrange the purchase of plane tickets from Canada to Nicaragua for Lisa Miller and Isabella Miller-Jenkins. Kenneth Miller also arranged for a Canadian member of the Brotherhood to transport Lisa Miller from an Ontario Hotel to the Toronto airport. Lisa Miller and Isabella Miller-Jenkins flew to Mexico, then El Salvador, and then met Timothy Miller in Nicaragua. Timothy Miller was instructed by Kenneth Miller to purchase plane tickets for Lisa Miller and Isabella, and used his mother-in-law’s credit card to do so. Several days later, Kenneth Miller used cash to send a money order to reimburse Timothy Miller’s mother-in-law. This was done anonymously, and in such a way as to avoid detection in a clear effort to avoid the September visit, and the anticipated transfer of custody.

Timothy Miller was arrested in April, 2011 and charged with aiding in the removal of a child from the U.S. and retaining a child with intent to obstruct parental rights. Charges were later dropped in exchange for Timothy Miller’s cooperation, but it was during his arrest that the FBI’s criminal complaint detailed a wider network of conspirators in the kidnapping saga. Some of the information revealed in that criminal complaint makes its appearance in this lawsuit, but with a few additional details tying it all together:

38. Kenneth Miller was a pastor at the Pilgrim Christian Fellowship in Stuart’s Draft, VA and a leader within the Beachy Amish-Mennonite Community. He was also employed at his family’s garden center, Millmont Greenhouses, Inc., in Stuart’s Draft, VA.

39. Starting in September 2009, Lisa Miller and Isabella lived near or among the Beachy Amish-Mennonite Community in Nicaragua, hereinafter the (“Nicaragua Brethren”). This was all done in secret and in such a way as to avoid detection by United States authorities and Janet Jenkins. Lisa Miller would eventually go into “hiding” with Isabella among the Nicaragua Brethren, but would continue to communicate with members of Thomas Road Baptist Church with the assistance of Mr. Zodhiates, Kenneth Miller and members of the Nicaragua Brethren. Lisa Miller went by the name “Sarah” and Isabella was called “Lydia” while in Nicaragua.

41. Unbeknownst to Plaintiff Janet Jenkins, in 2009 Victoria Zodhiates (now Hyden) was an employee of Response Unlimited, Inc., and also a “student worker” at Liberty University School of Law. On information and belief, Victoria Zodhiates sent an email during this time period to her co-workers at the law school requesting donations for supplies to send to Lisa Miller to enable her to remain outside the country. Lisa Miller’s attorney, Matthew Staver was the Dean of the Law School and Ms. Zodhiates’s boss. Matthew Staver and Philip Zodhiates were also personal acquaintances at this time. On September 20, 2009, both Philip Zodhiates and Victoria Hyden called Lisa Miller’s father, Terry Miller in Tennessee to assist in arranging her and Isabella’s transportation from a Walmart parking lot in Lynchburg, Virginia, to Waynesboro, Virginia, from whence they would depart for Canada and Nicaragua the next day.

New to this lawsuit is the allegation which, if proven true, would directly implicate Thomas Road Baptist Church as part of the conspiracy:

42. In early November, 2009, elders of the Thomas Road Baptist Church packed up the personal belongings of Lisa Miller in two bags. These bags were picked up from Lynchburg, Virginia by Philip Zodhiates who arranged to have the bags transported to Nicaragua by sending them with his son’s school teacher who was taking some children on a mission trip to Managua. Philip Zodhiates arranged for the teacher, John Collmus, to deliver the bags at the airport to Timothy Miller. The bags also contained some supplies for Lisa Miller, such as peanut butter.

The lawsuit also includes the incident which we reported in December, 2009, when Deborah Thurman,  the facilitator of an apparently defunct ex-gay ministry in Lynchburg, VA, called The Formers, posted a threat of civil violence on her web site. The complaint also includes the revelation that Lisa Miller’s attorneys, Mat Staver and Rena Lindevaldsen, both professors at Liberty University’s Law School, provided a case history nearly identical to the Miller-Jenkins case and instructed their students that the proper course of action would be to engage in “civil disobedience” and defy the court order.

The problem with conspiracies is that the more people who are involved, the greater the chance is that one of them will have a bit too big of a mouth and draw attention to the operation. In addition to Thurman’s reckless blog post, another member of the conspiracy felt compelled to brag as well. In 2008, Linda Wall and other members of Thomas Road Baptist Church, had formed the Protect Isabella Coalition (PIC), when it became clear to them that Virginia law would not prevent Janet Jenkins from gaining custody of Isabella. PIC allegedly was the nucleus of the movement that morphed into the larger conspiracy. According to the lawsuit, Linda Wall essentially admitted that there was an active kidnapping conspiracy and that she as a part of it.

51. In January 2010, Linda Wall appeared on television with several members of the PIC and TRBC [Thomas Road Baptist Church], including TRBC’s Pastor for Outreach and Assimilation Tipton Killingsworth, to endorse the kidnapping. In discussing her role, Wall compared herself to Harriet Tubman, and suggested she would take similar actions with regard to more children from same-sex families. Pastor Killingsworth also publically supported Lisa Miller’s actions and threatened ongoing kidnapping activity. He wrote in an internet chat on February 22, 2010:

“No one has been “kidnapped. “It may come to that as when the Pharoah tried to do the same thing to the Israelites in Egypt. Just as it was necessary for Moses to be in the basket, that might be necessary for Izzy but time will tell. As you’ve said, Lisa is certainly Izzy’s refuge from the VT law. “

52. Defendant Wall also wrote on Facebook that if anyone knew of Lisa and Isabella’s whereabouts, they should not tell anyone. She also made several phone calls to law enforcement to instruct them that they should not look for Lisa and Isabella.

This just carries us to 2010. There is so much more, including allegations of money laundering, Liberty University Law School employees who were fired, and Law School employees (the same ones perhaps?) who were “too intimidated to come forward to law enforcement for fear of angering Dean Staver and losing their jobs.” If Janet Jenkins’s lawyer has the proof to back up these allegations — and it appears that much of it is already available from various criminal complaints and Kenneth Miller’s trial testimony — then the trial promises to be an exceptionally enlightening affair. I can hardly wait.

The Daily Agenda for Saturday, October 29

Jim Burroway

October 29th, 2011

TODAY’S AGENDA (OURS):
Go-Go Dancer Appreciation Day: West Hollywood. So declareth the WeHo City Council. “From the Whisky to Micky’s, from Voyeur to Club Eleven – Go-Go dancers perform all year long for the delight of both locals and tourists in West Hollywood,” said West Hollywood Mayor John J. Duran. “We have more Go-Go dancers per square mile than any other city in America and it’s time we celebrated their efforts and hard work!” continued Mayor Duran. We usually don’t feature photos of scantily clad men, but we’ll do it today in observance of this auspicious occasion.

The Care of Souls: Sexual Diversity, Celibacy, and Ministry in the Catholic Church: Fairfield, CT. The final event of the four-part series entitled “More Than a Monologue: Sexual Diversity and the Catholic Church” will address the roles and responsibilities of LGBT Catholics in the Church’s ministries. The focus of today’s daylong conference at Fairfield University will be on both lay and ordained Catholics. Speakers include Mark Jordan, Harvard Divinity School and author of The Silence of Sodom: Homosexuality in Modern Catholicism; Sr. Jeannine Gramick, co-founder of New Ways Ministry and author of Building Bridges: Gay and Lesbian Reality and the Catholic Church; and Rev. Donald Cozzens, writer-in-residence at John Carroll University and author of Freeing Celibacy. The conference takes place today at Fairfield University, Dolan School of Business, 1073 North Benson Road, Fairfield, CT, and will be streamed live here.

Silent Vigil for Aeryn Gillern: Vienna, Austria. In 2006, Aeryn was Mr. Gay Austria and 1st  runner up in the International Mr. Gay competition. He was also happily employed by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). At 6:00 PM, on October 29, 2007, Aeryn signed out at UNIDO and headed to the world-famous, centuries old Kaiserbruendl Sauna. He was never seen again. This evening, his mother will hold her annual silent vigil outside the Franciscan Church across the street from the Kaiserbruendl. It will be the fourth anniversary of Aeryn’s disappearance. Anyone interested in participating is encouraged to meet her by the side doorway of the Franciscan Church on Weihburggasse facing the Kaiserbrubdl from 6:50pm  until 8:20pm.

AIDS Walks This Weekend: Washington, D.C.

Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Shanghai, China.

Also This Weekend: Diversity Weekend, Eureka Springs, AR; Hellfest 2011 Rugby Tournament, Dallas, TX; Out In Africa Film Festival, Cape Town and Johannesburg, South Africa; and Glasgay!, Glasgow, UK.

TODAY’S AGENDA (THEIRS):
Georgia Awake!: Augusta, GA. It’s like Groundhog Day, isn’t it? There was a Georgia Awake conference yesterday outside of Augusta, and today the carnival repeats itself again in Cumming, northeast of Atlanta, where Liberty Counsel is continuing its series of “Awake!” conferences this morning at First redeemer Church. They’re doing this because, in case you missed it, “There’s a war waging:”

Christianity is under attack in our schools, workplaces, and governments. Silence is a decision to stand with the enemy. Inaction is a deathblow to the God-honoring principles our country was created to allow each citizen to enjoy.

Speaking at tonight’s conference will be Liberty Counsel head Mat Staver (who teaches his law students to ignore the law in favor of “God’s Law”), and fake “historian” David Barton. It all begins this evening at 10:00 a.m. and runs until noon.

If you know of something that belongs on the agenda, please send it here. Don’t forget to include the basics: who, what, when, where, and URL (if available).

And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?

The Daily Agenda for Friday, October 28

Jim Burroway

October 28th, 2011

TODAY’S AGENDA (OURS):
Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM): Perth, Australia. Leaders of the 53 Commonwealth nations will begin their biennial meeting today, as human rights advocates call on Commonwealth members to scrap their colonial-era anti-gay laws. Forty-one Commonwealth nations, including Uganda, Zimbabwe and Ghana, currently have laws which provide criminal penalties for homosexuality. Those laws, advocates warn, hamper AIDS prevention efforts and deprive millions of citizens around the world of economic, political and social equality. Former Botswana President Festus Mogae has joined the call for worldwide decriminalization, and Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai broke with President Robert Mugabe in what the BBC described as a “U-turn” and declared that gay rights, “to me, it’s a human right.” Tzvamgirai has been weathering blistering condemnations from Mugabe’s allies since then. Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma also backs the proposals. Meanwhile, Uganda has begun efforts to revive its proposal to kill gay people.

AIDS Walks This Weekend: Washington, D.C.

Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Shanghai, China.

Also This Weekend: Diversity Weekend, Eureka Springs, AR; Hellfest 2011 Rugby Tournament, Dallas, TX; Out In Africa Film Festival, Cape Town and Johannesburg, South Africa; and Glasgay!, Glasgow, UK.

TODAY’S AGENDA (THEIRS):
Exodus International North Central Regional Conference: Green Lake, WI. Unlike prior conferences, Exodus hasn’t published a list of speakers for this three-day conference that begins today at the Green Lake Conference Center. They do however highlight Christopher Yuan as a guest speaker. Yuan tells the tale of being a gay man with a drug problem who was arrested for possessing”9.1 tons” and served a six year prison. A sad life, but what do any of those destructive decisions have to do with being gay? Well, I’m sure he has an explanation and will tell anyone who forks over from $110 (Saturday only, no meals) to $210 (Standard three-day registration, single adult, including meals and lodging). It begins today at 7:00 p.m. and continues through Sunday morning.

Georgia Awake!: Augusta, GA. The Liberty Counsel is continuing its series of “Awake!” conferences with a meeting this evening at Abilene Baptist Church in Martinez, GA, because, of course, “There’s a war waging:”

Christianity is under attack in our schools, workplaces, and governments. Silence is a decision to stand with the enemy. Inaction is a deathblow to the God-honoring principles our country was created to allow each citizen to enjoy.

Speaking at tonight’s conference will be Liberty Counsel head Mat Staver (who teaches his law students to ignore the law in favor of “God’s Law”), and fake “historian” David Barton. It all begins this evening at 7:00 p.m.

If you know of something that belongs on the agenda, please send it here. Don’t forget to include the basics: who, what, when, where, and URL (if available).

And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?

Mat Staver: Gays Threaten Survival of Western Civilization

Jim Burroway

October 7th, 2011

Mat Staver, head of Liberty Counsel and dean of Liberty University’s law school, appeared on an American Family Association radio program this morning just before introducing GOP presidential candidate Sen. Rick Santorum at the Values Voter Summit. Staver told AFA Radio that “the sexual anarchy with the agenda of the homosexual movement” threatens the survival of Western Civilization:

YouTube Preview Image

Staver: We are facing the survival of western values, western civilization. And I think those survival, whether they win or lose, what will the future of America be will be determined in our lifetime…. One of the most significant threats to our freedom is in the area of sexual anarchy with the agenda of the homosexual movement, the so-called LGBT movement. It does several things, first of all it undermines family and the very first building block of our society, but secondly, it’s a zero sum game as well and it’s a direct assault on our religious freedom and freedom of speech.

Do you really want to know what threatens the survival of Western Civilization? Well, if one of the great pillars of Western Civilization is the rule of law, then Staver’s Liberty Counsel and law school pose a far greater threat to Western Civilization than treating all people equally. Members of Staver’s organizations have been implicated in facilitating the kidnapping of then- seven-year-old Isabella Miller-Jenkins, in defiance of a court order ordering Isabella’s mother, Lisa Miller, to turn custody of the child over to her other mother from a civil union, Janet Jenkins, after Miller refused to follow to previous court orders granting visitation rights. There is considerable evidence that Miller may be following the advice of legal counsel in defying the courts’ rulings. Teachers at Staver’s law school presented a case study that was remarkably similar to the Miller-Jenkins case, and taught students that, as future lawyers, they should encourage their clients to chose “God’s law” over “man’s law” and defy the legal system. Students who responded on an exam that the client should follow the court order were given bad grades, while students who responded that the client should be urged to break the law got A’s.

If there is a threat to Western Civilization, it’s posed by those who would impose legal anarchy to further their narrow religious agenda in open defiance of the law.

The Daily Agenda for Friday, October 7

Jim Burroway

October 7th, 2011

TODAY’S AGENDA (OURS):
Campus Pride College Fair and Prep Day: Boston, MA. Campus Pride’s College Fair is an opportunity for LGBT students and their families to discuss educational opportunities with participating LGBT-affirming colleges and universities. The fair features expert advice about LGBT-friendly colleges, scholarship resources and even effective tips for campus visits. The Northwest Region College Fair takes place today at Boston’s City Hall, from 1:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. More information can be found here. Future College Fairs will take place in Los Angeles (Oct 15) and New York (Nov 4).

AIDS Walks This Weekend: Columbus, OH; Indianapolis, IN and Kent/Sussex, DE.

Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Atlanta, GA; Orlando, FL; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Tucson, AZ.

Also This Weekend: Iris Prize Film Festival, Cardiff, UK.

TODAY’S AGENDA (THEIRS):
Values Voter Summit: Washington, D.C. The Family “Research” Council, one of only a handful of organizations tracked by the Southern Poverty Law Center for being an anti-gay hate group, kicks off its annual Values Voter Summit in the nation’s capital this morning with a breakfast talk by Mat Staver, Chairman of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty Unversity’s Law School. Members of Staver’s Liberty Counsel and law school staff have been implicated in the Isabella Miller-Jenkins kidnapping case, while teachers have instructed law students to ignore “man’s law” in favor of “God’s law.” And so as you might expect, the Summit just goes straight downhill from there. Other speakers include House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), and GOP Presidential candidate Sen. Rick Santorum. And all of that is before lunch, when voting begins for the Summit’s straw poll. Afternoon speakers include GOP presidential candidates Herman Cain, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, plus Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO). The evening plenary session features another GOP presidential candidate, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), as well as Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. The craziness just goes on and on and on through Sunday morning.

Exodus International Florida Regional Conference. Leesburg, FL. Exodus International will conduct a two-day conference with the theme “Chosen for Freedom,” beginning today and continuing through Saturday. The conference’s featured speakers include Exodus International president Alan Chambers, former Exodus president Joe Dallas, and former Exodus vice president Randy Thomas. Also speaking is Dr. Julie Hamilton, a former president of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) and whose book, Handbook of Therapy for Unwanted Homosexual Attractions, includes a final chapter by discredited ex-gay activist George Rekers. As we reported in our original investigation of Rekers’s “treatment” of four-year-old Kirk Murphy, Rekers claimed that he had successfully turned the “effeminate pre-homosexual” boy into a straight man. He built his entire career on that supposedly groundbreaking success story. Except there were a couple of problems: Kirk grew up to be gay, and he ultimately committed suicide over the lifelong conflicts he struggled with as a result of that therapy. Yet in Hamilton’s book, Rekers boasted that Kirk “had a normal male identity,” six years after Kirk took his life. Hamilton’s book with Rekers’s boast is still on sale at NARTH’s web site, and I have no doubt that it will also be available at the conference, which takes place today and tomorrow at the First Baptist Church in Leesburg, FL.

Minnesota Anti-Marriage Strategy and Briefing Session: Bloomington, MN. The Minnesota Faith and Freedom Coalition, supporters of the latest proposed constitutional amendment to make same-sex marriage even more illegaler in the Gopher state, will hold a Strategy and Briefing Session at the Doubletree Inn in Bloomington, MN this morning from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Invited speakers include GOP presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and former Christian Coalition honcho Ralph Reed.

If you know of something that belongs on the agenda, please send it here. Don’t forget to include the basics: who, what, when, where, and URL (if available).

And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?

The Daily Agenda for Thursday, September 1

Jim Burroway

September 1st, 2011

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Civil Partnerships Go Into Effect: Liechtenstein. Last June, voters in the alpine principality between Switzerland and Austria voted overwhelmingly to allow civil partnerships for same-sex couples. The new law stops short of marriage equality — registered same-sex unions are still barred from adopting children and from access to reproductive services through the country’s health plan — but it does provide for inheritance, social security, pensions, immigration and naturalization, and tax law recognition for same-sex couples on par with married heterosexual couples. That law goes into effect beginning today.

Federal DADT Court Case Resumes: Pasadena, CA. Lawyers for Log Cabin Republicans return to court today to present oral arguments in the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell case before three judges of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The argument is over whether the federal law banning gay men and women from serving openly in the military is (or was) unconstitutional. A lower court said it wasn’t, but the Justice Department appealed. DADT is slated to officially become history on September 20, and so you might wonder why they are still fighting in court. The problem is that while Congress has repealed the law, the repeal did not include an anti-discrimination provision preventing a future president from re-imposing the ban via Executive Order. And with most of the GOP line-up contending for the party’s nomination for 2012 promising to “repeal the repeal,” DADT’s demise may end up being a mere hiatus. Oral arguments begin this morning at 9:00 a.m. PDT at the 9th Circuit Court House in Pasadena.

Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Atlanta, Ga (Black Pride); Calgary, AB; Cardiff, Wales; Duluth, MN; Essex, UK; Québec City, QC; Leicester, UK; Oakland, CA; Reading, UK and Scarborough, UK.

Also This Weekend: Burning Man, Black Rock Desert, NV and Southern Decadence, New Orleans, LA.

TODAY’S AGENDA (THEIRS):
North Carolina Awake!: Gastonia, NC.
The Liberty Counsel is continuing its series of “Awake!” conferences with a meeting this evening at Bethlehem Church in Gastonia, NC because, of course, “There’s a war waging:”

Christianity is under attack in our schools, workplaces, and governments. Silence is a decision to stand with the enemy. Inaction is a deathblow to the God-honoring principles our country was created to allow each citizen to enjoy.

Speaking at tonight’s conference will be Liberty Counsel head Mat Staver, along with Rick Green, who is a member of fake-historian David Barton’s WallBuilders. The North Carolina legislature is expected to take up a constitutional amendment to ban marriage equality in this session.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Lily Tomlin: 1939. She began her comedy career as a stand-up comedian in the 1960s when she quickly landed a spot on NBC’s Laugh-In. Her many memorable characters quickly became the stuff of pop culture: Earnestine, the nasal, nosy, and obnoxious telephone operator who epitomized the bureaucratic condescension of the old Ma Bell monopoly (“We don’t care, we don’t have to…we’re the phone company.”); Edith Ann, the five year old girl sitting in an oversized rocker with her observations of the crazy crap the adults around her were pulling (and always ending her monologues with “…and that’s the truth. Phhhht!”); And Mrs. Judith Beasley, the prim and proper “tasteful lady.” In 1977, she became the first woman to appear solo on Broadway with Appearing Nitely, and in 1985, she starred in another one-woman Broadway show, The Search For Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe, written by her long-time partner, writer-producer Jane Wagner. In 1980, Tomlin appeared in the hit movie Nine to Five, with Jane Fonda, Dolly Parton, and Dabney Coleman, and she hit movie pay dirt again in All of Me with Steve Martin.

Tomlin and Wagner have been together since 1971, and while their relationship was never much of a secret, the press remained pretty mum. When Tomlin officially came out in 2001, it hardly seemed necessary. “Everybody in the industry was certainly aware of my sexuality and of Jane… In interviews I always reference Jane and talk about Jane, but they don’t always write about it.”

If you know of something that belongs on the agenda, please send it here. PLEASE, don’t forget to include the basics: who, what, when, where, and URL (if available).

Liberty Law School Teaches Students To Violate The Law

Jim Burroway

May 16th, 2011

There have been quite a few observations that leading officials at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University Law School and the non-profit legal firm Liberty Counsel are deeply entangled in Isabella Miller-Jenkins kidnapping case. Today, we learn that the attorneys for the kidnapper are teaching their students at Liberty University to break the law when confronted with a nearly identical case.

To recap, a pastor, Timothy David Miller, was arrested on Friday in Alexandria, VA, for his role in providing plane tickets and shelter for Lisa Miller, who kidnapped 9-year-old Isabella Miller-Jenkins as part of a custody fight with her former civil union partner Janet Jenkins. Miller is believed to have fled to Nicaragua shortly before a Vermont court awarded primary custody to Jenkins over Miller’s refusal to cooperate with Jenkins’s visitation rights. It appears that Miller fled with considerable support from an employee and benefactor of Liberty University and Liberty Counsel, who provided for Miller’s legal defense, as well as encouragement from at least one ex-gay leader in the Lynchburg, Virginia area.

Today, Religion Dispatches associate editor Sarah Posner reports that Lisa Miller’s attorneys Mat Staver and Rena Lindevaldsen, who teach a required Foundations of Law course at Liberty University, are teaching their students that when confronted with a case like Lisa Miller’s, that the attorney has an obligation to resolve the conflict between “God’s Law” and “man’s law” by advising the client to solve the conflict through “civil disobedience”:

This student and two others, who all requested anonymity for fear of reprisal by Staver (who is also the law school’s dean), recounted the classroom discussion of civil disobedience, as well as efforts to draw comparisons between choosing “God’s law” over “man’s law” to the American revolution and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail. According to one student, in the Foundations course both Staver and Lindevaldsen “espoused the opinion that in situations where God’s law is in direct contradiction to man’s law, we have an obligation to disobey it.”

…That semester’s mid-term exam, obtained by RD [see excerpts of the actual exam here], included a question based on Miller’s case asking students to describe what advice they would give her “as a friend who is a Christian lawyer.” After laying out a slanted history of the protracted legal battle, the exam asked, “Lisa needs your counsel on how to think through her legal situation and how to respond as a Christian to this difficult problem. Relying only on what we have learned thus far in class, how would you counsel Lisa?”

Students who wrote that Miller should comply with court orders received bad grades while those who wrote she should engage in civil disobedience received an A, the three students said. “People were appalled,” said one of the students, adding, “especially as lawyers to be, who are trained and licensed to practice the law—to disobey that law, that seemed completely counterintuitive to all of us.”

Some of the students who got an “A” on that exam write that the client should engage in civil disobedience and leave the country. The student added, “I knew that I needed to write that.” Some students worry that as more people learn what is being taught at Liberty University, that lawyers who are Liberty grads will be “laughed out of the courtroom.” A painting of Mat Staver hangs in “Revolutionary Hall,” which also commemorates Martin Luther King, Jr., Ronald Reagan, Ghandi, Mother Teresa and others.

If one wonders where Lisa Miller got the idea and support necessary to flee to Nicaragua, look no further than her own attorneys.

Anti-Gay Activists React to DOMA Announcement

Jim Burroway

February 23rd, 2011

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

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

Maggie Gallagher chimes in:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yet more amicus briefs in support of Prop 8

Timothy Kincaid

September 24th, 2010

Adding to the growing pile (both in size and in lunacy) of amicus briefs filed in support of the Prop 8 Proponents, today we have Ed Whelan of the Ethics and Public Policy Center and Mat Staver and his merry crew at Liberty Counsel.

Whelan chimes in to “provide a survey of the district judge’s remarkable course of misconduct in this case.” Liberty Counsel’s amicus was designed to make sure that the crazier elements of the anti-gays were represented, specifically Campaign for Children and Families and Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing. CCF is the home of Randy Thomasson and is so wackadoodle that the Prop 8 Proponents went to court to bar them from participating. JONAH is the Jewish ex-gay group founded by convicted Wall Street con-man Arthur Goldberg.

Whelan basically just whines about how Judge Walker was not fair!! There wasn’t much of interest in the he’s a big ol’ meanie brief, but the Liberty Counsel brief was a delight. Predictably, they thought it was a smart move to prove the judge’s point that the anti-gay marriage movement was motivated by fear and loathing of gay people.

You might say that Liberty Counsel, CCF, and JONAH presented the quintessential Animus Brief.

II. SAME-SEX RELATIONSHIPS ARE DIFFERENT THAN OPPOSITE-SEX RELATIONSHIPS.

Wholly apart from the biological and procreative differences between opposite-sex and same-sex couples, the psychological and medical risks associated with the homosexual lifestyle are contrary to the district court‟s conclusion that same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples are, in essence, the same. (FF nos. 48, 70). It is well documented that those engaged in the homosexual lifestyle have much greater incidence of substance abuse, mental health problems, medical illness, and relationship dysfunctions. Documenting these facts, a recently published, peer-reviewed journal concludes that “it is difficult to find another group in society with such high risks for experiencing such a wide range of medical, psychological, and relational dysfunctions.” NARTH, 1 J. of Human Sexuality 1:53 (2009) (“Journal”).

Oh, and then they quote NARTH’s self-published “Journal”

In addition, “”30.3 percent of homosexually active women were ‘very high or drunk 3 or more days’ in the past year compared to 16.6 percent of heterosexual women,” and “8.4 percent of homosexually active women were ‘very high or drunk an average of once per week or more’ in the past year compared to 2.3 percent of heterosexual women.” Id. at 1:58.

Lesbians shouldn’t be allowed to marry; they’re all drunks! But if the women are all lushes, the men are all diseased:

The prevalence of HIV/AIDS among the homosexual community also is significantly higher than among heterosexuals. “In the 20th century, HIV/AIDS risk was approximately 430 times greater among homosexuals than among heterosexuals.” Id. at 1:66. In 2005, “the risks of acquiring HIV from a single act of unprotected sex within the male homosexual community in the United States remained about 500 times greater than within the heterosexual community.” Id. “Lifetime prevalence for STDs in homosexual men was 75 percent compared with 16.9 percent for heterosexual men.” Id.

It’s amazing how much bile you can spew when your source is NARTH. I can just see Charles Cooper cringing at the idea of the Ninth Circuit judges reading this recitation of bigotry and spite.

Part II of this exercise in animus is dedicated to presenting the NARTHian models of what causes homosexuality.

Here we find that “the family pattern involving a combination of a dominating, overly intimate mother plus a detached, hostile or weak father is beyond doubt related to the development of male homosexuality” (though a “sports wound” might contribute as well). As for the drunk lesbians, “a narcissistic (self-absorbed) mother may interfere with her daughter‟s separation and individuation and propel her in the direction of lesbianism, but severe hurt by a male may also communicate the same message of insecurity and vulnerability.”

Well that sounds to me like a good reason to ban heterosexual marriage. Or at least procreation. Yikes.

But, having just trashed heterosexual parents, this brief then argues that it is precisely for the purpose of channeling procreation into these dysfunctional messes that marriage exists. So it is to Randy Thomasson and Arthur Goldberg that I dedicate this lovely picture of a pair of loons.

What would a Rekers defamation suit bring about?

Timothy Kincaid

May 13th, 2010

Dr. George Rekers is threatening to sue “media outlets” for defamation, and Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver has pledged to support him. But what exactly does he mean?

We have been told the following:

1. Rekers found Jo-Vanni Roman on RentBoy.com, a site designed to facilitate gay male prostitutes and their prospective johns finding each other.

2. Rekers contracted for Roman to accompany him to Europe. In addition to ‘luggage lifting’ services, the contract required that Roman spend a designated amount of time with Rekers and also “will provide George Rekers a massage for at least one hour each day of the trip in their shared rooms using the same procedures (“Lucien”) provided to George Rekers in Florida.” Roman has clarified the massages were nude, were sexual in nature, and that the procedures involved genital contact.

Interestingly, Rekers does not dispute – or even address – these details. He seems relatively unconcerned about providing clarification about the particulars of the massages or the origins of their first communication. Instead he has focused his attention, his objection, and his denial around one statement.

Rekers’ first mention of a defamation suit was on the 6th, right after the Miami New Times reported that Roman told them that Rekers “is a homosexual.”

“If today’s news story in the Miami New Times is accurate,” said Rekers in an e-mail to me, “I have been advised to retain the services of a defamation attorney in this matter, because the fact is that I am not gay and never have been.”

You may note that Rekers was not threatening defamation based on prior reporting, but on what had been claimed that day.

Then on the 11th, he reiterated his threat with a statement to NARTH.

“I am immediately resigning my membership in NARTH to allow myself the time necessary to fight the false media reports that have been made against me. With the assistance of a defamation attorney, I will fight these false reports because I have not engaged in any homosexual behavior whatsoever. I am not gay and never have been.”

Considering the earlier accusations that the Miami New Times was engaging in “false impressions” and “misleading innuendo” and “incorrectly implying”, I think that a pattern has developed which helps clarify exactly what Rekers fears the most.

Dr. George Rekers does not want to be thought of as a homosexual.

He so objects to this that he is willing to file a defamation suit against anyone who claims, implies, or gives the impression that he is. And Liberty Counsel is willing to back him.

But why would Rekers and Staver focus solely on the identity and not on the facts as known? That is because Dr. George Rekers – and Liberty Counsel – define homosexuality differently than you or I.

We accept the concept of sexual orientation. We allocate people into categories based on the sex towards which their attractions point. If a person is primarily attracted to persons of the same sex, we identify them as homosexual. It’s just a matter of fact, and folks have little to no say in the matter.

But to Rekers, a homosexual is defined by his behavior. Those who engage in homosexual acts are homosexuals, and if one chooses to resist temptation, then one is not homosexual.

And Rekers seems to define “homosexual behavior” differently from most of us. It appears to me that he has established a line beyond which he will not go. Erotic massage is not “homosexual behavior”, while oral or anal sex clearly are. This way of thinking is evidenced in his statement to blogger Joe.my.god.

If you talk with my travel assistant that the story called “Lucien,” you will find I spent a great deal of time sharing scientific information on the desirability of abandoning homosexual intercourse… [emphasis added]

I suspect that Rekers believes himself to be truthful when he says that he did not engage in homosexual behavior and is not a homosexual. Under the definitions he and his community use, he may have submitted to his weaknesses, but he did not cross his line in behavior and he is actively choosing not to be a homosexual.

So if Rekers does sue, this will be a fascinating case. It will go far beyond the questions about who did what to whom, where, and in what state of undress. Rather, this case would hinge on the question, “How do you define homosexuality?”

If “homosexual behavior” is limited to insertive penile contact, and if “homosexual” is one who chooses to live a life centered around one’s same-sex attractions, then Rekers has a basis for his objections. But the court system is not an adjunct of the conservative evangelical Christian movement, and it is not subject to the carefully crafted language that allows Rekers a level of deniability.

Going forward with a defamation lawsuit is very risky for Rekers and Staver.

Defense will call witnesses from the mental health professions who will inform the court about modern thinking on matters of sexuality. They will witness that it is reasonable to use the term “homosexual” to describe a man who is erotically aroused by same-sex contact. They will provide testimony of Rekers’ behavior, of the sexual nature of his contact with Roman, and possibly even a record of his activity on the RentBoy site.

Rekers and his counsel will be left trying to defend their own peculiar definition of homosexuality, and arguing that the media be punished for not adopting their language. This would be a hard sell.

And, in the process, Dr. George Rekers runs the risk of having a court declare him to be homosexual. And that would be truly devastating for the anti-gay movement.

Liberty Counsel Accuses Jo-Vanni of Being An Irresistably Cute “Setup” for Rekers

Jim Burroway

May 13th, 2010

The knives are out for Jo-vanni Roman, the Miami-based escort who accompanied disgraced anti-gay activist George Rekers on a ten-day trip to Europe so Roman could “lift Rekers’ luggage” — and provide daily nude massages. As an indication of how important Rekers’ downfall was to the anti-gay establishment, Matt Savers’ Liberty Counsel has agreed to back Rekers’ threat to sue Roman and media outlets for defamation. From this morning’s Washington Times:

Officials at the Liberty Counsel said Wednesday they would back Mr. Rekers if he followed through on his threat this week to sue media outlets and others for trying to discredit him.

“I think [Mr. Rekers] would have a great case to file a defamation action,” said Mathew D. Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel said.

“I think it was a completely arranged setup,” he said, referring to the presence of writers of the free weekly Miami New Times at Miami International Airport when Mr. Rekers and his hired travel companion arrived in the United States April 13.

…The Liberty Counsel’s Mr. Staver said he believes Mr. Rekers’ recent court appearances, in which the professor testified in favor of state bans on gay adoption, became “a major focus of people trying to discredit him as an individual.”

“I think that it’s the classic [tactic], ‘If you can’t destroy the message, you destroy the messenger,’ … and I think this is a personal attack designed to cast aspersions on his character and reputation,” Mr. Staver said.

You see? It’s all Jo-vanni’s fault. The “setup” occurred when Jo-vanni put his irresistible profile onto Rentboy.com. If he hadn’t have done that, Rekers never would have noticed him among all the other luggage lifters the web site had on offer. Jo-vanni was the only one who could pull this off. See?

Damn Jo-vanni, if being cute were a crime, we’d just have to call you convicted!

Huckabee, Bauchmann, McClintock To Speak At Conference Featuring Hate Group

Jim Burroway

August 25th, 2009

Former Arkansas Governor and GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, Rep. Michele Bachman (R-MN), and Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA are confirmed speakers at the upcoming Take America Conference in St. Louis September 25 and 26. This same conference invited MassResistance to give a workshop titled “How to counter the homosexual extremist movement,” presumably on of the strength of their resounding successes in Massachusetts.

MassResistance is one of only eleven anti-gay groups designated as an official hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. MassResistance has developed closes ties with Holocaust Revisionist Scott Lively, where he was a featured speaker at the MassResistance banquet last January. Conference connections to hate groups don’t end with MassResistance. Host committee member Don Feder spoke at the 2007 Watchmen On the Walls conference in Riga, Latvia. The Watchmen, another SPLC-designated hate group, was also co-founded by Scott Lively.

The Take America Back conference is co-chaired by Phyllis Schlafly (Eagle Forum) and Janet Folger Porter (Faith2Action). Other host committee members include LaBarbera Award Winners Mat Staver (Liberty Counsel) and Rick Scarborough (Vision America), as well as Don Wildmon (American Family Association) Dick Bott (Bott Radio Network), Michael Farris (Home School Legal Defense Association), Phillip Jauregui (Judicial Action Group), Rick Green (Wallbuilders), and Joseph Farah (WorldNetDaily).

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