Box Turtle Bulletin

Box Turtle BulletinNews, analysis and fact-checking of anti-gay rhetoric
“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
This article can be found at:
Latest Posts

Posts for January, 2012

Rick Perry Hangs It Up

Jim Burroway

January 19th, 2012

He’s out of the race. Some say he was never really in it.. He is expected to make his announcement today sometime before CNN’s GOP debate this evening.

This brings the race for the GOP presidential nomination down to four: former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Texas Congressman Ron Paul, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and former Pennsylvanian Sen. Rick Santorum.

Déjà Vu All Over Again

Jim Burroway

January 11th, 2012

Remember when it seemed like the entire world was waiting on pins and needles for Texas Gov. Rick Perry to do what God had called him to do and enter the race for the GOP presidential nomination? Remember how everyone knew that he was just the right candidate for the right wing? Remember how he was going to take his amazing twelve-year track record as governor of Texas and suddenly inject some excitement into the campaign of loonies and also rans, and how he was going to show everyone how it was done? How he was going to show everyone how a true conservative who hated the gays with the best of them would sail to the nomination and unseat the socialist Kenyan athiest-islamic traitor in the White House and return America back toward its true destiny?

And remember how, before he did all that, he paused for prayer, at a giant prayer rally called The Response which was put on by his Christian Dominionist friends? And how on the seventh day after The Response (keeping it Biblical, you know) he announced his candidacy? And how he vowed to protect America from all gays, foreign and domestic?

Remember how all of that turned out?

He doesn’t. He’s going to try it again. A prayer rally, that is, again called The Response, again put on by the same folks who organized last August’s rally in Houston, this time in Greenville, South Carolina. He will be a special guest at the “apolitical” event on Tuesday, January 17.

You know the definition of insanity, don’t you?

What New Hampshire Means

Jim Burroway

January 11th, 2012

As with Iowa, not much in national terms, but for different reasons. It remains to be seen whether New Hampshire or Iowa will stand out as an anomaly. But it may mean something in state politics where there are murmurings that the state legislature may take up a bill repealing that state’s marriage equality law. If state lawmakers looked to these results as an indication of their own electoral futures, they may notice that two of the three top finishers have kept the National Organization for Marriage at arm’s length. Yes, Romney signed and won the primary, but 40% of the the GOP’s own voters backed candidates who didn’t. What’s more, audiences openly booed Santorum’s making Teh Gays a central talking point of his campaign, making that the most visible indication of how Granite Staters feel about anti-gay politics.

Whether that matters in the state legislature or not however isn’t a given. State Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R) seems to understand the temperature of the state electorate, and warned the GOP candidates to avoid discussing the state’s effort to repeal its 2009 marriage equality law, declaring such talk “off message” even though she herself is a staunch opponent of marriage and adoption rights for same-sex couples, having resigned as Attorney General in protest after Governor John Lynch signed the marriage equality bill into law. But social conservatives have an amazing capacity for self-delusions of power and grandeur. Gingrich’s victory speech last night, which didn’t mention Romney’s inconvenient existence, had Gingrich crowning himself the winner of “the conservative primary” as he all but measured the White House’s drapes. And in a related late-breaking development, a box of rocks moved ahead to edge him out of his third place finish. Meanwhile Perry has already saddled up for South Carolina after pulling out an upset victory over the write-in candidates. Santorum is already there as well, where he hopes his Iowa streak will leave a mark.

Romney Again

Jim Burroway

January 10th, 2012

The results are in for last night’s New Hampshire GOP Primary. There weren’t too many surprises with the final results: Romney, as expected, came in with a strong first place showing. Given that he was governor of neighboring Massachusetts, he was practically a native son in political terms, making his strong showing unsurprising. Also, as expected, Ron Paul came in second. Huntsman was expected to do well in the state, having put all of his eggs in the Granite State basket. He came in third, and it’s not clear where his campaign goes from here.

Gingrich came up short, pulling on only 10% of the vote, as further evidence of his rapidly dropping popularity. A Box of Rocks came on surprisingly strong, ahead of Santorum and Perry. Cowboy Perry barely outpaced the write-ins to finish at the rear, with Santorum settling in just a short distance up it.

And that’s a wrap at BTB Elections Central for New Hampshire. Now it’s on to South Carolina where the fun really begins.

Perry’s Not Quitting

Jim Burroway

January 4th, 2012

It’s fitting that his announcement came in a tweet with a photo that is a complete non-sequiter. It pretty much matches his entire campaign.

Out Of Many, Fewer

Jim Burroway

January 4th, 2012

One aspect of the GOP race which greatly benefited former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was the splintered tea-party/Evangelical vote across five other candidates: Sen. Rick Santorum, Rep. Ron Paul, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Rep. Michele Bachmann. It’s worth noting that while Romney is the front-runner by virtue of his narrow Iowa win, his massive war chest and a well-established national organization, three out of four Iowa Republican caucus-goers nevertheless voted against him.

Today, with Bachmann dropping out and Perry going back to Texas to ask God if he still wants him to run, we may begin to see a consolidation of the tea party/Evangelical vote around Santorum. That could be significant.  If the Iowa votes cast for those three “Not Mitt” candidates — Santorum, Bachmann and Perry — all went to Santorum, it would have brought his total up to 40% against Romney’s 25%. Sure, not all of those votes would have consolidated to Santorum; some would have likely drifted over to Romney or Paul, but take a quick glance at the polling data (as all of the campaigns are doing right now) and you can quickly see how the Iowa race would have been very different without that split.

Ron Paul, who came in a solid third in Iowa, probably won’t benefit much from such a consolidation, especially in closed primary states where non-Republicans can’t easily cross over to vote in the GOP primary. Whether a smaller field will help Santorum overcome his huge deficit in money and organization is still an open question. I doubt it.  But social conservative extremists are beginning to see this consolidation as the only way to stay in the game. Bob Vander Plaats, head of Iowa’s anti-gay Family Leader, endorsed Santorum just two weeks ago, not long after Santorum’s campaign admitted that Vander Plaats indirectly solicited money from Santorum’s campaign. (The asking price for an endorsement was reportedly as high as one million dollars.) Today, Vander Plaats is calling on Bachmann, Perry and Gingrich to step out of the race:

“The worst thing that can happen to Mitt Romney is to run head to head against Rick Santorum,” he told reporters at Santorum’s campaign headquarters here tonight. “He wants to have a multiple candidate field, so I think some of these candidates — they need to reassess where they are at tonight.”

…”We did this drill four years ago. Had Fred Thompson not stayed in the race in South Carolina and takes nine percentage points, Huckabee wins South Carolina,” he said.

“If Huckabee wins South Carolina, McCain is out of the race and it’s Huckabee-Romney going into Florida. So what I’m saying is that we have to be smart about getting a pro-family conservative to go up against Mitt Romney.”

Perry is re-assessing and Bachmann has announced that she is “suspending” her campaign. And now we have this shot from Newt Gingrich, which should cause the Romney camp a few headaches this morning:

Laura Ingraham: Can you see a scenario under which the two of you would align together to try to defeat the establishment candidate, Mitt Romney?

Newt Gingrich:Absolutely. Of course. I mean Rick and I have a 20-year friendship, we are both rebels, we both came into this business as reformers, we both dislike deeply the degree to which the establishment sells out the American people. We both think Washington has to be changed in very fundamental ways, and we have lots of things that fit together. And the thing that’s interesting is if you take the votes, you add to that Perry and Bachmann, you begin to see the size of the conservative vote compared to Romney…if you take, you know, Santorum and Perry and Bachmann and Gingrich you get some sense of what a small minority Romney really represents.

Update: Mother Jones’s David Corn says that Newt is ready to settle scores in the time-honored tradition he established as the bomb-throwing House Speaker. Meanwhile, it looks like Perry still thinks he’s in the race despite his fifth place showing in Iowa.

It’s Romney By A Perfectly Coiffed Hair

Jim Burroway

January 4th, 2012

After spending millions of dollars and campaigning more or less nonstop for four years, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney barely squished passed the late surging Sen. Rick Santorum by a mere eight votes. Santorum is now the last Not Mitt in the race, having dethroned a long line of other Anyone-But-Mitts who had held the frontrunner or near-frontrunner status over the past several months. And what a line that was, beginning with Rep. Michele Bachmann, then Texas Gov. Rick Perry, then pizza magnate Herman Cain, then former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, all of whom courted the tea party and Evangelical wings of the GOP. When caucus day came, it just happened to line up with being Santorum’s turn. According to entrance and exit polls, Santorum came in first with the tea party vote and the Evangelical vote, both by wide margins. If you were against abortion or wanted a candidate with “strong moral character,” then you almost certainly voted for Santorum. You also voted for him if you had only made up your mind in the past few days, indicating that he likely captured the vote that had been shifting from one candidate to another in search of the socially conservative Not Mitt for the past several months.

While Santorum soundly won the expectations race in Iowa, it’s hard to see how he can carry the momentum forward through the rest of the long primary season. He’s been effectively broke throughout the race, although this win will likely bring a huge fundraising bonus with it. But it will come too late to put together badly needed organizations in the upcoming races. Already, he has lost the ability to appear on the ballot in Virginia; he had no organization there to collect the signatures and turn them in. And so far, he’s been relatively untouched by the so-called super-PACs which played such a huge role in the campaign. That won’t last long now that he has their attention.

Meanwhile, third place Ron Paul’s entrance and exit poll results reveal his challenges ahead. If his critics charge that he is not a “true Republican” — whatever that’s supposed to mean these days — they can probably find data to back that up. Iowa is an open caucus state, meaning that it’s easy for anyone to show up at a caucus and participate even if they hadn’t been registered as a Republican for very long. Of those who identified as independent, Paul captured 43% of those votes, smashing the rest of the filed with that segment. He also captured 40% of those who claimed they were “moderate or liberal” and 33% of those who had never participated in a caucus before.  These numbers demonstrate the challenge he faces. He came in third in a state with a relatively open caucus. We might expect him to do similarly well in other open primary states as well. But his base of support will almost certainly be sharply curtailed in closed primary states where non-Republicans won’t be allowed to easily change their registration or participate.

Which means that it now looks like the GOP nomination is Mitt’s to lose.

But while we’re discussing Paul, here’s another surprising thing about his numbers. He came in second place among Evangelicals, capturing 18% of the vote behind Santorum’s 32%. That’s comfortably ahead of Romney’s 14%. It’s also well ahead of Gingrich’s and Perry’s 14% each and Bachmann’s 6%. The latter three assiduously courted that vote and lost. Paul’s play for the Evangelical vote took place mostly behind the scenes by hiring anti-gay activist Michael Heath to serve a leading role in the Iowa campaign. It won him the endorsement of a prominent Christian Reconstructionist, who advocated for the death penalty for gay people. Not that Rev. Phil Kayser thought it should be necessary to kill very many homosexuals. Just killing a few of them “would have a tendency of driving homosexuals back into their closets.” It turns out that Paul’s campaign platform of effectively demolishing the role of the Federal Government in most affairs fits in very nicely with Christian Reconstructionsist theology, and Paul’s campaign was initially thrilled with Kayser’s endorsement. “We welcome Rev. Kayser’s endorsement and the enlightening statements he makes on how Ron Paul’s approach to government is consistent with Christian beliefs.,” his campaign announced, before quietly erasing that announcement from Ron Paul’s web site with nary an explanation. “We’re thankful for the thoughtfulness with which he makes his endorsement and hope his endorsement and others like it make a strong top-three showing in the caucus more likely.” A top three showing is exactly what he got.

As for the rest, Rick Perry is going back to Texas to find out what God wants him to do next, Michele Bachmann is bowing out so her husband can keep on buying doggie sunglasses in a totally not-gay way, Gingrich has become bored by the whole thing now that he’s not the center of attention, and Jon Huntsman — well, we’re not quite sure where he is exactly.

Servicemembers United’s Alex Nicholson responds to Gov. Perry

Timothy Kincaid

December 9th, 2011

As an illustration of “Obama’s war on religion” and “liberal attacks on our religious heritage”, GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry cited “gays can serve openly in the military”.

Not only is Perry’s statement bigoted, it has almost no reflection on reality. While Barack Obama was in favor of repealing the Military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, the change did not originate in the White House nor was it a significant priority of the President.

Most know of the December 2010 vote in Congress and it goes without saying that much credit is owed to Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) who orchestrated a bipartisan effort that eventually gained the support of eight Republicans and all but one Democrat. But less known is the impetus behind the change, the lawsuit brought by Log Cabin Republicans against the Military and its policy.

Those of you who followed the efforts towards that repeal either here at Box Turtle Bulletin or elsewhere know that the repeal process, which had been of little interest in Congress, suddenly took on a new life after September 9, 2010 when U.S. District Court Judge Virginia A. Phillips sided with Log Cabin Republicans in their lawsuit against the military and its anti-gay policy. Her injunction the following month led to a brief official cessation of the policy (until appeals were filed) and was the unofficial end of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell as a hiring and detaining policy.

But even so, this ruling did not work alone. Significant lobbying efforts in Congress provided Congressmen and Senators with the information about public attitudes on the repeal effort. And those attitudes were impacted by a steady stream of ejected service members who refused to quietly go away in shame.

In fact, if one looks at the parties most heavily involved in the change of policy, the one thing that becomes clear is that this was not in any way an attack on religion nor were the leading advocates for change particularly “liberal” (though that is undoubtedly the dismissive label that Rick Perry would assign to Senator Collins, Log Cabin Republicans, and the men and women risking their lives for his freedom).

One man at the heart of the effort was Alex Nicholson. As both the plaintiff in Log Cabin’s case and as the founder of Servicemembers United, Alex had his feet planted in both the legal and the legislative efforts to end this discrimination. And Alex, writing a guest column for CNN, reminds the Governor that not only was the repeal not a “liberal attack on religious heritage” in its implementation, but that it did not speak only to the wishes of liberal Americans.

The ad begins: “I’m not ashamed to admit I’m a Christian. But you don’t need to be in the pews every Sunday to know that there’s something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military, but our kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school.” What’s really wrong with that statement is that solid majorities of his fellow Republicans, self-described conservatives, and even weekly church-goers disagree with him on open gays and lesbians serving in the military.

Among these demographics, independent polling more than two years ago demonstrated surprising levels of support for repealing that archaic law, including 58% of Republicans, 58% of conservatives, and 60% of those who attend church weekly. Those numbers are likely significantly higher now that the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” has come and gone without the U.S. military falling apart at the seams as predicted. Indeed, even the commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. James Amos, who predicted disaster if the law were repealed, has come around, recently admitting that the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” has been smooth sailing for the Marine Corps, as it has for the other branches of the armed forces.

So not only does Gov. Perry now find himself at odds with the majority of the American people and even his own conservative base on the righteousness of us being finished with “don’t ask, don’t tell,” but he is also at odds with the senior defense leadership. It was, after all, a Republican-appointed secretary of defense — Bob Gates — and a Republican-appointed Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — Adm. Mike Mullen — who called for an end to the ban on known gay men and women serving in the military.

Rick Perry suffers from a delusion, a common one really. He believes that people who identify in the same way that he identifies must share the same bigotries and hatreds that he has.

We’ve seen it many times before. Someone in a cocktail party will assume that due to your skin tones that you’ll find her racist humor funny. Or because it’s all ‘just us guys’ that the room will agree with his demeaning comments about women.

And Rick Perry, being a Texas Republican who has never had any electoral cost to pay for his long pattern of blatant homophobia, thinks that all Republicans hate gay people the same way that he does. But that day is gone.

It is true that Republicans, on the whole, are significantly less supportive of gay issues and that they, on large, start from an adversarial position. But like other Americans, this demographic too is coming to discover that people whom they know and love are gay and, even more important, they are recognizing that unbased bias carries a social cost.

Rick Perry may have been well served by appealing to fear and loathing of gay people in a national Republican primary as recently as a decade ago. But after this ad, I think that Rick Perry is going to discover that he’s not in Texas anymore.

Bobblehead Bigot

Rob Tisinai

December 9th, 2011

Sometimes we toss around the b-word too easily. But after seeing this desperate anti-gay ad from Rick Perry…

…I’ll say the man’s one big, bobbleheaded bigot.

[Feel free to right-click on the bobbler, save the image, and share it if you like.]

New Perry Ad: There’s Something Wrong

Jim Burroway

December 7th, 2011

In case, for whatever reason, you didn’t understand what Texas Gov. and GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry was trying to say yesterday, he put it in a television ad today:

YouTube Preview Image

I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a Christian, but you don’t need to be in the pew every Sunday to know there’s something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military but our kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school. As President, I’ll end Obama’s war on religion. And I’ll fight against liberal attacks on our religious heritage. Faith made America strong. It can make her strong again.

What Rick Perry opposes

Timothy Kincaid

December 6th, 2011

Rick Perry opposed the statement today by the President. As he was rather specific, we must assume that he means what he says. In case you didn’t do a point by point comparison, here is what Rick Perry supports:

Rick Perry believes that countries should deny people their rights because of who they love. This isn’t surprising, really, as he has long held that the state of Texas should deny gay people rights that are shared by heterosexuals solely because they are gay. And, unlike others who talk about “everyone being treated equally to anti-gay laws”, Perry has been clear that he hold personal animosity to gay people. As gay people.

Rick Perry opposes combating the criminalization of LGBT status or conduct abroad. Again, no surprise. Rick Perry supported the criminalization of LGBT conduct and presumed conduct based on status in his home state of Texas.

Rick Perry opposes protecting vulnerable LGBT refugees and asylum seekers. I won’t put the words “let ‘em die” in his mouth. I don’t know that he’s actually said that.

Rick Perry opposes the use of foreign assistance to protect human rights and advance nondiscrimination. I suppose this goes to anyone, not just gay people. But if Perry were no find that it was in America’s interest to, say, encourage a Muslim nation to allow a Christian minority the freedom to practice their faith, he would never do so for a sexual minority. Mostly because he actively supports discrimination against sexual minorities.

Rick Perry opposes the swift and meaningful U.S. responses to human rights abuses of LGBT persons abroad. And he would never ever engage International Organizations in the fight against LGBT discrimination. Again, Perry sympathies with the abuser, not the victim.

Ideologically, it’s difficult to conceptualize a greater enemy to gay people. Santorum, perhaps. But never has there ever been in modern times a President who held the level of personal animosity that Rick Perry has for you. Not Eisenhower, not Nixon, not Johnson, not Reagan, and neither Bush. It is inconceivable that Perry could have the personal gay friendships of Reagan, the gay appointments of the Bushes, and certainly not the supportive views of Carter, Clinton, Ford, or Obama. None of the other credible GOP candidates, Romney, Gingrich, or even Bachmann would be worse.

We very seldom use the term “hate” to categorize a politicians views. It seldom is accurate. But I concur with Jim completely: Rick Perry hates you. Deeply.

Rick Perry Issues Press Release to Remind You How Much He Hates You

Jim Burroway

December 6th, 2011

It didn’t take long for the Texas governor and GOP presidential candidate to respond:

Just when you thought Barack Obama couldn’t get any more out of touch with America’s values, AP reports his administration wants to make foreign aid decisions based on gay rights. This administration’s war on traditional American values must stop.

I have proposed a foreign aid budget that starts at zero. From that zero baseline, we will consider aid requests based solely on America’s national security interests. Promoting special rights for gays in foreign countries is not in America’s interests and not worth a dime of taxpayers’ money.

But there is a troubling trend here beyond the national security nonsense inherent in this silly idea. This is just the most recent example of an administration at war with people of faith in this country. Investing tax dollars promoting a lifestyle many Americas of faith find so deeply objectionable is wrong.

President Obama has again mistaken America’s tolerance for different lifestyles with an endorsement of those lifestyles. I will not make that mistake.

The Daily Agenda for Saturday, November 19

Jim Burroway

November 19th, 2011

TODAY’S AGENDA (OURS):
Transgender Day of Remembrance: Several locations. While tomorrow is officially the day set aside to remember those who have been murdered as a result of transphobia, some TDoR events are taking place today. TDoR began in reaction to the brutal murder of Rita Hester, who was killed on November 28, 1998. Her murder resulted in the creation of the Remembering Our Dead web site and a candlelight vigil in 1999. In the first nine months of 2011, 116 transgender people have been killed around the world, according to Trans Murder Monitoring (TMM). They also say that there have been at least 681 murders in 50 countries since 2008. Observances for the Transgender Day of Rememberance typically consist of the reading of the names of those who have died because of their gender identity, expression, presentation or perception of gender variance. Observances are being held in cities all around the world. Click here to find an observance near you.

TODAY’S AGENDA (THEIRS):
Thanksgiving Family Forum: Des Moines, IA. The anti-gay Family Leader will host a Thanksgiving Family Forum with GOP presidential candidates Sen. Rick Santorum, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Rep. Ron Paul, former House speaker Newt Gingrich, pizza magnate Herman Cain, and Rep. Michele Bachmann “sitting shoulder to shoulder around a ‘Thanksgiving table’.” That hokey piece of stagecraft is the brainchild of organizer Bob Vander Plaats, who has this as a dress code: “the audience attire will be ‘business casual,’ but the candidates were asked ‘to dress like they’re going to Thanksgiving dinner’.” Which means that one of them will be wearing a loud green sweater with a giant white snowflake.

Noticably absent from the banquet is Gov. Mitt Romney, which has Family Leader’s Bob Vander Plaats steamed at the snub. “Mitt Romney has dissed this base in Iowa and this diss will not stay in Iowa,” he told Fox News. “This has national tentacles. … This might prove that he is not smart enough to be president. …I think what will happen is what happened in 2008. He’s been in this position before. He’s been on top of polls only to find his campaign tanking and sucking air.” Tell us how you really feel, Bob.

Family Leader promises that “ALL the questions will be centered around issues relating to the family and are designed to gauge the constitutional and biblical worldviews of the candidates.” And to make sure none of the candidates move too far from an anti-gay agenda, two ten-minute segments of the two-hour forum will be headed by Focus On the Family’s Tom Minnery, and the National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown. The remainder of the one hour and forty minutes will be moderated by Fox News’ Frank Lutz. It begins at 4:00 p.m. at the First Federated Church in Des Moines. While the event is open to the press, the latest word has it that no major network will be televising it. Thank God for small favors.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
American Council of Christian Churches Calls AIDS “God’s Wrath”: 1989. Peter Steinfels wrote in the New York Times about a gathering earlier in November of U.S. Catholic Bishops in Baltimore that had met to hammer out a document responding to the AIDS crisis. The bishops decided overwhelmingly to reject the theological proposition that AIDS was in any way a punishment from God, a position held by one in four Americans, according to a recent poll. J. Gordon Melton, director of the Institute for the Study of American Religion in Santa Barbara, had published 68 statements on AIDS from 45 different religious groups in the United States, Canada and Great Britain, and found “a remarkable” across both liberal and conservative religious groups recognizing that AIDS was not just a gay problem, and “that special ministries should be established to serve AIDS victims, their families and friends, and that the civil rights of homosexuals or of those with the AIDS virus should be protected.” But, The Times learned, that consensus wasn’t unanimous:

The Bible repeatedly describes God as employing all kinds of terrors, natural and human, to punish those who disobey his commands. These biblical accounts naturally governed the reaction of the American Council of Christian Churches, a fundamentalist group that recently expressed dismay at the consensus discovered by Mr. Melton. The council, which claims to represent about two million ”Bible Christians,” promptly went on record upholding the idea that AIDS is God’s wrath visited on homosexuals and drug addicts, although for their ultimate benefit if they turn to Jesus.

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).

As always, please consider this your open thread for the day.

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?

Johnson “Embarrased” By Booing of American Soldier, Other Candidates Refuse To Comment

Jim Burroway

September 24th, 2011

ABC News’ Emily Friedman rounds up the reactions of GOP presidential candidates to the booing by audience members of Stephen Hill, a gay American Soldier stationed in Iraq, who asked about the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” during Thursday night’s debate. On the night of the debate, Ambassador Jon Huntsman Jr. said he heard the booing and thought it was “unfortunate.” He later added, “We all wear the same uniform in America. We all salute the same flag I have two boys starting their journey in the U.S military. We should take more time to thank them for their services as opposed to finding differences based on background or orientation.”

After one news cycle passed, Sen. Rick Santorum claimed that he didn’t hear the booing (which was loud enough to actually create an echo in the vast hall in Orlando), and said he should have thanked the soldier for his service. At least that’s what he told Fox News. When speaking to ABC News, Santorum walked it backed a little.

“I didn’t hear it. I didn’t hear the boos,” Santorum told ABC News. “I heard the question and answered the question, so I’ve heard subsequently that happened. I’ve heard varied reports about whether they were booing the soldier or the policy.”

“I don’t know what they were booing,” he said. “If you can go out and find the people who were booing and find out if they were booing because a man was gay or because of a policy they don’t agree with.”

“You find out why they booed, and I’ll respond to your question,” he added.

Today, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson said he was embarrassed by the episode:

“That’s not the Republican Party that I belong to,” said Johnson. “I’m embarrassed by someone who serves in the military and can’t express their sexuality. I am representing the Republican Party that is tolerant. And to me that shows an intolerance that I’m not a part of in any way whatsoever. ”

Johnson added that he could hear the boos from the stage and believes that the other candidates – despite Santorum’s denial – could as well.

That’s a second candidate who admitted he could hear the boos from the stage. Yet none of the nine candidates spoke up against the demonstrated disrepsect of an active-duty soldier stationed in Iraq, and none of them engaged in the time-honored Republican tradition of shoving each other out of the way in the race to thank that soldier for his service to the country.

And for six of those candidates, that silence continues through day three. Pizzaman Herman Cain refused to comment saying he didn’t want his comments “taken out of context.” Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann’s spokesperson refused to comment, as did the campaigns for former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Texas Rep. Ron Paul’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

Perry Signs NOM’s Anti-Gay Pledge

Jim Burroway

August 26th, 2011

Pledges allegiance to Maggie Gallagher.

Texas governor and GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry joins Sen. Rick Santorum, Rep. Michele Bachmann and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in signing the National Organizations for Marriage’s anti-gay pledge. The pledge requires candidates to:

  • Support the Federal Marriage Amendment defining marriage as one man and one woman,
  • Defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court,
  • Apply a marriage litmus test for judges and the attorney general,
  • Appoint a presidential commission to investigate so-called “harassment” of traditional marriage supporters,
  • Demand that marriage be put to a vote in the District of Columbia.

Christian Dominionism Is Not A Myth

Jim Burroway

August 21st, 2011

On August 14, Michelle Goldberg sounded the alarm about the close ties that two GOP candidates for president, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and Texas Gov. Rick Perry have with extreme elements of far-right Cristianism known as Dominionism. Today, A. Larry Ross responds with a well-intentioned, but ultimately hopelessly informed counterargument that “Christian Dominionism is a Myth.” Ross’s argument rests on this crux:

Although her well-intentioned article may resonate in the echo chambers of her fellow East Coast media elite, Goldberg misapplies a broad label that few, if any, evangelicals use or with which they identify.

Ross identifies himself as “a lifelong evangelical who understands the foundational tenets of belief in the doctrine of love, according to the principles of Jesus in the Great Commandment and the Sermon on the Mount.”  I take him at his word. I think that description applies to almost all who identify as evangelicals — as well as almost all who identify as mainline Protestants, Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox and Mormon. Which means that it doesn’t really tell us much. And if the particular individuals that Goldberg discussed held themselves to that relatively simple and expansive definition, then there would hardly be any cause for alarm. But they don’t. And instead of understanding what they do believe to be equally essential articles of faith, Ross dismisses the entire phenomenon as ghosts dreamed up by the “East Cost media elite” (his words; how’s that for misapplying broad labels?) to pump more excitement into cable news channels:

Most Americans today consume news less for information than for validation, and gravitate to media outlets that reinforce opinions and a worldview they already embrace. Despite today’s proliferation of 24/7 news networks and social-media platforms, as everyone retreats to these silos of validation, we seem to have lost our public square, or at least the former civility of it.

Sojourners president Jim Wallis has observed that network-television viewers need to hear the collegial, respectful discussions among marquee leaders with opposing views that take place in network greenrooms moments before they aggressively attack and demonize each other in heated debates broadcast on point/counterpoint news programs.

But in discussing Dominionism, Goldberg doesn’t misapply anything. To the very point that Ross misses, she is actually applying a label to identify a theology that few, if any, evangelicals use or with which they identify, and she applies it specifically to that exceptionally tiny minority for whom the label does applies. These are not the people within the broad spectrum of Christianity, nor are they even those within the outer ten percent of its fringes. We’re not talking about the Pat Robertsons, the Joel Olsteens, the Albert Mohlers or the Rick Warrens. No, we’re talking about people who are far, far more fringe than anyone whose name immediately comes to mind whenever most people think of Christian Evangelicalism. And that is exactly Goldberg’s point. And when Goldberg says, “If you want to understand Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry, understanding Dominionism isn’t optional,” that advice applies to mainstream Evangelicals as well. I suspect most of them don’t understand Dominionism either. Ross certainly doesn’t appear to.

Pretending that the so-called New Apostolic Movement and Seven Mountains Theology don’t exist or that those influenced by the Kansas City Prophets have not gained influence among particular presidential candidates here at home and political leaders abroad doesn’t make them go away. Granted, these are probably not the kind of people Ross runs into in his church, his friends and colleagues’ churches, or in any other circles he hands with. But just because they can’t be found under Ross’s bed or alongside him in the pews — or in Wallis’s greenroom sojourns — doesn’t mean they don’t exist. And when they are identified as close advisers credited for a big win in Iowa, or when they act as main speakers and moderators at a huge televised rally for a candidate’s benefit, the proper response is to ask hard questions of what they want for the country, not whistling and quickly walking away.

The Daily Agenda for Satuday, August 13

Jim Burroway

August 13th, 2011

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Ames Straw Poll:
Ames, IA.
GOP Candidates will trek to Hilton Coliseum on the campus of Iowa State University today for the crucial Ames Straw Poll. The Straw Poll is part of a day-long event filled with speeches, barbecues, and fundraising for the Iowa Republican Party, which is why only those candidates who purchased space from the party, at a minimum price of $15,000, will be allowed to speak. For many candidates, this is the first test of their organizational strength and name recognition among Iowa voters. But other than that, the poll is utterly meaningless. As Politico’s Roger Simon puts it: “The Ames Straw Poll is a delightful fraud, an amiable hoax, that most people in Iowa don’t care about, but the national media eat up because the event seems so charmingly ‘Iowan.’ … It is organized bribery on a grand scale.” Today’s schedule goes like this:

Noon: Program begins

12:40: Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum

1:15: Texas Rep. Ron Paul

1:50: Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty

2:20: Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann

3:15: Godfather Pizza Magnate Herman Cain

4:00: Straw poll voting closes

Also scheduled to speak are Iowa Reps. Steve King and Tom Latham, and Sen. Chuck Grassley.

Rick Perry Announces Presidential Run: Charleston, SC. Texas Gov. Rick Perry has been scheduled for quite some time to deliver a speech at the RedState.com Gathering taking place this weekend in Charleston. Aides say that speech will be Perry’s official announcement that he is running for the GOP nomination for President. Following his speech tomorrow he will head off to New Hampshire for a fundraiser, and then tomorrow he will speak at the Black Hawk GOP’s Lincoln Day Dinner Fundraiser in Waterloo, Iowa.  Rep. Michele Bachmann, the Waterloo native who is seen as Perry’s chief rival for the social conservative vote, will also speak at the dinner. Perry’s “I’m Not A Mormon” Christians-only prayer event last weekend in Houston was seen by many as a prelude to today’s kick-off.

Perry’s entry into the race rounds out a thoroughly anti-gay lineup for the GOP nomination. When Texas voters approved a state constitutional amendment in 2005 banning same-sex marriage, Perry took the extraordinary step of convening a special signing ceremony in a Fort Worth megachurch — even though the Texas Constitution has no provision whatsoever for a governor’s signing of a constitutional amendment.

HRC’s Equality Bus Tour Launches: Salt Lake City, UT. The Human Rights Campaign has launched a twelve-week nationwide bus tour to spread the message of equality. Dubbed the “On the Road to Equality”, the bus tour will cover twelve cities in twelve weekends, with the first stop this weekend in Salt Lake City, Utah as guests of the Utah Pride Center. The event kicked off yesterday with a press conference. Today, HRC and UPC will host a a panel discussion featuring Dr. Caitlin Ryan of the Family Acceptance Project titled, Pathway to Acceptance: Supportive Families, Healthy Communities at the Salt Lake City Library (210 E 400) in Conference Room 4, from 2:00 to 4:00. HRC will also host a presentation and Open House at the Paris Ballroom at the Hotel Monaco, beginning at 4:00 p.m. Tomorrow there will be a 5K Fun Run at Liberty Park beginning at 10:00 a.m.

Australians Rally for Marriage Equality This Weekend: Adelaide, SA; Brisbane, QLD; Canberra, ACT; Melbourne, VIC; Perth, WA and Sydney, NWS.

Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Brighton, UK; Charleston, SC; Eugene, OR; Fargo, ND; Indianapolis, IN (Black Pride); Irvine, CA; Mannheim, Germany; Montréal, QC; New York, NY (Black Pride); Palouse/Moscow ID; Prague, Czech Rep.; Sligo, Ireland; and Wakefield, UK.

AIDS Walk This Weekend: Denver, CO.

Also This Weekend: Northalstead Market Days, Chicago, IL and Provincetown Carnival, MA.

Good news for a change

TODAY IN HISTORY:
“No Obits”: 1996. For the first time in more than seventeen years, the San Fransisco weekly Bay Area Reporter made the news because of a lack of news: there were no obituaries of AIDS victims in the August 13, 1996 edition. The rate of obituaries had been declining for the previous two years following the introduction of the so-called “AIDS cocktail, which surprised scientists and AIDS advocates alike for its effectiveness in halting and even reversing the health declines of those on medications. According to an AP article at the time, “The few days leading up to Monday’s deadline for submitting obits were tense at the newspaper. In the previous two weeks, none had been delivered until the last minute. ‘It was like watching a no-hitter in baseball unfolding,’ (news editor Mike) Salinas said. “We didn’t really want to discuss it until it became obvious that it was going to happen. We held our breath waiting.’” But the obit never came by the time the deadline arrived, and the paper celebrated with a front-page headline proclaiming “No Obits.”

Australia Amends Marriage Law Banning Same-Sex Marriage: 2004. The opposition Labor party joined the governing right-of-center Liberal Party to pass an amendment to Australia’s marriage law to ban same-sex marriage. Critics of the law challenged the government’s priorities, asking why there was a such a rush to ban same-sex marriage when the proposed anti-terrorism law hadn’t been voted on yet. Government and Labor responded by switching the schedule for the two bills and passed the anti-terrorism law first. Then both parties joined to cut off debate in the Senate. Democrat leader Sen. Andrew Bartlett condemned the move: “This is just an absolute disgrace … (you are saying) we have to do it now, otherwise society will crumble and the world will end. You are saying, ‘It is urgent that we take away as many freedoms and rights from people as possible and do it really quickly before they notice and get a chance to be upset about it’.” But that is exactly what they did, and the measure passed the Senate by a vote of 38-6.

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).

Less than 0.5% of Houston Show Up For Rick Perry’s Rally

Jim Burroway

August 6th, 2011

Houston’s Reliant Stadium hold 71,000 people, but according to officials with Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s “The Response” prayer rally, about 30,000 people showed up. That should mean that the stadium would be half full. Doesn’t look like it to me. Failure #1.

Perry also sent invitations to every governor in the nation to attend his rally. The only one to show up was Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback. Gov. Rick Scott of Florida made a video that was played in the stadium. Only two others out of at least forty-nine — that’s failure #2.

The American Family Association’s Tim Wildmon addressed criticisms of the wholesale obliteration of the lines between church and state as represented by a religious revival organized by a political executive by saying “no political candidates will be speaking.” Candidate, perhaps not — although please, does anyone not believe Perry is running for president — but the criticism stems from two current, elected governors speaking from the stage with another one phoning it in. These aren’t just candidates. They are current office-holders sworn to uphold the Constitution. Failure #3.

The Daily Agenda for Saturday, August 6

Jim Burroway

August 6th, 2011

TODAY’S AGENDA:
“The Response” Rally: Houston, TX. Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s is hosting a massive Day of Prayer called “The Response” at Reliant Stadium in Houston. The rally, which is being sponsored by the SPLC-certified anti-gay hate group American Family Association, will bring out a veritable who’s who of anti-gay extremists, including Family “Research” Council’s Tony Perkins, Rev. John Hagee (he said that the anti-Christ would be “a blasphemer and a homosexual”) five senior staff members of the dominionist International House of Prayer (members of which have endorsed Uganda’s “Kill-The-Gays” Bill), and “prophet” Cindy Jacobs (she said that birds were dying in Arkansas because of DADT repeal). And that’s just barely scratching the surface; Right Wing Watch has a good round-up of the players here. Perry organized the rally because, he said, Americans have “turned away from God.” He said that they rally would be apolitical, even though he invited every governor in the nation to attend. The only one to accepted was Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, although right now it is unclear whether he will actually attend. His office said only that he is “on vacation.” The rally is today from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. CDT.

Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Amsterdam, Netherlands; Hamburg, Germany; Leeds, UK; Oakland, CA (Black Pride); Reykjavik, Iceland; Salem, OR; Stockholm, Sweden; and Windsor, ON;

Also This Weekend: Summer Diversity, Eureka Springs, AK; and Louisville LGBT Film Festival, Louisville, KY.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Plymouth Colony Convicts Two Men Of “Lewd Behavior and Unclean Carriage”:
1637.
The crime wasn’t sodomy — that required proof of penetration — but it was shocking nevertheless. From the official record:

John Allexander & Thomas Roberts were both examined and found guilty of lewd behavior and unclean carriage one with another, by often spending their seed one upon another, which was proved both by witness & their own confession; the said Allexander [was] found to have been formerly notoriously guilty that way, and seeking to allure others thereunto. The said John Allexander was therefore censured [sentenced] by the Court to be severely whipped, and burnt in the shoulder with a hot iron, and to be perpetually banished [from] the government [territory] of New Plymouth, and if he be at any time found within the same, to be whipped out again by the appointment [order] of the next justice, etc., and so as oft as he shall be found within this government. Which penalty was accordingly inflicted.

Thomas Roberts was censured to be severley whipped, and to return to his master, Mr. Atwood, and serve out his time with him, but to be disabled hereby to enjoy any lands within this government, except he manifest better desert.

A Reported Case of “Adhesiveness”: 1836.The word “homosexuality” wasn’t coined until 1868, and it wouldn’t enter the English language until 1895. Without it, medical professionals struggled to find a scientific-sounding word to describe gay people that wasn’t among the usual pejoratives. One British doctor, known only as “Dr. Macnish,” wrote this very brief account in the August 6, 1836 issue of The Lancet:

ADHESIVENESS. — I knew two gentlemen whose attachment to each other was so excessive, as to amount to a disease. When the one visited the other, they slept in the same bed, sat constantly alongside of each other at table, spoke in affectionate whispers, and were, in short, miserable when separated. The strength of their attachment was shown, by the uneasiness, amounting to jealousy, with which the one surveyed any thing approaching to tenderness and kindness, which the other might show to a third party. This violent excitement of adhesiveness continued for some years, but gradually exhausted itself, or at least abated to something like a natural or healthy feeling. Such attachments are, however, much more common among females than among the other sex. — Dr. Macnish.

Not gay: Michael Johnston and his mother in a 1998 television commercial.

Ex-Gay Leader Experiences “Moral Fall”: 2003. Michael Johnston was literally the poster boy of the ex-gay movement. Five years earlier, he was the star of a high profile national print and television ad campaign claiming that gays could change their sexual orientation. Johnston, who is HIV-positive, appeared with his mother in a controversial print ad under the headline “From innocence to AIDS.” He and his mother also appeared in a television commercial, in which she said, “My son Michael found out the truth — he could walk away from homosexuality. But he found out too late — he has AIDS.” Johnston founded Kerusso Ministries in Newport News, Virginia, he began a program called the National Coming Out of Homosexuality Day, and he was featured in the widely-distributed ex-gay propaganda video, “It’s Not Gay.”

But all that ended when it was revealed that while Johnston was the public face of the ex-gay movement, privately he was engaging in anonymous sex with men without disclosing his HIV status. One man said that he had met Johnston, who called himself Sean, in a gay chat room in 2001 and had a six month relationship with him. “What we did was unsafe,” the man said, “I brought it up all the time, but [Johnston] didn’t seem to think it mattered. He would have these parties, get a hotel room, get online and invite tons of people — he just wouldn’t care.” Johnston quickly shuttered his ministry and fled to Pure Life Ministries, an ex-gay residential program in rural Kentucky. He is now Director of Donor and Media Relations at that very same ministry today where he is also a member of the “speaking team.” And his propaganda video is still for sale at the American Family Association web site.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Andy Warhol: 1928.He didn’t invent pop art, but it is more his brand than anyone else’s. He was born to working class Ukrainian immigrants in Pittsburgh, and attended an Eastern Rite Byzantine Catholic Church. Maybe it was the religious icons that filled the church which inspired him to make icons of ordinary things and extraordinary people. Brillo pads and soup cans were more than their mere packages after his treatment, electric chairs became sculptures of transcendent mystery, and Marylin Monroe and Jacqui Onassis became the Madonnas and St. Catherines of the modern era. Even the white-haired wig he wore later in life became an icon of his personality. “I love Los Angeles,” he once said. “I love Hollywood. They’re so beautiful. Everything’s plastic, but I love plastic. I want to be plastic.”

Warhol’s personal life was as scandalous as his films and artwork. In 1968, he was shot by Valerie Solanas, a minor artist working off and on at Wahol’s studio The Factory, and very nearly died. But he would go on to live two more decades, and he remained a devout Catholic, attending Mass nearly daily. When he died after complications from gallbladder surgery, he was buried in Pittsburgh following a traditional Eastern Rite funeral with Yoko Ono making an appearance. His will left virtually his entire estate for the establishment of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, which is one of the the largest grant-making foundations for visual arts in the U.S.

Angie Zapata: 1989.She died too young at only eighteen when she was savagely beaten to death by Allen Andrade, first with his fists and then with a fire extinguisher to the head. They had met through a social networking site and spent three days together, including one sexual encounter, before Andrade found out that Angie was transgender. In his murder trial, Andrade’s lawyer posed the trans-panic defense, saying that Andrade beat Angie after she smiled at him and said, “I’m all woman”. That, according to Andrade’s lawyer, was a “highly provoking act.” The jury didn’t buy it fortunately, and Andrade was found guilty of first degree murder with hate crime enhancements, and sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

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).

Older Posts