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Box Turtle BulletinNews, analysis and fact-checking of anti-gay rhetoric
“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
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Posts for October, 2008

Secret Prop 8 Donor Revealed

Timothy Kincaid

October 30th, 2008

A few days ago the Yes on 8 campaign announced

“Through the grace of God, one of our most fervent supporters has agreed to make a sacrificial gift to match, dollar for dollar, whatever you and others can donate, up to a total of $1 million. That means that every dollar you give will buy two dollars in advertising time.

But they declined to identify the donor.

Now the No on 8 Campaign has identified the secret donor.

Alan Ashton, of Lindon, Utah, a Mormon and grandson of David O. McKay, President of the Mormon Church from 1951-1970. Ashton made his fortune in software.

Well now there’s a shocker. A Utah Mormon.

Update: That software that Alan Ashton made his fortune in? Wordperfect. Ashton is one of the company’s co-founders.  This matches Bruce Bastian’s donation of $1 million. Bastian is the other Wordperfect co-founder.

Tiny Newspaper Editorial Against Prop 8

Timothy Kincaid

October 30th, 2008

The city of Gonzales, CA is a tiny dot on the map between Salinas and Soledad, population about 7,500. It’s a agricultural town with some picturesque achitecture which rather amusingly touts itself as “The Wine Capital of California”.

And the hometown paper, the Gonzales Tribune, with a readership of about 650 may be the smallest paper I’ve heard of. But if the editorial by Richard Sitts is any indication of the attitude of at least some in small-town rural California, then I’m encouraged.

Last Saturday I ran a few errands over near the coast. In Seaside at an intersection near the big box stores, supporters of Prop. 8, the anti-gay marriage amendment, held up their signs while some vehicles honked their approval. I didn’t notice anyone in opposition as I drove by. On my way out of town, opponents of Prop. 8 were waving their signs at another busy intersection. While waiting for the light to turn, I watched two drivers slow down to angrily yell at the Prop. 8 opponents. I don’t believe the government should legislate our personal lives so I will vote No on Prop. 8. Also, the pro-Prop. 8 television ads are full of lies and they’re shamelessly using children to promote those lies. I’ve had it; I’m sick and tired of being lied to.

Me too

Newspaper Positions

Yes on 8’s Appeal to Bigotry

Timothy Kincaid

October 30th, 2008

I saw the latest advertisement in favor of Proposition 8 on TV last night and was struck by the change in message. Perhaps tired of newspapers running editorials accusing them of lying in their ads, this one made no pretense of presenting facts. It appealed purely to homophobic emotion.

Yes on 8’s New Ad
YouTube Preview Image

Transcript:

Same-sex marriage… have you really thought about it?
What it means when gay marriage conflicts with our religious freedoms…
Why it was forced on us by San Francisco Judges when gay domestic partners already have the same legal rights…
What it means when our children are taught about it in schools…
Have you though about what same-sex marriage means…
(small girl:) to me?
Think about it.
Voting Yes restores traditional marriage.
Yes on Proposition 8.

This ad makes no argument as to why same-sex marriage is not desireable to society. It simply asks the listener to dredge up any misconceptions, stereotypes, or animus that may be buried in their subconscience and let fear – not fact or reason – be their guide. It is an appeal to bigotry in its most naked form.

A Personal Plea Against Prop 102

Jim Burroway

October 30th, 2008

Karen Kressley live in the retirement community of Green Valley, AZ. She and her husband raised four children in what she calls a “heterosexual home environment.” Except one of their boys wasn’t heterosexual. At age 16, he tried to take his own life. He survived, and in counseling a few weeks later, he came out as gay, and had felt this way since he was five or six:

My mind flashed back to little girl crushes I’d had on boys in the early 1950s. I did not have to keep these feelings a secret. Now, I realized, our son had been holding his feelings secret for a long time, while trying to pretend to himself and to us that he could be straight.

Our ignorance nearly cost us the life of our child. Regrettably, the message our son received in his “heterosexual home environment” was a distinct “Only Straight People Accepted Here.” My husband and I had so much to learn and unlearn.

The tragedy of Prop 102 is that it reinforces that same message on a wider scale: only straight people accepted here.

I am appalled by Proposition 102, a second attempt (a similar initiative failed in 2006) to single out our GLBT citizens of Arizona for exemption from living out their dreams… The sin is not in whom one loves. The sin is with those who want their narrowly defined religious beliefs enshrined in the Arizona Constitution.

Proposition 102, if passed, will set a dangerous precedent and will only further serve to marginalize our equally deserving GLBT citizens.

We are down to our last week. Please give as generously as you can.

Arizona - Vote No On Proposition 102 - Again!

Proposition 8 DOUBLES its Newspaper Endorsements

Timothy Kincaid

October 29th, 2008

As of today, Proposition 8 has the endorsement of twice as many newspapers as yesterday bringing its total up to two.

Previously we told you that the Paradise Post (circulation 8,000) had endorsed the proposition. Now we read that the Los Altos Town Crier has added its name to the list.

As for their reasoning… well, let’s just say that it demonstrates a shallowness of investigation into the facts and an ignorance of the role of the judiciary. They also seem startlingly unaware of actions taken by the legislature towards the legalization of same-sex marriage.

Yes on Proposition 8. We think it is time to stop the courts from making our laws. That’s why we elect a representative government. The ripple effect of letting the current court ruling legalizing gay marriage stand will be endless lawsuits, especially regarding tax-exempt status for churches and educational institutions.

With a circulation of 16,500, the supporters of Proposition have tripled the number of citizens that will read a supportive editorial on Prop 8.

Newspaper Endorsements

San Diego Biotech Companies Fear Prop 8

Timothy Kincaid

October 29th, 2008

According to San Diego Union-Tribune, 22 executives of biotech companies in the San Diego area are seeking to get their trade organization to officially oppose Proposition 8. They fear that Massachusetts could steal away valuable researchers and highly skilled employees, appealing to their desire to live in a more tolerant environment.

“Our industry is vitally important to San Diego and we cannot allow other states become more appealing to our talented work force,” the executives said. “In today’s economy we cannot afford to lose the potential of a single job or company.”

Sadly, the appeal may be too late. The board of Biocom has already met on endorsements and did not take a polition on any propositions. However, a board member did indicate that Prop 8 is not welcomed by their industry.

“We are working at the cutting edge of biomedical knowledge and we should be as open-minded as possible,” Xanthopoulos said. “Biotechnology companies are supposed to be agile, flexible, creative, innovative and committed to thinking out of the box. All these things don’t line up with Proposition 8. They are exactly to the contrary.”

NorCal Radio Station Refuses to Run Yes on 8 False Advertising

Timothy Kincaid

October 29th, 2008

Per the Eureka Times-Standard, KHUM radio decided not to run an ad supporting Proposition 8

”It really had to do with the content of the ad itself, and not the issue,” KHUM General Manager Patrick Cleary said of his decision not to run the advertisement. “I think they were saying that they were going to be teaching homosexuality in kindergarten. It was a fear-mongering ad, and we sent it back and asked them to re-submit a different one.”

This is not a decision that was without sacrifice

Trask said it is very rare for the station to turn down an advertisement, as KHUM has a tight operating budget and needs all the revenue it can get.

”We’re not really in the financial position to turn down advertising,” he said. “Generally speaking, when people approach us to buy advertising content, we sell it to them.”

They offered to run an ad that dealt with the real issues of the case and was not based on fear tactics and falsehood but the Yes on 8 Campaign had no interest in pursuing such advertising.

I wish that more media would place civic responsibility above profit and refuse to run advertising that is blatantly false and intentionally deceptive, no matter the campaign, candidate, or issue. But, if they did that, poor Yes on 8 would have none of their commercials on the air.

The Clear Facts about Proposition 8 and Schools

Timothy Kincaid

October 28th, 2008

Writing for Jurist (a publication of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law), Douglas NeJaime, the Sears Law Teaching Fellow at the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, explains in clear and easily understood language exactly why the claims by Yes on 8 about schools having to teach about gay marriage are false.

First, school curriculum is an intensely local decision. Local school boards, elected by local residents, create, revise, and implement curriculum. While public schools must teach core subjects and ensure that students attain a certain level of competence, they enjoy a tremendous amount of discretion. Nowhere is that discretion more expansive than in the domain of health and sex education. In fact, schools in California may decide to provide no such instruction whatsoever. If schools do offer sex education, the California Education Code requires that schools teach “respect for marriage and committed relationships.” But even this statutory provision is silent as to what that instruction should (let alone must) include. Instead, local school districts may include what they like, based on parental feedback, teacher input, and the decisions of politically accountable local officials. Some school districts have for years included material on lesbians and gay men, while many others have omitted such material. That variation will not change (and has not changed) in light of the ability of same-sex couples to marry in California. Schools will continue to exercise their broad discretion and will not operate under any new mandates. Furthermore, parents in California enjoy the right to exempt their children from sex education. This right to opt out will continue to exist, meaning that children won’t receive sex education (gay-inclusive or not) to which their parents object.

He also explains why the claims based on Parker v. Hurley (the King and King ad) are untrue.

At the onset of this campaign I was willing to believe that the Yes on 8 Campaign was sincere and that their ads reflected their beliefs. However, as more and more evidence builds up it has become increasingly obvious that they have abandoned all efforts at honesty and now are flat-out lying.

Education is not the focus of the ads because the supporters are unclear about the law or because they truly believe that schools will undermine parental and community control. As Marcos Breton revealed in an article about Yes on 8’s strategist:

In August, Schubert was excited at the subversive idea of using gay people in his ads – gay people who he claims oppose same-sex marriage. But he decided that was too risky.

Instead, Schubert found his inspiration at a Southern California focus group meeting in early September when an African American man – and Barack Obama supporter – reacted angrily to the idea of gay marriage being taught to kids in public school.

Ever since, Schubert has hammered at that idea in slick commercials with ominous music. “The things that people in politics don’t always appreciate is the power of human emotion,” he said.

Box Turtle Reader Writes

Timothy Kincaid

October 27th, 2008

Ben in Oakland is a frequent commenter here on the Box Turtle Bulletin. He has also taken the time to pen a very compelling personal argument against Proposition 8. It is printed today in the Eureka Reporter:

We’re not a threat to anyone or anything. Nor is our marriage. We’re just Ben and Paul. And we want to stay married.

Ben doesn’t argue about schools or churches or the falsity of Yes on 8’s latest wacky claim. He talks about his life and his marriage and what it means to him and his family.

Gay people and straight people are pretty much alike, including such matters as romance, family, marriage and religion. And why shouldn’t we be? We’re your relatives and friends. We’re you. Are we not human enough, not citizens enough, to grant us the right to marry? We want for us and our families exactly what you get from our government: the same respect and equality before the law that you demand for yourselves. That’s it. Our lives and families are as valuable as yours. You don’t have to approve of gay people or be a part of our lives. We aren’t attacking your families, faith or civil rights, nor preventing them from being legally protected. Can you say the same about yourselves?

We want to take nothing from you. We want only the same rights and protections that you have. Nothing more — and nothing less.

There are dozens and dozens of newspapers across this state. And a well written opinion – or even a letter to the editor that appeals to the reader in a personal way – can make a difference in a vote. And often papers, especially local or smaller circulation papers, are happy to include a thought provoking piece that they don’t have to fit into a deadline.

Ben has very generously offered to let our other readers steal his work or take what they can use if they will only help spread the message. Please consider if you can either write your own letter – or borrow Ben’s – and help change a heart and mind.

San Diego City Council Opposes Proposition 8

Timothy Kincaid

October 27th, 2008

The Union-Tribune reports

The San Diego City Council voted 6-2 on Monday to oppose Proposition 8, the Nov. 4 state ballot measure that would institute a constitutional ban on same-sex marriages.

In September of last year, the city voted to file a friend of court brief with the state Supreme Court to overturn the prohibition on gay marriage. At that time it was expected that Jerry Sanders, the city’s Republican mayor, would veto the vote. But instead he tearfully expressed his love for his lesbian daughter and his support for marriage equality.

Council of Churches Ad

Timothy Kincaid

October 27th, 2008

The Santa Clara County Council of Churches is so committed to the Christian principle of justice and compassion that they ran a full page ad in the San Jose Mercury News giving their brothers, sisters, neighbors, and parishioners the following message:

As people of faith,
We believe that all people are made in the image of God.
We believe in loving, faithful and committed relationships.
We affirm everyone’s right to the freedom to marry.
We urge you to..
VOTE NO ON PROPOSITION 8.
Don’t eliminate marriage for anyone.

The ad was signed by 23 member churches. There is also an accompanying videowith statements from ministers from Unitarian Universalist, Disciples of Christ, MCC, Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist and Jewish congregations. The Council is also running phone banks for No on 8 out of local churches.

Too often anti-gay activists coopt the name Christian or Religion in the same way they seek to control the word Marriage. It is encouraging to see people of faith willing to stand up for principles that are inclusive and based on love, compassion, and a deep desire to treat their neighbor as they want to be treated and declare to the world that neither faith nor Christianity is any barrier to equality and decency.

Prop 8: The End of the World

Jim Burroway

October 27th, 2008

If California’s Proposition 8 fails, it’ll be Armageddon, and all that — according to Charles Colson and Tony Perkins:

“This vote on whether we stop the gay-marriage juggernaut in California is Armageddon,” said Charles W. Colson, the founder of Prison Fellowship Ministries and an eminent evangelical voice, speaking to pastors in a video promoting Proposition 8. “We lose this, we are going to lose in a lot of other ways, including freedom of religion.”

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian lobby based in Washington, said in an interview, “It’s more important than the presidential election.”

“We’ve picked bad presidents before, and we’ve survived as a nation,” said Mr. Perkins, who has made two trips to California in the last six weeks. “But we will not survive if we lose the institution of marriage.”

Why the doom and gloom? Prop 8 proponents are now raising the scare tactic that Prop 8’s passage will mean that churches that refuse to marry same-sex couples will be sued, or ministers will be jailed if they preach against homosexuality.

This, of course, is not possible in the United States because of the First amendment. Christian Identity churches are free to preach White Supremacy and anti-semitism, and fundamentalist protestant extremists are free to call the Pope the Anti-Christ. Nobody gets thrown in jail for any of that. And the Catholic Church has been free to refuse to marry anyone who has been divorced, no matter how many divorce papers or civil marriage licenses a couple can waive in front of the priest.

Mormon Childhood Neighbor Update

Daniel Gonzales

October 27th, 2008

Earlier in the week I’d posted about mailing a two sentence note to my Mormon neighbor at my childhood home. I have an update for y’all — Yesterday I got word from my mother that her yard sign has come down (we hope it was voluntary and not simply a result of vandalism).

Amendment 2 Debate with Westboro Baptist

Jose Gabilondo

October 26th, 2008

The following is a guest post by Associate Professor José Gabilondo, faculty adviser to the Stonewall Legal Alliance at Florida International University’s College of Law, which recently hosted a debate on Florida’s Amendment 2 with Marge and Shirley Phelps, of Westboro Baptist Church.

Hi there. I’m the faculty adviser to the Stonewall Legal Alliance and the person who debated Marge and Shirley Phelps today, whom I had never met before. As it turned out, today was no circus and, instead, obeyed the ordinary rules and expectations of university exchange. Although I plan to write a more extended essay about the debate and the underlying issues and am, in fact, presenting on it at Wake Forest Law School next week, the commentary on this blog is so thoughtful that I did want to share some preliminary thoughts.

First of all, the Stonewall group really did reach out to several local and national proponents of Amendment 2, so let me reject in the most strenuous way the idea that their inviting Westboro was a crutch for what Stonewall or I feared would be a weak argument against Amendment 2. The students had no money to pay the expenses of any speaker, so their choices were limited. It was very important to them that the event include some kind of juxtaposition of views, in addition to the panel scheduled for the afternoon. The Stonewall students worked very hard on this event and it pained me (and them) to see them criticized and, at times, even ridiculed in this way. I was willing to participate in the debate because it relates to my research on the role of law in how heterosexuals come to see themselves (heterosexual subject formation) and a current article on how new Right operatives have made what are really reactionary views come to seem “conservative” by co-opting liberal ideas like “balance” and “diversity” for their ends. And Nate Phelps is right about his family. I have never followed the Phelps but what I saw today reflected experience and savvy with debate formats and traditional legal arguments, although of the more theocratic variety.

Second, and more disturbingly, what the debate brouhaha showed me was how poorly many people understand the function of a public university, the culture of intellectual exchange, and the rules of the game, as far as U.S. speech culture is concerned. Except on those rare occasions when a public university is addressing a question about its own corporate identity, the speech that goes on at a public research university is that of the many people and institutions that make up the rich mosaic which is a public university. To suggest some kind of vetting or oversight by administration officials of student activities, as some have, is the kind of prior restraint that Anglo-American legal culture long ago decided was repugnant to what we think of as freedom.

Moreover, the function of the academic enterprise is truth-seeking, not balance, although I realize that I am violating post-modernity’s Nicene Creed against the possibility of truth. The organizer of a speech event – students or otherwise – have the freedom to pursue their vision of its content and participants. To argue that the presence of “mainstream” institutions (whatever those are) is a proxy for the kind of intellectual rigor needed for truth-seeking is a big mistake: what this argument is really saying is “Please confine the scope of your inquiry to the existing consensus, as I have more faith in that than in having to think for myself about new material.” One of the most important decisions that a GLBTQ person must make is whether to see himself through his own eyes or through the perspective of straight society which, in case you hadn’t noticed already, IS the mainstream . A little original thinking on this score is not such a bad thing.

Finally, we are experiencing an important moment of openness and realignment in how we think about the gay-straight question. As I see it, it is an age of schism and cleavage in the heterosexual community, in the sense that faith communities are splitting on this issue (for Heaven’s sake! they should – what could be more important to a faith community than bearing witness to truth?) and that legal developments like the Defense of Marriage movements are calling the question, allowing people to take clear, public positions, so that we can see where people stand and act accordingly. (It’s about time.) A key thing that is happening is that heterosexuals are becoming increasingly aware of their individual and collective role in majoritarian abuses against sexual minorities. Some heterosexuals embrace the new consciousness; some object vigorously, trying in vain to put the toothpaste back in the tube; but most are still undecided and would benefit from a clear exposition of what is at stake when a supermajority works at erasing the existence of a minority. If you care about helping people to make choices that serve their core values (be they the values of old time religion and majoritarian overreaching or those of the secular human potential movement), you can help most by revealing the truth of what is at stake in these so called “marriage protection” amendments. In my opinion, today’s debate did that in spades, making a contribution not just on this issue but to speech generally as a way of finding and affirming your values.

Just for the record – the last two weeks have probably been the most stressful 2 weeks of my professional life due to intense hostility and scrutiny over this event, but now that it’s over, I feel relieved, proud of the courage and integrity of our Stonewall Legal Alliance and its leadership, grateful that I had the opportunity to bear witness to my truth on the question, and more convinced than ever about the value of open exchange on questions of faith and public policy.

(After I submitted this last night, Jim Burroway kindly gave me this forum, so I want to use it point you to material on my blog that some of you will like.  Start with the “Straight Question” essay on heterosexuality.  The first part especially was designed to be accessible and healing.  If you’re a visual type, go to the concept map.  Cheers.)

Yes on 8 Campaign Desperate, Disgusting, Abusive of Children and Families

Timothy Kincaid

October 26th, 2008

The Yes on 8 Campaign must be feeling desperate as a result of a recent poll showing that the initiative is behind. Their behavior has become erratic, verging on criminal, and truly reprehensible.

On the 23rd we reported that the highest level of leadership in the campaign had engaged in efforts that might well fall under the legal definition of blackmail or extortion. On Friday, Ken Mettler, the head of the Bakersfield area Yes on 8 Campaign was videotaped punching and kicking an opponent to the initiative. And now the campaign has engaged in activity that should give any parent pause.

In their newest television ad, the Yes on 8 Campaign focuses on the field trip that some San Francisco children took to celebrate their teacher’s wedding. It goes without saying that they distort the story; dishonesty is the hallmark of the Yes on 8 efforts. And although this lack of integrity is worthy of indignation, what truly reveals the immorality of their efforts is that they chose to exploit images of the children that attended.

It is one thing to criticize the decisions of the parents and the school’s administation. It is quite another to plaster the face of children across the television screens of all California households and present them for ridicule.

The parents are furious.

They are sickened to find that their own children are being used as a prop to advance a cause which they do not support. And they have requested that Yes on 8 take down the ad that uses the video of their children. (ABC7)

“I’m horrified that her image is being used this way and I want it taken down,” said Jennifer Press referring to the new ad. Her 6-year old daughter Lucy was part of a field trip to City Hall two weeks ago to see her teacher married to her same sex partner. Now pictures from that field trip have made their way into a Yes on Prop 8 ad.

Laura [Hodder], whose son Ben is also in the ad, told reporters Sunday, “You can’t use children’s images in political statements like this. No one asked us to use our children. No one talked to us about this. And I feel like my children are being manipulated.”

From their press release

“We are absolutely outraged that you have chosen, without permission, to shamelessly hijack the images of our innocent children to promote a cause that we in no way, shape or form support. It is even more maddening that you have willfully and calculatingly edited the images of our children, with menacing music in the background, in a way that is completely contrary to their nature and harmful to them.”

Ah, but these “good moral people” who believe that “parents and not liberal schools should be the protectors, guardians and ultimate teaches of their own children” seem to have no respect for parents when they don’t support their anti-gay agenda. They have told these parents that they have no intention of stopping the exploitation of their kids.

“The images of the children wouldn’t be in the public domain if they hadn’t called the press and publicized it. It’s been on national TV.”

Now, I don’t know what legal recourse these parents have. Whether they have any ability to stop Yes on 8 from making the face of their son or daughter into the mascot of the Yes on 8 Campaign is something for better legal minds than mine.

But I do know evil when I see it.

And choosing to subject a very young child to ridicule and notoriety against the expressed wishes of their parents is unquestionably evil. I did not think that the Yes on 8 Campaign could stoop lower than their extortion efforts, but this new act of theirs is beyond contemptious.

I hope and pray that Californian parents are disgusted by this abuse and through it come to recognize the Yes on 8 Campaign for its true nature: selfish, evil, arrogant, and mean.

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