March 11, 2010
Posted by: Chris
Give Senegal's Prime Minister Souleymane Ndiaye some credit. The usual pattern we see in "blame the homo" is to explain some natural disasters or social decline -- or the threatened destruction of human civilization -- by pointing the finger at the gays.
Ndiaye turned that little tradition on its head, explaining that the worldwide financial crisis of recent years is to blame for the gays:
Ndiaye last year called homosexuality "a sign of a crisis of values." He said it was due to the world's economic problems, and that government ministries as well as society as a whole should fight against homosexuality.
So according to the gaynesian economic theories of the prime minister, expect homosexuality, like unemployment figures, to be a trailing indicator of the budding economic recovery.
One final bit of irony, since practiced readers in anti-gay politicians are already expecting it: Yes, there's some tricky hypocrisy at work here. No word whether Ndiaye himself is a closet case, but the man who calls homosexuality a "crisis of values" is defending his government's attempt to bribe an IMF official and blackmail an international cellular phone company to the tune of US$200 million.
February 26, 2010
Posted by: Chris
... Miss Beverly Hills, a title she gave herself while a resident of Pasadena, trying to "clarify" that she's not literally advocating the execution of gays by saying gays should abide by a passage in Leviticus that urges death to those who have sex with those of the same gender.
Confused? You've got company. Asked whether gays who find Jesus can stay gay, she resorts to the hair toss after an answer escapes her...
Posted by: Chris
If you're listening to the other side these days, it's amazing what you'll learn. Just in the last day or so, we've learned that...
“Slick city lawyers and homosexual lobbies and African-American lobbies are running Raleigh.” -- North Carolina state Sen. Jim Forrester (R-Gastonia)
"“I am still stunned that he would issue such an amorphous, confusing opinion. It's a bucket of warm spit." -- Del. Emmett C. Burns Jr. (D-Baltimore)
3. From yet another rightwing California beauty queen comes not just opposition to gay marriage but apparent agreement with the Christian extremists in Uganda who believe gays should be executed...
"In Leviticus it says, ‘If man lies with mankind as he would lie with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death and their blood shall be upon them.’ The Bible is pretty black and white. I feel like God himself created mankind and he loves everyone, and he has the best for everyone. If he says that having sex with someone of your same gender is going to bring death upon you, that’s a pretty stern warning, and he knows more than we do about life." -- Miss Beverly Hills Lauren Ashley
February 24, 2010
Posted by: Chris
Anyone who watched Ryan Sorba's tirade against CPAC for accepting the gay Republican group GOProud as a sponsor knows the firebrand leader of Young Conservatives of California has, um, issues. Thanks to Talking Points Memo, we're getting our first glimpse into his closet:
The man who cited natural law in an off-script anti-gay rant at CPAC has had two run-ins with the real law in the past decade, including a restraining order for domestic violence, according to court records in California.
Ryan Sorba of California Young Americans for Freedom, who is a longtime anti-gay activist, in 2001 had a restraining order brought against him by a woman in a San Bernardino County domestic violence case, according to case records.
A three-year restraining order granted by the court barred Sorba from any contact with the woman, Mary Paulson, and his brother Michael Sorba. He was also ordered to move out of the "family dwelling" in Highland, a small city outside San Bernardino, according to records. Sorba was 19 at the time and did not appear in court for any of the proceedings.
Sorba insisted the woman was not his girlfriend (surprise, surprise), but the mother of a male friend from his neighborhood with whom Sorba had heated relations (surprise, surprise). "I got in a fight with a kid in my neighborhood. And the mother did not want us getting in any more fights," Sorba told TPM. "And so the mother filed a restraining order. And then nothing else ever happened."
In a second incident, Sorba was cited for a noise disturbance (surprise, surprise) that involved screaming at a gay guy (surprise, surprise) while handing out flyers at a California polling place in favor of Proposition 8:
Asked how he knew the man was gay, Sorba said "because he looked gay, he sounded gay -- it was evident."
"I'm proud of that ticket. I look at that ticket as if it's a trophy," he said.
Any predictions where this story goes next?
Note: Photo of Sorba with a Young Americans for Freedom member is unrelated to the reported incidents.
February 23, 2010
Posted by: Chris
Out of the heartland -- Joplin, Mo., to be exact -- comes this bizarre tale:
David Ansley has resigned from the Missouri Southern State University Board of Governors, after he used a homosexuality slur during a board retreat on Saturday.
In a written statement Monday, Ansley apologized to students, faculty, staff and administrators for any offense, and expressed remorse for his actions.
“I have always thought of myself as a tolerant man,” he wrote. “Yet the fact that I spontaneously made the comment has caused me pause. Personally, I am conducting introspection. My goal is to examine my own prejudices with the hope of renewed tolerance. I hope to be a better person because of all this.”
Ansley's grave offense? After a presentation by the school's athletic department about how they had butched up their lion mascot, the personal injury lawyer/board member "spontaneously" commented, "We went from the fag lion to the ferocious lion."
Board Chair Rod Anderson tried to tell the roomful of reporters covering the board retreat that Ansley's pronouncement was off the record, but to no avail. Ansley's "fag to ferocious" pronouncement was the lead headline from the meeting, with some reporters jumping the gun to report it on Twitter and Facebook.
Before the weekend was out, a Facebook page calling for Ansley's resignation had been created. By this week came the inevitable: Ansley resigned. Even that was not enough for some:
“He is now the cowardly lion, in my opinion,” said Hillary Fogerty, an English professor and adviser for the Equality Alliance at MSSU.
“He’s saying, ‘Let’s avoid the issue entirely, and fall on the sword and pretend it’s not here.’ What will his resignation serve? Resignation is not education. It doesn’t solve the problem of other board members being willing to cover up what he said or to laugh at it.”
Right. Let's ask for the manes of the board chair trying in vain to contain the controversy and two others who told the Joplin Globe that the comment wasn't newsworthy.
This is political correctness run amok, and those responsible should be ashamed of themselves. The "F word" is not the same as the "N word," no matter how much you want it to be, and we'd win a lot more sympathetic friends if folks like Ansley were asked to say they're sorry rather than retreat from the public square in shame.
February 13, 2010
Posted by: Chris
Since rational arguments never fail to convince fair-minded folks to exclude gay and lesbian Americans from the fundamental freedom to marry, its foes typically resort to the "yuck factor," and in doing so give us an unintended glimpse of the ignorance behind their bigotry.
In years gone by, the yuck factor typically took the form of two men in tuxedos or two women in wedding gowns, exchanging vows. Happily marrying same-sex couples in Massachusetts, California took care of that old canard, showing the universal feelings of love and caring that form the bonds in our relationships, just like in opposite-sex couples.
Then came same-sex kisses, but they've lost their shock value due to Hollywood's more realistic portrayals on TV and the movies, along with the increased frequency of airport and sidewalk smooches -- again showing we're just like our straight brethren.
That means gay marriage opponents have to up the ante once again on the yuck factor, but I'm guessing this particular attempt by one Republican state rep in New Hampshire won't catch on:
New Hampshire state Rep. Nancy Elliott (R-Hillsborough) has asked other members of the House Judiciary Committee to repeal the recently enacted gay marriage law. Her argument? Anal sex between gay men is yucky.
"We're talking about taking the penis of a man and putting it in the rectum of another man and wriggling it around in excrement," said Elliott. "And you have to think, would I want that to be done to me?"
Elliott didn't stop there, complaining that marriage equality will result in public schools "showing presentations of anal sex. … They are showing our fifth graders how they can actually perform this kind of sex. … That is the context of the lesson, that 'This is something that you, as a fifth grader, you may want to try.'"
Not only is Elliott's portrayal of anal sex grossly inaccurate (pun intended), it is of course completely irrelevant to whether gays should be able to marry, anymore than Nancy's right to marry should hinge on whether we're grossed out by imagining her lying back and thinking of New England with her partner.
Raising the sex education boogeyman is straight out of the Prop 8 playbook, and let's hope activists in New Hampshire are more effective in putting the lie to that falsehood.
Not surprisingly, Elliott's allies have yanked the YouTube video after a round of well-deserved Internet scoffing:
Apparently they discovered the yuck factor can backfire (pun intended) on those sleazy and cynical enough to employ it.
February 02, 2010
Posted by: Chris
"Sure there are those who are forced into prostitution, but I think most of them volunteer. Many, many children have been scared straight because of arrest. … Arrest is a valuable life-saving tool that must be used. We need to hire more cops to arrest the prostitutes."
— Sue Ella Deadwyler, publisher of a conservative Christian newsletter, speaking out in opposition to a Georgia bill that would treat as victims, not criminals, girls under the age of 16 pimped out as prostitutes, providing them care instead of prison terms.
The age of consent in Georgia is 16, so under current law these girls are simultaneously considered victims of rape and criminals guilty of prostitution.
Joining Deadwyler at a press conference opposing the bill were representatives from the Georgia Christian Alliance, the Georgia Christian Coalition, Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition, and the Georgia Baptist Convention. Republican candidate for governor John Oxendine, who made his name as insurance commissioner blocking private companies from offering domestic partner benefits, also attended.
January 27, 2010
Posted by: Chris
We need a social whip or something like that, not a liberal ginger cake." — Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov, on why he's banning the "satanic" Gay Pride Parade
October 13, 2008
Posted by: Kevin
In the most important election taking place in Brazil this year, the mayoral election in the country's largest city (and my current home) São Paulo, a desperate opponent who once fashioned herself the great champion of the city's gay community is now using blatant gay-baiting in desperation.
It is a sad and hypocritical plunge into dangerous territory for President Lula da Silva's Worker's Party (or PT, its Brazilian acronym) in a city that remains a springboard to national politics. And the barrage of television and radio ads blatantly questioning the sexuality of incumbent Mayor Gilberto Kassab comes at a time when vicious anti-gay attacks and murders have been taking place. And given the current state of politics in the city, the use of blatant gay-baiting by the PT is fanning the very flames of hate that has cost the lives of several innocent people in and around a neighborhood that gave Kassab his largest margin of victory in the first round of voting on October 5th.
The history which brought us here makes this turn of events even more galling for the city's gay residents. The PT candidate, former mayor Marta Suplicy, was elected in 2000 as the first candidate for major office in Brazil who openly campaigned for the support of gay and lesbian voters. She marched in the city's world-record-setting gay pride parades, helping add to the momentum of the event as it became the largest annual gay pride event in the world and a major focus for the whole country's gay population.
However, her management of the city was widely seen as a disaster, racking up a huge debt and tying traffic up in knots with badly planned public works and out-of-kilter priorities that seemed designed to favor her base of supporters rather than the whole city. In turn, she was soundly bounced from office in 2004 by the center-right opposition party, led by José Serra, the likely center-right presidential candidate in the race to succeed Lula in 2010.
Serra was elected governor of São Paulo state in 2006, and his vice-mayor, Gilberto Kassab of the conservative party, the Democratas (DEM), assumed office. Kassab is a life-long bachelor, and is a very popular mayor. He has spearheaded several popular projects, including the Cidade Limpa law which banned all billboards and public advertisement displays inside the city limits and restored a sense of pride and conservation in the city's eclectic architecture. He also restored São Paulo's finances, and has backed a revival of the city's old downtown, which was a sad hellhole for more than a decade. Crime is way down in the city and continuing to drop. The city's health services are being reformed to improve efficiency, and public works priorities seem more sane and less erratically political. And in a marked symbol of the city's growing pride in itself, a major TV campaign promoting the city as a tourist destination was launched on CNN International earlier this year.
To his credit, Kassab's government signed a landmark cooperative agreement one year ago with the state government which would join public defenders in both jurisdictions to provide more resources to citizens who seek redress for any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation. It was perhaps the most significant move by any executive branch in the country in recent memory to more concretely safeguard the rights of gay citizens in Brazil in the most meaningful way. And despite some initial criticism (including from me) during the spate of anti-gay murders last year, the state and municipal police forces managed to apprehend every one of the perpetrators of these crimes and put them behind bars.
In the first round of voting, Kassab leaped into the top position, eliminating a fellow center-right opponent and a scattering of minor candidates. His approval rating tops 60%. Marta Suplicy came in second place, and a picture emerged of a city sharply divided between the bairros of the city center (Kassab) and those in the poor periphery (Marta). Marta is polling as much as 17 points behind Kassab in the latest published surveys. Her only hope of squeaking to victory is to manage an enormous turnout in the periphery, and cut into his support in some parts of the city center.
And alas, she is playing the gay card as a key element of her strategy in the second round. As the two candidates participated in a tense debate on the Bandeirantes TV network last night, Marta's campaign launched a TV and radio ad campaign which asked voters about what they "don't know about Kassab." The screen has a pixelated black-and-white picture of Kassab's face, and it asks a number of questions about him, the last of which is: "Is he married? Does he have children?" And the tone is clearly meant to suggest the mayor is gay, and that it's a dirty, shameful thing that should disqualify him as mayor. And quite rightly, Kassab has filed five separate motions with the electoral commission to force Marta and the PT to take the ads off the air.
This comes only a year after a wave of anti-gay attacks and murders hit the Jardins neighborhood in the city center, in and around where many gay residents and gay hangouts are concentrated. (I've written on this anti-gay crime wave extensively here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.) Jardim Paulista is, ironically, the bairro where Kassab won his biggest margin of victory anywhere in the city in the October 5 first round (and I'm proud to add, it's where I live and work). And the attackers in nearly all of the murders and beatings have been skinheads and self-described "punks" who purposely come into this neighborhood from the poorer periphery neighborhoods, the very areas to which Marta is directing her gay-baiting message, and where Marta won every bairro in the first round.
So the so-called champion of São Paulo's gays is now throwing us to the wolves in a desperate ploy for the votes of the homophobic periphery. She is intentionally dividing the city along lines that have flared with murderous violence for years. And she and the PT have the gall to still claim the mantle of being the protector of gay Brazilians. Que merda essa.
While I cannot vote in Brazil, I am giving all I have to volunteer and agitate for Kassab's re-election. In this case, to say this election is a matter of life and death for the gays of São Paulo is no exaggeration.
UPDATE: This has exploded into a major story on the front pages of all the city's newspapers and websites, with near universal condemnation for what Marta's campaign is doing. This is a huge relief, but alas the journalists of this city are not from the periphery and, in turn, are often seen as only a partial voice of the full electorate. It is very heartening, however, to hear that highly respected political analyst Alberto Carlos Almeida told the Estado de São Paulo newspaper that Marta has "committed a fatal error that will mark her entire career" with the ad campaign. And columnist Ricardo Noblat, who blogs for the #1 newspaper in all of Brazil, O Globo, wrote today that her ad campaign "is indeed bigoted, and is indeed sexist. As it would be similarly sexist and bigoted to run an ad insinuating that Marta cheated on her first husband [Senator Eduardo Suplicy] before she left him." Even her own (second) husband, Luis Favre, has posted on his own blog that personal lives should be off the table in this election. (And then defended her campaign in the very next post. Bizarre.)
But at an editorial meeting today with the #1 newspaper in the city, Folha de São Paulo, Marta spoke out of three different sides of her mouth, and deepened the controversy by repeating the charge, then saying she's the real victim, and then denying she even knew about the ad to begin with (my translation from Folha's report):
"I am someone who is against bigotry. You will never hear a single prejudiced word from my mouth. [...] But I think that you're interpreting this all too much," Marta said, when questioned as to whether the content of the ad wasn't invasive and prejudiced.
The candidate denied that the ad made insinuations about the mayor's life. "For me it's just as important is he's married, widowed or single. People have to know." [...]
"I think people ought to know about the candidate. My whole life, the person with the most invaded privacy has been me. For this reason I'm against it," affirmed the PT candidate, who said that the TV ad was the responsibility of the marketing director for her campaign. "The decision is with the marketing director [...] I didn't even see the ad."
This has now become, perhaps, an even more profound decision for São Paulo's voters over what kind of city this will be going forward. Not just a question of economics, public works or taxation -- but about the very soul of this city. Will division, resentments and hatred win, or will São Paulo take another step forward among the major cities of the world and toss this kind of manipulative politics into the trash?
April 05, 2008
Posted by: Chris
Jay Leno is trying his best to have it both ways in the flap over whether he was gay-baiting actor Ryan Phillippe during a "Tonight Show" interview.
Leno had noted Phillippe's conservative Baptist upbringing and his first role, playing a gay teen on the soap "One Life to Live." Then Leno tried to be funny -- always a risky move on his part, if you ask me -- and said, "Give us your gayest look." Phillippe responded, "That is so something I don't want to do. Are you just going to embarrass me tonight, or ... ?"
Here's the clip:
That led to a handslap from the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation for Leno's "misguided use of adolescent humor" and kudos for Phillippe from GLAAD director Neil Giuliano for refusing to take the bait.
Leno dutifully apologized by press release, insisting, "In talking about Ryan's first role, I realize that what I said came out wrong. I certainly didn't mean any malice. I agree it was a dumb thing to say, and I apologize."
Came out wrong? Hard to see how he was misunderstood and within days, Leno was unfiltered and unapologizing (listen here), whining about "political correctness" and the rigors of being a comic today. After all, he claims to have gay guests all the time and he never makes fun of their relationships. (I'll bet "some of his best friends are gay," too, and he invites them over for dinner and everything.)
Woe is Jay.
March 28, 2008
Posted by: Chris
Remember that outrageous quote from Peter Sprigg, policy VP at the Family Research Council, about why they oppose immigration rights for gay Americans?:
I would much prefer to export homosexuals from the United States than to import them into the United States because we believe homosexuality is destructive to society.
I'll take a smidgen of credit, ever so humbly, for being the first to publicize that whopper on the blogosphere. Since then, Sprigg has shown up on dozens of blogs and websites for gay rights organizations.
Now, lo and behold, he taking it all back:
In response to a question regarding bi-national same-sex couples who are separated by an international border, I used language that trivialized the seriousness of the issue and did not communicate respect for the essential dignity of every human being as a person created in the image of God. I apologize for speaking in a way that did not reflect the standards which the Family Research Council and I embrace.
That's refreshing, especially his professed wilingness to at least see the human toll that legal inequality can take. Sure it might not be genuine, but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. I only wish Sprigg and his fellow travelers would pause long enough to consider what might have motivated that original quote, and whether causing pain and heartache in the lives of gay Americans, his fellow Americans, is really what Jesus would do.
Sprigg goes on to say that FRC opposes the Uniting American Families Act because, "FRC does not believe that homosexual relationships are the equivalent of marriage." Fair enough, but why should that preclude any legal recognition at all for same-sex couples? If Sprigg really respects our dignity, he would see there's no harm in letting us be together with the one we love.
(H/t: Immigration Equality)
March 27, 2008
Posted by: Chris
I've read this article twice, about how upset some Marylanders were when a small town council member responded to a question about school bullying by noting the higher incidence of bullying of gay and gender-nonconforming kids:
At a town hall meeting in Clarksburg last week, Councilman George L. Leventhal said many victims of bullying are gay after a resident commented about that her daughter was being bullied at school.
‘‘It was totally inappropriate,” said Kathie Hulley, president of the Clarksburg Civic Association. ‘‘If the County Council is going to come out to a town meeting and somebody in distress asks a question, to go off on a tangent, which has no bearing to what she was asking, is really bad.”
Councilman Marc Elrich, who also attended the meeting, said ‘‘I don’t know why [Leventhal] went there.”
Huh? Were they upset because the remarks suggested the daughter was gay? Or minimized her victimization if she wasn't? The article never says, dancing around it in some sort of silly suburban code.
Even more bizarre than the reaction to Leventhal's answer was the rambling question he was responding to:
During a question-and-answer segment, Derwood resident Valerie Ricardo described how her daughter was being bullied at an area middle school. Ricardo went on to discuss the county’s anti-discrimination law covering transgendered individuals, and also discussed her fears of being approached by ‘‘a man with an exaggerated walk, a female walk” and ‘‘evil intent in his eye.”
‘‘So I want to say that the risk is real and I think that we need to take these situations of violence and bullying and crazy situations for what they are and begin to do something about it,” Ricardo ended her statement.
Double huh? So we feel sorry for her daughter -- and we do -- and we blame it on men who prance a bit too much?
Can anyone else translate this for me?
March 20, 2008
Posted by: Chris
UPDATE: At the end of the post.
"I would much prefer to export homosexuals from the United States than to import them into the United States because we believe homosexuality is destructive to society."
That's how Peter Sprigg, vice president of policy at the Family Research Council, explained the conservative group's opposition to the Uniting American Families Act, which would allow gay Americans the same right straight Americans have to sponsor a foreign partner for citizenship here.
Just in case you wondered…
(Video here; Spriggs quotes at 1:37)
Immigration Equality linked to this post earlier today, and later the group's director Rachel Tiven issued this statement:
Unfortunately, the Family Research Council's preference to export lesbian, gay, bisexual and trangender (LGBT) Americans prevails. This policy continues to separate people who love each other, but of course Mr. Sprigg's group doesn't care about that.
I hope, however, that the Family Research Council realizes that when we 'export homosexuals' we also export talented men and women who have made incredible contributions to this country and its economy - THAT is 'destructive to society'. LGBT Americans who are forced into exile from this country are researchers for companies like GE and Pfizer, nurses in the Midwest, teachers in our inner cities and sons and daughters of aging parents who depend on them for care.
The Family Research Council might not care about our families but current immigration laws are 'destructive' to America and I hope that is something they do care about.
March 13, 2008
Posted by: Chris
THREE UPDATES: At the end of the post.
Remember the tape that surfaced of Oklahoma state Rep. Sally Kern railing that the "homosexual agenda" represented "a bigger threat" to America than terrorism and Islam and will be "the death knell of this country"? Well it's gone mega-viral, resulting in a cottage industry of rumor and half-rumor to sort through.
First there was the allegation first made in the comments section of a local news story about the controversy that Kern and her husband Steve, a Baptist minister, have a adult gay son named Jesse who they tried to "scrub" from her legislative profile. The Kerns denied their son is gay, according to Queerty:
Our son is not gay. We would still love him if he was, but that would not change the fact that homosexuality is a chosen life style and that we would pray for our son to have a change of heart. My heart goes out to the many parents who have lost sons to AIDs [sic] and other STDs. Those kinds of deaths are tragic because they could have been avoided.
There was no sourcing by Queerty for the Kerns' alleged denial, just as there was no sourcing on the original rumor.
Queerty nonetheless went on to report that a Jesse Jacob Kern, who may or may not be related to Sally and Steve Kern, was arrested for attempted oral sodomy in June 1989, a charge that was later dismissed. At least the charge and dismissal are sourced, although the connection between alleged son and parents is not.
Separately, on page 112 in the comments section to another local news story about the Kern flap, someone identifying herself as Elizabeth posted a letter to Kern she said was written by her teenage nephew Tucker, whose mother was killed in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. The long letter (available in the jump to this post here), is incredibly powerful to come from a teen, chastising Kern for claiming gays represent a greater threat than the type of terrorism that killed 168 people in Oklahoma City:
Had I not had the chicken pox that day, the body count would've likely have included one more. Over 800 other Oklahomans were injured that day and many of those still suffer through their permanent wounds.
That terrorist was neither a homosexual or was he involved in Islam. He was an extremist Christian forcing his views through a body count. He held his beliefs and made those who didn't live up to them pay with their lives.
As you were not a resident of Oklahoma on that day, it could be explained why you so carelessly chose words saying that the homosexual agenda is worst than terrorism.
The letter was so powerful that it's been quickly posted on blogs like OMG, Pam's House Blend and Daily Kos, as well as the blogs for gay rights groups like the Victory Fund and the Human Rights Campaign. Unfortunately, no one has any sort of evidence authenticating the letter, much less Tucker and his aunt Elizabeth. Both OMG and the Victory Fund told me in response to inquiries that they have no idea if the letter is legit, and I have a similar inquiry into Pam Spaulding.
To their credit, the Daily Kos diarist warned there was no verification and Pam's House Blend indicated the source was the comments section to the News 9 story. But more ought to be done to clear up whether the letter and these individuals are legit.
It's really unfortunate, of course, if the letter is a fake. The points about the comparative risks of terrorism and the "homosexual agenda," and even the domestic threat from Islamic extremism vs. Christian extremists, would be perfectly valid even if they weren't made by a teenager who lost his mother in the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building.
I'll update you if I learn more; in the meantime, all these good folks would be well served by a big fat disclaimer on the letter from "Tucker."
On the "Tucker" letter, Pam Spauling confirms that someone named "Dagon" posted the letter on her blog and I've sent an inquiry to that person, whoever he or she is. This is starting to really smell…
I've now heard back from "Dagon," who originally posted the letter from "Tucker" on Pam's House Blend. He indicated that he has no additional information that would validate the letter and in fact has "reservations" himself about whether it is legit.
I contacted HRC about reservations concerning the "Tucker" letter and the org's blogger posted this somewhat vague update to his Tucker post:
This week has seen an intense amount of coverage regarding Rep. Sally Kern's outrageous comments. Numerous sources have provided a wide array of information. As always, we've tried to keep focused on the very important facts and we're still trying to verify some reports. We're trying to track down the origins of this letter we linked to in this post...as are a number of other sources.
Do we think he's banned from using the "CC" word and linking here? :)
March 12, 2008
Posted by: Chris
Have you heard the appallingly hateful speech by Oklahoma state Rep. Sally Kern to a group of fellow Republicans? The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund took audio from the speech and spliced it an emotional response that tells Kern, "We are listening":
Some of the highlights (actually, lowlights) of Kern's screed include her allegation that gays represent "a bigger threat" to America than terrorism and Islam and will be "the death knell of this country."
Kern actually alleges that homosexuality has "deadly consequences for those people involved in it," from higher rates of suicides, illness and shorter lifespans. There are, in fact, higher rates of suicide among gay youth, but no reputable science or sociologist has attributed it to supportive groups like Gay-Straight Alliances, which Kern claims is "ruining these kids' lives." Instead, the guilty party is the bigotry and rejection these youth face from people like Kern and the schoolyard bullies who parrot them.
It's interesting that the Victory Fund -- rather than the Human Rights Campaign or the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation -- has taken the lead on calling Kern to the carpet, but it makes sense considering how Kern is spinning her attacks now that they're so very public. The AP reports:
Kern said she was primarily concerned about "the aggressive movement" to support gay candidates across the nation and in Oklahoma, where a gay candidate is seeking a statewide office.
Well that was one focus of her tape-recorded speech, in which Kern -- the wife of a Baptist preacher -- accused homosexuals of "infiltrating city councils." Shades of anti-Semitism anyone?
One aside: It's ironic to hear Kern complain that gays are trying to "get" or "indoctrinate our children" as young as two-year-olds, when we know that it's conservative Christians who have long insisted that public schools join in their indoctrination of children to their private (and bigoted) religious beliefs. In fact it was Kern who introduced the "Religious Viewpoints Discrimination Act," which was an attempt to stop Oklahoma schools from teaching evolution.
Victory Fund director Chuck Wolfe, a friend of mine, has issued a strongly worded open letter to Kern, accusing her of "hate speech":
The point is this: your words have consequences. Ask Judy Shepherd — her son, Matthew, was viciously murdered ten years ago this week by people who think like you. Ask the parents of Lawrence King, an openly gay eighth-grader who was gunned down in school last month by a classmate whose fear was stoked by words like yours. Just this past fall, Steven Domer, a 62-year-old gay man was brutally murdered right in your home state of Oklahoma.
I'm not a huge fan personally of blaming anti-gay speakers with murders and violent crimes that go far beyond what they are advocating; it's a tactic that the otherwise remarkable Mel White has overused in the past. But in Kern's case, the rhetoric comes pretty close to the mark, actually identifying homosexuality as a greater threat than the terrorists, who we all agree should be killed on spot.
Probably most depressing was the news that Oklahoma Republicans reacted to the news by giving Kern a huge ovation in a party meeting since news of the speech went public. It reminds me of the rousing response that the head of the Tennessee GOP got from fellow Republicans after a release that used Barack Obama's middle name and the "turban photo" as a bludgeon to accuse him of being soft on Israel.
If this is the direction of the Republican Party, then I couldn't be happier I chucked my membership a decade ago.
January 24, 2008
Posted by: Chris
The Roman Catholic Bishop for Tenerife in the Spanish Canary Islands is now denying that he ever linked homosexuality with child sexual abuse, an issue which has of course crippled the Vatican's moral authority on issues of human sexuality (and more).
"I have not in any way compared, nor wanted to compare, nor do compare homosexuality with the abuse of minors," Tenerife bishop Bernardo Alvarez told a Canary Islands television station on Tuesday. "The abuse of minors is morally a very serious sin and judicially it is a crime," he explained.
Not only did Bishop Bernardo Alvarez in fact compare homosexuality to the sexual abuse of minors, he tried to dig himself out by blaming the victims of child sexual abuse for seducing their abusers. In the earlier interview, published last month in the newspaper La Opinión, Alvarez argued that homosexuality is actually a sort of sexual novelty like, according to him, sexual interest in minors.
When the reporter called him out on the obvious difference between a consensual gay relationship and child sexual abuse, the good bishop went on to make the outrageous claim that a good number of 13-year-olds clearly desire sexual relationships with adults and can, in fact, seduce them. How an institution with so fundamentally twisted ideas about sexuality can continue to stake a moral claim on any subject relating to human sexuality is beyond me.
Here's are the bishop's own words. Caveat: the translation from Spanish is my own, and they last sentence or two was especially tricky for me. The excerpt in original Spanish follows after the jump.
What do you think about homosexuality?
I think that the first thing to do is to distinguish people from the phenomenon. People are always worthy of the greatest respect. If a person, for some physiological reason chooses this way of life, they deserve my highest respect. Another issue is whether or not homosexuality is or is not a virtue. We must be very careful now because it cannot be said that homosexuality is suffering or suffers. It is not politically correct to say that homosexuality is a disease, malnutrition, or a distortion in the natural way of being. That was the reading in any dictionary psychiatric ten years ago, but today we cannot say it.
It is crystal clear that in this connection, my thinking is that of the Church: maximum respect for the person. But logically, I believe that the phenomenon of homosexuality is something that harms people and society. Eventually we will pay the consequences as they have been paid by other civilizations. I am not suggesting that homosexuality be repressed, but there is room between suppressing it and promoting it. I believe we must promote education. The values of femininity and masculinity must be inculcated in children. You can tell us these values are backward, but we believe that these values respect freedom but at the same time guide people.
Can sexuality be guided [by the church]?
People cannot be left to fend for themselves. Why not do the same with violence or with other impulses human beings have? Furthermore, only 6% of homosexuals are the result of biological issues. We must not confuse homosexuality as an existential need of a person, with that which is practiced as a vice. The person practices [homosexuality] like child abuse is practiced. He does it because he is attracted to the novelty, a different form of sexuality.
The difference between a homosexual relationship and abuse is clear.
Of course. But why is the abuser of children sick?
To begin with, an abusive relationship is not consensual.
But there can be minors who do consent, and in fact, such do exist. There are teenagers who are 13 years of age and are perfectly OK with it, and in fact wish it. Included are those who can provoke you if you're not careful. This thing of sexuality is more complex than it seems.
UPDATE: Rex Wockner, whose Spanish is definitely better than mine, offers what I'm sure is a better translation of the bishop's last answer:
There can be minors who consent to it and, in fact, there are. There are 13-year-old adolescents who are minors and are perfectly in agreement and, what's more, wanting it. Including, if you're not careful [if you let your guard down], they provoke you. This thing of sexuality is something more complex than it seems.
The original interview excerpt (in Spanish) follows after the jump.
December 13, 2007
Posted by: Chris
Mike Huckabee's surge to the top of GOP polls in Iowa and nationwide has brought the expected scrutiny of his record and, ironically for a candidate courting social conservatives, it is on those same issues that he is withering a bit in the spotlight.
First came Huckabee's outrageous statement from his 1992 campaign for U.S. Senate in support of quarantining people with AIDS.
"If the federal government is truly serious about doing something with the AIDS virus, we need to take steps that would isolate the carriers of this plague," Huckabee wrote.
"It is difficult to understand the public policy towards AIDS. It is the first time in the history of civilization in which the carriers of a genuine plague have not been isolated from the general population, and in which this deadly disease for which there is no cure is being treated as a civil rights issue instead of the true health crisis it represents."
Advocating quarantine would have been outlandish enough in 1982, when HIV first emerged, but it was flat-earth territory to do so a full decade later -- six years after Surgeon General C. Everett Koop confirmed the already accepted view that casual contact could not spread the virus.
Huckabee's citation to the Kimberly Bergalis drama is a red herring; even if health care workers with HIV posed a risk, and it turns out they did not if they followed simple protocol, his support for "isolating plague carriers" was not limited to those in medicine.
Given the opportunity last week to distance himself from those views, Huckabee made clear that he's more concerned with being seen as a Mitt Romney flip-flopper than with alienating moderates. At a news conference, he said:
“The one thing I feel like is important to note is that you stick by what you said,” said Huckabee. “I’m not going to go around changing my opinion on everything.” …
Contesting those who say it was “common knowledge” in 1992 that AIDS could not be spread by casual contact, Huckabee said the nation was in “real panic” after the case of a patient contracted the disease from a dentist.
What's most striking is that Huckabee acknowledges the "panic" surrounding the AIDS virus but rather than clarifying how he didn't fall victim to it, he essentially advocates it as valid justification for public policy, even when the science was clearly to the contrary.
There's also no question, of course, that Huckabee's ridiculously harsh view about AIDS was informed by general animus toward gays, since he also said in that 1992 questionnaire, "I feel homosexuality is an aberrant, unnatural, and sinful lifestyle, and we now know it can pose a dangerous public health risk."
As off-the-wall as Huckabee's views may sound, they were within the mainstream among Arkansas conservatives at the time. I know because I come from a family of conservative Arkansas Republicans. Born and raised in Little Rock and just across the river in Memphis, I regularly debated a very intelligent uncle over whether AIDS could be spread by mosquitoes and whether it was, as Billy Graham had said, God's retribution against homosexuals. I was no bleeding heart, but my views were nonetheless seconded by no one.
Huckabee's refusal to budge from his 1992 views on AIDS, while endearing him to hard-core conservatives like my kin, risks alienating not just moderates but Republicans who want to nominate someone who is electable. Worse yet, in avoiding at all costs appearing like Mitt Romney or Rudy Giuliani, who have flip-flopped the other direction on social issues, Huckabee invites an even more damaging comparison: to the current occupant of the White House.
Whatever currency he gains with conservatives by rewriting the science of AIDS and sticking to inflammatory anti-gay rhetoric, he undermines his credibility with Americans -- including many Republicans -- who want a president who will unite the country and not stick stubbornly to views even when all evidence is to the contrary.
We've seen what happens when a president buys into public panic -- in Bush's case about terrorism and "weapons of mass destruction" -- ignoring the data and the qualifiers put on the most dire warnings from experts. The last thing Americans want -- or need -- is another president like that.
October 30, 2007
Posted by: Chris
"I educated the whole people in my country but I could not educate my adopted daughter. I felt very regretted with her and that the lesbian case happened in family. I and my wife will send a complaint to court to deprive her of any will and property of my family.
"I and my wife adopted her while she was 18 days in 1988 and she used my family name from that time. She brought her girls to my house and slept together with them. We are concerned that one day her girls take bombs and poisonous materials to our house and we all will die. Who knows in advance? I have five children and one adopted daughter."
— Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, on why he has initiated legal proceedings to abandon his adopted lesbian daughter
Ahh yes. The ever-present threat of lesbian terrorists sneaking bombs and poisonous materials into the houses of leading politicians. Who ever imagined that threat would reach so close to the seat of power in Cambodia?
Good thing Hun Sen acted quickly. Otherwise the Lesbian Avengers might have operated a terrorist cell from within the happy kingdom.
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