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12/12/2008

Commissioning inequality: LA body earns principled scrutiny, exclusionary support

by Jeremy Hooper

The Pelican State's extremely conservative governor, Bobby Jindal, has set up something called the Louisiana Commission on Marriage and Family, which is passed off under the pretenses of strengthening LA family life. Of course the commission is really just a way to foster far-right social conservatism, with the body stacked with folks who will gladly push for anti-gay "pro-family" policies. People like the Family Research Council's Tony Perkins and the Alliance Defense Fund's Mike Johnson, both of whom are commission members. Other members include the executive director of Louisiana Family Forum, a program manager with the Governor's Program on Abstinence, the president of Caring to Love Ministries, a homeschooling advocate, and several socially conservative pastors.

Well, this stacked conservative deck doesn't set well with the fairness defenders at the ACLU. That civil liberty-protecting outlet sent a nicely worded letter to both the commissioners and Jindal, wherein they did little more than urge the members to consider the fact that there are many kinds of families that inhabit the bayou-filled state. Even families that include -- get ready to be shocked -- LGBT people:

Picture 40-3

A letter that should be perfectly fair to anyone who cares about actuality. Because while the social conservatives might be on a high horse about the whole "one man, one woman for life" thing, even the drunkest dude on Bourbon Street can tell you that the reality is much more expansive than that. For a governor and his official commission to overlook this reality in favor of the myth of "traditional marriage" would not only be offensive: it would be dangerous public policy.

Well leave it to the aforementioned Tony Perkins to trade off safety, inclusion, and protection for his unsafe, exclusive, rights-stripping agenda. The FRC leader has penned this angry reaction to the ACLU letter:

 Good As You Images  Good As You Images  Good As You Images  Good As You Images  Good As You Images  Good As You Images  Good As You Images  Good As You Images  Good As You Images  Good As You Images  Cc Images Serve 0-1Having served in public office, I have always believed that state governments should take a leading role in protecting social values. After Gov. Bobby Jindal's (R-La.) election, we talked at length about establishing an official Commission on Marriage and Family in my home state of Louisiana. Gov. Jindal turned the idea into a reality, appointing experts from various backgrounds to focus specifically on promoting healthy, traditional families. He asked me to serve on the Commission, and I accepted. When the ACLU got wind of the initiative, they sent an open letter, protesting the lack of representation for same-sex families. "We urge you," the organization writes, "to keep in mind that the strength of Louisiana lies in our diversity, and that none of us can make the most personal family choices for another."

Obviously, I am very familiar with the ACLU's tactics, which typically include a threatening message like this one in hopes of silencing those who uphold traditional values. However, as unpleasant as it may be to the ACLU, Louisiana voters have already defined marriage in their constitution as the union of a man and woman. Maybe you or your church has faced similar harassment from the Left. Let me encourage you to stand firm. The ACLU is using these tools of intimidation to pressure local leaders to define the family in ways that even the U.S. Census Bureau does not.

"Tactics"? "Threatening message"? "Harassment"? "Silencing those who uphold traditional values"? Uhm, was there a bomb attached to the letter that we didn't see? Because call us ACLU acolytes if it serves your interests, but all we see in the letter is a reasoned, principled call for the commission to accept reality. And there's not even a hint of threatened action, either. Quite simply, this open letter is meant to open the eyes of the governor and the commissioners, as well as inform those LA residents who had not been aware of what was going on within their government. If the commission has nothing to side, is acting in a perfectly legal fashion, and feels that they can justify their social conservatism in the courts of both law and public opinion, then they should not be concerned with this letter at all. Tony's response, however, tells is that they are concerned. Worried, even.

It's also interesting (read: mind-numbingly enraging) how Tony cites the state's marriage ban as reason why this commission should ignore LGBT people and their roles within the family structure. To us, this would seem to give great (read: horrific) insight into just how seeping folks like Tony Perkins intend for these bans to be. When under scrutiny, they may say that these amendments are only about "preserving marriage." However, this commission is not just about marriage, but also, supposedly, about families in general. And yet here we have Tony (or his ghostwriter) citing the state's man-man ban as reason why his commission should not even give lip service to the state's queer inhabitants. He makes it sound as if the ban is a nail in the coffin of any further LGBT-centric discussion. He's acting as if the ban has given his side a license for unmitigated shunning of one of the state's most famous exports: Ellen Degeneres, an out and proud LA native.

Well Tony, the ban is NOT like an anti-gay Visa, accepted everywhere you want to bash. Yes, the marriage amendment means gays will have to fight a little harder through the uncivil noise in order to achieve their owed civil freedoms, but it does not -- DOES NOT -- mean that Louisiana gays should have to fight to simply be acknowledged! Right now the ACLU is urging the commission members to open their eyes, hearts, and arms to the full Louisiana landscape. But is offensive feet-dragging like the kind displayed here becomes the commission's norm, you best believe that legal pressure could come into play. And that's not a "threat" or "harassment": That is a promise that the LGBT community will never give into the same!!

Family Feud [FRC]
ACLU Urges Inclusion For All Types Of Families [LA ACLU]

**Commissioner list

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Your thoughts

I just called up the FRC and told them that the abuses seem to be coming from Tony Perkins.

Posted by: John Ozed | Dec 12, 2008 10:44:40 AM

I'm absolutely in love with the response to the ACLU letter concerning marriage and the family by Mr Tony Perkins.

Why? Because I think we can use it in our favor. Certainly his attitude is one that any right-thinking person should not, would not hold. It is an opinionated statement such as this which should have been at the crux of our advertisements against the three amendments which were most recently enacted. Perkins conflates marriage with families; we know this is not reality. It is a statement which should be forever on our lips when we talk about marriage, about how without marriage our families are denied their due. And, furthermore, there are those who would deny standing for our families outside of the realm of marriage also.

Posted by: Lynn David | Dec 13, 2008 12:12:09 AM

I want to take part in an active stance against what I feel is a "nazi" like tactic that shuts the gay and lesbian community down. Please give me a chance to stand and fight with you on these issues. I firmly believe in the principles of democracey and I firmly believe that the constitution protects even those who hate it.....because it is there right. I'm tired of ridding the fence. It's time to take a stand and I know what I stand for, and that equal rights for all men and women regardless of age, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. I want to be a soldier for change.....no matter the cost. For I believe in this deeply.

Jared Gordon

Posted by: Jared Gordon | Oct 31, 2009 4:31:48 AM

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