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10/06/2016

Where The Kooks Have No Name

by Jeremy Hooper

About a month ago, Bryan Fischer started following me on Twitter. It's been over a year since I've written the man's name, and much longer since I've given him any real credence as a political operative, yet there he was in my notifications, letting me know that my presence continues to linger in his consciousness. 

In the time since I've stepped away from the so-called "culture war," I've experienced similar pop-ins from similarly heated activists—a social media blip here, an e-newsletter there. There's are names that used to fill my days—my weeks, my months, my years—in a very real and impactful ways. There work is the work that I used to beat back in order to lend dominance to my and my team's own message. They are the adversaries whose missteps would thrill my souls, and whose misbegotten wins would further ignite my fire.

But now? Now, it's as if they no longer exist. They are not like old friends whose re-entrance sparks a nostalgic curiosity for days gone by. They are not like former colleagues whose work holds a lingering curiosity in my mind. They are not evergreen foes whose continuing lives I wish to hinder in any lasting way. They are just kind of—there. They are little more than nominal footnotes who I'm glad to relegate to the past. I don't feel happiness or disgust when they reappear. I just feel, well—nothing.

And it's not that I fail to recognize that some of these folks continue to have a degree of influence. I know that some of these people and groups continue to have the ear of a scattered conservative movement that is going through a Trumpian identity crisis. I get that there are continued fights and that they are still strategizing ways to stop and/or roll back the clock. I really do get this. But I also know that once I took a step back from the fight, in a period that coincided with our most major political and cultural wins in our movement's history, a stagehand in my brain turned out the lights on the long-winded tragicomedy that defined a decade of my life. This cast of characters might go on to new plots, but I am no longer going to be in the audience. I'm completely comfortable not knowing what wacky antics they might get into next.

Could this change? Sure. President Donald J. Trump could appoint Secretary of State Tony Perkins and Supreme Court Justice Maggie Gallagher, and I'd sign of for the sequel. But while I have the utmost respect for my friends and colleagues who continue to track the animus-driven men and women who dedicate their days to limiting the lives of others, I feel completely comfortable with my own retirement from that gig. And I am also proud to deliver the news that once you do make the choice to step away from this nonsense, the effects from the outsized antics of this relatively small band of operatives do dissipate rather quickly. The world is big and imperfect and sometimes awful, but it's much deeper and more nuanced than the "culture war" setup can lead one to believe. They are not nearly as important as they think they are.

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08/06/2016

Where art thou, Jeremy?

by Jeremy Hooper

Yes, I do plan to put some more words on this website. But in the meantime, your best bet for hearing and/or interacting with my musings is to follow me on Twitter. Why? Because that's the one creative outlet I can stealthily handle from my phone while on daddy duty with an increasingly aware toddler (and even there, one pithy thought often takes about two hours to compose, since Play Doh breaks and Raffi dance-a-longs come with an immediacy that my need to commentate the day's events can't match).

You can find me @GoodAsYou.

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02/10/2016

2006: When Clinton vocally supported her state moving forward w/ marriage equality but Sanders did not

by Jeremy Hooper

In 2006, Bernie Sanders, a civil unions supporter, did not support his state taking the next step to legalize marriage equality:

June 7, 2006
Screen Shot 2016-02-10 At 9.34.17 Am
[Times Argus]

That same year, Hillary Clinton, who had been an outspoken civil unions supporter since 2000...

Screen Shot 2016-02-10 At 9.36.10 Am
[WaPo]

...went on record saying she would support New York making the decision to move forward with full marriage equality:

Screen Shot 2016-02-10 At 9.35.48 Am
[WaPo]

And like most Democrats (or Independents), they did both ultimately evolve, Bernie in 2009 and Hillary in 2013 (after leaving State and a period she rarely took political positions). But let's please stop pretending that one rode in on a white horse while the other rode in after leaving the Westboro Baptist protest that she had previously been attending. Those were not the aughts that I remember—and I was right there in the center of it.

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09/15/2015

Video: Ad for blemish remover/ tourist spot for our new, bettered America

by Jeremy Hooper

The tide has turned, Tide reminds us:

First a clerk in Kentucky, and now a church lady in Los Angeles! This same sex couple faces yet another obstacle on the...

Posted by Mark Nickelsburg, Director on Tuesday, September 8, 2015

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09/03/2015

Whether justified or Kim Davis-ed, individualistic rage rarely outplays broader truths

by Jeremy Hooper

In his 2011 book The War For Late Night, Bill Carter tells a story that really resonated with me. It's a private conversation between Conan O'Brien and a top NBC executive. The conversation took place after it was clear that Jay Leno was not really leaving his Tonight Show perch in Conan's hands, as had been promised, but during the short window thereafter, when NBC was still offering Conan some sort of a concession prize. This executive, who had worked with Conan for years, was advising his friend to take the network offer rather than leave in some angry blaze of glory. This executive's point was that NBC would always be NBC, and that they were going to come out the other side unscathed no matter what Conan did or how much public outcry he engendered. This executive conceded that Conan had been treated unfairly and would earn this kind of folk hero support, which he was already building at the time, but the executive further said this large scale, headline-grabbing goodwill would be unsustainable, and that Conan would ultimately lose.

I'm paraphrasing all this, but I remember the whole thing as not coming across in a gross, "we are your corporate overlords" way, but just in the manner of a friend speaking the gospel to another friend about a vast enterprise with a deep bench. He was telling Conan that all of the people who worked at NBC—himself, the late night host, and everyone else—were just players on a much bigger stage, and that the stage existed well before them all and would exist long after. It wasn't to dehumanize or dispirit the talented late night host, but rather to give him fair warning about a familiar script he'd seen play out before.

And this scenario is pretty much what came to pass. While Conan—who, I should say, I adore and who was my late night crush of the nineties—has gone on to his own success on TBS, NBC largely weathered the Tonight Show storm. Jimmy Fallon is rocking it in the ratings and with the critics. Newer fans, like my thirteen-year-old nephew who is downright enamored with Fallon, don't even realize that Conan ever hosted this show, much less that he hosted an NBC show for sixteen years before that. NBC has pretty much erased this long history, at least for the time being. While Conan's much ballyhooed exit is well documented in books and documentaries and interviews, it's now more of an interesting historical record than it is anything that will continue to hurt NBC. NBC remains bigger than any of its parts, missteps, or protestors.


Which brings me to Kim Davis. And Baronelle Stutzman. And that baker from Oregon. And the myriad other photographers and innkeepers and shop owners who the far-right has held up as martyrs for being defiant in the face of the law. These are all examples of people who glommed on to their "folk hero" status, sold to them by opportunistic activists and ridiculously agenda-driven "legal" outfits, and who seem to think that they will win if they keep on long enough.

But they never win. Every time any of these defiant individuals have gone to court, they have lost. Kim Davis is now sitting in a jail cell, while others have seen massive fines levied again them. They. Never. Win. They have to comply with nondiscrimination laws or alter their business. Their offices ultimately have to marry same-sex couples. They have to find new work if they can't operate within the parameters of law. Etcetera, and so on. This, even though groups like the Alliance Defending Freedom and the comparably more ghoulish Liberty Counsel promise them the world (to say nothing of the afterlife).

Sure, they get all kinds of acclaim from conserve-twitter and Fox News. And yes, some of them have hauled in some cash. But okay, whatever; that's not sustainable. Maybe they pay off some of the fines, but what good is that when you've forever connected your name to discrimination? And in many of these cases, I'm skeptical of how much the payday really ended up being. Even if it is, the fleeting burst of whatever does nothing to change the outcome when it comes to their business practices, the law, or the right-side-of-history's prevalence.

They don't win because the Constitution is bigger than them. They don't win because the truth ultimately wins out. They don't win because, try as they might, the destruction of the wall between church and state is not something that can buy with their insubordination. They don't win because are just human beings pining for the feel-good fifteen minutes and all that comes with it, while the network of carefully shaped, ably argued, duly contested, fairly enacted policies that they are challenging are in place for right and rational reasons that are far more important than the latest news cycle.

And what's truly ironic is that these anti-gay martyr stories, which pop up about every other month these days, are always built around the premise that the individual in the spotlight is serving a larger being. They pretend that the whole thing is about God and faith and eternity, not the individual. But every time—every. single. time.—they lose sight of the fact that there is, indeed, a mortal force here on the ground that is, in fact, bigger and stronger than them. They get so caught up in the whole charade that they seem to forget that they are earthlings who exist in a country with certain guidelines that have standards of challenge higher than simple stubbornness. They seem to forget that even if they believe they get to win in heaven, there is still a game that we all must play in our heart-thumping, blood-pumping years. They seem blind to the fact that their side never wins these rounds.

But lose they do. And long after they lose in court, after people stop hashtagging them, after Hannity bookers quit calling them, and after whatever cash streams they found in the exciting world of selling martyrdom on the conservative plain eventually dry up, the rule of law will remain the rule of law. It is bigger than them. It will weather whatever limited storms their bad facts and faith-driven truculence spiral-clouded its way. Even if some of these more high-profile cases become a record for historical study, they will not be the basis for anything that can continue to hurt LGBT people.

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09/01/2015

Kim Davis: The almost too perfect coda to the marriage discrimination fight

by Jeremy Hooper

Screen Shot 2015-09-01 At 11.00.16 PmShe is portraying herself as a victim even though she is the one denying equal treatment, basic fairness, and dignity to a minority population.

She is arrogant, thumbing her nose at court orders that go all the way up to SCOTUS.

She is almost unbelievably hypocritical, having herself enjoyed four—count 'em—marriages herself.

She is relying fully on her personal faith with complete disregard for church/state separation

She is aligning herself with activist groups that put their agendas far above the facts and their fundraising far above their ability to serve her needs.

She is fighting a fight that everyone knows she will ultimately lose.

Kim Davis is the perfect story for these waning days of the marriage fight. This sideshow of a news item, playing out through an almost too good to be true subject, is like a mutant melding of all that the anti-equality movement has done wrong over the years. She, like discrimination itself, is quite hard for any logical person to defend. She, like the anti-gay movement itself has long done, is unwittingly helping America see just how nasty inequality looks when it plays out in the real world.

In the documentary, Kim Davis is the angry protester yelling at the stoic citizens who are just trying to move on with life. She is the antagonist who is unnecessarily hassling those who are ready to comply with fairly contested and enacted laws. She is the soldier who doesn't realize that she's already lost the fight. And she is perfectly cast. If she didn't step up on her own misguided accord, Hollywood would've wanted to invent her.

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08/26/2015

Anti-gay clerks are going to have to do their jobs. Because of course they are.

by Jeremy Hooper

Declaring that she has "little or no likelihood" to win on appeal, a Sixth Circuit panel has denied a now infamously anti-equality clerk's attempts to sidestep her job whenever a qualified same-sex couple requests she fulfill her paid duties:

A panel of federal appeals judges refused to overrule a judge's injunction against Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, who continues to refuse marriage licenses for same-sex couples more than a month after the U.S. Supreme Court found a constitutional right to marry.

Three judges with the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied Davis' request for a stay on Wednesday, writing that her official duties include issuing the forms and that the Supreme Court has already said states cannot bar same-sex couples from marriage.

KEEP READING: Rowan gay marriage licenses upheld on appeal [Courier-Journal]

Shocked. Shocked, I tell you.

No word on how the anti-LGBT movement (or what's left of it) will next lie to Ms. Davis (and to the bakers and the photographers and the florists and...) in order to dupe them into believing they get to win these fights simply because they want to. Though I do hear the plan will have something to do with a lamp and a genie.

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Jeb really wants to remind voters of his anti-'same status' plan for gay couples

by Jeremy Hooper

When a candidate releases a book in the middle of a primary, every chapter, word, and comma is carefully orchestrated. So you can be sure that Jeb Bush included this in his new ebook, Reply All, because he thinks it's a virtue worth touting:

Mr. Cortada, an artist, was alarmed that Mr. Bush’s brother, President George W. Bush, was proposing to amend the Constitution to outlaw same-sex marriage – and was unsettled that the governor backed the idea.

“When one of us is denied equality, then all of us are denied liberty,” Mr. Cortada wrote to Mr. Bush. “Today, I am feeling particularly denied and particularly unequal.”
...
“I don’t believe that your relationship should be afforded the same status in the law as a man and a woman agreeing to marriage,” he wrote.

FULL: Jeb Bush’s Emails as Governor Show His Feelings on Same-Sex Marriage [NYT]

Out of all the email terminology available, it's fitting he called the book "Reply All." "Forward" would have been a big lie.

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