Can anti-equality conservatives make a point without invoking Nazis, Marx, Communism?
I haven't mentioned Tony Perkins' so-called "State of the Family" event, which he delivered last night in D.C., because, quite frankly—it was a bit of a mess. It started with this majorly overplayed introduction that made Tony Perkins seem like a cross between the President of the United States and an American Gladiators competitor. But then it was followed by a sort of go-nowhere speech in front of a tiny crowd in a less-than-dazzling room. And of course rather than actually talk about strengthening family life in America, it was all about how some Americans, most notably gay couples who seek simple services from vendors who purport to offer those very services to all comers, are supposedly infringing on the restrictive rights of people who think like Tony. It was an extremely misnamed event. "State of My Ability to Discriminate" would've been better.
The only thing that really stood out was Tony's setup. To no one's surprised, Tony led off his claims of "religious intolerance" in 2015 America by drawing parallels with legitimate (and in some cases genocidal) persecutions of the past:
While history shows us many instances of religious conflict, recent history is even clearer on the catastrophic cost of established irreligion. A century and a half of mass murders have proceeded at the hands of ideologies that hated God and sought to destroy all trace of Him and those who love Him.
Nazi Germany sought to replace God with the false worship of Aryan supremacy. Hitler dreamed of the removal of the Bible from every pulpit in Germany and its replacement with his manifesto Mein Kampf. He leveled a campaign against the Church, as well as Jews, believing historical Christianity a “scourge” and urged his aides to see Germany “immunized from this disease.” He believed that Christianity made men soft, unfit in his regime of eugenic purification. He despised the Gospels’ great commandments of love and their basis in the transforming claim that all persons have equal value before their Creator.
Communism sought a similar immunization against Christianity based not on crude racism but brutal ideology. As Ronald Reagan stated in his address to the Conservative Political Action Conference in 1981, “The Communist vision is the Vision of Man without God. It is the vision of man’s displacing God as the creative intelligence of the universe.” In the pursuit of that vision, Soviet Communism carried out purges that resulted in the deaths of millions.
In the Far East, under Chairman Mao’s Cultural Revolution in the People’s Republic of China (PRC), an estimated 60 million people were killed. The death toll from the march of communism in the last century exceeded 100 million people. And that does not count the horrific toll that still engulfs the PRC, where millions of girls are missing, millions of mothers maimed, because of its ruthless campaign of forced abortion and sterilization under the one-child policy. The vision of man without God spares neither the womb nor the cradle.
From the very beginning of our nation, America’s Founders raised a bulwark against such crimes. They set forth not only a vision of self-government but a conviction - a creed - that our freedoms are the unalienable gift of God. These freedoms can be assaulted or infringed, but they can never be erased because they are written, as Alexander Hamilton wrote, by the Hand of Divinity itself. We must never become indifferent to what has been won at such incredible cost. We stand here tonight to assert once more that we never will.
The threats America face are not potential - they are clear, present and dangerous. And ironically they come most sharply today not from the radical economic doctrines of Karl Marx, nor from the lights of what Winston Churchill called “perverted science,” but from the darkness of unrestricted sexual license—a new Cultural Revolution—gone mad.
FULL SPEECH: State of the Family [FRC]
I know this kind of catnip works with at least a portion of FRC's base, but aren't even they getting bored of it by now? I mean, personally I can't fathom drawing such comparisons, and especially with such frequency, even if talking about a group like FRC, which very much is trying to undermine my human rights and dignity, so I think the whole conceit is in a chamber of irresponsible rhetoric that I, as commentator, try very much to avoid rather than visit. But even if you are less semantically sensitive, isn't the whole act getting pretty stale by now? Just for the sake of originality alone, wouldn't you think people like Tony would shake up the references a bit? There much be some other oppressive regimes and scary-sounding ideas that they could use to flavor their fervor.
Or, you know—they could just start talking like human beings rather than fear machines. Can you even imagine?
Antonin Scalia keynoted event at anti-equality diocese; doesn't want it heard, apparently
In mid 2014, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, a reliable and notorious opponent of LGBT rights, keynoted an event for the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, VA. Scalia's son Paul, who has long moonlighted with Catholicism's version of an "ex-gay" movement (called Courage), just so happens to work for this particular diocese. Plus Antonin is himself a member of one of the churches within the diocese (Saint Catherine of Siena), so it wasn't a huge surprise that the Supreme Court justice would make this appearance. The elder statesmen of the robe-wearers' conservative wing has never made any bones about his deep faith.
He is well within his right to make the appearance. And I really need you hear me on this, my critics who sometimes like to hear what they want to hear: I. AM. NOT. SAYING. THE. SPEECH. ITSELF. IS. A. REASON. FOR. RECUSAL. He can speak to his diocese on a myriad of issues and remain perfectly impartial.
However, this note on the Diocese's website has me very curious:
All of the other speeches from this "men's conference" seem to be there, with links to either audio or video. Scalia's keynote speech, which was then followed by a Q&A, seems to be the only one that is under wraps. I can only find one minor report on Scalia's participation, and it's from a friendly outlet.
And here's the thing: we know without any doubt that the Bishop of Arlington, who was on the flyer right alongside Scalia...
...has a vested interest and has made a direct plea to the US Supreme Court to take up, and ultimately roll back, marriage rights for same-sex couples:
Did this topic, which was very hot in Virginia and throughout the nation the entire year pf 2014, come up on this day? One can only presume the Bishop was nearby during the Supreme Court justice's speech and followup Q&A session. Was this Bishop's, and therefore this Diocese's, clear and demonstrable pressure toward the Supreme Court on display that day? And did Mr. Scalia entertain it?
The Arlington Diocese needs to post this audio. It is now newsworthy. It is potentially a conflict. Perhaps even a major one.
Finally, NOM makes a smart business move
The United States Supreme Court is supposed to issue its likely landmark ruling on marriage equality in June of this year.
The National Organization For Marriage only bought up its domain name through June of this year:
Your annual reminder that MLK's wife believed King's dream included gay rights
If marriage equality opponents are right, then no one knows a man's heart better than his wife. That being so:
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Desperate anti-equality group calls on Kagan, Ginsburg to sit out marriage cases
Judges have the power to perform weddings. Weddings between Americans of the same-sex are legally recognized in thirty-six states (plus D.C.) and under federal law. Ergo, judges have every right to perform such unions in such states where they are just as much of an option as weddings between a man and a woman.
But check out this desperate attempt by the anti-gay American Family Association. The group that has been decades demonizing and fundraising off of marriage inequality, is now demanding that two of the nine US Supreme Court Justices recuse themselves from the upcoming marriage cases simply because they have chosen to perform legally-valid weddings:
In light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s announcement that it will hear the issue, American Family Association (AFA, www.afa.net) says Supreme Court Justices Elena Kagan and Ruth Bader Ginsburg should recuse themselves from making any same-sex marriage decisions because they have both conducted same-sex marriage ceremonies.
“Both of these justices’ personal and private actions that actively endorse gay marriage clearly indicate how they would vote on same-sex marriage cases before the Supreme Court,” said AFA President Tim Wildmon. “Congress has directed that federal judicial officers must disqualify themselves from hearing cases in specified circumstances. Both Kagan and Ginsburg have not only been partial to same-sex marriage but they have also proven themselves to be activists in favor of it. In order to ensure the Court’s integrity and impartiality, both should recuse themselves from same-sex marriage cases. Congress has an obligation to Americans to see that members of the Supreme Court are held to the highest standards of integrity. The law demands it, and the people deserve it.”
AFA sent an Action Alert to its one million-plus supporters, asking them to write a letter to their members of Congress, urging them to remind members of the nation’s highest court of their charge to maintain impartiality.
Hogwash. They don't have some sort of unfairly obtained knowledge, financial investment, close relatives involved in the cases, or other conflicting interest. The judges are Americans who have every right to participate in society. They are perfectly free to have opinions about existing law. And of course they are just as allowed to enjoy and engage in lawful activities as any other American.
Having a worldview about a world of which you are, in fact, a part is not a reason for recusal. But nice try, AFA. With odds as stacked against you as they are, I guess I can understand this obvious attempt to game the system. I don't respect it; I do, however, get it.
Video: FRC's Perkins equates same-sex marriage with incestuous unions
If Fox News wanted a rational debate on marriage, it wouldn't have booked a man who has years of saying outrageous things about LGBT people. But since they did book Tony Perkins, who is not a lawyer, to debate actual attorney and former solicitor general Ted Olson, they got an unsurprising moment where the FRC head directly equated a fair, equal, court-tested right with which a majority of Americans already live to, well—unions between a father and his daughter:
OLSON: Well, in the first place, in 1967 the Supreme Court struck down laws prohibiting interracial marriages, striking down the laws in 16 states. Today we don't even understand that we could possibly have prohibited same -- marriage between people of different races. The president's mother and father couldn't have been married in Virginia, they would have been guilty of a felony. Overwhelmingly now young people particularly support the right of individuals to get married to the person that they love. The American people now are 55 to 60 percent in support of same-sex marriage. People recognize that this is an important right, it hurts gay and lesbian people to discriminate against them and it does no harm to heterosexual marriage to allow those people to marry the person that they love.
FOX NEWS' SHANNON BREAM: Let me ask you, though, Tony, because I talked to you, and I'm sure you've talked to some civil rights leaders who don't like the comparison. They don't feel it's appropriate for them. Not some of them.
TONY PERKINS: No, because it's suspicious argument. I mean because there you had a manmade barrier keeping the races apart. Here you have judges attacking a natural bridge that brings the sexes together. And if we take down the states right to define marriage for public policy purposes, I mean if two people who love each other can get married, I guess, Ted is OK with the story out of "New York" magazine this week that an 18-year-old daughter wants to marry her biological father. I mean are you OK with that?
TED OLSON: Are you all of a sudden interested in what you read in "New York" magazine? For how -- ...
PERKINS: It was on Fox, too.
Such obvious catnip for those who want to connect us to a never-ending parade of horribles. Tony's been playing this game for years, as loudly and frequently as anyone in American politics. The only real question was which "scary thing" he was going to put into the receptive Fox News viewer's mind on this morning.
But of course the truth is that the same bible that Tony uses today to "justify" the limitation of civil marriage in a way that he finds favorable is the same bible that past opponents used to "justify" the manmade barrier against interracial marriage that Tony now publicly disfavors. The barriers of today are made by men like Tony, who see ordering our society in a way that more fully recognizes people of all sexual orientations as some great big social ill; the barriers of yesterday were made by men who believed ordering our society in a way that was more colorblind would be what set us down a fast track toward our doom. If it were the mid-50s, Tony's predecessor would be just as adamant with his "natural" arguments as Tony is today. Time has given us perspective. And it will again.
BREAKING: SCOTUS grants cert to marriage cases (four consolidated)
Here we go. Seems we will be getting a more definitive marriage equality decision this term:
Get ready for your closeup, Chief Justice Roberts' civil rights legacy.
To those fringe activists going after me for the Legatus matter
As you probably know, I dedicated about ten minutes of my life this week to writing a post about a summit that the anti-gay Legatus organization will soon hold. My post was literally nothing more than two links to examples of things that Legatus has printed and holds dear, a listing of who was then-scheduled to appear at this year's summit, and one quick line about how I personally would not have made the choice to speak at such an event. I didn't send one email or make one phone call beyond my one post.
Other outlets picked up my piece, as they often do. By that evening, the publicist for one of the speakers I mentioned, Gary Sinise, emailed me to say he had dropped out. By the next morning, Fox News' Bret Baier was also out. By the morning after that, businessman and Republican politico Pete Coors was also off the roster. They made their own choices.
But of course some of the fringe anti-LGBT activists among us have responded with all kinds of angry claims of "militancy" and radicalism." Many of them have mentioned me by name, with all kinds of false assertions of what I supposedly did (is writing a simple post that does nothing more than respond to other posts and act of bullying? really?), what my supposed affiliations are (I'm no longer doing contract work with GLAAD, folks), and who I supposedly am (I'm flattered you all think I'm a group, but I'm really just a daddy who has almost no time to do this work nowadays but who still feels it valuable enough to press on). The ones who I know have written something about me and my role in the Legatus situation, all because other people told me, are Jennifer Roback Morse, Bryan Fischer, Austin Ruse, Laurie Higgins, and Peter LaBarbera. You can find their pieces online if you care; I don't.
But here's what I do know: those five people are five of the most over-the-top anti-LGBT activists around. When she was on senior staff with NOM, Roback Morse was always one of the biggest liabilities with her constant comments about homosexuality and why people supposedly shouldn't be involved with it. Austin Ruse, in a now-deleted column, has argued that countries should maintain laws on the books regarding homosexuality so that it "would help society to teach what is good, and also would prevent such truly harmful practices as homosexual marriage and adoption." Laurie Higgins has, on multiple occasions, likened her sought-after defeat of homosexuality with the defeat of things like Naziism and slavery (just this week she linked marriage equality to the Three-Fifths compromise). And Bryan Fischer and Peter LaBarbera are, well—Bryan Fischer and Peter LaBarbera.
Of course these people are going to defend an anti-gay conference. Duh. And so what? I am at a total loss as to why these individuals seem to think that their defense is somehow persuasive or compelling. The fact that they agree with the conference (which is also set to include the testimony of a celibate gay man involved with the Catholic organization "Courage") and disagree with the public scrutiny is PRECISELY MY POINT! It's also precisely the reason why even someone like Bret Baier saw a liability in the making.
Which brings me to the point I made last week about fringe, politically disconnected, largely echo-chambered activists and why I no longer care. This is the perfect scenario. Yes, these people who I used to write about on a near-daily basis are mad that people who they had thought were on their "team" are actually troubled by the anti-gay nonsense of the host group. Again, so what? Why wouldn't these people be mad? These are individuals who traffic in untruths and demonization about a minority population of humans. They defend groups that push similar ideas because that's the kind of world they want to create. Why would we expect anything but outrage? And why should I continue to care that politically powerless people who want the world to be more anti-gay are mad at me for making a point about the increasing lack of acceptance for public displays of anti-gayness? Moving on, as even their own movement largely has, would seem to be the more powerful statement.
The Legatus situation, if anything, shows just how right my new approach really is. The truth is that virtually none of the more mainstream anti-LGBT figures, including the ones who have no problems dipping their toes into more animus-soaked wells, have largely avoided this story. That's because they know that it was a clean effort on our part, a bad statement about their movement and its increasing lack of defense, and an overall driving home of a point about where we are headed as a country. When a conservative businessman, a right-leaning actor, and a chief Fox News political anchor feel compelled to pull out of this kind of event with very little pressure to do so, that is the statement I care about. The fact that people like LaBarbera and Ruse are pissed actually helps drive home my point, not theirs.
So rage away, my friends. I will continue to not call you "bigots," not attack you personally, not poke into your personal life, and not at all wish you any harm. But the difference between now and the past? I used to focus my efforts on your words and actions and activism. Now, I don't care about that either. Because you've all lost.
Huckabee, Santorum join professional 'ex-gay' as conservative conference headliners
Janet Boynes is a professional "ex-gay" activist who runs a ministry for people "struggling with unwanted same sex attraction." And in just a few weeks, you can see Janet when she serves as one of the five confirmed headlining speakers at the Liberty Counsel's annual Awakening conference.
Oh, and two of the other confirmed speakers? They are both seeking the 2016 GOP presidential nomination (with a third possible '16 candidate, Ted Cruz, listed as the "invited"):
No huge surprise. The "ex-gay" nonsense is always still just a degree of separation away from mainstream GOP acceptability. Hell, Huckabee and Santorum would likely appoint Boynes to a newly-created Cabinet position. Secretary of Snake Oil, or something like that.
I just hope that as the media begins what now seems to be a legitimate drumbeat on all things 2016, this kind of stuff becomes a big part of the story of people like Huckabee and Santorum, who are talked about as mainstream contenders in a mainstream party. Their outreach is anything but.
Wanna debate marriage law on Fox News? (A) Study hard and pass the bar or (B) Have negative opinions about a minority population
Yes, he's the leader of an organization that the respected Southern Poverty Law Center lists on its relatively short lineup of anti-LGBT hate groups. Yes, that's because he has said absolutely heinous things about LGBT families, LGBT minors, and just about anyone who stands for equality (see here).
But for now, let's overlook that (compelling, totally valid, shouldn't really be ignored) part of the story. Instead, let's talk only about the ridiculous imbalance of qualifications for this upcoming Fox News matchup:
Ted Olson is a prominent lawyer and a former Solicitor General. Tony Perkins is a man who believes gay people deserve discrimination and should ultimately be "changed." The former uses the law as his guide; the latter uses his personal faith. Olson is qualified to speak on the legal implications of inequality in civil law; Tony Perkins is qualified to speak about the pamphlet his organization put out in which they began by equating same-sex marriage with man-on-horse marriage (with horse picture to drive home he point).
I'm a bajillion percent confident that Olson will mop the floor with Perkins' obviously animus-laden arguments. That's not the point, at least if your interest is in providing clarity rather than creating distractions. The bookers behind this segment should be embarrassed, frankly.