Read: HRC tracks American pro-discrimination activists' international flights
Over the past few years, as much attention has turned to the global LGBT rights fight and the often draconian threats that remain, a once little known group called the World Congress of Families has risen up as an odd little "all-star team" of American pro-discrimination activists eager to expand their reach. And unlike the U.S. Congress, this non-elected ban of self-appointed policy shapers is actually having a startling amount of success.
Which is why we need to pay attention. It's good to see the Human Rights Campaign keeping tabs:
Video: Right-side-of-history activists rally in Chicago (#7thCircuit #HoosiersInLove)
Today in Chicago, couples from Wisconsin and Indiana head to Chicago's Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, where they will make the case for basic fairness under the law. Last night, in that same Windy City, was another chance to make that came case in the court of public opinion; here are two clips:
Far-right still pretending limited nondiscrimination law opens whole new can of frosting
Of the many situations they have failed to grasp over the years, the anti-LGBT far right's failure to understand nondiscrimination law and proper compliance to the same is certainly one of the worst. Take these latest musings from a longtime foe of 'mo-kind:
Here’s a hypothetical analogy for you to consider: Suppose a Christian couple planning a marriage went to a Jewish baker and requested a wedding cake decorated with a cross. And suppose the Jewish baker felt uncomfortable with that idea. Should he forced to do so? I don’t think so. Nor can I imagine any Christian couple wanting to use the coercive power of the state to do that. They would simply go to another baker. That would be the logical, non-tyrannical thing to do.
Here’s another hypothetical scenario: Suppose a Jewish couple chooses a homosexual photographer to take pictures at their wedding. Among the things they require the photographer to do is to take a photo of them before a banner emblazoned with the following scripture verse: Genesis 2:24 – “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” Maybe the photographer feels uncomfortable and even spiritually condemned with this requirement. Should he be forced by the state to do it because failing to accept the assignment would be tantamount to violating the Jewish couple’s “sexual orientation” or even their religious convictions? I don’t think so. Nor can I imagine any Jewish couple wanting to use the coercive power of the state to do that. They would simply go to another photographer. That would be the logical, non-tyrannical thing to do.
When “tolerance” becomes intolerance, we have bigotry.
When “diversity” becomes state-enforced conformity, we have religious persecution.
—Joseph Farah, founder and editor of WND (formerly WorldNetDaily)
First hypothetical: Obviously a Jewish baker doesn't have to make a cake with a cross (or with bacon pieces or on Sabbath or...) if that's not a kind of cake that he or she makes. A Christian couple doesn't have the right to demand a certain shape or color or style that the bakery doesn't offer, the same way a same-sex couple cannot demand a pride flag cake, a wedding pie, or something else that the bakery in question doesn't happen to make. The issue in these nondiscrimination cases is not about style or selection. The issue is that a specific item that the bakery does absolutely and unequivocally make (e.g. a wedding cake) is denied in every way, shape, and form.
In the second situation, the gay photographer probably would have to take the picture described. After all, if he or she is already taking the photos, then the client and the business owner have presumably come to terms. The photographer has agreed to the job and contracting paper work has likely been signed. The photographer certainly doesn't have a right to discriminate on the basis of religion, so yes, he or she would most definitely have to take the shot. The photographer might first suggest alternatives or he or she might even take a really shitty shot so that it's unlikely to ever see the light of day. But no, I can't imagine a direct repudiation of the couple's religious wishes would hold up in court. I'd most likely side with the religious couple in this case, whether my opponents believe that or not.
The anti-LGBT side keeps trying to talk their way out of and/or trip us up within these nondiscrimination cases that have become such debate fodder over the past few years. The truth is that they are really quite straightforward (in more ways than one) cases that are pretty darn easy to understand. Which is why we never lose in court: because the matter or whether or not you can or cannot pointedly discriminate if you operate a business or some other public accommodation is not really that open of a debate, at least in areas that have responsible protections in place. The only reason these situations seem more complex than they are is because of the noise.
GLAAD: Upcoming conference proves how rudderless, off-message, self-defeating NOM has become
From NOM co-founder's new book: Gay couples as disqualified from marriage as twelve-year-olds
In his new book, Conjugal Union (cowritten with Patrick Lee), National Organization For Marriage co-founder Robert George makes many arguments that, as any perceptive person would except, attempt to frame his deeply Catholic views about same-sex couples and our marriages into acceptable basis for public policy. But this one, repeated a few times over, stuck out to me:
So basically this is just an extension of the procreation argument. Although there have been cases of girls becoming pregnant as young as five-years-old (!), the likelihood of pregnancy‚ especially a viable pregnancy—before twelve-years-old (the average age young women start menstruation) is slight. The obvious distinction George is making here is one that is 100% wrapped up in his insistence that marriage policy be intwined with reproduction.
But of course that is wholly untenable in an American where civil marriage licensing is governed by many factors, yet a desire and/or ability to have a biological child is not one of them. In this America, we do set the marriage age at eighteen because that is the generally accepted age of adulthood for many crucial rights. You can vote at that age. You can fight and possibly die in war. School becomes voluntary. You can become an organ donor and make your own end of life decisions. In fact parental control is relinquished in most every way, at least legally. At this age, which we set as the onset of true adulthood, a civil marriage contract (with religious ceremony always being optional, for everyone, in all cases) is one of the rights/privileges/benefits we sensibly bundle with this milestone birthday.
It is the height of arrogance for Mr. George to suggest that my husband and I—tax-paying adults who are way past eighteen, legally married for many years (and together for many before that), with a daughter to whom we are exceedingly committed, as we are to each other—are no more qualified than a pair of sixth graders. It's also gallingly arrogant for him to suggest that two eighteen-year-olds are more qualified by the sole virtue of being heterosexual.
But again, this is an adult man who leads with his deeply convicted and unmatchably conservative grasp on canonical law. All of his marital views are guided by that prism. His secular arguments are just things he says as a way to back into his chosen belief system. Even if the Princeton professor's marital view (i.e. discrimination) is shrouded in rich ivy, I find his advocacy to be reliably, childishly, and woefully simple. And reliably weak.
Video: Preacher Michael Wilson calls for amendment to imprison gay people
With all other proposals going nowhere fast, this preacher is taking a new approach toward stopping gay equality. In this scenario, we get thrown in jail and are forced to do hard—hot, sweaty, throbbing—labor:
The truly sad part is that I could legitimately believe some far-right House Republicans getting behind this. Heck, Gormert (R-TX1) might sponsor the thing.
Maggie 'always-the-victim' Gallagher did nothing to earn her anti-gay reputation
Maggie Gallagher has admitted she sees homosexuality as "an unfortunate thing" and advises gay people that "you can always control your behavior." She also once described homosexuality as "...like infertility. It is a sexual disability, preventing certain individuals from participating in the normal reproductive patterns of the human species." And when it comes to her morality, she has confessed that she believes both gay activists and our straight supporters are "committing several kinds of very serious sins." To name just a few of her slights over the years; there are many more.
And then, of course, is her role within the fight itself. She championed efforts that literally took tangible, desired, crucial rights away from tax-paying citizens. In doing so, she worked with and actively courted the whole of anti-LGBT America, from moderate thinker to radical opponent of all things gay. Maggie has proudly sidled up to groups like the Family Research Council (she'll again appear at their Values Voters Summit next month), has spoken out in favor of "ex-gay" groups like JONAH, and has rallied alongside undeniably animus-driven activists. And let's not forget those brutally honest strategy documents, cobbled together during her time as NOM chair, that vowed to "drive a wedge" between minority populations.
But forget all of that. Maggie is yet again the innocent whose "opponents" attempted to make a "caricature" out of her:
During my years leading the fight against gay marriage, there were so many efforts to paint a picture of me as motivated by anti-gay hatred, and there were so many people hoping I would respond in kind. Some who opposed gay marriage even criticized me for refusing to strike back. They saw my gestures of respect for gay-marriage advocates as a desperate attempt to placate, rather than as a refusal to become the caricature my opponents hoped to make me.
I love how these anti-equality activists think we're just out to get them or something. It's such a weak sidestep to sidestep their own wrongdoings. It's also quite egotistical to think that think you are important enough, separate from your own actions, to merit such attention.
Look, there are few people who have written more about Maggie Gallagher's work than I have. But two key things about that:
- I have *always* focused on her work and not her personal characteristics. I've never even called her "a bigot." That's not my style.
- Everything I know about her, I know from her own words and deeds. That's all I have to go on.
If my coverage of Maggie came across like an attempt to caricaturize, then it's likely because her work as a straight woman who dedicated a large swath of her life and a lion's share of her political legacy toward fighting a minority population's equal civil rights struck more than a few people as a wacky endeavor. Let's be honest: That cause is a very parody-able one. Oh, and when you create ads like the NOM "Gathering Storm" piece that came out at the height of Maggie's time with the organization she co-founded, you don't do yourself any favors. A lot of people find the over-the-top fear mongering unintentionally funny.
Maggie might see herself as the height of respect for not responding her critics. The better path, however, would've been to not do the very real and very hurtful things that she did—she did them—to earn her reputation. I actually think doing crappy things toward gay people and then feeling like you don't have a responsibility to respond to those same gay people is actually an act of disrespect.
Anti-gay activists still don't realize 'recruitment' claims make them look ridiculous
The idea that gay people "recruit" is like a throwback attack. It's from the Anita Bryant era of fear, back when the opposition movement was debating things like our ability to teach children, not our freedom to marry.
But even though it's so ludicrous that people like me don't have to take any time explaining it's wackiness, the idea that gay people poach the young still pops up far more frequently than some realize. Here's a latest one from the American Family Association's "news" site:
SOURCE: One News Now
Again, I'm fairly confident I don't have to explain why the idea that gay people are like army recruiters or door-to-door Mormons is a claim better suited for bizarro world than our mortal realm. I'm sure a sweeping majority, including even most opponents of LGBT rights, reject that idea that gay adults lure young folks onto the bus with candy and HRC stickers. I've also fairly comfortable in saying that the repetition of this wacky claim serves LGBT rights much more than it hurts us.
That last point is why I think it's important to continue noting such sad and desperate claims.
Florida pro-discrimination activist John Stemberger's history leaves no room for LGBT people
John Stemberger is an aggressively anti-LGBT man who has been responsible for most of the hostile efforts we've faced in the Sunshine State over the past decade. He's also the founder of the anti-gay scouting group that launched simply because the Boy Scouts began accepting gay youth. So it's no surprise that that he's unhappy with the fifth ruling in his state—four state courts and one latest federal decision—to declare the discriminatory marriage amendment that he championed to be unconstitutional.
But Stemberger, in characteristic fashion, is taking his pity party just a step further. He is essentially coming out and saying that gay people and gay-headed families have no place in history, at least not on its right side:
"People ask me, are you on the wrong side of history? To me, this issue will never be on the wrong side of history because it's rooted in the human experience,” Stemberger told the News Service of Florida on Thursday night.
“A little boy who longs to have a father in the inner city – that will never be on the wrong side of history,” he said. “The little girl who has two dads and doesn't have a mom and she wants someone to guide her through the changes that a woman's body goes through – that's never going to be on the wrong side of history. And the beauty of how a man and woman come together and life is born, that's never going to be on the wrong side of history.”
[SOURCE: Tampa Tribune]
Of course Stemberger is describing a vision that has no place for LGBT (or at least LGB) people. He describes a little boy longing for a father, when in fact that little boy could very much be longing for a parent. Or two parents. Two parents of the same sex being one possibility.
He describes a little girl who seeks pubescent guidance, as if his one vision is the only possibility. What about the gay dads who pre-plan for such an event (as I, the gay father of an infant daughter, already am) and ensure that their little girl has all of the information, resources, guidance, and compassionate ears she needs to understand her body? What about the lesbian moms who are doubly prepared for this time of life? What about the single straight dads who are woefully unprepared? And so on and so forth. There are of course countless possibilities, yet Stemberger only lays out one in which gay parents supposedly fail their kid.
And then he cites man-woman reproduction as a good. I agree: it's a good thing that is certainly not on the wrong side of history. But it's not the only thing. There are more than few men and women who have children the cannot or are not willing to rear, and who seek loving parents who do have the means and the desire. There are men and women who have no intention to reproduce. There are gay people who do take measures to have biologically-connected children. And there a LGBT people here in our overpopulated world who have no intention nor desire for kids but who have amazing things to contribute to the society, choosing to better the world rather than add to its population. It is all part of our earth and it is all good.
But that's exactly the point: John Stemberger doesn't want a world that sees certain types of people and certain types of unions as a good. His "right side of history" is one that smites the worth of those fellow humans who he just doesn't want around. For him (and most people on his side), it's about far more than just the civil marriage contract and respect for gay-headed families. Let's be 100% clear here: John Stemberger's fight is to make us and our equality, well—history.
Read: Federal Judge strikes down Florida marriage ban; stays ruling
U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle (a Clinton appointee) just issued a strong order in favor of both in-state marriage and out-of-state recognition, yet again dealing a blow to Florida's already vulnerable marriage ban:
This federal ruling comes joins four state court rulings in favor of Florida equality. A couple more and the other side has to automatically forfeit, right?