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05/15/2015

Video: Marriage victory at SCOTUS will bring violence, says man whose rhetoric couldn't be more inciteful

by Jeremy Hooper

Bryan Fischer's rhetoric is that of an extremist. That is not news. Fischer is one of those whose voice is so over-the-top that it either no longer factors in the political discussion, or it unwittingly helps us when it manages to crack into the mainstream realm. He's also one of those who I largely now ignore, since he has so clearly already lost the debate.

But some things are worth mentioning. And when a man who has incited such nastiness teases to his American Family Radio audience that violence is a logical outcome of a SCOTUS fifty-state marriage ruling, that's something worth noting:

No word if Bryan thinks the violence will occur at the licensing offices, at the department store wedding registry counters, or during the wedding ceremonies themselves. Though it is clear that he has the same sense about his side's radical elements that we LGBT people have long feared.

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Focus on the Family's action arm: Marriage equality will create ghost towns. Or something.

by Jeremy Hooper

I actually kind of admire how Stuart Shepard tries to think outside the box to address his concerns in a new and creative way. Sadly, when he steps outside that box, he typically steps into an ugly pile of manure which leaves him looking foolish and makes his employer's anti-gay cause smell that much more rancid. The latest:

Frankly, if it meant a little bit of quiet from the nonstop onslaughts that groups like Focus on the Family have waged against us so loudly and for so long, I might take the ghost town. Seems peaceful. And even tumbleweeds are bound to have better ideas than crude discrimination.

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05/14/2015

Here's the latest conservative outlet equating gay rights with slavery; yes, slavery, and yes, literally

by Jeremy Hooper

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 At 2.09.26 PmWriting for the conservative Federalist site (which has gone after me many times), Hillsdale College professor Paul D. Moreno argues that the gay rights movement is not, in fact, a civil rights movement that betters minority freedom and our nation. Instead, it's much more equality to the proslavery movement. No, I'm not making this up:

At the time of the Founding, slaveholders recognized that slavery contradicted the principles of the Declaration of Independence—Jefferson and others repeated that slavery was wrong—but they pleaded for toleration in dealing with a condition that they could not immediately and fully set right. Over time they stopped seeking mere toleration, began defending slavery as a “positive good,” and objected to any public policy that implied its wrongness. The most radical of them, like George Fitzhugh, argued that slavery was a better social system than free labor.

The pro-homosexual movement has followed a similar trajectory, from toleration to equality to supremacy.

The homosexual-rights movement has long claimed the civil rights movement as its model. But its increasingly strident effort to suppress all moral and religious dissent makes it look more like the antebellum proslavery movement.


FULL: The gay-rights movement has followed not the trajectory of the anti-slavery movement, but of those who supported slavery. [Federalist]

I always wondered what the anti-gay movement would look like in its desperation. Some things have nearly followed my guesses, but there are other roads I didn't even think they would go down. But sure enough, go down them they have.

Oh, and who's all about helping Moreno push this view? Why none other than the supposedly nice and measured and "fresh" voice Ryan T. Anderson, who is enthusiastically pushing the piece around Twitter:

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 At 1.59.30 Pm
Screen Shot 2015-05-14 At 1.59.39 Pm
[@RyanTAnd]

Because of course he is.

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05/13/2015

Okay, let's talk about 'silencing'

by Jeremy Hooper

KirstenpowersWhen I started this week, I didn't know that the topic of supposed "silencing," particularly as it applies to pro-LGBT people who dare to engage in public debate with the other side, would be such a major focus. But after tweeting my frustration with Fox News' resident left-leaner Kirsten Powers and her new book from uber-conservative publisher Regnery, which I believe helps the far-right (and particularly the anti-LGBT far-right) sell an anti-intellectual narrative that it very much wants to sell in order to save face, I have spent countless hours (that I really don't have available to me) dealing with ad hominem conservative Tweeters, bad argumentation from "silence"-insisters, and a whole lot of pontification on this particular topic. So let's talk about it.

Let's only focus on anti-LGBT claims of "silencing," since (a) this site only focuses on that particular part of the "culture war," and (b) this is the arena where the "silencing" claim gets the most play and traction these days. For those of us who do this kind of work, it's a very old concept. The anti-LGBT movement have been talking (and talking and talking and talking and...) about their supposed "silencing" for years. Especially since the aughts, when LGBT rights really began to come into favor, the anti-LGBT movement and likeminded conservatives have been putting out documentaries with titles like "Speechless: Silencing The Christians" and books with variations on the words "bully" or "criminalizing Christianity." The idea is that LGBT rights activists have risen to such prominence that we have been able to surpass the true suppression and literal bullying that we faced for decades (centuries, even) and have instead become tyrannical ourselves. It's a wrongheaded idea. Worse than that, it's a purposeful idea that they are selling in order to keep suppressing us in a new way.

First let's start with the idea that suppression is even what we want to do. It would be harder to find anyone who has been around 21st century LGBT activists more than me. I've been in the conference rooms and on the conference calls. I've worked as a political consultant with the largest and most well known LGBT orgs (HRC, GLAAD, etc.). I've been in the campaign war rooms. I count journalists and politicos and activists of every stripe as friends as colleagues. I've attended the conferences, and I've received each year's copy of "the agenda." While there very well may be some LGBT people who would like to silence or criminalize others, the LGBT movement, as a movement, is not out to do so. And frankly, most LGBT activists I know are not even all that bothered by people's personal beliefs. Most of us laugh off what we perceive as wackiness, by and large. If people want to be outwardly anti-LGBT until their final days, most of us find that sort of sad and very much a waste of time, but few LGBT people are (and no LGBT organization is) out to silence their wishes. Have at it! Spend your weekends stomping your feet and protesting. We will enjoy our civil rights.

Let's also talk about the underlying idea that we are now "the militants." It's wrong on its face, and offensive by its nature. But more than that, it's also nothing new. The anti-LGBT movement called us "militants" even back when we had virtually no political power, few staunch political allies, and no major wins to celebrate. The idea that we are sinister and scheming and on the prowl is as old as this fight itself; it has simply shape-shifted alongside the trajectory of the fight. This, the fact that it has always been a tactic of our opposition, speaks undeniably (and loudly) to the obviously strategic way they're applying it now. Their strategy has always demanded our caricaturization as a band of radicals out for more than we deserve. It used to be "the children" we were after; now it's "free speech." Under this overheated sun, there is nothing new.

Next let's look closer at how obvious of a tactic it is. Everyone is familiar with discrimination, what it looks like while it's happening, and how it tends to play out once the oppressed minority overcomes major challenges. We've seen that movie, and so has the opposition movement. No one wants to be remembered for the crude and cruel fight that they waged against a minority population's deserved rights and protections. No one wants to be the character in the documentary whose past self is scored with ominous music while a notable civil rights pioneer talks about how nasty things were then. So what's the answer for the most obvious players of this role in this, a modern civil rights fight? Simple: You flip the script so that you are supposedly "the victim." The seeming hope among modern anti-LGBT forces is that by making this "silencing" thing the coda to this fight, they can both keep the fight over our human rights open for eventual rollback or at least readjustment (like the abortion debate), and then ultimately free themselves of the usual way the reflective patterns flow following any civil rights fight. They want to put distance between what they actually did to us and our ability to overcome it, so they are making it sound like we are now doing something equally nasty to them. This is all in hopes that people will forget why, exactly, the anti-gay religious right earned the reputation that it did. (Good luck with all that).

Let's round out by talking about how jaw-droppingly silly the "silencing" idea is. In the American marketplace of ideas, we are free to say and do just about anything. That means all of us. When a political movement pushes bad legislation, others have every right to rise up and say, "no more, no thank you—and seriously, how dare you for even trying!?" Or when a public figure makes nasty comments, others have every right to stand up and say that the comments are indeed nasty, unfair, out of line, and worthy of scorn. When a company is found to be using its profits to foster political causes that some find objectionable, those some have every right to call out that company and/or take their money elsewhere. And so on and so forth. The person or place or thing that's under scrutiny then has equal right to stand up and defend. The other side can then go back and pick apart the defense. This can keep on for awhile. Maybe even forever. The most likely scenario, however, is that one side's arguments will ultimately prove to be more compelling, and the robust debate will lead to a resolution of some sort. Again, this is a marketplace of ideas, and every last one us has the opportunity to engage within it.

The true irony (or deceit, more aptly) of the anti-LGBT "silencing" meme is that it is the one that is truly dismantling conversation. KirstenpowersNowadays, the anti-LGBT and likeminded crowd rushes to play that "free speech" card within the first seconds of any public conversation. "A" will say something anti-gay then many different pro-gay "B's" will organically rise up and voice objection, and within hours "C"onservatives will fill social media and Fox News and talk radio with incessant claims of how "B" is supposedly attacking "A's" "free speech." It literally takes no more and no longer than that for the offended people to be shamed for feeling offended. If you are a pro-gay person (or even merely a tolerant person) who sees a right and/or need to speak out against another's words or actions that threaten, undermine, or somehow offend gay people (and our fiends and families and allies, etc.), then the Fox News and talk radio and Dana Loesch and Twitchy crowd instantly and uncaringly turn your speech and expression into an anti-American thought crime. It doesn't even matter if the controversy raises or lowers the controversial person or organization's profile, therefore giving them more attention and more opportunities to speak; "silencing" is a concept they apply independently of volume or platform size. It also doesn't matter if the pro-LGBT engagement is rationally focused and fairly applied; the tactic doesn't have time or concern for nuance.

It's infuriating for those of us who have lived it. Though I will say, based on my own anecdotal studies as someone who spends time thinking about these things, that I believe this "silencing" meme to be something that plays far better in the relatively small world of cable news and talk radio and Twitter than it does with the general public. If you tell the average person that it's gay people who are silencing the very religious people who have been fighting a "culture war" against them for decades, most seem to react with confusion, at best, and a pointed roll of the eyes, more likely. I find this to be true not only here in NYC, where one might expect it, but also with folks from the very small and quite rural Tennessee town in which I grew up. Even people who are far removed from pride parade attendance or anything that even resembles a Democratic donkey seem to grasp the silliness of a world where the still-bullied and still-denied gay teens of today grow into the iron-fisted adults of tomorrow. People understood how "It Gets Better" spoke to gay lives, but "Those Bettered Gays Turn Brutal" seems to be a tougher sell.

And I also know that our ever-louder and ever-coarsening opposition is playing this "silencing" card because their cause is now withering on a mound of all of the other flawed tactics and campaigns they've tried to wage at the expense of our rights, protections, and well-being. The more they talk (and talk and talk and talk and..) about silence, the more I hear their true cries of desperation.

***

*SOURCE FOR FREE SPEECH GRAPHIC:XKCD.

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05/12/2015

Baronelle Stutzman's misapplication of 'say it with flowers' slogan says so much about her bad case

by Jeremy Hooper

From its earliest uses through current day, the line "say it with flowers" line has always applied to the person giving the bouquet. The idea is that some sentiments are so beyond words that the only way for you to fully convey your message is to show it through the floral gift.

This is how advertisers have always used it. The conversation and associated sentiment is between the recipient and the gift-giver. It's not about the vendor who provided the flowers. No one who receives a glorious arrangement at just the right time to tug at just the right heart strings says, "Oh my, these are perfect! I love you so much—but I love the person who sold them to you even more!" It's understood that the commercial exchange happened because the vendor made the items available for public purchase, not because the vendor made sure the subsequent celebration was to his or her liking. What the purchaser chooses to do with the tulips is up to him or her.

Which brings me to Baronelle Stutzman, the Washington florist who has spent the past many years (and several losing court battles) trying to "explain" why flowers that she denied to a same-sex couple in a way dissimilar to how she would treat any opposite-sex couple was really an okay thing to do because she's an artist with artistic license rather Screen Shot 2015-05-12 At 9.35.24 Pmthan a business owner who runs a public accommodation. In a piece over at Washington Post's "PostEverything" section, Ms. Stutzman applies the "say it with flowers" thing to herself and her "artistic talents":

Every person in the creative professions regularly has to make decisions about where they lend their artistic talents and which events they will participate in. For me, it’s never about the person who walks into the shop, but about the message I’m communicating when someone asks me to “say it with flowers.”

I was raised Christian. In my religious tradition, marriage is a sacred religious ceremony between a man, a woman and Christ. It’s a covenant with the church. To participate in a wedding that violates those principles violates the core of my faith.
FULL:
I’m a florist, but I refused to do flowers for my gay friend’s wedding [PostEverything]

You'll notice that in any piece Stutzman, her fellow "victims," their lawyers, or their defenders post, they now go on and on about this "creativity" and "artistic vision." They believe this to be their ace in the hole. They think if they can turn their commercial goods and services into poetry, then they'll be able to sell this one special carve-out as some sort of shade or inflection or special ingredient to which they are entitled. Because they're artists, you see.

But the truth is when Ms. Stutzman enters into business with the public, she agrees to abide by the fairly enacted policies that all businesses must follow. She may see herself as a player in the "say it with flowers" conceit that she provides her customers, but the law does not. It cannot. It's just plain absurd to suggest that she, a vendor who chose to do business with the public, gets to gauge how and why and with whom each person who engages in a commercial exchange with her and her shop will proceed to use the wares once she exits the process. This is an untenable standard.

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And which of your credible candidates support marriage equality *even now*, gay Republicans?

by Jeremy Hooper

This one comes from gay Republican Richard Grenell, but it's the kind of thing you see from gay conservatives all over Twitter:

Screen Shot 2015-05-12 At 6.46.54 Pm
[@RichardGrenell]

General idea: Hillary and POTUS didn't always support marriage equality, so that's funny or something. As if these two Democrats, who always supported strong civil unions and opposed marriage amendments and DOMA and the like, are forever wrong because it took them longer than some of us would've liked to come around to the right and only acceptable position.

The major elephant that these gay elephant-riders overlook? THAT NONE OF THEIR CANDIDATES SUPPORT IT EVEN NOW! Not a damn one. Not any that could possibly capture their party's nomination in 2016, at least. Not one. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

And not only are these gay Republicans without a credible candidate who supports it, but most of their likely candidates oppose just about every LGBT right under the sun. Theirs is a reality where all-out anti-LGBT activists like Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum are credible primary contenders. Forget canceling the annual White House Pride Party—a GOP White House could become one that honors "Ex-Gay" Month instead (yes, that's a real thing).

So guffaw away, gay righties, at your fellow gay men who are in love and proud to support a candidate who has come to understand that anything less than full equality is unacceptable to these two and millions like them. Whatever makes you feel better about your unfortunately LGBT-hostile party's continued hostility, I guess.

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Video: Openly 'Real' ABC sitcom features teen who happens to be gay

by Jeremy Hooper

This is the project that was initially based on Dan Savage's life, but that is now more its own thing. Looks cute (and Savage still serves as executive producer):

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Maggie Gallagher concedes: Marriage amendments 'merely symbolic...aren’t going to pass'

by Jeremy Hooper

Maggie Gallagher was a major proponent of the so-called Federal Marriage Amendment back when it did have fighting chance. The National Organization For Marriage, which she co-founded, still floats the silly idea to its supporters.

But now Maggie is owning up to the reality that constitutional amendments on marriage "will prove merely symbolic, and they aren’t going to pass." She writes:

For me the most important thing now for those of us deeply committed to Christian teachings on sex and marriage (as well as similar teachings in other religious faith traditions, or for merely common sense moral reasons) is to look not at what is in the secret soul of a candidate, but what is he willing to publicly commit to do if we elect a GOP Congress and President.

I don’t care so much about constitutional amendments at this point in history. Those will prove merely symbolic, and they aren’t going to pass. Will Jeb Bush and other candidates support the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act? If not, why not? And what will he do as president to protect our freedom?
Against Dhimmitude: Bush Calls for Respect for Christian Conscience [Pulse 2016]

Pssst, Maggie—A federal MARFA (which would essentially allow just about anyone to discriminate against same-sex couples without penalty) isn't going to pass either. Must we wait another ten years for you to realize/concede that?

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Audio: Lawyer, recent #March4marriage speaker insists marriage equality will bring new Holocaust

by Jeremy Hooper

Why the hell would we want to "silence" the other side? I mean, speakers like Mat Staver, who is now demanding that marriage equality activists are treating Christians the way the Nazis treated Jews in the run-up to the Holocaust, have helped us win far faster and more easily than we would've on our own:

[RWW]

A new Pew survey indicates the five million fewer Americans are calling themselves Christians now than were doing so in 2007. Mat Staver is but one example of the larger reason why.

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Texas GOP advancing hetero-entitlement bills for courts to ultimately strike down

by Jeremy Hooper

Tx-1 Down in Texas, there are a pair of measures moving through the state legislature that are all designed to allow pastors and just about anyone else to essentially ignore a US Supreme Court ruling that finally brings marriage equality to the Lone Star State. One would allow vendors to refuse to serve same-sex couples, and another would literally bar state and local employees from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Towle has more info on both:

TEXAS LAWMAKERS ADVANCE 'PASTOR PROTECTION ACT,' CONTINUE FULL-FLEDGED ASSAULT ON SAME-SEX MARRIAGE [Towleroad]

If neither of these bills work, then rumor has it that the GOP will move on to another bill that demands the state tourist board begin running one of the following slogans:

Visit the Alamo. Unless you're planning to bring Al, a 'mo

Everything's bigger in Texas (except the gay wedding gift we're never going to buy you)

Come for the barbecue, stay for the crude intolerance of gay people

Don't mess with Texas—or sodomy

Catchy. But I hope they fail. I love Texas. Would hate to stop going.

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