AMERICAblog Newsgay marriage – AMERICAblog News http://americablog.com A great nation deserves the truth // One of America's top progressive sites for news and opinion Wed, 19 Sep 2018 00:56:24 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 Support LGBT hero Zach Wahls http://americablog.com/2018/05/support-lgbt-hero-zach-wahls.html http://americablog.com/2018/05/support-lgbt-hero-zach-wahls.html#respond Wed, 16 May 2018 23:27:59 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=144398 As a straight college kid with two lesbian moms, Zach Wahls famously spoke out in favor of gay marriage before the Iowa House of Representatives back in 2012, when he was only 19 years old. Zach gave an amazing speech, you can check it out here. He then went on to lead a campaign, as a former […]

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As a straight college kid with two lesbian moms, Zach Wahls famously spoke out in favor of gay marriage before the Iowa House of Representatives back in 2012, when he was only 19 years old.

Zach gave an amazing speech, you can check it out here. He then went on to lead a campaign, as a former Eagle Scout, to successfully pressure the Boy Scouts to drop their gay ban. Zach is the real deal. He was there to help us when we needed him. And now he needs our help in return.

Zach is now running for the Iowa State Senate, and I’d like to ask you to support his campaign for a seat held by a Democrat who is not running for reelection. You can donate to Zach here.

Zach Wahls

If we want good Democrats, we need to elect them AND find them young, and get them involved in the political process early on. And they don’t get any better than Zach. I’ve gotten to know Zach over the years, and he’s an amazing young man who is going to go far in progressive politics. His top three issues for this race are health care, education, and workers’ rights. The primary is in just three weeks, and then the general election is in the fall.

No one is more deserving of our help than Zach. He was there for the LGBT community when most kids his age were worrying about final exams. Please join me in returning the favor by helping elect Zach to the Iowa State Senate. This guy is going to go far, so long as we help him. Please donate $25 or more to his campaign. And as this is a local race, your donation will go a LONG way — you can actually make a difference in electing the next generation of progressives. Support Zach now.

And do take a minute and watch Zach’s speech, at only 19 years of age, before the Iowa legislature. It’s still one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen. I think you’ll agree.

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Malta legalizes gay marriage http://americablog.com/2017/07/malta-legalizes-gay-marriage.html http://americablog.com/2017/07/malta-legalizes-gay-marriage.html#comments Wed, 12 Jul 2017 20:07:31 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=143243 The island country of Malta today legalized marriage for gay couples. Damn. Malta is a strongly Roman Catholic country, yet only one lawmaker out of 67 opposed the same-sex marriage legislation. The Catholic archbishop was, of course, opposed, and offered one of the most hysterical reasons yet: Carobs are not oranges. Archbishop Charles Scicluna had […]

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The island country of Malta today legalized marriage for gay couples.

Damn.

Malta is a strongly Roman Catholic country, yet only one lawmaker out of 67 opposed the same-sex marriage legislation.

The Catholic archbishop was, of course, opposed, and offered one of the most hysterical reasons yet: Carobs are not oranges.

Archbishop Charles Scicluna had opposed the same-sex marriage law, reflecting the church’s longstanding view that marriage can only be between a man and woman.

“I can decide that a carob and an orange should no longer be called by their name,” he said in a homily a few days after parliament started debating the legislation. “But a carob remains a carob and an orange remains an orange. And marriage, whatever the law says, remains an eternal union exclusive to a man and a woman.”

This is huge news. There’s a movement by some of late to poo-poo marriage equality, and suggest that it doesn’t matter, nor does it help people of color in America. It’s a naive argument on its face: gay couples of all colors couldn’t marry before, they can now. It benefits everyone equally.

But there’s a larger issue: the symbolism. Marriage equality is a hugely important culture step that puts the final stake in the heart of homophobia. Now, to stretch the metaphor a bit longer, that doesn’t mean the vampire is going to die anytime soon. It does however mean that he’s toast. You simply cannot defend homophobia, culturally or legally, once gay couples have the right to marry.

Much of the rest of the discrimination we face can be tied to the right to marry (i.e., you discriminate against gays in the workplace because you don’t like who they marry). But culturally it’s just as important. Once gays can marry, you’re per se going to have more visibility of gay marriages. Gay marriages in the paper, gay marriages on TV, gay marriage among your friends and relatives and coworkers. People of all ages and all walks of life are going to start seeing gay marriage, and gay couples, as a normal and ever-present fact of life. That changes the culture, people’s minds, and ultimately the law.

And finally, there’s the psychological aspect to all of this. Many gays grow up thinking they’re broken, bad people. They’re God’s mistake. And that’s why suicide rates are so high in the gay and LGBT communities, especially among young people. It’s hard enough growing up — let alone being LGBT too. When I was a kid, there was no expectation that I’d ever get married. I knew I was gay from the day one. I may not have had a word for it, but I knew. And I also “knew” that I’d never fall in love, and never get married. That was the expectation when I was a little boy. And that seriously messes with a little kid’s head and heart. So the fact that I can now get married, the fact that little boys and girls in America, and Malta, can now hope and dream that some day they too will meet their prince or princess, is a huge step forward.

Marriage is the seminal right we seek. Nothing is more important in the battle for equality.

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Trump thanks LGBTs for Orlando shooting, says he’s more pro-gay than HRC. He’s not. http://americablog.com/2016/06/trump-thanks-lgbt-community-orlando-shooting-something.html http://americablog.com/2016/06/trump-thanks-lgbt-community-orlando-shooting-something.html#comments Wed, 15 Jun 2016 13:00:23 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=137970 Trump is using the Orlando shooting to woo the gay community away from Hillary. But Trump's LGBT record is meh.

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In yet another of bizarre moment, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump today thanked the LGBT community, in apparent reference to the recent mass shooting at a gay club in Orlando, Florida.

In addition to, oddly, thanking the gay community, Trump then suggesting that he would be a better LGBT advocate than Hillary Clinton, whose support for the LGBT community goes back decades. (I’ve documented Hillary’s and Bill’s historic long-time support for the LGBT community here.)

First, Trump’s tweet, then we’re going to have a little talk:

by default 2016-06-14 at 6.55.47 PM

And lest you think Trump’s tweet was a mouth spasm, he told the same thing in a speech in New Hampshire Monday. Yes, Donald Trump thinks the attack in Orlando is going to help with the gay community.

“Ask yourself, who is really the friend of women and the LGBT community, Donald Trump with his actions, or Hillary Clinton with her words?” Trump said. “Clinton wants to allow Radical Islamic terrorists to pour into our country — they enslave women, and murder gays. I don’t want them in our country.”

A) 49 people just died. Who exactly are you thanking, and why?

B) No one “brought in” anyone. The Orland shooter was an American born in New York City.

C) His parents are from Afghanistan. As Omar was born in 1987 in Queen, his parents were likely allowed into the country by Ronald Reagan.

D) You will fight for the LGBT community? How exactly do you plan on doing that? You’re not even in favor of marriage equality (Hillary is) or domestic partner benefits (which is at this point seriously retro). In fact, Trump has said that he would “strongly consider” appointing judges who would repeal gay marriage.

The rest of Trump’s positions are unclear. While Trump said back in 2000 that he was in favor of amending the Civil Rights Act in order to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation, that’s back when Trump was a Democrat praising Hillary Clinton. Who knows what he believes today.

Hillary Clinton meets with AIDS leaders in 1991, in order to call for a Manhattan Project to combat HIV/AIDS.

Hillary Clinton meets with AIDS leaders in 1991, in order to call for a Manhattan Project to combat HIV/AIDS.

As for Trump’s opinion on the Equality Act, umbrella legislation that would protect gays against discrimination in jobs, public accommodations and much more, Trump’s spokesman didn’t respond to MSNBC’s question. In fact, while Trump has said he doesn’t think you should be fired for being gay, it’s not clear whether Trump would support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, ENDA, which would ban such discrimination at the federal level.

Even the Log Cabin Republicans, known for enabling some of the worst anti-gay Republicans, tried to walk back an effort by some to claim Trump was the most pro-LGBT Republican ever:

“I think that might be going a little overboard,” said Gregory T. Angelo, executive director of the pro-LGBT Log Cabin Republicans, when asked if it was safe to call Trump 2016’s most LGBT-friendly Republican. Angelo added: “It’s important to point out that Trump is not the first GOP Republican candidate to say he supports nondiscrimination protections for LGBT individuals.”

In other words, is Trump less bad than a lot of Republicans? Possibly. Is he good? As it’s not what if any pro-gay legislation Trump supports, who knows?

And finally, a word about Hillary. Other than her late arrival to marriage equality in 2013 (mind you, Obama didn’t support it until 2012, and even Bernie Sanders wasn’t on board until 3 years earlier), Hillary has a near perfect record on gay and trans rights, as good any other Democrat. Hillary’s record was so good in 2008, that the LGBT community swarmed to her over Barack Obama.

Hillary embraced the AIDS community all the way back in 1991, long before it was politically “cool.” I’ve written at length about the Clinton record on LGBT rights, it was historic. Yes, there were a few setbacks like DADT and DOMA (and mind you, DADT was an improvement from the military’s anti-gay policy before 1993, and we only got DADT because Bill Clinton tried, and failed, to entirely lift the military’s gay ban in 1993, and failed). But the eight-year presidency was beyond historic, in terms of Clinton’s commitment on AIDS, his appointment of openly-gay senior officials (a first), and his overall open embrace of our community (something most senior party officials, of either party, simply didn’t do before Clinton came along).

And one final word about Donald Trump claiming he’s going to keep out all the anti-gay forces from destroying our community. Really, Donald? Along with Muslims, do you plan on banning Republicans too?

Oh, and one more thought about Donald Trump being so pro-gay: Guess who his good friend and mentor was?

Roy Cohn.*

(*Roy Cohn was a closet-case who was Joe “House Un-American Activities Committee” McCarthy’s henchman. Cohn was personally responsible for destroying the lives of countless gay federal workers who he witch-hunted for McCarthy.)

In the formative years of Donald Trump’s career, when he went from a rich kid working for his real estate-developing father to a top-line dealmaker in his own right, Cohn was one of the most powerful influences and helpful contacts in Trump’s life.

Over a 13-year-period, ending shortly before Cohn’s death in 1986, Cohn brought his say-anything, win-at-all-costs style to all of Trump’s most notable legal and business deals. Interviews with people who knew both men at the time say the relationship ran deeper than that—that Cohn’s philosophy shaped the real estate mogul’s worldview and the belligerent public persona visible in Trump’s presidential campaign.

Go away before someone drops a house on you.

UPDATE: Trump’s effort to pinkwash his campaign continues. A top uber-conservative anti-gay blogger, Jim Hoft aka Gateway Pundit, has just come out, and is urging gays to support Trump.

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis

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Marco Rubio confronted by gay voter in New Hampshire, sticks to anti-gay script http://americablog.com/2016/02/marco-rubio-confronted-gay-voter-in-new-hampshire-sticks-to-anti-gay-script.html http://americablog.com/2016/02/marco-rubio-confronted-gay-voter-in-new-hampshire-sticks-to-anti-gay-script.html#comments Mon, 08 Feb 2016 21:32:02 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=135443 Rubio-bot had another malfunction on the trail.

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Marco Rubio is trying to recover from his performance during Saturday’s debate, in which he short-circuited when Chris Christie accused him of being a robotic talking points dispensary by reciting the same talking point four times.

He didn’t do himself any favors in Manchester, New Hampshire today when confronted by a gay voter, Timothy Kierstead, who asked Rubio why he wanted to “put me back in the closet?”

Rubio insisted that Mr. Kierstead could “live any way you want,” but repeatedly insisted that he believes marriage should be reserved for heterosexual couples. From the New York Times:

Marco Rubio, via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Marco Rubio, via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

During a brief conversation, Mr. Kierstead told Mr. Rubio that he was married but complained that the senator’s position amounted to him declaring that “we don’t matter.”

Mr. Rubio, who was standing with his youngest son, Dominick, 8, by his side, gently disagreed. “No, I just believe marriage is between one man and one woman.”

“Well,” replied Mr. Kierstead, “that’s your belief.”

Mr. Rubio continued: “I think that’s what the law should be. And if you don’t agree you should have the law changed by a legislature.”

Mr. Kierstead said the law had already been changed, referring either to a Supreme Court ruling that has legalized same-sex marriage across the country or to state legislation in New Hampshire that did the same.

Kierstead also pointed out that Rubio’s belief is a religious one, and that belief alone shouldn’t be the basis for public policy.

It’s also worth noting that Rubio doesn’t “just” believe that marriage should be reserved for straight couples. Rubio also believes LGBT Americans should head back to the closet in all aspects of their life — regardless as to their relationship status. Going beyond promising to appoint Supreme Court justices that would reverse Obergefell v Hodges, Rubio has promised to reverse President Obama’s non-discrimination protections for LGBT employees of federal contractors. This isn’t just a marriage issue for Rubio; he wants to change American culture such that we all feel compelled to “act like” the white people from the Andy Griffith Show.

In any case, it’s really something that Rubio stuck to his anti-gay script so strictly that he couldn’t even assimilate fact that marriage equality is the law of the land.

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Does Ted Cruz think we need to “rid the world” of pro-marriage equality Supreme Court justices? http://americablog.com/2016/02/does-ted-cruz-think-we-need-to-rid-the-world-of-marriage-equality-supporters.html http://americablog.com/2016/02/does-ted-cruz-think-we-need-to-rid-the-world-of-marriage-equality-supporters.html#comments Mon, 01 Feb 2016 18:46:39 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=135340 Cruz continues to endorse not only hardline conservative Christians, but the odious views they espouse.

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Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson campaigned with Ted Cruz in Iowa yesterday, and he had some choice words for the Supreme Court when introducing Cruz at one event:

Said Robertson:

Phil Robertson, via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Phil Robertson, via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

When a fellow like me looks at the landscape and sees the depravity, the perversion — redefining marriage and telling us that marriage is not between a man and a woman? Come on Iowa, it’s NONSENSE! It is evil. It’s wicked. It’s sinful. They want us to swallow it, you say. We have to run this bunch out of Washington, D.C. We have to rid the earth of them. Get them out of there. Ted Cruz loves God, he loves James Madison and he’s a strict constitutionalist. You know what Ted Cruz understands? He understands that…God raises these empires up. It is God who brings them down.

Ted Cruz followed Robertson on the stage and wasted no time calling him “a joyful, cheerful, unapologetic voice of truth.”

Which can only lead one to wonder: How much of what Robertson said does Cruz believe to be “truth”?

This is one of many instances on the campaign trail in which Cruz has not only openly embraced hardline conservative Christians with odious social views, but has also come awfully close to endorsing those views themselves. Just last week, Cruz announced that he had put Operation Rescue founder Troy Newman on his newly-formed “Pro-Lifers for Cruz” coalition, citing Newman’s books calling for the government to punish abortion providers and the women who have abortions as if they were murderers. By endorsing not only Newman but also his work, Cruz, a death penalty enthusiast, turned what would otherwise be a ridiculous question — “Do you think the government should execute women who have abortions?” — into a serious one. As in, given the people Cruz is surrounding himself with, and the views of theirs that he is amplifying, there seems to be a real chance that, if asked, he would say something along the lines of yes.

Which brings us back to Robertson. Giving him a generous listening, it sounds like he’s referring to marriage equality-affirming politicians and judges as the people we have to “rid the earth” of. Hyperbolic? Maybe. But hey, so is Ted Cruz.

Either way, what’s undoubtedly clear is that Robertson genuinely believes that marriage equality is “evil,” “wicked” and “sinful.” I’d be very interested to see Cruz look a gay or lesbian couple in the eyes and answer whether he agrees with this “unapologetic voice of truth” as far as that goes.

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Donald Trump will restore marriage to being between one man and many women http://americablog.com/2016/01/donald-trump-will-restore-marriage-to-being-between-one-man-and-many-women.html http://americablog.com/2016/01/donald-trump-will-restore-marriage-to-being-between-one-man-and-many-women.html#comments Sun, 31 Jan 2016 23:57:14 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=135324 "Repeal Obergefell and replace it with something terrific." - Trump, basically.

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Iowa votes tomorrow, and Donald Trump spent the weekend getting some last minute pandering in to solidify what the Des Moines Register showed as being a narrow lead heading into the caucuses.

Criticizing the Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges decision, Trump suggested that he, as president, would appoint Supreme Court justices who would overturn the ruling.

Donald Trump, screenshot via YouTube

Donald Trump, screenshot via YouTube

As Trump said, quoted by Politico, “It has been ruled upon. It has been there. If I’m elected I would be very strong in putting certain judges on the bench that maybe could change thing, but they have a long way to go…I disagree with the court in that it should have been a states’ rights issue.”

Trump has been married three times. He has never had any problem reconciling this fact with his stated support for “traditional” marriage. Perhaps because the Bible includes plenty of instances in which one man marries more than one woman.

Not that it matters. Donald Trump may be transparently irreligious, but between this and his op-ed rejecting the premise of a right to privacy, he’s now at least as far to the right as culture-warrior-in-chief Ted Cruz. We can point and laugh all we want about how silly Evangelical voters are for thinking that Trump is or could ever be one of them, but at the end of the day there is absolutely no space between them on matters of public policy.

The man has no principles, but as long as his self-interest lines up with the conservative Christians, it appears as though conservative Christians will take it.

That wasn’t all Trump had up his sleeve by way of desperate last-minute pitches to Iowa voters. Trump also said that after the campaign, and perhaps his presidency, was over, he would “buy a farm and settle down” in Iowa. That is, of course, provided that he wins the caucuses (not kidding — he really did make his retirement to Iowa contingent on winning the state).

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Tennessee lawsuit would invalidate every marriage since June out of spite http://americablog.com/2016/01/tennessee-lawsuit-invalidate-every-marriage-since-june-out-of-spite.html http://americablog.com/2016/01/tennessee-lawsuit-invalidate-every-marriage-since-june-out-of-spite.html#comments Mon, 25 Jan 2016 20:40:46 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=135254 Privileged classes of people would rather give up nice things entirely than share them with marginalized classes.

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As far as this group of conservatives is concerned, prohibiting same-sex marriage is more important than allowing opposite-sex marriage. So much so that it’s necessary to invalidate every marriage performed since June, and put the government’s entire role in issuing marriage licenses on hold, until the Supreme Court overturns Obergefell v. Hodges.

From ThinkProgress‘s Zack Ford:

Gay marriage via Shutterstock

Gay marriage via Shutterstock

Just one day after a Tennessee House committee rejected a bill to nullify the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision, the head of the state’s top conservative organization filed a lawsuit hoping to, at the very least, stall same-sex marriage. And he has the support of several state lawmakers.

David Fowler, head of the Family Action Council of Tennessee (FACT), filed the state suit in Williamson County, asking County Clerk Elaine Anderson to cease issuing marriage licenses until the suit is resolved. His contention relies on a mix of odd technicalities relating to the impact of the Obergefell decision on Tennessee law, particularly the idea that the state’s entire marriage statute was invalidated. He argues that because lawmakers would never have passed a marriage law inclusive of same-sex couples, there is no longer any law stipulating marriage for any couple, and thus all marriage licenses issued in the state since last June are void. This, he fears, exposes the pastors who join him as plaintiffs to liability, because a separate Tennessee statute dictates that it is a Class C misdemeanor to solemnize a wedding between two people not legally eligible to marry, punishable by a $500 fine.

As Ford notes, Fowler doesn’t go to very much effort to hide the fact that his lawsuit is part of a broader effort to get Obergefell overturned. He even laid out his strategy in a flowchart on FACT’s website. Not doing much to help himself in the court of public opinion, Fowler has also claimed that this same strategy could have been, and perhaps still could be, used to pick apart Brown v. Board of Education. Rather than integrate the schools, Fowler argued, states could have simply stopped offering public education altogether.

Setting aside for the moment that Virginia tried to do exactly that following Brown, and both state and federal courts ruled that their massive resistance was unconstitutional, there’s an irony to Fowler comparing his opposition to LGBT equality to previous conservatives’ opposition to racial equality. That’s because, on issue after issue, American public policy is marked by privileged classes of people choosing to reject universal benefits entirely than share them with their marginalized peers. Marriage was recently removed from that list of universal benefits, but that list is still quite long and, unsurprisingly, racially coded.

Racism remains one of the primary predictors of opposition to social welfare programs in the United States. And it’s no accident that the states with some of the most progressive policies — North Dakota has a public bank; Utah provides free housing to its homeless population; Alaska’s permanent fund dividend is, for all intents and purposes, a universal basic income — also happen to be some of the whitest:

In Tennessee, some straight people would rather forego marriages entirely if it means that gay people can have them, too. In this case it looks like they’re about to get laughed out of the courtroom, as well they should. But the sentiment, however ridiculous and spiteful, remains a core roadblock to all kinds of progress.

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New “religious freedom” bill in Georgia has nothing to do with religion http://americablog.com/2016/01/religious-freedom-bill-georgia-nothing-to-do-with-religion.html http://americablog.com/2016/01/religious-freedom-bill-georgia-nothing-to-do-with-religion.html#comments Thu, 14 Jan 2016 16:45:54 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=135015 The bill limits its scope to "matrimonial ceremonies," dropping the pretense that it protects religious freedom.

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Lawmakers in Georgia will soon consider a new bill that would let businesses and non-profits adopt straights-only policies for services relating to any “matrimonial ceremony.” From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

House Bill 756 would allow business owners to cite religious beliefs in refusing goods or services for a “matrimonial ceremony” — a blunt assessment of conservatives’ outrage after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June state prohibitions on same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional.

Like “religious freedom” bills that have come before it, HB 756 carves out areas of public activity in which the government must cede its regulatory authority to the discriminatory whims of private citizens. Unlike most of these earlier bills, however, HB 756 is narrowly tailored to only carve out such an exception for one specific type of public activity: selling goods and services relating to marriage ceremonies.

Church and State, via Shutterstock

Church and State, via Shutterstock

In most cases, crafting a bill with a narrower focus than the broader policy that inspired it is seen as a nod to the authors’ interest in conciliation or compromise. This isn’t one of those cases. Religious freedom bills that just so happen to allow businesses to refuse service to same-sex couples at least carry the stated purpose of protecting, well, religious freedom. Anti-gay florists, bakers and photographers’ right to discriminate against same-sex couples is clearly the motivating factor behind these bills, but at least they theoretically apply to other situations in which religious citizens’ interests have “reasonable” conflicts with secular government regulations.

Broad legislation like the so-called “First Amendment Defense Act” currently pending in the House may be cruel and draconian and antithetical to the First Amendment’s establishment of the boundaries between Church and State, but that kind of legislation is value-neutral in the same way that voter ID laws are race-neutral.

By limiting its reach to “matrimonial ceremonies,” HB 756 drops this pretense. The bill doesn’t claim to protect religious freedom in any sort of broad sense. It’s just about giving conservative Christians a special right to give the finger to same-sex couples.

As the Journal-Constitution reports, Georgia Republicans have been slow to rally behind the measure.

(h/t Towleroad)

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There is no zero-sum competition between LGBT rights and religious freedom http://americablog.com/2016/01/there-is-no-competition-between-lgbt-rights-and-religious-freedom.html http://americablog.com/2016/01/there-is-no-competition-between-lgbt-rights-and-religious-freedom.html#comments Wed, 06 Jan 2016 16:51:52 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=134861 The "gay rights vs. religious freedom" juxtaposition is misdirected and harmful.

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Emma Green published another feature in the Atlantic this morning, titled “Can States Protect LGBT Rights Without Compromising Religious Freedom?” which doubles down on her previous suggestions that LGBT rights and religious freedom are deadlocked in a zero-sum competition, with the advance of one necessarily meaning the retreat of the other.

Specifically, she outlines how the Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision granting same-sex couples marriage rights has opened new doors for anti-LGBT discrimination in businesses and workplaces — doors that must be closed with new laws that protect LGBT people from discrimination in housing, hiring and public accommodation. However, she warns, without compromises for religious non-profits and business owners, these new anti-discrimination measures could tread on the rights of some Americans — particularly religious non-profits such as schools and churches — to freely practice their faith.

Searching for middle ground, Green writes favorably of compromise legislation like the anti-discrimination law recently passed in Utah, which prohibits anti-LGBT discrimination by for-profit employers but exempts religious non-profits like schools, hospitals and churches — even if they receive public funds. But what Green calls “compromise,” LGBT advocates would simply call “incomplete.” The Utah bill provides no protection for LGBT consumers in places of public accommodation — so you can still set up a straights-only wedding planning business — and it still allows employees at non-profits that receive public grants to be fired based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. As long as that’s the case, Utahan citizens will be denied their rights, and that’s unacceptable.

Gay marriage via Shutterstock

Gay marriage via Shutterstock

Surprising as this may be for Green, though, full equality for LGBT people can be achieved without a corresponding loss of religious freedom for religious conservatives who are opposed to full equality for LGBT people. It just requires us to drop the notion that the religious community — which in this context is almost entirely limited to conservative Christians — deserves extra rights in the public sphere.

That is, after all, the very definition of religious freedom in a secular liberal democracy such as the United States: You get to practice your faith in private, but you don’t get to impose it on anyone else. You don’t, for instance, get to say that you won’t make a pizza for a black person but you will make one for a white person. Nor do you get to say that you’ll sell a suit to a man but not to a woman. And you certainly can’t make it store policy to ask your customers if they’re Muslim before deciding whether to give them a loan at a bank.

You could claim a sincerely-held religious belief for all of these actions, but no one would take you seriously if you did. That’s because we decided that it isn’t alright to discriminate on the basis of race, gender or religion in hiring, housing or places of public accommodation decades ago. And what few exemptions were carved out for religious beliefs at the time were established on astonishingly weak grounds. In other words, Christian conservatives are demanding the rights to discriminate against LGBT people that we’ve already decided they don’t or shouldn’t have against any other demographic. Christian conservatives have a term for that, and that term is “special rights.”

There’s a reason you don’t see Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh or other religious groups fighting for the right to discriminate in accordance with their religious beliefs: as minority groups, they have to struggle hard enough for rights; they don’t get to reach for privilege. For every religious group in the United States except conservative Christians, religious freedom means the freedom to practice one’s religion in the privacy of your own home or religious organization, not the right to impose your religious beliefs on your employees or customers who don’t share them.

So no, full equality for LGBT people isn’t in a zero-sum competition with religious freedom. It is, however, in a zero-sum competition with Christian privilege. And I don’t think it’s too much to ask to demand full victory on that front.

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Marco Rubio promises to stack the Supreme Court against marriage equality http://americablog.com/2015/12/marco-rubio-promises-to-stack-the-supreme-court-against-marriage-equality.html http://americablog.com/2015/12/marco-rubio-promises-to-stack-the-supreme-court-against-marriage-equality.html#comments Mon, 14 Dec 2015 20:06:15 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=134585 Have fun making that case in a general election.

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Marco Rubio doubled down on his promise to overturn the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage ruling by stacking the Court with conservative justices on Sunday, telling Chuck Todd on Meet the Press that “[Marriage equality] is the current law. I don’t believe any case is settled law…Any future Supreme Court can change it.”

Rubio’s assertion comes on the heels of comments he made in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network suggesting that not only would he appoint justices to overturn Obergefell v Hodges as president, but that he’d go a step further and repeal President Obama’s executive order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Marco Rubio, via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Marco Rubio, via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

The current law/settled law distinction has been doing a lot of work for Rubio on the campaign trail thus far. It’s also stating the obvious to the point of absurdity. Rubio might as well say that Brown v Board of Education is “current law” instead of “settled law.” Provide the right mix of Supreme Court justices — say, replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg with someone whose ideology tracks closer to John Roberts or Samuel Alito — and you can undo decades of judicial precedent that we’ve come to consider settled.

One might say that Rubio is endorsing his own brand of judicial activism.

 

Furthermore, Rubio’s reasoning for why the Obergefell ruling is illegitimate and should be overturned has a glaring hole. As he said on Sunday, “I don’t think the current Constitution gives the federal government the power to regulate marriage.” Taken at face value, not only does that statement imply a repeal of marriage equality; it suggests that the 1,138 rights and protections the federal government has established for married couples — from preferential tax treatment to employee benefits to immigration considerations — are invalid, as well. That puts Rubio’s position on marriage roughly in line with where Ron Paul landed on the issue in 2012.

It’s also, you know, wrong. The Supreme Court is part of the federal government, meaning that when it comes to evaluating state-level laws in the context of the Constitution, “regulating marriage” is the federal government’s job.

Good luck arguing otherwise in a general election.

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Kentucky Governor-elect Bevin will bail Kim Davis out on day one http://americablog.com/2015/11/kentucky-governor-elect-bevin-will-bail-kim-davis-out-on-day-one.html http://americablog.com/2015/11/kentucky-governor-elect-bevin-will-bail-kim-davis-out-on-day-one.html#comments Fri, 06 Nov 2015 19:39:25 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=133647 This is the biggest win Davis could have hoped for.

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Matt Bevin will issue an executive order “right away” that will take county clerks’ names off of marriage licenses in the State of Kentucky, thereby absolving Kim Davis and other county clerks opposed to marriage equality of any legal responsibility to, in their minds, endorse same-sex marriages.

Kim Davis is currently suing the current governor, Steve Beshear, in an attempt to get him to issue a similar executive order.

On its face, this seems like a reasonable enough compromise. Same-sex couples get their marriage licenses and we never have to hear from Kim Davis ever again. She can do her job without her (bigoted) religious faith getting in the way. But there’s a reason why Beshear has been refusing to issue the executive order that Bevin is so eager to sign: It completely undermines the concept of public officials being prohibited from exercising their faith in a public capacity.

Kim Davis, screenshot via YouTube

Kim Davis, screenshot via YouTube

In effect, Kim Davis has won the biggest victory she could have hoped to win. While it would have been impossible for her to continue to refuse marriage licenses to same-sex couples (or all couples, for that matter), she has effectively used her religion and her capacity as a public official to change government policy in a manner in which she approves. Kim Davis made no bones about the fact that she was an activist. Her activism is now being rewarded.

To be clear, it’s being rewarded indirectly. Matt Bevin stumbled into a highly-improbable win in the Kentucky gubernatorial race, and Kim Davis wasn’t the reason why he won (he lost her county). But her activism has made public accommodation of religious beliefs that need not be accommodated, and are in fact antithetical to the very concept of a public sphere in secular liberal democracy, a priority for this Republican administration. And likely many others.

Activists set the agenda, and elections have consequences.

 

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Mormon Church declares same-sex couples apostates, bars their children from baptism http://americablog.com/2015/11/mormon-church-declares-same-sex-couples-apostates-bars-their-children-from-baptism.html http://americablog.com/2015/11/mormon-church-declares-same-sex-couples-apostates-bars-their-children-from-baptism.html#comments Fri, 06 Nov 2015 15:00:49 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=133621 It's one thing to be opposed to same-sex marriage. It's another thing to declare kids immoral by association.

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The Mormon Church has updated its definition of apostasy to include same-sex marriage, according to Salt Lake City’s ABC affiliate, KUTV. The teaching was included in Handbook #1, a church document that is only available to priests and other church leaders. After a screenshot of the document was leaked online, a LDS church spokesman confirmed that it was accurate:

View post on imgur.com

It’s important to note that being in a same-sex marriage is placed higher on the list than formally leaving the church, the literal dictionary definition of apostasy.

As KUTV points out, the Mormon Church had been grappling with questions related to its LGBT members following the Supreme Court’s decision to prohibit states from denying marriage rights to same-sex couples, and this document shows that they’ve decided to double down on their previous policy of exclusion. As they wrote, “The legalization of same-sex marriage following the Supreme Court ruling in June raised the question of whether there might be room for monogamous, legally married, same-sex couples in the church. The new definition appears to close that door.”

But that’s not all. From the Salt Lake City Tribune:

book of mormon mormons

Book of Mormon via Shutterstock

As for children, a separate section of the handbook says that natural or adopted kids of same-sex parents, whether married or just living together, may not receive a naming blessing.

The policy also bars children from being baptized, confirmed, ordained to the church priesthood or recommended for missionary service without the permission of the faith’s highest leaders — the First Presidency.

To get that permission, the policy states that a request must be made through a mission president or a regional church leader, and only after two requirements are met. Those requirements are that a child is committed to living church doctrine and “specifically disavows the practice of same-gender cohabitation and marriage,” is 18 “and does not live with a parent who has lived or currently lives in a same-gender cohabitation relationship or marriage.”

It’s bad enough for your religion to preach that homosexuality is an abomination that’s incompatible with the faith, but this extra step is cruel and unusual. The Church has just decreed that children, through the mere accident of being born or adopted into a same-sex household, are less-deserving participation in the faith, and must actively denounce their parents in order to take part in the religion’s core rites of passage. In other words, it isn’t just immoral to be gay or lesbian; it’s immoral to not hate gays or lesbians. This runs counter to the Church’s previous insistence that members are welcome to feel however they wish about same-sex couples and that they respect the Supreme Court’s decision, even if the Church itself would not allow same-sex marriages to be performed on Church property.

As I’ve written before, as long as the Mormon Church adheres to the law, it’s up to them how they want to approach same-sex relationships. It isn’t this atheists place to force them to change. But I will say that Mormons who care about “the values of love and service” may want to think twice about what it means to be affiliated with a Church that preaches this kind of clear immorality. If there’s one thing we know about the Mormon Church, it’s that their primary concern is presiding over a steady increase in the number of Mormons — in this life and the next. Until their anti-LGBT doctrines come with a cost, which is to say until they lead to a net decline in Church membership, they won’t see any reason to change.

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The Clintons’ DOMA history thoroughly debunked http://americablog.com/2015/10/the-clintons-doma-history-thoroughly-debunked.html http://americablog.com/2015/10/the-clintons-doma-history-thoroughly-debunked.html#comments Fri, 30 Oct 2015 14:50:31 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=133287 A comprehensive review from Buzzfeed should settle this once and for all.

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Buzzfeed’s Chris Geidner just poured a gallon of cold water on Hillary Clinton’s claim that the Defense of Marriage Act was itself a “defensive action” that prevented a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage from passing:

There is no contemporaneous evidence…to support the claim that the Clinton White House considered a possible federal constitutional amendment to be a concern, based on a BuzzFeed News review of the thousands of documents released earlier this year by the Clinton Presidential Library about same-sex couples’ marriage rights and the Defense of Marriage Act. In the documents, which include correspondence from a wide array of White House and Justice Department officials, no one even hints that Bill Clinton’s thinking or actions regarding DOMA were animated by the threat of a federal constitutional amendment.

Instead, as Geidner notes, those operating within the White House at the time simply assumed Clinton would support DOMA, given that he had already expressed his opposition to same-sex marriage by the time the bill came up for consideration in 1996. As he writes, “While some of the few out gay employees and their strongest straight allies worked in the spring of the year to find a way to keep Clinton from supporting DOMA, the internal conversation surrounding the bill mostly concerned when Clinton would announce his support.” As he continues:

And Clinton ended up announcing his support sooner rather than later. On May 23, 1996 — less than three weeks after the bill was introduced in Congress — Clinton announced that he would sign the bill if it came to him as he understood it.

Through it all, though, no one discussing the bill in the Clinton administration — from the White House senior staff to gay staffers and their strongest allies to the press office to Justice Department lawyers — ever mentioned any concern about a federal constitutional amendment.

That’s because conservatives weren’t throwing around the idea of a constitutional amendment in any serious way. At the time, conservatives were freaking out over the prospect of having to do exactly what DOMA said they wouldn’t have to do: recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. A constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage was not the go-to policy response to states like Hawai’i legalizing same-sex marriage; DOMA was.

This jives with a guest post Elizabeth Birch wrote here at AMERICAblog in 2013, explaining that the Clintons’ assertion that DOMA was passed to “defuse a movement to enact a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage” simply isn’t supported by the discussions that took place at the time. As she wrote:

In 1996, I was President of the Human Rights Campaign, and there was no real threat of a Federal Marriage Amendment. That battle would explode about eight years later, in 2004, when President Bush announced it was a central policy goal of his administration to pass such an amendment. (President Bush made such an announcement even while his right hand man, Vice President Cheney, had a lesbian daughter).

The only threat in 1996 — the year DOMA became law —- was a marriage case making its way through the courts in Hawai’i, and that case was only construed under the Hawai’i Constitution.

Geidner’s account traces the White House’s train of through throughout 1996, as DOMA was introduced and considered in Congress. While White House memos initially suggested that allowing the states to hold different definitions of marriage would violate the Equal Protection Clause, but they quickly backed off that view and took a more generous interpretation of the bill:

The Clintons, via stocklight / Shutterstock

The Clintons, via stocklight / Shutterstock

Even then, though, nothing in the voluminous communications among members of the White House staff or between the Justice Department and White House mention any concerns about or even consideration of the possibility of a federal constitutional amendment that might explain support for DOMA.

The story detailed in the discussions is simpler: Clinton opposed same-sex marriage and opposed federal recognition of same-sex couples’ marriages. Ultimately, then, he supported the substance of the bill — and efforts to get him to oppose the bill on federalism grounds or due to constitutional concerns were shut down within a week of the bill’s introduction.

This stance was continuously affirmed by White House staff in public, as well as in private, with Press Secretary Mike McCurry responding to a question about DOMA by saying that “[President Clinton] believes this is a time when we need to do things to strengthen the American family.” Shortly thereafter, Assistant Attorney General Andrew Fois informed House Judiciary Committee Chairman Henry Hyde that the White House believed DOMA would hold up under constitutional scrutiny.

Shortly thereafter, the White House adopted a position in favor of DOMA based not on Clinton’s begrudging nod to federalism, but rather on his opposition to same-sex marriages being recognized by the federal government, with talking points that read: “[S]ince the president does not believe that the federal government should recognize gay marriage, he does not believe it is appropriate for federal resources to be devoted to providing spousal benefits to partners in gay and lesbian relationships.”

Geidner’s account is comprehensive and thorough, leaving no doubt that when Hillary Clinton says that her husband’s support of DOMA was actually pro-LGBT, as it was a calculated political decision aimed at preventing something worse, she’s simply wrong. You can read the whole thing here.

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Ken Ham: If you don’t take the Bible literally, there’s no reason to wear clothes http://americablog.com/2015/10/ken-ham-naked.html http://americablog.com/2015/10/ken-ham-naked.html#comments Wed, 28 Oct 2015 17:43:31 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=133173 Since this apparently needs to be said, clothes existed before the Bible was written.

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Ken Ham, the Australian chinstrap who is perhaps most famous for getting schooled by Bill Nye for over two hours about the origins of life, claimed last week that if you don’t take the Bible literally and use it as a rationale to ban same-sex marriage, then what’s the point of wearing clothes?

As Ham said:

Think about the issue of marriage, because that’s a big one in our culture right now. If the history in Genesis is not true, then how do you define marriage? What do we do with marriage? In Matthew 19, when Jesus was asked about marriage, he said, “Haven’t you read, ‘He made them at the beginning male and female’?” And by the way, that’s another issue today: gender distinction. Jesus’ gender distinction — male and female — right from the beginning, and he says, “When a man leaves his father and mother and cleave unto your wife and you will be one flesh” based on the fact that the woman came from the man…And so the doctrine of marriage is based there upon the literal history of Genesis. But if that history is not true — if there was no literal Adam and Eve — then what is marriage? Why is it to be a man and a woman? It’s only a man and a woman because God invented marriage…

Ken Ham, via Wikimedia Commons

Ken Ham, via Wikimedia Commons

And even think about the issue of clothing. The origin of clothing is right there in Genesis. God gave coats of skins to Adam and Eve because of sin. Personally, I believe that was the first blood sacrifice as a covering for their sin…but if you abandon Genesis’s literal history for marriage and say marriage can be two men or two women or whatever you want, well why not abandon clothing? And even in this nation right now, we see a movement…with some women’s groups in various parts of the country where they’re saying “If men can take their tops off, why can’t we?” and why not? I mean, where do you draw the line, unless there’s an absolute authority that says why not?

As Hemant Mehta pointed out, since this apparently needed to be pointed out, “According to one study, clothing’s been around for roughly 170,000 years, long before the mythological Adam and Eve ever existed.” We don’t wear clothes because God told us to; we wear them because they protect us from the elements. And because we have flair.

With arguments like these, it’s hard to imagine how these guys think they’re going to win back the hearts and minds of a country that’s moving steadily away from them on questions of morality and corresponding public policy. They don’t seriously expect this to sound anything other than ridiculous to someone who doesn’t already agree with them, right?

Right?

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Justice Kennedy: Kim Davis should resign http://americablog.com/2015/10/justice-kennedy-kim-davis-should-resign.html http://americablog.com/2015/10/justice-kennedy-kim-davis-should-resign.html#comments Tue, 27 Oct 2015 15:55:52 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=133121 "[As] a public official in performing your legal duties, you are bound to enforce the law."

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In an event at Harvard Law School last week, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy — the justice who wrote the majority opinion in Obergefell v Hodges — suggested that public officials who feel that they cannot fully execute their jobs under the ruling should resign.

From ThinkProgress:

Anthony Kennedy, via Wikimedia Commons

Anthony Kennedy, via Wikimedia Commons

Kennedy’s remarks came in response to a question from a student who described himself as someone who thinks “that rational norms guide the exercise of sexual autonomy.” The student asked whether public officials who disagree with the Court’s decisions on marriage equality or abortion have “authority to act according to her own judgment” of whether the Court’s legal reasoning was sound.

After alluding to the fact that very few judges resigned from the Nazi German government, Kennedy offered his endorsement to officials who do quit when asked to do something they find morally repugnant. “Great respect, it seems to me, has to be given to people who resign rather than do something they view as morally wrong, in order to make a point,” Kennedy told the Harvard audience.

He qualified this remark, however, by adding that “the rule of law is that, as a public official in performing your legal duties, you are bound to enforce the law.”

So while Kennedy’s comments seem somewhat sympathetic to the concerns held by Kim Davis, et al, who feel fundamentally unable to execute the current law of the land as it pertains to marriage, those concerns do not absolve them from their duties. They can either suck it up and do their job, or they can resign in protest of what they feel is an unjust law.

In other words, they can do exactly what the rest of the country has been telling them to do this whole time.

And here’s the thing: As Justice Kennedy said, there is a great deal of respect to be afforded to those who resign their jobs in protest over decisions they disagree with. Had Kim Davis simply stepped down, we may have disagreed with her baseline belief that same-sex marriage is immoral, but we would have respected her decision to get out of the way and let those marriages take place.

Here is the relevant exchange at the event:

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Kim Davis gives up, will not challenge altered marriage licenses http://americablog.com/2015/10/kim-davis-gives-up-will-not-challenge-altered-marriage-licenses.html http://americablog.com/2015/10/kim-davis-gives-up-will-not-challenge-altered-marriage-licenses.html#comments Thu, 15 Oct 2015 17:19:11 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=132615 Kim Davis's lawyers will not contest altered marriage licenses, ending her fifteen minutes of fame.

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Is it over? It sounds like it might be over. Kim Davis’s fifteen thirty too many minutes of fame might have finally run out. From NBC:

Lawyers for Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis say the marriage licenses issued by her office are binding — and no further action is required by a federal judge to change them.

“Marriage licenses are being issued in Rowan County, which [Kentucky Gov. Steven Beshear] and Kentucky attorney general have approved as valid, which are recognized by the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and which are deemed acceptable by the couples who received them,” her lawyers said in court filings Tuesday.

Kim Davis, screenshot via YouTube

Kim Davis, screenshot via YouTube

A month ago, these same lawyers were fairly adamant that marriage licenses issued while she was in jail, which did not include her signature, were “void,” and vowed to fight them in court. The ACLU had also expressed concerns that the licenses issued by Davis’s office after she left court had been illegally altered, and would be vulnerable to court challenges down the road. But now that Davis has gotten her national exposure, meeting with the Pope and martyr award; and now that Liberty Counsel has gotten their national exposure and slate of new clients, they are all willing to give up the fight for their right to discriminate. This, after they had promised to never give up — ever — because doing so would amount to a sinful capitulation to the forces of evil against God’s word.

Remember how worried Davis was about “losing her voice” as a Christian activist in a government office? Well, she just gave it up willingly.

So Kim Davis has, in effect conceded that it isn’t a Hell-worthy sin for her to preside over an office that issues marriage licenses to same-sex couples. She can keep her job, and gays and lesbians can keep their marriages, and news outlets don’t have to send national correspondents to Rowan County, Kentucky every other week.

Throughout this entire process, Kim Davis has had a very simple choice to make: do her job, or resign. She has chosen to do her job, which is great.

An apology for the dignity, time and energy she took from the same-sex couples in her jurisdiction would be nice.

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Ben Carson clearly has no gay friends http://americablog.com/2015/10/ben-carson-clearly-has-no-gay-friends.html http://americablog.com/2015/10/ben-carson-clearly-has-no-gay-friends.html#comments Tue, 13 Oct 2015 20:34:28 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=132508 Ben Carson's go-to answer on same-sex marriage concerns a dialogue he has clearly never had.

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As one might imagine, Ben Carson has some thoughts and feelings about same-sex marriage. As one could also image, these thoughts and feelings have clearly never been informed by anyone who would ever enter into a same-sex marriage.

Speaking to radio host Eric Metaxes last Friday, Carson suggested that same-sex marriage would make the word of God “garbage,” and would inevitably lead to plural marriage, saying, quoted by Buzzfeed:

The other thing you have to recognize and this is a very important issue…If you change the definition of marriage for one group what defense do you have for the next group that comes along and wants it changed. Can you say, “no we’re just changing it this one time and it will this way for forever.’” Well, how is that fair? I mean, it doesn’t make any sense.

(For a great rundown of the arguments against polygamy, and why they’re all bad, go here.)

These are things we would expect a radically conservative candidate like Carson to say. He’s got some seriously wacky views about pretty much everything. Slightly more troubling, however, was Carson’s assertion that he’s earnestly tried to reconcile these views with people who disagree with him and come up empty. As he asked, Metaxes, “I would like them to answer just one question for me: What position can a person like me take…who believes in the traditional, biblical definition of marriage, that is acceptable to them?”

Carson said that he’s never gotten a satisfactory answer to this question, which is odd because he’s asked it before. From a Buzzfeed an interview published in April:

“What I would ask — I think, maybe BuzzFeed can get an answer to this question: What position can a person who believes in traditional marriage, between one man and one woman, have, who has absolutely no animosity or opposition to gay people – what position can they take that would be satisfactory to the gay community?” he asked. “Because if they can give me an answer to that, I’m quite willing to seriously consider it. But so far I haven’t been able to find anybody who can give me an answer — it’s sort of like, ‘Nope! It has to be my way or the highway.’”

And here he is in June, asking the exact same question to CNN’s Brianna Keilar:

And to Fox’s Bret Baier:

He must not have been listening all that hard for responses, because the answer to his question is quite simple: Ben Carson is more than welcome to prefer whichever definition of marriage he wants; he just doesn’t get to have that definition codified in public policy because he thinks the Bible says so. He is allowed to disagree with the law of the land; he just isn’t allowed to legislate that disagreement if the Constitution isn’t on his side.

If that answer isn’t satisfactory, then what Carson’s really asking is what version of repealing marriage equality — i.e. what version of second-class citizenship — is acceptable for LGBT people. This seems more likely, as Carson was one of just four candidates to sign the National Organization for Marriage’s pledge to support a Constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. This being the case, his supposed outstretched hand isn’t doing much more than scratching the chalkboard. You don’t get to claim to be all about compromise if you’ve already committed to re-imposing religious privilege on secular contracts between consenting adults. When you do that, you’re the one saying “Nope! It has to be my way or the highway.”

Taking the surface appeal to compromise in isolation, however, I find it nearly impossible to believe that the retired neurosurgeon and young Earth creationist has ever had a serious conversation with anyone who disagrees with him on this issue. If he did, he would have gotten his answer already. This is the same guy who wasn’t sure if he’d attend a gay wedding even if it were his son’s wedding; I seriously doubt he’s in regular dialogue with anyone in the LGBT community.

He’s more than welcome to prove me wrong.

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Ben Carson: Marriage for gay people is like car seats for conjoined twins http://americablog.com/2015/10/ben-carson-marriage-for-gay-people-is-like-car-seats-for-conjoined-twins.html http://americablog.com/2015/10/ben-carson-marriage-for-gay-people-is-like-car-seats-for-conjoined-twins.html#comments Thu, 08 Oct 2015 14:14:58 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=132385 One of the strangest analogies for same-sex marriage yet.

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There are a lot of bad analogies for same-sex marriage. It’s been compared to marrying turtles and lawnmowers. It’s been compared to slavery and Hitler. For some, saying that same-sex marriages should be equal to opposite-sex marriages is like saying that water is actually beer.

But I’m not sure any of these analogies can top Ben Carson’s assertion, reportedly included in his new book, A More Perfect Union, that sanctioning same-sex marriage is like mandating that car seat manufacturers make a car seat for conjoined twins. As he wrote, per PinkNews:

Changing the law governing the normal situation in order to accommodate the abnormal situation is like requiring that car seats be designed to accommodate conjoined twins as well as anatomically normal children.

The more sensible thing would be to require car seats to accommodate typical children and design special car seats for atypical children as needed.

This principle can be applied to a host of situations in our nation.

For example, most people are heterosexual, and changing the definition of marriage to suit those outside that definition is unnecessarily complicated.

The analogy is a not-so-subtle nod both to Carson’s history as being the first person to separate twins conjoined at the head and to the GOP’s increasingly tired meme of same-sex marriage constituting a “special” right.

In case it wasn’t entirely clear, “unnecessarily complicated” in Carson’s example means lifting a restriction on who can sign a marriage license. Marriage licenses don’t ask for the sex of the signees, so you don’t even have to change the form! How is that complicated? If anything, the previous definition of marriage was more complicated, because it set an extraneous condition on the state’s legal recognition of love.

What’s more, Carson’s logic can be applied to literally any minority group. I could write, “For example, most people aren’t in wheelchairs, and changing the definition of marriage to suit those outside that definition is unnecessarily complicated,” and it would make the same amount of sense. As would arguing that interracial marriage is “unnecessarily complicated” for the same reason.

Then again, maybe Ben Carson thinks that people in wheelchairs and of different races shouldn’t be entitled to marriage rights. At this rate, who knows?

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Don’t Tell Me to Wait http://americablog.com/2015/10/dont-tell-me-to-wait.html http://americablog.com/2015/10/dont-tell-me-to-wait.html#comments Wed, 07 Oct 2015 17:41:28 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=132359 Kerry Eleveld's out with a new book on the LGBT movement's relationship with President Obama. Read it.

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When Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were duking it out for the Democratic nomination in late 2007 and early 2008, I was a junior in high school who couldn’t tell you all that much about where each candidate stood on repealing the Defense of Marriage Act and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, or enacting employment non-discrimination laws and marriage equality. What I could tell you, however, was that Barack Obama was good and Hillary Clinton was slightly less-good.

Why? Because Barack Obama was, well, different. He spoke in values, not sentences you could have pulled from the National Journal. By extension, his supporters seemed to back him not to elect a generic capital-D Democrat, but to elect this particular Democrat. He was an underdog, a sorta-outsider taking on everything that was wrong with politics — with every intention of winning. He was a statesman and an activist at the same time. It seemed he was running to be the kind of president everyone said they wanted.

My opinion of Obama at the time was definitely a bit rose-colored, and by no means perfectly “rational” as the word is used in political discourse. I identified with a candidate, and projected all things good upon them. And I didn’t just do this because I was in high school and didn’t know any better; for the vast majority of people engaged in politics, that’s how candidate choice works — at least on some level.

This is one of the many reasons why it’s so important for activists to pressure political candidates — especially the ones who are sympathetic to their causes to the point at which their support is taken for granted. The voters need to be reminded once in a while that their “all things good” projections on candidates are often just that: projections. As silly as this may sound, if constituencies that one expects would line up behind a candidate aren’t visibly upset with that candidate, their support is assumed by everyone else and, by extension, that candidate, giving them no incentive to move in that constituency’s direction. After all, why should they? They don’t have to give up anything in order to get their donations and their votes.

Perhaps nowhere has President Obama’s navigation of this tension been more measured, careful and, well, tense than with the LGBT community — a navigation thoroughly documented by former Advocate reporter and current DailyKos columnist (and friend of AMERICAblog!) Kerry Eleveld in her new book, Don’t Tell Me to Wait: How the Fight for Gay Rights Changed America and Transformed Obama’s Presidency. Drawing from her time spent covering Obama on the campaign trail in 2008, and from the White House during his first term — interviewing him in person three times during the process — the book provides an inside look at the politics of gay rights during the Obama years.

The story begins with then-candidate Obama’s defense of his opposition to same-sex marriage being used in a robocall supporting Proposition 8 in California, and ends with President Obama’s announcement in 2012 that this was no longer the case — his evolution was complete. In the intervening pages, however, the reader is told the story of how he got from Point A to Point B, highlighting the at times collaborative and at times confrontational relationship between the president and the movement who needed him.

Perhaps the biggest takeaway from the book is just how much inertia there is in Washington, and just how organized a movement needs to be in order to affect meaningful change. Yes, the LGBT movement won a series of political, legislative and/or legal battles on DOMA, DADT and marriage equality in recent years, but as Eleveld shows, those wins would not have happened so quickly — let alone happened at all — without a collection of efforts from both inside and outside of the Washington establishment. As she told me over the phone yesterday, winning battles for public opinion wasn’t enough; public support “doesn’t necessarily translate into what people do in Washington.”

This means that movements need to both move and capitalize on public opinion. The arc of history doesn’t bend toward justice by itself. More often than not, it has to be bent. Bloggers need to sweat what traditional media might consider small stuff, like when John Aravosis flagged the Obama campaign’s selection of Donnie McClurkin — a gospel singer who had vowed to fight “the curse of homosexuality” — for a “40 Days of Faith & Family” tour, describing the nod as “sucking up to anti-gay bigots and joining them on stage – no, giving them a stage.” Activists need to stage direct actions that generate headlines that make specific legislation a priority, like when GetEQUAL activists continuously interrupted President Obama’s speech at a fundraiser for Barbara Boxer calling for him to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Insider interest groups like the Human Rights Campaign need to establish relationships with members of Congress for when legislation like the Hate Crimes Act is introduced. Donors need to be willing to withhold money from politicians and political organizations that aren’t willing to fight for said legislation.

Without multi-front campaigns like these, inertia in Washington can and will prevent change. Even leaders who in their heart of hearts want to move ahead of the status quo won’t do so unless they feel that doing so is politically viable. President Obama appears to be no exception in this regard, holding out support for marriage equality by repeatedly saying he was “evolving” on the issue and at multiple points saying he wasn’t ready to “make news” on the issue before he finally announced his full support. In hindsight, it’s easy to see how late to the party he was, and how much he underestimated his ability to lead public opinion on the issue as opposed to simply following it. But as Eleveld said, by the time President Obama came around on marriage equality, the issue had become far larger than conventional wisdom held. As she told me:

Marriage equality was no longer just some constituency issue. It was an issue that spoke to the core of who the president was as a person. It was no longer just LGBT-specific…It was a broader progressive issue that many people were paying attention to — not just LGBT people. It became this marker of: “Is this really the guy that we elected in 2008? Because the guy we elected in 2008 was not only supposed to be true to himself — and in that sense, very candid with the voters — but also ahead of the curve. And he’s clearly not ahead of the curve anymore on this.”

That was only a political reality because the LGBT movement pushed the curve ahead, constantly reminding the president that their support — in coverage, in dollars, in votes and so on  — was not a guarantee. He had to earn it. As the LGBT movement looks to the battles ahead (the Equality Act, which the White House is not yet ready to endorse, comes to mind), it’s beyond important to keep this in mind. It isn’t enough that the public already thinks that anti-LGBT housing and hiring discrimination are already (and rightly) illegal; it will take coordinated pressure on the politicians who we count as friends in order to make it so.

We can’t wait.

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Blount County, Tennessee to vote on whether to ask God to spare them from coming anti-gay wrath http://americablog.com/2015/10/blount-county-tn-to-vote-on-whether-to-ask-god-to-spare-them-from-coming-anti-gay-wrath.html http://americablog.com/2015/10/blount-county-tn-to-vote-on-whether-to-ask-god-to-spare-them-from-coming-anti-gay-wrath.html#comments Mon, 05 Oct 2015 18:42:45 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=132258 Every time the government endorses religion, an angel rips of a fish's legs.

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Karen Miller, a local elected official in Blount County, Tennessee, isn’t sure what kind of wrathful vengeance God has planned for America after legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide. But she does want God to know that it isn’t her or her God-fearing friends’ fault, and that she should be spared from the inevitable razing of American civilization.

Tomorrow evening, Miller will introduce a resolution affirming the county’s commitment to resisting “unlawful orders, no matter their source – whether from a military commander, a federal judge, or the United States Supreme Court,” asking God to put their county in the eye of the coming hurricane of fire and brimstone:

America, circa 2016, except Blount County, Tennessee, via Wikimedia Commons

America, circa 2016, except Blount County, Tennessee, via Wikimedia Commons

With a firm reliance upon the providence of Almighty God WE the BLOUNT COUNTY LEGISLATURE call upon all of the Officers of the State of Tennessee, the Governor, the Attorney General, and the members of the Tennessee Legislature, to join US, and utilize all authority within their power to protect Natural Marriage, from lawless court opinions, AND THE financial schemes of the enemies of righteousness wherever the source AND defend the Moral Standards of Tennessee.

WE adopt this Resolution before God that He pass us by in His Coming Wrath and not destroy our County as He did Sodom and Gomorrah and the neighboring cities. As the Passover Lamb was a means of salvation to the ancient Children of Israel, so we stand upon the safety of the Lamb of God to save us.

WE adopt this Resolution begging His favor in light of the fact that we have been forced to comply and recognize that the State of Tennessee, like so many other God-fearing States, MAY have fallen prey to a lawless judiciary in legalizing what God and the Bible expressly forbids.

The resolution, entitled “Resolution condemning judicial tyranny and petitioning God’s mercy,” doesn’t have any legal implications. However, the government-sanctioned prayer presumably only works if all of the town’s residents agree to not do any gay stuff — when the government passes a resolution, it does so in its entire jurisdiction’s name. This is one of the many reasons why governments making appeals to one specific deity are problematic: unless everyone in the jurisdiction is on board, someone’s bound to slip up and ruin it for everyone else. If this resolution passes, and anyone in the town then gets gay married, the town as a whole will have lied and sinned against the family. Double wrath of God be upon them.

As an aside, what exactly does Miller mean by “financial schemes”? Does she mean that the Big Gay Mafia crashed the financial system, like Matt Staver at Liberty Counsel does? Or did she throw in a reference to the greedy Jewish cabal as an aside, because this resolution didn’t cover enough Christian supremacist ground?

Not that it matters in the grand scheme of things, because it carries no legal requirements, but here’s hoping the resolution is voted down. Every time the government endorses religion, an angel rips off a fish’s legs.

(h/t Joe.My.God.)

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