Turns out yesterday there was a big anti-gay demonstration right here in our back yard, in front of the Human Rights Campaign's building on Rhode Island Avenue. And by "big," I mean that approximately six to eight people turned out for it, according to observers. Some of the biggest names in the anti-gay movement spoke at it, including the founder and president of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality "Porno Pete" LaBarbera, Liberty Counsel's Matt Barber, and Mission America's Linda Harvey.
Here's the video of their speeches. Below is the rollicking commentary offered by Truth Wins Out.
TWO's comments are priceless:
0:10 Porno Pete says the “escalation of homosexual power” is bad for America.
0:45 Porno Pete also says that you could fill a small book with the hate crimes that have been “faked” over the years. Apparently the FBI and other organizations compiling statistics on hate crimes are part of the conspiracy?
1:00 ”Nature itself discriminates against homosexuality.” This is true, because in the thousands of species were homosexuality has been observed, there are also thousands of Porno Petes Of Land And Sea, with webbed feet and cloven hooves, flippers and prickly fur, standing by themselves in a corner, communicating by whalesong, howling at the moon and everything in between, about how gross their species-mates are for being gay.
1:40 Gay activists “meanly dismiss” the “reality” of ex-gay people. Usually, when we do that, it’s because we caught them in gay bars, etc.
2:00 Matt “Bam Bam” Barber speaks. He is quite boring.
2:55 Linda Harvey claims that there is only one standard for what is and what isn’t “sin,” which must be why the entirety of Christendom agrees on absolutely everything.
3:00 She then claims that we want people to “celebrate” the “stress and anxiety” of “gender confusion,” adding, “how wicked!” Actually, we want people to be able to live as they are, without fear, and when confronted with said anxiety, be met by a chorus of supportive voices, rather than the voices of fundamentalists like Linda Harvey telling them that what they are feeling is something they should be ashamed of and change.
3:15 Diane Gramley of the American Family Association of Pennsylvania with some boring, recycled words about “unnatural homosexual sex.”
3:57 Here is something truly insane. We are used to anti-gay activists claiming that there are thousands of “former homosexuals,” but yet they never can produce anyone for an interview who isn’t currently on the payroll of an anti-gay organization. It seems being “free from homosexuality” only sort of works when there is a paycheck attached. But Patrick Mangan of Citizens for Community Values of Indiana makes a truly insane claim when he suggests that “it is estimated that there are more that have come OUT of [homosexuality] than are in it.” Really? Estimated by whom, please?! Please provide source material for this suggestion that there are millions of straight people walking around the suburbs who “used to be gay.”
4:57 Finally, we have Eric Holmberg of Apologetics Group, doubling down on the crazy. You see, Americans are being sold a “bill of goods” on homosexuality. Listing off standard fare talking points about how gays aren’t born that way, Holmberg suddenly lists as a “fallacy” the idea that “homosexuals are not attracted to straight people.” Um, what? People are attracted to people. Sometimes straight people are attracted to gay people. (Raise your hand if you are a straight woman who dated a gay guy before he came out of the closet.) Sometimes gay people are attracted to straight people. I suspect that his statement is related to the Religious Right freak-outs over things like communal showers in the military, though, and the underlying suggestion that gay people are predators. The truth, of course, is that people have nothing to worry about in communal showers, as the same standards still apply: trying to have sex with someone who doesn’t want it is assault. It does not matter if the perpetrator is gay or straight. Otherwise, normal, well-adjusted people see people they think are hot all the time, and somehow refrain from trying to force sex on them. It is always strange to me, though, that the people who freak out over such things tend not to be very attractive, themselves.
I wonder how long the funding will hold up for this sort of thing.
The Nutty Ones have been raising a squall because the IRS used political words like "Tea Party" in a group's name as cues to investigate whether the group had possibly violated laws regulating political campaigning by tax-exempt nonprofits. The teabaggers, who are naturally paranoid anyway, started screaming "the government is out to get us!" --even though none of the conservative groups were denied their applications.
And in fact, that seems to be the real scandal. Many of those groups should have been rejected.
The Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights covered the story and looked into it quite a bit further. The first part of their article is common knowledge, so I'll skip down. I'm going to copy a big chunk.
The Inspector General’s report found that in the “majority of cases, we agreed that the applications submitted included indications of significant political campaign intervention.” (p. 10). In fact, only 91 of the 296, roughly 31%, of the applications reviewed for the report did not have “indications of significant political campaign intervention.” In other words, more than two thirds of those flagged for processing by a team of specialists had those indications.
IREHR Investigation Reveals Further Questionable Activity
That sort of political campaign intervention would normally disqualify a group from 501(c)(4) status, but the deluge of Tea Party applications combined with the politicization of the process has allowed them to slip through. A closer look by IREHR at the activities of some of the Tea Party groups that are currently under review or have received non-profit status from the IRS, reveals a difficult and dangerous situation.
The First Coast Tea Party Inc. of Jacksonville, Florida, for example, which applied for 501(c)(4) status in 2009 and received it in 2011. Commenting about the recent IRS controversy on Facebook, the group declared “We file a tax return, account for every penny.. We do not endorse candidates that is a no no.” Yet the group’s activities included public bragging about directly helping Republican campaigns. In an August 30, 2012 Facebook post, for instance, the group advertised a Jacksonville rally for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, adding, “bring your chairs and your signs, make sure they know that the First Coast Tea Party is and has been helping their campaign.”
Three weeks later the group declared a “state of emergency” on Facebook, pleading with supporters to campaign for Romney, “FLORIDA FRIENDS, IF YOU LIVE IN ANY OF THESE 3 COUNTIES GET OFF THE COUCH NOW, GET YOUR FRIENDS OFF THE COUCH. GET TO THE REPUBLICAN HEADQUARTERS AND OFFER AND THEN DO SOME WORK. PHONES, (YOU CAN EVEN DO THESE CALLS FROM HOME) AND WALK AND KNOCK. NOW. WE CANNOT LOSE FLORIDA TO OBAMA.. NOW. THIS IS MOST CRITICAL.” [Emphasis in Original] These weren’t posts from some random supporter on the group’s Facebook page, they were posts from the official account of the organization.
Similarly, the Louisville Tea Party was granted 501(c)(4) status in 2009. Nevertheless, it published a list of “officially tea party endorsed candidates for the 2011 Kentucky primary.” They also published an article “The Rationale for Romney-Ryan,” arguing for Tea Partiers to vote for the Republican candidate.
Then there’s the Katy Tea Party Patriots, which filed for 501(c)(4) non-profit status in 2009. This group actually ran an “Oust Obama 2012” campaign, organizing block-watching with the Fort Bend GOP, and phone-banking against Obama at GOP headquarters in Sugarland and Houston, Texas. Still featured on the frontpage of the group’s website at the time this article was written is an October 4, 2012 article entitled, “Our Country's Future” by Katy Tea Party Patriots President, Darcy Kahrhoff. She urged members to vote for Gov. Romney. "Please take time to talk with friends and family you may have living out of state, and try to convince them to vote for Governor Romney, especially if you have friends and family in Florida, Colorado, or Ohio. Also, find a Senatorial candidate to support in these states, and go to FreedomWorks to phone bank for these patriots. Everything you can do to help will matter. We can, and we must, win this!"
Not to be outdone, is the Central Valley Tea Party Inc. This regional California Tea Party group was granted the much more politically limiting IRS 501(c)(3) tax status back in 2009. It should be noted that this tax-status explicitly prohibits partisan political activity. According the IRS, “Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. The prohibition applies to all campaigns including campaigns at the federal, state and local level. Violation of this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes.”
Despite this (c)(3) designation, the group appears to have been involved in partisan political activity. Currently, the frontpage of the group's website features "upcoming events" instructing members to "Volunteer for Measure G," and "Volunteer for Vidak for Senate.” In the latter case, the website simply tells members, "Please volunteer to do phone banking or precinct walking to help win the election."
Further stretching IRS regulations, the group’s newsletter endorsed and advertised conservative candidates. In an article in the October 2012 issue of the Central Valley Tea Party Times entitled, "Why You Should Be Excited to Vote for Mitt Romney," Paul Szopa told fellow Central Valley Tea Partiers to get out and campaign for GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, "So it’s time to get excited to vote for the better candidate. It’s time to talk him up to friends and family. It’s time to join with groups like Operation Swing State (www.operationswingstate.org) and make calls in support of his candidacy." The group’s “Voter Guide” published on the front page of the newsletter is even less ambiguous, listing all the candidates that the group recommended as well as their positions on all of the ballot measures.
Issues of the publication even featured advertisements for conservative campaigns. The April-June 2012 edition of the Central Valley Tea Party Times features an advertisement for Whelan for Congress on page 27, another for Frank Bigelow for the 5th District California Assembly seat on page 38, and an ad "Elect Richard J. (Rick) Farinelli, Madera County Supervisor District III" on page 39. And the August-September 2010 edition of the Central Valley Tea Party Times features an ad for Diane Lenning a write-in candidate for CA state superintendent of Public Instruction. So does the October-November 2010 edition.
Another Tea Party group granted the 501(c)(3) non-profit status by the IRS, is the Tifton, Georgia-based Tiftarea Tea Party Patriots, Inc., which received the designation in 2010. The group also appears to have engaged in openly political activity, including publicly endorsing candidates. On October 9, 2012, in a post on the group’s website “Are you ready to vote?” the group offered up an endorsement for Romney, “The choice is simple. Obama has stated, He will transform America and acted to do such. Everything this Administration stands for, is Government and control of every aspect of life. This is the pipe dream of a Socialist’s mentality, for in their eyes, you the individual, do not know and cannot do, what is right, so someone else has to make decisions for you, to ensure, you do not make the wrong choices or actions. Or you chose Romney, who does not want to transform America, the greatest nation in history of human kind. He wants to allow, the individual, to have the right, to succeed and fail on his own regard, while ensuring those freedoms, given by our Creator and to assure those inalienable rights, written about in the Declaration of Independence are retained by their proper owners, ‘We the People.’”
These are but a few of the many examples of political intervention by Tea Party non-profits that IREHR has catalogued. There are many, many more. They’re not difficult to find. Rather than the so-called scandal cooked up by Tea Party groups, the real criticism of the IRS may be that it has let so many of these groups get away with what are apparently egregious violations.
I play in a band that performs in bars and restaurants. The first week of March we were playing in a place that has a TV over the bar, which they keep tuned to Fox News. I remember standing there on a break watching it -- everything was about Benghazi. Benghazi? That consulate in Libya that had been attacked six months earlier? What is the news story there?
I watched Rivera, O'Reilly, Hannity, and a bunch of pretty people I did not recognize, as they spoke seriously to the camera. There was nothing else, only Benghazi. The sound was down, I couldn't hear what they were saying, but it was clearly very serious.
A couple of weeks ago, mid-May now, we played in that place again, same thing, Fox on the TV over the bar. Same thing, nothing but Benghazi. I mean, nothing else. According to a UMD database, there were 64 attacks on American diplomatic targets during George W. Bush's term as President. Do you remember any news network devoting their entire programming day to any one of those?
I don't watch the news on television a whole lot. I'll catch about fifteen minutes of it before bed, then fall asleep. As far as I could tell, the issue had something to do with some talking points that had been revised. Maybe Hillary Clinton was supposed to have read every State Department cable message, and she "ignored" one. Is that it?
A couple of weeks ago I noticed The Post was putting Benghazi stories on page one, like "Critics of the administration say that ..." Erin Burnett on CNN started carrying it, as if it were a real news story. Congressmen started holding hearings about the talking points. Republicans were saying it was "bigger than Watergate."
Dick Cheney this week actually said, "I think it’s one of the worst incidences, frankly, that I can recall in my career."
Think about that one. If you concentrate real hard, you might be able to recall another incident during Cheney's career that was just as bad. Hint: it happened on the same date as the Benghazi attack. Hint: Benghazi was attacked September 11th, 2012. Give up?
Some government emails were quoted on ABC and other news media, showing that the administration was trying to make themselves look good, as the media tried to turn this into an actual news story. But it turned out that ABC had never read the emails and was misquoting them to malign the President's administration.
Honestly, the point there seemed to be to neutralize Hillary Clinton as a candidate in 2016 by smearing her with this surprise attack on a remote US consulate. I don't blame a politician for campaigning, but really, don't these people have something else to do? Doesn't it get embarrassing at some point?
Ah, but that's only one scandal. The word now carries an automatic "s" on the end.
The IRS is supposed to evaluate whether groups who apply for tax-exempt status are political or not. Do you suppose having the name of a political party in your name would be a clue? Well they asked for more information from groups with the words "Tea Party" and related jingoistic terms in their organization's name. They approved them all, in fact the only group that was turned down was a liberal one, but still...
... the Acting Commissioner of the IRS got fired yesterday. Do you remember Shirley Sherrod? I'm just saying, go back and look at that one.
Ah, but that's only two scandals.
The Associated Press is up in arms because the government subpoenaed some reporters' phone records. Someone had leaked information that jeopardized a sensitive operation, thought to involve preventing a terror attack in Yemen; they had put people's lives in danger, and the government wanted to find out who did it, so they got phone records to see who was talking to who, and when.
But just a minute. Bradley Manning has been held since July, 2010, for leaking information. Where is the AP when his rights are violated? The Vice President has called Wikileaks founder Julian Assange a "terrorist" for leaking information, why didn't the AP stand up for him?
A: Because they are interested in preserving their own power. Duh.
Just watch. You will see that all of these so-called "scandals" will turn out to be nothing. It is a feedback loop in the news cycle, journalism has come around and is swallowing its own tail and choking on it, loudly.
This is a textbook example of how the rightwing echo chamber works. They started shouting Benghazi-Benghazi-Benghazi until the reverberation drowned out the source of the noise and took on a life of its own, growing louder and louder. Then they added IRS-IRS-IRS and let that reverberate with the other stuff. By the time you get to AP-AP-AP it takes almost no effort for the echoes to spill over into the media and into the public's mind.
Now that plural word "scandals" is everywhere, people can hardly keep them straight, because they are all bull-oney, they are all fabricated controversies, but the sound of the word scandals-scandals-scandals reverberates through the halls of journalism, summarizing the roar that preceded it.
The poor guy on the street can't follow this. He doesn't know if the IRS was listening to AP journalists' phone calls, or if the journalists had been hassled by the government for calling Benghazi an act of terrorism, or what. But he knows there is something bad, the President has done something wrong, he's been caught doing bad things, it must be pretty dang awful if they're talking about it all day long.
America elected a President in 2000 and 2004 and started a couple of wars based on this kind of self-amplifying nonsense. Not a word needs to be true or have substance to it, you just say it over and over and eventually it spills out into the realm of apparent truths. The news starts with, "Some politicians are saying that ..." which is nothing, not news, it is only a report that somebody has said something. Eventually news sources that don't cover the noise machine are accused of bias, and nobody wants that.
That's how the echo chamber works. And it works very well.
Today is the deadline for the government to appeal its politically-motivated age restriction on Plan B, the "day after" pill.
Plan B is a dose of levonorgestrel, an artificial female hormone, that can be taken after intercourse to ensure that the ovum is not fertilized. It is sold as emergency contraception and is needed by women who have been inseminated and need to prevent pregnancy.
Girls hit puberty, the age when they can become pregnant, at the age of ten or eleven, on average. Yet against scientific advice, the Obama administration wants to limit access to Plan B for young women under fifteen.
FDA scientists found that Plan B is safe and recommended making it available to all women over the counter. But Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, in a political move, officially made it available for women over the age of fifteen only.
Some reproductive rights groups filed suit, and on April 5th, a court ruled that Plan B must be made available over-the-counter without restrictions to all women. Judge Edward Korman stated that Sibelius had used “bad faith and improper political influence,” and “it is hardly clear that the Secretary had the power to issue the order, and if she did have that authority, her decision was arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable.”
The administration said they would appeal the ruling.
The Washington Post takes the story as of this morning:
The government is running out of time to try to halt implementation of a federal judge’s ruling that would lift age restrictions for women and girls wanting to buy the morning-after pill.
U.S. District Judge Edward Korman in Brooklyn last week refused to delay enforcement of his month-old decision while the government challenges his ruling, but said it would have until Monday to appeal to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan.
Korman said politics is behind efforts by Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius to block the unrestricted sale of the Plan B One-Step morning-after pill and its generic competitors.
Justice Department lawyers want the ruling stayed while they appeal.
This was an opportunity for the Obama administration to take a stand on the side of women. It was a good opportunity for the Democrats to fine-tune the crisp line between the "war on women" and policies that support women and their right to determine their own outcomes. Somehow "failing to file the paperwork on time" does not seem like quite the bold statement we would wish from them.
Parents may live in a dream-world where their children consult them about every milestone they reach along the path to adulthood. Ask them this: did you tell your parents when you lost your virginity? Okay, so take it from there, and follow the logic through reality.
Children should be taught the options in a good, comprehensive sex-ed program that starts well before puberty. They should understand how reproduction works, where babies come from, and how to prevent pregnancy until you are ready to have a family. Methods include abstinence, condoms, birth control pills and other methods -- including Plan B, in an emergency. They should know about it and they should be able to use it when they need to, without asking some grown-up for permission.
President Obama has stated that "as the father of two daughters," he supports the age restriction, and said he thinks "most parents" would agree with his policy, which could increase the likelihood of their daughters becoming pregnant if they were to have sex without a condom as adolescents. [ Note: that sentence was updated to clarify what part the President did and did not say himself. ]
A fourteen-year-old girl is almost certainly not ready to be a mother, and it is crazy to intentionally engineer policies so that younger girls are denied access to this important medication. Will the administration let this deadline pass? We'll know by tonight. The administration could take a stand on the side of women, or it could fail to meet a paperwork deadline, with the same effect.
This past week one of the most important leaders of the "ex-gay" movement revealed that he is not straight at all. John Paulk, whose picture you see here on the cover of Newsweek, wrote a letter of apology, which was posted by GLAAD and other sites.
The "ex-gay" movement touched public life in Montgomery County, Maryland, when Peter Sprigg told a crowd protesting the new sex-ed curriculum in 2005 about "the myth that people cannot change their their sexual orientation and in fact, we have thousands, tens of thousands of former homosexuals around this country who will testify to the possibility of change in their sexual orientation and my understanding is that the committee ignored all evidence in that regard." Our lives were further touched when PFOX -- Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays -- (but wouldn't that be PFOX-GAG?) joined in lawsuits that cost our county tens of thousands of dollars in lawyer fees.
A lot has been said about this letter. Many gay and lesbian people have struggled in their lives with the hope that their sexual orientation could be changed, and people like John Paulk, groups like PFOX, encouraged them to keep trying, to feel ashamed of the way nature made them and try to be something they are not.
Here is the letter:
For the better part of ten years, I was an advocate and spokesman for what’s known as the “ex-gay movement,” where we declared that sexual orientation could be changed through a close-knit relationship with God, intensive therapy and strong determination. At the time, I truly believed that it would happen. And while many things in my life did change as a Christian, my sexual orientation did not.
So in 2003, I left the public ministry and gave up my role as a spokesman for the “ex-gay movement.” I began a new journey. In the decade since, my beliefs have changed. Today, I do not consider myself “ex-gay” and I no longer support or promote the movement. Please allow me to be clear: I do not believe that reparative therapy changes sexual orientation; in fact, it does great harm to many people.
I know that countless people were harmed by things I said and did in the past, Parents, families, and their loved ones were negatively impacted by the notion of reparative therapy and the message of change. I am truly, truly sorry for the pain I have caused.
From the bottom of my heart I wish I could take back my words and actions that caused anger, depression, guilt and hopelessness. In their place I want to extend love, hope, tenderness, joy and the truth that gay people are loved by God.
Today, I see LGBT people for who they are–beloved, cherished children of God. I offer my most sincere and heartfelt apology to men, women, and especially children and teens who felt unlovable, unworthy, shamed or thrown away by God or the church.
I want to offer my sincere thanks to everyone who encouraged me to take this initial step of transparency. Even while promoting “ex-gay” programs, there were those who called me on my own words and actions. I’m sure I didn’t appreciate it at the time, but they have helped me to realize this truth about who I am.
This is a life transition that has been and will continue to be, challenging. Sadly, my marriage of 20 years is in the process of ending. I want to take the time to make sure my next actions come from a place of truth and authenticity. Therefore, I’m drastically limiting my public engagement until my own personal life can be settled. After that I eagerly anticipate giving back to the community.
Finally, I know there are still accounts of my “ex-gay” testimony out there being publicized by various groups, including two books that I wrote about my journey. I don’t get any royalties from these publications, and haven’t since I left the ministry nearly ten years ago. I discourage anyone from purchasing and selling these books or promoting my “ex-gay” story because they do not reflect who I am now or what I believe today.
Now and then one passes and it hits home. Jonathan Winters was a pure stream of cool creativity, splashing right from the source. He has been part of our lives, it seems like, forever.
Look at him on Jack Paar. His prop is a stick.
I played in the band once at a party he attended in Santa Barbara, California. Gigantic mansion, lighted statuary on lawn after lawn, Rollses and Jags and Mercedes out front -- and one rusty Ford station wagon. Yup, that was Jonathan's car.
You went in and there were waitresses in their little French maid outfits carrying around trays of stuff. The band set up, and at that whole party only two people came over to talk to us: Larry Hagman and Jonathan Winters. Hagman was having a little trouble standing and talking at the same time, but he seemed like a nice enough guy. Jonathan Winters, on the other hand, may have had a few himself, I don't know, but he chatted with us like he'd known us for years. He got into a story about a guy peeing on an electric fence, as I recall -- this was many years ago -- and he had us rolling on the floor. He was just like he is in this video, he was riding on a wave of pure brilliance.
I thought that Jack Paar video was funny, and then I saw this one, from Dean Martin's show:
There are a few people in the world who are, let's say, verbal jazz musicians. They can improvise in the linguistic medium and invoke the full range of emotions with skill and dignity. Jonathan Winters was the best of the best. It is sad to imagine a world without him.
There was an important court ruling this week about Plan B, the medicine that a woman can take to prevent pregnancy after intercourse. The LA Times had the story:
A federal court judge has ordered the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to lift controversial restrictions on the so-called morning-after pill, saying females of all ages should have unimpeded access to emergency birth control.
In a ruling released Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge Edward Korman directed the FDA to make levonorgestrel-based contraceptives available over the counter, and without a prescription. The ruling overturns a 2011 decision by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius requiring that girls under age 17 obtain a prescription for the Plan B One-Step contraceptive or its equivalents.
In his strongly worded ruling, Korman called Sebelius' decision “politically motivated, scientifically unjustified and contrary to agency precedent.” No serious health risks have been associated with the drug’s use among adults and children, Korman wrote, and even the FDA acknowledged that the drug’s “safety and efficacy in the pediatric population have been established.” Plan B must be available to all without a prescription, judge rules
The government has been making Plan B hard to get by dragging its feet. The medicine meets all the standards for unrestricted over-the-counter sales, but politically motivated leaders in the Bush and Obama administrations have ignored the science, preferring to moralize about it.
The presumptuousness of it is mind-boggling. There is no rationale for restricting access to this medicine that is not ugly. If something has happened to make a woman believe that she could become unintentionally pregnant, and all she has to do is take a pill to prevent it, it is unbelievable that anyone thinks the government should tell her she can't take that pill.
It doesn't matter if she's fifteen, or if she's married, she doesn't need to explain whether she was raped or a condom tore or what the circumstances are, it's not your-and-my business how she got into the situation, a woman should not be forced to bring a child into this world as punishment.
There is nothing dangerous about Plan B, and if you're afraid teenagers are going to misunderstand what it's for, the solution is better sex education.
In Southern Maryland yesterday I saw a church with a sign out front that said, "If the government makes sin legal, that doesn't make it right." And I thought, that is a church that is on the right track. Let the preacher preach that the world out there is full of people making bad choices, and let him lead his people to do things right, however he defines that. If his flock disagrees with him, they are free to choose a different church. The church sign, and I suppose the sermon he is delivering as I type this, support the fundamental concept of separation of church and state. That is a good thing.
There may be people who feel that a woman's sexual purity is so important that someone should be born, an entire human life should be lived, as punishment for her moral failure. If you feel that way, then you should band together with others who agree, and you can start a church and apply social pressure to one another. You can have any rules you want, you can oppose all sex that does not result in procreation, for instance, you can make alcohol a sin, playing cards, women's ankles can be deemed too provocative to display in public. America lets you make up any crazy rules for living that you want, call it a "religion," and nobody will interfere with your right to impose whatever restrictions on your members' lives that you like.
But the deal is, your restrictions only apply to your group. You can punish your members however you want, but your church has absolutely no authority over anybody else. If women walk in public with their ankles showing, it is up to your members not to look, you do not get to pass a law to force women to conceal their ankles.
In the same way, if you think women should be punished for being raped, you are free under the US Constitution to form a religion and share your beliefs with like-minded citizens. You can call contraception a sin and make sure your church members do not use any form of it, and the rest of us won't try to stop you. We might joke about you, like when people say "Q: Why don't Baptists have sex standing up? A: Because they're afraid somebody will think they're dancing." But nobody is going to try to convince somebody that dancing is actually kind of fun and harmless, if their religion forbids it.
Religious people vote, and of course they tend to vote for people who believe as they do, and in some parts of the country certain religious groups are a majority or close to it. So politicians say and do things to win their votes. That leads to the theocratic situation where government expresses a particular religious temperament, instead of protecting the freedom of all.
Luckily the people who formed the United States government were smart enough to put in some checks and balances, so that politicians' stupid campaign promises would not become law for the rest of us. And now a judge has ruled that pregnancy will not be a form of punishment for women, including young women, who do not guard their chastity sufficiently. Good.
77 Non-Religious Reasons to Support Man/Woman Marriage
I got a link to this thing recently, it's been going around, and you might get a kick out of it. It is a flyer entitled "77 Reasons to Support Man/Woman Marriage," posted at Eagle Forum but originating with a certain Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, PhD, an economist who founded the Ruth Institute -- you can purchase mass quantities of this pamphlet there. The Ruth Institute is a spin-off of the National Organization for Marriage.
I notice that our little suburban Maryland county is mentioned in Reason #43: "Montgomery County, Maryland, removed all references to gender in the county code. The words 'father' and 'mother,' 'husband' and 'wife' are becoming suspect." I think I have figured out what they are talking about. There was a 2008 press release HERE, which describes our county's gender-identity nondiscrimination bill by saying "... the Montgomery County Board voted to render the citizens of their county legally androgynous by removing all references to gender from the county code ..." It really says something when a statement like this can be elevated to one of the 77 reasons. I'll bet the other 76 are just as good.
The flyer itself is posted in a beautiful PDF format with a tasteful background of "US Route 77" signs. It does not seem possible to copy from the original, but luckily some other bloggers have transcribed the text. Here they are, seventy-seven non-religious reasons to support man/woman marriage:
1. The essential public purpose of marriage is to attach mothers and fathers to their children and to one another.
2. Man/woman marriage allows children to know and be known by their biological parents. Same sex marriage separates children from at least one parent.
3. Man/woman marriage sets the foundation for children to have the same biological, legal, and care parents. Same sex marriage separates these functions among different people.
4. Man/woman marriage provides children with access to their genetic, cultural, and social heritage.
5. Even though it is not always possible, children have the best life chances when they are raised by their biological married parents.
6. The research in this area is preliminary. we don’t have studies that last long enough to show the long term impact of being raised in a same sex household.
7. Much of the research in this area does not use a representative sample of same sex couples. People volunteer to be in the study. Volunteers are often more affluent, more educated, and more likely to be better parents regardless of sexual orientation.
8. Each member of the same sex couple may be a fine parent. But two good mothers do not add up to a father.
9. This looks at marriage from the adult point of view. It reveals just how deeply same sex marriage inverts the purpose of marriage.
10. Look at marriage from the child’s point of view. Not every marriage produces children. But every child has parents.
11. Every child is entitled to a relationship with both parents.
12. Every child is entitled to know and be known by his parents.
13. No child can possibility protect these entitlements on his or her own.
14. Adult society must protect the child’s right to affiliation with both parents.
15. Adult society must protect these rights through prevention of harm, not through restitution after the fact.
16. Man/woman marriage is the institution adult society uses to pro-actively protect the rights of all children to affiliation with both parents.
17. Same sex marriage changes marriage from a child-institution to an adult-centered institution.
18. Without man/woman marriage, there will be no institution specifically protecting the rights of children to be in relationship with both parents.
19. Adopted and foster children tell us that they long for relationship with their biological parents.
20. The law in most states helps adopted children find their birth parents.
21. Deliberately conceiving a child with the life plan that he or she will never have a relationship with his or her father is unjust and cruel to the child.
22. If the love between adults were the only important factor, we would expect stepparents to be interchangeable with biological parents. But this is not generally the case.
23. Children in stepparent households, on average, have more emotional problems and lower school achievement than children of married parents.
24. Discipline can be complicated in stepparent households compared with households with married biological parents. Some biological parents exclude the stepparent from discipline, saying “they are my kids, not yours.”
25. Some children in stepparent homes expertly pit the parents against each other.
26. Loyalties in stepparent households can be complicated. The biological parent can feel torn between commitment to the child and commitment to the spouse. Intact biological families are more likely to feel that loving their child is also an act of love for the child’s other parent.
27. Research shows that stepfathers spend less time with their spouses’ children than do biological fathers. Remarried mothers, on average, spend less time with their own children. The child and the spouse become competitors for the mother’s attention.
28. Same sex parenting means that one of the adults will have no biological relationship to the child, and may be more like a stepparent than a biological parent. We can’t assume the adults’ love for each other will resolve the complications inherent in stepparent families.
29. Same sex marriage makes an implicit statement that mothers and fathers are interchangeable, and that sex is irrelevant to parenting. The burden of proof should be on those who make this strong, nonintuitive claim.
30. Even same sex couples believe sex is relevant: the sex of their partners. A gay man insists on a male sex partner. He is not satisfied with a female sex partner, no matter how masculine she may be. A lesbian insists on a female sex partner. Even a very feminine man will not do.
31. It is unjust for the law to decree that adults are entitled to have what they want, namely, partners of the same sex, while children have to accept whatever we give them.
32. Mothers and fathers each make unique contributions to the child’s development. Father absence creates risks in children that mother absence does not create.
33. Teenaged girls without fathers are at risk for early sexual activity, multiple sex partners, out of wedlock pregnancy, and sexually transmitted diseases.
34. Teenaged boys without fathers are at risk for juvenile delinquency, violence, criminal activity, gang membership and incarceration.
35. Pre-teen girls not living with their biological fathers get their menstrual periods earlier than girls who live with their fathers. Getting an early period is associated with a host of health problems including unhealthy weight gain, breast cancer, cancer of the reproductive system, and emotional problems (such as body image disorders, depression, anxiety, aggression and substance abuse) not to mention early sexual activity.
36. Children need help and guidance in developing their sexual identities. Same sex marriage will make this task more difficult, if not legally forbidden.
37. The claim that mothers and fathers are interchangeable will affect men and women differently.
38. When a child is born a mother is always somewhere close by. Fathers are intrinsically less connected to children than mothers. The essential purpose of man/woman marriage is to attach mothers and fathers to their children and to each other. Same sex marriage implies that the attachment of fathers to their children is irrelevant.
39. Countries with same sex marriage symbolically diminish fatherhood. The Province of British Columbia, Canada changed its birth certificates. They have a place for the mother's name and a check-off box for the “other parent/father.”
40. The United Kingdom used to have a requirement that unmarried women could not use artificial reproductive technology unless they could show that the child's need for a father would be met. They dropped this requirement after instituting same sex marriage, for fear of offending lesbian couples.
41. Once same sex marriage becomes legally and socially acceptable, more women will decide to raise children together. They will view this as easier than putting forth the effort of crossing the gender divide and cooperating with a man through marriage.
42. In today's climate, we can imagine people looking at two women raising children together and saying, “See, it is just as I have always thought: women don't need a man. Children don't really need fathers.” It is almost inconceivable that people would look at two men raising children together and conclude that children don’t need mothers.
43. Same sex marriage will further marginalize gendered language and gender roles. In Scotland, schools stopped celebrating Fathers Day. Montgomery County, Maryland, removed all references to gender in the county code. The words “father” and “mother,” “husband” and “wife” are becoming suspect.
44. No one has a right to have a child. Children are not objects, to which other people have rights. Children are persons, with rights of their own.
45. We will not be able to maintain a free society if some people come into being as objects, created by other people for their own purposes.
46. Artificial reproductive technology violates the dignity of the child.
47. Using donated sperm or eggs necessarily involves the alienation of the child from one or both parents.
48. Children who were conceived by artificial insemination with donor sperm often experience a sense of loss from not knowing their fathers.
49. Advocates of the unlimited use of artificial reproductive technology argue “our children will be fine, because we wanted these children so badly.” Turn this statement around: “We got to manufacture another human being, because we wanted to.” It no longer sounds so appealing.
50. Same sex marriage creates an entitlement to the use of artificial reproductive technology.
51. An “entitlement” to the use of artificial reproductive technology means that anyone with money gets to do anything they want. This cannot be correct, from any moral or religious perspective. Yet same sex marriage advocacy is driving the law in this direction.
52. The state creates same sex marriage by saying that marriage is the union of any two persons, instead of the union of a man and a woman. Same sex marriage affects everyone because the new legal definition applies to everyone.
53. Genderless marriage will drive out gendered marriage. Same sex marriage transforms marriage from a gender-based institution to a gender-neutral institution.
54. Judges who have imposed same sex marriage have made statements that appear superficially plausible in the context of same sex marriage, but which are certainly false as general statements.
55. The judges who imposed same sex marriage in Iowa stated, “The research … suggests that the traditional notion that children need a mother and a father to be raised into healthy, well-adjusted adults is based more on stereotype than anything else.” This is not true as a general statement.
56. The judge who overturned California’s Proposition 8 stated, “Gender no longer forms an essential part of marriage; marriage under the law is a union of equals.” The first statement assumes what needs to be proven. The second statement creates a false dichotomy, suggesting that unless gender is irrelevant, marriage is necessarily something other than a union of equals.
57. If enough judges say enough implausible things, people will lose respect for the law.
58. Creating one legal institution for both same and opposite sex couples requires the law to strip away all the essential public purposes of marriage and leaves only the inessential private purposes of marriage.
59. The judge who overturned California’s Proposition 8 stated, “Marriage is the state recognition and approval of a couple's choice to live with each other, to remain committed to one another and to form a household based on their own feelings about one another and to join in an economic partnership and support one another and any dependents.” By this definition, college roommates or members of clubs count as “married.”
60. By the time the activists are finished, there will be nothing left of marriage but a government registry of friendships.
61. Man/woman marriage is the institution that attaches mothers and fathers to their children. Same sex marriage transforms marriage into an institution that separates children from at least one of their parents.
62. Same sex marriage opens the door to children having more than 2 legal parents, as it has in Canada.
63. Same sex marriage routinely places biological parents on the same legal footing with adults who have no genetic relationship to the child.
64. Same sex marriage eliminates the legal principle that biology is the primary means of establishing parental rights and responsibilities.
65. Some other principle must take the place of the biological principle. That principle will be the state assignment of parental rights and responsibilities.
66. Judges in Washington State created a four-part test to determine whether an unrelated adult counts as a child’s “de facto parent.” These determinations require family courts to examine the most private parts of the family’s life.
67. Same sex marriage undermines the legal principle that children are entitled to a relationship with both parents.
68. Same sex marriage separates children from at least one of their parents, not due to extraordinary circumstances, as arise in adoption, but as a routine procedure.
69. Adoption currently exists to give children the parents they need, not to give adults the children they want.
70. Same sex marriage is a creation of the state. Man/woman marriage is an organic institution arising spontaneously from society.
71. The state will have to protect its creation of same sex marriage. Man/woman marriage can sustain itself.
72. Governments will enforce the belief that same sex marriage is the equivalent of man/woman marriage.
73. Religious organizations of all kinds, potentially including schools, adoption agencies and marriage prep programs, may be subject to government regulation. Catholic adoption agencies have closed in Massachusetts and the District of Columbia. The Catholic Archdiocese of the District of Columbia stopped providing health insurance to all spouses, once same sex marriage was created by the city council.
74. Governments will enforce the belief that mothers and fathers are interchangeable.
75. In Massachusetts, a father objected to his kindergartner being read a picture book that featured two men as the romantic couple. The father was taken away in handcuffs from a public meeting. The state declared parents do not have a right to remove their children from lessons they find objectionable.
76. The government of Quebec insisted the Mennonites teach that homosexuality is normal to the handful of children in their little country school. The Mennonites refused, and at last notice, were considering leaving Quebec, rather than surrender the teaching of their children to the Provincial authorities.
77. Same sex marriage amounts to a hostile takeover of civil society by the state.
Caleb, who had been drinking with friends that night, got into his neighbor’s home in the 45900 block of Pullman Court through a back window, officials said.
Caleb’s home was two houses away. Family members say Caleb mistakenly entered the wrong home thinking it was his.
The homeowner, who authorities have not identified, heard his house alarm activate at about 2:30 a.m., officials said. When he went to investigate, he saw Caleb on his stairwell and shot him, officials said. Loudoun teen fatally shot by homeowner identified
Everybody knows we need guns on hand so homeowners can defend themselves. I doubt there will be any charges filed, after all there was an intruder in the guy's house; he has the right to defend himself, his family, his property. You might say it's lucky there was a gun handy, or who knows what might have happened?
We don't need to dwell on what a good kid this was, his accomplishments, the way people admired him, the hopeful life that stretched out before him into the future, the grieving parents, the friends who will always regret dropping him at the wrong place, the homeowner who has killed a child.
This is the way it's supposed to happen. A gun-owner defends his home. No problem. We are blessed to live in a country where we have the freedom to do these things.
The teenager had been drinking, and his friends drove him to his home in Sterling at about 2:30 a.m. Sunday, law enforcement officials said. But instead of walking into his house on the quiet cul-de-sac, they said, the teen entered a similar-looking red brick home in the same block.
Inside, the startled homeowner confronted the teen, authorities said, before shooting and killing him. The Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office described the shooting as a homeowner killing an unknown intruder, although officials released few details about the shooting.
The speech given by Sen. Robert Byrd on the Senate floor on March 19, 2003, just prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
March 19, 2003 -- - Byrd: I believe in this beautiful country. I have studied its roots and gloried in the wisdom of its magnificent Constitution. I have marveled at the wisdom of its founders and framers. Generation after generation of Americans has understood the lofty ideals that underlie our great Republic. I have been inspired by the story of their sacrifice and their strength.
But, today I weep for my country. I have watched the events of recent months with a heavy, heavy heart. No more is the image of America one of strong, yet benevolent peacekeeper. The image of America has changed. Around the globe, our friends mistrust us, our word is disputed, our intentions are questioned.
Instead of reasoning with those with whom we disagree, we demand obedience or threaten recrimination. Instead of isolating Saddam Hussein, we seem to have isolated ourselves. We proclaim a new doctrine of preemption which is understood by few and feared by many. We say that the United States has the right to turn its firepower on any corner of the globe which might be suspect in the war on terrorism. We assert that right without the sanction of any international body. As a result, the world has become a much more dangerous place.
We flaunt our superpower status with arrogance. We treat U.N. Security Council members like ingrates who offend our princely dignity by lifting their heads from the carpet. Valuable alliances are split. After war has ended, the United States will have to rebuild much more than the country of Iraq. We will have to rebuild America's image around the globe.
The case this Administration tries to make to justify its fixation with war is tainted by charges of falsified documents and circumstantial evidence. We cannot convince the world of the necessity of this war for one simple reason. This is a war of choice.
There is no credible information to connect Saddam Hussein to 9/11. The twin towers fell because a world-wide terrorist group, al-Qaida, with cells in over 60 nations, struck at our wealth and our influence by turning our own planes into missiles, one of which would likely have slammed into the dome of this beautiful Capitol except for the brave sacrifice of the passengers on board.
The brutality seen on September 11th and in other terrorist attacks we have witnessed around the globe are the violent and desperate efforts by extremists to stop the daily encroachment of western values upon their cultures. That is what we fight. It is a force not confined to borders. It is a shadowy entity with many faces, many names, and many addresses.
But, this Administration has directed all of the anger, fear, and grief which emerged from the ashes of the twin towers and the twisted metal of the Pentagon towards a tangible villain, one we can see and hate and attack. And villain he is. But, he is the wrong villain. And this is the wrong war. If we attack Saddam Hussein, we will probably drive him from power. But, the zeal of our friends to assist our global war on terrorism may have already taken flight.
The general unease surrounding this war is not just due to "orange alert." There is a pervasive sense of rush and risk and too many questions unanswered. How long will we be in Iraq? What will be the cost? What is the ultimate mission? How great is the danger at home? A pall has fallen over the Senate Chamber. We avoid our solemn duty to debate the one topic on the minds of all Americans, even while scores of thousands of our sons and daughters faithfully do their duty in Iraq.
What is happening to this country? When did we become a nation which ignores and berates our friends? When did we decide to risk undermining international order by adopting a radical and doctrinaire approach to using our awesome military might? How can we abandon diplomatic efforts when the turmoil in the world cries out for diplomacy?
Why can this President not seem to see that America's true power lies not in its will to intimidate, but in its ability to inspire?
War appears inevitable. But, I continue to hope that the cloud will lift. Perhaps Saddam will yet turn tail and run. Perhaps reason will somehow still prevail. I along with millions of Americans will pray for the safety of our troops, for the innocent civilians in Iraq, and for the security of our homeland. May God continue to bless the United States of America in the troubled days ahead, and may we somehow recapture the vision which for the present eludes us.