Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Family Blah-Blah Brings Wal-Mart To Its Knees

Look at this American Family Association web site, attacking Wal-Mart:
Wal-Mart Contributes 5% Of Online Sales To Homosexual Group
The cash donation will come from online purchases made at Wal-Mart through the homosexual group's Web site.

Help recruit 1,000,000 to agree to not shop at Wal-Mart or Sam's Club (owned by Wal-Mart) on the Friday and Saturday following Thanksgiving. Here's why:

In a show of support to help homosexuals legalize same-sex marriage, Wal-Mart has agreed to automatically donate 5% of online sales directly to the Washington DC Community Center for Gay, Lesbian Bisexual and Transgender People. The cash donation will come from online purchases made at Wal-Mart through the homosexual group's Web site. This move follows Wal-Mart's joining the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce and agreeing to give generous financial help to that group.

Every purchase made online for books, music, videos, clothing and accessories, children's clothing and toys, and electronics at the site will automatically send 5% of the sales to the homosexual group ... AFA Action Alert

Wow, I'll bet Wal-Mart's going to feel that.

I'm wondering, if everybody who had a beef with Wal-Mart boycotted it all at once and hurt them financially somehow, who would get to claim victory? Between their hiring, harassment, discrimination, pay, insurance and benefits, destruction of local economies, and so on and so on, pretty much everybody hates Wal-Mart. Well, they hate it and then they shop there. Go figure.

In the battle between conscience and cheap, cheap wins, it looks like.

Anyway, looks like the Family Blah Blah guys have already declared victory -- and just in time for the ... holiday ... season, too.

Here's how the AP put it:
A conservative group that had called on supporters to boycott Wal-Mart‘s post-Thanksgiving Day sales to protest the retailer‘s support of gay-rights groups withdrew its objections Tuesday.

Wal-Mart said it would make changes in the way it contributed to such groups, earmarking funds only for specific causes it supported, such as workplace equality, rather than giving unrestricted gifts.

"I don‘t see it as backpedaling by Wal-Mart," Solmonese said. "I think the AFA failed, and thought to themselves, "Let‘s declare victory and hope nobody notices." Group drops plans to protest Wal-Mart

This is some pretty smart sleight-of-hand on Wal-Mart's part. You understand, they aren't going to do anything different, they're just changing what they call it.
Wal-Mart spokeswoman Mona Williams said the company would continue working with the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce and other gay-rights groups on specific issues such as workplace equality. She indicated, however, that the company would henceforth avoid unrestricted donations that might be used for causes Wal-Mart did not endorse.

So now, they'll donate to the group, but only if they tell them what they're going to use the money for.

Well, as bad as Wal-Mart normally seems ...
Wal-Mart ranks in the middle among companies rated by the Human Rights Campaign, a major gay-rights group, for workplace policies toward gays. Scores of companies now have a perfect 100 rating, while Wal-Mart‘s rating has risen from 14 in 2002 to 65 this year as it added sexual orientation to its nondiscrimination code and offered some domestic-partner benefits.

I'm sure the Family Blah Blah guys are unhappy about all that. Imagine them not discriminating against gay people!
Tim Wildmon, the American Family Association‘s president, said Wal-Mart had been responsive to conservative pressure on a different issue, approving use of the word "Christmas" in advertising and employee greetings this season after shifting to a "happy holidays" phrasing last year.

Now there's a victory. Getting Wal-Mart to say Merry Christmas.

I said the other day: isn't there a real problem somewhere these people could solve? I'm sure we could apply all that brainpower to something important ... OK, never mind.


Blogger Orin Ryssman said...

Jim writes,

Wow, I'll bet Wal-Mart's going to feel that.

Yeah...right. I suspect that the execs at Wal-Mart look at homosexuals as they look at all groups - as potential customers. They know that they have products available for purchase at competitive prices; if gay hating bible thumpers don't like it then they can take their business somewhere else. That's called a FREE MARKET...

I'm wondering, if everybody who had a beef with Wal-Mart boycotted it all at once and hurt them financially somehow, who would get to claim victory? Between their hiring, harassment, discrimination, pay, insurance and benefits, destruction of local economies, and so on and so on, pretty much everybody hates Wal-Mart.

Unions would like for you to believe that line...problem is that it is not true.

Well, they hate it and then they shop there. Go figure.

I love Wal-Mart...I like (most of) the prices, the selection (it is the only place I can buy Udder Cream for my hands; this inter-mountain west dryness is brutal on my hands), the assistance, the cleaniness of the store, etc.

In the battle between conscience and cheap, cheap wins, it looks like.

Well, I guess your mileage varies. For me, I see shopping at Wal-Mart as an exercise of my conscience. For awhile I did feel like I might be doing something wrong and then I took stock of the number of people they (Wal-Mart) employs. And not just the most able bodied either. At the local Super Wal-Mart where I live there is an employee with only one arm. At various times I have seen him working as the greeter, while other times he stocks or works as a cashier. Clearly he cannot accomplish as much as others, but he works and that gives him dignity and purpose in the service of others. I appauld a company like Wal-Mart that has such a committment to equal opportunity.

November 22, 2006 5:08 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

To tell you the truth, I didn't intend to write a piece about how terrible Wal-Mart is. I know there are a lot of people opposed to them, towns that won't allow them, etc. Once I stopped for gas in the town of Winslow, Arizona, out in the middle of the Apache reservation (as I recall), and the place was a ghost town. All the businesses were boarded up, windows busted, nobody out on the street. This about 1990. I asked the guy, what happened? His answer: They put in a Wal-Mart.

If people want to organize and fight a huge exploitative corporation, they can do that ... but I don't think the Family Blah Blah guys have the power to do it.

Oh, and their reason is stupid.


November 22, 2006 7:03 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

AmericaBlog summed it up pretty good:

Now let's look at what the AFA got that convinced it to declare victory and call off the boycott.

1. Wal-Mart's $60k donation to civil rights group? No change.

2. Wal-Mart donation to community center? No change.

3. Wal-Mart refuses to ban online sale of products that in any way, shape, or form deal with gay issues, topics, people? No change.

4. Wal-Mart becomes member of Gay chamber of commerce? No change.

5. Wal-Mart solicits advice from gay ad agency? No change.

6. Wal-Mart advertises new product, Brokeback Mountain movie? No change.

What DID Wal-Mart do? They issued a statement saying they wouldn't support "controversial causes." None of the issues raised above is a "controversial cause," nor did Wal-Mart back off of any of the concerns raised. Also, to the extent that Wal-Mart ever does anything to support the religious right or Evangelical Christians, all we need do is raise hell because that will make said support "controversial" and Wal-Mart will, per this new statement, drop them. Some victory there, AFA.

That's called an all-out, utter failure on behalf of the religious right hate group American Family Association.


November 22, 2006 11:17 PM  
Blogger Orin Ryssman said...

Slow news day? Hey, here is something for all you Disciples of Diversity...

Polygamists Fight to Be Seen As Part of Mainstream Society

By John Pomfret
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 21, 2006; A01

SALT LAKE CITY -- In her battle to legalize polygamy, the only thing Valerie hasn't revealed is her last name. The mother of eight has been on national TV; her photo along with that of her two "sister-wives" has graced the front cover of a glossy magazine dedicated to "today's plural marriages."

She has been prodded about her sex life: "He rotates. It's easy -- just one, two, three." Quizzed about her decision to share a husband with two other women: "You really have a good frame of reference when you marry a man who already has two wives." Interrogated about what it's like to live in a house with 21 children: "Remodeling a kitchen, that's no small feat with three wives and a husband involved."

All the while, the petite brunette with a smile as bright as Utah's sky has insisted that she's just like you and me: "I'm a soccer mom. My kids are in music lessons. They go to public school. I'm not under anyone's control."

Valerie and others among the estimated 40,000 men, women and children in polygamous communities are part of a new movement to decriminalize bigamy. Consciously taking tactics from the gay-rights movement, polygamists have reframed their struggle, choosing in interviews to de-emphasize their religious beliefs and focus on their desire to live "in freedom," according to Anne Wilde, director of community relations for Principle Voices, a pro-polygamy group based in Salt Lake.

In recent months, polygamy activists have held rallies, appeared on nationally televised news shows and lobbied legislators. Before the Nov. 7 elections, one pro-polygamy group issued a six-page analysis of all Utah's state and local candidates and their views on polygamy. "We can make a difference," the group told supporters.

The efforts of Valerie and scores of others like her are paying off. Utah's attorney general, Mark L. Shurtleff, no longer prosecutes bigamy between consenting adults, though it is a felony. Shurtleff and his staff have established an organization, Safety Net, to bring together at monthly meetings representatives from at least five polygamous communities and law enforcement officers. He has arranged to have representatives of polygamous groups address Utah police. And three years ago, he wrote legislation to reduce bigamy between adults from a felony to a misdemeanor, although pressure from Utah's county attorneys derailed that.

In an interview, Shurtleff, a tall man who favors roomy suits and dark green shirts, said his office now treats bigamy between consenting adults much like fornication or adultery, laws about which are still on Utah's books.

"The thinking is this: This is a big group of people. They are not going away. You can't incarcerate them all. You can't drive them out of the state. So they are here," Shurtleff said. "What do we do about it?"

In their quest to decriminalize bigamy, practitioners have had help from unlikely quarters. HBO's series "Big Love," about a Viagra-popping man with three wives, three sets of bills, three sets of chores and three sets of kids, marked a watershed because of its sympathetic portrayal of polygamists. The U.S. Supreme Court's 2003 decision in Lawrence v. Texas, which voided laws criminalizing sodomy, also aided polygamy's cause because it implied that the court disapproved of laws that reach into the bedroom.

Since then, liberal legal scholars, generally no friend of the polygamists' conservative-leaning politics, have championed decriminalization. One of them is Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University who has written two op-eds for USA Today calling for the legalization of bigamy -- and same-sex marriage.

"I find polygamy an offensive practice," said Turley, who has become something of a celebrity among polygamists in Utah. "But there is no way its practice among consenting adults should be a felony."

What Shurtleff has vowed to do in Utah, rather than enforcing the bigamy code, is go after members of polygamist groups who break other laws, especially involving children. In April, Washington County prosecutors in Utah charged Warren Jeffs, the 50-year-old head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with two first-degree felony counts of rape as an accomplice on suspicion that he forced a 14-year-old girl to marry her first cousin, who was over 18. Jeffs, who was apprehended during a traffic stop in Las Vegas in August, is facing similar charges in Arizona. His next court appearance is Tuesday.

Shurtleff's office has also moved to dismantle a communal property trust owned by Jeffs's sect in Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz. His office also is investigating the Kingston family, including seven brothers accused of incest who are thought to have fathered more than 600 children, informed sources said.

Shurtleff has secured commitments from four polygamist groups that they would abandon the practice of forcing underage girls into marriage, end the widespread practice of welfare fraud and create a more favorable environment for women in plural marriages to report domestic violence and child abuse.

"The things I am going after are crimes against children, rape and other types of abuse where there is a clear victim," he said. Shurtleff persuaded Utah's legislature to pass a specific law in 2003 on child bigamy, making it a second-degree felony punishable by one to 15 years in prison for a married adult to take as a second spouse anyone under 18.

Polygamy has deep roots in Utah's history and in the history of the Church of the Latter-day Saints. Many mainstream Mormons once believed, and many fundamentalists still believe, that only men in plural marriages will get to heaven. But, to ensure Utah would get statehood, the Mormon Church swore off polygamy in the 1890s.

Even so, polygamous communities continued to exist through the American West and in Canada and Mexico. And in recent years, authorities in the state adopted a "don't ask, don't tell" stance, Shurtleff said.

One reason was that the politically powerful Mormon Church, while officially opposing polygamy, did not want the bad press strict enforcement might bring. Another reason was that law enforcement was worried that isolated polygamist communities would erupt in violence if raided. An internal memo at the Arizona attorney general's office in 2002 spoke of a "Waco-level problem" among the polygamous communities along the Utah state line.

Shurtleff said he decided to confront polygamy's darker side and leave the more mainstream communities alone. In 2001, one of Utah's best-known polygamists, Tom Green, was prosecuted for and convicted of child rape for having sex with his first wife when she was 13.

"That's what really started my focus on this," Shurtleff said. "We can't really allow crimes to be committed against children in the name of religion."

Some polygamists said they welcome Shurtleff's prosecutions.

"Jeffs needed to be stopped," said Bonnie, a 20-something in a polygamist marriage who, like Valerie, declined to give her last name. (She said she has lost three jobs because of her polygamous background.) "I am glad they are prosecuting him."

Bonnie, along with her husband, Nat, and his first wife and their three children, are members of the Apostolic United Brethren, which says it has 7,500 members across the West and in Mexico. Bonnie's family lives in a suburban subdivision containing about 50 houses -- all inhabited by members of the sect. Bonnie's family has been polygamous since the 1860s. Nat was raised in a monogamous household but converted to Mormonism and decided to become a fundamentalist and a polygamist.

Bonnie said that what attracted her to polygamy was the chance it gave her to bond with women as well as with her husband.

"I always had an inner feeling that I'd be a plural wife," she said. "I was very excited to join his family. I had a really good feeling with his first wife."

Nat said he needed to be convinced. Far from the stereotype of the patriarch, he appears bookish and perhaps a tad meek. "Usually the women tend to be the biggest advocates of this way of life and men enter it more timidly," he said. "If you are going to do it right, it's a huge responsibility."

November 23, 2006 9:52 AM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

I don't know why you bring this up, Orin. Polygamy is a biblically approved form of holy matrimony, I'd think you'd be all for it given your belief that the bible represents a desirable morality.

November 23, 2006 10:30 AM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

Dale Carpenter cites an op-ed piece (subscription only, unfortunately) at the Wall Street Journal written by William Eskridge and Darren Spedale that shows that, contrary to the hysterical claims of the anti-gay crowd, traditional marriage got stronger after gay marriage was legalized in several countries. Carpenter sums up their findings:

Seventeen years after recognizing same-sex relationships in Scandinavia there are higher marriage rates for heterosexuals, lower divorce rates, lower rates for out-of-wedlock births, lower STD rates, more stable and durable gay relationships, more monogamy among gay couples, and so far no slippery slope to polygamy, incestuous marriages, or "man-on-dog" unions.

[T]here is no evidence that allowing same-sex couples to marry weakens the institution. If anything, the numbers indicate the opposite. A decade after Denmark, Norway and Sweden passed their respective partnership laws, heterosexual marriage rates had risen 10.7% in Denmark; 12.7% in Norway; and a whopping 28.8% in Sweden. In Denmark over the last few years, marriage rates are the highest they've been since the early 1970s. Divorce rates among heterosexual couples, on the other hand, have fallen. A decade after each country passed its partnership law, divorce rates had dropped 13.9% in Denmark; 6% in Norway; and 13.7% in Sweden. On average, divorce rates among heterosexuals remain lower now than in the years before same-sex partnerships were legalized.

Is there a correlation, then, between same-sex marriage and a strengthening of the institution of marriage? It would be difficult, and suspect, to establish a cause-and-effect relationship between these trends in heterosexual marriage and marriage rights for gays and lesbians. But the facts demonstrate that there is no proof that same-sex marriage will harm the institution of marriage, or children. An optimistic reading of the facts might even suggest that the energy and enthusiasm that same-sex couples bring to the institution of marriage may cause unmarried heterosexual couples to take a fresh look at marriage as an option.

Our research has also uncovered additional social benefits. In dozens of interviews with partnered couples and through other sources, we found that marriage rights had an important beneficial effect not only on the couples themselves, but on their local and national communities as well. Couples reported that their relationships were stronger and more durable, that relationships with family members had deepened, that co-workers had become more tolerant and supportive, and their children felt greater validation by having married parents. Many couples reported a greater emphasis on monogamy, which may be reflected by the fact that national rates of HIV and STD infections declined in each of the Scandinavian countries in the years after they passed their partnership laws.

That is very consistent with what I've heard reported here in the US over the last few years as gay marriage has come to the forefront. Within the gay community those in committed relationships are increasingly seen as role models. This can only be healthy for them and for society, and one would think that social conservatives, if they were really motivated by anything but anti-gay animus, would want to encourage that to continue.

November 23, 2006 10:58 AM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

November 23, 2006 10:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well of course the polygamists are making a play now. They are trying to influence the case against Warren Jeffs who has been accused of arranging the marriage of a 14 year old girl to her first cousin.


Key Witness Testifies in Case Against Polygamist

All Things Considered, November 21, 2006 · A young woman who says polygamist leader Warren Jeffs forced her to marry -- and have sex -- at age 14 offered dramatic testimony Tuesday in a courtroom in St. George, Utah.

Jeffs is the leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or FLDS Church. He's charged in Utah with two counts of "rape as an accomplice."

Tuesday's hearing was to determine whether the case will go to trial. It was the first time that Jeffs faced his accuser, the young woman who is the primary witness against him. NPR does not name alleged victims of sexual assaults.

She was 14, she told the court, when Jeffs ordered her into a "spiritual marriage" with her first cousin, a 19-year-old at the time, and then forced her to have sex with him. Such marriages are not legally recognized. Jeffs allegedly told the woman her salvation depended on her compliance.

In court, the young woman sobbed, cried and dabbed at tears as Jess [sic] watched her dispassionately. She described learning of her spiritual marriage, and said she was horrified and resisted. She also described the horror of her husband trying to consummate their marriage, which eventually he did.

The defense cross-examined Jess' [sic] accuser, showing photos of the couple smiling together. Defense lawyers also read from love notes her husband is said to have sent to the accuser. They also said that Jeffs gave the young woman religious advice and direction consistent with the tenets of his faith.

The hearing took place about 40 miles from the twin communities Jeffs and his group dominate. About 6,000 followers live in the border towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz. Jeffs and some of his followers also face charges in Arizona.

November 23, 2006 11:31 AM  
Blogger andrea said...

Far, far away and awake in a different time zone(and no sleep inducing aminoacids-as I don't eat turkey)-I will not shop at Walmart today. I am pretty sure it doesn't exist too close to where I am - although there are certainly holiday sales here(no place is immune to the 5 Am store openings). We spent our money in a different way- a family way. Traveling far to a gathering of family we rarely see all at one time for a celebration of thanksgiving and a bat mitzvah. Sitting at a table with family and friends who came from all over the US - and including various colors, religions and yes-sexual orientation- I think real family values are about love -not shopping or denying people rights.

November 24, 2006 9:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Orin Ryssman on November 23, 2006 at 9:52 AM offered: "Slow news day? Hey, here is something for all you Disciples of Diversity..." and then posted an article from the Washington Post about women who chose to practice polygamy.

Actually Orin, it wasn't so much a slow news day as it was Thanksgiving Day -- a day to spend with family and loved ones, not obsessed with politics. But now that I've woken from my L-Tryptophan/carb-induced haze and read it, I must say your article is best suited for those religious types who believe in Biblical inerrancy since polygamists proclaim a Biblical blessing for their choice. They may be trying to usurp "tactics from the gay-rights movement" but as far as I know, there are no statements from the AMA, APA, AAP, APA etc. stating that polygamy is not an illness and that polygamy is not a choice so their attempt is meaningless.

Anon's right. With Warren Jeffs arrested for forcing a 14 year old girl to marry her first cousin against her will, incestuous, pedophilic polygamists are trying to influence public opinion. The article came out the same week the young accuser testified in court against Jeffs. The polygamists' baldfaced lying attempt to equate their lifestyle choice with what we know is virtually impossible to change sexual orientation (ask Ted Haggard) along with your help to spread their bogus message to a well read blog are as transparent as daylight.

I wonder how friendly your gay neighbors would be if they knew of your actions, Orin, which speak so much louder than your words.

Aunt Bea

November 24, 2006 10:57 AM  

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