Wednesday, October 29, 2014


Kinder, Gentler Southern Baptists?

My, my ...

The Southern Baptists are holding a conference, called "The Gospel, Homosexuality and the Future of Marriage."
Speakers at the event said they understood they were on the losing end of the culture war on marriage. ...

"This moral revolution is happening at warp speed," said the Rev. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. "This is a real challenge to us on biblical authority." ...

Mohler, the most prominent Southern Baptist intellectual, said from the stage that he was wrong years ago when he said same-sex attraction could be changed. The Rev. Russell Moore, director of the Southern Baptist's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, which organized the conference, drew applause when he condemned anti-gay bullying and called on Christians to address the problem of homelessness for gay and lesbian youth as "a human dignity issue." He said parents shouldn't shun their gay children.

"You've been given a mission of reconciliation," Moore told the audience. "Jesus is not afraid to speak the truth, but Jesus is not shocked by people or disgusted by people."
Even one of the "ex-gays" was down with the program:
... Christians, such as Rosaria Butterfield, who had been attracted to members of the same-sex but say they were now married to someone of the opposite sex or had overcome their attractions ... said evangelicals need to "repent of anti-gay rhetoric" and befriend gays and lesbians instead of trying to "fix" them.
There were, of course, still the hard liners:
Erik Stanley of the Alliance Defending Freedom, the law firm defending Christian business owners and others who refuse to serve gay weddings, said it was a myth that the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyo., was a hate crime. He argued gays wanted "unfettered sexual liberty" while silencing all dissent.
Sure, tied to that fence, Matthew was trying to silence all dissent of his unfettered sexual liberty.

Still, the fact that Southern Baptists are even talking about this is a sign of two things: 1) they are beginning to recognize that "[e]vangelicals in the millennial generation, ages 18-33, are twice as likely as their elders to support same-sex marriage, according to a survey released in February by the Public Religion Research Institute" and 2) hatred is a poor way to win friends and influence people.

Sunday, October 26, 2014



In the quiet hours

The still time

When night is adamantine

And the Dawn never seems to come

I think of you


Come back ghostly

At the corner of my eye

Gone again

... and I cry


Saturday, October 25, 2014


Ready ... Aim ...

A few days ago, over at Ed Brayton's Dispatches From the Culture Wars, I responded to a question:
Legal philosophy question here: did the courts legalize same sex marriage?
... by saying:
Technically, no. The state could, if it wished, do away with all marriage (and all the benefits and responsibilities that presently go along with the status of "marriage"). The courts have been saying you can't create such a status that, with no rational basis, denies a certain segment of the population access to that status in violation of the equal protection and due process clauses of the 14th Amendment. However, since there is no state that is about to do away with marriage benefits widely enjoyed by much of the populace (i.e political death on toast), the effect is that they have legalized gay marriage.
I may have underestimated the willingness of bigot politicians to shoot themselves and their constituents in the collective foot.

According to Right Wing Watch, one Republican (surprise!) Idaho State Senator, Steve Vick, has said:
"Another potential avenue that I'm exploring is just eliminating marriage licenses in Idaho."

Vick admits eliminating state sanctioning of marriage would be a big step, and he is only beginning to explore that option. Still, he said the response so far is very positive.

"I have discussed it with just a few people," he said. "I don't have a bill drafted or anything. I have discussed it at some of the town halls I've been at. It actually seems to be fairly well-received. In my opinion, if we're not allowed to determine the standards for a marriage license, then maybe we should just not issue them."
So, just in order to punish gay people, this numbnutz would deprive all the straight people of Idaho of the future benefits of marriage, including, but far from limited to, state and Federal tax benefits, the right to visit their spouses and children in hospitals and make medical decisions for them if they are incapable of doing so, automatic inheritance, etc., etc.

Of course, it is stupid on its own terms. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeal also held that Idaho has to recognize out-of-state same sex marriages. Idaho borders on Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming and Canada (all of which allow same sex marriage), as well as Montana, which, as part of the 9th Circuit, will soon also allow same sex marriage. In short, gays and straights will be able to slip across any border of Idaho and get married and come back to Idaho with full marriage rights. All Vick's proposal would do would be to deprive the state and/or county governments of the income from marriage licenses and destroy the businesses of those in Idaho who perform marriages, cater the receptions, provide the tuxedos, gowns, cakes, photographs, etc.

Some people are just stupid enough to be willing to hurt themselves to spite others.


Stupid In the Name of Religion

The North Carolina News and Obsever has a story, entitled "Backlash against marriage ruling rises as voting starts," about black Christian wingnuts losing their minds about the recent gutting of the state's ban against same sex marriage. I am particularly amused by this:
[Bishop E.W. Jackson Sr., Virginia's Republican nominee for lieutenant governor in 2013] rejected any comparison between religious opposition to interracial marriage and opposition to same-sex marriages.

"We hear this all the time," he said. "This is the most specious comparison that I've ever heard in my life."

The Bible does not condemn interracial marriage, he said, but it does homosexual relationships.
Really, Bishop? Where, exactly, in the Bible is same sex marriage condemned? Oh, sure, the Old Testament, at Leviticus 20:13, says that a man who has sex with a man should be put to death (but, note, it doesn't say that a woman who has sex with a woman should be put to death). Is that the law you want in North Carolina? ... that gay men should be stoned to death? The New Testament, at least as far as Paul was concerned, called homosexuals "sinners." But wait a minute ... under your religion aren't we all "sinners"? So no one should have Constitutional rights?

But the bigger question is, do you really want that big evil government deciding what the Bible and Christianity really says? After all, the state judge in the Virginia v. Loving (click on the image of the record to the right) was convinced that:
[The Loving's marriage] was a marriage prohibited and declared absolutely void. It was contrary to the declared public law, founded upon motives of public policy -- a public policy affirmed for more than a Century, and one upon which social order, public morality and the best interests of both races depend. This unmistakable policy of the legislature founded, I think, on wisdom and the moral development of both races, has been shown by not only declaring marriages between whites and negroes absolutely void, but by prohibiting and punishing such unnatural alliances with severe penalties. The laws enacted to further and uphold this declared policy would be futile and a dead letter if in fraud of these salutary enactments, both races might, by stepping across an imaginary line bid defiance to the law by immediately returning and insisting that the marriage celebrated in another state or county should be recognized as lawful, though denounced by the public law of the domicile as "unlawful and absolutely void."

Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arraignment there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.
Should some Federal judge be deciding what, exactly, the Bible and Christianity really says? Or do you just want to enshrine you own interpretation of the Bible into the law?

When people with a different interpretation of, say, the "Curse of Ham" are in the majority, you may regret it.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


Oh Canada!

To our fast friends and allies to the north, please be assured that all Americans of good will mourn the losses you have suffered in the last few days. We wish you all the best and stand ready to assist you in any way we can.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


Al Mohler Tries to Think It Through

... and winds up with a headache.

Mohler, who I've described as a marginally saner wingnut, because he has held his nose and realized that the fight against same sex marriage is over, can't understand how Ted Olsen can hold what, to Mohler and someone named Mona Charen, are contradictory positions:
... I want to draw attention to an important article by Mona Charen of the Ethics and Public Policy Center that ran in several newspapers across the country, including the Sunday edition of the Birmingham News. Charen writes about the appearance on Fox News Sunday, back on October 12, of lawyer Ted Olson, one of the two lawyers in the appeal of the California Proposition 8 case.

Appearing there on Fox News Sunday, Ted Olson offered his argument for the legalization of same-sex marriage and his justification for the Supreme Court taking its action. But, as Charen notes, Ted Olson made a fundamentally contradictory argument. She writes,

"Appearing on set Fox News Sunday to discuss the Supreme Court's decision to let stand a number of judicial rulings overturning the acts of legislators and/or voters in 16 states, famed advocate Ted Olson offered the kind of reasoning that, in his former incarnation as a conservative, he would have scorned. 'Over 59 percent of Americans now believe that marriage equality should be the law of the land,' he proclaimed. Seconds later he seemed to contradict himself: "We have a Constitution and Bill of Rights precisely because we want protections from majority rule."

Like Mona Charen, did you hear the contradiction? ...
"Which is it, a fundamental right that ought to be recognized without regard to majority views, or a popular view that deserves to be enshrined in the Constitution by the courts just because it's polling well? [Charen then writes,] If it's true that large majorities have changed their minds on same-sex marriage, why not leave the matter to state legislatures and voters rather than undemocratically taking the question out of their hands?"
What Mohler and Charen are missing is that, when these various SSM bans were passed, a (then benighted or mislead) majority wanted to punish gays by denying them their rights under our Constitution. LGBT people deserved then and deserve now the protection from that amimus that is afforded by our Constitution. They should not have to wait for the often prolonged political process nor depend on the local social milieu of any one state to secure their rights.

The point of mentioning that over 59 percent of Americans now believe that marriage equality should be the law of the land is to establish that, no matter how quickly the tide of opinion has turned, it is now widely recognized that it is a basic right and, therefore, deserves heightened protection under our laws.

The suggestion that gays resort to the local political system in, say, Mississippi or Alabama, to secure their rights is akin to claiming that blacks should have done the same to end Jim Crow laws.

Monday, October 20, 2014


Reality Bites

Staring reality in the face and blinking, Wyoming (despite a previous pledge to fight on) and Arizona have decided not to attempt to further delay the implementation of same sex marriage in those states.

The Supreme Court also refused to block the implementation of same sex marriage in Alaska, thus mushing the state's officials faces in that heap of reality.

However, Kansas is apparently still in Oz:
"No court has squarely decided whether the Kansas Constitution's prohibition on same-sex marriage — adopted by voters less than a decade ago — is invalid," [Kansas Attorney General Derek] Schmidt, a Republican, said in a statement.
The Federal judge in the Kansas case has scheduled a hearing for this coming Friday for the state to come up with arguments why the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeal's ruling should not apply to Kansas, at which time or shortly thereafter, there will be a court will have squarely decided the issue. It may then take an even larger dose of reality, in the form of the Supreme Court, to get through to them.

Sunday, October 19, 2014


Two Faced

You may have heard about the conservative majority of the Jefferson County, Colorado school board that wants to "review" (i.e. change) the curricula prepared by the College Board for Advanced Placement History courses. Seeing immediately that the board intended to [cough] whitewash American history, students and teaches began protests, walkouts and sickouts in protest.
The Jefferson County walkout began after a school board member, Julie Williams, proposed creating a curriculum review committee to assess the new AP History classes. "Materials should promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free enterprise system, respect for authority, and respect for individual rights," read the proposal, which was discussed at a Sept. 18 meeting. "Materials should not encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife, or disregard of the law."
This was, to anyone who follows People For the American Way's Right Wing Watch website, extremely funny. I went through about a year's worth of the quotations of various conservatives calling for "civil disobedience" and here's what I found (many need no explanation outside their titles):

Anti-Gay Activists: We Need Our Rosa Parks!

Peter LaBarbera, president of Americans For Truth About Homosexuality, visited Janet Mefferd's radio program yesterday to discuss his call for "civil disobedience on a massive scale" to protest marriage equality and "the gay thought police." The two agreed that the anti-gay movement is ready for its own Rosa Parks to spark a national outcry with an act of civil disobedience…against marriage equality. ...

LaBarbera insisted that governors should flout court rulings striking down same-sex marriage bans and urged anti-gay activists to emulate anti-abortion "sidewalk counselors," who protest abortion by approaching women entering clinics.

Peter LaBarbera Vows 'Massive Civil Disobedience' To Block Gay Marriages

Linda Harvey: Fight 'Evil' Gay Marriage With 'Civil Disobedience'

Pat Buchanan: 'Massive Civil Disobedience' Needed To Fight 'Anti-Christian Discrimination'

Matt Barber Pledges Civil Disobedience To Stop Same-Sex Marriage

Matt Barber: Anti-Gay Activists Facing 'Water Hoses' Like MLK

For every law, regulation, activist court ruling or presidential edict that demands Christians violate their sincerely held religious beliefs and adopt a postmodern, moral relativist way of life, there increases, in exact proportion, the likelihood of widespread civil disobedience – disobedience of the sort we haven't seen since the civil rights struggles of the 1950s and '60s.

Indeed, if, in the spirit of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., we, his fellow Christian travelers, must again face the water hoses, then face them we shall.

Hobby Lobby And 'Biblical Economics'

Conservative Catholic and evangelical leaders who have signed the Manhattan Declaration, including some U.S. bishops, declare themselves willing to engage in civil disobedience – maybe even martyrdom – in order to avoid any participation in abortion or any "anti-life act." Nor, they declare, "will we bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality and immorality and marriage and the family." [Of course, no one is going to force them to perform same sex marriages or treat them as equivalent to opposite sex marriages ... though they don't get to use the civil law to outlaw same sex marriages ... or stop them from proclaiming their religious beliefs.]

Todd Starnes Warns Of Anti-Duck Dynasty Violence, Links Same-Sex Marriage To Healthy Food Initiatives

In an interview last week with talk show host Jeanne Dennis, Fox News commentator Todd Starnes predicted that conservative Christians will soon organize acts of civil disobedience and street demonstrations akin to the Civil Rights Movement to protest their purported oppression.

Anti-Gay Activists Call For 'Civil Disobedience' In Wake Of Marriage Equality Rulings

Jeff Allen, an Indiana-based pastor and senior editor of BarbWire, called for "elected leaders and Christians [to] defiantly rise up and engage in civil disobedience" to stop this "national tragedy" and "the death of democracy."

Michael Peroutka, God, and Christian Reconstructionists At Larry Klayman's Revolution

At last week's less-than-spectacular kickoff for the Second American Revolution, Larry Klayman announced that President Obama has until this coming Friday, November 29, to resign. If he doesn't, Klayman and his friends will move forward with their plan to organize mass civil disobedience, force the resignation of President Obama and the Congress, and replace them with a government-in-waiting to be formed in Philadelphia in the coming weeks. [BTW, how did that work out, Larry?]

Republican Congressman Threatens Civil Disobedience On Romeike Case

[Concerning the Romeike family, that left Germany for Tennessee over disagreements with German homeschooling laws.]

It seems that conservatives are only concerned about not condoning civil disorder, social strife, or disregard of the law when it is in service of issues they disagree with.

Of course, the attempt by conservatives to wrap themselves in the mantle of Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement, especially in their efforts to deny other people equal rights, is particularly galling, since these were the same people who, during his lifetime, called King a communist agent out to destroy America.

Another bit of revisionism is the statement of Larry Krieger, a retired AP History teacher from New Jersey, who has been going around the nation testifying against the new AP History standards. He said: "The framework will produce a generation of cynics." Really? Who are bigger cynics about the US government and its actions than conservatives?

But to cap off the comedy, there is the statement of another of the conservative board members, Pam Mazanec. To demonstrate her competency to judge any history curricula, she said on Facebook, in support of her position that the curricula "is aligned with the content of college level history courses that downplay our noble history and accentuate the negative view":
As an example, I note our slavery history. Yes, we practiced slavery. But we also ended it voluntarily, at great sacrifice, while the practice continues in many countries still today! Shouldn't our students be provided that viewpoint? This is part of the argument that America is exceptional. Does our APUSH Framework support or denigrate that position?
Fighting a civil war in which more Americans died, north and south, than in any other war we've ever fought is "voluntarily" ending slavery? To the right wing, words have no meaning.

Saturday, October 11, 2014


Careful What You Wish For

On Tuesday, October 7, 2014, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision overturning Nevada's and Idaho's same sex marriage bans came down. On Wednesday, Idaho officials brought an emergency petition to Justice Kennedy seeking a stay of the implementation of such marriages in the state, based on a claim that their appeal would be narrower than other such appeals that the Supreme Court had denied certiorari in. Instead, they claimed, Idaho would be focusing on the level of "scrutiny" that should be applied to equal protection and due process claims under the Fourteenth Amendment. Different Circuit courts have applied different levels of scrutiny, from the lowest, "rational basis," through "heightened scrutiny," as the Ninth Circuit applied, to the highest and most difficult for a law to survive, "strict scrutiny."

Justice Kennedy granted a temporary stay and ordered the Idaho plaintiffs to respond to the state's petition by end of business on Thursday. They responded:
If a stay issues, the plaintiffs will continue to be denied the right to enter into or have recognized the most important relation in life; they will continue to lack critical legal protections for their families, such as spousal-visitation and medical-decision-making rights in hospitals, that different-sex couples have long enjoyed; and their children will continue to be deprived of the security of knowing that their parents' relationships are recognized by the state where they live.
On Friday, Idaho replied:
If the court wishes to signal that its recent denials of various marriage-related petitions was intended to finally and conclusively resolve the constitutionality of state laws defining marriage as a union of man and a woman, the court should deny Idaho's application.
Shortly thereafter, the Court issued this Order:
The application for stay presented to Justice Kennedy and by him referred to the Court is denied. The orders heretofore entered by Justice Kennedy are vacated.
Of course, it doesn't mean that the Court intended to finally and conclusively resolve the constitutionality of state laws defining marriage as a union of man and a woman but it probably does indicate that a majority of the Court does not think that the level of scrutiny applied to those laws is a significant issue or, in other words, that such laws fail all three tests.

Another nail in the coffin of bigotry.

Thursday, October 09, 2014


Smack Him!

Mat Staver, affectionately known to Ed Brayton as the worst lawyer in America other than Larry Klayman or Orly Taitz, may have run to the head of the list.
It's shameful for the Supreme Court for what they have done to marriage as it has been shameful in the history of the court with regards to the Dred Scott decision or the Buck v. Bell decision, where they said that the state of Virginia can forcibly sterilize her because of this eugenics idea that they want to eliminate the undesirables of the world. That was the shameful day that we ultimately look back with shame upon and I think this is going to be one of those same kind of situations.
Ah! I see, refusing to free someone from slavery or sterilizing people against their will is exactly the same as letting loving couples get married.

Mat, maybe you want to move back. When I spit, you might not want it to get on your shoes.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014


The Tears of a Clown

The wingnuts are, of course, losing their collective minds over the recent developments in same sex marriage. A sampling from Right Wing Watch:
... Janet Mefferd condemned the "lawlessness" of the U.S. judicial system following recent court decisions that have advanced marriage equality for same-sex couples. ...

"They get away with it. You just push the lawless limit and see how much you can get away with, and unfortunately, people are getting away with an awful lot," she said. "I don't understand why there aren't more Christians yelling and screaming — nicely, of course — on this issue of lawlessness. Do we not care about lawlessness? How do you have a republic without law, the rule of law and the respect for law? How does a republic survive when it loses respect for the law?"
Well, the law includes this little thing called the Constitution and the Bill of Rights that prevents majorities from denying rights other people have to minorities. As to why there aren't more Christians yelling and screaming, most of them don't care because they can't see how gay marriage hurts them or society in general. In short, unlike you, they are rational
American Family Association's Sandy Rios ...

"If we don't do something, I think we're going to see — and this is radical — I think we're going to see riots in the street, we're going to see starvation, we're going to see things we have never seen before, we're going to see a complete breakdown in terms of law enforcement, it's going to be a nightmare," she said.
Did you enjoy that big bowl of hyperbole for breakfast today?
Anti-LGBT activist and Colorado Republican state legislative candidate Gordon Klingenschmitt ...

THIS JUST IN: Sodomy is still banned by God in all 50 states. Gay marriage now "legal" in 30 states? Only 3 states voted for that, meaning it was imposed on kids in 27 states by oligarchs, against the voters' will. 38 states had bans before this judicial TYRANNY overruled the people's will. God will have the last word. …

Will Christians work this hard, to defend their children from such an agenda to normalize sin and recruit your kids? Legislation. Ballot Work. Courts. All fronts in all states.
Random capitalization ... the wingnuts' signature. And you might notice Gordy, "Legislation. Ballot Work. Courts" has failed, which is what you are complaining about right now.

But my favorite:
Peter LaBarbera of Americans For Truth About Homosexuality ...

Each decision bastardizes America's noble quest for racial justice by invoking "equality" for unions based on disordered sexual behavior that can never be "equal" to God-ordained sex within marriage. Now the nation's highest court is content to let the ongoing disenfranchisement become law. ...

Homosexual activists yearn to be told that their defining sin is not a sin at all—and legalizing genderless "marriage" is their holy grail to achieve that end. "Love is love," we are told, or rather scolded. But God is not mocked: the Scriptures are clear that homosexual practice is an offense against both God and the very bodies of those who practice it (as is all sexual immorality).
So, naturally, all those lawyers arguing against marriage equality were lying when they claimed that these bans had a secular purpose.

Drinking these tears is so sweet.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014



In states that were not directly involved in the decisions in the Fourth, Seventh and Tenth Circuit Courts of Appeals decisions that the Supreme Court allowed to go into immediate effect, the reaction is mixed.

On the rational side:


Attorney General John Suthers, a Republican, said Monday his office will file motions seeking to quickly lift federal and state court stays that halted gay marriage.

North Carolina:

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper has previously said that a federal appeals ruling overturning Virginia's ban is binding in his state and that he does not intend to file any further appeals or seek delays.

Intermediate sanity: Update:

West Virginia:

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, a Republican, said he is still figuring out how the state's case will be affected. "In light of the U.S. Supreme Court's surprising decision to not review this matter, we are analyzing the implications for the West Virginia case." West Virginia has joined the rational crowd: "the attorney general of West Virginia [is] conceding that its ban on same-sex marriage was no longer defensible ..."

Still crazy after all these years:


Gov. Sam Brownback issued a statement saying he swore an oath to support the state constitution. "An overwhelming majority of Kansas voters amended the Constitution to include a definition of marriage as one man and one woman. Activist judges should not overrule the people of Kansas,"

South Carolina:

South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson said he will continue to fight to uphold the state constitution's ban on gay marriage. He pointed out that a judge has not ruled on a lawsuit by a gay couple legally married in Washington, D.C., seeking to overturn the South Carolina gay marriage ban.


Governor Matt Mead said Wyoming will continue to defend the state's definition of marriage as between a man and woman.


Doing a Lot by Doing Nothing

In a move that surprised almost everyone, the Supreme Court yesterday denied certiorari in all seven cases concerning same sex marriage pending before it. In doing so, it let the rulings striking down bans of same sex marriage in the Fourth, Seventh and Tenth Circuit Courts of Appeal to go into immediate effect.

Directly, the bans in Virginia (Fourth Circuit), Indiana and Wisconsin (Seventh Circuit), and Utah and Oklahoma (Tenth Circuit) are now defunct. But similar bans in West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina (Fourth Circuit), and Wyoming, Colorado and Kansas (Tenth Circuit) are on life support and not expected to survive.

Part of this can be set down to a reluctance on the part of the Supreme Court to deal with a divisive issue, at least until there is a split between the Circuit Courts. But the Supreme Court did not have to allow the present decisions to go into effect. It could have simply allowed the certiorari petitions to remain on its calendar while allowing other Circuit Courts to weigh in. Rulings in the Ninth Circuit (almost certain to strike down bans in Nevada and Idaho) and Sixth Circuit (up for grabs in cases from Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee) are imminent. The Fifth Circuit also has a case in the pipeline (one where Louisiana's ban was upheld) but it is some time away from a decision.

While it is always hazardous to read the Supreme Court's tea leaves, given the legal chaos that would result from same sex marriages going forward in 5-11 states and then being nullified if the bans are reinstated, suggests that, if the Court thought it was likely that it would uphold same sex marriage bans, it wouldn't have let these rulings go into effect.

Update: As expected, the Ninth Circuit struck down bans in Nevada and Idaho. Similar bans in Alaska, Arizona and Montana will soon follow, bringing the total to 35 states.

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