Monday, June 27, 2011

Marriage Equality in New York!

I didn't get to watch TV or check my e-mail while traveling, so imagine my surprise when I learned this morning that New York state passed a marriage equality bill by a 33-29 vote on June 24th. This is a very positive move for New York, and I hope that other states follow suit. New York City pride marchers, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have praised the measure, as have many progressive commentators.

This momentous occasion has also drawn ire from members of the Religious Right, who have had much to say about legalization of same-sex marriage in New York.

- The Catholic Bishops of New York issues a joint statement on June 24th condemning the measure, and Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn urged Catholic schools to refuse any honors bestowed on them by officials who supported the legislation, according to WNYC.

- The National Organization for Marriage (NOM), which was adamantly opposed to marriage equality in New York, has now pledged $2 million to fight the same-sex marriage measure. According to NOM's blog, NOM president Brian Brown has pledged $2 million to 2012 elections in order to send a message to politicians. The post quoted Brown as accusing the Republican party of abandoning its contract with voters. (See www[dot]nomblog[dot]com/10634/)

- In a June 24th statement published online, the Family Research Council denounced the decision, calling the vote "a profound failure of moral courage" resulting from "political coercion." (See www[dot]frc[dot]org/pressrelease/family-research-council-denounces-decision-by-new-york-state-legislature-to-redefine-marriage)

- Right Wing Watch recently brought attention to the June 27th edition of The 700 Club, in which Pat Robertson evoked the Biblical story of Sodom and Gomorrah in reference to the New York decision. Robertson claimed that no society that accepted the practice of homosexuality has ever survived. (See the full episode at www[dot]cbn[dot]com/media/player/index.aspx?s=/archive/club/700Club062711_WS&t=k&search=700clubepisodes)

- In a bombastic commentary at World Net Daily, Linda Harvey paints the LGBT community in depraved colors. In response to the New York marriage measure, Harvey claims that LGBT rights entails "corruption of youth",  "suppression of parental rights", "public sex" and "public nudity."

- Citizenlink (an affiliate of Focus on the Family) posted an article claiming that "marriage defenders" in New York have been vexed by cyberbullies, as they have reportedly had to block comments on their websites.

- Startlingly, Rep. Michele Bachmann acknowledged that New York was within its rights as a state to pass the measure, according to the Advocate.

Congratulations to the LGBT community in New York, which is now one step closer to full equality.

For additional commentary, visit the following links.

Freak Out Nation: NOM Pledges $2 Million to Reverse Marriage Equality Bill in New York

Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters: Justice Rolls Down Like a Mighty Stream in New York

Truth Wins Out: Oh, the Wingnuts Are Not Happy About New York!

Religion Dispatches: Religious Right & Catholic Bishops Plan Post-NY Marriage Strategy
"I think we need to remember the term sodomy came from a town known as Sodom and Sodom was destroyed by God Almighty and the thing that they practiced was homosexual activity and even they tried to rape angels who came down there, so that’s the kind of people they were ... That’s where sodomy came from, we use the term sodomy and it means Sodom. What’s it like? We’re heading that way as a nation. In history there’s never been a civilization ever in history that has embraced homosexuality and turned away from traditional fidelity, traditional marriage, traditional child-rearing, and has survived. There isn’t one single civilization that has survived that openly embraced homosexuality."

Thursday, June 23, 2011

News Tidbits

I will be traveling the next few days, so posting at Republic of Gilead will resume next week.

Pennlive: Harrisburg's former grant manager contests unemployment decision, chides mayor for prayer at work

Beliefnet: Leaving God out of Pledge tees off Ohio congressman

CNN: U.S. evangelicals gloomy about future, 'global south' optimistic, study finds

American Independent: Staffers: Govs. Haslam, Christie will not attend Perry/AFA prayer rally

Florida Independent: Archbishop of Miami defends ‘Religious Freedom’ amendment

Colorado Independent: Tea Party group FreedomWorks close with John Birch Society, study finds

Washington Independent: Gay marriage poll released by religious right group was intentionally skewed

Commentary Tidbits

Right Wing Watch: Rod Parsley Pulls Out A Bong And Dances Around In A Fat Suit

A Feather Adrift: What’s Rattling My Cage Today

CNN: Bible condemns a lot, so why focus on homosexuality?

LGBTQ Nation: ‘Deliverance from homosexuality:’ How an anti-gay ministry changed my life

Box Turtle Bulletin: “Kill The Gays” Bill Author Elevated In Ugandan “Family”

Ex-Gay Watch: Randy Thomas Leaves Exodus International

RH Reality Check: Conservative Christian Group Calls on Vitter To Resign (Yes, You Read That Right)

Media Matters: Asman Has Tyree On To Suggest That Opposition To Same Sex Marriage Is "Near And Dear To God's Heart"

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Quotes from the Republican Leadership Conference

Summer 2011 has been brimming with political gatherings! The Republican Leadership Conference took place on June 16-18 at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside Hotel in New Orleans, Louisiana. With many speeches focusing on the country's economic problems and conservative displeasure with President Obama, the event made for intense listening. For your reading pleasure, I have collected some choice quotes from conference speakers below.

Monday, June 20, 2011

News Tidbits

The Record: Gideon Bibles Rejected by School Board

MSN: Hong Kong 'gay cure' doctor defends his role

Huffington Post: LGBT Activists Respond To Chick-Fil-A's Downtown Chicago Debut

Boston Herald: State updates sex ed website called inappropriate

Louisville Courier-Journal: Uganda's anti-gay bill spotlighted at Louisville forum

Michigan Messenger: Dearborn Arab Festival turns confrontational

American Independent: Bachmann, Pawlenty sign Susan B. Anthony List anti-abortion pledge

Colorado Independent: As New York vote nears, Colorado Christian groups tout new anti-gay marriage poll data

Commentary Tidbits

New York Times: My Ex-Gay Friend

Barefoot and Progressive: David Williams slobbers all over hate group president Frank Simon, again 

Truth Wins Out: Exodus Is Behind ‘Cold Shower’ Quack Therapist In Hong Kong

Right Wing Watch: The Response Organizers Say Rick Perry Is An Answer To Their Prayers

Politicus USA: The Fundamental-ist Problem of Jesus

Pharyngula: The fundamental cowardice of creationists

Frank Schaeffer: Where the "crazy" far right comes from
(Hat tip to Infidel753)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Good Reads: THE WICHITA DIVIDE by Stephen Singular

Stephen Singular, author of FLDS expose When Men Become Gods and Talked to Death: The Life and Murder of Alan Berg, analyzes the 2009 murder of Wichita abortion provider George Tiller in The Wichita Divide: The Murder of Dr. George Tiller and the Battle Over Abortion. On May 31st, 2009, Dr. Tiller was shot to death while serving as an usher at Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita. The gunman, Scott Roeder, was convicted of first-degree murder in early 2010, and was interviewed by Stephen Singular from behind bars for the book. With the flowing language of a storyteller and the insight of an investigative reporter, Singular educates readers about the lives of both men and the cultural context of the murder.

The Wichita Divide delves into personal stories of Singular's subjects, including the work of Dr. Tiller and the work that transformed him into a passionate abortion provider and advocate. Readers learn of the violence directed against Tiller and his clinic, Fox News commentator Bill O'Reilly's demonization of Tiller, and the role of former Kansas attorney general Phil Kline's in investigations of Tiller's clinic. The book delves into Tiller's 2009 trial for alleged financial affiliation with Kristen Neuhaus -- a violation of Kansas law -- for which Tiller was found not guilty. Singular clearly respects the late Dr. Tiller, depicting him as a man of conviction and principle who continued to provide late-term abortions despite enormous pressure from anti-abortion forces.

Likewise, Singular depicts Scott Roeder in human terms, shedding light on the gunman's motives while still emphasizing the gravity of his acts. A schizophrenic with an obsessive interest in extreme right-wing ideology, Roeder alienated his ex-wife and son as his rhetoric grew more disturbing. As his religious fanaticism and extremism grew more intense, Roeder resolved to take violent action action the abortion provider he despised.

A key theme of The Wichita Divide is that Roeder's violence did not occur in a cultural vacuum. Singular devotes ample attention the rhetoric and networking of the anti-abortion movement, as well as its overlap with forces among the Christian Right. The murder of Dr. Tiller may have been the act of one unstable man, but Roeder's ideology was shaped by the anti-abortion messages he absorbed from his cultural milieu. In an April 24th interview with Amanda Marcotte at RH Reality Check, Singular emphasized the role of anti-abortion commentators in fueling Roeder's rage. While discussing his book with Marcotte, Singular had this to say at the 12:35 mark.
"A lot of the peple who do these kind of actions are not very stable mentally, and I think is this a very, very important point. Because when the mainstream starts targeting people individually and demonizing those people over and over again, and saying they're murderers and killers and comparing them to Hitler and all of that, that stuff filters down. That just doesn't stop when somebody says it into a microphone, and it filters down into people who are not only a lot less fortunate economically than the people who tend to make those comments, if you're at the top of the media heap, but it also filters down into people who are not very stable mentally or emotionally to begin with, and I don't think there's any awareness of this at all or any responsibility around it. If you're hitting an  at-risk population witht that message -- here's your target, here's somebody who's a killer, here's somebody who's life really doesn't make any difference, or somebody we would all be better off if that person were not here -- that's a very strong message."
In the prologue of The Wichita Divide, Singular likens the battle over abortion to a second American civil war, splitting Americans and injecting hatred into American political culture. We would do well to remember Singular's words, as abortion remains a heated issue and anti-abortion extremists show no signs of softening. As Dr. Tiller's murder reminds us, rhetoric has real-life consequences, making it necessary for citizens to be mindful of the ideas circulating in their society.

Perry's Prayer Rally and its Controversial Supporters

The Response Promo from The Response USA on Vimeo.

On August 6th, Reliant Stadium in Houston, TX will be the site of a Christian prayer rally that will beseech Jesus to guide America through its recent troubles. In the above promotional video, men and women list problems such as economic collapse, natural disasters, terrorism, and "perversion" (!) as the burdens facing the American people, necessitating a prayerful response. The Response rally, spearheaded by Texas governor Rick Perry, has attracted media and blog attention because of its controversial supporters.

According to the rally website, the Response leadership team includes staff from the International House of Prayer (a ministry with ties to anti-gay preacher Lou Engle) and the American Family Association (categorized as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center). Also featured on the leadership team is Jim Garlow, a San Diego megachurch pastor who likened gay marriage to an "Antichrist spirit" and claimed that Satan is attacking the institution of marriage, according to Right Wing Watch.

News Tidbits

BBC News: Protesters picket Northern Ireland 'gay cure' event

Pink News: Scottish MPs complain over invitation to anti-gay speaker

St. Petersburg Times: Tea party group offers summer camp

CNN: Sarah Palin e-mail message written as though from God

Roanoke Times: Giles County decision on Ten Commandments display stirs up fight

The Advocate: New York Archbishop Compares Gay Marriage to Communist Regimes

Beliefnet: Crisis pregnancy group reflects Jewish divide on abortion

Commentary Tidbits

Shakesville: Quote of the Day (Phyllis Schlafly)

Raw Story: Santorum says he's 'taken the bullets' in the abortion debate

Des Moines Register: Iowa teen moves forward after family dumps him

Right Wing Watch: FRC: Gay-Straight Alliances Make Kids Unhealthy

Salon: Michele Bachmann, gay-curing theocrat

Feministing: Why there is no way in hell Michele Bachmann can become America’s first woman president

Truth Wins Out: Wayne Besen’s Statement at Southern Baptist Convention

Whatever Works: David Barton belongs in a tent in Tennessee in 1911. But he’s a right wing fav instead just like ‘Pastor’ John Hagee who says the Catholic Church is the anti-Christ. Oh I could go on . . . I do go on. And on.

Media Matters: Beck Asks, "Why Would You Get A Gun?" -- Then Points To Pictures Of Obama, Sunstein

Media Matters: Beck Lists Obama, Soros, Van Jones, And The Media Among "Enemies" Of God, Who "Will Be Devoured"

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Some Comic Relief with Hobo Joe

Sometimes it's nice to lighten the mood at Republic of Gilead with some humor. I encourage readers to check out a post at Noodleepoodlee entitled "The Ballad of the Great Yukon Puke On", the (fictional) tale of a former Palin advisor who rebels against his employer. Hobo Joe and Noodleepoodlee carry out a daring sabotage mission code-named "Operation Going Brogue," involving heavy drinking, potatoes, head trauma, and a pair of ruined pumps. Their adventures will be forever celebrated in "The Ballad of the Great Yukon Puke On: A Magnum Opus."

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Quotes from the 2011 Faith and Freedom Coalition Conference

On June 3rd and 4th, the 2011 Faith and Freedom Conference and Strategy Briefing took place at the Renaissance Washington D.C. Hotel. Sponsored by Ralph Reed's Faith and Freedom Coalition, the conference was a high-energy gathering for right-wing political figures. With speakers such as Tony Perkins, Rep. Michelle Bachmann, and Rick Santorum, as well as afternoon breakout sessions with titles such as "Fighting Anti-Christian Bigotry" and "Combating the Liberal Media Bias," the conference included a significant Religious Right presence.

News Tidbits

Xtra: Rainbows banned at Mississauga Catholic school

The Daily Caller: "The most dangerous place for a Latino is in the womb"

Pink News: Republican congresswoman Vicky Hartzler compares gay marriage to incest and paedophilia

Beliefnet: For evangelicals, Bachmann ‘speaks our code’

Ms. Magazine: San Francisco Supervisor Pushes for Greater Transparency for CPCs

Asheville Citizen-Times: Asheville hosts LGBT conference to refute Exodus gathering

Michigan Messenger: Snyder won’t attend Texas prayer event

Texas Independent: Church-state separation, LGBT-rights groups respond to Gov. Perry’s ‘The Response’

Florida Independent: Family Research Council, Texas governor say Scott will declare Aug. 6 day of prayer

Colorado Independent: At Eagle Forum conference, right-wing members of Congress blast gay marriage

Iowa Independent: Randall Terry makes Iowa ad buy

American Independent: Pro-life group Personhood USA to followers: ‘bring the streets to the polling place’

Minnesota Independent: Bradlee Dean takes credit for passing anti-gay marriage amendment

Minnesota Independent: Upset by Ellison’s criticisms, Bradlee Dean says Muslim Democrat wants to overthrow Constitution

Reuters: Image of Hindu deity sparks protest in northern Idaho
(Hat tip to Gaytheist Agenda)

Commentary Tidbits

Right Wing Watch: Fact Sheet: Gov. Rick Perry's Extremist Allies

Talk to Action: Texas Gov. Rick Perry Partnering with New Apostolic Groups for Houston "Call to Prayer"

Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters: Rick Santorum demonstrates hypocrisy of 'intolerant homosexuals' lie

Religion Dispatches: In a Field of Anti-Science Candidates, Santorum Sets Himself Apart 

Think Progress: Rick Santorum’s 12 Most Offensive Statements/

Truth Wins Out: “Ex-Gay” Preaches “Freedom from Homosexuality”; His Eyes Tell A Different Story

Beisner Lambastes Environmentalists on American Family Radio

Right Wing Watch brought attention to a recent edition of American Family Radio, in which Bryan Fischer interviewed E. Calvin Beisner of the Cornwall Alliance. The Cornwall Alliance is perhaps best known for releasing an anti-environmentalist curriculum and book entitled Resisting the Green Dragon, which demonizes and caricatures environmentalism as allegedly un-Christian. A video excerpt of the interview is posted above, and the entire interview can be seen at www[dot]afa[dot]net/Radio/show.aspx?id=2147490466&tab=video&video=2147507154

Fischer and Beisner used recent flooding of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers as a backdrop to their anti-environmentalism discussion. Beisner criticized a member of the Ohio State University Olentangy River Wetland Research Park, claiming the man proposed demolition of levees along the Mississippi River in favor of a riverside wetland park. This, Beisner argued, would replace useful farmland with "swamp" and cause the river to flood every year instead of every fifty years.

Fischer asked his guest to contrast the worldview of "secular fundamentalists" with a supposedly Biblical worldview of man's relationship with the environment. Beisner replied that the supposed green approach to let the river flood typifies the environmentalist worldview, which allegedly wants to elevate earth to a higher status than humanity. He cited a lecture in the Resisting the Green Dragon series about Hinduism and nature, scoffing at a river-worshipping community in India that refused to build a dam to control river flooding. In response, Fischer asserted that environmentalism is a return to "dark paganism."

Beisner insisted that environmentalists want humanity to return to a "pre-industrial" and "pre-agricultural" society, requiring the disappearance of 95% of the human race. He and Fischer then discussed candidates for the 2012 presidential election, lambasting Mitt Romney for his belief that humans are contributing to global warming and praising Rick Santorum for rejecting the idea. The two referenced Santorum's recent interview on Rush Limbaugh's radio show, in which he claimed that the idea of climate change is a scheme by the left to justify more government control in people's lives.

Beisner's interview on American Family Radio contained his usual diatribes against environmentalism, including sweeping generalizations about environmentalists that do not reflect reality. For example, he assumes that all environmentalists subscribe to radical biocentrism, which is not the case. His outrageous claim that environmentalists supposedly want to return to some anarcho-primitivist stone age does not characterize the bulk of environmentalists. Finally, the men's conflation of environmentalism with paganism not only demonizes real-life pagans, but paints a dark picture of all environmentalists for their fundamentalist Christian audience. In short, the interview was another example of Religious Right voices caricaturing and demonizing environmentalism.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Bahati and Lively Nominated for Homophobia Hall of Shame

On May 16th, Human Rights Watch announced that Ugandan MP David Bahati and American pastor Scott Lively were the top 2011 candidates for the Homophobia Hall of Shame. Given the role of both men in promoting homophobia in Uganda, this is unsurprising but welcome news.

To provide background, David Bahati authored a draconian anti-gay bill in Uganda which would mandate severe sanctions for same-sex sexual activity. In interviews with western journalists (including NPR and Rachel Maddow), Bahati has promoted the dangerous stereotype that gays and lesbians allegedly "recruit" minors into homosexuality.

As journalists, filmmakers, and bloggers have noted, several American evangelical leaders have either promoted homophobia in Uganda or maintained ties to homophobic Ugandan leaders, creating a heated cultural context for the anti-gay bill. Scott Lively, the author of The Pink Swastika who has a long history of homophobic rhetoric, was one of them. In 2009, Scott Lively, Caleb Lee Brundidge, and Don Schmierer (a board member of the "ex-gay" group Exodus International) spoke at an Ugandan conference on the "gay agenda", soon after which Bahati introduced his anti-gay bill. Lively claimed that the draconian bill was "a step in the right direction". In an interview with Vanguard correspondent Mariana von Zeller, Lively admitted that he helped start the so-called "pro-family" movement in Uganda, painting an ominous picture of LGBT people in the west.

Let's applaud Human Rights Watch for taking Bahati and Lively to task for promoting homophobia in Uganda, and for drawing attention to the global networks that promote anti-gay bigotry. Let's also applaud the advocates who promote equal rights and dignity for LGBT people worldwide.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Commentary Tidbits

Talk to Action: Dirk Smillie's Falwell Inc.

God Discussion: Personhood Mississippi Sponsors 'Conceived in Rape' Tour

Mother Jones: Does Michele Bachmann Think the Apocalypse is Imminent?

USA Today: Kentucky taxpayers will help float Noah's Ark

RH Reality Check: The Neon Elephant in the Room: What the Media and Pundit Class Keep Missing About the "Abortion" Debate

Miranda Celeste: A Worthless and Dangerous Report

News Tidbits

Beliefnet: Gingrich Woos Skeptical Evangelical Voters

Kansas City Business Journal: Pancakes and prayers: IHOP name prompts another suit

NewsOne: Eddie Long’s Church Is Collapsing, Says Source 

365 Gay: Anti-gay Bernice King leaving Eddie Long’s megachurch

365 Gay: Tempers flare at Rhode Island civil union hearing

Der Spiegel: German Catholic Doctors Offer Homeopathic 'Gay Treatment'

Michigan Messenger: Michigan prayer group pushes views of extremists

American Independent: Though no ‘traditional values’ centers, YCT lauds legislation on student fee advisory committees

Pink Paper: Gay safe sex campaign re-instated in Australia after Christian complaints