NFL will sack Georgia if they pass anti-Gay religious “liberty” law — UPDATED

Roger Goodell, commissioner of the National Football League, is on the cusp of becoming America’s newest gay icon.

Goodell, who has an openly gay brother, and the NFL have emerged as staunch allies in gay rights advocates’ efforts to defeat HB 757, the controversial religious freedom bill that passed the Georgia legislature late last week.

HB 757 began the year as “the Pastor Protection Act,” a measure giving clergy the right to refuse to perform same-sex weddings. But after two trips through the Georgia state House and Senate, the bill now gives faith-based organizations the right to hire and fire people who violate their “sincerely held religious beliefs,” as well as the right to refuse to rent facilities for events they find “objectionable…”

With every expansion of the bill, Georgia legislators were warned by local business leaders not to do to Georgia what Indiana legislators did in 2015, when their own Religious Freedom Restoration Act led to an immediate nationwide backlash, including more than 400 million #BoycottIndiana tweets in the week the bill passed.

A year later, local tourism officials estimate the city lost at least 12 conventions and $60 million in direct business as a result…

Along with LGBT advocates, major players in Georgia’s business community have ripped the legislation.

Coca-Cola, Home Depot, and Delta Airlines oppose it. Michael Dell, Richard Branson, and Jack Dorsey have all spoken out against it. SalesForce CEO Mark Benioff, who has 16,000 employees in Georgia, has warned he’ll pull as much of his business as possible out of the state, tweeting last week:

“Once again Georgia is trying to pass laws that make it legal to discriminate. When will this insanity end?

Some think a sports-mad community like Georgia will listen most of all to folks in leading sports. I think they’re as capable as anyone in the Confederacy of cutting off their noses to spite folks who refuse to kneel before the Georgia version of sharia.

And, BTW, you can add Marvel and Disney to the list of firms ready to boycott the state. Why make a movie in a place that might refuse a room to staff or stars?

UPDATE: Georgia governor vetoes anti-gay religious exemption bill

Georgia’s term-limited Gov. Nathan Deal took a stand against his own party and averted threatened boycotts by major corporations on Monday by announcing his veto of a “religious freedom” bill passed exclusively by Republican lawmakers.

“I do not think that we have to discriminate against anyone to protect the faith-based community in Georgia,” Deal declared.

The bill enumerated a list of actions that “people of faith” would not have to perform for other people. Clergy could refuse to perform gay marriages; churches and affiliated religious groups could have invoked their faith as a reason to refuse to serve or hire someone. People claiming their religious freedoms have been burdened by state or local laws also could force governments to prove there’s a “compelling” state interest overriding their beliefs.

All but 11 Republicans in the Georgia House and Senate voted in favor; all Democrats voted against it.

Deal said he could “find no examples that any of the things this bill seeks to protect us against have ever occurred in Georgia.”

Like most bigots, the things Georgia Republicans feared had never come to pass in the wake of the SCOTUS decisions on gay rights. No different from the days when the “modern” Confederacy crapped their drawers over an end to legal segregation, mixed marriage, the whole agglomeration of laws guaranteeing racist practices. Reactionary politicians centered in the Republican Party, nowadays – Dixiecrats BITD – try their damndest to sink the American Constitution as it proceeds slowly towards actual modern times.

The Party of NO continues to be the Party of Know Nothing, the Party of Do Nothing Useful.

FDA tells gay and bi men — “Stop having sex and you can donate blood!”

The Food and Drug Administration is relaxing a decades-long ban on blood donations from gay and bi men…The current policy, meant to protect against HIV transmission, bars any man who’s had sex with a man since 1977 from donating blood.

But the FDA is still requiring men to abstain from sex with other men for at least a year before donating.

That effectively bars men in monogamous same-sex relationships from donating.

We have good blood tests for HIV, which LGBT health advocates argue make any deferral or ban unnecessary…

When Australia dropped its ban, donations grew substantially and HIV infections did not.

So, why can’t the United States comprehend up-to-date science and manage regulations about donating blood in a sensible, useful and fair manner? The usual answer is that the politicians with oversight on such matters are bigoted cowards who would rather follow the moralizing of the lowest common denominator of ignorance – instead of providing the least bit of leadership.

And nothing has changed. Public pressure has forced the FDA into a practically valueless reiteration of the same crap rules they’ve had in place for years.

They just want to look a little bit enlightened.

One more $1-billion-a-year right-wing conspiracy with God on their side


Elena Scotti/The Daily Beast

Have you heard of the $1,750-per-person “Gathering,” which started Thursday in Orlando, Florida?

Probably not. But if you’re female, gay, non-Christian, or otherwise interested in the separation of church and state, your life has been affected by it.

The Gathering is a conference of hard-right Christian organizations and, perhaps more important, funders. Most of them are not household names, at least if your household isn’t evangelical. But that’s the point: The Gathering is a hub of Christian Right organizing, and the people in attendance have led the campaigns to privatize public schools, redefine “religious liberty” (as in the Hobby Lobby case), fight same-sex marriage, fight evolution, and, well, you know the rest. They’re probably behind that, too…

To be sure, untangling webs of funders, organizations, and campaigns can often feel like conspiracy-mongering. Your brain begins to resemble one of those bulletin boards from A Beautiful Mind or Se7en, full of paranoid-seeming Post-Its and strings. Bruce Wilson has been untangling these webs for years, and sometimes it shows…

But often he’s dead on. And beneath the hyperbole, The Gathering is as close to a “vast right-wing conspiracy” as you’re likely to find. So with this year’s conference about to get under way, Wilson gave The Daily Beast an exclusive interview over email—heavily redacted here—about this shadowy, powerful network of hard-right funders.

Let’s start with the basics. What is The Gathering?

The Gathering is an annual event at which many of the wealthiest conservative to hard-right evangelical philanthropists in America—representatives of the families DeVos, Coors, Prince, Green, Maclellan, Ahmanson, Friess, plus top leaders of the National Christian Foundation—meet with evangelical innovators with fresh ideas on how to evangelize the globe. The Gathering promotes “family values” agenda: opposition to gay rights and reproductive rights, for example, and also a global vision that involves the eventual eradication of all competing belief systems that might compete with The Gathering’s hard-right version of Christianity. Last year, for example, The Gathering 2013 brought together key funders, litigants, and plaintiffs of the Hobby Lobby case, including three generations of the Green family.

RTFA for a long, deliberate, detailed, fact-filled description of how religious bigots organize much of the funding for their assorted hatreds. For a religion which purports to be founded on loving your neighbor, the sects fighting for theocracy in America require lots of individual ghettoes to separate out all the people, cultures and freedoms they don’t believe in loving.

Then, hypocrisy ain’t exactly a weak suit among American fundamentalists.

Thanks, Mike

Disney World ends support to Boy Scouts over LGBT discrimination

Walt Disney World has jumped on the bandwagon of businesses pulling their funding from Boy Scouts of America, as the organization still refuses to end its ban on openly LGBT adults.

Charitable contributions will no longer be made to BSA or local troops as part of Walt Disney World’s “Ears For You” grant program…

Scouts for Equality co-founder and Eagle Scout Zach Wahls praised Walt Disney World’s decision.

“We’re never happy to see Scouting suffer as a result of the BSA’s anti-gay policy, but Disney made the right decision to withhold support until Scouting is fully inclusive. Scouts for Equality will continue to advocate for a fully inclusive membership policy, to help build a stronger Scouting community that is eligible for the support of Corporate America.”

As the straight son of a lesbian couple, Wahls has been working to reverse the BSA’s policies of discrimination and exclusion. Since its inception in 2012, Scouts for Equality has succeeded in influencing seven major corporations – including Lockheed Martin, Caterpillar, Major League Soccer, Merck, Intel, UPS and now Walt Disney World — to end their sponsorship.

Bravo! I give Disney credit for joining a Free America. And kudos to Zach Wahls for his courage confronting an outdated administration. Scouting can do some real good – when ethics come up to constitutional standards.

Anti-Gay ministry Exodus International closes, apologizes

alanchambers

After nearly 40 years of performing “gay-to-straight conversion therapy,” Exodus International is closing its doors. The board of the Florida-based Christian ministry, which has grown to include more than 120 local U.S. and Canadian ministries and more than 150 ministries in 17 countries, voted unanimously Wednesday to shut down after a year-long internal discussion.

“Exodus is an institution in the conservative Christian world, but we’ve ceased to be a living breathing organism,” said Exodus President Alan Chambers on Wednesday. “For quite some time we’ve been imprisoned in a worldview that’s neither honoring toward our fellow human beings, nor biblical…”

Chambers also issued a series of apologies to the LGBT community for promoting reparative therapy and for failing to stand up to fellow Christians who persecuted gay individuals. “More than anything, I am sorry that so many have interpreted this religious rejection by Christians as God’s rejection,” he said. “I am profoundly sorry that many have walked away from their faith and that some have chosen to end their lives.”

The shutdown comes six years after three former Exodus leaders apologized and left the organization. In 2007, former Exodus co-founder Michael Bussee, former president of Exodus International Europe Jeremy Marks, and the former director of an Exodus referral agency Darlene Bogle issued a joint statement acknowledging the harm reparative therapy caused

The Human Rights Campaign issued a statement Thursday applauding Exodus for closing its doors. “This is a welcome first step in honestly addressing the harm the organization and its leaders have caused over the past 37 years,” said Dr. Sharon Groves, director of the HRC Religion and Faith Program. “Now we need them to take the next step of leadership and persuade all other religious-based institutions that they got it wrong. This is the right kind of reparative work that is left for them to do.”

I don’t doubt the core of fundamentalist bigots who hate the LGBT community sufficiently to deny them civil rights will continue the anti-Gay campaign under one or another name. The Michele Bachmanns of the political Right will continue the campaign in the halls of Congress. Truly corrupt loons who skim millions of dollars from ignorant and fearfilled religious folk – will continue to crank out their ministries of fear via opportunist radio barons.

Still, a victory as significant as this cannot be overlooked. And credit of some kind must be given to Alan Chambers who appears to have chosen honesty over greed. A decision rarely seen among religious hustlers.

Cardinal Dolan to lead Republican convention in prayer for victory over civil rights, liberated women and uppity nuns


On your knees, sinners!

The news that New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the nation’s most prominent Catholic prelate, will deliver the closing blessing to the Republican National Convention in Florida next week was seen as a huge coup for Mitt Romney, the party’s presumptive nominee. But the move has also prompted a sharp debate within the church over the increasingly close ties between leading bishops and the GOP.

The cozy relationship between a sizable portion of U.S. bishops and the Republican Party should be cause for concern, and not just among progressive Catholics,” Michael O’Loughlin wrote in a post on the website of America magazine, a leading Catholic weekly published by the Jesuits.

“Cardinal Dolan’s appearance in Tampa will damage the church’s ability to be a moral and legitimate voice for voiceless, as those who view the Catholic Church as being a shill for the GOP have just a bit more evidence to prove their case,” O’Loughlin concluded…

Similarly, David Cruz-Uribe, a member of the Secular Franciscan Order and a professor of mathematics at Trinity College, wrote on the Vox Nova blog that Dolan’s decision “will only drag the Church further into a partisan divide and fuel the perception (true or not) that the Catholic Church wants to replace the Episcopalians as the Republican party on its knees…”

Cripes. I haven’t read that phrase in years. Reminds me of no end of salacious jokes.

By tradition, the local bishop often delivers a prayer at the party convention meeting in his city, but it is highly unusual for another bishop — and the leader of the hierarchy — to fly in to deliver a benediction, as Dolan will do on Aug. 30, right after Romney is formally nominated…

Examine the range of issues – and positions on those issues – today’s Republican Party and the most reactionary elements of the Catholic Church hold in common. They share a war on Women – denying reproductive rights, abortion, birth control, IVF – even the papal edict against a woman choosing to abort to save her own life.

They oppose civil rights for the LGBT community. They demand that religious dogma and doctrine take precedence over civil law. All that may be missing from the podium that night is an appearance by one of those uppity nuns – gagged and in chains.

German version of NRA bans gays with guns from awards ceremonies

Germany’s conservative shooting association has banned gay “king” marksmen appearing with their partners at official ceremonies.

Each year local fraternities belonging to the association proclaim the best shooter as king, but last summer Dirk Winter, winner of the accolade in Munster, ruffled the conservative feathers of the shooting organisation by appearing with his male partner Oliver, who was crowned “queen”.

To avoid a repetition of this, kings will now have to have a female consort.

“The public appearance of same-sex couples is not compatible with the Christian traditions of the fraternities,” the Association of Shooting Fraternities said in a statement after 450 out of 500 delegates voted for the ban.

With many dating back to the nineteenth century and with a combined membership of some 400,000, the fraternities mix target shooting with a strong adherence to tradition and Catholic mores…

In a statement Germany’s Gay and Lesbian Association described the affair “as a provincial farce” that had made the shooting association appear “ridiculous”.

The association, however, defended its position, stressing that partners of gay kings could attend formal events but could not appear beside them and have to march behind the king when he enters the room.

Well – at least the new rules are consistent with conservative attitudes towards women. BTW – anyone ask the NRA for their position on gay members – much less gay award winners?

What’s with conservatives and sex? Tories invite crusaders in!


“They say you’re selling condoms in here”

A group which is opposed to abortion in all circumstances and favours an abstinence-based approach to sex education has been appointed to advise the government on sexual health. The Life organisation has been invited to join a new sexual health forum set up to replace the Independent Advisory Group on Sexual Health and HIV…

In contrast, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) has been omitted from the forum despite its long-term position on the previous advisory group and 40-year track record in providing pregnancy counselling nationwide.

“We are disappointed and troubled to learn that having initially been invited to the sexual health forum we have been disinvited, particularly now we understand that Life have been offered a seat at the table,” said Ann Furedi, chief executive of BPAS. “We find it puzzling that the Department of Health would want a group that is opposed to abortion and provides no sexual health services on its sexual health forum…”

Not especially different from the catalogue of Republican Party fears about gay sex, young people having sex, old people having sex, contraception, abortion right, women’s rights, choice and above all else – people being free to have sex.

Blake said: “Having made…massive progress, what we have to do is sustain that … and not go back to a time when the young had really poor sexual and relationship education and see a rise in teenage pregnancy rates and sexually transmitted infections as a result…”

Life also became a founding member last week of a new Sex and Relationships Council, which was launched in parliament with the endorsement of the education secretary, Michael Gove.

The council, which includes the Christian-run pro-abstinence group the Silver Ring Thing, says it aims to bring the voice of what it describes as “value-based, parent centred” sex and relationship education (SRE) providers to policy discussions on the future of SRE in schools…

Some secular organisations have been growing increasingly worried that Tory ministers are opening up government to the agendas of faith-based and pro-life groups

In Richmond, south-west London, the Catholic Children’s Society has taken over the £89,000 contract to provide advice to schoolchildren on matters including contraception and pregnancies. Another Christian-run charity, Care Confidential, is involved in providing crisis pregnancy advice under the auspices of Newham PCT in east London. Care’s education arm, Evaluate, was one of the founding members, alongside Life, of the Sex and Relationships Council.

Sounds to me like the same crap ideology advanced against Planned Parenthood in the United States by reactionaries and religious conservatives. They’ve found a home in what now passes for the Republican Party and are out to press regression of women’s rights back before World War 1.

Santorum advocates torture – says McCain doesn’t understand


Santorum’s favorite base: anti-abortion, anti-Gay, anti-freedom to think and live
Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

By now you may have heard that Rick Santorum has now responded to John McCain’s claim that torture didn’t lead to Bin Laden’s death by insisting that on the subject of torture, McCain has no idea what he’s talking about:

Here’s the quote from numbnuts:

“Everything I’ve read shows that we would not have gotten this information as to who this man was if it had not been gotten information from people who were subject to enhanced interrogation. And so this idea that we didn’t ask that question while Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was being waterboarded, he doesn’t understand how enhanced interrogation works. I mean, you break somebody, and after they’re broken, they become cooperative. And that’s when we got this information. And one thing led to another, and led to another, and that’s how we ended up with bin Laden.”

McCain, of course, has direct experience of this process. He has even written that he did not become cooperative under “enhanced interrogation” at all, and in fact gave his tormentors false information to get them to stop.

So I asked McCain spokesperson Brooke Buchanan for a response to Santorum. She emailed a one word reply:

Who?

Continue reading

New Hampshire newspaper rejects gay marriage announcement

New Hampshire’s largest newspaper is under fire for refusing to publish marriage notices for same-sex couples — even though the state is one of five in the U.S. that recognizes gay marriage.

The famously conservative Union Leader of Manchester rejected a wedding announcement called in by Greg Gould and Aurelio Tine earlier this month ahead of their nuptials Saturday in Portsmouth.

Publisher Joe McQuaid told The Associated Press that the privately owned paper isn’t anti-gay but staunchly believes marriage should be reserved for a man and a woman.

Interesting – and cowardly – way to package homophobia.

“This newspaper has never published wedding or engagement announcements from homosexual couples,” McQuaid said in a statement to New Hampshire’s WMUR. “It would be hypocritical of us to do so, given our belief that marriage is and needs to remain a social and civil structure between men and women and our opposition to the recent state law legalizing gay marriage…”

The snub has become an election issue. Democratic Senate candidate Paul Hodes sent a letter to McQuaid demanding the newspaper respect the state law. “The Union Leader’s disgraceful policy of exclusion harkens to a different time in this country when people were denied opportunity because of their race, religion and ethnic origin,” Hodes wrote.

His Republican opponent defended the newspaper, of course.

I grew up in a time when conservative newspapers also refused to print engagement and marriage announcements for anyone who wasn’t white. No surprise here.