Indiana’s law – is not pro religion, it’s Anti-Gay – of course

Governor Mike Pence is lying about the purpose of this law. The photo below, and who the governor invited to its being signed into law, very much reveals the motivation behind SB101 — it’s not pro-religion, it’s anti-gay, and that’s wrong.

It’s also bad business — companies like Apple and Angies List may very well be the tip of the iceberg; I suspect we may see other companies vote with their feet — and their dollars. Pence has revealed himself, and may have just torpedoed his own Presidential ambitions.

The Party of Lincoln, what happened to you?


Thanks, Barry Ritholtz, my favorite Recovering Republican

Texas Republicans embrace homophobia – replace outright bigotry with stupidity!

The Republican party of Texas has toned down anti-LGBT rhetoric in the party platform, replacing outright condemnation with a softer endorsement of the “value” of reparative therapy.

The “reparative therapy,” alluded to in the newly-unveiled party platform, is the controversial process of subjecting a homosexual to clinical and psychological treatment with the goal of “turning” the patient heterosexual.

Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable alternative lifestyle, in public policy, nor should family be redefined to include homosexual couples. We believe there should be no granting of special legal entitlements or creation of special status for homosexual behavior, regardless of state of origin. Additionally, we oppose any criminal or civil penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction, or belief in traditional values. We recognize the legitimacy and value of counseling which offers reparative therapy and treatment to patients who are seeking escape from the homosexual lifestyle. No laws or executive orders shall be imposed to limit or restrict access to this type of therapy.”

It is illegal to subject children to so-called “reparative” therapy in New Jersey and California, as those states say it constitutes child abuse.

While still extreme by traditional standards, the new language is significantly less incendiary than the previous platform, which condemned the LGBT community on both historic and religious grounds.

“We affirm that the practice of homosexuality tears at the fabric of our society and contributes to the breakdown of the family unit. Homosexual behavior is contrary to the fundamental, unchanging truths that have been ordained by God, recognized by our country’s founders and shared by the majority …”

Like I said in the headline – Texas Republicans think they’re appealing to reason by invoking the kind of junk science so beloved of dorks like Michelle Bachmann and her hubby.

Frankly, even a state like Texas – full of folks who vote the way they do because that’s the way they did it in the Confederacy – has to absorb enough watered-down good sense over time into their black-and-white standard-definition minds to understand crap science fixes nothing, nada, nuttin’ honey.

American pro sports prepare for the announcements of “I’m Gay”

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman

With growing expectations in recent weeks that a gay male athlete in one of the four major professional sports leagues in the United States will soon come out publicly for the first time, the leagues have begun exploring ways to accommodate and respond to such a landmark announcement.

The National Hockey League and its players announced Thursday what appeared to be the most comprehensive measure by a major men’s league in support of gay athletes. The National Football League is working with gay advocacy groups to smooth the way for acceptance and to discuss how to prepare for the moment when one of its players publicly discusses his homosexuality…

The N.H.L. said it had formed a partnership with the You Can Play Project — an advocacy group pledged to fighting homophobia in sports — to plan training and counseling on gay issues for its teams and players.

Other leagues — the N.F.L., Major League Soccer, the National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball — have policies that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, and various officials have spoken in support of gay athletes. The N.B.A. recently sent a memo to teams reminding them that interviews with players entering the N.B.A. draft should not include questions about religion, race and sexual orientation…

Patrick Burke, a scout for the Philadelphia Flyers and a founder of You Can Play, which was formed in March 2012, said the demographics of the N.H.L., with so many players from Canada and Northern Europe, were part of the reason the league had taken such a step.

“We have players from around the world, and a lot of those players are from countries that are seen as more progressive on L.G.B.T. issues,” Mr. Burke said, using the abbreviation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. “So I don’t think it’s unreasonable or strange to think that the N.H.L. and the N.H.L.P.A. are driving this, in part because our players tend to be more comfortable with this issue…”

N.F.L. player Brendon Ayanbadejo said that a loose consortium of supporters — including former athletes in several sports who came out after their careers were over, psychologists and friends — were trying to help put those players in touch with one another. What happens after that, he said, is up to them.

“As far as what happens, none of that is coordinated,” he said. “It’s going to be on their times, their terms. The only thing coordinated is support, them being able to talk to other athletes who have been in their shoes. We want to put them together, and we can be there to support them in whatever they want to do.”

Overdue. Of course.

One of the saddest aspects of topics like this is that even conservatives who whine about individuals and organizations taking progressive attitudes on questions like this – still bullshit themselves into believing they live in the most advanced country in the world.

We lost that title decades ago.

Advancements happening within the borders of the US of A are owed to the young at heart who are willing to fight against reaction, ignorance. That leadership banner can unfurl over the whole nation when all of the battles against True Believers are won. Sports figures being able to speak openly about their sexuality without fear of sanction is part of that, one more step.

Boy Scouts continue their ban on gay members, gay parents

The Boy Scouts of America has reaffirmed its longtime policy of barring openly gay boys from membership and gay or lesbian adults from serving as leaders…The exclusion policy “reflects the beliefs and perspectives” of the organization, the Boy Scouts said in a news release from its headquarters in Irving, Texas…

Under growing public pressure to reconsider the issue, in 2010 the Boy Scouts formed a committee of 11 “volunteers and professional leaders to evaluate whether the policy was in the best interests of the organization,” the statement said…The committee was kept secret until now, and the Scouts declined to reveal its membership or methods…

“The Boy Scouts of America is one of the last cultural institutions to have discrimination as part of their policy,” said Richard Ferraro, vice president for communications with the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, noting that the Girl Scouts, the Boys and Girls Clubs, the 4-H Clubs and now even the military forbid discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Prohibiting or ejecting gay children or leaders sends a dangerous message to all children, Mr. Ferraro said, adding, “It’s policies like this that contribute to bullying in schools.”

Earlier civil rights struggles suffered through the vicissitudes of legal decisions, executive decisions. Like this edict from the Boy Scouts, the public good, rights of public access and freedom of association mean nothing to the bigots making the decision.

Like the battles in Montgomery, like the movement to organize farm workers, an honorable response to reactionary politics is a boycott. Personally, though I have supported the healthier aspects of scouting in America, I feel this is a solid reason why I will no longer support the Boy Scouts of America or recommend that any American who respects the civil rights of our citizens ever donate to the BSA, again.

They must work to rejoin the nation in spirit and deed before they are worth supporting, once again.

Nuns speak out, respond to the Vatican’s proposed inquisition

Not yet!

The American nuns who were harshly condemned by the Vatican in April as failing to uphold Catholic doctrine finally responded on Friday in their own strong terms, saying the Vatican’s assessment was based on “unsubstantiated accusations” and a “flawed process,” and has caused scandal, pain and polarization in the Roman Catholic Church.

The nuns issued a statement after six weeks of virtual silence, during which their religious communities across the country mulled over the Vatican’s startling pronouncement, and Catholics across the country rallied to support the nuns. The Vatican had announced it would dispatch three American bishops to lead a complete makeover of the sisters’ principal organization, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which represents about 80 percent of the nation’s 57,000 nuns.

After three days of discussion and prayer in Washington this week, the 21 national board members of the group decided they could not accept the Vatican’s verdict, and would send their president and executive director to Rome on June 12 to open a dialogue with Vatican officials.

Now that will smoke the Pope’s pipes. Uppity nuns.

Sister Pat Farrell, president of the leadership conference, said in a telephone interview on Friday, “We do want to go and speak the truth as we understand it about our lives.” She said the sisters had been “stunned by the severity” of the Vatican’s pronouncement, which accused them of transgressions that included promoting radical feminism and contradicting the bishops. The sisters were also concerned that the assessment was conducted almost entirely by written communication, she said, with only “minimal contact” with officials at the Vatican office that issued the conclusions, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Among the accusations the nuns considered “unsubstantiated” was the Vatican’s charge of promoting “radical feminist themes,” Sister Farrell said.

“Even large sectors of the church itself have legitimate concern and want to continue to talk about the place of women in the church, and rightful equality between men and women,” said Sister Farrell, who is a member of the leadership team of the Sisters of St. Francis, of Dubuque, Iowa. “So if that is called radical feminism, then a lot of men and women in the church, far beyond us, are guilty of that.”

The Vatican continues to behave like the medieval mens’ club it always has been. The Pope’s flunkies wring their hands over the nuns occasionally hosting speakers who “contradict or ignore” church teaching and focused their efforts on serving the poor and disenfranchised.

Add in support for civil rights, insufficient homophobia and failure to condemn adequately women’s reproductive rights.

They reprimanded the sisters for making public statements that “disagree with or challenge the bishops, who are the church’s authentic teachers of faith and morals.”

RTFA. The nuns are guilty of using democratic discussion to arrive at policy. Even worse, ordinary Catholics are obviously supporting them – yet another challenge to the absolute obedience the princes of the church demand.

Catholic sermons wail and whinge — Gay couples prepare to celebrate weddings and happiness

“Let me not to the marriage of true minds/ Admit impediments,” declared the bard of Stratford in his 116th sonnet. And at the Globe theatre in central London on Sunday – even as Catholics were being urged from thousands of pulpits across the country to oppose gay marriage – there was no shortage of same-sex couples ready to heed his encouragement.

At the Designer Civil Partnership show at Shakespeare’s erstwhile theatre, excited couples discussed the colour scheme of invitations, whether wedding “favours” were a necessary part of the big day – and the decision of the Catholic church to wage war against government plans for gay marriage.

“I think it’s disgusting. We are not second-class citizens and the idea that this archaic institution should dictate how we live our lives is appalling,” said Matt Turrell, 37, a photographer specialising in civil partnerships. “At the end of the day, the union of two people should be about love. Why should we be denied the right to express that publicly?”

On Sunday a letter from two senior Catholic archbishops was read in 2,500 parish churches during mass, arguing that a change to the law would reduce the significance of marriage…

At heart and root, the greater fear is the accelerating collapse of social and political power of the religious establishment.

With a string quartet playing in the entrance hall, intense discussions on whether ushers should wear matching cufflinks, and stalls displaying everything from chocolate macaroons to crystal-encrusted table centre pieces, this was a wedding fair much like any other.

But gay couples are still made to feel excluded because they cannot marry in the same way as heterosexual couples, according to Chris Ford, 30, and his fiance Andrew Ogilvie, 32. The couple, both nurses, were told they could have no religious element to their service and described it as the first barrier they had faced as gay men.

“I was gobsmacked,” said Ogilvie. “Automatically you feel second class, that your union is not valued in the same way. It’s not like we are all going to be marching into Catholic churches in bridal dresses, but you just want to have the option. Civil partnerships are good, but they are not perfect…”

Standing in the sunshine overlooking the Thames from a balcony at the Globe, Natasha Marshall, 31, and Debbie Cross, 38, tuck into the bubbles, chatting about the wedding rings they have just chosen for their civil partnership in September. The pair, who have been together for 13 years, would have liked the option of a civil wedding, but seem unconcerned about the fact that they will not yet be able to have a religious ceremony. “Church weddings are boring anyway,” said Cross. “We’re going to have a lot more fun than that.”

The headline suggests a question easy enough to answer with a smile. Which would you rather attend? A gay wedding fair or one more ceremony of 14th Century stink and sermon brimming with fear and hatred, telling us all which orders we are required to obey without question?

Civil rights, evenhanded for all is easy as pie. Just not for those who believe they are above the civil.

How did the leopard get its spots? Alan Turing was right all along

He cracked the Nazi Enigma code, helped end the Second World War and is recognised as the father of computer science.

But for his final challenge, Alan Turing turned his mathematical mind to one of the natural world’s most enduring riddles: how the leopard got its spots. Now, 60 years on, scientists have discovered that Turing’s theory for why repeated patterns occur in nature was absolutely correct.

In his 1952 paper The Chemical Basis of Morphogenesis, the code breaker proposed that animals’ stripes and spots are caused by the interaction of a pair of chemicals, dubbed ‘morphogens’.

One of the chemicals, he suggested, triggered cell activity, while the other hindered it. The way in which they interact would dictate where cells grow, creating familiar patterns on the fur of animals.

While scientists have been able to simulate Turing’s theory using computer models, for the first time scientists have identified the exact chemicals in action.

Researchers at King’s College London found the interaction between two morphogens named Fibroblast Growth Factor and Sonic Hedgehog dictated the ridge patterns in the mouths of mice, as predicted by Turing’s models.

The same theory applies to the stripes and spots of big cats, the number of bristles on a fruit fly, or the whorls on a leaf.

Dr Jeremy Green, a reader in Developmental Cell Biology, said the discovery could help progress the next generation of stem cell therapy by indicating how to build complex structures such as organs in a laboratory…“Our study provides the first experimental identification of an activator-inhibitor system at work in the generation of stripes – in this case in the ridges of the mouth palate.”

While biological processes at work are highly complicated, the mathematics behind Turing’s theory was “ingeniously simple”, he said.

He was a great British genius. He had the confidence to take a completely new field, biology, and ask, ‘What can I add to it?’”

The mathematician, who would have been 100 years old this June, was convicted of being a homosexual the month the paper was completed. He committed suicide two years later…

The reward of a bigoted nation for his efforts at stopping Hitler and winning WW2.

Catholic Bishops use “freedom of religion” to justify homophobia

Catholic Charities refused Rick Wade and Tim Kee when the couple tried to adopt 3 years ago

Roman Catholic bishops in Illinois have shuttered most of the Catholic Charities affiliates in the state rather than comply with a new requirement that says they must consider same-sex couples as potential foster-care and adoptive parents if they want to receive state money. The charities have served for more than 40 years as a major link in the state’s social service network for poor and neglected children.

The bishops have followed colleagues in Washington, D.C., and Massachusetts who had jettisoned their adoption services rather than comply with nondiscrimination laws.

So much for dedication to the needs of the people.

For the nation’s Catholic bishops, the Illinois requirement is a prime example of what they see as an escalating campaign by the government to trample on their religious freedom while expanding the rights of gay people. The idea that religious Americans are the victims of government-backed persecution is now a frequent theme not just for Catholic bishops, but also for Republican presidential candidates and conservative evangelicals…

The Illinois experience indicates that the bishops face formidable opponents who also claim to have justice and the Constitution on their side. They include not only gay rights advocates, but also many religious believers and churches that support gay equality (some Catholic legislators among them). They frame the issue as a matter of civil rights, saying that Catholic Charities was using taxpayer money to discriminate against same-sex couples…

If you are to be a responsible citizen of a country you function within the law that governs that nation. Yes, you may challenge laws within legitimate political means and methods. Picking up your marbles and running home is not responsible behavior.

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