Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) appeared on today’s edition of Washington Watch Weekly with Tony Perkins in order to criticize the U.S. military for removing a small church steeple and cross-shaped windows at an Afghan base, which he claims means that the military won’t let service members worship.
As NBC News reported, the steeple and cross “violated Army regulations and could reinforce suspicions that the United States is fighting a holy war” against Islam, which is exactly how Taliban insurgents are framing the war.
But Gohmert said that by removing the steeple the military is telling service members that they “can’t have freedom of religion” or have the right to worship. The congressman said that people who “hate anything to do with Christianity” are leading a “witch hunt” in the military by pushing “active discrimination against Christianity.” He even suggested that they are banning chapels, rather than just removing symbols that violate Army regulations.
Gohmert: It is amazing how many people think that the First Amendment means that government must discriminate against Christianity when actually it says we’re supposed to avoid prohibiting the free exercise thereof. We shall make no law respecting any establishment of religion, we get that, but we’re not supposed to prohibit the free exercise thereof. It’s like, ‘oh you’re in the military you can’t have freedom of religion,’ ‘what do you mean I can’t have freedom of religion, I’m fighting for people to have freedom of religion, you’re not going to allow me to worship at the very time I need it most when my life could come to an end? You’re going to deprive me of that? You’re going to take away the symbols of the things I believe in, seriously?’ So we’ve got a witch hunt going on by those who for some reason, and you and I know the reason, but they just hate anything to do with Christianity. They certainly don’t go after Islam or Hindu [sic] or anything like that; heck we’ll let them build a Muslim worship center on Ground Zero but a Christian chapel? ‘No I don’t think so we’re not going to do that.’ There is active discrimination against Christianity.
Later, Gohmert said that suicides among service members are due to a lack of religious belief but the military is “sitting on the results” of a study proving his point.
He also suggested that the Obama administration is refusing to “speak up” about anti-Christian persecution in the Mideast, when actually the administration has repeatedly condemned the detention of pastors in Iran and anti-Christian violence in Egypt.
Perkins: Why is the military pushing out the very thing that could help them solve this problem of suicide?
Gohmert: It’s a great question and it’s because I think people who are so fervently against Christianity that they just want it squelched so the military has kowtowed to them. When you have a President that seems to be fine with us having such an important role in Afghanistan and yet under our watch the last public Christian church has closed, when you have an administration where Christians in Egypt are being pursued and even in Iran you got a Christian pastor just sentenced to eight years in prison and we don’t speak up, we don’t stand up, so the only people that are being heard and being boisterous enough are those who want to eliminate Christianity, as has been tried many times, from the face of the country. So that’s who is most vocal and so they kowtow the them.
But it is so dangerous and I talked to someone who is very familiar with the study that the military had done and now they are sitting on the results. Supposedly there is a good chance unless there’s an uproar that they won’t release them because if they will release them, they will be honest about the results of a study they paid for involving thousands of soldiers and my understanding is the results show that everyone within their study of thousands of military members who ultimately committed suicide, they were in the bottom two percent of being the most atheistic. We’ve been looking for so long, how do we help these service members? It really is just a plague of suicides like we’ve never had from military members, how do we deal with that? Well one thing is we have to be honest about the problem, what is the problem? What do they have in common? How can we address this? I think tearing down steeples and eliminating crosses in windows are not a good way to go.
Texas Republican congressman Steve Stockman announced today that he is “excited to have a patriot like Ted Nugent joining me in the House Chamber” during President Obama’s State of the Union, once again confirming Stockman’s position as one of the most far-right members of Congress.
Nugent in the past has threatened to kill President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and California Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer.
“I was in Chicago and I said hey Obama, you might want to suck on one of these you punk; Obama, he’s a piece of shit, and I told him to suck on my machine gun,” Nugent screamed during a concert while brandishing two machine guns, “Then I was in New York and I said, ‘Hey Hillary you might want to ride one of these into the sunset you worthless bitch…. Then I was out in California and I thought, Barbara Boxer, she might want to suck on my machine gun, hey Dianne Feinstein ride one of these you worthless whore.”
Nugent at a National Rifle Association gathering said that if Obama and his “vile, evil America-hating administration” win re-election then “I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year.”
He also told NRA members that Obama and other Democratic officials are “criminals” and like an animal that needs to be shot.
Besides threatening to kill U.S. officials, Nugent also claimed that he now wishes that the South had won the Civil War and attacked civil rights leaders over their “ebonic mumbo-jumbo.” He has even denounced what he calls Obama’s “racist agenda” and “liberal jihad.”
But unlike most people who have been visited by the Secret Service over their violent threats to elected officials, Nugent is invited to the State of the Union address.
As soon as the story broke that the Boy Scouts of America was considering a change in its national ban on gay members, Religious Right leaders immediately claimed that such a move would lead to an increase in child abuse in the Scouts.
But in a desperate attempt to play the victim, the very same conservative activists are now upset that they are facing criticism over their attempts to connect homosexuality with pedophilia.
The American Family Association’s Sandy Rios invited Peter LaBarbera of Americans For Truth About Homosexuality onto her show today to defend her repeated attempts to link homosexuality with pedophilia, all the while claiming that she didn’t really say it, except that she did.
Rios: The push back to me about this topic, I get emails about ‘how dare you say that,’ they say that I say this, I didn’t, but I am indicating it or hinting at it, that all homosexuals would go into Scouting because they were recruiting, looking for love interests, sexual objects. Is that fair Peter?
LaBarbera: I just think there’s so many levels on the Scout issue. First of all, just the whole thing of biology, I have a thirteen year old daughter, I don’t care how noble a guy is I wouldn’t want him out in a tent with my daughter. Do we want these young boys—and the fact is you read the writings of some of these men, I’m sorry it’s not nice, ‘hairless boys,’ you see this in the writings over the years, do we want that temptation in the Scouts? No. Also it’s already on record. We know that homosexual pedophiles go where the boys are. Whether it’s the Catholic Church, the schools, coaches—
Rios: Shall we say Jerry Sandusky.
LaBarbera: Jerry Sandusky, the Boy Scouts. This is already a record. Homosexuality and the Boy Scouts do not mix and it’s just something that’s not appropriate and parents don’t need that worry. You have the fact of the other problem, which there’s a lot of in homosexual life, is this boy-on-boy predations.
Responding to a listener named Lawrence, Rios said that schools should once again prohibit gays and lesbians from teaching or any job involving children because they have “sexual aberrations in their life,” arguing that openly gay teachers “opened the gates to all kind of stuff” like female teachers who sleep with male students.
After complaining that the media refused to cover the murder of Jesse Dirkhising, who was raped and killed by a gay couple in 1999, Rios and LaBarbera said that Matthew Shepard was not a victim of anti-gay violence. Rios said the facts of the case were “twisted and fabricated” and LaBarbera asserted that its “absurd” to think Shepard was the victim of a hate crime.
Like Rios, Linda Harvey of Mission America also played the victim by explaining that anti-gay discrimination is necessary or otherwise people like her would feel discriminated against.
On her daily radio alert, she said that boys will be “preyed upon” and face “mental, spiritual and possibly physical corruption” if the ban on gay members is lifted, which she says “would amount to blatant anti-Christian, anti-common sense discrimination.”
Many would cave in and allow homosexual identity and attraction to be respected and welcomed among their boys; that would mean mental, spiritual and possibly physical corruption plain and simple. Parents and grandparents the nation over are appalled at the irresponsibility of this potential move and the delay is not necessarily a good sign. What the national Boy Scouts may be hoping for is more dialogue, in other words, ways to pressure local troop leaders and national Christian groups threatening to disaffiliate if this new policy goes through. The delay also allows homosexual groups to mount bigger nationwide campaigns to spin the issue as a matter of hate versus love and tolerance. Those of us with experience with these folks know this does not reflect reality.
The Scouts may have homosexuals on staff pushing for this change. We do know that the far-left Huffington Post has been encouraging companies like Intel and UPS to drop corporate Boy Scout donations. Boy Scout board members Randall Stephenson of AT&T and Ernst & Young’s James Turley have been openly pushing for this change, and of course Barack Obama also did so in a recent speech. For our young men it amounts to saying ‘yes’ instead of ‘no way’ to the idea of two guys dating, kissing and even having sexual contact. It means leaders who have these attractions. It’s a matter of saying ‘yes’ to other boys in their troop calling themselves gay. A boy in these new homosexually-affirming troops won’t be able to object or say it’s not acceptable nor respectable. In other words this policy would amount to blatant anti-Christian, anti-common sense discrimination. It’s also a threat to boys who may be preyed upon by their own peers or older boys or by adults, all of whom would have more access to those whom they are attracted.
Rep. Steve Palazzo (R-MS), best known for voting against Hurricane Sandy relief after pushing for federal aid after Hurricanes Katrina and Isaac for his district, is now championing the opposition to any change in the Boy Scouts of America’s policy on gay members. In an interview last week with Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, who has repeatedly linked homosexuality to pedophilia, Palazzo warned that liberals are “using our very culture against us” and that “it’s time for the silent majority once again to step into the fight and protect America from the direction it’s heading.”
Palazzo: Conservative Christians across America have to wake up to reality that the liberal, the very well organized liberal base of this country is very organized and they are using our very culture against us. We have to stand up and have our voices heard. I know it’s difficult because people, you know they get up, they send their kids to school, they go to work, Friday nights they’re at the ball field, Saturday’s they’re in the yard, Sunday’s they’re in church, but if you don’t like the way this country is going and the direction it’s going down then it’s time for the silent majority once again to step into the fight and protect America from the direction it’s heading.
The congressman compared his efforts to maintain the BSA’s ban on gay Scouts to fighting in the Marines and accused President Obama and “his highly organized liberal machine” of having “unfairly attacked” the organization. “These people who are out there protesting and petitioning, I don’t think they care one thing about the Boy Scouts of America” and want the organization to fail, Palazzo said.
Palazzo: I guess the Marine in me is you know when we hear gun fire we don’t run from it we run towards it, we want to help people whether they’re our fellow Marines or whether someone’s been innocently in the crossfire. That’s one of the reasons I’ve engaged in this conversation, I’m just not wired to stand by and watch an organization that wasn’t doing anything be unfairly attacked by Obama, which I’m pretty safe to say he was probably never a Scout, and his highly organized liberal machine. You made an example of Canada; Canada did something like this and within five years fifty percent of the membership has declined. These people who are out there protesting and petitioning, I don’t think they care one thing about the Boy Scouts of America and in fact I think they would like to see the organization probably go the way of a lot of other faith and family based organizations have gone in the past ten years.
Perkins: What prompted you to weigh into this? I will say I’ve actually talked to a few members, actually some more on the Senate side, encouraging them to weigh in and there is a little reluctance on some. So what prompted you to step in?
Palazzo: You know I’ve jumped out of C-130s before, I jumped out of a few Hueys; maybe I’m just not afraid of weighing in on things that are extremely important to me. That’s the way I’m wired as a parent of three young children, as a former Boy Scout, Cub Scout, whose actually benefited from the values and principles this organization espouses to just say listen I’m tired of watching organizations be unfairly attacked.
In a letter to the BSA board [PDF], Palazzo attacked gay rights advocates who he said “only seek to impose their liberal agenda with reckless disregard of the impact that this significant membership policy change would have on our children.”
I urge the Boy Scouts of America to refuse to give in to peer-pressure from politicians and media outlets by allowing openly gay members and adults as part of the organization. They only seek to impose their liberal agenda with reckless disregard of the impact that this significant membership policy change would have on our children. They fail to recognize that such a significant change to membership policies would compromise the overall message of the Boy Scouts, undermine its spiritual principles, and create conflicting membership policies among local chapters.
She Deserves to Be My Wife
This piece is the second in a series of guest blog posts on “Why It’s Time to Dump DOMA.” In the weeks leading up to the Supreme Court arguments on the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act, we’re asking friends of PFAW to share why dumping DOMA matters to them. Be sure to check back soon for the latest post in the series.
Love. The love of the one who makes us smile, the one who makes us laugh, the one who makes us feel like we are the only person in the world. The one who makes us wonder, why did God wait to bring this person in our lives? The one who makes our toes curl and shiver every time we think about them, hear their voice, see their face, or have intimate moments. Yes, love is what every human being should be afforded while on this earth and on this journey called life. And once we find that true love, we want to make it official and spend the rest of our days enjoying them and experiencing life with them. However, it seems that some people only believe that this bliss or joy should be extended to those of different genders.
The first time I heard the word “partner” for same-sex couples, my friend referred to her mate in that way. I must admit, I questioned how could this term be appropriate for same-gender loving couples. Was it a business relationship? To me, partner is so formal, while wife or husband is so personal. And who refers to the one they love in a formal way? The ones we love we call “baby,” “sweetie,” “honey,” “sugar,” “darling,” and “my dear.” It seems to me that this “partner” term was given to those same-gender loving couples to diminish the true love and awesome power that they experience when being with one another. Yes, there is a partnership involved. But I think it’s time to recognize that same-sex couples are as “qualified” for marriage as heterosexual couples. Love in my faith tradition is represented in heart, soul and spirit. It is that love – that love that binds and unifies heart to heart and spirit to spirit that obligates me to say to my friend, “Yes, you have a partner and you also have a wife.”
We are in the 21st century, and the way I see it, it’s time to dump DOMA simply because it discriminates against those who deserve to have their relationships recognized in whatever way they choose – which should include as marriages. It’s time to dump DOMA because it hurts and humiliates those who know love and who practice showing it each and every day. It’s time to dump DOMA because it alienates and afflicts those who love with their heart and are simply in need of their rights being extended to them. It’s time to dump DOMA and celebrate the manifestation of love in every relationship. It’s time to afford every human the opportunity to marry and be respected as loving families who contribute to the wonderful world that God created and are a part of making it go around.
Dump it, and create a better world for all human-kind!
Bishop Allyson Abrams
Member of People For the American Way’s African American Ministers In Action
Roger Hedgecock is a syndicated right-wing talk show host based in San Diego. For years, he was a regular fill-in for Rush Limbaugh, and before that he was a Republican mayor of San Diego – briefly, that is. He was convicted of campaign finance violations and thrown out of office only two years into his first term.
Speaking on his program earlier this week, Hedgecock lamented that “hatred of white people has now become an epidemic in this country” and is even “informing political decisions that are made.” The cause? President Obama and white-hating public schools.
While most Americans see Obama’s election as a landmark victory for racial equality, Hedgehock thinks it’s tearing America apart at its racial seams:
No one has ever more racially divided this country since John C. Calhoun than Barack Obama. No one in this country believes we are better off in race relations, that there is less racial tension today, because of Barack Obama's election. [...]
It was my hope, and the hope of many voters, particularly those who did not vote for Barack Obama, that the silver lining here would be, here was a man who understood the history, and would bring us together, and would get us past the racism question. And instead of that has gone exactly the other way.
Further complicating Hedgecock’s life-as-a-white-man is that public schools are teaching “hatred of white people” and “hatred of white privilege.” The curriculum, he argued, is “as anti-American, anti-West and anti-white as you could imagine.” As proof, he cited a diversity program in Portland, OR schools that dared to mention that whites have traditionally enjoyed a number of privileges.
Hedgecock said he wants everybody to get along so we can all get past racism and live up to the Republican Party’s history. If only Obama could be more like Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr., racial tensions wouldn’t be so high:
Racial tensions in this country are at an all-time high in my lifetime, and I lived through the 50s. I lived through Rosa Parks. I lived through Martin Luther King, Jr. The consensus was at that time among white people that those civil rights efforts were in the noblest tradition of the American republic, lived up to our values as expressed in the Declaration of Independence, and lived up the Republican Party's history, including why it was even formed, to get rid of slavery in the first place.
Ah, yes. The consensus among whites in the ‘50s was that King and Parks were awesome and not the least bit controversial. They just politely asked for equality, and the white people said, “okay, sorry about that.” Everybody held hands and sang. And it was going perfectly until a white-hating black man got himself elected president.
WASHINGTON – People For the American Way today urged the Senate to turn its attention to clearing the backlog of federal circuit court nominees created by Republican obstruction in the last Congress.
Today the Senate Judiciary Committee easily reapproved three highly-regarded circuit court nominees who were blocked from Senate votes last year despite strong bipartisan support. These nominees – First Circuit nominee William Kayatta of Maine, Tenth Circuit nominee Robert Bacharach of Oklahoma, and Federal Circuit nominee Richard Taranto – have all waited at least eight months for Senate floor vote since their first committee approvals.
Judiciary Committee ranking member Charles Grassley used his prerogative to hold back for a week two additional circuit court nominees who had previously been approved by the committee. Patty Shwartz of New Jersey has been waiting nearly a year for a vote from the full Senate. Caitlin Halligan, who was first nominated by the president in 2010 and first approved by the committee in 2011, would fill one of three vacancies on the highly influential Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Both will get new committee votes next week.
As the five circuit court nominees once more make their way through the confirmation process, President Obama continues to make new nominations, naming four new circuit court nominees this during the past week, including two today.
Marge Baker, Executive Vice President of People For the American Way, released the following statement:
“The five circuit court nominees before the committee today were all approved by the committee last year and all have been waiting at least eight months for a simple up-or-down vote from the Senate. It’s bad enough that Senate Republicans forced all five to go through the confirmation process again this year rather than allowing them a timely confirmation vote. But it would add insult to injury if they are forced to languish on the Senate floor again. Surely, after all the time that these five highly qualified nominees have already spent waiting for a vote after committee approval, the Senate does not need more time to consider their qualifications.
“The Senate should quickly hold votes on these long-delayed nominees in order to fill the vacancies on these important courts. “
The Thomas More Law Center, a right-wing legal group whose advisory board includes Rep. Michele Bachmann and former Rep. Allen West, is warning the Supreme Court that a ruling in favor of marriage equality would lead to “ideological totalitarianism” and hand gay rights advocates “a legal weapon with which to beat down ideological opponents.”
In an amicus brief filed last week [pdf], Thomas More argues:
To enshrine one side of a deeply divisive issue in constitutionally untouchable concrete is to fashion a legal weapon with which to beat down ideological opponents, at the cost of intellectual liberty. For this Court to say that it is irrational or illegitimate for a government to recognize, and act upon, the distinction between the potentially procreative marital act, and every other sexual act, would be for this Court implicitly to declare as irrational, benighted, or bigoted, all those individuals who adhere to the traditional view of marriage.
Already those who dare to voice objections to any part of the political program of various LGBT advocacy groups risk vilification, marginalization, or worse. Liberty suffers when one side of a debate is delegitimized as a matter of constitutional law.
In Lawrence, this Court has held that sexual acts between persons of the same sex may not be prohibited. But to go further and say that no government may treat such acts as different, for purposes of government policy or official recognition, from the unique marital acts of a man and a woman, would be enormously to expand the constitutional power this Court already affords sexual choices as such. To take that additional step would be to declare unacceptable and illegitimate the recognition of the uniqueness of the marital act. Those who subscribe to that recognition, in turn, then become pariahs, ignoramuses, or bigots in the eyes of the law.
Opponents of the legal redefinition of marriage already face the prospect of significant retaliation. Equating such persons, as a matter of constitutional law, with racist rednecks or backwards fools, serves as a legal license to continue or increase the legal and social marginalization of such persons. The price is the loss of liberty for those individuals who can no longer obtain gainful employment in their fields….and the loss of intellectual diversity for larger society…This Court should not foster the imposition of what would be, in effect, an ideological totalitarianism, i.e., a regime in which the unquestioning acceptance of the same-sex marriage movement represents the only permissible point of view. (Citations omitted)
The Thomas More Law Center is prone to this sort of dramatic prediction. The group unsuccessfully sued the Justice Department over the Shepard-Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which it claimed would create “a special class of persons who are ‘more equal than others’ based on nothing more than deviant, sexual behavior.” The group further claimed that "the sole purpose of this law is to criminalize the Bible and use the threat of federal prosecutions and long jail sentences to silence Christians from expressing their Biblically-based religious belief that homosexual conduct is a sin." The Shepard-Byrd Act, of course, only imposes jail sentences on people who have actually committed crimes and has yet to “criminalize the Bible.”
While it is becoming extremely unlikely that the GOP will be able to muster enough votes to filibuster Chuck Hagel’s nomination as defense secretary, Religious Right groups and their Republican allies continue to make new and more over-the-top overtures to activists hoping to block his confirmation.
For example, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) told Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council that “we can’t afford to allow someone who has been that cozy with the terrorist groups that are out there to become Secretary of Defense.”
Inhofe went on to say that Hagel wants to “disarm us” and shows “hostility” toward the U.S. and Israel. Inhofe also cited Sen. Ted Cruz’s questioning of Hagel where he egregiously misrepresented the nominee’s speeches and interview with Al-Jazeera.
Inhofe: That is what is so scary about this; we’d be confirming a secretary of defense—
Perkins: That wants to basically disarm.
Inhofe: Who wants to disarm us. Before I run out of time, Cruz came up with something just great, he’s a new senator from Texas and he’s on my committee, the Armed Services committee, and he came out and he actually used…a spot that came from Al-Jazeera, this was Chuck Hagel being interviewed on Al-Jazeera a short time ago when he agreed with the call-ins at that time that Israel committed war crimes; Hagel admitted that Israel committed ‘sickening slaughters’; admitted that America is the world’s bully. And this is the guy that is trying to become the secretary of defense; it’s a scary, scary thing.
Perkins: Senator before I let you go, just one question: do you know why he seems to be so indifferent if not hostile toward Israel?
Inhofe: And the United States, Tony. I just don’t understand it. Of course, he denies that he is and you know the record confirms that he has this hostility to it. By the way, almost every group in Israel is lobbying us and calling us and saying, ‘please don’t let this happen.’ They’ve been just as concerned about Obama, this is the first time that any President of the United States has trashed Israel in my memory. So I can’t answer that question.
Matthew Hagee, the son of televangelist John Hagee who has been lobbying with Christians United for Israel against Hagel and called him “dangerous to America’s security,” said on the Hagee Hotline that Hagel’s contentious confirmation hearing was an answer to their prayers.
At the end of the day, Pastor Hagee and those 400 [pastors] who joined him were very confident that what they had done was all that was in their physical power to do to not only represent their views as Americans but the views of the body of Christ and the kingdom of God and to stand up on behalf of God’s chosen people, Israel. All that was left to do was to remain in prayer and to be hopeful that the actions that they had taken would make a difference. If you saw any of the headlines following the Senate committee’s interview of Chuck Hagel, you know that a difference was made. You saw that the Senate firsthand was able to expose Hagel’s weaknesses and you saw the difference that the prayer of the righteous and faith in action can make.
Just today the Family Research Council asked activists to pray for Hagel’s defeat and FRC senior fellow Ken Blackwell said Hagel’s nomination invites “chaos and confusion at a time of international peril.” Eagle Forum told members in an action alert that “Chuck Hagel is a threat to America’s strength and safety” and Rick Santorum claimed “his confirmation would be a direct threat to our national security.”
American Family Association spokesman Bryan Fischer also weighed in, saying that Iran “loves” Hagel because he wants to “disarm” the U.S.
Brooklyn’s Roman Catholic Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio is out with a column arguing that voters who supported President Obama’s re-election have brought America a “step deeper into the culture of death” and aided “the forces of death.” He claims that Obama “has been a proponent of an expediency that is shameful and criminal in the eyes of Almighty God” and is behind “an assault on the people of faith in our country” through his support for a woman’s right to choose.
DiMarzio concludes that unlike Abraham Lincoln, Obama has not “stood on the side of freedom for all” but instead “stands on the side of political expediency.”
On Jan. 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This Executive Order freed the slaves in the 10 states that were in rebellion. It was not until 1865, with the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, that slavery was abolished in the United States.
How far we have come as a Nation that 160 years later we will celebrate the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States.
Yet, we also commemorate the 40th anniversary of our national shame: the lamentable Supreme Court decision, Roe vs. Wade, which legalized abortion throughout the nine months of pregnancy.
The so-called “pro-choice” movement has its roots in the ideology of Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, who understood her call to be one who would “assist the race toward the elimination of the unfit.” Of course, a young Barack Obama was precisely the sort of unfit child that Sanger and her allies would want to eliminate.
Tragically, the President has not been an advocate for those young children faced with similarly difficult circumstances. He has chosen to use the bully pulpit not to call upon us all to be nobler and to embrace each child, regardless of origins and circumstances; rather, he has been a proponent of an expediency that is shameful and criminal in the eyes of Almighty God.
The forces of death press on from every side in contemporary American culture. It is clear there is an assault on the people of faith in our country. For instance, there are the current health insurance reforms that were imposed on our Nation obligating Catholic institutions to provide employees with medical procedures and services we believe to be in defiance of the will of God.
In my view, those who voted for President Obama bear the responsibility for a step deeper in the culture of death. Under the cover of women’s issues, we now see an assault on religious freedom and personal conscience.
In our own state, Governor Andrew Cuomo has proposed the largest expansion of abortion rights in New York State history. The irony is that our leadership is proposing this at a time when increasingly more Americans oppose abortion and support greater restrictions upon abortions. New York State, which already holds the record for the most abortions in our country, is now expanding this culture of death. We may lose, but we will stand up for what we believe.
Some may think my tone a bit strident and even un-nuanced. Maybe the time has come for more direct conversation on these matters, if we hope to preserve what is left of our God-given and Constitutionally-protected rights.
Abraham Lincoln was a man who understood the intersection between politics and nobility. He never would have been able to pass the Thirteenth Amendment in 1863. But he started by freeing “slaves” in the Confederate States with his Emancipation Proclamation.
I would have hoped that the first African-American president of the United States would have stood on the side of freedom for all. Instead, he stands on the side of political expediency. Mr. Lincoln, with great difficulty, put out into the deep and paid with his life. Would that our political leaders today would have some of the same courage.
2,000 Public Officials Have Already Expressed Support for Constitutional Amendment
WASHINGTON – This week People For the American Way and ally organizations applauded the re-launch of the “Declaration For Democracy” campaign. Public officials signing the declaration are proclaiming their support for amending the constitution to limit the influence of money in our democracy and to restore the rights of the American people in the wake of the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. FEC. Representatives Donna Edwards (D-MD), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Keith Ellison (D-MN), James P. McGovern (D-MA), and John Yarmuth (D-KY) circulated a “Dear Colleague” letter today urging their colleagues to sign the declaration.
By the end of the 112th Congress, 2,000 public officials had expressed their support for a constitutional amendment, including President Obama, 102 Members of the House, and 29 Senators (list visible at http://united4thepeople.org).
The Declaration For Democracy reads: “I, ____________, declare my support for amending the Constitution of the United States to restore the rights of the American people, undermined by Citizens United and related cases, to protect the integrity of our elections and limit the corrosive influence of money in our democratic process.” The declaration can be found here: http://united4thepeople.org/index.html
“The Supreme Court’s decisions in Citizens United and related cases put our political system on the auction block to be sold to the highest bidder,” said Marge Baker, Executive Vice President of People For the American Way. “Americans don’t want an auction, they want a working democracy. We are thrilled that these Representatives are inviting their colleagues to join the growing chorus of voices calling for change. We look forward to getting even more public officials on board this year.”
“Companies ought to be competing in the marketplace with the best products and services, not in our elections for unfair influence of the decisions that will impact our economy by those with the deepest pockets,” said David Levine, CEO of the American Sustainable Business Council. “This money is better spent by investing in growing our businesses, creating jobs and building a stronger economy.”
“Voters across the country have demonstrated overwhelming support for a constitutional amendment that clarifies that unlimited campaign spending has never been free speech,” said Common Cause President Bob Edgar. “Congress must respond to that.”
“Our electoral process should be about the rights of individuals to participate in our nation's politics,” said Larry Cohen, President of Communications Workers of America. “That's what democracy looks like. The Communications Workers of America commends elected officials at every level of government who are fighting to restore fairness to our political process. The role of money in politics must be completely overhauled. Today it dwarfs everything else and is distorting our democracy. Working with other progressive organizations, CWA is committed to stopping the flow of secret cash to political campaigns and making it clear to all dollars are not speech. This effort will require constitutional changes and other measures to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which opened the floodgates for secret spending and today enables billionaires to buy our nation’s elections. We also will work for the public financing of elections, because without these very real changes, the one percent will continue to control our politics.”
“The first post-Citizens United presidential election confirmed our fears that the new campaign finance system allows well-heeled special interests and secret spenders to drown out the voices of ordinary citizens,” said Blair Bowie, Democracy Advocate at U.S. Public Interest Research Group. “There is, however, a silver lining: unprecedented public support for real reforms to ensure that in our democracy every citizen is a political equal, regardless of the size of her wallet. We applaud members of Congress who commit to achieving this end.”
“We can’t both maintain Citizens United as the law of the land and maintain a functioning democracy,” said Robert Weissman, President of Public Citizen. “A mounting public movement is demanding a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and restore our democracy. The legislators leading the way to winning a constitutional amendment are carrying out the grandest American traditions to defend and expand our democracy.”
“Americans who are wondering why it's tougher to get ahead in today's economy should look to big money politics for answers,” said Adam Lioz, Democracy Counsel for Demos. “When just a few billionaires and special interests can counter the voices of millions of ordinary citizens in the public square, these big donors get to set the agenda in Washington and across the country. Now is the time to build a democracy in which the strength of a citizen's voice does not depend upon the size of her wallet—and amending the constitution is a critical step.”
“Our nation today faces the central question of whether We the People or We the Corporations shall govern in America,” said John Bonifaz, the co-founder and executive director of Free Speech For People, a national campaign launched on the day of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling to press for a constitutional amendment to reclaim our democracy. “To defend the promise of American self-government, we must enact a constitutional amendment that overturns our system of unlimited campaign spending and the fiction of corporate constitutional rights and that restores republican democracy to the people.”
“Now is not the time to be timid; rather, we need to seize this moment and overturn Citizens United with a Constitutional amendment that also overturns all Constitutional rights granted to corporations by court-created doctrines. The Constitution is for ‘we, the people,’” said David e. Delk, Co-chair of the Alliance for Democracy.
“After the most expensive election in U.S. history and the history of the world and with more money secretly funneled through tax exempt groups to try to influence who wins office, more and more Americans are demanding that the Constitution be amended to restore the rightful role of ordinary people in our democracy,” said Lisa Graves, Executive Director of the Center for Media and Democracy and the publisher of PRWatch and ALECexposed, adding, “we applaud these Representatives and urge others to publicly declare whose side they are on: the side of voters or big money.”
“The greatest political reform of our time will be to abolish the legal concept of ‘corporate personhood’ and the inherently anti-democratic equation of money with political speech,” said Bill Moyer, Executive Director of the Backbone Campaign.
Barbara Cargill, whom Rick Perry picked to chair the State Board of Education, is upset that a curriculum used by several Texas schools called CSCOPE, which has been at the center of right-wing conspiracy theories, doesn’t teach students about alternative theories to evolution. As first reported by the Texas Freedom Network, Cargill said that publishers and CSCOPE should teach “another side to the theory of evolution.”
Our intent, as far as theories with the [curriculum standards], was to teach all sides of scientific explanations…. But when I went on [to the CSCOPE website] last night, I couldn’t see anything that might be seen as another side to the theory of evolution. Every link, every lesson, everything, you know, was taught as ‘this is how the origin of life happened, this is what the fossil record proves,’ and all that’s fine, but that’s only one side.
As we’ve pointed out before, a biology textbook that includes creationism as a “balance” to evolution would be no different than a geology textbook that includes the views of the Flat Earth Society.
By now everyone has seen NRA head Wayne LaPierre declare that “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun” while calling for armed guards in every American school. The NRA’s proposed solution to gun violence can be boiled down to even more guns, and the group wants concealed weapons in all public spaces – including churches, schools, bars and airports.
If there’s one place that I would expect to be able to take a concealed gun, it’s to a gun show. That’s why I was struck by the advice doled out by the NRA’s National Firearms Museum on “How to be a Gun Collector.” In the article, authored by NRA museum director Jim Supica, would-be gun collectors are directed to “practice basic gun safety” at gun shows.
Supica starts off with the most basic rule of gun safety, warning against allowing “the muzzle of a gun you're handling to point at other folks.” But then he stumbles badly off-message (from the NRA party line) with some commonsense advice that, were President Obama to say it, would hasten comparisons to Mao and Hitler.
The NRA’s Supica directs gun collectors to “keep your guns tied inoperable” (like this) when attending a gun show, noting that this is a “requirement at the better shows.” And he isn't done.
Supica then directs gun collectors to “never bring a loaded gun into a show,” even if it’s a “legal concealed carry gun.” Furthermore, collectors should never “test chamber a round in a show.” Of course, your typical armed guard or concealed carry enthusiast already has a round in the chamber, but never mind that.
Supica observes that “negligent discharges are very rare at shows.” However, when they do happen they typically involve “a concealed carry gun that was brought in loaded.”
You might be wondering why this namby-pamby Supica character hates the Second Amendment so much or whether the NRA knows it has a gun-hating pinko running its museum. But in their defense, Supica’s article bears this disclaimer: “Opinions are those of the author and not necessarily those of NRA or the National Firearms Museum.” Well, that’s a relief. Supica may be an NRA employee and run their museum, but at least his commonsense, life-saving advice can’t be pinned on the NRA.
But maybe Supica isn’t such an outlier. As Scott Keyes reported in January, gun shows typically ban attendees from carrying loaded guns. Yet the NRA categorically supports efforts to expand concealed carry to “previously prohibited places.”
The takeaway, then, is that guns should be unloaded, tied inoperable and held out in the open at gun shows. But if you’re at a church, school, bar or shopping mall, you should feel free to conceal and carry a loaded gun with a bullet in the chamber. And that is how you practice basic gun safety.
On the same day that an ex-gay activist who writes for the Christian Post was caught using a gay “dating” site, Linda Harvey of Mission America raved about a new book on ex-gay therapy during her radio alert today. Harvey encouraged listeners to read A Young Man’s Journey: Healing for Young Men with Unwanted Homosexual Feelings by ex-gay activist Floyd Godfrey. Godfrey calls A Young Man’s Journey a “workbook written for young men who want to understand the emotional needs and wounds which generate homosexual feelings” that provides “goals and healing activities” and cites ex-gay favorites like Joseph Nicolosi, Richard Cohen, Joe Dallas and Arthur Goldberg.
Harvey said she learned from the book that gay people’s “same-sex desires diminish” once they deal “with envy, grudge-holding and other sinful attitudes,” and gays will eventually develop “attractions to women.” She said that the book helped young readers who contemplated suicide and alienation.
What Floyd [Godfrey] writes makes practical as well as spiritual sense. He suffered from intense envy and admiration of other boys and wanted to be like them but felt different and inferior. As he hit puberty this envy took on a sexual dimension but it was the longing for a close, affirming male friendship that was at the root of these desires. Floyd knew he did not want to go down the road of homosexuality. His faith in Christ prompted him to keep praying for a change in his feelings but that change did not happen until he went to a conference of others who had overcome these desires. It was a major turning point, what he learned put him on the path toward healing of the many other issues that he believes God wanted him to recognize. Repentance and then transformation began to take place in Floyd’s life and as he dealt with envy, grudge-holding and other sinful attitudes, the same-sex desires diminished and he began to feel something entirely unexpected: attractions to women.
Listen to some of the comments from boys who’ve read this book. Kyle, age 15, says: ‘This book makes so much sense. I can see myself in so many of the examples. I wanted to hurt myself before, I used to hate who I was, I thought about suicide, now I feel hope, I think I can do it, I’m starting to like who I am.’ Skyler, age 17, says: ‘It was so comforting to know other guys have felt this way and to know I’m not alone. It’s given me a voice to things I couldn’t put into words. It’s really been helping, after trying to do the things in the book I’m now dating and love it!’
There was no way that Generations Radio hosts Kevin Swanson and Dave Buehner were going to miss out on the debate over whether the Boy Scouts should allow openly gay members. Swanson and Buehner, who previously warned that legal civil unions would allow the government to snatch homeschooled children and give them to pedophiles, have similarly dark premonitions of what will happen if the Boy Scouts allow gay members. Allowing openly gay Boy Scout leaders, Swanson says, is no different than letting convicted child molesters or serial killers teach preschool. The Boy Scouts, Buehner warns, are not far from “opening a new summer camp called Camp Sandusky.”
Swanson: You don’t want homosexuals adopting, you don’t want them involved in foster care, and you certainly don’t want them involved in the Boy Scouts.
Buehner: In other words, if God won’t give them children, don’t give them children?
Buehner: Look. I think what’s happening here is NBC is probably cheerleading for an outcome they hope will happen, trying to create some pressure where there was no pressure. But we will know if the Boy Scouts of America announce they’re opening a new summer camp called Camp Sandusky. If they open Camp Sandusky, they’ve pretty much given in.
Swanson: That’s it. Yep, that would be it. That would be the end of it. I would hope that there would be some families out there that say, you know, if the Boy Scouts open up Camp Sanduksy, if the homosexuals are invited into the Boy Scouts to be scout leaders, I would hope there are some families out there that would still be concerned. And not to say that the Gospel shouldn’t make it, tell the homosexuals, they’ve…again, people have come back to us and say, ‘You guys aren’t very loving, you’re not very loving, you know, you don’t want to reach out to these people.’ Just the fact that we don’t want child molesters coming out of our prison system and working with our Boy Scouts doesn’t mean we don’t want people going into the prison system and witnessing the Gospel to the child molesters. I think people have a hard time getting two things in their mind at the same time. Just the fact that you don’t want a serial killer, you know, in your preschool taking care of your little girls and boys doesn’t mean that you don’t love them enough to bring the Gospel to them.
Buehner is none too hopeful about the future, warning that allowing gay people into the Boy Scouts could start a slippery slope that eventually leads to a mass exodus from the country or “a call to arms.”
Buehner: The proper, the Puritan revolution, the American revolution, all happened under a lesser magistrate, that is, a local magistrate, lesser in the sense of law, that keeps order. It needs to be done in a legal way. So that’s when we begin to flee the country. That’s when we start thinking about it. So, right now, you might want to think, depending on how the Boy Scouts rule, you might want to take your children out of Boy Scouts. But if the homosexuals then take away rights to homeschooling and you’re not able to disciple your children in the fear of the Lord, then you might have to leave the country or the state or whatever. And then thirdly, if that is shut off, if you can’t leave the country peaceably, then it’s probably a call to arms.
Last night, the Senate voted overwhelmingly to proceed on a reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, despite strong opposition from the Religious Right. But as the legislation moves to the House, the fight is far from over. The Family Research Council has joined Religious Right activists and organizations including Phyllis Schlafly, Gary Bauer, Concerned Women For America, the Southern Baptist Convention, in opposing the reauthorization because it includes new provisions protecting LGBT people, immigrants and Native Americans. In an email alert last night, the FRC denied the positive impact of VAWA, which has contributed to a dramatic decrease in intimate partner violence, and said that the “real abuse” is VAWA’s cost to taxpayers.
Last year, when it first came up for reauthorization, Democrats intentionally loaded the bill with provisions the GOP cannot support--like millions more in spending and special rights based on certain sexual behavior. Their goal was to make the legislation so objectionable that Republicans would be forced to oppose it and fuel the lie that the GOP is anti-woman. Sen. Pat Leahy's (D-Vt.) version, which leaders will vote on this week, is a five-year extension of the Act. Among the bill's most egregious parts is a provision that would ban funds to grantees who may have religious objections to homosexuality--even if no documented case of refused services has been found. It also includes special assistance for homosexual victims.
Although Sen. Leahy promises to have a 60-vote block of support, FRC has warned the Senate that we will be scoring the vote. You can help by contacting your Senators and urging them to vote against VAWA and end the real abuse of taxpayer dollars.
Back in 2010, when a federal district court in California heard the first legal challenge to the anti-gay Proposition 8, the judge asked the attorney defending Prop 8 how marriage equality would hurt the ability of straight couples to bear and raise children. The attorney sputtered and answered, “I don’t know.” A key witness for Prop 8’s supporters had the same answer, and later changed his mind to support marriage equality.
Four years later, the case is coming before the Supreme Court, and marriage equality opponents are still struggling to answer that question. In an amicus brief [pdf] filed with the court last week, the anti-gay Liberty Counsel took a shot at it. If marriage equality is achieved, Liberty Counsel argues, “Many boys will grow up without any positive male influence in their lives to show them what it means to be a man, and many girls will grow up without any female influence to show them what it means to be a lady.”
Not only does Proposition 8 further the state’s interest in steering childrearing into the husband-wife marriage model, but it furthers the important interest in providing male and female role models in the family. Male gender identity and female gender identity are each uniquely important to a child’s development. As a result, one very significant justification for defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman is because children need a mother and a father. We live in a world demarcated by two genders, male and female. There is no third or intermediate category. Sex is binary. By striking down Proposition 8, this Court will be making a powerful statement: our government no longer believes children deserve mothers and fathers. In effect, it would be saying: “Two fathers or two mothers are not only just as good as a mother and a father, they are just the same.”
The government promotion of this idea will likely have some effect even on people who are currently married, who have been raised in a particular culture of marriage. But this new idea of marriage, sanctioned by law and government, will certainly have a dramatic effect as the next generation’s attitudes toward marriage, childbearing, and the importance of mothers and fathers are formed. By destroying the traditional definition of marriage, the family structure will be dramatically transformed. Many boys will grow up without any positive male influence in their lives to show them what it means to be a man, and many girls will grow up without any female influence to show them what it means to be a lady.
The repercussions of this are incalculable and will reshape the culture in which we live. Many children learn appropriate gender roles by having interaction with both their mother and their father and by seeing their mother and their father interact together with one another. By redefining marriage to state that this is not a family structure that the state wants to foster and encourage, this Court will be overturning centuries of historical understandings of family and the home.
To give you an idea of the kind of parenting that Liberty Counsel supports, its lawyers Mat Staver and Rena Lindevaldsen, who are named on its brief, are also representing a woman accused of kidnapping her daughter rather than let her have contact with her other mother (the woman’s former same-sex partner).
Earlier this week, we looked at the slightly conflicted amicus briefs that the Family Research Council submitted to the Supreme Court ahead of its consideration of two major marriage equality cases. Today, Warren Throckmorton alerts us that the “ex-gay” group Parents and Friends of Gays and Ex-Gays (PFOX) has submitted its own brief to the Court.
The PFOX amicus brief [pdf], unsurprisingly, argues that gays and lesbians should not be a “protected class” under the law because homosexuality “is not an immutable characteristic.” As evidence, it presents the stories of four self-proclaimed “ex-gays” whose lives purportedly show that “sexual orientation can shift over time and does so for a significant number of people.”
One of the stories the brief presents is that of “Richard Cohen, M.A…an ex-gay who is now married with 3 children. He struggled for much of his life with unwanted same-sex attraction. Richard is the founder of the International Healing Foundation (IHF) and the author of Coming Out Straight, Gay Children Straight Parents, Let’s Talk About Sex, and Alfie’s Home.”
As it happens, Cohen is one of the most prominent purveyors of reparative therapy, the harmful process of trying to “cure” homosexuality that was recently banned for minors in California. And his book Alfie’s Home, cited in PFOX’s Supreme Court brief, is the most horrifically disturbing children’s book we have ever seen. We know, because we are unlucky enough to have a copy in our research library. Here is some of what the Justices have in store if they check out Cohen’s work:
Alfie’s Home was published in 1993 by Cohen’s International Healing Foundation. It starts out with a picture of the protagonist on a boat with his dad.
But it goes bad fast, going right for the right-wing myth that homosexuality is caused by childhood sexual abuse…
…and by insufficiently attentive parents:
Eventually, Alfie seeks help and takes part in the “touch therapy” advocated by Cohen…
…which leads him to “realize that I’m not gay” and start dating a woman:
You can see Cohen’s “touch therapy” in practice in this 2006 CNN interview:
He also made a cameo on the Daily Show.
For their own sakes, I hope the Justices don’t look too far into Cohen’s story. But if they do, they’ll get a revealing glimpse of the world that is trying to sink gay rights laws across the country.