Florida

Marco Rubio To Run For Senate Job He Hates

After six years in the Senate, where his main achievement has been renouncing an immigration reform bill that he helped to write, Florida Republican Marco Rubio has decided to reverse his pledge to retire and run for re-election.

Rubio has gained a reputation for hating his job and seems to have all but given up on doing it, racking up the Senate’s “the worst attendance record, missing 35 percent, or 120 of the 339 roll votes” last year. He even skipped votes on bills that he talked about on the presidential campaign trail. One of his presidential campaign surrogates, ex-rival Rick Santorum, was unable to name a single accomplishment of Rubio’s since he joined the Senate:

Back in October, the Sun Sentinel editorial board called on Rubio to resign because of his absenteeism:

Rubio has missed more votes than any other senator this year. His seat is regularly empty for floor votes, committee meetings and intelligence briefings. He says he's MIA from his J-O-B because he finds it frustrating and wants to be president, instead.

"I'm not missing votes because I'm on vacation," he told CNN on Sunday. "I'm running for president so that the votes they take in the Senate are actually meaningful again."

Sorry, senator, but Floridians sent you to Washington to do a job. We've got serious problems with clogged highways, eroding beaches, flat Social Security checks and people who want to shut down the government.

If you hate your job, senator, follow the honorable lead of House Speaker John Boehner and resign it.

Despite receiving significant support from party leaders and glowing media coverage, Rubio underperformed in presidential primary contests and wasn’t helped by his robotic debate performances.

Amazingly, Rubio has cited the attack at a gay nightclub in Orlando as a reason he is seeking a second term in the Senate, where he would surely continue to push his anti-LGBT viewsshow fealty to the NRA and position himself for yet another presidential bid:

The senator has told colleagues and advisers that he would like to run for president again, either in 2020 or 2024. But he increasingly came to believe that doing so from the private sector would be difficult.

John Stemberger Is 'Tired Of Seeing Special Interest Rainbow Flags' After Orlando Massacre

The Florida Family Policy Council’s John Stemberger wrote in an email to his group’s members today that in the wake of the massacre at a gay club in Orlando on Sunday, he wants to see greater “unity” among Floridians in the form of more American flags and fewer “special interest rainbow flags” in memory of the victims:

The Pulse nightclub is right next to a Dunkin Doughnuts, Wendy’s, Radio Shack and a 7-11 store where I often buy gas and get my children Slurpees. I ride my bike through this area of town often. This is in part why this tragedy has affected me so deeply. This is my community. These are our streets and neighborhoods. The people that were killed and injured are not just “gay.” They are human beings! They are my neighbors! They are fellow Americans! Honestly, I am really tired of seeing special interest rainbow flags and wish we could see more American flags, as we stand together in unity against our greatest mutual enemy, radical Islamic jihadists!

He responded to criticism of conservative Christian LGBT rights opponents in the wake of the attack, saying that “Christians should be prepared to be attacked and persecuted if they do not bow down and pledge allegiance to the gay pride flag and all it supposedly represents.” LGBT rights advocates’ strategy, he said, is to “manipulate and bully Christians into submission to the new orthodoxy of the moral revolution.”

Christians should be prepared to be attacked and persecuted if they do not bow down and pledge allegiance to the gay pride flag and all it supposedly represents. In stunned disbelief, I was listening to CNN at 1:30am on Sunday night and I heard the leading gay-rights activist from Los Angeles being interviewed. She openly said you don’t need to find a terrorist cell to find this kind of hatred. All you need to do is look right here in America at fundamentalist Christians. The CNN anchor did NOTHING at all to challenge her or question her about her outrageous claim.

We need to be prepared for the stunning and false narrative of the Left which is that all major world religions, including but especially Christianity, breed hatred and create a hostile environment which "causes" the kind of violence we saw in Orlando. The goal of gay-rights activists is to try and get Christians to stop proclaiming God's design for marriage, gender and human sexuality. And they are not playing fair. The goal to simple. If you disagree in any way, no matter how gentle, loving or respectful they will call you a "hater" and a "bigot." They will scream at you publicly and test how committed you are to your beliefs. Their strategy is to manipulate and bully Christians into submission to the new orthodoxy of the moral revolution. Please know that as for me and "our house" at the FFPC, we will never be moved by this attempt at intimidation.

Stemberger, who is the most prominent anti-LGBT activist in Florida and has launched an anti-gay alternative to the Boy Scouts, said that he received a personal call from Sen. Marco Rubio after the massacre.

Conservative Radio Host: Orlando Club Targeted Because Patrons Were Unarmed, Not Because They Were Gay

Conservative South Florida radio host Joyce Kaufman, who briefly served as chief of staff to former Republican Rep. Allen West, said today that she did not believe that the terrorist who killed 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando this weekend targeted the location out of animosity toward gay people, but instead because he knew that club-goers would be unarmed.

“How long does he have to be the president before he figures out that what we had happen in Orlando was a terrorist act?” Kaufman asked of President Obama, who called the massacre an “act of terror and an act of hate.”

“I don’t care if the guy was gay, I don’t care if his wife took him there, he launched an attack of terror against the patrons of the Pulse nightclub,” Kaufman said. “I don’t look at them as gay patrons, they are the patrons, they are fellow human beings. It could have been any nightclub in anywhere in any country. When you’re crazy like that, the last thing I think you’re concerned about is the gender preference of your victims. I just don’t believe it. I don’t think this was a hate crime, I think this was an act of terrorism, I think he knew he had a group of people who were in a gun-free zone and who don’t carry guns for the most part anyway … I don’t know any gay men who carry.”

While Florida concealed carry permit holders are not allowed to bring firearms into establishments that serve alcohol, the Orlando attacker did confront “good guys with guns”: He exchanged fire with an off-duty police officer who was guarding the club and two other police officers during the attack.

Yesterday, Kaufman interviewed former Gun Owners of America executive director Larry Pratt, who said that politicians who support gun regulations are “complicit” in the Orlando shooting. Kaufman and Pratt urged listeners to defy gun-free zone regulations and carry firearms even where they are prohibited.

“Listen, I have had it with no-gun zones, I have had it with soft targets, and I recognize the fact that from now on, I’m responsible for my security,” Kaufman said, to an “amen” from Pratt.

They two said that if they had been in the club that was attacked, things would have turned out differently.

“Had I been one of those people cowering in the bathroom, I would have done more than text home,” Kaufman said.

“Yeah, shooting a text and shooting a gun are really enormously different in how effective they can be against a dirtbag with a gun,” Pratt said. “And for our legislators to keep insisting that somehow we are going to be better off in a gun-free zone, that makes them complicit. And I’ll say it to their face, they are complicit with what happens in Orlando…”

“And you and I both agree that what they’re forcing people to do is become lawbreakers themselves,” Kaufman said. “Law-abiding citizens are not going to abide by these laws in the future because they want a fighting chance.”

“Not if they want to survive and they go to any place that’s quote-unquote ‘gun free,’” Pratt responded.

Kaufman added that gun-free zones are impeding her “free access to places”: “Look, I don’t have to march into a post office with a gun or into a federal courthouse with a gun, but I’ll be darned if I’m told where I can eat, where I can drink, where I can dance by the government. And since I don’t go without a gun, they have begun to impinge upon my free access to places.”

Young Elected Officials Network Statement on Orlando Shooting

In the wake of the deadliest mass shooting in our country’s history in Orlando this weekend, People For the American Way Foundation’s Young Elected Officials (YEO) Network released the following statement:

“Our hearts are extremely heavy today. Everyone in the YEO Network is thinking of the victims of this horrific attack, their friends and loved ones, and LGBTQ communities in Orlando and across the state and country.

“We also know that out of this heartbreak must come real change. It is not inevitable that weapons of war, like the assault-style rifles used in Orlando, San Bernardino, Aurora, and Newtown, are within easy reach. We can no longer allow pro-gun extremists to set our political agenda; we have to stand up for common-sense gun violence prevention measures. As the president noted on Sunday, to ‘actively do nothing’ in response to this horrific violence is a choice. But it’s not a choice we are willing to make.

“As elected leaders, it is our responsibility to do all we can to serve, represent, and keep safe members of our communities. The fact that this attack was targeted specifically at LGBTQ people is a sobering reminder of the moral imperative to stand up against bigotry in all of its forms. We stand against the hate that divides us, whether its target is the LGBTQ community, the Muslim faith, Black lives, or women’s agency. Today we redouble our resolve to fight for a country where – whether in a bar or at a church or in a workplace – no one has to fear for their life or their safety.”

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PFAW Statement on Orlando Shooting

In response to this morning’s mass shooting in Orlando, People For the American Way President Michael Keegan issued the following statement:

“On behalf of all the members of People For the American Way, I want to express my deepest sympathy to all those affected by today’s shooting. The victims, their families and the entire Orlando LGBT community are in our thoughts.

“But our sympathies are not enough. This tragedy, the worst mass shooting in American history, is the result of a toxic brew of intolerance and easy access to firearms. Today is a heartbreaking reminder that despite decades of progress, anti-LGBT hatred and violence is still a deadly reality, and it’s crucial that we recommit ourselves to challenging bigotry in all its forms. It’s a reminder, too, that a nation awash in guns isn’t inevitable. It’s the result of policy choices driven by pro-gun extremists and enabled by politicians who refuse to stand up to them. Our elected leaders could take sensible steps to keep weapons of war away from those who would use them to murder innocent people. They’ve simply chosen not to.

“As we mourn the victims of this horrible tragedy, it would be inexcusable to ignore the steps we can take to prevent the next one.”

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Allen West Is Ready To Be Vice President

Former one-term Florida Tea Party congressman Allen West is ready to stand up and serve his country as the Republican vice presidential nominee, he told talk radio host Jeffrey Kuhner on Wednesday.

When Kuhner asked West if he would every consider running for president himself, West responded that it’s “just not my nature as a soldier” to go out “seeking political office” (an odd statement coming from someone who has run for Congress three times), but “my nature as a soldier is to serve and to step up when my country needs me, so I’m standing by.”

“I’m always ready to, if the American people need me back, I’m here, I’m ready to go,” he said.

Kuhner asked if that means he’d be willing to run for vice president if the Republican nominee asked him; West responded that if God and his wife were okay with it, he was in.

“If God is approving and my wife and my two daughters are of approval, then I would say, ‘You’ve got your guy and let’s get at it,’” he said.

National & Local Latino Leaders in Miami Speak Out Against GOP Presidential Candidates' Extremism

Miami, FL – Last week in Florida, civil rights leader Dolores Huerta joined local voters and Latino leaders to encourage voters to turn out to vote in tomorrow’s primary and to send a strong message that the rhetoric and priorities of Cruz, Rubio and Trump are far out of line with Latino communities in Florida and across the country. Photos from the roundtable, organized by 1199SEIU Florida, Latino Victory Project, and People For the American Way, are attached. Following the roundtable, 1199SEIU Florida contacted thousands of its members over the weekend and today reminding them to vote leading up to the primaries.

Key Statements:

Dolores Huerta, civil rights leader & board member, People For the American Way: "Donald Trump is the face of the Republican Party. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz also share the same values as Donald Trump. They’re all against immigration reform. They want to defund Planned Parenthood. They want to deprive women and families of the services they need.

“We know that we, Latino voters, will decide who will be the next President of the United States. We have a very powerful weapon in our hands – the vote.”

Pili Tobar, Communications Director of Latino Victory Project: “This November the stakes for Latinos in Florida and throughout the country couldn’t be higher. Republican presidential candidates have shown that they have no respect for our community, and they are on the wrong side of the issues the Latino community cares about. Whether we’re talking about immigration, worker’s rights, minimum wage, equal pay or taking care of our environment, the GOP field represent special interests at the expense of our community.

“This is why we have to participate, register, and come out to vote, it’s the only way we’ll truly hold Republican candidates accountable for their hateful words and their damaging policies."

Mayte Canino, the Miami Regional Organizer for Planned Parenthood of South East and Norther Florida: “If any of the GOP candidates were elected they have said time and time again they would block over a million people from care at Planned Parenthood health centers, including 575,000 Latinos, many of whom rely on Planned Parenthood as their primary health care provider.

Just last week, here in Florida, the local legislature passed a bill that would strip thousands of women of their access to basic health care, such as cancer screenings, birth control, STD testing and treatment, and well-woman exams by blocking their access to Planned Parenthood.  These are the same kind of wrong-headed policies we’re seeing from every single Republican candidate."

Marilyn Ralat, Registered Nurse and Delegate of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers in Florida: “We need to educate our community in Florida about the importance of voting and mobilize them to the polls. I am here to invite all Latinos to vote, especially our large Puerto Rican community of which I’m part of.”

Viviana Ivalo, undocumented mother and community leader from Women Working Together USA: “We've been attacked by candidates since day one, it's important to come out and remind the candidates that we are going to vote."

To schedule a follow-up interview with any of the roundtable participants, or for photos of the event, please email Laura Epstein at lepstein@pfaw.org.

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GOP Rep: People With 'A Middle Eastern Background That We Can't Verify' Need To 'Be Out Of The Country'

Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., said yesterday that the U.S. needs to look at “the people that are here that shouldn’t be here” and “if they have a Middle Eastern background that we can’t verify, they need to be out of the country.”

Yoho did not specify what he meant by people who “shouldn’t be here” or what the verification process would be in his comments, which he made during an interview on “The Palin Update,” a radio show hosted by Sarah Palin enthusiasts.

“If you look at what the role of the federal government is, its number-one role is to provide for the common defense of the United States of America,” he said. “And we need to look at securing our border, we need to look at enforcing the laws on the books. The people that are here that shouldn’t be here, we need to have a way of vetting and screening them. If they have a Middle Eastern background that we can’t verify, they need to be out of the country.”

He added that the U.S. should put a “pause” on the resettlement of refugees from Middle Eastern countries.

Yoho also lashed out at President Obama for his defense of refugees, saying, “He accuses the Republicans of being afraid of women and children. I’m concerned about women and children, and those are the women and children in my country, my wife, my daughters, your children, your families. We should be concerned about that before we worry about somebody else.”

Later in the interview, the program’s host, Kevin Scholla, asked Yoho if it is “too late” for Congress to impeach President Obama, which Yoho said it certainly is not.

“Man, I tell you what, I can’t thank you for bringing that subject up,” he said. “No, I don’t think it’s too late.”

He touted a bill he wrote that would define what constitute impeachable “high crimes and misdemeanors” in order to “show the borders of the football field so that the executive, the Supreme Court justices and everybody in Washington and government knows where the boundaries are and if you step outside of that you’re going to be penalized.”

He added that his constituents are “clamoring” for impeachment.

Trump Says He'd Consider Carson As VP: 'We Get Along Very Well'

Donald Trump joined conservative Florida talk radio host Joyce Kaufman yesterday to talk about his presidential candidacy, where he said he would be open to forming a joint ticket with his Republican rival Ben Carson, boasting of his “amazing” relationship with women and Latinos, and wondering why Syrian refugees aren’t “back fighting for their country.”

Kaufman — a controversial radio host who once suggested hanging undocumented immigrants who commit crimes — could barely contain her love for Trump, joking that she and her friend Ann Coulter “have slumber parties” where they listen to Trump’s speeches. Trump, in turn, said Coulter “is fantastic, she’s been so supportive and I appreciate it, she’s been great.”

When Kaufman asked if Trump would consider forming her dream Trump-Carson ticket if he won the Republican nomination, Trump was open to the idea. “Well, we get along very well,” he said. “We get along very well and he seems to be in second place compared to these politicians, you know, the all-talk, no-action politicians. So the relationship has been very, very good, very strong, but with that being said, it’s just too early, we have to see how it all pans out.”

Kaufman, who is of Puerto Rican descent, told Trump that there are “an inordinate number of Hispanic women who are absolutely enthralled” with him, adding, “I don’t know how anyone could say that you’re against women when every woman who gets close to you becomes a millionaire.”

“Well, I’ve employed tremendous numbers at the highest positions,” Trump said. “Even right now I probably have more than virtually anybody in terms of high positions. And, you know, my relationship with women has been amazing and I have great respect for women and I will be doing things for women’s health issues, which is a very big subject, and I’ll be doing things that nobody else is going to be able to do.”

“And I get along great with the Hispanics,” he added. “You know, I have thousands of Hispanics that work for me and they’re great people, amazing people.”

The two also discussed Trump’s plan to build a wall along the southern border, which he said “works big-league” and resistance to resettling refugees from the Syrian civil war.

Apparently referring to migrants in Europe, Trump said, “I don’t know if you’ve seen this migration but a lot of young, strong, men, they look like why aren’t they back fighting for their country.”

Marco Rubio's Planned Parenthood Whopper Places Him In Far-Right Fringe

There have been several layers of lies that have grown out of the smear campaign that anti-choice groups are currently waging against Planned Parenthood.

The first is the baseless allegation found in the heavily edited tapes that activists calling themselves the Center for Medical Progress have been slowly releasing: That Planned Parenthood violated federal laws by profiting from its voluntary fetal tissue donation program. (Or, in CMP’s words, is “selling aborted baby parts for profit.”)

Those allegations do not hold water. CMP’s videos edited out many instances of Planned Parenthood employees making clear that the organization does not profit from fetal tissue donated to medical research. Several states launched investigations into Planned Parenthood after the videos were released, and every investigation to conclude so far has found no wrongdoing.

The next layer of lie is the claim that Planned Parenthood participates in fetal tissue research in order to turn a profit. This claim, rooted in the anti-choice movement’s years-long campaign to frame abortion providers as a money-hungry “industry” is completely absurd, especially given that just two of the organization’s 59 affiliates and just one percent of its clinics offer patients the opportunity to donate fetal tissue to research.

But the third lie, the truly astounding whopper, is that Planned Parenthood only offers abortions in order to sell fetal tissue for profit. Although this is the thought process that the Center for Medical Progress seems to hope that people will follow, only the farthest-right of the anti-choice fringe has put it into so many words.

Alveda King of Priests for Life alleged that Planned Parenthood makes “a lot of money” by using birth control to give women breast cancer and coercing women to have abortions so they can sell the fetal tissue. Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, made a similar claim when he suggested that Planned Parenthood opposes the 20-week abortion ban that was blocked in the Senate today because they can profit more off of fetuses in later stages of development: “This suggests why they may have been opposed to bans such as this, these five-month bans, because the longer the pregnancy goes, the more valuable the parts.”

But yesterday, Marco Rubio, Republican senator from Florida and supposedly “establishment” presidential candidate, gave this completely absurd idea a new platform when he claimed on an Iowa TV news program that women are pushed into abortions so that those tissues can be harvested and sold for a profit”:

Yes, not only does Rubio think that women who choose to terminate pregancies are “pushed into” it, but that the providers who are supposedly doing the pushing are doing it solely to protect a nonexistant fetal-tissue racket.

That’s something that we expect to hear from the farthest fringes of the anti-choice movement, not from a presidential candidate.

Jeb Bush Touts Voucher Program That Funds Christian Schools, Religious Right Ideology

At Wednesday night’s presidential debate, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush went out of his way to tout “a voucher program that was created under my watch, the largest voucher program in the country, where kids can go to a Christian school” — a phrase he sandwiched into a conversation about Donald Trump criticizing him for speaking Spanish in public.

Julie Ingersoll, a religious studies professor at the University of North Florida, tweeted a reminder that her book on Christian Reconstructionism, which was recently released by Oxford University Press, mentions Bush’s voucher program. “Building God’s Kingdom: Inside the World of Christian Reconstructionism” includes chapters on the enormous influence of Christian Reconstructionism in the homeschooling and Christian school movements, which have succeeded in getting states like Florida to funnel taxpayer money to their religious education efforts

Christian Reconstructionism, grounded in the teachings of 20th-century writer R.J. Rushdoony, has greatly influenced both the Religious Right and Tea Party movements with its doctrine of “sphere sovereignty,” which states that God has given government, church, and family specific responsibilities over different “spheres.” Reconstructionists argue that there is no biblical authority for the government to take on a duty that is given to church or family – for example, they argue that the government has no role in caring for the poor because charity is the job of the church.

Reconstructionism teaches that education is the duty of parents, and that the state therefore has no role in or legitimate authority over the education of children. Reconstructionists led legal and political battles to win the right of parents to homeschool their children, and continue to resist efforts at regulating homeschoolers. As Ingersoll notes, “Reconstructionists are unabashedly committed to the dismantling of public education, and their strategies and solutions have gained a hearing far beyond the boundaries of the small groups explicitly affiliated with them.” In June, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott named a right-wing homeschooler to chair the state’s Board of Education.

The organized and intensely active network of evangelical homeschooling families in Iowa is credited, in part, with Mike Huckabee’s win in the 2008 Iowa caucus, and the Associated Press reported this year that presidential candidates have been jockeying for its leaders’ support.

Ingersoll also explores how central creationism is to the Christian Reconstructionist worldview; as others have noted, creationism also forms the basis of “science” education in books and curricula used by some Christian schools and homeschoolers.

Ingersoll writes about the independent, Reconstructionism-inspired Rocky Bayou Christian School in Niceville, Florida, which was founded in the 1970s. In addition to the hundreds of students in its K-12 program, the school offers a program allowing homeschoolers to participate in courses and activities. Writes Ingersoll, “RCBS also has a program designed to take advantage of Florida’s school voucher plan. The plan, put into place by former Governor Jeb Bush, permits students at ‘failing public schools’ to obtain vouchers that can be used at any school.”

According to Ingersoll, the Bush voucher program “has become such a significant revenue stream” for Rocky Bayou Christian School that “it would have a major impact on the school if the state were to decide to discontinue the controversial program….”  But, she notes, “the conservative legislature took up the effort to expand the state’s privatization of public education with vouchers and the expansion of charter schools.”

Indeed, legislation signed by Gov. Rick Scott last year expanded voucher and tax-credit programs; it also, according to the Orlando Sentinel, created state-funded “personal learning scholarship accounts” that “parents of students with certain disabilities can use to pay for private school, buy home-school curriculum or pay for needed therapies, among other services, if their child is not in public school.”

Florida is not the only state where proponents of privatization have won victories. Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal used the Katrina disaster to push through a radical privatization scheme and has battled the Obama administration over its efforts to monitor the state’s voucher program’s effect on racial segregation. Proponents of “school choice” had a major victory in Nevada this year, where a law pushed by an education foundation created by Jeb Bush would allow parents of any income level to “pull a child from the state's public schools and take tax dollars with them, giving families the option to use public money to pay for private or parochial school or even for home schooling.” While some Christian homeschoolers want no part of voucher programs, because they believe taking voucher money would bring more intrusive government regulation, laws like Nevada’s could prove a windfall for Religious Right and Christian Reconstructionist groups that provide curricula to homeschoolers.

Ingersoll writes about a 2009 Men’s Leadership Summit hosted by the Christian Home Educators of Colorado at an Indianapolis facility of Bill Gothard’s Institute for Biblical Life Principles, a troubling organization in the news recently for its connection to the Duggar family. The purpose of the summit, writes Ingersoll, was the development of a “Christian Education Manifesto,” which is no longer public, but whose goals included the elimination of public education and dismantling of government agencies that regulate the rights of parents, such as child welfare and child protective service groups.

There have been some setbacks for the privatization movement. In June, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that its state’s Choice Scholarship Pilot Program violates the state Constitution by channeling public money to private religious schools, contrary to an explicit constitutional prohibition on doing so.

But, as Ingersoll notes, the massively funded privatization movement is advancing the dream of the Christian Reconstructionists:

Florida’s efforts mirror attempts across the nation to shift the delivery of public education to the private sector; a shift of tax money from a public endeavor intended to educate and foster a shared sense of what it means to be American to sectarian efforts, including efforts at schools like Rocky Bayou which seek to transform society according to biblical law. The long-standing goal of the Christian Reconstructionists to defund, and ultimately eliminate, public education has come as close as it has ever come to being a reality.

Religious Right Martyr Kim Davis To Receive Award For Fighting 'Legal Tyranny'

As many predicted, Kim Davis is cashing in on her new role as a right-wing celebrity. The Family Research Council announced today that Davis will receive its “Cost of Discipleship Award” at the upcoming Values Voter Summit.

FRC head Tony Perkins has already compared Davis to the previous award winner, Meriam Ibrahim, a Sudanese woman who, unlike Davis, actually faced persecution for her faith, as she was arrested and imprisoned by Sudan’s government for converting to Christianity. Leading up to Ibrahim’s appearance at the FRC event, Perkins attempted to use her story to attack the Obama administration, even though her U.S. supporters actually thanked the State Department for working diligently to secure her release. An attorney working on Ibrahim’s case, who is also a Religious Right figure, criticized Perkins for his rhetoric.

In announcing the award, Perkins praised Davis for her “courage” in standing up to “militant secularists”:

“We are pleased to announce that Kim Davis will be honored at this year's Values Voter Summit. After meeting with her last week, I can tell you that Kim Davis wasn’t looking for this fight, but she is not running from it either. What militant secularists are almost certainly afraid of is what is coming to pass: courage is breeding courage. When other people might have cowered in fear, Kim took a stand. And today, millions of Americans stand with her and for the religious freedom upon which our nation was founded.

“Far from the media's portrayal, Kim isn't trying to impose her views on anyone, she is simply asking that her orthodox religious views be accommodated.

“The courage of Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis isn't just changing the conversation -- it's changing the political landscape. In places like Missouri, where state officials watched with horror as Davis was hauled off to jail for her Christian beliefs, leaders are moving quickly to protect their people from the same fate. The Supreme Court created this mess -- now it's incumbent on states to protect the victims mired in it.

“While the Court redefined marriage, it did not redefine the First Amendment. Thank goodness for people of courage like Kim Davis, who refuses to let religious liberty be trampled by legal tyranny. We applaud her. In the face of intense pressure, she's shown more courage than 99 percent of the elected officials in Kentucky,” concluded Perkins.

Another county clerk in Kentucky who is trying to prevent same-sex couples from receiving marriage licenses, Casey Davis (no relation), is also scheduled to speak at the summit. He has gone so far as to say that he may die in his fight against gay marriage.

Perkins addressed the rally in front of the Kentucky prison where Davis was detained after a federal judge held her in contempt of court but doesn’t seem to know some basic facts surrounding the case. For example, Perkins told Fox News that Davis wasn’t barring her deputy clerks from issuing marriage licenses, even though Davis explicitly said at the time that she was doing just that.

Janet Porter's Prayers Delivered Florida To George W. Bush In 2000

Faith 2 Action's Janet Porter was the keynote speaker at the American Decency Association's summer conference last month, where she repeated her claim that her prayers delivered the state of Florida to George W. Bush in the 2000 election.

"In the year 2000, I lived in a county named Broward," Porter said. "Remember election night? Every station had declared the election for Al Gore. Every one, ever Fox. And I did something that was odd — and I know the Right Wing Watchers are telling I'm the one that prayed it in — well, I think there were millions who prayed with me but I do think that God answers prayer and I do think He's honored when you pray ridiculous, sun-stopping prayers. And I said, 'God, I'm asking you to do what has never been done before, I'm asking you to take the state of Florida, where I lived at the time, from Al Gore and give it to George Bush so that unborn children will live and not die.' That was my prayer."

Porter also revealed that a friend of hers was in charge of delivering military ballots to the Florida Supreme Court and that her friend spent the night praying over those ballots and anointed them with oil before delivering them to the court, which then ruled in Bush's favor, as did the U.S. Supreme Court "which changed the outcome of the election."

Ted Cruz to Jan Mickelson: 'Atheist Taliban' Attacking Religious Liberty

This morning, just two days after Iowa talk radio host Jan Mickelson caused a national controversy when he suggested that states enslave undocumented immigrants who refuse to leave, asking, “What’s wrong with slavery?,” Sen. Ted Cruz joined Mickelson’s program to discuss his upcoming rally in Iowa which will bring together various supposed victims of anti-Christian persecution.

Mickelson asked Cruz to discuss his fight against the “brazenness of the atheist Taliban” and the fact that “anytime they furrow their brow at anyone [people] fold up and go home and give them what they want.”

Cruz, who has previously railed against what he called a gay “jihad" against Christians, apparently liked Mickelson’s phrase, and took it up while describing his work fighting against church-state separation efforts.

“There is an assault on faith and an assault on religious liberty that we see across this country and it has never been as bad as it is right now,” he said, claiming that “radical atheists and liberals” are “driving any acknowledgment of God out of the public square.”

“There are these zealots — as you put it, the atheist Taliban — that seek to tear down any acknowledgment of God in the public square, and it’s contrary to our Constitution, it’s contrary to who we are as a people.”

'Muslim-Free' Gun Shop Owner Praises The Confederacy, Blames Media For 'Trying To Create A More Racist America'

The owner of a Florida gun shop who declared his business to be a “Muslim-free zone” solidified his status as a far-right hero this week when he announced that he would be paying his legal bills by auctioning off a painting of the Confederate flag by George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who shot unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin in 2012.

The gun shop owner, Andy Hallinan, elaborated on the plan in an interview with Miami talk radio host Joyce Kaufman on Tuesday, explaining how he and Zimmerman had become friends and how, when Zimmerman heard that Hallinan was being sued by the Council for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), he immediately took an American flag painting he was working on and started painting a Confederate flag over it in the hopes of raising money for Hallinan.

Hallinan told Kaufman that the Confederate flag was an appropriate symbol of the need to “go into battle, in a sense, with the leadership of this country” who, with their “extreme political correctness,” are bringing about the “destruction of the American dream as a whole.”

Although “the media is portraying things like the Confederate flag as racist,” he said, it is they who “are trying to create a more racist America, not a less racist America.”

Later in the interview, Kaufman said that Americans today are facing a similar fight against a “big political machine” that the Confederacy faced before the Civil War. “It’s nice to say that the war was fought over slavery,” she said, “but in fact it was actually a war over the big political machine that they didn’t want dictating how they live their lives. And that’s not such a dissimilar theme to what we’re experiencing right now.”

“At the end of the day, the war was fought over tyranny and a difference of opinion, that’s what it was, and of course money,” Hallinan agreed. “You know, slavery was an issue but it was well known that the North actually had more slaves at the time, which was interesting.”

Hallinan told Kaufman that although he had intended to donate part of the proceeds from the painting to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, the group had declined the donation, so he is now looking for a charity that will take his money.
 

Marco Rubio's Fetal Personhood Argument In Disguise

In last week’s GOP presidential debate, Mike Huckabee made an explicit argument in favor of radical fetal personhood laws, claiming that Congress could pass a law granting rights to fertilized eggs and fetuses under the 14th and Fifth Amendments, thus criminalizing all abortion and possibly common forms of birth control in one fell swoop.

But one of Huckabee’s fellow candidates made a very similar comment, which has received less attention because he did not explicitly acknowledge the personhood movement. Here’s what Marco Rubio said when Fox News’ Megyn Kelly asked about his support for abortion bans that have contained exceptions for survivors of rape and incest, a deal-breaker for personhood proponents:

Kelly: You don’t favor a rape and incest exception?

Rubio: I have never said that. And I have never advocated that. What I have advocated is that we pass law in this country that says all human life at every stage of its development is worthy of protection. In fact, I think that law already exists. It is called the Constitution of the United States.

And let me go further. I believe that every single human being is entitled to the protection of our laws, whether they can vote or not. Whether they can speak or not. Whether they can hire a lawyer or not. Whether they have a birth certificate or not. And I think future generations will look back at this history of our country and call us barbarians for murdering millions of babies who we never gave them a chance to live.

As Katie McDonough at Fusion pointed out, Rubio’s answer was a “roundabout” personhood argument.

By saying that the Constitution already entitles fertilized eggs and fetuses to “the protection of our laws” and that Congress merely needs to “pass a law” stating that “says all human life at every stage of its development is worthy of protection,” Rubio seems to be arguing for a personhood bill such as that proposed by fellow GOP presidential candidate Rand Paul in the Senate. (Personhood proponents believe that there is a loophole in Roe v. Wade that allows a ban on all abortions and some common forms of birth control to be accomplished legislatively, rather than through a constitutional amendment.)

However, Rubio did not sign on as a cosponsor of Paul’s bill. And the Florida senator has supported abortion bans containing rape and incest exceptions, although he clarified after the debate he did so out of political necessity, not because he supports such exceptions.

Even anti-choice activists are unclear about what Rubio meant in his answer to Kelly. The Christian Post thinks that Rubio was taking the same position on Personhood as Huckabee. Personhood USA, the group behind state-level personhood ballot measures, was more skeptical, writing that while Rubio expressed a “noble sentiment,” he must “repent” for supporting laws containing rape and incest exceptions and “will have to clarify” his position.

What is clear is that Rubio’s answer was calculated to appeal to radical anti-choice activists without being immediately off-putting to viewers who are terrified of fetal personhood laws. Beyond that, he should be asked to clarify what his position on personhood really is.

Religious Right Pundits Long For The Days When People Were Too Poor To Be Gay

Iowa talk radio host Steve Deace invited Florida Religious Right activist John Stemberger onto his program yesterday to push back against conservatives who are arguing that the government should just get out of marriage altogether after the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision, which Stemberger argues would actually expand government by destroying families and expanding the welfare state.

This is all what liberals want, he told Deace: “The left feeds on broken marriages and broken families. When families are strong, when there’s an economic system there, they start to understand the implications of taxes and all the economic implications of actually work and reward.”

This prompted Deace to share his theory that the sexual revolution was an outgrowth of the welfare state because before the expansion of the social safety net, most people were too poor to “act out immorally” by having “multiple wives” and “gay lovers” since “no one was subsidizing [their] depravity.”

“We have that today, which is why the sexual revolution came after the welfare state, because once it was obvious that people were not going to be held directly accountable for their actions, we removed the inhibitions against human nature that we already had,” he explained.

Stemberger agreed with Deace’s assessment, adding, “People who are hard-working and have to be self-sufficient and are not going to be propped up by the government don’t have the luxury of doing stupid, immoral things.”

Rubio Promises Anti-Choice Activists He'll Fight Abortion Rights 'At Home And Around The World'

In a speech to the National Right to Life Committee’s convention in New Orleans this morning, Sen. Marco Rubio called Roe v. Wade a “historically and egregiously flawed” decision and vowed to fight abortion rights “at home and around the world”

“My pledge to you is this: If you help send me to that place, I will never forget this place,” he said.

He went on to compare the fight against abortion rights to the battles for abolition, civil rights and women’s suffrage: “Sometimes in contemporary American life, we come to believe that all the great causes are over, that the past generation fought all the important battles: abolition, the Civil Rights Movement, women’s suffrage. But it’s not true. In fact, one of the most important battles is the one that you are engaged in now.”

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