Mississippi

AFA Does Not Support Effort To Establish Christianity As Mississippi's Official Religion

Recently, a pro-Confederacy group in Mississippi launched an effort to get a measure on the ballot in 2016 that, if passed, will establish a "Confederate Heritage Month" in the state, as well as designate English as the official state language. Among the provisions contained in the measure are requirements that whenever an American flag is displayed on a public building, a state flag of the same size must also be displayed and "whenever the pledge of allegiance to the national flag is recited, the state flag salute shall be recited immediately thereafter." On top of that, "whenever the national anthem is played in a public venue or at a public event in Mississippi, either 'Dixie' or 'Go, Mississippi' shall be played immediately thereafter."

Perhaps the most controversial provision of the measure is the requirement that Christianity be recognized as the official state religion, which is just the sort of thing one would expect the Mississippi-based American Family Association to embrace and support. After all, the AFA's leading spokesman, Bryan Fischer, has repeatedly said that the Constitution was not designed to protect any religion other than Christianity and that states have every right to establish an official religion.

But, amazingly, Fischer and the AFA are not supporting the effort:

Bryan Fischer, director of issue analysis for the American Family Association, told CP that he questioned the need for Initiative 46.

"I'm not clear who is behind this initiative or exactly what problems they're trying to solve," said Fischer of the AFA.

"I will be surprised if the organizers are able to get the number of signatures they need since most Mississippians aren't going to see the need for it. Mississippians like the state just fine as it is."

Fischer added that many "of the provisions in the initiative would be more appropriately handled at the state legislative level if they are to be handled at all."

"Constitutional remedies should be reserved for issues of primary importance. The issue of school mascots, for instance, doesn't rise to that level," said Fischer.

"Our main concern here at AFA is for religious liberty to be preserved in Mississippi, and we believe that our state constitution and the recently passed religious freedom restoration act provide adequate protection for religious freedom here in the Magnolia State."

In Mississippi Marriage Ruling, Judge Gives History Lesson on Anti-Gay Discrimination

The federal court ruling striking down Mississippi’s ban on same-sex couples getting married is worth reading for many reasons. Paul wrote earlier at People For the American Way's blog about U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves’s compelling explanation of the role of the courts in protecting Americans’ constitutional rights. The ruling is also filled with rich historical detail about the extent to which the state of Mississippi and the federal government have discriminated against LGBT citizens over the years, as well as the ways in which groups like the Ku Klux Klan and the notorious Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission used anti-gay rhetoric and innuendo in their attacks on African American civil rights leaders and institutions.

This history is an important rebuttal to bogus claims by anti-gay activists that gay people do not need to have their rights protected in law because they have never suffered from discrimination.

Quotes from the opinion, with citations removed for readability:

Any claim that Mississippians quietly accommodated gay and lesbian citizens could no longer be made in the 1960s, when prejudice against homosexuals (and other groups) became more visible during the civil rights movement. Segregationists called their opponents “racial  perverts,” while U.S. Marshals – summoned to enforce civil rights – were labeled “sadists and  perverts.” Klan propaganda tied together “Communists, homosexuals, and Jews, fornicators and liberals and angry blacks – infidels all.”

One Klan photo showed a black man touching the crotch of the white man sitting next to him, attempting to make the link between racial equality and homosexuality explicit.

Civil rights leaders had predicted the attack. In selecting the Freedom Riders, James Farmer had conducted interviews to weed out “Communists, homosexuals, [and] drug addicts.” “We had to screen them very carefully because we knew that if they found anything to throw at us, they would throw it,” he explained.

This reflected society’s notion that homosexuals were “undesirables.” It also placed civil rights leaders in the position of seeking rights for one disenfranchised group while simultaneously seeking to avoid association with another disenfranchised group. Mississippians opposed to integration harassed several civil rights leaders for their homosexuality. Bill Higgs was a prominent gay Mississippi civil rights lawyer. He was targeted for his activism, convicted in absentia of delinquency of a minor, and threatened with “unlimited  jailings” should he ever return to Mississippi.

He never did.

Reeves also discusses the case of Bayard Rustin, the openly gay African American civil rights activist who organized the 1963 March on Washington at which Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

The most interesting part of Rustin’s story, though – and the reason why he merits more discussion here – is that he was subjected to anti-gay discrimination by both white and black people, majority and minority alike. Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, a black Democrat, threatened to feed the media a false story that Rustin was having an affair with Martin Luther King, Jr., unless Dr. King canceled a protest at the Democratic National Convention.

Other persons within the civil rights movement were similarly “put off by Rustin’s homosexuality.” Roy Wilkins, an NAACP executive, “was particularly nasty to Bayard Rustin – very hostile,” in part because he “was very nervous about Bayard’s homosexuality.” Dr. King eventually had Rustin resign “because of persistent criticism of Rustin’s homosexuality and Communist ties and because of Congressman Adam Clayton Powell’s threat.”

Rustin reemerged years later as one of the principal organizers of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. A. Philip Randolph and Dr. King wanted Rustin as the march’s chief organizer, but Wilkins pushed back “because [Rustin] was gay . . . something which in particular would offend J. Edgar Hoover.” The group ultimately “decided Randolph would be in charge of the march, that Rustin would be the principal organizer, but that he would stay somewhat in the background.”

The concern about offending Hoover was prescient, as the FBI Director and other top officials soon moved to use Rustin’s homosexuality against him. In August 1963, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, and President John F. Kennedy urgently reviewed the transcript of a FBI wiretap in which Dr. King acknowledged Rustin’s homosexuality. A day later, Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina “rose in the Senate to denounce Rustin for sexual perversion, vagrancy, and lewdness.” FBI “headquarters badgered the field offices for new details” of Rustin’s sex life for months.

As Reeves makes clear, this kind of persecution was not only reserved for civil rights activists.

Rustin’s story speaks to the long tradition of Americans from all walks of life uniting to discriminate against homosexuals. It did not matter if one was liberal or conservative, segregationist or civil rights leader, Democrat or Republican; homosexuals were “the other.” Being homosexual invited scrutiny and professional consequences.

These consequences befell quite a few Mississippians. Ted Russell, the conductor of the Jackson Symphony Orchestra, lost his job and his Belhaven College faculty position after he was caught in a gay sex sting by the Jackson Police Department. In the early 1980s, Congressman Jon Hinson drew scrutiny for frequenting an X-rated gay movie theater in Washington, D.C., and although he won reelection, he resigned when he returned to Washington and was caught performing gay sex acts in a Capitol Hill bathroom. As early as 1950, the State’s flagship institution of higher learning, the University of Mississippi, “forced three homosexual students and one faculty member to leave the university” because it “did not tolerate homosexuality.” Lesbian instructors at Mississippi University for Women were pushed out of their jobs, while students at other Mississippi public universities were expelled for their homosexuality. A 1979 article on gay Jacksonians said “most” remained closeted because “they fear losing their jobs, friends and families.”

Reeves discusses the anti-gay actions of the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission, which was created in 1956 to maintain racial segregation by any means necessary.

Sovereignty Commission “[i]nvestigators and local officials also targeted local blacks and outsiders involved in civil rights activities as being sexually deviant.” They singled out Rust College, a private historically black institution, on reports that instructors there were “homosexuals and racial agitators.”

Those with power took smaller, yet meaningful, actions to discourage gay organizing and association in Mississippi. The State refused to let gay rights organizations incorporate as nonprofits. The newspaper at Mississippi State University – student-led, with an elected editor – refused to print a gay organization’s advertisement notifying gay and lesbian students of an off-campus “Gay Center” offering “counseling, legal aid and a library of homosexual literature. An advisor to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights concluded that the Jackson Police Department took “a series . . . of maneuvers to harass members of Jackson’s gay community.” “As of 1985 not a single university campus in Mississippi recognized a lesbian and gay student group.”

Reeves’s ruling also makes clear that official discrimination is not only in the state’s past.

In 1990, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed a trial judge who declared that a mother, who was a lesbian, could not visit her children in the presence of her female partner. In Weigand v. Houghton, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed a trial judge who refused residential custody to a father in large part because he was in a long-term relationship with another man. A dissent complained that the father’s sexuality had impaired the court’s judgment, since the child would now have to live with “the unemployed stepfather [who] is a convicted felon, drinker, drug-taker, adulterer, wife-beater, and child-threatener, and . . . the mother [who] has been transitory, works two jobs, and has limited time with the child.”

In 2002, one of Mississippi’s justice court judges, frustrated with advances in gay rights in California, Vermont, and Hawaii, “opined that homosexuals belong in mental institutions.” Although he was reprimanded and fined by the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance, the Mississippi Supreme Court vacated the sanctions. It was more important for gay citizens to know that their judge was biased and seek his recusal than to “forc[e] judges to conceal their prejudice against gays and lesbians,” it wrote. The “Commission urges us to ‘calm the waters’ when, as the guardians of this state’s judicial system, we should be helping our citizens to spot the crocodiles.”

Reeves details a number of recent complaints and lawsuits challenging discriminatory treatment by state and local governments as well as legal inequities such as the fact that Mississippi law permits a single person to adopt a child but not gay or lesbian couples.

This kind of restriction was once supported by pseudoscience. We now recognize that it actually “harms the children, by telling them they don’t have two parents, like other children, and harms the parent who is not the adoptive parent by depriving him or her of the legal status of a parent.”

Reeves concludes the historical section of the ruling this way:

“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” That is as true here as anywhere else. Seven centuries of strong objections to homosexual conduct have resulted in a constellation of State laws that treat gay and lesbian Mississippians as lesser, “other” people. Thus, it is easy to conclude that they have suffered through a long and unfortunate history of discrimination.

Federal Judge Gives History Lesson on Anti-Gay Discrimination

The federal court ruling striking down Mississippi’s ban on same-sex couples getting married is worth reading for many reasons. Paul wrote earlier about U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves’s compelling explanation of the role of the courts in protecting Americans’ constitutional rights. The ruling is also filled with rich historical detail about the extent to which the state of Mississippi and the federal government have discriminated against LGBT citizens over the years, as well as the ways in which groups like the Ku Klux Klan and the notorious Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission used anti-gay rhetoric and innuendo in their attacks on African American civil rights leaders and institutions.

This history is an important rebuttal to bogus claims by anti-gay activists that gay people do not need to have their rights protected in law because they have never suffered from discrimination.

Quotes from the opinion, with citations removed for readability:

Any claim that Mississippians quietly accommodated gay and lesbian citizens could no longer be made in the 1960s, when prejudice against homosexuals (and other groups) became more visible during the civil rights movement. Segregationists called their opponents “racial  perverts,” while U.S. Marshals – summoned to enforce civil rights – were labeled “sadists and  perverts.” Klan propaganda tied together “Communists, homosexuals, and Jews, fornicators and liberals and angry blacks – infidels all.”

One Klan photo showed a black man touching the crotch of the white man sitting next to him, attempting to make the link between racial equality and homosexuality explicit.

Civil rights leaders had predicted the attack. In selecting the Freedom Riders, James Farmer had conducted interviews to weed out “Communists, homosexuals, [and] drug addicts.” “We had to screen them very carefully because we knew that if they found anything to throw at us, they would throw it,” he explained.

This reflected society’s notion that homosexuals were “undesirables.” It also placed civil rights leaders in the position of seeking rights for one disenfranchised group while simultaneously seeking to avoid association with another disenfranchised group. Mississippians opposed to integration harassed several civil rights leaders for their homosexuality. Bill Higgs was a prominent gay Mississippi civil rights lawyer. He was targeted for his activism, convicted in absentia of delinquency of a minor, and threatened with “unlimited  jailings” should he ever return to Mississippi.

He never did.

Reeves also discusses the case of Bayard Rustin, the openly gay African American civil rights activist who organized the 1963 March on Washington at which Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

The most interesting part of Rustin’s story, though – and the reason why he merits more discussion here – is that he was subjected to anti-gay discrimination by both white and black people, majority and minority alike. Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, a black Democrat, threatened to feed the media a false story that Rustin was having an affair with Martin Luther King, Jr., unless Dr. King canceled a protest at the Democratic National Convention.

Other persons within the civil rights movement were similarly “put off by Rustin’s homosexuality.” Roy Wilkins, an NAACP executive, “was particularly nasty to Bayard Rustin – very hostile,” in part because he “was very nervous about Bayard’s homosexuality.” Dr. King eventually had Rustin resign “because of persistent criticism of Rustin’s homosexuality and Communist ties and because of Congressman Adam Clayton Powell’s threat.”

Rustin reemerged years later as one of the principal organizers of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. A. Philip Randolph and Dr. King wanted Rustin as the march’s chief organizer, but Wilkins pushed back “because [Rustin] was gay . . . something which in particular would offend J. Edgar Hoover.” The group ultimately “decided Randolph would be in charge of the march, that Rustin would be the principal organizer, but that he would stay somewhat in the background.”

The concern about offending Hoover was prescient, as the FBI Director and other top officials soon moved to use Rustin’s homosexuality against him. In August 1963, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, and President John F. Kennedy urgently reviewed the transcript of a FBI wiretap in which Dr. King acknowledged Rustin’s homosexuality. A day later, Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina “rose in the Senate to denounce Rustin for sexual perversion, vagrancy, and lewdness.” FBI “headquarters badgered the field offices for new details” of Rustin’s sex life for months.

As Reeves makes clear, this kind of persecution was not only reserved for civil rights activists.

Rustin’s story speaks to the long tradition of Americans from all walks of life uniting to discriminate against homosexuals. It did not matter if one was liberal or conservative, segregationist or civil rights leader, Democrat or Republican; homosexuals were “the other.” Being homosexual invited scrutiny and professional consequences.

These consequences befell quite a few Mississippians. Ted Russell, the conductor of the Jackson Symphony Orchestra, lost his job and his Belhaven College faculty position after he was caught in a gay sex sting by the Jackson Police Department. In the early 1980s, Congressman Jon Hinson drew scrutiny for frequenting an X-rated gay movie theater in Washington, D.C., and although he won reelection, he resigned when he returned to Washington and was caught performing gay sex acts in a Capitol Hill bathroom. As early as 1950, the State’s flagship institution of higher learning, the University of Mississippi, “forced three homosexual students and one faculty member to leave the university” because it “did not tolerate homosexuality.” Lesbian instructors at Mississippi University for Women were pushed out of their jobs, while students at other Mississippi public universities were expelled for their homosexuality. A 1979 article on gay Jacksonians said “most” remained closeted because “they fear losing their jobs, friends and families.”

Reeves discusses the anti-gay actions of the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission, which was created in 1956 to maintain racial segregation by any means necessary.

Sovereignty Commission “[i]nvestigators and local officials also targeted local blacks and outsiders involved in civil rights activities as being sexually deviant.” They singled out Rust College, a private historically black institution, on reports that instructors there were “homosexuals and racial agitators.”

Those with power took smaller, yet meaningful, actions to discourage gay organizing and association in Mississippi. The State refused to let gay rights organizations incorporate as nonprofits. The newspaper at Mississippi State University – student-led, with an elected editor – refused to print a gay organization’s advertisement notifying gay and lesbian students of an off-campus “Gay Center” offering “counseling, legal aid and a library of homosexual literature. An advisor to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights concluded that the Jackson Police Department took “a series . . . of maneuvers to harass members of Jackson’s gay community.” “As of 1985 not a single university campus in Mississippi recognized a lesbian and gay student group.”

Reeves’s ruling also makes clear that official discrimination is not only in the state’s past.

In 1990, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed a trial judge who declared that a mother, who was a lesbian, could not visit her children in the presence of her female partner. In Weigand v. Houghton, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed a trial judge who refused residential custody to a father in large part because he was in a long-term relationship with another man. A dissent complained that the father’s sexuality had impaired the court’s judgment, since the child would now have to live with “the unemployed stepfather [who] is a convicted felon, drinker, drug-taker, adulterer, wife-beater, and child-threatener, and . . . the mother [who] has been transitory, works two jobs, and has limited time with the child.”

 In 2002, one of Mississippi’s justice court judges, frustrated with advances in gay rights in California, Vermont, and Hawaii, “opined that homosexuals belong in mental institutions.” Although he was reprimanded and fined by the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance, the Mississippi Supreme Court vacated the sanctions. It was more important for gay citizens to know that their judge was biased and seek his recusal than to “forc[e] judges to conceal their prejudice against gays and lesbians,” it wrote. The “Commission urges us to ‘calm the waters’ when, as the guardians of this state’s judicial system, we should be helping our citizens to spot the crocodiles.”

Reeves details a number of recent complaints and lawsuits challenging discriminatory treatment by state and local governments as well as legal inequities such as the fact that Mississippi law permits a single person to adopt a child but not gay or lesbian couples.

This kind of restriction was once supported by pseudoscience. We now recognize that it actually “harms the children, by telling them they don’t have two parents, like other children, and harms the parent who is not the adoptive parent by depriving him or her of the legal status of a parent.”

Reeves concludes the historical section of the ruling this way:

“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” That is as true here as anywhere else. Seven centuries of strong objections to homosexual conduct have resulted in a constellation of State laws that treat gay and lesbian Mississippians as lesser, “other” people. Thus, it is easy to conclude that they have suffered through a long and unfortunate history of discrimination.

PFAW Foundation

Mississippi Judge Striking Down Marriage Ban Explains the Role of Courts

Judge Carlton Reeves explains the importance of the courts while demonstrating how important it is who serves on them.
PFAW Foundation

Right Wing Round-Up - 11/4/14

Chris McDaniel: Toss Out Primary Votes Because Of A Poll My Campaign Conducted

Still refusing to concede his runoff primary defeat to Sen. Thad Cochran, Mississippi state senator Chris McDaniel took his case today to “Focal Point” with Bryan Fischer, the American Family Association spokesman who campaigned with and endorsed him.

McDaniel has challenged the results of the runoff and demanded the state GOP declare him to be the nominee.

While speaking with Fischer, McDaniel cited a completely unenforceable state law stipulating that “[n]o person shall be eligible to participate in any primary election unless he intends to support the nominations made in which he participates.”

McDaniel said his campaign commissioned a poll of Mississippi Democrats and found that around 71 percent of those who voted in the GOP primary for Cochran did not intend to vote for him in the general election. Therefore, McDaniel says, people’s actual votes should be “invalidated” due to what his campaign’s poll says about their imaginary, future votes.

Failing to Defend the Right to Vote Is Simply Not an Option

As we work to ensure not only that President Obama receives legislation without undue delay, but also that whatever language he signs protects as many voters as possible from discrimination, it is important to remember those who died a half century ago fighting for this very cause.
PFAW

Wayne Allyn Root Sympathizes With Chris McDaniel Because They've Both Been 'Smeared' By Liberals

Wayne Allyn Root, who campaigned with Mississippi Senate candidate Chris McDaniel in the final days of his losing campaign, told Steve Deace yesterday that he sympathizes with McDaniel because he has also been “smeared” by liberals who think that he’s racist.

"They claim that because I called Obama a Manchurian candidate that I must be some kind of racist nutcase and extreme," he said.

Root explained that he is not a “birther” but is just asking the question about whether President Obama went to Columbia University, a fact that has been firmly established.

“I merely state the truth and say, do we have a Manchurian candidate?” Root said.

Here’s Root’s speech to a McDaniel rally last weekend, for which he was apparently unfairly smeared by liberals.

Chris McDaniel Closes Out Senate Race By Campaigning With Bryan Fischer And Wayne Allyn Root

Republican Senate candidate Chris McDaniel spent this weekend rolling around Mississippi on the Tea Party Express bus, along with a motley assortment of fringe right-wing extremists.

McDaniel’s fellow travelers in his last tour before today's runoff election against Sen. Thad Cochran included Wayne Allyn Root, who told audiences that President Obama is a “Manchurian candidate” who lied about his resume; a songwriting duo known for the anti-immigrant song “Press 1 for English”; and notoriously anti-gay, anti-Muslim, anti-many-other-people American Family Association spokesman Bryan Fischer, who granted McDaniel what he said was his very first public endorsement of a candidate for office.

At the group’s stop in Biloxi, Root — a one-time Libertarian Party nominee for vice president — regaled the crowd with his theory that President Obama is a “Manchurian candidate” who “cut his Afro” in order to infiltrate the government, collapse the economy and create a permanent Democratic majority.

Strangely, although Root implies that President Obama did not actually attend Columbia University, he also claims that the president learned this “Manchurian” strategy at Columbia.

Root also told the crowd that “we’re the makers and Obama’s voters are the takers,” claiming that conservative radio exists because conservatives are listening to the radio on their way to work, while liberals are “home collecting their checks watching Oprah and Jerry Springer and ads for personal injury attorneys.”

At the bus’s Tupelo stop, Fischer made a surprise appearance to give McDaniel what he said was his first-ever public endorsement of a candidate for office, citing McDaniel's "Mississippi values." 

Also joining McDaniel on the Tea Party Express bus were Ron and Kay Rivoli, who the Tea Party group proudly notes are “best known for their hit song, ‘Press 1 for English,’ which has over 16 million views on YouTube.”

The Rivolis didn’t sing "Press 1 for English" at the McDaniel rallies, opting instead for a song about how welfare is turning the U.S. into the “USSA.” But here’s a look at their hit song, in which they announce, “I do not live in China, Mexico, no foreign place, and English is the language of these United States.”

As a bonus, here’s the Rivolis' song complaining about how liberals are always playing the “racist card.”

If you really want to, you can also listen to their anthem in support of Arizona's notorious anti-immigrant bill, SB1070.

 

Miller: Mississippi's Non-Discrimination Sticker Campaign Is Anti-Christian

A few months ago, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed a bill designed to protect businesses that discriminate against gay customers in the name of religious liberty. In response, activists started a "We Don't Discriminate" campaign, encouraging businesses to post stickers declaring that all customers are welcome in their stores in an effort to take "a public stance against discrimination and for equal rights":

Of course, this response has infuriated Gina Miller, the content editor for BarbWire, who declares that the "Alphabet Soup Perversity Brigade" is actually attacking Christians by posting these stickers and therefore calls upon Christians to boycott any store that has one:

As they do in every aspect of their anti-Christian, freedom-robbing agenda, they lie about the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, insisting it will open the door to a flood of anti-homosexual “discrimination,” with Christian businesses owners refusing to do business with people simply because they’re sodomites. That’s not happening, but these people don’t let truth or reason even come close to getting in their way, because if there were even one case of a “Christian” business owner telling a homosexual, “We don’t serve your limp-wristed kind in here,” it would be blaring headline news from coast to coast, world without end.

The truth of the matter is the exact opposite of how the Left portrays it. Christians are not refusing to serve homosexuals, but homosexuals are targeting Christian-owned businesses with demands that would force the owners to participate in the desecration of marriage, in direct violation of their conscience. When Christians politely refuse them, instead of going down the street to a willing business, they sue the Christians. These activists know exactly what they’re doing, and their goal is not to get a stupid “wedding” cake made for two men. No. Their goal is to use the courts to strip the rights and freedoms of Christians and any others who are opposed to the militant homosexual movement’s agenda, which includes the destruction of marriage.

The AFA published a list of Mississippi businesses that have signed on to place one of the anti-Christian, pro-homosexual stickers on their windows. Here’s the “If You’re Buying” site where you can also see the sticker and the business list as it’s updated. These are businesses you might want to avoid here in Mississippi, unless you’re in the mood to go inside and find out if they really understand what that anti-Christian sticker means.

...

That’s pure truth, but our inalienable rights will not stand if these homofascists get their way. Freedom of conscience, religion, speech and association for Christians is directly in the evil cross-hairs of this diabolical movement, and unless we stand firmly, loudly and unified against it, our freedoms will be crushed. Don’t doubt it for a minute.

Glenn Beck Assures His Audience The Tea Party Was Not Involved In The Cochran Trespassing Incident

A few days ago, a conservative blogger in Mississippi named Clayton Kelly was arrested "after allegedly trespassing at the nursing home where Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran's wife lives and posting a picture of the Republican's spouse online without permission."

Kelly was apparently a supporter of Chris McDaniel, who is running against Cochran in the upcoming Republican primary and today, Glenn Beck invited McDaniel onto his radio program to discuss his race, during which Beck fumed that the media was falsely claiming that the Tea Party was involved in this episode.

From Beck's perspective, Kelly could not be a Tea Party member at all because his blog contained various posts attacking Beck and echoing the conspiracy theories promoted by Alex Jones.

"That was not the Tea Party," Beck said about the incident, "but the mainstream media will make it look like the Tea Party":

Interestingly, just a few hours after that very discussion, two more men were arrested in connection with this incident, one of whom is reportedly the vice chairman of the Mississippi Tea Party:

Two more men were arrested in connection with the video of Sen. Thad Cochran’s (R-Miss.) wife, allegedly made by an apparent supporter of his primary challenger, state Sen. Chris McDaniel.

According to The Courier-Ledger, attorney Mark Mayfield, a vice chairman of the Mississippi Tea Party and an officer with the Central Mississippi Tea Party, and is reportedly close with McDaniel staff, was arrested Thursday by the Madison Police Department in connection with the case.

Birds Of A Feather: Senate Hopeful Chris McDaniel Joins Bryan Fischer In Studio

Last week, controversy erupted over various comments Mississippi state senator Chris McDaniel, who is challenging Republican incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran in the GOP primary, made when he worked as a right-wing radio host back in 2005 and 2006.

McDaniel initially dismissed the criticism he received over his comments, asserting that trying to hold him accountable for the things that he said was somehow a desperate cheap shot, though he later attempted to distance himself from some of his past statements.

Naturally, if you are a former right-wing radio host trying to downplay various controversial things you have said in that capacity in the past, the best course of action is to appear, in person, alongside a vehemently anti-gay, anti-Muslim bigot and borderline theocrat like Bryan Fischer on his radio program, which is exactly what McDaniel did today:

Not surprisingly, Fischer didn't see anything particularly offensive about any of the things that McDaniel had said while McDaniel asserted that "no harm was meant" by any of his comments and insisted that using things he said ten years ago against him reeks of desperation:

YEO Leads Fight Against ‘Right to Discriminate’ Law in Mississippi

In the wake of the recent uproar about an expansive “right to discriminate” bill that was vetoed in Arizona, on Thursday Mississippi governor Phil Bryant quietly signed similar legislation, the so-called Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act, into law.

Mississippi State Senator Derrick Simmons, a member of affiliate People For the American Way Foundation’s Young Elected Officials Network, has been a vocal opponent of the distressing law. On the floor of the state Senate last week, Sen. Simmons, who is African American, said:

If you have never been discriminated against, you don't know how that feels…. I urge you to vote against this bill because it legalizes discrimination.

On Friday he spoke out again in a powerful op-ed outlining some of the negative repercussions his state may see now that, in Simmons’ words, “the worst outcome has occurred”:

Businesses wishing to discriminate against any person under state law could use “religious exercise” as a defense to justify their actions.

Federal and state laws do not let business owners with religious objections to “mixing the races” refuse service on religious grounds. We do not let business owners with traditional views of sex roles refuse to sell certain products to women or not hire married women for full-time jobs on religious grounds. Yet the way this bill is written could open the doors to many other types of discrimination.

…The Jim Crow laws ended in 1965. I was born 11 years later. I never witnessed those horrible years. I don’t want to see any shadow of the Jim Crow era, but this bill could turn back the clock. Arizona stopped it from happening when Governor Jan Brewer vetoed a similar bill in her state. I was praying for the same here; however, Mississippi just doesn't have the will to do what is right. Mississippi is burning again.

The worst outcome has occurred - Governor Bryant has signed the discriminatory bill into law. Yes, we can hope the Mississippi court system will recognize the importance of enforcing protection from discrimination, but we can act locally. We must ask our counties and cities to pass non-discrimination ordinances so our friends of all races, colors, creeds and orientations can find oases from prejudice in the great state of Mississippi.

PFAW

Louie Gohmert Hails Mississippi Anti-Gay Law, Attacks 'Intolerant' Gays

Earlier this year, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) endorsed Arizona’s failed “right-to-discriminate” bill for challenging attempts to “establish the religion of secularism.”

In reaction to Mississippi’s enactment a similar law, Gohmert yesterday told Washington Watch host and Family Research Council president Tony Perkins — who stood behind Mississippi’s governor at the bill’s signing ceremony — that he is “so proud of Mississippi and what they’ve done.”

After Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant came on the show to receive Gohmert’s plaudits, the congressmen called the anti-gay law “a wonderful example of real freedom” and attacked gay rights critics as intolerant: “You’ve seen it first hand, there is nobody more intolerant in this country than those that are screaming for tolerance. Christians are not intolerant but whoa, goodness these people that have their leftist agenda that are so intolerant so thanks for having the courage to stand up.”

Gohmert: I sure am proud of Mississippi.

Perkins: It’s good to be here in Mississippi, in fact the governor has just joined me here in the studio. Great leadership team in Mississippi.

Gohmert: Well he could probably care less of what Louie Gohmert thinks but I am sure proud of Mississippi.

Perkins: He says he’s a fan of Louie Gohmert.

Bryant: Absolutely.

Gohmert: We are so proud of Mississippi and what they’ve done.

Perkins: Here’s my co-host Gov. Bryant.

Gohmert: Governor, we are so proud, you have set such a wonderful example of real freedom. You’ve seen it first hand, there is nobody more intolerant in this country than those that are screaming for tolerance. Christians are not intolerant but whoa, goodness these people—

Bryant: It is the world of bizarro.

Gohmert: These people that have their leftist agenda that are so intolerant so thanks for having the courage to stand up.

Bryant: You’re quite welcome, thank you sir.

Mississippi Tries to Redefine Southern Hospitality With Proposed 'Right to Discriminate' Bill

The following is a guest blog from Zane Ballard, a Fellow in affiliate People For the American Way Foundation’s Young People For program.

In spite of the nationwide outcry over Arizona’s SB 1062, the “Turn Away the Gays” bill vetoed by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer last month, some far-right legislators across the country have continued to claim that gay rights present a threat to their religious freedom. In my state of Mississippi, conservative legislators have pushed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (SB 2681), which is similar to the vetoed Arizona law. When the Mississippi State Senate passed SB 2681 on January 31, some senators said they did not even realize its implications. Mississippi Sen. David Blount, for example, said he “was not aware…of this intention or possible result” when he voted – that is, the result of legalizing discrimination.

The version of the bill passed by the Senate would have allowed businesses to deny service to individuals based upon the belief that “state action or an action by any person based on state action shall not burden a person's right to exercise of religion.” It would have allowed broad, almost unchecked discrimination by any business that claimed its “exercise of religion has been burdened or is likely to be burdened” by serving a customer. This could have included refusal to serve LGBT persons, people of color, or those of non-Christian or no faith, all on the basis of an individual exercising their religion.

Yesterday the discriminatory bill faced a major setback when the House voted to replace most of the text of the bill with language establishing a committee to study the issue. The study committee will be examining the bill closely in search of any possible way that the language could be usable without promoting discrimination.  But according to the Mississippi ACLU, “Senate Bill 2681 remains a looming threat. The results of the study committee that was established by the amendment that passed the House today may go to conference. If the conference committee reaches an agreement, its report must be approved by both houses by April 2nd.”

In the meantime, advocates on the ground in Mississippi will continue to watch closely as the process unfolds. Last week, I joined students from Mississippi State University and Millsaps College, representatives from Equality Mississippi, and other concerned Mississippians on the steps of the state capitol to demonstrate against the bill. Protestors had also planned to be present during a House Judiciary Committee meeting that day, in hopes that they would be duly represented by those they had elected. However, these concerned Mississippians were unable to sit in on the committee meeting, which ended seven minutes before it was even scheduled to even begin. 

Even though the bill has been stalled, the work to keep this discriminatory law off the books continues. The Gulf Coast Lesbian & Gay Community Center in Mississippi has organized an action on the steps of the state capitol for March 26 at 12 pm, to once again draw attention to the bill and to highlight the general lack of protections for LGBT people in our state. In the wake of momentum generated in response to SB 2681, it would not be surprising to see the pro-equality energy of those in the state carrying over into other channels. This could include support for non-discrimination ordinances in cities across Mississippi, or even a statewide piece of legislation preventing discrimination and preserving the real ideal of southern hospitality.
 

PFAW

Mississippi Anti-Gay 'Religious Freedom' Legislation Is Even 'Broader Than The Arizona Bill'

UPDATE: The Mississippi Business Journal reports: “The Mississippi House of Representatives Civil Subcommittee late Wednesday voted to strike provisions of a so-called ‘religious freedom’ bill.”

The Mississippi state legislature may soon approve its own anti-gay “right-to-discriminate” bill, which already passed the State Senate as part of legislation that adds “In God We Trust” to the state seal.

The Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty criticized a similar bill in Georgia that the group warned would turn religion into “an automatic trump card.”

The Mississippi ACLU said the bill may even go farther than the legislation passed in Arizona: “We are worried that this bill is broader than the Arizona bill. The bill would allow the government finding of discrimination by defining ‘burden’ to include withholding government benefits.”

The ACLU reports:

Senate Bill 2681, the Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act, does not restore or expand religious freedom. It is simply a license to discriminate.

-In its current form, this law could allow people to argue that their religious beliefs exempt them from complying with laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, color, and national origin.

-This law would give private individuals and businesses a free pass to discriminate. This will allow businesses to deny basic services under the guise of religious freedom.

-This law would not protect against government funding of discrimination. By defining “burden” to include withholding of government benefits, religious organizations and individuals may use the statute to challenge exclusion from governmental programs. This could result in government funding of not only religious ends and activities, but also discrimination.

-This bill would do nothing more than allow the use of religion to discriminate and burden hardworking businesses with the threat of frivolous lawsuits.

AFA Attacks Two Mississippi Towns For Passing Gay-Inclusive Diversity Resolutions

In the last month, two Mississippi towns have passed resolutions recognizing  "the inherent worth of all its city's residents" that specifically included members of the LGBT community and that is not sitting well with Bryan Fischer and the American Family Association, which used its OneNewsNow news website to voice its displeasure and call for the city council members who voted for these resolution to be removed from office:

Bryan Fischer with the Mississippi-based American Family Association says it's obvious the council members didn't check with the people they represent – or with the Centers for Disease Control about "how risky and dangerous homosexual behavior is."

"It's very clear that homosexual conduct is as risky to human health as intravenous drug use," Fischer tells OneNewsNow. "I don't think there's any way in the world that the Hattiesburg City Council is going to draft an ordinance that promotes intravenous drug use. Why? Because it's risky to human health. They should have taken the same position on homosexual behavior."

...

Fischer, AFA's director of issues analysis, laments the fact that similar decisions by city leaders are becoming more common in college towns – adding that it reflects those leaders' negligent attitudes toward unhealthy lifestyles. "... These city councils, I believe, are being grossly irresponsible in the signal that they're sending to vulnerable young men and women in their communities," he states.

The AFA spokesman also argues that the vote does not represent the beliefs of the majority of residents in Hattiesburg. He reminds those residents that members of the city council serve "at the pleasure of the citizens who can do something about it" – and he adds: "They should."

Rep. Steve Palazzo Is Proud To Stand With The American Family Association

There are few "mainstream" Religious Right organization active today that can match the American Family Association's output of unrelenting bigotry, so it is remarkable to see sitting members of Congress appear on the  organization's radio programs and proclaim their appreciation for what the AFA is doing, as Rep. Steve Palazzo did today.

Palazzo has not been shy about voicing his support for the AFA and was on today to discuss the AFA's on-going crusade against the military over being classified as a hate group in an Army training session and Palzzo promised AFA president Tim Wildmon that he and his other Republican colleagues from Mississippi who are in Congress will get to the bottom of it because, as he said, America has never needed a group like the AFA "out there espousing Christian principles and biblical teachings" more than it does today.

Palazzo blamed the briefing on the culture that President Obama has created by filling the ranks of the government with people "who really don't share the same values that real America has" and who are trying to "break down the fabric of our society [by working to] corrupt the military from the inside out":

The Right to Vote Under Attack, 2012 Update

Here we detail, as of October 6, 2012, except where otherwise noted, the latest efforts across the country to suppress the vote, as well as some encouraging successes in expanding the franchise.
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