On Valentine’s Day, I found a stack of boxed “Duck Dynasty” valentines on the 50 percent clearance shelf at Food Lion. America seems to have moved on from December’s flap over offensive remarks by Phil Robertson – along with many of the show’s former viewers – but the American Family Association hopes that fond memories of the family patriarch’s anti-gay sentiments will encourage AFA’s contributors to dig deep.
A new fundraising letter from AFA’s Tim Wildmon is built around a postcard to Robertson that Wildmon asks people to sign and return to the AFA, along with a check. The postcard reads:
By simply expressing the truth of God’s moral law you have encouraged other Christians to speak out in opposition to those who would convince our society that homosexuality is morally equivalent to heterosexuality.
Following your example, I intend to be bolder and more active in defense of God’s truth.
I am praying for you and your family. May God bless you.
Wildmon’s letter, which recounts Robertson’s brief suspension by the A&E network, portrays the support for Robertson from Christian conservatives as an opportunity to “uproot the entrenched evil that’s killing the soul of our nation.”
Will Christians and other like-minded Americans seize the moment? Will we capture the energy Phil Robertson has generated and draw on that energy to confront the entrenched fortresses of error and sexual anarchy that now dominate our social landscape?
The homosexual lobby’s outrageous demand – and A&E’s capitulation – has awakened social conservatives from their slumber and brought them to the point where they’ve had it with being insulted, demeaned and deprived of their basic rights to freedom of religion and speech.
That being the case, we’ve got to harness the outrage of Christians and direct it at helping uproot the entrenched evil that’s killing the soul of our nation.
If we fail to do this, then all this righteous anger will dissipate and our cultural wasteland will remain just that: a cultural wasteland. On the other hand, using the support that you and other AFA ministry partners provide, we will act quickly and decisively to turn this attack on Phil Robertson into a victory for our nation and for those who are to come after us.
It’s worth noting that while sometimes, when AFA radio host and spokesman Bryan Fischer says something even more offensive than usual, he and the organization claim (unconvincingly) that he doesn’t speak for the AFA, Wildmon happily quotes Fischer’s defense of Robertson and his criticism of “Big Gay.”
Pastor Mark Creech, head of the American Family Association-affiliated Christian Action League of North Carolina, warns in a Christian Post column published yesterday that federal court decisions striking down marriage equality bans in Kentucky and Virginia are a “sign of the times” signaling God’s “impending judgment” on America.
“This is not the fresh air of new freedom that we smell; it is the smoke of Sodom,” Creech writes.
“[T]hese new legal precedents will essentially destroy the nation if not reversed,” he adds. “America must reclaim its sexual sanity or lose its life.”
In an irony of ironies, during the week of Valentine's, two federal judges overturned the marriage protection amendments of Kentucky and Virginia, single-handedly redefining romance and marriage.
Such court decisions are certainly a sign of the times – a sign that we are heading for an impending judgment. This matter burdens my heart greatly nearly every day, sometimes with tears.
John Phillips, the great preacher and Bible commentator once said concerning the story of Sodom's celebration of homosexuality and its ultimate destruction, the first sign of the imminence of God's judgment is a judicial blindness – an inability to make right moral judgment. Citing in Genesis chapter 19 how the angelic visitors struck the perverse mob pressing on Lot's door with blindness, Phillips writes:
"'Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad,' said one of the ancient philosophers Not so! Whom God would destroy, He first makes blind. There comes a point in the rising tide of human wickedness, where God acts. In preparation [for His judgment] He blinds. The process takes various forms; in Pharaoh's case, God hardened his heart; in a coming day He will send a strong delusion so that they will believe 'the lie.' It is a dangerous thing to transgress with arrogance and persistence the laws of God."
The CP notes that Judge Heyburn said in the Kentucky case that the state "cannot impose a traditional or faith-based limitation upon a public right without a sufficient justification for it." Contrary to the erroneous assertions of many, the Constitution itself was based in the law of nature's God. The Scriptures declare the homosexual relationship "unnatural" (Romans 1:26-27), not in the sense of what is allegedly natural for the heterosexual and the homosexual, but natural in function.
Not only is the Constitution based in eternal verities that come from the Judeo-Christian ethic, but neither is there any legal basis for redefining marriage as a union of two people regardless of their gender. The Constitution provides no right to same-sex marriage and even the U.S. Supreme Court has declared the states have a pre-eminent duty for determining marriage's meaning. Nevertheless, radical activist federal judges are saying that whenever the state defines the institution as one man and one woman, it's discriminatory.
Well, if it's discriminatory to circumscribe marriage traditionally, then it's just another form of discrimination to deny marriage to polygamists, polyamorists, incestuous couples, and even pedophiles. Are we to believe such couplings often practiced by pagan cultures of the past, which were either incinerated or reduced to ruins for their sexual deviance by God's own hand, are somehow now in the best interest of our great Republic? Will we legally visit and remove the ban on these too? With rulings such as these, there is nothing to prevent it.
I suggest it is both madness and blindness. And these new legal precedents will essentially destroy the nation if not reversed. America must reclaim its sexual sanity or lose its life.
This is not the kind of judicial blindness represented by Justice with the blindfold over her eyes and the scales in her hand. Instead, it makes a mockery of it. This instead is a visionless Justice, groping her way through the darkness of peril.
Phillips writes, "If there is one thing that marks perversion, it is its deep-seated character. As a cancerous cell in a healthy body grows and spreads until it destroys the health of the whole body, so perverted lust entrenches itself and takes over the life."
If this legal trend continues, we are now seeing the beginning of a new era – an era of judicial sightlessness – the beginning of our judgment as a nation – the start of our end.
This is not the fresh air of new freedom that we smell; it is the smoke of Sodom.
God save us.
In an interview with WorldNetDaily today, Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly compared the Supreme Court’s decision in U.S. v Windsor to the infamous Dred Scott case, arguing that the landmark marriage equality decision should not be used as legal precedent.
Attacking President Obama for his “dictatorial attitude” and “judges who think they can do anything they want,” Schlafly urged Americans to simply ignore the legal precedent set by gay rights decisions. Schlafly recalled how Republicans in the 1850s argued that the Dred Scott decision shouldn’t set a binding legal precedent. “We should reject some of these laws that try to write into the Constitution gay marriage, which is not a constitutional right,” she said.
Well, I’m not really a predictor, but I think the American people have got to stop this dictatorial attitude of Obama, who thinks he can do anything by executive order and the judges who think they can do anything they want by calling it a ‘living Constitution.’
Remember Abraham Lincoln, when the courts handed down probably the worst decision in history, the Dred Scott case. And Lincoln was very good, he said, well, okay, we have to accept what the court did for poor old Dred Scott but we don’t have to accept it as the law of the land, we don’t have to accept it as binding in other cases, or else we will be subservient to ‘that imperial judiciary.’ He just rejected it. And we should reject some of these laws that try to write into the Constitution gay marriage, which is not a constitutional right.
On Thursday evening a federal judge ruled that Virginia’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples is unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen stayed the decision pending appeal, meaning that while the ban has been struck down, the ruling will not immediately take effect.
Close on the heels of a federal judge’s decision earlier this week directing Kentucky to recognize same-sex marriages from other states, Judge Wright Allen’s decision makes Virginia the first state in the South where a statewide ban has been entirely struck down.
In the South and across the country, it’s clear that Americans increasingly believe it is wrong to block committed couples from the protections and responsibilities that only marriage can provide. As Judge Wright Allen wrote in her decision:
Our nation's uneven but dogged journey toward truer and more meaningful freedoms for our citizens has brought us continually to a deeper understanding of the first three words in our Constitution: we the people. "We the People" have become a broader, more diverse family than once imagined.
As Kyle noted yesterday, Liberty Counsel is out with two new amicus briefs defending same-sex marriage bans in Utah and Oklahoma, in which they argue that "while same-sex couples can enter a union of the wills, it is not possible for them to join in body in the way true marriage has always required."
Liberty Counsel filed one of its briefs on behalf of the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), a group that pushes "ex-gay” therapy for LGBT people.
The other, filed in Liberty Counsel’s own name [pdf], features many of the group’s standard arguments (including plenty of citations of the bunk anti-gay Regnerus study), but one argument in particular caught our eye. Seeking to head off legal comparisons between bans on same-sex marriage and bans on interracial marriage, Liberty Counsel argues that it is in fact the legalization of same-sex marriage that is similar to banning interracial marriage=.
How is that, you ask? Advocates of anti-miscegenation laws and gay rights advocates, Liberty Counsel explains, both want to place an “agenda-driven obstacle” onto the institution of marriage. In fact, the group implies, marriage equality advocates might be even worse because “they are seeking to replace the institution with their own agenda-driven proposal.”
…Loving, like the other cases addressing restrictions upon the right to marry, was aimed at preserving the right to enter into the union of one man and one woman by removing agenda-driven obstacles that had been improperly engrafted onto the union. Those seeking to overturn laws such as Utah’s and Colorado’s that memorialize marriage as the union of one man and one woman are now trying to engraft another agenda-driven obstacle onto the institution. Actually, they are seeking more than that. They are seeking to replace the institution with their own agenda-driven proposal.
We really don't know what "agenda-driven obstacle" Liberty Counsel thinks same-sex marriage will put on the institution, but maybe it has something to do with LC chairman Mat Staver's fear of "forced homosexuality."
Last month, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus called for Michigan GOP committeeman Dave Agema to resign over anti-gay, anti-Muslim comments. Apparently, the Iowa Republican Party didn’t get the message. Barely a week after the Agema controversy broke, the Iowa GOP picked an anti-gay crusader to be the state party co-chair.
Danny Carroll, a former state representative who took over as the Iowa GOP’s co-chair on February 3, is a lobbyist for The Family Leader, the right-wing social issues group run by Bob Vander Plaats, who is considering running for Senate. While Vander Plaats’ over-the-top rhetoric is better known, Carroll is equally adamant in his opposition to gay rights and his Christian-nation view of government.
Back in 2010, Danny Carroll, then the head of Iowa Family Policy Center, refused to endorse the candidacy of Republican Terry Brandstad even after he won the gubernatorial primary because of what he saw as Brandstad’s insufficient opposition to gay rights. Brandstad merely wanted to pass a state constitutional amendment overturning the Iowa Supreme Court’s 2009 marriage equality ruling; Carroll’s preferred candidate, Vander Plaats, led a campaign to target and oust the judges behind the ruling. Carroll assured Vander Plaats’ supporters that they were “answering to God Almighty.” After the election, Vander Plaats was hired to head The Family Leader, a new umbrella group that encompassed the Iowa Family Policy Center.
At a Family Leader conference last year, Carroll insisted that more important than the breakdown of families was the “crisis is in the definition of family” – that is, the growing acceptance of same-sex marriage. He said the group was pushing for a state constitutional amendment on marriage equality because “just about every problem facing society today could be fixed, eliminated or significantly reduced if we held up marriage between one man and one woman for life.”
Over the past several years, Carroll has used his influence in Iowa to back candidates who share his far-right views. In 2008, he co-chaired Mike Huckabee’s presidential campaign in Iowa. In 2012, he went for Michele Bachmann, who he declared was “biblically qualified” for the presidency.
But Carroll’s first choice in 2012 was maybe even further to the right than Bachmann: He backed the short-lived presidential campaign of Alabama Judge Roy Moore, who became famous for defying a court order to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments from a government building, and who now wants to hold a Constitutional Convention to pass an amendment banning same-sex marriage. When Moore dropped out of the race, Carroll lamented, “He’s a great guy. I love him and respect him. He’s a hero, that’s for sure. And he’s an honorable person. I can’t say anything negative against Judge Moore. Just the reality of politics, I guess.”
Carroll seems to share Moore’s leanings. In a speech in 2010, Carroll blamed the Supreme Court ruling banning school-organized prayer for recent teen suicides in Iowa and railed against legal abortion and gambling. He said these trends could only be reversed by electing people “who will stand up and unashamedly and without apology assure us that they will be guided by absolute and timeless Christian morals that comes from a regular reading of God’s Word.”
“I am through apologizing for what this country was founded on: a firm conviction that a free people cannot be self-governed unless they have a strong conviction to religion and morality,” he added.
In an interview with radio host Jan Mickelson earlier this month, Carroll agreed with Mickelson’s assessment that his appointment to serve alongside the Ron Paul-supporting state party chair A.J. Spiker represented “a marriage between the Paulistas and the evangelicals, or the Teavangelicals” in Iowa. In a possible signal that the party was patching things up, Carroll last week endorsed Brandstad’s reelection bid.
Carroll is hardly alone as a hard-right social conservative in the state-level leadership of a party that just last year proposed softening its image to expand its base. As Brian noted last month, it was odd that Priebus singled out Agema, since anti-gay sentiment is a common feature among RNC committee members. In fact, in Iowa, Carroll will be serving alongside RNC committeewoman Tamara Scott, who once warned that gay marriage will lead to man-Eiffel Tower marriage and who blamed the recession in part on legalized same-sex marriage.
Residents of Bay County, Michigan, are receiving robocalls from the state chapter of the American Family Association urging them to reject a proposed nondiscrimination ordinance that the group claims “threatens religious freedom and women’s privacy rights by giving special protections to individuals involved in homosexual behavior or cross-dressing.”
The Bay City Times has posted a recording of the robocall, in which AFA Michigan president Gary Glenn calls the LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance a “discriminatory law.”
The ordinance would prohibit [pdf] the county government from discriminating on the basis of “race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, height, weight, marital status, physical or mental limitation, familial status, sexual orientation, or gender identity/expression.” It would not apply to private businesses, although Glenn has nevertheless fretted that it would require a Christian bookstore to “hire a man who comes to work wearing a dress.”
The American Family Association’s Sandy Rios is, to say the least, upset about Attorney General Eric Holder’s recent decision to extend many rights in the justice system to same-sex married couples. In fact, Rios tells the AFA’s OneNewsNow today, we are now in “a war between people who love this country and want to protect and preserve it and their children and future generations, and those who literally want to undermine and destroy its laws, its nature, [and to] fundamentally transform it."
Rios adds the executive branch "is out of control" by refusing to enforce laws passed by Congress and then granting rights to homosexuals.
"This is a fight over the survival of the country," she shares. "This is a war between people who love this country and want to protect and preserve it and their children and future generations, and those who literally want to undermine and destroy its laws, its nature, [and to] fundamentally transform it."
World Congress of Families spokesman Don Feder is once again defending Russian President Vladimir Putin’s crackdown on LGBT people. In a column posted at GrasstopsUSA yesterday, Feder defends Russia’s ban on “gay propaganda,” saying it merely prevents “two homosexuals” from standing “outside an elementary school with a banner that says: ‘Hey kids, sodomy is swell – and you should try it!’” (In fact, journalists have been fined under the law for reporting about openly gay people). He also claims that Russia is interested in cracking down on LGBT people in order to prevent HIV.
Feder echoes the assertion of Alexey Komov, a Russian anti-gay activist and the main organizer of WCF’s upcoming Moscow conference, that Putin is the new Reagan, come to “save” America from “communism,” including the gay-rights rulings of American judges “drunk on the heady elixir of sexual rights.”
There should be an event at the Sochi Olympics where advocates posing as journalists, celebrity nitwits and politicians can compete to see who can wail the loudest and longest about the supposed horror of Russia's dreaded anti-gay law, while Pussy Riot plays in the background. Extra points will be awarded for absurd and offensive analogies to the Holocaust.
A word about that law, which wasn't initiated by Putin and passed the State Duma without a single dissenting vote: It does not outlaw homosexuality. Dozens of gay clubs operate openly in Moscow. The only prohibition is publicly promoting homosexuality to minors.
For example, two homosexuals are not allowed to stand outside an elementary school with a banner that says: "Hey kids, sodomy is swell – and you should try it!" Each violation by an individual is punishable by a fine that's the equivalent of $50.00. Violations of the Nuremberg laws, which had nothing to do with Jewish parades in Berlin, were punished by imprisonment and hard labor.
Why would Russia, with a declining population, be concerned about promoting these "non-traditional lifestyles" to children? Might it have something to do with the British medical journal The Lancet's report that a male homosexual is 18 times more likely to contract HIV than a heterosexual – or those notorious homophobes at the Centers for Disease Control disclosing that in 2010, men who have sex with men (as they delicately put it) accounted for 63% of new HIV infections in the U.S.?
The left believes in popular sovereignty – within narrowly defined limits. In the United States, between 1998 and 2012, the voters of 32 states passed constitutional bans on same-sex marriage. This represents 50 million votes for maintaining the integrity of the institution on which civilization depends. On average, the referenda passed by two-to-one majorities.
Despite that overwhelming expression of popular sentiment, state and federal courts (SCOTUS included) have been working overtime to negate the will of the people. When he's through remaking Russia, perhaps Rushdie will help to "bring about a healthy democracy" in America.
Christians who refuse to participate in a travesty that violates their deeply held beliefs are pulverized by judges and bureaucrats drunk on the heady elixir of sexual rights .
When did engaging in non-traditional sexual relations become a human right? Where is the sodomy clause in the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution or U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights?
In a recent address, Putin observed: "Many Euro-Atlantic countries have moved away from their roots, including Christian values." The Russian President admonished, "Policies are being pursued that place on the same level a multi-child family and a same-sex partnership, a faith in God and a belief in Satan. This is the path to degradation." Putin could never make it in U.S. politics, being too grounded in reality.
As my friend and Russian pro-family leader Alexey Komov likes to say: "Under Reagan, America helped to save us from communism. We'd like to return the favor."
Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver is concerned that California’s ban on “ex-gay” therapy for minors is “very dangerous” because it will allow gay people to “entrap” and “groom” children into homosexuality.
Stave, who has appealed his challenge to the California law to the Supreme Court, told the American Family Association’s OneNewsNow today:
Staver notes that especially in California, children are being indoctrinated in public schools that homosexuality is normal.
"And then when someone is either abused or begins to struggle with these issues, when they're bombarded with it day after day after day, they won't be able to get any help from a licensed professional Christian counselor," says Staver. "So that's why it's very dangerous."
The law allows homosexuals to "entrap" and "groom" children into the homosexual lifestyle, without providing any opportunity for help, says the Liberty Counsel attorney.
On Friday, Staver discussed the ban with Janet Mefferd. “We’re talking about life and death situations here,” he said, blaming LGBT rights activists for “forcing homosexuality on everyone by force of law” and claiming that the reparative therapy ban “will force people into a lifestyle of destruction."
This week, President Obama nominated five people to federal judgeships in Florida and New Jersey. Three of these nominees are already judges; two are accomplished attorneys. But what is more relevant to the right-wing Liberty Counsel is that, according to the American Family Association’s OneNewsNow, “among the nominees are four African Americans, one of them homosexual.” (That's not actually true: one of the nominees is African American, one is Latino, and three are white).
Liberty Counsel head Mat Staver told OneNewsNow today that these judicial picks show “ideological bankruptcy” on the part of a president who is “destroying the judiciary.”
"So he gets a black man, who is a practicing homosexual, and now he wants to put this individual in an appointment for life on the federal bench," Staver lamented, referring apparently to Darrin P. Gayes, a state circuit judge in Florida who Obama nominated to a federal district court.
At no point in the article does Staver or OneNewsNow touch on the nominee’s qualifications, other than to note vaguely that “all five nominees are considered liberals.”
Among the nominees are four African Americans, one of them homosexual, and the final one is white.
Mat Staver, who heads Liberty Counsel, tells OneNewsNow the president is reaching out to two communities.
"So he gets a black man, who is a practicing homosexual, and now he wants to put this individual in an appointment for life on the federal bench," Staver advises.
He refers to the situation as "ideological bankruptcy."
President Obama is "destroying the judiciary because, when he leaves office in 2016, these judges will be around for 20 to 40 years," says the Liberty Counsel attorney. "That is going to be a bad legacy that Obama will leave behind that we'll all have to deal with in the aftermath."
Earlier this year, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio succeeded in torpedoing the nomination of William Thomas, a Florida state judge who was also openly gay and African-American. Rubio also blocked another African-American nominee, Brian Davis, for months before local activists pressured him to let the nomination go forward.
Representatives of the World Congress of Families held a news conference at the National Press Club on Wednesday to talk about their 2014 summit, which will be held in Moscow in September. The WCF and the Religious Right groups it partners with are ardent promoters of anti-gay legislation worldwide, and they love Russia's anti-gay President Vladimir Putin.
Earlier this week the WCF announced that the opening session would be held in the Congress Hall of the Kremlin Palace, that a special parliamentary session will also be held in the Russian Duma and a special scientific forum at St Petersburg State University. At today's press conference it was announced that the patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church is expected to address the gathering.
WCF Managing Director Larry Jacobs, C-FAM’s Austin Ruse, Concerned Women for America’s Janice Shaw Crouse, and Alexey Komov, WCF’s man in Russia, were delighted about anti-gay legislation that has passed in Moscow and were defensive about western criticism of Putin’s regime.
Given the record of the event organizers, none of that was very surprising. What was surprising is the way the press conference was hijacked by conservative activist Cliff Kincaid of Accuracy in Media, who pointed out that Putin was a product of the Communist-era KGB; he took the organizers to task for partnering with Putin and produced a list of political prisoners he said are being held in Russia.
Kincaid’s strident criticism of Russia’s history provoked Komov into a screed against real and imagined problems from American history, from the slaughter of Native Americans to political prisoners in Guantanamo, complete with references to the supposed killing of 200 witnesses to the JFK assassination and the question of who was responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Komov suggested that during the era of Ronald Reagan, the U.S. was free, pro-Christian, and pro-capitalist, while Russia was mired in communism. He suggested that under Obama and Putin, a role reversal is under way. He said he would hesitate to say which country is more free, Russia or the U.S.
UPDATE: Kincaid has posted video of the exchange. Watch:
Jacobs was clearly uncomfortable with Komov’s rant, perhaps because, as he had mentioned earlier, WCF has yet to finalize confirmations from Members of Congress who they hope will attend the Moscow summit.
Speakers said they were proud of what Crouse called Russia's "leadership role" on behalf of the family, and proud of what Ruse called the "massive network" of people organizing around the world on behalf of the family and in opposition to "the agenda of the sexual left."
Asked about bipartisan criticism of the increasingly anti-democratic nature of Putin’s rule, Ruse suggested that some people are “stuck in cold war amber” and are consumed by a “visceral hatred of all things Russian.” He energetically supported Russia’s anti-gay “propaganda” law, saying “there is no human right to tell the gay narrative to schoolchildren.” And he dismissed concerns about Putin’s moves against freedom of the press, saying Russians had no “historical memory” of that kind of freedom.
Janice Shaw Crouse said she had “no problem whatsoever” with the prosecution of members of Pussy Riot, falsely claiming that they had disrupted a church service with the performance that landed them in jail.
All the speakers claimed that freedom of press and dissent is alive and well in Russia, saying that they have criticized Putin’s crackdown on homeschoolers and that bloggers are free to criticize the government. And they portrayed Russia as a sort of paradise where gay couples can stroll hand in hand without fear. (For another view, read Jeff Sharlet's recent reporting from Russia in GQ.)
Komov slammed “radical LGBT activists” who he said were trying to turn the Olympics into a “gay pride parade.” Komov said he opposed violence against gay people, but he insisted there was no correlation between passage of anti-gay laws and anti-gay violence in the country, dismissing the idea as “hysteria” from “the liberal media.”
Komov also opined that the Olympics were no place for gay rights: “Olympics is the place for sports and health and normal values that unite everyone ...And we know that if we want Olympics to be sports and health, we know, statistics show us that homosexual lifestyles are not healthy.”
UPDATE: Video of the comments taken by Kincaid:
The following is a guest post by Cairo Mendes, a 2013 Fellow of affiliate People For the American Way Foundation’s Young People For (YP4) program.
When I came to the U.S. in 2002, I remember being told on the way home from the airport that I was undocumented. I was told that if anyone knew this, our whole family would be deported and we would lose out on the “American Dream.” That was over ten years ago, but as I write this I cannot help but hold back emotions – a mixture of anger, sadness, and confusion. I feel this way because ten years later, millions of people in our country – including my mother – continue to live in limbo, in the shadows. We continue to be treated as second class citizens.
When I recently received a call informing me that I would be covered under President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) process, I was working at a factory, recycling wire. I remember the joy and relief I felt at that moment. For the first time I would be able to have a social security card and a work permit. I felt like maybe, just maybe, I too could be “normal” and get a driver’s license. Yet later that day, my happiness became bittersweet. My mom – my strong, heroic, single mother – would not be able to receive those same benefits. Still, when I got home later that day I realized how happy she was for me. It was then that I told her, looking straight into her eyes: “Mom, we will figure a way out of this. We will fight, we will march, and we will organize – we are going to figure out a way.”
When President Obama won reelection in 2012 after receiving 71 percent of the Latino vote (compared to Romney’s 27 percent), I felt for the first time that we were on the offensive. From the rhetoric coming from Washington to the energy within the immigrant rights movement in the weeks following the elections, immigration reform was finally a real possibility. But it has not been an easy road. Even though we were able to push the Senate to pass an immigration reform bill through our lobbying, organizing, and advocacy efforts, House leadership has – until very recently – been closed off to the calls for reforms, ignoring the cries of families throughout the country.
As a result, we ended 2013 with no bill delivered. The extreme right – small but loud faction of the Republican Party – managed to derail any efforts involving citizenship, and Speaker Boehner avoided putting the Senate bill up for a vote. His inaction could cost the Republican Party in the 2016 elections, since immigration reform is a top issue for Latino voters.
The Senate immigration reform bill is not perfect, but as families struggle to live day by day, comprehensive immigration reform is still a light at the end of the tunnel. It will make legalization – and hopefully citizenship – possible for many who have lived in the shadows until now, like my family.
This debate goes beyond stats about how many billions of dollars could be added to the economy as a result of reform. This is a moral issue. And it’s one that – if not resolved soon – will result in more deportations and more family separations that damage individual lives and diminish our country as a whole.
Because of Congress’ inaction, mothers and fathers are still being separated from their children and loved ones as 2014 begins. We cannot wait – our communities need relief now.
National Organization for Marriage president Brian Brown spoke Tuesday night at an anti-marriage equality rally at the Utah state capitol, where he claimed that the anti-gay movement represents “true civil rights.” There have been several news reports about the event, but YouTube user Drew Stelter posted video of Brown’s speech.
In the speech, Brown pushed the narrative that conservative Christians are being persecuted by the increased acceptance of gay rights. While he acknowledged that there might be people of many faiths in the crowd, he made it clear exactly who his audience was: “I would say that it’s pretty likely that those of us here share some respect for our savior, Jesus Christ.”
Brown went on to compare the movement against marriage equality to Christians who fought against the Roman empire, slavery, and those at the head of the Civil Rights Movement in the U.S. “Throughout history, people of faith have stood up against gross injustices, stood up for true civil rights,” he said, adding later: “We stand up for the civil rights for all when we stand up for the truth about marriage.”
Whenever you hear about a member of the Virginia House of Delegates saying something ridiculously offensive or introducing a radical anti-gay or anti-choice law, there’s a pretty good bet that that delegate is Bob Marshall.
So it was this week when Marshall attacked state Attorney General Mark Herring for refusing to defend Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban in court by comparing himself and fellow anti-gay activists to Dred Scott. While we weren’t surprised to hear Marshall making an over-the-top statement comparing himself to an enslaved person denied citizenship because of his race, we weren’t necessarily expecting the Family Research Council to trumpet their “good friend” Marshall’s remarks. But then we got this email from the FRC touting “The Marshall Plan…on Marriage”:
Days after announcing his refusal to carry out his most basic duty -- upholding the state constitution's marriage amendment -- Herring is facing more than criticism. Thanks to Virginia Delegate Bob Marshall (R), he may also be staring down some weighty repercussions. This week, Del. Marshall, a good friend to FRC, filed a complaint with the Virginia State Bar over Herring's refusal to enforce the will of 57% of the people. "Herring has put all of us in the position of Dred Scott, who had no right to counsel in federal court. An attorney general has a duty to support those laws that are constitutional, and an attorney general has just as strong an obligation and duty to defend laws that he has concluded are unconstitutional..."
Marshall is the “good friend” of FRC who once said that children with disabilities are God’s punishment for abortion, reacted to the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, by lamenting that “it's a distraction when I'm on the battlefield and have to concentrate on the enemy 600 yards away and I'm worried about this guy whose got eyes on me,” and led the effort to defeat the nomination of an openly gay judge, questioning how he would rule in a "bar room fight between a homosexual and heterosexual."
Is it possible to talk about human rights abuses in Russia in the context of the Olympics and not once mention Russia’s anti-gay laws, the rising tide of anti-gay violence, or the controversy over the impact that Russia’s anti-gay “propaganda” law might have on athletes and visitors? Sure, if you’re Sen. Ted Cruz speaking at an event hosted by the Heritage Foundation.
Cruz, darling of the Religious Right and Tea Party, slammed Russia’s “increasingly autocratic” president at the January 28 Heritage event. He portrayed Vladimir Putin as a tyrant systematically working to crush Ukrainian independence and reassemble the old Soviet Union. And of course he took the opportunity to slam the Obama administration, which he said was not standing up forcefully for human rights.
Following Cruz to the microphone was Katrina Lantos Swett, Vice Chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. Swett, a “proud Democrat,” detailed a litany of anti-democratic laws adopted in Putin’s Russia, including “religious freedom” and “extremism” laws that give the government wide latitude to discriminate against minority religions, including Muslims, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Pentecostal Christians. She said the Russian government is undermining civil society with severe restrictions on protests and the return of Soviet-era tactics like sentencing dissidents to psychiatric treatment. Swett did mention the anti-gay “propaganda” law in her list of Putin’s anti-democratic actions.
There are a couple remarkable things about this panel, other than finding myself in agreement with Cruz about something (Putin is an anti-democratic strongman).
First, in his 26-minute speech and during the Q&A, at an event about human rights and the Olympics, Cruz did not breathe a word about the raging controversy over Russia’s attacks on the rights and lives of LGBT people. The closest Cruz came was mentioning, as an example of Putin’s efforts to crush dissent, his moves against “a punk rock band.” Cruz joked about his unwillingness to say the band’s name (Pussy Riot).
Second, Cruz is clearly at odds with anti-gay and anti-abortion leaders in the U.S. who have been busily praising Putin as the defender of traditional values and savior of Christianity. Liberty Counsel’s Matt Barber, for example, has said Putin is being allowed to “out-Christian our once-Christian nation.” The American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer has called Putin “the lion of Christianity, the defender of Christian values, the president that’s calling his nation back to embracing its identity as a nation founded on Christian values.”
In fact there is a whole gaggle of Religious Right leaders who have, as Miranda has reported, fallen all over themselves to praise Putin and his anti-free-speech, anti-gay crackdown. And some of them have done more than just praise Putin. Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage traveled to Russia to build support for anti-gay legislation. The Illinois-based Howard Center for Family, Religion, and Society is excited about heading to Moscow for its 2014 “World Congress of Families” summit.
Cruz was eager to criticize the Obama administration for not advocating more strongly for human rights in Russia, but what does he have to say about his Religious Right pals who are actively praising and enabling Putin’s anti-democratic moves? And who have attacked the Obama administration’s efforts to promote the human rights of LGBT people abroad? We’re listening.