Equality For All

John Lewis and a new generation of movement leaders

"And I say to all the young people, you must get out there and push and pull and make America what America should be for all of us . . . I'm not tired. I'm not weary. I'm not prepared to sit down and give up. I am ready to fight and continue to fight. And you must fight."
PFAW Foundation

Marching On Washington, Again

This weekend People For the American Way Foundation turned out en masse for the 50th Anniversary March on Washington.

Some could remember the original march well.  Some had driven across the country to be there on Saturday.  

Our reasons for being there were as diverse as the range of topics covered by the speakers. Some wanted to see an end to Stand Your Ground laws; others spoke in support of immigration reform, LGBT equality, or voting rights. 

But everyone stood in solidarity with those who marched half a century ago, while calling attention to the ongoing need to fight for social, economic, and racial justice.  Everyone raised their voices in support of justice for all

We saw Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) – just 23 years old when he spoke at the original March on Washington – take the podium again, speaking passionately about the need to protect the right to vote.  He called it “precious…almost sacred.”  Lewis recalled:

I gave a little blood on that bridge in Selma, Alabama for the right to vote.…I am not going to stand by and let the Supreme Court take the right to vote away from us.

Members of the PFAW Foundation family also took the podium.  Young People For (YP4) alum Sophia Campos spoke in personal terms about the need for change in immigration policies, saying: 

I grew up in this country undocumented. My family is immigrant… A million people have been deported in the last five years….It’s our black and brown bodies in these cells that are being detained.

Another YP4 alum, Dream Defenders leader Phil Agnew, also spoke at the rally, calling on young people to take the lead in the progressive movement.  Young people, he said, are “here today to join in a conversation that will shake the very foundations of this capital.” 

And Rev. Charles Williams, an active member of PFAW Foundation’s African American Ministers Leadership Council, was named by the event organizers as being part of the next generation of leaders.

We came to honor those who marched 50 years ago, but also to call attention to the critical justice issues facing our country today.  As PFAW Foundation President Michael Keegan wrote last week:

That’s what this week is about: making sure that we, as a country, continue to strive to fulfill the promise of justice for all -- the American Way.

PFAW Foundation

Making History and Knowing our History

Events commemorating the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom are already under way in Washington, D.C.  If you live in the capital area or nearby, you may want to attend events at the Lincoln Memorial this Saturday, August 24th or next Wednesday, August 28th , or one of dozens of other events. The A. Philip Randolph Institute, for example is holding its 44th annual education conference and youth conference in honor of Randolph and Bayard Rustin, the organizers of the March who appeared on the cover of Life Magazine’s September 6, 1963 issue. You can find information about events here and here.

Whether or not you can get to Washington, you can catch major events on television. And you might want to get started tonight – Friday, August 23 – with the PBS re-broadcast of an award-winning documentary about author and advocate James Baldwin.  James Baldwin: The Price of the Ticket will be shown on PBS stations as part of the American Masters program.  Broadcast times vary so check your local station’s listings. PBS will also host on interactive online screening at 5:00 pm eastern on August 28th.

Another important documentary, Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin, will also be shown on public television on August 28th.

For a reminder of why it’s important to know our history, and prevent it from being co-opted, see People For the American Way President Michael Keegan’s new Huffington Post op-ed, Don’t Let the Right Wing Co-opt King.

PFAW

50 Years Later, John Lewis Returns to Podium as Sole Surviving March Speaker

Recently The New York Times reminded us that Representative John Lewis is still marching on Washington, 50 years later.

On August 28, 1963, as the 23-year-old chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Lewis took the podium on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

Tomorrow, as the 73-year-old representative from Georgia's 5th congressional district, he will commemorate the 50th anniversary of those remarks.

Representative Lewis returns to the podium as the sole surviving speaker from the March on Washington.

A half century ago he was the torchbearer for youth leadership in the Civil Rights Movement. The message he delivered still hits home for youth leaders like those of Young People For.

Here at YP4 we know that “justice for all” is an expansive idea that includes pushing for and protecting civil rights, women’s rights, LGBT equality and more. It means rededicating ourselves to the promise of vibrant, safe, democratic communities. It means fighting for a country where our voices are not drowned out by massive corporate spending to influence our elections. It means standing up to groups like ALEC which push extreme laws threatening the wellbeing of our communities, such as the “Stand Your Ground” laws that YP4 alumni like [Phillip] Agnew – leader of the Dream Defenders in Florida – have been fighting to change.

In other words, we know that “justice for all” is a promise that has yet to be realized.

Join us tomorrow as Representative Lewis and others once again bring the struggle for jobs, justice, and freedom back to the nation's capital. Check out MLKDREAM50 for information on the full week of events.

PFAW Foundation

Still Marching for Justice, Health, and Black Women’s Lives

Guest post from Reverend Dr. Geraldine Pemberton, Assistant Pastor of New Hope Baptist Church in Philadelphia and member of PFAW Foundation’s African American Ministers Leadership Council. 

As a 74 year old retired nurse, I can remember the original March on Washington well.  I wasn’t able to be there in person that day, but many of my family members were.  After marching with Dr. King and more than 200,000 other Americans, they were inspired to come home and fight for justice.

I myself am of the Jim Crow era.  The injustices that Dr. King described that day as the “chains of discrimination” were injustices I faced first-hand.  My father, who was born in North Carolina, would take my family down from Philadelphia for visits to his home state.  He would try to prepare us as much as he could, but it was always overwhelming.  I remember that once we passed the Mason-Dixon line, we couldn’t use most bathrooms.  We would have to use outhouses behind gas stations instead.

Today I can see how far we’ve come, but also how much further we still have to go.  I have spent much of my life fighting the injustices that drove the first March on Washington, especially health disparities facing women of color.  Justice, I have learned, is a very big umbrella that must include equality for women.  A just society has to be one that values women’s voices and fights back against health disparities that threaten black women’s lives.

Twenty years after that march, I went to another major event that inspired people from all over to drop what they were doing and travel across the country – the 1983 Spelman College conference on women’s health, which birthed what is now the Black Women’s Health Imperative.  My friend and I saw a flyer for it but didn’t think we could afford to go.  We maxed out our credit cards and drove down to Atlanta. Thousands of women showed up for the conference – young women, older women, women with children, women who had hitchhiked there.  We just showed up - we had to be there.

That conference unfolded into a lifetime of work in pursuit of improving the health outcomes of African American women.  As a former Director of Nursing and a current Health Committee Director for an alliance of Black clergy in Philadelphia, I know that women of color need improved access to care and greater provider sensitivity.  Women need more information on the diseases that affect us most.  And as a 74 year old Philadelphian, I’m still fighting for women’s health and justice.  This year I am organizing health forums at churches throughout the city to give women more information about diseases, healthy living, and greater access to health services though the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act commonly known as “Obamacare.”

The first health forum is this weekend – fifty years after the March on Washington.  In so many ways, we are still marching.

PFAW Foundation

NOM’s Brian Brown Brags About Supporting Anti-Gay Work Abroad

Last year, when some internal planning documents from the National Organization for Marriage were released as part of court filings, public attention focused on the group’s explicit racial wedge strategies designed to foment tensions between LGBT and African American communities. But the documents also revealed NOM’s desire to play globally: they talk of “Internationalizing the Marriage Issue” and working “to halt the movement toward gay marriage worldwide.”

In an email sent yesterday, NOM President Brian Brown brags explicitly about supporting the international work of the World Congress of Families, a project of The Howard Center for Religion Family and Society, and making a pitch for donations to the group. Here’s Brown’s quote:

The World Congress of Families is THE group standing up for the family around the world.  They have done amazing work in uniting all of those who stand for the truth about marriage and family.  It has been an honor to partner with WCF and to be a part of their most recent Congress in Australia and regional conference in Trinidad and Tobago.  I wholeheartedly endorse their work and urge you to financially support their efforts.

Just who is Brown so proud to be raising money for? In just the past several months, World Congress of Families spokesmen have:

  • praised new anti-gay laws in Russia and said Russians “might be the Christian saviors to the world"
  • called that the Supreme Court’s decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act a “travesty” that would encourage pedophilia and doom America to “extinction”
  • portrayed undocumented immigrants as “parasites, criminals, potential terrorists and the arrogantly unassimilable”
  • warned that President Obama will soon be pushing conservatives into “cattle cars” as part of his plans to “crush dissent.”

The World Congress of Families, of course, defines “natural family” in a way that excludes same-sex couples: “the term 'natural' precludes incompatible constructs of the family as well as incompatible behaviors among its members.” The Howard Center hosted a symposium in Washington, D.C. earlier this year in which a parade of right-wing speakers claimed that the real “war on women” comes from “those who present themselves as champions of women’s rights.”

WCF summits and regional gatherings held around the world - -this year’s was held in Sydney, Australia --  are a magnet for speakers from American Religious Right leaders like Peter LaBarbera who share anti-choice and anti-LGBT equality strategies with their international allies. As Brown mentions in his fundraising pitch, WCF held a Caribbean conference in Trinidad in June. Among the long list of American religious right figures speaking, in addition to Brown, were Janet Shaw Crouse of Concerned Women for America and WCF’s own Don Feder.

Next year’s World Congress of Families conference will be held in Moscow. Perfect.

Swanson and Buehner React to Calls for Tolerance: Pope's Clothes 'Gay,' Desmond Tutu 'Hates Jesus'

Last week, Kevin Swanson and Dave Buehner of Generations Radio finally got wind of the pope’s declaration that he won’t “judge” gay priests and Bishop Desmond Tutu’s remarks that he would rather go to hell than “a homophobic heaven.”

Naturally, the two were outraged. Reacting to the pope’s comments, Swanson lamented, “’Gay’ used to mean happy – you know, blessed, happy, rejoicing, rejoicing in the lord – not sort of lustful, licentious, focused on decadent sexuality.”

To which Buehner replied with what he himself described as “a low blow.”

“You know the song, ‘Deck the halls with boughs of holly’?  You know that line, ‘Don we now our gay apparel’? Have you seen the pope’s dress?”

Later in the program, the two discussed Bishop Tutu’s support for gay rights, which Buehner said indicates that “Desmond Tutu probably doesn’t like Jesus very much, in fact he hates Jesus.”

“However,” Buehner added, referring to the famous Christ the Redeemer statue that towers over Rio de Janeiro, “He’s probably good with Jesús, the drug lord from Bolivia, or the big drug lord from Rio De Janeiro that’s got his hands out, remember that guy?”

'Ex-Gay' Activist: Gays and Lesbians 'Acting Out' Like Drug Addicts, Alcoholics

“Ex-gay” activist Anne Paulk (ex-wife of ex-ex-gay activist John Paulk) joined Janet Parshall yesterday to discuss the “way out of homosexuality.” Paulk, who has previously claimed that the majority of lesbians were sexually abused as children, told Parshall that “the reason most people end up gay is because they’ve had some really broken experiences in their early childhood” and that they are “acting out in this way” in response to “sorrow and pain.”

This “expression of sin,” she added, is “really not that much different” than alcoholism, drug abuse and “relational addiction.”

I do believe that if the Church understood that it’s the outcome of pain and sorrow and interpersonal challenges, and it’s the product of personal confusion. And that’s what I used to talk on all the time in years prior, is you know what, the reason why most people end up gay is because they’ve had some really broken experiences in their early childhood. It’s just manifesting in this way. And the more you get to know about what’s underlying of homosexuality, the more you get to understand that they’re just a human being that’s been wounded. That’s a little boy who’s grown up, who’s been very desperately hurt and is acting out in this way. That’s still, that was once a little girl whose heart was broken and her body misused. And the outcome is sorrow and pain, and this is the expression of it.

And I think that’s the expression of sin altogether, and it’s our rebellion against God, our rebellion against -- what we believe we want our way to be. Homosexuality is, not unlike any other sin, it’s a shortcut to getting your own needs met, and it’s not a healthy shortcut. Drugs don’t solve the problem of trying to hide from one’s trouble. Hiding doesn’t work at all. Alcohol doesn’t work that way, relational addiction doesn’t work that way, promiscuity doesn’t solve anything. Same thing with homosexuality. And I think when people understand that they’re really not that much different, it’s just a different outworking of similar underlying issues, it helps a lot.

But, like Sandy Rios, who takes heart in the fact that gay people sometimes get their hearts broken, Paulk has hope for gays and lesbians. “Even people in the gay community will celebrate someone’s amazing marriage, like the prince and the princess of England,” she said, meaning that they are in fact capable of understanding “the big picture of beauty that God has in mind.”

Sandy Rios Knows Gays Are Capable of 'The Right Kind of Love' Because They're Always Heartbroken From Breakups

American Family Radio host Sandy Rios dedicated a long chunk of her program yesterday to responding to the widespread attention to her recent comparison of gay couple’s love to the “love” Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro claimed he had for his prisoners.

Rios claimed she had been deliberately misunderstood, but then proceeded to repeat her claims in detail. She finally spoke directly to those who monitor her program, thanking us for finding her a wider audience and declaring, “I stand by what we say…As unfortunate and uncomfortable, heartbreaking, irrational that seems to some of you that are so steeped in the homosexual lifestyle, you’re steeped in popular culture, it’s still the truth.”

Rios then went on to deliver a direct message to the LGBT people who were offended by her comments, saying that the fact that people were upset proves that she was telling the truth. “If what we’re saying is not true, it should have no power over you,” she said.

But Rios has hope for gay people. She assured her listeners that gay people are “capable of great love” because she sees the “tremendous heartbreak in the homosexual community,” where “there aren’t many lasting relationships – maybe among lesbians, but certainly not among gay men.”

All this heartbreak, Rios concludes, shows that gay people could achieve “the right kind of love” – that is, opposite-sex marriage – if they just tried.

If what we’re saying is not true, it should have no power over you, it shouldn’t bother you. Because I think in time, what’s true and what’s right, what works, what comports with reality will be lasting. So, let’s just see if your view of this is lasting. Let’s just see if homosexual marriage is all that you think it is, if it’s a pure and wonderful expression of love for two people.

Now, I would never say that homosexuals cannot love. They can, of course. Capable of great love. And I know there’s been tremendous heartbreak in the homosexual community – and I’ve talked about this before – heartbreak when you lose a loved one, heartbreak when you break up. Because, you know, there aren’t many lasting relationships – maybe among lesbians, but certainly not among gay men, that’s not the norm.

So, there’s a lot of heartbreak, a lot of rejection when you get older, so I know that you’re capable and able. You’re humans, you love. The point is, the right kind of love. The right kind of love is life-giving. And the right kind of love is love for God, love for your natural family, love between a man and a woman and a woman and a man in marriage. Not cohabitating. There’s just some standards that God lays down.
 

Harvey: Non-Discrimination Laws 'Create a Climate of Suspicion, Spite and Revenge'

Mission America’s Linda Harvey dedicated her program this morning to LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination laws, which she claims are in fact “all about discrimination” and “create a climate of suspicion, spite and revenge.”

“If you disagree about being required to respect homosexuality -- however these folks want to define respect -- at work, at school, at the pool or at the playground, you may find yourself the victim of this unrelenting agenda,” she warned.

Phyllis Schlafly Was 'Extremely Offended' and 'Personally Insulted' By DOMA Decision

Eagle Forum founder and anti-gay activist Phyllis Schlafly was “extremely offended” by the Supreme Court’s ruling striking down a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act, because of “all the nasty names” she claims the court’s majority called DOMA’s proponents.

Speaking with Steve Deace yesterday, Schlafly said that it was “inappropriate, unprecedented and really nasty” for Justice Anthony Kennedy to find that DOMA’s passage had anything to do with “animus against gays.”

“I feel personally insulted by what Justice Kennedy said,” she added.

Deace: You wrote an interesting reaction to the US Supreme Court, I guess we would call it ‘opinion,’ but it really looked to me, Phyllis, like five justices, and Anthony Kennedy in particular, chose to write what amounts to an anti-Christian polemic disguised as a legal opinion. And it seems like you sort of got the same vibe from what they wrote.
 

Schlafly: Well, I was extremely offended at all the nasty names he called us. I just think it’s so inappropriate, unprecedented and really nasty for the justice to say that the reason DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act, was passed, and those who stand up for traditional marriage is that they have animus against gays, they want to deny them equal dignity, that we want to brand them as unworthy, we want to humiliate their children, we have a hateful desire to harm a politically unpopular group. I just think, I feel personally insulted by what Justice Kennedy said. I don’t think that’s true, the idea that anybody who stood up for traditional marriage is guilty of all that hate in his heart is just outrageous.

Later in the interview, the two discussed Hobby Lobby’s suit against the health care law’s mandate that they provide their employees with insurance that includes birth control coverage. Deace claimed that the Obama administration is making “a clear attempt to eradicate the worldview that stands in opposition to statism.”

Schlafly agreed: “Well, I think you’re right, and that’s why I think Obama is definitely trying to make this a totally secular country where you’re not permitted to reference God in anything that anybody else can hear.”

It goes without saying that if the president is trying to eliminate public references to God, he’s doing a very poor job of it.

Deace: Well, and I think you look at something like religious freedom, you’ve got the Obama regime trying to tell companies like Hobby Lobby that your freedom of religion, when you walk into corporate headquarters there at Hobby Lobby, you no longer have the freedom of religion. So you have to do what we tell you to do, even if it violates the moral conscience of your religion, the Bill of Rights ends when you walk into your corporate headquarters. What we see going on in the US Military, for example. We’re seeing unprecedented threats to religious liberty. I know this is something you’ve written about as well. And I think this is a clear attempt to eradicate the worldview that stands in opposition to statism.

Schlafly: Well, I think you’re right, and that’s why I think Obama is definitely trying to make this a totally secular country where you’re not permitted to reference God in anything that anybody else can hear.

Pat Buchanan Isn't Sure What's Worse, Anthony Weiner's Sexting or Christine Quinn Being Married to a Woman

Pat Buchanan dedicates his latest syndicated column to New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner’s most recent sexting scandal, which he attempts to put into context by pointing to the moral failings of every other major New York politician. After all, Buchanan writes, one of Weiner’s main opponents in the mayoral race is Christine Quinn, “a lesbian about to marry another lesbian” (Quinn is in fact already married) and “the sitting mayor and governor are divorced and living with women not their wives.” Not only that, Buchanan says, but former mayor Rudolph Giuliani and former senator Hillary Clinton both marched in New York City gay pride parades.

Buchanan concludes that these New York political leaders, along with the decriminalization of homosexuality, indicate that Weiner is “a mainstream liberal” and that we have become “a mentally and morally sick society.”

And Weiner's conduct does seem weird, creepy, crazy.

But it was not illegal. And as it was between consenting adults, was it immoral -- by the standards of modern liberalism?

In 1973, the "Humanist Manifesto II," a moral foundation for much of American law, declared: "The many varieties of sexual exploration should not in themselves be considered 'evil.' ... Individuals should be permitted to express their sexual proclivities and pursue their lifestyles as they desire."

Is this not what Anthony was up to? Why then the indignation?

Consider how far we are along the path that liberalism equates with social and moral progress. Ronald Reagan was the first and is the only divorced and remarried man elected president.

But the front-runner in the New York mayor's race today quit Congress as a serial texter of lewd photos to anonymous women. The front-runner in the city comptroller's race was "Client No. 9" in the prostitution ring of the convicted madam who is running against him.
Weiner's strongest challenger for mayor is a lesbian about to marry another lesbian. The sitting mayor and governor are divorced and living with women not their wives. The former mayor's second wife had to go to court to stop his girlfriend from showing up at Gracie Mansion.

Weiner looks like a mainstream liberal.

Are we, possibly, a mentally and morally sick society?

Thirty year ago, homosexual acts were crimes. The Supreme Court has since discovered sodomy to be a constitutional right. State courts are discovering another new right -- of homosexuals to marry.

To call homosexuality unnatural, immoral or a mental disorder will soon constitute a hate crime in America.

Once we cast aside morality rooted in religion -- as the "Humanist Manifesto II" insists we do -- who draws the line on what is tolerable in the new dispensation.

Upon what moral ground do we stand to deny a man many wives, should he wish to leave behind many children, and the wives all consent to the arrangement? Biblically and historically, polygamy was more acceptable than homosexuality.

The second is now a constitutional right. Why not the first?

Are we not indeed headed "inevitably to utter irrationality and eventually political, as well as moral, chaos"?

Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Sen. Hillary Clinton marched in gay pride parades with the North American Man/Boy Love Association. Anyone doubt that NAMBLA will one day succeed in having the age of consent for sex between men and boys dropped into the middle or low teens?

PFAW Calls Target’s $50K Donation to a Group Supporting Anti-Gay VA Candidate Ken Cuccinelli “Disappointing”

WASHINGTON – In response to the revelation that Target Corporation gave a $50,000 donation this year to a group supporting anti-gay Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s gubernatorial campaign, People For the American Way President Michael Keegan released the following statement:

“This is a disappointing move from a company that vocally supports LGBT rights. Last year, Target put out a line of gay pride t-shirts and the company has gone out of its way to talk about its commitment to LGBT families.  But through the Republican Governors Association, Target is supporting one of the most extreme anti-gay candidates in the country.  Gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli has worked to rescind non-discrimination policies covering sexual orientation, favors turning back the clock by reinstating sodomy laws, and believes that being gay ‘brings nothing but self-destruction, not only physically but of their soul.’ If Target wants to be seen as a pro-equality company, it is going to need to rethink its contributions to groups supporting virulently anti-gay candidates.”

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Target Gives $50K to Group Supporting Anti-Gay VA Candidate Ken Cuccinelli

Update appended.

Back in 2010, Target Corporation was forced to apologize when it came out that it had funded campaign ads on behalf of virulently anti-gay Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer. The controversy hit the Minnesota-based company hard, in part because it vocally supports gay rights and has a reputation as a supportive workplace for LGBT people.

But Target didn’t stop giving to anti-gay candidates. As Abe Sauer reported at the end of 2010, Target gave a total of $31,200 to anti-gay candidates in that election cycle. And now, the company is indirectly funding one of the most extreme anti-gay culture warriors in the country, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.

Target reports that in the first half of this year, it contributed $50,000 to the Republican Governors Association, which so far this year has spent nearly $3 million on behalf of Cuccinelli’s gubernatorial campaign.

Target, like many large corporations, is an equal opportunity influence-buyer – it also gave $50,000 this year to the Democratic Governors Association, which is supporting Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe. But its indirect funding of Cuccinelli’s campaign raises additional questions. In apologizing to his employees for the company’s contributions to Emmer’s campaign, Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel promised to launch “a strategic review and analysis of our decision-making process for financial contributions in the public policy arena” and to start “a dialogue focused on diversity and inclusion in the workplace, including GLBT issues.”

How did that “dialogue” lead to support for an organization that is dedicating itself to supporting Ken Cuccinelli? After all, Cuccinelli not only opposes advances in gay rights, he actively wants to remove protections for gays and lesbians that have already been won. Cuccinelli wants to reinstate Virginia’s “Crimes Against Nature Law,” which would outlaw oral sex between consenting adults – of any gender. In one of his first acts as attorney general, he ordered  the state’s colleges and universities to rescind non-discrimination policies that covered sexual orientation. He has said that being gay “brings nothing but self-destruction, not only physically but of their souls,” and said that “homosexual acts” are “intrinsically wrong” and don’t comport with natural law.” He even disparaged gay rights activists for trying to overturn sodomy bans and push for HIV/AIDS educations in schools.

Last year, Target launched a line of t-shirts to benefit a gay rights group, declaring itself “100 percent committed to the goal of families being respected in all communities including parents who happen to be LGBT."  Yet, in Cuccinelli, Target is backing a candidate who is promising to roll back the rights of LGBT people and their families in Virginia.

Update: Target spokeswoman Molly Snyder tells us:

Target’s commitment to the LGBT community is long-standing and unwavering.         

We also believe strongly in our civic responsibility to engage in a bipartisan manner at the state and federal level in order to learn about public policy priorities and advocate on issues that affect our business, such as efairness legislation. One of the ways we do this is through membership in both the Democratic and Republican Governors Associations, both of which include several hundred other corporate members.  When paying for our memberships, we explicitly require that our dues not be used for any individual electoral campaigns or other electioneering efforts. It would therefore be wrong and inaccurate to associate our membership dues with any particular political candidate or campaign.

It’s hard to tell how supporting an organization that says its “primary mission is to help elect Republicans to governorships throughout the nation” doesn’t amount to supporting Republican candidates for governorships.

PFAW Voters Alliance PAC Endorses Carl Sciortino for Congress in Massachusetts' Fifth Congressional District

(Washington, DC) People For the American Way Voters Alliance PAC today endorsed Carl Sciortino for Congress, praising his strong record of progressive leadership. Rep. Sciortino, currently a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, is running to represent Massachusetts’ fifth congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives. The seat was recently vacated by Ed Markey on his election to the U.S. Senate.

Since his election in 2004, Carl has fought tirelessly for progressive causes. A founding member of the Massachusetts House Progressive Caucus, he has pushed for closing corporate tax loopholes, advocated for better access to transportation and healthcare, stood up for workers’ rights, and been a staunch defender of LGBT rights. The 2012 Transgender Equal Rights Bill, which Carl co-authored, provided legal protection against discrimination for transgender individuals in Massachusetts.

Before his election to the state legislature, he served as Massachusetts state director of the affiliated People For the American Way Foundation's Young Elected Officials Network.

“Carl is a strong leader, a committed public servant, and a true progressive,” said People For the American Way Voters Alliance PAC political director Randy Borntrager. “He knows that being a progressive means standing up for Americans from all walks of life; it means fighting for a woman’s right to choose, for better transportation access, for workers’ rights. And he has done all of this in Massachusetts. He has also been a real champion for LGBT rights, achieving a number of significant victories for LGBT people, including the Transgender Equal Rights Bill.

“There’s no question that Carl would defend these principles just as strongly in the U.S. Congress, where we need his powerful progressive voice more than ever. Carl will bring an unmatched dedication to progressive values to his constituents to the U.S. Congress, and we’re proud to endorse him.”  

Carl Sciortino said, “We need to change the conversation in Washington and fight hard for progressive values. As a state representative, I have fought to close corporate tax loopholes, protect access to abortion clinics, and to make the economy work for regular people—not Wall Street or the big banks. In Congress, I will fight against those who put corporations over the rest of us and Tea Partiers who want to tell women what to do with their bodies.”
 

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AFA Spokesman: Gay People Feel Alienated Because 'They Are Alienated From God'

WTVA in Tupelo, Mississippi, reported today on a marriage equality march near the headquarters of the American Family Association. They of course asked the AFA for its view on the march, and got this response:

"The Bible calls believers to hold out God's grace to sinners. All kinds of sinners whether you are a liar or a stealer or an adulterer or a homosexual," said Patrick J. Vaughn, General Counsel for the American Family Association.

Vaughn went on to describe what he calls a very strong drive among homosexual activist to have the name marriage attached to their relationships.

"I believe that is because they think that will give them a feeling of acceptance in that what they are doing is right if they have this label [of marriage]. Unfortunately, I don't think that is going to last very long because the alienation that they sense is really an alienation because they are alienated from God. They are refusing to obey what he's commanded and they are doing something that is against the nature of the way he created them," said Vaughn.

Earlier this week, the AFA released a statement about the Mississippi marriage equality effort, claiming that gays and lesbians "already have" marriage equality in the state...because they are free marry someone of the opposite sex:

[H]homosexuals already have the same marriage rights that everyone has. Every person in America has the right to marry someone of the opposite sex. Mississippians should not be fooled by the deceitful tactics that these groups are using to induce pity for homosexuals who cannot be married in Mississippi, because they have chosen a homosexual lifestyle.

 

Pennsylvania AFA Head: Existence of Gay Elected Officials Means There's No Employment Discrimination

Philadelphia Weekly recently interviewed Diane Gramley, head of the Pennsylvania chapter of the American Family Association, about an employment nondiscrimination law working its way through the state legislature. The interview was so good that today they decided to publish a transcript of the whole thing.

After lamenting that the gay people don’t want to be just “accepted,” but instead “want us to celebrate their sin,” Gramley goes on to argue that employment nondiscrimination laws aren’t needed because Pennsylvania has openly gay elected officials, so “where’s the proof that they’re being discriminated against?”

OK. So, we have two openly-gay members of the state House currently, Brian Sims and Mike Fleck. Are you worried about the work that they’re doing in Harrisburg—not just HB 300, but, say, the anti-bullying bill?

It’s the same type of situation. The anti-bullying bill is not necessarily about anti-bullying. To me, an anti-bullying bill does not have a list of protected classes. All students should be protected. I know the U.S. Department of Education is pushing this anti-bullying thing with sexual identity and orientation.

As far as being concerned, I know when Mike Fleck came out in December, he said nothing had changed. But down deep, I knew that things had changed, because most of those legislators, no matter where they’re at, or what level of government it is, who are open homosexuals, will be pushing their agenda.

And that’s the evidence right there. They both signed onto HB 300 and I know that Fleck was part of Equality Forum in April. I am concerned. But they’re saying they’re being discriminated against. One of the main mantras is that being gay can get you fired.

Right. That’s true. It can.

I’ve been to many local township or borough or even county meetings where that’s one of the main lines they use. But where’s the evidence? We have two open homosexuals who are state legislators. We have Dan Miller, who ran for mayor in Harrisburg, an open homosexual. He’s the controller right now, you know. So, where’s the proof that they’re being discriminated against?

OK, but that’s them. That’s three people. Wouldn’t it be easier for people who are gay to have laws in place to say they couldn’t be fired or couldn’t be refused staying in a hotel, just for their own sake?

But where’s the proof that it happens? That’s my whole thing. Where’s the proof that such happens?

Are you saying it doesn’t happen at all?

I’m not saying it doesn’t happen at all, but as far as the need to pass a law that you get into a situation where a homosexual is—if this law passes, if a homosexual is not hired or maybe fired from their job simply because they’re not doing their job properly, then their excuse could be, ‘I’m going to sue the company because I was fired because I was a homosexual.’ You could set up scenarios like that.

I guess that’s a possibility. But you could say that about anything, about the Civil Rights Act.

Which has nothing to do with homosexuality. The civil rights fight was dealing with an immutable characteristic. No one can change their skin color. No one can change from where they—their nationality. With the homosexual rights—quote, unquote, rights fight—they’re talking about something that can be changed. Homosexuality is not immutable. And I know a number of ex-gays. So, it is not something that cannot be changed.
 

Phil Burress Doesn't Understand What 'Bisexual' Means

Ohio anti-gay activist Phil Burress, head of Citizens for Community Values, is gearing up to fight a proposed ballot measure to make same-sex marriage legal in his state, and he’s not letting the facts get in his way.

Burress tells the Canton Repository that polls showing increasing support for marriage equality are just plain wrong:

“On no other issue in America is the polling data is so wrong,” he said. “The real polls are when people go to the polls and vote.”

He then warns of the “slippery slope” created by marriage equality. “What are you going to do for bisexuals?" he asks. "They have to have a man and a woman to make them happy.”

“Ask the question, how do you prohibit polygamy?” Burress said. “Or anything? You’ve gotta give them anything they want. When you start using words like ‘equal protection,’ or when you can say there’s discrimination, what are you going to do for bisexuals? They have to have a man and a woman to make them happy.”

ENDA passes HELP Committee, ready for Senate floor

This critical piece of anti-discrimination legislation would make it illegal to make employment decisions – hiring, firing, promotion, or compensation – based on a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
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