Equality For All

PFAW Applauds Obama’s Change to Deportation Policy

President Obama announced a new immigration policy today that would allow undocumented residents who would qualify under the DREAM Act to gain work authorization and avoid deportation.

“The President’s announcement today is a victory for common sense,” said Michael Keegan, President of People For the American Way. “This country was built on the premise that each of us is responsible for our own actions. It’s outrageous to punish and deport hard working young people who were brought to this country at a very young age and who want nothing more than to stay here and contribute to their communities.

“While it’s disappointing that Republicans in Congress, even some who have sponsored the DREAM Act in the past, have chosen to play politics with immigration, President Obama’s order today is an important step forward for the country. It draws a sharp contrast between this President’s willingness to stand up for what’s right and the GOP’s willingness to sacrifice the economy and basic fairness in order to cater to an increasingly extreme base.”


Allen West's "American Way'

Congressman Allen West (R-FL) is out with a new ad this week. Set to soaring, dramatic music, the Congressman tells the story of his upbringing and how describes how his father gave him the opportunity live the American Dream. He runs through typical Republican talking points calling for tax cuts and slashing services, and laments the failings of Washington. It’s standard campaign-ad fare, and he concludes by stating “I’m just getting started; that’s the American Way.”

However, West’s record suggests that his notion of the “American Way” is rather at odds with the Constitution’s promise of freedom and equality for all.

The First Amendment guarantees the freedom of religion for all Americans, and Article VI of the Constitution states that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” But West thinks that Representative Keith Ellison (D-MI), a practicing Muslim, represents the "antithesis of the principles upon which this country was established." He also harbors some vehemently anti-Islamic ideas.

America is a country that values free speech and open debate. Yet West has a habit of resorting to calling his colleagues who disagree with him Communists. Liberals, he said, can just “Get the hell out of the United States of America.” 

Freedom of the press doesn’t seem to be high on his list either. He once called for censoring American news agencies for publishing information about the government’s activities.

West believes America is a land of opportunity – something to which he owes his own success – but “equality” and “fairness” somehow fly in the face of liberty. Marriage equality, he says, is not only un-American but will destroy society as we know it.

Congressman West may have produced a slick ad, but the agenda he pushes in Congress would increase inequality, harm working families, destroy core constitutional liberties and cripple Americans’ ability to address pressing problems through government. That’s not the American Way.


Fischer: Women Have 'Far More Influence' on the World by Staying Home and Raising Children

Last week, Bryan Fischer was making his case, yet again, that it is liberals who hate women ... especially stay at home moms. This prompted Fischer to go off on a tangent and declare that women can have more influence staying home and raising the next generation of leader than she can by "going out in the world and making her mark out there":

It's not possible to overestimate that value that stay-at-home moms, what they contribute to society by investing their full energies in the children. Where does the next generation of leaders come from? It comes from moms, and dads, who are invested in the lives of their children. So a woman can have far more influence, far more significant impact on the world by giving herself wholly to growing her children up to be responsible, mature adults than she can by going out in the world and making her mark out there.

The implication here, of course, is that "the next generation of leaders" - and every generation of leaders, for that matter -  will be men since every woman should be at home raising children instead of "going out in the world and making her mark out there."

Prop 8 Appeal Sent to the Supreme Court

This afternoon, the full 9th Circuit Court of Appeals declined to hear an appeal of the Prop 8 case.  In February, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit struck down Prop 8, finding California's revocation of the right of same-sex couples to marry same-sex marriage ban to be unconstitutional. The 9th Circuit's decision means that either the Supreme Court will take up the case or the 9th Circuit’s decision striking down the law will stand.

The appeals court ruling is on narrow grounds unique to California, where same-sex couples were left with all the state rights of marriage but not the name. It found that taking away gay and lesbian couples’ designation of “marriage” while leaving their rights unchanged did not serve any of the purposes put forth by its defenders. Instead, its only purpose and effect was to lessen a targeted group’s status and dignity by reclassifying their relationship and families as inferior. The Court did not address the larger question of whether gays and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry. While the Supreme Court will be presented with the narrower question as framed by the Ninth Circuit, it is impossible to tell, if it agrees to hear the case at all, whether they will rule on this principle or more broadly on the ability of states to deny lesbians and gays the right to marry.

PFAW Foundation

Senate GOP Filibusters Paycheck Fairness Act

Today, the Senate GOP blocked a cloture vote on the motion to proceed to the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would help end pay discrimination and help working women close the wage gap in the United States. On average, women in the United States earn only 77 cents to the dollar compared to their male counterparts. The Paycheck Fairness Act would help eliminate the pay gap by providing the tools necessary to help women identify and address pay discrimination in their workplace and in the courts.

Marge Baker, Executive Vice President at People For the American Way, issued the following statement:

“Senate Republicans have once again brought the War on Women to our wallets. Pay discrimination is a real problem that hurts working women and their families, harms the economy and undermines the principle of equality under the law. The Senators blocking this bill are putting the interests of corporate special interests above the needs of American women. Instead of standing up for basic fairness, they have chosen to play politics with the lives of women and their families.”


AFA's Wilson Warns Marriage Equality Will Make America Disappear: 'This is a Nation-Killing Issue'

After arguing that legalizing same-sex marriage will lead to man-dog and man-car marriage, the American Family Association’s Buster Wilson last week on Today’s Issues alleged that the U.S. may disappear if the country approves marriage equality for gays and lesbians. Wilson stated that “nations in history’s past” that allowed same-sex marriage “no longer exist.” “It is a nation-killing issue,” Wilson stated.

Wilson:  I want to tell you something. We got thirty two or thirty three states when given the opportunity for the people to vote on whether or not to make a constitutional amendment in their state saying that marriage is between one man and one woman, all of the states that have voted on it have voted for it, we’ve got thirty two or thirty three of them now that have voted that way.  What does that tell you?  I believe by and large Americans are of the mindset that if I can try and capture the secular mind of the American public it might be something like this: I don’t care what you do in the privacy of your bedroom, I don’t care who you love or don’t love, but I don’t want to take something that’s s bedrock as marriage for over 5,000 years and put in law that it’s changed.  That’s scary, and it’s wrong. And if you like looking at history at all, it is very easy to see the nations in history’s past that have done that kind of thing no longer exist.  It is a nation-killing issue.

Fischer: 'It is Altogether Right to Discriminate Against Homosexual Behavior'

On Friday, Brian wrote a post taking note of a recent column by Bryan Fischer in which he called on conservatives to "reclaim the ‘D’ word" and begin to boldly defend the practice of discriminating against gays and lesbians.

As Fischer normally does whenever he posts a new piece, he ended up discussing it later that day during his radio program where he made the case that "it is altogether right to discriminate against homosexual behavior" because homosexuality is not something that should be accepted by "any rational society":

No Reason for DOMA, Says Appeals Court

 A federal appeals court in Boston today upheld a lower court ruling that called the key section of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” unconstitutional. Section 3 of DOMA bans the federal government from recognizing legal marriages between people of the same sex, meaning that it willfully discriminates against a set of married people when it comes to Social Security benefits, joint-filing tax breaks, military spousal benefits and immigration. When DOMA was passed in 1996 no states allowed gay and lesbian couple to marry – its provisions were purely theoretical. Today, marriage equality exists in six states and the District of Columbia, and DOMA actively harms thousands of married Americans – 100,000 couples, according to the court.

In its decision concluding that DOMA violates the Constitution, the unanimous First Circuit panel – two out of three of whom were nominated by Republican presidents – was cautious. The panel said that under First Circuit precedent DOMA doesn’t trigger “heightened scrutiny” – a tougher standard for the federal government to meet. It also declined to address any arguments based on the premise that lesbians and gays have a constitutional right to marry (as opposed to having their existing marriages recognized by the federal government).

But the court was clear that Section 3 of DOMA does not meet the “rational basis” test for upholding a federal law that denies equal protection to a group long subject to discrimination – in other words, there’s just no good reason for DOMA to do the harm that it does.

The court looked at several justificiations offered for the law by DOMA’s supporters and found that each comes up short. Supporters say DOMA will save the federal government money (reports say that it actually costs the government money…and saving money isn’t a good enough reason for legal discrimination in the first place); that allowing lesbians and gays to marry harms children (it doesn’t, and Section 3 of DOMA doesn’t affect these couples’ rights to raise children anyway); and just plain moral disapproval (Supreme Court precedent says this isn’t enough of a reason). And finally, the court takes on the constant argument of opponents of same-sex marriage: that somehow gay couples getting married will harm the institution of marriage for everyone else:

Although the House Report is filled with encomia to heterosexual marriage, DOMA does not increase benefits to opposite-sex couples--whose marriages may in any event be childless, unstable or both--or explain how denying benefits to same-sex couples will reinforce heterosexual marriage. Certainly, the denial will not affect the gender choices of those seeking marriage. This is not merely a matter of poor fit of remedy to perceived problem, but a lack of any demonstrated connection between DOMA's treatment of same-sex couples and its asserted goal of strengthening the bonds and benefits to society of heterosexual marriage.

This is the crux of any number of court decisions that have struck down barriers to marriage equality. The main reason given for many laws that seek to deny marriage rights to gays and lesbians is that same-sex marriage will somehow weaken marriage for everybody else. It’s a claim that just doesn’t hold water.

The First Circuit panel did, however, go out of its way to defend DOMA’s supporters even while rejecting the law.

The District Court judge whose ruling the appeals court upheld declared that DOMA was motivated by “irrational prejudice” toward gays and lesbians. The First Circuit explicitly refuses to go there, instead stating that while that may have been true for some supporters, others were motivated instead by what it characterizes as the non-biased wish to “preserve the heritage of marriage as traditionally defined over centuries of Western civilization.” Under recent Supreme Court precedent, they write, the wish to uphold tradition isn’t a good enough one for denying equal protection. But the Supreme Court can change that if it wants:

In reaching our judgment, we do not rely upon the charge that DOMA's hidden but dominant purpose was hostility to homosexuality. The many legislators who supported DOMA acted from a variety of motives, one central and expressed aim being to preserve the heritage of marriage as traditionally defined over centuries of Western civilization. Preserving this institution is not the same as "mere moral disapproval of an excluded group," and that is singularly so in this case given the range of bipartisan support for the statute.

The opponents of section 3 point to selected comments from a few individual legislators; but the motives of a small group cannot taint a statute supported by large majorities in both Houses and signed by President Clinton. Traditions are the glue that holds society together, and many of our own traditions rest largely on belief and familiarity--not on benefits firmly provable in court. The desire to retain them is strong and can be honestly held. For 150 years, this desire to maintain tradition would alone have been justification enough for almost any statute. This judicial deference has a distinguished lineage, including such figures as Justice Holmes, the second Justice Harlan, and Judges Learned Hand and Henry Friendly. But Supreme Court decisions in the last fifty years call for closer scrutiny of government action touching upon minority group interests and of federal action in areas of traditional state concern.

Recognizing that the Supreme Court will likely review its reasoning, the court stayed the decision, so it will not go into effect yet.

PFAW Foundation

PFAW Foundation Applauds First Circuit DOMA Ruling

A unanimous three-judge panel of the First Circuit Court of Appeals today upheld a lower-court ruling which held that Section 3 of the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. The panel included two Republican appointees.

Michael Keegan, President of People For the American Way Foundation, issued the following statement:

“The First Circuit has reached the inevitable conclusion on DOMA: the arguments for such a discriminatory, hurtful law just don’t hold up. Over 16 years, DOMA has denied thousands of legally married Americans the protections and responsibilities granted to all other married couples under federal law. DOMA prevents married couples from providing for each other through Social Security; sponsoring each other for visas; helping each other with the tax benefits reserved for married couples; and prevents some service members and veterans from having their marriages recognized by the military. DOMA marginalizes a group of Americans, declares them inferior, and denies them rights granted to all others.

“ DOMA has caused real harm to Americans. A law that discriminates against a class of people just for the sake of discrimination is contrary to our principles and contrary to our laws.”


Linda Harvey Declares Ohio GOP Executive Director 'Unacceptable' Because of Anti-Discrimination Lobbying

Matt Borges was recently named as the new executive director of the Ohio Republican Party and this is not sitting well with Ohio-based Linda Harvey, primarily because Borges previously served as a lobbyist for the gay rights group Equality Ohio.

Borges reportedly lobbied on behalf of anti-discrimination legislation in Ohio, which Harvey attacked in her radio message today as nothing more than an effort to "give a stamp of approval to immoral and sinful behaviors and a tool for lawsuits to defend behavior people should not be doing in the first place."

As such, Harvey declared that it was "unacceptable" to allow Borges to run the Ohio GOP "unless he renounces his past support for the goals of homosexual activism" because it is "one of the major forces for youth corruption, religious discrimination, and moral disintegration in our country":

Matt Borges is unacceptable at the present time to lead this party unless he renounces his past support for the goals of homosexual activism. And let's be realistic, homosexual activism is now one of the major forces for youth corruption, religious discrimination, and moral disintegration in our country. We need to oppose it with every legal, spiritual, and civil means at our disposal and this is, in my opinion, the duty of every Christian in this country.

This is simply an in your face insult to Ohio Christian families and voters. It's also terribly foolish strategically when people with strong values should be united against the re-election of Barack Obama.

PFAW continues push for Paycheck Fairness Act

Together, we’re sending the message that it’s time to make real progress on fair pay.

American Family Association, Family Research Council Attack Target for Selling 'Pride' T-Shirts

While Target created a firestorm in 2010 for donating to a conservative group backing an anti-gay, and unsuccessful, Republican gubernatorial candidate in Minnesota, the retailer now is selling t-shirts to benefit the Family Equality Council, a group representing LGBT families.

Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council said “if they're looking to resonate with Americans, they ought to try defending marriage”:

Target's slogan is "expect more." And when it comes to their politics, Americans do. Hello, I'm Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C. One of America's biggest companies isn't just named Target--it's becoming one. Starting May 20, the mega-chain's introducing a new line of same-sex "marriage" merchandise that says, "Love is love." Target promises to donate 100% of the profits to a national homosexual group--but they don't specify which one. Retail analyst Britt Beemer says that Target's strategy isn't "very smart," especially in conservative states, where it does the biggest business. "Anytime a retailer gets away from doing what they should be doing by being involved in a social cause, [they] lose." The company said it wanted to "resonate beyond fashion." But if they're looking to resonate with Americans, they ought to try defending marriage. According to voters, the country's still very opposed to redefining it. Let Target know that its agenda isn't your style. Log on to target.com, scroll down, and click "Contact Us."

Naturally, the American Family Association is also fuming, and the organization’s president Tim Wildmon released an action alert and letter blasting the company:

Target is joining President Obama in ramming same-sex marriage down the throats of the American people.

Send an email to Target Chairman Gregg Steinhafel. Let him know that a majority of Americans oppose same-sex marriage and are able to use their pocketbooks to voice their opposition to companies that support it.

Dear Chairman Steinhafel:

Thirty-one states have overwhelmingly voted for constitutional amendments to protect marriage as only between one-man, one-woman. And your company does business in all of these states.

That's why I can't understand why Target would purposely choose to offend me by donating cash to support the Family Equality Council's push for legalizing homosexual marriage.

I urge you to reconsider this promotion and stop supporting a gay marriage campaign.

Otherwise, I will reconsider shopping at your stores and choose making my purchases from your competitors.

Tell the Senate: We need the Paycheck Fairness Act!

With a vote expected in the coming weeks, your Senators need to hear from you now. Today and tomorrow, May 22 and 23, we want to jam the phones to send a clear message of support for the Paycheck Fairness Act. Call 888-876-9527.

PFAW Commends NAACP’s Endorsement of Marriage Equality

People For the American Way President Michael Keegan issued the following statement in response to the decision of the NAACP’s official endorsement of marriage equality this week:

“The anti-gay Right has continually tried to turn the LGBT community and the African American community against each other. The NAACP this weekend stood up and told them in no uncertain terms that their cynical wedge strategies won’t work. Many of the NAACP’s board members, including PFAW board member Julian Bond, are already powerful leaders for LGBT equality. I am heartened to see the organization, which has led the way on so many civil rights issues of our time, take this strong stand on equality for all.”


Harvey: Dan Savage, Like Satan, Twists Bible while ‘Exploiting’ Kids

Mission America president Linda Harvey this weekend on her radio show talked to Peter LaBarbera of Americans For Truth About Homosexuality about Dan Savage’s It Gets Better Project, which she warned is “exploiting” children. Harvey attacked the anti-bullying and anti-suicide message of Savage’s It Gets Better Project for sending a “bad message” to children by, like Satan, manipulating the Bible. Last year, Harvey called the It Gets Better Project “evil” and “dark.”

Harvey: Back up to It Gets Better. If you look at some of those, and I’ve looked at some of the videos on there, these are very vulnerable kids and he is exploiting them. What he’s basically saying is, it’s kind of what Satan does in Scripture with Jesus, a little bit of truth of Scripture and then a lot of twisting and basically you end up in a place that is very unscriptural and untruthful. Yes, ‘there are bullies and ignore them,’ that’s a good message, ‘but go ahead full steam into homosexuality and gender confusion,’ a bad message, most parents want their kids to get an anti-bullying message that does not include that last part. He wants to go right and just say, ‘go for it,’ at young and younger ages.

LaBarbera: He knows he can reach them through the videos, he talked about how he gets in trouble when he talks about his anger and Dan Savage is a very angry man.

Harvey: Very.

LaBarbera: He hates Christians.


AFA's OneMillionMoms Announces Boycott of The Gap for Billboard Featuring Gay Couple

Already boycotting JC Penney for hiring Ellen DeGeneres as a spokesperson, now the American Family Association’s OneMillionMoms is urging members to boycott Gap and its affiliated stores Old Navy, Banana Republic, Piperlime and Athleta. The group is upset about a billboard that features a gay couple and says “GAP needs to seriously consider how their immoral advertising affect the youth of our nation.”

The group also claimed that its boycott of JC Penney is working and responsible for the store’s declining profits:

Sales have dramatically dropped since JC Penney's showed their "bold new marketing strategy" included pushing a lesbian spokesperson and same-sex couples in their advertising. JC Penney's current marketing plan has done incalculable amounts of damage to this once family-friendly store. If they would quit pushing a deviant and unhealthy lifestyle and focus on product quality and value along with excellent customer service, their bottom line would be not be struggling.

Hopefully JC Penney's (and other retailers) will listen to their long time customers now as JCP is reporting a bigger-than-expected loss and plummeting profits in the first quarter. The retailer lost $163 million in the quarter ending April 28. Numbers do not lie.

Companies should learn from others' mistakes. Retailers need to choose morality or remain neutral. Otherwise, their bottom dollar will suffer.

Speaking of companies who are choosing to be politically correct instead of focusing on selling clothes; GAP is also guilty. In Los Angeles, CA, GAP has a billboard located downtown that reads: "GAP- BE BRIGHT- BE ONE" with two homosexual men pressed together under a shared t-shirt. They are hugging each other and facing the camera cheek-to-cheek. "BE ONE" is in large letters which emphasizes the same-sex relationship.

GAP Inc. Brands, including Old Navy, Banana Republic, Piperlime, and Athleta, does not deserve, nor will it get, money from conservative families across the country. Supporting GAP is not an option until they decide to remain neutral in the culture war. GAP needs to seriously consider how their immoral advertising affect the youth of our nation.

Christians should urge for the removal of GAP's offensive billboard in Los Angeles and any other city where it is located. GAP will also need to cancel any plans to use the "Be One" ad campaign elsewhere including store-front posters, its website, and in print magazine ads.


GAP Inc. Brands approved this type of ad in public areas where families and children are sure to see it. Please send your email to GAP now and let them know you are offended by their disrespect for family values and common decency.

The group’s letter action item reads:

As a parent and a member of OneMillionMoms.com, I am highly offended by your company's disrespect for the millions of parents whose children will be exposed to your latest "Be One" GAP billboard ad. Selling clothes has nothing to do with a person's sexual orientation. In attempting to be politically correct, you are offending a huge majority of your customers.

GAP Inc. Brands, including Old Navy, Banana Republic, Piperlime, and Athleta, does not deserve, nor will it get, my family's business as a result. I will not be able to support your corporation until you decide to remain neutral in the culture war. I implore you to consider how your immoral actions affect the youth of our nation.

Please order the removal of your offensive billboard in Los Angeles and any other city it is located. Also cancel any plans to use your "Be One" ad campaign elsewhere including store front posters, your website, and in print magazine ads.

I look forward to hearing from you regarding my concerns.

Virginia Rejects Openly Gay Judicial Nominee After Campaign By Far-Right Activists

Virginia’s House of Delegates yesterday rejected the nomination of a state prosecutor to serve as a judge – just because he is openly gay.

Tracy Thorne-Begland, a Navy veteran who has been a prosecutor in Richmond for 12 years, enjoyed bipartisan support in the House of Delegates until, at the last minute, he came under attack from far-right Delegate Bob Marshall and the right-wing Family Foundation. The Richmond Times Dispatch reports:

A late-hour lobbying offensive by social conservatives prevailed in the House of Delegates early Tuesday to torpedo bipartisan support for the judicial nomination of an openly gay Richmond prosecutor.

After a lengthy discussion, the GOP-controlled House of Delegates defeated the nomination of Tracy Thorne-Begland, Richmond's chief deputy commonwealth's attorney. He would have been the first openly gay judge elected in Virginia.

Thorne-Begland received 33 votes, and 31 delegates voted against him. He needed a majority of the 100-member House -- 51 votes -- to secure the judgeship.


In an email blast to supporters late last week, the Christian conservative Family Foundation questioned Thorne-Begland's fitness for the bench given his support for gay marriage, which is not legal in Virginia. Thorne-Begland and his partner, Michael, live together and are raising twins.

Marshall, too had charged that Thorne-Begland pursued an "aggressive activist homosexual agenda.

Opponents of gay rights, in their effort to keep LGBT people out of the public square, have in the past few years gone after several openly gay judges and judicial nominees. Supporters of California’s discriminatory Prop 8 tried to get a federal judge’s ruling against them thrown out because the judge is openly gay. Another judge issued an epic takedown of their argument.

A number of Republican delegates in Virginia, as well as the state’s socially conservative governor Bob McDonnell backed Thorne-Begland’s nomination until Del. Marshall began his onslaught.

Del. Marshall is the one who claimed in 2010 that disabled children are God's punishment for abortion. On Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell – a policy that Thorne-Begland worked to end after his distinguished career in the Navy – Marshall said openly gay troops would distract their fellow servicemembers: "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." Once Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was repealed, Del Marshall tried to get gay Virginians banned from the state’s National Guard.

Marshall later told the Washington Post that he objected to Thorne-Begland’s brave coming out in protest of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell:

I would guess — law of averages — we’ve probably nominated people who have homosexual inclinations,” Marshall said. Marshall faulted Thorne-Begland for coming out as a gay Naval officer on “Nightline” two decades ago to challenge the military’s now-repealed ban on gays openly serving in the military. He said that amounted not just to insubordination, but to a waste of taxpayer dollars, since it resulted in his dismissal from the Navy. “The Navy spent $1 million training him,” Marshall said. “That’s cheating the country out of the investment in him.”

In the end, it was Del. Marshall’s arguments that won out in the effort to halt the career of a dedicated Virginia public servant.


Healing Grace – Ministry of Information: Resources for Interested Faith Leaders

A List of Website Resources to Help Continue the Dialogue on The Black Church, Stigma, Prejudice and Homophobia

President Obama recognizes LGBT families

It’s clear that, for the President, this isn’t just about couples getting married. It’s also about couples raising children with the sense of security that comes from family equality.
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