Equality For All

Conservative Columnist Warns God Will Destroy America If Supreme Court Rules For Marriage Equality

In a column for Matt Barber’s outlet BarbWire today, Michael Bresciani expounds on an amicus brief submitted by a number of Religious Right groups warning the Supreme Court that a ruling in favor of marriage equality could bring God’s judgment down on America. Bresiciani approvingly cites the amicus brief, agreeing that the Bible “clearly warns that the practice and promulgation of homosexuality and other perversions will draw God’s disfavor and in time his severe judgment on this and any nation.”

Should LGBT rights activist succeed with their “demonic plan” at the Supreme Court, he warns, “there will be absolutely nothing left to block an impending and imminent judgment against the United States from a very patient God who after all, will not be mocked.”

Bresciani concludes by assuring readers that he does not hate gay people because “the only thing real Christians hate about the gays is the fact that more creatures created in the image of God will be cast into an eternal hell.”

The Bible clearly warns that the practice and promulgation of homosexuality and other perversions will draw God’s disfavor and in time his severe judgment on this and any nation. Those who take their bibles seriously cannot wait until others take them seriously – it will be too late by then.

There is little left for the LGBT to disrupt in America and the gay agenda’s public relations activists have clobbered the nation through the media, the state legislatures and it is now looming at the door of the Supreme Court to bring marriage in line with its demonic plan.

Should they succeed there will be absolutely nothing left to block an impending and imminent judgment against the United States from a very patient God who after all, will not be mocked

Having spent the last ten years intensely focusing on America’s waltz into the deepest levels of moral depravity and reprobation, I have often wondered why God drives us to warn a people who turn a deaf ear to its best voices for good, like those listed above. It seems that the voices are called into play only so in the end no one will call for the excuse that they were not warned. It seems that they will be granted what they want while ignoring the approach to losing all that they already have. Such futility is not new to nations throughout history, but now it’s coming to a neighborhood near you.

America has ignored every warning and message of those sent to her and is about to slam headlong into what I describe as the “40 Year Factor.”

I can’t say what that means in every detail, but I can say what I have seen and heard and that starts with an economic collapse that will parallel and go beyond the dust bowl days and the stock market crash of 1929. It will be a time of “extreme poverty and scarcity” such as never seen in our history.

The mighty push against all things Biblical, constitutional, rational, moral and decent is about to cross a line marked “no return allowed.”

The use of the word “homophobia’ is subterfuge being used as the last day’s PC war cry for anyone who does not want to face the serious nature and consequences of their own worst behaviors.

Not wanting to bake cakes for gays is nothing when considering that Christians are called upon to refrain from even mentioning what gays do in secret – why would they consent to promote or celebrate such behaviors. To wit:

“And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.” (Eph 5: 11-12)

Regardless of which way these legal battles turn out one thing is clear the only thing real Christians hate about the gays is the fact that more creatures created in the image of God will be cast into an eternal hell.

Concern and sadness about the loss of their lives and futures is something that compassionate believers all share because it is not the will of God that anyone should perish. If it is not God’s will then it is not our will.

Education Without Discrimination: Creating Safe Schools for All Students

CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION

TALKING POINTS

LOBBYING

MEDIA

RIGHT WING WATCH

RESOURCES

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS



Introduction

Far too many students have become targets of bullying and harassment based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Their pleas to teachers, principals, and university administrators for help — if they are brave enough to make them in the first place — too often go unanswered. They cannot access quality education.

They deserve better than that.

This toolkit is designed to help you understand and address the problem head-on. Federal legislation has been introduced to help create safe schools for all students. Herein we explain the two leading proposals and how you can help them become law, as well as how to raise safe schools awareness in your community.  

The Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA) supports the creation of comprehensive anti-bullying policies that “enumerate” – or spell out – specific categories of targeted students, including those targeted based on sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as data collection, public education, and grievance procedures. The Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA) protects students from school-based sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination, much like Title IX does for gender discrimination, and much like other areas of law do for various protected classes. SNDA recognizes bullying and harassment as discrimination, and it provides both for remedies against discrimination and incentives for schools to prevent it from happening in the first place.

By pushing for SSIA and SNDA, PFAW is part of the movement for safe schools, and we hope that this toolkit will help you join us. It's time to stand up.

Check out PFAW’s website for more information about safe schools and other LGBT equality issues.

Any questions?

Return to Contents



Talking Points

Ensuring the safety and well-being of our children is a battle worth fighting. Here’s why:

  • Bullying and harassment in schools is a pervasive national problem. According to the 2013 National School Climate Survey (NSCS): 74.1 percent of LGBT students suffer verbal harassment, 32.6 percent physical harassment, and 16.5 percent physical assault because of their sexual orientation. 55.2 percent suffer verbal harassment, 22.7 percent physical harassment, and 11.4 percent physical assault because of their gender expression.  In many cases, not surprisingly, this makes LGBT students feel unsafe; 55.5 percent reported feeling unsafe based on their sexual orientation, and 38.7 percent felt so based on their gender expression.
  • Bullying and harassment are forms of discrimination, but we have left LGBT students unprotected. Federal law protects against discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, disability, and national origin. There are no federal laws protecting students based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Without legislation like SSIA and SNDA, LGBT students, those who are perceived to be LGBT, and their parents and allies are left with few places to turn in the face of bullying and harassment.
  • When students lose their sense of safety, they lose their access to quality education. A student who feels unsafe due to bullying and harassment might choose to avoid the situation altogether, adding a loss of learning to the harms they already suffer. According to the 2013 National School Climate Survey (NSCS), "When asked about absenteeism, nearly one third (30.3%) of LGBT students reported missing at least one entire day of school in the past month because they felt unsafe or uncomfortable, and over a tenth (10.6%) missed four or more days in the past month[.]" Even when they remain in class, targeted students lose nearly half a grade point.
  • As Congress works to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, it should address the bullying and harassment problem. Since 1965, ESEA has served as the fundamental blueprint for education in America. While it sets forth a broad range of requirements, ESEA doesn't currently provide any protections against bullying and harassment. Building a strong sense of safety and fostering equality is just as important to education as teacher hiring, curricular standards, and student performance. ESEA is long overdue for an update and its reauthorization is an appropriate venue to address this pervasive national problem, including for students who are LGBT or perceived to be LGBT.
  • Bullying and harassment aren't just elementary and secondary education problems — they also extend to college campuses. The untimely death of Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi was a tragic reminder that the end of high school doesn't mean the end of bullying and harassment. According to the 2010 National College Climate Survey, 23 percent of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer students, 39 percent of transmen, and 38 percent of transwomen reported harassment, with the overwhelming majority in all cases attributing that harassment to sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • We cannot complete the work of LGBT equality without addressing the problems of bullying and harassment. These days we can’t seem to escape the stories of lives ruined, or even ended, by bullying and harassment based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Even one death is too many. What is happening now is unconscionable and must stop. If it doesn’t, much of what we’re fighting for today will mean little, if anything, tomorrow.

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Lobbying

I. Communicating with Members of Congress

Representatives and Senators rely on their constituents’ opinions and concerns when formulating positions and voting on legislation. Responding is an integral part of being a member of Congress, and whether they are seen as being responsive can affect how they are viewed by their constituents come Election Day.

Your communication with members of Congress should be concise, informed, and polite. Review information about them before you write or call and familiarize yourself with their committee assignments and staff. It is important to know something about them before you begin the exchange. A common interest or background should help you stand out.

Six different ways to communicate with members of Congress are listed below.

Meeting

A personal visit with a member of Congress can be a good way to demonstrate your interest in an issue or bill. To make your meeting more effective, schedule an appointment with the member (or a staff member) and be sure to state the subject of your visit in advance. Review the area of discussion before the meeting so you have a thorough knowledge of the subject. During the meeting, speak clearly and be concise. Present the pros and cons of the issue, as well as detailed explanations as to why you support your view. Encourage questions from the member and be ready to answer them, but if you don't have an answer don't be afraid to say that you'll get back to them with more information. At the end of the meeting, ask for favorable consideration of your issue and thank him or her for their time.

Telephone

To address an issue with a member of Congress by telephone, call the US Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121, or use the main number listed for their House or Senate office. Speak to a staff member about your issue or concern; be sure to ask them to pass along your opinion. With patience, you might also be able to speak to the member directly.

United States Postal Service (USPS)

USPS mail was for a long time the most common means of communicating with members of Congress. Letters to them should be legible and concise. State the purpose of the letter in the first paragraph, support your positions in the rest of the letter, and conclude with a strong reiteration of your position. Stick to the facts, and if you are citing a particular bill include the name and number in the letter as:

House bills – "H.R. _______"
Senate bills – "S. _______"

Remember to address how the issue or legislation is likely to affect you and other constituents of the member. Make suggestions and ask for the member’s views or opinions on the matter. Include your name and return address and ensure that both are legible.

Addressee format:

The Honorable ______
(Office Number) (Office Building)
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Representative ______:

The Honorable ______
(Office Number) (Office Building)
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator______:

Fax

Faxing information is another common method of communicating with members of Congress. A fax receives the same attention as a letter sent by mail. Include your name and return address and ensure that both are legible. You should receive a written response from the member in the mail.

Email

Today, many members of Congress encourage their constituents to correspond by email. Although a member occasionally responds via email, more often you will receive an automatic acknowledgement that your message has been received, and then a written response in the mail that addresses the substance of your issue. Email correspondence should address the member as Representative or Senator, and should include your name and address; be sure to type them accurately.

Many members use an online form for email instead of an actual email address. The form is a page on the member’s website that can be filled out and submitted electronically. The form enables the member to capture your name, address, and the subject of your message in a database for future correspondence. Often these forms rely on your zip code, and if you don’t reside in a member’s district or state, you may not be able to submit a message to that member – limiting email to constituents only.

Consult your member’s website for his or her email address or online form URL. Directories are available for the House and Senate.

Social Media

Many members of Congress have social media accounts, and tweeting at them or posting on their Facebook walls has the added benefit of being visible to other people. Go to your members' websites or search Twitter or Facebook for their names, and tweet at them by using their handles — for example, @SenatorJohnSmith — in your tweets. It’s also helpful to search Twitter for your issue or concern to find relevant hashtags or other Twitter accounts – like activists and organizations — that could be included in your tweets. Using hashtags and additional Twitter handles helps raise the visibility of your tweets.

Return to Lobbying | Contents


II. Sample Letters

These sample letters provide you with a few general options for lobbying your members of Congress. The more personal and the more local your letter is, the more compelling it will be.

Sample 1

Today I write to you in strong support of the Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA) and the Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA). I thank the sponsors and cosponsors therein for addressing what has become a pervasive national problem, and I urge you and all members of Congress to join them.

Following the increased media attention paid to bullying-related suicides in 2010, I took a strong stand on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students and those who are perceived to be LGBT. According to the 2013 National School Climate Survey (NSCS):[1] 74.1 percent of LGBT students suffer verbal harassment, 32.6 percent physical harassment, and 16.5 percent physical assault because of their sexual orientation. 55.2 percent suffer verbal harassment, 22.7 percent physical harassment, and 11.4 percent physical assault because of their gender expression.[2] In many cases, not surprisingly, this makes LGBT students feel unsafe; 55.5 percent reported feeling unsafe based on their sexual orientation, and 38.7 percent felt so based on their gender expression.[3]

A student who feels unsafe due to bullying and harassment might choose to avoid the situation altogether, adding a loss of learning to the harms they already suffer. According to the NSCS, “When asked about absenteeism, nearly one third (30.3%) of LGBT students reported missing at least one entire day of school in the past month because they felt unsafe or uncomfortable, and over a tenth (10.6%) missed four or more days in the past month[.]”[4] Even when they remain in class, LGBT students targeted by severe victimization and discrimination lose nearly half a grade point.[5] But as we know all too well, this isn’t just a question of education. It’s a matter of life and death.

Through SSIA and SNDA, Congress has recognized the need to reverse this trend. SSIA supports the creation of comprehensive anti-bullying policies that enumerate specific categories of targeted students – including those targeted based on sexual orientation and gender identity – as well as data collection, public education, and grievance procedures. SNDA protects students from school-based sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination, much like Title IX does for gender discrimination, and much like other areas of law do for various protected classes. SNDA recognizes bullying and harassment as discrimination, and it provides both for remedies against discrimination and incentives for schools to prevent it from happening in the first place.

Ultimately, this is about stopping abhorrent behavior that gets in the way of quality education. All students deserve far better than that. And SSIA and SNDA deserve your consideration.

[1] 2013 National School Climate Survey, Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, October 2014. http://glsen.org/nscs
[2] See above at http://www.glsen.org/sites/default/files/2013%20National%20School%20Climate%20Survey%20Full%20Report_0.pdf, pgs. 22-23
[3] Ibid, pg. 12
[4] Ibid, pgs. 12-13
[5] Ibid, pgs. 47 and 49

Sample 2

I am writing as your constituent to thank you for supporting the inclusion of the Safe Schools Improvement Act in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization bill. I believe strongly in preventing bullying and harassment and ensuring that all students learn in positive, safe and healthy schools.

As you know, far too many young people experience severe and ongoing bullying and harassment that prevents them from achieving their highest academic and life potential.  In fact, evidence shows that across the country bullying and harassment contribute to high dropout rates, increased absenteeism, and academic underperformance.  In many instances, targets of bullying and harassment are simply unable to fully benefit from their schools' programs and activities.  Unfortunately, in many communities not enough is being done to help students, families and educators address the problem, such as informing them about best practices for prevention and intervention. This includes ensuring that school districts develop and implement enumerated bullying and harassment prevention plans and provide clear information to families about school's grievance and resolution procedures.    

Given bullying and harassment's pervasiveness and significant negative impact on educational opportunities, I hope that Congress will swiftly act to address the problem as part of ESEA reauthorization. This will ensure that in the future all kids have an opportunity to learn in positive, safe and healthy schools.

Sample 3

I am writing as your constituent to thank you for supporting the inclusion of the Student Non-Discrimination Act in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization bill.  I believe strongly in preventing discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students in public schools.

As you know, students who are (or are perceived to be) LGBT are subjected to pervasive discrimination, including harassment and bullying. The harassment youth experience in school deprives them of equal educational opportunities by increasing their likelihood of skipping school, underperforming academically, and dropping out. Left unchecked, this harassment can contribute to even more devastating consequences, including suicide. Furthermore, while discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, disability, national origin and religion are expressly addressed in federal civil rights laws or the Constitution, they do not explicitly cover sexual orientation or gender identity. As a result, parents of LGBT students have limited legal recourse when schools fail to protect their children from discrimination.     

I hope Congress will swiftly act to address discrimination of LGBT students as part of ESEA reauthorization.  This will ensure that in the future all kids have an opportunity to learn in positive, safe and healthy schools.    

Sample 4

I write to urge you to cosponsor the Student Non-Discrimination Act (H.R. 846/S. 439) and support its inclusion in any reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

Students who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) or perceived to be LGBT are subject to well-documented, pervasive discrimination, including harassment, bullying, intimidation, and violence. These students are deprived of equal educational opportunities in public schools across our nation. Numerous studies demonstrate that discrimination at school has contributed to high rates of absenteeism, dropout, adverse health consequences, and academic under-achievement among LGBT youth. When left unchecked, such discrimination can lead to – and has led to – dangerous situations for youth.

Federal statutory protections currently address discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, and disability. However, statutory protections based on sexual orientation or gender identity are limited. The Student Non-Discrimination Act would explicitly prohibit public schools from discriminating against any student on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. The legislation also protects students who associate with LGBT people, including students with LGBT parents and friends.

As our nation’s primary statute promoting equal access to education, it is vital that ESEA ensures that every student is able to attend school in a safe, inclusive environment free from discrimination and harassment. Decades of civil rights history show that civil rights laws are effective in decreasing discrimination against specific vulnerable groups. It is time that we extend these laws to explicitly protect LGBT youth.

Again, I urge you to cosponsor the Student Non-Discrimination Act (H.R. 846/S. 439) and support its inclusion in any reauthorization of ESEA.

Return to Lobbying | Contents



Media

I. Submitting Letters to the Editor

Writing a letter to the editor (LTE) is an effective way of raising awareness on an issue. Here’s how you do it:

Logistics

  • Be brief. As a general rule, you will want to keep your LTE under 200 words. However, be sure to review in advance the LTE guidelines of your newspaper of choice to double-check that 200 words is an acceptable length. Generally guidelines are posted online; however you can also find out by calling the newspaper’s office.
  • Be surprising. The best letters to the editor make readers look at an issue in a new way — introduce interesting facts that weren’t in the paper’s coverage of the issue, or look at the same facts from a different angle.
  • Make it personal. If you can tie your letter to the editor in to local events or connect it to local personalities, do that. The more personal and the more local your letter is, the more compelling it will be.
  • Be polite. No matter how much you might disagree with the article or point of view to which you’re responding, be respectful — newspapers won’t publish letters they consider rude or insulting.
  • Do not feel obligated to only submit LTEs to large newspapers. Your local paper is a great place to start the discussion. At the same time, do not hesitate to submit to bigger papers even if the chances of acceptance are slimmer.
  • Be sure to include your contact information in your submission. Many newspapers will require their employees to contact LTE authors prior to publication. If you do not feel comfortable sharing your information publicly, be sure to make that stipulation at the bottom of your letter.

What to Write About

  • Provide background information on the struggle for safe, harassment-free schools. Keep in mind that your audience will most likely have never heard of SSIA and SNDA, so your LTE should primarily be educational.
  • Try to identify a target for your LTE. This could be your Representative or Senators, your state legislature, or a local school district or school board. By identifying a local target, you can make your LTE relevant to your community.
  • Identify timely information in your LTE, such as:
    • The Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA) has been introduced in the Senate (S. 311). The Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA) is up in the Senate (S. 439) and House (H.R. 846).
    • It's long past time to vote on anti-bullying and anti-harassment protections. The House and Senate should include SSIA and SNDA in the education reauthorization bill, or move forward on stand-alone legislation. These protections need to get to the President for his signature.
  • Conclude with an opinion and/or call to action, possibly something along the lines of:
    • Asking why LGBT students should have to suffer just to get an education.
    • Making clear that this is about stopping abhorrent behavior that gets in the way of quality education. All students deserve far better than that.
    • Calling for Congress to stand on the side of equality – stand up for safe schools.

After Submitting Your LTE

  • Please let us know if your LTE has been printed. We'll work to amplify your message and will make sure your public officials see it.
  • If your LTE is not accepted, do not be deterred. There are many way you can contribute to the movement. A quick way you can make sure your hard work does not go to waste is by repurposing what you wrote and mailing it in to your Representative and Senators.

Any questions?

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II. Sample LTE

Gay Teenagers’ Suicides, and a Call for Legislation

October 6, 2010
By Laura W. Murphy

To the Editor:

Re " Several Recent Suicides Put Light on Pressures Facing Gay Teenagers" (news article, Oct. 4):

The recent tragic deaths of young gay people from across the country underscore the fact that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students are an especially vulnerable population in our nation’s schools.

Discrimination and harassment, even physical abuse, are often a part of these students’ daily lives. This is unacceptable and must end.

While federal laws currently protect students on the basis of their race, color, sex, religion, disability or national origin, no federal statute explicitly protects students on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

But there is legislation pending in both the House and Senate — the Student Non-Discrimination Act — that would establish a comprehensive prohibition against discrimination and harassment in public schools throughout the nation based on a student’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Given recent tragedies, the need could not be more clear.

Congress should act to make sure that all of America’s children are protected.

Laura W. Murphy
Director, Washington Legislative Office
American Civil Liberties Union
Washington, Oct. 4, 2010

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III. Submitting Op-Eds

Writing an op-ed is similar to writing a letter to the editor, but it can be a slightly longer and more in-depth look at the issue. Here’s how you do it:

  • Find a news hook. Like with LTEs, your op-ed must be timely. You can have a great topic for your op-ed, but if it doesn’t relate to current news, an editor might not pick it for publication. Luckily, there are a lot of ways to make your topic relevant and newsworthy. You can include surprising new research or statistics that illuminate your topic; link your topic to a holiday or an anniversary of a historic event; connect your topic to popular culture; tie your topic in with a debate or trend that’s big in the news; show how the conventional wisdom about a topic is wrong; or any combination of the above.
  • Make it compelling. Also like LTEs, if you have a personal story to tell about your topic, tell it! In addition, be sure to include a call to action clearly and early, and support it with compelling facts. Then carefully proofread it and make sure it fits in the word limit.
  • Pitch it. Look for your target paper’s op-ed submission instructions on its website. If there is no submission form, you should send your op-ed in the body of an email, and include a brief note at the top introducing yourself, explaining the context for your op-ed and providing your contact information. If you don’t hear back from the editor in a couple of days, send another note or call the editorial department to follow up. If your first choice paper doesn’t accept it, don’t give up! Pick your second choice paper, and try again.
  • Please let us know if your op-ed has been printed.

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IV. Sample Op-Eds

Sample 1

Staying silent, standing together with LGBT students

April 19, 2013
By Gregory Donnellan

If 15-year-old Zach King had known what was waiting for him on the other side of the door, he never would have walked into his Ohio high school classroom that October day.

By now you may have seen the video. Millions of people have. Zach, an openly gay student, was thrown to the ground and repeatedly pummeled by a classmate. Zach tried to escape . . . he tried to reason . . . and then he just tried to survive. The brutal assault left him with a concussion, a broken tooth and a feeling of insecurity he will likely carry with him the rest of his school days -- particularly after his school district allegedly tried to blame Zach and his sexual orientation for the attack.

Sadly, Zach is not alone. The deplorable bullying and harassment faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students like Zach is rampant in schools today. According to the 2011 National School Climate Survey [link replaced] by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), nearly 82 percent of LGBT students reported being verbally harassed -- and more than six in 10 LGBT students said they do not feel safe at school.

Ohio is hardly immune from the anti-LGBT bullying epidemic. Ninety percent of Ohio LGBT students who responded to GLSEN's national survey said they regularly heard homophobic remarks and slurs at school -- and nearly one in five said they heard these hurtful remarks from school staff.

The bullying of LGBT students in Ohio schools takes many forms. Students frequently are excluded by their peers, are subjected to cruel taunts in person or online, or are even physically harmed. Nearly 20 percent of Ohio LGBT students said they had been assaulted at school. Tragically, many of these cases of bullying and abuse go unreported, as LGBT students struggle with feelings of shame and fears of reprisal.

Bullying leaves lasting physical and emotional scars on thousands of LGBT students in Ohio each year. But today, students from every corner of Ohio will be taking a stand -- through silence.

Today students across Ohio are participating in GLSEN's annual Day of Silence, [link replaced] when students vow to take some form of silence to draw attention to the silencing effect of anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in schools. Founded in 1996, the Day of Silence has become the largest single student-led action toward creating safer schools for all, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

GLSEN Northeast Ohio will support efforts at area schools to help students participate in the Day of Silence in their own unique ways. Through our Facebook page, we offer resources to help students and schools get involved. We also provide speakers and exhibits to foster multigenerational understanding of LGBT issues.

Schools should be more than places of learning: They should be sanctuaries, where differences are valued and all students feel safe to thrive. We thank the schools in every corner of Ohio that will stand shoulder to shoulder today with LGBT students, and we ask for your help in ensuring that all students feel safe and welcome at school.

Gregory Donnellan is Jump-Start co-coordinator of the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network Northeast Ohio, a local chapter of the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, an organization which strives to assure that each member of every school community is valued and respected regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.

 

Sample 2

Gay suicide: Addressing harassment in schools

April 24, 2009
By Charles Robbins and Eliza Byard

The affect of language and behavior can be deadly, especially in a school environment where young people are already highly impressionable and vulnerable. Unfortunately, this difficult lesson has been conveyed many times when young people resort to drastic and permanent measures to escape the despair of enduring constant bullying and harassment at school.

It is deeply disturbing that on April 6, Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, an 11-year-old sixth-grader from Springfield, Mass., hanged himself with an extension cord in his family's home after being subjected to continuous anti-gay bullying and harassment at his middle school. It is equally as disheartening that on April 16, less than two weeks later, Jaheem Herrera, an 11-year-old fifth-grader from DeKalb County, Ga., also hanged himself at home after being the subject of anti-gay taunts from his classmates. These were two completely separate and isolated instances, but the tragic and preventable nature of each unfortunate loss of life remains the same.

Neither Carl nor Jaheem identified as gay, yet their peers' defamatory language and hurtful behaviors broke the barriers of sexual orientation and gender identity. Being taunted as "faggot," "queer" or "homo" by classmates is offensive and demeaning to any student -- straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning alike.

Carl is the fourth middle school student this year to complete suicide due to bullying, and Jaheem was still in elementary school. Older students are also at a high risk, as suicide is one of the top three causes of death among 15 to 24 year olds and the second leading cause of death on college campuses. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth are up to four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers, and those who come from a rejecting family are up to nine times more likely to do so.

Two of the top three reasons secondary school students said their peers were most often bullied at school were actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender expression, according to a 2005 report by GLSEN and Harris Interactive. In addition, The Trevor Project fields tens of thousands of calls from young people each year, both straight and LGBT-identified, with rejection and harassment by peers being one of the top five issues reported by callers.

In the same GLSEN and Harris report, more than a third of middle and high school students said that bullying, name-calling and harassment is a somewhat or very serious problem at their school. Furthermore, two-thirds of middle school students reported being assaulted or harassed in the previous year and only 41 percent said they felt safe at school.

Enough is enough. It is time for school administrators, educators, parents, students and the government to work together to stop bullying and harassment in schools. Furthermore, we must teach young people to understand the profound impact of words and actions, and to recognize depression and suicidal ideations amongst their peers. By helping young people take responsibility for their actions and respect their peers, and simultaneously empowering them with the knowledge and skills they need to understand when their classmates are in crisis, we can work toward ending the dual epidemics of school bullying and youth suicide once and for all.

We as parents, teachers and concerned citizens can do our part to protect students by speaking out and demanding that anti-bullying and harassment programs and suicide prevention education are mandated in all schools. We can seek commitment from the government to end bullying by training educators on how to effectively intervene, teaching students to respect and help one another, and ensuring that all students know how to reach out to a peer who may be in crisis. We must lead by example and remember that the language we choose is easily repeated by young people. We must listen to children when they reach out for help, and demonstrate to them that we will be understanding and non-judgmental if they need to talk.

Days like the GLSEN-sponsored National Day of Silence bring attention to anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in schools. On this day, thousands of students call for practical, appropriate interventions that work, hoping to move us closer to a future where every child can go to school free from fear. Weeks including the National Suicide Prevention Week encourage programs to increase suicide prevention efforts, including initiatives supported by The Trevor Project to protect LGBT youth.

It is our hope that in memory of Carl and Jaheem, and in honor of all young people who have completed suicide after enduring constant torment at school, we will be able to work together to promote school environments that celebrate diversity and encourage acceptance of all people. Only then will we be confident that our children are receiving the respect and education they deserve today in order to become the successful and equality-minded leaders of tomorrow.

Charles Robbins is the Executive Director & CEO of The Trevor Project and Eliza Byard, Ph.D., is the Executive Director, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN).

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V. Sample Tweets

If you are looking for an even quicker way to lend your support to an issue, you can tweet about it!

Here are some sample tweets for safe schools:

Legislation

Survey Data

  • Bullying and harassment in schools is a pervasive national problem. Get the facts. @GLSEN bit.ly/164lNIn
  • Did you know that #LGBTyouth suffer bullying, harassment, and assault in school? Let's keep them safe: bit.ly/164lNIn @GLSEN
  • #LGBTyouth feel unsafe at school. It's time for that to change. @GLSEN bit.ly/164lNIn
  • #LGBTyouth skip class and get lower grades when they feel unsafe. Stand up for quality education. @GLSEN bit.ly/164lNIn
  • #LGBTyouth suffer bullying and harassment on college campuses. #TylerClementi @campuspride bit.ly/GNOpPk

Media

  • Powerful @HBODocs film @ValentineRdDoc highlights need for safe & welcoming schools for all. @GLSEN #LGBTyouth bit.ly/1fJKzGD
  • Just watched an important documentary that lifts the veil on school #bullying. @bullymovie bit.ly/HChF7f
  • .@bullymovie, a documentary that all kids, parents & teachers should have a chance to see. bit.ly/HChF7f
  • The climate change we all should want: bit.ly/HwTy9c @bullymovie and bit.ly/1fJKzGD @ValentineRdDoc

Other

When appropriate, don’t be afraid to tweet @ your Representative and Senators. Twitter and Facebook are great places to communicate with members of congress.

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Right Wing Watch

The Five Worst Religious Right Claims About Safe Schools Initiatives

People For the American Way’s Right Wing Watch is an ongoing source of information on what the far Right is saying about the movement to make schools safe and welcoming for all. Relying on harmful myths depicting LGBT people as abusive and “perverse,” it is clear that the Religious Right is far more interested in pushing homophobic lies than in protecting and supporting all students through commonsense legislation. Our elected leaders face a stark choice between protecting students and siding with the dangerous and hateful lies of the far right.

Here are some of the most troubling claims from the Religious Right about safe schools initiatives:

5. Gordon Klingenschmitt: Al Franken is 'Causing More Suicides' by Backing Anti-Bullying Bill (January 2012)

Previously, Gordon Klingenschmitt accused Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) of “homosexualizing kids” and acting like late North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il over his efforts to pass legislation geared at preventing bullying because Franken other progressives have “deified sin as their god.” Now, Klingenschmitt is accusing Franken of “causing more suicides” for sponsoring the anti-bullying bill. “Teen suicide is tragic enough without Senator Franken recruiting more kids into homosexuality, which causes depression, self-hatred, self-rejection and self-murder,” Klingenschmitt writes, “Franken's plan will result in more teen suicides, not less.”

4. Linda Harvey Warns That Anti-Bullying Programs Will Turn Schools Into ‘Indoctrination Camps’ (November 2011)

Linda Harvey of Mission America is urging voters to oppose the Safe Schools Improvement Act and the Student Non-Discrimination Act, warning that such anti-bullying legislation is “using bullying prevention as a tool to force approval of homosexuality and gender bending on children, teachers and families.” On her radio show, Harvey urged members of her Ohio-based group to contact Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman to oppose what she called the “promotion of these lifestyles to kids brought into schools in the Trojan Horse of anti-bullying programs.” She went on to say that schools will be turned “into indoctrination camps” in order “to fulfill the fondest wishes of those who want traditional morality to disappear” if the safe school legislation passes.

3. Public Advocate: Congress Using Schools ‘To Force The Homosexual Agenda’ On Children (April 2011)

Religious Right groups are consistently trying to tarnish anti-bullying initiatives as “homosexual indoctrination” and “special rights,” among other absurd claims. A Religious Right group led by Virginia politician Eugene Delgaudio, the Public Advocate, launched the “Protect Our Children’s Innocence” petition to protest the Student Non-Discrimination Act, which it labels the “Homosexual Classrooms Act.”

2. Gordon Klingenschmitt Says ‘Sick and Perverse’ Student Non-Discrimination Act Will Legalize ‘Sexual Assault’ (April 2012)

After President Obama announced his support for the Student Non-Discrimination Act, Gordon Klingenschmitt went back on the attack against the anti-bullying bill, in an email message warning that the “sick and perverse” legislation will “give homosexuals and perverts protected status,” “mandate pro-homosexual recruiting of kids in public schools,” promote “child abuse” as “homosexuals will have full control of classrooms” and even allow for harassment and “sexual assault.”

1. Sandy Rios: Schools No Longer Teach Reading and Writing, Now Just Promote Homosexuality (April 2013)

The American Family Association’s Sandy Rios hosted Linda Harvey of Mission America to criticize the Day of Silence, the anti-bullying event which Harvey has previously described as dangerous and blasphemous.

Rios, who once said that test scores are dropping as a result of schools “teaching” homosexuality, kicked off the program by arguing that public schools no longer instruct students in subjects like “reading, writing, cursive, spelling, grammar [and] punctuation,” but are instead completely dedicated to “cramming, twisting, perverting all academic subjects to the way of supporting homosexuality.”

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Resources

American Association of University Women (AAUW)
http://www.aauw.org
The American Association of University Women (AAUW) is a leading voice promoting equity and education for women and girls. Since its founding in 1881, AAUW members have examined and taken positions on the fundamental issues of the day — educational, social, economic, and political.

American Civil Liberties Union
http://www.aclu.org
The American Civil Liberties Union is a guardian of liberty, working daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country. These rights include: your First Amendment rights - freedom of speech, association and assembly; freedom of the press, and freedom of religion; your right to equal protection under the law - protection against unlawful discrimination; your right to due process - fair treatment by the government whenever the loss of your liberty or property is at stake; and your right to privacy - freedom from unwarranted government intrusion into your personal and private affairs. The organization also works to extend rights to segments of the population that have traditionally been denied their rights, including people of color; women; lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender people; prisoners; and people with disabilities.

American Counseling Association
http://www.counseling.org
The American Counseling Association is dedicated to the growth and enhancement of the counseling profession. Founded in 1952, ACA is the world's largest association exclusively representing professional counselors in various practice settings.

American Federation of Teachers
http://www.aft.org
The American Federation of Teachers, an affiliate of the AFL-CIO, was founded in 1916 and today represents 1.5 million members in more than 3,000 local affiliates nationwide. Five divisions within the AFT represent the broad spectrum of the AFT’s membership: pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; and nurses and other healthcare professionals. In addition, the AFT represents approximately 80,000 early childhood educators and nearly 250,000 retiree members.

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
http://www.afsp.org
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) is the nation’s leading organization bringing together people across communities and backgrounds to understand and prevent suicide, and to help heal the pain it causes. Individuals, families, and communities who have been personally touched by suicide are the moving force behind everything we do.

American Psychological Association
http://www.apa.org
The American Psychological Association is the world's largest association of psychologists, with more than 134,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants, and students as its members. APA’s mission is to advance the creation, communication and application of psychological knowledge to benefit society and improve people's lives.

The BULLY Project
http://www.thebullyproject.com/
The BULLY Project is the social action campaign inspired by the award-winning film BULLY – a national movement to stop bullying that is transforming kids’ lives and changing a culture of bullying into one of empathy and action. The power of its work lies in the participation of individuals and its partners who collectively work to create safe, caring, and respectful schools and communities.

Campus Pride
http://www.campuspride.org
Campus Pride serves LGBT and ally student leaders and campus organizations in the areas of leadership development, support programs, and services to create safer, more inclusive LGBT-friendly colleges and universities. It exists to develop, support, and give “voice and action” in building future LGBT and ally student leaders.

Family Equality Council
http://www.familyequality.org
Family Equality Council connects, supports, and represents the three million parents who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender in this country and their six million children. The organization works to change attitudes and policies to ensure that all families are respected, loved, and celebrated—including families with parents who are LGBT. It is a community of parents and children, grandparents and grandchildren that reaches across this country.

Gay-Straight Alliance Network (GSA Network)
http://www.gsanetwork.org
Gay-Straight Alliance Network is a national youth leadership organization that connects school-based Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) to each other and to community resources through peer support, leadership development, and training. GSA Network supports young people in starting, strengthening, and sustaining GSAs and builds the capacity of GSAs to: create safe environments in schools for students to support each other and learn about homophobia, transphobia, and other oppressions; educate the school community about homophobia, transphobia, gender identity, and sexual orientation issues; and fight discrimination, harassment, and violence in schools.

Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network
http://www.glsen.org
The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network strives to assure that each member of every school community is valued and respected regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. GLSEN believes that such an atmosphere engenders a positive sense of self, which is the basis of educational achievement and personal growth. Since homophobia and heterosexism undermine a healthy school climate, the organizations educates teachers, students and the public at large about the damaging effects these forces have on youth and adults alike. It recognizes that forces such as racism and sexism have similarly adverse impacts on communities and supports schools in seeking to redress all such inequities.

GLSEN Northeast Ohio
http://glsen.org/chapters/neo/ourchapter
GLSEN Northeast Ohio is a chapter of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN). Chapters play an important role in bringing GLSEN's programs and visions to local communities. While some chapters have full-time or part-time staff, most are entirely volunteer-based.

Human Rights Campaign
http://www.hrc.org
As the largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans, the Human Rights Campaign represents a force of more than 1.5 million members and supporters nationwide — all committed to making HRC's vision a reality. Founded in 1980, HRC advocates on behalf of LGBT Americans, mobilizes grassroots actions in diverse communities, invests strategically to elect fair-minded individuals to office and educates the public about LGBT issues.

Interfaith Alliance
http://www.interfaithalliance.org
As religion plays an increasingly prominent role in American politics, preserving the boundary between religion and government is more vital than ever. Interfaith Alliance works to ensure that faith and freedom flourish so that individuals can worship freely or not worship at all, so they can embrace matters of personal conscience without fear of government intrusion, and so that all can live in a vibrant, healthy society. Created in 1994, Interfaith Alliance today has 185,000 members across the country made up of 75 faith traditions as well as those of no faith tradition.

Lambda Legal
http://www.lambdalegal.org
Founded in 1973, Lambda Legal is the oldest and largest national legal organization whose mission is to achieve full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people, and those with HIV through impact litigation, selecting cases that will have the greatest impact in protecting and advancing the rights of LGBT people and those with HIV; education campaigns to help people exercise the rights they have and to build public support for equality; and public policy advocacy at the local, state, and federal levels to improve the lives of LGBT people, people affected by HIV, and their families and allies.

Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
http://civilrights.org
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States. Through advocacy and outreach to targeted constituencies, The Leadership Conference works toward the goal of a more open and just society – an America as good as its ideals. It was founded in 1950 and has coordinated national lobbying efforts on behalf of every major civil rights law since 1957.

Matthew Shepard Foundation
http://www.matthewshepard.org
The Matthew Shepard Foundation was founded by Dennis and Judy Shepard in memory of their 21-year old son, Matthew, who was murdered in an anti-gay hate crime in Wyoming in October 1998. Created to honor Matthew in a manner that was appropriate to his dreams, beliefs, and aspirations, the Foundation seeks to “Replace Hate with Understanding, Compassion, & Acceptance” through its varied educational, outreach, and advocacy programs and by continuing to tell Matthew’s story.

NAACP
http://www.naacp.org
Founded in 1909, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization. From the ballot box to the classroom, the thousands of dedicated workers, organizers, leaders, and members who make up the NAACP continue to fight for social justice for all Americans. The mission of the NAACP is to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination.

National Association of School Psychologists
http://www.nasponline.org
The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) empowers school psychologists by advancing effective practices to improve students’ learning, behavior, and mental health. Its vision is that all children and youth thrive in school, at home, and throughout life.

National Association of Secondary School Principals
http://www.principals.org
In existence since 1916, NASSP is the preeminent organization of and national voice for middle level and high school principals, assistant principals, and aspiring school leaders from across the United States and more than 45 countries around the world. The organization's mission is to promote excellence in school leadership. It provides its members with the professional research-based and peer-tested resources and practical tools and materials they need to serve as visionary school leaders.

National Center for Lesbian Rights
http://www.nclrights.org
The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education. NCLR litigates precedent-setting cases at the trial and appellate court levels; advocates for equitable public policies affecting the LGBT community; provides free legal assistance to LGBT people and their legal advocates; and conducts community education on LGBT legal issues.

National Council of Jewish Women
http://www.ncjw.org
The National Council of Jewish Women has been at the forefront of social change for over a century—championing the needs of women, children, and families—while courageously taking a progressive stance on such issues as child welfare, women’s rights, and reproductive freedom. It is a grassroots organization of volunteers and advocates who turn progressive ideals into action.

National Education Association
http://www.nea.org
The National Education Association (NEA), the nation's largest professional employee organization, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA's 3 million members work at every level of education—from pre-school to university graduate programs. NEA has affiliate organizations in every state and in more than 14,000 communities across the United States.

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
http://thetaskforce.org
The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of the LGBT movement. As part of a broader social justice movement, the Task Force to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all.

National Safe Schools Partnership
http://glsen.org/policy/federal/national-safe-schools-partnership
The National Safe Schools Partnership, a coalition of over 110 leading national organizations in the fields of education, health, civil rights, youth development, and religion that have joined together to support policy recommendations based on concrete research and experience, is committed to ensuring that America’s schools are safe for all youth, including those who are LGBT. Officially, the Partnership supports federal safe schools legislation, such as the Safe Schools Improvement Act, that will comprehensively address the issues of bullying and harassment.

National Women’s Law Center
http://www.nwlc.org
National Women's Law Center has worked for 40 years to expand, protect, and promote opportunity and advancement for women and girls at every stage of their lives — from education to employment to retirement security, and everything in between. The organization's research, analysis, and advocacy take place when legislatures are enacting or amending laws; the executive branch and its agencies are writing regulations or otherwise enforcing laws and policies; and the courts are reviewing actions. It also conducts campaigns and public awareness efforts to educate and mobilize the public to press for policy changes to improve women's lives.

PFLAG/PFLAG National
http://www.pflag.org
Founded in 1972 with the simple act of a mother supporting her gay son, PFLAG is the original ally organization. Made up of parents, families, friends, and straight allies uniting with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people, PFLAG is committed to advancing equality through its mission of support, education, and advocacy. Now in its 40th anniversary year, the organization has over 350 chapters and 200,000 supporters crossing multiple generations of American families in major urban centers, small cities, and rural areas in all 50 states, cultivated, resourced, and serviced by PFLAG National, located in Washington, DC, the national Board of Directors, and 13 Regional Directors.

School Social Work Association of America
http://www.sswaa.org
The School Social Work Association of America empowers school social workers and promotes the profession of school social work to enhance the social and emotional growth and academic outcomes of all students. Its vision is that school social work is a valued, integral part of the education of all children, connecting schools, families, and communities.  

Transgender Law Center
http://transgenderlawcenter.org
Transgender Law Center works to change law, policy, and attitudes so that all people can live safely, authentically, and free from discrimination regardless of their gender identity or expression. It envisions a future where gender self-determination and authentic expression are seen as basic rights and matters of common human dignity.

The Trevor Project
http://www.thetrevorproject.org
Founded in 1998 by the creators of the Academy Award-winning short film TREVOR, The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people ages 13-24.

United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society
http://umc-gbcs.org
With headquarters in Washington, DC and New York City, the General Board of Church and Society (GBCS) is one of four international general program boards of The United Methodist Church. Its five areas of ministry include Public Witness and Advocacy; Administration; Ministry of Resourcing Congregational Life; United Nations Ministry; and Communications.

Valentine Road
http://valentineroaddocumentary.com
In 2008, eighth-grader Brandon McInerney shot classmate Larry King at point blank range. Unraveling this tragedy from point of impact, Valentine Road reveals the heartbreaking circumstances that led to the shocking crime as well as the aftermath.

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The following safe schools toolkit was by no means a solitary effort. The authors are indebted in particular to the work of the American Civil Liberties Union, Campus Pride, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, GLSEN Northeast Ohio, the Human Rights Campaign, Interfaith Alliance, Lambda Legal, the Matthew Shepard Foundation, the National Safe Schools Partnership, National Women's Law Center, and The Trevor Project.

For more information about these allies and other resources, please consult the resources list at the end of this toolkit.

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William Owens: 'Cult-Like' LGBT Rights Movement 'Intends To Brainwash' Us

Conservative groups are once again gearing up their annual campaign to convince parents to pull their children from school on the Day of Silence, an anti-bullying event sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN).

In an interview with Breitbart News published over the weekend, Rev. William Owens of the National Organization for Marriage-affiliated Coalition of African-American Pastors (CAAP) warned that the Day of Silence is part of an effort by the “cult-like” LGBT rights movement “to brainwash Americans into believing that homosexuality is alright.”

“Until we the people join together on the Day of Silence and oppose it,” he warned, “those who support the LGBT political agenda will know they own our youth.”

Supporters of the DOS Walkout include the American Family Association, Concerned Women of America, Faith, Family & Freedom Alliance, Liberty Counsel, and the Coalition of African-American Pastors (CAAP).

In an interview with Breitbart News, Rev. Bill Owens, president of CAAP, said, “What we would like to say is, instead, this will be a day of silent prayer.”

“The homosexual agenda intends to brainwash Americans into believing that homosexuality is alright, but it has become cult-like,” he said. “Let’s make it a day of silent prayer to promote Christianity and faith in general. What’s the difference”

“Those of us who have our faith should be as vocal as those promoting the LGBT agenda – and they are using the same techniques as the Civil Rights Movement,” Owens added. “In fact, they have hijacked the Civil Rights Movement – a movement they know nothing about.”

“But this is yet another nail in the coffin of ‘we the people’ if we fail to act,” he continued. “Until we the people join together on the Day of Silence and oppose it, those who support the LGBT political agenda will know they own our youth.”

Penny Nance: LGBT Activists 'Going Around You To Get To Your Children'

In a column today for Brietbart News, Concerned Women for American President Penny Nance joins the right-wing detractors of the anti-bullying Day of Silence, telling parents that the event sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) is in fact a tool for LGBT activists who “are going around you to get to your children.”

Nance insists that GLSEN is “working tirelessly to infiltrate schools and influence children across the country” and “taunting and bullying kids in public school and shaming them regarding their religious beliefs that favor traditional marriage.”

What if I told you that pro-lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) activists are working tirelessly to infiltrate schools and influence children across the country? What if I said activists were taunting and bullying kids in public school and shaming them regarding their religious beliefs that favor traditional marriage? Most parents do not want to hear this, but it is a reality they must face. Gay activist are going around you to get to your children, and schools are complicit.

The “Day of Silence,” to be held next Friday, April 17, is part of that effort. It is a project of the radical Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), which is the leading pro-LGBT national education organization working inside schools in all 50 states.

Here’s an idea: how about GLSEN doing an effort against bullying, period? We could all get behind that. I despise children being bullied for being “gay” just as much as for being obese or for being from another country, or simply being different or for whatever reason. How about we teach our kids, “Be ye kind one to another.”

But these activists are not interested in stopping bullying — they actually want to bully anyone who dares oppose their opinion, as we have seen. The Day of Silence is an opportunity to make sure any other view is completely silenced.

They would use different language, to be sure. They would say they are combating “homophobia.” But they consider traditional Christian teaching to be homophobic, and, therefore, if your child is a Christian, they will be under enormous pressure to ignore their faith in this area or risk intense ridicule and contempt (or, dare we say, hatred).

The most dangerous thing about all this is that schools are complicit in disallowing debate. This is why no parent will be notified of this day or most other pro-LGBT activities in advance. The educational institutions are so politicized that they will and must abide by political correctness at all times.

That is one of the many reasons why parents must stay informed and involved in their children’s education. There is an effort to combat the Day of Silence called the “‘Day of Silence’ Walk Out” where parents are encouraged to keep their children home. Most parents don’t know about it, so we must spread the word. Only by staying involved will we be able to combat these efforts and train our kids to navigate the turbulent waters of today’s increasingly secularized, hostile culture.

Jindal: Indiana And Arkansas Controversies Were A 'Dangerous' 'Attack On Our Constitution'

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal continued to try out his anti-big business, populist talking points in speech to the National Rifle Association’s convention today, telling the big-spending political group that is funded by the gun industry that Republicans need to “be ready to stand up to big business.”

He was talking, of course, about the recent decisions of lawmakers in Indiana and Arkansas to soften measures sanctioning discrimination under the guise of “religious liberty” – decisions that were made under pressure from corporations wary of doing business in states seen as hostile to LGBT people.

Jindal called the Indiana and Arkansas decisions “very, very dangerous,” saying that “Hollywood liberals and editorial columnists” and “some of the biggest corporations in our country…came together to bully the elected representatives of the people.”

“This wasn’t just a matter of competing policy preferences,” he said. “This was different. This was an attack on our Constitution. It was an attack on the fundamental right to speech and association and the free exercise of religion. It was large corporations, Hollywood and the media elite saying, ‘We don’t care about the First Amendment.’”

“If these large forces, if they can conspire to crush the First Amendment, it won’t be long before they conspire to crush the Second Amendment,” he told the crowd.

“This 2016 election will be an election between elitist and populism. Hillary Clinton will be on the side of elitism, we need to be on the side of the people and their First and Second Amendment rights,” he said.

The 5 Worst Arguments Against Marriage Equality At The Supreme Court

In the weeks leading up to oral arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges, a collection of marriage equality cases being heard at the Supreme Court this month, groups on both sides of the issue have been flooding the Court with amicus briefs.

These have inevitably included some very bad arguments from lawyers arguing on behalf of anti-LGBT groups. Here are five of the worst:

5. Gays Need ‘Tough Love,’ Like Smokers Or Drug Abusers

Mike Huckabee Policy Solutions (which identifies itself as a group “backed by private citizens and organizations who support the national policy aims of Mike Huckabee”) and anti-gay “statistician” Paul Cameron’s Family Research Institute tell the Justices that “[h]omosexuality and same-sex marriage are tied to early death” and thus gay people, much like drug abusers, need “tough love” instead of marriage rights.

As with smoking or drug abuse, it would be neither compassionate nor kind to normalize and encourage a known and significant public health risk such as homosexuality. Heightened early mortality risk suggests that homosexual practice (whether in casual or long-term unions) is self-injurious and therefore would put undue financial, emotional, and health burdens on survivors, especially children, as well as society, pursuant to any normalization of same-sex marriage by decree of this Court.

Just as in the cases of drug abusers or suicidal individuals, it would not be compassionate nor kind of this Court to attempt to further normalize and encourage known and significant public health risks represented by LGBT lifestyles and unions. Thus, the expansion of LGBT activity by decree of this Court is likely to proliferate undue financial, emotional, and health burdens upon survivors, especially children, and upon wider society as well. Far from “hateful,” the amici curiae herein hold that deference to the States in the regulation of lawful marriage, as well as federalist restraint and humility by this Court, would represent an act of love. “Tough love,” perhaps, but love nonetheless.

4. Marriage Equality Will Lead To Civil War

While the Texas chapter of Eagle Forum, in a brief written by Phyllis Schlafly’s son Andrew, never exactly says in its Supreme Court brief that a broad ruling in favor of marriage equality would lead to civil war, it does draw an awful lot of parallels between the effects of Obergefell and those of the infamous pre-Civil War Dred Scott case.

The Texas Eagle Forum brief warns of “a badly fractious effect” if the Court declares that “the Bible is wrong about marriage,” drawing out “regional differences” similar to the regional divide over slavery before the Civil War. The group warns that, like Dred Scott, “any ruling by the Court that imposes homosexual marriage on Texas and every corner of the United States would cause vastly more conflict, along regional lines.”

In 1857, as now, there were sharp regional differences over a fundamental social issue. But rather than allow Congress to sort the disputes out, the Supreme Court overstepped its bounds and attempted to dictate one solution nationwide about slavery. That poured fuel on the fire, as history teaches. Likewise, any ruling by the Court here that attempts to establish homosexual marriage for every region of our country, thereby declaring that the local voters are wrong, their political leaders are wrong, and the Bible is wrong about marriage, will have a badly fractious effect.

The disunity will greatly worsen if the Court rules that Texas and other southern states must begin performing homosexual marriage. Far from unifying the Nation, as some argue, such a Court ruling would have a divisive effect similar to that of the Dred Scott decision. The Dred Scott Court felt that by imposing its view of slavery on the entire Nation, the Court was resolving the conflict. In fact, of course, the decision made the conflict far worse. Likewise, any ruling by the Court that imposes homosexual marriage on Texas and every corner of the United States would cause vastly more conflict, along regional lines.

Texas Eagle Forum specifically argues that the supposedly unbiblical nature of same-sex marriage would “be disastrous for the unity of our Nation” because the Bible is “the strongest link that holds our society together.”

The Bible is perhaps the most unifying force of our Nation.

A Supreme Court ruling that endorses homosexual marriage would directly conflict with clear teachings in both the Old and New Testaments. See, e.g., Genesis 2:24 (“Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”) and Mark 10:6-8 (“But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’”) (ESV). In essence, the Court would be rejecting the Bible as false, and by implication perhaps even disparaging the Bible as hate speech. Whether the large percentage of Americans who respect the Bible would be persuaded by such a ruling remains to be seen. But if they are persuaded, then the results would be disastrous for the unity of our Nation, because it would weaken the strongest link that holds our society together.

3. Marriage Equality Is Bad For Gay People’s Kids Because Right Wing Watch Criticized Robert Oscar Lopez

There was a big splash in the right-wing media when four adults who were raised for at least part of their lives by same-sex couples, most prominently activist Robert Oscar Lopez, submitted an amicus brief against marriage equality.

Lopez cites one flawed study about same-sex parenting and uses it as a jumping-off point for discussing what he speculates is a trend toward things getting “harder, not easier” for children raised by same-sex couples as “gay marriage has become a broader and more accepted phenomenon."

It has gotten harder, not easier, for COGs [Children of Gays], to the extent that gay marriage has become a broader and more accepted phenomenon. The younger generation of COGs has lived with an enormous amount of surveillance and speech policing by people interested in ensuring that they say nothing to undermine the social prestige of their gay guardians. The younger generation of COGs seems to feel more uprooted from the missing half of their ancestry and more fearful of defying the authority of gay stepparent figures whom they still tend to view as stepparents even if they are fond of them.

COGs are now treated with less dignity, more suspicion, fewer protections and heightened discrimination/harassment/retaliation than they saw before same-sex marriage achieved a level of national success. All of this is emanating from within the gay community, enabled by complacent groups such as COLAGE and emboldened by the gay-marriage equality movement. Put simply, the situation for COGs has worsened as their numbers have multiplied.

Lopez’s main piece of evidence for the “heightened discrimination/harrassment/retaliation” being directed at the children of gay parents since those parents began to gain marriage rights seems to be his own experience being criticized by blogs, including Right Wing Watch, which he details at great length in a separate section of the brief.

2. It’s Okay To Discriminate Against Women, So Why Not Gays?

Mark Joseph Stern at Slate flagged a brief submitted by the state of South Carolina which illustrates at length the concern that the drafters of the 14th Amendment had about it granting rights to women. Since the state at the time sought to discriminate against women, the brief argues, then it is absurd to apply the amendment’s protections to gay and lesbian people who want to get married.

Here’s a representative paragraph:

Nor did the framers and their contemporaries conceive that the definition of marriage consisted of anything other than the union between man and woman. Indeed, the framers insisted upon leaving untouched those state laws depriving women of basic rights upon marriage to a man. Surely then, those state laws exclusively defining marriage as between a man and woman were hands off under the Amendment’s original meaning.

Representatives from the South Carolina solicitor general’s and attorney general’s offices followed up with Stern to clarify that “that their state does not wish to implement the sexist laws outlined in its brief—though it could if it wanted to.”

1. Marriage Equality Will Cause God To Destroy America

Really any constitutional argument you can come up with becomes irrelevant if we are threatened with God’s judgement on America. A coalition of right-wing groups (two of which have close ties with Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore), pulled out that trump card in a brief in which they warn the Justices that should they “require the States and the People to ‘ritualize’ sodomite behavior by government issuance of a state marriage license, it could bring God’s judgment on the Nation.”

The groups, including Public Advocate of the United States and the Institute on the Constitution (run by longtime Moore funder and Maryland GOP official Michael Peroutka) and assisted by former Moore collaborator Herb Titus, assure the Justices that the warnings of Leviticus are still very much in effect:

Should the Court require the States and the People to “ritualize” sodomite behavior by government issuance of a state marriage license, it could bring God’s judgment on the Nation. Holy Scripture attests that homosexual behavior and other sexual perversions violate the law of the land, and when the land is “defiled,” the people have been cast out of their homes. See Leviticus 18:22, 24-30. Although some would assert that these rules apply only to the theocracy of ancient Israel, the Apostle Peter rejects that view: “For if God ... turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly.” 2 Peter 2:4-6. The continuing application of this Levitical prohibition is confirmed by the Book of Jude: “Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering 1 Kings 14:24. 41 the vengeance of eternal fire.”

Jindal: Hollywood And Corporations Teaming Up To 'Assault' Christians

The main theme at an Iowa homeschooling event yesterday attended by four potential GOP presidential candidates was what Sen. Ted Cruz called the gay “jihad” against religious liberty in the form of nondiscrimination laws.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal attempted to add a populist bent to his remarks on the topic — an increasingly popular strategy among LGBT rights opponents — by declaring that “an alliance of Hollywood elites and corporate America” are “assaulting the rights of Christians” by opposing measures like those in Indiana and Arkansas that would have given broad leeway to business owners to discriminate against LGBT customers.

“We need to remind these elites, America did not create religious liberty, religious liberty created the United States of America,” he told the enthusiastic crowd.

Santorum Says He'll Be A Strong Leader Because He Backed Gay Sex Bans

At a meeting with Iowa state legislators yesterday recorded by the Iowa conservative blog Caffeinated Thoughts, Rick Santorum boasted that he proved himself as a strong leader when he opposed the 2003 Supreme Court decision striking down anti-gay “sodomy” bans. Without such leadership against LGBT rights, he warned, “life as we know it, particularly the family, is going to be on a very, very bad track over the long term.”

Addressing the controversy over so-called “religious freedom” measures in Arkansas and Indiana that were softened by legislators to make it more difficult to use them as a cover for discrimination, Santorum lamented that “what happened there was the media created a firestorm and leaders didn’t lead.”

“I’ve been through that firestorm,” he explained. “I go back 13 years to when I was in the Senate and stood up and said, ‘If the Supreme Court decides a case this way, then all these bad things are going to start happening.’ And I said we would have same-sex marriage in this country in ten years. I was wrong: it was five years. And I was put through a national wringer like no one had been put through and I have been put through over and over and over again because I am not going to back down from what I believe is the right course for our country.”

Although Santorum likes to claim that all of his dire predictions about the aftermath of Lawrence v. Texas came true, that isn’t exactly accurate. He told CNN at the time: "If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual (gay) sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything."

“I always say, whether it’s religious liberty now or the marriage issue or a whole bunch of other things, we’re losing these arguments simply because we’re not making them,” Santorum said in Iowa. “We’re not making them because we’re intimidated from them. If that continues, then life as we know it, particularly the family, is going to be on a very, very bad track over the long term.”

He added that he was a strong leader during the Indiana and Arkansas controversies because he was “fighting for the truth and not the perversion that we saw the media try to ram down the public’s throat about what Indiana and Arkansas were doing.”

Robert Oscar Lopez: Conservative Marriage Equality Supporters Are Being Blackmailed Or Bribed

Anti-marriage-equality activist Robert Oscar Lopez is out with another rambling column in the American Thinker, this time alleging that conservative supporters of marriage equality are being blackmailed or bribed and that the attorneys arguing on behalf of same-sex marriage bans at the Supreme Court this year will try to throw the case at the behest of powerful Republicans.

Lopez breaks down conservatives who support marriage equality into three groups: the “clueless,” the “scared,” and the “compromised… who are being blackmailed or threatened by pro-gay people close to them, but behind the scenes.” This group, he alleges, includes “well-known television personalities, lawyers in charge of defending traditional marriage in court, or leaders of pro-family organizations.”

While the vast majority of conservative Americans oppose gay marriage, the vast majority of conservative leaders have a vested interest in making sure gay marriage is legalized nationally. It is not the case that the latter group all support gay marriage in any intellectual sense, but they break down into diverse subgroups, all of whom share the same goal of making sure gay marriage becomes legal.

First, you have clueless conservatives who actually think gay marriage is about consenting adults loving each other, progress, and equality. These are rightists who read only the conservative news outlets that ban any editorials from dissident COGs, so they have never really seen the hard evidence that in fact gay marriage will harm children. They mostly don’t even think children are part of the issue at all.

Then you have scared conservatives who know that gay marriage is going to harm children but who do not want to face the blowback that is sure to follow a public stance against it. These folks will avoid discussing the topic. They must avoid being seen with people who have strong arguments against gay marriage – especially anyone who brings up the effects on children.

You also have compromised conservatives, who are being blackmailed or threatened by pro-gay people close to them, but behind the scenes. This is a much larger group than you know. These are people who mostly oppose gay marriage in principle and may even have a public identity as an opponent of gay marriage. I know of some cases where they are well-known television personalities, lawyers in charge of defending traditional marriage in court, or leaders of pro-family organizations. Even though they may technically be on “our” side, they have been bought off and are taking orders from bribers who tell them which arguments (the ones with a chance of winning) are off limits. They will go and defend male-female marriage in the public square, but mysteriously be tongue-tied after a career of sterling oratory. Such false Jeremiahs are consciously siphoning the energy and funding of anti-gay-marriage viewers toward dead ends that their controllers know will end in gays getting marriage and children anyway. This group of conservatives is actually the most dangerous, largely because you often discover their compromised status when it’s too late.

Later in the column, Lopez warns that if the Supreme Court issues a ruling in favor of marriage equality, it will usher in a “dystopian world where you lose everything.” He urges readers to contact the attorneys general of the states that are defending their marriage bans at the court, warning that the attorneys will attempt to throw the cases at the behest of “their governors and their political bundlers.”

If you have gotten this far, you probably oppose gay marriage. You may do so strictly for religious reasons. You may disagree with me about the effect of gay marriage on children. Cool – no problem. Here’s the deal: if gay marriage passes, you will lose. You will lose your freedoms. You will lose your voice. You will lose the conservative movement that you hold dear for any number of reasons not related to gay marriage. All the truces and compromises that are offered to sweeten gay marriage as a deal will be swiftly and mercilessly broken once it is the law of the land. Your churches will be watched and subverted. You will risk your job by speaking your mind on e-mail, on Facebook, or even over dinner talking to your own children.

If you are hoping to carve out some religious liberty provision in a post-gay marriage America, you are going to be too late.

You gain nothing by negotiating some special exception for yourself after gay marriage passes.

You must do everything you can to stop gay marriage itself. If you cannot name the reasons for opposing gay marriage in clear, fearless terms that apply to people of faith and non-believers equally, you will lose your faith. The Bible tells us to be wise as serpents and gentle as doves. Don't forget the serpents in the mix.

Right now, all that stands between the world we know and the dystopian world where you lose everything is the Supreme Court case. The attorneys who have sole authority to represent traditional marriage for Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, and Tennessee may be good men, or not. I do not know; I have no inside information. Common sense tells me that their governors and their political bundlers are going to place enormous pressure on them to lose to the pro-gay marriage side, but as gracefully as possible. They cannot openly state that they do not want to argue the case. They may feel it is in their best interest to put on a show of defending male-female marriage, throwing out purposefully toothless arguments so that the gay marriage side wins, the world moves on, and they do not have to worry about suffering long-term blowback as the people who actually fought for marriage.

Perkins: LGBT-Affirming Christians Committing 'Heresy'

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins was not impressed with New York Times columnist Frank Bruni’s opinion piece this weekend on the growing body of theological work arguing for the acceptance of homosexuality within the church. In a column for the Christian Post yesterday (later approvingly reprinted in the anti-gay screed outlet BarbWire), Perkins argues that Bruni takes on “a tone of fascism” and that Christians who make biblical arguments for the acceptance of homosexuality are, in fact, committing “heresy.”

Perkins adds a dig at Protestant denominations that affirm same-sex relationships, saying that they are "becoming more like social clubs and liberal foundations than proclaimers of a faith delivered with clarity and finality, once for all.”

Woven throughout Bruni's comments is a tone of fascism, a barely-disguised warning that if Evangelical Protestants and orthodox Catholics don't bend in their theology and in their daily lives, they will be "made" to.

Theological history is repeating itself today with respect to homosexuality. Myriad scholars have demonstrated how fallacious are the arguments of those who wish to render clear biblical teaching obsolete.

In other words, heresy is not new. The first three chapters of the Book of Revelation are a series of indictments by Jesus Himself of churches that were already - at the end of the first century - falling away from the truth of the Gospel.

Bruni grants no possibility that there is a rich, articulate, persuasive, and sound literature by Christian theologians demonstrating how clear and unchanging is the Bible's teaching on same-sex intimacy, marriage, and human sexuality in general. He is disinterested in such, and instead appeals to outliers like David Gushee and Matthew Vines. And in a particularly desperate move, he notes that the "United Church of Christ, the Episcopal Church and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)" have all affirmed same-sex relationships. True, but these historic denominations are no longer mainstream. They are dying, becoming more like social clubs and liberal foundations than proclaimers of a faith delivered with clarity and finality, once for all (those are biblical phrases, Mr. Bruni; Mssrs. Gushee and Vines would know them).

Furthermore, it is clear from two millennia of Christian history that the church has always been infiltrated by false teachers. The Savior warned of them, and the milieu of theological conflict intrinsic to the New Testament, a canon of books composed both to instruct as to the truth and warn as to its distortions, makes clear that error is omnipresent in a fallen world - even as the truth, attacked as it continually is, remains sure, fixed, and unchanging.

Mr. Bruni, my Evangelical and orthodox Catholic peers have a message for you: We will not be "re-educated," nor will we be silent. We are not going away. We love you too much to affirm sin in any fashion. We condemn any vitriol you receive from those who, outraged by your dismissive and hostile column, call you names or worse. And we love you too much to reduce Christian faith to simply being "nice" or affirming what the God of Creation and of the Bible says is un-affirmable.

Sin is sin. Our sin. Your sin. God sets the standard, not us. His standard is not unclear or subjective or ambivalent.

It's your decision as to how to respond to it. We've made ours.

With Court-Stripping Scheme, Ted Cruz Embraces Roy Moore School Of Constitutional Law

Ted Cruz raised more than a few eyebrows last week when, barely a week into his presidential run, he proposed a radical plan to strip federal courts of the ability to decide cases involving marriage equality.

As Esquire’s Charles Pierce notes, Cruz is echoing a time-honored rallying cry of people who are losing a battle in the federal courts: “Previous attempts include trying to remove the Supreme Court's jurisdiction over cases in a number of instances, including those involving school prayer, school busing, abortion, and pornography.”

The strategy has also been used in recent memory by another prominent player in t​oday’s marriage equality debate: Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore.

Back in 2004, shortly after Moore was removed from his first stint in the court after he defied a federal court order to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments from the state judicial building, he worked with attorney Herb Titus to draft a bill that would have stripped jurisdiction over all such cases from the federal courts.

The bill, which would have barred federal courts from ruling on cases challenging officials who recognized "God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government," never made it out of committee, but it managed to garner 37 cosponsors in the House and five in the Senate; when it was reintroduced the next year, it was up to 50 House cosponsors and nine Senate cosponsors.

Despite the bill’s failure to make it off the ground in Congress, it was a publicity boon for Moore. One of Moore’s top financial supporters, the Christian nationalist and southern secessionist Michael Peroutka, spent $12,000 on a campaign to drum up support for the measure and accompanied Moore to at least one event touting it along with Peroutka’s 2004 campaign for president as the nominee of the Constitution Party.

As far as we know, Moore hasn’t spoken publicly about Cruz’s idea to strip the federal courts of jurisdiction over marriage issues. But it seems that on this issue, they are two peas in a pod.

LaBarbera: God Will Punish America For 'The Things Homosexuals Do In Private'

Americans For Truth About Homosexuality’s Peter LaBarbera stopped by VCY America’s “Crosstalk” program on Wednesday to discuss the debate over legislation in Arkansas and Indiana that would allow businesses to discriminate against LGBT customers in the name of “religious liberty.”

Although both measures still have the potential to license discrimination, each has been softened by lawmakers in the wake of controversy, which LaBarbera and “Crosstalk” host Jim Schneider attributed to the “spirit of Antichrist” in the gay rights movement.

At the end of the program, a listener called in to share her views on the Antichrist. “I believe that there are several Antichrists,” she said, “and I believe one is the gay liberation movement and another Antichrist, I believe, is some parts of the government in Iran that are always talking about destroying Israel.”

“Certainly the spirit of Antichrist is in the movement that is a very assault at how he designed man and woman to be,” Schneider agreed. “Thank you. That is indeed the spirit of Antichrist. And especially when we see the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Peter, the attacks against it, that is a spirit of Antichrist saying that we cannot act upon the convictions that God’s word provides for us.”

LaBarbera responded that this is “absolutely” the case and that there is now an Antichrist-driven situation in the U.S. in which “Christians have to go to the back of the bus.”

Soon afterwards, another listener called in with another biblical question, asking LaBarbera if he ever brings up the story of Sodom and Gomorrah when he’s giving anti-gay talks.

LaBarbera responded that he does sometimes bring up the story of the cities that were destroyed by God as punishment for sin, but that people are often “ignorant” about what that has to do with the United States, where “the things homosexuals do in private, the orgies, etc…are every bit as evil as what we’d done in Sodom.”

“Jim, I think we would both agree that in some aspects America has surpassed Sodom in the evil that it allows,” he said. “We can’t all talk about it on this show, but I mean I’ve been to events that are incredibly perverse in their public events in San Francisco. And the things that homosexuals do in private, the orgies, etc., I think are every bit as evil as what we’d done in Sodom. We don’t know exactly what we’d done but we have an idea from the word of God.”

“So we’ve reached that level and we’re wondering what punishment does God have for us since we’re allowing the promotion of this in our nation,” he warned.

Finally, LaBarbera and Schneider got a call from a listener who said that he was a barber who wasn’t “against homosexuals” but maintained that he had the right to refuse service to a gay person because they might have AIDS.

“I’m a barber by trade and I’m not against homosexuals, I’m just against the lifestyle, so I get a one in my chair, I have the right to refuse not to shave his neck or use any implement that might cause blood because I don’t know if he’s got AIDS or anything,” he said.

LaBarbera, who earlier in the program had said that Christians wouldn’t refuse service to gay people, just to their weddings, didn’t address the issue directly but agreed that gay people have brushed “the safety of people” aside in their “fanatical push for gay rights.”

Ted Cruz: Banning Anti-Gay Discrimination In Public Services Like Forcing A Rabbi To Eat Pork

In an interview with Dana Loesch on Tuesday, Sen. Ted Cruz praised Indiana’s new “religious liberty” law, which goes even further than similar measures in other states to allow businesses to discriminate against customers in providing services.

Deliberately obfuscating the history of the bipartisan federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which was skewed by the Supreme Court in its Hobby Lobby decision, Cruz claimed that Democrats have recently “decided that religious liberty is disposable, that it is unnecessary” and “accordingly, we have a vilification of people who are engaging in acting out their faith.”

Cruz declared that a “partisan leftist group” is now “demonizing the state of Indiana for acting to protect religious liberty there.”

Harkening back to the Pilgrims, who he said (inaccurately) wanted “a land where every one of us could seek out the Lord God Almighty free of government getting in the way,” Cruz said that “we really have gone through the proverbial looking glass that there is now a concerted effort targeting people of faith.”

Laws preventing businesses from discriminating against LGBT people in public services or requiring them to offer full health care coverage for female employees, he implied, are as much as an infringement on religious liberty as forcing a rabbi to eat pork.

“Nobody in their right mind would force a Catholic priest to perform a Protestant wedding. Likewise, nobody in their right mind would force a Jewish rabbi to perform a Christian wedding or, for that matter, to violate kosher and go consume pork,” he said. “We have long had a tradition from the beginning of this country of respecting religious liberty and accommodating and respecting the good-faith religious views of our citizens.”

“And it is only the intolerance of the current day of the far-left that views with which they disagree — the far-left is such a radical proponent of gay marriage that anyone whose faith teaches to the contrary, anyone whose faith teaches that marriage is a sacrament of one man and one woman, a holy union before God, the far-left views that religious view as unacceptable and they’re trying to use the machinery of the law to crush those religious views. And I think it is wrong, I think it is intolerant, and I think it is entirely inconsistent with who we are as a people,” he added.

FRC Links Military Suicides To DADT Repeal

Echoing a statement he made two years ago, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins wrote in his daily email to his group’s members yesterday that the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and the supposed persecution of Christians in the U.S. military are draining “morality” from the armed forces and leading to an epidemic of sexual assaults and suicide,.

Perkins also blasted Defense Secretary Ash Carter for a plan to ease some recruitment standards for service members, including accepting people with minor criminal records such as drug offenses for some positions. “In the U.S. military, it might soon be criminals in -- Christians out!” he warns.

Reports have shown that the military is facing difficulties in finding recruits due to a number of factors, including a stronger economy, high obesity rates and college dropout rates. But Perkins suggests that the military would solve its recruiting woes if it simply ended progress toward LGBT rights and brought back “morality.”

“Our troops are tired of fighting two wars: America's and the culture's,” he writes.

Perkins has previously blamed military sexual assaults on the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and warned that it would damage recruiting efforts to the extent that proponents of the repeal would have the “blood of young Marines on their hands.”

In the U.S. military, it might soon be criminals in -- Christians out! That's the Pentagon's solution to the latest recruitment woes, according to Defense Secretary Ash Carter. Faced with low enlistments, the military is desperately looking for ways to attract new service members to replenish its ranks. With morale at a record low and the crackdown on values at an all-time high, recruiters have an even more challenging job these days.

Desperate for new sign-ups, Carter and others are advocating looser standards, including allowing some with minor criminal records to enlist. Blaming the numbers on the "competitive job market," Carter said the military is going to "have to work harder to compete." But the issue isn't so much a competitive job market as it is an unfriendly military. With the wars winding down, it should be even easier to meet those enlistment targets. Instead, the Pentagon is lowering the standards to meet their quotas, which will only accelerate the downward spiral of the military.

While the Left will throw a fit, the reality is no one should be surprised. In fact, FRC's General Boykin and other military experts warned this would be the result of the Obama administration's social experimentation with the military. In the wake of the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the same doors that opened for homosexuals seemed to shut in Christians' faces, as the President's hostility toward men and women of faith seeped into every aspect of military life. In more evidence that the President's policies have fundamentally transformed America,chaplains have been ousted,Bibles expelled, crosses torn down, and rainbow flags hoisted in their place.

In the absence of morality, sexual assaults have skyrocketed, suicides are through the roof, and religious liberty has vanished. Our troops are tired of fighting two wars: America's and the culture's. Congress needs to get to the bottom of these problems and fast. It's time to undo the damage done by almost seven years of social engineering on our country's finest -- or face the national security consequences.

Arkansas Governor Does Only a Partial Retreat on RFRA

Gov. Hutchinson's call for a RFRA bill paralleling the federal one still leaves the door open to discrimination, thanks to the Hobby Lobby ruling.
PFAW

Gov. Pence's Claims Ignore Indiana "Religious Freedom" Law's History

Indiana's Mike Pence is less than convincing in his claims about that state's new RFRA law.
PFAW

Hobby Lobby Comes Home to Roost as States Consider "Religious Freedom" Legislation

This op-ed was originally published at The Huffington Post.

Over the last twenty years, 19 states have passed laws modeled on the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which was enacted in 1993 with broad bipartisan support. But just this year, almost the same number, 15, have seen such bills introduced, generating enormous controversy across the country, particularly in Indiana where Gov. Mike Pence signed the new state RFRA into law.

Why the huge uptick now? As one of those involved in the original drafting and passage of RFRA in 1993, I think it's a combination of the perceived dangers to the far right from the move towards LGBT marriage equality and the perceived opportunity created just last year by the 5-4 Supreme Court's rewriting of RFRA in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby.

Even before the Supreme Court agreed to decide the marriage equality issue, the far right has highlighted the supposed dangers to small businesses like bakers and florists who do not want to serve LGBT couples because of religious objections. Under RFRA as passed in 1993, and under the protection from the First Amendment's Free Exercise doctrine that it was meant to restore, RFRA wouldn't have offered much help. First, neither had been applied to non-religious corporations, which had never been thought to have religious freedom rights. Second, it would have been very hard to argue that a neutral law banning discrimination against LGBT people would have created a "substantial burden" on actual religious exercise, which is required to qualify for a RFRA-type exemption. For example, in one case the Supreme Court rejected the claim that requiring federal welfare recipients to submit social security numbers was such a burden even when it conflicted with an applicant's religious beliefs. And even if such a burden were created by obeying an anti-discrimination or other general law, pre-Hobby Lobby law would not have helped a religious claimant: as the Court ruled in rejecting a religious exemption to a requirement that a religious farmer withhold social security taxes, such an exemption would improperly "operate to impose the employer's religious faith on the employees" and others.

But then came Hobby Lobby.

In that case, writing for a bare majority of the Court, Justice Alito ruled that religious objections by a corporation's owners exempted them under RFRA from providing contraceptive coverage through insurance to employees under the Affordable Care Act. As Justice Ginsburg explained in dissent, rather than interpreting RFRA to restore prior case law, the majority interpreted it as going beyond prior Court decisions to maximize benefits to religious claimants. In particular, she explained, the Court effectively re-wrote RFRA so that it could be invoked by for-profit corporations, and so that the original law protecting individuals against a "substantial burden" on the exercise of religion was transformed to allow claims by a business owner that complying with a neutral law offended their religious beliefs in some way. Under the majority's view, Justice Ginsburg suggested, RFRA could be interpreted to "require exemptions" in cases where religious beliefs were used to justify actions that discriminated on the basis of race, gender, and sexual orientation. Pointedly, Justice Alito responded only that "prohibitions on racial discrimination" would be safe from a RFRA exemption claim, but said nothing about gender or LGBT status.

So for far-right activists and legislators concerned about LGBT marriage equality and other rights, Hobby Lobby provided the perfect opportunity: pass state RFRA laws and effectively grant a religious exemption claim from LGBT anti-discrimination laws and local ordinances, based on the Court's re-writing of RFRA's language. Indeed, in communicating with supporters about the Indiana RFRA law, the far-right Family Research Council specifically called it the "Hobby Lobby bill."

Even better, rhetoric directed at outsiders could be cloaked in general language about protecting religious freedom, not attacking LGBT rights. Supporters could even invoke Democratic supporters of RFRA like President Clinton and claim that neither RFRA nor its state counterparts had been interpreted to allow discrimination, as Indiana Gov. Pence has tried to do. These claims ignore the fact that it wasn't until last year that the Supreme Court effectively rewrote the language in RFRA so that it was transformed from a shield for religious liberty into a sword against anti-discrimination protections. And previous supporters like President Clinton have made clear their opposition to this year's state RFRA proposals.

Under pressure, the neutral façade of recent state RFRA proposals has crumbled. When pushed to amend a state RFRA proposal in Georgia to make clear that it could not be used against anti-discrimination ordinances, a Georgia legislator admitted that one of the reasons for the bill was to allow it to be invoked by the small business owner who had religious objections to providing services to an LGBT couple. And when an amendment was added in the Georgia House Judiciary Committee to state that the RFRA bill was not to be used against discrimination laws, the bill was promptly tabled on March 26, with a supporter stating that the amendment would "gut" the bill.

As of now, the fate of RFRA bills in Georgia and elsewhere is uncertain and Gov. Pence has asked the legislature for an amendment to "clarify" that Indiana's RFRA law cannot be used to deny services to anyone. That would be a welcome step - one that flies in the face of the clear intent of some of the bill's backers, which was clearly to enshrine such a "right" for Indiana businesses. Language has been adopted elsewhere to make clear that state RFRAs cannot be used against anti-discrimination bills; such a provision is currently in Texas' RFRA, although there is a proposal to remove it. Before Hobby Lobby, such language might not have been necessary. After Hobby Lobby, it is crucial.

PFAW

Robert Gagnon: 'Heterosexual Guilt' Causing Straight People To Support Gay Rights

Anti-gay Presbyterian theologian Robert Gagnon stopped by the American Family Association radio program “Today’s Issues” today to discuss the decision of the largest Presbyterian denomination in the country, the Presbyterian Church (USA), to approve of same-sex marriage.

When the AFA’s Ed Vitagliano asked Gagnon “how in the world our culture has moved so rapidly” on acceptance of homosexuality, Gagnon responded that there were “lots of factors,” including a “full-court press” from elites and “natural concerns” about gay people wanting to form life-long unions.

Another factor, he asserted, is “heterosexual guilt.”

“A lot of heterosexuals have, you know, we’ve not done all that well in some areas of sexual ethics,” he said. “That includes issues of divorce, remarriage, that includes premarital sex, includes abortion. And if you can give a pass on the issue of homosexual practice, in effect it’s a way of exempting our own guilt, and it’s accommodating in a way that’s self-serving.”

Later in the interview, Gagnon cited a passage from Corinthians in which the Apostle Paul disciplines a man who has had sex with his father’s wife as evidence that gay people are “at high risk” of being left behind when the Kingdom of God is established.

“The repercussions for somebody living out of same-sex attractions such that they are actively entertaining those thought desires in their thought life without repentance at any point…or, even worse, engaging in it in the behavior, according to Paul, according to the united witness of scripture, they’re putting themselves at high risk of not inheriting the Kingdom of God,” he said.

Noting that homosexuality might be even more of a grievous sin than incest, Gagnon paraphrased the story: “Paul is very clear at the incestuous man, ‘Okay, if you engage in this behavior, you’re putting yourself at high risk of being excluded from the Kingdom of God. So the only last recourse we have as a church to wake you up, and also not to send a signal to the rest of the church that sexual purity doesn’t matter, is to put you on church discipline, not as a punitive measure, but as a remedial measure so that you will wake up, come to your senses and return to the church, the place of shelter and protection away from the wilds of the Enemy, the Satan, the Adversary.’”

“And that’s not Paul not loving the incestuous man,” he concluded. “It’s Paul showing he really loves the incestuous man. He cares enough for the offender to try to reclaim him to the Kingdom of God, which is what Jesus did in his ministry to sexual sinners and to exploitative tax collectors.”

Radical Anti-Choice Group Heads To Alabama To Support 'Poet, Warrior, Statesman' Roy Moore

Operation Save America, the radical anti-choice group that grew out of the original Operation Rescue, will be holding a multi-day event in Montgomery, Alabama, in June to express its support for Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore’s activism against marriage equality and abortion rights.

OSA head Rusty Lee Thomas writes in a press release today that the event will bring together “hundreds of gentle Christians from across the nation” for a march drawing on “the historical lessons of Birmingham, Montgomery, and Selma.”

A description of the event on the group’s website boasts that “[f]or years, Operation Save America has stood faithfully with Chief Justice Roy Moore, a poet, warrior, statesmen [sic].” It specifically praises Moore’s work to develop a legal framework to support radical anti-choice “personhood” laws and his ongoing standoff with the federal courts over marriage equality.

(In case you weren’t familiar with Moore’s poetry, here’s a representative example.)

OSA:

We are praying for God to record His name in Montgomery and by His Spirit bid His people come to bring the Gospel of the Kingdom to the gates of hell (Abortion mills in Alabama). They will not prevail against the Church of the living God (Matthew 16:18). They never have and they never will. Jesus is Lord!

For years, Operation Save America has stood faithfully with Chief Justice Roy Moore, a poet, warrior, statesmen. Through his many battles, we supported his righteous stands in the face of persecution and tyranny. Today, the Alabama Supreme Court led by Chief Justice Moore continues to stand against injustice and once again we are going to come alongside to help.

Moore, along with Justice Tom Parker, have rendered Decisions from the court that directly or indirectly have taken on Roe vs. Wade. Currently, Moore is acting faithfully as a Lower Magistrate to resist “Gay Marriage” in his state. He is taking another just stand and once again, we will stand with him.

Alabama is also working on establishing “Personhood” for the preborn child who is made in the image of God. Alabamians are willing to stand upon the self-evident truth established by God’s Word and we our coming to stand with them.

There are at least four death camps in Alabama still applying their grisly trade to murder babies made in the image of God. This evil defiles the land and invokes God’s judgments upon us. We are coming to stand in the gap and make up the hedge. We want to give God a reason to show mercy in the midst of the American holocaust.

It’s not surprising that Operation Save America, one of the most radical anti-choice groups in the country, would find ideological kinship with Justice Moore.

Thomas has claimed that the September 11, 2001 attacks were divine punishment for legal abortion. OSA’s former director, Flip Benham (father of the new Religious Right martyrs David and Jason Benham), also used the organization to promote a fringe right agenda:

As leader of OSA, Benham has condemned the interfaith Sandy Hook memorial, protested in front of mosques while shouting “Jesus Hates Muslims” and blamed the Aurora shooting on the Democratic Party, which he said promotes a “culture of death.”

He has also protested LGBT pride events, interrupted church services during a sermon by “ sodomite Episcopalian bishop” Gene Robinson and was found “guilty of stalking a Charlotte abortion doctor after passing out hundreds of ‘wanted’ posters with the physician's name and photo on it.”

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