The Center for Military Readiness’s Elaine Donnelly has been making the rounds this week to discuss what she alleges is the Pentagon’s attempted cover-up of a marked increase in violent sexual assaults in the Army since 2006. The increase in sexual assaults was reported [pdf] by the Army in January and Defense Secretary Leon Pannetta immediately called the trend “unacceptable” and vowed to take steps to stop it. This week, a federal judge ordered the Army to release more detailed records on the assaults, at the request of the ACLU and the Service Women’s Action Network.
Donnelly, however, asserts that the Pentagon has been trying to cover up the increase in sexual assaults in order to cover for a new policy allowing women to officially serve in combat positions.
Speaking with Frank Gaffney on Secure Freedom Radio yesterday, Donnelly said that adding “social burdens” to the military – like allowing women to serve in combat and gays to serve openly – will eventually topple institution like a tower of Jenga blocks. Donnelly has previously claimed that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military would "break the all-volunteer force."
Gaffney: Are we at risk, Elaine Donnelly of the Center for Military Readiness, of breaking the all-volunteer force with all of this?
Donnelly: Yes, yes we are. And what we’re heading toward is what I call the Jenga block military. If you’ve ever played that game with wooden blocks, you know you take the blocks out of the bottom, and you load more burdens on the top. Eventually, the tower becomes so unstable it collapses. And it’s a fun game to play on your kitchen table. But if you take things away from our military, and you keep adding social burdens on top, what you do is make a weakened force, you make that tower unstable. You, in essence, weaken the infrastructure of the culture of the military.
And let’s face it, it isn’t just about the weapons and the planes and ships and all of those hardware things, it’s the people who defend the military – the all-volunteer force. If we are doing great harm to both men and women in the military, if sexual assaults become so demoralizing, so conducive to indiscipline, what we’re doing is weakening the finest military in the world, we’re doing it gradually and according to this Army report, the progression is relentless. And it’s going in the wrong direction, it’s getting worse. And we certainly should not make it even worse than that by placing female soldiers into direct ground combat infantry battalions.
Somebody’s got to blow the whistle on this. Social engineers never are held accountable for their handiwork. Instead, the Pentagon invites them in to do more mischief, to create more problems. They don’t know what they’re doing. This report indicates that we need to really analyze this thing, and frankly Congress needs to intervene before it is too late.
Donnelly also dropped by the Janet Mefferd Show yesterday, where she claimed the Pentagon is “pretend[ing] there’s no problem” and mocked the Defense Department’s hiring of Sexual Assault Response Coordinators as a “jobs program” boondoggle:
Donnelly: You can understand why the Army did not want to trumpet these findings: they don’t fit the template. Well, now we’re going to put women into land combat battalions, the ones that are all male, the tip of the spear. They just pretend there’s no problem, and if theirs is a problem, well the problem is a myth. So, we’ll just do more training, we’ll hire more, what do they call it, ‘sexual assault response coordinators.’
Mefferd: Oh, good grief.
Donnelly: Starts to make a pretty good salary. You’re talking about a jobs program here.
Liberty Counsel’s Matt Barber once again is trying to deny reality by arguing that there is “no evidence” of violence against the LGBT community. Barber said that while he opposes “violence against people who engage in these aberrant sexual behaviors,” he also opposes efforts to investigate and prevent such violence and discrimination. While speaking with Liberty Counsel chairman Mat Staver on Faith & Freedom today, Barber reiterated his support of countries that outlaw homosexuality and warned that anti-violence measures are a “Trojan Horse” to repress the church and anyone who holds “traditional values.”
Unless any of our detractors, which I know they will, attempt to say that we are advocating violence against people who engage in these aberrant sexual behaviors, that is of course not the case, nobody I know favors of course violence, we all are opposed to violence against any individual for anything. But that’s not what’s happening here. What’s happening is they’re using this specter of some kind of notion of ‘mass violence’ committed against homosexuals, they do the same thing here in the United States, ‘mass discrimination,’ something where there is no evidence of course against people who are engaged in these behaviors. They use that as a Trojan Horse to force, to compel nations and individuals and groups and churches that embrace traditional values, relative to sexual behavior, to push them into the closet and say ‘no, no, you have to adopt a full affirmation of these perversions.’
Tomorrow, activists and progressive organizations will descend on the headquarters of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in Washington, DC to protest the NRA-designed “Shoot First” laws that ALEC has shopped to state legislatures around the country. As Calvin posted earlier this week, “When politicians enact ALEC legislation that benefits corporations, real people suffer the consequences. The results are tragic:”
(Source: Data issued by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement)
Information for the rally is below, and pictures will be posted after the event.
WHAT: Rally in Washington, DC, to protest the ALEC campaign to pass the "Shoot First" laws that protect Trayvon Martin's shooter, and delivery of letter to ALEC headquarters demanding disclosure of NRA funding and immediate cessation of “Shoot First” legislative advocacy:
WHEN: Thursday, March 29, 2012 at Noon
WHERE: ALEC Headquarters, 1100 Vermont Ave., NW Washington, DC
Rep. Corrine Brown (D-FL); Hilary Shelton, NAACP; Marc Morial, National Urban League; Rashad Robinson, ColorOfChange; Lisa Graves, CMD/ALECexposed; Mike Livingston, National Council of Churches; Diallo Brooks, People For the American Way; Doug Clopp, Common Cause.
Maine's investigation of the National Organization for Marriage's campaign finance practices has resulted in the release of several internal fundraising and planning documents. HRC has posted them online where NOM-watchers are poking through them. For sheer reprehensibility, it's hard to top hiring (or at least planning to hire) someone to find and exploit children who are willing to publicly betray their gay parents.
But that kind of "ends-justify-the-means" approach to politics has been the hallmark of NOM and its campaigns in California, Maine, and elsewhere. Those who have been on the receiving end of those dishonorable and untruthful campaigns won't be surprised by much of what's in the NOM documents. But the brazenness of the language around racial wedge politics long practiced by the religious right should make it easier to expose the group's Machiavellian heart. And it may be useful in blunting their efforts to make opposition to marriage equality a "marker of identity" for Latinos and African Americans.
The NOM documents from 2009 discuss a number of organizational projects and strategies, including a "Not a Civil Right" project:
The strategic goal of this project is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks -- two key Democratic constituencies. Find, equip, energize and connect African American spokespeople for marriage; develop a media campaign around their objections to gay marriage as a civil right; provoke the gay marriage base into responding by denouncing these spokesmen and women as bigots.
And just in case that isn't clear enough: "Fanning the hostility raised in the wake of Prop 8 is key to raising the costs of pushing gay marriage to its advocates and persuading the movement's allies that advocates are unacceptably overreaching on this issue."
NOM's stated plans to overturn marriage equality in Washington, D.C. include an effort to "find attractive young black Democrats to challenge white gay marriage advocates electorally."
NOM's strategists said they needed "to accomplish a sophisticated cultural objective: interrupt the attempt to equate gay with black, and sexual orientation with race. We need to make traditional sexual morality intellectually respectable again in elite culture. And we need to give liberals an alternative way of thinking about gay rights issues, one that does not lead to the misuse of the power of government to crush dissent in the name of fighting discrimination."
Minister Leslie Watson Malachi, director of People for the American Way Foundation's African American Ministers Leadership Council, released a statement on behalf of the Council's Equal Justice Task Force calling NOM's wedge strategies "deeply cynical" and "deeply offensive."
NOM also planned to target Latinos through a "community of artists, athletes, writers, beauty queens and other glamorous noncognitive elites across national boundaries" who can help "interrupt the process of assimilation by making support for marriage a key badge of Latino identity." NOM hopes that "[a]s 'ethnic rebels' such spokespeople will also have an appeal across racial lines, especially to young urbans in America." NOM said, "Our ultimate goal is to make opposition to gay marriage an identity marker, a badge of youth rebellion to conformist assimilation to the bad side of 'Anglo' culture."
NOM has had more success in some areas than others: most recently it failed in a stated priority of overturning marriage in New Hampshire, despite having made gains in the state legislature; and it failed to prevent marriage from advancing in New York. Its efforts in other states, like Iowa, are still underway. And it is pushing constitutional amendments in North Carolina and Minnesota. It also hopes to keep opposition alive "behind enemy lines" in states that have made marriage equality a reality.
But even in 2009, the top priority for 2012 was clear: defeating Barack Obama. In order for the group to achieve victory on marriage, "the next president must be a man or woman who expressly articulates a pro-marriage culture, and appoints sympathetic Supreme Court justices." In order to help achieve that objective, the group discussed plans to "sideswipe Obama" by portraying him as a "social radical" and by taking steps to "[r]aise such issues as pornography, protection of children, and the need to oppose all efforts to weaken religious liberty and the federal level." No wonder Maggie Gallagher is such a fan of Rick Santorum -- his campaign plan mirrors NOM's.
In addition, it is utterly clear that the bishops and NOM were ready to make "religious liberty" a campaign issue well before the recent controversy over insurance coverage for contraception: "Gay marriage is the tip of the spear, the weapon that will be and is being used to marginalize and repress Christianity and the Church." NOM's documents also affirm the group's "close relationships" with Catholic bishops, with whom it would work to engage Catholic priests nationally as well as locally.
You can fault NOM for many things, but not for thinking small. NOM's planning documents discuss strategies for exporting its model and playing a major role internationally. It calls for a global "counterrevolution" against marriage equality, something that is, unfortunately, well underway, with disastrous consequences.
Newly exposed documents from the National Organization for Marriage shed light on the organization’s plans to “drive a wedge” between the LGBT movement and African American and Latino communities.
Minister Leslie Watson Malachi, Director of People For the American Way Foundation’s African American Ministers Leadership Council issued the following statement on behalf of the Council’s Equal Justice Task Force:
“If the success of the National Organization of Marriage’s movement depends on stirring up resentment between communities, it might want to rethink its strategies.
“African American men and women of faith are not a political football to be tossed around in a cynical game of resentment and division. We, like all Americans, struggle thoughtfully with issues of faith, family and politics. Anti-equality activists such as NOM consistently attempt to use a deeply cynical ‘wedge’ strategy to divide African Americans and the gay community, playing up what are now old and tired cliches. In the long run, this strategy will falter as African American and LGBT communities continue to work together for equal justice.
“I celebrate as more and more African American clergy engage in AAMLC’s Healing Grace dialogues and work to confront and overcome stigma, prejudice and homophobia in the Black Church. We continually seek to help and not harm, love and not hate, reconcile and not separate, unite and not divide -- and it's working.
“NOM’s explicit attempt to drive a wedge between the LGBT community and African Americans is deeply offensive, and it exposes the depravity of their politics.”
HRC got its hands last night on a December 2009 National Organization for Marriage strategy document, which was unsealed in connection to NOM’s court challenge to Maine’s campaign finance disclosure laws.
The most explosive revelation in the document is NOM’s explicit plan to drive a wedge between the gay community and blacks and Latinos. But another part of their effort to recruit “hearts and minds” to the anti-marriage cause is also startling. Not only did NOM propose to document anti-gay “victims” of gay rights with emotional videos– a plan they implemented with a set of glossy films in upstate New York, for instance – they proposed to hire a staff member at $50,000 a year “to identify children of gay parents willing to speak on camera”:
Did NOM end up hiring someone to find children of gay parents who they could portray as “victims”? If so, it seems that a year’s worth of full-time work didn’t turn up a single child of gay parents who was willing to be portrayed as a “victim” of marriage equality.
National Organization for Marriage president Brian Brown joined Iowa anti-gay luminary Bob Vander Plaats at a Des Moines rally today to call for a ballot referendum to overturn the state’s marriage equality law. Following Vander Plaats, who compared same-sex marriage to polygamy and incest, Brown argued that making the civil rights of a minority subject to a popular vote is in fact right in line with the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.
It’s marriage equality proponents, Brown argued, who are trying to “deprive” their opponents of civil rights– specifically “the right to vote":
Opposition to gay marriage is not rooted in fear and hate as supporters suggest, Vander Plaats said, but rather love and religious truth. He also lashed out at the notion of “marriage equality” as a slippery slope toward no restrictions on relationships whatsoever.
“If we want marriage equality, let’s just stop for a second. Why stop at same-sex marriage? Why not have polygamy? Why not have a dad marry his son or marry his daughter? If we’re going to have marriage equality, let’s open this puppy up and let’s have marriage equality,” he said. “Otherwise, let’s stick to the way God designed it – one man and one woman, period.”
Referring to Senate Democrats’ refusal to advance the amendment and clear the way for a statewide vote, National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown invoked Martin Luther King, Jr., to suggest that it was the opponents of same-sex marriage whose civil rights were threatened.
“We hear that this is about civil rights, and that those of us who oppose the redefinition of marriage are somehow bigots,” Brown said. “And yet, what Dr. Martin Luther King called the most important civil right – the right to vote – these very same folks are trying to deprive us of this right.”
Minister Leslie Watson Malachi, Director of People For the American Way Foundation’s African American Ministers Leadership Council, issued the following statement in response to the Justice Department’s announcement that it would open a civil rights investigation into the fatal shooting of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin:
“It is shocking that nearly 60 years after the murder of Emmett Till, a black teenager can be killed simply for walking down the street, and his killer not even tried. Trayvon Martin’s life was not expendable. Unfortunately, for many weeks local law enforcement acted as if it were.
“The Justice Department was right to open an investigation into Trayvon’s murder. All his family is asking for is their constitutional right to equal justice under the law, for our justice system to recognize the value of their son’s life. In 2012, that shouldn’t be too much to ask.”
African American Ministers Leadership Council, a program of People For the American Way Foundation, is an alliance of over 700 progressive African American clergy supporting social justice, civil rights, and reproductive health and justice.
Jennifer Roback Morse of the National Organization for Marriage’s Ruth Institute appeared on Breakpoint with Chuck Colson this week where she accused the “gay lobby” of “having an absolutely corrupting impact on the whole political process.” She claimed that the gay lobby, along with “rich, Republican, Wall Street guys,” have been able to “buy state legislators” in order to win their votes for marriage equality. “So all of these legislators across the country, it’s like they’re salivating over all this money they might get if they vote the way the gay lobby wants them to,” Morse said, “the gay lobby has figured out that they cannot win a voter referendum, they have never won a voter referendum, it’s easier to buy state legislators than it is to try to buy off a whole population.”
The National Organization for Marriage, of course, repeatedly pledges to spend millions of dollars raised from a handful of out-of-state donors in order to finance the campaigns of any legislator who opposes the legalization of same-sex marriage and support any challenger to a marriage equality supporter, but apparently Morse doesn’t consider the same efforts from her own group “rank political corruption.”
Morse: In a way most ominously something that happened earlier this year is the New York state legislature voted to redefine marriage and the reason I say that one was so ominous is because it was Republican votes that did that and it was rich, Republican, Wall Street guys who came in with a lot of money and said ‘we want to get this done’ and basically they dangled money in front of swing voters, state legislators, and said ‘we’re going to put money into your re-election campaign if you vote the way we want you to.’ Now I’m not just saying that, they wrote about that in the New York Times, they wrote about it in the New York Times, they bragged about it, and to me if that’s not political corruption, I don’t know what it is. I mean, that’s just rank political corruption. So all of these legislators across the country, it’s like they’re salivating over all this money they might get if they vote the way the gay lobby wants them to, so it’s having an absolutely corrupting impact on the whole political process. The gay lobby has figured out that they cannot win a voter referendum, they have never won a voter referendum, it’s easier to buy state legislators than it is to try to buy off a whole population, and that’s where they are, and that’s what’s going on around the country.
The Senate today voted overwhelmingly to confirm two nominees to federal district courts, Gina Groh of West Virginia and Michael Fitzgerald of California’s Central District. Both nominees had been waiting over four months - Groh more than five - for votes from the full Senate, despite having received unanimous approval from the Judiciary Committee. They were the first nominees to receive votes as part of a Senate deal to move forward on 14 of 22 deliberately stalled judicial nominations.
Fitzgerald becomes the fourth openly gay person ever confirmed to the federal bench, the third during the Obama administration.
Marge Baker of People For the American Way issued the following statement:
“Because of today’s confirmation votes, people of West Virginia and Southern California will have a smoother path to justice as they seek their day in court. Votes like these should be the norm, not the exception. Judges Groh and Fitzgerald are both exceptionally qualified and enjoyed unanimous bipartisan support from the Judiciary Committee. It is absurd that they had to wait months simply to receive an easy and overwhelming confirmation vote.
“It is even more absurd that a deal had to be cut before Senate Republicans would even consider these nominees. That qualified and uncontroversial nominees like Groh and Fitzgerald are met with months-long filibusters is proof that the Senate GOP is more interested in creating gridlock than in doing its job.
“While President Obama’s judicial nominees have met with unprecedented obstruction, they have also been unprecedented in their diversity. For the first time in history, nearly half of this president’s confirmed nominees to the federal courts have been women. He has also nominated more people of color to the bench than any previous president and has nominated more openly gay people than all of his predecessors combined.
“The confirmations of Groh and Fitzgerald are the latest step forward in the president’s effort to put qualified, diverse judges in our federal courts – progress that has too often been stalled by GOP obstruction.”
The War on Women doesn't stop with reproductive rights. In a new post at Ms. Blog, People For's Marge Baker explains how GOP obstruction of judicial nominees is keeping women -- as well as people of color and gays and lesbians -- from reaching positions of power in the federal courts:
President Obama has made no secret of his goal to make the American courts look like America. Along with the effort to bring more women to the bench, roughly 36 percent of his nominees have been people of color, and he has nominated more openly lesbian and gay individuals to the federal courts than all his predecessors combined.
But the president’s effort to bring a diversity of voices to the federal courts is now facing a major roadblock. Senate Republicans have been obstructing President Obama’s judicial nominees to an unprecedented extent–usually not because of objections to the nominees themselves, but just for the sake of creating gridlock. Indeed, most of President Obama’s nominees have been approved by the Judiciary Committee with unanimous or near-unanimous bipartisan support. Nevertheless, after committee approval, Republicans in the Senate have forced the president’s nominees to wait four times longer to get a yes-or-no vote than President Bush’s nominees at the same point in his term.
As a result, about one out of ten courtrooms in the country are vacant and Americans are facing inexcusable delays as they seek their day in court. One of President Obama’s least-noticed but most long-lasting achievements–putting a qualified, diverse group of judges on our federal courts–has been put at risk.