On a hunch that voters are more influenced by their own experience rather than a birrage of big-budget advertising on the issue of marriage equality, Minnesota Public Radio put together an excellent miniseries asking Minnesotans to share their stories about how they came to their decision – or are still struggling to decide – how they will vote on marriage equality in November.
The stories are striking for their sincerity and level of introspection. While each story was unique, there were common themes among those who stand on the side of equality for all: Love. Commitment. Family. Freedom. Equality for All.
Enjoy these videos below, and you can view the full set here.
“True love is not about self, it’s about the other person. It’s about mankind, it’s about the world around you. It’s about loving and loving and loving. And I think marriage is the perfect embodiment of expressing that love.”
“As long as they’re not harming me…who has a right to challenge their right to their choices?”
“[My father’s second marriage, to a man] has been infinitely more fulfilling, more harmonious, more authentic, more of a model to all of us kids of what marriage should really be.”
“Now that I am legally married, all the benefits and wonderful things that have happened in my life around marriage, not just the ceremony but all the legal things that I get to participate in. I want that to happen for everybody.”
Religious Right activists routinely claim that they know better than medical professionals when it comes to issues like sexual orientation, arguing that their anti-gay ideology trumps the research of the country’s leading medical organizations. For example, Mission America’s Linda Harvey, who once told parents not to let openly gay doctors and nurses treat their children, today maintained that “mainstream medicine is falling under the spell of leftwing politics” on reproductive health and sexuality. She lauded the discredited, anti-gay, and untrustworthy group NARTH, the National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, for opposing the American Psychiatric Association, claiming that the APA “removed homosexuality from its list of disorders in 1973 based on pressure from disruptive and vicious homosexuals and not because of some new scientific breakthrough.” But the APA, which has come out strongly against anti-gay bias and so-called “reparative” therapy, says that the “action was taken following a review of the scientific literature and consultation with experts in the field. The experts found that homosexuality does not meet the criteria to be considered a mental illness.”
I know we all want to believe what is told to us by folks in the white lab coats, and much of the time we can. But when it comes to issues dealing with lifespan and sexuality, mainstream medicine is falling under the spell of leftwing politics. Doctors can be politically correct to the detriment of patient care. Organized medicine has already gone far down this road and it becomes quite obvious in the fields of obstetrics, pediatrics, geriatrics, public health and psychology. Who determines who will live and who will die? From conception to natural death, this should be in the hands of God not humans, and yet most obstetricians will both deliver babies, new life coming into our world, and turn around and refer other patients to abortionists like Planned Parenthood.
It’s troubling when respected medical groups like the American Academy of Pediatrics now support abortion and even homosexuality among children. This is why there are splinter professional groups being formed, well-respected physicians who cannot support these harmful practices in good conscience. For instance the group NARTH, National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, was formed some years back to counteract the increasingly politically motivated decisions of groups like the American Psychiatric Association. The APA removed homosexuality from its list of disorders in 1973 based on pressure from disruptive and vicious homosexuals and not because of some new scientific breakthrough.
Yesterday on In the Market, Religious Right talk show host Janet Parshall hosted “ex-gay” activist Stephen Bennett to describe his “battle with same-sex attraction – and the power that set him free.” During the program Parshall and Bennett took calls from people with strained relationships with their openly gay sons and daughters, advising one woman not to attend her lesbian daughter’s commitment ceremony, and Bennett told listeners that “complete change is completely possible for those who seek it.”
He claimed that child molestation is the leading factor for how homosexuality “develops,” even saying that “almost every out lesbian that we see in Hollywood has declared either in a book or in an interview that they were molested early on in their childhood.” Bennett went on to claim that along with abuse, adoption is responsible for homosexuality. Of course, what was not mentioned in the program was that the country’s chief medical and psychiatric organizations all oppose “ex-gay” therapy as dangerous and ineffective.
I believe that homosexuality is completely developmental, it tragically develops early on in most cases in one’s childhood due to so many different things, there is not a cookie cutter answer or reason why. Many times it could have to do with a parent, the same-sex parent, it could involve molestation, almost every out lesbian that we see in Hollywood has declared either in a book or in an interview that they were molested early on in their childhood. That’s not everyone’s story but if we really look and see that there are root causes and root issues underlying a person’s homosexuality, and I always say that homosexuality, anyone’s homosexuality, is an outward expression of an inward conflict. I firmly believe based upon the word of God that complete change, not partial change, complete change is completely possible for those who seek it.
There’s many, many deep issues, again mentioning the idea of adoption as well as some abuse that was there before. A lot of statistics that are out show that there’s a high number of men and women involved in homosexuality and they share with the adoption issue and, again, molestation. Of course, doesn’t mean that anyone who was adopted is going to be gay.
The latest direct mail letter from the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins is an extended attack on the Commitment Campaign, a project launched last November by Third Way to bring a bipartisan message focused on committed couples to the hearts-and-minds campaign for marriage equality. Perkins suggests that not giving money to FRC, a Southern Poverty Law Center-designated hate group, is “a form of hate.”
FRC’s fundraising campaign against “fake marriage” includes a video that recycles lies about the impact of marriage equality – that schools will be forced to teach kids how to have gay sex, that pastors will be silenced, etc. – and also includes a twist on the now-standard Religious Right claim that anti-gay efforts are not about hate, but love for those “trapped in homosexuality.”
“Silence about the documented harm this lifestyle does is not loving,” says Perkins, “Such silence is, in fact, a form of hate.”
“So,” writes Perkins, “I’m asking you to say ‘No’ to silence [i.e. hate] and ‘Yes’ to speaking the truth in love at a decisive moment in America’s history…a moment when faith family and freedom are at stake.”
What he wants is a "generous financial gift." You wouldn't want to be a hater, would you?
After failing to convince JC Penney to fire Ellen DeGeneres as their spokesperson because she is openly gay, now the American Family Association’s group OneMillionMoms is putting Toys R Us in its crosshairs for selling an Archie comic book that features a same-sex marriage. The group demands that Toys R Us “remove all the same-sex ‘Just Married – Archie’ comic books immediately from your shelves” before children are “exposed to same-sex marriage.” The OneMillionMoms sample letter to the company ends with the line, “My decision to shop in your stores depends on it”:
Select Toys 'R' Us stores are now selling 'Archie' comic books with a same-sex wedding displayed on the front cover. The front cover reads "Just Married" with two men marrying and one is wearing a service uniform. This comic book is being sold in select stores across the country. One example is the Queensbury, NY location in the upstate New York area.
As a mother and a member of OneMillionMoms.com, I am extremely disappointed to learn that select Toys 'R' Us stores are now selling 'Archie' comic books with a same-sex wedding displayed on the front cover. I am referring to the ones where the front cover reads "Just Married" with two men marrying, one wearing a service uniform.
I am aware that Toys 'R' Us employees do not actually set up the displays; they leave this up to the vendor. Your company should be aware of the merchandise being sold in your stores nonetheless. These comic books are displayed at the front checkout counters so they are highly visible to employees, managers, customers and children.
Unfortunately, children are now being exposed to same-sex marriage in your toy store. This is the last place a parent would expect to be confronted with questions from their children on topics that are too complicated for them to understand. Issues of this nature are being introduced too early and too soon, which is becoming extremely common and unnecessary.
A trip to the toy store turns into a premature discussion on sexual orientation and is completely uncalled for. Toys 'R' Us should be more responsible in the products they carry.
Please remove all the same-sex "Just Married - Archie" comic books immediately from your shelves. My decision to shop in your stores depends on it.
I look forward to hearing from you regarding my concern.
On Meet the Press yesterday, David Gregory questioned GOP presidential frontrunner Rick Santorum about the social issues – opposition to reproductive choice and gay rights – on which he has built his career. Stunningly, Santorum denied that he has focused on social issues and claimed, “There’s no evidence at all that I, that I want to impose those values on anybody else.”
FMR. SEN. SANTORUM: It's so funny. I get the question all the time. Why are you talking so much about these social issues, as they, as, as people ask about me about the social issues. MR. GREGORY: Senator, no, wait a minute.
FMR. SEN. SANTORUM: Look, the... MR. GREGORY: You talk about this stuff every week. And by the way, it's not just in this campaign. FMR. SEN. SANTORUM: No, I talk about, I talk... MR. GREGORY: Sir, in this campaign you talk about it. And I've gone back years when you've been in public life and you have made this a centerpiece of your public life. So the notion that these are not deeply held views worthy of question and scrutiny, it's not just about the press. FMR. SEN. SANTORUM: Yeah, they, they are deeply held views, but they're not what I dominantly talk about, David. You're taking things that over a course of a 20-year career and pulling out quotes from difference speeches on, on issues that are fairly tangential, not what people care about mostly in America, and saying, "Oh, he wants to impose those values." Look at my record. I've never wanted to impose any of the things that you've just talked about. These are, these are my personal held religious beliefs, and in many forums that I, that, that are, in fact, religious, because I do speak in front of church groups and I do speak in these areas, I do talk about them. But there's no evidence at all that I, that I want to impose those values on anybody else.
This is, of course, a bunch of baloney. While Santorum has spent a lot of time in his presidential campaign talking up regressive tax policies, irresponsible deregulation and anti-environmentalism, the core of his brand has always been social conservatism. His campaign has consistently and explicitly distinguished his anti-choice, anti-gay record with Mitt Romney’s in order to successfully appeal to culture-warring voters.
Santorum has also never shied away from wanting to “impose” his far-right values on the rest of the country. In a 2005 interview with NPR, for instance, he railed against the libertarian wing of the Republican party, saying, “They have this idea that people should be left alone, be able to do whatever they want to do. Government should keep our taxes down and keep our regulation low and that we shouldn't get involved in the bedroom, we shouldn't get involved in cultural issues, you know, people should do whatever they want. Well, that is not how traditional conservatives view the world.”
Santorum’s interview on Meet the Press is far from the first time he’s claimed that he’s not overly interested in social issues. PFAW’s Right Wing Watch found a speech he gave in 2008 in which he claimed that it’s liberals who have made sex an issue on the campaign trail. For liberals, he said, politics “comes down to sex” and that the Democratic Party has become “the party of Woodstock.”:
And it’s just insidious. And it’s most of the time focused on the sexual issues. If you’re a hard-core free-market guy, they’re not going to call you “zealous”. They’re not going to call you “ultra-conservative”. They’re not going to do that to you.
It comes down to sex. That’s what it’s all about. It comes down to freedom, and it comes down to sex. If you have anything to with any of the sexual issues, and if you are on the wrong side of being able to do all of the sexual freedoms you want, you are a bad guy. And you’re dangerous because you are going to limit my freedom in an area that’s the most central to me. And that’s the way it’s looked at.
Woodstock is the great American orgy. This is who the Democratic Party has become. They have become the party of Woodstock. The prey upon our most basic primal lusts, and that’s sex. And the whole abortion culture, it’s not about life. It’s about sexual freedom. That’s what it’s about. Homosexuality. It’s about sexual freedom.
All of the things are about sexual freedom, and they hate to be called on them. They try to somehow or other tie this to the Founding Father’s vision of liberty, which is bizarre. It’s ridiculous.
Mission America president Linda Harvey today discussed the cases of Julea Ward, a psychology graduate student who refuses to counsel clients who are gay, and Jennifer Keaton, another student who says that rather than refer gay clients she would instead counsel them into so-called ex-gay “conversion therapy.” While an appeals court sent Ward’s case back to the district court for a jury trial, Keaton lost her appeal as the 11th Circuit Court found in favor of the Augusta State University for enforcing the school’s counseling guidelines and code of conduct.
Harvey said she hopes that Keaton “wins her case” because “homosexuality is still very harmful and a huge mistake in people’s lives.” She maintained that there is “no compelling science” for “affirming homosexuality,” and warned that even “those who are highly educated” are “accepting great evil.”
Harvey: There is another case making its way through the courts where grad student Jennifer Keaton at Augusta State University had a similar dismissal. In her case, however, she wanted to be able to counsel the patient against homosexuality. I think she should have had the right to do this and I hope she eventually wins her case. Why? Because it’s the truth. In spite of some current popular opinion, homosexuality is still very harmful and a huge mistake in people’s lives. More and more professional groups are affirming homosexuality and even sex change when there is no compelling science providing evidence for this reversal of longstanding moral and health policy. This trend is just the most recent example of sexual permissiveness blinding even those who are highly educated into accepting great evil.
A message to People For the American Way supporters from PFAW president Michael Keegan:
Fighting contraception. Stopping domestic violence protections. Extending tax cuts for the wealthy, while hiking taxes on the middle class. Welcoming white supremacists to a conference, but banning gay conservatives. The GOP has followed its extremist fringe off the deep end, leaving the rest of us back in the reality-based world befuddled. Their strategists warned them not to do this, but it appears that to the GOP, radical fringe issue positions are like catnip. In last night's Republican presidential debate in Arizona, the candidates even spent several minutes discussing which of them is least in favor of allowing rape victims to have access to emergency contraception.
Perhaps Bruce Bartlett, who was an economic policy official under Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush, said it best on last night's Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Discussing the obstacles to getting smart policies agreed upon and passed in government, he said, "the problem is purely political ... frankly, one of our political parties is insane, and we all know which one it is." (Hint: he was not talking about the Democrats.)
Standing Up for Women's Health -- We all heard about the War on Women's Health last year, when Tea Party-empowered state legislatures passed a record slew of anti-choice laws -- like Arizona's ban on "race-based abortions" and Virginia's attempt to shut down most abortion clinics in the state. These state legislatures were joined by an enthusiastic right-wing Congress that attempted to defund the entire $317 million federal family program, tried to redefine "rape" and eagerly promoted lies about their favorite bogeyman, Planned Parenthood. Well, the War on Women's Health is back, and it looks to be more an all-out War on Women. PFAW members spoke out when Susan G. Komen for the Cure threatened to cut off funds for Planned Parenthood because of internal influences from right-wing staff and board members. We're currently fighting an amendment in the U.S. Senate that would give employers the power to deny any health care to their employees that they take "moral" issue with personally. And we continue to track closely dangerous and extreme state legislation like the recent bill passed by Virginia’s right-wing Assembly that would force women considering abortions -- even rape victims -- to undergo invasive transvaginal ultrasounds.
Exposing the GOP Candidates' Extremism -- PFAW's Right Wing Watch last week uncovered the audio recording of a speech Rick Santorum gave to students at Ave Maria University in 2008 in which he said Satan, the "Father of Lies" was focusing all his attention on the United States of America. He said that academia had long ago fallen to this Satanic attack, derided mainline Protestant churches as no longer Christian and said that we are involved in a "spiritual war," as opposed to a political or cultural war -- a war in which we could only assume people with opposing views to Santorum's are on the side of Satan. The story took off like wildfire in both the blogosphere and the mainstream news media. It became the dominant storyline of the GOP debate for the two days leading up to the last debate and even had right-wing pundits like Laura Ingraham and Rush Limbaugh, and politicians like New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, asserting that Santorum's religious extremism is too much for a majority of Americans.
Fighting Judicial Obstruction -- A new PFAW fact sheet shows the extremity and unprecedented nature of Senate Republicans obstruction of judicial nominees, as well as its impact on Americans' access to justice. While a vacancy crisis persists on many of the nation's federal courts, our persistence is paying off and we're finally making headway in getting some of the president's qualified nominees confirmed. This month, the Senate confirmed Cathy Ann Bencivengo and Jesse Furman to U.S. District Courts in California and New York respectively, and Adalberto Jose Jordan to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, all of whom had been waiting months on the Senate calendar for a vote despite the fact that they came out of the Senate Judiciary Committee without any opposition. But dozens of other qualified nominees, most of whom had little or no opposition in Committee, still await confirmation. We'll continue to hold Republicans accountable for their obstruction and keep the pressure on to confirm these judges as swiftly as possible, and one at a time if necessary.
Youth Spotlight: Young Elected Officials take on Citizens United v. FEC -- In state, city and municipal governing bodies in at least seven states, members of our affiliate PFAW Foundation's Young Elected Officials (YEO) Network have put forward resolutions that call for the end of corporate personhood and unlimited special interest money in politics. One of the first big victories in this coordinated national effort was that of Missoula, Montana Councilwoman Cynthia Wolken. After attending a session on Citizens United at the 2011 YEO National Convening, Councilwoman Wolken took a sample resolution and introduced a city-wide referendum calling for Congress to pass a constitutional amendment that made it clear that corporations are not people. The referendum passed overwhelmingly, with over 75% of the vote, bringing an abundance of media attention to the issue and forcing leaders in Montana's state government to weigh-in as well.
As always, thank you for your support, without which none of our work would be possible.
Pastor Steven Andrew of USA Christian Ministries is leading a boycott of companies which endorsed a marriage equality bill in Washington state, including Google, Starbucks and Amazon, charging them with “working against Jesus and leading people to sin and to possibly go to hell.” Andrew, who previously claimed that “Starbucks hates God” over the company’s backing of gay rights, told the Christian Post that any company that favors marriage equality is “anti-God” and is “doing the devil's work.”
Andrew is currently involved in a boycott against Starbucks after the coffee company began supporting a gay marriage bill proposed in Washington State. He recently added a few others to the list as well, including Nike, Google, Microsoft and Amazon, asking Christians to no longer provide business to those corporations, which he claimed promoted homosexual sin.
For Andrew, his nonviolent protests did have a "biblical warrant." "Boycotting anti-God companies is one way a Christian lives out the First Commandment," the author of Making a Strong Christian Nation, told The Christian Post. "If you love Jesus, you won't give your money to those working against Jesus, our Savior."
He believed that if the stores in Sodom and Gomorrah that openly mocked God were boycotted, they could have possibly been saved. "God calls Christians and churches to not share in the sins of others. To love God is to flee sexual immorality. If we help the wicked, then God's Word says God judges us (2 Chronicles 19:2). God calls Christians to 100 percent love Him and to 100 percent oppose sin."
God also called the United States to have the fear of God as a nation, but complacency with sin did not indicate fear of God, Andrew asserted.
"Ungodly politicians, Starbucks, Nike, Amazon and others are doing the devil's work ... trying to 'change' our Christian laws into non-Christian laws ... Every Christian and church should boycott companies making light of Jesus Christ. It is unwise for a Christian to give their money to those working against Jesus and leading people to sin and to possibly go to hell."
Family Research Council president Tony Perkins today appeared on the American Family Association’s Financial Issues with Dan Celia, where he said that President Obama’s eventual Republican opponent must try to “dial back the decay” in the culture. Perkins, who has claimed in the past that Obama has a “disdain for Christianity” and demanded Christian supporters of the president “repent,” said that the administration has pushed “anti-family, anti-religious, anti-Christian policies,” most notably the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, which overturned the military’s ban on openly gay service members.
Perkins said Obama is “forcing open homosexuality on the military” which he said would lead to “not only cultural impacts upon this nation but from a national security standpoint it’s going to undermine our military.” While military leaders, including the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, endorsed the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, Perkins claimed that they actually opposed the repeal. Maybe Perkins was confusing real military leaders with himself, who said that the elected officials who voted to repeal the policy would have blood on their hands.
Perkins: When we look historically at what has happened in elections we see that like in this administration where the push of anti-family, anti-religious, anti-Christian policies from this administration, and I know people are criticized for saying that, but the evidence is there. Historically what happens is when the Republicans are elected on the heels of an administration like this we see them babysitting the decline and not going back and retaking territory that has been lost in the culture.
For instance, let me talk about very solid issues here, the issue of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, forcing open homosexuality on the military, that is going to have very significant not only cultural impacts upon this nation but from a national security standpoint it’s going to undermine our military. That’s what the military leaders testified before Congress, that didn’t matter to Congress, they were pushing this through in the wee hours of the lame duck session of Congress. I guarantee you, normally, the Republicans when they’re re-elected, if they were to recapture the White House, they wouldn’t touch that, they would just say ‘we wouldn’t advance that anymore.’ I’m telling you we’re at a point where we got to dial back the decay, we’ve got have somebody that’s bold enough to come in and undo some of these radical policies from this administration.
Yesterday, the New Jersey Assembly joined with the State Senate and passed a bill endorsing same-sex marriage in a 42 to 33 vote. If marriage equality becomes law, New Jersey will become the eighth state to destroy what the Assembly speaker called one of the “last legalized barriers to equal rights.”
In a pivotal moment, New Jersey lawmakers did more than stand up for the institution of marriage; they chose to begin legally recognizing and protecting the civil rights of every resident of their state. They showed that no matter who one loves, the state should not limit the ability to fully commit to that person. As Newark Assemblywoman Cleopatra G. Tucker put it, “I came to the conclusion that the people sent me here from my district, here to protect what’s right…To protect the rights of everyone.”
Unfortunately, Governor Chris Christie has sworn to veto the new legislation, insisting that the legislature subject the basic civil rights of their fellow citizens to a referendum.
Proponents of marriage equality are not accepting this alternative, and are preparing to form even stronger coalitions to override Gov. Christie’s impending veto. Polls indicate growing support for same-sex marriage among voters, a trend that will likely continue over the next two years, providing the support the legislature needs to override the veto.
New Jersey’s legislature made history by passing a marriage equality bill. Governor Christie should do the same by signing it into law.
Laws and policies that discriminate against otherwise qualified parents are failing the half million children in the foster care system. We write urging your support and cosponsorship of the Every Child Deserves a Family Act (ECDFA).
Last year, right-wing lawmakers attempted to defund the entire $317 million federal family program and tried to redefine "rape." Well, the War on Women's Health is back -- and now it's a flat-out, all-out War on Women.
Retired Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin was on his best behavior at this morning’s Ocean City Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast. That’s not surprising given the heightened media scrutiny and promises by Mayor Rick Meehan that Boykin would not say anything inflammatory. However, that does not excuse Ocean City officials – Mayor Meehan in particular – for providing a platform to a man who travels the country spreading bigotry and divisiveness
Following up on the Ocean City Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast controversy -- In today’s Daily Times, Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan and Council members Knight
and Ashley attempted to distance themselves from the prayer breakfast but said that Boykin would speak as planned:
People for the American Way today called on the Mayor and City Council of Ocean City, Maryland to cancel the invitation to retired Lt. Gen. William
“Jerry” Boykin to headline this week’s Ocean City Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast.
Michael Keegan, President of People For the American Way, issued the following statement: