Equality For All

Globalizing Homophobia: How the American Right Supports and Defends Russia’s Anti-Gay Crackdown

The report examines the American Right's role in an international movement that promotes and defends the harshest anti-gay laws around the world.

Staver: Reparative Therapy Ban Lets Gays 'Entrap' & 'Groom' Children

Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver is concerned that California’s ban on “ex-gay” therapy for minors is “very dangerous” because it will allow gay people to “entrap” and “groom” children into homosexuality.

Stave, who has appealed his challenge to the California law to the Supreme Court, told the American Family Association’s OneNewsNow today:

Staver notes that especially in California, children are being indoctrinated in public schools that homosexuality is normal.

"And then when someone is either abused or begins to struggle with these issues, when they're bombarded with it day after day after day, they won't be able to get any help from a licensed professional Christian counselor," says Staver. "So that's why it's very dangerous."

The law allows homosexuals to "entrap" and "groom" children into the homosexual lifestyle, without providing any opportunity for help, says the Liberty Counsel attorney.

On Friday, Staver discussed the ban with Janet Mefferd. “We’re talking about life and death situations here,” he said, blaming LGBT rights activists for “forcing homosexuality on everyone by force of law” and claiming that the reparative therapy ban “will force people into a lifestyle of destruction."

Liberty Counsel: Obama 'Destroying The Judiciary' With Black, 'Practicing Homosexual' Judicial Nominee

This week, President Obama nominated five people to federal judgeships in Florida and New Jersey. Three of these nominees are already judges; two are accomplished attorneys. But what is more relevant to the right-wing Liberty Counsel is that, according to the American Family Association’s OneNewsNow, “among the nominees are four African Americans, one of them homosexual.” (That's not actually true: one of the nominees is African American, one is Latino, and three are white).

Liberty Counsel head Mat Staver told OneNewsNow today that these judicial picks show “ideological bankruptcy” on the part of a president who is “destroying the judiciary.”

"So he gets a black man, who is a practicing homosexual, and now he wants to put this individual in an appointment for life on the federal bench," Staver lamented, referring apparently to Darrin P. Gayes, a state circuit judge in Florida who Obama nominated to a federal district court.

At no point in the article does Staver or OneNewsNow touch on the nominee’s qualifications, other than to note vaguely that “all five nominees are considered liberals.”

Among the nominees are four African Americans, one of them homosexual, and the final one is white.

Mat Staver, who heads Liberty Counsel, tells OneNewsNow the president is reaching out to two communities.

"So he gets a black man, who is a practicing homosexual, and now he wants to put this individual in an appointment for life on the federal bench," Staver advises.

He refers to the situation as "ideological bankruptcy."

Why?

President Obama is "destroying the judiciary because, when he leaves office in 2016, these judges will be around for 20 to 40 years," says the Liberty Counsel attorney. "That is going to be a bad legacy that Obama will leave behind that we'll all have to deal with in the aftermath."

Earlier this year, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio succeeded in torpedoing the nomination of William Thomas, a Florida state judge who was also openly gay and African-American. Rubio also blocked another African-American nominee, Brian Davis, for months before local activists pressured him to let the nomination go forward.

World Congress Of Families: Criticism Of Putin Is Liberal Media Hysteria

Representatives of the World Congress of Families held a news conference at the National Press Club on Wednesday to talk about their 2014 summit, which will be held in Moscow in September.  The WCF and the Religious Right groups it partners with are ardent promoters of anti-gay legislation worldwide, and they love Russia's anti-gay President Vladimir Putin. 

Earlier this week the WCF announced that the opening session would be held in the Congress Hall of the Kremlin Palace, that a special parliamentary session will also be held in the Russian Duma and a special scientific forum at St Petersburg State University. At today's press conference it was announced that the patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church is expected to address the gathering.

WCF Managing Director Larry Jacobs, C-FAM’s Austin Ruse, Concerned Women for America’s Janice Shaw Crouse, and Alexey Komov, WCF’s man in Russia, were delighted about anti-gay legislation that has passed in Moscow and were defensive about western criticism of Putin’s regime.

Given the record of the event organizers, none of that was very surprising. What was surprising is the way the press conference was hijacked by conservative activist Cliff Kincaid of Accuracy in Media, who pointed out that Putin was a product of the Communist-era KGB; he took the organizers to task for partnering with Putin and produced a list of political prisoners he said are being held in Russia.

Kincaid’s strident criticism of Russia’s history provoked Komov into a screed against real and imagined problems from American history, from the slaughter of Native Americans to political prisoners in Guantanamo, complete with references to the supposed killing of 200 witnesses to the JFK assassination and the question of who was responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Komov suggested that during the era of Ronald Reagan, the U.S. was free, pro-Christian, and pro-capitalist, while Russia was mired in communism. He suggested that under Obama and Putin, a role reversal is under way. He said he would hesitate to say which country is more free, Russia or the U.S.

UPDATE: Kincaid has posted video of the exchange. Watch:

Jacobs was clearly uncomfortable with Komov’s rant, perhaps because, as he had mentioned earlier, WCF has yet to finalize confirmations from Members of Congress who they hope will attend the Moscow summit.

Speakers said they were proud of what Crouse called Russia's "leadership role" on behalf of the family, and proud of what Ruse called the "massive network" of people organizing around the world on behalf of the family and in opposition to "the agenda of the sexual left."

Asked about bipartisan criticism of the increasingly anti-democratic nature of Putin’s rule, Ruse suggested that some people are “stuck in cold war amber” and are consumed by a “visceral hatred of all things Russian.” He energetically supported Russia’s anti-gay “propaganda” law, saying “there is no human right to tell the gay narrative to schoolchildren.” And he dismissed concerns about Putin’s moves against freedom of the press, saying Russians had no “historical memory” of that kind of freedom.

Janice Shaw Crouse said she had “no problem whatsoever” with the prosecution of members of Pussy Riot, falsely claiming that they had disrupted a church service with the performance that landed them in jail.

All the speakers claimed that freedom of press and dissent is alive and well in Russia, saying that they have criticized Putin’s crackdown on homeschoolers and that bloggers are free to criticize the government. And they portrayed Russia as a sort of paradise where gay couples can stroll hand in hand without fear. (For another view, read Jeff Sharlet's recent reporting from Russia in GQ.)

Komov slammed “radical LGBT activists” who he said were trying to turn the Olympics into a “gay pride parade.” Komov said he opposed violence against gay people, but he insisted there was no correlation between passage of anti-gay laws and anti-gay violence in the country, dismissing the idea as “hysteria” from “the liberal media.”

Komov also opined that the Olympics were no place for gay rights: “Olympics is the place for sports and health and normal values that unite everyone ...And we know that if we want Olympics to be sports and health, we know, statistics show us that homosexual lifestyles are not healthy.”

UPDATE: Video of the comments taken by Kincaid:

 

Inaction on Immigration Reform Leaves Families Hanging by a Thread

The following is a guest post by Cairo Mendes, a 2013 Fellow of affiliate People For the American Way Foundation’s Young People For (YP4) program.

When I came to the U.S. in 2002, I remember being told on the way home from the airport that I was undocumented. I was told that if anyone knew this, our whole family would be deported and we would lose out on the “American Dream.” That was over ten years ago, but as I write this I cannot help but hold back emotions – a mixture of anger, sadness, and confusion. I feel this way because ten years later, millions of people in our country – including my mother – continue to live in limbo, in the shadows. We continue to be treated as second class citizens.

When I recently received a call informing me that I would be covered under President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) process, I was working at a factory, recycling wire. I remember the joy and relief I felt at that moment. For the first time I would be able to have a social security card and a work permit. I felt like maybe, just maybe, I too could be “normal” and get a driver’s license. Yet later that day, my happiness became bittersweet. My mom – my strong, heroic, single mother – would not be able to receive those same benefits. Still, when I got home later that day I realized how happy she was for me. It was then that I told her, looking straight into her eyes: “Mom, we will figure a way out of this. We will fight, we will march, and we will organize – we are going to figure out a way.”

When President Obama won reelection in 2012 after receiving 71 percent of the Latino vote (compared to Romney’s 27 percent), I felt for the first time that we were on the offensive. From the rhetoric coming from Washington to the energy within the immigrant rights movement in the weeks following the elections, immigration reform was finally a real possibility. But it has not been an easy road. Even though we were able to push the Senate to pass an immigration reform bill through our lobbying, organizing, and advocacy efforts, House leadership has – until very recently – been closed off to the calls for reforms, ignoring the cries of families throughout the country.

As a result, we ended 2013 with no bill delivered. The extreme right – small but loud faction of the Republican Party – managed to derail any efforts involving citizenship, and Speaker Boehner avoided putting the Senate bill up for a vote. His inaction could cost the Republican Party in the 2016 elections, since immigration reform is a top issue for Latino voters.

The Senate immigration reform bill is not perfect, but as families struggle to live day by day, comprehensive immigration reform is still a light at the end of the tunnel. It will make legalization – and hopefully citizenship – possible for many who have lived in the shadows until now, like my family.

This debate goes beyond stats about how many billions of dollars could be added to the economy as a result of reform. This is a moral issue. And it’s one that – if not resolved soon – will result in more deportations and more family separations that damage individual lives and diminish our country as a whole.

Because of Congress’ inaction, mothers and fathers are still being separated from their children and loved ones as 2014 begins.  We cannot wait – our communities need relief now.
 

PFAW

Video: Brian Brown Says Anti-Gay Movement Represents 'True Civil Rights'

National Organization for Marriage president Brian Brown spoke Tuesday night at an anti-marriage equality rally at the Utah state capitol, where he claimed that the anti-gay movement represents “true civil rights.” There have been several news reports about the event, but YouTube user Drew Stelter posted video of Brown’s speech.

In the speech, Brown pushed the narrative that conservative Christians are being persecuted by the increased acceptance of gay rights. While he acknowledged that there might be people of many faiths in the crowd, he made it clear exactly who his audience was: “I would say that it’s pretty likely that those of us here share some respect for our savior, Jesus Christ.”

Brown went on to compare the movement against marriage equality to Christians who fought against the Roman empire, slavery, and those at the head of the Civil Rights Movement in the U.S. “Throughout history, people of faith have stood up against gross injustices, stood up for true civil rights,” he said, adding later: “We stand up for the civil rights for all when we stand up for the truth about marriage.”

FRC Agrees Anti-Gay Activists Are Just Like Dred Scott

Whenever you hear about a member of the Virginia House of Delegates saying something ridiculously offensive or introducing a radical anti-gay or anti-choice law, there’s a pretty good bet that that delegate is Bob Marshall. 

So it was this week when Marshall attacked state Attorney General Mark Herring for refusing to defend Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban in court by comparing himself and fellow anti-gay activists to Dred Scott. While we weren’t surprised to hear Marshall making an over-the-top statement comparing himself to an enslaved person denied citizenship because of his race, we weren’t necessarily expecting the Family Research Council to trumpet their “good friend” Marshall’s remarks. But then we got this email from the FRC touting “The Marshall Plan…on Marriage”:

Days after announcing his refusal to carry out his most basic duty -- upholding the state constitution's marriage amendment -- Herring is facing more than criticism. Thanks to Virginia Delegate Bob Marshall (R), he may also be staring down some weighty repercussions. This week, Del. Marshall, a good friend to FRC, filed a complaint with the Virginia State Bar over Herring's refusal to enforce the will of 57% of the people. "Herring has put all of us in the position of Dred Scott, who had no right to counsel in federal court. An attorney general has a duty to support those laws that are constitutional, and an attorney general has just as strong an obligation and duty to defend laws that he has concluded are unconstitutional..."

Marshall is the “good friend” of FRC who once said that children with disabilities are God’s punishment for abortion, reacted to the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, by lamenting that “it's a distraction when I'm on the battlefield and have to concentrate on the enemy 600 yards away and I'm worried about this guy whose got eyes on me,” and led the effort to defeat the nomination of an openly gay judge, questioning how he would rule in a "bar room fight between a homosexual and heterosexual."

Ted Cruz vs. The Religious Right: Is Putin Tyrant Or Savior?

Is it possible to talk about human rights abuses in Russia in the context of the Olympics and not once mention Russia’s anti-gay laws, the rising tide of anti-gay violence, or the controversy over the impact that Russia’s anti-gay “propaganda” law might have on athletes and visitors? Sure, if you’re Sen. Ted Cruz speaking at an event hosted by the Heritage Foundation. 

Cruz, darling of the Religious Right and Tea Party, slammed Russia’s “increasingly autocratic” president at the January 28 Heritage event.  He portrayed Vladimir Putin as a tyrant systematically working to crush Ukrainian independence and reassemble the old Soviet Union. And of course he took the opportunity to slam the Obama administration, which he said was not standing up forcefully for human rights.

Following Cruz to the microphone was Katrina Lantos Swett, Vice Chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. Swett, a “proud Democrat,” detailed a litany of anti-democratic laws adopted in Putin’s Russia, including “religious freedom” and “extremism” laws that give the government wide latitude to discriminate against minority religions, including Muslims, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Pentecostal Christians.  She said the Russian government is undermining civil society with severe restrictions on protests and the return of Soviet-era tactics like sentencing dissidents to psychiatric treatment. Swett did mention the anti-gay “propaganda” law in her list of Putin’s anti-democratic actions.

There are a couple remarkable things about this panel, other than finding myself in agreement with Cruz about something (Putin is an anti-democratic strongman).

First, in his 26-minute speech and during the Q&A, at an event about human rights and the Olympics, Cruz did not breathe a word about the raging controversy over Russia’s attacks on the rights and lives of LGBT people. The closest Cruz came was mentioning, as an example of Putin’s efforts to crush dissent, his moves against “a punk rock band.” Cruz joked about his unwillingness to say the band’s name (Pussy Riot).

Second, Cruz is clearly at odds with anti-gay and anti-abortion leaders in the U.S. who have been busily praising Putin as the defender of traditional values and savior of Christianity. Liberty Counsel’s Matt Barber, for example, has said Putin is being allowed to “out-Christian our once-Christian nation.” The American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer has called Putin “the lion of Christianity, the defender of Christian values, the president that’s calling his nation back to embracing its identity as a nation founded on Christian values.”

In fact there is a whole gaggle of Religious Right leaders who have, as Miranda has reported, fallen all over themselves to praise Putin and his anti-free-speech, anti-gay crackdown. And some of them have done more than just praise Putin. Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage traveled to Russia to build support for anti-gay legislation. The Illinois-based Howard Center for Family, Religion, and Society is excited about heading to Moscow for its 2014 “World Congress of Families” summit.

Cruz was eager to criticize the Obama administration for not advocating more strongly for human rights in Russia, but what does he have to say about his Religious Right pals who are actively praising and enabling Putin’s anti-democratic moves? And who have attacked the Obama administration’s efforts to promote the human rights of LGBT people abroad? We’re listening.

'Family' Group: 'Pimp' Jay-Z And 'Homosexual Faux-Pastorette' Queen Latifah Hurl Grammys 'Spitball' at God

Anti-gay activists including Rush Limbaugh, Fox News’ Todd Starnes, and the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer and Tim Wildmon have been having a field day this week attacking the Grammy Awards for hosting a performance involving a mass marriage that included same-sex couples. Today, the Illinois Family Association, the state affiliate of the AFA, joined the fray, sending out an email attacking the awards show for contributing to the “destruction of marriage.”

IFI’s “cultural analyst” Laurie Higgins writes that the Grammys were “a tragic freak show” and “a gawdy[sic] spitball hurled in the all-seeing eye of a holy God.”

The wedding ceremony, Higgins writes, was “a sorry, sick, non-serious ceremony that looked like something from the garish dystopian world of the Hunger Games” and “a non-wedding festooned with all the indulgent gimcrackery [sic] of Satan's most alluring playground: Hollywood.” She particularly attacks “homosexual faux-pastorette” Queen Latifah and “the Dorian Gray-esque” Madonna for taking part in the proceedings.

But Higgins disapproval goes beyond the same-sex marriage portion of the entertainment. She also criticizes Beyoncé -- the object of a fewrecent tirades from the Right -- for providing a “vulgar anti-woman, anti-marriage performance” that Higgins compares to “soft-core porn.”

“Beyoncé has abused her power as a beloved role model for young girls to teach them terrible lessons about sexuality and marriage,” Higgins writes. Her anger extends also to Beyoncé’s husband Jay-Z, whom she claims “seems to revel in the lustings of strangers for his wife.”

Is it money that motivates his eager embrace of his wife's immodesty, or pride that he has access to her body when all other leering men do not?” Higgins asks. “If it's money, how is he different from a pimp?”

This past Sunday night's Grammy awards was a tragic freak show that demonstrated the entertainment industry's arrogance, ignorance of marriage, and disregard for children. It was a gawdy spitball hurled in the all-seeing eye of a holy God.

The spectacle was bookended by a soft-core porn performance by the not-single lady Beyoncé who twerked and jerked her half-revealed derriere in a series of "dance" moves that simulated sex and stimulated sexual appetite, while the crowd cheered in puerile excitement.

Beyoncé was later joined by her husband Jay-Z who seems to revel in the lustings of strangers for his wife. What kind of man gets pleasure from his wife's flaunting of her sexuality and from the certain knowledge that men desire to do things to his wife because of her arousing dress and actions? Is it money that motivates his eager embrace of his wife's immodesty, or pride that he has access to her body when all other leering men do not? If it's money, how is he different from a pimp?

Beyoncé's performance reinforced the cultural deceit that modesty and the notion that conjugal love is private are archaic puritanical irrelevancies. Beyoncé has abused her power as a beloved role model for young girls to teach them terrible lessons about sexuality and marriage. Her performance raises many questions:

  • What motivates a young, married mother to flaunt her partially-exposed sexual anatomy to the world and simulate sex movements?
  • Deep down is this what she truly wants to do?
  • Deep down does she really want her husband to delight in the objectification and commodification of her body for the prurient pleasures of other men?
  • Would Jay-Z and Beyoncé want their daughter to one day perform like her mother for the pleasures of men? What would they think about an 18-year-old Blue Ivy recreating her mother's performance but in a seedy club for the eyes of less expensively attired and botoxed men and women?
  • Is Beyoncé comfortable with her father watching her performance?
  • What kind of mixed message does this performance send to children? Parents and pediatricians tell children that parts of their bodies are "private parts" that only parents and doctors should look at or touch. We convey that message to them from the earliest prepubescent ages. So, what happens after sexual maturity? Do those "private parts" suddenly become public parts?
  • Is modesty in dress the same as prudery, or is it a virtue to be cultivated?

Beyoncé's vulgar anti-woman, anti-marriage performance foreshadowed the climactic setpiece of the evening: Queen Latifah, long-rumored to be a lesbian, officiated at the "weddings" of 33 couples, many of whom were same-sex couples, while accompanied by the preachy, feckless song "Same Love" by Macklemore and the song "Open Your Heart" by the Dorian Gray-esque Madonna. It was a sorry, sick, non-serious ceremony that looked like something from the garish dystopian world of the Hunger Games, replete with a cheering sycophantic audience, faux-stained glass windows, a faux-choir, a homosexual faux-pastorette, and "Madonna" with her faux-face. It was a non-wedding festooned with all the indulgent gimcrackery of Satan's most alluring playground: Hollywood.

Sponsor Of South Dakota Anti-Gay Bill Warns Gay Rights Taking Us 'Down The Road of Iran'

The sponsor of a South Dakota bill that would allow businesses to deny services to same-sex weddings or any others that violate their “sincerely held religious beliefs,” told the Associated Press today that gay rights are taking the United States “down the road of Iran.”

Rep. Steve Hickey, Republican of Sioux Falls, is one of two primary sponsors of a bill that would allow any person or business to “decline to provide certain wedding services or goods due to the free exercise of religion.”

Hickey told the AP that “religious rights need to continue to trump gay rights” in order to prevent the country from “heading down the road to Iran,” an odd argument since Iran is a theocracy in which gay people can face flogging or the death penalty.

Hickey, pastor of a Sioux Falls church, said a court ruling legalizing gay marriage in South Dakota might expose him to lawsuits or prosecution because he believes in traditional marriage between a man and a woman.

“Religious rights need to continue to trump gay rights. Otherwise, we’re heading down the road of Iran, where it’s convert or die, be quiet or die,” Hickey said. “If we want to talk about church and state, this is a bill that keeps the state out of my church.”

The bill is clearly aimed at LGBT people, but its wording is ambiguous, potentially opening the door for many other kinds of discrimination as well.

In an interview with the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, Hickey seemed to oppose provisions in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that prohibit private businesses from discriminating on the basis of race, saying, “Let the market bear it out. If there’s some racist group, they can boycott it.” He also claimed that he would support allowing businesses to deny wedding services to Christians.

South Dakota does not currently allow same-sex marriage, but the bill covers receptions and other “wedding services or goods.” UCLA law professor Eugene Voloch pointed out to the Argus Leader that South Dakota doesn’t have a law preventing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, so people in the state “are already free to discriminate, even much more broadly, based on sexual orientation.”

State Sen. Angie Buhl O’Donnell noted to the Argus Leader that clergy are already protected from participating in wedding ceremonies to which they have religious objections. She called Hickey’s bill “mean-spirited.”

GOP: Sensitivity Training in Animal House

When we learned last month that John Boehner was providing "sensitivity training" to his male Republican colleagues, I knew we would be in for a treat.
PFAW

Schlafly Claims 'Many Americans' Moving Out of Marriage Equality States In Protest

We’ve all heard anecdotal stories of gay and lesbian couples traveling or even moving to marriage equality states to tie the knot. But according to Phyllis Schlafly, there’s a migration going the other way too. In her latest radio commentary, Schlafly claims that “many Americans are dissenting with their feet, by moving away from same-sex marriage states and into the many states that continue to recognize the value of marriage as being between only one man and one woman.”

The liberal media must be covering up this mass exodus from marriage equality states, because we haven’t heard a single story of someone doing this.

The Court held that because the U.S. Supreme Court had recently ordered that federal benefits be granted to same-sex couples who are married under state law, the civil union law in New Jersey was inadequate to ensure that homosexual couples in New Jersey are able to receive the same benefits as married couples.

There was no dissent from the New Jersey Court’s ruling, not even by Christie’s own judicial appointments. But many Americans are dissenting with their feet, by moving away from same-sex marriage states and into the many states that continue to recognize the value of marriage as being between only one man and one woman.

Windsor's Ripples of Equality

Citing Windsor, a 9th Circuit panel rules that government classifications based on sexual orientation are subject to heightened scrutiny.
PFAW Foundation

Breaking: Federal Judge Rules Same-Sex Marriage Ban in Oklahoma Unconstitutional

Today a federal judge found Oklahoma’s ban on marriages for same-sex couples to be unconstitutional. While this is great news, same-sex couples are not yet able to marry in the state because the decision is stayed – in other words, on hold – pending appeal.

As victories for marriage equality continue to stack up across the country, it is increasingly clear that the march toward full equality nationwide cannot be halted. Congratulations, Oklahoma!
 

PFAW Foundation

South Carolina Senate Candidate: Impeach Pro-Equality Judges, Give Teachers Machine Guns

South Carolina state senator Lee Bright, who is challenging Sen. Lindsey Graham in this year’s Republican primary, suggested to a Tea Party group today that Congress should impeach federal judges who rule in favor of marriage equality in order to intimidate other judges into doing “the right thing.”

Discussing the recent federal ruling legalizing marriage equality in Utah, Bright told Tea Party Express, “Congress ought to stand up and do its job and impeach one of these federal judges. And I think when you do that, being a federal judge is a pretty good gig, and I think if you’ll impeach just one, the rest of them will do the right thing. And they’ll do it out of necessity, because self-preservation is an instinct that so many folks have.”

The Constitution grants lifetime appointments to federal judges “during good behavior.” In the nation’s history, only eight federal judges have been impeached and removed from office by Congress –most for committing crimes or severely neglecting their duties.

Later in the interview, Bright launched into a discourse on the balance between liberty and security, including a rant that we don’t quite understand about how “there are institutions that can put you in a room that you can’t harm yourself but you’re not free, and I would rather take the risk and be free.”

This led him to the topic of gun laws, on which he said the U.S. should follow Israel’s example, including putting “teachers with machine guns on playgrounds.”

"You look over at Israel, and that’s an armed group of folks over there,” he said. “I mean, they are teachers with machine guns on playgrounds, because you got terrorists over there that would choose to harm children and whose teachers are there to protect them. When you’ve got folks that are armed and able to defend themselves, the threat of terrorism goes down drastically.”

In fact, Israel has much stricter gun control laws than the U.S. does and in 1995 mandated guards at the entrances to schools to protect against terrorism. As an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman put it, “We're fighting terrorism, which comes under very specific geopolitical and military circumstances. This is not something that compares with the situation in the U.S.” Also, we weren’t able to find anything about Israeli teachers walking around playgrounds with machine guns.

We’ve previously reported on Bright’s attacks on the social safety net and violent anti-government rhetoric.

US Conservative Groups Supported Nigerian Anti-Gay Law That Led to Wave of Arrests

The Associated Press is reporting that “dozens of gay men” have been arrested in northern Nigeria as a result of a new law strengthening the country’s prohibition on homosexuality, in what public health groups fear will be a setback to efforts to fight AIDS.

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — Police, working off a list of 168 suspects purportedly obtained through torture, are arresting dozens of gay men in Nigeria's northern Bauchi state, human rights activists said Tuesday.

A new law in Nigeria, dubbed the "Jail the Gays" bill, is encouraging the persecution of gays and will endanger programs fighting HIV-AIDS in the gay community, said Dorothy Aken'Ova, executive director of Nigeria's International Center for Reproductive Health and Sexual Rights.

On Monday, President Goodluck Jonathan's office confirmed that the Nigerian leader signed the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act that criminalizes gay marriage, gay organizations and anyone working with or promoting them.

CBS notes that “sodomy has been illegal in Nigeria for many years...in some parts of Nigeria’s Muslim-majority north where strict Sharia law is upheld, gays and lesbians risk being stoned to death if they are caught.”

This seems like a good time, then, to look back at the American religious right’s support for Nigeria’s harsh penalties for its LGBT residents and opposition to Obama administration efforts to protect LGBT rights abroad.

In 2011, when then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that the Obama administration would work to protect LGBT rights abroad – including in places like Nigeria that criminalize homosexuality -- the religious right exploded in anger. Pat Robertson called the policy “appalling” and warned of God’s wrath in response. Radio host Janet Mefferd cited Nigeria’s anti-gay laws in a rant against the Obama administration’s policy, saying “I don’t see that this is something that the United States has to jump in on because it’s such a huge global tragedy. It’s crazy.” The Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute also cited Nigeria’s move to tighten criminal sanctions on homosexuality in its opposition to the Obama administration policy.

Liberty Counsel’s Matt Barber, the anti-gay group MassResistance, and Family Watch International’s Sharon Slater have also supported Nigeria’s anti-gay laws at various stages.

We wonder if any of these groups will comment about this wave of arrests.

PFAW Foundation Staffer Reacts to Utah Marriage Battle in CNN Op-Ed

It has been a roller-coaster few weeks for marriage equality in Utah, where a legal battle over the state’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples continues and more than a thousand marriages are caught in limbo.

On Friday People For the American Way Foundation Major Gifts Associate Tyler Hatch reacted to the struggle in Utah, and his op-ed was featured by CNN.

Hatch writes:

Regardless of the ultimate outcome of Kitchen v. Loving (Utah’s marriage equality case currently under review by the 10th Circuit) the issue of marriage equality is once again before the Mormon or LDS church.

I was raised LDS and went to church nearly every Sunday until I was 18. I participated in weekly youth meetings, attended Boy Scout outings, and was a leader within my church. By all accounts I appeared to be the model youth, however inside I was dejected. Severe depression, suicidal thoughts, and extreme self-loathing plagued my adolescent and teen years due to an overwhelming sense of guilt regarding my sexuality.

….Whether it is in the halls of elementary schools, the wedding chapel, or feeling secure and safe in the workplace there is much work to be done. LGBT equality is an issue that will surely grip our generation for years to come. As society becomes more accepting of LGBT individuals I remain optimistic that progress will be made, at least within civil society.

….There are no easy answers for the countless number of LGBT individuals with conservative religious backgrounds and the struggle to find an identity within that intersection is a fight that will continue throughout our lives.

PFAW Foundation

Illinois Family Institute Warns Of 'Eternal' Consequences For Notre Dame LGBT Group

The Illinois Family Institute, the state affiliate of the American Family Association that led the unsuccessful fight against marriage equality last year, is back to fighting smaller battles, this time attacking the University of Notre Dame for officially recognizing an LGBT group.

In an open letter to Notre Dame president Rev. John Jenkins posted on IFI’s website, the group’s “cultural analyst” Laurie Higgins expresses her “disappointment” that Notre Dame has for the first time recognized a student LGBT group, or as she calls it, “those who affirm homosexual acts and acts related to gender confusion as normative and morally defensible.”

Higgins tells Jenkins that in recognizing its LGBT students, Notre Dame might as well affirm “other sin predispositions” like incest or pedophilia.

She then turns to the eternal consequences of LGBT organizing, warning that openly LGBT students will bring “nothing but temporal and eternal harm” to themselves and their colleagues.

I also want to express my disappointment that Notre Dame has chosen to recognize a “student organization” initiated and shaped by those who affirm homosexual acts and acts related to gender confusion as normative and morally defensible. In permitting an organization that affirms subjective moral propositions that defy Catholic (as well as orthodox Protestant) doctrine, Notre Dame’s distinct Catholic identity has been weakened. Would Notre Dame recognize other “student organizations” initiated by those who affirm other sin predispositions (e.g. polyamory, consensual adult incest, or the “sexual orientation” recently designated “minor-attracted persons”)?


If the Notre Dame-recognized “LGBT” organization had been initiated by those who were committed to helping “LGBT” students live lives that embody Catholic beliefs on sexuality and gender, such an organization would be a service to Notre Dame students. Unfortunately, the central goals of students who affirm a homosexual or “transgender” identity are contrary to Catholic doctrine and as such can bring nothing but temporal and eternal harm—intellectual, emotional, physical, and/or spiritual harm—to “LGBT”-identifying students and the larger Notre Dame community.

Higgins did, however, praise Jenkins for Notre Dame’s challenge to the Affordable Care Act’s contraception coverage mandate.

Utah Eagle Forum Compares 'Disturbing And Disruptive' Homosexuality to Murder, Theft

A sample letter opposing a proposed state antidiscrimination measure circulated by the Utah Eagle Forum this week calls homosexuality a “disturbing and disruptive” “personal weakness,” which the group compares to “theft, dishonesty [and] murder.”

Fox 13 reporter Max Roth, who attended an Eagle Forum event on the antidiscrimination bill Wednesday, posted an image of the letter on Twitter, which was then spotted by On Top Magazine. The meeting was led by Utah Eagle Forum head Gayle Ruzicka.

The sample letter, signed by Orem Eagle Forum president Barbara Petty, asks the antidiscrimination bill’s sponsor Sen. Steve Urquhart, “What were you thinking?”

“Any confusion a man or woman has for their gender other than the gender that they were born with, is their personal weakness,” Petty writes. “We all have weaknesses and some are more disturbing and or disruptive than others. There is no need to categorize weaknesses.”

“However our God inspired Founding Fathers included words in describing our Constitution as a document good only for a moral people,” she continues. “Deviant sexual life styles are immoral.”

The letter goes on to compare discrimination against “immorality” to discrimination against “theft, dishonesty [and] murder” and berates Urquhart for promoting “oppression of the majority by the minority.”

We’ve transcribed the letter from Roth’s photograph. Sic throughout, bolding is ours.

Barbara Petty
Orem, UT

August 2013

Dear Senator Urqhart

We raise our voices in extreme rejection of the Anti-Discrimination Bill that you sponsored.

To propose such an option in support of a questionable life style is unacceptable.

God’s word says he created man and woman in his image. Any confusion a man or woman has for their gender other than the gender that they were born with, is their personal weakness.

We all have weaknesses and some are more disturbing and or disruptive than others. There is no need to categorize weaknesses.

However our God inspired Founding Fathers included words in describing our Constitution as a document good only for a moral people.

Deviant sexual life styles are immoral. We urge you to withdraw your anti discrimination bill and any further activity in that direction.

We discriminate against immorality, theft, dishonesty, murder etcetera and as our representative in the Utah Senate your oath of office is to uphold the constitution. We hold you to the oath you have taken.

Such action as described in the anti discrimination bill allowing a man to say he feels like a woman and wants to use the bathroom and shower facilities for women is a disgrace to the sacred covenants we have with the God of this world and offends all decency.

It is also a complete perversion of sentiment in that, in order to make a small minority feel more “comfortable” in their unnatural behavior, the overwhelming majority must suffer being uncomfortable in natural behavior. It is not an abuse of a minority to reject its abuse of the sensibilities of the majority.

Isaiah 5:20 says: “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness, that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”

What were you thinking?

Please don’t consider oppression of the majority by the minority to be good.

Sincerely,

Barbara Petty

cc: Senator Ralph Okerlund (who voted in favor to bring this Bill out of committee)
      Senator Peter Knudson (who voted in favor to bring this Bill out of committee)

You can view Roth’s report from the event and another anti-antidiscrimination event the same day here.

Indiana Marriage Equality Opponents Kick Off Campaign With Ominous Ads

The first TV ads have hit the airwaves in Indiana’s debate over putting a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage on the ballot.

The two ads, which the Indiana-based group Advance America says it is paying “several thousand dollars” to air, play ominous music over a picture of the state capitol in front of cloudy skies. One shows the members of state committee considering the ballot measure. In the other, the words “freedom” and “right to vote” float across the screen as actors say “let me vote.”

“You Deserve the Right to Vote…to Protect Marriage in Indiana!” the ad concludes.

Advance America is the same group that has been distributing flyers warning that marriage equality will result in the imprisonment of pastors and lead the state to “legalize ‘gender identity.’”

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