Posts tagged "Homophobia"

thepoliticalfreakshow:

Fighting & WInning Against Proposition 8

On August 19, 2009, Jo Becker of the Times wrote a front-page profile of Ted Olson, the most well-known and highly regarded conservative lawyer in the country, who had filed a federal lawsuit challenging California’s Proposition 8, which amended the state constitution to prohibit gay marriage. Olson said that he hoped to take the argument to the Supreme Court, to seek a ruling that the Constitution guaranteed every gay and lesbian the right to marry. What’s more, Olson was joined in the lawsuit by one of the most prominent left-leaning attorneys in the country, David Boies, who had been Olson’s opposing counsel in Bush v. Gore. Boies, like Olson, is straight. Becker quoted Paul Katami, one of the gay plaintiffs in the California case, describing how Olson “put his arm around me and said, ‘We’re going to plan your wedding in a couple of years—this is going to happen.’ ”

I remember reading the story at the time and thinking, “This is clever.” A lot of people who were not in favor of same-sex marriage—or who weren’t even thinking about it, as it was only allowed in five states—might now seriously consider the issue. If two of the best lawyers in America, from opposite sides of the political spectrum, joined forces, and had resources comparable to those that they enjoyed when battling on behalf of corporate clients, it seemed like they had a real chance of convincing the Supreme Court that the Constitution did guarantee a right to marry.

The story was so intriguing to Becker that she covered it, full time, for almost five years, arranging with the plaintiffs and their lawyers to obtain unrestricted access to them during the case, on the condition that she not publish the complete story until after it was over. Her book, “Forcing the Spring: Inside the Fight for Marriage Equality,” will be released on Tuesday. (I was interviewed for the book.)

The book focuses on Chad Griffin, a Los Angeles political consultant, Hollywood fund-raiser, and former staffer in the Clinton White House (where he and I briefly worked together). Soon after the passage of Proposition 8, in November, 2008, the idea of hiring Olson was serendipitously suggested to Griffin by an acquaintance of one of his clients, who happened to drop in on their lunch one day at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Griffin was pained by the success of the anti-gay initiative and, like a good public-relations man, he knew better than to pass up a headline-grabbing idea. Olson, much to Griffin’s surprise, was more than eager to take up a challenge to what he regarded as the violation of a constitutionally guaranteed right to marry. Olson and Griffin decided to enlist a liberal co-counsel, to help convince gay-rights groups that their plan was not a sinister anti-gay scheme. After their first two choices declined, Boies agreed to sign on—Becker suggests that Boies liked the case from the start, in part because “its history-making potential and odd-couple story line was sure to garner huge amounts of press interest.” (The lawyers and their backers were so sure of this that they not only arranged for Becker to have behind-the-scenes access, they also had a documentary film crew and an award-winning photographer chronicle the story.)

Their strategy was simple: draw attention to the issue by featuring these new and unlikely advocates; wrap the cause in the American flag; embrace support from those who had come late to the fight; and orchestrate the whole thing like a political campaign. As we now know, this was, in many ways, a brilliant stroke, politically if not legally. The Proposition 8 lawsuit did not succeed in obtaining the broad Supreme Court ruling that Olson and Griffin had hoped for; the justices decided that their opponents didn’t have standing, and left in place a lower-court ruling overturning California’s ban. That did restore marriage rights to couples in that state; still, if that was all that the court had ruled that summer, it might have been viewed as a disappointment. But it was decided the same day as the Supreme Court’s historic decision in the case brought by Edie Windsor and her lawyer Roberta Kaplan to overturn the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Becker reports that Olson and Griffin originally considered fashioning their case as a challenge to DOMA, but did not want to pit themselves against President Obama, whose Department of Justice would have had to defend the law. Still, there is no question that the Proposition 8 case was a major factor in the shift in public opinion that laid the political groundwork for Windsor.

It was the Court’s ruling in Windsor, not the Proposition 8 case, that has become the legal basis for a number of other cases seeking full federal recognition of same-sex marriage rights, which are now working their way through the appeals courts. One or more of these cases—possibly including a new one brought by Olson and Boies—will reach the Supreme Court in a year or two. As Becker describes in considerable detail, the California case and the strategy behind it worried and angered the established gay-rights legal community, which believed that the suit was too aggressive, might precipitate a Supreme Court ruling that could set back the cause, and was liable to upset the long-gestating, incremental legal strategy already under way—not to mention that two straight corporate lawyers, Boies and Olson, would get the credit if it succeeded. Becker reports that Paul Smith, the openly gay lawyer who argued Lawrence v. Texas before the Supreme Court, turned down a request to join the case from Olson and Griffin, because he believed that their approach was too risky. There was more to that than Becker perhaps acknowledges. But the Proposition 8 argument turned out to be insightful: it anticipated a developing shift in American public opinion on this issue, while at the same time helping to accelerate it. And whatever the internal battles, other gay civil-rights groups were at least publicly supportive of it. They helped to lay that groundwork, too.

Becker’s account of the hearings, and her analysis of the complicated legal theories involved in the long appeals process, are excellent. Her writing about the four plaintiffs in the case—the true emotional heroes of this book—is particularly affecting. The book is not, however, a neutral account of what happened: it is an account as seen largely through the eyes of Griffin and Olson. It could be argued that Becker is not sufficiently careful in drawing attention to this distinction, but I think any knowledgeable reader will understand that this is the case. The book is a rather adoring narrative profile of these two men and what they went through in an effort to change history, and perhaps to make their own personal marks on it. Here are a recently “out” and fairly conservative young gay Democrat from Arkansas and a very prominent Republican attorney who symbolized the triumphant conservatism of the Bush years, joining forces to fight for gay equality.

Even before its release, the book has attracted considerable attention: an excerpt appeared in the Times Magazine, detailing Obama’s own struggle to “evolve” on the issue, which I wrote about here. Late in the book, Charles Cooper, the lawyer who argued against Olson and Boies, reveals to Becker that his daughter is a lesbian—and this tidbit was leaked to the press last week to help create more pre-publication buzz. The portrait of Cooper, whom Becker interviewed at length after the case ended, is beautifully nuanced. “My views evolve on issues of this kind the same way as other people’s do, and how I view this down the road may not be the way I view it now, or how I viewed it ten years ago,” Cooper told her. That kind of admission would seem to be the whole point.

For the most part, Becker does not write about participants in the campaign for marriage equality who were not directly involved in bringing the Proposition 8 case, except to highlight their skepticism about what she clearly believes was an excellent legal strategy. Indeed, a reader coming to the story only through this book would miss something important about the roles of Evan Wolfson, whose Harvard Law School thesis formed the basis for the marriage-equality movement and who has continued to be a legal and political leader on the topic; Andrew Sullivan, who gave the movement intellectual heft with his writings on gay marriage in the nineties; and Mary Bonauto, the adored lawyer for the movement who brought the first successful marriage case in Massachusetts, among many others.

Anyone who wants a complete history and overview of the gay-rights movement can read Linda Hirshman’s excellent and comprehensive “Victory: The Triumphant Gay Revolution,” published in 2012, or, even before that, Dudley Clendinen and Adam Nagourney’s “Out for Good: The Struggle to Build a Gay Rights Movement in America,” published in 2001, which is still a treasure. But if you are interested in the story of how a Hollywood political consultant and a conservative lawyer joined forces in 2009, in the belief that they could really make a difference, and, no doubt, gain some notoriety for themselves and their cause, helping to dramatically change the way Americans thought of gay people and the way gay people thought of themselves—this book is for you. The real story it tells is how seemingly small moments, occurring by happenstance, when combined with boldness and imagination, can help to change the course of history. There is a moment toward the end of the book when Olson expresses some self-doubt, as he prepares to argue the case before the Supreme Court, but one of his longtime conservative friends tells him, “You’ve already won.”

Richard Socarides is an attorney and longtime gay-rights advocate. He served in the White House during the Clinton Administration and has also been a political strategist. He now oversees public affairs at GLG. Opinions expressed here are only his own. Follow him on Twitter @Socarides.

Photograph of Ted Olson by Amanda Edwards/Getty.

Source: Richard Socarides for The New Yorker

h/t: Adam Peck at Think Progress LGBT

think-progress

Ray Comfort, along with many other Religious Right activists, is incensed by the new movie ‘Noah,’ and went as far as to make his own alternative film. In an appearance yesterday on The Janet Mefferd Show, Comfort warned that Americans will soon face divine punishment because they, like the ancient Hebrews, are “running around naked, having an orgy.” -

[…]

He later traced all of America’s problems, such as “pornography, fornication and every sexual sin they can imagine,” to evolution, warning that “evolution gives license” to sin.

“Evolution is a hill to die on for the world,” Comfort said. “Anything goes: homosexuality, adultery, fornication, no matter what, it’s fine.”

Mefferd added that evolution has brought about “the Last Days” and the return of “the days of Noah.”

From the 04.16.2014 edition of Salem Radio Network’s The Janet Mefferd Show:

h/t: Brian Tashman at RWW

h/t: Miranda Blue at RWW

H/T: Brian Tashman at RWW

h/t: Miranda Blue at RWW

h/t: Andrew Kaczynski and Gideon Resnick at BuzzFeed

h/t: Tim Peacock at Peacock Panache

imageMike Huckabee: How can Obama support same-sex marriage and call himself a Christian? (via Raw Story )

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) attacked President Barack Obama on Friday night over his support of same-sex marriage. Mediaite reported that Huckabee was appearing on “The O’Reilly Factor” with substitute host Laura Ingraham when he made…



 

thepoliticalfreakshow:

Senate Bill 2681 has returned to the Mississippi legislature, resurrected by Senate and House Republicans during the last week of the three-month legislative session. SB 2681, the Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act (PDF here), is one of many bills introduced in the states this year aimed at creating a “license to discriminate” against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people into law.

Opponents thought the bill had been temporarily defeated in early March when the controversial language was amended to institute a study committee in its place. Now, it’s closer to its original form.

Section 1 of the bill says, “Government shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, except as provided in paragraph (b) of this subsection.”

In practical terms, for example, that would mean that a hotel or restaurant owner could refuse service to gay customers while claiming “exercise of religion” and government would have no recourse.

New to the bill is this, found in lines 16-18 of Section 1:

(b) Laws “neutral” toward religion may burden religious exercise as surely as laws intended to interfere with religious exercise; (c) Government should not substantially burden religious exercise without compelling justification;

The target of this section seems to make it clear that the bill is meant to reach far beyond just attacking LGBT rights. In fact, it seems to hint at a case before the Supreme Court right now, Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby. In what could prove to be a landmark decision, the Supreme Court will decide whether or not corporations can refuse to provide female employees healthcare that includes birth control on the basis of religious belief (and thus whether or not corporations are people with all the rights people enjoy – including free exercise of religion).

The requirement that all healthcare plans include birth control for women may be one of those “neutral” laws that SB 2681 now mocks with quotation marks. This bill would make it clear that employers in Mississippi can refuse to comply with laws that don’t like on religious grounds. So if an employer who happens to be a Jehova’s Witness wants to deny employees access to healthcare that includes blood transfusions (which Jehova’s Witnesses are religiously opposed to), the government would have to provide a compelling justification before “interfering with” the employer’s “free exercise.”

The possibilities the quote-unquote “neutral” language introduces are truly myriad. The point, of course, is to say that there is almost nothing over which a claim of religious belief does not take precedence. A law doesn’t have to be intended to interfere with religious exercise; a religious person just has to claim it interferes.

This version of the bill goes beyond protecting free exercise of religion, instead solidly establishing claims of religious exercise in a privileged position above all else.

The bill makes explicit that it applies to all state laws, rules, regulations, and municipal and county ordinances. That could jeopardize recent advances made in Starkville, Hattiesburg, and Oxford, where anti-discrimination effort – including discrimination against LGBT people and other minority – via diversity resolutions have passed to great fanfare in recent months.

The bill still protects the interests of the business community, ensuring that “nothing in this act shall create any rights by an employee against an employer if the employer is not the government.” So, while the act does mean that employers can discriminate against employees and customers on the basis of religious exercise, employees are definitively barred from doing the same in reverse.

The Arizona-style “license to discriminate” bill goes back to a vote on the Mississippi House and Senate floors for an up-or-down vote. No further changes will be allowed. If it passes both houses, SB 2681 then goes to the governor’s desk.

Conservative talk show host Steve Deace writes in the Washington Times today that gay rights advocates are trying to instill a 1984-style “fascism,” and blames this development on the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down sodomy laws in Lawrence v. Texas.

“Every fascist movement in human history would be proud” of the gay rights movement, he writes, warning that the movement poses a greater threat to America than “jihadists” and is forcing Christians “debate our very existence” in the US.

h/t: Brian Tashman at RWW

h/t: Catherne Thompson at TPM

Mission America’s Linda Harvey went on The Janet Mefferd Show yesterday to promote her new book, “Maybe He’s Not Gay,” which encourages gay teenagers to renounce homosexuality.

Mefferd asked Harvey what advice she would give to the friends and family of a teen who wants to come out as gay. “The first thing,” Havey advised, is “they do not need to come out to everyone.”

"That’s the beginning of many troubling roads for young people," Harvey said of coming out. That’s when they announce it and they feel like they have to live up to that, or down to that, standard they set for themselves. And it begins to label them, they put these labels on themselves.”

From the 04.07.2014 edition of Salem Radio Network’s The Janet Mefferd Show:

h/t: Miranda Blue at RWW

Indiana pastor and BarbWire editor Jeff Allen, who has compared gays to Al QaedaNazis and the Ku Klux Klan, spoke to Rick Wiles of TruNews on Friday about his column attacking the Southern Baptist Convention for not being anti-gay enough. Wiles said that anti-gay activists need to become more vocal because gay rights advocates are literal Nazis who idolize Adolf Hitler.

Wiles said that anti-gay activists need to become more vocal because gay rights advocates are literal Nazis who idolize Adolf Hitler. Wiles said that Nazis had nothing to do with promoting the Aryan race but were instead bent on creating “a homosexual special race.”

“Hitler was trying to create a race of super gay male soldiers,” Wiles said, predicting that gay people in the US will realize Hitler’s goal and launch a mass “slaughter” of Christians.

Wiles: It’s not an exaggeration to say homofascist because the German Nazi Party was homosexual, Hitler was a homosexual, the top Nazi leadership, all of them were homosexuals, it was a radical homosexual movement that gained political power, military power, and they were creating a homosexual special race. That’s what it was all about. It wasn’t this thing about an Aryan race of white people, blue-eyed, blonde-haired, white people, Hitler was trying to create a race of super gay male soldiers. That’s what he was creating.

When you understand what the real agenda of the homosexual movement was in the 30s and 40s and you see it is happening now here in the United States of America. I’m telling you, this is not an exaggeration. If it’s not stopped, it will end up in America just like it was in Germany but it won’t be the Jews that will be slaughtered, it will be the Christians.

Allen: Right. We haven’t gotten, fortunately, to the slaughtering part, but we’re getting to the point of the marginalizing part. Marginalized, get us to the edge, remove us from any influence in society.

Later in the interview, Wiles called gay rights “the new Nazism” and said that gays will turn America into “a hellacious place to live and you’re going to have to go underground to be a Christian in this country.”

After Allen accused gays of “hunting [people] down,” Wiles said that gay rights advocates “want to put your head on the wall.”

Wiles: They are Nazi thought police and they’re going to be the worst kind of tyrants we’ve ever seen. The nightmare is only starting and if the Christians don’t get their act together, this is going to become a hellacious place to live and you’re going to have to go underground to be a Christian in this country. They’re going to hunt you down and they’re going to persecute you. That is the spirit that is alive in this country right now and is being embraced by political leaders in both parties, it is the new Nazism.

Allen: They already are hunting you down, they’re hunting you down. If they find out about you, they come after you.

Wiles: Yes. They’re looking for people. They want trophies, they want your head on the wall, they want to put your head on the wall, they’re looking for scalps because it emboldens them and it sends fear into their opponents. It is the worst kind of tyranny.

From the 04.04.2014 edition of TruNews:

h/t: Brian Tashman at RWW