Posts tagged "LGBT"

Conservative media figures that embody messages of misogyny and hate will take center stage at a GOP candidate forum in Iowa, despite the party’s own acknowledgment that future electoral victories hinge upon the development of a more tolerant platform.

After Mitt Romney’s loss in the 2012 presidential election, the Republican National Committee drafted a series of recommendations on how to evolve and grow the party into a force that can win consistently in the 21st century. To a large extent, the plan recommended reaching out to women and minorities, after Democrats won both groups by healthy margins that year. The RNC report recommended ”developing a forward-leaning vision for voting Republican that appeals to women.” It went on to suggest that the party needs “to campaign among Hispanic, black, Asian, and gay Americans and demonstrate that we care about them, too.”

But in a move that seems in total opposition to those recommendations, the Iowa Republican candidates for U.S. Senate, as well as Republican Gov. Terry Branstad and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), have chosen to partner with Fox News contributor Erick Erickson, radio host Steve Deace, and The Family Leader, an anti-gay organization headed by Bob Vander Plaats, to conduct a forum for the candidates on April 25.

Despite his role as “moderator” for the event, Erickson’s far-right views on women and minorities are anything but moderate. Erickson has argued that businesses that serve gay couples are “aiding and abetting” sin, that proposed anti-discrimination laws are part of a war on Christians waged by “evil” gay rights activists, and that marriage equality is akin to incest. According to the pundit, gay people are definitely “on the road to hell.”

In fact, Erickson is scheduled to appear at an event for the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) on the night before the candidate forum. The ADF, whose work has been touted by Erickson, is an extreme anti-gay organization working to criminalize homosexuality. The event is billed as “An Evening with Erick Erickson,” making him a de facto spokesman for a group whose stances are so extreme even some of Erickson’s peers at Fox News have distanced themselves from them.

Erickson’s relationship with women’s issues is just as offensive — he is particularly hostile to the idea that women should help support a family financially. Erickson stated on his radio show in 2013 that “some women believe they can have it all, and that’s the crux of the problem,” and told Fox host Lou Dobbs that the recent increase in the number of female breadwinners is “concerning and troubling.” He elaborated on this point, saying, “When you look at biology, look at the natural world, the roles of a male and female in society, and the other animals, the male typically is the dominant role.”

But it’s not just Erickson. The Republican candidate forum will also feature a post-forum focus group moderated by radio host and Washington Times columnist Steve Deace.

Deace maintains strong anti-gay and anti-immigrant views. Most recently, he penned a column suggesting that President Obama and the media were using the story of Michael Sam, an openly gay NFL prospect from the University of Missouri, as an excuse to distract attention away from the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya. He has also compared gay marriage to bank robbery and strongly opposes proposals like the DREAM Act that would aid longtime immigrant children in obtaining a college education.

And the forum itself is presented by The Family Leader, whose president Bob Vander Plaats has called gay people a “public health risk,” likened being gay to adultery and polygamy, and is a vocal supporter of the fringe birther movement.

If right-wing hate mongers like Erickson and Deace continue to be chosen to represent the party, GOP rebranding efforts are likely doomed.

h/t: Brian Powell at MMFA

H/T: Brian Tashman at RWW

h/t: Tim Peacock at Peacock Panache


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.


It’s finally here: Today is the Day of Silence! Reblog to show your support for everyone who’s participating. 

I proudly support the #DayofSilence. 

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois lawmakers voted down a bill banning so-called conversion therapy aimed at changing the sexual orientation of gay young people.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports the measure sponsored by Chicago Democratic Rep. Kelly Cassidy was defeated Thursday in the Illinois House on a 44-51 vote. Twenty-two members didn’t vote.

The measure would have prohibited mental health providers from providing the therapy to anyone under age 18.

The measure had been backed by gay and lesbian advocates, who argued the bill could have made Illinois a leader in protecting youth from “false and potentially dangerous treatment.”

But the conservative Illinois Family Institute opposed the bill, saying previously that it would prevent youths from getting counseling for “unwanted feelings.”

California and New Jersey have similar bans.



MLB could have its 1st openly gay player on an active 25-man roster soon

There is a gay major league baseball player. The public does not know his name. I don’t, either. He exists, though, and his world is so much different than one year ago.

Back then, there was actually a question of whether athletes would accept a gay player, whether fans would rebel against a man on account of his sexuality. Were we that naïve? Did we have that little faith in ourselves? AfterJason Collins and Michael Sam and the latest brave man to declare his truth in public, Derrick Gordon, it all seems silly, that sports – a place of transformative cultural change where the only necessary credential is talent – would reject someone on account of something so inconsequential to his ability to play.

What a great affirmation that these fears were drowned out by not just tolerance, as if who someone loves is something to tolerate, but welcome. That the two dozen or so ballplayers to whom I’ve posed the question – “Would you be OK with a gay teammate?” – have given some variety of the same answer: As long as he can play.

And that is why the day for baseball is soon coming as it has for the NBA, college basketball, college football and, wherever Sam lands, the NFL. Forget the heteronormative baseball clubhouse. Never mind the predominance of players who come from traditionally homophobic Latin American countries. Ignore the campaign to snuff out anyone who brings excessive attention to himself because it goes against the sport’s long-held code.

Baseball is ready, just as basketball and football were. Players say so, managers say so, executives say so. The momentum is so strong, the support so great and, best of all, the inspiration from Collins and Sam and Gordon so palpable. Divulging sexuality, it turns out, is the furthest thing from selfish; it is an incredibly selfless act, taking on the attention and questions so that not only are others in the future spared but they realize their anxieties aren’t warranted.

All of the concerns about 162 showers would disappear quickly amid a truth that only the willfully ignorant would ignore: Baseball is a microcosm of society, and American society, minus those who prefer to hold sacrosanct one passage of an old book over another, recognizes that blocking a person’s pathway to wholeness and happiness may be the greatest sin of all.

Inside the small circle of people whose quest to demystify sexuality in sports helped this last year turn into such a success, the question of Latin America has come up as a potential boundary. And yet the same was said about black culture in football and basketball, and look at what happened: The three highest-profile male athletes to out themselves all are black. This is not to say a Latin American player will break the boundary in baseball as much as it is to remind ourselves that fears and assumptions often die in the face of evolution.

As for the sport itself, and how it judges itself internally, one would hope the revelation of sexuality isn’t seen as something to draw attention. What once seemed like an unburdening now has turned into a cause, the sort behind which anyone could stand. Collins inspired Sam and Gordon, and each of them will inspire more, and baseball players everywhere will look at the first out major leaguer and feel a sense of understanding, of pride, of confidence that whatever problems he encounters, someone who has gone through the same sorts of things made it to the apex.

There is great power in that, and no sport – no culture – can deny its inevitability.

Baseball is America’s game, and it remains more reflective of modern-day America among its players than any sport. Its diversity is one of its great hallmarks. Such progressiveness would seem to translate rather easily. Glenn Burke, after all, was out to his Los Angeles Dodgers teammates for years, and that was almost 40 years ago.

His life wasn’t easy. He spent six months in a clubhouse that resembled then the same testosterone den it does today. Late last season, before a Sunday day game, a veteran rolled into a road clubhouse about an hour before the game. He was wearing the same clothes from the previous night. About half a dozen teammates gave him a rousing ovation, invited him to a table and asked him to provide details on the woman with whom he’d spent the night.

Of course, this isn’t unique to baseball. This is sports. And this is why if Collins and Sam and Gordon can thrive in such environments, a baseball player can, and will, do the same.

Whoever that is the public still does not know. I don’t, either. When he does meet the world, though, it will be a wonderful moment for him, for those now unafraid because of his pioneering ways and for a sport that’s more than ready.

h/t: Jeff Passan at Yahoo! Sports

h/t: Nicholas Riccardi at LGBTQNation

In late March 2014 World Vision announced its decision to change an employment policy.  The WV board decided to allow Christians in same-sex marriages to work for the institution.  Two days later, after a great deal of pressure and the withdrawal of financial support by some Christians and Christian groups, the decision was reversed.

We rejoiced in the initial announcement, and we grieve the reversal.

As World Vision President Richard Stearns suggested, sincere Christians believing in Scripture as God’s Word can disagree about the meaning of different Scriptural passages.

There are committed Christians who believe, honestly, that a few passages in the Bible referencing sexual activity between people of the same gender have been historically misconstrued.  Many of these Christians believe that the present struggle for gay civil rights is very similar to the courageous civil rights struggles of other persecuted minority groups throughout American history.

There are also committed Christians who believe, honestly, that homosexuality is sinful and flies in the face of what God desires.

Clearly there are disagreements, but disagreement does not have to compromise our work as Christians. Christians have worked together across their differences on a wide variety of issues, and they should continue to do so when a mission transcending narrow doctrinal matters is at stake.

When World Vision made its initial courageous decision to hire LGBT Christians they said they wanted to “come together across some differences and still join together as brothers and sisters in Christ in our common mission of building the kingdom.” (Stearns interview, Christianity Today)  We support this approach.

In this same vein, we support the initial decision of World Vision.  And, we call on Christian institutions to employ LGBT brothers and sisters in Christ who help further the mission of their institutions.

We sign as individuals, not speaking for our institutions.  But in some cases we have identified the institutions we are or have been affiliated with to demonstrate the depth and breadth of Christian support for the LGBT community.
Download pdf

World Vision USA should have NEVER caved in to the religious right bullies and kooks by reversing the allowance of LGBTQ Christians to work for World Vision. 

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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

Glenn Beck reacted to the news that Brendan Eich had resigned from his new position as CEO of Mozilla following an outcry and boycotts stemming from his support from California’s Proposition 8 exactly as you would expect Glenn Beck to react: with a lot of shouting punctuated by a diatribe about whether he is supposed to use the words “gay,” “homosexual,” or “queer.”

He doesn’t know which one to use, Beck said, because gay activists groups “are becoming nothing but a terrorist organization” who are continually changing the rules in order to keep people in a constant state of fear.

From the 04.04.2014 edition of TheBlaze Radio Network’s The Glenn Beck Radio Program:

h/t: Kyle Mantyla at RWW


The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced today that same-sex spouses will be recognized in administering several aspects of the Medicare program, regardless of where the couple lives. CMS works with the Social Security Administration to conduct eligibility determinations and to enroll seniors and individuals with certain disabilities in the program. Social Security updated their own marriage recognition policies earlier this week to streamline the handling of marriage-based claims involving transgender people. The announcement is the latest step implementing the Supreme Court’s decision overturning the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

Social Security will now begin processing Medicare enrollment, requests for Special Enrollment Periods, and requests for reductions in late-enrollment penalties for many same-sex spouses. Eligibility for Medicare Part A and Part B coverage is particularly important for these families, who are disproportionately likely to be uninsured. Medicare Part A coverage is often available without paying a monthly premium, making it important for the many lesbian, gay, and bisexual people who struggle to afford coverage.

CMS’s decision also impacts some people who previously applied for a Special Enrollment Period but were denied eligibility because of DOMA. For some of these couples, Social Security will be able to approve a second request for a Special Enrollment Period, giving more immediate access to Medicare coverage.

For couples in domestic partnerships or civil unions this announcement offers some, but not all of the same opportunities for enrolling in Medicare coverage. Domestic partnerships and civil unions are not recognized for the purposes of Special Enrollment Periods for applicants 65 or older, but for those applicants with disabilities who are under 65, Special Enrollment Periods are available as long as the applicant has coverage through their partner’s current employer.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and CMS have been acting to implement the Windsor decision since last year, expanding coverage for many same-sex couples. HHS announced last month that plans sold through Marketplaces established by the Affordable Care Act must offer coverage to all same-sex spouses starting in 2015. In September of last year, CMS sent a letter to state Medicaid directors granting discretion to recognize same-sex marriages according to the laws of their state.

Read the full Medicare announcement here.

H/T: Tony Merevick at BuzzFeed