Sunday, February 14, 2010

Anti-Straight Bias Huffery Puffery ... Give Me a Break!

Anti-Straight Bias Huffery Puffery ... Give Me a Break!

The wingnuts are at it again, this time over the news that the judge in the Proposition 8 case is gay. So of course that means he’s automatically biased against straight people, according to them. But despite all the dramatic huffery puffery coming from the usual suspects, including Andy Pugno, pro-Proposition 8 activist and lead attorney defending it, Judge Vaughn's worst anti-straight offenses are wanting to have the case be a part of the Federal District Court project for recording and delayed broadcasting via YouTube of court proceedings and for ordering pro Prop 8 documents be turned over for evidence.

Of course they conveniently overlook the fact that when George H.W. Bush appointed Judge Vaughn Walker to Federal District Court he encountered a major obstacle, that he was anti-gay because of a case he took when he was a private attorney representing the U.S. Olympic Committee in a successful bid to keep San Francisco's Gay Olympics from infringing on its name.

But that’s not the only evidence of their selective amnesia. There are many shocking example of judicial bias on record.  Inconviently, however, they certainly don’t show a pattern of anti-straight bias in the judiciary.

On May 15, 1988 Richard Lee Bednarski, son of a police officer, and a group of his high school friends went gay bashing in the Cedar Springs area of Dallas. As a result, 2 gay men, John Griffin and Tommy Trimble, were shot to death. Although the prosecutor asked for the death penalty, Judge Jack Hampton sentenced the killer to 30 years, saying “I don’t care much for queers cruising the streets. I’ve got a teenage boy,” Hampton told the Dallas Times-Herald. Hampton said Griffin and Trimble wouldn’t have been killed “if they hadn’t been cruising the streets picking up teenage boys,” and that he would have handed down a harsher penalty if the victims had been “a couple of housewives out shopping, not hurting anybody. “I put prostitutes and gays at about the same level, and I’d be hard pressed to give someone life for killing a prostitute.”

In September 1995, Pensacola trial judge Joseph Tarbuck made it clear that he thought children are better off living with murderers than with gay couples. He heard a case in which a Mary Ward mother asked for an increase in child support payments for her daughter Cassie Ward. But rather than address that issue, he removed Cassie from the home of her Mother and lesbian partner and awarded custody to the child’s father, a convicted murderer, stating that he wanted the girl to live in a non-lesbian world.

Alabama Supreme Court chief justice Roy Moore in a 2002 case awarding child custody to abusive father wrote that homosexuality is “abhorrent, immoral, detestable, a crime against nature, and a violation of the laws of nature and of nature’s God upon which this Nation and our laws are predicated.” The state, he wrote, “carries the power of the sword, that is, the power to prohibit conduct with physical penalties, such as confinement and even execution. It must use that power to prevent the subversion of children towards this lifestyle, to not encourage a criminal lifestyle.”

In March 2002, Mississippi Justice Court Judge Connie Wilkerson wrote a letter to the editor published in the George County Times, saying: “In my opinion, gays and lesbians should be put in some type of mental institute instead of having a [domestic partnership] law like this passed for them.” Judge Wilkerson was referring to an Associated Press article about the ability of gay and lesbian survivors to sue for the wrongful death of their partners. The judge invoked the Bible and Romans 1:32, which suggests that those who break God’s law “are worthy of death.” A right-wing Christian organization, American Family Association’s Center for Law and Policy, is defending Judge Wilkerson against an ethics complaint for those comments.

Lawrence v. Texas, the seminal 2003 case that struck down sodomy laws and affirmed gay citizens' right to privacy denied to us by the hateful 1986 case Bowers v. Hardwick. In Lawrence, Justice Antonin Scalia compared homosexuality to bigamy, incest, prostitution, and bestiality. He also said homosexuality was contagious and that teachers could induce their students to become gay. He accused the Court of "signing on to the so-called homosexual agenda". Scalia has said publicly that he considers being gay an "immoral lifestyle choice".

That's what bias looks like.  So, Andy Pugno and friends, show us the real anti-gay straight bias out there.  Otherwise just stop whining.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Explosive Day at Prop 8 Trial - Transcripts Now Online

Wow!  What a day in the courtroom. 

The Olsen/Boies team introduced documents showing the collusion between the Catholic Church, the Mormon Church, and various evangelical churches behind the scenes in the campaign to take constitutional rights from California GLBTs and how they wanted to keep a layer of "plausible deniability" over their covert activities.  Their anti-gay polical activity included a conference call with 4700 California clergy and much much more.

Two amazing witnesses today as well as videotape of two of the pro-Prop 8 'expert witnesses' agreeing with the anti-Prop 8 side. 

SCOTUS made sure to keep the video of the trial hidden from us, but the transcripts are now becoming available HERE.  There is a 1-day delay.  Transcripts from today will be available late tomorrow.

Oh, and William Tam will finally be called to the witness stand tomorrow to have his hypocrisy revealed to the world.

I think the plaintiff's presentation will wrap up tomorrow.

Keen New Service has been putting up good summaries of each day.  Check out this summary of this morning's testimony by a man who was damaged by so-called 'reparative therapy' forced upon him by his fundamentalist Christian parents.

The courtroom let out a collective gasp at the testimony: A 26-year-old gay man from Colorado recounted what his mother said to him—at the age of 13—when she found out he was gay.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Virtual White Hoods for Anti-Gay Activists?

Linda Greenhouse recently wrote the following observation in her New York Times Opinionator piece, Into the Closet.

Has anyone noticed that now that lesbians and gay men have left the closet to assert their equal rights as citizens, their adversaries seem to be running for a closet of their own? 

As the Proposition 8 court case has shown us, there is a long history of prejudice, violence, employment discrimination, economic boycotting, etc. against America's GLBT community.   One of the witnesses on Friday, January 15 described  what happened to her as she and her spouse were handing out pamphlets opposed to Proposition 8, “Dyke. You fucking dyke. You’re going to die and go to hell.”  If that witness, Helen Zia, can take it and then come back for more in full view of the public, why can't the anti-gay activists? 

That's the way it goes in our society.  You take a stand, make your opinion known, and then accept the consequences of your own actions.  Or at least that's the way it used to be. 

Now the anti-gay activists want to be protected from the repercussions of their activities. Those who have participated in anti-gay activism claim they are afraid to accept the responsibility for their actions.  Due to that fear, they have petitioned the courts to be able to continue their dirty work in secret. 

In an idealogically split decision this week, the US Supreme Court blocked the video transmission of the Proposition 8 court case in California.  The unsigned majority decision was a rather stretched excuse to cover what the dissenting opinion states so clearly.

The majority “identifies no real harm” from televising the trial, “let alone irreparable harm to justify its issuance of this stay,” wrote Justice Stephen G. Breyer, who was joined by Sotomayor and Justices John Paul Stevens and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. “And the public interest weighs in favor of providing access to the courts.”

And sadly, that's not all. 

Not long ago, the US Supreme Court barred the distribution of Washington State public records regarding a petition for an anti-gay ballot measure.  Now they're going to take that issue up again.

As Linda Greenhouse writes on January 15, 2001,
At its private conference on Friday, the Supreme Court is due to consider whether to hear an appeal brought by an organization called Protect Marriage Washington. Under the slogan of “Preserve Marriage, Protect Children,” the group ran a successful petition drive to place on the state’s November ballot a referendum giving voters a chance to repudiate a new state law that granted enhanced benefits to couples registering as domestic partners. (The voters ended up reaffirming the new law, which took effect last month.)

UPDATE:  SCOTUS did decide to hear the case during its meeting.  Final decision expected in June. 

Under Washington’s Public Records Act, the signatures on referendum petitions are public records, available for inspection and copying. The Public Records Act, itself the product of the public initiative process, provides as its rationale that “the people insist on remaining informed so that they may maintain control over the instruments that they have created.”

Last summer, Protect Marriage Washington filed suit to bar public disclosure of the names of their 138,000 petition signers. It won an initial victory, but the Ninth Circuit ruled on the eve of the election that the names were subject to disclosure. The members of the three-judge panel observed that “referendum petition signers have not merely taken a general stance on a political issue; they have taken action that has direct legislative effect.” The court held that the public interest in disclosure outweighed the “incidental limitations” that disclosure placed on the signers’ exercise of their First Amendment right to political speech and association.

The case, Doe #1 v. Reed, No. 09-559, obviously got the Supreme Court’s attention. In October, with only Justice Stevens dissenting, the court issued a stay of the Ninth Circuit’s decision in order to permit Protect Marriage Washington to prepare a Supreme Court appeal.
There are other instances of anti-gay activists suing to remain secret such as the National Organization for Marriage's (NOM) lawsuit to keep its money-laundering activities from public scrutiny.   NOM has sued the state of Maine, claiming that its election laws are unconstitional.  

So what is NOM objecting to?  The state law requires anyone raising or spending more than $5,000 on a ballot question in Maine to disclose anyone who contributed more than $100 for that purpose.  Every other organization involved in the Maine ballot issue complied with the law without complaint.  NOM is a money-laundering scheme attempting to keep the identities of anti-gay activists secret. 

I do not find it surprising that the bigots are scurrying to hide under the rocks.  But I find it tragic that the idealogues on the US Supreme Court are working hard to provide flimsy excuses to circumvent the laws designed specifically to prevent that sort of covert activity. 

Wouldn't it be a lot simpler for SCOTUS to simply distribute some leftover white hoods?

Friday, January 15, 2010

William Tam: Reaped For What He Has Sown?


UPDATE:  They did not get to the notorious Hak-Shin William Tam on Friday.  Stay tuned.  Court resumes next Tuesday after the Martin Luther King holiday.

Today (Friday 1/15/10) the notorious organizer of Proposition 8 is scheduled to be called to the witness stand.

Here's a sample of his handiwork.

Via Lisa Leff:
Seeking to strengthen arguments against a ban on same-sex marriage, trial attorneys have introduced statements from a supporter of California's ban warning voters in 2008 that gay rights activists would try to legalize sex with children if same-sex couples had the right to wed.The material was presented Wednesday in the third day of a trial brought by opponents of the state's same-sex marriage prohibition.

San Francisco resident Hak-Shing William Tam, a defendant in the case, discussed a letter to Chinese-Americans church groups during a legal deposition taped last month. Tam wrote in the letter issued during the 2008 campaign that legalizing same-sex marriage was part of a broader gay agenda.

"On their agenda list is: legalize having sex with children," states the letter, which also cautioned that "other states would fall into Satan's hands" if gays weren't stopped from marrying in California.

Lawyers for two same-sex couples introduced the footage to buttress their contention that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional because it was fueled by deep-seated animosity against gays.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Response to Andrew Tobias, DNC Treasurer

There is an interesting development on Americablog regarding the DNC and what it recently did and did not do in regard to the recention Proposition 1 vote in Maine. Part of the situation involves an e-mail written by DNC treasurer, Andrew Tobias.

Apparently the topic got his attention. He came to the comments with his response and participated in the thread.

I wrote a response to him I would like to share here.

Hello Andy,

I've been a fan of yours for a very long time since back in the days of your Managing Your Money software. It was a sad day for me when that product was retired.

I want to say that I am in full support of witholding blanket contributions to the DNC because it has become obvious over the years that is not the best choice of investment in our future.

I do agree with you that in terms of our issues in general, voting for Democrats is better than voting for Republicans. In my view, that is not what this is all about. This is about investing in our future. It is time for us to invest wisely rather than just throw money in the general direction of people who stink less than Republicans stink. It is time for us to invest in those who smell good. There are plenty of Democrats willing to work at providing a good return for our investment, and we need to invest in them individually. Investing in smelly Democrats simply facilitates perpetuation of the stink.

For decades now we have seen the Democrats in general come to us for money and votes only to be insulted and ignored by them when it comes to our issues. We will no longer accept or support that behavior. You claim that witholding generalized funding of the DNC somehow fails to help strengthen the administration. I disagree. The president is supposedly a "fierce advocate" for us. By supporting only those who support our "fierce advocate" in our issues, we are strengthening him in that area.

I must say, however, that I am not convinced that Obama is a true friend of our community, particularly since he announced during the campaign that he does not support marriage equality because of his religious beliefs. And then came his unwillingness to order a stop to the DADT firings until Congress repeals the unjust law as well as the other things I need not repeat to you or the readers here.

What we want to do is strengthen our true friends, Andy, not the ones who want us to think they are friends in the hopes of accessing the GayTM. Sure, we'll probably vote for the Stinkers with Ds, but it is a foolish waste of our time and resources to do anything to strengthen them.

If you make any further comments regarding this issue, either in this place or elsewhere, please stop trying to characterize this as a "DNC boycott." That is nothing but a red herring. I know you understanding the distinction between investing in something with a good return versus a poor return versus a negative return. That's what we're talking about, investing only where there's a good return. Maybe you can even help create a situation in which the overall DNC can produce a good return on investment as opposed to its rather marginal return recently and in past decades.

Check out the list of co-sponsors of Rep. Nadler's Respect of Marriage bill for a good start on where to find an investments with a good potential returns. And do take note of the glaring absences.


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Thank you, Bishop Spong

Nothing much has inspired me to do blog posting for awhile ... until this came along.

Bishop Spong feels that it is way past time to treat the haters as if their argument has a moral and intellectual equivalence to the voices of inclusion and equality. I've felt that way for a long time, and I'm happy to see such a strong statement from Bishop Spong.

October 15, 2009

A Manifesto! The Time Has Come!

I have made a decision. I will no longer debate the issue of homosexuality in the church with anyone. I will no longer engage the biblical ignorance that emanates from so many right-wing Christians about how the Bible condemns homosexuality, as if that point of view still has any credibility. I will no longer discuss with them or listen to them tell me how homosexuality is "an abomination to God," about how homosexuality is a "chosen lifestyle," or about how through prayer and "spiritual counseling" homosexual persons can be "cured." Those arguments are no longer worthy of my time or energy. I will no longer dignify by listening to the thoughts of those who advocate "reparative therapy," as if homosexual persons are somehow broken and need to be repaired. I will no longer talk to those who believe that the unity of the church can or should be achieved by rejecting the presence of, or at least at the expense of, gay and lesbian people. I will no longer take the time to refute the unlearned and undocumentable claims of certain world religious leaders who call homosexuality "deviant." I will no longer listen to that pious sentimentality that certain Christian leaders continue to employ, which suggests some version of that strange and overtly dishonest phrase that "we love the sinner but hate the sin." That statement is, I have concluded, nothing more than a self-serving lie designed to cover the fact that these people hate homosexual persons and fear homosexuality itself, but somehow know that hatred is incompatible with the Christ they claim to profess, so they adopt this face-saving and absolutely false statement. I will no longer temper my understanding of truth in order to pretend that I have even a tiny smidgen of respect for the appalling negativity that continues to emanate from religious circles where the church has for centuries conveniently perfumed its ongoing prejudices against blacks, Jews, women and homosexual persons with what it assumes is "high-sounding, pious rhetoric." The day for that mentality has quite simply come to an end for me. I will personally neither tolerate it nor listen to it any longer. The world has moved on, leaving these elements of the Christian Church that cannot adjust to new knowledge or a new consciousness lost in a sea of their own irrelevance. They no longer talk to anyone but themselves. I will no longer seek to slow down the witness to inclusiveness by pretending that there is some middle ground between prejudice and oppression. There isn't. Justice postponed is justice denied. That can be a resting place no longer for anyone. An old civil rights song proclaimed that the only choice awaiting those who cannot adjust to a new understanding was to "Roll on over or we'll roll on over you!" Time waits for no one.

I will particularly ignore those members of my own Episcopal Church who seek to break away from this body to form a "new church," claiming that this new and bigoted instrument alone now represents the Anglican Communion. Such a new ecclesiastical body is designed to allow these pathetic human beings, who are so deeply locked into a world that no longer exists, to form a community in which they can continue to hate gay people, distort gay people with their hopeless rhetoric and to be part of a religious fellowship in which they can continue to feel justified in their homophobic prejudices for the rest of their tortured lives. Church unity can never be a virtue that is preserved by allowing injustice, oppression and psychological tyranny to go unchallenged.

In my personal life, I will no longer listen to televised debates conducted by "fair-minded" channels that seek to give "both sides" of this issue "equal time." I am aware that these stations no longer give equal time to the advocates of treating women as if they are the property of men or to the advocates of reinstating either segregation or slavery, despite the fact that when these evil institutions were coming to an end the Bible was still being quoted frequently on each of these subjects. It is time for the media to announce that there are no longer two sides to the issue of full humanity for gay and lesbian people. There is no way that justice for homosexual people can be compromised any longer.

I will no longer act as if the Papal office is to be respected if the present occupant of that office is either not willing or not able to inform and educate himself on public issues on which he dares to speak with embarrassing ineptitude. I will no longer be respectful of the leadership of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who seems to believe that rude behavior, intolerance and even killing prejudice is somehow acceptable, so long as it comes from third-world religious leaders, who more than anything else reveal in themselves the price that colonial oppression has required of the minds and hearts of so many of our world's population. I see no way that ignorance and truth can be placed side by side, nor do I believe that evil is somehow less evil if the Bible is quoted to justify it. I will dismiss as unworthy of any more of my attention the wild, false and uninformed opinions of such would-be religious leaders as Pat Robertson, James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, Jimmy Swaggart, Albert Mohler, and Robert Duncan. My country and my church have both already spent too much time, energy and money trying to accommodate these backward points of view when they are no longer even tolerable.

I make these statements because it is time to move on. The battle is over. The victory has been won. There is no reasonable doubt as to what the final outcome of this struggle will be. Homosexual people will be accepted as equal, full human beings, who have a legitimate claim on every right that both church and society have to offer any of us. Homosexual marriages will become legal, recognized by the state and pronounced holy by the church. "Don't ask, don't tell" will be dismantled as the policy of our armed forces. We will and we must learn that equality of citizenship is not something that should ever be submitted to a referendum. Equality under and before the law is a solemn promise conveyed to all our citizens in the Constitution itself. Can any of us imagine having a public referendum on whether slavery should continue, whether segregation should be dismantled, whether voting privileges should be offered to women? The time has come for politicians to stop hiding behind unjust laws that they themselves helped to enact, and to abandon that convenient shield of demanding a vote on the rights of full citizenship because they do not understand the difference between a constitutional democracy, which this nation has, and a "mobocracy," which this nation rejected when it adopted its constitution. We do not put the civil rights of a minority to the vote of a plebiscite.
I will also no longer act as if I need a majority vote of some ecclesiastical body in order to bless, ordain, recognize and celebrate the lives and gifts of gay and lesbian people in the life of the church. No one should ever again be forced to submit the privilege of citizenship in this nation or membership in the Christian Church to the will of a majority vote.

The battle in both our culture and our church to rid our souls of this dying prejudice is finished. A new consciousness has arisen. A decision has quite clearly been made. Inequality for gay and lesbian people is no longer a debatable issue in either church or state. Therefore, I will from this moment on refuse to dignify the continued public expression of ignorant prejudice by engaging it. I do not tolerate racism or sexism any longer. From this moment on, I will no longer tolerate our culture's various forms of homophobia. I do not care who it is who articulates these attitudes or who tries to make them sound holy with religious jargon.

I have been part of this debate for years, but things do get settled and this issue is now settled for me. I do not debate any longer with members of the "Flat Earth Society" either. I do not debate with people who think we should treat epilepsy by casting demons out of the epileptic person; I do not waste time engaging those medical opinions that suggest that bleeding the patient might release the infection. I do not converse with people who think that Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans as punishment for the sin of being the birthplace of Ellen DeGeneres or that the terrorists hit the United Sates on 9/11 because we tolerated homosexual people, abortions, feminism or the American Civil Liberties Union. I am tired of being embarrassed by so much of my church's participation in causes that are quite unworthy of the Christ I serve or the God whose mystery and wonder I appreciate more each day. Indeed I feel the Christian Church should not only apologize, but do public penance for the way we have treated people of color, women, adherents of other religions and those we designated heretics, as well as gay and lesbian people.

Life moves on. As the poet James Russell Lowell once put it more than a century ago: "New occasions teach new duties, Time makes ancient good uncouth." I am ready now to claim the victory. I will from now on assume it and live into it. I am unwilling to argue about it or to discuss it as if there are two equally valid, competing positions any longer. The day for that mentality has simply gone forever.

This is my manifesto and my creed. I proclaim it today. I invite others to join me in this public declaration. I believe that such a public outpouring will help cleanse both the church and this nation of its own distorting past. It will restore integrity and honor to both church and state. It will signal that a new day has dawned and we are ready not just to embrace it, but also to rejoice in it and to celebrate it.

– John Shelby Spong

Tuesday, September 1, 2009