Friday, May 25, 2012

Pa. Blacks Shift Quickly in Favor of Marriage Equality

It's becoming increasingly difficult for extremist groups, like the Venango County-based American Family Association of Pennsylvania, to use race as a wedge to divide communities, as it has cynically done for so, so long ...

From Public Policy Polling - May 23, 2012:

Raleigh, N.C. – President Obama’s announcement that he supports same-sex marriage is rapidly shifting the opinions of black voters around the country; PPP has found this already in North Carolina and nationally. Nearly all of the slight movement in Pennsylvania toward acceptance of same-sex marriage since PPP last polled on the issue in November is with black voters. Whereas only 36% of all Pennsylvanians thought gay marriage should be legal and 52% illegal last fall, now that is a 39-48 spread. That is because African Americans have moved from being against it by a strong margin (34-52) to being split, 42-41 for it.

“We’ve now found in both North Carolina and Pennsylvania that black voters have moved more toward support of gay marriage in the wake of Barack Obama’s announcement,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling. “The media’s been asking the wrong question- the big issue isn’t how Obama’s stance will affect his reelection hopes. It’s how Obama’s stance will move public opinion on gay marriage.”

Tom Smith has not done much for his public profile since beating a host of unknowns in the Pennsylvania Republican Senate primary almost a month ago. Now 45% of voters have an opinion on him, up from 25% in March. But whereas voters were split previously—12% favorable and 13% unfavorable—now they are decidedly negative, 16- 29. Because of that, freshman Sen. Bob Casey is able to survive his continuously tepid approval numbers (39% approve, 38% disapprove) to post a lead over Smith quite similar to that before the primary. He led 49-31 then, and 49-33 now.

There has been very little movement among Democrats, Republicans, or independents. But the silver lining for Smith is that if he improves upon his 59% of the GOP vote and brings it more towards Casey’s 76% of his own party, he is bound to tighten the race. But he will also have to cut into Casey’s nearly 20-point lead with independents.

Democrats have slight edges in three other statewide races, but with even more undecided than in the Senate contest. Kathleen Kane leads David Freed for Attorney General, 42- 33, and the Democrats in the Treasurer and Auditor General races have identical 35-34 edges over their GOP opponents.

PPP surveyed 671 Pennsylvania voters from May 17th to 20th. The margin of error for the survey is +/-3.8%. This poll was not paid for or authorized by any campaign or political organization. PPP surveys are conducted through automated telephone interviews.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A Glimpse of the Unfiltered Mind of the Anti-Gay Extremist

North Carolina Pastor Calls For Death of 'Queers & Homosexuals' 

This sad little man, Pastor Charles L. Worley of Providence Road Baptist Church in Maiden, N.C., just happened to be caught on tape saying what "family values" activists, and all those who have been infected by anti-gay "religious" extremists, have been saying in one form or another for years, and years, and years, and years, causing unquantifiable harm to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their families, friends, and allies in communities across the country and around the world.

 Here's the Northwestern Pennsylvania Version


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Venango County Extremists Won't Like This!

Opportunities for Extremist Groups, such as the Venango County-based American Family Association of Pennsylvania, to Foster Racial Division are Getting Narrower and Narrower

NAACP Passes Resolution in Support of Marriage Equality 
 Decision Affirms Opposition to Government Efforts to Codify Discrimination

(Miami, Florida - May 19, 2012) -- The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People today released a resolution supporting marriage equality. At a meeting of the 103-year old civil rights group’s board of directors, the organization voted to support marriage equality as a continuation of its historic commitment to equal protection under the law.

“The mission of the NAACP has always been to ensure the political, social and economic equality of all people,” said Roslyn M. Brock, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the NAACP. “We have and will oppose efforts to codify discrimination into law.”

“Civil marriage is a civil right and a matter of civil law. The NAACP’s support for marriage equality is deeply rooted in the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution and equal protection of all people” said Benjamin Todd Jealous, President and CEO of the NAACP.

The NAACP has addressed civil rights with regard to marriage since Loving v. Virginia declared anti-miscegenation laws unconstitutional in 1967. In recent years the NAACP has taken public positions against state and federal efforts to ban the rights and privileges for LGBT citizens, including strong opposition to Proposition 8 in California, the Defense of Marriage Act, and most recently, North Carolina’s Amendment 1, which changed the state constitution’s to prohibit same sex marriage.

Below is the text of the resolution passed by the NAACP board of directors:

The NAACP Constitution affirmatively states our objective to ensure the “political, educational, social and economic equality” of all people. Therefore, the NAACP has opposed and will continue to oppose any national, state, local policy or legislative initiative that seeks to codify discrimination or hatred into the law or to remove the Constitutional rights of LGBT citizens. We support marriage equality consistent with equal protection under the law provided under the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Further, we strongly affirm the religious freedoms of all people as protected by the First Amendment.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Right’s Righteous Frauds

By Frank Bruni for The New York Times:

Say what you will about Bristol Palin, she’s a quick study. It didn’t take her long to master the ways of her elders on the censorious right and decide that personal circumstance and past error needn’t prevent someone from claiming righteous leadership. Uncle Rush must be proud.

Soon after President Obama stated support for same-sex marriage, Bristol publicly weighed in. Because, you know, the world was on tenterhooks.

In a blog post she focused on the reference that Obama made to his daughters — and to the same-sex parents of some of the girls’ friends.

“It would’ve been helpful for him to explain to Malia and Sasha that while her friends (sic) parents are no doubt lovely people, that’s not a reason to change thousands of years of thinking about marriage,” wrote Bristol, making her heady debut as the new Dr. Spock for a nascent millennium. She added that “in general kids do better growing up in a mother/father home. Ideally, fathers help shape their kids’ worldview.”

Fathers like...Levi Johnston? It’s with him that she conceived her child — out of wedlock, at the age of 17 — and by most accounts, his relationship with her and the Palin family isn’t any warmer than Juneau in January. A mother/father home is not what he and Bristol have succeeded in creating.

What’s more, she has made sure that their son, Tripp, will at some point be treated to a worldview-shaping image of Dad as something akin to a date rapist. That’s the description of him immortalized in her memoir, one of her many efforts to monetize her surname. It recounts the loss of her virginity as a result of getting drunk and blacking out in the company of Levi, who pounced. What a gift that narrative is to Tripp, now being hauled into a TV reality show, “Bristol Palin: Life’s a Tripp,” already in production. Little children are known to thrive in such environments.

I hesitated before picking on Bristol because she’s an easy target. It’s like shooting moose from a helicopter flying low over the tundra.

But she so perfectly distills the double standards and audacity of so many of our country’s self-appointed moralists and supposed traditionalists: hypocrites whose own histories, along with any sense of shame, tumble out the window as soon as there’s a microphone to be seized or check to be cashed. 

She proves that they’re not going away anytime soon — a new generation rises! — and that they haven’t been daunted by the ridicule justly heaped on Newt Gingrich during the Republican primaries, when he dared to cast himself as a religious conservative.

Certainly Rush thunders on. Last week he bellowed that Obama had decided to “lead a war” on traditional marriage. Seems to me Limbaugh started those hostilities long ago, if not with his first divorce then certainly with his second and third.

For entertainment at Wedding No. 4, to a woman 26 years younger than he is, he hired Elton John (who very questionably took the gig). Gays shouldn’t be allowed to tie the knot, but they sure can carry a tune.

More interesting than the tired, press-a-button condemnations from Bristol and Rush was Mitt Romney’s comportment. He didn’t hasten to turn same-sex marriage into a wedge issue, the way Rick Santorum urged him to, or use his commencement speech at Liberty University to fan the flames of hellfire.

He instead held back a bit, no doubt partly because his need at this particular juncture, as he recovers from the compromising and brutalizing primaries, is to pivot to the center, not cling to the right. I think Obama and his tacticians counted on as much.

And I think that the extent to which Romney continues to hold back will have enormous consequence for the Republican Party’s destiny.

Within its uppermost ranks are many champions of small government who squirm at the small-mindedness of the scowling theocrats in an increasingly uneasy coalition. These fiscal conservatives take advantage of the religious right’s political muscle but have reservations about its hectoring piety, and their own views on social issues are often moderate or somewhat liberal. Recall that Republican money played a pivotal role in the successful campaign for same-sex marriage in New York.

It came from donors who don’t want to see Romney take up an anti-gay mantle and who understand that a reputation for intolerance and bigotry imperils the future of the party, which they would like to orient away from stone throwers in glass houses. They’re Rush-fatigued. Palin-weary.

Bristol’s recent parenting advice to the Obamas extended into the realm of TV. She seemed to question whether they were watching “too many episodes of ‘Glee.’ ”

“Life’s a Tripp,” starring a single mom who once sold a family revelation to Us Weekly, will be more edifying, I’m certain. And it will showcase a woman who’s a shining testament to conventional, old-fashioned families.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A Message for Venango County, from North Carolina

No One Is Hurt By Marriage Equality

By Tommy Tomlinson of The Charlotte Observer:

I’ve got one week left at the paper. The vote on Amendment One is May 8, a few days after I’m gone. So let’s take a minute to talk about it now.

In case you’ve missed the debate, welcome back to Earth, and let’s get you caught up: Amendment One states that marriage between one man and one woman is the only valid domestic legal union in North Carolina. If you approve of gay marriage, you’ll be against Amendment One.

I approve of marriage equality. I’m against Amendment One.

I don’t agree with the opposition, but I understand where a lot of it comes from. Many of you feel the Bible condemns homosexuality. I hope you also understand that if we lived under all the things the Bible condemns, adulterers would be put to death, women would have to cover their heads in church, and the Panthers couldn’t play on Sundays. Among many, many, many other things.

The Bible has a lot of rules, but only ten commandments, and Jesus prunes even those to their essence in Luke chapter 10: Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, strength and mind… and love your neighbor as yourself.

Man, that “love your neighbor” part is hard.

Because what love really requires, in the end, is that you accept your neighbors for what they are. If they’re hurting you in some way, of course you can take recourse, but this is the thing about gay marriage: It hurts no one. It just bothers people. And we don’t have a right not to be bothered.

Please don’t try to argue that gay marriage undercuts the institution of marriage. If we made marriage as hard as getting a college degree, maybe. But in North Carolina, all you need for a marriage license is a willing (straight) couple and 60 bucks. When my wife and I got our marriage license in South Carolina, they gave us a little bag of soap and detergent and tissues. They figured a lot of new marrieds didn’t have much to live on. 

If you truly think marriage is sacred, don’t ever spend a day in divorce court.

Here’s the thing, though: Marriage really is sacred, in the right hands. But it requires love, and common sense, and tolerance of flaws, and the constant effort to fix your own.

None of those qualities are exclusive to straight people.

That should go without saying, right? But I think the deeper truth under this gay-marriage debate is that a lot of straight people don’t know any gay people, and at some level just don’t understand that straight and gay people are 99.9 percent the same.

Some gay people should never get married, not because they shouldn’t be allowed to, but because they’d be crappy spouses. And by the same token, millions of gay couples would be loving and monogamous and all the things we want married couples to be. In fact, a lot of them are that now. They just don’t get to have the piece of paper.

It makes no sense to deny them the piece of paper. 

A few weeks ago, House Speaker Thom Tillis (R-Cornelius) said something both sad and wise. He said he thought Amendment One will pass on May 8, but it’ll be overturned 20 years from now because the next generation will be more tolerant of gay marriage. Tillis wasn’t courageous enough to actually oppose the amendment – he voted to put it on the ballot – but he was brave enough to say out loud what seems obvious to me, and to anyone who looks at history.

We waste an awful lot of time fighting some of the freedoms we were founded on.

But freedom has a solid won-loss record. And no matter what happens on May 8, when our children and grandchildren look back on it all, this whole debate will make us look silly and small.

I suspect that, in God’s eyes, we already do.