Sunday, May 22, 2011

We've Just Begun to Fight -- A Lesson for Venango County from Minnesota

On Gay Marriage, American Values of Fairness Trump Conservative Hypocrisy

by Nancy Cohen for The Huffington Post:

Legalizing gay marriage has always been right. Now, according to Gallup, it is popular. For the first time in 15 years of Gallup polling on the issue, a solid majority of Americans support same-sex marriage.

This week will go down in history as the tipping point on gay marriage. Not only because a solid majority of Americans now support legal gay marriage, but also because the opponents of gay marriage have thoroughly discredited themselves.

Today Gallup reported that 53 percent of Americans favor according all the legal rights of "traditional" marriage to same-sex couples. Among Democrats, independents, liberals and moderates, and Americans under the age of 50, support is overwhelming, ranging from 59 percent to 78 percent. The Gallup poll is not an outlier, as statistician Nate Silver noted last month about the trend in gay marriage opinion polling.

On one side, the bedrock American belief in fairness has prevailed. Meanwhile, the last few weeks have been chockfull of news about the stunning hypocrisy of those who have fought to stop gay marriage.

First the Catholic Church. In the Pope's words, same-sex marriage "distorts the essence and purpose of the family." Church officials have called for Catholic politicians who advocate gay marriage, abortion, or god forbid, have sex outside of marriage, to be denied communion. And then this week, we're treated to this rationalization on sexual morality. Why did so many priests sexually abuse children? Blame the sexual revolution, according to a report commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and released on Wednesday. Priests simply couldn't control themselves in the loose environment created by the counterculture of the 1960s and 1970s.

Next to the Republican party. The newest champion of traditional family values in the 2012 presidential field is Newt Gingrich. Here's what Gingrich had to say about protests against the Mormon-funded anti-gay marriage initiative in California, Proposition 8:

I think there is a gay and secular fascism in this country that wants to impose its will on the rest of us, is prepared to use violence, to use harassment. I think it is prepared to use the government if it can get control of it. I think that it is a very dangerous threat to anybody who believes in traditional religion. And I think if you believe in historic Christianity, you have to confront the fact... These secular extremists are determined to impose on you acceptance of a series of values that are antithetical, they're the opposite, of what you're taught in Sunday school."

Although he paints himself as a traditionalist, Gingrich is a serial adulterer who has traded in two religions for his current orthodox Catholicism. He has gone through two wives (one of them cancer-ridden) and is on marriage number three, even as he warns that gays will destroy traditional religion and marriage. Gingrich walks his anti-gay talk. He was instrumental in the recall last November of the Iowa Supreme Court justices who had ruled in favor of the legality of same-sex marriage.

Let's not forget Republican U.S. Senator John Ensign, who resigned a few weeks ago to avoid being expelled from the senate over ethics charges stemming from his attempt to cover-up his affair with a staffer--a woman who was his best friend's wife. Ensign had previously pushed for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage on this logic: "Marriage is an extremely important institution in this country and protecting it is, in my mind, worth the extraordinary step of amending our constitution."

In case you're prone to dismiss these two examples as the just the delusional edge of the rightwing, cast your eyes on one of the exemplars of mainstream Republicanism. Arnold Schwarzenegger fathered a child ten years ago with a housekeeper who worked in his family's home. At the time, of course, Schwarzenegger was a husband and a father -- and not yet governor. During the course of two elections, he concealed the information from the citizens of California and his own family. Although Schwarzenegger is regarded as socially liberal, he in fact twice vetoed legislation to make same-sex marriage legal in California.

So-called traditional religious values were the last slim justification for denying some Americans the constitutional right to marry. Certainly I'm not saying all opponents of gay marriage are hypocrites. But when so many exponents of traditional marriage show such contempt for basic moral values, they lose the credibility to preach morality at the rest of us.

With a Republican party of this character, Democrats will have to take the lead on making sure popular opinion in favor of gay marriage is enacted as the law of the land. Better late than never.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Is Homophobia a Diagnosable Psychological Condition?

Intolerance and Psychopathology:
Toward a General Diagnosis for Racism, Sexism, and Homophobia

Article by: Mary H. Guindon PhD, Alan G. Green PhD, Fred J. Hanna PhD

Published in the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry - April 2003

Racism, sexism, and homophobia do not fit into any current diagnostic category. The authors propose that those who engage in such behaviors display a form of psychopathology deserving of its own category. The common denominator seems to be intolerance. The authors explore the possibility of an intolerant personality disorder, outline likely symptoms, and suggest some possible treatment considerations.

A few excerpts on the subject on

Mary H. Guindon, PhD, Chair of the Department of Counseling and Human Services at Johns Hopkins University, et al., wrote in a Apr. 2003 article, "Intolerance and Psychopathology: Toward a General Diagnosis for Racism, Sexism and Homophobia," published by the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry that: (pictured below, Diane Gramley, President of the Venango County-based HATE GROUP American Family Association of Pennsylvania)

"[W]e explore the characteristics of persons who perpetrate pain and injustice on others through racism, sexism, or homophobia. We propose that those who engage in such harmful behaviors are in fact displaying a type of psychopathology that deserves its own particular category... In other words, behind racism, sexism, and homophobia, there seems to be a common core of intolerance that supports and contributes to these attitudes or mindsets in their various manifestations. The traits associated with this form of intolerance, when taken as a whole, seem to be descriptive of a personality disorder.

This is a disorder that deserves full acknowledgment as a psychological problem unto itself. It is not enough to merely note the harm or lament the damage. Researchers and therapists need to develop treatment approaches that have the capacity to alleviate it." -- Apr. 2003 - Mary H. Guindon, PhD

Shama B. Chaiken, PhD, Divisional Chief Psychologist for the California Department of Corrections, was quoted as having made the following statements in the Dec. 10, 2005 Washington Post article titled "Psychiatry Ponders Whether Extreme Bias Can Be an Illness:"

"We treat racism and homophobia as delusional disorders... Treatment with antipsychotics does work to reduce these prejudices." -- Dec. 10, 2005 - Shama B. Chaiken, PhD

Elaine C. Spaulding, PhD, faculty member of Walden University, wrote the following information in her article "Unconsciousness - Raising: Hidden Dimensions of Heterosexism in Theory and Practice with Lesbians" published in the 1999 book Lesbians and Lesbian Families, and edited by Joan Laird:

"Homophobia is a psychological event not analogous to sexism and racism, which are organized sociocultural phenomena. Homophobia can also be viewed as a psychological condition arising as the anticipated result of an unconscious social process, namely, the prolonged, successful, and systematic effort to exclude homosexuals from access to scarce or valued economic and social resources, including that of self-esteem." -- 1999 - Elaine C. Spaulding, PhD

Martin J. Kantor, MD, author specializing in psychology and gay men's issues, wrote the following information in his 1998 book Homophobia: Description, Development, and Dynamics of Gay Bashing:

"[T]here are aspects of homophobia that are symptomatic, which closely resemble aspects of emotional disorders, so that homophobia is in many ways as much like a mental illness as some homophobics say homosexuality is like one. For example, many homophobes reason like patients with paranoia... Too, homophobes feel that gays and lesbians are out to seduce them like paranoids feel that enemies are singling them out and persecuting them. And like these paranoids, homophobes stay perfectly calm and unflustered until their 'favorite subject' comes up - persecution in the case of paranoids, homosexuality in the case of homophobes, at which time all concerned become equally overwrought, hysterical, panicky, and defensive...

Many homophobes experience the same feelings of weltuntergang (delusion of world decay) that severe depressives and schizophrenics experience, with all concerned suffering from the false belief... that the world... is 'going to hell in a hand basket,' and all because of what gays and lesbians do in bed, or because gays and lesbians want to get married legally." -- 1998 - Martin J. Kantor, MD

Monday, May 16, 2011

Polls Find Support For Pennsylvania Anti-Discrimination Bill - Even In Venango County

Measure Introduced To State Legislature, Awaiting Committee Review

by Jeremy Johnson for The Derrick:

A bill banning discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity has been introduced to the Pennsylvania Legislature and is currently awaiting committee review.

Based on February polling which shows strong support for a bill banning discrimination based on sexual orientation in the state, House Bill 300 was reintroduced to the state government committee in March, and supporters of the bill hope to see it go to the General Assembly for vote soon.

The bill — proposed by Rep. Dan Frankel (D-23rd, Allegheny County) — would amend the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act of 1955, which currently prohibits discrimination because of race, color, religious creed, ancestry, age, national origin, disability or handicap.

“It’s not even that the laws are outdated — it’s that there is no protection for the gay community at all,” said Pennsylvania Equality executive director Ted Martin. “In 70 percent of the state, it’s still perfectly legal to fire someone, to throw someone out of their apartment or to deny someone a hotel room because they’re gay. Most people believe that everyone deserves a fair break and this flies in the face of that, of the basic equalities that most Americans value so much.”

“It’s time for Pennsylvania to catch up to the 21 states and the District of Columbia that ban discrimination based on sexual orientation,” Frankel said in a press release at the end of April. “We should be a leader, not a follower, on this issue.”

Polling conducted in February for Equality Pennsylvania by Susquehanna Polling and Research shows overwhelming, two-to-one support for anti-discrimination legislature in the state.

According to poll numbers, about 69 percent of Pennsylvanians are in favor of legislation banning discrimination based on sexual orientation, with 24 percent opposed and 6 percent undecided.

It is the third such survey conducted since 2003, with the results remaining relatively the same each time, according to Equality Pennsylvania.

“Because this is the third poll showing support, we certainly hope the Legislature will pay attention to the fact that people think this is important and that this is something that should be acted upon,” Martin said. “We hope Legislature will take this up and follow what the population is telling them.”

According to a map posted on the Equality Pennsylvania website (, support in Venango County, which is included in a 35-county section labeled “northwest and west central Pennsylvania,” is at about 64 percent in favor of the bill, with 28 percent opposed. The highest areas of support are in the northeastern part of the state and in Philadelphia, where support is nearly 75 percent in both areas.

Frankel said, aside from being a “common sense” issue and “the right thing to do,” non-discrimination is also an issue of economics.

“In addition to making state law more fair and just, this would make Pennsylvania more economically competitive,” Frankel said. “We are surrounded on three of four sides by states that ban anti-gay discrimination (Maryland, New Jersey, Delaware and New York). They have a competitive advantage over Pennsylvania when it comes to attracting and retaining businesses and residents.”

Frankel said anti-gay protection can be passed at the local government level but, so far, only about 30 percent of municipalities have done so.

According to Frankel’s press secretary Ben Turner, many Pennsylvanians are not even aware that anti-discrimination laws have not been put in place.

“I don’t think people are really aware of the facts,” Turner said. “Some people aren’t even aware that it’s not illegal (to discriminate based on sexual orientation). A lot of people thought that was already the case.”

According to the Equality Pennsylvania website, non-discrimination legislation — which had a record 79 co-sponsors at the end of 2010 — made it out of committee to the House in 2009 but died before the end of the legislative session.

Martin hopes the third time is a charm.

“It’s really time for Legislature to step forward,” Martin said. “With two-to-one support throughout the state, there’s no room for legislators to say, ‘My people don’t support this.’ So I think it’s their turn to step up and do something.”

Saturday, May 14, 2011

"Death To Gays" -- To Understand The Religious Right's Agenda In the U.S., Look To Their Meddling In Uganda

This article helps to put the vicious anti-gay work of extremist groups like the Venango county-based American Family Association of Pennsylvania in context. And for more background, see Globalizing The Culture Wars: U.S. Conservatives, African Churches and Homophobia, a new report by Political Research Associates.

"Pulling Out All The Stops To Push An Anti-Gay Bill"

by Josh Kron for The New York Times:

KAMPALA, Uganda — They entered through Parliament’s gates, an eclectic group. Their leader, the Rev. Martin Ssempa, wore sunglasses and long black robes embroidered with matching red crosses and two campaign buttons. One said, “Debate Our Bill Now!” and the other, simply, “No to Sodomy.”

Mr. Ssempa’s mission is to get Uganda’s Parliament to pass a highly contentious antigay bill and eradicate homosexuality throughout the country — or, after more than a year of the law’s languishing in the legislature, to at least debate the proposed law.

To many here, Uganda’s gay population does not represent a sexual minority advocating for its rights, but an underground threat promoting a cancerous vice. They accuse gay men and women of recruiting children in secondary schools, and maybe giving them H.I.V.

In 2009, Uganda’s Parliament tabled legislation calling for the execution of gays under certain circumstances and requiring citizens to report any known act of homosexuality to the police within 24 hours.

The bill drew ire from Western nations and has drifted listlessly in Parliament over the last 18 months. When David Kato, a prominent gay-rights activist, was murdered in January after his photo ran on the cover of a newspaper calling for gays to be hanged, the bill became politically toxic.

But with Parliament closing next month, Mr. Ssempa, a leading religious figure from an independent sect of Christianity, made a last-ditch push last week, bringing a coalition of religious leaders, civil society organizers and two self-described former homosexuals to meet directly with the speaker of Parliament, Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi. They presented him with a petition containing what they said were more than two million signatures in support of the bill.

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill was introduced in 2009, only a month after a seminar with American ministers about “curing” homosexuality and the dangers of “the gay movement.” Last year, an evangelical Christian from Missouri, Lou Engle, held an event in Uganda at which the bill was promoted (though after he left to travel home, he says).

But Uganda, a poor and heavily Christian nation of 35 million with a large American missionary community, has long held its own conservative views on sexuality. Mr. Ssempa says his movement is about African culture, and while the United States has continued to debate its own societal values, similar conversations are happening here.

Mr. Ssempa, reading from the petition, began the meeting by saying he was “distressed” that the bill was being “deliberately killed” by “undemocratic threats” from Western nations, and called the political bullying “homocracy.”

A bag was passed around with “Debate Our Bill Now!” and “No to Sodomy,” pins, before it came to rest in front of one of the so-called former homosexuals.

“These young people,” Mr. Ssempa said, pointing toward the two young men, sitting stiffly across from him in front of the speaker, “will share their experiences having been recruited into homosexuality and coming out. And that is why we are here.”

Bishop Julius Oyet, sitting beside Mr. Ssempa, tried unsuccessfully to pin Speaker Ssekandi with the two “Debate Our Bill Now!” and “No to Sodomy” pins before speaking passionately on the “dire need” to “save the nation.”

“We are facing a defining moment, Mr. Speaker, in our nation, when we cannot allow one of the top pillars of our culture and civilization to crumble,” the bishop said.

The focus turned to the two men sitting quietly on the other side of the table, Paul Kagaba and George Oundo. Mr. Kagaba, 27, went first.

“For me, I was lured into homosexuality by a headmaster of a primary school, who recently died,” said Mr. Kagaba, speaking of the recently killed Mr. Kato. “He was our neighbor,” Mr. Kagaba said, “and we embraced him.”

Mr. Kagaba said that Mr. Kato offered to pay his school fees, and soon Mr. Kagaba, 17 at the time, moved in. One day, Mr. Kagaba claimed, Mr. Kato bought him chicken and two Guinness beers, and raped him that night. The next morning, Mr. Kagaba says, Mr. Kato gave him $130.

Other gay activists have vouched for Mr. Kato’s innocence, and Mr. Kagaba himself said he became an outspoken gay activist for six years, until his family held an intervention and he met Mr. Ssempa. Now he says he counsels others at the pastor’s One Love clinic in downtown Kampala, where they preach sexual purity and sing a cappella.

Mr. Kagaba accused a number of human-rights organizations, including London-based Amnesty International, of propagating homosexuality. Amnesty International said it was not the first time these accusations had been made, but that the accusations were “misinformed” and “baseless.”

Mr. Oundo, 26, a transgender person who used to go by the name Georgina, went next.

“I used to call myself the Queen Mother and Lady of the City,” Mr. Oundo said. “I was recruited into homosexuality many years back, when I was 12.”

“When I joined Mr. Ssempa, I told him all my problems,” he said. “I had to come out and join the struggle.

“Please help us; let the bill pass,” he said.

But an hour later, in a quiet hotel, Mr. Oundo recanted much of what had been said at the meeting.

“David Kato was murdered; it was a plot,” Mr. Oundo said. “I don’t support the bill.”

As for being a “former homosexual,” that, too, was not true.

“I’ve always been gay,” Mr. Oundo said, in a timid but growing voice. “I didn’t choose it.”

“David Kato was the first one who taught me to protect my human right,” Mr. Oundo added.

Mr. Oundo said that his presence alongside Mr. Ssempa at Parliament had been to “protect” himself and that he had been contacted only that morning by Mr. Kagaba about the meeting and offered about $42 to attend. He said Mr. Ssempa had offered him about $2,000 in 2009 to repent and switch sides in the debate, but later reneged. Either way, Mr. Oundo became a poster-child for Mr. Ssempa’s anti-homosexuality movement.

Mr. Ssempa declined to comment on the allegations.

Mr. Oundo admitted that he had picked up boyfriends at high schools and universities, what the antigay movement calls recruiting. But he said Uganda’s gay population was full of “natural-borns,” like himself.

“If I live or die, I am gay, and if I am buried, bury me gay,” he said.

At the end of the meeting in Parliament, Speaker Ssekandi thanked the delegation but warned that there had been “very different reactions” to the bill, and that it was unlikely to be debated before Parliament’s session ended.

“There are more concerns about what happens in Sweden and what the Americans are saying, but the two million Ugandans are here saying ‘help us,’ ” argued Bishop Oyet. “Democracy demands that the people debate the issues of the people.”

Across the table, Mr. Oundo, wearing a T-shirt with an American flag on it, seemed to have misty eyes, the bag of “No to Sodomy” pins spilling onto the table in front of him.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Video: MN Sen. Puts Public, Principled Face On 'Protect Marriage" Bogeyman

A Climate of Fear and Hostility

These anti-gay amendments are of course enraging on their faces. But that our passionate, human, life-reflective arguments lose out to fear-mongered canards and carefully workshopped talking points? Well in some ways, that anti-intellectual reality is even harder to swallow.

Today, Sen. Dibble's colleagues voted 38-27 against his family. Tomorrow, not one person will be better for it.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Question for the (Venango County) Republican Party?

by Faith In America:

An ad that appears today in the Raleigh News and Observer as part of Faith in America’s current billboard campaign asks the question: “Is the Republican Party the party of religion-based bigotry?”

The answer is no in respect to the ideals upon which the GOP was founded upon. The Republican Party when founded in the later 1800s by people opposed to slavery, certainly set forth at its origination ideals that are in direct conflict to treating a group of people as inferior and undeserving of human dignity.

However, the influence of anti-gay religious organizations during the previous 30 years has branded the Republican Party as a political party that fully embraces religion-based stigma and hostility toward gay and lesbian Americans. Such an embrace has been a powerful force of oppression. It has been one of the key ingredients in the mortar mixture that has held in place a wall of prejudice, misunderstanding and discrimination. Most importantly yet sadly, is has aided and abetted the destruction of young lives.

When certain conservative religious organization in the early 1980s began to identify opposition to LGBT equality as a political tool to recruit new members and motivate existing constituencies, they turned the Republican Party to fortify those efforts. Sara Diamond, an author who has written several acclaimed books on the history of the Religious Right, describes in “Not By Politics Alone” how the GOP had by that time already formed a foundation for such a alliance through its support of other Religious Right causes – mainly desegragated church schools and the Equal Rights Amendment for women. The Religious Right’s terribly oppressive message that gay and lesbian Americans – because of their “homosexual lifestyle” – were a threat to society began to be injected into the rhetoric of Republican candidates seeking to capture votes at the behest of the Religious Right. The marriage between the Christian Right and GOP has been tenuous at times and still today but no one can dispute how hostility toward gay Americans has been used in Republican political rhethoric and as a tool to garner votes.

We still see remnants of the prejudices toward other minorities that were involved in that early history of the Religious Right’s alliance with the Republican Party.

Just last week, Republican Oklahoma lawmaker Sally Kerns said she apologized “for my statements last night about African Americans and women.” Here in North Carolina, Republican State Senator James Forrester last year was quoted in a Statesville Landmark article to say “slick city lawyers and homosexual lobbies and African-American lobbies are running Raleigh.” Kern is best known for saying gay folks are the “biggest threat our nation has” at a 2008 gathering of Republicans. Forrester introduced an anti-gay marriage initiative this year in the N.C. General Assembly – as he has done numerous times in the past.

As an organization whose mission is to bring awareness and understanding about the harm caused by religion-based bigotry, Faith in America is compelled to address how this awful form of bigotry has been widely promoted through the political discourse.

It is incumbent of both Republicans and Democrats to stand against the harm that is unleashed on LGBT individuals and society by such an oppressive force. LGBT youth literally are ending their lives because of a societal climate of stigma and hostility – a climate that has been both justified and promoted through anti-gay religious organizations’ influence within the Republican Party.

The Associated Press reported on April 17 that suicide attempts by gay teens — and even straight kids — “are more common in politically conservative areas where schools don’t have programs supporting gay rights, a study involving nearly 32,000 high school students found. Those factors raised the odds and were a substantial influence on suicide attempts even when known risk contributors like depression and being bullied were considered, study author Mark Hatzenbuehler, a Columbia University psychologist and researcher, was quoted to ay in the article.

It is not difficult to understand how such bigotry is making its way into the minds of our children. It also is not difficult to understand how such stigma and hostility affects gay and lesbian youth in such a hurtful way.

Imagine the 13-year-old gay teen in Raleigh reading a newspaper in the school library in which Mecklenburg Republican County Commissioner Bill James was quoted to say the purpose of the proposed anti-marriage amendment is “to put a big letter of shame on the behavior. We don’t want them here. We don’t want them marrying.”

The messages to gay youth being promoted by the anti-gay religious groups and their political cohorts are: You deserve to be shamed by society, you are a threat to your family and society as a whole, and you are not wanted.

There can be no doubt about the emotional and psychological harm that such messages inflict on LGBT people, youth and their families and on a community as a whole.

No political party should ever embrace putting a group of American citizens, especially young kids, in the path of such harmful bigotry, prejudice and discrimination.

We ask Republican lawmakers, dedicated to the ideals on which their party was founded, to stand against religion-based bigotry toward North Carolinas gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender citizens. We ask Democratic lawmakers to stand with their Republican colleagues in this effort.

We sincerely believe such a stance will be in keeping with the majority of North Carolinian Republicans and nationwide as well, as evidenced by a recent poll that showed 51 percent of Republicans favor legal recognition of same-sex couples’ relationships. We have no doubt that trend will continue as that same poll found greater support from Republicans under age 50.

As new voices of social justice and equality are being heard around the world, we are hopeful North Carolina lawmakers will raise their voices against religion-based bigotry and the injustice and inequality it seeks to promote against this state’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender citizens.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Hatred & The History of Social Conservatism

By Ron Hill, from Pam's House Blend:

1860: Social Conservatives claim that slavery is supported by the Bible. Churches even split to create the Southern Baptist and the Methodist Church, South; completely separate denominations from Northern churches. Social Conservatives claim that tradition, history and religion are on their side.

Social conservatives lose. Society doesn't devolve into race wars as predicted by social conservatives.

1919: Social Conservatives use the Bible, morality, and family, to argue for prohibition. Social Conservatives win.Violence ensues in many large American cities as gangs fight to bring alcohol to people. Moonshining takes off, creating more crime and unsafe unregulated alcohol poisons many Americans.

1920: Social Conservatives use the Bible, history and tradition to justify why women should be denied the right to vote.

Social conservatives lose. Women get the right to vote. Society doesn't fall apart as predicted by social conservatives.

1933: After seeing the results of prohibition, the country votes to legalize alcohol. Social Conservatives lose. Violence and accidental poisoning drops off as America becomes a safer and freer country.

1955: Social Conservatives claim Elvis and Rock and Roll are evil and will lead to mayhem and a breakdown in the social order. Movies are evil, and playing cards are a sin. Social Conservatives lose; Rock and Roll is still around, Elvis Presley didn't lead young people into Satan Worship. Society continues to function.

1964: Social Conservatives argue that the Bible, tradition, and history justify Jim Crow in the South. They warn that society will fall apart if blacks are given equal rights with white Americans.

Social Conservatives lose, society doesn't fall apart but becomes stronger.

1980's - present: Social Conservatives take over school boards in the South, and insist that "abstinence only" sex education be taught, despite overwhelming research that "abstinence only" sex ed is a huge failure.

Society loses, especially Southern families, as Southerners lead the nation in the rate of sexually transmitted diseases, abortions, and unwed mothers. Nonetheless, social conservatives claim to be "pro-family".

2000- present: The Family "Research" Council, The American Family Association, and Americans For "Truth" About Homosexuality are used as "expert" witnesses by reputable media despite lacking any academic or scientific credentials that would qualify them as experts on gay issues. Like their predecessors, they use the Bible, history and tradition to defend their positions, along with a healthy dose of lies, distortions and fake research. Eventually, these groups are labeled as "hate groups" by the KKK and Aryan-Nation busting Southern Poverty Law Center because of their repeated lies and distortions of truth. Nonetheless, the media continue to use them as "expert" witnesses and many Republican presidential candidates continue to associate with, and defend them.

Society loses, as social conservatives twist facts to support their own private religious beliefs. American families are directly harmed by these "pro-family" groups who teach Americans lies about their own family members.

Fortunately, the history of social conservatism is one of repeated losses - and each time social conservatives lose America became a stronger, more free society. Of course, as they claimed with ending slavery, allowing women to vote, and abolishing segregation, social conservatives now claim that allowing gay Americans to have equal rights will somehow lead to society falling apart. Their is no logical reason to believe this is true, but they like to claim it nonetheless. Fortunately, polls show that Americans - even Republicans, increasingly see through the lies. It's only a matter of time before gay equality is the law of the land and social conservatives are proven wrong once again.

For the rational wing of the Republican Party

Ron Hill

"And I am even more angry as a legislator who must endure the threats of every religious group who thinks it has some God-granted right to control my vote on every roll call in the Senate. I am warning them today: I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of 'conservatism'."

- U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater, aka "Mr. Conservative"

Sunday, May 8, 2011

America's Vulnerability to 'Religious' Demagogues

Writing a Faslified American History,
from The Bilerico Project:

The New York Times did a piece the other day on David Barton, a Christian dominionist who writes fictional versions of the history of the United States to support the efforts of Christianists to dupe the masses and impose a Christianist theocracy in place of the nation's current constitutional government. Barton displays utter contempt for real history and would be a laughable figure but for the fact that fools and demagogues of the far right - including many in today's round up of Republican candidates - either quote Barton or rely on him as if he were a legitimate historian. (This list of fools and demagogues also includes Venango County-based hate group, American Family Association of Pennsylvania.)

Truth be told, Barton has about as much legitimacy as a historian as Sarah Palin has as a serious intellectual. Chris Rodda, a Senior Research Director at the Military Religious Freedom Foundation and author of Liars For Jesus is beside herself that anyone takes Barton as anything more than a serious whack job and has a post venting on the Huffington Post.

The whole situation underscores America's vulnerability to demagogues due to the fact that so many Americans know nothing of real history - a subject relegated time and time again to a low status in our public schools. First, here are highlights from the New York Times story:

Mr. Barton is a self-taught historian who is described by several conservative presidential aspirants as a valued adviser and a source of historical and biblical justification for their policies. He is so popular that evangelical pastors travel across states to hear his rapid-fire presentations on how the United States was founded as a Christian nation and is on the road to ruin, thanks to secularists and the Supreme Court, or on the lost political power of the clergy.

Many historians call his research flawed, but Mr. Barton's influence appears to be greater than ever. Liberal organizations are raising the alarm over what they say are Mr. Barton's dangerous distortions, including his claim that the nation's founders never intended a high wall between church and state.

"I've met with several of the potential candidates this time, always at their call," Mr. Barton said of the Republican presidential hopefuls. They usually seek specific advice, he said: whom to hire or contact in a particular state, how best to phrase a sensitive point... Among the possible Republican presidential candidates who seek his advice are Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich and Representative Michele Bachmann.

[M]any professional historians dismiss Mr. Barton, whose academic degree is in Christian education from Oral Roberts University, as a biased amateur who cherry-picks quotes from history and the Bible. "The problem with David Barton is that there's a lot of truth in what he says," said Derek H. Davis, director of church-state studies at Baylor University, a Baptist institution in Waco, Tex. "But the end product is a lot of distortions, half-truths and twisted history."

Groups like Americans United for Separation of Church and State have long challenged Mr. Barton's conclusions. Now, his critics are ratcheting up their alarms. The liberal group People For the American Way recently devoted a report to Mr. Barton, warning about his "growing visibility and influence with members of Congress and other Republican Party officials."

Chris Rodda isn't as kind as the Times and calls out Barton for what he is: a liar. I would add, a deliberate liar. Barton and those like him pose a clear and present danger to the U.S. Constitution and freedom of religion as envisioned by the Founding Fathers. Here's a part of her take on Barton from Huffington Post:

After nine years of battling Barton's lies, the first three or four of which were spent writing my book, Liars For Jesus: The Religious Right's Alternate Version of American History, I'm at a point of utter frustration as I watch this Christian nationalist liar get more and more influential. Jon Stewart's interview was the tipping point. If Jon couldn't nail this shameless and obvious history revisionist to the wall, I don't know who can.

A lie can be told in a few words. Debunking that lie can take pages. That is why my book (which is only the first volume of what will be a three volume series) is five hundred pages long. Nobody is going to be able to adequately prove to any audience that Barton's lies are lies in an interview like Jon Stewart did last night, and David Barton is never going to agree to debate anyone that he knows can defeat him.

If you haven't seen it already, please watch the Daily Show interview, particularly the online extended interview. Then watch the videos on my website: Liars For Jesus. I'll be outside on this beautiful spring day playing with my dog, knowing that I've now done everything I possibly can to fight the scourge of David Barton.

Barton is indeed a prime example of professional Christians in my view being synonymous with the term pathological liars. As for the sheeple who believe such bullshit, Bob Felton has a good description at Civil Commotion:

Barton won't be influenced, of course, and neither will the morons who want to believe his lies. After years of watching these clowns up close, I'm convinced that there is an intellectual dysfunction at work, not quite a fide mental illness but something very close. They need their fictions, the way an addict needs his crack; they cannot face the world without them.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Speaks about Homophobia & Transphobia

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay speaks on hate crimes against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Believe Out Loud: A Million Christians for LGBT Equality

Join the movement.
A Million Christians for LGBT Equality video
Lesbian. Gay. Bisexual. Transgender. Simply believing that LGBT individuals ought to be welcomed into our church communities is not enough. The time has come to break the silence. Believe Out Loud. Express your compassion by welcoming and supporting the gay and lesbian members of our communities. Join us, and raise Christian voices around LGBT issues.

Believing that LGBT persons should be welcomed in the church isn't enough. We need to Believe Out Loud. Visit for resources on how YOU can BELIEVE OUT LOUD.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Venango County-based "American Family Association of Pennsylvania" Designated as Official "Hate Group" by Prominent Watch Dog Organization

The American Family Association Put On List Of
18 Anti-Gay Hate Groups and Their Propaganda

The Southern Poverty Law Center monitors hate groups and other extremists throughout the United States and exposes their activities to law enforcement agencies, the media and the public. We publish our investigative findings online and in the Intelligence Report, our award-winning quarterly journal. We’ve crippled some of the country’s most notorious hate groups by suing them for murders and other violent acts committed by their members.

Currently, there are 1,002 known hate groups operating across the country, including neo-Nazis, Klansmen, white nationalists, neo-Confederates, racist skinheads, black separatists, border vigilantes and others.

And their numbers are growing.

Excerpted from the Southern Poverty Law Center Intelligence Report:

Even as some well-known anti-gay groups like Focus on the Family moderate their views, a hard core of smaller groups, most of them religiously motivated, have continued to pump out demonizing propaganda aimed at homosexuals and other sexual minorities. These groups’ influence reaches far beyond what their size would suggest, because the “facts” they disseminate about homosexuality are often amplified by certain politicians, other groups and even news organizations. Of the 18 groups profiled below, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) will be listing 13 next year as hate groups (eight were previously listed), reflecting further research into their views; those are each marked with an asterisk. Generally, the SPLC’s listings of these groups is based on their propagation of known falsehoods — claims about LGBT people that have been thoroughly discredited by scientific authorities — and repeated, groundless name-calling. Viewing homosexuality as unbiblical does not qualify organizations for listing as hate groups.

*American Family Association

Methodist minister Donald E. Wildmon formed the National Federation for Decency in 1977, changing its name to the American Family Association (AFA) in 1988. Today, the group, which was taken over by Tim Wildmon after his father’s 2010 retirement, claims a remarkable 2 million online supporters and 180,000 subscribers to its AFA Journal. It also broadcasts over nearly 200 radio stations.

The AFA seeks to support “traditional moral values,” but in recent years it has seemed to specialize in “combating the homosexual agenda.” In 2009, it hired Bryan Fischer, the former executive director of the Idaho Values Alliance, as its director of analysis for government and policy. Taking a page from the anti-gay fabulist Scott Lively (see Abiding Truth Ministries, above), Fischer claimed in a blog post last May 27 that “[h]omosexuality gave us Adolph Hitler, and homosexuals in the military gave us the Brown Shirts, the Nazi war machine and 6 million dead Jews.” (Ironically, the elder Wildmon was widely denounced as an anti-Semite after suggesting that Jews control the media, which the AFA says “shows a genuine hostility towards Christians.”) Fischer has described Hitler as “an active homosexual” who sought out gays “because he could not get straight soldiers to be savage and brutal and vicious enough.” He proposed criminalizing homosexual behavior in another 2010 blog post and has advocated forcing gays into “reparative” therapy. In a 2010 “action alert,” the AFA warned that if homosexuals are allowed to openly serve in the military, “your son or daughter may be forced to share military showers and barracks with active and open homosexuals.”

Gays aren’t the AFA’s only enemies. In late 2009, Fischer suggested that all Muslims should be banned from joining the U.S. military. “Islam is a totalitarian political ideology,” Fischer added in August 2010. “It is as racist as the KKK. ... Allowing a mosque to be built in town is fundamentally no different that granting a building permit to a KKK cultural center built in honor of some King Kleagle.” A little later, according to the Huffington Post, Fischer said that whatever the government does to "to make it unthinkable for America's youth to join a white supremacist group," it should also do "to make it as unthinkable for a resident of America to embrace Islam." Around the same time, the Huffington Post said, he blogged that Muslim values are "grossly incompatible with American values," and therefore no place in America should allow a mosque to be built.

And then there are the promiscuous. On his May 26, 2010, radio show, Fischer recounted the biblical story of Phineas, who used a spear to kill a man and a woman who were having sex. Citing the nation’s “rampant sexual immorality,” Fischer said, “God is obviously looking for more Phineases in our day.”

The American Family Association of Pennsylvania is the state
affiliate of
the Tupelo, MS-based American Family Association

The AFAofPA is based in Franklin, PA, the Seat of Venango County -
It states its mission as follows:

1.) To make a positive difference in our community by standing up for traditional Judeo-Christian values.

2.) To encourage the faith community to break the silence on controversial issues and be a voice for pro-family values.

3.) To provide leadership in defending the Biblical ethic of decency.

4.) To educate the public on the negative effects of pornography and violence in the media.

5.) To do what we can to encourage, promote and defend families.

6.) To protect children from those who would seek to commercialize or propagandize them.

To accomplish its goals it, well, see the above description of the organization by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Diane Gramley
President of the American "Family" Association of Pennsylvania