supremacy ≠ equality

An Exercise in Contrasts

Garterbelt's head explodes. (Detail of frame from Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt, episode 3, 'Pulp Addiction')

Michelangelo Signorile, on a looming spectre in the tale of equality, liberty and justice for all, and other such Americana such as virtue and citizenship:

The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has finally lifted its ban on gay adults―except for those groups that still want to discriminate. Sure, it’s cause for optimism that the BSA is not enforcing the ban on every chapter and group. But by allowing some to discriminate by choice―at this particular juncture in American politics―the BSA is setting a dangerous precedent. By allowing the religiously-affiliated troops to still ban gay adults, the BSA is making a religious exemption seem like a reasonable compromise when in fact it is allowing the very people who would discriminate to keep discriminating.

(Boldface accent added)

That last is a particular point of Signorile’s; he raised it last week in a piece about the 2016 Republican presidential candidates we had cause to note for our own reasons. His point isn’t merely valid, it is important. This is the ostensible point of these religious freedom arguments conservatives keep asserting.

We would also remind that this is about more than gay marriage; this is about more, even than the Gay Fray itself.

This is dangerous.

But there is another recurring theme, as well; as Signorile noted, “The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has finally lifted its ban on gay adults―except for those groups that still want to discriminate”.

We would remind a point from our recent misfortune to consider Gov. Scott Walker’s response to the idea that the Boy Scouts of America would reinvest discriminatory authority in local leaders … er … ah … right. That’s the point. While the BSA has lifted its official national gay ban, they have simply chosen to reinvest discriminatory authority in local Boy Scout leaders.

Mr. Walker responded to the mere proposition by considering the “larger political and cultural debate” juxtaposed with “camping and citizenship and merit badge and service awards”, and therein we find the true measure of what the Boy Scouts of America has done: We won’t force you to discriminate, but, hey, you know, if you want to demonstrate citizenship and merit and service by going out of your way to be cruel and harmful to others, that’s just fine with us.

Downstream reinvestment seems to be the new trend for conservative resistance against equality. It’s hardly anything new; in 2012 we saw Republicans try to reinvest authority to deny contraception in employers. Then again, that’s not so far downstream as it used to be, when a woman needed her husband’s permission to do any number of things.

In the end, it is a poisonous formula. The whole point is to present a compromise in which, okay, discrimination is wrong and shouldn’t be allowed unless you want to discriminate. Downstream reinvestment might fit well into anti-institutional appeal to local sentiment, but its entire purpose is to ensure authority to discriminate is invested somewhere, with someone. The whole point is to protect the discrimination itself.

And perhaps the larger political spectacle of disruptive empowerment demands greater attention, but it really is important to remember what the Boy Scouts of America has done. Protecting bigotry stands among their virtues of proper citizenship.

This is problematic, to say the least.

It is almost enough to obscure the fact of even greater stupidity.

No, really, we promised a contrast. Kyle Mantyla tries to explain:

Today, the Boy Scouts National Executive Board is expected to lift the organization’s ban on gay scout leaders and Colorado state Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt is not happy about it, warning parents on his “Pray In Jesus Name” program today to remove their sons from the organization before they are molested.Say what?

“If your boy is in one of those organizations, you need to get the out of there,” Klingenschmitt said, “because what they’re going to do is promote homosexual men to mentoring and camping with your boys in the woods and it will lead to child abuse.”

Thanks, Gordon. We … really needed to know what was on your mind.

No, really, with everything else going on ....

Actually, it’s probably a better tack than trying to explain the whole discrimination thing. But there is also apparent irony in the idea of the traditional bigoted appeal about how the homosexuals are coming for the children.

Still, though, the contrast only begs the question: We take these people seriously … why?

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Image note: A preacher’s torment ― Garterbelt’s head explodes. Don’t ask. Detail of frame from Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt, episode 3, “Pulp Addiction”.

Mantyla, Kyle. “Klingenschmitt: Remove Your Sons From The Boy Scouts Before They Are Abused By Gay Child Molesters”. Right Wing Watch. 27 July 2015.

Signorile, Michelangelo. “Why the Boy Scouts New Policy on Gays Sets A Dangerous Precedent”. The Huffington Post. 28 July 2015.

—————. “The GOP Plan to Stoke Anti-Gay Bigotry in 2016”. The Huffington Post. 23 July 2015.

Tomorrow, Today

Detail of frame from Sekirei.

I should be embarrassed. Or, you know, maybe not.

Really, I thought the right wing would have taken the hint and moved on to the next front. That is to say, my prognostication somehow failed to account for just how stubborn is this conservative desperation:

There have been predictions for several years that gay-bashing by GOP presidential candidates would be dead by 2016, some of it wishful thinking by gay advocates. Back in 2012, Fred Sainz of the Human Rights Campaign, for example, commenting on the lack of discussion of gay issues in the three debates between President Obama and Mitt Romney, said, “What we’re seeing is proof positive that gay issues aren’t the wedge they used to be.” The public, he said, has “moved on.”

Fast forward to 2015: Ted Cruz, Scott Walker and Rick Perry have expressed blatant anti-gay positions, from banning gay scout leaders to supporting yet another marriage amendment. Some pundits believe this to be politically dangerous, certainly in a general election, and they’re right when it comes to the more overt bigotry. As I noted last week, Scott Walker clearly crossed a line — and walked back — when he said the Boy Scouts’ ban on gay adults “protected children.”

But new polling underscores that covert messaging — the dog whistle — could do the trick for the GOP, just as it has worked for the party on race and gender for decades now. Jeb Bush has defended “religious liberty” — the new code words for anti-gay positions — even while saying gay couples deserved “respect” for their relationships. And just last week, Bush said he supported the idea of anti-discrimination laws protecting LGBT people, though he thought they should be handled “state-by-state” (contrary to a comprehensive federal bill introduced by Democrats in Congress today that would protect LGBT people nationally).

But in comments that directly followed, Bush said that he believes there should be an exception for people with religious objections to allowing gays and lesbians to marry, such as a florist who refused to sell flowers to a gay couple for their wedding. In other words, those who would discriminate in the first place should be exempt from laws banning discrimination. This will in fact be the more subtle — but no less vile and discriminatory — gay-bashing of the 2016 election.

The one and only Michelangelo Signorile recalls predictions “for several years that gay-bashing by GOP presidential candidates would be dead by 2016”, and appropriately notes at least some of it was wishful thinking. And perhaps we might simply be considering a different perspective on the question of gay-bashing, but it seems unclear just how any of that wishful thinking would have worked. We would not fault Mr. Signorile for his recollection; he isn’t wrong. But it has never been clear quite how that relief should work.

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The Scott Walker Show (Virtue of Citizenship)

Scott Walker, governor of Wisconsin, speaks during the South Carolina Freedom Summit hosted by Citizens United and Congressman Jeff Duncan in Greenville, South Carolina, U.S., on Saturday, May 9, 2015. The Freedom Summit brings grassroots activists from across South Carolina and the surrounding area to hear from conservative leaders and presidential hopefuls. Photogapher: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images.

Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) continues his curious cowardice.

BASH: Earlier this week you said that the Boy Scouts of America should keep its ban on gay leaders because the policy protected children and (INAUDIBLE) scout values. And then your campaign clarified to say that it was really protecting the scouts from the political and media discussion about that.

I’m having trouble understanding that. What―at the end of the day what is your position?

WALKER: I’m not talking about personal protection. I’m talking about―for me the reason why I didn’t have a problem with it is I just think it pulled scouting into a whole larger political and cultural debate as opposed to saying scouting is about camping and citizenship and merit badge and service awards instead of pulling all these other issues out there. And I just hope that they (ph) can (ph) stay focused. That’s all.

BASH: So, but should there be a ban on allowing gay men to be scout leaders?

WALKER: That’s up to the people who run the boy scouts.

One thing that people find unique, I guess, whether you like it or not, is I actually answer questions. People ask me a question, I’ll answer a question―

BASH: You’re not really answering this one.

WALKER: Sure. I said in this case that’s what I thought. I thought the policy was just fine.

BASH: OK.

WALKER: I (ph) was (ph) saying (ph) when I was in scouts it was fine. You’re asking what should the policy be going forward? It should be left up to the leaders of the scouts.

BASH: Do you think that being gay is a choice?

WALKER: Oh, I mean I think―that’s not even an issue for me to be involved in. The bottom line is, I’m going to stand up and work hard for every American regardless of who they are, no matter where they come from, no matter what their background. I’m going to fight for people and no matter whether they vote for me or not.

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: On behalf of people is to do that properly you have to understand or at least have an opinion on who they are and where they’re coming from.

WALKER: But again, I think―no I don’t have an opinion on every single issue out there. I mean to me that’s―I don’t know. I don’t know the answer to that question.

So I’m just saying (INAUDIBLE) I don’t know what the answer to that is. And again I’m going to spend my time focused on things that I do know and what I can work on.

There is actually a lot going on in this exchange from CNN’s State of the Union, but the first thing to remember is that the questions come in a week when Boy Scout Leaders voted unanimously to approve a middling policy that lifts the formal ban on gay and bisexual employees and volunteers, reinvesting the question of discrimination at the troop level. Mr. Walker, apparently displeased with this turn of events, explained: “I have had a lifelong commitment to the Scouts and support the previous membership policy because it protected children and advanced Scout values.”

(more…)

Steve Beshear’s Headache

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear speaks during a press conference after a closed joint whip and caucus meeting on the Affordable Care Act on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, 5 December 2013. (Photo by Jim Watson/AFP/Getty)

Meanwhile, in the Bluegrass State:

David V. Moore and his fiancé went to the Rowan County Clerk’s office, armed with a copy of that Supreme Court ruling, in addition to Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear’s executive order requiring all county clerks to issue marriage licenses. In the video, employees appear to ignore the legal documents provided, continuing to refuse the couple’s request for a marriage license, while the Clerk Davis hid in the back of the office.

Writing on his Facebook wall, Moore says, “We were denied a marriage license on Monday, July 6 at the Rowan County Clerk’s office. Kim Davis is at the end of the video, but we turned it off at her request.”

The recording shows the men entering the clerk’s office and waiting patiently while other residents — including people who came in after the couple — are served. Staff at the counter refuse the men’s request and tell them that Clerk Davis is “busy right now.” Then employees called the police, insisting that the couple’s supporters stop filming the anticipated rejection.

A police officer arrives at the office toward the end of the video and speaks with employees. When Clerk Davis finally emerges from her office (around the 11 minute mark), she tells the supporter to “Put your phone away.” The two continue to bicker for a moment before the video ends.

Kentucky law does not forbid filming any interactions with public officials in a public place.

(Browning)

Oh, and you know there’s more.

(more…)

The Bobby Jindal Show (Fun Time Sneak Leak Preview)

Republican Governor of Louisiana Bobby Jindal speaks at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition's forum in Waukee, Iowa, April 25, 2015. (Photo by Jim Young/Reuters)

“If we want to save some money, let’s just get rid of the court.”

Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA)

Sometimes the question of where to start is not so easily resolved. The essential point to remember is that Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, perhaps hoping to impress conservative voters as he prepares a 2016 Republican presidential nomination bid, has seemingly run out of room to maneuver against marriage equality. Yesterday’s ruling in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals was the third, and yet Mr. Jindal still desperately seeks to delay:

But while Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration previously had said it was waiting on that 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling before recognizing same-sex marriages, top state officials dug in their heels Wednesday and said they wouldn’t change course until a district court orders them to do so.

That only widens the gap between the administration and the reality on the ground across the state. Clerks or other officials in nearly all parishes have now said they will issue licenses to same-sex couples, even as Jindal administration officials continue to tell state agencies to hold off on accepting them as valid.

The administration’s delay in accepting the Supreme Court’s ruling may be behind another point of conflict that cropped up on Wednesday as members of newly married same-sex couples seeking to change the name on their driver’s licenses to reflect their union found their efforts thwarted by the Office of Motor Vehicles.

The ruling by a three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit appeared to address the administration’s stalling.

The Supreme Court’s ruling is “the law of the land and, consequently, the law of this circuit and should not be taken lightly by actors within the jurisdiction of this court,” the ruling said.

“We express no view on how controversies involving the intersection of these rights should be resolved but instead leave that to the robust operation of our system of laws and the good faith of those who are impacted by them.”

The panel then ordered district judges who have overseen cases involving same-sex marriage, including U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman in New Orleans, to issue final judgments in their cases legalizing and recognizing same-sex marriage by July 17.

Normally that ruling, and any judgments that come from the lower courts, would be largely procedural measures now that the Supreme Court has decided the issue. And, indeed, that’s how they have been treated in most of the country, where clerks began issuing licenses immediately after Friday’s ruling.

But Jindal administration officials have said they won’t comply until forced to do so. While they initially pointed to the 5th Circuit’s decision as the event that would fully grant gay marriage rights in Louisiana, they changed course after the ruling was handed down and said they would continue to follow the state constitution’s ban on same-sex marriages until forced to do so by a lower court.

(Adelson and Shuler)

So, yeah. That’s what is going on in Louisiana. And, you know, there comes a point where this isn’t about anything else than sheer petulant malice.

Or, as Bobby Jindal is wont to call it, leadership.

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Image note: Republican Governor of Louisiana Bobby Jindal speaks at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition’s forum in Waukee, Iowa, April 25, 2015. (Photo by Jim Young/Reuters)

Hensch, Mark. “Jindal: ‘Let’s just get rid of the court'”. The Hill. 26 June 2015.

Adelson, Jeff and Marsha Shuler. “5th Circuit Court tells Louisiana to recognize same-sex marriages; Jindal administration still balks”. The Advocate. 2 July 2015.

The Supremacist’s Lament

Zombie Republic: The Demon Sisters cope with the results of their plan.  (Detail of frame from Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt, episode 8, '… Of the Dead')

“Public officials are ministers of God assigned the duty of punishing the wicked and protecting the righteous.”

Win Johnson

The disgraceful derby scrambling in the wake of Obergefell has yet to settle out; with presidential candidates struggling to find ways to evade the U.S. Constitution, or taking up the notion of just calling the whole marriage thing off, an Alabama attorney named Win Johnson has appealed to Gov. Robert Bentley (R) to opt out of the U.S. Constitution. Mr. Johnson, for his part, is a state official, a director at the Administrative Office of Courts, which in turn oversees the courts for state Chief Justice Roy Moore.

It seems a striking letter; Charles J. Dean reported, for AL.com:

In harsh words and a lecturing tone, a lawyer who works for Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore has written a letter seemingly directed at Gov. Robert Bentley rebuking him for saying Alabama will obey the U.S. Supreme Court ruling declaring same-sex marriage legal.

More appropriately, it really is a striking letter, so wild-eyed and seemingly irresponsible that the Souther Poverty Law Center has called for Johnson’s resignation.

And let us be clear; part of the problem with excerpting the letter is that the whole thing really is a show and a half. Christian supremacism, abdication of duty, rejection of the Constitution, and hey, even a Godwin violation just to hit for the cycle. Again, let us be clear: All for hatred in Jesus’ name, amen.

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A Clown Car Crossover Extravaganza

Detail of 'Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal' by Zach Weiner, 12 June 2015.

Two stars of the 2016 GOP Clown Car strove for fabulosity in a crossover clusterdiddle for the ages. Steve Benen of msnbc brings us the Tales of Two Petty Whines in the wake of marriage equality; first up, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee:

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s (R) grasp of constitutional law has long been a little fuzzy. In January, the Republican presidential candidate said Supreme Court rulings don’t set the law of the land because decisions need to be enshrined by lawmakers through “enabling legislation.”

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee speaks to guests gathered at the Point of Grace Church for the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition 2015 Spring Kickoff on April 25, 2015 in Waukee, Iowa. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)The problem, of course, was that this was gibberish.

Huckabee’s argument was presented in anticipation of a Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality, which arrived on Friday. Right on cue, the former governor made a similar argument to ABC’s George Stephanopoulos yesterday.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So are you calling for civil disobedience?

HUCKABEE: I don’t think a lot of pastors and Christian schools are going to have a choice. They either are going to follow God, their conscience and what they truly believe is what the scripture teaches them, or they will follow civil law. They will go the path of Dr. Martin Luther King, who in his brilliant essay the letters from a Birmingham jail reminded us, based on what St. Augustine said, that an unjust law is no law at all. And I do think that we’re going to see a lot of pastors who will have to make this tough decision.

He added moments later, “I’m not sure that every governor and every attorney general should just say, well, ‘It’s the law of the land,’ because there’s no enabling legislation.” When Stephanopoulos asked if he would enforce federal law if elected president, Huckabee said it would depend on Congress passing “enabling legislation.”

Mr. Benen makes the first, obvious point, that, “There won’t be ‘enabling legislation’.” Mr. Huckabee is, in all seriousness, pulling a screeching monkey out of his ass and telling you it’s a rabbit prophesying in a hat.

There is also the question of civil disobedience, and while most can agree it has its place, one wonders if our Republican neighbors can tell the difference. In tihs case, the proposition is a matter of civil disobedience in assertion of a right to discriminate and harm. In Jesus’ name, you know. Amen.

But wait, there’s more!

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The Ted Cruz Show (Hair-on-Fire Apoplexy)

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) responds to the 2015 State of the Union address in an online video, 20 January 2015.

“As ridiculous as Cruz’s posturing seems, it’s important to remember the broader context: national GOP candidates have a built-in incentive to be as hysterical as possible right now, in the hopes of currying favor with the party’s base. Mild, reasoned disappointment with the court doesn’t impress far-right activists; unrestrained, hair-on-fire apoplexy does.”

Steve Benen

This is an obvious point, or, at least one might think.

Steve Benen points to his msnbc colleague Benjy Sarlin’s report Friday last detailing the 2016 GOP presidential reactions following the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in favor of same sex marriage:

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) went so far as to call for a constitutional convention to overturn the court’s decision while campaigning in Iowa, according to CNN. In an interview with Sean Hannity he called the back-to-back rulings on health care and gay marriage “some of the darkest 24 hours in our nation’s history.”

While the Texas junior is hardly the only Republican presidential candidate opting to skip out on posturing his response within the realm of general dignity, Mr. Benen responded aptly:

Hannity, incidentally, found Cruz’s rhetoric quite compelling, responding, “I couldn’t say it more eloquently.”

For what it’s worth, it’s not hard to think of some genuinely tragic 24-hour periods in American history. The Lincoln assassination comes to mind. So does the time British troops burned the White House. There were days during the Civil War in which tens of thousands of Americans died on the battlefield. Just in the last century, we witnessed the JFK assassination, Pearl Harbor, and a corrupt president resign in disgrace.

For the Republican presidential hopeful, learning that Americans will have health benefits and loving couples will get married belongs on the same list.

The thing is that Mr. Cruz is not entirely wrong; the rest, as Benen points out, is a matter of perspective.

(more…)

Reality

Serrano, Piss Christ (detail)“The reality is that there are few if any places in the world where it is better to be Christian than the U.S., so pretending that being forced to abide by the constitution is somehow a “war” comes off a lot like the spoiled rich kid whose parents won’t upgrade the radio on the new BMW I8 they are buying for his birthday. It just makes you look uninformed, selfish and silly.”

Dale Hansen

Is there really anything we need to add, or is this pretty straightforward?

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Hansen, Dale. “Christian Persecution Is a Problem, Just Not in the U.S.” The Huffington Post. 19 May 2015.

The Ted Cruz Show (Preposterous Pretense)

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) during the Reuters Washington Summit in Washington, October 24, 2013. (Jim Bourg/Reuters)

I assume Cruz knows this, but the more he talks about ‘mandatory gay marriage,’ the more I’m inclined to remind him that he probably means ‘voluntary gay marriage.’

Steve Benen

This is what we call E for Effort, but don’t let that be a dig; it really is difficult to make heads or tails of what conservatives mean. This is sort of a confusing issue for them, and it seems that is how they like it.

There was, for instance, the amicus brief from Same-Sex Attracted Men and Their Wives, submitted for consideration in Obergefell, that fretted about a “constitutional mandate requiring same-sex marriage”, and the idea of “Constitutionally mandating same-sex marriage”. By the time we get to Pat Robertson’s bestial-anal rape fantasy―“You are going to say you like anal sex, you like oral sex, you like bestiality, you like anything you can think of, whatever it is”―it is unclear what, if anything, remains to be said.

Well, other than the obvious, which is to wonder what the hell these people are talking about.

But Mr. Benen does, between failed valiant attempts to take Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) seriously, manage to make the obvious point:

The only “mandatory” aspect of this is that the notion that the law would be required to treat all Americans equally. It would be “mandatory” that there are no second-class citizens.

This is what we must remember, though: The confusion is the point.

It is just harder to sell the fear of “mandatory gay marriage” if people take the mandate for what it really is: You got married, so now you’re married.

You don't want the ark to sink - Lebanon gives advice to Suou.  Detail of frame from Gemini of the Meteor, episode 4, 'The Ark Adrift on the Lake'.It is not that this is somehow hard for conservatives to understand; rather, they need it to seem hard to understand. The only confusion is that which they pretend, or, as some circumstances might have it―Same-Sex Attracted Men and Their Wives amici, I’m looking in your direction―actually genuinely suffer for whatever deceptions they have inflicted upon themselves.

This sort of seemingly incomprehensible incomprehension is actually pretty straightforward, depending on how deeply one wishes to delve. It is ego defense, nothing more, nothing less. They don’t like what is mandatory, but it is kind of inherently mandatory. So they need the idea of what is mandatory to be kind of scary. So they pretend to be kind of confused about what is mandatory, and then they manage to confuse themselves. This is actually something people do to themselves quite regularly, regardless of political orientation.

In the question of the Republican Party and its desperate, evangelical wing, there does remain a question as to whether or not such failures of healthy psychological function should present themselves as so consuming. That is to say, sure, it’s one thing to have one’s dysfunctional moments, but shouldn’t your part in the public discourse have something more to it than just a neurotic tumbleweed?

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Image note: Top―Sen. Ted Cruz during the Reuters Washington Summit, 24 October 2013 (Photo: Jim Bourg/Reuters) Left―”You don’t want the ark to sink.” Lebanon gives some advice to Suou. Detail of frame from Darker Than Black: Gemini of the Meteor, episode 4, “The Ark Adrift on the Lake”.

Benen, Steve. “Cruz warns of ‘mandatory’ same-sex marriage”. msnbc. 18 May 2015.