Monday, March 23, 2015

Conservative candidate

Yes, Ted Cruz announced he is running for president. Melissa McEwen of Shakesville describes the announcement this way:
It's pretty sweet that he's making no bones about the fact that he doesn't want to lead "the American people," but definitely just wants to lead conservatives to take back the country from the terrifying grip of moderates and liberals. Fresh take!

This is just the perfect Republican candidate, right here: A professional politician who hates government; who makes his living from taxpayer dollars but hates taxation of the wealthy and corporations; who wants to be president of the country, but hates most of it.
From commenter jeannebean:

NPR notes that Cruz was born in Canada and until a few years ago carried dual citizenship. His mother is American. Does he meet the constitution's mandate for "natural born"? The Supremes have never ruled on this situation.

Why aren't the birthers up in arms?

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Thanks for the apology

Back in 1980 Bob Jones III, president of fundamentalist Bob Jones University, was with a group of Fundie pastors urging President Carter to not extend the Civil Rights Act to sexual Minorities. As part of his comments Jones called for homosexuals to be stoned.

This past week Jones, now University Chancellor, apologized. It looks to be genuine, not the sort that says, "sorry you were offended." He says that statement 35 years ago was reckless and does not fit his theology or his beliefs. It looks pretty clear he won't say it again. So thank you for your apology.


His reference to sinners implies (but does not state) he still considers homosexuality to be a sin. And I'm pretty sure (as are a lot of commenters) that the BJU policies concerning gay people have not changed. Jones didn't go far enough.

But we'd have to revise 20 forms!

A few days ago I posted that Texas set a record of 20 new anti-gay bills in any state legislature this year. I didn't know then that there was also a record set for the number of pro-gay bills introduced in the Texas legislature. I don't know the count, but I doubt it is 20. I also doubt any of them will pass.

Even so, one of them got a hearing this past Wednesday. It is a bill that allows both same-sex parents to have their names on the birth certificate of an adopted child. That hearing included this exchange:

Julie Drenner of Texas Values claimed the bill would lead to threesomes adopting and the state would need to revise 20 forms.

Rep. Byron Cool (a Republican!) said he is "struggling" with those arguments and noted same-sex couples were more willing to adopt special needs kids. Then he said:
That’s a terrible indictment on one group, to be honest with you. In regards to your issue that you have to change the forms, so what? I really don’t understand that argument at all. Right now in Texas, we are struggling. We do not have enough parents who are willing to adopt. Thank goodness for people that will adopt children and give them loving homes.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Persistent, prevalent, and instrumental

The Mattachine Society was one of the first organizations fighting for gay rights in the 1960s. At the time it was led by Frank Kameny, who was fired from his federal job as an astronomer for being gay. The Mattachine name has been revived by Charles Francis and Pate Felts. They and friends from the law office McDermott Will & Emery documented the systematic anti-gay discrimination by the federal government, starting with the Lavender Scare of the 1950s (part of the McCarthy Red Scare) and on through the 1960s, and 70s. They obtained details through the Freedom of Information Act and turned it into a brief that they submitted to the Supremes as part of the upcoming same-sex marriage case.

There is a reason to go through the effort. One is to document the historical record. Another is to demonstrate anti-equality laws have long been based on hostility, or animus, and that is not permitted as a justification for discriminatory laws.

A reason for the need for the historical record is from Justice John Roberts' dissent in the last big gay case before the Supremes. Roberts claimed there was insufficient evidence of animus, calling it "snippets of legislative history." The brief responds:
For decades, this animus was one of the basic assumptions of American life. It was so persistent, so prevalent, and so instrumental to the way that we structured our institutions, treated our fellow citizens, and organized our lives that, in retrospect, it is often overlooked.

The brief documents this animus, including the language used to describe gay people: “unnatural,” “uniquely nasty,” “immoral,” “deviant,” “pervert[ed],” and an “abomination.”

One of the cases cited was that of William Dew who was fired in 1958. At the time he had a pregnant wife. The reason for his dismissal was he applied to the CIA and as part of the application admitted to experimenting with gay sex many years before. The Supremes agreed to hear the case, which prompted the gov't to settle. But it also prompted the gov't to redouble its efforts to "crush" homosexuals.

The brief's closing argument, explaining why it is appropriate for a same-sex marriage case:
The Dew case is important for another reason as well—one that goes to the heart of the cases now before this Court. For decades, there was no limit to the animus meted out against LGBT Americans and no end to its reach. It poisoned every institution in the United States and seeped into the lives of all Americans, not merely those of gays and lesbians. So too, the language of animus became commonplace among those in the highest positions in government: “homo,” “sexual deviant,” “pervert,” “abomination,” “uniquely nasty,” and other derogatory terms and phrases were used with bureaucratic ease as a way to define, cabin, and limit the citizenship of LGBT Americans. As the Dew case perfectly illustrates, the animus even extended to those who were not gay.

It was the courts—and in the case of Dew, this Court—that ultimately stepped in to set the course right. This Court knows animus when it sees it, and it has a well-established line of cases overturning laws that by their text, background history, and effect, relegate a class of citizens to second-class status. See, e.g., Romer v. Evans, 517 U.S. 620 (1996); Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003); and United States v. Windsor, 133 S. Ct. 2675 (2013). Indeed, this Court has already recognized the long history of discrimination and animus against homosexuals. See, e.g., Lawrence, 539 U.S. at 571.

The newly revealed documents cited herein merely reinforce what this Court already knows. For decades, there was a culture of animus against LGBT Americans that permeated every aspect of American life and every American institution. In many places, that culture continues to this day. To say that the marriage bans now at issue are not somehow the product of this historical animus is to ignore reality. We may not see the air that feeds the flame. But, for decades, animus against LGBT Americans fed the flames of hatred, revulsion, and disgust from which the current marriage bans arose.
One commenter essentially said, great start … but it should document more recent cases, including up through today and this marriage case before the court.

My bigotry is bigger

My friend and debate partner responded to one of my posts on the same-sex marriage circus in Alabama by writing, "The 2016 primaries could feature the many Republican 'presidential' candidates having a 'my bigotry is bigger than your bigotry' fight." I wrote back saying it isn't "could" but "will." My example is Ted Cruz.

But it looks like that comment should leave out the word "presidential." Pastor Rick Scarborough has created a pledge that says signers are so completely against same-sex marriage they will refuse to obey any ruling by the Supremes (and, somehow, Obama), even if it means they'll go to jail. Scarborough says there are Congressmen lining up to sign, along with lots of Fundie pastors.

I can understand the sincerity of a signature to this pledge if it is from a florist or cake baker. And I can see a pastor getting in trouble if he also runs a hospital and ordered to provide marriage benefits to same-sex couples. But a Congressman? Even if there is a plausible scenario, I can't see any of them willing to go to jail for any beliefs.

Sylvia and Charity

News of the week...

A bill to allow adoption agencies to discriminate against same-sex couple using taxpayer dollars has passed the Michigan House. John Wright of Towleroad reports that Michigan isn't an isolated state. His post includes a map showing which states are working to pass or have enacted bills that permit religious refusals, promote discredited "conversion therapy," nullify local protections, and restrict transgender people. Alas, this map highlights 25 states.

During the Calif. same-sex marriage case Justice Alito claimed it is an "Institution which is newer than cellphones or the Internet." In speaking of gov't recognized marriages he is correct. But same-sex marriage is much older. Consider the story of Sylvia Drake and Charity Bryant, who met in Vermont in 1807 and were together for 44 years. It is a good example because it is well documented, with a book written about them by Rachel Hope Cleves. The relationship was public, an "open secret." That was possible because townspeople could compare it to marriage without actually calling it marriage.

As we've seen with some of the same-sex marriage cases, especially the one in Alabama, the anti-gay crowd works hard to try to limit the ruling to the couples actually named in the suit. If Jim and Dave brought the suit and it was ruled in their favor, then only Jim and Dave may get married. Other couples who want to get married must then also file suit.

According to William Baude, writing for the New York Times Opinion Pages, perhaps that same idea can be brought to the Affordable Care Act case currently before the Supremes. The case was brought by a Mr. King, who has a federal subsidy to buy health care and says he shouldn't be allowed to have it. So, according to this idea, if Obama loses the case he could say, fine, Mr. King doesn't get a subsidy. Anyone else who has a subsidy and feels they shouldn't, please contact the GOP, who will gladly file a lawsuit on your behalf. Thanks to my friend and debate partner for sending the link.

Ronald Wimberly of The Nib has a great discussion of racism in the comic industry. He makes a lot of references to hexadecimal color IDs, which are made up of two digits each for red, green, and blue with each digit ranging 0-9 and then a-f for 10 to 15. So #000000 is black, #ff0000 is bright red, and #ffffff is white.

And just for fun... Johanna Basford has created a series of intricate and beautiful black and white drawings gathered together into a coloring book for adults. She has already sold a million copies. These images are way too intricate for crayons, so get out your huge set of colored pencils and have a sharpener handy.