J.C. Penney tells One Million Moms to suck it

Ellen DeGeneres

Earlier this week One Million Moms, an affiliate of anti-gay hate group the American Family Association, sent out an email calling on Plano-baed J.C. Penney to fire Ellen DeGeneres — who’d just been named a company spokesperson — because she’s “an open homosexual.”

“Degeneres is not a true representation of the type of families that shop at their store,” One Million Moms wrote. “The majority of JC Penney shoppers will be offended and choose to no longer shop there.”

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, which responded with a “Stand Up for Ellen” petition that has generated more than 24,000 signatures, reports today that J.C. Penney has rejected One Million Moms’ demands and “stands behind its partnership with Ellen DeGeneres.” GLAAD’s full press release is below.

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Email suggests day of prayer designed as kickoff for Rick Perry’s campaign

AFA founder Don Wildmon

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. Texas Gov. Rick Perry and organizers of his recent day of prayer in Houston, “The Response,” have repeatedly insisted that the event wasn’t politically motivated. But an email sent to the Response’s registration list on Thursday shows that they were completely full of shit. The email, signed by American Family Association founder Don Wildmon, encourages those who attended the Response to help recruit “5 million unregistered conservative Christians to register and vote according to the Biblical worldview in 2012.” And when Wildmon says “vote according to the Biblical worldview,” he means “vote for Perry,” because it’s pretty clear at this point that the Response was little more than a kickoff for Perry’s presidential campaign, which he formally announced only one week later. Need more evidence? According to a poll on the AFA’s website this week, 49 percent of respondents support Perry for the GOP nomination. Michele Bachmann is second with just 17 percent. Read the full text of Wildmon’s email below.

2. The White House unveiled new immigration policy Thursday that could prevent some binational same-sex couples from being torn apart. Under the policy, the administration will review all 300,000 pending deportation cases and identify them as high priority or low priority. The criteria will include family relationships, and same-sex couples meet the definition of family.

3. Wisconsin Democrat Russ Feingold announced today that he won’t be a candidate for Senate in 2012, which is good news for those who want lesbian Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin to run.

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Rick Perry isn’t talking about social issues — or his porn investments

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. The Dallas Morning News (subscription only) takes a look at a phenomenon I mentioned Wednesday — presidential candidate Rick Perry mostly avoiding social issues like same-sex marriage thus far on the campaign trail. It’s partly bcause Perry has been campaigning in places like New Hampshire, where 40 percent of Republicans back same-sex marriage. “Appealing to [so-called] religious values, moral values, doesn’t go well here,” one expert told The DMN. “You’re not dealing with a socially conservative electorate.” In other words, New Hampshire GOP voters actually have some sense, and Perry is totally out of his element. Which is why he’s polling at only 18 percent in the Granite State, well behind Mitt Romney at 36 percent.

2. Here’s why I love it when politicians seek higher office, because fun stories like this one tend to resurface. In 1995, Rick Perry purchased between $5,000 and $10,000 worth of stock in Movie Gallery, a huge distributor of pornography that later became the target of a boycott by the American Family Association, which of course funded Perry’s recent day of prayer. You’ll have to read the whole story if you haven’t already, but who knows, maybe Perry just really liked Bisexual Barebacking Vol. 1 (above).

3. The new H&M store opens at NorthPark today, and the company is going all out to promote it: rotating images projected on the sides of tall buildings, street teams in Uptown and downtown to generate hype; coach buses shrink-wrapped with H&M ads transporting students back and forth from UTD; and even the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders. Wait a second, the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders? Since when do the gays like cheerleaders?

—  John Wright

WATCH: Gov. Perry thanks the leader of the anti-gay hate group that funded his day of prayer

The Human Rights Campaign has launched a petition calling on Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who’s a close second in the latest GOP presidential poll, to denounce the anti-gay extremists who funded his day of prayer last weekend — and whom he thanked during his remarks at the end of the event. Watch video above of Perry thanking Don Wildmon, president of the American Family Association, among others.

Below is the text of the petition, which you can sign by going here.

Governor Perry –

I was disturbed by your organization of last week’s anti-gay, Christian-only day of prayer in Texas, and I was alarmed to see you openly embrace notorious anti-gay leaders.

The organizers of The Response represent the worst of the worst – they preach intolerance toward others under the guise of love and spread hateful rhetoric that has dangerous consequences. Your alignment with and support of these people demonstrates your inability to serve as a national leader for all Americans.

I urge you to show true leadership by publically denouncing these extremists. It is the right thing to do, and it will send a strong message that you are capable of leading all Americans – not just the small, radical fringe you currently represent.

—  John Wright

PHOTOS: Response to ‘The Response’ begins

Riki Miller, Zombie McZee and Britney Miranda.

The responses to “The Response” are under way in Houston. First out of the gate was Friday night’s LGBT Texans Against Hate Rally.  Despite temperatures that had barely come down from the triple digits, Houstonians thronged to Tranquility Park in downtown. Beyond commenting on the temperature, the common theme of most of the speakers was that the American Family Association and Gov. Perry’s rally is not representative of Houston and is not welcomed.

Robert Shipman, president of the Houston Stonewall Young Democrats, said: “I kinda think Rick Perry chose the wrong city!”

He continued “They are the bigots, we are not … we are Houston.”

“I guess we should take comfort in the fact that, except for some of his staffers, [Gov. Perry] couldn’t find enough homegrown bigotry in the state of Texas to put on the event himself,” said Mike Craig, co-chair of Out & Equal Houston. “He had to bus them in from Tupulo, Miss., and Colorado Springs, Colo.” Craig was referring to American Family Association (based in Tupulo) and Focus on the Family (based in Colorado Springs), both co-sponsors of “The Response.”

State Rep.  Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, provided the closing address. He criticized Gov. Perry for using divisive religious rhetoric for political gain. “Being here today I’m proud that we are fighting back against a narrow, theocratic view of the world that we live in and of our country that says that people are not welcomed — that says that people are bad because of who they are. That is not America,” said Coleman. “That is what is dividing our city, our state and our country.”

Stay tuned to Instant Tea for more coverage of the LGBT community’s response to “The Response.” More photos from the LGBT Texans Against Hate Rally below (click to enlarge):

—  admin

What do supporters of ‘The Response’ have to say about LGBTs? Here are a few examples

Rick Perry

As the Dallas Voice cover story, “Responding to ‘The Response,” points out, there are a lot of people around the state — and around the country — who are angry over Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s decision to partner with The American Family Association to present his day of prayer and fasting Saturday at Houston’s Reliant Stadium. The list of people supporting and endorsing the event — like Pastor John Hagee — also has some people upset.

But what is it about the American Family Association and people like Hagee that has people so angry? As the Southern Poverty Law Center points out, it’s not because they believe homosexuality is a sin. It’s because of the hateful, discriminatory and outright false things they say to stir up fear and anger against LGBT people, Jews, Muslims, Catholics — in short, against anybody who isn’t just like them.

What kind of things? Well, here are a few examples.

This is an actual trailer for a video called They’re Coming To Your Town. The video, produced by the American Family Association, warns that gays and lesbians are trying to take over city governments across the country, using Eureka Springs, Ark., as an example.

Here’s one where AFA’s Buddy Smith reports to Bryan Fischer, AFA’s director of issues analysis, on a gay Pride parade in which Home Depot participated and why Home Depot is wrong to promote diversity. In this clip, Smith says that “homosexuals are in Satan’s grasp.”

Here’s Fischer again, explaining how the Nazis — including Hitler — were all gay and how Hitler chose to surround himself with gay soldiers because the straight soldiers were not “savage and brutal and vicious enough” to carry out Hitler’s orders, whereas the gay Brown Shirt soldiers were happy to do so:

In this one Fischer explains that tribal reservations are “mired” in poverty and alcoholism today because the Native American won’t convert to Christianity.

One more quick one from Fischer. In this clip, taped in the aftermath of the shooting at Fort Hood, he says Muslims shouldn’t be allowed to serve in the U.S. military and that they probably shouldn’t even be allowed to immigrate to the U.S. at all.

Here’s one with Pastor John Hagee explaining that the Anti-Christ is coming and that he is partially Jewish (“as was Adolph Hitler”??) and he is gay AND he is fierce! Oh yeah, and the Anti-Christ will come from Germany.

Pastor Hagee, by the way, has also called the Catholic Church “a great whore” that “thirsts for the blood of the Jews.” And after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, Hagee said in 2006 it was because New Orleans was a sinful place that was planning a gay parade (the annual Southern Decadence party over Labor Day Weekend) and, basically, that the hurricane was God’s punishment on the city. He later recanted.

We tried to find other videotapes of Hagee making these stories, but many of the videos containing some of his more controversial comments have been removed due to claims of “copyright infringement” according to notices posted on websites where the videos previously were displayed.

Want more evidence? Go to YouTube and do a search for American Family Association, specifically Bryan Fischer. Pastor Hagee might have had second thoughts about some of his more vitriolic statements and removed those videos, but Fischer’s videos are there for everyone to see.

Of course, Hagee, Fischer and the Wildmons aren’t the only ones on the list of those endorsing “The Response.” Go here to read an earlier Dallas Voice post that includes videos of “Response”  supporter Mike Bickle who claims that Oprah Winfrey is a harbinger of the Anti-Christ, and of “Response” supporter C. Peter Wagner who teaches that Japan is cursed because the emperor of Japan had sex with a demon.

Then there’s David Barton, president and founder of “WallBuilders,” who said opposes anti-bullying legislation, claiming that laws and policies to prevent bullying actually indoctrinate children into homosexuality. And he uses info from the American College of Pediatricians — a right-wing group that broke away from the American Academy of Pediatricians because the AAP supports gay and lesbian parents  — to back up his claims. Read about that here at RightWingWatch.org.

—  admin

What’s Brewing: Gov. Perry may not speak at day of prayer; trans widow Nikki Araguz files appeal

Nikki Araguz

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. CNN reports that Texas Gov. Rick Perry may not even speak at his own day of prayer on Aug. 6 in Houston. Eric Bearse, a spokesman for the American Family Association, the anti-gay hate group that is funding Perry’s day of prayer, told CNN: “There will be a handful of speakers, in addition to a number of folks leading prayer, plus some time for praise and worship music. … Whether the governor will speak has not yet been decided at this point.” Seems like this could be another example of Perry trying to tone down the religious rhetoric and distance himself from the whackos who’ve endorsed the event.

2. Texas transgender widow Nikki Araguz has appealed a district judge’s ruling denying her death benefits to the 13th Circuit Court of Appeals in Corpus Christi. Araguz also announced that if she wins the case, she’ll deposit the death benefits into a trust fund for her deceased husband’s two children. “I am pursuing this appeal to defend my marriage, not to obtain any financial benefit,” said Araguz. Read the full press release here.

3. A group led by anti-gay El Paso pastor Tom Brown this week filed notice of its intent to recall the mayor and two council members after they voted to reinstate domestic partner benefits for city employees. The group now has 60 days to collect enough signatures — 6,100 for the mayor and 650 each for the two council members — to trigger a recall election. If they are succesful, the recall election would cost the city $150,000, in addition to the cost of holding another election to replace the three if they are recalled.

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Senate DOMA hearing; Gov. Perry’s Religious Right trifecta; NY marriage

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, has been named a chairman of Rick Perry’s Aug. 6 day of prayer.

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. The Senate Judiciary Committee this morning will conduct the first-ever hearing on the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act. The DOMA repeal legislation was endorsed Tuesday by President Barack Obama. Today’s historic hearing begins at 9 a.m. Central time. You can watch live on the committee’s website by going here.

2. We’ve long known that Gov. Rick Perry’s Aug. 6 Day of Prayer is being funded by the American Family Association, but now it looks like Perry has achieved the trifecta of Religious Right involvement. The AFA announced Tuesday that Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council and Penny Nance of Concerned Women for America have been named co-chairmen of the event. From Right Wing Watch: “Even though Perry and the AFA are adamant that the prayer rally is apolitical, the fact that leaders of three of the most prominent Religious Right political groups in the country are hosting the event along side a potential presidential candidate makes us think otherwise.”

3. Fearing overwhelming demand this coming Sunday — the first day same-sex couples can marry — New York City officials have announced a lottery system that will guarantee 764 couples access to one of the city’s five clerks offices.

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Gov. Rick Perry tries to distance himself from wingnut day of prayer partners

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. Texas Gov. Rick Perry — perhaps fearing they could hurt him in the presidential election — appears to be trying to distance himself from the extreme views of groups and individuals with whom he’s partnering with for The Response, his day of prayer and fasting on Aug. 6 in Houston. “I’m sure that through my elections in the past that there have been some groups that have endorsed me publicly, that I appreciate their endorsements, but their endorsements of me doesn’t mean I endorse what they believe in or what they say,” Perry said Monday, according to The Dallas Morning News. “I appreciate anyone that’s going to endorse me, whether it’s on The Response or whether it’s on a potential run for the presidency of the United States. Just because you endorse me doesn’t mean I endorse everything that you say or do.” Sorry, governor, but nice try. Being endorsed by someone in a political race is a little different from partnering with them and selecting them to foot the bill for an event like this.

2. The U.S. Senate for the first time ever on Monday confirmed an openly gay man to serve as a federal district judge, The Washington Blade reports. J. Paul Oetken, nominated by President Barack Obama in January, was confirmed to serve on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York by a vote of 80-13 (Texas Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison was among those who voted against Oetken’s confirmation). Oetken is not the first openly LGBT person to be confirmed as a federal district judge, as this distinction belongs to U.S. District Judge Deborah Batts, an out lesbian appointed by President Bill Clinton. And of course he’s not the first non-openly gay man, as we’ve had Judge Vaughn Walker and undoubtedly others. But Oetken’s confirmation is still a pretty big deal: “It wasn’t even two decades ago that openly LGBT people had a hard time even being considered for a presidential appointment, and some who got nominated faced fierce opposition in the Senate,” said Denis Dison, a spokesman for the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund. “Today, more than 200 LGBT Americans have been appointed by President Obama, and more than 25 of those were nominated for Senate-confirmable positions.”

3. Towleroad has posted bios of those scheduled to testify during the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing Wednesay on repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act. The lack of diversity among witnesses has drawn criticism from the likes of Lt. Dan Choi and prompted an online petition calling for the Human Rights Campaign to “Wake up from white privilege and diversify!” But The Washington Blade reports that witnesses were actually selected by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., in consultation with outside groups, and Immigration Equality, a group focused on DOMA-related immigration issues, isn’t concerned about the absence of binational same-sex couples from the witness list.

—  John Wright

Members of FW church heading to Houston to protest outside Perry’s prayer meeting

Fort Worth First Congregational Church, UCC

Another North Texas group has announced plans to travel to Houston next month to protest outside Gov. Rick Perry’s day-long prayerfest, and this time it’s a (not gay) church.

Members of Fort Worth First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ held a congregational meeting Sunday, July 10, and voted unanimously to endorse congregants’ plans to travel to Houston on Aug. 6 to protest outside Reliant Stadium where Perry and company will be holding “The Response.” Some 15 to 20 people from FW First Congregational Church are expected to go to Houston to protest, according to a press release from the church, along with “others from Christian churches throughout Texas.”

The press release says protesters will gather outside the stadium gates while folks are arriving for the prayer meeting, expressing their feelings about the event through posters, fliers and “silent witness.”

Unless you have been hiding under a rock for the last two months or so, you already know that Texas’ governor is teaming up with the decidedly anti-gay American Family Association, a right-wing conservative Christian organization that has been labeled as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, to present “The Response.” The purpose, Perry says, is to pray for our nation in crisis. (Others have suggested that perhaps it’s just a play for publicity as Perry gets ready to kick off his 2012 presidential bid.)

The folks at FW First Congregational are like most people speaking out against the event: They have no issue with the idea of holding a prayer meeting. What bothers them is that the governor is teaming up with the American Family Association to do so, especially since AFA is footing the bill for the prayer party.

“We certainly respect the governor’s call to pray and fast for the welfare of our country, but we strongly object to doing that in collusion with a group that engages in hate speech and, therefore, misrepresents the gospel,” said FWCC deacon and protest organizer Marvin Vann.

—  admin