‘Florida Family Association’ founder moves from anti-gay campaigns to anti-Muslim efforts

I don’t watch reality shows, for the most part, and I haven’t watched The Learning Channel‘s new reality offering called All-American Muslim. From what I understand, after the first couple of episodes, the show is not getting good reviews.

David Caton of the Florida Family Association

But it is getting a lot of attention, thanks in large part to the Florida Family Association’s campaign to get advertisers to pull existing ads and not agree to advertise on the show in the future. Of course, FFA’s campaign has nothing to do with the quality of the program, and everything to do with David Caton‘s anti-Muslim bigotry.

Caton, who is executive director — and the only staff member — for FFA, claims All-American Muslim is “propaganda clearly designed to counter legitimate and present-day concerns about many Muslims who are advancing Islamic fundamentalism and Sharia law.  The show profiles only Muslims that appear to be ordinary folks while excluding many Islamic believers whose agenda poses a clear and present danger to liberties and traditional values that the majority of Americans cherish.”

TLC’s website for All-American Muslim explains that the show takes a look at life in Dearborn, Michigan — home to the largest mosque in the United States — through the lens of five Muslim American families.” One of the men on the show, Mike Jaafar, is a deputy chief sheriff, something Caton apparently takes great exception to. On the FFA website, Caton says, “One of the most troubling scenes occurred at the introduction of the program when a Muslim police officer stated ‘I really am American.  No ifs and or buts about it.’”

Personally, I don’t see anything particularly troubling about a deputy chief sheriff making such a declaration, but Caton says Jaafar’s statement is “damage control for the Dearborn Police who have arrested numerous Christians including several former Muslims for peacefully preaching Christianity.”

Anyway, Caton claims FFA’s efforts have convinced Lowe’s and Kayak.com to pull their advertising from the TLC program. I don’t know about Lowe’s, but Robert Birge, chief marketing officer for Kayak.com, said his company’s decision regarding advertising on the program had nothing to do with Caton and the FFA; he said the company would no longer advertise on the program because All-American Muslim “sucked.” He also said TLC had misled his company about the content of the program, and that Kayak.com had not actually pulled advertising but instead had decided not to renew advertising on the program, according to this report by Reuters.

So by now you may be wondering why an LGBT news site is reporting on a boycott of a show about Muslims. I mean, the Islamic faith is not known for its progressive stance on LGBT issues.

The reason, actually, is simple: Bigotry is bigotry is bigotry. The right-winger that is so up in arms about a TV program possibly showing Muslim people in a positive light is the same right-winger who made a name for himself fighting LGBT rights.

—  admin

Another misstep for Perry’s campaign

 

Hateful bigotry of Texas governor’s presidential campaign ad is surpassed only by its asininity

David Webb
The Rare Reporter

Just when I thought the 2012 Rick Perry for President campaign couldn’t get any nuttier, guess what? Yep, it managed to get sillier with the release of Gov. Perry’s campaign video attacking openly gay and lesbian members of the U.S. Armed Services.

Never mind that in the video dubbed “Strong” Perry is wearing the same type of tan Carhartt ranch coat actor Heath Ledger wore in the gay romance movie Brokeback Mountain, and that the video’s musical score was inspired by gay American composer Aaron Copland. The message is ridiculous, and the video’s distinction of registering more than half a million “dislikes” (646,000 dislikes to 20,000 likes) is probably attributable as much to its asininity as its hateful bigotry.

Facing the camera, against a wooded backdrop that conjures images of the big gay movie’s outdoor scenes, Perry declares that he is not “ashamed to admit” he is a Christian.

“You don’t need to be in the pew every Sunday to know that something is wrong when gays can serve openly in the military, but our kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas and pray in schools,” he declares.

Perry adds that as president he would “end Obama’s war on religion” and “fight against liberal attacks on our religious heritage.”

Aside from the imagery and the music of the video making Perry and his campaign staff again look like fools, the idea that openly gay and lesbian members of the military somehow undermine Christianity is ludicrous. Or are children supposed to resent gay and lesbian soldiers because they get to go off and fight wars while they are stuck at school, unable to pray out loud?

I doubt that it will come as a shock to Perry, his staff, the voting public or even school children that there are openly gay and lesbian people working in every level of local, state and federal government and private business — even churches — without harm to Christianity. Yet for some reason they expect everyone to swallow the notion that openly gay and lesbian members of the military will put the nation under the control of pagans.

What about openly gay and lesbian soldiers who observe Christianity by going to church, reading their Bibles and praying? Are they to be the demise of their own religion?

And do U.S. citizens who are Jewish or members of other faiths matter at all to Perry and his campaign staff? Under the Perry plan, are the children of those citizens to be indoctrinated into Christianity?

As to Perry’s promise in the video’s closing, it would be news to everybody if it were learned President Obama had declared a war on religion. Those laws regulating Christmas displays and school prayer were put in motion decades ago, a long time before Obama ever thought about running for political office.

Open prayer in school was banned by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1962 when Perry was in grade school. Surely he remembers.

Ultimately, I can’t imagine many people viewing the overturn of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” which was supported by a majority of the American public, enacted by Congress and signed into law by Obama, as an assault on Christianity.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said last week that Obama was probably not aware of the Perry campaign video claiming he had declared war on Christianity, but regardless the president is proud of his support of LGBT issues.

The video looks like evidence of the Perry campaign’s desperation following the governor’s disintegration in national polls since his announcement in August he would run for president. Perry dropped from a double-digit front leader status to 5 percent following a series of debate missteps and disastrous public appearances that showed him to be outmatched on the debate stage by every other Republican in the campaign.

A new American Research Poll shows Perry now has 13 percentage points in Iowa, the first primary state. But he still is in back of the pack, far behind Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney.

Regardless of where Perry goes in the polls, I’m confident he will again sabotage himself in some manner, unless he has an undercover gay or lesbian person on his campaign staff doing it for him.

Speaking of which, after Perry’s anti-gay ad was released, leaders from the gay Republican group GOProud outed one of the campaign’s consultants as gay. It was later learned that the consultant, Tony Fabrizio, had written an email prior to the ad’s release calling it “nuts.”

But aside from that effort and the obvious aspect of Fabrizio being a traitor who apparently has sacrificed the LGBT community to make a few bucks for himself, he doesn’t appear to have been doing a good job of using his expertise as a gay man to help Perry navigate difficult waters. Who will ever forget the image of Perry deep-throating a corn dog at an Iowa state fair while Romney graciously nibbled on his?

What were they thinking when they handed a corn dog to Perry, who has been fighting rumors that he is secretly gay for years?

In fact, a common question today is, “How did he ever go so far in Texas politics?”

There is only one group of people — other than personal friends, relatives and other beneficiaries of the governor’s influence as an elected official — to whom Perry still appeals: That is conservative Christians who put their religious beliefs ahead of every other consideration, regardless of whose rights get trampled upon in the process.

No wonder Perry released such a video and continues to offer it on his campaign website, but I don’t think there are enough of them to vote him into office.

Many people who started off supporting Perry have now fled from his camp, saying that his performance as a presidential candidate has brought about a national embarrassment. The worst part of it is that there is no telling what Perry and his campaign will do next. But it’s bound to be a dilly.

David Webb is a veteran journalist who has covered LGBT issues for the mainstream and alternative media for three decades. Contact him at davidwaynewebb@yahoo.com or http://therarereporter.blogspot.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 16, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Mississippi embryo law is so dumb, it could be brilliant

I’m actually pretty excited about this Mississippi legislative bill that would declare every everyone, including a fertilized embryo, a “person” in order to essentially turn abortion into murder, because these morons obviously know nothing about the law of unintended consequences. Here are the arguments I wanna see made in Mississippi if the law passes:

• If I were an illegal aliens, I would get knocked up and stay knocked up. Any child conceived in Mississippi, under that law, would be entitled to all the protections of law, including citizenship. Their mothers can’t be deported because that would deny the rights of the unborn (but legal) child. The embryo would also be entitled to state benefits from the moment conceived. In fact, you could just claim it with a home pregnancy test.

• If an embryo is a human and frozen as part of in vitro, I would open a huge embryo storage warehouse in a remote area of the state. I would then declare all of these embryos, as “people,” entitled to be counted in the census and for purposes of congressional representation. Same with all the pregnant women. Suddenly, maybe a few hundred voting-aged folks will be entitled to several congressmen … maybe even in minority districts. (Wouldn’t it be funny if all the embryos were of white babies, but all the adults voters were minorities? The district would be technically not minority, but the practical political effect would be that it was.)

• If you can prove that a Mississippi resident was pregnant and went to another state to have an abortion, then returned to Mississippi, I don’t see why you couldn’t prosecute that woman for murder.

• Since the embryo is a person, those exceptions pro-lifers are always willing to concede — health/life of the mother, rape, incest — cannot be used. I can’t wait until the daughter of  head of the Republican party has an ectopic pregnancy, or a serious condition that makes carrying a baby life-threatening. She can go to jail for saving her own life and see how Daddy feels about it. Or she can die. Her choice.

Welcome to the world of your narrow-minded bigotry, folks.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

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

Gay Pride T-shirts finally arrive at local Old Navy stores — but they’re goin’ fast

At last!!! Old Navy stores at Park Lane and the Galleria finally got a shipment of those Pride T-shirts in on Tuesday — a little behind schedule — but they’re selling like hotcakes. In fact by this afternoon they’d run out already, but both stores said they’ll be getting more shirts in on Thursday to satisfy the prideful public of Dallas. The shirts are selling for $13.50 a pop, and one employee advised me to get in early if I wanted one. Ten percent of the proceeds benefit the It Gets Better Project.

Although Dallas seems to be a fan of getting its Pride on with these stylish Old Navy tees, one group isn’t so thrilled: the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission.

“Old Navy is promoting a lifestyle that is in complete rebellion against God,” the CADC’s Dr. Gary Cass told OneNewsNow.com. “Rather than just focusing on giving good products to their customers, they want to use their products now to advocate for a very controversial topic, much less a very immoral and very deadly topic. Unfortunately we have to do the hard work of communicating our outrage, our frustration — and then following that up with some kind of practical expression such as taking your business elsewhere.”

—  admin

Trans professor denied tenure

DENIED | Rachel Tudor, an assistant professor of English at Southeastern Oklahoma State University, believes she was denied tenure because of school administrators’ bigotry against her identity as a transgender woman.

Despite Rachel Tudor’s research credentials being questioned by the administration, the school will honor her with an award for outstanding scholarship

DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Rachel Tudor, an assistant professor of English at Southeastern Oklahoma State University, was denied tenure because she is transgender, according to Tudor and her supporters.

The school is located in Durant, Okla., about 20 miles north of Denison. Tudor’s employment there terminates at the end of the spring semester.

Douglas N. McMillan, interim vice president for academic affairs reportedly said that Tudor’s “lifestyle” offends his Baptist beliefs.

Last year, Tudor’s colleagues recommended her for tenure. But, she said, the administration’s response was to contact legal council to find out if they were required to honor the recommendation of the faculty committee.

“The dean refused to discuss it with me and the vice president refused to meet with me,” Tudor said.

But the president was required to reveal his reasons. School policy states that the president must honor faculty recommendations unless there is a “compelling reason” or “exceptional circumstances.”

“One reason [he gave was that] he was unable to verify I was editor of two journals,” she said. “I co-edited it with a senior colleague.”

Tudor said her co-editor told her no one ever contacted him.

“The journals are in our library,” she said. “My name is on the cover.”

Tudor said the school’s president was also dismissive of her service for the Native American symposium held on campus.

“That’s our main academic conference,” she said. “I served on the committee several years. I gave presentations at the conference. He said my service was neither noteworthy nor exceptional.”

She called his statement insulting to the conference.

Tudor said that another reason the school’s president gave for denying her tenure was that the tenure and promotion committee didn’t justify their reasons for the recommendation. However, she said committee members told her that they were required to make an up-or-down vote only and were not allowed to back up their recommendation.

After being denied tenure during their sixth year at the school, faculty members are allowed to reapply during the seventh and final year of their initial contracts.

Tudor said she knows of three faculty members in her building who were granted tenure after initially being denied. She was set to resubmit her portfolio when McMillan issued a memo that he would not allow her to apply this year.

“He said it would be a waste of the faculty’s time — although they were on board,” she said. “And it would enflame tensions between faculty and administration.”

She filed a grievance and the faculty committee voted unanimously to recommend her for tenure.

“Someone who works in the business office who was designated by the president to take the recommendation to the president,” she said decided he was opposed to her tenure and decided not to take the recommendation to the president.

Tudor wondered if that was legal.

The president said she could not reapply because of policy and precedent, but Tudor said she knows of three who successfully reapplied.

The administration began claiming that her scholarship was flawed.

“In the past two years, I’ve have 10 peer-reviewed publications,” she said. “This is a teaching university. The department chair doesn’t have 10.”

The faculty senate passed a resolution supporting her.

“It was an act of courage for them to vote for me,” she said.

When Tudor transitioned four years ago, McMillan questioned whether she could just be summarily dismissed. He was told that would be gender discrimination. She said that gender is included under the Department of Education’s Title IX.

In addition, the faculty senate voted to add gender identity to the school’s nondiscrimination policy, although she is not sure if the administration has recognized that vote.

Oddly, on April 26, the school issued a press release announcing that Tudor would receive an award for outstanding scholarship.

Alan Burton, director of university communications for SOSU, said, “Southeastern Oklahoma State University does not discriminate in its employment practices. The university will not discuss or comment on specific personnel issues.”

Once the semester is over, Tudor said, she plans to fight.

“I’m focused on correcting this injustice,” she said. “If that means staying here in Durant, that’s what I’ll do. I’m committed to seeing justice done here.”

She’s been in touch with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Oklahoma Human Rights Commission.

An online petition has been started and she is appealing to the executive director of the Regional University System of Oklahoma that oversees Southeastern State.

—  John Wright

WATCH: House hearing on ‘defending marriage’

As we noted earlier, a U.S. House subcommittee held a pointless hearing this morning on “defending marriage.” The Wonk Room reports:

This morning’s “defending marriage” hearing held by the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution invited anti-LGBT witnesses Maggie Gallagher of the National Organization for Marriage and Edward Whelan of the Ethics and Public Policy Center to reinforce stigma against gays and lesbians. Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) and subcommittee Chairman Trent Franks (R-AZ) also used the hearing to attack the White House.

Watch The Wonk Room’s video compilation from the hearing above.

Outside the hearing, activists from GetEQUAL presented Gallagher with the “Anita Bryant Unparalleled Bigotry Award.” Watch below.

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Man confesses to murder of gay activist in Uganda; equality under attack in Utah

David Kato

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. A man has confessed to the murder of Ugandan gay-rights activist David Kato, who was beaten to death with a hammer in his home last week. If you’ll remember, Kato had been outed by an anti-gay newspaper that called for him to be killed, and had received death threats since then. But the government-sanctioned cover-up is well under way: An anonymous police source is telling the media that the suspect killed Kato because he failed to pay him for sex.

2. Speaking of Uganda, the U.S.-based group that’s been linked to “kill gays” legislation in that country, the Fellowship, was also the sponsor of this morning’s National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., which was attended by President Barack Obama, among others. The LGBT direct action group GetEQUAL protested outside the event.

3. And sticking with this morning’s theme of religious-based bigotry and oppressive regimes, a Utah GOP lawmaker has filed legislation that LGBT advocates say would gut local nondiscrimination ordinances and nullify directives between same-sex partners.

—  John Wright

Is Wyoming the next gay marriage battleground?

State Rep. Cathy Connolly

In the state-by-state march toward marriage equality, four states have been on the radar for possible legalization of same-sex marriage this year. This week, a fifth state became a new possibility.

According to the Billings Gazette, Wyoming State Rep. Cathy Connolly, D-Laramie, will file two bills. One would legalize same-sex marriage, the other civil unions. Connolly is lesbian.

Wyoming does not have a constitutional amendment that bans same-sex marriage. Bills have been filed to change that, and Connolly’s bills are in response.

Like Iowa, where same-sex marriage became legal a few years ago, Wyoming does have a history of equality. When Wyoming was admitted to the union in 1890, it became the first to allow women to vote and was the first to elect a woman governor. (That was 1924 and Texas elected a woman — “Ma” Ferguson — that year as well).

In Wyoming’s 60-seat lower house, only 10 of those seats are held by Democrats. In the Senate, only four out of 30 are Democrats.

Four other states that may consider marriage equality this year are New York, Rhode Island, Maryland and Minnesota.

Of those four, Rhode Island and Maryland are the states where it is most likely to pass. Rhode Island’s new governor favors marriage equality and Democrats hold a strong majority in both houses. Their former governor opposed equality although the state already recognizes marriages performed elsewhere.

Maryland has been studying equality for more than a year and a bill is progressing.

New York recognizes marriages performed elsewhere and two courts have upheld that recognition. The state’s new governor, Andrew Cuomo, supports equality, as did their former governor, but the state Senate has a one-vote Republican majority that may block passage.

In his inaugural speech, Cuomo said, “We believe in justice for all, then let’s pass marriage equality this year once and for all.”

Minnesota’s new governor campaigned as an LGBT ally, countering his opponent’s staunch anti-gay bigotry. Support of the Republican is what led to an unorganized Target boycott. The new Democrat has said he supports marriage equality and would like to see a bill pass.

—  David Taffet

Gay bullying die-in planned at Texas Capitol on opening day of legislative session

The 82nd Texas Legislature gets under way next Tuesday, and in this Friday’s Voice, we’ll have a full preview of what to expect — and not to expect — on the LGBT front. But for now, we thought we mention that a group called Queer Texas United is planning a die-in Tuesday evening to support anti-bullying legislation. From the Facebook event page:

Let’s get out and show our support for the victims of bullying and tell our legislature to protect students from these cowardly thugs! We will be demonstrating by laying on the steps of the capitol building, each person representing a different LGBT person who has committed suicide as a result of bullying. We must send a clear message to our representatives that state-sanctioned discrimination, bigotry, and harassment is not acceptable!

The die-in will be from 6 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, and a planning meeting will be held at 7 p.m. this Thursday at Cheer Up Charlie’s, at 1104 E. 6th St. in Austin.

—  John Wright