AIDS housing funding survives challenge in Houston city council

Helena Brown

The city funding for four Houston nonprofits providing housing to at-risk populations living with HIV/AIDS survived a challenge from city council member Helena Brown last Wednesday. Under consideration by the council were ordinances to dispense almost $2.5 million in federal funds managed by the city to the SRO Housing Corporation, Bering Omega Community Services, Catholic Charities and SEARCH Homeless services.

Brown initially used a parliamentary procedure known as a “tag” to delay the funding for the Houston SRO Housing Corporation and Bering Omega. Any council member may tag an item under consideration, delaying the vote on the item for one week. Brown explained that she objected to government funding of charitable entities:

“I spoke last week on this very issue on grant funds and the idea that we are, you know, fighting with other entities and other governments for grant funds that really isn’t there. The federal government is in a worse condition than the city of Houston and to continue to try to milk the system where there’s no milk, is just, I mean, we’re fighting with our brothers, as I said last week, to get credit for who is going to push a friend over the cliff… We need to continue to look at the private sector and the business sector. Because even, I attended this event where this wonderful speaker was talking about the generosity of Americans and 80% of donations to nonprofits come from private individuals, not even corporations, and we need to continue to rely on that right now because the government right now, we’re broke – we need to face that reality.”

Other council members spoke passionately of the need for continued funding, arguing that by assisting people living with HIV/AIDS in achieving independence, particularly those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness,  the programs added to the tax based and help insure long-term stability.

“We don’t live in a perfect a world,” said freshman council member Mike Laster (the first out gay man to serve on the Houston City Council). “These organizations do their very best to raise money to care for the people among us, but they still need to reach out to entities that have that kind of capital, and by the grace of God this city and this government as an entity has some of that capitol, and I’m very proud that we’re able to provide those kind of services to some of my community members.”

Council member Wanda Adams, who serves as chair of the council’s Housing and Community Development Committee, also spoke in favor of continuing funding. Council member Ellen Cohen, whose district contains both SRO Housing and Bering Omega, spoke of how her life had personally been touched by AIDS:

“One of the first young men to pass away in New York City was a cousin of mine of something [then] called a very rare form on pneumonia… which we now realize was not. So I understand the need for these kinds of services. On a personal note I worked with Bering and I know all the fine work that they do, I’m addressing all the items but I’m particularly addressing [the Bering Omega funding] and feel it’s absolutely critical that we provide the kind of funding items, and that we are, in fact, our brother’s and our sister’s keepers.

After Laster asked Mayor Annise Parker the procedure for overriding a tag Brown removed her tag, but raised a new concern about HIV/AIDS housing, saying that her office had requested a list of the owners of apartment units where those receiving rental assistance lived. City Attorney David Feldman explained to Brown that federal law prohibits making public information that could be used to identify people receiving assistance through the housing program. Feldman said that, in his legal opinion, revealing the names of the owners of the apartments would violate federal law. Brown said that she was concerned that their might be a “conflict of interest” with apartment owners that needed to be investigated, claiming that as the reason for her tag.

Brown eventually removed her tag, rather than have it overturned. All four ordinances providing funding passed with only Brown voting “nay.”

—  admin

Not in Salem anymore

Reflections on Samhain and life as a gay witch

10.28.11-Cover
Dakota Shain Byrd
Contributing Writer

The leaves rattle in the trees as an ever-more- chilling wind makes its presence known. An explosion of sullen reds, crisp spark yellows, ember oranges and dry browns mark this time of year, while paper ghosts and inflatable goblins take up residence in yards and windows.

At least, that’s what many people think of when they hear the words “autumn” and “Halloween.”

Here in Texas the trees might not be — or get — as colorful as they do in Vermont or Maine. But we still celebrate this season and Halloween by decorating and carving pumpkins, finding a corn maze to navigate or testing our courage at a nearby haunted house.

And with Halloween just days away, children are screaming about what cartoon character they want to dress up as for trick-or-treating, while parents allow the children to drag them from one aisle at the store to another, looking at costumes. Teens who feel they are too old to trick-or-treat are planning parties where they might use a Ouija Board to attempt a conversation with the dead.

Also at this time of year, you may notice more people wearing pendants with pentacles and pentagrams, the stars upright and often simple in design. You may walk right on by, giving them only a fleeting glance without really thinking about what those icons might mean to them.

But what if the jewelry is a symbol of who that person really is, a statement of their beliefs?

What if by wearing a pentagram or pentacle, they were coming out, and wearing that symbol was as freeing to them as being at a gay Pride event is for the newly out gay person? What if proudly wearing that pentacle pendant is their way of coming out of the “broom closet,” so to speak, as witches, practitioners of Wicca.

Let’s clear something up before we go any further: real witches — true Wiccans — do not use magick (spelled with a k to differentiate between reality and fantastical magic found in books) for evil.

We do not worship the devil; and although we have a horned god, he is not Satan, he is the god of the hunt, said to have antlers like a stag.

We don’t curse people, kill babies or drink blood. Heck, most of us are soccer moms and dads, college students or grandparents taking their grandkids to get ice cream.

Yes, we are normal, everyday people. And yes, men are called witches, too; the word warlock means “truth-twister,” and nobody wants to be that, now do they?

The only way we differ from others is in our spiritual beliefs. And we practice actual tolerance and acceptance of all people and beliefs — with the exception of religious practices that are actually harmful to ourselves or others.

We practice magick, cast spells, make tonics and grow herbs. We do not use magick for evil. We believe in karma, and we follow the Law of Three: “Remember that what you cast returns the magic times three. Lest it harm none, so mote it be.”

What that means is that whatever you put out there in life, you get back times three. If you put out negativity, you will get three times the negativity coming back at you.

Many people come out as witches, as practitioners of Wicca and believers in the goddess in October. And so in keeping with that tradition, so am I.

It’s a tad bit ironic that I’m coming out as a witch this month, since the LGBT community celebrates National Coming Out Day on Oct. 11, and since October is also National Gay History Month. Still, many outside the pagan community don’t realize the allure of coming out as a Wiccan in October.

In Celtic culture, Halloween — or Samhain, as we witches and pagans call it — was New Year’s Day, marking the end of a year past and the beginning of the year yet to come.

To the Celts, Samhain was the day when the veil between life and death was at its thinnest. This wasn’t a bad thing, though.

In fact, it was a day to remember those who had died earlier in the year and before, and to be close to them once again.

In some traditions of Wicca (think faiths or denominations when you read traditions) and lore, the dead family members would reveal the location of buried treasure or a secret bit of knowledge that would help the living.

Often, Samhain is a celebration of continued life, and since many witches believe in reincarnation, we know that our dearly beloved who are dead will be reincarnated in the future.

Samhain is also the third and final harvest celebration of the eight Wiccan holidays. It’s the largest major feast of the Turning of The Wheel. Contrary to popular belief, on this night witches don’t take anything from their gardens. They might decorate their altars with small pumpkins, hay, Indian corn or other tokens related to the season. Children might put candy on their own altars as a gift of to the god and goddess.

The cauldron is another item of great importance often used in some Wiccan traditions. The ceremony of Samhain may involve inviting the Crone (a wise grandmother-type figure; think a sharp-tongued, wise matriarch) to grant wisdom to the witch or witches who invoked her.

Grandparents or a high priestess or priest may retell the legend of the goddess Cerridwen or tell a mourning story for the dying god, which is similar to how a Good Friday service in the Christian religion focuses the death of Christ.

People may also make totems and raise totem energy by making and wearing ceremonial masks to depict personal or group magick and powers. There could be drum circles to praise the god and goddess and thank them for another year, to celebrate life and summon good energies to help with the coming year.

Those who have a gift of divination might try scrying or reflective meditation to see all that they were supposed to learn within the past year and find how to take that knowledge forward with
them into the next year.

Those looking for love might also try using a small mirror to catch the face of somebody they might have a relationship with, or bob for apples with another person with the hope that two people catch the same apple in their mouths. If this
happens, the people might try to pursue a relationship with each other, and even bury the apple, in the tradition of the Celts.

To the Celts, apples were sacred and they highly valued apple magick. They believed that when a witch caught an apple in his or her mouth, part of their soul trickled into the apple. The witch could then eat the apple to attain prosperity, or bury it whole on their property in hopes that it would bring continued bounty over the next few months of winter.

So as you can see, we witches aren’t so bad. Sure, we do things a little differently, but we’re not chopping up people or drinking blood.

We chop up plants for rituals, spells and tonics, and drink water and soda when we’re thirsty — just like everybody else.

We’re as normal as you are.

Oh, and we also don’t consider being LGTBQ as sinful. To us, everybody just is who they are. Gay people, in most Wiccan traditions, are seen as having both masculine and feminine traits — being balanced and in touch with the god and goddess.

If you’re interested in learning more about Wicca, you can always check out books from the library or buy them. If you see a book with the “Llewellyn” name and the icon of a crescent moon at the bottom of itss spine, it’s almost a guarantee to be a good and informative book on what real magick and witchcraft are like.
You can also find lots of information online, and you can do an online search for a CUUPs group near you.

To all who read this, be you a fellow witch, a Christian or somebody in between religions and trying to find your way: I wish you a bountiful fall. And in closing: “Merry meet, merry part, and merry meet again,” which means that when we encounter each other, may you be doing good, may you be doing good when we part ways, and when we run into each other again later on in life, may you be doing well still!

Blessed Be!

……………………

DEFINITIONS

• Wicca: noun:  (sometimes initial capital letter) witchcraft, especially benevolent, nature-oriented practices derived from pre-Christian religions.

Word Origin & History: An Old English masc. noun meaning “male witch, wizard, soothsayer, sorcerer, magician.” Use of the word in modern contexts traces to English folklorist Gerald Gardner (1884-1964), who is said to have joined circa 1939 an occult group in New Forest, Hampshire, England, for which he claimed an unbroken tradition to medieval times. Gardner seems to have first used it in print in 1954, in his book “Witchcraft Today” (e.g.: “Witches were the Wica or wise people, with herbal knowledge and a working occult teaching usually used for good ….”). In published and unpublished material, he apparently only ever used the word as a mass noun referring to adherents of the practice and not as the name of the practice itself. Some of his followers continue to use it in this sense.

In the late 1960s the term came into use as the title of a modern pagan movement associated with witchcraft. The first printed reference in this usage seems to be 1969, in “The Truth About Witchcraft” by freelance author Hans Holzer.

Alex Sanders was a highly visible representative of neo-pagan Witchcraft in the late 1960s and early 1970s. During this time he appears to have popularized use of the term in this sense. Later books c.1989 teaching modernized witchcraft using the same term account for its rise and popularity, especially in U.S.

• pagan: noun: 1. one of a people or community observing a polytheistic religion, as the ancient Romans and Greeks. 2. a person who is not a Christian, Jew or Muslim. 3. an irreligious or hedonistic person.
Adjective: 4. pertaining to the worship or worshipers of any religion that is neither Christian, Jewish nor Muslim. 5. of, pertaining to or characteristic of pagans. 6. irreligious or hedonistic.
Word Origin & History: late 14c., from L.L. paganus “pagan,” in classical Latin. “villager, rustic, civilian,” from pagus “rural district,” originally “district limited by markers,” thus related to pangere “to fix, fasten,” from PIE base *pag- “to fix.” Religious sense is often said to derive from conservative rural adherence to the old gods after the Christianization of Roman towns and cities; but the word in this sense predates that period in church history, and it is more likely derived from the use of paganus in Roman military jargon for “civilian, incompetent soldier,” which Christians (Tertullian, c.202; Augustine) picked up with the military imagery of the early church (e.g. milites “soldier of Christ,” etc.). Applied to modern pantheists and nature worshippers from 1908.

• pentagram: noun: a five-pointed, star-shaped figure made by extending the sides of a regular pentagon until they meet, used as an occult symbol by the Pythagoreans and later philosophers, by magicians, etc. Also called pentacle, pentangle, pentalpha.
Word Origin & History: pentagram: “five-pointed star,” 1833, from Gk. pentagrammon, properly neut. of adj. pentagrammos “having five lines,” from pente “five” + gramma “what is written.”

• pentacle: noun: 1. The same figure as a pentagram, except in magical usage, where is has been extended to other symbols of power, including a six-point star. 2. a similar figure, as a hexagram.
Word Origin & History: 1594, from M.L. pentaculum, a hybrid coined from Gk. pente “five” + L. -culum, dim. suffix. But the exact origin is obscure. It. had pentacolo “anything with five points,” and Fr. pentacle (16c.) was the name of something used in necromancy, perhaps a five-branched candlestick. Fr. pentacol “amulet worn around the neck” (14c.), however, is from pend- “to hang” + a “to” + col “neck.”

— SOURCE: Dictionary.com

……………………

THE WHEEL OF THE YEAR

The Wheel of the Year is a neopagan term for the annual cycle of the Earth’s seasons. It consists of eight festivals, spaced at approximately even intervals throughout the year. These festivals are referred to as Sabbats.
While the term Sabbat originated from Abrahamic faiths such as Judaism and Christianity and is of Hebrew origin, the festivals themselves have historical origins in Celtic and Germanic pre-Christian feasts, and the Wheel of the Year, as has developed in modern Paganism and Wicca, is really a combination of the two cultures’ solstice and equinox celebrations.
When melded together, the two European Festival Cycles merge to form eight festivals in modern renderings. Together, these festivals are understood by some neopagans to be the Bronze Age religious festivals of Europe. As with all cultures’ use of festivals and traditions, these festivals have been utilized by European cultures in both the pre- and post-Christian eras as traditional times for the community to celebrate the planting and harvest seasons.
The Wheel of the Year has been important to many people both ancient and modern, from various religious as well as cultural and secular viewpoints.
In many forms of Paganism, natural processes are seen as following a continuous cycle. The passing of time is also seen as cyclical, and is represented by a circle or wheel. The progression of birth, life, decline and death, as experienced in human lives, is echoed in the progression of the seasons.
This cycle is seen as an echo of life, death and rebirth of the God and the fertility of the Goddess. While most of these names derive from historical Celtic and Germanic festivals, the non-traditional names Litha and Mabon, which have become popular in North American Wicca, were introduced by Aidan Kelly in the 1970s. The word “sabbat” itself comes from the witches’ sabbath or sabbat attested to in Early Modern witch trials.

FESTIVALS

• Samhain
Samhain is considered by most Wiccans to be the most important of the four “greater Sabbats.” It is generally observed on Oct. 31 in the Northern Hemisphere, starting at sundown. Samhain is considered by some as a time to celebrate the lives of those who have passed on, and it often involves paying respect to ancestors, family members, elders of the faith, friends, pets and other loved ones who have died. In some rituals the spirits of the departed are invited to attend the festivities. It is seen as a festival of darkness, which is balanced at the opposite point of the wheel by the spring festival of Beltane, which is celebrated as a festival of light and fertility.
The Wiccan Samhain doesn’t attempt to reconstruct a historical Celtic festival. In actuality it was also widely believed that on Oct. 31, the veil between this world and the afterlife is at its thinnest point of the whole year.

Midwinter, or Yule:
In most traditions, Yule is celebrated as the rebirth of the Great God, who is viewed as the newborn solstice sun. The method of gathering for this sabbat varies by group or individual practitioner. Some have private ceremonies at home while others hold coven celebrations.
Christmas, celebrated on Dec. 25, continues a pre-Christian festival, and was adopted by the church to commemorate the birth of Jesus, although the information that is given from sacred texts points to spring, and astrological information points to late April/early May as the time of Christ’s birth.

• Imbolc
Imbolc (or Candlemas) is one of four “fire festivals” of the Wheel of the Year. Among Dianic Wiccans, Imbolc is the traditional time for initiations. Imbolc is strongly associated with the goddess Brighid.
Among Reclaiming-style witches, Imbolc is considered a traditional time for rededication and pledges for the coming year.

• Vernal Equinox
The vernal equinox, often called Ostara, is celebrated in the Northern Hemisphere around March 21 and in the Southern Hemisphere around Sept. 23, depending upon the specific timing of the equinox. Among the Wiccan sabbats, it is preceded by Imbolc and followed by Beltane.
The name Ostara may be related to the word for “east.” It has been connected to the Anglo-Saxon goddess Eostre by Jacob Grimm in his Deutsche Mythologie.
In terms of Wiccan ditheism, this festival is characterized by the rejoining of the Mother Goddess and her lover-consort-son, who spent the winter months in death. Other variations include the young god regaining strength in his youth after being born at Yule, and the goddess returning to her maiden aspect.

• Beltane
Beltane is one of the four “fire festivals” or “greater sabbats.” Although the holiday may use features of the Gaelic Bealtaine, such as the bonfire, it bears more relation to the Germanic May Day festival, both in its significance (focusing on fertility) and its rituals (such as maypole dancing). Some Wiccans celebrate ‘High Beltaine’ by enacting a ritual union of the May Lord and Lady.

• Midsummer
Midsummer is one of the four solar holidays, and is considered the turning point at which summer reaches its height and the sun shines longest. Among the Wiccan sabbats, Midsummer is preceded by Beltane, and followed by Lammas or Lughnasadh.
Some traditions call the festival “Litha”, a name occurring in Bede’s Reckoning of Time (De Temporum Ratione, 7th century), which preserves a list of the (then-obsolete) Anglo-Saxon names for the twelve months. Ærra Liða (“first” or “preceding” Liða) roughly corresponds to June in our calendar, and Æfterra Liða (“following” Liða) to July. Bede writes that “Litha means ‘gentle’ or ‘navigable’, because in both these months the calm breezes are gentle and they were wont to sail upon the smooth sea.”

• Lammas
Lammas or Lughnasadh is the first of the three pagan autumn harvest festivals, the other two being the autumn equinox (or Mabon) and Samhain. Wiccans mark the holiday by baking a figure of the god in bread, and then symbolically sacrificing and eating it. However, Lamas/ Lughnasadh celebrations vary, as not all pagans are Wiccans.
Wiccan celebrations are not based on Celtic culture, despite common use of a Celtic name Lughnasadh. This name seems to have been a late adoption among Wiccans, since in early versions of Wiccan literature the festival is merely referred to as “August Eve.”
The name Lammas (contraction of Loaf-mass) implies it is an agrarian-based festival and feast of thanksgiving for grain and bread, which symbolizes the first fruits of the harvest. Pagan / Eclectic Neopagan rituals may incorporate elements from either festival.

• Autumnal Equinox
The holiday of Autumn Equinox, Harvest Home, Mabon, the Feast of the Ingathering, Meán Fómhair or Alban Elfed (in Neo-Druidic traditions), is a pagan ritual of thanksgiving for the fruits of the earth and a recognition of the need to share them to secure the blessings of the goddess and the god during the winter months. The name Mabon was coined by Aidan Kelly around 1970 as a reference to Mabon ap Modron, a character from Welsh mythology. In the Northern Hemisphere, this equinox occurs anywhere from Sept. 21 to Sept. 24. In the Southern Hemisphere, the autumn equinox occurs anywhere from March 20 to March 23. Among the sabbats, it is the second of the three pagan harvest festivals, preceded by Lammas / Lughnasadh and followed by Samhain.

DATES
Dates for the festivals vary widely. There are many forms of Wicca and Paganism, all of which may have somewhat different traditions associated with the festivals. Therefore there is no definitive or universal tradition observed by all the groups. Most Pagans are somewhat flexible about dates, tending to celebrate at the nearest weekend for convenience.

HEMISPHERES
As the Wheel originates in the Northern Hemisphere, in the Southern Hemisphere many Pagans advance these dates six months so as to coincide with the natural seasons as they occur in their local climates, which oppose and complement those of the Northern Hemisphere. For instance, a Wiccan from southern Australia may celebrate Beltane on Nov. 1, when a Canadian Wiccan is celebrating Samhain. The appropriate set of festivals for an Equatorial Wiccan is problematic.

— SOURCE: Wikipedia

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 28, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Chris Brown’s Homophobic Twitter Feud

Singers Chris Brown and Raz-B trade antigay slurs in Twitter tirades.
Advocate.com: Daily News

—  admin

MassResistance angry with Scott Brown; Scott Brown’s clearly done something right

At an earlier, Coakley-ier time, Brian Camenker from the Southern Poverty Law Center-designated hate group MassResistance was all kinds of into Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA):

6A00D8341C503453Ef0120A8D24D02970B

( click to play audio clip)

But now — oh, but now. Well here, let’s let Brian MassResistance tell you what went down:

On Wednesday afternoon Brian Camenker of MassResistance spoke at length with Brandon Acheson, a staffer in Brown’s Washington, DC office who has been explaining Brown’s position on this issue to constituents since the announcement. It was very disappointing, to say the least. It appears that Brown has become just another disingenuous, disconnected Washington politician.

Here’s some of what Brandon told us:

Brown’s statement in the MFI voter guide. Brandon indicated he didn’t know who MFI was and that Brown never authorized any statement about his position — that it must have been a miscommunication. “Sen. Brown never made a firm commitment that he would vote against it,” Brandon told us. However, MFI’s president, Kris Mineau, told that Boston Herald, “When Sen. Brown ran for election, he said he would support the current policy of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ In fact, MFI worked closely with Brown and hosted several events for him in this campaign. They even hold a birthday party for him each year (even though he’s pro-choice).

Interestingly, in that same article the Herald also reported that: “Brown’s spokeswoman, Gail Gitcho, said Brown changed his tune after President Obama ordered the Pentagon to review the policy. At that point, Brown said he would keep an open mind to its finding, which came out this week.”

Sleazy lame-duck session. We asked Brandon why Brown doesn’t support waiting a few weeks and letting the newly elected Congress decide this — that using a lame-duck session was offensive to people. He avoided answering the question directly, but indicated that Brown had no problem with a lame-duck session passing controversial bills. But he’s insisting that two things get passed first: (1) full extension of the Bush-era tax cuts, and (2) a bill to continue funding the federal budget. Both of those appear to be in the works as part of the horse-trading going on to get this bill passed.

Repealing the current law makes bold statement. Repealing the current law (see text above) makes the statement that homosexuality is compatible with US military service. Does Brown agree with that? Brandon wouldn’t answer that. Instead, he said that Brown has been in the military for 31 years and is comfortable with his position. (Would he be comfortable showering next to someone sizing him up? Well, we didn’t ask that.)

41st vote against Obama agenda? We reminded him that Brown ran as “number 41″ and his base back home read that as their protection against the Obama agenda being pushed on them. But now Brown seems to be doing just the opposite. Brandon wouldn’t comment on that, either. He seemed to indicate that Brown was not concerned about opposition from conservatives back home, or the concept that they were his “base” of support.

Needless to say, the entire conversation was depressing and angering.

Scott Brown announces full support for repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” [MassResistance]

Depressing and angering — or promising and in tune with the 2 out of 3 Americans who support military fairness? We’ll let you, Scott Brown, and the Bay State voters who prefer political advice from people not monitored by the SPLC make that determination.




Good As You

—  admin

Reactions on Brown’s Repeal Support

SCOTT BROWN 201005 X390 (GETTY) | ADVOCATE.COMGay groups are heralding the decision by Republican Mass. senator Scott
Brown to support repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” but a conservative
leader is balking.
Advocate.com: Daily News

—  admin

Jerry Brown’s First 2010 Ad

Joe. My. God.

—  John Wright

Here’s AG Brown’s Opposition To The Stay Request From Protect Marriage

Are you dizzy yet from all these legal docs? Protect Marriage has until 9am Monday to deliver their final response.
CA9Doc 8

Joe. My. God.

—  John Wright

Brian Brown’s embarrassing NOM e-screed to supporters

The full e-screed by Brian Brown is after the jump. I thought I’d spare you that above the fold. After a bizarre and poorly attended NOM visit to Raleigh this week, he sends out an e-blast that sounds like a victory lap (with the required begging for cash).

Where are all these angry Americans who want to “save marriage” with Brian and Maggie? All I saw in Raleigh were some bored seniors and one unhinged woman from NOM’s The Ruth Institute.

Dear Friend of Marriage,

We’ve been busy. Our phone lines are flooded, and the emails are coming in loud and fast. As Rush Limbaugh said in his show on Prop 8, it is clear that “the American people are furious.” Judge Walker’s ruling has ignited a firestorm because it is the latest of a long string of insults and abuse directed at Americans whom the people with power in this country think they can abuse. They think they can ignore the voices and values of the American people, and boy, We the People are tired of it!

The media interviews are just one part of that story, but we have been determined to make sure that your voice and your values get heard in response to this ruling.

…”The American people are boiling. The American people are furious. My e-mails are unbelievable. This federal judge yesterday, this decision, Prop 8, California, has just put people over the edge, and all of these decisions are coming one after another from all corners of the federal government. It’s as if we have absolutely no say in what is going on all around us. Decisions are being made for us, in lieu of us and imposed on us….

“But what is a more fundamental right–a fundamental civil right in our system of government in a supposed republic–than the right to have our voice heard, to have our vote respected? You want to talk about civil rights? It doesn’t matter what the people of California vote. If the left doesn’t like it, they will use the bastardization of power in this country to reverse it. What about our vote being respected? Without that right, we’re no longer a republic.”


NOM Updates August 12, 2010
Follow us on Twitter!Join us on Facebook!Donate
Dear Friend of Marriage,

We've been busy. Our phone lines are flooded, and the emails are coming in loud and fast. As Rush Limbaugh said in his show on Prop 8, it is clear that "the American people are furious." Judge Walker's ruling has ignited a firestorm because it is the latest of a long string of insults and abuse directed at Americans whom the people with power in this country think they can abuse. They think they can ignore the voices and values of the American people, and boy, We the People are tired of it!

The media interviews are just one part of that story, but we have been determined to make sure that your voice and your values get heard in response to this ruling.

Anderson Cooper 360, CBN, Christianity Today, CBS News. ABC News, Associated Press, Reuters, CNN Headline News, USA Today, Janet Parshall's America, Wall Street Journal, Talk of the Nation, Lars Larson, National Review Online, the Los Angeles Times, the Sacramento Bee, the New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle–even a hit from the Jon Stewart Show. (We LOVED that!–especially when the show crudely cut off Maggie's quote right before Maggie explains the reason she thinks Judge Walker is biased–because his rulings throughout this case have been so one-sided and unprecedented even the Supreme Court and the Ninth Circuit have had to step in to slap him down! But hey, we don't expect a comedian to let the facts get in the way of making a good joke.)

The joke is turning pretty sour, as more and more people are waking up to realize two things: first, that Judge Walker's opinion is so extreme, it's likely to make his ruling vulnerable on appeal. Second, that the American people are not going to appreciate, a few months before an election, being called irrational bigots by a federal judge in San Francisco.

I'm sure all his friends and buddies there are backslapping and high-fiving his words. The reason gay activists love the ruling is that it sounds like it was written by an activist, not by a neutral referee.

Prop 8 does not ban anything. It establishes in the California Constitution the historic understanding of marriage, after that understanding was overturned by the California supreme court. Prop 8 says, "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."

Judge Walker overturned it on the grounds that no rational person could believe that marriage is a union of husband and wife.

Rush Limbaugh put it best: Judge Walker "did not just slap down the will of seven million voters. Those seven million voters were put on trial, a kangaroo court where everything was stacked against them. …Those of you who voted for Prop 8 in California are guilty of hate crimes. You were thinking discrimination. That's what this judge has said! Truly unprecedented."

Yes it is.

The examples go on and on. But let me just pick one out for you that the mainstream media has totally overlooked. Take "fact" #79: "The Proposition 8 campaign relied on fears that children exposed to the concept of same-sex marriage may become gay or lesbian. The reason children need to be protected from same-sex marriage was never articulated in official campaign advertisements. Nevertheless, the advertisements insinuated that learning about same-sex marriage could make a child gay or lesbian and that parents should dread having a gay or lesbian child."

Translation: The campaign never actually said this, but Judge Walker ruled it is a fact anyway.
He can get inside the head of 7 million voters and determine–nothing in there worthy of respect.

Ed Whelan has pointed out the intellectually dishonest ways Judge Walker's opinion describes the actual record over at Bench Memos.

"Among the many distortions and falsehoods that Judge Vaughn Walker has tried to propagate through his anti-Prop 8 ruling," writes Whelan, "is his claim that the Prop 8 proponents … 'failed to build a credible factual record to support their claim that Proposition 8 served a legitimate government interest.' (Slip op. at 11.) Walker's claim, which many in the media evidently unfamiliar with the case have parroted, operates to divert attention from the manifest bias that he exhibited throughout the case and that pervades his ruling.

"But in fact the Prop 8 proponents offered a thorough case that Walker almost entirely ignored–a case resting on a broad array of judicial authority, recognized scholarship in various academic fields, extensive documentary evidence, and elementary common sense."

He goes on to cite one particularly egregious instance when Walker misdescribes what happened in his own courtroom. Chuck Cooper was arguing that the public purpose of marriage is responsible procreation. Walker asked him for evidence from the testimony. And Cooper proceed to cite the massive number of court cases in which judges have ruled this IS the state's interest in marriage.
Cooper then proceeded to present California cases stating (in Cooper's words, which may include direct quotations not reflected in the transcript's punctuation) that the "first purpose of matrimony by the laws of nature and society is procreation," that "the institution of marriage … channels biological drives … that might otherwise become socially destructive and … it ensures the care and education of children in a stable environment," and that (in a ruling just two years ago) "the sexual, procreative and childrearing aspects of marriage go to the very essence of the marriage relation."

Whelan goes on to point out, from a legal perspective, "Walker's question–'What testimony in this case supports the proposition?'–wasn't just flip. It was downright stupid–amazingly so, from a judge who has been on the bench for more than two decades. Even if one indulges the mistaken assumption that there was any need for a trial in the case (rather than its being disposed of, one way or the other, on summary judgment, with competing expert and documentary submissions), live witness testimony is merely one form of trial evidence. Exhibits submitted in evidence at trial are another form. And a judge is of course free to, and expected to, take judicial notice of certain facts."

Here's the zinger, the knockdown punch from Ed Whelan: A rational person "wouldn't know any of this from Walker's highly distorting clip of Cooper's statement–or from Olson's contemptible misrepresentation of it, or the media's mindless parroting of it."

He goes on to say "Walker's outrageous distortion on this point isn't an aberration. As I will show when I have time, it's representative of his entire modus operandi throughout his ruling."

Whew! Whelan 1, Walker nowhere after that round!

The list of voices criticizing Walker's opinions is growing. Many of them support gay marriage, but can recognize an overwrought opinion when they read it. Steve Chapman, a pro-gay-marriage libertarian columnist at the Chicago Tribune, called the decision "dismal" in its political and legal overreaching. "But it's silly to believe only nut jobs and bigots could rationally oppose same-sex marriage, or that millions of Californians who accept other laws protecting gays were acting irrationally." (Chapman also went on in the same column to endorse polygamy as the next change that should be made to marriage–although not by the courts–because after all, the same arguments apply equally well to polygamy or gay marriage.)

If you go to Prop8case.com you can follow along as we post all the scathing critiques emerging of Judge Walker's opinion–and a couple of great cartoons as well! My favorite shows the Founding Fathers gathered around a table, drafting the Constitution. "Let's put gay marriage here, in between abortion and socialized medicine," one of them says.

The media likes to say to us, Don't courts have a right to overturn laws? Well, yes, when they are actually against what's in our Constitution. The differences between gay marriage and interracial marriage are huge and one of them is this: Bans on racial discrimination are actually in our Constitution. The entire history of the 14th Amendment makes it clear that race is that amendment's central concern. Gay marriage? Well, even sensible liberals know that's a big stretch.

Not all the court news was bad. A federal judge just ruled for Protect Marriage Washington, agreeing that the names of people who sign on to the marriage amendment will not be released, at least not immediately. In Massachusetts and California, advocates of gay marriage put the names of known marriage supporters on websites that encouraged harassment, and in Washington state they threatened to do the same. Some of the leaders of Protect Marriage Washington have faced physical threats. The Supreme Court ruled that signers of referenda generally are not protected from disclosure and remanded back for trial the question of whether or not marriage supporters face enough of a threat to justify withholding their names. Congrats to James Bopp, Jr., and the Alliance Defense Fund for standing up for the core civil rights of all Americans to participate peacefully and safely in the democratic process.

And in Minnesota a pro-gay-marriage Republican, State Senator Paul Koering, just lost his seat. Thanks to you we were able to let voters in Minnesota know that his views and values were not the same as theirs.

I'm getting a lot of questions from reporters about the political impact of Judge Walker's ruling. As you know, we at NOM do not believe that marriage should be a partisan issue. But I think anyone who is seriously wondering how Judge Walker's ruling will play in Peoria should listen to Rush Limbaugh.

"The American people are boiling. The American people are furious. My e-mails are unbelievable. This federal judge yesterday, this decision, Prop 8, California, has just put people over the edge, and all of these decisions are coming one after another from all corners of the federal government. It's as if we have absolutely no say in what is going on all around us. Decisions are being made for us, in lieu of us and imposed on us….

"But what is a more fundamental right–a fundamental civil right in our system of government in a supposed republic–than the right to have our voice heard, to have our vote respected? You want to talk about civil rights? It doesn't matter what the people of California vote. If the left doesn't like it, they will use the bastardization of power in this country to reverse it. What about our vote being respected? Without that right, we're no longer a republic."

Among the people Judge Walker put on trial and implicitly denounced as an irrational bigot in his opinion is Dr. Alveda King.

Dr. King spoke at NOM's rally in Atlanta a few days ago, and she said, "As the daughter of Rev. A.D. King and my mother Naomi King, the granddaughter of Martin Luther King Sr. and his lovely beloved wife Alberta King, and the niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I come from a long line of Christian soldiers who have supported marriage and family! As I offer this testimony let me urge you to continue to stand firm for marriage by definition as one man and one woman. …I urge you today to encourage your family, friends, and communities to uphold and protect the definition of marriage. God, who created us and put us in the wombs of our mothers, uniting the seed of our fathers and the fruit of our mothers, imprinted us with His dream for marriage. We cannot let a few misguided judges and politicians erase the truth."

Amen.

Thank you for what you've made possible. I'm truly grateful and humbled by the outpouring of prayers and emails.

God bless you, and please pray for the efforts of all of us standing up for God's truth about marriage.

Until next week, keep fighting the good fight.

Faithfully,

Brian S. Brown
President
National Organization for Marriage
2029 K Street, NW, Suite 300
Washington, DC  20006
bbrown@nationformarriage.org

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