Mike Huckabee Courts Voters In Iowa, Hints at Run In 2012

Mike Huckabee spent the day in Iowa today in an effort to court evangelical voters in that state for a likely presidential run in 2012. He spoke to reporters about the ouster of three state Supreme Court judges in this month's election and claimed that it was the beginning of a larger national movement.

The Associated Press reports:

"The significance and historic nature of the judicial elections here in Iowa were far bigger than the borders of Iowa," he said. "It was a very important statement that voters made, a statement that resonated across the country and one that I think will give legs to a larger movement over the next few years."

Huckabee spoke to more than 1,000 evangelicals gathered at a massive church in Des Moines. The gathering marked the merger of a series of evangelical groups into a single organization known as The Family Leader, to be headed by veteran activist Bob Vander Plaats.

The merged group likely will play a crucial role in Iowa's Republican politics, as the campaign for the state's precinct caucuses begins to warm. And the former Baptist minister Huckabee is moving quickly to court the activists.

"This is a group of people with whom I am very comfortable and familiar," he said.

Does this mean he's comfortable enough to again bring up what he refers to as the "ick factor?"

It looks as if Huckabee will most likely battle it out with Sarah Palin over the GOP nomination in 2012. He said, "Am I keeping the option open? Yes. Am I open to considering it? Of course I am, I would be foolish not to in light of what I've been through."

Said Huckabee about Palin: "She's got a very strong and important voice and has brought a lot of energy to the grass roots" and that "she may run away with it, and that's something everybody has to be prepared for."

Meanwhile, Palin herself will embark upon Iowa which some are referring to as "more than just a book signing."

Towleroad News #gay

—  admin

Little known fact: ‘Vander Plaats’ is actually Iowan for ‘courts that cater to my whims’

This has to be the most egregious, self-satisfied, overplayed hands in recent “culture war” memory:

The leader of a successful campaign to oust three Iowa Supreme Court justices says the four justices who remain on the court should consider stepping down. Bob Vander Plaats of Sioux City, the leader of Iowa for Freedom, says he is not asking for immediate resignations.

“But I do believe those four justices do need to think about the message that was sent on November two, and I believe that they fully realize that if they would have been on that ballot along with their three other peers, that they would have been voted off too,” Vander Plaats says, “so as the appointment process takes place I believe they need to take a look at a timeline and see if that’s something that they would choose to do, is to step down to make sure that they honor the court, and they don’t disrupt the court proceedings by not having a quorum.”

KEEP READING: Vander Plaats says four Supreme Court justices should consider stepping down [Radio Iowa]

So now not only is Bob Vander Plaats (pic., l.) fully admitting that his “Iowa For Freedom” campaign was solely about ONE. RULING., but he’s suggesting that the one, faith-motivated, out-of-state-funded, one-sided Screen Shot 2010-11-12 At 3.28.32 Pmcampaign to oust the three judges on the basis of this one opinion should be extended to the other four members of the unanimous Varnum panel as well. There’s no longer even the slightest pretense of judging these judges on the basis of their individual merits as jurists. For Vander Plaats, this majority percentage his crew was able to obtain at the polls equates to justification for the cause, that “justification” translates into capital, and that capital allows the anti-LGBT social conservatives go beyond turning this past retention vote into a weapon and instead extend their combative powers to the independent judiciary in general.

The truth, of course, is that the anti-gay side’s ability to achieve a 50% +1 margin in Iowa did not add any merit to their war. These votes never do. And in Iowa even less so, since there was surely a sizable percentage of non-retention that had nothing to do with the Varnum opinion, and would’ve still occurred without Vander Plaats’ wholly Varnum-focused IFF campaign. So instead of feeling like he now has two years to breathe down the necks of the other four justices until they cry “uncle,” the reality is that its Bob Vander Plaats who deserves to be burdened by tough judicial questions before the next retention vote. His efforts have raised downright chilling questions about minority rights, church/state separation, fair-minded courts, and the dangers of politicizing a process that was designed to strip politics out of justice, while his justifications have all been steeped in the land of convenient talking point. May the glow from a greater national spot enlighten those who were previously in the dark.

Good As You

—  admin

Stop the National Organization for Marriage from assaulting our courts – sign our letter to U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts

Cross-posted from NOMExposed.org

Today NOMExposed is launching an effort to fight back against what the National Organization for Marriage did in Iowa.

NOM set its political bulls-eye on ousting three of Iowa’s Supreme Court justices who agreed that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry. On Election Day, all three lost.

This was not about Iowa. (Marriage equality remains law in the state.) It was about scaring other judges across the country, including U.S. Supreme Court justices. NOM’s message:  either rule they way we want you to, or we’ll come after you.

NOM’s actions were a heavy-handed assault on our nation’s courts.

Sign our letter to U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts asking him to condemn NOM and to speak out for an independent judiciary free from bitter partisan political campaigns like the one waged in Iowa.

Being virulently anti-LGBT is one thing. Tearing down our justice system is quite another.

Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  admin

Audio: Matt’s just a dad trying to make it. Oh, in a world sans LGBT people or fair courts, that is.

Screen Shot 2010-11-08 At 10.38.54 AmOn Saturday morning, I was literally three feet away from him. A young dad, like a million other dads, playing with cutely rambunctious kids who seemed excited to be in a new state for the weekend. To the young’uns, this Philadelphia journey was surely just a family vacation, one of many they’ve been able to experience in the past few years, thanks to dad’s work travels. And dad was also surely thankful for this time to unwind with wife and children — a pause to cherish the truly important things in life.

But Matt Barber’s attire of a dress shirt, dress pants, and sensible suspenders indicated that his respite here in the hotel lobby was but a temporary one. While the rest of his family exited the revolving doors, off to see some of Philly’s sites or perhaps hit up a local restaurant that a back-home friend told them was a “can’t miss” destination, the patriarch had to stay back and conduct his usual business. Business that seeks to tell other kinds of families that it’s their loving bonds themselves that they should put on pause. Business that ignores credible science in order to foster myths about the one, true kind of sexual orientation or gender identity that makes up the world’s “norm.” Business that is all up in everyone else’s business, with a goal of stopping the progress that a vulnerable population has been able to make here in America.

Business that seeks to fire any judge who puts the the public’s shared constitution above certain, cherry-picked portions of certain people’s personal faith reads:

( click to play)

*AUDIO SOURCE: Three Iowa Supreme Court Judges Voted Out of Office Because They Voted Against the Will of the People [LC]

Good As You

—  admin

Video: Iowa for [denying courts should play same exact roles they played in other minority rights fights]

To sum up what Iowa For Freedom‘s Bob Vander Plaats and WHO radio’s Jen Green are saying in the following video: LGBT people have no right or responsibility to use the court system to keep discrimination in check. Not in California, not in Iowa, not in the the Florida adoption matter. To hear Vander Plaats and Green tell it, those who invoke “the laws of nature and nature’s God” are simply not beholden to the constitutional assessments from one co-equal branch of government. At least not until “the people©” get to say if the constitution, as written, is hetero-y enough for their liking.

Have a listen:

How could using the retention vote be an abuse, Jen? Oh, in practical terms, no, the right to vote itself is not an abuse. But when one group who is motivated 100% by faith-based discrimination against LGBT people joins forces with anti-LGBT organizations like American Family Association and the National Organization For Marriage to vindictively oust judges who did nothing more than cast one opinion that supports a minority population in ways that they themselves do not? Well again: That’s not an overstep in terms of the rights of citizenship, a role that allows people to cast a vote for whatever reason. But it is a completely callous, anti-intellectual, anti-civic, unprovoked, undeserved bout of retribution that is based on personal biases, not a fair, well-rounded assessment of the judges’ overall performance. And that’s what we’re saying about this current effort. It’s not that those who wish to deny gay people of rights CAN’T act like this one vote is the only way to drain the piss form their Iowa cornflakes. It’s to say that they, as non-persecuted members of a state that includes good and decent LGBT neighbors, simply shouldn’t act so damn unneighborly!

This Iowa For Freedom effort is all about providing a catharsis to the anti-marriage equality set, in hopes of keeping the momentum going until they someday get to turn this unanimous court ruling into a popularity contest. Also, as everyone involved admits: It’s all about making an example of these judges, so as to send a message to the rest of the nation. That might be an acceptable thing to do, if the Iowa Supreme Court were a cheating ex-boyfriend and this vote were an effigial voodoo doll. But the fair and independent judiciary should probably command just an eensy bit more head voice and a little less personal heart fire than Iowa For Freedom is affording it.


*Oh, and about that David Barton who Vander Plaats mentions at 2:21: Right Wing Radio Host David Barton: Government Should ‘Regulate Homosexuality’ [Towle]

Good As You

—  John Wright

8’s Parts: Courts should look to sum, not some

Although Judge Vaughn Walker’s federal court decision on Proposition 8 has brought the same-sex marriage conversation into a more prominent light than it’s seen in years, there is an ancillary component that’s being overlooked. A particularly interesting side argument that, while easy to write off as a distraction, actually tells us quite a bit about the anti-LGBT movement and the tactical way its midwives engage in the so-called “culture wars.”

ADFOn one side we have the Alliance Defense Fund, the Christian conservative legal outfit that headed up the Prop 8 proponents’ defense in Judge Walker’s court. In the days since Walker’s August 4 decision in favor of equality, the ADF and its defenders have spent considerable time criticizing “activist judges” and the cherry-picked quotes from the 136-page ruling that they find most conveniently spinnable. For Team ADF, there’s been little public self reflection, and even fewer questions asking why their case was so shockingly lacking that even Judge Walker expressed concern over the lack of presented evidence.

But where ADF has failed to ask these tough questions, the even more conservative attorneys at the Liberty Counsel have more than picked up the slack. In press releases both on the day of the ruling and in the weeks since, the Liberty lawyers, who had requested to provide additional defense in the federal trial, have pointedly criticized the ADF for shutting them out of the process. And it’s not only the personal shut out that’s earned the LC’s ire. Speaking to Lifesite News on Aug. 17, Liberty Counsel chairman Mat Staver also criticized the ADF’s refusal to “focus or even address the consequences of homosexualityL-Cand homosexual marriage,” and said that a case under his leadership “would have called a number of witnesses who have high credentials in the area of homosexuality and homosexual behavior, marriage, and reparative therapy.

It’s patently obvious why the ADF lawyers and the Prop 8 strategists shied away from pushing overheated rhetoric and “ex-gay” therapy into the court of law. To quote pro-equality litigator David Boies from his 8/8/10 appearance on CBS’s “Face The Nation”: “It’s easy to sit around and debate and throw around opinions, appeal to people’s fear and prejudice, cite studies that either don’t exist or don’t say what they say you do. In a court of law you’ve got to come in and you’ve got to support those opinions, you’ve got to stand up under oath and cross-examination.” Obviously the incendiary charges that the Liberty Counsel planned to use would’ve been destroyed by Boise and fellow Prop 8 opponent Ted Olson in front of Judge Walker. Or perhaps even more cringe-inducing for the side of anti-LGBT bias: The true nature of the anti-gay movement’s teachings and rhetoric would have been put on display for the public at large.

But for me as someone who observes the so-called “culture wars,” I have to say that I personally side with the overheated Liberty Counsel on this matter. This on-going marriage conversation deals with one group that’s fighting for what they see as a constitutional right, pressing against the entire range of presented reasons for why that civil equality remains out of reach. It’s not just hesitation that keeps same-sex marriage at bay: Within the anti- movement, there’s also undeniable detestation (even if its voicers claim to direct it more towards the “sin” than towards the “sinner”). And while this fire branding is more enraging on a purely emotional level, one has to respect its carriers for having the gumption to stand on their convictions. Because let’s get real: It’s not like the organized players who use “nicer” anti-gay tones are typically any less convinced about homosexuality’s eternal ticket.

This war between letting it all hang out and playing “nice” is the same thing we pro-equality activists see in every election where LGBT rights are put before a public vote. All of a sudden the usual “pro-family” voices from whatever state is being contended are either swept under the rug or carefully schooled in what to say and do. Up from nowhere, a new team of more politically savvy, more “mainstream”-sounding figures take the lead. The ads become softer. The rhetoric less aggressive. The tone completely changed. For a case study of this, see Michael Heath, who was Maine’s most prominent and proud ant-LGBT voice for a decade or more before marriage was put before voters, but who was entirely shut out of the state’s 2009 Question One campaign. In February of ’09, Heath was feted at a Focus on the Family-affiliated banquet; by November, those same people who appeared at the banquet would sooner buy a gay wedding card than associate with Mike in public. (*After I noticed and highlighted this forced burial of Heath and his uncompromisingly sharp tongue, a few from the socially conservative movement confirmed to me that my insight on this matter was spot-on.)

“Culture war” observers witness similarly double-faceted engagement from anti-LGBT leaders who perform on the punditry circuit. In more than one church in the past year, Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, a regular fixture on the “from the right” TV panelist circuit, has boldly stated that his pro-LGBT adversaries are “being held captive by the enemy.” But one would never hear Tony voice an enemy possession stance when appearing on Anderson Cooper or similar mainstream cable news show. Because there’s one message being delivered to the anti-LGBT base on whom these groups rely for funding, rally attendance, etc., and a whole other set of talking points geared towards the general public 9and especially that much sought-after “moveable middle).

Which brings us back to the case of Liberty v. Alliance. The latter group, along with its affiliated attorneys, had embarrassingly little to show in court, in large part because they shut out a massive portion of Alliance-Prop-8the anti-gay rights movement. Is that fair to the social conservatives? Doesn’t the court and the public deserve to hear about the forces that literally want to “change” gays into scientifically discredited “ex-gays”? And since there is such a decided strategy from the Prop 8 proponents to silence their most determined potential troops, isn’t that battle plan itself a crucial component of the associated referendum? Don’t both the shunned gays and the shunned anti-gays deserve to know why Schubert Flint Public Affairs gets to be the gatekeeper of which rights-depriving arguments hit the public ears?

The answer to all of those questions is a resounding YES. I, for one, hope the Liberty Counsel refuses to shut up!

Good As You

—  John Wright

Second ‘I don’t want to counsel gays’ lawsuit struck down by the courts

crossposted on Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters


keeton How did I miss this one:


Augusta State University's requirement that a graduate student read material about counseling gays and increase her exposure to that community after she objected to counseling homosexual clients was “academically legitimate,” a federal court judge ruled Friday.

U.S. District Judge Randal Hall's decision enables university officials to expel Jennifer Keeton if she does not follow the remediation plan, which professors designed to “address issues of multicultural competence and develop understanding and empathy.”

Hall said the case is not about “pitting Christianity against homosexuality,” but rather the constitutionality of the school's requirement.

This denunciation comes at the heels of another case in which a student claimed that she was “forced” to choose between her religious beliefs and her vocation. Last month, the courts ruled against Julea Ward, a student at Eastern Michigan University who claimed that she was removed from the school's counseling program because of her strong religious views against homosexuality.


Ward has refused to counsel lgbt clients because of her beliefs. In the ruling, U.S. District Judge George Caram Steeh said:

” . . .the university had a rational basis for requiring its students to counsel clients without imposing their personal values.

In the case of Ms. Ward, the university determined that she would never change her behavior and would consistently refuse to counsel clients on matters with which she was personally opposed due to her religious beliefs — including homosexual relationships.”

Keeton and Ward were both made as cause celebres by the religious right as victims of a so-called “gay agenda” which would punish Christians for expressing their beliefs.

However many others, myself included, disagree.

My feeling is that if you can't do the job completely and for everyone then we have a serious problem, especially if you are seeking to be a healthcare worker.

And those who seek to make Keeton and Ward into martyrs would be advised to remember that this sort of thing has a habit of coming back in a nasty way.

If people are allowed exemptions in the counseling of the lgbt community today, who's to say that tomorrow exemptions won't be given in the counseling of the African-American or Latino communities?

Or even the Christian community?

UDPATE:  The article also going on to say something which should be remembered should Keeton's name come up in religious right talking points (and it will) – the university presented three professors as witnesses but Keeton presented no witnesses. And she didn't even testify.

Hat tip to Daily Kos.

Related post:

Court knocks down latest religious right cause celebre
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright