Reaching industrial-strength level of crazy

As right-wing anti-LGBT rhetoric  gets further ‘out there,’ we must step up to counter it

Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association

 

Hardy Haberman
Flagging Left

I guess it wasn’t enough that the right-wing crazies tried to equate homosexuality with pedophilia, now they have come up with the argument that giving LGBT people equal rights is an assault on freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

Funny, I never remember asking anyone to change their religion or to stop speaking, no matter how crazy they are.

I hold freedom of speech very near and dear to my heart. In fact it is one of my core values.

And religious freedom? Well you have the right to preach and believe anything you want, until you begin advocating violence against other citizens.

That is where the whole issue of LGBT rights breaks down for the far right. If they are not “free” to advocate outright physical assaults on LGBT Americans, they somehow feel it is impinging on their freedom.

Does this sound a lot like the anti-abortion crowd who advocate murdering doctors and blowing up clinics? Though they would be the first to deny it, they are cut from the same cloth.

Funny how these same folks are among the first to point fingers at all Muslims and cry “Terrorists!” In fact our friend from north of the border, Rep. Sally Kern of Oklahoma, has actually said that LGBT people are more dangerous than terrorists.

I really see all this as another attempt to re-frame the issue of LGBT rights by the right wing. They know that opinions in America are changing, and as a recent poll showed, even here in Texas an overwhelming majority of registered voters support expanded civil rights for LGBT Texans.

It is a rising tide and it scares them, and so they crank up the rhetoric.

Bryan Fischer, a mouthpiece of the American Family Association drove the point home with this gem delivered at the recent AFA-sponsored Values Voters Summit, attended by all of the main Republican presidential candidates:

“I believe we need a president who understands that just as Islam represents the greatest long-range threat to our liberty, so the homosexual agenda represents the greatest immediate threat to every freedom and right that is enshrined in the First Amendment. It’s a particular threat to religious liberty… .”

Now, if you have trouble understanding this strange equation, “LGBT rights = no religious liberty,” then let me explain the twisted logic.

The far right believes:

• We are a Christian nation, but only the fundamentalist, fire-breathing born-again variety of Christian.

• “Free speech” means “the right to attack, abuse and in general deny rights to anyone other than predominately white Christian Americans.” (See above for definition of “Christian.”)

• Limiting the ability to discriminate against LGBT people, particularly in areas that involve legal representation and equal rights, is a limit on free speech.

• Granting LGBT people equal legal rights “will end Western Civilization.” (That is a quote from Liberty Council’s Mat Staver.)

And so with this kind of logic it’s easy to see how we LGBT folks are such dangerous threats.

Now, take it a few steps further — which Bryan Fischer is more than willing to do — and go after the recent “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal. Fischer’s vivid imagination comes up with this whopper:

“And so, I’m predicting that things are about to get very ugly in the United States military for people of faith. We are going to see principle-driven officers, one after another, are going to become victims of systematic hate crimes. This is going to be a pogrom; this is going to be virtual genocide, military genocide, career genocide for people of faith in the military, perpetrated by the homosexual lobby.”

Now we have indeed reached the level of “industrial-strength crazy,” and it’s time we take a stand against it.

First of all, the idea that the American Family Association (a recognized hate group) can actually somehow have a lock on what it means to be “people of faith” is beyond laughable. It’s time liberal, progressive Christians came out of the closet and began reclaiming the word “Christian,” before it is too late.

Secondly, the idea that all the major candidates for the GOP presidential race showed up at an event staged by a hate group should put to bed forever the idea that the Republican Party is a big tent, unless that tent is for a fundamentalist revival.

Third, it’s time we realized that not only are these folks nutty, they are dangerous, and though it is easy to laugh at them, we need to take them seriously.

To do otherwise is just plain crazy.

Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and a board member of the Woodhull Freedom Alliance. His blog is at DungeonDiary.blogspot.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 14, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Ban on Sharia law in Okla. ruled unconstitutional

Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange

A federal judge stopped short of declaring Oklahoma voters a bunch of dumbasses, but she did rule that their attempt to outlaw Sharia law is unconstitutional, according to the Daily Oklahoman.

U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange issued a 15-page ruling throwing out the state constitutional amendment. On Nov. 2, Oklahoma voters approved the amendment that would have prohibited state courts from considering or using Sharia law despite the fact that state courts had never used – nor had plans to use — Sharia law. The constitutional amendment passed with more than 70 percent of the vote.

Sharia is Islamic law based on the Quran and the teachings of Muhammed. It includes the Ten Commandments — so the amendment effectively made the Ten Commandments illegal in Oklahoma.

Miles-LaGrange wrote in her opinion, “This order addresses issues that go to the very foundation of our country, our Constitution, and particularly, the Bill of Rights.”

Supporters of the law said it was a defense against such practices as marital rape. However, state laws already make such practices  illegal.

Muneer Awad, the head of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Oklahoma, filed suit against the amendment claiming it violated his freedom of religion.

The judge ruled that he had standing in the case and that he would have suffered injury to his First Amendment rights. Awad lives in Oklahoma, is a Muslim and “the amendment conveys an official government message of disapproval and hostility toward his religious beliefs, that sends a clear message he is an outsider, not a full member of the political community, thereby chilling his access to the government and forcing him to curtail his political and religious activities.”

Republican State Rep. Rex Duncan was the author of the amendment. He said it wasn’t intended to attack Muslims but rather was a “pre-emptive strike.”

Aren’t pre-emptive strikes usually attacks?

And wasn’t the only terrorist attack that has taken place in Oklahoma — the Oklahoma City bombing of the Murrah Federal Building — carried out by a couple of Christian guys?

—  David Taffet

LGBT groups call on DeMint to apologize for repeating old insult

S.C. Republican rubbed ‘salt in the wound’ when he repeated comments from 2004 saying gays shouldn’t be teachers, Carey says

MEG KINNARD  |  Associated Press

Jim DeMint

Jim DeMint

COLUMBIA, S.C. — National gay and women’s rights groups on Tuesday, Oct. 5, called on U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint to apologize for referencing his own six-year-old comments that gays and lesbians and some unmarried pregnant women should not be teaching in the state’s public schools.

“It is salt in the wound in our community,” said Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. “It’s irresponsible for Sen. DeMint to reassert this position in this day and age. I would ask him to apologize.”

Carey was reacting to DeMint’s remarks at an Oct. 1 appearance at a Spartanburg rally, where the Republican referenced the public backlash and quiet support that followed his 2004 comments that gays and lesbians and unmarried pregnant women with live-in boyfriends should not be teaching in the state’s public schools.

“No one came to my defense. But everyone would come to me and whisper that I shouldn’t back down,” DeMint said at the Greater Freedom Rally, according to a published report in the Herald-Journal of Spartanburg. “They don’t want government purging their rights and their freedom of religion.”

DeMint first addressed the issue in October 2004 during a televised debate with state Education Superintendent Inez Tenenbaum weeks before the election to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Ernest “Fritz” Hollings, D-S.C. The candidates were questioned about a state Republican Party platform item saying gays should not teach in public schools.

“I don’t think they should,” DeMint said then, adding that government should not endorse particular behaviors.

“We need the folks that are teaching in schools to represent our values.”

Tenenbaum replied by calling that stance “un-American.”

Gay groups demanded an apology from DeMint, then a third-term congressman. During an interview with the Aiken Standard newspaper two days after the debate, DeMint expanded the list of people whom he thought should not teach in public schools.

“I would have given the same answer when asked if a single woman, who was pregnant and living with her boyfriend, should be hired to teach my third grade children,” said DeMint, who apologized a day later for that particular remark. “I just think the moral decisions are different with a teacher.”

Terry O’Neill, president of the National Organization for Women, said the comments underscore the importance of the coming midterm elections.

“Sen. DeMint is a bigot and a sexist and he doesn’t belong in the U.S. Senate,” O’Neill said. “Being conservative is one thing. Being hate-filled is different. Jim DeMint is hate.”

On Tuesday, a DeMint spokesman said the Republican senator on Oct. 1 was merely making a point about attacks on people who speak out on morality issues.

“Senator DeMint believes that hiring decisions at local schools are a local school board issue, not a federal issue,” spokesman Wesley Denton said. “He was making a point about how the media attacks people for holding a moral opinion.”

One of DeMint’s general election opponents said DeMint, who has spent months campaigning for tea party-leaning candidates in other states in the run-up to the Nov. 2 elections, is referencing the comments to cater to far right-leaning voters.

“I consider his remarks as outrageous and out of step with the majority thinking in this state,” said Tom Clements, an anti-nuclear activist and Green Party candidate. “Everything he says is very much calculated to appeal to a certain audience. … He’s feeling his oats right now, and he thinks he can get away with saying outrageous things that he thinks will resonate with the public.”

An adviser to Democratic nominee Alvin Greene would not weigh in on DeMint’s comments, and instead reiterated Greene’s commitment to rejuvenating the state’s education system, in part through an affiliation with the Department of Homeland Security.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 08, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas