Showing posts with label California. Show all posts
Showing posts with label California. Show all posts

Friday, October 1, 2010

GOP Candidate Meg Whitman Caught in Lies about Hiring an Illegal Immigrant

     So what happens when a GOP gubernatorial candidate in California, who is running on a platform calling for a crackdown on undocumented immigrants and their employers, is exposed for having knowingly employed an undocumented housekeeper for nine years?  Ask Meg Whitman.  

     Meg Whitman, the former eBay chief running to become governor of California, lashed back Wednesday at a charge she knowingly employed an illegal immigrant as a housekeeper.  But a lawyer for the housekeeper countered by publicly releasing a letter to Republican candidate Meg Whitman from US social security authorities informing her that her employee appeared to have a false Social Security number.
     But a lawyer for the housekeeper, Nicky Diaz Santillan, released copies of a 2003 Social Security letter she said was sent to Whitman and her husband.  "Today, we have clearly proven with the release of this letter that Meg Whitman lied to the press and the public when she said, 'We never received that letter and notification,'" said lawyer Gloria Allred.
     Whitman claims she never received the letter, but Allred said it included a note scrawled by Whitman's husband asking the housekeeper to "please check this."
     "Her attempt to deceive the public and hide the fact that she knew that she was employing an undocumented worker long before she fired Nicky in 2009 has failed," Allred said.  "Meg Whitman is exposed as a liar and a hypocrite."
Here a quick summary:

     This Spanish-language commercial sums up the Whitman scandal as such: She says one thing in English.  The oppsite in Spanish.  Meg Whitman has two faces.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Grants Appellant's Motion for Stay of District Court's Order.

     Here is the text of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals' decision to grant the proponents of California Proposition 8's stay of the district court's decision to allow same sex marriages to take place in California starting this Wednesday.  There are no reasons stated for why the stay was allowed, which is infuriating considering that the proponents were unable to prove argument against same sex marriage during the trial.

Case Name: Kristin Perry, et al v. Arnold Schwarzenegger, et al
Case Number: 10-16696
Docket Text:
Filed order (EDWARD LEAVY, MICHAEL DALY HAWKINS and SIDNEY R. THOMAS) Appellants’ motion for a stay of the district court’s order of August 4, 2010 pending appeal is GRANTED. The court sua sponte orders that this appeal be expedited pursuant to Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 2. The provisions of Ninth Circuit Rule 31-2.2(a) (pertaining to grants of time extensions) shall not apply to this appeal. This appeal shall be calendared during the week of December 6, 2010, at The James R. Browning Courthouse in San Francisco, California. The previously established briefing schedule is vacated. The opening brief is now due September 17, 2010. The answering brief is due October 18, 2010. The reply brief is due November 1, 2010. In addition to any issues appellants wish to raise on appeal, appellants are directed to include in their opening brief a discussion of why this appeal should not be dismissed for lack of Article III standing. See Arizonans For Official English v. Arizona, 520 U.S. 43, 66 (1997). IT IS SO ORDERED. [7441574] (JS)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Supreme Court Rules 5-4 in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez: Violate Your Public School's Nondiscrimination Policy & No Tax Dollars for You

     In April I wrote of an upcoming U.S. Supreme Court decision that could go either way.  Today, the Court ruled 5-4, turning away the appeal of a case of the Christian Legal Society which sued the University of California's Hastings College of the Law in an attempt to get university funding for their religious group that bars homosexual from membership and violates the law school's nondiscrimination policies.  What a pleasant Monday morning surprise!

     The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled 5-4 that a Christian student group that bars LGBT members and their allies cannot receive official recognition and funding from a public law school.  The case, Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, centered on the Christian Legal Society at the University of California Hastings College of Law. The student group refused membership to LGBT individuals and those who advocate for them, and sued when the university denied institutional support to the group in response.
     “The CLS requires that voting members sign a statement of faith and regards ‘unrepentant participation in or advocacy of a sexually immoral lifestyle’ as being inconsistent with that faith.”
     Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who delivered the majority opinion, wrote that CLS sought a “preferential exemption” from the university's all-comers policy. The judgment said that the group's First Amendment rights were not violated by the public college's decision... Ginsburg was joined in the opinion by justices Stevens, Kennedy, Breyer, and Sotomayor. Justices Alito, Roberts, Scalia, and Thomas dissented.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Proposition 8 Proponents' Attorney Argued Same Sex Marriages Will End Society

     The closing arguments of Perry v. Schwarzenegger were heard by U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker yesterday.  The ruling will come later this summer.
Charles Cooper (via LGBT POV)
     The Los Angeles Times reports (My comments are interspersed.):
     Charles Cooper, attorney for proponents of the measure, told Walker that the “marital relationship is fundamental to the existence and survival of the race. Without the marital relationship, society would come to an end.”
     Because gays will destroy society?  Where have we heard that one before.  Pat Robertson & Jerry Falwell, Rick Warren, Martin SsempaJim DeMint, Mike Huckabee, the American Family Association, the Vatican, the U.S. military, etc. etc.  Just last week in Ghana, an anti-gay protest of 3,000 marched in the streets claiming that the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah would befall their nation if they didn't outlaw homosexuality, the protest's leaders claiming that gays wear diapers.  

     As if heterosexual Christians aren't doing enough to destroy the institution of marriage themselves.  Yes, scapegoat the queers.  That's an original and time-tested strategy.

     But wait a minute, if the purpose of marriage is to ensure procreation, then how did human beings evolve, exist, and procreate long before the patriarchal version of the institution of marriage was created?  Every other species on earth procreates successfully without the "marital relationship."  Cooper's argument is completely flawed.  The human race survived and thrived long before marriage, and if Cooper's doomsgay prophesy manifests, the human race will continue to procreate.
         That relationship, he [Cooper] said, is between a man and a woman and its main focus is procreation and “channeling” the sexual behavior of heterosexuals into “stable, marital unions.”
     Once again, I have to ask, does this mean that divorce should be made illegal?  Define "stable."  Should we pass laws defining a stable marriage and only allow heterosexual couples in so-called "stable, marital unions" to have sex and procreate?

Judge Vaughn Walker (via SFGate)
     Walker continually pressed the sometimes flustered Cooper on just what marriage means and why the state should care about it. Why does the state regulate marriage, he asked. Do people get married to benefit the community? Why doesn’t the state just consider it a private contract?
     Walker: “Why is it that marriage has such a large public role? What is the purpose?”
     Cooper: “This relationship is crucial to the public interest.… Procreative sexual relations both are an enormous benefit to society and represent a very real threat to society’s interest.”
     Walker: “Threat?"
     Cooper: “If children are born into the world without this stable, marital union … both of the parents that brought them into the world, then a host of very important, very negative social implications arise.... The purpose of marriage is to provide society’s approval to that sexual relationship and to the actual production of children.”
     If the purpose of marriage is to "provide society's approval to that sexual relationship and the actual production of children," then society is doing a shitty job by permitting so many children to be born into families of pedophiles, rapists, drug addicts, embezzlers, child-beaters, religious fanatics, mentally abusive, neglecting, self-centered, overbearing, disordered, cheating, lying, etc. etc. parents.  Where are all the laws that define and monitor marriage stability, determining whether a couple can conceive?  On what planet does Cooper live?

      Those who adopt go through rigorous screening processes before being allowed to become parents.  Olson presented evidence of studies showing that adoptive parents are more likely to provide a stable, nurturing household than your average married couple. Perhaps we need to take the babies born to those deemed "unstable" by Cooper's standards and put them all up for adoption.  That's it.  Stable same sex couples may actually save the human race by adopting and raising the children of abusive, unqualified, and unstable heterosexuals, who don't live up to Cooper's standards.

     And what of our soldiers that die in action?  Should their children be taken from their single mothers and placed in "stable" homes that have one mommy and one daddy?  Where does it end, Cooper?
Ted Olson (via Advocate)
     Cooper took Theodore Olson, attorney for the gay and lesbian couples who filed suit against Proposition 8, to task for claiming that Californians could support the ban on same-sex marriage only “through irrational or dark motive, some animus, some kind of bigotry.”
     People's religious beliefs don't excuse their actions, especially in a country where there is freedom of and from religion. Voting to take away the rights of a group, who holds different religious beliefs, is unconstitutional. 

     As for the dark motive, animus and bigotry, were not an endless barrage of commercials financed by religious groups channeled into my living room in 2008 purporting scientifically disproved myths and stereotypes of homosexuals as deviants, who were trying to prey on children in the school systems?  If that's not animus and bigotry, what is?
     Olson’s viewpoint, Cooper said, “denies the good faith of Congress, of state legislature after state legislature and electorate after electorate.”  To which Walker responded: “If you have 7 million Californians, 70 judges and this long history, why in this case did you present but one witness? ... You had a lot to choose from. One witness, and it was fair to say his testimony was equivocal.”
      Equivocal:  equiv-o-cal,  \i-ˈkwi-və-kəl\  According to Merriam-Webster, this is the definition of equivocal:

a: subject to two or more interpretations and usually used to mislead or confuse [an equivocal statement]  b: uncertain as an indication or sign [equivocal evidence]
     Ouch.

     To download the full transcript click here.  My favorite moment came when during Cooper's argument, he sounded flustered and stated something like, "I'm losing my voice."

     We could only be so lucky.
  
Here is Kate Kendell's optimistic response after witnessing the closing arguments.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Republican Sen. Roy Ashburn Talks Gay, on Life in and out of the Closet

     The Los Angeles Times has a telling interview with Senator Roy Ashburn, in which the conservative Republican discusses what it was like living a hypocritical life in the closet and how thankful he is that he was exposed and can now live honestly as a gay man.  

     Here are a few excerpts from the Times interview that reveal the fear and societal pressure that forces so many LGBT persons to hide the truth of their being:
     At some point, you must have realized a public career was incompatible with being open about your sexual preferences.
     Something happened that I guess caused me to realize that. When I was in sixth grade, the police had a raid in the sand dunes [near San Luis Obispo] and a bunch of gay men were arrested, probably charged with indecent activity. That sticks in my mind — the publicity and the shame around it. One of my teachers was one of the people. The talk among the kids, the talk among the adults, the talk in the community, the press — at that time the choice was pretty clear: If you were gay and open, it was a life of shame, ridicule, innuendo about molesting and perversion. It was a dark life. Given that choice of whether you come out or whether you're in secret, I mean, there really wasn't a choice.
     You worked for members of Congress, then were elected to public office yourself from Kern County. Were your sexual preferences in the back of your mind, or did you just go about your business?
     The answer is both yes and no. I was married and had children. And I had a career and a passion. I also had a huge secret. But given my circumstances and my responsibilities, it wasn't an overwhelming issue for me. The desires were always there, but my focus was primarily on — well, pretty selfishly — on me and my career and my family.
     A lot of people, gay or straight, are probably wondering why you voted even against issues like insurance coverage for same-sex partners.
     The best I can do is to say that I was hiding. I was so in terror I could not allow any attention to come my way. So any measure that had to do with the subject of sexual orientation was an automatic "no" vote. I was paralyzed by this fear, and so I voted without even looking at the content. The purpose of government is to protect the rights of people under the law, regardless of our skin color, national origin, our height, our weight, our sexual orientation. This is a nation predicated on the belief that there is no discrimination on those characteristics, and so my vote denied people equal treatment, and I'm truly sorry for that.
     Thankfully, Roy, you've come a long way.  It takes many of us years to get over the trauma and violence conditioning of childhood that forced us to live shamefully in the closet.  I'm happy to hear you've finally escaped.  

     Apology accepted.  Now go out there and use whatever clout you have left to support and pass legislation that will undo the damage of the anti-gay laws that your shame, fear, and self-serving closet once fueled.  

     As for the anti-gay laws that have been passed around this nation, I can only wonder how many votes were passed in favor of discrimination by men and women, who didn't even read the laws for fear that they might be seen as homosexual or weak in their Christian faith.  How many California citizens voted in favor of Proposition 8, stripping marriage rights from homosexual couples, because they were ashamed of themselves or because a closeted cleric, fueled by his own self-hatred and preservation, ordered they vote against the gays?

     To vote blindly against a piece of civil rights legislation  in a nation where all are supposedly created equal has to be one of the biggest hypocrisies a politician or citizen can commit.  Thank you, Roy Ashburn, for being the first politician that I know of to admit the sickness at the center of having a system of government where people are allowed to vote on whether minorities have equal civil rights.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Catholic Church Paying Convicted Pedophile Priest $94,560

     I spent the weekend up in the Central Valley and learned of this horrendous trail of sexual abuse by former Catholic priest, Oliver O'Grady, who was enabled by then-Bishop of the Stockton Diocese, Roger Mahony, who is now the Cardinal Archbishop of Los Angeles.  O'Grady turned 65 on Saturday and will now be paid nearly $100,000 over the next ten years by the Stockton Diocese, as part of his deal to leave the priesthood.
Fr. Oliver O'Grady in 1981 by Modesto Bee
     The Modesto Bee reports:
     Oliver O'Grady has been called the Hannibal Lecter of pedophile Catholic priests. He has been gone from the Stockton Diocese for 17 years, but the civil lawsuits keep coming — 22 to date, resulting in $18.7 million paid to victims.
     And Saturday, when O'Grady turns 65 in his native Ireland, an annuity purchased by the diocese seven years ago will pay him about $788 a month for 10 years, totaling $94,560. There is nothing the diocese, its parishioners or his outraged victims can do about it.
     "He gets rewarded. I get very frustrated," said Nancy Sloan, 45, who was sexually abused by O'Grady when she was 11. "The church has certainly gone back on its word countless times. I don't know why it wouldn't even cross their minds to go back on the annuity — give it back to a victims fund."
     O'Grady has admitted abusing many children of various ages, boys and girls, and said he slept with two mothers to get access to their children. He was convicted of child sexual abuse in 1993 and spent seven years in prison.
     Some blogs and news reports have called the payments "hush money," part of a deal to keep O'Grady from testifying against former Bishop Roger Mahony and other diocesan officials accused of knowing about his abuse but moving him from parish to parish.
     Defending the annuity payments, Mary Jane Doerr, associate director of the office of Child and youth Protection for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to the Modesto Bee:
     "Yes, he did a terrible thing," Doerr said, but a bishop has a responsibility to take care of priests in any case — he can't just kick them to the curb.
    You couldn't just "kick him to the curb"?  Do you mean like the way the church did to so many victims and their families?  And like the church has done to honest priests who exposed pedophile priests?  Or like the church has done to honest priests who come out of the clerical closet to stand up for gay rights?

     Read the rest of the Bee's article.  It's absolutely revolting.  O'Grady molested his siblings, slept with female parishioners to gain access to their daughters, and continues to walk free among the child-packed public parks of his native Ireland.

     In a parallel article, the Bee interviewed on of O'Grady's victims, Nancy Sloan, who was 11 when the priest abused her.  Here are a few excerpts from the article, which summarize my experiences of PTSD perfectly:
      "I don't think there was a parish where he didn't have a victim," said Sloan, who lives in Fairfield, Calif. "He was a very aggressive and proactive pedophile. He's evil, as they all are. Whether it was an infant, a boy, a girl, a pre-adolescent, a post-adolescent, an adult - he abused them all."
     "The amount of people who haven't come forward is mind-blowing," Sloan said. "It takes an incredible amount of strength and courage to come forward, even years later."
      "I think it would be easier to say how it hasn't impacted me instead of how it has," she said. 
     "Women remember their first kiss - my memory of my first kiss is of Oliver O'Grady. I have a memory of him making me dance for him at the rectory, and I am still on a regular basis trying to take that back. I have a boyfriend who loves music. I'm regularly in tears because I have to constantly work through that (old memory)."
     The impact goes on, she said. "Body image. Being in certain locations. Hearing an Irish accent and not recognizing where I am because I'm suddenly back there. Feeling like I'm never in control."
     And, always, thinking about O'Grady's other victims, past and future.  "As proud as I am of being a United States citizen, there's the fact that we let him go after seven years," Sloan said. "I'm so ashamed that we've unleashed him on someone else."  She said because several of O'Grady's victims who filed lawsuits were given large awards, "most people think it's all about the money. I think all of us would rather have Oliver O'Grady in jail. We want the cycle to stop. We don't want another child hurt."
O'Grady in Park with Children, photo from Bishop Accountability

     In an article on Saturday, the Bee reported on O'Grady's victims' response to the church providing the pedophile priest with an annuity:
     "He gets rewarded. I get very frustrated," Nancy Sloan, 45, told The Modesto Bee. Sloan was sexually abused by O'Grady when she was 11. "The church has certainly gone back on its word countless times. I don't know why it wouldn't even cross their minds to go back on the annuity - give it back to a victims fund."
     Jeff Anderson, a St. Paul, Minn., lawyer for the two boys O'Grady went to jail for molesting, said O'Grady doesn't deserve any money.  "Why would they pay him after he's been deported, after he's been convicted?" Anderson asked. "He's deserving of no money, certainly from them."
     It recently came out that O'Grady had volunteered at a church in the Netherlands.
     Here's the teaser for the film Deliver Us From Evil, a 2006 documentary about O'Grady's trail of abuse and the bishops, including Mahony, who covered it up.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Arizona vs. Los Angeles, Immigration Wars -- Papers, Please, and Your Electricity, Too

     Last week, the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors voted 13-1 to pull $8 million in contracts from Arizona and to boycott the state.  This was L.A.'s fighting response to Arizona's passage of the controversial papers-please law that critics say will lead to racial profiling in that state.  I couldn't have been more proud of my Angelenos.

     Now, Arizona is fighting back and taunting.  The Washington Times reports:
     The spat over Arizona's new immigration expanded Tuesday as a state official dared the city of Los Angeles to follow through on its new boycott by agreeing to give up the 25 percent of electricity that city gets from Arizona sources.
     In a letter to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Arizona Corporation Commissioner Gary Pierce said a boycott war is bad for both sides, and said he would "be happy to encourage Arizona utilities to renegotiate your power agreements" to end the electricity flowing to Los Angeles.
     "I am confident that Arizona's utilities would be happy to take those electrons off your hands," Mr. Pierce said. "If, however, you find that the City Council lacks the strength of its convictions to turn off the lights in Los Angeles and boycott Arizona power, please reconsider the wisdom of attempting to harm Arizona's economy."
     I say bring on the rolling blackouts.  Let's show the folks from Arizona that racism and fear cannot and should not be legislated in the 21st century United States of America.

     Who knows, maybe John McCain will call for a danged fence to be erected on the California-Arizona border in order to keep all the Angelenos out.

     Let's hope the Lakers sweep the Suns.

It's time to give up candy for Lent.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Cardinal Levada, Pope Benedict, & Sexual Abuse, the Paper Trail Continues

Pope Benedict XVI Installs William Cardinal Levada, 2006     
"Who's your Papa?"




     What do you do with a Catholic bishop, say William J. Levada, whose years of leadership in the archdioceses of Portland and San Francisco are marred with sexual abuse, scandal, and cover-up?  If you are Pope Benedict XVI, you promote the obedient archbishop to cardinal and give him your old job, which is overseeing all the sexual abuse cases worldwide, where he can defend you as being credible when it comes to handling sexual abuse.  Trust me, this makes total sense, if you live within the myopic walls of the Vatican.

     The New York Times has unearthed another paper trail implicating Pope Benedict and one of his closest friends and advisors, Levada, in the cover-up and enabling of Catholic clergy sexually abusing minors.

     In January 2006, Cardinal William J. Levada, the highest ranking American official in the Vatican, slipped into a San Francisco office building, sidestepping a gaggle of media lying in wait. On leave from Rome, he was submitting to a day of questioning before a flotilla of plaintiffs’ lawyers.
     For eight strenuous hours, the cardinal was pressed to explain why he had decided to return priests who were confirmed sexual abusers back to ministry. He acknowledged that he had failed to notify the authorities of allegations of abuse. He struggled to recall why he had chosen not to share information with parishioners.
     With such a great memory, Levada would be perfect for being in charge of handling the Church's sexual abuse cases, rights?  Perfect for forgetting them. 

     But an examination of his [Levada's] record, pieced together from interviews and a review of thousands of pages of court documents, show that he generally followed the prevailing practice of the church hierarchy, often giving accused priests the benefit of the doubt and being reluctant to remove them from ministry. 

      Catholics continue to come to the defense and aid of their bishops and pope, saying things like "Well, it was a gradual learning process, this dealing with sexual abuse, and we've learned." or "We've adopted a zero tolerance policy in the United States.  Since 2002, we're tackling the issue.  Trust us.  God does, why can't you?" or "No one understood that sexual abuse to children was damaging, until 2002.  We were doing what everyone else was doing, so why are you picking on us, you heathen Catholic hater."
     These clerics really think that the rest of the world is ignorant and will blindly follow them.  Their patronizing tone, exhibits the fact that they are out of touch and living in a world that is grounded neither in reality nor in truth.  

     Here's the truth.  Levada, the bishops, and the Vatican were warned from within about the extent of the sexual abuse crisis back in 1985 and did nothing.

     The Times:

     In the spring of 1985, the alarm was sounded by an unlikely trio of concerned Catholics, the Rev. Thomas Doyle, a Vatican canon lawyer; Raymond Mouton Jr., a Louisiana criminal lawyer who defended the Rev. Gilbert Gauthe, a notorious pedophile priest; and the Rev. Michael Peterson, a psychiatrist.
      In the wake of the Gauthe case, the three men produced a strongly worded 92-page report that argued for immediate action to deal with sexual molestation in the church.
      In May 1985, Cardinal Levada, then a young auxiliary bishop from Los Angeles, was sent by church leaders to meet with the men. The meeting at a Chicago airport hotel went on all day, Father Doyle and Mr. Mouton said recently, with Bishop Levada going through their report almost line by line. They said he seemed enthusiastic about their proposals.
     Two weeks later, however, the bishop called Father Doyle and told him that their report was being shelved and that the bishops would convene their own committee to examine the issue. But no such group materialized. Two decades later, in various sworn depositions, Cardinal Levada would assert that he recalled little from the meeting. But his detailed briefing would have given him a far deeper awareness of the issue than a vast majority of church officials at the time.
     Cardinal Levada is a self-serving liar.  

     The document trail exposed by the New York Times exposes Levada's record and consistent themes of delaying punishment of accused/convicted priests and/or outright returning of abusive priests to ministry with nothing more than a "don't do it again" even when there was a long trail of accusations against a priest-purpetrator.

     Levada's main concern was protecting the church and keeping documents from being subpoenaed in court that would expose sexual abuse cases.  So, let me get this right.  Levada understood the intricacies of civil law.  If he could understand that, how was he lacking intelligence enough to understand the warning of Doyle and Mouton in 1985?  He understood them.  He chose to aid, abet, and protect his pedophile-priests.

     Here's a summary of some of the evidence against Levada.  See the New York Times' article for the full paper trail.


     While in San Francisco, Levada failed to restrict two priest-perpetrators.  Rev. Milton Walsh who abused a 13-year-old, remained in ministry, telling  Levada "You can trust me (to be around kids), 'cause I don't trust myself."  He was rector of the cathedral and remained in his venerated position under Levada's rule.  

     In the case of Rev. Gregory Ingels, who was a canon lawyer and a national expert on clergy sexual abuse until he was charged in 2003 for having abused a child, the case was dropped due to statute of limitations restrictions.  Levada left the sexual abuse "expert" in ministry, unrestricted.

     In the case of Rev. James Aylward, who was caught "wrestling" naked with a boy by his pastor Rev. John P. Conley, Levada did not restrict Aylward, but instead, suspended Conley, who then sued Levada for defamation.  It wasn't until Aylward admitted under oath that he'd gotten off by wresting with boys that Levada finally removed Aylward from ministry. 

     This is the man in charge of the Vatican's office that handles sexual abuse accusations.  This is the man we are supposed to trust.  If this were any other secular or corporate institution in the world, Levada would be out of a job.  His record shows that he failed repeatedly to understand the gravity of sexual abuse in the church and did not act to protect innocent children from priest-perpetrators.  Levada is a slow learner.  

     So, why should we believe that he can learn quickly now and implement change?  Because he's a cardinal, an ordained minister in the Catholic Church?  

     He is a human being like every other one of us.  He, the pope, and all bishops should be held to the same standards.  They are not holier.  They are not worthy of more respect.  They are not qualified to be trusted to do what is right, especially in matters of sexual abuse.


Image Credits:
Levada Kissing Pope Benedict's Ring, New York Times/Eric Risberg/AP
The Pope's Toilet, Film Movement
Vatican Toilet, Webshots

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Supreme Court Denies Boy Scouts Appeal Upholding Separation of Church and State

     There was some surprising good news in the battle to ensure the separation of church and state.  The Supreme Court ruled in the ongoing saga of the Boy Scouts of America, their religious oaths, their discrimination against gays, and their use of your tax funded public park lands.

     The Supreme Court on Monday decided to let stand a ruling saying the Boy Scouts cannot lease city-owned parkland in San Diego because the group is a religious organization.
     The high court refused to hear an appeal from San Diego-area Boy Scouts who have traditionally leased Balboa Park camp space.  U.S. District Judge Napoleon Jones Jr. ruled in 2003 that San Diego acted improperly when it leased 18 acres of camp space to the Scouts because the group is a religious organization. The judge said the lease violated federal law that prohibits the government promotion of religion.
     The Boys Scouts have been the target of preferential treatment lawsuits since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June 2000 that the group has a constitutional right to exclude openly gay men from serving as troop leaders and because it compels members to swear an oath of duty to God [sic].
     The group had received support from the Bush administration, which in March 2004 filed a friend of the court brief arguing that even though the organization believes in God [sic] and members take an oath to do their duty to God [sic], it is not a religious organization.
     Not a religious organization but it requires its members to take an oath of duty to a god?  Whose god?  What's an atheist or agnostic to do?  Swear a false oath?  Now that's teaching them some good values, W. 

Doesn't anyone teach those scouts to shake a hand like a straight man?
Image Credits:
George W. Bush Awarding a Very Gay Looking Trophy to a Boy Scout: Life
George W. Bush Weak Handshake Badge Ceremony: Express India

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles Orchestrated a Systematic Cover-Up of Sexual Abuse; NPR's Breaking Report



     NPR reports:
     In 1986, Cardinal Mahony, the archbishop of Los Angeles, found out that Baker had been abusing boys from an impeccable source: the priest himself. Baker told Mahony that he had molested two boys, beginning in 1978. According to Tod Tamberg, a spokesman for the archdiocese, Mahony responded the way everyone did back then.  "Cardinal Mahony decided to handle it pastorally," says Tamberg, "and thought the thing to do would be to make sure that Michael Baker got the kind of treatment he needed and the help he needed so that he could make himself whole again."
     After six months of treatment, Baker was put in restricted ministry. Tamberg says Baker did only administrative work. He was supposed to have no contact with children and was theoretically monitored by other priests. But over the next 14 years, Baker was moved to nine different parishes, several of which had elementary schools adjacent to the rectory. 
     "Why is it the church's job to monitor them?" wonders plaintiffs attorney Lynne Cadigan. "Why doesn't he be monitored in jail or prison like any other person?"
     Cadigan represents two brothers who say Baker began molesting them in 1984, when they were 5 and 7 years old. The boys had no father at home, and the priest babysat them while their mother went to work. When they moved to Mexico, Baker visited them, took them on trips and helped arrange for them to move to Tucson, Ariz., where he was a frequent guest. All that time he was theoretically being monitored by the archdiocese.  "Baker obviously wasn't monitored," Cadigan says.
    Another case in which Mahony covered for the abusive Father Baker:
     One of the cases that went before the board involved a new allegation against Baker. In 1994, Baker had befriended a 14-year-old boy named Luis, who served as an altar boy at St. Columbkille parish in Los Angeles. According to Luis' attorney, John Manly, the sexual molestation began immediately after the two met. One day in 1996, the Rev. Timothy Dyer, who was supposed to be monitoring Baker, spotted the boy in the rectory.
     "Father Dyer came home to St. Columbkille and found Luis upstairs in the living area coming out of Baker's room," Manly says. "Father Dyer had an obligation to report. He didn't report."
     Archdiocese spokesman Tamberg says the church wasn't legally obligated to call the police because priests were not mandated reporters until a year later. The church notified neither the police nor the parish. The archdiocese did conduct an investigation.
     The Cardinal's right-hand-man, the vicar of clergy, had a meltdown during a 2009 deposition, in which he blamed Mahony for the cover-up of sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles:
     Richard Loomis, the vicar for clergy, felt something had to be done about Baker. In a 2009 deposition obtained by NPR, Loomis told Luis' attorney that he suggested the police be called.
     "Did they do that?" Manly asked.
     "No," Loomis responded.
     "Who did you suggest that to?"
     "To the cardinal," Loomis said.
     Describing the deposition to NPR later, Manly said that Loomis "flipped" right in the middle of the deposition.  "You know, how you used to see on Perry Mason or A Few Good Men, when someone actually flips on the stand? It just doesn't happen. And here it did," Manly said.
     Later in the deposition, Loomis said he suggested that the archdiocese should alert all the parishes about Baker's activities, in case there were other victims. Again, the cardinal declined.
     Concerning 68 emails implicating Mahony in the cover-up for and enabling of sexually abusive priests NPR reports:
     In one [email], dated March 27, 2002, Mahony notes that the church has not reported three of the eight most abusive priests, one of whom was Baker. Mahony worries that if the district attorney finds this out, "I can guarantee you that I will get hauled into a grand jury proceeding and I will be forced to give all the names."
     And in another message dated April 1, 2008, Mahony suggests that the archdiocese issue a statement saying it cannot release the names or numbers of accused priests while the government is investigating. "Since that is weeks and months down the road, I hope interest would have waned by then," Mahony writes.
     When will the Roman Catholic bishops, who have colluded to protect sexually abusive priests finally stand criminal trial?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

California's 1950 Cure-the-Gay Mandate Repealed

     There was a small victory against the Gospel According to Hate in the California assembly yesterday.  Yey!

     On Top Magazine reports:

     On Monday, the California Assembly approved a bill that repeals a decades-old gay “cure” mandate from state code with a unanimous 62-0 vote.
     The law instructed the State Department of Mental Health to conduct research into the “causes and cures of homosexuality.”
     The law was placed on the books in 1950. It classifies gay men and lesbians as sexual deviants and possible child molesters.
     “It's discriminatory, it's insulting and it has got to go,” Lowenthal said. “Sixty years is more than long enough.”
     The ex-gay group Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX), a group that claims sexual orientation can be altered, objected to repeal of the law.  Jeralee Smith, education director of PFOX California, called the repeal effort “offensive” in an interview with the Associated Press.
     CBS5 reports:
     [The bill's] author, Democratic Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal of Long Beach, originally proposed an outright repeal, but some lawmakers wanted to retain language that encouraged research into the causes of sex crimes against children. "The result will be the law as it should have been written 60 years ago, but now we're setting it right," Lowenthal said.
Thank you Assemblywoman Lowenthal for your support of LGBT civil rights.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Supreme Court Split over Tax-Funded Christian Group's "Right" to Discriminate Against Gays

     The Boston Globe reports:
     The Supreme Court seemed to split sharply yesterday on whether a law school can deny recognition to a Christian student group that will not let gays join, a case that could determine whether nondiscrimination policies trump the rights of private organizations to determine who can — and cannot — belong.  In arguments tinged with questions of religious, racial, and sexual discrimination, the court heard from the Christian Legal Society, which wants recognition from the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law as an official campus organization with school financing and benefits. Hastings, in San Francisco, turned them down, saying no recognized campus groups may exclude people because of religious belief or sexual orientation. The Christian group requires that voting members sign a statement of faith. The group also regards “unrepentant participation in or advocacy of a sexually immoral lifestyle’’ as being inconsistent with the statement of faith.
     The case could clarify nationwide whether religious-based and other private organizations that want federal funding have the right to discriminate against people who do not hold their core beliefs. The court is expected to rule this summer.
     It sounds like the court will split 5-4 or 4-5, whether it rules in favor of allowing organizations who receive your tax dollars to discriminate is the question. 

Monday, April 19, 2010

Clay Greene v. County of Sonoma: the Ongoing Fight for Gay Couples to Die with Dignity

     Concerning marriage equality and protections for my (gay) family, I had a "good" Christian dismiss the state of my civil rights: "Come on.  You know you have equal rights."

     Here's what I know. 

     The Defense of Marriage Act and  Don't Ask, Don't Tell remain the law of the land, while the Employment Non-Discrimination Act is collecting dust, waiting for a vote.  There are about 1100 federal rights that the heterosexual, Christian majority in our nation continues to withhold from the homosexual minority.

     President Obama made a step in the correct direction last Thursday, when he ordered new rules on hospital visitation rights for LGBT families and patients.  Still, that leaves plenty of room for discrimination.  Try being an elderly gay couple in Sonoma County California.

     Here is the case docket for Greene v. County of Sonoma et al (from the National Center of Lesbian Rights), a lawsuit concerning the disgusting, tragic, and completely unnecessary discrimination that an elderly gay couple suffered in 2008 in California.  One more case of homophobia and discrimination proving that not all Americans are protected equally under the law.
     Clay and his partner of 20 years, Harold, lived in California. Clay and Harold made diligent efforts to protect their legal rights, and had their legal paperwork in place—wills, powers of attorney, and medical directives, all naming each other. Harold was 88 years old and in frail medical condition, but still living at home with Clay, 77, who was in good health.
     One evening, Harold fell down the front steps of their home and was taken to the hospital. Based on their medical directives alone, Clay should have been consulted in Harold’s care from the first moment. Tragically, county and health care workers instead refused to allow Clay to see Harold in the hospital. The county then ultimately went one step further by isolating the couple from each other, placing the men in separate nursing homes.
     Ignoring Clay’s significant role in Harold’s life, the county continued to treat Harold like he had no family and went to court seeking the power to make financial decisions on his behalf. Outrageously, the county represented to the judge that Clay was merely Harold’s “roommate.” The court denied their efforts, but did grant the county limited access to one of Harold’s bank accounts to pay for his care.
     What happened next is even more chilling: without authority, without determining the value of Clay and Harold’s possessions accumulated over the course of their 20 years together or making any effort to determine which items belonged to whom, the county took everything Harold and Clay owned and auctioned off all of their belongings. Adding further insult to grave injury, the county removed Clay from his home and confined him to a nursing home against his will. The county workers then terminated Clay and Harold's lease and surrendered the home they had shared for many years to the landlord.
     Three months after he was hospitalized, Harold died in the nursing home. Because of the county’s actions, Clay missed the final months he should have had with his partner of 20 years. Compounding this tragedy, Clay has literally nothing left of the home he had shared with Harold or the life he was living up until the day that Harold fell, because he has been unable to recover any of his property. The only memento Clay has is a photo album that Harold painstakingly put together for Clay during the last three months of his life.
     Cases like Clay and Harold's are the reality that gay and lesbian couples, even those who are married but must travel to states where they have no rights.  Go to Democracy in Action's GetEqual.org to support Clay Greene by writing President Obama and voicing your support for LGBT rights.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Tootsie Roll Pope: Benedict's Signature Delayed Defrocking of Convicted Pedophile-Priest in Oakland

     There are certain questions that seem unanswerable.  For example, "How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop?"  The old candy commercial claimed that no know could answer this question, because the patience required to lick one's way through the impenetrable, unrewarding shell of the lollipop was not enough to resist the urge to go for the rapid, crunchy chomp releasing the creamy chocolate center.

     How many pedophile-priests does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pope?

     For eight years of major litigation and news coverage of the clergy-perpetrated sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church, this has been the Holy Grail of questions.  No one answered this question, too distracted they were by the likes of Father James Porter and Father John Geoghan, but this past month that has changed. 

     Pope Benedict XVI and (future saint) Pope John Paul II have both been tied to the mishandling of sexual abuse cases, ignoring letters from bishops begging to defrock known pedophile priests (including Father Lawrence Murphy, who put Porter and Geoghan to shame, abusing 200 victims), and delaying, in some cases refusing, the defrocking of abusive priests.

     The Vatican has defended the pope, then-Archbishop and then-Cardinal Ratzinger, saying that the cover-up and mishandling was the fault of his underlings to whom he'd delegated his power.  Critics have responded saying there's no way this is possible, especially in the cases in Munich and Wisconsin.   Besides, you can delegate power, but not responsibility.

     There is no more mystery.  The popemobile of a Tootsie Roll Pop shell that has been protecting the pope for a decade has eroded away to nothing under the the persistent licking of news reporters, prosecution attorneys, and outraged victim-survivors. 

     There is only a signature.
     The caption of the New York Times article containing this photo by Kim Johnson of the Associated Press states:  "A 1985 letter, written in Latin, to the Diocese of Oakland signed by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.  The letter said that a California priest accused of mosteling children should not be defrocked without further study."

    The New York Times reports:
Bishop Cummins [of Oakland] had first petitioned the doctrinal office to defrock Mr. Kiesle in 1981. He also wrote directly to Pope John Paul II. Cardinal Ratzinger requested more information, which officials in the Oakland Diocese supplied in February 1982. They did not hear back from Cardinal Ratzinger until 1985, when he sent the letter in Latin suggesting that his office needed more time to evaluate the case.
     The Rev. George Mockel, a diocesan official in Oakland, wrote in a memo to Bishop Cummins: “Basically they are going to sit on it until Steve gets quite a bit older. My own feeling is that this is unfortunate.”
     Mr. Kiesle was finally defrocked in 1987.   Mr. Kiesle was convicted for the first time of child molesting in 1978, just six years after he was ordained. He pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of lewd conduct while he was a pastor at Our Lady of the Rosary in Union City, Calif.
     If Kiesle was convicted in 1978 and  pleaded no contest, then why did he continue to work with children (after he chose to leave the priesthood and asked to be defrocked) in the Catholic Church for years to come by volunteering  in youth ministry at his previous parishes (even after he was finally defrocked)? 
     Maurine Behrend, a former employee in the diocese’s youth ministry office, recalled encountering Mr. Kiesle at a Youth Day in April 1988 and learning from another minister that Mr. Kiesle had been convicted of molestation. Ms. Behrend alerted the head of the youth ministry office and personally warned Bishop Cummins two weeks later.  In May 1988, she wrote an outraged letter to a church official, demanding to know why “a convicted child molester is currently the youth ministry coordinator at St. Joseph’s parish in Pinole.”
     As for Rev. Mockel's response that the Vatican would do nothing to defrock Kiesle until he was older, this is typical Vatican "reasoning" in the laicization of priests.  They don't want to laicize a young man, who then changes his mind and wants to come back to the priesthood, after his heart is broken by the Eve that lured him out of the priesthood with her apples.  Also, the Vatican waits until young ex-priests are in their forties and past what the celibate autocrats running the church deem to be child-bearing age, in order to punish them.  They can't be married in the church until they are laicized, and thus will be living in sin or married outside of the church to their hussy Eves and therefore cut off from the life giving bread and saving cup of the eucharistic table.  Shame!  Shame!  The problem is that neither of these two reasons makes sense when it comes to pedophile-priests, but who said the Vatican was logical?  Definitely not Galileo.

     Here is the outline of the paper trail unearthed by the Times, which shows numerous letters that were sent to the Vatican starting in 1981.  Father Kiesle was not defrocked until 1987.  Click here to read the documents in their entirety.
Documents detailing efforts begun in the early 1980s by officials of the Catholic Church in California to support the petition of a convicted sex offender, the Rev. Stephen Kiesle, to leave the priesthood.
April 25, 1981: The Rev. Louis Dabovich, pastor of a parish where Father Kiesle had worked as a deacon, writes the head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith supporting Father Kiesle's petition to leave the priesthood.p. 1
May 8, 1981: Father Kiesle's pastor, The Rev. George E. Crespin, writes to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith about Father Kiesle's case.p. 3
June 19, 1981: Bishop John S. Cummins petitioned Pope John Paul II to laicize Father Stephen Kiesle because of repeated sexual offenses and the priest's own request.p. 5
Nov. 17, 1981: Response to Bishop Cummins From the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (in Latin).p. 7
Feb. 1, 1982: Bishop Cummins writes to Cardinal Ratzinger, supplying additional information about Father Kiesle and telling the cardinal: "There might be greater scandal to the community if Father Kiesle were allowed to return to the active ministry."p. 8
Sept. 24, 1982: The Rev. George E. Mockel of the Diocese of Oakland asks Cardinal Ratzinger about the status of Father Kiesle's petition.p. 9
Dec. 20, 1983: Father Mockel writes to Bishop John Cummins about the Vatican's curt reply to his inquiry, saying that Vatican officials never respond to " 'mere priests'!"p. 10
Jan. 17, 1984: Bishop John Cummins of the Oakland Diocese writes to Cardinal Ratzinger to inquire on the status of Father Kiesle's case and that of another priest.p. 11
Sept. 13, 1985: Bishop Cummins again follows up with Cardinal Ratzinger on the status of Father Kiesle's case.p. 12
Sept. 27, 1985: Father Mockel of the Oakland Diocese asks the apostolic delegate in Washington, D.C., to forward a letter to Cardinal Ratzinger regarding Father Kiesle's laicization case.p. 14
Expand Nov. 6, 1985: Cardinal Ratzinger responds to the Oakland Diocese's inquiries about Father Kiesle. (in Latin) p. 15
Translation of Cardinal Ratzinger's Letter p.15
Dec. 12, 1985: Father Mockel writes to Bishop Cummins, saying that his reading of Cardinal Ratzinger's reply to Father Keisle's case is that "they are going to sit on it until Steve gets quite a bit older."p. 16
Jan. 13, 1986: Father Mockel writes to Father Keisle, telling him that the Vatican is concerned that granting his request for laicization could "provoke some scandal among the faithful."p. 17
May 11, 1988: Maurine Behrend, in the Oakland Diocese's Youth Ministries Office, writes a letter expressing her frustration that "a convicted child molester is currently the youth ministry coordinator at St. Joseph's Parish." p. 18
     How many licks does it take to get to the center of a
Tootsie Roll Pope?