Showing posts with label Supreme Court. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Supreme Court. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Justice Scalia Justifies Discrimination Against Women and Minorities Using the Fourteenth Amendment

     When it comes to the rights of women (and, by default, LGBT persons and racial or religious minorities), Roman Catholic Supreme Court Justice Scalia has voiced his biblical understanding of The Constitution of the United States.

In 1868, when the 39th Congress was debating and ultimately proposing the 14th Amendment, I don't think anybody would have thought that equal protection applied to sex discrimination, or certainly not to sexual orientation. So does that mean that we've gone off in error by applying the 14th Amendment to both?
Yes, yes. Sorry, to tell you that. ... But, you know, if indeed the current society has come to different views, that's fine. You do not need the Constitution to reflect the wishes of the current society. Certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn't. Nobody ever thought that that's what it meant. Nobody ever voted for that. If the current society wants to outlaw discrimination by sex, hey we have things called legislatures, and they enact things called laws. You don't need a constitution to keep things up-to-date. All you need is a legislature and a ballot box. You don't like the death penalty anymore, that's fine. You want a right to abortion? There's nothing in the Constitution about that. But that doesn't mean you cannot prohibit it. Persuade your fellow citizens it's a good idea and pass a law. That's what democracy is all about. It's not about nine superannuated judges who have been there too long, imposing these demands on society.
What do you do when the original meaning of a constitutional provision is either in doubt or is unknown?
I do not pretend that originalism is perfect. There are some questions you have no easy answer to, and you have to take your best shot. ... We don't have the answer to everything, but by God [sic] we have an answer to a lot of stuff...
     "By God [sic]" indeed.

      Here is one response as reported in The Huffington Post:
     For the record, the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause states: "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."
     Marcia Greenberger, founder and co-president of the National Women's Law Center, called the justice's comments "shocking" and said he was essentially saying that if the government sanctions discrimination against women, the judiciary offers no recourse.  In these comments, Justice Scalia says if Congress wants to protect laws that prohibit sex discrimination, that's up to them," she said. "But what if they want to pass laws that discriminate? Then he says that there's nothing the court will do to protect women from government-sanctioned discrimination against them. And that's a pretty shocking position to take in 2011. It's especially shocking in light of the decades of precedents and the numbers of justices who have agreed that there is protection in the 14th Amendment against sex discrimination, and struck down many, many laws in many, many areas on the basis of that protection."
     Greenberger added that under Scalia's doctrine, women could be legally barred from juries, paid less by the government, receive fewer benefits in the armed forces, and be excluded from state-run schools -- all things that have happened in the past, before their rights to equal protection were enforced.
     "In 1971, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that they [women] were protected, in an opinion by the conservative then Chief Justice Warren Burger," Adam Cohen wrote in Time in September. "It is no small thing to talk about writing women out of equal protection -- or Jews, or Latinos or other groups who would lose their protection by the same logic. It is nice to think that legislatures would protect these minorities from oppression by the majority, but we have a very different country when the Constitution guarantees that it is so."
     From a well-articulated editorial in The New York Times:
     Justice Scalia is now getting attention for his outlandish view, expressed in an interview in the magazine California Lawyer, that the promise of equal protection in the Constitution’s 14th Amendment does not extend to protecting women against sex discrimination. Legislatures may outlaw sex discrimination, Justice Scalia suggested, but if they decided to enact laws sanctioning such unfair treatment, it would not be unconstitutional.
     This is not the first time Justice Scalia has espoused this notion, and it generally tracks his jurisprudence in the area. Still, for a sitting member of the nation’s highest court to be pressing such an antiquated view of women’s rights is jarring, to say the least.
     No less dismaying is his notion that women, gays and other emerging minorities should be left at the mercy of the prevailing political majority when it comes to ensuring fair treatment. It is an “originalist” approach wholly antithetical to the framers’ understanding that vital questions of people’s rights should not be left solely to the political process. It also disrespects the wording of the Equal Protection Clause, which is intentionally broad, and its purpose of ensuring a fairer society.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Tell Clarence Thomas to Apologize to Anita Hill

     This from Credo Action:
     It's been 20 years since Anita Hill courageously spoke truth to power and exposed Clarence Thomas as a stalker and a sexual harasser during his Supreme Court confirmation hearings.
     And now Thomas' wife Virginia Thomas, a right-wing Tea Party advocate, in a move as brazen as it is offensive, has asked Anita Hill to apologize to her abuser. Hill said no. But I say it's long past time for Clarence Thomas to apologize to Anita Hill.
     Virginia Thomas' agenda in approaching Anita Hill with her outrageous request is unclear. But it's yet another example the Tea Party adherents brazen attempts to rewrite history and claim victimhood for the powerful even as they launch attack after attack on minority groups -- be they women, gays, African Americans, or immigrants.
     We shouldn't ignore this bizarre incident. We should accept Virginia Thomas' challenge and defend history as we know it.
     Join me in telling Clarence Thomas he should apologize.
     It's easy to do so at the link below.
http://act.credoaction.com/campaign/apologize_to_hill/?r_by=12011-1405219-qU74kLx&rc=paste1

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Justice Clarence Thomas Sexually Harassed More than Anita Hill

     Huge breaking hypocrisy news out of Washington DC.  Lilian McEwen, former federal prosecutor and old girlfriend/mistress of divorced and remarried Conservative Catholic Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, has broken her silence about Thomas' history of sexual harassment and obsession with porn.  Anita Hill wasn't his only victim.  Simply put: Thomas perjured himself during his confirmation hearings so that he could get on the bench.  He's a liar and a hypocrite.  How's that for family values?

     [McEwen] said Hill's long-ago description of Thomas's behavior resonated with her.  "He was obsessed with porn," she said of Thomas, who is now 63. "He would talk about what he had seen in magazines and films, if there was something worth noting."  McEwen added that she had no problem with Thomas's interests, although she found pornography to be "boring."
     According to McEwen, Thomas would also tell her about women he encountered at work. He was partial to women with large breasts, she said. In an instance at work, Thomas was so impressed that he asked one woman her bra size, McEwen recalled him telling her.
     Presented with some of McEwen's assertions, Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said Thomas was unavailable for comment.
     However bizarre they may seem, McEwen's recollections resemble accounts shared by other women that swirled around the Thomas confirmation.  Angela Wright, who in 1984 worked as public affairs director at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission -- which polices sexual harassment claims -- during Thomas's long tenure as chairman, shared similar accounts with Senate investigators. Once, when walking into an EEOC seminar with Thomas, he asked her, "What size are your breasts?" according to the transcript of her Senate interview. Her story was corroborated by a former EEOC speechwriter, who told investigators that Wright had become increasingly uneasy around Thomas because of his comments about her appearance...
     Through the years, McEwen said, she has remained reasonably friendly with Thomas. On two or three occasions, she said, she brought friends to his Supreme Court chambers where they sat for long conversations.  But now, she says, "I know Clarence would not be happy with me."
     "I have no hostility toward him," McEwen said. "It is just that he has manufactured a different reality over time. That's the problem that he has."
     For more, see Consortium News.

     Also, here's the coverage Keith Olbermann did on Thursday about Justice Thomas' wife Virginia calling and leaving a voice mail at Anita Hill's office last weakened asking Hill to apologize to Thomas for what she did to him.  She also said she's praying for Hill.  How kind of her.

Iowa Marriage Update: Gubernatorial Debate; Out-of-State Anti-Gay Christian Groups Attacking Gay Families & Supreme Court

     Here's a short video from Iowa's gubernatorial debate. Iowans asked questions via YouTube. 

     In this clip, a two mothers and their children ask Republican candidate Terry Branstad why he would support changing the Iowa constitution to deny marriage equality and equal protection under the law to families like theirs. Branstad, who looks uncomfortable being confronted by those he's believes are civilly inferior, goes on to recite that he's Catholic and believes that the people should be given a vote to restore "one-man-one-woman marriage," as if all Catholics agree with him. (They don't. Recent polls show 42-46% of American Catholics support same-sex civil marriage equality.) 

     Then an Iowan asks Democratic candidate Governor Chet Culver why he didn't do his "duty" and let the people vote on the Supreme Court's marriage equality ruling. Culver's answer is a lesson in sixth grade civics and the separation of powers in our branches of government.  Also, he points out that the Supreme Court Justice, who signed the unanimous decision granting civil marriage equality to all Iowa couples, was appointed by Branstad.  Branstad has yet to state whether he's voting to retain the Iowa Supreme Court Justices that he appointed.

     Towleroad has a fantastic post on the elections in Iowa and how out-of-state anti-gay Christian groups, including the American Family Association, are pumping millions of dollars into Iowa's elections to unseat Governor Culver and three of the three Supreme Court Justices, who were part of the unanimous marriage equality ruling.  Click here to read it.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Sioux City Christian Church Posts Web Commercial Equating Same-Sex Marriage with Incest

     The battle against gay rights in Iowa continues.  Anti-gay Christian church, Cornerstone World Outreach has a new commercial and an old lie.  This commercial misleads Iowans into believing that their supreme court has legalized incest.  

     What happened to "Thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor"?  The folks at CWO are liars and hypocrites.  This slippery slope argument is ridiculous, but there will be people who actually believe this commercial.  Watch it below.

     A web video produced by a member of a controversial Sioux City church is arguing that because the Iowa Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage last year, the next logical step will be legalizing incest.
     Tim Hicks, who created and posted the video on YouTube, is a member of Cornerstone World Outreach in Sioux City. In fact, nearly half of the videos he’s posted on YouTube are of the church’s pastor, Cary Gordon. The church is facing a possible IRS investigation over its campaign to convince other pastors around the state to encourage their congregations to vote against retaining three state Supreme Court justices on the ballot this fall.
     Hick’s video, which is entitled “Vote no on judicial retention,” is a parody of commercials for the online dating website eHarmony. The narrator of the video says the Iowa Supreme Court is the authority on marriage, all while a married couple discusses how they’ve known each other their entire lives. By the end, it is revealed that the married couple are brother and sister, and they thank the Supreme Court for allowing their marriage to happen.
     In comments below the video, Hicks said he made it to reveal “the obvious next steps for liberal judges to take. What will they legalize next … polygamy, NAMBLA, a feller and his horse?”

Perry v. Schwarzenegger Update: Olson and Boies File Appeals Brief

     Here's the latest in Perry v. Schwarzenegger via Prop 8 Trial Tracker:
     The plaintiffs in the landmark Perry v. Schwarzenegger case that overturned Proposition 8 filed their brief with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals today, reiterating the clear unconstitutionality of the initiative that led to its being struck down by a federal district court after an exhaustive trial comprising overwhelming legal arguments, expert witnesses and first-hand testimony.
     “Fourteen times the Supreme Court has stated that marriage is a fundamental right of all individuals. This case tests the proposition whether the gay and lesbian Americans among us should be counted as ‘persons’ under the 14th Amendment, or whether they constitute a permanent underclass ineligible for protection under that cornerstone of our Constitution,” attorneys Theodore B. Olson and David Boies wrote in their filing.
     “Our Constitution requires the government to treat every American equally under the law,” said Chad Griffin, the Board President of the American Foundation for Equal Rights. “Only full federal marriage equality would fulfill the requirements of our Constitution. That is why we are pressing this case through the Supreme Court.”
     Here's the brief in full:
CA9Doc 145

Monday, September 20, 2010

Stop8.org Refutes NOM's Absurd Claims about Marriage Equality and "Activist Judges" in Iowa

     In the video below, Stop8.org's Jeremy gives a point-by-point refutation of the latest anti-gay-rights commercial that NOM has spent $235,000 to air in Iowa.  Thank you, Stop8, for pointing out the lies, scare tactics, and ignorance of NOM's ads.

Friday, September 17, 2010

NOM Spending Big Bucks to Spread Fear and Tank Iowa Supreme Court Justices

     The National Organization for Marriage (NOM), which has a history of trying to defeat pro-equality state candidates in Iowa, this week reported spending more than $235,000 on a television ad that targets three justices on the Iowa Supreme Court who were part of a unanimous 2009 decision ruling that the equal protection provision of the Iowa Constitution guarantees gay and lesbian couples the same right to marry as heterosexual couples.
     NOM joined the American Family Association, referred to as “among the most vigilant and vicious and anti-gay activists operating today” by the Right-Wing Watch, in supporting the efforts of the AFA-affiliated Iowa for Freedom. Led by former Republican gubernatorial candidate Robert Vander Plaats, Iowa for Freedom has targeted three Supreme Court justices facing a judicial retention election in November.
     “This is the same old NOM playbook,” said Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solmonese. "This [Iowa Supreme Court decision] was a unanimous decision, an impartial decision, a decision based on the state constitution of Iowa. But none of that matters to NOM, which will go anywhere and spend unlimited resources to spread fear. Now they’re trying to intimidate judges whose job it is to interpret the law. Shame on them.”

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Anti-Gay Iowans Seek to Remove Iowa Supreme Court Justices in November Election

     Here's the latest in my home state, Iowa, where a conservative, anti-gay rights group called Iowa for Freedom is leading a political campaign to remove three of the Iowa Supreme Court judges who were part of the unanimous decision declaring Iowa's withholding of equal civil marriage rights to same sex couples.  

     Conservative activists are trying to oust three judges on the state Supreme Court whose unanimous ruling last year legalized same-sex unions. Their decision stunned opponents nationwide and delighted advocates who were eager for a victory in the heartland.  Now, conservatives are staging an unusual campaign that aims to defeat the judges in November.
     "We need to vote them off the bench to send a message across Iowa that we, the people, still have the power," said Bob Vander Plaats, a Republican politician who is spearheading the campaign. "Not only will it send a message here in Iowa, but it will send a message in California, in Arizona and across the country that the courts have really taken on too much power."
     The Iowa campaign is a new front in the fight over same-sex marriage...The effort in Iowa worries not only gay rights advocates but some legal experts who say it is wrong to punish judges for an unpopular decision. For critics of judicial elections, Iowa is offering a compelling example of the peril of subjecting judges to voters' whims...
     The controversy has drawn the attention of the Iowa Bar Association and legal experts around the country, including former U.S. Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who is slated to address the matter at an event here next month. O'Connor for years has spoken out against the judicial elections, arguing that they create "politicians in robes."
     Three of the court's seven judges are on the ballot this year: Chief Justice Marsha Ternus, Justice Michael Streit and Justice David Baker. They have not spoken out on behalf of themselves.
     Former Supreme Court justice Mark McCormick has been an ardent defender.  "I've used the word 'vengeance' before in describing what this campaign is about," said McCormick, now a lawyer in private practice. "I think it is a challenge to judicial independence. There's an effort being made to succeed in turning out of office these three good judges for an inappropriate reason."
     It's called separation of powers and the system of check and balances.

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.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Texas' GOP Wants Jail Time for Straights who Support Gay Marriage & to Outlaw Gay Sex

     Even the  bigotry is bigger in Texas.

     You say Uganda, I say Texas.

     The Texas GOP (a.k.a. Tea Party) has announced its 2010 platform and it is not gay friendly. No surprise really.  The news is how far the platform goes calling for a complete attack on the private sexual lives of homosexual citizens and on their supporters.  Republican Texans are calling for the criminalization of same sex intercourse and for jail time for any straight person, who supports a same sex marriage.

     On criminalizing gays' private right to consensual sex in Texas, GLTNN reports:
     “We oppose the legalization of sodomy. We demand that Congress exercise its authority granted by the U.S. constitution to withhold jurisdiction from the federal courts from cases involving sodomy,” the GOP platform reads. Meaning that even though the U.S. Supreme Court overturned sodomy laws last decade (ironically in a case that stemmed from Texas), Texas Republicans would like the state to have the power to criminalize LGBT folks for having sex.
     Would this mean that when SHE and I go to Texas to visit my relatives that we risk arrest if someone accuses us of having sex while in the state?

     Concerning those who support LGBT civil rights and marriage equality:
     “We support legislation that would make it a felony to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple and for any civil official to perform a marriage ceremony for such,” reads the GOP platform.  If a straight person were to aid and abet a gay couple with marriage in Texas, the GOP would like to see that person serve mandatory jail time.
     So much for all being "created equal."  Forget the "right to life, liberty, and happiness."  Screw the GOP "value" of small government staying out of people's lives.  The Republican hypocrites of Texas want government out of their private lives while having government control every last bit of LBGT person's lives.

     GOP: Grand Old Pharisees!
They won't succeed.
Gay Texas Flag via Austin Chronicle

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Perry v. Schwarzenegger Closing Arguments, Prop 8 Supporters Want to Un-recognize 18,000 Legal Marriages

     The closing arguments of Perry v. Schwarzenegger, which will determine the fate of marriage equality and the legality of the discriminatory California Proposition 8, begin at 10:00 PST today.

     You can follow the trial at Prop 8 Trial Tracker or follow on Twitter at #Prop8.

     Both sides are going for broke.  Attorney Ted Olson will be arguing for the complete reversal of the discriminatory and anti-gay law.

     Attorney Andrew Pugno and Prop 8's sponsors are not only arguing for the ban to be upheld, but also:
"urging the judge to go a step further and revoke state recognition of the marriages of 18,000 gay and lesbian couples who wed before voters passed Proposition 8...
     Andrew Pugno, an attorney for Prop. 8's backers, said in an interview that the sponsors aren't asking Walker to nullify the 18,000 marriages, but only to rule that government agencies, courts and businesses no longer have to recognize the couples as married."  (San Francisco Chronicle)  
     How does it serve the good of the institution of civil marriage to allow individual agencies, businesses, and people to decide whether they recognize this marriage or that?  These "traditional marriage" supporters are doing more to undermine the institution of marriage than those of us fighting for equal access to it.

     Whatever the outcome, this case is headed to the Catholic dominated Supreme Court.  I expect them to eventually rule on behalf of the Catholic/Mormon sponsored Prop 8.

     That doesn't mean I'm going to give up.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Happy Holy Flag Day

U.S. Supreme Court flying the Vatican and Israeli flags.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

President Obama Wants Pope Benedict Protected from Sexual Abuse Lawsuits

     So, while I was sick, I missed this story.  After reading it, I feel sick again.

     The Obama administration has made a rare foray into the Catholic sexual abuse crisis, backing the Vatican's claim it is immune to lawsuits in the U.S. because it is a sovereign nation.
     In a brief filed on Friday (May 21) before the Supreme Court, the acting solicitor general argued an appellate court erred in 2009 when it ruled the Vatican could be held liable for the alleged sexual abuse of a Seattle-area man in the 1960s.
     The Supreme Court is considering the Vatican's appeal of "Holy See v. John V. Doe." Lawyers from the Department of State and Department of Justice joined the acting solicitor general's brief, which asks the high court to send the case back to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
     With the Supreme Court stacked with six Catholic justices its not hard to guess, which way that ruling will go.

     The report continues:
     "Improperly subjecting a foreign state to suit can in some circumstances raise foreign relations and reciprocity concerns," the Obama administration's brief argues.  In 2005, the Bush administration successfully urged a Texas court to dismiss a suit against Pope Benedict XVI because he enjoys immunity as the Holy See's head of state.
     Whether its invading Iraq under false pretenses or protecting clerics that enabled and covered-up the rapes of thousands of children, the leaders of our institutions are consistent.  

     They place the protection of the members of their own class and elite club of world rulers above that of faceless and voiceless children being killed by bombs and raped by priests.  May the Catholic god bless America.
Image Credit: Reuters

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Religious Demographics, the Supreme Court, and the U.S. Catholic Bishops' Supreme Hypocrisy


     Do Murphy's "principled positions" include those he learned while he was Cardinal Law's second in command during the days he covered up child rape and sexual abuse by priests in Boston?  Murphy is one of the many bishops, who has neither resigned nor faced criminal trial for his leadership in the sexual abuse scandal.  Instead, he continues as bishop of 1.5 million Catholics in one of the nations largest dioceses.  I wonder what he thinks of the the rectory that was transformed into an erotic dungeon for raping children by a publicly principled Brazilian priest who is currently running from the law.


     In a nation where only 23.9% of the population is Catholic, the Supreme Court currently has six Catholic justices, that's 66.7%.  Five of those, John Roberts, Anthony M. Kennedy, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito are the conservative majority that control the Court.  Sonia Sotomayor is the sixth Catholic vote.  Her ideology has yet to be tested.


     The Catholic Church has the votes to control the Supreme Court of the United States for years to come (which brings up the point that Roe v. Wade is more politically useful to them if not overturned, otherwise they would have done it already), but they are afraid of Elena Kagan, who is Jewish, which leads to another point.


     There are currently two Jewish Supreme Court Justices (Stephen G. Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg).  Jewish Judges make up 22% of the Supreme Court, whereas Jews make up 1.7% of the U.S. population.  That leaves retiring Justice David H. Souter, who is Episcopalian.  Episcopalians/Anglicans make up 1.4% of the total U.S. population.



     Catholics are overrepresented on the Supreme Court by 42.8%.  Jews are overrepresented by 20.3%, which will rise to 31.6% if Kagan is confirmed.  For Catholics or Jews to bitch about who is on the Supreme Court is complete hypocrisy.  Their religious views are well represented.





     When it comes to religious affiliation there are plenty of groups that go unrepresented in the Supreme Court.  Those who practice no religion make up 16.1% of the U.S. population, but non-religious folks are discriminated against in politics today.  Those who admit to being actual atheists, like me, make up 1.6% of the population, virtually the same as the Jewish population, where are our three Supreme Court Justices?



     Evangelical Protestants make up 26.3% of the U.S. population, which is 2.4% more than the Catholics.  That difference becomes 9.3%, when the 6.9% Historically Black Churches are added to the mix.


     Mainline Protestants make up 18.1% of the population, which is over ten times the size of the Jewish population.

     Did you know that there are more Buddhists (0.7%) than there are Muslims (0.6%) in the U.S.?  Or that Mormons only make up 1.7% of the total population, while controlling civil rights legislation in California?


     Should religious affiliation play a role in who gets nominated to the Supreme Court?  That is a discussion for another post, but imagine what would happen if a president nominated an Iranian Muslim from Beverly Hills, or an African-American Lesbian Buddhist, a male-to-female trans-gendered agnostic Korean, or better yet, six of any of these? 


     The point I'm making today is that our Supreme Court is dominated by Catholics, who have no room to bitch about any ruling coming from their Supreme Court, because it is certainly not a Court that represents the diversity of the nation.

     (Statistical information and the charts used in this post are from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life and have a ±0.6% margin of error.)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Elena Kagan and the Hypocrisy of the Family Research Council & George Rekers

     Guess who's leading the "Elena Kagan is softball-bat-swinging lesbian" crusade?  The Family Research Council, you know, the anti-gay Christian organization founded by gay basher James Dobson and gay mutual-toucher George Alan Rekers, you know, the organization that wants to "export" homosexuals out of the U.S.

     In today's New York Times, an op-ed by Frank Rich chronicles anti-gay expert and Baptist Pastor George Alan Rekers's strip-the-gays-of-their-rights-while-stripping-with-rentboys-in-Europe duplicity, the religious right's attacks on LGBT civil rights, and their current attacks on Supreme Court justice nominee Elena Kagan.  

     The hypocrisy of the Family Research Council comes in their pretending to have no connections to their founder Rekers, while fueling rumors of Kagan's lesbianism.  Here's a clip from Rich's op-ed:
     Thanks to Rekers’s clownish public exposure, we now know that his professional judgments are windows into his cracked psyche, not gay people’s. But there is nothing funny about the destruction his writings and public activities have sown. His fringe views have not remained on the fringe. His excursions into public policy have had real and damaging consequences on a large swath of Americans.
     The crusade he represents is, thankfully, on its last legs. American attitudes about homosexuality continue to change very fast. In the past month, as square a cultural venue as Archie comic books has announced the addition of a gay character, the country singer Chely Wright has come out as a lesbian, and Laura Bush has told Larry King that she endorses the “same” rights for all committed couples and believes same-sex marriage “will come.” All of this news has been greeted by most Americans with shrugs, as it should be.
     But the rear-guard remnants of the Rekers crowd are not going down without a fight, and their focus on Elena Kagan has been most revealing. There are many grounds to debate Kagan’s nomination to the Supreme Court, wherever you are on the political spectrum. There are many questions about her views and record that remain unanswered. But from the get-go the preponderance of the debate on the right has been about her handling of military recruitment as dean at Harvard Law School. Here her history is unambiguous.
     Despite her critics’ cries, Kagan never banned military recruitment of law students and never denigrated the military in word or deed. She followed Harvard’s existing (and unexceptional) antidiscrimination policy while a court battle played out over a Congressional act denying federal funds to universities barring military recruiters. She was so cautious — too cautious, I’d argue — that she did not join the majority of her own faculty in urging Harvard to sue the government over the funding law, limiting her action instead to the signing of an amicus brief.
     She did declare that “don’t ask, don’t tell” was “a moral injustice of the first order.” Given that a Washington Post-ABC News poll in February showed that 75 percent of Americans want that policy rescinded — as do the president, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the secretary of defense — this is hardly a view out of the American mainstream. Yet if you went to the Web site of the organization Rekers co-founded, the Family Research Council, and clicked on “Tony Perkins’ Washington Update” last week, you’d have found a head shot of Kagan with the legend “Deep Ties With the Gay Agenda.” What those “deep ties” are is never stated. Indeed, Kagan said only last year that “there is no federal constitutional right to same-sex marriage.”
     The Family Research Council’s line has been embraced by the non-fringe right, including some Republicans in the Senate. In mid-April, a full month before Kagan’s nomination was even announced, The Wall Street Journal preemptively hyped this plan of attack with a conspicuously placed news article headlined “Kagan Foes Cite Gay-Rights Stand.” The only foes cited were religious right organizations.

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

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Homophobic Boy Scouts' Sexual Abuse Scandal

     Well the Catholic Church isn't the only Christian organization covering up the sexual abuse of minors.  The Boy Scouts of America has been hiding their pedophiles for years as well.  Yes, that's the same Boy Scouts that had their right to discriminate against homosexauls upheld by the United States Supreme Court (Boy Scouts v. Dale, 2000). 


     Click here to find out how youth can tell the scouts that they disagree with their discriminatory policies.

     The Boy Scouts of America were ordered Friday to pay $18.5 million in a lawsuit that has focused new attention on the secret files the Scouts keep to document claims of sexual abuse by troop leaders and volunteers.
     Known variously as the “perversion files,” the “red flag files” and the “ineligible volunteer files,” the documents have been maintained for more than 70 years at the Scouts’ national office in Texas. Yet even after scores of abuse cases against the Scouts in recent decades, the case here is one of the few times that substantial portions of the files have been made accessible to a jury.
     In Multnomah County Circuit Court on Friday, a jury found the Scouts liable for $18.5 million in punitive damages in a case brought by a man who was sexually abused by an assistant troop leader in the early 1980s, when the man was about 12. The verdict was by far the largest ever against the Scouts in a jury trial. The jury could have ordered the Scouts to pay up to $25 million. The same jury last week awarded the man, Kerry Lewis, $1.4 million in compensatory damages.
     The BBC reports:
     When he was aged 11 or 12, Mr Lewis was abused in Portland by a former assistant scoutmaster, Timur Dykes. Dykes, now 53, was later convicted three times of sexually abusing boys, and served time in prison. The jury found that Dykes had been allowed to associate with scouts despite admitting to a BSA official in 1983 that he had molested 17 boys.
Photo from BBC.  Cartoon from Rudy Park.

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. 

Friday, January 15, 2010

Supreme Idiocy

     The Supreme Court has ruled 5-4 that the Perry vs. Shwarzenegger proceedings will not be viewable to the public or to people in other designated federal court houses.

     The San Francisco Chronicle reports:
     The ruling was issued by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Anthony Kennedy and Samuel Alito.
     The dissenters were the court's more liberal members, Justices Stephen Breyer, John Paul Stevens, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor.
     Breyer, writing for the dissenters, said the public had ample opportunity to comment, there was no evidence that witnesses would be harmed, and those outside the courthouse were losing an opportunity to view a trial of "great public interest."
     Walker had ordered the trial telecast live to the regional appeals court's headquarters at Seventh and Mission streets in San Francisco and courthouses in Pasadena, Seattle, Portland, Ore., and Brooklyn, N.Y.
     Wednesday's ruling means the only place people can watch the case on TV is in a 19th floor conference room at the Golden Gate Avenue courthouse that seats about 150. Thirty-six seats are available to the public for the trial itself in Walker's courtroom on the 17th floor.
     It's no big surprise the way the court split, and not a good sign for when this case is appealed to the Supreme Court.  So, if you are one of the lucky thirty-six, who live in San Francisco with the ability to get into a seat at the courthouse, please let us know what's going on.

     Here is the link to a site where you can follow the latest happenings of the trial: Prop 8 Trial Tracker

     My friend Geoff Farrow posted in-depth on the reasons why the Yes on 8 side doesn't want the trial public.  Simply, they don't want the public to hear that Yes on 8 lied to them in their ads.  The lies that worked were just a recycling on the lies Anita Bryant used: that gays are pedophiles and that tolerance of gays will lead to gays being role models, and then they'll make your children gay.  Farrow responds:
     Homosexuals Are No More Likely to Sexually Abuse Children Than Heterosexuals.
     · In fact, gays and lesbians may be less likely than heterosexuals to sexually abuse children. Two studies that examined the sexual orientation of child molesters found that less than one percent, in one study, and zero percent, in the other, were lesbian or gay.
     · About four of every five cases of child sexual abuse reported to child protection authorities involve a girl who is abused. But because sexual abuse of boys is less likely to be reported, it is estimated that 1/4 to 1/3 of all sexually abused children are boys, while 2/3 to 3/4 are girls.1 Because most child molesters are men, (90 percent2), some have argued that “homosexual” child abuse is widespread and that homosexuals abuse children at a rate higher than their proportion of the general population, which is somewhere around 3 to 8 percent of the population. Such claims are based on the false belief that men who sexually abuse boys are homosexual. In fact, the overwhelming majority of men who sexually abuse children live their lives as heterosexual men.
   Farrow goes on:
     In testimony today and Monday, witnesses for the plaintiffs discussed a number of “Yes on 8” television ads and fliers which underscored the campaign slogan “Protect your children.”
     Even though both the California Teacher’s Association and the State Superintendent of Public Instruction made public statements that made it clear that these allegations by the “yes on Prop 8” forces, were untrue. My own bishop, John Steinbock, in his “pastoral letter” to the people of our dioceses falsely claimed that “children would be brainwashed.” These deliberate perpetuation of grossly untrue myths and stereotypes by the “yes on Prop 8” side were and are a lie. A lie which they, like Bryant before them, successfully used to deceive and cause unfounded fears in voters. Lies and fears which were used to strip countless same sex couples of the right to a civil marriage.
     I find it repugnant that religious leaders, such as Steinbock (who is known for protecting Father Eleuterio Ramos, the most prolific pedophile-priest in Orange County history), speak of gays "brainwashing" children, when that is exactly what he and others like him are doing with the myths they preach to children about their supposedly all-loving god, who is really a vindictive, fear-inspiring, and condemning version of themselves.  They preach lies in the name of truth.  Lies that will be confronted in the current trial.  Lies that they need to protect to keep the people in pews "brainwashed" as they see fit.

*Even if that priest stuck his ontologically changed penis down your eight-year-old's communion-receiving throat.

Not to point out the stereotypically obvious, but doesn't the lisp give him away immediately?