George Takei was wrong about Clarence Thomas

For the record, George Takei’s comments about Clarence Thomas were racist, and, like most people on the left who have been complaining about Thomas’ “dignity” discussion in his Obergefell dissent, missed the point Thomas was making.  Clarence Thomas is a black man who grew up speaking the Gullah dialect in the Jim Crow south. He talks about watching his grandfather struggling to memorize long portions of the King James Bible so he could pass the literacy tests to vote. When Thomas writes about how dignity isn’t something that the government can give or take away, he’s speaking as someone who knows as well as anybody that if black folk in America were relying on the government as the source of dignity they’d be still waiting.  Now, where I disagree with Thomas is that I think that humans have inherent dignity, but that the government either does or doesn’t treat people in a way that respects that dignity that we all have. Thomas isn’t wrong though, just incomplete. I’m no great fan of Clarence Thomas’ jurisprudence. His version of originalism, with its stacks of old dictionaries, refusal to consider anything constitutional if it wouldn’t have been thought of at the time the document was drafted, and steadfast insistence that if you don’t like it you should amend the constitution, is too unwieldy for the modern era. There was no way Thomas was going to vote for marriage equality no matter his personal views about LGBT people. The man is nothing if not consistent in his application of his principles of constitutional interpretation, and this is an issue where he was always going to say that the right approach was to amend the constitution. I think he’s wrong, but that’s a matter for intellectual debate, not name calling.   To call him a clown[…]

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A few thoughts on Pride

I’ve been thinking about pride parades and what they represent, and how I responded as a kid seeing clips of pride parades on TV, or when religious right figures railed against the imagined debauchery of it all. As a good child raised to be a foot soldier of the religious right, I was supposed to look at those pictures and video and see it as people parading their sins through the street as in Sodom. But at the same time, because I was raised to be a foot soldier for the religious right, I may not have understood the political or philosophical arguments, but I did understand activism. And so I instinctively understood the message of defiance–and back in the ‘80s and ’90s it was definitely a message of defiance, that you may hate us but we won’t be ashamed. It may have taken years after that for me to challenge what I’d been taught about the sinfulness of it all, and still longer to figure out that I myself was queer, but that image of defiance was still there with me as a counterpoint to what I was being taught. A counterpoint that I could understand and relate to, when arguments that the interpretation of scripture I was learning was wrong wouldn’t have stuck because I was too young and too dogmatic to see another side’s logical arguments. The logic looked to me as excuses but the defiance of marching in the streets, that found its way past my defenses precisely because I spoke the language of activism so well. When I look at pride parades, I don’t see them as just an event for the community together, I see them as a message for the kids who aren’t there as well. That people may beat us down and[…]

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Amazing Grace

How do you encapsulate a day like today? This day, when by some coincidence of fate or of providence, two moments in the long struggles to ensure that the ideals of freedom and equality upon which this nation was founded were available to all, just happened to converge. It does not seem right, somehow, to talk about today’s marriage equality ruling without talking about Charleston and President Obama’s eulogy of the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, with all of the deep sadness mingled with a glint of promise that just maybe equality will advance once more. For the last seven years, through accident of history, the struggles of racial equality and LGBT equality have found themselves intertwined, the highs and lows in contrast with one another. In 2008 the country did what so many never dreamed possible and elected a black president, but that same night the joy was tempered by the passage of Prop 8 in California. Two years ago, we celebrated as the Supreme Court overturned the Defense of Marriage Act, but at the same time mourned the gutting of the Voting Rights Act. Each time a step forward in equality for some, a step backwards for others. Joy and sadness, justice and injustice, mingled together. I can only try and imagine the whiplash that African American members of the LGBT community had to have felt. A nation lurching towards equality, but never quite able to get on the right track for everyone at once. Here we are again. I haven’t written about Charleston because I’ve been unable to find the words to express the depth of the pain and tragedy, how people who have suffered such loss due to pure unbridled hatred can show such immeasurable grace to someone so evil. How can you write about the fragile, budding[…]

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Is opposing LGBT equality now the highest doctrinal issue?

They all attributed the peaceful dominion of religion in their country mainly to the separation of church and state. I do not hesitate to affirm that during my stay in America I did not meet a single individual, of the clergy or the laity, who was not of the same opinion on this point.–Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Vol. I Continuing their efforts to turn “religious freedom” into a dirty word and a dog-whistle buzzword for bigotry, nineteen religious groups filed an amicus brief arguing that a Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality would imperil their religious freedom. I’ll allow you a second or two to do a double take before we continue. The idea that granting the same marriage rights to LGBT people as everyone else would infringe on their religious freedom because people would think them bigots is so abjectly preposterous that it doesn’t deserve to be treated as an argument any more worthy of serious consideration than someone standing on a street corner insisting that the sky was puce and clouds are made of cotton candy’s argument does. What is worth noting, however, is who the amici are. One of these things is not like the other. All but one of the groups signed on to this brief can be described as evangelical or fundamentalist protestant Christian groups. The other group is the Mormon Church. Let me note that all of the Christian denominations and groups signing on to this amicus brief opposing marriage equality believe that the LDS are heretical and not a Christian denomination, but rather a false religion destined for hell. For that matter, half of these Christian groups aren’t even entirely convinced that the other half are really Christians. They have, however, chosen to downplay that into “theological differences” because[…]

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Michael Farris and RFRA followup

On Tuesday I gave you all the rundown about how federal RFRA drafter Michael Farris admitted that he intended the law to legalize religiously motivated discrimination against LGBT people. Farris went on Tuesday’s episode of the Hannity Show and once again stated that he believes that people have the right to discriminate. I was waiting to see if Fox was going to post the video of the segment to their website, but since it looks like they aren’t going to, here’s my shaky video recorded off of the TV. Sorry that I don’t have any fancy dancy video capture equipment to give you a better video, blame Verizon for putting a bunch of DRM on their DVRs. The question about discrimination starts around 2:20 in the video after the jump.

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Original RFRA Drafter Admits Discriminatory Intent

Like a lot of other people, I’ve been following the controversy surrounding Indiana’s SB 101, their state level RFRA bill that’s designed to allow businesses to discriminate against LGBT people on religious grounds. Indiana’s RFRA has been compared frequently to the federal RFRA, both by supporters of Indiana’s law who claim that it’s no different than what President Clinton signed into law in 1993, and opponents who point out that it’s much broader than the federal RFRA. What most people don’t realize about RFRA, however, is that while it was a popular piece of legislation that passed with bipartisan support, the religious right had their fingerprints on it from the beginning and always intended it to be used for much broader purposes than most of the bill’s supporters realized. The coalition that drafted the original RFRA was either chaired or co-chaired (alternate accounts on HSLDA’s website say both) by HSLDA founder and then-president Michael Farris. Farris was one of the drafters of the bill, and takes credit for organizing the broad coalition that supported its passage.

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When HSLDA went to the Kremlin

On September 10th and 11th of 2014, leaders of various right wing family organizations from around the world gathered at the Kremlin for what was to have been the “World Congress of Families VIII – the Moscow Congress.” The conference was a “pro-family” event that blended a mix of quiverfull, homeschooling, anti-abortion, and anti-LGBTQ organizations together. Facing press questions on the wisdom of holding an event in Moscow after the Russian annexation of Crimea, as well as Concerned Women for America’s decision to withdraw lest they, “appear to be giving aid and comfort to Vladimir Putin,” the World Congress of Families canceled the event in March. Or rather, they officially canceled it, as the meeting went forward under the auspices of the local sponsors, with several World Congress of Families leaders acting as organizers in an officially unofficial capacity. The International Forum: Large Family and Future of Humanity opened with the reading of a personal greeting from Vladimir Putin praising the conference. As documented by BuzzFeed, the conference was funded by a number of close Putin allies. Both Michael Farris and Michael Donnelly of HSLDA were originally slated to speak, and until now it was believed that HSLDA was one of the organizations that had pulled out of the convention because of the Crimea situation. It turns out that’s not what happened. Other than a single reference in an article about the German Wunderlich family that Michael Donnelly, “was in Germany on his way to an international family forum in Moscow, Russia,” HSLDA has made no mention of the Kremlin conference. I have now been able to document that Michael Donnelly was not only in attendance at the forum, but that he participated as a speaker. I suspect that given how difficult it was to track down evidence that an HSLDA[…]

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Florida has been updated to blue on the Wikipedia marriage map. I’ll blog more on this later but for now I’ll say that it’s hard to believe this is really here. I keep waiting for another shoe to drop, for Florida to be Florida and screw this up somehow, but Pam Bondi finally admitted defeat, and people are getting married. There’s still work to be done until everyone has full equality, but we’re a little bit closer to equal justice under law.

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Top 10 posts of 2014

Here are my top ten posts from 2014. One thing I realized while compiling this list is that I really need to blog more, so here’s to a more productive 2015. 10. #DefendTheDuggars (Sort of) I’ve said it before on social media and I’ll say it again here. The mocking of Duggar children is not something I can get behind. Criticize the Duggar parents for what they’re doing to their children, criticize Jim Bob, Michelle, and Josh for their anti-LGBT activism, that’s fair game. Mocking the kids isn’t. Kids like the Duggars, who aren’t being given a real education (you don’t get a real education from ATI Wisdom Booklets), who aren’t allowed college, and who aren’t even allowed a single private conversation with someone of the opposite sex until they’re married, are the ones I’m trying to help.  9. “You went to a Christian college, what did you expect?” The campus climate problems may be different at Christian colleges than secular ones, but don’t kid yourself, the environment can be pretty bad at state schools too. I don’t want my criticism of how Covenant handled my alumni update situation and the erasing of LGBT alumni to suggest that it’s a problem limited to Christian schools. 8. Kevin Swanson Bingo Inspired by the Kevin Swanson Watch bingo, Twitterer @Apostate_X created this handy dandy Kevin Swanson Bingo for you and all your friends to play along at home while you listen to K-Swizzle’s Generations Radio. Or, as we prefer to call it, the #KSwanComedyHalfHour. The #KSwanComedyHalfHour is where you can learn about how Frozen turns children gay, how Girl Scouts turn children gay, how homosexuals are like cannibals, how lesbians eat feces (I think he saw Two Girls, One Cup, please, please, please nobody tell him about goatse), and well, you might be noticing a theme here. You’ll also learn about the Neronic[…]

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