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“Enshrining Discrimination In Constitutional Stone”: Cruz Leads The Race To The Bottom On Marriage Equality

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) attended an event in Manhattan this week, though the venue was a little surprising: the reception for the Texas Republican was held at the apartment of “two prominent gay hoteliers. At the gathering, Cruz reportedly said he would love his children regardless of their sexual orientation, and according to the event’s moderator, the far-right senator “told the group that marriage should be left up to the states.” As best as I can tell, there was no recording of the event, at least not one that’s available to the public, so it’s hard to know exactly what he said.

But before there’s speculation about whether Cruz’s conservative backers will revolt over the senator’s tone, consider the Texas lawmaker’s latest legislative push. Bloomberg Politics reported late yesterday:

Days before the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments on same-sex marriage, Senator Ted Cruz has filed two bills to protect states that bar gay couples from marrying.

Cruz’s legislation would establish a constitutional amendment shielding states that define marriage as between one woman and one man from legal action, according to bill language obtained by Bloomberg News. A second bill would bar federal courts from further weighing in on the marriage issue until such an amendment is adopted.

To be sure, this doesn’t come as too big a surprise. Cruz has been threatening to pursue an anti-gay constitutional amendment for quite a while, and he started telegraphing his “court-stripping” effort soon after launching his presidential campaign.

For that matter, it’s also not too surprising that Cruz would use his Senate office to push doomed proposals intended to boost his national candidacy.

But beware of the race to the bottom.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) yesterday made a small public splash, trying to position himself as the GOP field’s far-right leader on the culture war. It seems very likely that Scott Walker, Mike Huckabee, Ben Carson, and others will all make similar claims.

It’s against this backdrop that Cruz not only wants to enshrine discrimination in constitutional stone, he wants to prevent federal courts from even hearing cases related to marriage equality.

In other words, as the race for the Republicans’ presidential nomination continues to unfold, we’re confronted with a very real possibility of seeing one candidate say, “I’m the most anti-gay candidate and I’m going to prove it,” only to soon after hear another respond, “No, I’m the most anti-gay candidate and I’m going to prove it.”

The race to the bottom may impress far-right social conservatives, but it will push the GOP even further from the American mainstream.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, April 25, 2015

April 26, 2015 Posted by | Marriage Equality, Ted Cruz, U. S. Constitution | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Bigots Continue Their Battle”: Despite Conservative Republicans, Gay Marriage Will Prevail

She didn’t mean it.

Alabama state legislator Patricia Todd now says she’s not going to name those among her conservative colleagues who have had extramarital dalliances, although she had threatened to do so. But she has stiffened her resolve about this much: She’ll continue to combat anti-gay bigotry, which is what started this imbroglio.

Todd, a Democrat and Alabama’s only openly gay legislator, was heartened when a federal judge struck down the state’s law banning same-sex marriage earlier this month. The ruling is another sign of the rapid advance of gay rights; if U.S. District Court Judge Callie V.S. Granade’s decision holds, Alabama will be the 37th state to permit gay marriage.

But the ruling was immediately greeted with criticism from Republicans in the statehouse, who vowed to fight it. State House Speaker Mike Hubbard, for example, pledged to “continue defending the Christian conservative values that make Alabama a special place to live.”

For Todd, that was too much. “What I heard was, ‘We’re going to defend the Christian values of Alabama and family values.’ … This rhetoric … is very hurtful in the gay community,” she told me.

So she took to her Facebook page to warn her colleagues that she would fight back.

“I will not stand by and allow legislators to talk about ‘family values’ when they have affairs, and I know of many who are and have. I will call our elected officials who want to hide in the closet OUT,” she wrote.

Her anger is understandable. For decades, conservative Christians have wielded the Bible as an instrument of division, distorting its message to buttress their bigotry. Worse, they’ve been “family values” hypocrites, indulging their own vices while casting stones at others.

As just one example, U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) was implicated in a prostitution scandal in 2007. He offered an apology for his “sin” and has since been re-elected. He continues, by the way, to oppose gay marriage.

The challenge to Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriage was brought by a lesbian couple, Cari Searcy and Kim McKeand, who were married in California in 2008 but live in Mobile. The major reason for their nuptials was so that Searcy could be considered a legal parent to their son, whom McKeand gave birth to in 2005, they told The Associated Press. But the state of Alabama refused to recognize their marriage.

Judge Granade, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, ruled that Alabama’s same-sex marriage ban violated the equal protection and due process clauses of the 14th Amendment. And she dispensed with the absurd notion that rearing children in a same-sex marriage would loosen the bonds that tie biological parents to their offspring.

“… Alabama does not exclude from marriage any other couples who are either unwilling or unable to biologically procreate. There is no law prohibiting infertile couples, elderly couples, or couples who do not wish to procreate from marrying. … In sum, the laws in question are an irrational way of promoting biological relationships in Alabama,” she wrote.

Still, the bigots continue their battle, hoping to bend the arc of history back toward the 19th century as the nation waits for the U.S. Supreme Court to issue a definitive ruling later this year. Alabama’s attorney general is appealing Judge Granade’s ruling. And Alabama’s famously combative Supreme Court chief justice, Roy Moore, has promised to ignore the federal judge’s decision.

Further, those antediluvian voices have been echoed on the national stage by some Republicans considering a run for the presidency. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal have suggested a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

But that view is rapidly dwindling, close to obsolete outside the aging GOP base. Nearly 60 percent of Americans now support same-sex nuptials, according to a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll. No matter what the Supreme Court rules, gay marriage will prevail in the not-too-distant future.

That’s why Todd is optimistic — even as she pushes back against the prejudices of some of her colleagues. “The reality is, we’re going to win this battle,” she said.

 

By: Cynthia Tucker, The National Memo, January 31, 2015

February 1, 2015 Posted by | Bigotry, Marriage Equality, Republicans | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Praise God And Bash The Gays”: More Hate On The Way. Oh, Joy

This past week, I read that “social conservatives” will attempt to reinvigorate their anti-gay campaign for the 2016 presidential race. Briefly, I succumbed to the old response of bracing myself.

More hate on the way. Oh, joy.

James Hohmann, writing for Politico from Des Moines, Iowa: “The U.S. Supreme Court is poised to rule on gay marriage once and for all in June, and there are many Republicans who privately would love nothing more than to have the question settled and off the table in time for the 2016 presidential election.

“It’s not going to happen. Social conservatives here are determined to keep the issue alive during the run-up to next February’s Republican caucuses, no matter how the high court rules or how much some establishment figures would like to move on.”

Such a curious term, “social conservative,” when there is nothing cordial or hospitable in wielding God as a political two-by-four in the fight to deny basic human rights — in this case, the right to marry.

Same-sex marriage is now legal in 36 states and the District of Columbia. I live in one of the holdouts, Ohio. I’m not proud of that, but I can say it out loud without the usual spine rattle because I’m confident that on this issue, the bigots’ days are numbered from sea to shining sea. You can tell by the desperate, ridiculous things they’re saying lately, particularly in Iowa.

My favorite quotation so far came out of Mike Huckabee, who showed up last week at Iowa’s conservative summit. Rep. Steve King organized the gathering. His most famous contribution to public discourse is his 2013 description of immigrants as dealers dragging their drugs across the desert with “calves the size of cantaloupes.”

Not to change the subject, but I’ve always wondered why the congressman was spending so much time looking at those guys’ legs. It’s the kind of thing that makes you go “hmm.”

Anyway, back to Huckabee. He likened laws allowing gay people to marry to the U.S. Supreme Court’s racist 1857 Dred Scott decision, which said that no black person, free or enslaved, could become an American citizen.

And this, Huckabee argued, is why gays can’t marry.

“Nobody argues that Abraham Lincoln should have abided by the Dred Scott decision,” Huckabee said. “We recognize that he had the courage to realize that he didn’t have to enforce something that was morally wrong.”

If you think you should be able to figure out how Huckabee managed to connect those dots, you’re in for an even longer Republican presidential primary than the rest of us. Don’t try to make sense of this stuff.

I’m making light of this only because for too long, I was angry with people like Huckabee and didn’t like what it did to me. More to the point, I didn’t like how I was letting their nonsense whittle down faith. For a while there, I was reluctant to say I was Christian for fear that someone might think I was one of them. In my worst moments, I began to wonder where God fit into all of this.

I used to resent fundamentalists for this internal crisis of mine, but now I thank them. I hear them saying stupid things about gay people they’ve never met and feel the tug of my Christian roots, which taught me that faith is a riverbed where hope bubbles up and carries us along.

One of my favorite books is a collection of sermon excerpts by the late Rev. William Sloane Coffin. That man was a Christian willing to take on his own people.

“It is not Scripture that creates hostility to homosexuality,” he wrote, “but rather hostility to homosexuals that prompts some Christians to recite a few sentences from Paul and retain passages from an otherwise discarded Old Testament law code.

“In abolishing slavery and in ordaining women we’ve gone beyond biblical literalism. It’s time we did the same with gays and lesbians. The problem is not how to reconcile homosexuality with scriptural passages that condemn it, but rather how to reconcile the rejection and punishment of homosexuals with the love of Christ. It can’t be done.”

It can’t be done, he said.

Let justice flow like a mighty river.

 

By: Connie Schultz, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Columnist and an Essayist for Parade Magazine; The National Memo, January 29, 2015

January 30, 2015 Posted by | Election 2016, Marriage Equality, Mike Huckabee | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Something Is The Matter With Kansas”: When Does The Madness End?

Kansas State Representative Keith Esau has introduced a bill that would eliminate no-fault divorce in the Sunflower State. He has some interesting ideas on matrimony:

“No-fault divorce gives people an easy out instead of working at it,” Esau told The Wichita Eagle on Friday. “It would be my hope that they could work out their incompatibilities and learn to work together on things.”

…Esau disputed the suggestion that bill was an example of government overreach. He said the state gives benefits to married couples, such as tax breaks, so couples shouldn’t enter into the institution of marriage lightly.

Moreover, he said, the state has a vested interest in supporting “strong families,” and divorce undermines that.

“I think we’ve made divorce way too easy in this country,” he said. “If we really want to respect marriage it needs to be a commitment that people work at and don’t find arbitrary reasons to give up.”

Of course, one of the immediate effects of this law would be that couples seeking a divorce would have to face-off in court and point fingers at each other. Either that, or one of them would have to accept the blame for their failed relationship.

Divorce is tough on kids, but nasty divorces are toxic.

But this isn’t even the worst bill that was considered in the Kansas House this week.

On Tuesday, the Kansas House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a measure designed to bring anti-gay segregation—under the guise of “religious liberty”—to the already deep-red state. The bill, written out of fear that the state may soon face an Oklahoma-style gay marriage ruling, will now easily pass the Republican Senate and be signed into law by the Republican governor. The result will mark Kansas as the first state, though certainly not the last, to legalize segregation of gay and straight people in virtually every arena of life.

If that sounds overblown, consider the bill itself. When passed, the new law will allow any individual, group, or private business to refuse to serve gay couples if “it would be contrary to their sincerely held religious beliefs.” Private employers can continue to fire gay employees on account of their sexuality. Stores may deny gay couples goods and services because they are gay. Hotels can eject gay couples or deny them entry in the first place. Businesses that provide public accommodations—movie theaters, restaurants—can turn away gay couples at the door. And if a gay couple sues for discrimination, they won’t just lose; they’ll be forced to pay their opponent’s attorney’s fees.

Unlike Rep. Esau’s idiotic no-divorce bill, the anti-gay measure will actually become law. Most likely, the federal courts will strike it down as unconstitutional, but that won’t prevent Republicans in Kansas from wasting money defending it.

 

By: Martin Longman, Washington Monthly Political Animal, February 15, 2014

February 17, 2014 Posted by | LGBT, Marriage | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“The Putin Admiration Society”: The Object Of The Right’s “Creepy Crush” Affections

The more Russian President Vladimir Putin cracked down on gay rights, the more U.S. conservatives discovered a fondness for the Russian autocrat. Indeed, support for Putin among social conservatives and leaders of the religious right movement only seems to be growing.

But in recent weeks, the right’s embrace of Putin seems to have expanded well beyond social conservatives and anti-gay activists. Eric Boehlert reported on Friday on Republican media figures backing Putin with growing enthusiasm as U.S. tensions with Syria escalate.

Note that late last month, just hours before Obama addressed the nation regarding Syria, Matt Drudge bizarrely tweeted that “Putin is the leader of the free world.”

More recently, the Putin admiration society has been on full display all across the right-wing media landscape. On his radio show, Rush Limbaugh also seemed to side with Putin…. Limbaugh appeared to be impressed by the fact Russia had compiled a 100-page report blaming Syrian rebels for the chemical weapons attack, not Russia’s longtime ally, President Bashar al-Assad. Limbaugh told his listeners: “Now, I don’t know about you, but what does it feel like to have to agree with a former KGB agent?”

RedState published a piece late last week arguing, “We’ve reached a sad state of affairs when the Russian president has more credibility than [sic] the American president but that is where we are.” Pat Buchanan defended Putin after the Russian leader prosecuted a rock band that played songs Putin didn’t like.

The Washington Times‘ Ralph Peters told Fox viewers last week, “I don’t like Putin, but I respect that guy. He is tough. He delivers what he says he’ll deliver. He knows his people. He presents himself as a real He-Man.”

How far has the right’s wild-eyed contempt for President Obama gone? Far enough that conservatives can barely contain their increasingly creepy crush on the former KGB official with an authoritarian streak.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, September 9, 2013

September 10, 2013 Posted by | Conservatives, Religious Right | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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