Archive for the ‘LGBT issues’ Category

Poll Respondents: WHAT War on Religion?

March 16, 2012

The religious right insists that faith is under siege in America. Far-right leaders and pressure groups have pushed the “war on religion” trope for years now. Texas Gov. Rick Perry even used it during his doomed presidential campaign last December. Most recently, the right has argued that the Obama administration’s policy on insurance coverage for contraception is part of this mythical “war.”

But a new poll from the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) shows that most Americans aren’t buying it. According to that poll, Americans by a 56%-39% margin say they don’t think religious liberty is under threat in America today. Of those who do believe religious freedom is threatened, only 6 percent mentioned the current debate over health insurance coverage for birth control. Others mentioned “hostility towards Christians/religion” (10 percent), “removing religion from the public square” (23 percent) and “general government interference in religion” (20 percent).

David Barton, president of Texas-based WallBuilders, plays especially on such fears. You can see that in Barton’s recent essay absurdly claiming that Barack Obama has been “the most Biblically hostile” American president.

The PRRI poll also shows that a majority of Americans support requiring that employers, including religiously affiliated employers other than churches and other places of worship, include coverage for contraception in their health insurance plans for employees. And 52 percent of Americans (including 59 percent of Catholics and 65 percent of white mainline Protestants) support the right to marry for gay and lesbian couples.

So the next time you hear folks on the right shrieking about a “war on religion” in America, just remember that most Americans know better.

You can read more about the poll on the PRRI’s website here.

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Dewhurst Taking a Page from Perry Playbook

March 8, 2012

Does David Dewhurst see electoral gold in politicizing Texas churches? The Texas lieutenant governor is seeking the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat Kay Bailey Hutchison is leaving after this year. On March 23 he will attend “a private briefing” with conservative pastors at a megachurch in south Houston. The right-wing Houston Area Pastor Council (HAPC) is promoting the event.

From the event’s website:

Join pastors and community leaders for this timely opportunity to have a private briefing on critical issues facing state and nation, and also have personal interaction with Lt. Gov. Dewhurst. We will introduce other elected officials and candidates in attendance. Included in the program will be critical Primary and General election information.

This “private briefing” is a page right out of Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s political playbook. Gov. Perry has made courting the support of conservative pastors a key part of building his electoral base over the years. In fact, the governor spoke before thousands of pastors and their spouses at six “Pastors Policy Briefings” sponsored by the Texas Restoration Project in 2005 and at others since then. All of the events have been closed to news reporters (except for a crew from the Christian News Network at one). But Restoration Project organizers made it clear that they wanted pastors to use their positions and their churches to push a political agenda (an agenda Gov. Perry promoted in his speeches to those pastors).

The March 23 “briefing” doesn’t appear to be a Restoration Project event, but that seems to be a distinction without much difference. Will reporters be allowed into Lt. Gov. Dewhurst’s “private briefing” with pastors? We’ll see. But this isn’t a courtesy call by Dewhurst — it’s an effort by yet another politician to drag churches into partisan politics.

We also note that the event will be held at Grace Community Church. The pastor at Grace is Steve Riggle, who last month publicly released a letter demanding that Houston Mayor Annise Parker resign or stop exercising her First Amendment right to speak out in support of same-sex marriage. Texas Restoration Project events for Gov. Perry also featured numerous anti-gay speakers as well as incendiary rhetoric. One speaker, for example, suggested that God sent Hurricane Katrina to destroy New Orleans and was prepared to incinerate America because of tolerance for gay people.

Anti-Gay Attacks on Houston Mayor Continue

February 28, 2012

Religious-right activists in Houston have failed miserably in their efforts to undermine the city’s mayor, Annise Parker. They relentlessly attacked Parker during her successful mayoral election campaign in 2009 and re-election in 2011. In 2009, for example, they argued that the election of a lesbian mayor would lead to a “gay takeover” of City Hall and would be “destructive to the family.” They have called her a “sodomite,” complained about “moral perversion and sin flowing from city hall,” and charged that Parker is imposing a “‘San Francisco Style’ Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered, etc. agenda” on Houston. And now they’re attacking the mayor for exercising her right to free speech.

A megachurch pastor, Steve Riggle of Houston’s Grace Community Church, has publicly released a letter to Mayor Parker calling on her to resign if she doesn’t agree to stop speaking out in favor of marriage equality for same-sex couples. Noting that Texans have approved a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, Riggle says “it is very disturbing to me when you make statements as an elected official that are contrary to what the people have decided should be the foundational values and definitions that define our culture.” He also criticizes the mayor for referring to her life partner of 21 years as Houston’s “first lady”:

“I was deeply disturbed some months ago when a memo was circulated by an office connected to your office that titled your partner as the first lady of Houston. You should have corrected that since you know that title has been given only to the wife or husband of the mayor in the appropriate gender language.”

Parker is standing her ground. From the Houston Chronicle:

“I do my duty to uphold the state Constitution and the U.S. Constitution. I swore an oath to that. I take that oath very seriously, but I have my First Amendment rights to free speech. We all have the right to do that and I’m sorry that they (Riggle and his supporters) don’t understand the Constitution.”

She’s absolutely right. And most Houston voters apparently don’t have a problem with Mayor Parker referring to her partner as the city’s “first lady” — they re-elected her. But you can bet religious-righters in Houston will continue their hate campaign anyway — it seems to have become their overriding obsession.

Bashing Gays for Votes

February 24, 2012

How quickly they turn on you. Tom Leppert won his 2007 race for Dallas mayor after supporters attacked his main opponent for being gay. Now Leppert is under attack by his opponents in the race for a U.S. Senate seat for “celebrating gay pride” while he served as mayor.

On Wednesday Leppert and other Republican candidates for the seat of retiring U.S. Senator Kay Baily Hutchison participated in a debate sponsored by the right-wing Eagle Forum at the Dallas Country Club. Among the candidates at the debate were Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz, ESPN sports analyst Craig James and Driftwood mediator Lela Pittenger. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who is also seeking the Senate seat, didn’t attend.

Leppert’s opponents criticized him for (gasp!) attending two gay pride parades when he was Dallas mayor. According to the Dallas Morning News, Cruz argued that Leppert’s participation in the events sent a wrong message to the public:

“When the mayor of a city chooses twice to march in a parade celebrating gay pride, that’s a statement. It’s not a statement I believe in.”

James moved beyond just criticizing Leppert and insisted that sexual orientation is a “choice.” From the Dallas Morning News story:

James, a rancher and former NFL player, said Leppert could have made a stronger stand for Christians by skipping the events. James said he would never take part in a gay rights parade.

“Our moral fiber is sliding down a slope that’s going to be hard to stop if we don’t stand up with leaders who don’t ride in gay parades,” he said. “I hear what you’re saying, Tom, but our kids out there need to see examples. … I know you’re a Christian. I’m not doubting you, Tom, but, man, you have to stand up.”

James went on to say that being gay was not innate.

“It’s a choice,” just as people choose to be in same-sex relationships, he said. “You have to make that choice.”

“God’s going to judge each one of us in this room for our actions,” he said. “But in that case right there, they are going to have to answer to the Lord for their actions.”

Leppert argued that he was just as opposed to gay marriage as the other candidates, but he defended his actions as mayor:

Leppert, who appeared visibly angry, said he marched in the parades because he was the mayor of all the city’s citizens. “My job as mayor was to represent everybody in this city. I visited groups that didn’t agree with what I said. I talked to groups that I didn’t agree with what they said, but it was my obligation to represent everybody,” he said.

“My role as a Christian is to reach out and touch everybody,” Leppert said. “I wish I could have made stands only when I was in a courtroom, but I didn’t. I was criticized time and time again for showing my faith and being open with it” while mayor.

Leppert won his mayoral run-off election in 2007 against openly gay Councilmember Ed Oakley. Cathie Adams, then and now the rabidly anti-gay president of Texas Eagle Forum, was particularly outspoken in her opposition to Oakley. She sent out an email to right-wing activists begging them to “PLEASE vote FOR Tom Leppert for Mayor!” Just days before the run-off election, Adams told the Houston Chronicle:

“Does Dallas want to be famous for having a lesbian sheriff and a homosexual mayor to compete with San Francisco? I don’t think that is where Dallas is going,” said Cathie Adams, leader of the conservative Texas Eagle Forum.

She said Oakley, who sits on the board of a company that operates four gay bars, has been low-key about it but “will push a gay agenda in every arena he can push it.”

Now, less than five years later, Leppert finds himself criticized for walking alongside gay folks after his election.

Is Rick Perry OK with Open Marriages?

January 19, 2012

Today Texas Gov. Rick Perry ended his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination and threw his support behind former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia. Perry’s withdrawal from the race wasn’t a big surprise — his support in polls was very low after a series of embarrassing stumbles and gaffes over the past few months.

On the other hand, Perry’s endorsement of Gingrich is at least a little surprising. The Texas governor had aggressively courted conservative evangelical voters throughout a campaign that began just after he hosted a large prayer rally in a Houston football stadium last August. Perry had repeatedly pointed to his positions on social issues, including his desire to “protect” traditional marriage by opposing same-sex unions. But he decided to support thrice-married Gingrich anyway.

Moreover, just before today’s announcement, ABC News released an excerpt of an interview with one of Gingrich’s former wives. She says Gingrich had asked her for an open marriage so that he could continue an affair with the woman who would become his third (and current) wife.

From the ABC News interview (video available at the link):

In her most provocative comments, the ex-Mrs. Gingrich said Newt sought an “open marriage” arrangement so he could have a mistress and a wife.

She said when Gingrich admitted to a six-year affair with a Congressional aide, he asked her if she would share him with the other woman, Callista, who is now married to Gingrich.

“And I just stared at him and he said, ‘Callista doesn’t care what I do,'” Marianne Gingrich told ABC News. “He wanted an open marriage and I refused.”

We don’t expect Gov. Perry to police Newt Gingrich’s marital bedroom, of course. In fact, we’d prefer that politicians focus on their own families instead of interfering in the personal lives of other folks. But we do wonder whether Gov. Perry thinks adultery and open marriages are as threatening to “traditional marriage” as a same-sex couple living in a legally recognized, loving and committed relationship allegedly is. Isn’t that a fair question now?

2011 in Quotes: Bashing Gays

December 28, 2011

Promoting fear and discrimination against gay people has long been a key political tactic on the right, and you can see in these quotes how that didn’t change much in 2011. At least overseas, that rhetoric perhaps fueled deadly anti-gay violence. Read other quotes from the far right in 2011 here.

“Promoting special rights for gays in foreign countries is not in America’s interests and not worth a dime of taxpayers’ money.”

– Texas Gov. Rick Perry, criticizing a new Obama administration policy to defend the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people who are imprisoned, brutalized and murdered in some countries. ABC News, December 6, 2011

“I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a Christian. But you don’t need to be in the pew every Sunday to know that there’s something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military, but our kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school.

As President, I’ll end Obama’s war on religion, and I’ll fight against liberal attacks on our religious heritage. Faith made America strong. It can make her strong again. I’m Rick Perry and I approve this message.”

– Gov. Perry, speaking in one of his presidential campaign ads in Iowa. Talking Points Memo, December 7, 2011

“Some of our friends have criticized FRC’s decision by drawing the scriptural parallel of Jesus eating with sinners. But this isn’t Jesus eating with sinners — it’s Jesus partnering with them to open a restaurant!”

– Tony Perkins, president of the far-right Family Research Council, referring to the inclusion of gay people at the 2011 Conservative Political Action Conference. Politics Daily, January 6, 2011

“They (American evangelicals) didn’t know that when you speak about destroying the family to Africans, the response is a genocide. The moment you speak about the family, you speak about the tribe, you speak about the future. Africans will fight to the death. When you speak like that, you invite the wrath.”

— Rev. Kapya Kaoma, a Zambian who attended antigay meetings held by American evangelical Christians in Uganda, discussing the horrible consequences of such talk. Last week one of Uganda’s most prominent gay rights advocates was attacked in his home and beaten to death with a hammer. New York Times, January 29, 2011

“I’m not sure that’s who you want as mayor. If they’re indecisive about who they are, are they indecisive about other issues?”

– David Grisham, a candidate for Amarillo mayor and an outspoken pastor and director of Repent Amarillo, a religious, fundamentalist group, on his transgender opponent, Sandra Dunn. Grisham previously called for a boycott of Houston after the election of a gay mayor, Annise Parker. Amarillo Globe-News, February 25, 2011

“Liberty is not the ability to do whatever hedonistic ideas you have. Whoever’s defining the terms is going to win the argument

. . .

There are a lot of gay staffers in Congress. They work all hours and they don’t have family lives, but they do have veto power.”

– Former Texas State Board of Education member Cynthia Dunbar, arguing (in separate quotes) that anti-gay Christians must change the language the public uses when talking about homosexuality and that the debate over civil rights for gay people. Religious-right activists at the strategy session decided that Christians should use words like “sodomy” and “unnatural vice” instead of “gay” when discussing homosexuality. American Independent, April 10, 2011

“In 5,000 years of recorded human history… neither in the east or in the west… has any society ever defined marriage as anything other than between men and women. Not one in 5,000 years of recorded human history. That’s an astounding fact and it isn’t until the last 12 years or so that we have seen for the first time in recorded human history marriage defined as anything other than between men and between women.”

– Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, speaking during an installment of the Iowa Family Leader’s presidential lecture series. Politico, April 11, 2011

Rick Perry Goes There (Again)

December 7, 2011

“I’m not ashamed to admit I’m a Christian. But you don’t need to be in the pews every Sunday to know that there’s something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military but our kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school.”

The Texas Tribune reports that an “official familiar with the campaign strategy” says this new Iowa ad for Gov. Perry is targeting evangelical voters with the message that the “moral fabric of our country is out of whack.” In the ad Perry criticizes what he absurdly calls “Obama’s war on religion” and “liberal attacks on our religious heritage.”

The ad follows a statement yesterday in which Gov. Perry attacked a new Obama administration policy to defend the human rights of gay people who are imprisoned, brutalized and even murdered in some countries. Perry called the policy “not in America’s interests” and “not worth a dime of taxpayers’ money.”

Misusing religion to divide voters isn’t a new political strategy for  Gov. Perry, of course. But his rhetoric is increasingly divisive and even incendiary as he desperately tries to regain his footing in the race for the Republican presidential nomination.

If you’re concerned about this — and the myriad other ways religion affects modern American politics — then make plans to join the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund in Houston on January 25. We are partnering with the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy and the Rice University Religion and Public Life Program to sponsor a “Religion in the 2012 Elections” symposium. Click here to learn more about this special event.

Rick Perry: No Human Rights for Gay People

December 6, 2011

Today Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who is trailing badly in his campaign for the White House, sharply denounced President Obama’s decision to require that U.S. agencies abroad “promote and protect the human rights” of gay people in other countries. Gov. Perry’s stunning statements came on the same day that the Obama administration announced the new policy. The governor called the policy a “silly idea,” saying it is “not in America’s interests” and is part of President Obama’s alleged “war on traditional American values”:

“Promoting special rights for gays in foreign countries is not in America’s interests and not worth a dime of taxpayers’ money.”

The governor said his position went beyond concerns related to national security interests:

“This is just the most recent example of an administration at war with people of faith in this country. Investing tax dollars promoting a lifestyle many [Americans] of faith find so deeply objectionable is wrong. President Obama has again mistaken America’s tolerance for different lifestyles with an endorsement of those lifestyles. I will not make that mistake.”

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton discussed the administration’s new policy in a major speech about human rights in Geneva, Switzerland, today. From the Washington Post:

In her most direct challenge to nations with conservative cultural or religious mores, Clinton catalogued abuses such as targeted killings of gays, “corrective rape” of lesbians or forced hormone treatments. She likened the targeting of gays for mistreatment to “honor killings” of women, widow-burning or female genital mutilation, examples of practices the U.S. decries but has not penalized friends including Afghanistan for carrying out.

“Some people still defend those practices as part of a cultural tradition,” she said. “But violence toward women isn’t cultural; it’s criminal.”

She also compared the evolution of cultural attitudes toward homosexuality to the changing view of slavery.

“What was once justified as sanctioned by God is now properly reviled as an unconscionable violation of human rights,” she said.

Last month Gov. Perry signed a controversial anti-gay marriage pledge in Iowa that, among other things, claims that being gay is a health risk. Last summer, as he prepared to announce his bid for president, Gov. Perry asked the anti-gay hate group American Family Association to organize a prayer extravaganza in Houston. Six years ago he suggested that gay military veterans returning from the war in Iraq should maybe live somewhere other than Texas. (You can read more about Gov. Perry’s venomous anti-gay record here.)

Now Gov. Perry thinks that directing American agencies overseas to defend the basic human rights of gay people — such as the right to live and be from targeted brutality — is a “silly idea” and “not worth a dime.”

Bigotry and Ignorance from TX Eagle Forum

December 5, 2011

Texas Eagle Forum’s December “News and Notes” e-newsletter offers more of the bigotry and pro-ignorance rhetoric we’ve come to expect from that far-right group.

Part of TEF President Pat Carlson’s email notes a Dallas Morning News report about a whisper campaign that led State Board of Education member George Clayton, R-Richardson, to acknowledge recently that he is gay. The newsletter continues:

Because of redistricting, all 15 SBOE seats will be up for election in 2012. We need to recruit and elect/re-elect true conservatives to these important positions so Texas will not go the way of Massachusetts or California in mandating K-12 pro-homosexual education in the classroom.

Gay people can’t be “true conservatives”? Perhaps Carlson’s version of a “true conservative” is one who promotes fear and hate toward people who are different. And what exactly does she mean by a “pro-homosexual education in the classroom”? To our knowledge, Clayton has never even mentioned the issue of sexual orientation in his time on the state board (not, at least, until his personal life was the subject of a whisper campaign by political opponents). Most likely, Carlson simply wants to make sure that state board members don’t object to efforts by far-right pressure groups to demonize gay people in textbooks and other instructional materials, as they tried during the adoption of health textbooks in 2004.

And speaking of health, Carlson’s e-newsletter also noted the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund’s new report showing that more public school districts in the state are moving toward an abstinence-plus approach on sex education. Carlson’s group insists on abstinence-only sex ed policies that keep young people ignorant about even basic, medically accurate information on contraception and disease prevention. From the TEF e-newsletter:

The ONLY PROVEN method to prevent teenage pregnancy is abstinence. Abstinence-plus education gives kids mixed messages—“don’t have sex, but if you do, use a condom.” Condoms and other forms of contraception do not “protect” a teen’s heart and mind from emotional distress and pain, nor prevent pregnancy or STDs 100% of the time; only abstinence does.

What Carlson doesn’t want her readers to know is that Texas has one of the highest teen birth rates in the nation yet has received more federal abstinence-only funding than any other state. Even now most school districts in the state teach abstinence-only or nothing at all when it comes to sex education. In a state where, on average, a teen gets pregnant ever 10 minutes and teen childbearing costs taxpayers about $1.2 billion annually, abstinence-only ignorance clearly hasn’t been a good education strategy.

Perry Signs Controversial Marriage Pledge

November 21, 2011

Seeking to revive his troubled presidential campaign, Texas Gov. Rick Perry appears to have returned to a tactic he’s often used in the past: pandering to far-right groups that demonize gay families and promote intolerance and discrimination toward other favorite targets.

The Des Moines Register’s political news website reports that Gov. Perry has signed a controversial marriage pledge promoted by the far-right group Family Leader in Iowa. So far U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum are the only other Republican presidential candidates who have signed the pledge, although Newt Gingrich’s campaign has indicated that the former U.S. House speaker will also sign it.

ThinkProgress notes part of what the pledge says about gay people:

“The pledge likens homosexuality to polygamy, adultery, or polyandry and asks candidates to vow that being gay is a choice that poses serious health risks like ‘shorter life expectancy.’

But the pledge is insulting to more than just gay Americans. One Republican presidential candidate, former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson, has called the measure “offensive,” “unrepublican” and a “promise to discriminate”:

“In one concise document, they manage to condemn gays, single parents, single individuals, divorcees, Muslims, gays in the military, unmarried couples, women who choose to have abortions, and everyone else who doesn’t fit in a Norman Rockwell painting.”

Last summer Family Leader dropped a particularly incendiary part of the pledge suggesting that African-American families were better off when slavery was still legal. The deleted section read:

“Slavery had a disastrous impact on African-American families, yet sadly a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA’s first African-American president.”

In any case, it’s hardly surprising that Gov. Perry has signed the pledge. His anti-gay record is well-known in Texas. In August, for example, he asked the anti-gay hate group American Family Association to organize his prayer extravaganza in Houston. He has even suggested that gay veterans returning from the war in Iraq should maybe live somewhere other than Texas. So as he falls further behind in the polls, Gov. Perry has once again placed the banner of prejudice and intolerance at the front of his campaign.

Take a Stand Against Hate Campaigns

November 17, 2011

Are we about to see a repeat of the hateful campaign tactics religious-righters used to win election to the Texas State Board of Education in the 1990s? Back then hundreds of thousands of dollars from San Antonio businessman James Leininger funded coordinated campaigns that claimed Democratic board incumbents supported the “radical homosexual agenda” and wanted to teach students about gay sex and “lesbian adoption.” One especially incendiary and misleading campaign mailer used by multiple far-right candidates featured a photo of two shirtless men (one black, one white) kissing passionately. “Liberals” on the state board, the mailer charged, wanted students to have access to a “how-to guide on homosexuality and homosexual sex.” Unfortunately, those tactics helped some far-right candidates win their races.

Now we’re seeing signs that the 2012 State Board of Education elections could feature the same kind of hateful political trash. Last week, in fact, a growing whisper campaign led Republican incumbent board member George Clayton of Richardson (in the Dallas area) to send out a press release acknowledging that he is gay. The release reads:

“It has come to my attention that one of my opponents in my bid for reelection to the State Board of Education and certain member(s) of the Golden Corridor Republican Women’s Club are questioning my sexual orientation. So as to avoid the tyranny of misinformation and innuendo in this political race, I wish to say that I, in fact, do have a male partner who lives with me in my home in Richardson, Texas. I hope this frank announcement satisfies Tincy Miller and the ladies associate with the Golden Corridor organization. All of us can now move on with discussions concerning education instead of being overly occupied with my personal life.”

Reporters have asked Geraldine “Tincy” Miller if she has played a role in the whisper campaign about Clayton’s sexual orientation. The Dallas Republican says she hasn’t. Clayton defeated Miller, a longtime state board incumbent, in the 2010 GOP primary, and she appears to be preparing a run to win back her seat next year.

On the other hand, Golden Corridor Republican Women (GCRW), which includes members from Dallas, Denton and Collin counties, does seem to be part of the no-longer-a-whisper campaign. (GCRW’s logo includes a flag, elephant and Christian cross set over an outline of Texas.) Clayton included with his press release a copy of what he said was a Nov. 1 email in which GCRW President Susan Fletcher reports on an interview with Miller. The interview focuses largely on “culture war” issues such as evolution, Sharia law and abstinence-only sex education. At the bottom of her email, however, Fletcher writes about questions she has for Clayton, including:

“What are his living arrangements in Richardson? With whom does he live? It’s not appropriate to comment further — but this needs to be investigated.”

(more…)

More Gay-Bashing in Houston Elections

October 24, 2011

Dave Welch, head of the religious–right group Houston Area Pastor Council, is obsessed with homosexuality and, especially, Houston’s openly lesbian mayor, Annise Parker. As Houstonians prepare to head to the polls for local elections next month, Welch is promoting a web video about Mayor Parker’s “GLBT agenda for Houston.” The video includes various clips and quotes from Parker, who is seeking re-election. Repeated twice (and in slow-motion) is a scene in which the mayor leans over to (gasp!) peck her life-partner on the cheek on inauguration day a couple of years ago. The video treats that touching and very G-rated moment almost as if the audience had witnessed a live, woman-on-woman porn scene on stage. (Mayors gone wild!) In today’s email promoting the video, Welch shrieks that Houston has become a “sin-sick” city:

It is astounding to have to say that most Houston citizens – including most Christians and pastors – are still unaware of the radical nature of Mayor Annise Parker’s commitment to imposing the full “San Francisco Style” Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered, etc. agenda. … We have a sin-sick city and we need the power of God through Jesus Christ changing lives and changing City Hall!

As hate-videos go, this one is relatively tame. But it’s filled with the usual kind of out-of-context quotes, supposed-to-be-scary innuendos and other nonsense we’ve come to expect from the religious right. Houstonians rejected this kind of bigotry when they elected Parker as their mayor two years ago, and Welch has never gotten over it. So he’s trotting out the same poisonous and divisive rhetoric again.

More Extremist Gay-Baiting in Houston

October 5, 2011

The far-right Houston Area Pastor Council is still trying to stir up anti-gay bigotry down on the Gulf Coast. An email blast from the extremist group today calls on pastors to attend a “‘Stand for Houston’ Citywide Pastor Luncheon” on Oct. 11:

There has never been a more important time for the pastors of Houston to follow our Lord’s directive corporately to ” ‘Come now, and let us reason together’, says the Lord.” (Isaiah 1:18)

Nothing wrong with that, of course. But the email includes a more explicit reason to attend the so-called “Emergency Summit on Defense of Life, Family and Religious Liberty”:

Did you know that there are multiple city council candidates from the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered community running to achieve a GLBT majority? More details at the luncheon.

Ah. Using fear and bigotry to crowd-build. How nice.

We have noted HAPC head Dave Welch’s obsession with homosexuality in the past. In December, for example, he criticized pastors for what he sees as their indifference to “moral perversion and sin flowing from our city hall through the radical agenda of Mayor Parker and her GLBTQIA allies.” Welch calls Mayor Annise Parker, who is openly gay, a “sodomite” and during the 2009 city elections joined other Parker opponents in warning of a “gay takeover” of Houston’s municipal government.

Welch also attacks the faith and patriotism of clergy who don’t agree with his extremist politics and refuse to drag their houses of worship into political warfare. His view of progressive clergy? “They disgust me.”

We figure the feeling is mutual.

A Lynch Mob Strategy

September 30, 2011

Lynch mobs don’t care about facts. And lynch mobs made up of politicians and pressure groups really, really don’t care about facts. What they care about is manufacturing rage to advance political agendas. And that brings us to the story of a gay teacher and one of his students in a Fort Worth high school.

Last week a Fort Worth mother charged that her 14-year-old son had been sent to the principal’s office and assigned to in-school suspension for simply telling a classmate that he’s a Christian and that “being a homosexual is wrong.” According to a Fox News story, the mother asked for help from Liberty Counsel,  a right-wing litigation group the Southern Poverty Law Center says focuses heavily on anti-gay activism.

The Fox story repeats claims that the student’s comment came when a discussion in German language class somehow shifted to religion and homosexuality in Germany. The student said his side comment to a classmate got him in trouble with the teacher:

“It wasn’t directed to anyone except my friend who was sitting behind me. I guess [the teacher] heard me. He started yelling. He told me he was going to write me an infraction and send me to the office.”

Matt Krause, the Liberty Counsel attorney helping the student and his mother, protested the suspension (a punishment that the principal reversed). The student “should never have been suspended for exercising his constitutional rights,” Krause said.

Liberty Institute, the Plano-based Texas affiliate of Focus on the Family, also weighed in. The group’s director of litigation, Hiram Sasser, claimed the student was simply exercising his First Amendment rights: “All the kid did is leaned over and said that that kind of lifestyle was against the Bible.”

David Barton, head of Texas-based WallBuilders (which argues against separation of church and state), got in on the act, pushing the story on his Twitter account: “Texas Boy Punishes Student for Opposing Homosexuality.”

And, predictably, notorious anti-gay hater Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association rejoiced when the school district  suspended the student’s teacher with pay while it investigated the incident: “Great news: teacher who got student suspended for biblical view of homosexuality has been suspended by school. You agree?”

But is this really a case of a public school trying to silence a student’s free speech? Or is it, rather, a textbook case of a lynch-mob strategy in which far-right groups manufacture a controversy to inflame passions and promote a political agenda?

(more…)

That Didn’t Take Long

July 28, 2011

Well, this isn’t a surprise. Texas Gov. Rick Perry is already walking back his comments last week that it would be “fine with me” if individual states decide to legalize gay marriage, like New York just did. It’s a states’ rights issue, he said at the time. But gay-hating pressure groups like the American Family Association and Family Research Council — whose political support Gov. Perry has been courting — started barking and growling about it. So now the governor says he was just misunderstood.

“Obviously, gay marriage is not fine with me,” Gov. Perry said today in a conversation with Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council. He and Perkins agreed that a constitutional ban on gay marriage would promote states’ rights by keeping states like Texas from being forced to recognize such marriages in other states:

“”The real fear is states like New York will change the definition of marriage for Texas,” he said. “That is the reason the Federal Marriage Amendment is being offered. It’s a small group of activists judges and really a small handful, if you will, of states and these liberal special interest groups that are intent on a redefinition, if you will, of marriage on the nation for all of us, which I adamantly oppose. Indeed, to not pass the Federal Marriage Amendment would impinge on Texas’ and other states’ right not to have marriage forced upon them by these activist judges and these special interest groups.”

But the Federal Marriage Amendment would prohibit any state from legalizing gay marriage. So to recap: Gov. Perry supports states’ rights, except when he doesn’t — and especially when anti-gay hate groups object.