Homophobic Pope Distances Self From Homophobic Clerk

The Associated press reports that

The Vatican on Friday distanced Pope Francis from Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who went to jail for refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses, saying she was one of dozens of people the pope greeted in the U.S. and that their meeting “should not be considered a form of support of her position.”

The article goes on to quote a spokesman (I almost wrote spokesperson, but then remembered that this is the Vatican we’re talking about) that the pope meets with lots of people, and doesn’t necessarily agree with — or even know anything about — all of them.

So basically, Kim Davis is like a stereotypical teenage girl who’s over the moon because One Direction waved to her from on stage at a concert, and she imagines herself BFF with the band. Meanwhile, Harry Styles is all, “Who?”.

I do note that Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman (remember? I was talking about the pope a moment ago) is quoted as saying,

“The pope did not enter into the details of the situation of Mrs. Davis and his meeting with her should not be considered a form of support of her position in all of its particular and complex aspects,” Lombardi said.

The emphasized weasel words allow the Vatican to play it both ways: they’ll be able to either agree or disagree with her in the future, depending what’s more convenient at the time, because hey, Davis’s position is complex.

And by the way, I’d like to welcome our conservative friends: for years, pope Francis has been quoted by the media as saying some reasonably liberal and forward-thinking things (“Who am I to judge [gay people]?”), and then his people come back a day or two later and explain that ha ha no, he didn’t actually mean it (“no, gays can’t marry or form relationships or have sex, but if they want to come to church and confess that they’re sinners, we welcome them.”). This time, he just did it with a conservative cause instead of a liberal one.

Ted Cruz Introduces Pointless Grandstanding Act of 2014

Ted Cruz (R-Teabaggistan) and Mike Lee (R-Do you really need to ask?) yesterday
introduced a bill that they call the State Marriage Defense Act to, um, slow down the spread of gay marriage or something. As their press release says (emphasis added):

WASHINGTON, DC — U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Mike Lee, R-Utah, today introduced S. 2024, the State Marriage Defense Act, which respects the definition of marriage held by the people of each state and protects states from the federal government’s efforts to force any other definition upon them. The bill will ensure the federal government gives the same deference to the 33 states that define marriage as the union between one man and one woman as it does to the 17 states that have chosen to recognize same-sex unions.

This comes on the same date that a federal judge declared Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. Great timing.

I’m not sure how this is supposed to work: the federal government is already out of the marriage-defining business; it leaves that up to the states.
So let’s say Bob and Tom have been living in Alabama for years. One day, they go up to Massachusetts and get married. The federal government needs to decide whether they’re married for purposes of federal benefits, e.g., health insurance, or to see whether they’re allowed to file a joint tax return.

Under the present system, the federal government asks, “Were these two people legally married by a state, following that state’s laws, and in accordance with that state’s definition of marriage?” In this case, yes, Massachusetts, and so Bob and Tom are married for federal purposes.

If Cruz’s bill were to pass, I don’t see how anything would change. Would Georgia say that not only does it not recognize a Massachusetts marriage, but that the federal government isn’t allowed to, either? Are Georgia’s right to define marriage somehow better than Massachusetts’s?

Of course, it’s possible—plausible, even—that I’m barking up the wrong tree, and that this should really be renamed the Get Ted Cruz’s Name in the Papers Act of 2014.

On one hand, I figure I shouldn’t feed the trolls. On the other hand, the east coast has had so much snow lately that there’s a salt shortage; so we need all the conservative tears of poutrage we can get.

Orson Scott Card Wants You to Forget How Much He Hates Gays

Remember the heady days of 2008, when Orson Scott Card wrote:

How long before married people answer the dictators thus: Regardless of law, marriage has only one definition, and any government that attempts to change it is my mortal enemy. I will act to destroy that government and bring it down, so it can be replaced with a government that will respect and support marriage, and help me raise my children in a society where they will expect to marry in their turn.

:

The dark secret of homosexual society — the one that dares not speak its name — is how many homosexuals first entered into that world through a disturbing seduction or rape or molestation or abuse, and how many of them yearn to get out of the homosexual community and live normally.

If America becomes a place where the laws of the nation declare that marriage no longer exists — which is what the Massachusetts decision actually does — then our allegiance to America will become zero. We will transfer our allegiance to a society that does protect marriage.

:

homosexuality is a pathological condition of the sexual system.

And back in 1990:

Laws against homosexual behavior should remain on the books, not to be indiscriminately enforced against anyone who happens to be caught violating them, but to be used when necessary to send a clear message that those whoflagrantly violate society’s regulation of sexual behavior cannot be permitted to remain as acceptable, equal citizens within that society.

The goal of the polity is not to put homosexuals in jail. The goal is to discourage people from engaging in homosexual practices in the first place, and, when they nevertheless proceed in their homosexual behavior, to encourage them to do so discreetly, so as not to shake the confidence of the community in the polity’s ability to provide rules for safe, stable, dependable marriage and family relationships.

Good times. No, wait, not good times at all. What’s the expression I’m looking for? What a gigantic douchebag. Yeah, that’s it. And he’s been at it vocally and for a long time.

So anyway, for those who hadn’t heard, a movie version of Card’s novel Ender’s Game is coming out, and a group is calling for a boycott, what with Card being such a raging homophobe and all.

So here’s what Orson Scott Card told Entertainment Weekly (emphasis added):

Ender’s Game is set more than a century in the future and has nothing to do with political issues that did not exist when the book was written in 1984.

With the recent Supreme Court ruling, the gay marriage issue becomes moot. The Full Faith and Credit clause of the Constitution will, sooner or later, give legal force in every state to any marriage contract recognized by any other state.

Now it will be interesting to see whether the victorious proponents of gay marriage will show tolerance toward those who disagreed with them when the issue was still in dispute.

For one thing, while I think the tide has turned on gay marriage, the issue is far from “moot”, as Card says. I’ll give him credit for recognizing that he’s on the losing side; I’ll even give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he’s motivated by wanting people to see a piece of art that he had a hand in, and not because he stands to make money from it.

But really. That last paragraph. No. Just no. He doesn’t get to fight against gay rights for more than a decade, and then, when it’s clear that his side is losing, try to pretend like it never happened.

I’d argue that since gay-rights activists aren’t calling for him to be thrown in jail for having sex the way he likes it, they’re already showing him more tolerance than he himself has shown.

I’m sorry, but “why aren’t you more tolerant of my intolerance?” won’t wash. If you want people to play nice with you, you first have to play nice with them. And just for the record, “playing nice” includes things like not saying they must be the way they are because they were abused as children, and also not calling for them to be thrown in jail because you don’t approve of their partners.

(via Towleroad)

Now, I confess that I’m somewhat torn: I did enjoy Ender’s Game tremendously (first the novel, and then the short story that it was based on). It’s not all that political (as I recall, it leans more toward libertarianism than what’s called “conservative” in modern American politics), and I don’t remember any gay issues, or any sex-related issues at all. That book was written by pre-brain-eater Orson Scott Card.

And normally, I’d be content to leave it at that: I try to keep the artist separate from the work, and accept that people with political views I strongly disagree with can still write stories that I like.

But Card has been so extreme, so vitriolic, for so long, that he’s retroactively tainted my enjoyment of what he wrote back when he wasn’t yet a hate-filled ugly bag of mostly bile.

Marriage Is a Punishment, Imply Defenders of Marriage

Marriage should be limited to unions of a man and a woman because they alone can “produce unplanned and unintended offspring,” opponents of gay marriage have told the Supreme Court.

By contrast, when same-sex couples decide to have children, “substantial advance planning is required,” said Paul D. Clement, a lawyer for House Republicans.

The LA Times calls this an “unusual defense” of marriage, which is a bit like calling the Pacific “moist”.

So the California Prop 8 trial has reached the Supreme Court, and apparently the anti-gay side’s lawyers have figured out that the “buttsecks is icky” and “Baby Jesus told me to hate you” lines of argument aren’t going to fly in a venue that has cross-examination (a legal term for “calling you on your bullshit”).

It is plainly reasonable for California to maintain a unique institution [referring to marriage] to address the unique challenges posed by the unique procreative potential of sexual relationships between men and women,” argued Washington attorney Charles J. Cooper, representing the defenders of Proposition 8. Same-sex couples need not be included in the definition of marriage, he said, because they “don’t present a threat of irresponsible procreation.

So what they’re saying is that the only reason the state has to have marriage in the first place is to provide unwanted and unplanned children with a stable environment. That if it weren’t for drunk guys shooting their cum up equally-drunk vaginas all over the place, no one would have to get married, shotgun or otherwise. So really, they’re doing the homos a favor by not imposing marriage on them, and all the nasty icky visitation rights and tax-filing status that come with it.

The first thing that jumped out at me was that this line of reasoning sophistry is so underpants-on-head retarded that it shows that the anti-gay-righs folks are running so low on arguments that they’ve scraped through the bottom of the barrel and are now serving up whatever they’ve found under the rocks below the barrel.

But the second thing was the stereotyping. They’re lumping me along with the irresponsible guys who get women pregnant and then refuse to take responsibility for their children. Me, and every guy who always carries a condom, just in case; every woman who makes sure she doesn’t get pregnant until she’s ready. Every mutually-infertile straight couple who use IVF or adopt children.

But even though I’m being insulted, I can’t even get that worked up about it. Because as Greta Christina points out, if they’re using this sort of argument, it’s because nothing else has worked, so they’re desperate. They’ve lost. But some of them haven’t realized that yet.

Good On Ya for Standing Up for Your Principles. Now Go Away.

A business owner in Annapolis has found that his deeply-held convictions are about to come into conflict with the law, and rather than give up his principles, he’s going to, if not close up shop, then at least scale back shop:

An Annapolis company whose old-fashioned trolleys are iconic in the city’s wedding scene has abandoned the nuptial industry rather than serve same-sex couples.

The owner of Discover Annapolis Tours said he decided to walk away from $50,000 in annual revenue instead of compromising his Christian convictions when same-sex marriages become legal in Maryland in less than a week. And he has urged prospective clients to lobby state lawmakers for a religious exemption for wedding vendors.

(Source: Washington Post.)

This seems as clear a case I can imagine of a business owner having to choose between money and bigotry. He chose bigotry. I wish him the best of luck in not getting hit in the ass by the door on the way out.

As far as can make out, he’s not actually shutting down his business. He’s just pulling his business out (heh-heh) of the wedding business.

In case anyone’s wondering why he can’t just pick and choose his customers:

“If they’re providing services to the public, they can’t discriminate who they provide their services to,” said Glendora Hughes, general counsel for the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights. The commission enforces public accommodation laws that prohibit businesses from discriminating on the basis of race, sexual orientation and other characteristics.

If your business is open to the public, it’s open to the public, not just to those parts of the public that you approve of. If a state passes a law saying “Jews and black people can shop anywhere that gentiles and white people can”, that’s great, but if you then add “unless the shop owner doesn’t feel like it”, that makes the law meaningless.

Predictably, the owner of Discover Annapolis Tours, Matt Grubbs, has his defenders:

Frank Schubert, the political strategist who ran campaigns against same-sex marriage in Maryland and three other states this year, said opponents predicted collateral damage from legalizing same-sex unions.

“This is exactly what happens,” Schubert said, adding that religious liberty is “right in the crosshairs of this debate. . . . The law doesn’t protect people of faith. It simply doesn’t.”

The first thing I note is that “religious liberty” here is used the same way as “states’ rights” in discussing the US Civil War: then, the states’ right in question was the right to own slaves. Here, the religious liberty at issue is the right to discriminate against gay people.

The second thing I note is the phrase “people of faith”. There’s just so much unthinking privilege packed into those three words. There’s the assumption that faith is a Good Thing; that believing things just ‘cos is something worth defending. And then there’s the assumption that all “people of faith” must agree with his views. I can name any number of self-professed “people of faith” who’d disagree with him.

Still, I suppose it could’ve been worse. At least Grubbs is complying with the law, rather than, say, suing for the right to discriminate. All the same: buh-bye.

Election Night Woot!

As I write this — and maybe I shouldn’t be writing this while I’m in no state to operate Internet machinery — a number of things have happened in the 2012 US election.

Obama has won reelection. Mittens is about to concede. Looks like Obama has won not only the Electoral Vote, but also the popular vote. So I guess the moral of the story is that you can’t buy an election without showing your tax returns or adopting a consistent policy on something.

Elizabeth Warren has won. Richard Mourdock has lost. Todd Akin has lost. According to various sources, Democrats have picked up a Senate seat or two.

Recreational marijuana will now be legal in Washington state.

Oh, and gay marriage will be legal in Maryland, Washington, and Maine. And Minnesota has rejected a constitutional amendment to ban it. So the homophobes can suck it. For years they’ve been using “every time gay marriage has been put to a vote, it has lost”, and now they won’t have that anymore. I’m not sure what they’re going to do now. I suspect they’ll blame electoral activism by unelected voters.

From what I’ve seen, Fox News’s spin is that most counties voted for Romney, so shenanigans. Or something. Also, Republicans might’ve done better if they’d deigned to adopt a platform reflecting 21st-century values. Like maybe that women and black people are humans too.

Anyway, thank you, America, and thank you Maryland. You done good tonight.

Being Anti-Gay Doesn’t Mean You’re Anti-Gay

Not too long ago — I remember it as though it were yesterday — the BillDo competed in the olympic 200-word blithering competition (emphasis added):

Dan Cathy, president of Chick-fil-A, has said that we are “inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.’” How this unremarkable statement, which never mentions homosexuals, can be labeled anti-gay is astounding. But according to the editorial board of the New York Times, it can be. After quoting Cathy, the Times says, “Antigay remarks like these are offensive.”

Sounds perfectly reasonable to me. Except for the part about how, for I don’t know how many years now, “defending traditional marriage” has been code for preventing gays from marrying the people they love, for no rational reason I’ve been able to discern. So yeah, if you’ve been in a coma since the Clinton administration, you may not realize that “I support traditional marriage” means “I’m a homophobe” in the same way as “I support Separate But Equal” means “I’m a racist”.

Of course, reality isn’t BillDo’s strong suit. But still, you’d think that after writing the afore-quoted paragraph #1, and taking further offense in paragraph #2, that he wouldn’t write this as paragraph #3:

Nature, and Nature’s God, has ordained that marriage is the exclusive province of a man and a woman; they are the only two people capable of naturally creating a family. But now, all of a sudden, we are expected to believe that such a pedestrian view is wrongheaded. Worse, there is a growing segment of the population, overwhelmingly white and well-educated, who want to punish those who hold to the traditional view. This is madness laced with fascistic elements.

Shorter Bill: “Only one man and one woman should be allowed to be married; anything else is an offense to God. And don’t you dare call me a bigot, because I never mentioned gays! All I did was strongly suggest that those people shouldn’t have the same rights as I do.”

Obama’s Tepid Rubicon

Of all the adjectives that could be applied to the current Thing Dominating The News Cycle — Obama’s endorsement of same-sex marriage — the most popular seems to be “tepid”. Other criticisms I’ve run across are in a similar vein: that Obama was wishy-washy, didn’t pledge any actual support for marriage equality, and generally speaking, why the hell aren’t we at the point where he could just say “Of course I’m for marriage equality! I can’t believe we have to have this conversation!”

(In case you couldn’t tell, I spend a lot of my time on the left side of the Inter-Blogo-Echo-Chamber-Sphere, but I can only assume that the right also had its share of criticism, which probably sounded something like “Rar rar grarh destroy our country rarh grar socialist grumble grumble Ron Paul smash!”)

I understand this criticism, and agree with a lot of it (at least the sane stuff, not the “Obama is a communist from planet Reptilia”). And yet, I can’t help thinking that maybe for all Obama’s wishy-washy, weasel-qualified luke-warmth, maybe it doesn’t matter; that was all that was needed.

In particular, I’m reminded of pope John Paul II’s statement about evolution in 1996. It’s remembered as a watershed moment when the Catholic church finally admitted what was obvious to everyone with a minimal scientific education. But if you read the thing, it’s as wishy-washy as Aladdin’s lamp in the middle of the spin cycle. Even the central assertion, that evolution is “more than a hypothesis” is an endorsement so weak that 98-pound weaklings routinely kick sand in its face at the beach.

And yet, in retrospect it turned out to be a watershed moment, from which there was no turning back. Even John Paul II’s successor, pope Reactionarius XIV (the X makes it sound edgy) hasn’t really been able to undo that, as far as I know.

So maybe the same thing’s going on with Obama. Granted, he’s not the pope. It’s not as if he can control the hearts and minds of a billion people (especially when he can’t even control his own vice-president! Amirite? badoom-sha!). At the same time, he’s The President. He sets the tone. And the fact that we’ve gotten to the point where a sitting POTUS can unambiguously, if tepidly, express his support for marriage equality, must mean that some kind of rubicon has been crossed.

Perhaps in five years we’ll look back and see this as the moment when the country released a breath it didn’t realize it had been holding; or stopped unconsciously talking about gay marriage in slightly hushed tones (yeah, that seems pretty unlikely, given that a lot of the relevant voices have been pretty loud). Or maybe just as the moment when Washington definitively figured out which way the wind was blowing and decided that it was okay for the president to commit himself.

At least, that’s what I hope will happen. I could be wrong. I don’t actually have a tingly Rubicon-sense. It might just be gas.

“Religious Liberty”

BillDo is upset over the upcoming vote on legalizing gay marriage in New York state:

The New York State legislature is one vote away from passing a gay marriage bill. What is holding it up is pressure from Catholics, Protestants, Jews and others: they want to insulate religious institutions from state encroachment. That they have to fight for their First Amendment rights shows how threatening gay-marriage legislation really is.

The threats to religious liberty are not hypothetical. …

Well, thanks for clarifying that opposition to marriage equality comes from religious quarters. This confirms what I and others have been saying for a while.

But wait, what’s this? Threats to first-amendment rights? And non-hypothetical ones? As a properly sensitive liberal guy, I’m certainly all for protecting everyone’s freedom, to the extent required by the first amendment and the Kumbaya Act of 1993. So do tell, Bill: what exactly are these real, non-hypothetical threats?

The threats to religious liberty are not hypothetical. A New Mexico photographer who refused to photograph a gay couple’s commitment ceremony was forced to pay the couple’s attorney’s fees; Christians in New Jersey who objected to allowing a gay union ceremony in their privately owned facility have had their tax-exempt status stripped; a psychologist from Georgia was fired after she declined to counsel a lesbian about her relationship. And so on.

In other words, there are real concerns that if gay marriage passes in New York, religious liberty will be jeopardized.

First of all, there’s nothing in there about marriage. All of the above can already happen; extending marriage rights to gay couples wouldn’t change anything.

For another, I fail to see words like “church”, “synagogue” or “mosque” in those examples, so it’s not clear which religious rights are being trampled.

But most importantly, what I see is three examples of people being bigots and getting slapped for it.

In other words, the “religious freedom” BillDo is crusading for is the right to hang a “no faggots” sign on the door of one’s business. Because hey, that’s what Jesus would want.

Here’s a hint, Billy-boy: if you’re beating someone over the head with a stick, and someone takes away your stick, your rights aren’t being trampled, and you don’t get to play the victim.

Derp

Maggie Gallagher writes at NOM:

The tiny number of liberal northeastern states that have embraced gay marriage tend to have high per capita incomes, because they are much older, supporting fewer children, and much whiter, and better educated than average. They are older in part because with so little job growth, young adults with families move elsewhere, most likely to a southern state with a marriage amendment that enjoys more robust economic growth.

So, um, yeah. Apparently marriage equality kills jobs, resulting in higher per-capita income and better education. And also somehow whiteness and olditude.

I’d like to say the homophobes are scraping the bottom of the barrel, but as with creationists, every time I’ve thought that, I’ve been proven wrong.