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There’s been a lot of shouting about the SCOTUS ruling about Colorado baker Jack Phillips demanding the right to refuse service to gay couples who want a cake for their wedding – which, as you may know, the bakery won.

The case was seen as a litmus test of sorts to settle the broader issue of business owners being able to discriminate against prospective customers (but especially gay ones) for religious reasons.

Despite crowing from the right and screaming outrage from the left, the SCOTUS decision didn’t actually do that.

I recommend reading SCOTUSblog’s explanation of the ruling, but the upshot is this:

Like a lot of SCOTUS cases, it’s not about the broader issue you want resolved but the specific details and context of the case before the court. And it’s not about the final score but the legal reasoning of the majority, which is key because it sets the precedent for reviewing future cases.

In this specific case, Justice Kennedy was careful to point out that what you have in these situations is two constitutionally protected items: the right of LGBTs to get married and generally not be discriminated against, and the right of people with sincere religious beliefs to lead their lives based on those beliefs. Kennedy also made it clear that the latter is not (and has never been) absolute.

The way to resolve this (such as it is) is to have a neutral third party evaluate the case under state anti-discrimination laws to fairly and neutrally determine if the religious person has a case. According to SCOTUS, the baker – Jack Phillips – didn’t get a neutral hearing. The Colorado Civil Rights Commission that ruled against Phillips treated him unfairly by being too openly hostile to his sincere religious beliefs.

I’m sure people on both sides of this argument will take umbrage to the idea of balancing LGBT rights with 1A rights, and argue that their side (and their side only) is non-negotiable. The point is that from a strictly legal POV, that ain’t the case. But in the case of Jack Phillips, it's really just a question of how this specific case was handled, not whether his religious beliefs took precedent over LGBT rights. 

So basically, the SCOTUS ruling didn’t really resolve the broader issue of whether businesses can use their religious beliefs as an excuse refuse service to people. It’s basically still a case-by-case scenario. For now. 

Which might be for the best, since I seriously doubt in these polarized times that the losing side of any eventual definitive ruling would accept it graciously and move on. We don’t really do that anymore.

As for me, my own take remains the same as before when this came up in Indiana:

If the law says a business owner can discriminate based on sincere religious beliefs – and if changing the law is not an option in the short term – the best response is for all of his/her competitors to step up and say as loudly as possible, “Hey victims of bigotry, we’ll totally take your money – in fact, we’ll give you a special discount!” We’ll see which business lasts longer. Even if it doesn’t result in bigots going out of business, it will at least assure LGBTs and other victims of bigotry that their needs are served.

If I knew you were coming I’d have baked a cake.

This is dF
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Yes, yes, I know.

Some quick comments:

1. It says a lot that the arguments now circulating on social media to support this ban are pretty much the exact same arguments we went through with Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and women serving in combat units, with a bit of keyword substitution.

2. One key difference between then and now is that attitudes have shifted considerably in the last 25 years. Back in 1993, the majority of people probably agreed that having LGBTs in the military (as if they weren’t already in it, which they totally were, but never mind) was bad for the morale, esprit de corps and mission focus of the straight guys trying to defend the country. This is a minority opinion in 2017, not least because – thanks to Iraq and Afghanistan – it’s generally been demonstrated that LGBT soldiers can fight wars as good as anyone else, and that most straight soldiers value that more than they care about their sex lives. Which is why the people still circulating the old 1993 arguments sound dumber now than they did back then.

3. The other key difference – and the more important one – is that those arguments were about giving LGBTs a right they didn’t have. Trump is proposing to take away a right that the “T”s in that equation already have. That’s a lot harder to justify – and it’s an eyebrow raiser when the POTUS wakes up one morning and decides that this group of people shouldn’t have the same rights as the rest of us anymore for reasons known only to him.

4. In fact, Trump being Trump, it’s hard to know how serious he is about it, or whether he truly believes it’s a problem that needs solving. The going theory is he intentionally picked a wedge topic out of nowhere to enrage liberals and get them raging about something else besides Russia and the GOP’s increasingly worse Obamacare replacement bills, and also to make the conservative evangelical base happy, because he could use some more support right about now. This is possible, but it also suggests Trump is clever, which seems far less possible.

5. In a way, that makes his push for a ban even worse than if he legitimately hated trans people – which he might, but there’s not much evidence to support that conclusion. Most everything he’s ever said and done regarding LGBTs since his inauguration have been directly connected to Obama policies that he rescinded – which, again, I believe he’s doing simply because they’re Obama policies. Whatever the case, it shows that at best he sees them as a faceless group he can sacrifice for political purposes – which is frankly sociopathic.

6. Luckily, he doesn't have the power to actually to institute such a ban, let alone enforce it. And military leaders have made that abundantly clear to the troops – which suggests that Trump didn’t really consult anyone in the military about this. Or anyone else, really. Maybe the GOP Congress will be happy to follow up, but something tells me they’re not really in the mood for more of Trump’s nonsense about now.

7. While Trump may not actually hate trans people, and may not be able to enforce the ban – and may not be able to convince either the brass or enough of Congress that the ban is necessary – the bigger problem is the people who do hate trans people and will be encouraged by this to be even meaner to any trans people they happen to come across than they already were. Which means it’s not a good time to be trans in America right now. That may not be exclusively Trump’s fault – but he just made himself a major part of the problem.

8. As someone who served in the US Army in a combat unit (peacetime) at a time when it was still illegal for LGBTs to serve openly in the armed forces, I can say with all certainty and conviction that I have no problem with them openly serving. Any proposed ban on military service is as pointless and dumb as the bans on trans people using gender-specific washrooms – which is to say, very pointless and dumb.

9. For those who will argue about the costs or reassignment surgery, sorry, no

Let ‘em in,

This is dF
defrog: (life is offensive)
ITEM: You know that Mississippi law passed in April that basically said you can legally discriminate against LBGTs and even unmarried hetero couples as long as it contravenes yr religious beliefs (provided those religious beliefs are Christian?

A federal judge just ruled it unconstitutional. Twice.

Earlier this week, U.S. District Court Judge Carlton Reeves ruled on a specific provision of the law that allowed clerks to recuse themselves from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. He struck that one down.

Then, minutes before the law was to go into effect on July 1, Reeves struck down the rest of it for violating the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

I’m not surprised by the ruling. You can’t really call it a “religious freedom” bill if it takes just three specific religious beliefs from one specific religion (well, two if you include Islam, which no one who wrote and supported the bill had in mind, I can pretty much guarantee) and encode them into law – especially in a way that violates another amendment (in this case, the 14th one). The 1A has never guaranteed religious freedom to the point that yr religious beliefs legally supersede everyone else’s rights or beliefs.

But then, as I’ve said before, part of the purpose of bills like this – and many of them have been proposed to varying degrees of severity – isn’t to succeed, but to be seen by yr constituents voting in favor of them. So the politicians who backed this law will get the political mileage they wanted with their base either way, and they get to trot out the old “liberal activist judge” meme for good measure.

Still, it’s nice the law was rejected, though of course it might be reinstated on appeal. No word yet on an appeal will actually happen, although Gov Phil Bryant has said he would very much desire it. And bear in mind that LGBTs are still not covered by the state's existing anti-discrimination law anyway. Still, in times like these you take what you can get.

Case dismissed,

This is dF
defrog: (onoes)
If you have any kind of social media account, you know that state legislatures in North Carolina, Georgia and Mississippi are dithering over The Gayz.

The one in North Carolina is officially law. The one in Georgia was dropped after Gov Nathan Deal decided not to sign it when The Walking Dead team said it would film elsewhere. The one in Mississippi is pending, though Gov Phil Bryant seems pretty keen on it.

The first two are laws we’ve seen before. The NC bill basically says only the state govt can decide who gets protection under anti-discrimination laws (and BTW the LGBTs will never qualify as long the GOP runs the place). Tennessee passed a similar law five years ago (ostensibly in the name of pro-business workplace regulation consistency).

The GA bill was more like the Indiana “religious liberty” bill last year allowing business owners to refuse to cater gay weddings or refuse services to LGBTs, which Gov Mike Pence eventually amended to nullify that part.

I don’t have anything to add about the NC and GA bills that I haven’t already said about the TN and Indiana bills.

However, the MS bill is worth spending some extra time on because it goes further than the other bills mentioned above, not least in that it includes non-marital heterosex in its list of items you can legally discriminate against people for religious reasons. Which is odd because in Mississippi (and 27 other states, BTW), it's already legal to deny housing to an unmarried couple based on a landlord's religious objection to premarital sex. For that matter, it's already legal to do the same thing to LGBTs.

Consequently, I think it’s fair to say the MS bill has two main objectives for the GOP-led legislature: (1) make gay marriage illegal in MS despite the SCOTUS ruling, and (2) ensure the GOP is SEEN by their constituents fighting The LGBT Agenda™.

I suspect the second is the most important objective, as I’m sure at least some of the bill’s supporters know full well the law won’t survive a legal challenge – unless maybe they’re banking on Mitch McConnell keeping that ninth SCOTUS seat empty until Donald Trump wins the election. 

Whatever the motivation, I think it’s a bad law for the same reason the other ones are bad laws.

To be clear, I fully understand that some Christians don’t want anything to do with gay marriage because they’re afraid that even so much as providing a cake or a DJ service some how endorses or legitimizes it. I’m just not convinced the solution to what is admittedly a complex problem is to pass a simplistic law that essentially declares religious beliefs are above secular law. There’s just so much that can go wrong there.

One other thought: the MS law states that churches can’t be forced to officiate gay marriages. This is something I actually support. There’s a big difference between the state handing out marriage licenses and a church performing them, and I do think pastors should have the right to refuse.

The thing is, I’m unaware that this is actually a problem. I may be out of touch, but I don’t know of any church that has been forced to officiate a gay marriage in MS (or anywhere else), or has been sued for refusing to do so. The latter might happen at some point, but I don’t think any gay couple who tried it would succeed, because there’s no legal basis for it – churches are not compelled under the SCOTUS ruling to perform gay marriages on demand. There would also be no point in suing the ones that refuse, since some US churches have already decided to support gay marriage. So if you have yr heart set on a church wedding, it is an option.

So in that sense, the MS bill – and most bills like these – are solutions in search of a problem, and as such are likely going to create more problems than they’re purported to solve.

None of which will stop Phil Bryant from signing it. And whether he does or doesn’t, this won't be the last bill like this we will see. As the POTUS elections have demonstrated, America is angry and freaking out about everything, and people on both sides are no longer interested in compromise – it’s become an all-or-nothing game. The same is true of the LGBT culture wars.

Go down swinging,

This is dF

defrog: (Default)
Yr Traditional Marriage lede of the day:

So basically, they decided that it would be less of a scandal if everyone found out Courser was paying men to have gay sex with him (which is illegal – the paid part, I mean) than if he and Gamrat were caught cheating on their respective spouses.  I can’t really add anything to that.

Both are Tea Party Republicans. Both are married with children.

As I understand it, the specifics of the “cover story” was allegedly Courser’s idea.

So basically, Courser decided that it would be less of a scandal if everyone found out he was paying men to have gay sex with him (which is illegal – the paid part, I mean) than if he and Gamrat were caught cheating on their respective spouses.

I can’t really add anything to that.

NOTE: The above screenshot is slightly outdated – Courser has resigned, and Gamrat has been expelled.

I like this part:

In perhaps the strangest twist to his bizarre scandal, following the committee recommendation, Gamrat claimed she only admitted guilt because House leaders promised her censure in a written agreement if she copped to the charges leveled at her by investigators. Now she says much of her confession was untrue.

And that’s why she thinks she shouldn’t be kicked out office.

Res ipsa loquitur.

Get out of my house,

This is dF
defrog: (onoes)
As you know, the Supremes have been busy making part of America very happy and part of America very very sad and angry.

If you want commentary focusing strictly on the legal reasonings behind the Obamacare and gay marriage decisions, go to SCOTUSblog, though you will find commentary backing both the majority and the dissents – and they’re about as polarized as Facebook on both issues. (Lawyers, eh?)

I don’t have much to say about either decision because I’ve already stated my opinions on Obamacare and gay marriage. You can assume those still apply.

But here’s a few general comments to fulfill my 1A requirements:

1. For those liberal friends of mine who have spent the last ten years complaining about how the GOP has packed SCOTUS with activist conservatives who will kill Obamacare at the first opportunity and rubber stamp every idea that benefits Republicans and Corporate America, I suggest you take some time to reflect on the accuracy of yr predictions, as well as on how SCOTUS actually works.

2. No one ever said it wasn’t funny watching conservatives deploying the “activist judges” routine against judges they’d supported on the grounds that they would be strict constitutional fundamentalists.

3. By “activist judges”, they mean “judges who don’t vote the way I want them to”.

4. Fox news ha ha ha.

5. Ted Cruz is the new Pat Buchanan. Because what's the point of having an independent judiciary if they can’t be pressured by politicians and popular opinion to vote in your favor on your particular pet issue?

6. The SCOTUS rulings won’t end the debate. Of course they matter in terms of Obamacare carrying on and LGBTQ couples being able to be hitched, although it’s likely the states that still have hetero-only laws on the books will take their sweet time in changing their laws to comply with the ruling.

But as Point 5 indicates, conservatives don’t plan to just sit back and take this. So you’re going to see more legal challenges to Obamacare, and there will be efforts to amend the Fed Constitution to either define marriage as hetero-only or “fix” the Supreme Court. They’ll probably fail – conservatives have been proposing such things for a couple of decades now, and have never succeeded. But that's the great thing about political parties – yr always convinced yr the “real” majority no matter what the polls say. (Which proves that when you lose it’s part of some evil conspiracy against you by activist judges or whatever the hell.)

We’ll also see silly things like bills forcing SCOTUS judges to enroll in Obamacare (now called SCOTUScare) so “they will see firsthand what the American people are forced to live with.” Yes, ha ha. Given how much SCOTUS judges make, I doubt they’ll notice the difference.

On a more serious note, I do think you’ll be seeing a lot of other battles around the gay marriage ruling, like whether churches can opt out of performing gay marriages, or whether religious universities can refuse to provide housing for same-sex married couples, etc and so on.

7. Also, it’s an election year, so the bluster is going to have some momentum – at least at the Congressional level. It’s interesting to note that while GOP POTUS candidates like Cruz, Huckabee and Jindal are talking about judicial tyranny, others have opted for the “I don’t agree with the gay marriage ruling, but it’s the law of the land so we must respect it” response – which is political savviness on their part, since the majority of Americans support gay marriage, so the ruling basically lets them off the hook. (No word yet on if they feel the same way about the Obamacare ruling.)

But you can bet a whole lot of GOP candidate at other levels of govt are going to milk these decisions as evidence of liberal “lawlessness” and that you need to vote GOP before it’s too late and America becomes a nation of gay Spanish-speaking Satan-worshipping multicultural Socialist Mexicans.

Which they’ve doing for years, of course. But now that they’ve got fresh “evidence” to rile up the base, they’re almost certainly going to run off the end of the earth with it.

8. I realize I’m mostly picking on conservatives here, but given the tone of the “debate” I’ve seen on both these issues, I feel pretty confident in saying had SCOTUS ruled the other way in both cases, you’d be seeing the same amount of dithering, vitriol and teeth-gnashing from the liberal side of the aisle. Because this is 2015 – we do not lose gracefully because we’ve convinced ourselves the Other Side is a cabal of supervillains out to destroy humanity and MUST BE STOPPED.

Also, it’s pretty much how the Left reacted to Citizens United and Hobby Lobby. So it’s not like they can point fingers at how conservatives are such sore losers in court cases.

Carry on screaming,

This is dF
defrog: (life is offensive)
So I guess it’s okay to stop hating Indiana now?

A few additional observations from here:

1. In a sense the whole sorry episode illustrates how disconnected political leaders can be from reality. Mike Pence not only had no idea how different the Indiana law is from the federal RFRA he thought it was modeled after, but also seemed genuinely baffled that anyone could possibly interpret it as a way for religious business owners to, say, refuse to send pizzas to gay weddings.

Regardless of how you personally feel about conservative Christians or gay marriage, you'd have to be living in a cave to not know that at least some people will use religious freedom to do not-so-nice things. Unless you just assume – as Pence has done in the press – that those things never happen because liberals just make shit like that up.

Which brings us to:

2. The Memories Pizza incident, which may not be a case of making shit up but it’s almost certainly a case of being set up by a TV reporter looking to start an argument.

Or not. Both sides are spinning this for maximum impact. But personally I found it suspicious that right after the RFRA passed, some reporter found one business in one small town in an entire state to go on record stating they wouldn’t cater a gay wedding – which suddenly became “proof” that the RFRA law is resulting straights-only policies across the state.

Which wasn’t even close to true.

But what is truth? Everyone has proof that the story is made up, or that the O’Connors exaggerated or made up the death threats they received over the interview, or that the resulting GoFundMe campaign that earned them $800k is astroturf.

But there is one fact in the midst of all this: thanks to the extreme wing of the Left going ballistic, the owners of Memories Pizza are now close to $1 million richer than they were before. Therefore, if the objective of harassing Memories Pizza was to force them to either close or change their catering policy, I’d call the result a big fat epic fail.

But then I was never a big fan of the “Boycott Indiana” meme, not least because it punished businesses whether or not they supported the law. Why boycott everyone when you can marginalize the businesses who do discriminate against certain patrons?

That’s why I thought the proper response would be for businesses in Indiana who didn’t support the law – or had no intention of taking advantage of it – to put signs in their windows saying “Hey, we’ll take yr money, we don’t care who you sleep with.” And indeed a number of businesses did just that.

It’s a moot point now, of course, but I think that would have been a far more effective (and fair) response than an all-out boycott or online hate blitzes against the likes of Memories Pizza. That was stupid and wrong.

3. And now no one has to admit it because Pence “fixed” the law, which means many in the Left will come away from this thinking, “Well that worked, so we'll go apeshit every time another state passes a law we don't like.”

That’s what really bugs me about this, and it’s the reason I’m trying to channel all this into a post that makes a modicum of sense. I understand why people were upset over Indiana, but I think the response was the kind of overblown shrill batshit hysterics usually deployed by certain conservative radio shows and news channels. Those tactics make them look dumb irrational people, but it gets results. Now both sides are doing it because it gets results.

So the overall lesson from Indiana is: why be rational when overblown shrill batshit hysterics work just as well, possibly better?

Which is a good excuse for me to post this great interview Patton Oswalt did for Salon. If you didn’t know, Oswalt has been highly critical of Salon for taking progressive journalism into shrill hysterical batshit territory, and he makes a good case for how that is not helping the cause, and the proper response to extremists and racists and homophobes et al isn’t outrage, but pity and humor:

I always go for mocking and laughter before outrage. The reason that Ann Coulter gets away with the shit that she says is because the people responding spend half their energy going, “I can’t believe it! Why would you?” She should say shit, and then you should just go, “Aw, Ann. OK.” I never get outraged at shit. I just don’t. You come back with jokes, they don’t know what to do. There has to be way less outrage, more fun and mocking and irreverence.

It just feels like being outraged puts you in a position of not being powerful. You’re so much more powerful when you’re laughing and being forgiving and taking pity on someone.

To that I’d add that outrage is easy. It’s kneejerk emotion that takes no intellectual effort whatsoever. Which is okay if you just want to vent. As a strategy for change, it’s the equivalent of screaming until you get yr way. It might work, but it’s uncool, immature, and no one really respects you for it.

Keep calm,

This is dF

defrog: (sars)
There is dithering in (and about) Indiana.

The reaction has been pretty much what you’d expect, though I don’t know if even Mike Pence and his supporters expected Gen Con, the NCAA, AND the Disciples Of Christ to come together on this.

I have opinions, of course. And I am required by constitutional law to post them online. So:

1. I think a lot of the freakout is more over what the law represents rather than the actual consequences of its passage. Many people imagine something like this:

Honestly I have serious doubts this is going to happen (see below). But it’s interesting that opponents either believe it will, or equate the law to the mentality such signs of the past represented, then and now. It’s encouraging that so many people think that mentality has no place in the 21st Century. So while I think reactions like this are overblown as a prediction of consequences, they do represent a rejection of discrimination and bigotry in any form.

2. That said, a sense of perspective is always helpful. Indiana’s not the first state to pass this sort of law. Given the current political climate, it probably won’t be the last, even if Indiana does take a shellacking over it. Also – as I mentioned before with the Hobby Lobby ruling – the scenario depicted above has been legally possible since 1993 under federal law. If there’s been an epidemic of straights-only businesses launching across the Bible Belt, I’m unaware of it. And the Internet being what it is, I’m pretty sure we’d know if there was.

3. Consequently, my prediction is that very few business owners will actually take advantage of the new law. The ones that do will probably be niche businesses that deal in things like wedding-related products and services, and they’ll be very isolated from the rest of the business community. Some may end up failing, others not. But they’ll always be the exception to the rule and stand out as atavistic dinosaurs in a world that has largely moved on.

4. Even so, let’s admit it’s kind of a dumb law that even Mike Pence admits addresses a problem that doesn’t actually exist in his state. The only point of the law is to make some sort of symbolic political point about govt interference in freedom of religion.

Which, on its face, is fine. I get that people want to be able to adhere to their religious beliefs to the fullest extent, even at work.

The problem – apart from the point that a few people use religion to justify all kinds of horrible things – is that Pence et al have passed a broadly worded law with a very specific, limited scenario in mind: namely, Christians being forced to do business with gays. What they haven’t realized (or refuse to admit) is that the law itself applies to anyone with a religious belief. So if you want the freedom to deny LGBTs service for whatever reason, you have to accept that the same freedom applies to people who can use it to discriminate against you. As such, anyone who supported this law doesn’t really get to complain if they find themselves on the other end of the stick.

However, as I mentioned, such incidents will probably be few. But they may be instructive.

Or not.

5. The text of the bill is here if you want to read it. (I'm betting most people haven't.)

No service,

This is dF

defrog: (Default)
You’ve heard about the passing of Fred Phelps by now – founder of Westboro Baptist Church, professional funeral picketer and coiner of the slogan “God Hates Fags™”.

Inevitably, some people have proposed picketing his funeral for heckling purposes, because irony/just desserts/fuck that guy.

I’d rather they didn’t. If it’s not cool for the WBC to do it, it’s not cool for you to do it. As emotionally satisfying as it might be for some people, stooping to Phelps’ level only justifies his legacy. It won’t be funny or clever, just sad, and kind of a dick thing to do.

That’s assuming Phelps even has a funeral, of course. Reportedly there won't be one because it contravenes the beliefs of his own church.

Well played, WBC. Well played.

As for the future of WBC, I doubt it changes anything. His followers have pretty much bought into his hate trip, so they will likely continue his work and spout his message of hate wherever they can.

Apart from that, I don’t have a lot to say about this. I’m sure many will celebrate Phelps' death and piss on his grave (literally or figuratively). But I’m not really down with that. I’m not especially saddened by his death, but I don’t take any joy in it, either.

Some friends have suggested marking his passing by making donations to the Matthew Shepard Foundation or similar pro-gay/anti-hate charities. I think that’s a good idea, and certainly a more productive one. 

Moving on,

This is dF

defrog: (Default)
Emergency unsolicited news analysis from Team Def Political Batshit Curator Lucky Bensonhurst

There is dithering in Kansas.

As you may have heard, the Kansas House of Representatives celebrated Valentine’s Day by passing a bill that essentially makes it legal for businesses to refuse to serve gay customers for moral/religious reasons. Moreover, it makes it legal for any employee to refuse to serve gays, even if the employer doesn’t object (in which case you’ll have to pass the gays onto one of yr heathen coworkers).

That includes govt employees. Which means, according to Slate:

Any government employee is given explicit permission to discriminate against gay couples—not just county clerks and DMV employees, but literally anyone who works for the state of Kansas. If a gay couple calls the police, an officer may refuse to help them if interacting with a gay couple violates his religious principles. State hospitals can turn away gay couples at the door and deny them treatment with impunity. Gay couples can be banned from public parks, public pools, anything that operates under the aegis of the Kansas state government.

Anti-gay proponents are trying to sell this, amusingly, as an anti-discrimination bill – which is to say, it combats discrimination against Christians. Because, as we all know, it’s not fair that Christians (which comprise at least 86% of the Kansas population) should be forced to do business with all five gay couples in that state. Because that’s oppression.

Ha ha.

As usual, the people who support the law haven’t really thought the idea through. For a start, we’ve already seen that laws intended to assert “religious freedom” tend to backfire due to lack of specificity and the assumption that it only applies to (fundamentalist) Christians and not, say, Muslims, Hindus and Satanists.

Also, proponents of the bill don’t seem to really understand the concept behind it. I’m sure they think it’s about opposing gay marriage in some vague way. But it’s really about aiding and abetting sin via commercial transactions. Like this: “If I sell a gay couple a car or a pizza or something, or if I fix their TV set, I am somehow condoning their gayness. Therefore, if I refuse them service, I am not complicit in their homosex.”

The logic is somewhat tortured (probably because the proponents didn’t bother with logic when they wrote it and/or voted for it), but that’s basically the idea being expressed here: Engaging in commercial transactions with gays = approval of gays.

And when you break that down, “gay” = “sin”. So if you can refuse to serve gay people because they’re sinners, by extension you can refuse to serve any sinner. And according to Scripture, we’re all sinners. Result: technically, you are pretty much unemployable, Jim. (Luckily, you can always run for office.)

Of course, as I said, none of the proponents of this bill have probably gotten that far in their thinking – it’s really just about “I’m SO afraid of gay people, and why should I be forced to deal with them at work just because it’s my job”. (Or, in some cases, it’s about “Ewwww I don't want gay all over me”.) But then most bad laws are the product of people who don’t put any real thought into them. 

So it’s silly, yes. But like lots of silly legislation concerning gays oppressing the rights of Christian straight people by being allowed to be gay, it has a tendency to be overblown by people who want to turn this into a Authorized Republican Conspiracy to put gay people in re-education camps.

This is where I point out that the Kansas Senate leadership has already said they don’t support the bill. Please note – and I can’t stress this enough – that this is the Republican leadership we’re talking about here. The GOP controls both the state house and senate in Kansas, but the Republican-led senate isn’t having it.

And one reason, interestingly, is because the business sector doesn’t want it. Several Kansas business associations are opposed to the bill because it means you can’t fire an employee for refusing to do his/her job. Surprisingly, business owners don’t like being told by the govt how to handle their employees. (Who knew?) It also suggests that even if the law were passed, most businesses wouldn’t institute “No Gays Served” policies – at least not for long.

So the bill looks DOA. Which is good. And it’s probably as well, because – and I don't have the facts to back this up, BUT – I suspect the Repubs who came up with the bill aren’t all that serious about it. It looks like one of those bills that some self-righteous asshats wrote to make themselves look like they stand for morality. The point of such bills usually isn’t to get them signed into law – the point is to be seen voting on it. If it succeeds, fine. If it fails, you get to blame the Opposition for stopping it and causing all the problems in yr state.

So while it’s tempting to paint the bill’s passage as another example of Institutionalized Republican Bigotry, the bigger picture suggests that the GOP is at least trying to reign in the old OMGAY bugaboos that their batshit wing tends to deploy, if only for pro-business reasons. Which is, you know, better than letting the dingbats run the circus. (As John Boehner knows all too well.)

On the other hand, as Andrew Sullivan has pointed out, if the GOP really wants to shuck its batshit wing and be taken seriously as a party (especially by voters who are not Old White Guys) the last thing they should be doing is passing atavistic Jim Crow-style laws against the LGBTs. In fact, they probably shouldn’t even be introducing them on the floor in the first place.

But to be fair, it’s worth remembering here that both the GOP and the Democratic Party are complex beasts – what happens at the municipal and state level is going to vary widely from the federal level. Which means just because a bunch of Kansas house reps support a bill like this, it doesn’t follow that they’re taking their orders from John Boehner or Reince Priebus or whoever. It’s always possible Priebus is seeing all this from DC and thinking “Gawdamn it so MUCH, guys, we’re trying to IMPROVE THE TONE here …”

After all, party civil wars ain’t easy.

~ L. Bensonhurst
defrog: (life is offensive)
The film version of Ender’s Game is now playing at a cinema near you – unless yr in Hong Kong like me, in which case it will be at a cinema near me later this week. 

And as you may know, there is controversy – mainly because Orson Scott Card, the author of the classic SF novel the film is based on, has expressed fairly silly and noxious opinions about gays and lesbians (though not in the novel). Consequently, there’s been calls for a boycott of the film with the goal of preventing Card from making money from it.

Possibly by coincidence, the studio distributing Ender’s Game has put out a release saying that Card won’t be making any money from the box office take. Message: “Please don’t boycott our movie, since the guy yr pissed off at won’t be making any money from it anyway.”

John Scalzi has some wise thoughts about all this, which break down into a couple of key points:

1. Card has likely already made his money from the film whether you see it or not. 

2. Whatever money he may or may not earn from the film, he’ll earn plenty from additional book sales tied in to the film (and we are talking about a book that already sells hundreds of thousands of copies a year). So if the object is to keep a homophobe from making money, boycotting the film won’t achieve that.

Which is as well, since I’m not a big believer in these types of boycotts – partly because they don’t work anyway, and partly because if you want art (in any form – paintings, books, films, whatever) created by people who have politically correct views that you agree with all the time, yr not going to be enjoying a whole lot of art.

On the other hand, I admittedly don’t have a stake in this game. I’ve never read any of Card’s books, mainly due to lack of interest, so it’s hard to get motivated to watch a film based on a book I wasn’t interested in reading in the first place.

Which isn’t to say I won’t go see it. I might. But it looks like one of those films I’d go see when nothing else is playing. So for me, boycotting this film is like boycotting The Hunger Games – it’s not something I'd really have to go out of my way to do.

Game on/game off,

This is dF
defrog: (Default)
There has been talk about Russia’s “Don’t Say Gay” law being applied to athletes competing in the Winter Olympics in Sochi, which is pretty straightforward – sport a rainbow/AIDS pin, go to jail. 

Gay rights advocates are, of course, angry about this. But they’re also angry at the IOC for not being as angry about it as they are.

I understand this. But I have to say, I also understand the uncomfortable position the IOC is in. 

The IOC has always maintained a politically neutral stance to the Games, which are supposed to be the one arena the global community can stop arguing about politics for once and have some good old-fashioned sports competition. It’s not supposed to be a venue for making political statements. And the IOC by its very nature can’t afford to be taking sides.

The problem for the IOC is that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to stay politically neutral in a world where EVERYTHING is political, and more and more people refuse to compromise on their position to the point where yr pretty much expected to take a side, and refusing to do so is the same as opposing you. Yr either with us or against us, as someone once said.

Of course, the situation is a bit more complicated, because the problem isn’t really Russia’s opposition to gay marriage or gay rights. Look at any Olympic event since the Games started, and you’ll find they all took place in countries where gay marriage was still illegal, and where gay rights were at best patchy. The real problem is free speech – Russia has decided even openly expressing support for gay rights is a crime punishable by deportation.

The IOC has already expressed concern over this, and is pushing the Russian govt to at least exempt the Olympics from the law. Supposedly the govt has given them written assurances that the law won’t affect anyone attending or competing in the games, although apparently no one told Russia’s Sports Minister that.

Mind you, I’m not saying the Russia law is good, or that people shouldn’t oppose it, or shouldn't boycott the Games. I’m just saying it’s not really the job of the IOC to become an agitator for sociopolitical change, no matter how much you might want it to be. Apart from “quiet diplomacy”, there’s not much they can do about it at this stage.

As for boycotts, well, that’s fine, though I don’t think it will help much. The US and the USSR used to boycott each other’s Olympics all the time (well, twice, anyway), albeit with negligible results.

What I’d like to see – and what I hope happens – is athletes and attendees openly defying the law. I’d love to see every athlete wear an AIDs pin or wave a rainbow flag. Is Russia going to arrest and deport them all? Not likely. Even if only some athletes do it, I don’t think Russia will actually arrest any of them (except maybe the Russian ones). That’s what I’d prefer – mass gay rights support to the point of making the current Russian govt look isolated and out of touch.

It will also annoy and alarm certain American politicians and news commentators who will be forced to agree with Vlad Putin about something. Bonus!

Say it loud,

This is dF

defrog: (Default)

SCOTUS has come and gone, and made some rulings. You’ve probably heard about at least one. And as an American citizen and a guy with a blog, I am required under the US Constitution to express my opinions about them.

And, me being me, they won’t be the big emo outpouring you get on Facebook and Twitter, but something a little more nuanced and looking at the actual legal issues involved rather than my gut feelings about which way I wanted the judges to rule. Sorry about that.

It might get long ... )

Looking back at the above rulings, it’s interesting to compare the actual rulings and the reasonings behind them to the armchair legal analysis on social media. Most people aren’t judges or legal experts, and tend to look at these issues based on how they feel about them. That’s fine, but then they act surprised and outraged when judges don’t rule the same way, and draw some erroneous conclusions as a result. For example: “SCOTUS says Section 4 of the VRA needs rethinking; SCOTUS therefore actively advocates the repression of non-white people from voting. FUCK YOU SCOTUS!” 

I’m fascinated by that disconnect, which assumes that SCOTUS makes all its decisions based on what’s morally right and wrong rather than the legal arguments before it. You don’t need much more than a few episodes of Law & Order to know that courts don’t work that way.

Yes, many judges are informed by ideology when they interpret law, and some abuse their power when dishing out rulings. But in the end – and especially with SCOTUS – it’s not their job to settle yr political arguments and decide which party is right or wrong. That’s why when you take yr case all the way to the top, you need to have a good legal reason for doing so, and it better be a legal reason that’s worth their time to consider.

Put another way, if you want SCOTUS to uphold DOMA, you have to give them something better than “Gay marriage is forbidden in the Bible and also really gross, Yr Honor”.

But then I think it’s funny that one guy I know went on Facebook and called SCOTUS a bunch of “fucking asshats” for their VRA ruling, then had to cheer them for the DOMA ruling, so I would say that, wouldn’t I?

And that’s all I got on SCOTUS.

Meanwhile, I recommend looking at sites like SCOTUSblog and The Volokh Conspiracy, which break down the complex legal arguments at the heart of all these cases.

Court is adjourned,

This is dF

defrog: (Default)
Yr new favorite Obama conspiracy theory: Obama is in favor of gay marriage because he is actually gay. Or at least bisexual.

Source: Tea Party activist Jerome Corsi.

He has evidence, you know:

Saying that Obama's life contains "lies, mysteries" and other "disinformation," Corsi states, "Obama had all these roommate pictures [where he] seems to be sitting about on the guy’s lap. I’ve not seen a lot of roommate pictures where two guys are that chummy!" He then asks, "Was he married to a guy, I mean, what’s the deal?"

Well, there you go.

It does explain a lot. No straight person could possibly be in favor of gay marriage.

Which would mean that roughly half of America is now gay.

In which case Bryan Fischer’s plans for an underground railroad to kidnap rescue children from gay parents and send them to Nicaragua will need a lot more funding.

FUN FACT: Jerome Corsi also has evidence that Obama’s long-form birth certificate is a forgery. So it’s not like he’s some kook trying to make a name for himself.

Show us the marriage certificate,

This is dF

defrog: (Default)
Or, “Absolutely Positively My Only Post About Dan Cathy and Chick-Fil-A”.

So. Chick-Fil-A president Dan Cathy does not like the gay peoples, and feels strongly enough about it that he’ll go on record in public and talk about how much he does not like the gay peoples. 

My take on this is no different from similar incidents where CEOs decide to publicly take sides on emotional wedge issues like gay marriage and gay rights in general. Which is this:

Gibbity gibbity gibbity ... )

FULL DISCLOSURE: I’ve eaten at Chick-Fil-A only once in my life. Possibly twice. I may have eaten at the one near Carbondale in the early 90s, but that was 20 years ago, so I don’t remember for sure. I definitely visited the one in Maryville-Alcoa, TN around four or five years ago, before their president’s political opinions became a Facebook meme. 

In any case, I wasn’t all that impressed with their chicken sandwich. So it’s a bit disingenuous for me to boycott a business I had no plans to revisit on future trips to the US, is what I'm saying.

Taking my business elsewhere,

This is dF

defrog: (Default)
Apropos of the previous post – my hearing Sweet’s Desolation Blvd for the first time at a LGBT-populated party:

One of the tracks on that album, of course, is “AC DC”, which is about a bisexual girlfriend. It was also the track that caught my attention enough to ask someone what band that was playing on the hi-fi.

It's also one of my favorite tracks on the album.

I wouldn’t say it’s exactly a pro-gay anthem or anything (in as much as heterosexual fantasies about lesbians aren’t exactly the same thing as being in favor of gay rights). But it just seems right that I heard it first in that particular setting.

She got girls all over world,

This is dF

defrog: (Default)
I grew up listening to Top 40 radio in the 70s. One of the drawbacks of getting yr music intelligence from Top 40 radio is the lack of context – you can hear a song by a band you assume is new but has actually been around for years.

For example, I had no idea who Sweet was when they released “Love Is Like Oxygen” in 1978. I just liked the song, and added it to my 45 collection.

It would be a few years later that I would hear a copy of Desolation Boulevard (i.e. the one with “Ballroom Blitz” on it, which of course surprised me, as I thought it was a Krokus song). It sounded like a different band to me. And I liked this band a lot more.

The moral? Well, there isn’t one. Except that sometimes the best way to discover new music is to explore the past. Or something.

FUN FACT: I heard Desolation Blvd at the birthday party of a friend’s sister, who also happened to be a lesbian. Consequently, there were a lot of LGBTs in attendance, some of them very obviously couples. I was 16, and whilst I was aware of the existence of LGBTs and was okay with that, I had never really been exposed to the LGBT community before.

Here’s what I learned: gay parties are FUN parties.

Sorry, Rick Santorum.

Gonna spend my days in bed,

This is dF

defrog: (Default)
To review:

ITEM: VP Joe Biden says he’s totally cool with gay marriage.

ITEM: North Carolina officially bans gay marriage, to the surprise of none of the other 49 states.

ITEM: A California senate committee clears a bill banning conversion therapy that purports to straighten out yr gay teenager on the grounds that the therapy is both stupid and dangerous.

ITEM: Presidente Obama comes out of the closet and says he’s now in favor of the gay marriage. The first pro-gay marriage fundraiser email goes out shortly thereafter.

And so gay marriage is now the most important issue facing America in this election. Well, at least in the media. Because gay marriage MUCH better television than economic charts.

I don't have much to say about the California and North Carolina stories that I haven't said before (except to paraphrase John Scalzi by pointing out to all the people denouncing NC as dumb hick rednecks that gay marriage bans are by no means limited to the South – 30 states have passed similar amendments).

As for Presidente Obama ... well, not to be Johnny Raincloud here, but I can’t help thinking his “evolution” on the gay marriage issue is a little more politically calculated than that.

I don’t necessarily buy the going theory that Joe Biden accidentally forced Obama’s hand by going off-message (though it’s amusing how that angle gets so much traction simply because of Biden’s reputation as Gaffe Master General, even though personally I’ve never noticed him say anything dumber than the average politician – he’s certainly no Dan Quayle).

That said, there’s also talk that Shotgun Joe’s gaffe was no gaffe but more of an advance-guard tactic to set the scene for Obama’s turnaround.

Maybe. Either way, I do think Obama’s timing is deliberate – I think he’s been waiting for The Right Time to commit himself to openly backing same-sex marriage. And that time, for whatever reason, is now.

I shouldn’t complain, of course. When it comes to gay rights, you take what you can get and keep pushing forward. And Obama’s explicit support is a start, although how long it will take for that to evolve into action is anyone’s guess – certainly not until he’s secured his second term. (See, there I go again. Sorry …)

Anyway, if it freaks the hell out of the “OMG THE GAYS ARE TAKING OVER!” dingbats, I’m generally in favor of it.

Oh, and a shout-out to Fox News for saying that Obama only wants to use gay marriage as a wedge issue to distract from his failing economic policies. Ha ha. Good one, Fox. It’s like Rick Santorum never ran for President talking mostly about gay marriage and contraceptives and got enough traction on those issues to give Mitt Romney a run for his money.

Heh heh. Seriously, you guys slay me. No, really, stop, I’m gonna bust a gut here.

Which isn’t to say Obama has no use for wedge issues. While he could probably beat Romney if the economy stays the main focus of the election, Obama was always going to look better running against a blithering idiot like Santorum and his Big Gaypocalypse meme. With Romney now the likely opponent, gay marriage was only likely to become a hot issue if Obama decided to make it one.

But it’s just precious to hear conservatives criticize Obama for doing what they’ve been doing for years, to say nothing of using a political strategy the GOP practically invented.

Let’s get married,

This is dF

defrog: (Default)
She’s back.

And she’s brought a whole pack of bisexual boy toys with her.


People think I’m kidding when I say I like Madonna.

I’m not. I’m a fan. And judging from the tracks from her new album I heard in HMV this afternoon – to say nothing of the above video – she’s back on form.

Detractors may say Madonna is getting a little old to be doing this kind of thing. I say the fact that she’s not letting age define or confine her sexual expression is not only characteristic of her, but also what makes her so awesome.

I am not worthy,

This is dF

defrog: (Default)
“The biggest threat to the American family since Obamacare.”

PRODUCTION NOTE: It’s satire, reportedly created after a frustrating online aergument with a homophobe. The whole page is worth reading.

See also: shellfish.

Perversion apologist,

This is dF


defrog: (Default)

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