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Mississippi Gov. Claims New Anti-LGBT Law Just Balances The Scales Of Justice

Yesterday, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant took time out of his day to be interviewed by Tim Wildmon, head of the Mississippi-based anti-gay hate group the American Family Association. As Wildmon and his co-hosts showered Bryant in praise and prayer for recently signing a radical anti-LGBT bill into law, the governor said that he didn't understand why the law provoked so much outrage, since it was just an effort to balance the scales of justice by allowing people to openly discriminate in the name of "religious liberty."

"This is about the churches," Bryant said. "The next stop will be American Family Radio and it will be Mississippi College, it will be St. Dominic's Hospital as lawsuits will be filed; it will be churches where pastors can say, 'I can't perform that ceremony,' a lawsuit will be filed, it will go to a federal court and the federal court will say, yes, they should be a protected class, those who choose to marry and want to be married in the church and that church might lose its tax-exempt status and they'll have to close. And church after church after church across this country will close."

"We think people of faith have rights," he continued. "I know that's a strange notion, but we believe the scales of justice must be balanced for those people of faith and those that have other ideas about their desires in life. And that's what the scales of justice must do is be balanced and we believe that this is a step in protecting the civil liberties of people of faith just as the First Amendment of the Constitution does."

Anti-Choice Leader Floats Possibility Of Punishing Abortion 'Accomplices,' Women Who Are Not Coerced

Donald Trump’s comment last month that if abortion is recriminalized, a woman who obtains the procedure will have to face “some form of punishment ” was a disaster for his presidential campaign, but did a public service in exposing the real consequences of the anti-choice movement's agenda.

Abortion rights opponents who have spent years claiming that their efforts to restrict abortion are about protecting women were suddenly faced with a direct question: If you believe that abortion is murder, why shouldn’t a woman who chooses an abortion be treated like a murderer?

Most anti-choice leaders respond with some version of the argument that in the case of an abortion, a woman is a victim rather than a perpetrator, along with vague assurances that no public officials would actually choose to legally punish women for the procedure.

One of these is Frank Pavone, the head of Priests for Life, who responded to Trump’s comment by saying: “We don't aim to imprison [women], we aim to liberate them from the shame and guilt and wounds abortion brings. The punishment should be for the abortionist, not the baby's mom.”

But Pavone had a hard time keeping up this argument when, in a recent radio appearance, a sympathetic caller pressed him on the logical fallacy.

Pavone was a guest on "The Drew Mariani Show" on Relevant Radio on Tuesday when a listener named Cory called in to say that he thought Trump was being “remarkably philosophically consistent” on the issue of punishing women for abortion. If a fetus is the equivalent of a five-year-old, he asked, why wouldn’t a woman who has an abortion face the same punishment as a woman who hires someone to kill her five-year-old?

“Because, I mean, we certainly don’t allow a woman who’s an accomplice in the murder of a five-year-old or a six-year-old the privilege of being a victim,” he said. “So I’m not exactly sure how we — we’re not really being that philosophically consistent here with this.”

Pavone responded that the difference was “psychological” and that a woman who had an abortion would probably face a lesser charge because of the amount of “pressure” and “confusion” that she was under to seek the procedure, much like “mitigating circumstances” can mitigate murder charges in the case of a “born person.”

Pavone added that it would also make sense to spare women from punishment so that they would report abortion providers to the authorities, who could then “go after that abortionist and stop him and save other lives.”

Cory, however, was not satisfied with this answer. He pointed out that many women who have abortions “don’t mind having gone through it and they don’t regret it” and repeated that he thought “there should be some sort of legal consequence for a woman who volitionally goes into an abortion clinic knowing what’s going to happen.”

“There has to be some sort of legal consequence, otherwise I just fear that we’re not being logically consistent on this issue,” he said.

Pavone’s answer was essentially “we’ll see.” He told Cory that once an abortion ban is enacted, there would be many options for enforcing it, including penalizing “accomplices” who help a woman get an abortion.

“I mean, the abortionist has to get punished, but what about the person who brings her to or pays for the abortion?” he asked. “So the law can look at a lot of things.”

Pavone then seemed to open the door for the possibility of punishing women who are insufficiently remorseful about having an abortion. “What you have to do,” he said, “is look at each circumstance very carefully, and just like we do with the murder of born people, what were the — how guilty, how responsible, how free was this person, how much did they know and intend what was going on?”

Jay Sekulow, who heads the Religious Right legal group founded by Pat Robertson, has similarly hinted at his willingness to accept legal punishments for women who choose abortions for what he deems to be the wrong reasons.

Glenn Beck Claims That Ted Cruz 'Chewed Out' His Staff For Allowing Him To Appear At Kevin Swanson's 'Kill The Gays' Rally

Earlier today, we wrote a post pointing out that Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz is not being honest about his response to his attendance last year at a conference organized by radical anti-gay activist Kevin Swanson, falsely claiming that he was not aware of Swanson's views before he attended and that he immediately denounced them once he learned about them.

This is nonsense, as Swanson's views were well documented long before Cruz attended the rally and Cruz himself was directly confronted about them by CNN's Jake Tapper the day before he spoke alongside Swanson. Both Cruz and his father, Rafael Cruz, nonetheless agreed to appear at the conference and then his campaign proceeded to dismiss any criticism of his decision.

Ben Carson, on the other hand, reportedly dropped out of the conference because of Swanson's notorious extremism.

Now, Cruz is attempting to rewrite history and, in doing so, apparently lying to Glenn Beck's face about it.

On his radio show today, Beck revealed that Cruz was at Beck's home yesterday for several hours, just hanging out and shooting footage for campaign commercials, when Beck's daughter asked him about his decision to appear at Swanson's rally.

Beck was obviously only vaguely familiar with the controversy, judging by the fact that he wrongly claimed that it took place in Ohio (it was in Iowa) and falsely said that Swanson made his outrageous remarks defending the death penalty for homosexuality the day before Cruz even spoke at the rally (actually, Swanson made the case twice; once just before Cruz spoke and again the day after.)

According to Beck, when his daughter asked Cruz about his participation, Cruz declared that Swanson and his views are "reprehensible" and that he "chewed [his] staff out" for allegedly not knowing about Swanson's views and for allowing him to appear at Swanson's conference.

Beck reported that Cruz told his daughter that "not only did I not know that, I think that was absolutely reprehensible, bigoted, despicable, I want nothing to do with him or any kind of alliances to people like that."

In our post this morning, we noted that Beck himself declared just last week that he had never seen Cruz lie in either his public or his private life.

Well, now Beck has seen Cruz do both, because Cruz was directly informed of Swanson's views on national television the day before the conference and openly dismissed any concerns about appearing with him. If nobody on the Cruz campaign was aware of Swanson's extreme views, it is only because they didn't bother to check since Swanson's long history of unrepentant bigotry has been well documented

Anti-Choice 'Personhood' Bills Advance In Alabama, Missouri & South Carolina

This week, legislative committees in Alabama, Missouri and South Carolina approved so-called “personhood” measures that would, if successful, outlaw all abortions and even endanger some forms of birth control.

An Alabama House committee approved a proposed constitutional amendment today that would “define the term ‘persons’ to include all humans from the moment of fertilization.” If the state legislature approves the amendment, it will move to a statewide ballot referendum.

One doctor who testified in favor of the Alabama insisted that a fetus is “totally separate” from a woman and that “the mother only contributes the egg and the incubator.”

In Missouri, a House committee approved a similar measure yesterday which would put a constitutional amendment on the ballot defining “persons” to include “unborn human children at every stage of biological development.” The Missouri amendment, however, seems designed to avoid going head-to-head with Roe v. Wade, stating that it can only be enforced “to the extent permitted by the federal constitution.” The anti-choice group Live Action said that the amendment would ensure that Missouri “has clear legal protection from conception onward in place, should Roe v. Wade be eventually overturned.”

“Personhood” amendments, even when they do make it through state legislatures, have a horrendous record at the ballot box. Recent attempts to pass such amendments in the deeply conservative states of Mississippi and North Dakota failed spectacularly, and Colorado voters have rejected “personhood” multiple times.

That won’t be an issue in South Carolina, where a Senate committee approved a “personhood” bill sponsored by Sen. Lee Bright — a state co-chair of Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign — yesterday. Bright dismissed questions about the possibly troubling consequences of the bill by saying, "When you get around the edges, there may be some questions we don't have all the answers to but allowing all these children to lose their lives to me is unacceptable.” Bright said that he hoped the bill would spark a challenge to Roe v. Wade, which he called one of his “missions in life.”

This post has been updated to include information about the South Carolina bill.

Cruz Endorser John Zmirak: LGBT People 'Fundamentally Dissatisfied With The Way God Made Them'

Conservative columnist John Zmirak, whose endorsement Ted Cruz proudly posted on his presidential campaign website last month, reacted last week to a controversial anti-trans law in North Carolina by writing a column titled “There’s a Bearded Trannie in the Stall Next to Your Daughter and You’d Better Learn to Like It.”

Zmirak’s perceptive thoughts on this issue naturally earned him invitations from a few conservative radio hosts to discuss it further. In an interview yesterday with Steve Deace, an influential Iowa radio host and fellow Cruz supporter, Zmirak insisted that laws targeting transgender people won’t affect transgender people as long as they “make some attempt to alter their appearance.” He also claimed that the “gay lobby” will never be satisfied because they’re “fundamentally dissatisfied with the way God made them.”

“It boils down to this,” Zmirak said. “The gay lobby will never be satisfied. They cannot be satisfied because they’re fundamentally dissatisfied with the way God made them. They are in rebellion and they’re in permanent rebellion. It is literally impossible to satisfy the gay lobby because even if you give them everything they want, they will be just as miserable and just as angry, because it’s not about politics, it’s about them struggling and suffering because their lifestyles are out of accord with natural law.”

He went on to claim that a law like North Carolina’s wouldn’t actually affect transgender people. “Of the people who identify as transgender,” he said, “most of them make some attempt to alter their appearance so that really nobody would know their sex going into the bathroom. They’re wearing a wig, you know, maybe that’s just an ugly woman. So these bills, these laws that make bathrooms gender neutral are designed specifically for men who dress as men to go into the women’s room, women who dress as women to go into the men’s room. What is that about? It’s about undermining the idea of heteronormativity.”

LGBT people, he said, “can’t stand the fact that they’re 2 percent of the population, they want to convince us that they’re actually 30 or 40 percent, that everyone’s secretly a little gay, and that is to assuage their sense of guilt, their sense that they are violating natural law. Natural law is the law that God wrote on our hearts, which even pagans, if they use their reason, can see.”

In a separate interview with Pennsylvania talk radio host Bobby Gunther Walsh on Monday, Zmirak said that the LGBT movement is pushing its messages in schools because “they want to make sure that as many people end up gay as possible,” which he said showed the movement’s “incredible intolerance.”

Maddow: Donald Trump Is 'Blowing Up' Conservative Movement

Last night, Rachel Maddow reminded us of how Phyllis Schlafly helped transform the GOP into the far-right party that it is today, dating back to her efforts to help Barry Goldwater win the 1964 Republican nomination.

The GOP found Goldwater’s ultraconservativism much more acceptable than Nelson Rockefeller’s divorce and remarriage, even though Goldwater’s views set him up for a landslide loss in November. Now, Schlafly is getting behind Donald Trump, a reality TV star notorious for his divorces and extramarital affairs.

Schlafly called her pro-Goldwater treatise, “A Choice Not An Echo,” which Maddow described as “a clarion call-to-arms from the social conservative wing of the Republican Party.” She now hails Trump as “the candidate who will give us ‘a choice not an echo.’”

Maddow noted that Schlafly’s group, Eagle Forum, “played a central role in defining social conservatism —anti-gay, anti-feminist, anti-abortion politics — and putting them right at the heart of the Republican Party and its platform,” including at the 1992 Republican National Convention. That convention became notorious for the social conservative red meat thrown by the likes of Pat Robertson and Pat Buchanan, who used the platform to deliver his polarizing “Culture War” speech.

Ever since, Maddow explained, Schlafly has successfully push backed against “moderating influences to make sure the Republican Party never gets any less conservative on issues like homosexuality, abortion and feminism.”

But Schlafly may now be a victim of her own success.

After Schlafly succeeded in her effort to install right-wing purity tests and ideological rigidness within the conservative movement, Eagle Forum leaders who have supported Ted Cruz are reportedly rebelling over her support for Trump, who they say isn’t conservative enough.

“Phyllis Schlafly and her organization have been at the heart of the conservative movement inside the Republican Party for over 40 years and something is happening now to blow it up,” Maddow said. “Right now, finally, with Phyllis Schlafly at age 91, after everything she’s been through, it appears to be finally blowing up because of Donald Trump.”

Ted Cruz Adviser Frank Gaffney: Bono Is A Tool Of Radical Islamists

Anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist and Ted Cruz national security adviser Frank Gaffney is none too pleased that the musician Bono urged the U.S. Senate to provide more aid to the Middle East to help fight terrorism and the refugee crisis.

Gaffney told “Breitbart News Daily” that Bono has encouraged “Europe to be repopulated by non-Europeans” who are bent on destroying freedom, adding that Bono is “a man of the left and a lot of them are useful idiots in the service, whether they know it or not, of Islamists and other enemies of freedom.”

Gaffney, who has repeatedly implied that President Obama is a secret Muslim and terrorist sympathizer, said that the president is “willfully blind at best to the true nature of the enemy we’re facing.”

Alex Jones Blasts 'Psychotic' 'Cult Leader' Glenn Beck

The feud between Glenn Beck and Alex Jones is extremely amusing for us here at Right Wing Watch, considering that they are two of the most prominent faces of paranoid, conspiratorial thinking in the conservative media. But, according to Jones, their similarities are no accident because Beck is an actor who was trained to present himself as a “mixture of Oprah Winfrey and Alex Jones.”

“The cult leader, Glenn Beck, he is now an official religious cult leader,” Jones said. “He’s the false prophet and his messiah is Ted Cruz.”

Jones called Beck a “cynical, twisted, weirdo” who “will end up destroying himself. He is an egomaniac, super-narcissist, probably psychotic, in my view, and he’s insane and wants to be a cult leader.”

“Moses has returned, you didn’t know?” Jones said sarcastically. “The two prophets of Revelation, it’s Ted Cruz and Glenn Beck, you didn’t know? He says it’s a priesthood he’s starting. Oh yeah? Oh really? The liberal, hardcore shock jock that was hired right before 9/11 and gotten ready to come out to be the synthetic Alex Jones? I’ve been told that by the executives involved where they sat — and he’s an actor — and watched weeks of my videos and shows and said, ‘Take this and mix it with Oprah.’ That’s what I was told by the executives that used to run his operation. He’s a mixture of Oprah Winfrey and Alex Jones, all in a big, weird doughboy’s body. A cult leader. A Nellie high priest. Scared to death, by the way, dozens of security people.”

FRC Spokesman: 'Un-American' LGBT Movement Just Wants To 'Punish People'

Peter Sprigg, a senior fellow with the Family Research Council, said last week that LGBT rights activist are “un-American” in their opposition to laws that permit anti-LGBT discrimination, claiming that these activists want to “punish people for holding traditional moral views.”

Sprigg joined the Alabama Christian radio station Faith Radio on April 8 to discuss a new law in Mississippi that allows businesses to refuse service to LGBT people if they do so because of their “sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions.”

“The irony here,” he said, “is that for all the howling about discrimination against LGBT people, since this bill is about preventing government discrimination against religious believers and people of faith and people with traditional moral values, anybody who opposes this bill is essentially saying: ‘We think it’s okay for government to discriminate against those people. We think it’s okay for government to punish people for holding traditional moral views. In fact, we think that government should punish people in order to do everything it can to wipe those views out of existence.’”

“That’s basically the point of view of the LGBT movement at this point in history,” he claimed. “It’s shocking and it’s un-American, it’s contrary to our traditions, which are to protect the views of all people, including the people who agree with you and the people who disagree with you.”

Sprigg so cares about protecting the liberty of all people that he has said he wants to outlaw “homosexual behavior” and once opposed a bill that would allow gay people to be united with their foreign partners by saying that he “would much prefer to export homosexuals from the United States than to import them into the United States.”

Phyllis Schlafly Insists She Is Still In Charge Of Eagle Forum

In a radio interview yesterday, conservative leader Phyllis Schlafly insisted that she is still in charge of Eagle Forum, the group she founded and has led for decades, despite reports that several members, including her daughter, were working to remove her from the organization.

A group of Eagle Forum activists announced on Monday that they had voted to oust Ed Martin from his post as Eagle Forum’s president, a claim denied by Martin. Martin succeeded Schlafly as president last year, with Schlafly remaining to serve as chairman of the board and CEO. While the dissidents have insisted that they were not moving to oust her, Schlafly has repeatedly said that she is the real target of the coup.

Schlafly told St. Louis radio host Mark Cox that nothing has changed in the organization because she did not recognize the meeting at which the vote to remove Martin took place and therefore the vote was invalid.

“I built the most prestigious and good conservative organization on the planet, and all of the sudden there are some people who think they can run it better than I can,” Schlafly said. “So it’s a takeover attempt. We’re not going to let them do it.”

She said that while her prominent endorsement of Donald Trump played a part in the infighting — five of the six people named by Schlafly as the coup plotters have publically endorsed Ted Cruz and one of them suggested that the 91-year-old Schalfly was “manipulated” into backing Trump — she said it was not the main reason for the schism.

“I think they want to get hold of our assets and our lists; in other words, take over the organization that I’ve built up over about 40 years,” she said, “and we’re not going to let them do it.”

“I’ve got three sons that are helping me and we’re going to win,” she added. (Schlafly has said that her daughter, Anne Cori, is “the leader of the coup”; Eagle Forum’s board named Cori as the group’s executive director after voting to oust Martin.) “Nothing’s changed so far,” Schlafly said. “I’m still running it.”

The discussion then moved to Trump’s presidential bid, with Schlafly praising the GOP billionaire mogul for his vocal opposition to “the immigration of a lot of people who don’t share our values and seem to want to spread their way of life in our country” and his fight against “the kingmakers” who “think they are appointed by God or something to run the party and select the nominee.”

She acknowledged that “large numbers of Eagle Forum are for Cruz” and that she even suggested to Trump that he appoint Cruz to the Supreme Court, saying that he called it a “good idea.”

Schlafly said she will attend the GOP convention to make sure that the party doesn’t “change a comma” in its platform because it is already a hardcore conservative document. “When I took over this fight in the platform, the Republican Party was pro-abortion and I’m happy to claim that I am partially to be credited to changing the Republican Party to be pro-life so that you almost have to at least say you’re pro-life in order to run on the Republican ticket,” she said.

Glenn Beck Claims That He Has 'Never Seen Ted Cruz Lie.' Well, Allow Us To Show You

On his television show last Thursday, Glenn Beck spoke with a woman in his studio audience who was frustrated that she has been unable to convince her friends to support Ted Cruz for president and was seeking advice from Beck on how best to respond to their claims that all politicians are liars who cannot be trusted.

Beck, who is close personal friends with Cruz, assured her that unlike all other politicians, Cruz never lies.

"I have never seen Ted Cruz lie. Never," Beck told her. "I've not seen the man lie; not personally or professionally have I seen him be anything but 100 percent straight up."

Allow us to call Beck's attention to our post from yesterday in which Cruz repeatedly lied about his appearance at last year's National Religious Liberties Conference in Iowa that was hosted and organized by anti-gay extremist Kevin Swanson.

Swanson's extremist views and his belief that gays should be put to death were well-known and publicized before Cruz and other Republican presidential hopefuls attended the conference and Cruz himself was confronted about his participation by CNN's Jake Tapper the day before he was scheduled to appear.

Cruz dismissed Tapper's concerns and appeared on stage with Swanson at his conference and then, when others in the media tried to get Cruz to explain his participation, his campaign dismissed them as well. At one point, Cruz's campaign spokesman told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow that Swanson's repeated calls to impose the death penalty for homosexuality from the stage were simply "not explicit" enough for the campaign bother commenting on or condemning.

Finally, a month after he participated in the conference and cozied up to Swanson, the Cruz campaign quietly acknowledged that it may have been a mistake for the Texas senator to participate.

But, as Miranda reported yesterday, that is not the tale that Cruz is telling now, as he's falsely claiming that he was unaware of Swanson's views before attending and that he publicly denounced those views once he learned about them.

"He was an individual I didn’t know, I'd never met him," Cruz said of Swanson. "I went to a conference on religious liberty because it is an issue I care very much about. After the conference, his comments were drawn to my attention and I denounced them at the time, I think they're wrong, I totally disagree with them. I didn’t know this fellow and when I saw what he said, I came out publicly and said I disagree with what he’s saying."

Cruz's claim that he was unaware of Swanson's views before attending his conference and that he immediately and publicly denounced them as soon as he learned of them are both unequivocal and demonstrable lies.

So if Glenn Beck wants to continue to insist that he's never heard his good friend Ted Cruz openly lie in either his personal or political life, we'd love to hear him explain this ... along with several of Cruz's other falsehoods and bogus claims.

Bryan Fischer: Bryan Adams Is Racist For Opposing Mississippi's Anti-LGBT Law

The American Family Association's Bryan Fischer is unjustifiably convinced of his own cleverness and enamored with trying to defend acts of bigotry by arguing that those who oppose such bigotry are the real bigots. 

He has used this laughable tactic time and again, so it was no surprise to see him post a new column today arguing that singer Bryan Adams is racist for having canceled a concert in Mississippi in protest of the state's recently enacted anti-LGBT law.

As Fischer sees it, the new law prevents black Christians in the state from being bossed around by the "white man in government," which means that the law outlaws racial discrimination and therefore Mississippi is now "the leading civil rights state in the Union."

Anyone who opposes this law, Fischer states, is therefore racist and wants to "drag Mississippi blacks back to the civil rights Stone Age of the 1960s in which their religious principles and rights of conscience had no legal protection, an era in which black pastors could be thrown in jail for standing for principles of liberty and equality":

Bryan Adams canceled a Mississippi concert in protest of a new civil rights bill that protects the conscience rights of blacks in a state that once was world-renowned for racial prejudice.

So on the grounds of personal principle, Bruce Springsteen is now officially a general in the war on women, and Bryan Adams is now the leading bigot in the South.

The Mississippi law that has Adams all wigged out protects the conscience and liberty rights of blacks (and whites) who serve as pastors, county clerks, heads of non-profits and adoption agencies, and who operate businesses as wedding vendors. Their right to freely exercise their religious convictions is what HB 1523 is all about.

Because this law protects the rights of blacks as well as whites, there are some striking implications for blacks in Mississippi, which is still regarded by many as a haven of racist bigotry.

Black pastors won’t be forced to perform same sex wedding ceremonies against their conscience just because a white man in government says they have to. Black churches won’t be forced to rent their houses of worship for same sex wedding ceremonies. Black county clerks won’t be forced to issue same sex wedding licenses that violate their conscience just because a white boss says she has to.

Blacks that run adoption agencies will be free to place adoptive children in a home with a mother and a father without fear of government discrimination at the hands of some white bureaucrat. Black fire chiefs like Kelvin Cochran won’t have to worry about getting fired in Mississippi for believing that marriage is the union of a man and a woman.

In other words, HB 1523 is a brilliantly conceived anti-discrimination bill. It does not foster discrimination, it prevents it. It is a world-class civil-rights bill of which Martin Luther King, Jr. would be justifiably proud. Anybody and everybody who is against invidious discrimination ought to love this law.

Mississippi can proudly take its place now as the leading civil rights state in the Union, providing more legal protections for people of faith and conscience than any other place in America.

But Adams is having none of it. He is evidently happy to drag Mississippi blacks back to the civil rights Stone Age of the 1960s in which their religious principles and rights of conscience had no legal protection, an era in which black pastors could be thrown in jail for standing for principles of liberty and equality. 

Adams’ apparently believes that black pastors, clerks, non-profit leaders, and wedding vendors in Mississippi have no rights the white man is bound to respect. 

Did NOM Lower Standards For 'Marriage Champion' Cruz?

Before the 2012 election, the National Organization for Marriage released a marriage pledge and badgered Republican presidential candidates to sign it. NOM has done the same thing this time around, but there are telling differences between the two pledges.

In fact, NOM’s favored 2016 candidate, Ted Cruz, could not have signed the pledge from four years ago. As we’ve reported, Cruz signed NOM’s current marriage pledge and won the group’s endorsement. He was able to sign the new version thanks to a slight change in wording that seems designed to make the pledge palatable to Cruz while not calling attention to NOM’s retreat from a key demand made of 2012 candidates.

The first element of that pledge, which was released in 2011, was: “Support an amendment to the United States Constitution defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.” NOM’s key demand was very clear: a constitutional amendment that would override state marriage equality laws as well as any court rulings in favor of marriage equality, much like the Federal Marriage Amendment proposed by President Bush.

But the equivalent first plank of this election’s marriage pledge, which NOM released last summer, is a vow to “support a federal constitutional amendment that protects marriage as the union of one man and one woman.” Defines became protects. That word change apparently gave Cruz enough wiggle room to sign the pledge even though the constitutional amendment he favors would not enshrine a federal definition of marriage as a man and a woman, but would allow each state to make its own laws about marriage, overturning the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision.

NOM praises Cruz for sponsoring what it now says is “one of our key objectives” — “an amendment to the U.S. Constitution restoring the right of states to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.” In a December 9 press release announcing its endorsement, the group called Cruz “someone we can absolutely count on to fight to restore marriage to our nation’s laws and defend the religious liberty of the tens of millions of Americans who believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.” NOM pledged to do “everything in their power to support his election.”

Cruz seemingly tries to downplay the intensity of his opposition to LGBT equality when campaigning in places like New York and California. The newly nebulous language of NOM’s pledge allows him to continue telling anti-LGBT activists that their issues are a priority for him while insisting to less socially conservative audiences that his marriage equality opposition is grounded in a belief in states’ rights.

Along with the demand for a constitutional definition of marriage, the most recent pledge drops a couple of other planks: that a candidate defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court — moot after the Supreme Court struck down DOMA’s key provision; and a pledge to “support legislation that would return to the people of D.C. their right to vote for marriage” — which reflected Religious Right outrage at the time that district officials and courts rejected a referendum on D.C.’s marriage equality law as a violation of its Human Rights Act. 

The two pledges include some similar provisions, including a promise to appoint judges and an attorney general who will uphold the “original meaning” of the Constitution and to support investigations of harassment of traditional marriage supporters. The pledge Cruz signed this time around also commits him to working to review “regulatory, administrative and executive actions taken by the current Administration that have the effect of undermining marriage” and “working to restore our policies to be consistent with the proper understanding of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.”

It is worth noting that the pledge Cruz signed calls for support of the so-called First Amendment Defense Act, the federal version of the “religious liberty” laws being promoted at the state level to give legal protections to people and organizations that discriminate against same-sex couples. And it would be interesting to hear a reporter ask Cruz what he means by pledging to “prevent the promotion of a redefined version of marriage in public schools and other government entities.”

 

Glenn Beck: 'Nobody Is Taking Me Seriously' About The Looming 'Biblically Bad Economy'

Broadcasting his radio program from his home today, where he was apparently just hanging out with his good friend Ted Cruz, Glenn Beck complained that nobody takes him seriously in society or even in his own home.

Citing a couple of articles from the economics website Zero Hedge that he seemingly didn't really even understand but which he nonetheless held up as proof that an economic crisis of biblical proportions is on the way, Beck fumed that "nobody is taking me seriously."

Beck stated that he had some family problems last night stemming from the fact that his children are not doing their homework and complained that even his own family is not taking him seriously.

"I was in a really bad mood," Beck stated, "and I said, 'You know, I just feel like nobody is taking me seriously. Nobody is taking me seriously even in the family. My kids aren't taking me seriously about getting an education.' And then I might have snapped and said, 'And nobody is taking me seriously about what is coming economically.' We have got to prepare for a bad, biblically bad economy."

Who Is Chuck Grassley Listening To?

Despite holding a “friendly” meeting with Merrick Garland this morning, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley remains adamant that he will not hold hearings on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee.

On the ground in Grassley’s home state of Iowa, a clear rift is being exposed between those who are encouraging Grassley’s continued intransigence and the constituents who are calling for their senator to do his job.

Notably this week, Keith Uhl, a lawyer in Des Moines who helped manage Grassley’s first campaign for the Senate, asked his former boss to proceed with the normal course of events for a Supreme Court appointments and hold hearing and a vote on the president’s nominee.

One the other hand, the anti-gay head of the Family Leader, Bob Vander Plaats, wrote an op-ed in the Des Moines Register thanking Grassley for not acting on Garland’s nomination and for “advising that the people need to speak before any further appointments are constitutionally confirmed to the Supreme Court of the United States."

For the moment Grassley has made his choice, making his bed with a radical right-wing demagogue. Vander Plaats previously advocated that Congress defund courts whose judges rule in favor of marriage equality. He warned that God might not bless America because a Wiccan led a prayer at the Iowa state capitol. Vander Plaat also praised Russian President Vladimir Putin for stating, “don’t bring this homosexual propaganda into my country for the Olympics.” Vander Plaats also has compared a gay pride event to the Boston Marathon bombing.

Grassley, who once lamented that Democrats were siding with their base over the wishes of the American people, has made the decision that the support of Bob Vander Plaats and other conservative movement figures is more important than fulfilling his constitutional duties.

The difference could not be illustrated more starkly: a former campaign manager asking his boss to do the job he helped elect him to do, versus a radical conservative who would like to see judges’ salaries subject to whether they issue decisions he agrees with.

Grassley has clearly made the wrong choice.

Does Ted Cruz's Religious Liberty Message Include Muslims?

Last week, BuzzFeed released a story about how Muslims in Tennessee have faced a rash of threats, vandalism, hate crimes and, in at least one case, a firebombing. Buzzfeed notes that the state “became a key battleground in a national anti-Muslim movement whose influence has culminated, for now, in the presidential campaigns of Republican frontrunners Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, both of whom are being advised by people whose views on Islam were once considered too extreme for mainstream politics.”

One of the advisers BuzzFeed mentions is Frank Gaffney, president of the Center for Security Policy, whose group’s material was cited by Trump when he called for Muslims to be banned from the country and who has since emerged as an official adviser to Cruz on security issues. Cruz has defended Gaffney as “a serious thinker” and once claimed that “Sharia law is an enormous problem” in the United States.

Buzzfeed recounts Gaffney’s effort, along with another future Cruz campaign leader, Kevin Kookogey, to smear a state government official who was Muslim:

In 2012, Tennessee’s Republican governor, Bill Haslam, appointed a young lawyer named Samar Ali to the state’s economic development agency. The hiring caused a furious backlash, with several local and national figures claiming Ali had been brought on to make Tennessee “Sharia-compliant.” Many of the accusations came from the Center for Security Policy, a major anti-Muslim group run by former Reagan-era defense official Frank Gaffney. A resolution to condemn Ali’s hiring was pushed by Kevin Kookogey, who was then the chairman of the Williamson County Republican Party and is now the Tennessee chairman of Ted Cruz’s campaign. Gaffney is now one of Cruz’s foreign-policy advisers.

The furor gave Ali a sharp sense of whiplash. She was born and raised in Nashville, the daughter of Palestinian and Syrian immigrants, and she describes her childhood as “almost Pollyannish.” She considered herself a patriot. “I took an oath of office to uphold the U.S. constitution,” she says. Yet there she stood, publicly accused of belonging to a jihadist fifth column. “It was a very painful experience.”

Gaffney’s group said that Ali would bring “financial jihadists” into “the Volunteer state for infiltration and influence operations,” warning that “someone in a powerful position on the inside of the halls of power in the state can only be viewed as an opportunity for those who seek to embed Shariah law into America’s financial system.”

Gaffney also testified on behalf of a group that sought to block the construction of a mosque in the town of Murfreesboro.

According to the Associated Press, the lawyer representing the mosque opponents argued that the mosque was part of “a conspiracy to take over America” and “replace the Constitution with extremist Islamic law” and questioned “whether the world’s second-biggest faith qualifies as a religion” protected by the First Amendment. The Justice Department had to take the unusual step of filing a brief affirming that Islam is in fact a religion.

“Gaffney testified that Shariah, and by extension the new mosque, poses a threat to America,” the AP reported.

“I don’t hold myself out as an expert on Sharia Law,” Gaffney said. “But I have talked a lot about that as a threat.”

“Any elected official responsible for their community should be concerned about their presence,” he told the court. (Following the hearing, Gaffney alleged to reporters that President Obama’s security adviser John Brennan — now the director of the CIA — was committing felony sedition because of his views on Islam.)

When the mosque opponents failed to prohibit the establishment of the Murfreesboro mosque, they asked the county government to seize the building as a threat to public safety, citing Gaffney’s testimony that it could be used to spread terrorism.

While this lawsuit was once seen as bizarre and unusual, its message has been embraced by those close to Cruz. And not just Gaffney.

In fact, the arguments that the Murfreesboro mosque opponents made are very similar to those put forward by Cruz national security adviser Jerry Boykin, who has said that “Islam is not a religion and does not deserve First Amendment protections” and wants “no mosques in America,” and by Cruz adviser Andy McCarthy, who has similarly stated that the government should not treat Islam as a religious faith.

The chairman of Cruz’s “religious liberty advisory council,” Tony Perkins, has similarly stated that Islam is not a religion protected by the Constitution.

It is no wonder, then, that Cruz, who has made specious tales of anti-Christian discrimination and warnings about dire threats to religious liberty central pieces of his campaign, just recently called for the government to profile Muslims and “patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods.”

Ted Cruz Downplays Marriage Equality Opposition In California

In an interview yesterday with the “John and Ken Show,” a Southern California talk radio program, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, downplayed his opposition to marriage equality, saying that “of course” there should be no nationwide definition of marriage.

Cruz is currently sponsoring a constitutional amendment that would allow states to ban gay people from marrying and has repeatedly said that he believes marriage law should be a state issue. However, like he did when speaking to New York funders last year, in the California interview Cruz downplayed his culture-war rhetoric about marriage, saying that states are free to adopt marriage laws “that reflect the values of the citizens of that state.”

“Well, listen, I’m a constitutionalist, and under the Constitution marriage is a question for the states,” he said. “It shouldn’t be five unelected judges in Washington setting public policy for the whole country. If someone wants to change the marriage laws of their state, there’s a way to do it under the Constitution, which is you convince your fellow citizens to change the marriage laws.”

“But isn’t marriage so intrinsic and important that we should have a nationwide standard on it, don’t you think?” one of the hosts asked Cruz.

“Of course not,” he responded. “There are no nationwide marriage laws.”

As Brian noted last year after Cruz’s New York remarks, while the senator tells everyone that he wants to return marriage decisions to the states, he presents his case in remarkably different ways to different audiences:

The Texas senator also joined Rick Santorum, Ben Carson and then-presidential candidate Bobby Jindal in signing the group’s presidential pledge , vowing to work towards banning same-sex marriage, to order government offices to “restore our policies to be consistent with the proper understanding of marriage as the union of one man and one woman” and “prevent the promotion of a redefined version of marriage in public schools and other government entities.”

Cruz has told Religious Right outlets that gay marriage would pose a “real threat” to “our liberties,” usher in the end of free speech , and lead to such immense religious persecution that civil disobedience would be needed. He even once alleged that the gay rights movement is waging “jihad” against freedom and likened the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling to “Nazi decrees.”

During a November conference call with anti-gay activists, Cruz promised “to defend marriage on every front” against the “lawless” and “illegitimate” Supreme Court decision. Cruz even went as far as saying that he would direct the federal government not to recognize the Obergefell ruling: “We will not use the federal government to enforce this lawless decision that is a usurpation of the authority of we the people in this country.”

David Barton Will Train Christians To Take Control Of Government And Transform America Into The 'Nation That God Wants It To Be'

Last month, we noted that right-wing pseudo-historian David Barton plans to launch a "School of Practical Government" at Andrew Wommack's Charis Bible College in Colorado, which will be based heavily in Seven Mountains dominionism.

Seven Mountains theology teaches that conservative Christians are to take control of the seven primary institutions, or "mountains," that shape and control our culture — (1) Business; (2) Government; (3) Media; (4) Arts and Entertainment; (5) Education; (6) Family; and (7) Religion — and use them to implement biblical standards and spread the Gospel.

In a promotional video from the new school, Barton again specifically linked it to Seven Mountains theology, saying that Christians are commanded to take control of the Seven Mountains but have failed to do so when it comes to government, which is why he is launching a school of "practical" government to train people on how to do just that. 

"The Charis School of Practical Government is designed to make a difference in the culture," Barton said. "It's designed to transform the culture, community by community and state by state. In Luke 16:8, Jesus lamented that the children of this world are wiser and more shrewd than the children of light. This shouldn't be. We have the wisdom of the scriptures and insight of the Spirit, so God's people, of all folks, should be shrewder and wiser than others and this is particularly true in the political arena. After all, Joseph was certainly head and shoulders above all the other political folks in his day, as was Daniel in his day and Nehemiah in his day and so many others in their day."

Explicitly citing the "major Christian teaching today about the Seven Mountains," Barton said that Christians are to be engaged in all seven of these areas in order to transform America into "what God wants it to be," especially government.

"After all, when God founded His nation of Israel," Barton stated, "He delivered to them a comprehensive code of 613 laws that covered every aspect of public policy, from criminal justice to education, from the military to immigration, from foreign policy to economics to taxes and everything in between. So the Bible definitely gives us much guidance in each of these areas, but too many Christians today that God is silent in the areas of government and public policy, but He is not."

It is worth remembering that Barton is not only an influential Republican activist but also runs one of the main super PACs supporting Ted Cruz.

Cruz Tries To Rewrite History, Claims He 'Denounced' Radical 'Kill-The-Gays' Pastor

Last year, Sen. Ted Cruz, his father Rafael Cruz, and two of his then-rivals in the Republican presidential race attended a “religious liberty” conference in Iowa hosted by Kevin Swanson, a radical pastor who had a long record of viciously anti-gay rhetoric, which he continued at the conference itself by expounding at length about his view that the Bible commands governments to put gay people to death.

Before the conference, we publicized Swanson’s history — including his discussions of the death penalty for gay people — leading one Republican presidential candidate, Ben Carson, to drop out of the conference.

A few days before the conference, CNN’s Jake Tapper read Cruz a few of Swanson’s statements and asked him about the wisdom of appearing alongside Swanson. Cruz claimed ignorance about Swanson and then dodged the question.

Cruz went ahead to the conference, where he joined Swanson for one-on-one discussion. On the same stage that weekend, Swanson went on several unhinged rants about gay peopleHarry Potter and wildfires.

Immediately after the conference, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow ran a segment about Cruz’s participation. When a Des Moines Register reporter asked the Cruz campaign for a comment, she got no answer.

Then, three weeks later, Maddow ran another segment about Cruz’s participation in the conference and finally got a statement out of his campaign about it. A Cruz spokesman, in response to a video of Swanson screaming about the death penalty for gay people, told Maddow that Swanson’s calls for the execution of gay people were “not explicit" enough for the campaign to even bother commenting on or condemning him.

Then, finally, one full month after Swanson’s conference, a Cruz spokesman quietly told USA Today that “it was a mistake for Senator Cruz to appear at the event” given Swanson’s “offensive comments.”

But that is not the story that Cruz told the “John and Ken Show,” a California talk radio program, when he was asked about his attendance at the conference yesterday. Instead, Cruz claimed that he was unaware of Swanson’s views before attending and falsely asserted that he “denounced them at the time,” once he learned about them.

“He was an individual I didn’t know, I’d never met him,” Cruz said of Swanson. “I went to a conference on religious liberty because it is an issue I care very much about. After the conference, his comments were drawn to my attention and I denounced them at the time, I think they're wrong, I totally disagree with them. I didn’t know this fellow and when I saw what he said, I came out publicly and said I disagree with what he’s saying.”

“We need to be bringing people together and we need to be standing up for the rights of every American, that’s what I’ve done in the Senate and that’s what I’ll do as president,” he added.

For the record, here is a clip of Cruz’s conversation with Swanson in which he insisted that "any president who doesn't begin every day on his knees isn't fit to be commander-in-chief of this nation":

“I stand unequivocally with Kim Davis,” Cruz told Swanson, referring to the Kentucky county clerk who had attempted to prevent her office from issuing marriage licenses following the Supreme Court's marriage equality decision. He added that the Supreme Court's ruling was “fundamentally illegitimate” and lavished praise on Swanson for publicizing “the threat” it posed to Christians’ liberties.

Keep in mind that this conversation took place after Cruz had been repeatedly warned about Swanson’s views and after Swanson himself had on the same stage announced that homosexuality is “worthy of death." 

Confusion After Phyllis Schlafly Faces Coup Led By Her Daughter

Yesterday, several members of the board of the conservative group Eagle Forum convened a meeting at which they reportedly voted to oust the group’s president, Ed Martin. Martin, a Republican activist in Missouri, was named president of Eagle Forum last year, while its founder, legendary anti-feminist activist Phyllis Schlafly, remained chairman of the board and CEO.

Schlafly is a conservative icon who has drawn plaudits from the Right for her vocal opposition to feminism, LGBT rights and immigration. But the 91-year-old activist has seen her organization thrown into chaos this week.

Over the weekend, Martin emailed Eagle Forum members warning that six state-level leaders of the group were “pushing a scheme to push Phyllis Schlafly out of Eagle Forum.” He dubbed this group, which included Schlafly’s daughter Anne Cori, the “Gang of 6” and said that the planned coup was motivated by differences of opinion about whether the U.S. should hold an Article V constitutional convention.

At yesterday’s meeting, Eagle Forum’s board reportedly removed Martin from his post as president and installed Cori as the group’s executive director. Two other women who were mentioned in Martin’s “Gang of Six” email, Eunie Smith and Shirley Curry, were named interim president and head of the search committee for a new president, respectively.

“I am honored and excited to be working with our wonderful state volunteer leaders from across the country. We are continuing the incredible legacy of our Founder Phyllis Schlafly,” Cori said in a statement posted under the Eagle Forum banner on the website of Eagle Forum of Alabama.

Schlafly, however, released a statement on her official Facebook account alleging that she was “muted from the call” on which the decision to oust Martin was made and that the “meeting was invalid under the Bylaws but the attendees purported to pass several motions to wrest control of the organization from me.”

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “Cori implied that some of the criticism of the board that has been attributed to her mother is actually coming from Martin.” The newspaper noted that “Schlafly and Martin have been releasing apparently coordinated messages on Facebook, Twitter and email.”

Smith told the newspaper that the move to oust Martin was due to his “character and management style.”

Martin’s claim that the “Gang of Six” led an insurgency because they were upset that Schlafly opposed a constitutional convention of states that isn’t likely to happen anytime soon anyways always seemed hard to believe. Smith, for her part, said that the “statements from Mr. Martin are slanderous, libelous and without merit.”

In an interview with a St. Louis radio station yesterday, Martin said that the turmoil was actually a result of Schlafly’s prominent endorsement of Donald Trump, arguing that the six activists were upset about “Phyllis endorsing Trump.” (He also suggested that they are “greedy for power or money.”)

“Phyllis is very discreet,” he added. “Some of the stuff that’s gone on, Phyllis didn’t want to have out there. There is a connection to the Cruz campaign and we’re figuring out how to talk about that.”

At least five of the six Eagle Forum activists who were behind the move have publicly endorsed Ted Cruz, and one of them went so far as to suggest that Schalfly was “manipulated” into backing the billionaire mogul. However, Cori and Smith denied that the vote to remove Martin had anything to do with Schlafly’s support for Trump and insisted that they do not wish to remove Schlafly from the organization.

Smith said in a post on Eagle Forum of Alabama’s website: “It is because of our love and respect for Phyllis and our years of camaraderie that we remain dedicated to protecting her legacy and Eagle Forum.”

But things have at least partly returned to business as usual for Schlafly, who today released a column titled “Feminists can’t get over Clarence Thomas.”

“Feminists hold grudges forever,” she writes.

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