Maryland

Religious Right Rally against Marriage Equality in Florida

Just days after the Religious Right’s B-team gathered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida to question Republican candidates for president (including the ones who didn’t show up), a number of more prominent right-wing figures are convening in Tampa for the Family Impact Summit, sponsored by the Focus on the Family-affiliated Florida Family Policy Council, the Tampa-based Community Issues Council, the Family Research Council, and the Salem radio network.

Advertised topics range from “Christian Citizenship” to “Homosexual Agenda,” but the focus will no doubt be on the 2008 election, and in particular, the effort by Florida’s Right to put a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage on the ballot—even though gays are already prohibited from marrying by statute.

Below is some background on the featured speakers, from Tony Perkins and Richard Land to Katherine Harris and Ken Blackwell.

Tony Perkins

Tony Perkins is president of the Family Research Council, considered the leading religious-right think tank in Washington, DC. Before coming to FRC, Perkins was a state legislator in Louisiana, and as a campaign manager for a Republican candidate, he reportedly bought David Duke’s e-mail list.

Under Perkins’s leadership, FRC, along with Focus on the Family, put together several “simulcasts” of political rallies held in churches, including three “Justice Sunday” events in 2005-2006—“Stopping the Filibuster Against People of Faith,” ”God Save the United States and this Honorable Court,” and “Proclaim Liberty Throughout the Land”—featuring religious-right luminaries such as James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, and Phyllis Schlafly, along with politicians like Rick Santorum and then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, arguing that opposition to Bush’s extreme judicial nominees constituted an assault on their faith or Christianity itself. A fourth event just before the 2006 elections, “Liberty Sunday,” promoted the idea that gays and their “agenda” were out to destroy religious freedom.

That fall, FRC also organized a “Values Voter Summit,” in which Dobson and other activists exhorted their constituency to turn out for the GOP; the conference showcased a number of future presidential candidates, including Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, and Sam Brownback. A second Values Voter Summit is planned for next month.

Also appearing from FRC at the Family Impact Summit are David Prentice and Peter Sprigg.

Richard Land

Since 1998, Richard Land has served as president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, which is “dedicated to addressing social and moral concerns and their implications on public policy issues from City Hall to Congress.”   

Land has been an active and influential right-wing leader for many years and in 2005, was named one of “The Twenty-five Most Influential Evangelicals in America” by Time Magazine, joining the likes of James Dobson, Chuck Colson, David Barton, Rick Santorum, and Ted Haggard.

Land also hosts three separate nationally syndicated radio programs and has written several books including, most recently “The Divided States of America? What Liberals and Conservatives are Missing in the God-and-Country Shouting Match!,” which Land claims seeks a middle ground between the right and the left on the role of religion in the public square.  In reality, the middle ground Land stakes out consists mainly of standard right-wing positions on political and social issues that are made to appear moderate in comparison to ultra-radical positions put forth by far-right fringe elements.  

In recent months, Land has been positioning himself to play a much more high-profile role in the presidential campaign than he has in the past, repeatedly asserting that he and other Evangelicals will not support Rudy Giuliani or Newt Gingrich, should he run,  while regularly bolstering the campaign of Fred Thompson, who Land calls a “Southern-fried Reagan.”

Harry Jackson

Jackson, pastor of a Maryland megachurch, has become a frequent spokesman for right-wing causes in recent years. In 2004, he played a prominent role in urging blacks to vote for George Bush, and in 2005, he started the High Impact Leadership Coalition and unveiled his “Black Contract with America on Moral Values”—an agenda topped with fighting gay marriage—at an event co-sponsored by the far-right Traditional Values Coalition. Jackson spoke at “Justice Sunday,” a religious-right rally in favor of Bush’s judicial nominees, as well as “Justice Sunday II, where he promised to “bring the rule and reign of the Cross to America.” He is a member of the Arlington Group.

Since then, Jackson has continued to urge blacks to vote for right-wing causes and candidates. “[Martin Luther] King would most likely be a social conservative,” he wrote in one typical column. His most recent efforts have focused on opposing hate crimes protections for gays, falsely claiming that a proposed bill would “muzzle our pulpits.”

In an article in Charisma magazine, Jackson wrote that the “wisdom behind” the “gay agenda” is “clearly satanic,” and he called for an aggressive “counterattack.” He asserted to The New York Times that “Historically when societies have gone off kilter, there has been rampant same-sex marriage.”

Don Wildmon

Wildmon is the Founder and Chairman of the American Family Association, which exists primarily to decry whatever it deems “immoral” in American culture and lead boycotts against companies that in any way support causes, organizations, or programs it deems offensive, particularly anything that does not portray gays and lesbians in a negative light. 

Over the years, AFA has targeted everything from the National Endowment for the Arts, Howard Stern, and the television show “Ellen” to major corporations such as Ford , Burger King, and Clorox.  AFA has also been particularly focused on Disney, declaring that the company’s “attack on America’s families has become so blatant, so intentional, so obvious” as to warrant a multi-year boycott.

Recently, AFA has been busy warning that proposed hate-crimes legislation is designed to lay the “groundwork for persecution of Christians,” attacked presidential candidate Mitt Romney over his time on the board of Marriott Corporation because the company offers adult movies in its hotels, and warned that the US Senate was “angering a just God” and bringing “judgment upon our country” by allowing a Hindu chaplain to deliver an opening prayer. 

Gary Bauer

Gary Bauer is a long-time right-wing activist and leader.  After serving President Ronald Reagan's administration for eight years in various capacities, Bauer went on to become President of the Family Research Council, which was founded, in part, by James Dobson of Focus on the Family, where Bauer also served as Senior Vice President. 

Bauer stepped down from FRC in 1999 when he launched an unsuccessful campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.  After dropping out of the race, Bauer made a surprising endorsement of Sen. John McCain at a time when many of the other right-wing leaders had lined up behind George W. Bush.  

Bauer’s standing took a beating when he defended McCain’s attack on Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson as “agents of intolerance” and he was ostracized by many for quite a while after McCain lost.  But Bauer pressed ahead, creating his own non-profit, American Values, and gradually reestablished himself in right-wing circles.  

Since then, Bauer has been active in various right-wing campaigns, most notably joining with likes of Tony Perkins and James Dobson in defending and pressing for the confirmation of John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court.  

William Owens

Owens, a graduate of Oral Roberts University and a Memphis pastor, founded the Coalition of African American Pastors to combat equal marriage rights for gay couples. Owens reportedly told the “Rally for Traditional Marriage” held in Mississippi in 2004 that “homosexual activists of today have hijacked the civil rights cause,” adding: “We're going to fight until we win,” he said. “We're going to have crusades and rallies like this until we win. We're going to let our political leaders know ‘if you don't stand for God, we won't stand for you.’” Owens lent the CAAP name to the Religious Right’s judges campaign, signing on to the “National Coalition to End Judicial Filibusters” and holding a press conference in support of Samuel Alito’s Supreme Court nomination.

In 2004, Owens formed an alliance with the Arlington Group, a coalition of powerful religious-right leaders that was widely credited with being the driving force behind the effort to put anti-gay marriage amendments on the ballot in 11 states in that year’s election. Owens is now on the group’s executive committee, alongside James Dobson, Gary Bauer, Bill Bennett, Tony Perkins, Paul Weyrich, Rod Parsley and others.

Alan Chambers

"Ex-gay" Alan Chambers is president of Exodus International and executive director of Exodus North America, which claim gay men and lesbians can be “cured" and "change" their sexual orientation to heterosexual. Exodus' board includes long-time anti-gay activist Phil Burress of Ohio's Citizens for Community Values, his wife Vickie Burress – founder of the American Family Association of Indiana – and Mike Haley, who replaced discredited "ex-gay" John Paulk at Focus on the Family as chief spokesperson on homosexuality and gender issues. Exodus also co-sponsors a series of "ex-gay" conferences across the country with Focus on the Family. One recent Love Won Out event was particularly mired in controversy when it was revealed that one of its presenting organizations had published a racist column that appeared to justify slavery. During a 2006 CPAC conference panel, Chambers insisted "lifelong homosexual relationships are not possible" and the battle for marriage equality was solely being promoted by the liberal media.

Other representatives of the “ex-gay” activist community scheduled for the conference include Scott Davis and Mike Ensley of Exodus and Nancy Heche, whose book “The Truth Comes Out” describes “how to respond lovingly, yet appropriately, to homosexual family members and friends,” such as her husband, who held secret “homosexual affairs,” and her daughter, whose open relationship with Ellen DeGeneres Heche called “Like a betrayal of an unspoken vow: We will never have anything to do with homosexuals.”

Robert Knight

Robert Knight is something of a journeyman within the right-wing movement.  After starting out as a journalist and editor for various newspapers, Knight has held a series of jobs with various right-wing organizations including Senior Director of Cultural Studies at the Family Research Council, a fellow at the Heritage Foundation, and director of the Culture & Family Institute at Concerned Women for America.

Currently, he is the head of the Media Research Center’s Culture and Media Institute at the Media Research Center and a columnist for Townhall.com.

His hostility toward gays is well-known, as evidenced by his response to the news that Mary Cheney, the lesbian daughter of the Vice President, was expecting a child with her partner: 

"I think it's tragic that a child has been conceived with the express purpose of denying it a father," Knight said.

"Fatherhood is important and always will be, so if Mary and her partner indicate that that is a trivial matter, they're shortchanging this child from the start."

"Mary and Heather can believe what they want," Knight said, "but what they're seeking is to force others to bless their nonmarital relationship as marriage" and to "create a culture that is based on sexual anarchy instead of marriage and family values."

John Stemberger

Stemberger, a personal injury attorney and former political director for the Florida GOP, is the president and general counsel of the Florida Family Policy Counsel/Florida Family Action, a state affiliate of James Dobson’s Focus on the Family.

Stemberger is leading the petition drive to put on next year’s ballot a constitutional amendment to ban equal marriage rights for same-sex couples, which is already banned by statute. While a 2006 effort fell short, as of September 5, Florida4Marriage.org claimed to have gathered 594,000 of the 611,000 signatures they need to submit by February 1, making it likely that the amendment will be on the ballot in 2008.

Ken Blackwell

Blackwell is most famous as the controversial Ohio secretary of state during the 2004 election, overseeing voting laws while moonlighting as state co-chair for Bush/Cheney. But he has a long history of far-right activism on economic and civil rights issues, and in 2004 Blackwell forged an alliance with the Religious Right as he campaigned for an anti-gay ballot measure. By 2006, when Blackwell ran for governor, this alliance had grown into a church-based political machine, with megachurch pastors Rod Parsley and Russell Johnson taking Blackwell to rallies of “Patriot Pastors,” who signed on to a vision of a Christianity under attack by dark forces, in need of “restoration” through electoral politics. “This is a battle between the forces of righteousness and the hordes of hell,” declared Johnson.

Blackwell’s gubernatorial bid failed, but he continues his career as a right-wing activist with affiliations with the Family Research Council and the Club for Growth, as well as a column on Townhall.com.

Katherine Harris

Harris is well known for her controversial role in Florida’s 2000 presidential election debacle, when she served as both secretary of state, overseeing a “purge” of voter rolls as well as the recount itself, and as a state co-chair for Bush/Cheney. She was elected to the U.S. House in 2002 and 2004, and spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference in both 2002 and 2003.

In 2006 Harris made a quixotic Senate run, during which she heavily courted the Religious Right. In an interview with the Florida Baptist Witness, she implied that her opponent, Sen. Bill Nelson, was not a Christian, saying, “[I]f you’re not electing Christians then in essence you are going to legislate sin. They can legislate sin. They can say that abortion is alright. They can vote to sustain gay marriage. And that will take western civilization, indeed other nations because people look to our country as one nation as under God and whenever we legislate sin and we say abortion is permissible and we say gay unions are permissible, then average citizens who are not Christians, because they don’t know better, we are leading them astray and it’s wrong.” She also advised people to disbelieve “that lie we have been told, the separation of church and state.”

Tom Minnery

Minnery is vice president for public policy at Focus on the Family and a frequent spokesman for the group. He is the author of “Why You Can’t Stay Silent: A Biblical Mandate to Shape Our Culture,” arguing that society should be “changed from the top down morally.” Focus on the Family, with a combined budget of over $160 million, promotes far-right positions on social issues to millions of Americans through radio, print, and the web, and Focus founder James Dobson is probably the single most influential figure on the Religious Right.

“There are more than enough Christians to defeat the Left," Minnery said at a rally in South Dakota. "There are a lot of pastors who didn't want to be seen as an 'activist,' but this issue of marriage has left them with little choice but to get involved."

An "Admitted Homosexual"?

A CNS News article on the Maryland marriage ruling refers to openly gay State Sen. Richard Madaleno as "an admitted homosexual."

Alliance for Marriage Recruits California Latinos

After last year’s mid-term elections dimmed its hopes that a federal constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage would pass the Congress, the D.C.-based Alliance for Marriage announced it was decamping for the field, to drum up anti-gay “caucuses” in the states. On the road to its “50-state strategy,” AFM crowed that a “Marriage Protection Caucus (TM)” was established in each of South Carolina, Maryland, and New Mexico, and its map claims several more, but it’s less clear how many actual legislators signed up in these states.

When AFM announced its “two-year plan” back in November, it also announced that it would be “deploying a diverse group of spokespersons,” claiming that its coalition was “unique and unprecedented in the degree to which it cuts across racial, cultural and religious boundary lines.” Now, AFM has begun to “deploy” Latinos, launching a California Latino Steering Committee to Protect Marriage.

AFM may have an uphill struggle recruit Latino support for an anti-gay amendment to the U.S. Constitution. A 2004 Field poll found that 57 percent of Hispanic voters in California opposed such an amendment. A 2006 poll by the Center for American Values in Public Life showed that Hispanics in the U.S. favor granting committed gay and lesbian couples the same rights as married couples in areas of hospital visitation, health insurance, and pensions by a two-to-one margin – a higher margin of support than non-Hispanics. In addition, a majority of Hispanics favor recognizing same-sex couples in either marriage or civil unions.

Other right-wing groups attacked AFM for supposedly being soft on civil unions and “counterfeit marriage,” but AFM is apparently focusing its efforts in California on a bill that would expand the rights of domestic partnerships – an act that would “erase the legal road map for marriage and the family from state law,” according to a member of AFM’s Latino committee. Nevertheless, the group’s ultimate goal remains to amend the U.S. Constitution. Speaking of efforts in some other states to erode domestic partner benefits, AFM President Matt Daniels said, "When the dust settles, we'll have a national standard for marriage. What is going on in the states is a dress rehearsal.”

Buchanan: Immigration Bill Part of New World Order Plot

Echoing other anti-immigrant politicians and activists, Pat Buchanan claims the most recent delay to Senate passage of comprehensive immigration reform is “one of the great uprisings of modern politics” in which “Middle America rose up and body-slammed the national establishment.” But he warns, in true Buchanan style, that the bill’s “authors and backers will never quit” because their real motive is the establishment of a U.S.-Mexico-Canada sovereign entity controlled by “global corporation[s] and the transnational elite” and leading, ultimately, “the death of the American republic.”

For this legislation is part of a larger agenda of a large slice of America's economic and political elite.

What is that agenda?

They have a vision of a world where not only capital and goods but people move freely across borders. Indeed, borders disappear. It is a vision of a "deep integration" of the United States, Canada and Mexico in a North American Union, modeled on the European Union and tied together by superhighways and railroads, where crossing from Mexico into the United States would be as easy as crossing from Virginia into Maryland. It is about the merger of nations into larger transnational entitles and, ultimately, global governance.

Previously, Rep. Virgil Goode (R-Virginia) made the connection between the current immigration bill and the mythical “North American Union” plot. Howard Phillips –  chairman of the Conservative Caucus and at one time an influential activist on the Right – also declared the bill part of such a “dastardly scheme.” Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly has similarly tried to tie the bill to the "North American Union."

First Amendment Protection Only For Those Who Believe

After a lengthy legal battle, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last year that the Montgomery County (MD) Public Schools’ “policy for distributing fliers by community groups [via a "backpack mail" program] is unconstitutional because it gives school officials unlimited power to approve or reject materials.” 

The ruling stemmed from a lawsuit filed by Child Evangelism Fellowship of Maryland, with the backing of the Alliance Defense Fund and the Christian Legal Society, after its request to distribute fliers regarding its Good News Club - which is designed to “evangelize boys and girls with the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and establish (disciple) them in the Word of God and in a local church for Christian living” – was rejected. 

The Circuit Court sided with Child Evangelism Fellowship, ruling [PDF] that the school district’s policy granted it “unbridled discretion to deny access to the oft-used forum — for any reason at all, including antipathy to a particular viewpoint — [and] does not ensure the requisite viewpoint neutrality.”

Around the same time, the Liberty Counsel, which is directly tied to the late Jerry Falwell and his Liberty University, sent a letter to Albemarle County School Board in Virginia, warning it that its refusal to distribute fliers about a church-sponsored vacation bible school via its own "backpack mail" program was unconstitutional.

The school district quickly changed its policy and the Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver was quite pleased:

"We're pleased the school changed its policy so quickly and correctly," says Mat Staver, Liberty Counsel founder and chairman. "The law is clear-- when schools allow the distribution of secular material, they must accommodate religious material."

Staver refers to a recent 4th Circuit Court of Appeals decision upholding a Good News Club's right to distribute fliers in Montgomery County schools in Maryland.

"They're not required to accept everything," he says, citing exemptions for libelous, obscene or pornographic material. Nor does he object if Muslim or Jewish groups want to distribute information about their events in schools. "The First Amendment is not just for the Liberty Counsel," he says. "You can't just pick and choose."

But one year later, it seems as if some on the Right are not so happy about Albemarle’s new policy now that students are bringing home fliers for a summer camp for atheists and freethinkers.

Anti-Immigrant Politics Alive and Kicking in Suburban Texas

“This sends a message loud and clear that illegal aliens are not welcome in Farmers Branch, Texas,” declared Tim O’Hare, city councilman in the Dallas suburb, after voters approved a ban on undocumented immigrants renting housing there. “We are fed up with the federal government's inaction on immigration," he said. "We are not going to wait. We are going to take care of it." O’Hare began his crusade last summer against the “less desirable people” who he said “get to come over here and live like kings and queens,” and who were driving down property values and causing shopkeepers to speak Spanish, leaving "no place for people with a good income to shop."

Farmers Branch’s ordinance is modeled on measures passed last year in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, which is waiting for a court ruling on their constitutionality.

Compared to last year’s heated immigration debate and its steady supply of headlines – ranging from the touring congressional hearings put on by Republican House members to the effects of anti-immigrant crackdowns like the one just passed in Farmers Branch – this year has been relatively calm. Supporters of comprehensive reform now control Congress, and political news has revolved around presidential candidates, with only one anti-immigrant hardliner among the many second-tier candidates. Meanwhile, both Chris Simcox’s Minuteman Civil Defense Corps and Jim Gilchrist’s Minuteman Project are facing charges of financial mismanagement.

But as the vote in Farmers Branch shows, anti-immigrant politics remain a live wire in various parts of the country.

Meanwhile, in the Washington, D.C. suburb of Gaithersburg, Maryland, a day-laborer center was the target of a recent arson attempt. In response, local anti-immigrant group Citizens Above Party – which, we noted previously, is hardly the simple concerned-citizens operation it portrays itself as – reopened their complaints against the facility:

‘‘Why is the county executive allowing hundreds of thousands of dollars to go to a facility that does not check the backgrounds of who is coming through the back door?” said Susan Payne, founder of Citizens Above Party, a vocal opponent of the county’s policy to pay for the day-laborer centers. ‘‘We have no idea who these people are.”

Alliance for Marriage Recruits in Maryland Legislature

“Marriage Protection Caucus (TM)” formed to ratify federal anti-gay marriage amendment.

Anti-Immigrant Rally to Feature Tractor-Trailer Traffic Stunt?

As the Federation for American Immigration Reform and a number of radio talk-show hosts convene their anti-immigrant rally in Washington, D.C. this week, organizers were hoping to feature a convoy of truckers riding around the Beltway (Interstate 495) to protest illegal immigration and the mythical “North American Union.” The stunt, planned by bicyclist and author Frosty Wooldridge of the Save American Fund, was supposed to cause “a complete backup of traffic” by “encouraging truckers to form side-by-side convoys and circle the highway at the posted 55 mph speed limit.” A spokesman for the Maryland State Police didn’t sound too worried, saying “We have no problem with that, we want them to do the speed limit.”

Although the truckers apparently didn’t make it out today, one has to wonder about the feasibility of such an endeavor. Making it up to 55 on the Beltway during the excruciating rush hour would be impressive indeed.

'Ex-Gays' Push against Sex Ed in Maryland That Mentions Homosexuality

REAL ID Debate in Maryland Mixes 9/11, Day Laborers

Since Congress passed the REAL ID Act in 2005, which (among other things) mandates that all states require drivers prove their legal immigration status in order to get a license, several states have balked at the cost and myriad civil liberties issues stemming from the bill. Maine and Idaho have passed laws rejecting the new guidelines, and a number of other state legislatures are considering joining them, including Maryland. This week, however, the Maryland Senate debated a competing bill that would implement at least one part of the REAL ID rules – the proof of immigration status requirement. And although REAL ID was passed as part of emergency funding for the War on Terror, some are trying to refocus the debate away from civil liberties and on to anti-immigrant “quality of life” complaints. From The Washington Times:

Bill supporters told the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee they were concerned about public safety and potential terrorist attacks because one of the September 11 hijackers obtained a Maryland driver's license.

"I live in Gaithersburg, Maryland, which has been in [newspapers] quite recently, and is really on its way to becoming the first authentic barrio in the county," said Susan Payne of Citizens Above Party. "The poison that's coming out of this state, known as the Maryland driver's license, has to be stopped because it's infecting the entire country."

Payne was also quoted in the Annapolis Capital, warning “You are driving people like me out of our home state.” She co-founded Citizens Above Party in response to the building of a day-laborer center in Gaithersburg, a prosperous D.C. suburb known for its New Urbanist planned communities.

The other founder of the anti-day-laborer group was Demos Chrissos, a veteran producer of Republican political ads who, like Susan Payne, is frequently quoted in the local media. Chrissos is also a professional anti-immigration activist on a national scale: He produced a TV ad for WeNeedAFence.com that included a shot of the World Trade Center being hit, and more recently produced ads around a campaign to pardon border agents convicted in a shooting. According to the online bio from his video marketing firm, Chrissos co-founded Citizens Above Party to “investigat[e] the suspected link between illegal immigration and widespread voter fraud across the nation.”

Of course, there’s no sign of “widespread voter fraud” by illegal immigrants anywhere except in the press releases of anti-immigrant groups and the politicians who court them, or of a link between suburban day laborers and anti-American terrorists. But press coverage of Payne’s rhetoric does demonstrate how easily the anti-immigrant movement can “infect” the REAL ID debate in Maryland and elsewhere. And while Payne comes off in the media as a typical concerned citizen, her partner’s work as a professional media consultant suggests that this confusion is part of their strategy.

'Ex-Gay' Group Appeals Maryland Sexuality Ed Curriculum

That includes “respect” for gays.

FRC, 'Ex-Gays' Continue Attack on Maryland School Board

Over “pro-homosexual” sex ed.

Harry Jackson Looks to Republicans' Future

Last week, in criticizing evangelical Jim Wallis for giving the Democrats’ radio address, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins claimed that activists on the Religious Right were the nonpartisan ones, and he cited Maryland’s Bishop Harry Jackson as one who “typifies” the style of “boldly address[ing] both parties.” Despite this claim, as we noted, Jackson’s partisan credentials are still secure.

Today, Jackson himself makes that point in a column bemoaning the Republicans’ “political bloodbath” in the recent midterm elections. Chalking it up to “the Liberal Media” and Democratic pandering to minorities, Jackson offers some “out of the box thinking” to help the Right in 2008. Dismissing as “unimaginative” the Democratic platform of raising the minimum wage, he writes:

A new breed of entrepreneurial, religious blacks will be to glad accept heart felt invitations to join the conservative movement. People like Herman Cain and a host of other successful black business people are showing that there is no glass ceiling in many companies or industries. Growing numbers of black mid level managers, doctors, lawyers, and professions are looking for positive ways to contribute to their community. Men like Michael Steele Lt. Governor of Maryland proved that large numbers of Blacks are willing to entertain the conservative message.

Steele, who is black, won just one-fourth of the black vote. So confident were Republicans of Steele’s appeal to African Americans that they bused in homeless men from Philadelphia on Election Day to distribute fliers in black precincts presenting Steele as a Democratic candidate.

And if the name Herman Cain sounds familiar, you might recognize him as the public face of an organization called America’s PAC that ran thousands of radio ads on black radio stations encouraging African Americans to vote Republican by claiming that the “Democrat Party” was “decimating our people” through abortion, linking Democrats to Klan leader and Louisiana Republican politician David Duke, blaming Democrats for Hurricane Katrina and Florida voting problems, and this classic script:

Michael: And if you make a little mistake with one of your ho’s, you’ll want to dispose of that problem toot sweet, no questions asked, right?

Dennis: Naw, that’s too cold. I don’t snuff my own seed

Michael: Huh. Really? (pause) Well, maybe you do have a reason to vote Republican!

 Perhaps Cain and Steele were not the best examples of “positive ways to contribute” to the community.

FRC Ally's Partisan Credentials Still Secure

Like Gary Bauer, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins criticizes Sojourners chief and fellow evangelical Rev. Jim Wallis for giving the Democrats’ weekly radio program. Writes Perkins,

Interestingly, none of the people Wallis has criticized has delivered, or is ever likely to deliver, the GOP's weekly radio address, no matter who is President. Instead, they are best characterized by their willingness to speak the truth, to anyone willing to listen, on the essential issues of hearth and home that are the surest route to peace and prosperity. Bishop Harry Jackson of New Hope Christian Church in Maryland, president of the High Impact Leadership Coalition, typifies this kind of leader. He speaks with equal passion about the sanctity of marriage and the need for religious leaders to boldly address both parties, knowing that sometimes this will make them less welcome behind a partisan microphone.

Bishop Jackson, who writes a column for the right-wing Townhall.com, has been a frequent speaker for far-right groups at events like FRC’s own “Justice Sunday II.” Lest he be further accused of bipartisanship or nonpartisanship – a potentially career-ending mistake to Perkins and his coalition – it should be noted that Jackson is still available to endorse Republican candidates, as he did George Bush in 2004 and Ken Blackwell and Michael Steele in 2006: After all, he supports candidates “who believe in both social and fiscal conservatism” and thinks abortion and gay marriage are plenty for church leaders to talk about.

Let the People Decide – As Long As They Agree with Us

A frequent complaint from opponents of same-sex marriage is that courts shouldn’t meddle in the issue – even though courts are charged with enforcing the equal protection of rights under the law. But anti-gay activists were pleased enough when courts in New York and other states rejected the claims of gay couples. How serious are anti-gay activists about letting the elected legislature decide?

Perhaps that logic only applies when the legislature comes down on their side. Last week, the California-based Campaign for Children and Families decried as “undemocratic” a bill to establish same-sex marriage going through the legislature. (It passed last year, but the governor vetoed it.)

And yesterday, the Family Research Council managed to juxtapose, in the same paragraph, their opposition to Washington, D.C.’s elected representatives getting to decide the issue and their claim that marriage in Maryland is “the province of the legislature”:

Hoping to avoid any "congressional meddling," the D.C. City Council is testing the waters for a same-sex marriage bill in the District. After passing a string of pro-homosexual legislation, the Council believes this to be the next logical step. While federal lawmakers have been all too receptive to the city's recent actions on "gay rights," Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), who will soon chair the committee overseeing D.C. affairs, said the issue is not expected to surface. Congress has 30 days to challenge any law passed by the District government, and with the country's near sweep of marriage protection amendments many believe the move would be frowned on. In neighboring Maryland, the state Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments today in the case to uphold a ban on same-sex marriage. Plaintiffs will continue to argue that a social issue of this magnitude is the province of the legislature--not the courts.

Maryland Court Considers Same-Sex Marriage

Alliance Defense Fund lawyer claims “momentum” against gay couples. Meanwhile: Right decries California legislature effort for gay marriage as “undemocratic.”

More on Minutemen Finances: Smoke and Mirrors on Background Checks

Chris Simcox, president of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, took to the vigilante group’s online message board to blast Washington Times reporter Jerry Seper for his articles questioning MCDC’s financial management. “This guy is obtuse and can't be this downright dumb which is why I feel he purposefully misstates and, misquotes me and others,” wrote Simcox of the reporter at the right-wing newspaper, whom he called an “idiot.” Simcox went on, “Sinister Seper distorts/confuses facts on purpose -is he stupid or is he doing it on purpose- out to bring us down -don't underestimate the Bush family connection.”

One can understand Simcox’s anger. Most news media – including, until recently, the Washington Times – have been more than willing to accept Simcox’s claims about volunteers, fundraising, and spending at face value. More and more, however, it appears they don’t add up. The heavily marketed “border fence project” was downgraded from an “Israeli-style” barrier to a “standard cattle fence” that “wouldn’t stop a tricycle,” in the words of one vigilante. Now, the IRS disclosure form (990) the group has made available – while limited to calendar year 2005 – calls into question more of the claims made by its charismatic founder.

In September of 2005, as the group was gearing up for one of its “vigils” along the U.S.-Mexico border, the group’s Texas coordinator quit, alleging financial impropriety. “Chris is one of these people, he's almost intoxicating to listen to, and you want to believe what he says,” the disgruntled former Minuteman leader said. "But he doesn't back it up.”

The Company He Keeps

Last week, according to the Washington Daybook, a “group of black pastors [held] a press conference, beginning at 1 p.m., to endorse Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele in Maryland's Senate race.”  Among those endorsing Steele was Bishop Harry Jackson who likes to refer to himself as a Democrat primarily because “being able to say I'm a registered Democrat disarms many of the people who want to write me off.” 

Apparently, Jackson thinks that by calling himself a Democrat means he can get away with saying things like

Gays have been at the helm of a fourfold strategy for years, but the wisdom behind their spiritual, cultural, political and generational tactics is clearly satanic.

Given his views, it is no surprise that the Right has eagerly embraced Jackson, featuring him as a speaker at two Family Research Council events – “Justice Sunday,” where he complained that “Black churches are too concerned with justice” and “Justice Sunday II” – designed to push for the confirmation of right-wing Bush administration judges, and inviting him to appear at a rally alongside Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist supporting the use of the "nuclear option" to do away with the filibuster in order to confirm Judge Janice Rogers Brown.

Recently, Jackson declared that his top reasons for working to elect Republicans are

As a black evangelical, I’ve had to think about the unpleasant prospect of a Democratically-controlled House and Senate. If the Democrats are in power, the following problems will occur: 1) There will be no protection of traditional marriage, 2) Abortion-on-demand will be encouraged, 3) Religious freedoms will be attacked …

Joining Jackson in endorsing Steele was Rev. James Thompson of Integrity Church International in Landover, MD - and apparently Jackson’s fear that religious freedoms would be attacked by Democrats was shared by Thompson’s wife, Emma Jean Thompson, who is responsible for this

Sellers said the campaign knew nothing about a mailer that arrived yesterday urging support for Steele and declaring that Democratic Senate candidate "Ben Cardin Promises to Attack Jesus Christ, Pastors, Churches and Christians and to Take Away Blacks' Freedom If He Is Elected."

The piece criticizing Cardin, who is Jewish, was produced and distributed by Emma Jean Thompson, a Bowie woman who attended a news conference yesterday endorsing Steele.

Right Wing Attacks Parkinson's-Afflicted Michael J. Fox for Pro-Stem Cell Research Ads

Rush Limbaugh says he’s off his meds or acting in the video; National Review and Princeton’s Robert George call it “slander”; Maryland’s Family Protection Lobby says candidates are “exploiting” Fox.

Right-Wing Bishop Harry Jackson Joins Religious Right

To cut black-oriented ads for Maryland Senate candidate Steele (R); Jackson calls for candidates “who believe in both social and fiscal conservatism.”
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