marry

What Is Taking Them So Long?

Several hours have now passed since the news broke that the Vermont legislature had over-ridden the governor's veto and legalized marriage equality in the state.

Last week, when the Iowa Supreme Court issued its own marriage ruling, Religious Right groups unleashed a flood of press releases and statements decrying the decision, blasting the "activist" judges responsible for it and vowing to help the state pass a constitutional amendment overturning the ruling.

But apparently the Right's standard talking points about "activists judges" and "the will of the people" aren't going to work this this time, now that the Vermont has enacted marriage equality through the legislative process and so it seems as if they are struggling on how to respond.

Hours have now passed and we have not heard a peep out of any of the groups who traditionally use such developments as a cudgel with which they can wage their culture war - not the Family Research Council; not the Eagle Forum; not the Traditional Values Coalition; not the Alliance Defense Fund; not Concerned Women for America ... not even Peter LaBarbera and his Americans for Truth.  All of these groups rushed out releases in the hours following the Iowa decision yet, as of this writing, not one has weighed in on this development.

In fact, Christian Newswire, the distribution source of choice for right-wing groups, has not one press release up from anyone at all regarding the Vermont decision.

So far, all we have found that even remotely qualifies as commentary is this OneNewsNow article, which has a well-established history of changing AP stories to fit its own right-wing bias, in which they put the word "marriage" in quotation marks.  The AP version looks like this:

Vermont legalizes gay marriage with veto override

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Vermont has become the fourth state to legalize gay marriage — and the first to do so with a legislature's vote.

Whereas the ONN reads like this:

Vermont legalizes same-sex 'marriage' with veto override

MONTPELIER, VT - Vermont has become the fourth state to legalize homosexual "marriage" -- and the first to do so with a legislature's vote.

As much as they might oppose it, the Vermont legislature has given gays the right to marry on equal terms with everybody else and no amount of scare quotes from OneNewsNow or any other right-wing outlet is going to change that.

Undoubtedly, there will be some sort of statements released by these groups in the near future and we'll chronicle them when they are  ... but it is worth noting that it sure does seem to be taking them an awfully long time trying to figure out what to say about it.

Liberty Counsel: Protecting Christian Children From Their Lesbian Mothers

Jeremy highlights this absurd article from WorldNetDaily about "a lesbian [who] is demanding custody of a Christian woman's daughter in a case that could strong-arm Florida into recognizing out-of-state adoptions by same-sex couples" and does a good job of tearing it apart by noting that the women in question were registered as domestic partners in Washington and that the non-birth mother adopted the child and was listed her as a second parent.

The women eventually moved to Florida and split up, and the birth mother "left her homosexual lifestyle, became a Christian and is engaged to marry a man" and is therefore no longer willing to to grant her former partner visitation rights to their daughter.

The adoptive mother is understandably suing and, predictably, the Liberty Counsel is representing the other mother and claiming the "state of Washington cannot rewrite Florida adoption law and commandeer the state to enforce its contrary policy."

The Liberty Counsel seems to have become the organization of choice for mothers who find Christianity and then wish to deny their former partners access to their children.  LC represented Lisa Miller in her fight against Janet Jenkins and today announced that it was representing yet another mother in a similar situation:

N.B. is the biological mother of a nine-year-old girl. At the time of her daughter’s birth, she was in a same-sex relationship in California. Well after the relationship ended, the former partner sued, and a California court declared her a “de facto” parent, granting A.K. visitation rights.

In the meantime, N.B. moved to Alabama with the child and eventually married a man. She filed a parentage action at the Alabama trial court, which ruled that A.K. had no parental rights cognizable in Alabama. A.K. then challenged the jurisdiction of the court to hear the parentage action. The Alabama Court of Appeals agreed with A.K., concluding that Alabama lacked jurisdiction to entertain the parentage action and thus reinstating A.K.’s parental rights. The Court of Appeals denied a petition for rehearing. Liberty Counsel was then retained to represent N.B. and filed the petition for certiorari to the Alabama Supreme Court to reverse the appellate court’s ruling, which was just granted this week.

LC's Mat Staver declares that it is important to fight to deny gay parents right to see their children because those who are pressing the "same-sex marriage agenda are trying to use the back door to accomplish what they cannot through the front door. You cannot do an end run around a state’s marriage policy when that policy clearly affirms marriage between one man and one woman.”

But apparently, what you can do is find Christ and flee to a different state with your child in order to deny your former partner and said child's parent access and then contact the Liberty Counsel, which will come rushing to your defense in the name of protecting the sanctity of marriage and the well-being of families.

Disgraceful.

Robots, Futurama, and Marriage Equality

For the last few days, Pam has been covering the marriage amendment rally in North Carolina that was held yesterday where, as the News and Observer put it, a thousand people to showed up to demand that state legislators give them a chance to vote on a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

In her post today, Pam also highlights this new argument for the need for such an amendment:

Two well-known conservative Christian commentators who spoke at the rally described a breakdown of society should gay couples be allowed to marry -- including a rise in single-parent households and in the number of dependents wanting Social Security and health insurance benefits.

David Gibbs III, a lawyer who in 2005 fought to keep brain-damaged Terri Schiavo on life support, told rally participants gay marriage would "open the door to unusual marriage in North Carolina.

"Why not polygamy, or three or four spouses?" Gibbs asked. "Maybe people will want to marry their pets or robots.”

Frankly, I think Gibbs has been watching too much Futurama:

Watch more Futurama videos on AOL Video

It should be noted as well that pseudo-historian David Barton was also a featured speaker:

The rally was sponsored by Return America of Davidson County and by NC4Marriage, a new nonprofit group set up to fight for a constitutional amendment. Many participants were already wearing bumper stickers and buttons made for the campaign, reading, "Let the people vote," or "One Man, One Woman, That's Marriage."

At least a half-dozen state legislators attended the rally under sunny skies and 31-degree temperatures. Each speaker asked that people not leave before visiting with their legislators and asking them to support legislation allowing a referendum. And though many people eager to escape the cold jumped into church vans immediately after the hourlong rally, others flooded the legislative offices.

"Don't just call today, call them once a week," said David Barton, founder of WallBuilders, a ministry devoted to educating Americans about the nation's religious foundation. "Let them feel the heat until they see the light."

Let The DOMA Scare Tactics Begin

By now you have probably heard that Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders has filed suit on behalf a several legally married gay couples in Massachusetts who are challenging Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act which denies them a range of federal benefits that other married couples receive, such as pensions, health insurance, and the ability to file joint tax returns.

As GLAD explains it:

When people marry, as over 10,000 same-sex couples have now done in Massachusetts since 2004, and as couples have been doing in Connecticut since November 2008, they take on legal responsibilities for one another and their families.

The federal government does not license marriages – only states do – but many federal programs take state-granted marital status into account in determining eligibility and the extent of coverage. Due to this unprecedented law, the federal government denies rights, protections and responsibilities to married couples of the same sex in every federal program that takes account of marital status. There are at least 1,138 federal laws in which marital status is a factor according to government studies conducted in 1997 and 2004.

Strangely, despite the fact that this news has been circulating for several hours now, none of the right-wing political or legal groups has weighed in, with the exception of the Alliance Defense Fund which, predictably, decries this effort as an attempt to "redefine marriage for everyone":

A lawsuit filed by a handful of same-sex couples represented by a homosexual activist group is seeking to have a judge redefine marriage for the entire country, according to attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund. The lawsuit asks a federal judge to declare portions of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman, unconstitutional.

“Public policy should be decided by the public, not by one judge and a very small number of radical activists,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Brian Raum. “America continues to overwhelmingly reaffirm that marriage is one man and one woman. Does the democratic process mean anything anymore?”

Of course, this is patently false, as GLAD clearly explained:

If a non-resident couple were married in Massachusetts or Connecticut and their home state did not recognize their marriage, then, as a general matter, a favorable result in this case will not allow them to seek federal legal protections ... This case is only about the relationship between the federal government and a class of people who are married by their states ... This lawsuit has no impact on any state’s marriage licensing or recognition laws – whether those laws allow same-sex couples to marry or not.

This is not a case seeking a federal constitutional right to marry that would override any state’s marriage law or amendment.

...

In short, if DOMA Section 3 is declared unconstitutional in GLAD’s lawsuit, no state would, as a result, be required to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and no state would be required to recognize and respect a Massachusetts marriage of a same-sex couple.

Since the ADF's "gays are out to destroy marriage" claim is obviously without merit, it seems the only tactic they have left is to trot out the "won't somebody think of the children" lament which, of course, is exactly what they have done:

“They do not care about the negative social impact on children if federal judges redefine marriage. Courts should never impose a system which guarantees that more kids will be brought up in homes without a married mom and dad. How can we justify hurting millions of children for the possible emotional benefit of a very small number of adults?”

It's still early in the process, but I suspect that this will be the Right's preferred response to this suit: lying about what it seeks and hyperventilating that recognizing these legally valid marriages will cause incalculable harm to the nation's children.

Mike Huckabee: Affably Anti-Gay

A.J. Jacobs has a interesting profile of Mike Huckabee in Esquire on how this funny and seemingly nice former presidential candidate is, at heart, a militantly anti-gay culture warrior. 

Jacobs reports that Huckabee is utterly charming and the "most likable politician I've ever met" ... until he joins Huckabee for a book-signing and fundraiser for the right-wing New Jersey Family Policy Council where the theme is "no compromise on gay marriage" and Huckabee proclaims that gays getting married will lead to polygamy and bestiality and likens homosexuality to alcoholism:

We say the Pledge of Allegiance. We eat our chicken and baby carrots. We listen to a series of speeches with phrases like "swamp of moral decay" and "assault on the sacred institution of marriage." One man says that given the choice between winning the White House and winning the three anti-gay-marriage propositions, he'd choose to lose the White House ...

Later, I tell Huckabee that I once reported on a group of gay evangelical Christians — admittedly, a tiny group. They argue that homosexuality is not a biblical sin. Yes, Leviticus bans men lying down with other men, but that ban refers to pagan sex rituals. Jesus would not have a problem with committed, loving same-sex relationships.

Huckabee is not impressed. "How convenient. How very convenient to just put the Bible into a chronological time zone," he answers. Huckabee says gay people can do what they want in their private lives. But gay marriage?

"The problem with changing the definition of marriage is that once you cross that line, then there's no stopping," he explains. He tells me that when he spoke recently in Japan, there was an American student there who objected to his views on gay marriage. "This was right in the middle of what was going on in west Texas, and I thought, Okay, how can we say that what those polygamists in west Texas are doing is wrong if we allow same-sex marriage? Who are you to tell them that that man can't have fifteen wives? [The student said] 'Well, it's not the same!' And I said, 'Okay, well, here's another one: bestiality. Now I know you're going to have a problem,' and he just went berserk on that. But there was recently an actual news story where a man wanted to marry his animal. . . . I think it was a sheep."

Huckabee says he doesn't know if homosexuality is inborn, but he believes you can control the behavior. He compares homosexuality to obesity or alcoholism: "Some people have a predisposition to alcoholism. Does that mean they're not responsible for getting drunk? No."

I give him the liberal line: Being gay is so integral to a person's identity that it's not a choice, that it's like being African-American.

"I'm especially offended by that," he answers immediately. "Because blackness is an inescapable quality. Black is not a behavior. There's no behavior to black. What you can say is that whatever disposition, it's a choice. A lot of people are celibate. When people enter the priesthood, they make a choice to subjugate certain behaviors and/or feelings. It's not that they don't have them; it's that they choose not to act on them."

He talks about how he saw a news clip from a Palm Springs rally of a woman holding a cross, being accosted by gay-rights protesters who grabbed the cross out of her hands. "I watch these guys, and they're all about love and tolerance until they lose."

In Huckabee's world, gay people are the oppressors and conservative Christians are the victims.

The piece is full of interesting tidbits, like the fact that Huckabee was apparently unaware that this country has never had a Jewish president and makes a point of noting that Sarah Palin's disastrous interviews with Charlie Gibson and Katie Couric were in no way "unfair," saying "Katie Couric was extraordinarily gentle, even helpful. [Palin] just . . . I don't know what happened. I can't explain it. It was not a good interview. I'm being charitable."

As they say, read the whole thing.

Understanding Rick Warren's Work in Africa

Writing in The Daily Beast, Max Blumenthal takes a look at the work that Rick Warren is doing combating AIDS in Africa and finds some rather disturbing connections.  For instance:

Troubled by what he was witnessing in Africa, Rep. Tom Lantos led the new Democratic-controlled Congress to reform PEPFAR [the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief] during a reauthorization process in February 2008. Lantos insisted that Congress lift the abstinence-only earmark imposed by Republicans in 2002, and begin to fund family planning elements like free condom distribution. His maneuver infuriated Warren, who immediately boarded a plane for Washington to join Christian right leaders including born-again former Watergate felon Chuck Colson for an emergency press conference on the Capitol lawn. In his speech, Warren claimed that Lantos’ bill would spawn an increase in the sex trafficking of young women. The bill died and PEPFAR was reauthorized in its flawed form.

A release announcing this press conference shows that Warren wasn't only sharing the microphone with Colson, but rather a bevy with right-wing Congressmen and activists including Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, Rep. Joe Pitts, Rep. Mike Pence, Rep. Jeb Hensarling, Bishop Harry Jackson, Wendy Wright of Concerned Women for America, and Day Gardner of the National Black Pro-Life Union.

Even more disturbing is Warren's close ties to Ugandan pastor Martin Ssempa:

Warren’s man in Uganda is a charismatic pastor named Martin Ssempa. The head of the Makerere Community Church, a rapidly growing congregation, Ssempe enjoys close ties to his country’s First Lady, Janet Museveni, and is a favorite of the Bush White House. In the capitol of Kampala, Ssempa is known for his boisterous crusading. Ssempa’s stunts have included burning condoms in the name of Jesus and arranging the publication of names of homosexuals in cooperative local newspapers while lobbying for criminal penalties to imprison them.

...

In August 2007, Ssempa led hundreds of his followers through the streets of Kampala to demand that the government mete out harsh punishments against gays. “Arrest all homos,” read placards. And: “A man cannot marry a man.” Ssempa continued his crusade online, publishing the names of Ugandan gay rights activists on a website he created, along with photos and home addresses. “Homosexual promoters,” he called them, suggesting they intended to seduce Uganda’s children into their lifestyle. Soon afterwards, two of President Yoweri Museveni’s top officials demanded the arrest of the gay activists named by Ssempa. Terrified, the activists immediately into hiding.

I remember this incident because I actually wrote a post about it at the time that included a quote from Janice Crouse of the Beverly LaHaye Institute hailing the Ugandan protesters for standing up when “the Devil is attacking them”:

I thank the Lord that we have people in Uganda who are devoted Christians who are willing to go out there at the beginning, at the outset, to say “you’re not going to change our culture, you’re not going to have influence here. We stand up for what is right, what is legal, and what is part of the culture of Uganda.”

It also included this photo taken of one of Ssempa's protesters:

Is this the anti-AIDS work in Africa of which Warren is so proud?

The Phyllis Schlafly School of Marriage Counseling

Personally, I don't really want to know the inspiration behind this latest column from Dennis Prager:

It is an axiom of contemporary marital life that if a wife is not in the mood, she need not have sex with her husband. Here are some arguments why a woman who loves her husband might want to rethink this axiom.

Prager goes on to list a variety of reasons why wives should have sex with their husbands whenever it is requested - not one of which seems to take the woman's desires, feelings, or reasons into consideration:

Compared to most womens sexual nature, mens sexual nature is far closer to that of animals. So what? That is the way he is made. Blame God and nature. Telling your husband to control it is a fine idea. But he already does. Every man who is sexually faithful to his wife already engages in daily heroic self-control. He has married knowing he will have to deny his sexual natures desire for variety for the rest of his life. To ask that he also regularly deny himself sex with the one woman in the world with whom he is permitted sex is asking far too much. Deny him enough times and he may try to fill this need with another woman.

We can only look forward to next week's installment of Prager's rather disturbing foray into marital counseling:

In Part II, I will explain in detail why mood should play little or no role in a womans determining whether she has sex with her husband.

Maybe Prager ought to just marry Phyllis Schlafly, since they seem to share similar views on this subject.

It’s Only Discrimination if Skulls Are Cracked

Mike Huckabee has been on quite a roll lately.  While he’s out hawking his latest book, he’s also been weighing in on the issue of Prop. 8’s passage in California.  

Yesterday, he told “The View” that gays haven’t really been seeing their rights violated because they haven’t been getting the skulls cracked:

HUCKABEE: It’s a different set of rights. People who are homosexuals should have every right in terms of their civil rights, to be employed, to do anything they want. But that’s not really the issue. I know you talked about it and I think you got into it a little bit early on. But when we’re talking about a redefinition of an institution, that’s different than individual civil rights.

BEHAR: Well, segregation was an institution, too, in a way. It was right there on the books.

HUCKABEE: But here is the difference. Bull Connor was hosing people down in the streets of Alabama. John Lewis got his skull cracked on the Selma bridge.

And today he told Bill Bennett that Prop. 8 didn’t actually take away anyone’s rights at all:

HUCKABEE: The very people who voted for Barack Obama in California…also voted to sustain traditional marriage. I refuse to use the term, “ban same-sex marriage.” That’s not what those efforts did. They affirmed what is. They did not prohibit something. They simply affirmed something that which has and forever has existed.

Of course, as Think Progress pointed out, that is exactly what Prop. 8 did – it was right there in the description of the amendment: “Changes the California Constitution to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry in California.”

Focus on the Family Eliminating 200 Positions

Last week I speculated that Focus on the Family was undertaking its stealth ad campaign as an attempt raise money because it had been forced to lay off staff several times over the last few years.  Now, it looks like they are about to eliminate even more positions:

Focus on the Family is announcing in an hour that it is eliminating 202 jobs in the coming weeks -- 149 through layoffs and 53 by not filling vacant positions. The layoffs are on top of 46 announced in October that will take effect at the beginning of 2009.

The employees were notified today, spokesman Gary Schneeberger said.

"We've been trying to take care of our family here first," he said. "We notified those affected, and they'll come back this week to find out more about their transition packages."

The Colorado Springs-based Christian nonprofit's budget will be reduced from $160 million this year to $138 million in 2009.

The Colorado Independent has more:

Focus on the Family is poised to announce major layoffs to its Colorado Springs-based ministry and media empire today. The cutbacks come just weeks after the group pumped more than half a million dollars into the successful effort to pass a gay-marriage ban in California.

In all, Focus pumped $539,000 in cash and another $83,000 worth of non-monetary support into the measure to overturn a California Supreme Court ruling that allowed gays and lesbians to marry in that state. The group was the seventh-largest donor to the effort in the country. The cash contributions are equal to the salaries of 19 Coloradans earning the 2008 per capita income of $29,133.

...

This is the third year that Focus has laid off employees due to budget cuts. In its heyday, the ministry, which relocated to Colorado Springs from Arcadia, Calif., in 1991, employed more than 1,500 people. Many of those employees worked in mailroom and line assembly jobs, processing so much incoming and outgoing correspondences that the U.S. Postal Service gave Focus its own ZIP code.

In September 2005, nearly 80 employees were reassigned or laid off in an effort to trim millions of dollars from its 2006 budget. In addition, 83 open positions were not filled in the layoff, which included eliminating some of the ministry’s programs. At the time, Focus employed 1,342 full-time employees.

“To the extent that we can place them within the ministry, we will try to do that,” said then-spokesman Paul Hetrick. “Most of them will not be able to be placed.”

In September 2007, amid a reported $8 million in budget shortfalls, Focus on the Family laid off another 30 employees; 15 more were reassigned within the company. Most of the layoffs were from Focus’ constituent response services department (i.e. the mailroom).

Jesus Hates You, Just So You Know

Biblical Family Advocates has issued a press release so that its president, Pastor Phil Magnan, can tell all the gays who want to get married that, even if they do get the right, it’s not going to change the fact that Jesus still hates them:

Regardless how people package it, Christ hates the lawlessness of homosexuality. Homosexual marriage is a lawless relationship whether it's legal or not. And I have news for the homosexual community and those who have joined their unholy alliance; God owns the sacred institution of marriage, not the State, so they should stop tampering with what God has joined. Government and the people have a responsibility to uphold what God has instituted.

Should I feel discriminated against because I cannot marry my brother or sister or a 12 year old girl? Should I feel discriminated against because society chooses to be godly or moral? Discrimination based on good moral judgment is a protection for the stability of society and upholds godly morals for future generations. A government that allows homosexuals to marry would be endorsing the unnatural.  Equal protection under the law should never mean the protection and promotion of what is immoral or harmful. Keeping same sex couples from marrying restrains them from corrupting the wholesome sanctity of marriage.

It is eternally reprehensible that the pro same sex marriage movement is working to codify their perversion of the marital union; which has an even broader agenda. This agenda will end up being forced into the religious institutions around us, as well as force children to accept immorality in every venue of education. Evidence for this is already painfully known in the forced homosexual indoctrination of kindergarteners' in California and Massachusetts. Acceptance of same sex unions will inevitably punish families who oppose it. As a Pastor and Minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the homosexual community must be warned that they are at odds with Jesus Christ Himself, who condemned those who cause children to stumble into sin.

Dole Targets Hagan for Taking “Godless Money”

Back in 2006, the University of Minnesota released a poll showing that atheists were the most distrusted minority group in America: 

From a telephone sampling of more than 2,000 households, university researchers found that Americans rate atheists below Muslims, recent immigrants, gays and lesbians and other minority groups in “sharing their vision of American society.” Atheists are also the minority group most Americans are least willing to allow their children to marry.

Even though atheists are few in number, not formally organized and relatively hard to publicly identify, they are seen as a threat to the American way of life by a large portion of the American public. “Atheists, who account for about 3 percent of the U.S. population, offer a glaring exception to the rule of increasing social tolerance over the last 30 years,” says Penny Edgell, associate sociology professor and the study’s lead researcher.

That finding was backed up by a Gallup poll in 2007 that showed that a majority of Americans were unwilling to elect an atheist whereas a majority said they would be willing to elect someone who was gay.  

Apparently Elizabeth Dole’s re-election campaign was aware of this bias, which is why they have decided to play their “scary atheism” card at the last minute.  Having already gone after her opponent, Kay Hagan, on the issue of gays getting married, the Dole campaign has released a new add linking Hagan to the Godless America PAC and accusing her of taking “Godless money,” whatever that is:

The ad claims that the “leader of the Godless Americans PAC recently held a secret fundraiser in Kay Hagan's honor” which, as the Huffington Post points out, is bogus – it was actually a “fundraiser co-hosted by 40 people, including a representative of the Godless America PAC.”

Hagan, for her part, is understandably upset:

A new television ad by Republican U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole’s re-election campaign that ties her rival, state Sen. Kay Hagan, to an atheist group has provoked a threat of legal action from the Greensboro Democrat.

“I can’t tell you how upset I am that Elizabeth Dole is attacking my strong Christian faith,” Hagan said late Tuesday.

Hagan, who is an elder at First Presbyterian Church, said she is incensed by the ad because at the end it shows her picture with a female voice saying, “There is no God.”

Her campaign will hold a news conference in Greensboro today to push back against the ad, and Hagan said lawyers for the campaign are preparing to send a cease-and-desist order demanding that Dole stop the ad.

But the Dole camp is unapologetic:

“The ad is 100 percent accurate,” Dole spokesman Dan McLagan said. “If the truth hurts, that’s their problem.”

As I noted in my last post on Dole’s campaign tactics, until recently she had never really been the type to engage in this sort of wedge-issue, right-wing scaremongering, which makes her descent into it all the more pathetic. If she keeps this up, I’m going to have to add her to my regular monitoring rotation since she seems to be turning into a regular fountain of wing-nuttery.

Right Beseeches Schieffer to Help McCain

For the last week or so, as the economy continues to dominate the news cycle and presidential election, the Right has been lamenting that their anti-abortion, anti-gay agenda has been relegated to the back burner and wishing that they could choose right-wing moderators to run the debates.  

But since they can’t do that, they’ve decided to do the next best thing and petition Bob Schieffer, the moderator of the final debate, to make sure their issues play prominent in tonight’s debate.  Earlier this week, Ken Blackwell, a senior fellow at the Family Research Council, wrote an "open letter" to Schieffer decrying Tom Brokaw's failure to work their agenda into the last debate:

Mr. Brokaw’s choice of topics for the second debate robbed the American people of what was intended to be a look into the more personal and controversial aspects of the candidates. In that debate focusing on domestic policy, there was not a single question about the Supreme Court, gun control, abortion, gay marriage or immigration. It strains credulity to assert that of the more than 1,000 questions offered to Mr. Brokaw, he could not find any that spoke to these issues.

And now the FRC has followed suit. Declaring that “no issue our nation faces is more important than the protection of innocent unborn life,” the FRC has launched a petition to try and pressure Schieffer into asking questions designed to rally so-called “values voters” behind John McCain:

The American people face many crucial issues in this year's elections, including the state of the economy, immigration, health care, the environment, and foreign policy.  The first two presidential debates this year, however, have failed to include the most pressing social issues on the minds of values voters.  We the undersigned urge you to ask questions along the lines of those listed below, which discuss the future of marriage and the sanctity of human life.  These are questions that matter to all Americans, and you have the last remaining opportunity for the American people to compare the candidates' answers as they appear together for the final presidential debate of 2008.

* Do you believe that the U.S. Constitution contains a right for homosexuals to marry?
* Would you change the traditional definition of marriage contained in the federal Defense of Marriage Act?
* Do you support the Defense of Marriage Act's provision allowing states not to recognize same-sex marriages from other states?
* Have you ever opposed any ballot initiative seeking to define marriage as a relationship between one man and one woman?
* Do you agree or disagree with the Supreme Court's decision allowing the government to ban abortions that kill a partially born baby?
* Have you ever supported or opposed any law designed to protect the lives of babies that have survived an attempted abortion?

Moderating a debate is a great responsibility that rests on your shoulders.  We ask that you exercise that responsibility with great care to ensure that the American people have the chance to know where the candidates stand on every pressing issue. 

And just in case this effort doesn’t work out, FRC Action is doing its own part to support McCain by running anti-Obama ads in several battleground states:

Today, FRC Action PAC announced an initial $100,000 TV and radio ad campaign in key battleground states aimed at educating voters on Senator Barack Obama's promise to make the radical "Freedom of Choice Act" his top priority as President. The "Freedom of Choice Act" will overturn virtually all federal and state limitations on abortion. The ad campaign is a response to the Matthew 25 initiative, which sought to mislead voters and downplay Obama's extreme pro-abortion views. The initial TV and radio ad buy will run this week in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Colorado, and Michigan, with additional television commercials airing in the Washington, D.C. market. The radio ads will target Christian radio stations that earlier this year carried the Matthew 25 campaign.

Jackson Less Moderate Than He Appears

Bishop Harry Jackson was on "The Michelangelo Signorile Show" last week where he discussed discussed a possible split among the Religious Right on the issue of civil unions between those see them an inevitable and those who will continue to fight them:

"My concern about John McCain stepping up and being articulate about the marriage amendments is more about protecting the definition of marriage as one man and one woman as cultural guardrails...The reason I say I will work with civil unions, etc. -- that may not have been my original position, but I think it's a reality. We have had laws in New Jersey, all over the country. The reality is gay civil unions are going to be the law of the land all over the country...You may call it movement [on my part.] I call myself a realist...I think this would be a split issue [on the Christian right], a lot of people would disagree with me. But I think we're embroiled in a battle that's unfolding."

If you are confused by Jackson's seeming moderation and realism on this issue, rest assured that he is as vehemently opposed to marriage equality as ever, as he spells out in his latest column:

The problem with redefining marriage is that it is more than a civil rights issue concerning how gay people are treated. It has the potentially unintended effect of hastening the decline of traditional heterosexual marriage. It also may blur the lines of morality and sexual behavior for centuries to come. Studies have shown that in the nations that have legalized same sex marriage or other forms of “faux” marriage, the change has devalued the institution of marriage as a whole. This devaluation has resulted in heterosexuals waiting longer to marry, increases in single parent households, and an overall alienation of many children from their birth fathers.

Let me explain these findings in a different way. Once we redefine marriage, we automatically redefine the family. After the family is redefined, we must redefine how kids are educated and trained in our “brave new world" … These negatives of same sex marriage are not the only alarming trends. As an African-American preacher, I am convinced that traditional marriage in the black community is on the verge of becoming extinct.

 

Schlafly's Advice: Don't Marry Sarah Palin

When John McCain named Sarah Palin as his running mate, the Right could barely contain its glee and among those most ethused by the pick was Phyllis Schlafly who, even after Palin was a no-show at her convention reception, had nothing but praise for her and her priorities: 

Schlafly told WND McCain's choice of Palin was the best he could possibly have made.

"Sarah Palin has reinvigorated the entire Republican Party," she said. "And it's across the board. It's not just pro-lifers. She's a breath of fresh air. She's right on every issue."

Schlafly addressed criticism that Palin is hypocritical, because her demanding job as a political leader, while mothering five children, conflicts with the traditional values she espouses.

"We do stand up for the role of the full-time homemaker," Schlafly replied. "On the other hand, a lot of women work hard. I think people who don't have any children, or have one or two, don't understand what life is like with more children."

This reminded me of a post entitled "Don't Marry Phyllis Schlafly" that I wrote a few years back after Schlafly blasted Steve Forbes for apologizing for publishing a widely criticized piece by Michael Noer in his magazine entitled "Don't Marry Career Women."

In the original piece, Noer listed several reasons why "whatever you do, [no men should] marry a woman with a career."  When Forbes, the publisher, was forced to apologize for running the piece, Schlafly came to Noer's defense:

Eagle Forum's Phyllis Schlafly feels Forbes has no reason to apologize since the facts and statistics Noer cited were sound. In fact, she suggests, an article like this should have been written 20 years ago, and this one still hits the right note today because, contrary to the feminist myth, a woman really cannot "have it all" -- at least, not all at the same time.

To Schlafly, this is a simple question of practicality. "You can't have it all at the same time. There are not that many hours in the day," she asserts. "Now, with our lengthened lifespan, a woman can have it all; I think I've had it all," she says, "but you don't have it at the same time. A baby is extremely demanding -- even more demanding than a husband."

But the issue Noer's article raises is not really about women who have careers, the pro-family spokeswoman points out. What the author is really highlighting in the Forbes article, she contends, is the problem of wives who set the wrong priorities.

"A lot of the newspapers ... have published articles about how some of the most highly educated women -- women who graduated from the elite colleges and then got graduate degrees like MBAs or JDs -- have put their career ahead of husband and family," Schlafly notes. "In many of these cases, in the woman's scale of values, the husband is ranking third," she says.

The real issue is not women having careers, Schlafly says, but women making their careers their highest priority, above family. When that type of situation takes place, she observes, it is not likely that a husband will stick around.

Presumably, Schlfaly's enthusiastic support of Palin stems from the fact that Palin has her priorities straight and won't be putting her "career ahead of husband and family" because, after all, a "baby is extremely demanding -- even more demanding than a husband."

Increasing Adoptions By Limiting the Pool

The AP reports that a ballot initiative preventing “gays and lesbians from becoming foster or adoptive parents was cleared Monday to appear on this fall's ballot in Arkansas”:

The measure would prohibit unmarried couples living together from fostering or adopting children, and Arkansas doesn't allow gays to marry or recognize gay marriages conducted elsewhere.

"Arkansas needs to affirm the importance of married mothers and fathers," Family Council President Jerry Cox said. "We need to publicly affirm the gold standard of rearing children whenever we can. The state standard should be as close to that gold standard of married mom and dad homes as possible."

You’d think that banning willing gays and lesbians from becoming foster or adoptive parents would only end up shrinking the pool of those willing to raise these children in need, but you’d be wrong – according to the Family Council Action Committee, putting this on the ballot will amazingly result in even more foster and adoptive parents:

[T]he campaign to pass this act is designed to increase the number of families willing to adopt or serve as foster parents. By circulating petitions in churches and elsewhere, we will spend the next several months highlighting the need for more foster and adoptive homes. We’ve published a book entitled, Adoption and Foster Care in Arkansas. Volunteers in this campaign will not only be circulating petitions, but they will be encouraging families to consider adopting a child or becoming a foster parent. Overall, we expect this effort to increase the number of foster care and adoptive homes in Arkansas.

Presumably, the Family Council thinks that “traditional” couples will suddenly start clamoring to take these children once they’ve ensured that they gays can’t have them.  And, if not, it’s just as well that the kids remain safely in the care of the state rather than being “used to promote the social or political agenda of any special interest group.” 

 In short, the effort nails the trifecta:

This act protects the welfare of children, it blunts a homosexual agenda, and it encourages more people to adopt children or serve as foster parents. That’s what this act does. Anyone who tries to tell you anything less isn’t telling the whole story.

Drake Picks Up the “Pray for Rain” Mantle

You may remember Wiley Drake as the pastor who issued a press release endorsing Mike Huckabee on church letterhead last year and then responded by calling for “imprecatory prayer” against Americans United when they reported him to the IRS.

Drake is now reportedly serving as Alan Keyes’ running mate in the gadfly’s long-shot presidential bid, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have time to rally his supporters to ask God do some of his dirty work.

And since Focus on the Family is ashamed of their infamous “Pray for Rain” video and doing everything they can to erase all trace of it from the web, Drake, who has no shame, has decided to take up the call:

I was sadden when Focus pulled the 'Rain' Video and I am asking "The Telephonic Prayer Meeting" to daily pray, at 6:00 am Denver time to ask God to bring on the rain.

I too am still against killing babies and allowing sodomites to marry. Anyone wishing to join those of us who believe in Imprecatory prayer are invited to join "The Telephonic Prayer Meeting" daily 5:00 am to 7:00 am, call 1-712-432-1690 put in access code 399430.

We keep the prayer conference call line open every day for at least 2 hours, 5:00 to 7:00 am PT

Stuart Shepard is invited to lead us in this prayer for rain any day. Other prayer warriors are welcome not only to pray for rain but repentance in America as well.

Right Gears Up to Fight “Armageddon of the Culture War”

For two hours earlier this week, pastors gathered at more than 200 sites throughout California, Arizona, and Florida to be exhorted by national Religious Right leaders like Tony Perkins, Harry Jackson, Maggie Gallagher, and Chuck Colson and others to hold nothing back in their efforts to fight against marriage equality.  The People For the American Way Foundation today released a memo [PDF] chronicling the call and outlining the Right’s plans for the weeks ahead:

The primary focus of the call was Proposition 8 in California, described by Colson as “the Armageddon of the culture war.” Many speakers invoked the language of warfare, raising up an army of believers, putting soldiers in the streets, being on the front lines of a battle. Lou Engle actually described a massive rally planned in Qualcomm stadium on November 1 as a “blitzkrieg moment.”

While speaker after speaker spoke of the dire threats same-sex married couples pose to “traditional” marriage, religious freedom, and civilization itself, the overall tone of the call was confidence that victory would be won with God’s help, 40 days of prayer and fasting before the election, teams of intercessors and prayer warriors around the country, and a massive highly organized deployment of volunteers in a systematic voter identification and turnout campaign.

Ron Luce from Teen Mania ministries and other organizers talked about plans to organize 300,000 youth and their families for an October 1 simulcast, and using them to reach 2.4 million. A representative of the Church Communication Network, a satellite network that has downlink equipment in 500 churches in California, 95 in Arizona, and 321 in Florida, said it would simulcast the youth event free of charge, and would make a satellite dish available “at cost” to churches who don’t yet have one. Said one speaker of the youth organizing, “if we don’t use them, Satan will.”

Another speaker, Rev. Dudley Rutherford, predicted that if Prop. 8 fails, the God-ordained institution of marriage would be destroyed; the engine of hate crimes legislation would be fueled, ultimately leading to it being illegal to read some sections of the Bible; the floodgates would be open to gay couples suing to force churches to marry them; and the polygamists would be next.

Rick Warren to Ask Candidates About Judges

Will John McCain and Barack Obama’s joint appearance next month at Saddleback Church be a friendly forum or a firing line? “Purpose Driven” megachurch pastor Rick Warren is a superstar among evangelicals, but he still drew heavy criticism from some Religious Right activists when he invited Obama (along with right-wing stalwart Sen. Sam Brownback) to a global AIDS conference at his church back in 2006.

“Why would Warren marry the moral equivalency of his pulpit - a sacred place of honor in evangelical tradition - to the inhumane, sick, and sinister evil that Obama has worked for as a legislator?” wrote Kevin McCullough, a radio talker now affiliated with the Family Research Council. “Obama's policies represent the antithesis of biblical ethics and morality,” complained Rob Schenck of the National Clergy Council. “Having Senator Barack Obama speak on issues of social justice is like having a segregationist speak on civil rights,” said Patrick Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition, who added that Warren “should realize the terrible signal he is sending by inviting a speaker who tramples on the historic teachings of Christianity and the Bible.”

But Saddleback Church defended that 2006 invitation, saying that the goal of the conference was “to put people together who normally won't even speak to each other” towards the goal of fighting AIDS. Although Warren retains positions against abortion and homosexuality, his emphasis on compassion and comity has been touted by some as a sign of a new evangelical politics.

As for the upcoming presidential forum, Warren seemed to suggest it will follow along the same lines. From the American Family Association’s OneNewsNow:

The author of The Purpose Driven Life says he does not believe the biblical gospel is compromised when he teams up with non-Christians in efforts to promote the "common good."

"Now, I don't happen to agree with Muslims and I don't happen to agree with Jewish people," states Warren, "and I don't even agree with all of the things Catholics believe. But I...can work with them on doing something like stopping AIDS because we all believe sex is for marriage only."

But what about issues where he doesn’t agree? Warren will be asking Obama and McCain questions about domestic policy, too, and the example he cited in OneNewsNow comes straight from right-wing talking points:

Warren says he plans to focus on issues that political reporters often ignore, including how the candidates view the Constitution. He suggests questions on that topic: "Is it a quote 'living document' that can be changed, that can be reinterpreted with each generation as things change? Or is it a truth written in granite that is a standard by which we evaluate everything else, and you don't change it unless we amend it?"

Wisconsin Family Council Pushes Punishment Under 1915 Law

The Wisconsin Family Council demands that state authorities charge gay couples who marry in California under an “obscure” 1915 law that “makes it a crime for Wisconsin residents to enter marriage in another state if that marriage is illegal” in Wisconsin. The law “carries a fine up to $10,000 and nine months in prison.” Julaine Appling of WFC, a state affiliate of Focus on the Family: “You purposely left the state for another state and you get married and you know it's not going to be legal where you reside and you have every intention of returning, that's defrauding the Government."

Schlafly Reiterates View That Married Women Cannot Be Raped By Husbands

Last year, Phyllis Schlafly spoke on the campus of Bates College where , among other things, she “belittled the feminist movement as ‘teaching women to be victims,’ decried intellectual men as ‘liberal slobs’ and argued that feminism "is incompatible with marriage and motherhood."  She then went on to top herself by claiming that a married woman cannot be sexually assaulted by her husband, saying:

"By getting married, the woman has consented to sex, and I don't think you can call it rape.”

Needless to say, those views caused a bit of controversy … controversy that has now reemerged at Washington University in St. Louis when school officials decided to honor Schlafly with an honorary doctorate:

Washington University's decision to bestow an honorary degree on conservative political activist and author Phyllis Schlafly has stirred outrage among some students and faculty.

Opponents of Schlafly's honorary doctorate formed a group on the social-networking website Facebook and had 1,023 members as of Monday evening.

Apparently the students don’t think that Washington University should be honoring an immigrant-hating, UN-detesting, evolution-fighting, court-stripping, conspiracy-theorist anti-feminist hypocrite who blames the Virginia Tech massacre on the English Department – go figure.

But the university isn’t backing down … and neither is Schlafly, who granted an interview to a Washington University student newspaper where she complained that the protesting students have “too much extra time” on their hands and reiterated her view that wives cannot be raped by their husbands: 

Could you clarify some of the statements that you made in Maine last year about martial rape?

I think that when you get married you have consented to sex. That's what marriage is all about, I don't know if maybe these girls missed sex ed. That doesn't mean the husband can beat you up, we have plenty of laws against assault and battery. If there is any violence or mistreatment that can be dealt with by criminal prosecution, by divorce or in various ways. When it gets down to calling it rape though, it isn't rape, it's a he said-she said where it's just too easy to lie about it.

Was the way in which your statement was portrayed correct?

Yes. Feminists, if they get tired of a husband or if they want to fight over child custody, they can make an accusation of marital rape and they want that to be there, available to them.

So you see this as more of a tool used by people to get out of marriages than as legitimate-

Yes, I certainly do.

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