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South Carolina, Texas would punish government employees for recognizing same-sex marriages

By: Monday January 12, 2015 9:34 pm

SC Rep. Gary Smith

Apparently some legislators in South Carolina got a real bee in their bonnet about losing the marriage equality fight.

And they are going to take it out on government employees who would recognized these marriages. On December 11, SC Reps Gary Smith and Bill Chumley filed House Bill (H.3022) which in part states:

TO AMEND THE CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, BY ADDING SECTION 20-1-235 SO AS TO PROHIBIT THE USE OF TAXPAYER FUNDS AND PAYMENT OF GOVERNMENT SALARIES AND BENEFITS FOR ACTIVITIES RELATED TO THE LICENSING AND SUPPORT OF SAME-SEX MARRIAGE, TO PROHIBIT GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES FROM RECOGNIZING, GRANTING, OR ENFORCING SAME-SEX MARRIAGE LICENSES, TO PROHIBIT THE USE OF TAXES OR OTHER PUBLIC FUNDS TO ENFORCE A COURT ORDER TO ISSUE A SAME-SEX MARRIAGE LICENSE, TO REQUIRE COURTS TO DISMISS CERTAIN LEGAL ACTIONS RELATED TO THE LICENSING AND RECOGNITION OF SAME-SEX MARRIAGE AND TO AWARD ATTORNEY’S FEES AND COSTS IN THOSE ACTIONS, AND TO PROVIDE FOR THE PROTECTION OF THE STATE FROM LIABILITY FOR CERTAIN CONDUCT.

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:

SECTION 1. Article 3, Chapter 1, Title 20 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:

“Section 20-1-235.    (A)    No state or local taxpayer funds or governmental salaries may be paid for an activity that includes the licensing or support of same-sex marriage.

(B)    No state or local governmental employee officially shall recognize, grant, or enforce a same-sex marriage license. If an employee violates this subsection, the employee must not continue to receive a salary, pension, or other employee benefit at the expense of the taxpayers of this State.

(C)    No taxes or public funds may be utilized to enforce a court order requiring the issuance or recognition of a same-sex marriage license.

(D)    A court of this State shall dismiss a legal action challenging a provision of this section and shall award costs and attorney’s fees to a person or entity named as a defendant in the legal action.

(E)    No person employed by this State or a local governmental entity who violates or interferes with the implementation of this section may continue to receive a salary, pension, or other employee benefit.

(F)    The State is not subject to suit in law or equity pursuant to the eleventh amendment of the United States Constitution for complying with the provisions of this section, regardless of a contrary federal court ruling.

(G)    If a judicial officer violates this section, that judicial officer is disqualified from office pursuant to Section 19, Article V of the South Carolina Constitution, 1895.”

Here is something interesting which should be known. In Texas, legislators are proposing pretty much exactly the same bill, albeit with different text:

A bill has been introduced in the Texas Legislature that if enacted would strip the salary of any Texas-government employee who issues a marriage license to a same-sex couple.

Known as House Bill 623, the recently introduced bill declares that no state funds will go to the distribution of gay marriage licenses.

“State or local taxpayer funds or governmental salaries may not be used for an activity that includes the licensing or support of same-sex marriage,” reads HB 623.

“If an employee violates this subsection, the employee may not continue to receive a salary, pension, or other employee benefit at the expense of the taxpayers of this State.”

Of course these bill are ridiculous and would totally undercut our system of checks and balances as well as infringe upon the rights of same-sex couples who have legally won or could win the right to marriage. But I think the lgbt community, particularly our leaders, activists, and bloggers, would do ourselves a favor to not focus on the “puppets” in this matter, i.e. the lawmakers proposing these bills.  Instead, we should focus on the “puppet masters.”

I am betting that we will see more of these mean-spirited bills pop up in other states because some entity is maneuvering this mess behind the scenes, probably even to the point of providing language for the lawmakers to use.

And I am almost certain that this entity, whoever it or they (meaning more than one organization) may be is obscuring their behind-the-scenes work by continuously claiming that Christians will be “persecuted” because of the onslaught of pro-marriage equality decisions.

It would be certainly embarrassing if these entities were made public, wouldn’t it? After all, you can’t plead victimhood when it shown that you have state legislators in your hip pockets.

But who ever it or they may be, their hypocrisy is duly noted. Gay couples have been winning the right to marry fair and square via the courts. Seems to me that if these folks proposing all of this nasty legislation had any legitimate argument against marriage equality in the first place, they wouldn’t be in the position to have to stoop so low in order to stop it.

 

Kelvin Cochran and the homophobia hiding behind ‘religious liberty’

By: Tuesday January 6, 2015 9:06 pm

Cochran

The fire chief of Atlanta, GA, Kelvin Cochran, was just dismissed because of a self-published book he wrote which was viewed as homophobic. According to Think Progress:

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed (D) announced Tuesday that he has fired Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran, who had previously been suspended for publishing and distributing a book condemning homosexuality..

. . . Since Cochran’s suspension last month, he has become a bit of a martyr for conservatives, who believe he has been persecuted for his religious beliefs. J. Edgar White, executive director of the Georgia Baptist Convention, suggested that Cochran was among those “who are punished or marginalized for their faith” and called on Christians to purchase his book and support him.

Reed was adamant during Tuesday’s press conference that Cochran’s religious beliefs were not the reason he was fired. His book, Who Told You That You Were Naked?, was published in violation of Atlanta’s Standards of Conduct, which requires approval from the Ethics Officer and the Board of Ethics. According to Reed, Cochran’s “actions and decision-making undermine his ability to manage our fire department” because employees need to feel that they are “a valued member of the team and that fairness and respect guide employment.

That’s the story before conservatives and the religious right will attempt to make Cochran the newest martyr of the concept of  ‘religious liberty.’   ‘Religious liberty’ is a phrase these individuals have coined to claim that those who practice their version Christian faith in America are supposedly being persecuted because of their objections to homosexuality and marriage equality. To them, “persecution” is a wide and loaded term which includes being forced to serve gay customers or, as we see with the above situation with Cochran, not being allowed to “voice objections” to homosexuality in places where such objections aren’t exactly conducive or appropriate to the environment.

It is a concept which is gaining speed now that marriage equality is becoming more accepted and swiftly the law throughout the country.  ‘Religious liberty’ has gained support from the “fire and brimestone” sect, who see persecution behind every bush, to the concern trolls who clamor that since gays are gaining the right to marry, we should “be nice and respectful” to those who oppose our general equality.

In other words, “religious liberty” is a load of nonsense.  It’s equivalent to a good paint job a bad car salesman puts on an busted up clunker in a sad attempt to cover that it’s stinker.

First of all gays were not given the right to marry. It was a right which should have been ours from the start and one which we earned by slowly slogging through the trenches and terrain of this ridiculous so-called culture war.

Then there is the second point. At what point are rights given in “tit-for-tat” compromises? Just where is it said that since gays are winning the right to marry, we have to forfeit our dignity, respect, and rights as taxpayers?  Since when is there a right for businesses treat gays like second-class citizens even though our tax dollars help to keep these businesses safe? Since when is there a right to   minimize our lives to a concept or a “lifestyle” so one can pretend that he or she is not denigrating human beings, even if that denigration is done on the job and, in the case of Cochran, by our bosses?

And why do gays have to deal with such treatment under the guise of “religious liberty” when no other group of Americans have to? Cochran’s book also denigrated women and people of the Jewish faith. If there were no words about gays in his book, would there be any controversy regarding “religious liberty” with regards to his firing?

You can call it “religious liberty” all you want. I call it homophobia and it’s worst kind, too. It’s practiced by folks who are too self-righteous to step down from that nonexistent stairway to Heaven they think they are building for themselves.

Steve Scalise and racist groups, Tony Perkins and racist groups – it’s all relative

By: Monday December 29, 2014 6:52 pm

Rep. Scalise

Washington is all abuzz about a huge scandal regarding Rep Steve Scalise, soon to be House Majority Whip, and a 2002 speech he made to a meeting of a white supremacist group founded by known racist David Duke:

Twelve years before he was elected by his colleagues as House Majority Whip, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) spoke at a conference hosted by white supremacist group European-American Unity and Rights Organization.

Louisiana political blogger Lamar White Jr. dug up a number of posts on Stormfront, one of the original white supremacist websites, that place Scalise at the 2002 gathering. According to one user who attended the conference, Scalise — then a state representative — spoke to the organization at a workshop “to teach the most effective and up-to-date methods of civil rights and heritage related activism.”

According to another Stormfront post, the National/International EURO Workshop on Civil Rights was held from May 17 to 18, 2002, at the Landmark/Best Western Hotel in Metairie, Louisiana. The conference was also listed on an Anti-Defamation League list of extremist events for that year.

Scalise has admitted to making the speech, but claimed that he was unaware of the group’s racist nature.

Of course to the media, that’s like dipping a bloody toe in shark-infested waters with them being the sharks.  Several members have asked how could Scalise have not known what the group was all about, with others implying that his speech was covertly racist.

Will Scalise be forced to resign? Who knows. It’s too early to tell. But to me, there are two interesting things about this controversy. For one, there is my snarky observation involving the Republican party. It is usually when they have power in Congress that a member or two will make a supreme mind-blowing screw up.

Perkins

The second is even a bit more to the purpose of this blog.  If one asks will Scalise survive, one needs to look to Family Research Council president Tony Perkins.  While Perkins is now looked upon in Washington as a “voice of morality” by some, he has a history with racist groups probably more checkered than Scalise (at least for now.)

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, in 1996, Perkins tried to buy Duke’s list of supporters and then tried to cover it up unsuccessfully. SPLC also said that for this unfortunate slip of ethics, Perkins was fined by the Federal Elections Commission.

In 2005, FRC offered an explanation for Perkins:

Tony Perkins was the manager of the 1996 U.S. Senate campaign of Republican Woody Jenkins in Louisiana where Impact Media was contracted to make pre-recorded telephone calls for the campaign. In 1999, an unrelated federal investigation uncovered that David Duke had a financial interest in the company, which he did not report to the IRS, resulting in his conviction on federal tax evasion charges. This connection was not known to Mr. Perkins until 1999. Mr. Perkins profoundly opposes the racial views of Mr. Duke and was profoundly grieved to learn that Duke was a party to the company that had done work for the 1996 campaign.

These facts have been widely reported in Louisiana and the reports appearing now in various partisan media are not accurate. In 2003, Mr. Jenkins published a letter in the major daily in Baton Rouge responding to a critical article that resurrected the same distortion. “[I]t is unfortunate,” Jenkins wrote, “for you to smear a good man like [then-] Rep. Tony Perkins. There is absolutely nothing about the matter that should taint Rep. Perkins. His intentions were entirely honorable, and neither he nor I have ever been ‘in bed’ with David Duke as you so crudely and unjustifiably allege.”

That’s all well and good, but then there is the 2001 incident:

 . . .  Perkins was photographed addressing a gathering of the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens. The group, a direct descendent of the segregationist White Citizens Councils of the 1950s and 1960s, has called African Americans a “retrograde species of humanity.” Perkins, who later denied knowledge of the group’s racist views, spoke in front of a Confederate flag (seen here, courtesy of Right Wing Watch).

That would be this photo below:

So Rep. Scalise should take comfort in the fact that even though Perkins tried to buy a list of supporters from a known racist, got caught trying to hide it, and then got caught addressing another racist group, he is still now look upon as a “moral leader” by members of the media, Congress, and lots of supporters.

Heck, that being the case, maybe Rep. Scalise can swing a Nobel Peace Prize nomination from this controversy.

Anti-gay billboard is latest scientific distortion from religious right

By: Monday December 15, 2014 11:19 pm

crossposted on Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters Last week, the anti-gay group PFOX (Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays) suffered a huge embarrassment because of a billboard it put up on a Virginia interstate: The billboard appeared recently beside I-95 in Richmond, Virginia, according to NBC affiliate WWBT. The sign depicts two males, one dressed in [...]

Arkansas victory exposes hypocritical nature of the Duggar family’s version of Christianity

By: Wednesday December 10, 2014 5:52 pm

crossposted on Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters Earlier this week, the lgbt community suffered a nasty defeat in Fayetteville, Arkansas. According to LGBTQNation: Voters in Fayetteville, Ark., on Tuesday repealed a controversial LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinance approved by the city council in August. KFSM-TV reports that 52 percent of voters cast ballots to repeal the ordinance, [...]

Family Research Council owes the Southern Poverty Law Center an apology

By: Monday December 8, 2014 5:39 pm

crossposted on Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters Steve Anderson, the pastor of Arizona’s Faithful Word Baptist Church, has caused shock and revulsion for his recent claim that the AIDS crisis would end if gays were executed. However through it all, folks are missing a point that only us wonky individuals would bring up. In 2010, [...]

Gary Bauer – the anti-gay talking head who helped undermine the fight against HIV/AIDS in the Reagan Administration

By: Tuesday November 25, 2014 8:49 pm

The late President Reagan gets a lot of deserved flack for his negligence in the early days of the AIDS crisis. Today, we learned that there needs to be some flack dispensed around because Reagan isn’t the only person in his Administration who needs to be called to the carpet. According to Right Wing Watch: [...]

The Erasure of ‘Gay’ From Black History & the Black Community Must Stop

By: Sunday October 19, 2014 5:53 pm

As a gay African-American, I’ve heard the argument about how “you can’t compare the gay civil rights movement to the African-American civil rights movement” more times than I care to count. The constant so-called moral outrage of some African-American heterosexuals when the topic is mentioned has gotten me to the point where my mind automatically [...]

Anti-gay activists justify HRC’s ‘Export of Hate’ report

By: Tuesday September 30, 2014 10:05 pm

Last week, the Human Rights Campaign published an explosive report, The Export of Hate, which pointed out how various anti-gay figures were peddling lies and propaganda to foreign countries in an attempt to spread anti-gay hate abroad. The Export of Hate called out several religious right leaders, including Peter LaBarbera, Paul Cameron, and Scott Lively: [...]

Family Research Council learns lesson about pride on eve of Values Voter Summit

By: Thursday September 25, 2014 5:37 pm

Wednesday morning, several progressive groups including the NAACP, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and People for the American Way published an open letter in the Washington Post and The Hill calling out the Republican Party for its allegiance to anti-gay groups such as the Family Research Council and for the decision of several Republicans to [...]

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