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The GOP's "Religious Freedom" Fiasco: What Is, and Is Not, the Good News

by: Andy Schmookler

Thu Apr 02, 2015 at 14:26:05 PM EDT

It has been a remarkable turn of events in the story of these two states -- first Indiana, then Arkansas -- passing these so-called "Religious Freedom" measures.

It's a story that has been heartening for liberals/progressives -- and for good reason. The Republicans made their usual effort to make hay out of the bigotries they have encouraged in their base. And lo and behold, these craven tactics have blown up in their faces because the whole nation is watching and the national culture has moved far and fast away from that bigotry.

Why not enjoy that spectacle!

But it is also important to note what the story does not demonstrate: these events do not contradict the story that our politics are increasingly under the control of Big Money.

Rachel Maddow last night explained the powerful role that "business" -- including giants like Apple and Walmart -- has played in pushing both Governor Pence in Indiana to "fix" a measure he'd just signed, and Governor Hutchinson of Arkansas to announce his intention to veto a measure he'd advocated only days before.

It is true that "the people" have played a role in this: popular support of a non-discriminatory culture -- particularly among the workers ( the technology fields) many powerful business want to be attract -- has made this kind of bigotry "bad for business."

But still, it is very thanks to the power of Big Money that these GOP panderers to the worst in their base have had to back down.

There's More... :: (2 Comments, 157 words in story)

Virginia GOP Votes to Kill Bill Designating anti-LGBT Crimes as Hate Crimes

by: lowkell

Wed Jan 14, 2015 at 18:53:45 PM EST

The following statement is from the Democratic Party of Virginia: 
Well, that didn't take long. The 2015 General Assembly session started at noon and Senate Republicans already voted to kill a bill to designate anti-LGBT crimes as hate crimes. That's right -- if someone is assaulted, harassed or even killed due to their sexual orientation, it still won't be considered a hate crime.

Leading the charge to kill the bill was Mark Obenshain, who shamelessly pandered on sexual orientation in his 2013 campaign. Guess that was then, and this is now.
In Case You Missed It:

Associated Press
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AG Mark Herring to Bob Marshall: Bigamy Illegal, Bisexuals and Transgenders Can Marry in VA

by: lowkell

Thu Dec 18, 2014 at 11:14:57 AM EST

My god, Virginia's Attorney General has to waste his time on crap like this? On the other hand, I suppose in a warped way that "Sideshow Bob" Marshall continues to provide invaluable entertainment, in a freak show sorta way, for Virginia. And that's gotta be worth something, ya know? :)

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

EW Jackson, "Virginia Christian Alliance" Attack Transgender Health Commissioner

by: lowkell

Thu Dec 04, 2014 at 10:55:49 AM EST

With the Virginia Board of Health meeting this morning to reconsider the draconian, unfair women's health clinic regulations put in place due to then-AG Ken Cuccinelli's bullying, it appears that the anti-LGBTQ bigots are out in force. That would be EW Jackson, who doesn't understand why he's called hateful for his anti-LGBTQ ravings, believes supporting a woman's right to control her own body makes one a "pro-abortion radical," and can't even spell "McAuliffe" correctly. It's also something called the "Virginia Christian Alliance," which falsely (and appallingly) claims that transgendered people like Virginia Department of Health Interim Commissioner Dr. Marissa Levine have a "serious mental illness." And while I certainly do NOT believe (as Erin Matson tweets; see the "flip" of this post) that most (or even many?) people working against abortion are "driven by gender-motivated hate," clearly some (like the "Virginia Christian Alliance" and EW Jackson) hold those views. And just as clearly, I hope we all can agree that type of intolerance and bigotry should be unacceptable in our society, whatever one's views about abortion rights.
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What the Heck is "Virginia Mass Resistance?"

by: lowkell

Mon Oct 27, 2014 at 16:24:19 PM EDT

My god, where do these people come from and why are they always right wingers?
Ex-gay activist Linda Wall, who has launched a new Religious Right group called Virginia Mass Resistance, promoted her organization in a Saturday interview with "Mission America" host Linda Harvey.

Wall described to Harvey her own experience of being "seduced" into homosexuality, which she said all started with "a glass of wine and marijuana."

"It was as if it was an instant addiction as to a drug," she said.

By the way, I Googled this Linda Wall person, and one of the first articles that appeared was Linda Wall: The anti-gay activist who molested an underage girl ("A conservative crusader seeking office in Virginia admits that she had sex with a middle-school girl who was her student in the 1970s"). Why am I not surprised? As a friend of mine put it, "It's always the most virulently anti-gay ones who have this in their background."  
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Loudoun County Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio's latest anti-gay ravings

by: lowkell

Wed Oct 22, 2014 at 14:32:49 PM EDT

h/t: Towleroad:

Delgaudio: "You'll see men hand-in-hand skipping down to adoption centers to "pick out" a little boy for themselves." Sure, part of this is about raising money for himself, but to the extent he believes any of this, he's also just plain certifiable. So how does he keep getting reelected to the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors (as a Republican, of course)? Do voters actually AGREE with him on this extremist bigotry?  Or do most voters simply not show up to the polls on election day to toss this guy out on his a**? Either way, Delgaudio's a continuing disgrace to Loudoun County, and one you'd think they'd want to boot off their County Board.

The radical homosexuals claim you and other pro-Family Americans actually now support same-sex "marriage," special job preferences for homosexuals, and promotion of the homosexual lifestyle in schools.

Is it true? What do you say?

The American Morality Survey I'm sending you is specially coded and registered in your name.

I've included a link below so you can fill it out and return it to me right away.

You see, the radical homosexuals are storming through Washington demanding passage of their agenda.

And with the Democrats dominating the Senate and Barack Obama calling the shots in the White House, they say NOW is the time to push their perverse "lifestyle" on every man, woman and child in America.

And they insist YOU actually support them.

To make matters worse, more and more Republicans in Congress are coming out in favor of the Homosexual Agenda.

The Homosexual Lobby has already rammed through Thought Control and the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. I can only begin to imagine how much more damage the radical homosexuals will do now that they've broken the ranks of the opposition party.

As the President of Public Advocate of the United States, I've devoted thirty years to battling the radical homosexuals in Washington.

Backed by Hollywood celebrities, the media, and millions of your tax dollars, the radical homosexuals have many Congressmen, both Democrat AND Republican, quivering with fear -- and because of that they have a radical homosexual-friendly majority in control of Congress.

That's why pro-Family Senators and Congressmen are counting on me to find out if you really support the Gay Bill of Special Rights and homosexual "marriage" as the radical homosexuals claim.

Take the American Morality Survey
Frankly, if you really do support the radical Homosexual Agenda -- or if you just no longer care enough to stand up for the Family -- insiders in Congress say the entire Homosexual Agenda could pass in a matter of months.

Passage of the Homosexual Agenda will ignite a firestorm that will rip through families, communities and businesses:

* Special job rights for homosexuals. Businesses may have to adopt hiring quotas to protect themselves from lawsuits. Every homosexual fired or not hired becomes a potential federal civil rights lawsuit.

Radical homosexuals will terrorize daycare centers, hospitals, churches and private schools. Traditional moral values will be shattered by federal law.

* Same-sex marriages and adoptions. Wedding gown-clad men smooching before some left-wing clergyman or state official is just the beginning.

You'll see men hand-in-hand skipping down to adoption centers to "pick out" a little boy for themselves.

* The Homosexual Classrooms Act, which pushes their agenda into our schools. Your children or grandchildren will be taught homosexuality is moral, natural and good. High school children will learn perverted sex acts as part of "safe sex" education.

With condoms already handed out in many schools, radical homosexuals will have little trouble adopting today's "if it feels good do it" sex-ed curriculum to their agenda.

And to add insult to injury, lobbyists for the Homosexual Agenda are paid off with your tax dollars!

That's right, radical homosexual groups like the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and ACT UP receive millions from the government.

Hundreds of millions of tax dollars flow to homosexual activists through funding for so-called AIDS awareness programs and research grants -- and I just read in the paper that cash even went to build a strip club!

One stormy night, I drove to a mailshop hidden deep in a nearly deserted stand of warehouses. I'd heard something was up and wanted to see for myself.

As I rounded the final turn, my eyes nearly popped. Tractor-trailers pulled up to loading docks, cars and vans everywhere and long-haired, earring-pierced men scurrying around running forklifts, inserters and huge printing presses.

Trembling with worry, I went inside. It was worse than I ever imagined.

Row after row of boxes bulging with pro-homosexual petitions lined the walls, stacked to the ceiling.

My mind reeled as I realized hundreds, maybe thousands, more boxes were already loaded on the tractor-trailers. And still more petitions were flying off the press.

Suddenly a dark-haired man screeched, "Delgaudio, what are you doing here?" Dozens of men began moving toward me. I'd been recognized.

As I retreated to my car, the man chortled, "This time, Delgaudio, we can't lose!"

Driving away, my eyes filled with tears as I realized he might be right. This time the radical homosexuals could win.

You see, even though homosexuals are just 1% of the population, if every one sent a petition to Congress, it would generate a tidal wave of two or three million petitions or more.

Hundreds of thousands of pro-homosexual petitions will soon flood Congress, and my friends in Congress tell me there's virtually nothing on Capitol Hill from the tens of millions of Americans like you who oppose the radical Homosexual Agenda and the Gay Bill of Special Rights.

I made up my mind that night to write to you and as many other patriotic Americans as possible. To stop the radical homosexuals and protect marriage, there must be an immediate outpouring of support from folks like you.

Will you help by clicking here to complete your American Morality Survey right away?

Take the American Morality Survey
Homosexual activists mock me in the halls of Congress. They say it's too late because Americans like you don't care enough to help, especially now with the Homosexual Lobby in control of Congress and the White House.

They say you support them. I tell them they are lying. They just laugh and tell me to give up.

Are they right? Should I just give up and let the radical homosexuals win?

Will you fight?

If, as I hope and pray, you still oppose the radical homosexuals and want to defend the Family and marriage, then please click here immediately to fill out your American Morality Survey and chip in $10 or $20 to Public Advocate right away.

I must tell you, your financial contribution is critical.
You see, while the radical homosexuals get tens of millions of tax dollars, Public Advocate gets no government funds.
Public Advocate relies on the generosity of Americans like you who give $10. A few special friends of Public Advocate give $20.

Take the American Morality Survey
For many Public Advocate supporters, a contribution of $5 is a sacrificial gift.

I only ask you to prayerfully consider what you can afford.

You see, I've stretched Public Advocate's resources to contact you and other select Americans who I believe are most likely to take a stand in these difficult times.

If you won't help, I'm afraid there is little more I can do.
But the fact is, even if every person responds, it won't be enough to counter all the radical homosexuals are doing.

And not everyone will respond. Some are cowed by how pro-Family Americans are portrayed on TV. Others will count on someone else to fight the fight and carry the load. I don't believe you are like that.

I've identified nearly 10 million families I believe would join our struggle for morality if only I can reach them. That's more than twice as many as all the homosexuals in America ... and most of these families represent two or three voters each. But without your financial help, I'll never be able to reach them.

My hope is you care enough to contribute sacrificially so I can reach these families.

A generous gift of $25 will let Public Advocate reach 45 more families. $50 will help us rally more than 97 homes. And a special gift of $100 will generate over 215 contacts.

Only you know whether chipping in $10, $20, or more is best suited to your budget.

I ask you to do what you can.

The radical homosexuals boast you support same-sex marriage, special job rights and the promotion of homosexuality in schools.

Please let Congress know the radical homosexuals are lying.

For the Family,

President, Public Advocate of the United States

P.S. Radical homosexuals claim YOU support homosexual "marriage," special job rights and the promotion of homosexuality in schools -- and with Democrats controlling Congress and the White House, they think they cannot lose. Is it true? I pray it is not.

Please click here to fill out your American Morality Survey right away so I can prove to Congress and the media the radical homosexuals are lying about you.

And please chip in $10 or $20 to help Public Advocate defeat the Gay Bill of Special Rights and defend marriage and the Family.

Your contribution is critical to reaching the millions of families I know still care for the future.

Take the American Morality Survey
Contributions or gifts to Public Advocate of the U.S. are not tax deductible. Public Advocate is a nonprofit organization that fights the radical agenda of the Homosexual Lobby. Public Advocate receives no government funds. You may reach us at: Public Advocate, P.O. Box 1360, Merrifield, VA 22116; phone (703) 845-1808

To help Public Advocate grow, please forward this to a friend.
Click this link to view online.

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"Sideshow Bob" Marshall Completely Unhinged Over Demise of His Anti-Gay Hate Amendment

by: lowkell

Tue Oct 07, 2014 at 21:01:28 PM EDT

My god.
Today I requested an official opinion from Attorney General Mark Herring on the Constitutitionality of Virginia's Bigamy laws in light of the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court not to hear Virginia's Marriage Amendment case.

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals said in their decison that, "Accordingly, we decline the Proponents' invitation to characterize the right at issue in this case as the right to same-sex marriage rather than simply the right to marry."

If the Virginia Marriage Amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman has been overturned on the basis of the "right to marry" that that right surely extends to "throuples", those who identify as polyamourous, polygamists and any individual who whishes to marry who or what he/she "loves."

If it is the "right" of all people to marry who they love then I would like to know if it is the Attorney General's legal opinion that Virginia's bigamy and perhaps other laws realted to marriage are also Unconstitutional.

Attorney General Herring said in a speech yesterday, October 6, 2014, at the Arlington Court House that, "Today we celebrate a moment when we move closer to fulfilling the promise of equality..." I would like to know what further steps he believes are legally necessary to fulfill this promise.

The question is, who votes for this bigoted lunatic?

P.S. Click on the image to "embiggen."

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Supreme Court "Stay" Order in "Bostic" Marriage Equality Case

by: lowkell

Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 15:18:04 PM EDT

Unfortunately, there will be no LGBT marriages tomorrow in Virginia. Hopefully, that situation will change very soon.

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Virginia Asks Supreme Court for Expedited Review in Marriage Equality Case

by: lowkell

Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 17:28:22 PM EDT

From AG Herring's office: 

RICHMOND (August 18, 2014)--As requested by Chief Justice John Roberts, the Commonwealth of Virginia has filed its response to a motion by the Clerk of Prince William County to stay the 4th Circuit's ruling regarding marriage equality. In its brief, the Commonwealth of Virginia agrees that a stay is warranted because of unintended negative consequences if the Court later rules against marriage equality, and asks the Court to expedite its review of the case by treating the Clerk's motion as a cross-petition for certiorari, allowing it to consider the Clerk's arguments alongside Virginia's petition for certiorari to determine whether to review the case. This would be an unusual but not unprecedented action by the Supreme Court, but the request is appropriate given the importance of the issue.


"Throughout this process we have fought for equality while also recognizing the need for an orderly process," said Attorney General Herring. "I've worked to move the case along quickly and asked the Supreme Court to take this extraordinary step because I don't want this discriminatory ban to stay in place one day longer than necessary. However, a stay is warranted in light of the negative impact on Virginia children, families, and businesses if the Supreme Court eventually rules against marriage equality and forces an unwinding of Virginians' marriages, adoptions, inheritances, or workplace benefits."


As was the case at the district and appellate level, Attorney General Herring's filing on behalf of State Registrar of Vital Records Janet Rainey says the Commonwealth believes the courts ruled correctly in finding Virginia's marriage ban unconstitutional, but also believes a stay is warranted until the Supreme Court can definitively resolve the issue.


The Office of Attorney General is working with the Governor's Office and client state agencies to make reasonable preparations in the event that the Supreme Court does not stay the 4th Circuit's decision before the order takes effect at 8 a.m. on Thursday, August 21. This includes drafting an updated marriage license application through the State Registrar of Vital Records. 

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Hilarious: Most Politicized AG in History Calls Mark Herring "Most Politicized" AG in Country

by: lowkell

Thu Aug 14, 2014 at 21:08:07 PM EDT

Not that Ken Cuccinelli has any sense of irony, but to hear the guy who wildly misused/abused his office "by using it as a blatantly partisan bully pulpit to attack Obamacare, illegal immigrants, homosexuals and climate-change scientists" and "to bully Virginia's Board of Health into a stance - unprecedented in state history - that could force most of the commonwealth's 20 or soabortion clinics to close" call current Virginia AG Mark Herring the "most politicized" Attorney General in the country is certainly the height of irony. To listen to that howler, check out 3:20 of the audio. In reality, of course, Cooch is just pissed because he's a raging homophobe and doesn't want to see LGBT Virginians treated equally to all other Virginians.

For his part, Mark Herring came to the same conclusion as many other state Attorneys General, that to keep defending a constitutional amendment that court after court has found blatantly violates the U.S. constitution's equal protection provisions is a complete waste of time, resources, and taxpayer money. Of course, AG Cuccinelli's entire four years in office was a case study in wasting time, resources, and taxpayer money, so there's a bit more irony for you, if you have a sense of irony of course (unlike Cuccinelli). ;)

P.S. Cuccinelli also claims says that Herring was "lying to voters to get elected;" "had to lie to become the Attorney General and then he turned on his clients." Seriously? On second thought, don't try to figure it out, just laugh derisively, sarcastically...or ironically? Heh.

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by: lowkell

Sat Aug 09, 2014 at 07:30:43 AM EDT

From AG Mark Herring's office: 

~ Herring is nation's first attorney general supporting marriage equality to prevail in federal district and appeals court and to petition the Supreme Court to quickly and finally answer these constitutional questions ~


RICHMOND(August 8, 2014) -- As announced earlier this week, Attorney General Mark Herring has filed a petition for a writ of certiorari in the Supreme Court of the United States asking the Court to review the district and appeals court's decisions striking down Virginia's same-sex marriage ban as unconstitutional. While Attorney General Herring and the Commonwealth have argued successfully for marriage equality in the lower federal courts, they are still able to request that the high court hear the case. Prince William County Clerk of Court Michèle McQuigg, who opposes marriage equality, has already said she intends to petition for certiorari, but by filing now, the Attorney General may enable the Court to consider the case more quickly.


"Many brave men and women have fought for years for the constitutional guarantee of marriage equality, and now, we are almost there," said Attorney General Herring. "It is time to discard these discriminatory bans and to recognize the humanity, dignity, and rights of gay and lesbian Americans seeking to forge life-long bonds. I believe this case will prove compelling for the Court because of the stringent, discriminatory nature of Virginia's marriage ban, the range of critical questions presented, the clear legal standing of the parties, and Virginia's historic role in 1967's Loving case ending bans on interracial marriage. Virginia got that case wrong. Now, we have a chance to get it right, and to help extend to all Americans the right to marry the person they love."


Attorney General Herring is the first state attorney general to successfully argue in court at the district and appellate levels that a state marriage ban is unconstitutional, and the first who supports marriage equality to petition the Supreme Court for review.

In arguing that the Court should review Virginia's case, the Attorney General's brief explains that:

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AG Mark Herring to Ask Supreme Court for Review of Marriage Equality Case

by: lowkell

Tue Aug 05, 2014 at 16:33:00 PM EDT

From AG Mark Herring's office:



~ "We are nearly there." ~


RICHMOND (August 5, 2014)--Attorney General Mark R. Herring today announced that he will file a petition on Friday for a writ of certiorari with the Supreme Court of the United States asking it to hear Virginia's marriage equality case and definitively settle the constitutional issues for the Commonwealth and the rest of the country. Virginia's petition will be one of the first in the nation, after Utah filed its petition earlier today, allowing the Court to consider accepting Virginia's case at their September conference. The Commonwealth signaled its intention in a filing today with the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, which last week agreed with Attorney General Herring's position that Virginia's same-sex marriage ban violates the U.S. Constitution. That filing requests that the Court stay its mandate pending the Supreme Court's decision whether to hear the case. The Prince William County Clerk of Court announced last Friday that she intended to file a petition for certiorari. Attorney General Herring's filing ensures that no delay arises during the available 90-day window to petition for certiorari.


"Throughout this case, I have fought for the fundamental rights of Virginians and the quickest possible resolution," said Attorney General Herring. "I believe the district and appeals courts ruled correctly in striking down Virginia's discriminatory marriage ban, but it has long been clear that the Supreme Court will likely have the final word. I want that decision to come as soon as possible and I want the voices of Virginians to be heard. This case has moved forward at an incredibly swift pace, and I look forward to a final resolution that affirms the fundamental right of all Virginians to marry."


Virginia's case presents a number of legal questions that could be settled by the Supreme Court, including whether states can prevent same-sex couples from marrying and whether states can refuse to recognize valid marriages performed in other states.


As it has done throughout the case, the Commonwealth has asked the 4th Circuit for a stay of its ruling until all appeals are final. The motion notes that the Supreme Court has already issued stays in similar cases, the complexity of unwinding marriages and transactions that depend on them--like adoptions, inheritance, tax filings, or filings of birth or death certificates-- and the fact that this case has moved extremely quickly and can be resolved in the very near future.


The Commonwealth's motion concludes as follows:


"This case has moved with unusual speed.  It was argued in the district court in February and in this Court in May, and it is now ready for review by the Supreme Court.  Speed is warranted, for it is unjust for Virginia's same-sex couples to have to wait even a little while longer for the promise of the Fourteenth Amendment to be fulfilled.   As this Court observed, across the Commonwealth, more than 2,500 same-sex couples are raising more than 4,000 children.  They are our fellow Virginians.  And the Attorney General is committed to ensuring that the government stops treating them as second-class citizens. 


"It is with great reluctance, therefore, that the Attorney General agrees that a stay is warranted.  The unintended consequences that will befall the Commonwealth and its people if the injunction takes effect prematurely, and the clear signal sent by [the Supreme Court] in Evans and Kitchen II, show the necessity of staying the mandate until the Supreme Court can conclusively resolve what may well be the most important civil rights issue of our time. 


"We are nearly there." 

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Just Remember, Virginia Republicans Nominated This Lunatic for Lt. Governor

by: lowkell

Tue Jun 24, 2014 at 15:07:09 PM EDT

Yep, the guy who Virginia Republicans nominated for Lieutenant Governor last year, E.W. Jackson, is once again showing his true colors. This time, he's teaming up with Pastor Charles Flowers from San Antonio for another heapin' helpin' o' crazy (and Obama bashing, of course). So who is Pastor Charles Flowers you ask? I'll let ABC News take it from here.
The camp is run by Charles Eugene Flowers, a San Antonio-based pastor known for tough-love tactics to rein in troubled teens.

But Siobahn said that Flowers was anything but caring. "Pastor Flowers was mean," the girl said. "Forceful, mean and strict."

According to the girl, after she fell behind on a run one morning, Flowers yelled at her and had an assistant hold her down. He then tied one end of a rope to her waist, Siobahn said, and the other to his van.

Every time she fell, Siobahn says, she was dragged along a gravel road. "I was, like, so scared," she said. The incident left the girl's knees and legs scraped and bruised.

Bobbi Greer, who worked at the ranch where the incident occurred, said the camp showed less than loving care toward the teen a day earlier. "The torture to this girl went on all afternoon," she said.

Flowers and the 20-year-old assistant, meanwhile, were arrested and charged with aggravated assault - Flowers will fight the charge.

Unbelievable, right? Yet why is it not surprising that this is E.W., Jackson's new BFF, a guy who - not joking here - "tied one end of a rope to [a girl's] waist...and the other to his van," then "every time she fell...she was dragged along a gravel road." Crazy, demented s***, not to mention completely against anything Jesus ever taught. But wait, you say, that was back in 2007, maybe the guy's gotten better since then? Uhhh...not so much.
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Time for VA to Toss Bob Marshall's Anti-LGBT Hate Amendment Into "ash heap of history"

by: lowkell

Tue May 20, 2014 at 15:33:56 PM EDT

Great news for equality in Pennsylvania, as these hateful and unAmerican constitutional amendments are struck down all across the country. Now, thanks in part to our superb Attorney General Mark Herring, it's almost time for Virginia to join Pennsylvania and so many other states. Sure, homophobic wacko Del. "Sideshow Bob" Marshall will be sad, as will others in his party, but that should just make the rest of us even happier! :)

P.S. I'm hoping the ruling will come back in a few weeks and will be 2-1 to strike down Virginia's anti-LGBT hate amendment.

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Video: Mark Herring on "a moment in our history that should make Virginians proud"

by: lowkell

Tue May 13, 2014 at 15:27:43 PM EDT

Great stuff from Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, who every day proves that: a) elections have major consequences; b) your vote REALLY matters; and c) what a huge difference there is between Republicans and Democrats when it comes to LGBT equality (and women's rights, the environment, you name it). Thank you Mark Herring, and keep up the great work!
Good morning and thank you for joining us this morning. I'm joined by the Solicitor General of Virginia, Stuart Raphael, who presented Virginia's case in court this morning.

The Commonwealth of Virginia enjoys a history as rich and complicated as any in our great nation. It is marked by moments of profound leadership on the national stage, but it also includes moments where elected officials, including Attorneys General, fought to protect an unjust status quo.

Today was a moment in our history that should make Virginians proud, as our commonwealth again takes the lead, this time, on one of the key civil rights issues of our time.

Today you heard the opponents of marriage equality make the best case they could, but just like in district court, their arguments were wholly unpersuasive. Nothing that was said in the court room today alters the basic incompatibility of this discriminatory ban with the protections guaranteed by our constitution. And every single federal court that has considered the question since last summer's Windsor decision has reached the same conclusion.

The constitution does not permit states laws to mark committed relationships between same-sex couples as deficient and inferior. As we have said repeatedly throughout this case, the issue is not the right to gay marriage or the right to straight marriage, it is just the right to marriage and all the responsibilities that come with it.

In her decision striking down the marriage ban, Judge Wright Allen said it well, invoking the Emancipation Proclamation: "The men and women, and the children too, whose voices join in noble harmony with Plaintiffs today, also ask for fairness, and fairness only. This, so far as it is in this Court's power, they and all others shall have."

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AG Mark Herring: "Virginia's same-sex couples are entitled to equal justice under law"

by: lowkell

Sat Apr 12, 2014 at 11:55:39 AM EDT

More great work by Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring - thank you! Also, check out the "flip" of this post for selected quotes from Virginia's brief in the Bostic case (oral arguments will begin on May 13). As Herring's office says, "Hopefully this will make it a little easier to identify the conclusions of the Commonwealth's arguments, as well as some of Attorney General Herring's more noteworthy points."

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Video: After All These Years Frank Wolf Still Doesn't Understand the Constitution...or "Amurica"

by: lowkell

Mon Apr 07, 2014 at 15:36:12 PM EDT

According to Rep. Frank Wolf, speaking earlier today on the House floor, "regardless of your views on marriage, any American who values the 1st Amendment should be deeply troubled that [former Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich] was essentially driven from his job because of his personal beliefs...about traditional marriage." In Wolf's view, "the chilling effect it will have on the broader issues of free speech cannot be overstated." Wolf adds that "Amurica" (as he weirdly pronounces it) has "never been defined by mob rule," and supposedly "what happened last week  was not debate, it was stifling of debate...the silencing of dissent...the compromising of two of our nation's most cherished principles - freedom of speech and freedom of religion." And, Wolf concludes, "the implications are vast and deeply troubling."

Except that this is mostly wild hyperbole and hysterics, two things which Frank Wolf has specialized in over the years, and factually questionable at best. In reality, the resignation of (now former) Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich does NOT have "vast" implications for "Amurica," nor does it have anything whatsoever to do with the 1st Amendment. For starters, the 1st Amendment deals with the government, not the private sector, stating that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech."

Let's repeat: the 1st Amendment has to do with Congress. What the 1st Amendment does NOT have anything to do with is such things as specifying that a private company must employ someone it doesn't want to employ. You'd think a Republican, if anyone, would appreciate that. Guess not. Of course, there are laws - and rightfully so! - against companies firing people because of their religion, race, ethnicity, etc. But that's not what the 1st Amendment talks about. Personally, I don't believe that Mozilla should have fired Eich based on his religious beliefs. Fortunately, that isn't what happened. Instead, as the New Yorker explains, what unfolded was an "uprising within the Mozilla community: a public petition was circulated demanding that he step down, the dating site OkCupid recommended that its customers stop using Firefox, and some Mozilla employees (though far from all of them) called for his resignation." The problem, in the end, wasn't "that he took a political stance," but that " Eich's stance was unacceptable in Silicon Valley, a region of the business world where social liberalism is close to a universal ideology." But it's even more than that; it's about the potential future of Mozilla.

Mozilla is not like most companies. It's a wholly-owned subsidiary of the nonprofit Mozilla Foundation, and is just one part of the broader Mozilla community, which includes thousands of open-source software developers and other volunteers around the world. These people still do much of the work behind Mozilla's products-contributing code, technical support, design improvements, and so on. This means that Mozilla depends on the goodwill of its supporters more than most corporations do; it relies on their willingness to donate their services in pursuit of the broader Mozilla project, which is all about keeping the Web transparent and accessible. If it alienates them, Mozilla's entire mission will be at risk.
So, there you have it: Mozilla made a business decision (to the extent it pressured Eich out, which is actually hard to determine exactly), one presumably that was based on its (or its community's) perception of its/their own self interest. Whatever the case may be, the decisions had absolutely NOTHING to do with the government, except insofar as its former CEO had supported efforts to have the government discriminating against one group of Americans and depriving them of their rights to equal protection under the...yes, Constitution! Ironic, ain't it? Also amazing that Frank Wolf, after all these years in public life, still doesn't get it. He can't retire soon enough.
Discuss :: (1 Comments)

Case Study: How An Attack Can Actually Turn Into a Positive in Politics

by: lowkell

Thu Mar 27, 2014 at 14:33:08 PM EDT

As a Virginia Democratic political blogger who lives in the 8th CD, I get pitched on stories by the various 8th CD Democratic candidates fairly frequently. Some of the pitches are good ones (e.g., newsworthy, interesting), some of them are "meh," and some are...well, let's just say, not worth blogging about.

One of those "definitely not worth blogging about" pitches came a couple weeks ago, when I was informed that - are you sitting down now? - a certain 8th CD Democratic candidate was against gay marriage back in 1997. I'm being snarky here not because this isn't a serious issue, but for several other reasons:

1) Back in the late 1990s, according to Gallup, support for same-sex marriage was very low, in the 27%-30% range (vs. opposition in the 60s).

2) Overwhelmingly, prominent Democratic politicians weren't out front of public opinion on this issue. For instance, in 1996, Bill Clinton said upon signing the deplorable "Defense of Marriage Act," "I have long opposed governmental recognition of same-gender marriages and this legislation is consistent with that position." Also in 1996, Clinton said to The Advocate, "I remain opposed to same-sex marriage. I believe marriage is an institution for the union of a man and a woman." That was pretty much the typical position of Democratic politicians back then, with very few exceptions. For instance, Al Gore said he agreed with George W. Bush's statement in a debate that "I'm not for gay marriage. I think marriage is a sacred institution between a man and a woman." Finally, a gay friend of mine notes that not even Howard Dean was for same-sex marriage in 2003 (let alone 1997), and that in the 2003-2004 Democratic presidential primaries, only Dennis Kucinich, Al Sharpton, and Carol Moseley Braun were for same-sex marriage. Nobody else in the 2003/2004 Democratic primary field had "evolved" that far, including eventual 2004 Democratic Presidential nominee John Kerry (he said that "for historical, cultural and religious reasons, most in American society regard marriage as a 'union between a man and a woman,'" and that he supported "civil unions"). (Also note that neither Hillary Clinton nor Barack Obama were for same-sex marriage in 2008)

3) As for Virginia Democrats, other than the courageous Chuck Robb, I'm not sure if any other prominent one supported same-sex marriage back in 1997. That's to Chuck Robb's credit, and everyone else's detriment I suppose, but again, support for same-sex marriage was clearly a minority position back in 1997, one that very few politicians were willing to adopt publicly. (Note: Jim Moran and Bobby Scott both voted against DOMA in 1996)

There's More... :: (4 Comments, 560 words in story)

Video: Joel McDonald's Powerful Speech to DPVA on LGBT Equality, What It Means to Be a Democrat

by: lowkell

Sat Mar 15, 2014 at 21:44:56 PM EDT

Thanks to Catherine Read for the video of Joel McDonald speaking to the Democratic Party of Virginia earlier today. It's a powerful and moving speech, positive and unifying, despite what was undoubtedly a difficult, emotional week. Great job by Joel; I recommend his speech to everyone!

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

Virginia LGBT Dems Call on Central Committee to Oppose Dwight Jones for DPVA Chair

by: lowkell

Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 17:44:47 PM EST

It will be fascinating to see how Terry McAuliffe et al respond to this. Clearly, sentiment in the Virginia Democratic "base" is strongly against Mayor Dwight Jones, who opposes marriage equality, to be the next DPVA Chair. Among other evidence, note that the Blue Virginia poll is now running overwhelmingly against Jones. The bottom line is that marriage equality at this point is a core principle of the Democratic Party, one which Dwight Jones disagrees with. Also worth noting is that, in the 8th CD primary, so far four candidates - Adam Ebbin, Patrick Hope, Mark Levine, and Bill Euille - have issued statements opposing Jones (at least unless he changes his position opposing marriage equality). I encourage the remaining candidates to add their voices...

You are receiving this as a member of the Central Committee of the Democratic Party of Virginia.

Maggie Sacra, Chair of the LGBT Democrats of Virginia, today spoke about the submission of Dwight Jones, Richmond City Mayor, to be Chair of the Democratic Party of Virginia, saying, “In response to the many phone calls and emails members of our board have received regarding Mayor Jones’ opposition to marriage equality, and frankly, in response to our own concerns and alarm, the LGBT Democrats of Virginia held an emergency meeting today of our board. After a unanimous vote, we are releasing the statement below to our State Central Committee, our statewide elected officials, and our legislators.”

The statement reads: “Given repeated opportunities over the past few years, Mayor Dwight Jones has consistently refused to endorse marriage equality. LGBT Democrats of Virginia is extremely disappointed with the consideration of Mayor Jones for Chair of the Democratic Party of Virginia. We oppose his nomination and call on Virginia Democrats to seek pro-equality nominees at all levels of the Party and public office."

There's More... :: (20 Comments, 260 words in story)
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