Another GOP attack, this one by Senator Inhofe

Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe (R) has introduced an amendment to the Federal budget proposal, Amendment 381, that would allow anyone to discriminate against anyone else in any public action if they claim it would violate a “sincerely held religious belief” to do so.

Fearing they’ll have to actually respect the rights of others, the ‘phobes have decided to launch retaliatory attacks.  (Strange, isn’t it?  They fear discrimination and persecution, so they’ll discriminate and persecute)  “Religious liberty” bills are being introduced into GOP controlled legislatures across the country, and Indiana’s governor is set to sign the latest version into law there.

Directed at the LGBTQ community, the GOP and their radical Christian supporters have written laws so vague and wide that once in effect anyone can refuse to serve anyone else, by simply claiming “God said not to”.

This, of course, means paramedics could refuse to treat a gay man suffering from a heart attack, or an ER nurse could refuse to treat an AIDS patient, or a white owned lunch counter could refuse to seat black patrons.  (where have we seen that one before?)

County clerks could refuse to issue marriage licenses to those who their personal religion finds anathema.  Catholic judges could refuse to hear divorce cases.  Police officers could refuse to respond to a burglary in progress at an atheist’s home.  As long as they could express a “sincerely held religious belief”, they would suffer no consequences from the Federal government (or state governments that pass similar bills).

It is doubtful the amendment will pass.  It’s actually only meant to be a fundraiser for the radical right wing.  If it should pass, survive conference, and makes it into law, the Federal Courts will no doubt strike it down as unconstitutional.  We settled this whole discrimination thing sixty years ago, but their are still a lot of people, some of them in powerful positions, who want to roll back the clocks.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Pastor Martin Niemöller

Who will speak for you, when they come?

Texas Republican Congressman attempts end run around US Constitution

Johnson Texas Congressional Representative, Sam Johnson (R-TX-3) introduced legislation to require Air Force Cadets to say “so help me, God” in their oaths.  H.R. 1425, the “Preserve and Protect God in Military Oaths Act of 2015” would require any changes in oaths to be approved by Congress.  This after, as Congressman Johnson put it,  “because of one radical atheist group’s demands!” who objected to the phrase being required of all cadets, even those who don’t believe in the Christian god.  There’s going to be a small hitch in this bill, however.

Article VI of the U.S. Constitution clearly states:

” but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

Why doesn’t this Texas Republican love the U.S. Constitution?


LGBTQ? The GOP hates you

One could be forgiven for thinking things are going well for the LGBTQ community.  States are, sometimes begrudgingly, coming to terms with court rulings that find bans on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. Some are even legislating equality in marriage, adoptions, accommodations, housing, and employment on their own, without waiting for court orders.  As with every civil rights advancement ever made in the United States, however, there is a backlash.  At the forefront of today’s backlash is the GOP.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – if you are LGBTQ you need to remember one thing: the Republicans hate you. They hate you with a passion unmatched by any other emotion of which they are capable.

From our own local battle against bigotry here in Visalia, to the statewide debacle of lies and deceit perpetrated by supporters of Prop. 8, to the current slate of anti-gay and anti-trans bills and laws across the country, it’s clear how far we have yet to go.  In every case, the authors of anti-LGBTQ legislation have been Republicans.

On May 21, 2005, Assemblyman Bill Maze (R-Visalia) and County Supervisor Phil Cox joined with virulently anti-gay Reverend Louis P. Sheldon of the Traditional Values Coalition to hold a rally in Constitution Park  against same-sex marriage (how ironic, after the Federal Court rulings on Proposition 8 that came later, saying Prop 8 was UNconstitutional).  By 2012 things had changed, at least in Visalia, with the City Council issuing a Proclamation recognizing June as LGBT Pride month, an action they repeated in 2013.  While that is remarkable change, compare it to Porterville’s actions in 2013, when that city erupted into religious fervor against the Mayor’s issuance of a Pride Month Proclamation.

Now, as we look forward to the US Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality in June, Republican legislators across the country are trying their darnedest to roll back gains made in the struggle for equality.

Even as his party claims they are the champions of “small government” and “local control”, Republican Senator Ted Cruz has introduced legislation aimed at overturning LGBTQ protections enacted by the Washington, D.C. City Council.

In Oklahoma, in a not-very-well-thought-out attempt to hamstring same-sex couples looking to get married after the state’s ban on gay marriage was ruled unconstitutional, GOP lawmakers have introduced a bill to halt the state from issuing ANY marriage licenses.  In their place, they would have clergy file “certificates of marriage”, the assumption apparently being that no ministers would conduct gay marriages.  Of course, that is wrong, since there are many denominations that are quite comfortable with the idea of same-sex marriage.

In Kansas, Governor Sam Brownback (R), has cancelled a previous governor’s executive order prohibiting discrimination against state employees based on sexual orientation or gender identity.  Under this Republican, it’s perfectly legal to fire a state worker for being gay or transgender.

In Michigan and Florida, GOP controlled legislatures are introducing bills to allow adoption agencies to decline to place children with gay parents.

In Florida, the Republicans in Tallahassee have decided that transgender people shouldn’t be allowed to use a restroom.  They’ve even added language to their legislation that would allow someone to sue a transgender person they “caught” using the “wrong” toilet.  It also imposes penalties on anyone allowing a transgender person to use a restroom.  (yes, yes, I know… the bill doesn’t actually ban transgender people from using a restroom.  It simply requires they use the one that “matches” their chromosomes.  There have been some great Instagram and Twitter responses to that suggestion. Transgender men and women have been going into the “correct” restroom, and taking pictures of themselves and the other folks there.  The results are amazing. #WeJustWantToPee)

The list could go on, but for now this will be enough.  Republicans, for whatever reason, are full throttle in their attempts to use the force of government to impose their own limited perspectives on everyone.  Even as the courts tell them they can’t do that, they continue to try.  Their hatred for LGBTQ individuals is so strong, and their desire to pander to the most extreme elements of their constituencies so powerful, that they will continue to waste time, money, and the public’s attention on battles they know they will eventually lose, but will distract from their other shenanigans. Like decorating offices to look like popular television shows.  Or thinking to deeply about the appropriateness of a multiple-times divorced and remarried person talking about the sanctity of marriage.  Or the idea that tax cuts to the rich and reductions of services to the poor will somehow improve things for the American people.  That more guns will reduce violent crime.  Or….  well, you get the idea.

The GOP hates “the gay”.  There’s no other way to say it, and their actions across the country prove it conclusively.

GOP threatens ATF over cop-killer bullets, ATF folds


I suppose if we just kept deer from acquiring body armor, hunters wouldn’t need to up the ante with ammunition that is designed to penetrate ballistic vests.  Damned deer.  No telling what the caribou are up to.

Republican legislators sent a letter to the Director of the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, expressing “concern” with proposed regulations that would ban cop-killer ammunition.  Republican Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis) is introducing legislation to disband ATF altogether.

I have no doubt the NRA comes down on the side of cop killer bullets, since ‘shall not be infringed’ clearly means anybody should be able to own and carry anywhere anytime any kind of weapon they want, as long as it makes a “BANG” when used.  The safety of police officers and the general public is well down the priority list.  And of course, since the NRA has bought the government, lock stock and barrel, and “hunters” have flooded ATF with letters demanding unfettered access to cop-killer ammo, the ATF has backed down, and released a statement saying  “ATF will not at this time seek to issue a final framework” on regulations related to armor-piercing ammunition.

All this, because hunters “need” armor piercing bullets to hunt with.  This is no doubt Bambi’s fault.  I strongly suspect he’s the one behind the sudden rash of vest-wearing deer taunting our poor and under-equipped hunters.  Sorry, cops.

California GOP recognizes gay group



In a move sure to cause heart palpitations in local conservative stalwarts, California’s Republican party has voted to recognize a gay group.   The Log Cabin Republicans, a 38 year old organization that up to now has lived Rodney Dangerfield’s lament of “can’t get no respect”, has finally won a smidgeon.  In a Sunday vote at their bi-annual convention in Sacramento, the tally was 861 to 293 to admit that there are some people who are both gay and Republican, and grant them formal recognition.

Locked out of most GOP functions, including the recently completed Conservative Political Action Committee hoo-haw in Maryland, this toe-in-the-door is being spun as proof the party had changed.  Charles Moran, Chairman of the California Log Cabin group, said  “A lot of us knew we were Republican before we knew we were gay, so this is home for us,” and that with the recognition, “the left will not be able to say to us anymore, ‘The Republican Party doesn’t want you,’ ” reported the L.A. Times.  I have some bad news for him.

Moran is clearly overlooking the current state of affairs in Republican circles across the country.  In nearly every state legislature that Republicans control, bills are being introduced to try and roll back anti-discrimination laws or regulations, override county and city ordinances designed to ban discrimination, or throw monkey wrenches into same-sex weddings conducted by local governments.  The fact that California’s GOP has ‘welcomed’ the Log Cabin Republicans with this recognition will probably simply serve to intensify the alienation of California from the mainstream GOP.

This may be an attempt to widen the “tent”, and bring younger people into the Republican party.  Most independent surveys show young voters are quite comfortable with marriage equality and gay rights, and increasingly won’t support a party or it’s platform if it doesn’t also.  Perhaps California’s GOP, being from the state often derided by many on the right as being full of “fruits and nuts”, has begun to notice the writing on the wall.  We can hope the rest of the country follows suit, but I’m not holding my breath on that.

I’ll be particularly interested to see if local Republicans are as welcoming to conservative gays and lesbians (and there are plenty of them, believe it or not), or if they will continue to demonstrate their historic animus and neglect.  We’ll see if this baby step is the beginning of change in the party of Palin and Rand, McCain and Cruz, Conway and Fuller, not to mention Nunes and the Tea Baggers, or if it’s just a smoke screen to hide the continuing war against the LGBT community.