President Obama issues LGBTQ Pride Month Proclamation




From the moment our Nation first came together to declare the fundamental truth that all men are created equal, courageous and dedicated patriots have fought to refine our founding promise and broaden democracy’s reach. Over the course of more than two centuries of striving and sacrifice, our country has expanded civil rights and enshrined equal protections into our Constitution. Through struggle and setback, we see a common trajectory toward a more free and just society.

But we are also reminded that we are not truly equal until every person is afforded the same rights and opportunities — that when one of us experiences discrimination, it affects all of us — and that our journey is not complete until our lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law.

Across our Nation, tremendous progress has been won by determined individuals who stood up, spoke out, and shared their stories. Earlier this year, because of my landmark Executive Order on LGBT workplace discrimination, protections for Federal contractors went into effect, guarding against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The Federal Government is now leading by example, ensuring that our employees and contractors are judged by the quality of their work, not by who they love. And I will keep calling on the Congress to pass legislation so that all Americans are covered by these protections, no matter where they work.

In communities throughout the country, barriers that limit the potential of LGBT Americans have been torn down, but too many individuals continue to encounter discrimination and unfair treatment.

My Administration supports efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy for minors because the overwhelming scientific evidence demonstrates that it can cause substantial harm. We understand the unique challenges faced by sexual and gender minorities — especially transgender and gender non-conforming individuals — and are taking steps to address them.

And we recognize that families come in many shapes and sizes. Whether biological, foster, or adoptive, family acceptance is an important protective factor against suicide and harm for LGBTQ youth, and mental health experts have created resources to support family communication and involvement.

For countless young people, it is not enough to simply say it gets better; we must take action too. We continue to address bullying and harassment in our classrooms, ensuring every student has a nurturing environment in which to learn and grow. Across the Federal Government, we are working every day to unlock the opportunities all LGBT individuals deserve and the resources and care they need.

Too many LGBTQ youth face homelessness and too many older individuals struggle to find welcoming and affordable housing; that is why my Administration is striving to ensure they have equal access to safe and supportive housing throughout life. We are updating our National HIV/AIDS Strategy to better address the disproportionate burden HIV has on communities of gay and bisexual men and transgender women.

We continue to extend family and spousal benefits to legally married same-sex couples. And because we know LGBT rights are human rights, we are championing protections and support for LGBT persons around the world.

All people deserve to live with dignity and respect, free from fear and violence, and protected against discrimination, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation.

During Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month, we celebrate the proud legacy LGBT individuals have woven into the fabric of our Nation, we honor those who have fought to perfect our Union, and we continue our work to build a society where every child grows up knowing that their country supports them, is proud of them, and has a place for them exactly as they are.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2015 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. I call upon the people of the United States to eliminate prejudice everywhere it exists, and to celebrate the great diversity of the American people.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-ninth day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand fifteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-ninth.


North Carolina jumps on anti-gay bandwagon

The North Carolina state legislature has jumped on the ‘hate-the-gays’ bandwagon, and passed a bill allowing local officials to decline to perform same-sex marriages (anticipating the United States Supreme Court ruling due before the end of June on the subject).

SB2 changes state law to allow local officials, specifically the magistrate, assistant register of deeds, and deputy register of deeds, on written notice to the chief district court judge stating they have a sincerely held religious objection to performing a marriage ceremony, to opt out of their job duties.  Such a notice would exempt them from performing the marriage, but also prevents them from performing any marriages for at least six months.  Provisions of the bill require the Administrative Office of the Courts to insure there is someone available at least 10 hours a week over a 3 day period to perform marriages, so technically there would be someone available (part time) to conduct marriages.

The vote was 67-43, with only three Republican Representatives voting against the bill. One Democrat voted in favor.  (four Democrats and six Republicans were absent) The state Senate passed the bill back in February.   The governor, Pat McCrory, has stated he opposes the legislation, but is expected let it pass into law without his signature.

Rather than require government employees to do their jobs, and treat all North Carolina citizens equally, this law, when it comes into effect, would allow religious zealots to demean gay and lesbian couples by refusing them service.  Can you imagine the uproar if I refused to handle a 9-1-1 call because of my objections to someone, based on some alleged religious belief, and placed them on hold until another operator was available? My job, and the job of any government employee, is to serve the public without discrimination.  If you can’t do that, you shouldn’t be in government service.

Someone will eventually challenge this in court, and they’ll most likely win.  Government employees simply can’t pick and choose which members of the public they will serve.

As we look around the country, and see the various attempts these past few years to denigrate and refuse service to the gay community, it’s always a Republican controlled state government that is at the heart of the actions.  It should be clear by now that the GOP as a party hates LGBT people, and will do anything in their power to express that through the force of the law. For all their trumpeted ‘small government’, ‘local control’, and ‘personal freedom’ mantras, they certainly don’t mind ignoring all that when it comes to ‘the gay’.

To avoid granting same-sex marriage licenses, Alabama wants to quit them for everybody


The Alabama Senate, on May 19, passed Bill 377, which does away with marriage licenses in the state.  Not same-sex marriage licenses, which the state is under a stayed Federal Court Order to issue after it’s ban was ruled unconstitutional, but ALL marriage licenses.

In order to avoid having county governments issue a gay or lesbian couple a marriage license, the state will simply refuse to issue one to anyone.  Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face!

Instead, the bill would create a process where those wanting to get married would enter into a ‘properly executed contract with two witnesses’, and that contract would then be filed with the probate’s office.

This could open a huge can of worms, if passed.  One senator worried the bill might make it difficult for military personnel to receive marriage entitlements.

The state is already in a morass of confusion, with the State Supreme Court Justice telling probate judges they could ignore a Federal Court order.  Now this simply adds more nonsense to the situation, which will require further court proceedings to sort out.

Ireland voted marriage equality by popular vote.  Greenland’s Parliament vote 27-0 to approve marriage equality.  Alabama will stop issuing licenses to everybody.  Quite the contrast, isn’t it?

In a nutshell, the American haters will stop giving marriage license altogether, just to make sure the gays don’t get one.  There’s your “religious freedom” for you.


Republic of Ireland voters approve gay marriage


The Republic of Ireland became the first nation in the world to approve same-sex marriage by popular vote.  By a margin of 62% of votes cast, Irish citizens, on Saturday May 23, approved amending their constitution to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry.  The BBC is reporting 1,201,607 yes votes, and 734,300 no votes, in a nation with a population of 4.6 million residents.

It became evident early on that the ‘yes’ vote was winning, and winning big.  Both sides recognized the landslide that had a 60% turnout for the vote.  Only one constituency (voting district), mostly rural  Roscommon-South Leitrim had a majority ‘no’ vote, according to the BBC.

Today’s vote comes only 22 years after homosexual acts were decriminalized in the island nation.  Catholic Church ArchBishop for Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, said the church “has a huge task in front of it.  I think really the church needs to do a reality check.”

Irish citizens from around the world were reported to have returned home to vote in the referendum.  After the returns were announced, large crowds were reported in the capital city Dublin, celebrating the yes vote.

In the United States, 38 states and the District of Columbia recognize same-sex marriage (2 of those states with some limitations) but only the state of Washington has implemented that recognition through popular vote.  All others have been through court actions.  The Supreme Court of the United States will rule on the question this session, after hearing oral arguments earlier this year.

BSA President Gates urges lifting of gay leadership ban

Dr. Robert Gates, former CIA Director, former Secretary of Defense, and now Boy Scouts of America President, addressed the annual BSA business meeting May 21, where he urged change to the national policy to ban gay adult leaders (transcript here).  In his remarks, Gates cited the rapid change in the views of the public, the upcoming Supreme Court case Obergefell v. Hodges, and declining membership as reasons to end the current policy.

Gates said:

“…I must speak as plainly and bluntly to you as I spoke to Presidents when I was Director of CIA and Secretary of Defense. We must deal with the world as it is, not as we might wish it to be. The status quo in our movement’s membership standards cannot be sustained.”

Gates told the assembled leadership of the BSA that he would not move to revoke the charters of the Greater New York Council, nor the Denver Area Council, among others, who have openly defied the national organization and allowed openly gay leaders to be a part of their troops.  He said doing so would only serve to

“deny the lifelong benefits of Scouting to hundreds of thousands of boys and young men today and vastly more in the future. I will not take that path.”

BSA is urged by Dr. Gates to take control of it’s future now, rather than allow possible legislative or court action determine their policies.

Gates urged the attending leadership to change national policy, permitting local Councils to set leadership requirements. Most Scout troups are sponsored by churches, some of which have no qualms about gay men serving as leaders. Others may want to continue their prohibitions on gay leaders, but, in Gates’ view, should have the option to decide for themselves. Some troops are sponsored by non-religious organizations, and would also be able to determine their own standards for leadership positions.  (Such groups could also end the current ban on atheists serving as Scout leaders, another growing concern of non-discrimination advocates.)

In 2000, the Supreme Court ruled the BSA was a private organization, and could set membership requirements as it saw fit.  This confirmed the Scout’s policy of banning any boy who identified as gay from becoming or remaining a Scout, and of prohibiting or removing any adult leader who was gay.  On January 1, 2014, BSA dropped the ban on gay boys being Scouts, but maintained the adult ban.  This had the curious, and indefensible, effect of telling young men, many who achieved Scouting’s highest honor of Eagle Scout, that it was no longer acceptable for them to continue in Scouting as adult leaders.  Large national donors began publicly withdrawing as sponsors of the Scouts, and declining to continue their monetary donations.  Between those funding cutoffs, and a declining membership as people expressed their own personal dissatisfaction with the gay bans, the BSA is experiencing a crisis.  As Gates said, this is not sustainable.

Pressure is building on the Boy Scouts of America to end a policy rooted in prejudice and ignorance.  They should follow the leadership evidenced by the Girl Scouts of America, who have no bans based on sexual orientation for their members or leaders.  GSA is in the forefront of this issue, and even leads in issues of transgender youth.

The Boy Scouts of America has a long path to follow to bring itself into the 21st century. Some of the more intransigent and religiously conservative members will have difficulties adjusting to the new realities, but if they want the positive aspects of Scouting to endure, they and the rest of the BSA need to adapt to the social, moral, and legal realities of the times.  Discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity will not be policies that ensure Scouting remain a strong presence in the United States.  The general public, which the BSA purports to serve, will no longer allow it.

The disappointing aspect of Dr. Gates’ speech was not that he urged the BSA to change, but the reasons he gave.  He did not stand for changing the policy as the moral thing to do, but merely as the acts required to insure the survival of the organization.  The positive effects on boys was almost an afterthought.  He missed a chance to be a strong moral leader to the BSA and Americans in general on the issues of discrimination and acceptance.    Not wanting to look a gift horse in the mouth to deeply, I suppose we should be happy for baby steps.

A Prayer Breakfast, Tony Perkins, the FBI, and right-wing lies


On May 4, 2015, I posted a blog here at Alternating Currents lamenting the booking of the Family Research Council‘s President Tony Perkins to be the keynote speaker at this year’s Tulare County Prayer Breakfast.  In it, I mention the designation by the well respected Southern Poverty Law Center that the FRC is a hate group, and said “that such a person should be invited to Visalia to speak to a religious group is outrageous.” 

On May 5, a Letter-to-the-Editor by Mike Buford, a member of the Tulare County Prayer Breakfast Team, took issue with my blog, and accused me of attempting  “intimidation” and being part of a group wanting the “silencing of the views of a majority of Americans.”  In it, he claims the SPLC “has actually been linked to domestic terrorism in a federal court of law” and that “the activities of this organization are so questionable that the FBI dropped them as a resource and the Department of Defense and the U.S. Army have removed SPLC’s materials from their programs.” Mr. Buford’s comments are incorrect.

Challenging religious organizations who publicly support hate groups, and hold up as respectable people who regularly make demonstrably false statements and who repeatedly attack others who don’t agree with them, are not acts of “intimidation” or an attempt at “silencing”.  It’s an attempt to bring the truth to a group of people seriously lacking in facts, and by their attending and applauding this man, supporting things that are lies and deliberate distortions.  Perkins’ and the FRC’s ongoing and well-funded attacks directed at the LGBT community have earned them the designation of ‘hate group’.  Mr. Buford condemns the SPLC as “anti-Christian”, but the SPLC only designates certain organizations as qualifying as a hate group, not all Christian denominations or sects.  Perhaps Mr. Buford means the SPLC is “anti-his-brand-of-Christianity”.

Mr. Buford claims the SPLC was “linked to domestic terrorism in a federal court of law.” Since he provided no specifics, I’m going to assume he is referring to the case of Floyd Corkins, who entered the lobby of the FRC in Washington, D.C. on August 15, 2012, and armed with a pistol and 100 rounds of ammunition, planning to shoot employees.  As reported by,

an FBI agent asks Corkins: “How did you … this building, this organization. Did you, how did you find it earlier? Did you like look it up online?”

Corkins answers: “It was a, uh, Southern Poverty Law lists, uh, anti-gay groups. I found them online. I did a little bit of research, went to the website. Stuff like that.”

The “link” between this domestic terrorist and the SPLC is “I found them online”. Only the most ardent conspiracy nut could believe that meant the SPLC was somehow involved in this attack.

Mr. Buford says “The activities of this organization are so questionable that the FBI dropped them as a resource and the Department of Defense and the U.S. Army have removed SPLC’s materials from their programs.”  This also turns out not to be true.

The FBI and many other Federal government agencies have been, for some time, in the process of “cleaning up” the non-governmental sites they link with, and the links to SPLC, along with many others, were removed.  The FBI told the Daily Caller “Upon review, the Civil Rights program only provides links to resources within the federal government. While we appreciate the tremendous support we receive from a variety of organizations, we have elected not to identify those groups on the civil rights page.”

On the FBI’s Civil Rights Hate Crime Overview page, the FBI says:

Public Outreach: The FBI has forged partnerships nationally and locally with many civil rights organizations to establish rapport, share information, address concerns, and cooperate in solving problems. These groups include such organizations as the NAACP, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Anti-Defamation League, the National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium, the National Organization for Women, the Human Rights Campaign, and the National Disability Rights Network.

The right-wing echo chamber of conservative media and websites have tried to make it seem like the Feds have suddenly “seen the light”, and are washing their hands of the SPLC, but simply is not the case.  They are, if not outright lying, at the very least promoting a false narrative of what is happening.  Perhaps they need to be reminded of Exodus 20:16.

Mr. Buford continues:

The SPLC has become the premier anti-Christian organization and in its push to redefine marriage, labels anyone who opposes them as a “hate group.” I cannot think of anything more un-American. Freedom of speech and freedom of religion is essential to the future of our nation.

The Catholic Church is ardently against marriage equality, but they are not listed as a hate group by SPLC.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is well known for it’s activities that helped get California’s Proposition 8 passed.  They are not listed.  The Southern Baptist Convention is against marriage equality, and yet they are not listed as a hate group.

Mr. Buford should visit the SPLC’s hate group page, and see how many of these organizations he really wants to be associated with in his dismissal of their designations as hate groups, and if he really thinks any group who opposes marriage equality or the SPLC’s positions are automatically designated a hate group.

Mr. Buford concludes:

“We must not allow this type of intimidation and silencing of the views of a majority of Americans.”

Protesting the invitation of someone like Perkins to a prayer breakfast can hardly be intimidating or an attempt to silence someone’s views.  Speaking up is about as American as you can get, and it’s also a reminder that while Mr. Buford’s views may be a “majority” in his social circles, support for marriage equality has held a growing, and is now a majority, opinion in the United States.  Mr. Perkins and Mr. Buford may claim otherwise, but it is not true.

At the end of the day, the Tulare County Prayer Breakfast didn’t invite someone to bring a positive reputation and message to their function.  They brought a divisive, hateful, lying speaker with a prominent anti-LGBT message.  Of course they had to know of his reputation and history, and this speaks volumes to the message they really wanted to send at their event.  Rather than have a speaker like Mr. Bob Goff, of Restore International, who spoke recently at an event sponsored by Visalia Rescue Mission’s Spring Benefit, they booked Tony Perkins.

It was also inappropriate, in my opinion, for several members of the Sheriff’s Department, including Sheriff Boudreaux, to attend this function in uniform.  This, and the Sheriff’s introduction of Mr. Perkins, lends the approval and sanction of the Sheriff’s Department, a government body, to a religious function.  Attendance, and even the introduction, should have been as private citizens, not as representatives of government.  I’ve not paid attention to the Prayer Breakfast prior to their inviting Perkins (it’s always flown under my radar until now), but I understand it’s had a long tradition of local government officials attending.  That does not excuse the improper imprimatur by those officials appearing in their capacity as public servants.

Image courtesy of Politifact


LGBT to blame for natural disasters, but local gaytheist has divine dispensation

May 6, 2015, Lincoln County, Kansas. Screen capture from video by John Alves
May 6, 2015, Lincoln County, Kansas. Screen capture from video by John Alves

“God is systematically destroying America,”  chaplain John McTernan, the founder of Defend and Proclaim the Faith ministries wrote in a blog post on his website in October of 2012 (apparently now deleted). “Just look at what has happened this year,”  referring to Hurricane Sandy.

Pat Robertson said the 1994 Northridge earthquake in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley could be attributed to God’s displeasure with gays and lesbians, pro-choice activists, and “perversity,”

Cindy Jacobs, of Generals International, blamed the 9.0 earthquake and resulting tsunami that killed more than 15,000 people in Japan on homosexuality.

God is really pissed at us for “the gay”.

But he seems to really like me.  I’m both gay, and an atheist, so I’m a bit confused by the whole thing.

Why do I say he likes me?  Well, according to so many vociferously anti-gay preachers, God is sending natural disasters to punish us for tolerating and accepting “the gay”.  But when I went to Kansas this month to visit relatives, he missed an easy opportunity to make a point.

The week before I visited, the region around my sister’s home was hit with severe storms, and even had storm chasers out posting live video on the internet, just down the road from her house!  I was watching live, here in California, as a severe storm produced tornadoes in the immediate area.  The four days I was there, however, the weather was sunny, clear, and pleasant!  The day I left, the bad weather started back up, and the area was again hit with tornadoes, like the one seen forming in the picture above, taken from cell phone video shot by my brother-in-law.  Indeed, on my entire trip, I only got rained on a little bit, snowed on for literally seconds, and hardly needed my coat.

The only bad weather that I can see which might be directed at me is the drought here in California.  The trouble is, it’s effect is the most severe in the very region that is so very anti-gay!  This area is bright, bright red, super-conservative, and deeply religious.  Heck, the local Sheriff (my boss!) introduced the keynote speaker at the recent Tulare County Prayer Breakfast, the nationally known anti-gay crusader and hate group leader, Tony Perkins.  This region is not known for supporting the gays.  (Visalia is progressing nicely, but it’s a bright spot on an otherwise dismal map)

Bad weather scares the beejeebies out of new residents (my sister and her husband) in central Kansas.  The Gaytheist comes to visit, and it’s gorgeous. He leaves, and the storm chasers are back out with huge storms in the area.

For a deity so allegedly worked up about “the gay”, he’s confusing the hell out of me.