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Archives – October, 2010

NBC Texas station asks: Will acceptance of gays be the “downfall of America?”

by Andy Kelley
New Media Organizer, Courage Campaign

This is outrageous.

I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t watched it myself: An NBC station in Texas actually asked their members “Do you think this country’s acceptance of homosexuality could lead to it’s downfall?” But that’s exactly what happened today both online and on the air on KETK-NBC in East Texas:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AomC-tu02OI&fs=1&hl=en_US

This story comes in as our post that an Arkansas School Board Member has called for LGBT youth to commit suicide is still breaking news.

What is more, the station’s website continues to display the footage of this segment as if it were nothing out of the ordinary. Cordially remarking that their viewers were asked to “bend the ear” of the segment host, as if it had been a story discussing the relative cuteness of kittens.

I find it both outrageous and disheartening that NBC, the network that brought us such forward thinking and inclusive shows as “Will and Grace,” would stand for this sort of anti-gay nonsense from one of its affiliates. In that though, at least, I am not alone.

Already there are efforts being organized on Facebook, seeking to stop this NBC station from continuing to spread this type of anti-gay “news.”

It’s disconcerting that amidst the progress and positivity of the “It Gets Better” Project, that there would be such huge setback on our airwaves, and by our elected officials. A crystal clear reminder that though the road ahead will get better, it is up to each of us to continue to hold those in positions of power accountable.

UPDATE BY ANDY: October 28, 2010:

The radio station which originally produced this Talkback segment has issued an apology, will NBC Universal follow? Further updates will be part of our new post here.

72 Comments October 27, 2010

WWMD: What would Maggie do?… Arkansas school board member calls for LGBT kids to commit suicide

(Cross-posted on Waking Up Now.)

By Rob Tisinai

I want to know whether NOM’s Maggie Gallagher thinks Clint McCance should be fired. McCance is the Midland, Arkansas school board member who wrote on his Facebook page:

Seriously they want me to wear purple because five queers killed themselves. The only way im wearin it for them is if they all commit suicide. I cant believe the people of this world have gotten this stupid. We are honoring the fact that they sinned and killed thereselves because of their sin. REALLY PEOPLE.

No because being a fag doesn’t give you the right o ruin the rest of our lives. It you get easily offended by being caleld a fag then don’t tell anyone you are a fag. Keep that shit to yourself. I don’t care how people decide to live their lives. They don’t bother me if they keep it thereselves. It pisses me off though that we make special purple fag day for them. I like that fags can’t procreate. I also enjoy the fact that they often give each other AIDS and die. If you aren’t against it, you might as well be for it.

I would disown my kids if they were gay. They will not be welcome at my home or in my vicinity. I will absolutely run them off. Of course my kids will know better. My kids will have solid christian beliefs. See it infect everyone.

What does this have to do with Maggie? Just the other day she warned Australian conservatives that America is persecuting anti-gays:

We are already seeing the engine of state power being used to exclude traditional religious believers, especially from posts of cultural power…

It seems obvious that a man who celebrates — even hopes for — gay teen suicide has no business on a school board. On the other hand…

  • Would Maggie point out that Midland is public, taxpayer supported school district?
  • Would Maggie argue that firing McCance means the government is persecuting him for his religious beliefs?
  • Would Maggie say that kicking him off the school board is an example of “the engine of state power being used to exclude traditional religious believers, especially from posts of cultural power”?

So Maggie, tell us, do you think Clint McCance should be fired? If so, wouldn’t that violate all of NOM’s rhetoric?

And if not, Maggie, if not — then is there any religious behavior you wouldn’t excuse?

UPDATE BY EDEN: HRC just deployed this press release:

HRC to Arkansas School Board Hater: Resign or Face Investigation and Removal
HRC Sends Letter to Education Officials

WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, today once again called upon Clint McCance – a Midland School Board Member from Arkansas – to resign following an anti-gay tirade he unleashed on Facebook in response to national Spirit Day last week. Today, HRC also sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Education, the Arkansas Department of Education and the Midland School District calling for an immediate investigation into McCance’s conduct and to suspend him from office if he does not heed our call to resign. A Facebook page calling for McCance’s resignation has swelled over 17,000 “likes.”

The messages were first brought to HRC’s attention by R. Anthony Turner, a 1998 graduate of Midland High School. A PDF of the Facebook page with the message is at:

http://www.hrcbackstory.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/ClintMcCance-Facebook-image.pdf

Text of the letter from HRC President Joe Solmonese:

October 27, 2010

Dr. Tom W. Kimbrell
Arkansas Department of Education
Four Capitol Mall
Little Rock, AR 72201

Mr. Bryson Wood
President, Midland School Board
P.O. Box 630
741 Main Street
Pleasant Plains, AR 72568

Dear Dr. Kimbrell and Mr. Wood:

I am writing about the recent hateful anti-gay tirade by Midland School District Board Member Clint McCance on Facebook. Given the severity of his remarks and the position which he holds, we are demanding that your agencies immediately launch investigations into his conduct. Furthermore, we ask that Mr. McCance be suspended from his position immediately if he does not heed our call to resign.

No students should be subject to the kind of hate that came from Mr. McCance. All kids deserve better and that’s why it’s imperative for your agencies to act swiftly and with resolve.

The record of McCance’s conduct is clear. In response to national Spirit Day last Wednesday, an individual that guides the education of children took to Facebook and wrote: “Seriously they want me to wear purple because five queers committed suicide. The only way im wearin [sic] it for them is if they all commit suicide.” Unfortunately, his tirade did not end there. Screen captures of his Facebook postings can be found at: www.hrcbackstory.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/ClintMcCanceFacebookimage.pdf

You are no doubt aware of the letter sent to all school districts on Monday by the U.S. Department of Education informing them of their requirement under Title IX to protect all students from harassment, including harassment based on sexual orientation and gender identity. There is no doubt that Mr. McCance’s conduct is clearly at odds with this requirement. Mr. McCance’s comments also violate the Midland’s School District’s nondiscrimination policy, which reads: “The Midland School District is committed to having an academic and work environment in which all students and employees are treated with respect and dignity. Student achievement and amicable working relationships are best attained in an atmosphere of equal educational and employment opportunity that is free of discrimination.”

Students in the Midland School District, across Arkansas and America were put in harm’s way by Mr. McCance’s insidious remarks. These are exactly the kind of statements that will lead some kids to bully and others to continue a destructive pattern of self-loathing behavior. When an authority figure of Mr. McCance’s standing repudiates gay people, it sends a very powerful message that violence and/or discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people is acceptable. It also emotionally devastates those who are LGBT or may be struggling with their sexual orientation or gender identity. His words were not only inaccurate, they were also dangerous and you have a responsibility to act NOW.

We await your immediate response.

Sincerely,

Joe Solmonese
President

Cc: Russlynn Ali
Assistant Secretary, Office of Civil Rights
U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights
400 Maryland Ave SW
Washington DC 20202

Mr. Dean Stanley
Superintendant, Midland School District
P.O. Box 630
741 Main Street
Pleasant Plains, AR 72568

UPDATE BY ANDY: JoeMyGod has the latest updates

Update 1: Statement from the Arkansas Department of Education.

The Arkansas Department of Education strongly condemns remarks or attitudes of this kind and is dismayed to see that a school board official would post something of this insensitive nature on a public forum like Facebook. Because Mr. McCance is an elected official, the department has no means of dealing with him directly. However, the department does have staff who investigate matters of bullying in schools and we will monitor and quickly respond to any bullying of students that may occur because of this, as we have with other civil rights issues in the past.

Update 2: The Advocate reports that McCance may keep his job.

“In Arkansas law, the only way to recall a school board member is over a felony [committed by him or her] or absentee issues,” said Julie Johnson Thompson, the director of communications for the Arkansas Department of Education in Little Rock. Thompson says McCance, as an elected official, answers to voters, not Midland school district’s superintendent. “[The Arkansas Department of Education] doesn’t have any control over his job,” Thompson pointed out.

Update 3: MSNBC’s openly gay host Thomas Roberts covers the story.

114 Comments October 27, 2010

NOM’s Brian Brown: “A man can’t nurture and take care of a baby”

By Arisha Michelle Hatch

Despite Brian Brown’s warm greeting at the Des Moines Airport on Sunday — when he saw me he walked up to give me a hug — the nice act ended as soon as cameras began to roll.

We were expecting this interview in Winterset to be the first installment of several exchanges throughout the week, but then Brown abruptly left the tour after Day 1. It’s too bad Brian left the tour before we could ask him these hard questions brainstormed by Courage staff and the P8TT community (in the comments).

On Monday, he did graciously speak to us for more than 15 minutes and the following video is one segment of our discussion (apologies for not getting it up sooner; we had some technical difficulties).

Brown and others who oppose marriage equality frequently like to talk about the necessity of having one man and woman to raise a child.

So I asked him, “what is it that a man can do that a woman can’t?”

You’d think that would be a simple question for him to answer, right?

Quote: “A mother can nurture and take care of a baby. A man can’t do that.” Unquote.

100 Comments October 27, 2010

Joe Solmonese: NOM’s Iowa campaign against judicial independence

Cross-posted at the Huffington Post

By Joe Solmonese, HRC President

In the final week of a contentious midterm election when voters are understandably focused on pocket-book issues, a collection of anti-gay groups and politicians are crisscrossing Iowa in a bus tour aimed at ousting three state Supreme Court justices who took a particular view of the state constitution.

Funded by the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and the Family Research Council (FRC), this campaign has nothing to do with Des Moines, Dubuque or Waterloo. Instead, it’s all about sending a chilling warning to state justices sitting everywhere else: either enforce your state constitution in the same, rigid ideological way as we do, or we’re coming to get you.

The wrath of NOM is notable: it’s already spent over $500,000 on what is usually a sleepy retention election and may spend even more before election day. This high-octane effort to knock off three justices, centers on the Iowa Supreme Court’s unanimous 2009 decision that allowed same-sex couples to marry. The well-reasoned and deliberative decision was entirely consistent with Supreme Court rulings in California, Massachusetts and Connecticut. It is also unlikely to ever be revisited by the court, making this campaign even more transparent for what it really is.

Frankly, this campaign is more wild west vigilante than democracy in action. The three judges under fire in NOM-financed television ads refuse to mount a counter attack believing it sends the wrong message to litigants who may appear in court before them.

It also disregards a scrupulous selection process based on merit, not politics or ideology. Iowa judges are chosen after review by the Judicial Nominating Commission which forwards qualified candidates to the governor for appointment. Newly appointed judges are immediately seated and hear cases for at least a year until the next retention election. Once “retained” by voters, they serve an eight year term.

Since the merit selection and retention system was established in 1962, only four judges have been thrown out, and none of them from the state’s highest court. The system was designed to flag gross misconduct, not punish judges for one ruling.

But that was before outside groups weighed in with their money and their fear-mongering. To read the announcement of NOM’s bus tour, voters are left to believe that unless these three judges get the boot, everything is up for grabs, from Iowans’ hunting rifles to their very right to vote.

Is it worth restating that the state Supreme Court’s decision on marriage was unanimous? But that’s a small point to 2012 presidential hopeful Rick Santorum who’s flying out for the Iowa tour. Santorum’s homophobic views are well documented; he’s compared homosexuality to bestiality, incest and adultery. This is clearly his opportunity to travel around a presidential primary state while burnishing his right-wing credentials.

Process and precedent also didn’t deter the American Family Association (AFA) from being an early campaign backer. The AFA is perhaps best known for boycotting Disney for eight years claiming it promoted a gay agenda. It moved onto the auto industry in 2005, boycotting Ford Motor Company because it advertised in gay periodicals.

It makes sense, doesn’t it, that organizations bent on intimidating businesses would be game to take on judges?

Like most people, I want to live in a country where judges look at the case before them and apply past precedent and sound legal principals to the grey areas. Like former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Conner, appointed by President Reagan and viewed as a moderate, I’m terrified of a judicial system hijacked by well-heeled ideologues, on the left or the right, unhappy with a single decision.

What’s happening this election cycle in Iowa has nothing to do with the Hawkeys and everything to do with threatening judicial independence everywhere. And it’s about right-wing, anti-gay groups like NOM, FRC and AFA getting a notch in their belt by attacking judges who are too principled to fight back.

30 Comments October 27, 2010

The cost of NOM’s Iowa crusade against equality? Half a million dollars.

By HRC

DC-based NOM has passed the half-million dollar mark in their efforts to interfere with Iowa state politics and oust three independent judges who supported marriage equality in a 2009 ruling.

The filings, available here, detail all NOM has spent in bringing its anti-equality agenda to the state this year:

9/13 $235,037 TV ad urging voters to vote “no” on retention

10/19 $200,000 TV ad

10/24 $20,000 Bus tour (www.judgebus.com)

10/24 $60,000 Text messages to Iowans urging them to vote “no” on judicial retention

10/24 $3,071 Travel in support of bus tour against Iowa judges

The Iowa Independent has picked up on NOM’s spending as well. The article also notes that spending from other out-of-state-extremists has reached nearly $700,000.

From the Independent:

In addition to the nearly $500,000 the New Jersey-based National Organization for Marriage has spent in Iowa in the last month for television ads aimed at ousting three state Supreme Court justices, former presidential hopeful Gary Bauer’s political action committee, Campaign for Working Families PAC, has spent $100,000 on the Iowa ads.

Washington, D.C.,-based Family Research Council has spent nearly $20,000 in preparation for a statewide bus tour launching Monday morning in Des Moines. All this in addition to more than $80,000 spent thus far in Iowa by Mississippi-based American Family Association. Each of these groups is hoping to unseat the justices because of their participation in a unanimous 2009 ruling that legalized same-sex marriage in Iowa.

51 Comments October 26, 2010

Homophobia much? Video, er, highlights from NOM’s “Judge Bus” supporters in Iowa

Arisha’s latest report from Iowa includes some interesting footage from NOM “Judge Bus” supporters, revealing their views on man/animal marriage, “disease-carrying nasty” gays, and “sodomy-marriage.” No wonder Brian Brown bailed on the tour. Yep, Brian is gone, and will be replaced by Rick “Man on Dog” Santorum, it appears. Maybe we should start calling it the “Animus Bus”? — Eden

By Arisha Michelle Hatch

Iowa NOM Tour Tracker- Mason City #1

In Council Bluffs late Monday, equality supporters again outnumbered NOM supporters, this time 92 to 43 — almost a carbon copy of the turnout in Des Moines on Monday.

NOM’s presentation was more of the same. According to Brian Brown, NOM supporters had been shouted down at various locations by counter-protestors and their civil rights have been violated by the Iowa Supreme Court’s decision finding that a same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional.

By the whistlestop at Council Bluffs, NOM added an additional layer of spin to justify being out-numbered by equality supporters across the state, alleging on both their twitter account and during their speech that local equality organizations were busing in out-of-state supporters to boost their attendance figures. Kind of ironic and hypocritical given that NOM’s “Judge Bus” has Montana license plates…

Iowa NOM Tour Tracker- Des Moines #6

… and continues to feature Texas Republican Representative Louie Gohmert as a spokesperson.

I have personally not seen any evidence to support their claims. Of the 90-plus equality supporters at the Council Bluffs stop, I only encountered three from out-of-state all of whom were from Omaha, which is 8.5 miles away, including one man who grew up in Iowa and just yesterday closed on a house in Council Bluffs and who already had his u-haul packed to begin his move.

On to Sioux City.

Twenty-five NOM supporters braved the cold Sioux City wind Tuesday morning, although Brian Brown was nowhere to be found. After spending thousands of dollars to influence this Iowa election, you’d think he’d stick around for a few more days.

Iowa NOM Tour Tracker- Sioux City #1

Unfortunately, that means he effectively escaped having to answer the questions we brainstormed yesterday for him.

The Judge Bus stopped briefly in Carroll to address a small crowd of about 8, as you can see in the photo below. Dan Dirkx, a candidate for local office – a father of 10 (with one on the way) addressed the audience.

Iowa NOM Tour Tracker- Carroll #1

“We currently have a judge in San Diego, Phillips, who thinks she can tell the pentagon what to do,” said Dirkx. “When you offend God individually, God will deal with you individually; but when you offend God as a nation, that’s a different story.”

Meanwhile, here are some of the video, er, highlights from our first day in Iowa. Let us know what you think about the viewpoints expressed by Ron, Dave and Don — three of NOM’s most enthusiastic supporters at their poorly attended events.

Ron was literally the first person I interviewed in Iowa — if you can call it an interview. I didn’t get very many questions in but that didn’t stop him from sharing his view that gays are a “disease-carrying nasty threat to society.”

We

Finally, we ran into Don in Winterset. He really enjoys using the phrase “sodomy-marriage.” Check out his explanation:

UPDATE:

72 Comments October 26, 2010

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