Saturday, July 30, 2005
Justin Cannon's study opens with the astute observation that the word "homosexual" did not exist in Greek or Hebrew as it does in the modern English language. In fact, the word was not even coined until about 100 years ago and did not appear in the Bible until the 1946 Revised Standard version. Similarly, Cannon notes that the words "sodomy" and "sodomite" did not exist in early Greek or Hebrew languages. A Sodomite Cannon says "would have been simply an inhabitant of Sodom, just as a Moabite would have been an inhabitant of Moab, though the word sodomite does not show up in biblical Greek or Hebrew." Cannon continues, "Any translation of the Bible making use of the words sodomy or sodomite are clear interpretations and not faithful translations."
Cannon begins with the Sodom Account found in Genesis 19:1-9 because it has played a central role historically in Biblical interpretation of homosexuality. The City of Sodom was visited upon by two male angels sent by God to warn Lot of the approaching destruction of Sodom. When Lot welcomed the angels into his home and prepared a meal for them, his house was surrounded by a group of men demanding to have sex with them. Lot refused to give up the two angels, but instead offered the group of men his two virgin daughters. The group of men demanded that Lot give them the two angels and tried to break down his door. The angels secured Lot in his home and blinded the crowd of men. Because Lot offered his daughters to the men rather than the two angels, Cannon says this has been interpreted to mean that homosexual sex would have been worse than heterosexual sex. Whatever is happening in the scene, Cannon notes that "the crowd of men wished to sexually assault or 'gangbang' the angels" and that it was a "form of rape." Lot offered his daughters to the crowd instead of the angels because they were guest in his homes, and, according to Cannon, "in Lot’s day, hospitality was a nearly sacred concept, and it is that distinction that Lot expresses: the visitors are his guests."
The only thing we can really conclude from the passage, if any, Cannon says is that homosexual rape was worse than heterosexual rape. Cannon says, "To use this story to condemn loving and committed homosexual couples is unfounded and truly stretching this story outside of its historical framework, but that is exactly what has happened." In fact, it may say as much about a breach of hospitality as it does anything of a sexual nature Cannon suggests. He also observes that God had already made the decision to destroy Sodom before the angels were sent to Lot's home. Accordingly, the incident with the gang of men outside Lot's home was not the cause for God's destruction of Sodom.
The condemnation of "sodomites" found in 1 Timothy 1:9-10 is actually translated from a Greek word "arsenokoitai." An analysis of the true meaning of the word leads Cannon to conclude that it was more than likely a reference to male prostitution. Cannon observes that it was a common practice in Paul's time to have slave "pet" boys whom adult men would exploit for their own sexual gratification. Cannon cites Dr. Ralph Blair as saying, “The desired boys were prepubescent or at least without beards so that they seemed like females.” It is fair to conclude, according to Cannon, that it was this practice that was being condemned and not homosexuality or same sex relationships in general.
In 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 we are told that "sexual perverts" will not "inherit the kingdom of God." This terms is actually derived from two words, "malakoi" and "arsenokoitai" according to Cannon. Again, these terms refer to the same male prostitutes mentioned in Timothy, "those soft prepubescent 'pet' boys." It is this form of male prostitution that is being condemned by God Cannon argues.
Similarly, in Romans 1:24-27, the following passage has been taken out of context to condemn homosexuality: "Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error." Cannon notes that what these men and women referred to by Paul were giving up was what was natural to them: heterosexual sex. In Cannon's view, "[t]hese men, we see, divorced themselves from their own nature, that of heterosexuality (natural relations with women), and were consumed with passion for one another." Cannon added, "Women did likewise"[, and "[a]s we see, Paul is talking about heterosexual individuals filled with lust and engaging in homosexual sex, which is contrary to their nature." An accurate reading of this text and a little historical knowledge "would identify this situation as an orgy, wherein everyone is filled with lust and 'dishonorable passions' having sex with whomever however" according to Cannon. What is really being condemned in Romans, according to Cannon, is going against what is your natural sexuality, which in reference to these persons was heterosexual.
It is the passage in Leviticus 18:22 that is most often cited as a condemnation of homosexuality: “Thou shalt not lie with a man as with a woman; it is an abomination.” But does it really mean what we've been told? Cannon points out that you have to understand the relationship between men and women at this time. Women were the property of men. Cannon quotes Rabbi Arthur Waskow in explaining the passage's true meaning who said the following: “The whole structure of sexuality in the Torah assumes a dominant male and a subordinate female. In other words, women were obedient to men, and men in that time would have been dominating and controlling in sexual encounters. The woman did what the man wanted and how the man wanted it. For a man in a sexual encounter to be treated in that way, within the Jewish culture of the time, the man would have to be taking a lower status, as well as being sexually dominated and controlled. To do so would have been reducing him to property and in effect defiling the image of God, which man was considered in that culture. This, however, is exactly how men would have treated the male temple prostitutes—in a controlling and abusive manner, and also is how individuals would have been treated in the sacred sexual orgies with which Baal was worshiped. They would have lied with other men 'as with a women'”. Again, Cannon concludes that Leviticus doesn't mean what it first appears to mean. "[The Leviticus passage] has to do with abusive cultic practices, and says nothing pertaining the issue we are faced with today—that of loving and committed homosexual relationships," Cannon says. Cannon thinks the the passage probably had more to do with the assault on male patriarchy than homosexuality.
In his conclusion, Cannon says it is important for "homosexual and heterosexual Christians alike . . . to know what the Bible says about homosexuality " Cannon says, "It is [his] prayer that we may set aside our fears and prejudices and open our minds and hearts to the truth which the Holy Spirit longs to make known to us all. [He] offer this study as one seeking that truth. May the Spirit of peace, which surpasses all understanding, guide our hearts and minds as we continue to prayerfully consider this issue".
Cannon should be applauded for undertaking this study, which is a sincere attempt to search for the truth on an issue that has so divided religions across the board based on solid research and facts. If you would like to learn more about Justin Cannon and his work, you can visit his website, TruthSetsFree.net. And may the truth set you free.
Thursday, July 28, 2005
Perhaps the most disturbing of his writings revealed to date was his strong advocacy for legislation to strip the Supreme Court of jurisdiction over hot-button issues such as abortion, busing and school prayer. Yes, Roberts believed that the Supreme Court had no business involving itself in issues involving fundamental constitutional rights such as privacy, the Establishment Clause and equal treatment under the law. As the Washington Post reported, Roberts "wrote repeatedly in opposition to the view, advanced by then-Assistant Attorney General Theodore B. Olson, [also a conservative] that the bills were unconstitutional." According to the Washington Post report, "[Olson] scrawled "NO!" in the margins of an April 12, 1982, note Olson sent to Smith. In the memo, Olson observed that opposing the bills would "be perceived as a courageous and highly principled position, especially in the press." A defiant Roberts would not back down from his position. Roberts boldly drew a bracket around the paragraph, underlined the words "especially in the press," and wrote in the margin: "Real courage would be to read the Constitution as it should be read and not kowtow to the Tribes, Lewises and Brinks!"
According to the Washington Post, Roberts' derisive reference to the "Tribes, Lewises and Brinks" was Harvard Law School professor Laurence H. Tribe, New York Times columnist Anthony Lewis and then-American Bar Association President David R. Brink, all of whom opposed the bills. The story reported that "Roberts added skeptical margin notes again when Olson wrote that the bills were unnecessary because the court now had more Republican-appointed members than it had in the 1960s, and was moving to the right as a result." Roberts underlined the name of one of the Republican appointees Olson listed, Justice Harry A. Blackmun, the author of Roe v. Wade , and drew an arrow connecting it to the word "abortion" according to the story.
In support of his position, Roberts cited none other than then Chicago Law Professor Antonin Scalia who spoke approvingly of the bills at a conference (perhaps of the Federalist Society). According to Roberts, Scalia "recognized that non-uniformity in the interpretation of federal law could be criticized as 'sloppy,' but asked: compared to what? Given the choice between non-uniformity and the uniform imposition of the judicial excesses embodied in Roe v. Wade, Scalia was prepared to choose the former alternative." In his most shocking position, Roberts took issue with the view that the bills restricting the Court's jurisdiction violated the separation of powers between the executive and judicial branches. Roberts said, ""None of the pending bills concerning jurisdiction in abortion or school prayer cases directly burden the exercise of any fundamental rights". Fortunately, the Reagan Department of Justice rejected Roberts' radical views and adopted the views of his more fair-minded conservative superior, Ted Olson.
David Rosenbaum reported in the New York Times today a similar analysis of Roberts' ideology as that of the Washington Post's. Rosenbaum wrote, "On almost every issue he dealt with where there were basically two sides, one more conservative than the other, the documents from the National Archives and the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library show that Roberts, now on the federal court of appeals for the District of Columbia, advocated the more conservative course". Rosenbaum added, "In some instances, he took positions even more conservative than his prominent superiors."
Judge Roberts writings in these earlier documents should not be taken lightly. Writings of Chief Justice William Rehnquist prior to his ascension to the Supreme Court evidenced an open hostility towards civil rights matters. Those writings proved to be prophetic after he joined the Court. Ruth Bader Ginsburg made no secret of the fact that she felt that a woman's right to an abortion was a fundamental right during her confirmation hearings before the Senate. There were no surprises after she took her seat. By comparison, Justice Clarence Thomas swore to members of the Senate that he had never expressed his personal views on Roe v. Wade to anyone throughout his legal career. Yet, as soon as he became a justice, he immediately sided with the Court's most conservative members in seeking to overturn it.
The Senate must thoroughly question Roberts about his views on matters as important as "what constitutes fundamental rights under our Constitution." In particular, he should be carefully examined about his view that matters such as school prayer and abortion are not matters which would be decided by the court. To date, Roberts has maintained that the position he took in legal briefs represented the views of his clients and not his own personal views. These writing are quite a different matter. He spoke out very strongly against his own boss in advocating a very radical idea of limiting the Court's jurisdiction to decide matters involving fundamental rights which, according to Judge Roberts, are not fundamental rights at all. The American public may have a different view of Judge Roberts upon learning his radical position on this critical matter.
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
Advance Indiana has learned from a reliable source that Murphy argued to Republican council members that Proposal 68 should receive no support from Republican council members, even though it had a Republican co-sponsor, thereby requiring the support of at least 14 of the council's 16 Democrat members for its passage. Murphy as it turns out had decided to take a page out of House Speaker Brian Bosma's playbook and use gay-baiting as a wedge issue in the next city elections to regain a Republican majority on the council. Murphy theorized that Republicans would be able to hammer incumbent Democratic council members in the 2003 city election for their votes in support of Proposal 68, just as Brian Bosma successfully used gay-baiting in several key legislative races to re-gain control of the Indiana House of Representatives. What Murphy did not expect was that five Democrats, all of but one of whom was African-American, would vote against Proposal 68, causing its defeat by an 18-11 vote.
Mike Murphy, also a state representative for a south-side Marion County district, assumed chairmanship of the party after the drubbing it took in the last elections when Mayor Peterson was re-elected by a landslide and Democrats gained control of the city-county council for the first time since the creation of Uni-Gov more than 30 years ago. As a state representative, Murphy voted in favor of a constitutional amendment to ban same sex marriages, and he supported Indiana's Defense of Marriage law, which defines marriage as between one man and one woman. He has declined to support efforts to amend Indiana's Civil Rights Law to protect gays and lesbians from discrimination in employment and housing.
As recently as 15 years ago, the Marion County Republican Party was recognized as one of the largest and most successful county party organizations in the country. But as many middle and upper income whites have migrated to the collar counties and a more diverse population has migrated into the county, including a large number of Hispanics, highly educated professionals and gays and lesbians, the Republican Party's electoral successes in the county have faded. Unfortunately, the party has shown little willingness to moderate its positions to attract the rapidly changing demographics of the county; instead, it clings to its support of issues attractive only to the Christian right, which are alienating to many of the county's newcomers.
Murphy's decision to adopt gay-baiting as a means of electoral success, while not surprising, is very troubling, and it will not bode well for the Republican Party's future in Marion County. It is also not a smart professional move on Murphy's part. According to Murphy's legislative biography, he is Executive Director of Strategic Development business unit of Anthem, which recently merged with WellPoint, making it one of the country's largest HMOs. According to the Human Rights Campaign's survey of Fortune 500 companies policies towards gays and lesbians, WellPoint scored an 86 out of a possible 100, making it a very friendly place of employment for gays and lesbians. The company specifically prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and offers health insurance coverage to employees' domestic partners. Advance Indiana cannot believe that Murphy's employer would approve of his use of gay-baiting for electoral success. If he applied these same practices in his own workplace, he would be subject to disciplinary action, including termination.
While it does not seem to bother Murphy that he may be making the lives more difficult for gays and lesbians by using gay-baiting for political advantage, he doesn't mind profiteering off the GLBT community. In addition to his position with WellPoint, Murphy serves as Chairman of the Board for Monarch Beverage, Inc., which distributes beer products for Miller and Coors in the Indiananpolis market. Among Monarch's customers are more than a half dozen gay bars. Because Indiana's alcoholic beverage regulations allow for the establishment of exclusive territories for beer distributors like Monarch, bar owners have no choice than to purchase their Miller and Coors products from Monarch if they want to offer those products to their customers. While Zink Distributing Company, the local distributor for Anheuser-Busch, has been very generous in giving back to the gay community, Monarch has not. Zink, for example, has given tens of thousands of dollars to Indy Pride for its annual celebration in downtown Indianapolis. Monarch has made no contributions in recent memory. Greg's Our Place owner, Phil Denton, reportedly pulled products furnished by Monarch Beverage recently from his gay establisment after Monarch declined a sponsorship opportunity for a gay-sponsored event.
It simply makes no business sense at all for Monarch Beverage to have someone who is using his political power to block gay civil rights, and for it to turn its back on the GLBT community as it reaps profits from them. Advance Indiana cannot imagine that either Miller or Coors would approve of Murphy's or Monarch's actions towards the Indianapolis GLBT community as both have been very generous in reaching out and supporting gays and lesbians. Coors even once employed Vice President Dick Cheney's lesbian daughter, Mary, as the company's liaison to the GLBT community.
Murphy's Law may be the law of the Marion County Republicans right now, but neither Murphy nor the party can expect much success by following it. It could also prove very damaging to Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi in his bid for re-election next year. Brizzi, who has adopted his own policy of non-discrimination, just as Governor Mitch Daniels and Secretary of State Todd Rokita have, is the Marion County Democrat's number one target for the 2006 county elections. If the Marion County GOP continues to alienate voters through the use of divisive wedge issues, that can only hurt Brizzi if voters fail to distinguish tolerant Republicans like him from non-tolerant Republicans like Murphy and Brian Bosma. One can only hope that the silent majority of Republicans speak out and repeal Murphy's Law once and for all.
Monday, July 25, 2005
In virtually every news story written about John G. Roberts, Jr. prior to his nomination to the Supreme Court last week by President George W. Bush, a reference to his membership in the Federalist Society could be found and cited as evidence of his true bona fides as a conservative jurist in the mode of Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. When Bush made his announcement last week, Advance Indiana, as well as every major news organization in the country, reported that he was a member of the conservative group. But within 48 hours of the announcement came word from the White House and John Roberts that he was not a member, that he had never paid the annual $50 dues to the organization, and that he had only spoken at a few of the organization's events as had persons of all political stripes. Advance Indiana was skeptical as we reported on July 22, 2005 in a story entitled, "John Roberts: I Am Not A Federalist". And now we know why. In today's Washington Post, Charles Lane reported that "his name appears in the influential, conservative legal organization's 1997-1998 leadership directory."
Was the listing just a mistake on the part of the organization? Not if you believe today's Washington Post report: "Roberts is one of 19 steering committee members listed in the directory, which was provided to The Post by Alfred F. Ross, president of the Institute for Democracy Studies in New York, a liberal group that has published reports critical of the society." Aha, a liberal source who cannot be trusted you might wonder. Not quite. The story continued, "Federalist Society Executive Vice President Leonard A. Leo said that either he or another official of the organization recruited Roberts for the committee." According to Leo, Roberts's task was to serve "as a point of contact within the firm to let people know what is going on" with the organization. "It doesn't meet, it doesn't do a whole lot. The only thing we expect of them is to make sure people in the firm know about us," Leo said.
But Roberts insists he never paid any dues to the organization and, therefore, he cannot be a member. Just as Advance Indiana previously reported, dues are not compulsory. The Washington Report further reported that "[m]embership in the sense of paying dues was not required as a condition of inclusion in a listing of the society's leadership" according to Leo. "[Leo] declined to say whether Roberts had ever paid dues, citing a policy of keeping membership information confidential," the report said. Another member of the steering committee, M. Edward Whelan, III, told the Washington Post that "John Roberts probably realized pretty quickly he could take part in activities he wanted to" without being current on his dues. Asked about his membership in the organization this morning, Roberts declined to respond according to the Associated Press. The White House, knowing what it now knows, says it would still maintain to the public that Roberts was never a member of the Federalist Society.
As the Washington Post report story opines, echoing Advance Indiana's initial reporting on his nomination, Roberts' membership in the organization is important because it "provide[s]ome clue of his sympathies." The story adds, "Roberts has not amassed much of a public paper record that would show his judicial philosophy." Finding that public paper record just got harder after the White House announced over the weekend that papers Roberts had written while working in the White House and the Solicitor General's office in prior Republican administrations would not be disclosed to the public on the grounds that it was protected by the attorney-client privilege, even though some of those documents are already in the public domain.
Advance Indiana has also discovered more information about Roberts which sheds some light on his candor and ethics. The Swing State Project blog site questioned whether Roberts was ethically challenged. The blog site cited as evidence a brief Roberts had written in U.S v. Smithfield Foods, 965 F. Supp. 769 (E.D. Va 1997). It reports that the Court complained that Roberts brief "mischaracteriz[ed] and distort[ed] [ ] this Memorandum" and "is frustrating to the court." The story further cites the court as saying the following: "Quotes are being taken out of context, and it appears that words are being conveniently deleted or added for purposes of argument . . . A totally misleading argument presented to this court." A Westlaw search of the story by Advance Indiana did not find the quotes referenced by the Swing State Project, but we did find other troubling comments in the same vein. The case involved the giant hog producer, Smithfield Foods, who Roberts was defending in a wastewater enforcement action brought against it by the EPA. At one place the court said, "In their brief, defendants insert the word '[instead]' between 'and' and 'tap' when quoting a portion of Smithfield's letter," neither of which was in the original text of the letter according to the court. In another part of its opinion, the court said, "In their brief, defendants state that 'Smithfield was specifically exempted from the . . . deadline for ammonia and cyanide in the letter from the Board." The court interpreted the letter differently: "Clearly, the text of this letter from the Board shows that Smithfield was reminded of the deadline rather than 'specifically exempted' from it", as claimed by the defendants.
Advance Indiana has also uncovered a transcript from a January, 2003 Federalist Society luncheon address during which Michael Berger, a D.C. appellate lawyer, addressed the group in Washington and raised an interesting point about nefarious efforts by the White House and Roberts to shade his record. Berger was discussing several recent environmental cases to the group, including the Tahoe Sierra case. In discussing the latter case, Berger stated the following: "I don't know this to be a fact, but I did read about it in the Washington Post, so I give it to you for what it's worth. At the argument of this case, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency brought in a new lawyer, somebody who hadn't been associated with the case ever, a guy named John Roberts, a supposed pillar of the conservative bar in Washington. In fact, a Bush nominee to a federal circuit court position, who was having trouble getting a hearing in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee because the liberals on the committee hated him, supposedly. Well, the Washington Post says that the administration helped Roberts get this gig representing TRPA in order to polish his environmental credentials, so he might have a better shot in front of Senator Leahy and his friends. But I guess the message is with conservative friends like that -- I don't know. Berger added, "They're not helping us, folks, and I think there's a message in there somewhere."
In the end, this all may not mean a whole lot, but it does raise serious questions about whether there is a concerted effort on the part of the administration and Roberts to misrepresent the man he truly is to the public. Because Roberts is replacing a swing justice on a divided Supreme Court, he can tip the balance on many critical issues before the Court. That makes it all the more important for the American public to learn as much as they can about how his legal thinking and ethics in the practice of law. The U.S. Senate can and must insist upon full disclosure from the White House concerning Judge Robert's past writings as a public servant. It is, afterall, a matter of public record and a matter of public importance.
Saturday, July 23, 2005
The lack of support Daniels has received for his policy of non-discrimination from the Republican Party speaks volumes of its current state of affairs. House Speaker Brian Bosma as much as declared war on gays after successfully using gay bashing, wedge issues in several key legislative races to gain control of the Indiana House in the 2004 elections after laboring in the minority for eight years. A constitutional ban on gay marriage was one of the state's highest priorities he declared. Bosma's lack of support is no surprise, but the silence of the state's longest serving Senate President Pro-Tem, Robert Garton of Columbus, is a surprise. The independent-thinking Garton has never been viewed as a fan of the Christian right, which offered little support for his unsuccessful bid for Governor several years ago. Garton's largest employer in his district, Cummins Engines, has been at the forefront among Fortune 500 companies in adopting non-discrimination and same sex policies for its gay and lesbian employees. He has also demonstrated a willingness in the past to send such divisive proposals to the legislative graveyard. Yet, he even openned up the floodgates to Eric Miller's anti-gay initiatives this year. State Party Chairman, James Kittle, whose furniture store business profits from gay and lesbian customers, has also offered no words of support for Daniels' policy.
Interestingly, two major Republican office-holders with nearly identical non-discrimination policies have escaped any criticism from the Christian right. Secretary of State Todd Rokita at the beginning of his first term, and Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi more recently, adopted similar non-discrimination policies for their offices. Neither Rokita nor Brizzi have offered any public words of support for Daniels' policy, perhaps fearing the wrath of the Christian right if they do. A newly formed, moderate Republican organization, which calls itself First Republicans, made an appearance in an earlier Indianapolis Star article reporting on the criticism Daniels' policy had come under from the Christian right. The organization's leader, Indianapolis attorney Syd Steele, who is also employed by House Speaker Brian Bosma's law firm, spoke out strongly in defense of Daniels' policy. Unfortunately, the group has had little success so far in getting more moderate voices within the party to speak out in support of Daniels.
With no support from his own party and his public approval ratings hovering below the fifty percent mark, Daniels has had to rely on reports in the mainstream media to convey his message. The maintstream media, disappointingly, has simply repeated the false claims of Micah Clark and Eric Miller about the policy, drowning out Daniels' message of tolerance. As the old adage goes, if you repeat a lie enough times, it eventually becomes the truth, making it all the more important for the public to be accurately informed about Daniels' policy.
The Christian right has showed no compunction when it comes to bending the truth about Daniels' policy. Miller and Clark, in both press releases and e-mail alerts to their members urging them to contact the Governor's office, continually repeat the false assertions that the policy creates "special rights for homosexuals", and that it establishes an affirmative action plan for "homosexuals and cross-dressers". Miller and Clark have both described it as a "new and radical" policy, even though the same policy has been effect for many years, having first been adopted by the late-Governor Frank O'Bannon and re-adopted by Governor Joe Kernan. Moreover, at least 16 states, hundreds of local communities and many of the nation's Fortune 500 companies have adopted similar policies including locally-based Eli Lilly and WellPoint. Ironically, neither Miller nor Clark (both Republicans) publicly complained when the former Democratic governors adopted this same policy. Both were also silent went Democrat Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson adopted an identical policy for city workers at the beginning of his first term.
Miller and Clark have falsely implied that a non-discrimination policy towards gays and lesbians will force the state to hire "homosexuals and cross-dressers", and it will legally mandate same sex marriages. As Keith Beesley, an attorney with the State's personnel department told the South Bend Tribune, "[T]he policy's affirmative action statements refer only to populations specifically mentioned in state law", which Beasley said "include[s] women and racial and ethnic minorities, but not gays, lesbians, bisexuals or the transgendered." Beasley told the South Bend Tribune that "no state agency ever asks employees or applicants about sexual orientation or gender identity, and keeps no records on those groups' representation in the state work force." Beesley correctly concluded, "It sounds to me like it's more of a political debate than something related to our actual practices." As to Miller's and Clark's arguments that it will legally mandate same sex marriages, Indiana already has a state law on the books prohibiting same sex marriages as do many other states--courtesy of Miller--and the federal Defense of Marriage Act provides that Indiana does not have to recognize same sex marriages recognized by other states.
According to Daniels' press office, Miller's latest e-mail missive to his Advance America members has generated 288 e-mails and six phone calls by late Wednesday, including 67 that support the governor, as reported by the South Bend Tribune. Daniels' Press secretary, Jane Jankowski, said the governor's office has logged more than 5,000 e-mails on the topic over a period of months, most in response to e-mail campaigns launched by other conservative groups according to the report. Jankowsi assures us that "the governor is not changing the policy" despite Miller's and Clark's best efforts to convince him otherwise.
Daniels rightly believes that, if the state is to move forward economically, it must be willing to embrace cultural diversity; otherwise, the creative class that is so much a part of every thriving economy will simply choose to live in places other than Indiana. Unfortunately, the Indiana Republican Party appears more interested in maintaining Indiana's negative image as a hill-jack, backwater, franchise community that chooses bigotry over diversity, and shallow-thinking over intellectual curiosity. Daniels' success in this regard is all the more important for our state's future. Let's hope that the "silent majority" within the Republican Party steps out of the shadows of narrow-minded, gay-bashing bigots like Eric Miller and Brian Bosma and becomes the true voice of the Party of Lincoln.
Friday, July 22, 2005
The news that Roberts is not a member of the Federalist Society apparenty surprised his friends as much as it did the media and interest groups covering his nomination. "I'm shocked that he is not," said Richard A. Samp, chief counsel of the right-of-center Washington Legal Foundation. Roberts, who has frequently spoken at Federalist Society forums, clearly participated in Federalist Society forums because he believes in its mission, even if not an active member. That he was not a dues paying member is not significant. Advance Indiana editor Gary R. Welsh belonged to the organization for a short time during the 1990s. He has not paid any dues to the organization for many years, yet he has continued to receive newsletters and updates addressed to him as a member. Dues are not fastidiously collected and enforced by the organization as a condition to membership as they are by bar organizations; they are, in effect, voluntary. And as was noted in the Washington Post story, the group's membership is confidential.
It is worth noting that news reports speculating on Robert's nomination prior to his nomination often identified him as a member of the Federalist Society. Indeed, the February 22, 2005 law.com article cited by Advance Indiana in its original report on Tuesday, June 19 entitled "Roberts Is As Conservative As You Can Get: Not Good For Gay Civil Rights", relied on interviews with Roberts' friends to identity him as a Federalist Society member. But the White House and Roberts waited nearly two days after his announcement and after many reports had already circulated about his membership in the organization and what it meant before making a denial. So why would Roberts not want to admit he is a member of the Federalist Society? The Washington Post report hit the nail on the head: "Some conservatives said that a Federalist affiliation, while a definite plus within Bush administration circles, could only provoke hostile questions from Senate Democrats -- so Roberts, in keeping with his low-key approach to conservatism, just steered clear." A Bush administration official said, "It's smart from his perspective."
Whether Roberts is a member of the Federalist Society in a technical sense is irrelevant. What the record is clear on is that Roberts thinks and believes a lot like Justice Antonin Scalia regardless of what he and the White House want the American public to believe. President Bush promised the electorate when asked what type of person he would nominate to the Supreme Court that he would name someone in the same mold as Justice Scalia or Justice Clarence Thomas, the Court's two most conservative members. And that's exactly what he did. It seems that Roberts wants it both ways. He was more than happy to associate himself with the Federalist Society to obtain notice in conservative Republican legal circles in furtherance of his judicial ambitions and now that he's been nominated, he wants to distance himself from the group's distinct conservative judicial ideology.
Justice Scalia has consistently voted as a justice to overrule Roe v. Wade. As a solicitor in a Republican admininstration, Roberts said he too was committed to overruling the decades old decision. But during his confirmation hearing for the Court of Appeals seat he now holds he reassured Senators that he was bound by precedent and as such could not over-rule Roe v. Wade. Not if your an appeals court judge as Roberts knows well, but as a Supreme Court justice it is quite another matter-you are the final arbiter of what the law means and have the power to overturn prior precedents, no matter how long-held they may be. During the upcoming term, the high court may be asked to rule on the constitutionality of the federal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law making it illegal for homosexuals to openly serve in the military. Given Scalia's open hostility to gay rights, as evidenced in Lawrence v. Texas, there is reason to pause before nominating a person of like mind to the Supreme Court.
Roberts' decision to disassociate himself with the Federalist Society is a thinly veiled attempt to prevent commentators and observers from analyzing and drawing conclusions about how he would decide cases as a justice. With so few cases decided during his short stent on the Court of Appeals, the public has little else to go on. He can run, but he can't hide from his long record of association with this organization. The White House and Roberts would, instead, prefer that we rely exclusively on his stellar resume. Roberts would probably deny that he is a Republican at this point if he thought it would improve his chances of confirmation by the Senate.
Thursday, July 21, 2005
Two gay teenagers, one 18 the other a minor under the age of 18, were publicly executed in a public square in Masshad, Iran for the "crime of homosexulity" earlier this week according to the aptly named, Outrage! News Service. Iran enforces Islamic Sharia law, which dictates the death penalty for gay sex. According to the report, the teen boys admitted to having gay sex (probably under torture) but claimed in their defense that most young boys had sex with each other and that they were not aware that homosexuality was punishable by death. The victims had been held in prison for 14 months and severely beaten with 228 lashes. "Three other young gay Iranians are being hunted by the police, but they have gone into hiding and cannot be found. If caught, they will also face execution." the story reported.
Doug Ireland's blog site, Direland, reported that consensual gay sex in any form is punishable by death in the Islamic Republic of Iran. According to the website Age of Consent, which monitors such laws around the world, in Iran "Homosexuality is illegal, those charged with love-making are given a choice of four deathstyles: being hanged, stoned, halved by a sword, or dropped from the highest perch. According to Article 152, if two men not related by blood are discovered naked under one cover without good reason, both will be punished at a judge's discretion. Gay teens (Article 144) are also punished at a judge's discretion. Rubbing one's penis between the thighs without penetration (tafheed) shall be punished by 100 lashes for each offender. This act, known to the English-speaking world as "frottage" is punishable by death if the "offender" is a non-Moslem. If frottage is thrice repeated and penalty-lashes have failed to stop such repetitions, upon the fourth "offense" both men will be put to death. According to Article 156, a person who repents and confesses his gay behavior prior to his identification by four witnesses, may be pardoned. Even kissing "with lust" (Article 155) is forbidden. This bizarre law works to eliminate old Persian male-bonding customs, including common kissing and holding hands in public.
"This is just the latest barbarity by the Islamo-fascists in Iran,” said Peter Tatchell of the London-based gay human rights group OutRage!"The entire country is a gigantic prison, with Islamic rule sustained by detention without trial, torture and state-sanctioned murder."According to Iranian human rights campaigners, over 4,000 lesbians and gay men have been executed since the Ayatollahs seized power in 1979. "Altogether, an estimated 100,000 Iranians have been put to death over the last 26 years of clerical rule. The victims include women who have sex outside of marriage and political opponents of the Islamist government.
Members of the Iranian parliament expressed outraged not of the execution of the teen boys, but rather the media's reporting of their ages. According to Iran Focus News, one member of parliament was dismayed that the focus was on the age of the boys "[I]nstead of paying tribute to the action of the judiciary, the media are mentioning the age of the hanged criminals and creating a commotion that harms the interests of the state."
The events in Iran underscore the importance of maintaining a constitutional separation between church and state as we enjoy in our country. Religious fundamentalists throughout time have committed some of the worst atrocities on mankind when empowered with governmental authority.
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
The law.com article speculates that a Justice Roberts would be a "reliable conservative who can be counted on to undermine if not immediately overturn liberal landmarks like abortion rights and affirmative action." The article cites several key indicators of his true stripes mentioned by those who know him best, including: clerking for Rehnquist, membership in the Federalist Society, laboring in the Ronald Reagan White House counsel's office and at the Justice Department into the Bush years, working with Kenneth Starr among others, and even his lunchtime conversations at Hogan & Hartson, the D.C. law firm where he worked as an appellate lawyer.
As President Bush noted in his announcement, Roberts grew up in Indiana, although he was born in Buffalo, New York. Roberts' parents raised him in Long Beach, Indiana (LaPorte County), but he headed east to attend undergraduate and law school at Harvard. During law school, he clerked one summer at the Indianapolis law firm of Ice Miler Donadio and Ryan. He counts among his friends, Barnes & Thornburg attorney Peter Rusthoven, with whom he served in the Reagan administration. Roberts contributed $1,000 to Rusthoven's failed bid for the United States Senate in 1998. The ultra-conservative Rusthoven finished third behind Fort Wayne Mayor Paul Helmke and gadfly, conservative Indianapolis attorney, John Price. He also contributed $500 to Senator Richard Lugar's campaign committee in 2000. Neither Rusthoven nor Lugar have held favorable views on issues important to the GLBT community.
Fox News commentator William Kristol described Roberts as not being a movement conservative during a post-announcement discussion, but that simply doesn't match his record as noted by his friends. Of particular importance is Robert's membership in the Federalist Society. As a former member of the organization, Advance Indiana's editor Gary R. Welsh is quite familiar with the views of the organization's members. One of the central purposes behind the organization's establishment was to counter the "orthodox liberal ideology" of the country's law schools. One of its co-founders was former Indiana Republican Congressman and failed 2000 gubernatorial candidate, David McIntosh, who also has a very hostile record towards gays and lesbians. The organization describes its mission, in part, as "reordering priorities within the legal system to place a premium on individual liberty, traditional values (emphasis added), and the rule of law." The organization describes its members as being conservatives and libertarians. Among its favorite judges on the Supreme Court are the Court's most conservative judges, Chief Justice Rehnquist and Justices Scalia and Thomas.
A recent white paper included on the Federalist Society's website is one entitled, "Gay Marriage and the Federal Judicial Confirmation Process," which was written in February, 2004; it provides a good insight into how the Federalists view this hot button issue. As the article's title suggests, the authors express concern that gay marriage will become a litmus test for both liberal and conservative activists in the federal judicial confirmation process. While the authors of the article do not take a position on gay marriage, they are critical of courts for "creating new rights" such as the Supreme Court's decision in Lawrence v. Texas in 2002, and the Massachusetts' high court's 2003 decision making it unconstitutional to prohibit gay marriages under state law. The article is very sympathetic to Scalia's dissenting opinion in Lawrence v. Texas and attributes the outcome of the Massachusetts state court decision, in part, to the Court's creation of a "new right" in the Lawrence case. The authors argue that the issue of gay marriage should be left strictly to the political branch of government, and that the Courts should not enter the political fray by "lawmaking." Of course, the authors overlook the fact that the Court's so-called "lawmaking" helped bring an end to such things as segregated schools, bans on interracial marriages and generalized discrimination against blacks and women, all enacted by the political branch.
The Lawrence decision is instructive on how a Justice Roberts would rule in similar cases. In the dissenting opinion written by Scalia and concurred in by Rehnquist and Thomas, the dissenters argued that the State of Texas had a rational basis for enacting its anti-sodomy law--it's "immoral and unacceptable." Justice Scalia's dissenting opinion equated homosexual sex to bigamy, bestiality and incest. To Scalia, Rehnquist and Thomas, regulating sodomy was no different than laws prohibiting prostitution or the use of heroin. The dissenting opinion argued that the Court should leave it to the legislative branch to determine what activities were legally permissible. They strongly rejected the majority's view that a person's liberty encompassed the right to engage in homosexual sex.
Robert's views on the separation of church and state are also a serious cause for concern. Justice Scalia has argued forcefully in church-state cases before the Court that previous cases have too broadly applied the separation clause of the First Amendment. Essentially, he believes it only requires that the government not establish a state religion, but that government is otherwise free to embrace and support religion in its institutions. Robert's in past legal briefs has similarly argued that public high schools should be allowed to conduct religious ceremonies as part of a graduation program, a position rejected by a majority of the Supreme Court in 1992. Roberts also supports laws making it a criminal act to burn the American flag, a view at odds with First Amendment free speech jurisprudence.
It goes without saying that Roberts' nomination will be warmly embraced by Christian fundamentalist groups like Advance America and the American Family Association, the two leading groups promoting anti-gay sentiment in Indiana. While Roberts is no doubt a highly qualified candidate for the Supreme Court, his strong conservative views should give pause to anyone concerned about advancing the civil rights of gays and lesbians. There is absolutely nothing in Roberts' past that would suggest he would be anything but to the right of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, the moderate-conservative justice he will replace. With the political branch firmly in the control of Christian fundamentalists at the federal level and many states, including Indiana, a more sympathetic Supreme Court becomes all the more important. Roberts' nomination offers little hope that his presence will do anything but make the Court more hostile to the rights of gays and lesbians.
Monday, July 18, 2005
Miller's attack on Governor Daniel's policy included a false assertion that it provides "special rights for the homosexual lifestyle". Miller warns that the policy "can be used by activists courts to justify legal recognition of same sex marriage." He says that it "Paves Way for Quotas for Homosexuals [and] Transvestites . . . marital-type benefits for same-sex partners, 'gay pride' celebrations, and school programs that affirm homosexuality." Miller promises that "Advance America will continue to lead the effort to amend the Indiana Constitution to protect marriage by banning same sex marriages and civil unions" and "to oppose other efforts to grant special rights to homosexuals at the state and local level like the anti-business and pro-homosexual ordinance . . . defeated earlier by the Indianapolis City-County Council. Miller urges his members to contact Governor Daniel's office and ask him to rescind his "pro-homosexual employment policy".
The policy enacted by Governor Daniel's in late April is the same policy enacted by Indiana's two previous governors, the late Frank O'Bannon and Joe Kernan, both Democrats. The policy in queston specifically provides that "sexual orientation and sexual identity shall not be a consideration in decisions concerning hiring, development, advancement, and termination of civilian [state] employees." It confers no special rights on state employees because of their sexual orientation or sexual identity; rather it prohibits discrimination in state employment matters on these bases. The state's policy also prohibits "discrimination because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, ancestry, age, disability, or veteran status", mirroring protections also included in the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Indiana's Civil Rights law. There is no provision in the policy establishing quotas as falsely asserted by Miller, and which are illegal under federal law.
If Miller wants to discuss laws that actually provide "special rights" unlike Governor Daniel's policy, Advance Indiana is happy to oblige. For example, there are no fewer than 1,049 federal laws that confer special rights or benefits for Americans on the basis of their marital status. That is the finding of a 1997 General Accounting Office study conducted at the request of Illinois Congressman Henry Hyde concerning the impact of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as between one man and one woman. The study identified far ranging benefits and rights for married persons, including taxation, social security benefits, military benefits, immigration and loan programs among others. Miller himself has personally benefitted from federal tax laws that permitted him to establish Advance America as a tax-exempt entity in order to advance his own political career and to self-enrich himself at the taxpayers' expense. Claiming, as Miller has repeatedly, that a law protecting persons against discrimination because of their sexual orientation or identity confers a special right is simply disingeneous and outrageously hypocritical in the face of all the laws that Miller supports which actually do provide special rights to some Americans to the exclusion of others.
Miller, like other Christian fundamentalists, continues to foment hatred towards gays and lesbians by referring to their sexual orientation as a "homosexual lifestyle". This, of course, presumes that someone chooses to be gay or lesbian. When people like Miller choose to call it a lifestyle choice against all the medical science confirming that homosexuality is a normal, natural, and fixed sexual orientation, they are simply displaying their bigotry. It is no more right to discriminate against a person because of their sexual orientation than it is to discrimination against a person because of the color of their skin. In neither case does a person have any control over their inate characteristic, and to subject a person to public ridicule and retribution can only be described as inhumane. More importantly, it is completely at odds with the premise upon which our federal and state constitutions were established--that all persons are created equal.
It is also well-established in Indiana that the "special right" of marriage is conferred upon only one man and one woman. Yet, Miller continues to falsely assert that anti-discrimination policies in employment matters give a license for the courts to establish same sex marriages. Similarly, Miller has falsely claimed that Indianapolis' Proposal 68 would require businesses to offer same sex benefits to the partners of gay and lesbian employees, and that churches would be forced to hire "homosexuals and cross-dressers". It is difficult to understand the logic of a supposed Christian person lying to the public about these laws and proposals for the purpose of advancing a "Christian society" unless you are a true hypocrite like Miller.
The long delay in Miller's attacks on Governor Daniel's policy is noteworthy. As we previously noted, Miller remained silent for years during the O'Bannon and Kernan administrations when identical EEO policies were enacted. He also left the task of criticizing Daniel's policy to Micah Clark for the past three months, although he devoted substantial energy to the defeat of Indianapolis' Proposal 68. As Advance Indiana previously reported in its July 8 story, Miller has never disbanded the political campaign committee he formed for his failed 2004 gubernatorial bid, which he lost to Governor Mitch Daniels in the Republican primary. Miller's campaign committee still has a balance of over a half million dollars for Miller's future political use. It is clear that Miller is preparing for a re-match against Mitch Daniels in the 2008 Republican primary, and he is using his tax-exempt Advance America organization for blatantly political purposes to undermine Governor Daniels with conservative Republicans.
Advance Indiana through a series of previous stories has meticulously detailed the extent of Advance America's and Eric Miller's political activities in clear violation of its tax-exempt status, which is based upon its representation to the government that it is an "educational" organization. Advance Indiana has also detailed the extent to which Miller has used his tax-exempt organizaton to personally enrich himself through six-figure salaries, six-figure legal retainers and the comingling of his law practice office space with the tax-exempt organization's offices. These stories have all been re-published on GayIndy.Org in recent weeks, and Advance Indiana is aware that they have been reviewed by journalists representing several mainstream news media organizations, including the Indianapolis Star. Yet no news stories have appeared in any mainstream media reports taking Miller and Advance America to task for their legal and ethical lapses other than the Howey Political Report, which exerpted Advance Indiana's report on Miller's self-dealing at Advance America several weeks ago. The public deserves accountability from Miller and Advance America, and it's the duty of our media to hold this public man and his publicly-subsidized organization accountable to the public. So far the mainstream media are failing us miserably. Let's hope it changes for the better.
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
West reported that organizers of the event pleaded with the demonstrators to stop, move away from the site or wait until the re-enactment was concluded but they refused. The situation nearly turned violent at one point. West said, "They declined [to leave] and continued to quote from their copies of the King James Bible and encouraged people to leave their lascivious lifestyle, with the aid of microphones. Some women in casual summer dress were accused of being 'harlots.' Several spectators confronted the fundamentalists angrily, and at one point several reenactors pointed their long rifles right above the demonstrators' heads before their commanding officer ordered an about-face. A member of the sect videotaped the encounters." Local police eventually dispersed the menacing group of bigots.
The disturbing scene at Saturday's civil war re-enactment became the central point of discussion at the Corydon Town Council meeting this week according to West. "This is serious business," council president Fred Cammack said after a discussion. "If these idiots are going to come back at every event, we might as well get out of the tourism business." The Council asked city attorney Ronald W. Simpson to look for legal ways to prevent Lewis' hate group from causing future disturbances in the future. West reported that West's 40-member congregation has staged similar demonstrations in cities and town througout Indiana and Louisville, Kentucky.
In an interview with West following Saturday evening's debacle, Lewis continued to spew hate-filled bigotry. West reported: "Lewis said he hopes to accomplish several things with his street preaching: He wants to please God; he'd 'love for America to repent and reject a lascivious, rebellious and blasphemous life,' and he would 'love to see the Sodomites go back into the closet. These people are dogs.'"
It is a very sad commentary on our state that fundamentalist Christians feel compelled to take to the streets and promote such hate-filled bigoted views towards gays and lesbians. These events are witnessed every year at gay pride celebrations. Even this year's 500 Festival Parade in Indianapolis was visited upon by this scourge. When the KKK carried out public demonstrations, its members hid their identity behind their hooded sheets. These people proudly reveal their identities seemingly without shame or fear of retribution. Why should they when so many of our elected officials jump and stand at attention every time Eric Miller of Advance America and Micah Clark of the American Family Association of Indiana put out another alert warning that "the fags are coming-our families are endangered-take action now." They are responsible for helping to foment this kind of hatred towards gays and lesbians and giving these people a license to take their message of hate to the streets.
Corydon Town Council President Fred Cammack was right to worry aloud about the effect on the city's tourism. It's time for people to wake up and understand just how much harm the Eric Miller's and Micah Clark's do to our state's economy. Indiana will never move forward and develop a first-class economy as long as people with their bigoted views are allowed to control our state's agenda.
As Advance Indiana reported on July 9, 2005, Ellison Bakery announced it would no longer advertise in Dairy Field magazine because of an editorial the magazine wrote defending Kraft Foods against attacks and calls for a boycott of its products by the American Family Association because of Kraft's pro-gay policies, including sponsorship of the 2006 Gay Olympics in Chicago. A story in Agape Press quoted the bakery's manager, Todd Wallin, as making several bigoted comments towards gays. Wallin described the bakery's reason for pulling the ads "as an expression of values -- and certainly not an attack against homosexuals or those who support the homosexual lifestyle." Wallin added, "I don't want my company to be seen that way, and certainly personally do not want to do things that would promote people making that type of choice."
When Advance Indiana first reported on Ellison Bakery's anti-gay policies as reported in the Agape Press article, Ellision Bakery's website purported itself to be a supplier of a variety of Archway brand cookies. Ellison Bakery has since pulled references to Archway Cookies on its website, presumably at the insistence of Archway Cookies. Advance Indiana's editor left a message on Ellison Bakery's website last weekend protesting the company's anti-gay policies. Ellison Bakery has not responded to the message.
The full text of Joe Dillman's letter on behalf of Archway Cookies is provided below:
Dear Mr. Welsh:
In reference to our telephone conversation Monday morning, I discussed with my supervisor and the Customer Service Department regarding the use of theEllison Bakery in the current production of Archway Products. The Ellison Bakery is no longer affiliated with Archway Cookies, and have not been for the last year and a half. Archway's main production facility is based out of Ashland, Ohio, which is where the majority of the products are produced. Ellison no longer produces any of our baked good.
Archway Cookies, LLC does not condone any form of bigotry, and we apologize for the comments made by a former bakery of ours. Please know that Archway Cookie Company believes in equal rights, and we do our best to portray ourselves as such to the public.
Archway - Mother's
Battle Creek, MI
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
Soon after Chicago Sun-Times syndicated columnist Robert Novak outed the identity of Valerie Plame, wife of former ambassador Joe Wilson and an undercover CIA operative, Ambassador Wilson publicly charged that Novak's source for his July 14, 2003 column was President Bush's close political confidant and Deputy White House Chief of Staff, Karl Rove. Rove vehemently denied Wilson's charge at the time. As reported by the Washington Post, Rove's often repeated refrain in response to Wilson's explosive charge, "I didn't know her name, and I didn't leak her name," at its face value seemed to absolve Rove of any role in Plame's outing. Rove's statement was bolstered by White House Press Secretary, Scott McClelland. "I spoke with [Rove], as I pointed out, and [he] assured me [he was] not involved in this," McClellan said. "And that's where it stands." Reporters pressed McClellan to clarify that statement but he held to the words in his first answer until one reporter asked, "[Rove was] not involved in what?" To which he replied, "The leaking of classified information." Of particular interest is the fact that the e-mails disclosed that Rove had spoken to Cooper prior to the outing of Plame in Novak's column.
At the time of the disclosure the Bush Administration was hopping mad at Ambassador Wilson, who had been sent as a special envoy by the CIA to Niger to investigage Iraq's efforts to obtain uranium for use in weapons of mass destruction. Wilson sought to discredit claims of the Bush Administration that Iraq possessed any WMD based upon his own investigation conducted at the behest of the CIA. Rove and other administration sources had a motive to discredit Ambassador Wilson's claims since they undermined the Administration's rationale, in part, for going to war with Iraq.
The leak of Plame's identity became a political and legal hot potato. Former Attorney General John Ashcroft quickly handed off the investigation to Chicago U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, who has been conducting an independent investigation for nearly two years to determine whether someone had violated federal law. To be considered a violation of the law, a disclosure by a government official must have been deliberate, the person doing it must have known that the CIA officer was a covert agent, and he or she must have known that the government was actively concealing the covert agent's identity. Fitzgerald has already called Rove before the grand jury to testify. Reporters who relied on Rove and others as sources have been threatened with jail if they refuse to cooperate in the investigation. The New York Times' Judith Miller has chosen jail rather than reveal her sources, even though she never wrote a story about Plame.
With the disclosure of Time Magazine reporter Matt Cooper's e-mail communications we now learn that Rove indeed played a central role in the disclosure of Plame's identity as reported by the Washington Post. Newsweek magazine obtained a copy of Cooper's e-mails turned over to the federal grand jury investigating the leak of Plame's identity. Newsweek reported that Rove told Cooper that Wilson's trip had not been authorized by "DCIA"—CIA Director George Tenet—or Vice President Dick Cheney. Rather, "it was, KR said, wilson's wife, who apparently works at the agency on wmd [weapons of mass destruction] issues who authorized the trip." Aha--the smoking gun? Not quite. Remember, Rove said, "I didn't know her name, and I didn't leak her name." Sound familiar? It turns out Rove was using Clintonspeak. Remember, "I didn't have sexual relations with that woman." But Rove knew exactly what he was doing. He didn't need to provide the reporter her name. Any reporter worth his or her salt could easily track down her identity, and Rove knew full well that would happen.
As a consequence of this political hack's actions while on the public payroll, taxpayers are now footing the bill for a costly, drawn out investigation that could have been swiftly dealt with by the President two years ago by firing the person responsible as his father did fifteen years ago. As the Houston Chronicle reported in a November 7, 2003 article, Karl Rove was fired from the 1992 re-election campaign of Bush Sr. for allegedly leaking a negative story about Bush loyalist/fundraiser Robert Mosbacher to Novak, the very same reporter involved in the Plame affair. Novak's piece described a meeting organized by then-Senator Phil Gramm at which Mosbacher was relieved of his duties as state campaign manager because "the president's re-election effort in Texas has been a bust." Rove was fired after Mosbacher, a close friend of the senior Bush, fingered him as Novak's source."
Notwithstanding his father's firing of Rove, George W. hired Rove to work on his successful 1994 campaign for Texas governor. To aid in his defeat of incumbent Governor Ann Richards, Rove engineered a whispering campaign questioning Richard's strong ties to the Austin gay community according to a report by Tim Grieve in Rolling Stone magazine. Rove used surrogates to criticize Richards for appointing openly gay persons to positions in state government, while others spread rumors that Richards was a lesbian according to the report. The whispering campaign helped Bush pull a complete upset over Richards, who polls had consistently showed had favorable job approval ratings leading up to the election.
Six years later, Bush once again hired Rove to work on his 2000 presidential campaign. Fearful of losing to Senator John McCain in the primaries, Rove resorted to his old dirty tricks to turn the tide in his candidate's favor. Grieve's account in Rolling Stone described the following events: "In the days before the South Carolina primary, word spread that McCain was mentally unstable, that he had 'sired' an illegitimate black child, that his wife had a drug problem. After McCain met with a group of gay Republicans, somebody sent an anonymous letter about the meeting to state legislators who had endorsed him. Others distributed a flier calling McCain the 'fag candidate.' McCain lost South Carolina, and his campaign never recovered. 'A day in the McCain campaign looked like a day at NORAD watching missiles coming across the screen,' says Trey Walker, who served as McCain's national field director. 'We had a thousand missiles coming in every day.' Rove had once again won the day for Bush using every dirty trick in the play book this time.
Flash forward four years when Bush is facing re-election against Massuchusetts' Senator John Kerry. The Massachusetts Supreme Court has just issued its landmark decision legalizing gay marriages. Rove sees red meat and springs into action. President Bush calls for a federal constitutional amendment to ban same sex marriages. Rove begins coordinating the campaign against gay marriage with Christian organizations across the country, including the critically important state of Ohio which would have a ballot measure calling for a state constitutional amendment banning same sex marriages. As Fox News reported during the campaign: "Gay marriage is a wedge issue that many voters care about, and for some heading to the polls on Nov. 2, it is the key issue. If the election is decided by a razor-thin margin, the candidates' stark differences on gay marriage could be the reason for victory or defeat."
In a Los Angeles Times editorial following the vote, Patrick Guerriero, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans charged that Bush's stance is part of a calculation by presidential adviser Karl Rove that "4 million evangelicals stayed home in 2000. As a result, the 2004 campaign has focused on energizing the far right while ignoring mainstream Republicans." Once again Rove wins the day using his old reliable gay bashing techniques that he has by now refined to a fine art.
While mainstream media have focused on Rove's involvement in the Valerie Plame affair, bloggers have been hard at work uncovering Rove's ties to the now-discredited former Talon News Service White House reporter, Jeff Gannon. Gannon, whose real name is James Guckert, had no prior news experience before landing a daily job as a highly coveted White House reporter. As the American Blog reported, he did, however, have a career as an operator of gay porn sites and as a high-paid gay prostitute in D.C. The Talon News Service is owned by a Republican Texas businessman with close ties to Rove. Bobby Eberle, founder of Talon News, told The New York Times that he created Talon to build a news service with a conservative slant and "if someone were to see 'GOPUSA,' there's an instant built-in bias there."
Guckert, who was unable to obtain security clearance for a press pass as other White House reporters, instead relied upon daily passes from a Bush insider to cover the White House. This allowed Guckert close access to the President and other high ranking officials in the administration. Guckert was even able to occasionally be called on for a question by the President by name during press conferences! Rove claims he barely knew Guckert, but as CBS News' Dotty Lynch observed: "Rove's dominance of White House and Republican politics, Gannon's aggressively partisan work and the ease with which he got day passes for the White House press room the past two years make it hard to believe that he wasn't at least implicitly sanctioned by the "boy genius." Rove, who rarely gave on-the-record interviews to the MSM (mainstream media), had time to talk to GOPUSA, which owns Talon. " Why would the biggest gay basher in American political history want a former, gay prostitute at the White House? Are we to believe Karl Rove didn't know who Guckert really was? Do we want to know?
Karl Rove has been hailed as the smartest political operative in the country. No doubt pundits thought similarly of D.C. Stephenson in the 1920s when he succeeded in gaining near total control of Indiana government using his KKK organization to foment hatred and bigotry towards the State's minorities. But just as D.C. Stephenson had to go, so must Karl Rove. His political expediency can never be a substitute for intelligent and civil discourse that moves our nation forward rather than backwards. The harm his wedge issue politics has done to gay and lesbian Americans cannot be understated. The sooner President Bush tells Rove to hit the road, the sooner our nation can enter a new political era of understanding and tolerance. President Bush owes his country and his Republican Party no less.
Monday, July 11, 2005
When it comes to the issue of gay civil rights, however, the two Hoosier politicians are far apart. On the most critical issue before the United States Senate-whether the Civil Rights Act of 1964 should be extended to protect persons on the basis of their sexual orientation-Lugar has consistently opposed the measure which is supported by Bayh. While Bayh’s record is by no means stellar, it is much stronger than Indiana’s senior senator. In classroom grade terms, Bayh would earn a B, while Lugar would earn an F.
To understand Bayh’s and Lugar’s approaches to a delicate issue like gay rights in a very red state such as Indiana, you need to understand their backgrounds. Senator Lugar grew up in well-to-do Indianapolis family which owned a successful manufacturing firm, while Senator Bayh was born into a middle class farm family in west-central Indiana. Senator Lugar has always been a high achiever. The Eagle Scout graduated first in his high school class and college class and was a Rhodes Scholar. He also served in the U.S. Navy as a naval intelligence officer. Senator Bayh is the son of Birch Bayh, a former three-term senator and unsuccessful candidate for president in 1976. After his father’s election to the Senate, Senator Bayh moved with his family to D.C. where he was educated in elite private schools. Viewed as an average student with strong political ambitions, he returned to Indiana to earn his undergraduate degree from Indiana University. Bayh, who earned his law degree from Virginia University, did not serve in the military.
Senator Lugar achieved national attention as Indianapolis’ mayor because of his visionary Uni-Gov plan implemented while he was mayor. He also was widely remembered and applauded for his decision to stand next to Senator Robert Kennedy in a poor, African American neighborhood in Indianapolis in 1968 as Kennedy announced to a shocked crowd news of the assassination of civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. The actions of Lugar and Kennedy that evening were credited with maintaining peace in the city while other major cities erupted in riots. As mayor, Lugar was perceived as having a strong record on civil rights, although many minorities argued that the true motivation behind Uni-Gov was to minimize the growing minority influence in the old city by expanding the city's borders to the white, suburban neighborhoods.
Lugar lost a very close race for the Senate in 1974 facing Evan’s father, Birch Bayh. A bad year for Republicans in general because of Watergate, Lugar had the added albatross of having being labeled “Richard Nixon’s favorite mayor.” It was also a time when Senator Lugar became the target of a vicious whispering campaign by his political opponents, who privately questioned Lugar’s sexuality. Some rumors had it that Lugar was gay; other rumors described him as a cross-dresser. Always staying below the newspaper pages, the rumors were never taken seriously and certainly never substantiated. Lugar has been happily married for nearly 50 years and has four sons. The sting of those rumors, however, has no doubt played a role in forming Senator Lugar’s public position on gay civil rights. Senator Lugar handily defeated former Indiana Senator Vance Hartke in 1976. He has been re-elected by wide margins in four successive elections, making him the longest serving senator in Indiana history.
Senator Bayh’s father, Birch, was a traditional “tax and spend” liberal who also had an impeccable record on civil rights during his 18 years in the Senate. He favored gay civil rights back in the 1970s to his own political detriment when even most Democrats opposed the idea. Evan has been viewed as being far more conservative than his father. As Indiana governor, he vigorously opposed tax increases, touted Medicaid and welfare reform and boasted balance budgets with record surpluses. Evan carefully avoided any hot button issues, including gay civil rights. Unlike his Democratic and Republican successors, he had no official policy prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or identity for state employees during his eight years as governor. Bayh, a married father of twin sons, also carefully avoided the hot button issue when he was first elected to the Senate in 1998.
It is in the Senate where the two have defined themselves on gay rights, and the gulf between them is wide. Senator Lugar has consistently voted against gays on almost every major issue coming before the U.S. Senate. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (“ENDA”), which would expand civil rights protection to include “sexual orientation”, has been introduced in the Senate repeatedly throughout Senator Lugar’s tenure in the Senate; each time Lugar has declined to support it. Lugar supported the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” legislation legalizing the military’s long-time practice of discriminating against gays in 1993. In 1994, Lugar, along with former Indiana Senator Dan Coats, penned a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration opposing the efforts of a gay Indianapolis FAA employee to bring diversity training to the department to help eliminate discrimination of gay employees within the office. Lugar supported the federal Defense of Marriage Act signed into law in 1996 by President Clinton, which prohibits the recognition of same sex marriages.
More recently, Senator Lugar sided with hard line conservatives to end debate in order to permit a vote on the Federal Marriage Amendment, which would amend the U.S. Constitution to ban same sex marriages and civil unions. Senator Lugar had been rumored to be among a handful of moderate Republicans who would vote against the procedural motion, but in the end he caved in to heavy pressure from Advance America’s Eric Miller. In 1998, Lugar criticized members of his own party, including then-Senate Republican Leader Trent Lott for their attacks on gays. As reported in a New York Times article by Richard Berke, Lugar said, "I don't believe the party is likely to grow stronger or our voters more numerous through attacks on minorities, whether they be sexual minorities or religious or racial minorities.” Supporters of gay civil rights in Indiana saw this as a signal that Lugar was beginning to shift his position. But their hopes were soon dashed.
Lugar has warmly embraced the anti-gay Eric Miller and his Advance America organization. Lugar offers a video tribute to Miller and Advance America on the organization’s website, where he boasts that he “has worked with Eric Miller for more than 18 years” and describes how he has personally witnessed Advance America’s role in becoming a "powerful voice for families, churches and businesses in Indiana." Lugar continues, “Advance America has played an integral role in educating Hoosiers in preparation for the most important privilege, right and obligation" in reference to voting.
On a more favorable note, the record makes it clear that Lugar personally supports the fair treatment of gays. He has employed a number of openly gay persons on his Senate staff. Bob Kabel, who is openly gay, served as Lugar’s legislative director for five years and is now a senior attorney with Baker & Daniels’ Washington office. He was recently elected as head of the D.C. Republican Party. Lugar just recently adopted a voluntary, non-discrimination policy for his Senate staff at the urging of the Human Rights Campaign (“HRC”), indicating that sexual orientation and gender identity are not factors in his employment decisions. Lugar has also consistently supported enhancement of criminal penalties for hate-based crimes, including those committed against persons because of their sexual orientation, and increased AIDS funding.
By contrast, Senator Bayh opposes the Federal Marriage Amendment and supports ENDA. Senator Bayh voted on the prevailing side against ending debate on the Federal Marriage Amendment, thereby blocking a vote on the amendment. Like Lugar, he supports increased AIDS funding. He too has employed a number of openly gay persons throughout his political career and has adopted a voluntary policy of non-discrimination for his Senate staff. While Bayh has had fewer votes than Lugar since he has served in the Senate for a far shorter time, in the two most recent legislative sessions Senator Bayh scored 100% and 75%, respectively, on gay civil rights issues as scored by HRC. By comparison, Lugar scored only 14% and 13%, respectively, with HRC during the same period.
A more cynical person may conclude that Senator Bayh has shifted his views in favor of gay civil rights in anticipation of his presidential bid. He certainly cannot hope to win primaries in key states like Florida, New York, Illinois and California without the support of this key constituency. Whatever his motivation, it is all good for the advancement of gay civil rights. The real test of his support, however, will come in the heat of a presidential campaign when he is likely to be grilled more intensely on this issue than he has experienced in the past. One cannot forget that President Clinton started out as a strong proponent of gay civil rights. In the end, he left behind the legacy of being the first president in history to sign into law measures which legally permitted discrimination against gays and lesbians, including "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and the Defense of Marriage Act.
On the flip side, one might conclude that Senator Lugar has come down squarely against gay civil rights on the most critical issues in order to avoid a primary challenge in his re-election bids, or to keep what little hope alive he may have of someday being elected president. He has never had a close election since his initial election in 1976, and the prospects of the Democrats putting forth serious opposition to his re-election bid next year are dim. The most seriously considered Democratic challenger to his re-election bid, former Representative Tim Roemer, announced last week he would not challenge Lugar.
While it is apparent that Senator Lugar does not embrace the bigoted views of Eric Miller and Advance America towards gays and lesbians, it is extremely disappointing that he has lent the credibility of his good name to Miller and Advance America. Senator Lugar has a long record of achievement on a variety of issues throughout his public record that stand on their own. He doesn’t need Miller’s support for reaffirmation, or to get re-elected. Instead of acting on principle, as is more akin to him, Lugar is acting out of political expediency. That’s going to leave a dark stain on what has otherwise been an exemplary career in public life.
Saturday, July 09, 2005
Particularly disturbing about Ellison Bakery's decision to end its $20,000 advertising account with Dairy Field were the bigoted comments uttered by the bakery's general manager, Todd Wallin. The article attributed the following comments to Wallin: "This is not a personal attack against people who have chosen this type of lifestyle," he hastens to explain, adding that homosexuals, like all people "are created in the image of God." Nevertheless, the executive adds, "I don't support things that would promote people making those bad choices." The article added, "The general manager points out that he made his decision to pull the company's ads with Dairy Field out of a sense of corporate and personal responsibility. He describes pulling the ads as an expression of values -- and certainly not an attack against homosexuals or those who support the homosexual lifestyle." Wallin added, "I don't want my company to be seen that way, and certainly personally do not want to do things that would promote people making that type of choice."
Ellison Bakery is headquartered in Fort Wayne, which has had a civil rights ordinance on the books since 2002 specifically prohibiting discrimination on the basis of one's sexual orientation. According to the company's website, Ellison Bakery supplies a variety of Archway brand cookies throughout the United States for the Archway Cookie Company, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Parmalat, a French company. It also manufactures ice cream sandwiches and ice cream toppings for the ice cream industry, including Fort Wayne's Edy's Ice Cream.
Advance Indiana finds it appalling that a heretofore respectable company like Ellison Bakery would adopt such a stridently anti-gay policy when it benefits economically from its straight and gay customers alike. Just as Ellison Bakery chose to go after the wallet of Dairy Field for its humanitarian views towards gays and lesbians, the GLBT community should rally its opposition to Ellison Bakery's bigoted policies and boycott their products. To log your complaint with the bakery for its bigoted policies towards gays and lesbians, you can click on e-mail here. You can also contact the Archway Cookie Company, which is the bakery's largest single customer to complain about its supplier's anti-gay policies to complain. You can call Archway at 1-888-4ARCHWAY (1-888-427-2492) from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST/EDT. To complain to Edy's Ice Cream, click on e-mail here. Ellison Bakery deserves a taste of its own bitter medicine.