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“Values” vs. Science: America’s Right-Wing’s Ridiculous Anti-Marriage Equality Arguments

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“Values” vs. Science is part two in our week-long series, “America’s Right-Wing’s Ridiculous Anti-Marriage Equality Arguments.” Read part one, The Conservative Mind, then come back tomorrow for part three, Gays And Parenting.

Part Two: “Values” vs. Science. Actual Science.

America’s Right Wing has steeped itself in a vessel of religion, history, and its own bigotry. It refuses to look at any new information or science, and certainly none that would shed a different light than what it needs Americans to believe to further its stranglehold on the intangibility of “morality” — and against America’s LGBT community.

Conservatives are not fond of things like science. Or, “peer-reviewed studies.” Why use knowledge and science when we have our “moral values” and our “beliefs?” (Not to mention that their entire business model is dependent upon Americans believing that America’s Right Wing holds the key to their salvation.)

For proof, all you need to do is look at America’s Right Wing’s fierce resistance to the science of climate change (which they call “Climategate,”) or their current attack on the positive economics of deficit spending, or even the ludicrous theme espoused by the GOP leadership recently, that government regulation is to blame for the BP oil spill.)

But back to marriage equality. Let’s start with David Blankenhorn, founder and president of the Institute for American Values, and the only witness against marriage equality in the Prop 8 trial that ended earlier this month. Blankenhorn essentially “flip-flopped” by the end of the trial. In fact, at the end of the trial, Ted Olsen, the pro-marriage equality lead counsel, used Blankenhorn’s own quote at the end of his closing argument, stating, “we will be more American [the day we permit gay marriage.]”

To be fair, Blankenhorn has been a bit maligned, first by the Left, and now by both sides of the marriage equality argument. While he does not support same-sex marriage, he does support same-sex relationships. In an odd way. Last year, he, along with Jonathan Rauch, an esteemed author and same-sex marriage supporter, wrote a misguided op-ed for the New York Times, titled, “A Reconciliation On Gay Marriage.” It was not a “reconciliation.” It was a call to encode second-class citizenship upon same-sex couples. In, “An Embarrassing Reconciliation On Gay Marriage,” I called their ideas “sectarian mischief,” ensconced in “separate but equal” arguments, and all “in service to the church.”

Which is how America’s Right Wing likes to maintain their segregation of America’s LGBT community.

Blankenhorn recently wrote a letter to the editor of the New York Times (which refused it,) challenging “Weddings For Everybody,” a piece op-ed columnist Maureen Dowd had written. In his letter, Blankenhorn writes, “Maureen Down incorrectly reports that, in the California Prop 8 trial on gay marriage, I stated on the witness stand that ‘adoptive parents are as good as natural parents.’ I respect adoptive parents and value adoption as an institution, but numerous studies suggests [sic] that outcomes for adopted children often are not ‘as good as’ outcomes for children raised by natural parents.”

Hogwash. Times two.

First, the “numerous studies suggests” part. Blankenhorn doesn’t quote which studies, but I can all but guarantee the name Paul Cameron, or the Family Research Institute, have some involvement with them. (Cameron founded FRI and was discredited and expelled from the American Psychological Association.)

More importantly, two long-term studies recently published found just the opposite. In fact, one of them, a twenty-five year-long and vigorously peer-reviewed study published in the journal Pediatrics, found that adopted children raised by lesbian parents are better-adjusted and do better in school than their opposite-parented peers.

But relying on science won’t help conservatives make their case, so they have to make up “science,” or rely on outdated concepts, to try to give their fears credibility. Or, they have to turn to decades, or centuries-old “research” to try to prove their bigotry.

A new breed of conservative politicians, those of the “Tea Party,” have brought a special mix of virulent anti-science, “moral values,” and homophobia to the fore. Take Sharon Angle, now running against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in Nevada.

Talking Points Memo, run by the award-winning journalist Joshua Micah Marshall, just last week posted “Sharron Angle’s Fringe Third Party Sponsored Virulently Anti-Gay Flier In ’90s,” writing,

The ad insert, which approvingly cites an 1814 legal treatise titled “Consequences of Sodomy: Ruin of a Nation,” is a digest of articles that refer to LGBT people alternately as “homosexuals,” “sodomites,” and “brazen perverts.” The insert includes virtually every homophobic myth ever conceived.

Sample headlines include: “Homosexual Curriculum In The First Grade” … “Flawed Science Nurtures Genetic Origin For Homosexuality” … “No Constitutional Right To Be A Sodomite.” Here’s a passage from an item headlined “True Homosexual Character Revealed”:

Homosexuals argue that they are a peaceful and gay people. Yet … Dr. Paul Cameron of the Family Research Report writes “the top six U.S. male killers were all homosexuals.”

(By the way, Cameron — remember Cameron from the Family Research Institute? — is flat-out wrong by saying “the top six U.S. male killers were all homosexuals.”)

Unsurprisingly, not much has changed with America’s Right Wing’s hatred and fear of America’s LGBT community. They are working hard to not only maintain our second-class citizen status, but are trying to use corrupt “science,” along with religion, to further erode our status.

The once-and-future GOP presidential candidate and Baptist minister Mike Huckabee is never too far away from the anti-gay culture war. Just days ago, Huckabee shared this bit of personal ignorant homophobia:

“I do believe that God created male and female and intended for marriage to be the relationship of the two opposite sexes. Male and female are biologically compatible to have a relationship. We can get into the ick factor, but the fact is two men in a relationship, two women in a relationship, biologically, that doesn’t work the same.”

That alone should be worth a fair amount of cash for his Huck PAC.

America’s Right Wing believes by abusing science and morality to demean and disenfranchise America’s LGBT community, they will have won the culture wars. They believe that America’s gay and lesbian citizens should remain second-class citizens, with little to no rights — certainly not the right to serve in the military, be safe from being fired for being gay, marry, or parent children.

And they couldn’t be more wrong.

“Values” vs. Science is part two in our week-long series, “America’s Right-Wing’s Ridiculous Anti-Marriage Equality Arguments.” Read part one, The Conservative Mind, then come back tomorrow for part three, Gays And Parenting.

(image: kevindooley)

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News

Trump’s Scheme for Absolute Immunity From State Prosecutions Forever: Report

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Having successfully obtained delays in his federal trials and his state trial in Georgia, possibly until after the November election, Donald Trump is now seeking an “insurance policy” to protect him from any future state prosecutions if he again becomes president.

The indicted ex-president who turns 78 next month “seems convinced that if he wins another four years in the White House, state prosecutors will still be waiting for him on the other side of his term — ready to put him on trial, or even in prison, just as they are now,” Rolling Stone reports.

“To avoid such risks, the former and perhaps future president of the United States wants Congress to create a very specific insurance policy that would help keep him out of prison forever, two sources familiar with the matter tell Rolling Stone. Trump vaguely alluded to this idea last week outside his New York criminal hush money trial, when he said he has urged Republican lawmakers to pass ‘laws to stop things like this.'”

Trump “has pressured” Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill to do so, describing it as imperative that he signs such a bill into law, if he again ascends to the Oval Office.”

READ MORE: Pence Defense of Alito’s Insurrectionist Flag Highlights Its Ties to Violent Government Overthrow

Rolling Stone also notes, “Trump appears fixated on the idea of passing a law to give former American presidents the option of moving state or local prosecutions into a federal court instead, the two sources add.”

Trump “has hinted at a legislative push to limit his exposure to such criminal charges. In an improvised press conference outside the Manhattan courthouse on Tuesday, Trump said he’s been telling the Republican lawmakers who want to attend his trial and show solidarity to focus on legislation instead.”

“We have a lot of ’em. They want to come. I say, ‘Just stay back and pass lots of laws to stop things like this.’”

In 1973, while still President but under the cloud of the Watergate scandal, Richard Nixon said, “People have got to know whether or not their President is a crook.”

If Trump is elected in November, he can have his Attorney General drop any federal prosecutions he is currently facing. That may call into question, for some legal experts, the actions of the far-right justices on the U.S. Supreme Court who have delayed ruling on his immunity claim, and U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon.

On May 7, Judge Cannon indefinitely suspended the Espionage Act case, also known as the classified documents case, against Donald Trump.

READ MORE: ‘You Just Don’t Do It’: Federal Judge Denounces Alito’s Flags as ‘Stop the Steal’ Stickers

Foreign policy, national security, and political affairs analyst and commentator David Rothkopf this week blasted the judge:

“Judge Cannon is not, as commentators and cartoonists would have it, just working on behalf of Trump. She is actively working on behalf of the enemies of the US who have and would benefit from the national security breaches she is effectively defending and making more likely.”

U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) earlier this month declared, “The courts are deliberately delaying justice — and effectively denying it.”

This coming week Americans may get a verdict in the New York criminal case against the ex-president. If it comes, it may be “guilty” or “not guilty,” but it could also be a hung jury, forcing another trial which also would not likely come before the election.

If Trump is elected in November, and can get his “insurance policy” legislation passed, he could possibly avoid all criminal trials for the rest of his life.

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OPINION

Pence Defense of Alito’s Insurrectionist Flag Highlights Its Ties to Violent Government Overthrow

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Mike Pence is defending far-right U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, whose ethics and ability to serve on the nation’s highest court are being questioned after The New York Times revealed he had been flying a highly-controversial flag used by the January 6 insurrectionists, neo-Nazis, and a far-right neo-fascist hate group. Democrats are demanding the justice recuse himself from all cases involving Donald Trump and the 2020 presidential election, and some are also demanding his resignation or impeachment.

The former Trump Vice President, in defending Alito, may have made the situation even worse for the 74-year old jurist by highlighting the flag’s ties to revolution and the overthrow of government. In his defense Pence also encourages all Americans to fly the flag: “The ‘Appeal to Heaven’ flag is part or our proud heritage of Faith and Freedom and every American should be proud to fly it,” he writes.

“The Appeal to Heaven Flag” dates back centuries, to the American Revolution, but in recent years was very clearly co-opted by the radical religious right and was seen being carried by the insurrectionists during the assault on the U.S. Capitol, some of whom who chanted, “hang Mike Pence,” as he and his family were being whisked away by Secret Service on January 6:

MSNBC columnist Sarah Posner, who for years has been writing about religion and politics, on Thursday noted, “the more one knows about the background of the flag, the more chilling its presence at [Alito’s] house becomes.”

READ MORE: ‘You Just Don’t Do It’: Federal Judge Denounces Alito’s Flags as ‘Stop the Steal’ Stickers

Posner says the flag is “an unmistakable emblem for an influential segment of Christian nationalists who claim the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump, contrary to God’s will, and that believers’ spiritual warfare is essential to restoring God’s anointed leader to his rightful office.”

“It was one of numerous Christian nationalist flags and other iconography carried by Trump supporters Jan. 6 and at the Jericho March, a series of prayer rallies that were like jet fuel for the insurrection,” Posner explains. “The Jericho March featured right-wing evangelical and Catholic speakers alongside militants such as conspiracist Alex Jones, Trump’s disgraced national security adviser Michael Flynn, and Oathkeepers founder Stewart Rhodes, now serving an 18-year prison sentence for seditious conspiracy and other crimes.”

Posner adds the flag “originated in Revolutionary times as a call to take up arms against unjust rulers who ignored the pleas of their citizens.”

Pence also refers to the Revolutionary War in his defense of Justice Alito, ignoring that the Revolutionary War was won several hundred years ago, and ignoring that a sitting U.S. Supreme Court justice promoting the very concept of taking up arms against rulers, unjust or otherwise, is, as constitutional scholar and University Professor Emeritus at Harvard University, Laurence Tribe wrote, “close to treason.”

Pence calls the “controversy” of Justice Alito’s flag-flying “absurd and anti-historical.” He quotes English Enlightenment philosopher John Locke, promoting his idea of the right to revolution, to replace a government.

In its Bombshell report Wednesday announcing the existence of a second Alito flag tied to the insurrectionists, The New York Times explains the Locke tie to the “Appeal to Heaven” flag.

READ MORE: Trump Adviser Scanned and Saved Contents of Box That Had Classified Docs: Report

“Since its creation during the American Revolution, the flag has carried a message of defiance: The phrase ‘appeal to heaven’ comes from the 17th-century philosopher John Locke, who wrote of a responsibility to rebel, even use violence, to overthrow unjust rule. ‘It’s a paraphrase for trial by arms,’ Anthony Grafton, a historian at Princeton University, said in an interview. ‘The main point is that there’s no appeal, there’s no one else you can ask for help or a judgment.'”

Coincidentally or not, Grafton’s “trial by arms” seems to echo Trump acolyte Rudy Giuliani’s January 6 speech in which he specifically called for “trial by combat.”

Religious studies scholar Matthew Taylor, quoted in The New York Times’ report on Alito’s “Appeal to Heaven” flag, told CBS News (video below) Christian nationalist leader Dutch Sheets “was given one of these flags and he believed that he received a prophecy when he received this flag, that it was a symbol of a revolution that would take place in America, a spiritual revolution that would reconstitute the United States as a truly Christian nation.”

He adds the “Appeal to Heaven” flag has become a “very potent symbol of Christian nationalism, Christian Trumpism, opposition to abortion, opposition to gay marriage, and the desire for a more Christian America.”

Watch the videos above or at this link.

READ MORE: Trump’s Bronx Rally Attendance Claim Fuels Mockery as Aerial Images Show a Different Story

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OPINION

‘You Just Don’t Do It’: Federal Judge Denounces Alito’s Flags as ‘Stop the Steal’ Stickers

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A senior U.S. district judge is denouncing U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito‘s flying of two insurrection-related flags at his homes in Virginia and New Jersey, declaring the actions “improper. And dumb.”

Judge Michael Ponsor, 77, who has served on the federal bench since 1984, writes in a Friday New York Times op-ed that he has “known scores, possibly hundreds, of federal trial and appellate judges pretty well,” and “can’t think of a single one, no matter who appointed her or him, who has engaged or would engage in conduct like that.”

“You just don’t do that sort of thing, whether it may be considered over the line, or just edging up to the margin. Flying those flags was tantamount to sticking a ‘Stop the steal’ bumper sticker on your car. You just don’t do it.”

Justice Alito’s first flag scandal came late last week, when The New York Times reported an upside down U.S. flag had flown at his Virginia home jut days before Joe Biden was sworn in as President. That flag is associated with the insurrectionists who stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021. As of January, more than 1200 who were there that day have been arrested and charged with crimes.

Alito blamed his wife, claiming she made the decision to fly the flag upside down, which according to the U.S. flag code should only be done to signal distress. Martha-Ann Alito, her husband claimed, had gotten into an argument with a neighbor and manifested her anger by flying the “Stop the Steal” flag.

READ MORE: ‘Investigate Now’: As Alito Scandal Grows Pressure Mounts on ‘MIA’ and ‘AWOL’ Judiciary Chair

The second flag scandal came on Wednesday, when The Times again revealed an Alito insurrection-related flag, this time at his New Jersey home, where the Alitos were flying the “Appeal to Heaven” flag which has ties both to the insurrectionists, and to extreme right Christian nationalists.

Justice Alito has not made any public comment defending his second flag.

Judge Ponsor offered up a hypothetical to counter Justice Alito’s claim his wife was to blame, in this case, an example of him presiding over a death penalty case.

“Let’s say my wife was strongly opposed to the death penalty and wished to speak out publicly against it. I’m not saying this is true, but let’s imagine it. The primary emotional current in our marriage is, of course, deep and passionate love, but right next to that is equally deep and passionate respect. We would have had a problem, and we would have needed to talk,” Ponsor explained.

“In this hypothetical situation, I hope that my wife would have held off making any public statements about capital punishment, and restrained herself from talking about the issue with me, while the trial unfolded. On the other hand, if my wife had felt strongly that she needed to espouse her viewpoint publicly, I would have had to recuse myself from presiding over the case, based on the appearance of partiality.”

READ MORE: ‘Going for the Jugular’: Legal Scholar Warns ‘Trumpers’ Want to End Major Civil Right

Note he mentions as a sitting federal judge he would have applied the same standards that jurors are expected to observe: to not discuss the case with anyone, including their spouses.

And should there have been a discussion, or if she were to air her views publicly, he would be forced to recuse himself from the case.

Justice Alito has not recused from any 2020 presidential election cases, any Trump-related cases, any insurrection-related cases.

That includes the Trump “absolute immunity” case the Supreme Court heard in April, for which they have yet to rule.

The Supreme Court “recently adopted an ethics code to ‘guide the conduct’ of the justices,” Ponsor observes. “One of its canons states that a justice should ‘act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.’ That’s all very well. But basic ethical behavior should not rely on laws or regulations. It should be folded into a judge’s DNA. That didn’t happen here.”

READ MORE: Trump Adviser Scanned and Saved Contents of Box That Had Classified Docs: Report

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