Dan Savage does not hate you.* I know, because he told me so when I asked him. Last Saturday, Savage delivered the keynote address to “Pro-â€‹Queer Life: Youth Suicide Crisis, Catholic Education, and the Souls of LGBTQ People” at New York City’s beautiful Union Theological Seminary, theÂ oldestÂ independent, multi-denominationalÂ seminaryÂ inÂ theÂ nation. The event was intended to “call upon the Catholic Church, as aÂ significant provider of education and producer of culture, to seek the well-â€‹being of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people.” I’m not sure if the Catholic Church answered, but it was an important event and Savage was extraordinary.
(For those interested, this was part two of a four-part series, called, “More Than A Monologue: Sexual Diversity And The Catholic Church.” The last two events look fascinating as well. You might want to consider going.)
Savage, who doesn’t look anywhere near his 47 years — his birthday was yesterday — as it turns out, in conversation is an amazing amalgam of witty on-the-spot soundbites, and long, ruminating explorations. He is more charming than you might have imagined if you’ve only read his advice columns on love and sex, or his angry rants, which he says he’s good at. (Trust me, he is.)
“I punch people who punch me. I punch back,” he says, with a slight grin.
Savage is animated, and does not appear nervous or stressed in the small bedroom used as a “green room” at the seminary, just minutes before he was to stand in front of hundreds of people to deliver a speech about the Catholic Church and its relationship with the gay community. Here is a man who was raised Roman Catholic by an ordained mother and father, sitting with three journalists, moments away from speaking in a church about his life as a married gay man who — like many — dances on the line between atheism and agnosticism, though he calls himself,Â “culturally Catholic.”
Â “It is right-wing fundamentalist asshole monster Christians who are claiming to speak for all Christians, who are fighting the bad fight. Trying to prevent social progress for LGBT Americans.”
Perhaps all this appears remarkably easy to Savage because he puts it all out into the open; Savage doesn’t hold any punches. He doesn’t hide anything, and it’s almost impossible to not know where he stands.
“Santorum is a by-product,” Savage quips. And there’s more.
“It’s God Hates Fags with a big smile, but that doesn’t make it not God Hates Fags,” Savage professes about the Marin Foundation, which claims to be “the very first organization that works to build a bridge between the religious and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities in a non-threatening, research and biblically oriented fashion.”
“Marin’s just the same old hate in a brand new bag,” Savage says, pausing, then adding, “all wrapped up in a new bright shiny lie.”
“We will contribute to a culture that beats you down, and then when you’re down and out we’ll condescend to scoop you up, and play the hero, but we won’t change the culture so you’re not winding up homeless,” Savage says of the leaders at Sojourners, a “progressive” Christian publication.
“40% of homeless teenagers are LGBT kids,” he continues. “Most of those kids are thrown out by parents who accept what the religious right tells parents what they should do when their kids come out to them. Reject them and be hostile. Make their love conditional upon their ‘recanting,’ or ‘changing,’ or becoming ‘ex-gay.’ They [Sojourners] should run an ad for a homeless shelter, they should shut the fucking thing down and run a homeless shelter and take some responsibility for the damage they’re creating.”
“The politicization of the church in America is appalling,” is Savage’s global answer to my question about the (greatly misguided and dangerous) move by the right to erase the wall of church and state separation by allowing clergy to support political candidates at the pulpit.
“We’re looking at an increasingly secular society. Increasingly, if you force people to choose between their gay and lesbian friends and relatives and co-workers, and their mega-church and their faith and their pope, they’re going to choose their gay and lesbian friends and neighbors — as well they should.
“As they [the Christian Right] put all their chips down on hate and wanting to roll us back to the 1930s and 40s, they’re going to lose the battle, and they’re going to lose a lot of their congregants.”
Savage, to his benefit, does not like to put up facades. And so, he’s going to call a spade an spade, even if you might not like that, even if it’s not politically-correct. And if need be (maybe) he’ll apologize later.
In preparing for our interview, I went on Twitter and asked my followers, “What do you want me to ask Dan Savage?” The majority of responses were, “Ask him why he hates bisexuals. We’re people too!” and “Why do you hate trans people?”
And so, I said, “Dan, my readers asked me to ask you why you hate bisexual and transgender people.” I thought it might hit a nerve, but instead it hit a wellspring of frustration, and revealed the Dan Savage that I found earlier this year when I called him out for both his comments on marriage, his comments on same-sex relationships, and the timing of those comments. In the end, Savage is interested in getting it right, not PC.
*So, if you’re bi or trans, and think Dan Savage hates you, he does not.
Here’s what Savage told me:
“In 2005, a study came out that showed there were no such things as bisexual arousal patterns in men. They’ve just come out with a new study that says, ‘Oh, we’ve just found bisexual arousal patterns in men,’ and the problem with the original study is they didn’t control for people who were saying they were bi as part of their coming out process, but were actually gay, an people who were lying, and claiming to be bi who were not. And when they went in and controlled for those two groups, and didn’t just accept people at face value who said they were bi — they didn’t take someone’s professed sexual identity as the last word — they were able to document bisexual arousal patterns.
“So, only by behaving as what I would describe as being biphobic for doing — I say some people as transient, some people are identifying as bi early in their coming out process — that gets me called biphobic. Some people are lying — that gets me called biphobic. I’m told by the bi activist crowd you have to accept someone’s professed sexual identity at face value, no questions — and to them I say Ted Haggard. But then, when these researchers turn around and do exactly what I’m accused of doing, being biphobic, for describing as phenomena, they documented bisexual arousal patterns in men. If these researchers had listened to me in 2005, we would have documented bisexual arousal patterns then.
“How do you disprove a charge like you’re transphobic? I’m not afraid of trans people.” Savage then goes into a mimicking voice, knowing not to say, “One of my friends is trans,” but does say that he has a friend who is trans who comes to his house for Christmas. “We hang out all the tie,” Savage says. “I certainly have had a journey in the last 20 years — as have we all — on trans issues. When I started writing Savage Love 20 years ago, and you can yank quotes 15, 18 years ago and flat them up today and say, ‘You know, that’s transphobic,’ I’d probably agree with you. 15 years ago I didn’t know as much as I know now — nor did anybody.”
Afterwards, I found this clip of Dan talking about this very issue, last month:
But perhaps Savage’s most-poignant moment was this one, which came a little out of nowhere.
“I love the idea that I’m bullying Rick Santorum, because all he wants to do is write anti-gay bigotry into the U.S. Constitution, prevent me from going to my partner’s bedside in a medical emergency, get in a time machine and prevent me from being able to adopt my son, reinstate Don’t Ask, Don’t tell. Literally destroy my life. That’s all he wants to do,” Savage says, reeling.Â But then, he pauses.
“And I made a joke at his expense,” he sums up. “I’m the bad guy,” he says, almost sadly. “And he’s the victim. All he wants to do is beat this to death. How dare we — tease him.”
But taking into account the impetus of the event — to ask the Catholic Church “to seek the well-â€‹being of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people” — Savage says, “It is right-wing fundamentalist asshole monster Christians who are claiming to speak for all Christians, who are fighting the bad fight. Trying to prevent social progress for LGBT Americans.”
“And when I get into Tony Perkins, and I condemn Christians, and I buy into his binary rhetoric about, ‘Here’s the gays, here’s the Christians; we’re all enemies,’ what happens is I get a million emails from people, going, (he whispers,) ‘we’re not all like that.’ I call them NALTS — Not. All. Like That.”
“My response to them is, ‘I know you’re not all like that. Tony Perkins doesn’t. Yell at Tony Perkins.'”
Savage points to a study a few years ago that found that the largest growing segment of the U.S. population reported they were “unaffiliated – no faith.”
“When people plowed into those numbers, what they found was a lot of those people were actually Christians who no longer wanted to identify publicly as Christians because they didn’t want to be associated with hate.”
“And that’s a problem for liberal left Christians, that you’ve seceded Christianity in the public square to these motherfuckers,” Savage stresses. “And I can’t fix that.”
“Only left, liberal Christians can — and they can only do it by being as loud and as hyperbolic and as mean and as well-financed as Tony Perkins, the Family Research Council, the American Family Association.”
A few minutes later, we are in a massive cathedral-like stone auditorium and Dan is talking about his mother — a lot.Â Dan really loved his mother, and shared a glimpse of what it was like growing up Catholic.
Here’s the clip of the first few minutes of Dan’s keynote speech which I took (and take responsibility for the shakiness of — it was on my iPhone,) last week, in which he talks about his mom, and growing up, and the It Gets Better project.
No. Dan Savage does not hate you. But if you’re aÂ right-wing fundamentalist asshole monster Christian who is claiming to speak for all Christians, look out.
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Right Wing Evangelicals Are ‘Marinating’ in ‘Information Aimed at Making Them Fearful, Hostile’: Journalist
Rather, he argued, it is part of a deliberate campaign to radicalize and terrify them into loyalty — and part of what’s driving that is a “disproportionality crisis” of the information they are receiving.
““If you go to church on Sunday morning, you are going to be in the word with your pastor for, you know, 30 minutes, maybe 40, 45 minutes, and you sing some songs, and you say the prayers, and then you are out in the world for the rest of the week,” said Alberta. “And for most of these folks, as they’re out in the world, they are marinating in talk radio, in cable news, in social media—all of this information that is aimed at making them angry, fearful, hostile.”
Whereas they may hear Jesus’ message of tolerance, love, and forgiveness “on Sunday morning for 45 minutes, but then for 4, 5, 6, 10 hours during the week, you’re hearing the exact opposite. And it’s that ratio being so far out of whack that I think is really at the heart of the crisis here.”
And that’s assuming they’re at a church that will even give them messages of love and forgiveness in the first place — many pro-Trump pastors, like Greg Locke of Tennessee, have messages that are far angrier.
“[Trump] may not share their views, he may not sit in the pews with them, he may not read the good book like they do, but in some way, that’s his superpower,” Alberta explained. “He is free to fight in ways that are, you know, unrestrained, unmoored from biblical virtue. And that relationship with Trump has obviously evolved over the last eight years. What started as this very uneasy alliance for a lot of evangelicals with Trump has now morphed into this situation where, look, desperate times call for desperate measures. The barbarians are at the gates and we need a barbarian to keep them at bay.” This means that Trump’s increasingly dictatorial rhetoric is a natural outlet for the rage and frustration these evangelical voters are being fed.
None of this is to say that Trump has completely unified the evangelical world. Cracks have appeared in recent months, with prominent evangelical leaders like Bob Vander Plaats of Iowa endorsing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis out of concern about Trump’s electoral viability.
Editor’s note: Tim Alberta is an award-winning g journalist, a staff writer for The Atlantic, and author of “The Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory: American Evangelicals in an Age of Extremism,” and “American Carnage: On the Front Lines of the Republican Civil War and the Rise of President Trump.”
‘Straight Up Flout the Law’: Trump Declares Judge Chutkan No Longer Has Power Over His Case
Reacting to U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan’s ruling last week that Donald Trump is not immune from prosecution just because he was President during the time he attempted to subvert the U.S. Constitution and overthrow the government by overturning the results of the election, attorneys for the criminally-indicted ex-president on Thursday declared the judge no longer has any power over the case while they appeal her ruling.
Noting that the appeal “could take weeks or months,” Politico reports, “In the meantime, he says, Chutkan must postpone all deadlines and cede her authority over the matter.”
“Citing ‘political costs to President Trump and this country’ if the case were to move forward, Trump’s lawyers argued Thursday that he’s entitled to an ‘automatic stay’ while he appeals Chutkan’s ruling last week.”
Trump’s appeal to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals is “asking that court to overturn Chutkan’s ruling and dismiss the indictment against him,” Forbes adds.
Trump had also argued that he is immune from prosecution because the Senate did not convict him after his second House impeachment, this one for “incitement of insurrection.” Judge Chutkan also denied that claim.
“’The filing of President Trump’s notice of appeal has deprived this Court of jurisdiction over this case in its entirety pending resolution of the appeal,’ Trump attorneys Todd Blanche and John Lauro wrote. ‘Therefore, a stay of all further proceedings is mandatory and automatic,'” Politico reports. “Trump’s attorneys indicated that even if Chutkan doesn’t grant the stay, they plan to ask the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to do so and intend to operate as if there is one in place.”
Trump lawyers say unless Chutkan reverses her ruling, they will ignore all deadlines and other court procedures, unless they are told otherwise.
The Trump lawyers’ motion says, “all current deadlines must be held in abeyance until, at minimum, this motion is resolved. President Trump will proceed based on that understanding and the authorities set forth herein absent further order of the Court.”
“Very much in character,” The Economist’s Supreme Court reporter Steven Mazie wrote of the move by attorneys for the ex-president. “Trump is purporting to straight up flout the law.”
Former U.S. DOJ official and FBI General Counsel Andrew Weissman, a professor of law, said Trump was acting “Impudently.”
Former federal prosecutor Dennis Aftergut, of counsel to Lawyers Defending American Democracy, on Monday at Slate wrote Judge Chutkan’s opinion ruling Trump cannot claim presidential immunity for trying to overturn the 2020 election, “is meticulously crafted with the Supreme Court in mind. The decision deploys every methodology of constitutional interpretation, including textualism, each variety of so-called originalism, attention to constitutional structure and underlying premises, functional considerations, and history.”
House Republican’s Bill Aims to Put LGBTQ Children in Adoption and Foster Care at Risk
In September, the Biden administration’s Dept. of Health and Human Services announced new proposed rules to protect LGBTQ youth in foster care or adoption agencies, and included the basic requirement that any child who identifies as LGBTQI+ be placed in a supportive environment, “free of hostility, mistreatment, or abuse.”
Now, a far-right MAGA Republican Congressman, Jim Banks of Indiana who is running for the U.S. Senate, has proposed legislation that could harm not just LGBTQI+ kids but all children awaiting foster care or adoption, by stripping federal funding from agencies that abide by the Biden administration’s protections for those children.
Rep. Banks is a far right-wing extremist who forged multiple congressional documents sent to federal agencies and voted to not certify the 2020 election. He is also an anti-LGBTQ activist and anti-science climate change denier who opposes a woman’s right to choose, Obamacare, and same-sex marriage.
“For too long,” the Dept. of Health and Human Services said in its announcement, “LGBTQI+ children have faced significant disparities in the child welfare system. LGBTQI+ youth are overrepresented in foster care, but face worse outcomes, including poor mental health, higher rates of homelessness, and discrimination just because of who they are in some foster care settings.”
“LBGTQI+ children often have unique needs and deserve care that affirms their identities,” HHS noted, stating its proposed rule “would require that child welfare agencies ensure that each child in their care who identifies as LGBTQI+ receive a safe and appropriate placement and services that help them thrive.”
It would also “protect LGBTQI+ youth by placing them in environments free of hostility, mistreatment, or abuse based on the child’s LGBTQI+ status,” and “would require that caregivers for LGBTQI+ children are properly and fully trained to provide for the needs of the child related to the child’s self-identified sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.”
Fox News reports, “Banks’ bill, the Sensible Adoption for Every (SAFE) Home Act, would prevent child welfare agencies and related groups that receive federal funding from getting those funds if they refuse prospective parents who insist against the child’s stated LGBTQ status.”
That means parents could foster a 14-year old girl or boy who identifies as lesbian, bisexual, or gay and force they to say they are straight. They could adopt a 15-year old transgender boy, block him from any medication or counseling he might have been receiving, and force him to wear clothing that does not conform to his gender identity. Depending on state law, they could force an LGBTQI+ child into dangerous so-called conversion therapy that has been likened tom torture.
Congressman Banks told Fox News the “Biden administration is cruelly preventing countless children in the foster care and adoption system from going to loving homes just because parents are opposed to irreversible sex change procedures on kids,” falsely suggesting all LGBTQI+ kids are transgender and falsely suggesting all gender-affirming care involves “irreversible sex change procedures.”
“This isn’t a liberal or conservative issue. This is just plain wrong, and every sane person knows it,” Banks added.
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