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Dan Savage Does Not Hate You*

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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-​Queer Life: Youth Suicide Crisis, Catholic Education, and the Souls of LGBTQ People” at New York City’s beautiful Union Theological Seminary, the oldest independent, multi-denominational seminary in the nation. The event was intended to “call upon the Catholic Church, as a significant provider of education and producer of culture, to seek the well-​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, “culturally Catholic.”

 


 “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:

https://youtube.com/watch?v=AkyIfwFfAyM%3Fversion%3D3%26hl%3Den_US

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. 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-​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. 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 a right-wing fundamentalist asshole monster Christian who is claiming to speak for all Christians, look out.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=r2qeOWUAkrM%3Fversion%3D3%26hl%3Den_US

 

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News

Stefanik Was Once ‘Laser Focused on Electing Santos’ – Now She Blames Voters for Electing Him as She Backs Away

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One of the most powerful Republicans in the House of Representatives, U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), used her reputation and geographic proximity to help get fellow New York Republican George Santos elected to Congress. But now, as her donors and his express anger at being misled and lied to, and ahead of what appears to be a likely federal investigation and possible prosecution against the freshman GOP lawmaker, Stefanik is blaming voters for electing him to Congress: “Ultimately voters make this decision,” she said Tuesday.

Stefanik is the Chair of the House Republican Conference, a role she was first elected to when the now former Congresswoman, Liz Cheney, was thrown out of GOP leadership for telling the truth about the January 6 insurrection and Donald Trump. Stefanik was re-elected to her role after the November election.

Amid Santos announcing on Tuesday he is temporarily recusing himself from the two committees he was appointed to, Stefanik was asked if she regretted supporting his candidacy.

Indeed, one of the top reasons Santos was elected was Stefanik’s endorsement – and all the donor money that came with it.

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“Stefanik’s team was laser focused on electing Santos to Congress – more than just about any other race in the country,” a senior Republican strategist involved in campaigns before the midterms told CNN. “Another donor, who attended a fundraising luncheon with Stefanik and Santos, confirmed to CNN through a representative that ‘he donated to George Santos because of Elise Stefanik’s endorsement.'”

It wasn’t just her endorsements. It appears Stefanik took great interest in getting Santos elected. CNN also reported that a source “said that a top political aide for Stefanik was involved in campaigning for Santos. Multiple sources told CNN that aide was closely advising Santos’ campaign and involved in hiring people.”

Stefanik’s spokesperson denied the allegations.

In July, Santos tweeted that Stefanik “has been one of my strongest backers and closest friends. I fully stand with her vote today as she stood up for civil rights. I look forward to serving alongside her when I’m elected to Congress in November.”

In fact, this was the banner atop Santos’ Twitter account for a very long time, up until recently:

Here is Stefanik tweeting her “major announcement” – her endorsement of Santos – on August 11, 2001, more than a year before Election Day.

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“Excited to endorse my friend and fellow America First conservative George Santos for Congress in #NY03. @Santos4Congress will take on NYC liberal elites and bring a new generation of GOP leadership to NY and America. He has my full support!”

And in May of last year: “WOW! Great lunch event for @Santos4Congress! We raised over $100,000 to help George FLIP #NY03 George has my complete and total endorsement and come November, New Yorkers will send George to Congress! #SaveNewYork #SaveAmerica”

She literally told voters that electing George Santos to Congress will “Save New York” and “Save America.”

On Tuesday, Stefanik told voters something very different: it’s their fault they voted for him, she said, taking no responsibility for her endorsements.

“Like all of my colleagues, particularly in New York State, I supported George Santos as the nominee, and the people of his district voted to elect him,” she told reporters – not once mentioning there was no Republican primary and Santos automatically became the Republican party’s nominee.

READ MORE: Listen: Stefanik-Endorsed GOP Candidate Praised ‘Inspirational’ Adolf Hitler as ‘The Kind of Leader We Need Today’

“Ultimately voters make this decision about who they elect to Congress,” Stefanik declared, wholly removing herself, her endorsements, and any possible assistance she or her campaign may have given to Santos or his campaign.

See the tweets and video above or at this link.

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BREAKING NEWS

Santos Recuses Himself From Committees Amid Possible Criminal Investigation

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Embattled freshman U.S. Rep. George Santos (R-NY), in what is the first time he has taken any steps to acknowledge the depths of political and now possibly criminal challenges he faces, says he will recuse himself from his committee assignments until his ethics issues have been resolved.

Santos also told his Republican colleagues of his plans on Tuesday, NBC News reports. Santos is on the Science and Small Business committees.

The Daily Beast’s Roger Sollenberger, who has provided extensive reporting on the Republican frequently called a “serial liar,” adds that the Santos’ announcement came after a meeting with Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

“With all signs pointing to an active federal criminal investigation into his campaign finance activity, Santos has ‘voluntarily’ declined—after meeting last night with Kevin McCarthy—to stay off of committees, as Republicans try to sideline Ilhan Omar,” Sollenberger reports.

READ MORE: DOJ Signals It Is Conducting a Criminal Investigation of George Santos

Sollenberger broke the news that Santos, or his campaign, amended his FEC filing to indicate $625,000 in “personal” loans to his campaign were not actually from his personal funds.

Republicans are trying to keep U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), one of their regular, prime targets, from taking her seat on the Foreign Affairs Committee. Speaker McCarthy has already blocked Democratic Congressmen Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell from the House Intelligence Committee, invoking his ability to do so because it is a Select committee and subject to the Speaker’s decisions.

MSNBC reported the breaking news on-air. Watch below or at this link.

This is a breaking news and developing story. Details may change.

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News

2024 Fundraising Fail: Trump Took in Less Money After Declaring Run for President Than Before

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Donald Trump, the candidate who in 2015 vowed he would self-fund his presidential campaign, only to turn his White House run into a never-ending fundraising operation, is having trouble raising money.

“I don’t need anybody’s money,” Trump said when he launched his campaign in June of 2015 – despite quietly accepting over $14 million in the months after.

The ex-president, under numerous criminal investigations and facing civil court cases, now is “strapped for campaign cash,” NBC News reveals in an exclusive report. The embattled and disgraced one-term president who remains his party’s top choice, took in less money in the six weeks after he officially launched his third attempt to enter the Oval Office than he did in the six weeks before his mid-November announcement.

Trump is now revamping his fundraising machine and hiring a new company, Campaign Inbox, “to solicit the small-dollar donor set.”

READ MORE: ‘Ran a Bribery Center Blocks From the White House’: Comer Mocked for Claiming No Evidence of Trump Influence Peddling

The former president had built a massive fundraising database but decided to launch in November, which puzzled many experts. Some believe he did so in an attempt to evade any possible Dept. of Justice prosecutions. Even as far back as July those who know Trump predicted he would not only run for president again but launch his campaign early – to try to escape justice.

All this points to Trump returning to Facebook, if only to revive his “cash-strapped” campaign.

“Almost 50% of Republican donors log in to Facebook every single day,”Republican digital fundraising consultant Eric Wilson told NBC News, citing data from a survey connected to a nonprofit group he runs. “So if you are not able to reach those donors, you’re just at a huge fundraising disadvantage.”

Image: Shirley Preston/Shutterstock

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