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Dear Christians: You Are Not Being Oppressed.

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One of the great things about the It Gets Better campaign, apart from the fact that it is an immensely valuable and unquestionably brilliant idea, is that it made anti-gay bullying a national issue. The premise is simple. Tell your story of survival. Send that message. Things suck now, but they won’t forever. Genius. Stories flooded in, the message proved to be even more powerful than probably anyone expected, and the living hell that passes for the lives of many LGBT youth got some long overdue attention. I expect that straight people hadn’t thought much about what it was like to grow up gay until that point. A large chunk of them probably had never even considered the existence of gay youth.

Organizations like the Family Research Council and the National Organization for Marriage, not to mention most of organized religion, have been fairly successful in painting LGBT people as mustache twirling villains. Once people started seeing countless pictures of fresh-faced young people hounded to the breaking point, turning to suicide rather than endure the daily tortures their lives had become at the hands of their hate-fueled abusers, only the most hard-hearted ideologues on the planet could fail to empathize.

All of a sudden, people cared about bullying. Anti-Bullying programs, bills, and countless other efforts began to rise in prominence. Bullies were on notice: You are being watched. This put Republicans in a tight spot. It is impossible to come out in favor of beating up children, but they must also hate homosexuality. They have no choice. When it comes to gay people, the Republican base will tolerate nothing but complete intolerance from its elected officials.

Here’s a fun trivia question:

Q: What do you call a Republican who supports gay rights?
A: A Democrat.

The problem they faced was simple. How do you denounce a bully for behaving in exactly the same way you behave? In the modern conservative playbook, anything a like-minded comrade does is automatically righteous, and anyone they do it to must have had it coming. No empathy for their enemies, regardless of age, is to be permitted.

Given this, the right was faced with one of two possible avenues for spin; either figure out a way to blame LGBT youth for their victimization, or figure out how to paint the bullies as even bigger victims. Oh sure, they could try to ignore the issue, or claim that the bullying epidemic has been blown out of proportion, but that only works for so long. It’s pretty hard to ignore a thirteen-year old with a busted eye.

Finding a good media strategy became of paramount importance. Luckily, this is the only thing the modern Republican Party is good at.

First we had a few attempts to re-frame the issue. This sort of thing is usually left to the fringes of the conservative movement, as it is almost impossible to pull off without looking like an asshole. Here is a classic example of this tactic from Tea Party Nation activist and Radio host Rich Swier.

This is not bullying. It is peer pressure and is healthy. There are many bad behaviors such as smoking, under age drinking and drug abuse that are behaviors that cannot be condoned. Homosexuality falls into this category. Homosexuality is simply bad behavior that youth see as such and rightly pressure their peers to stop it. In Sarasota County over 70% of all HIV/AIDS cases are due to male sex with males.
I agree with Gulf Coast Gives that “LGBT youth are up to five times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight counterparts”. Homosexuality, like drugs, harms young people if they experement [sic] with it. That is the greatest tragedy.

Classy.

Needless to say, this caused a little controversy. This was to be expected, as that sort of concentrated hate is designed for consumption by only the most hearty and ravenous of right wing sociopaths.

 


It’s not like if gay people disappeared from the planet, NOM could get back to selling sandwiches. Trying to screw over gay people is their primary activity.


 

For everyone else, a more subtle tactic would be needed. This brings me to Rick Santorum. Rick is apparently the last person on earth unaware that Saturday Night Live is a comedy program, so when he found himself the target of a little standard issue satire, he reacted poorly. From The Hill:

“We’ve been hammered by the left for my standing up for the traditional family and I will continue to do so,” Santorum said. “The left, unfortunately, participates in bullying more than the right does. They say that they’re tolerant, and they’re anything but tolerant of people who disagree with them and support traditional values.”

If the Gay community is Batman, then Rick Santorum would be its Joker. Actually, let’s not go crazy here. Rick Sanatorium is really more of a second or third tier nemesis, like Scarecrow, or maybe Clayface. He is an annoyance, but no real threat, especially after his epic neutering at the hands of Dan Savage. His comments however, while asinine and horrible politics for him personally, represent exactly the tactic the right finally settled on.

We have this, from the National Organization for Marriage:

Some homosexual activists will continue to smear conservatives as “bigots” in order to bully them out of the debate and even out of their jobs.

And there we have it.

Let’s be clear. The concept here is that we in the gay community are bullies for calling anti-gay activists bigots, even though the only reason for their existence is to launch prejudicial, hate based, completely unprovoked attacks on our community. It’s not like if gay people disappeared from the planet, NOM could get back to selling sandwiches. Trying to screw over gay people is their primary activity. If that’s not bigoted, I don’t know what is.

NOM got this quote from a guy named Frank Turek and his article, Who Are the Real Gay Bigots and Bullies. This article is so absurd, and contains such wildly specious logic, that I could honestly spend three times its length debunking it. I will refrain, as it would require reading it a second time, and I can only throw up so much in one day without becoming dehydrated.

 


You know who doesn’t need a book called It Gets Better? Straight Christians. For them, it really doesn’t get much better.


 

Turek crystallizes the Meme. His thesis is that defending yourself from anti-gay attacks amounts to anti-christian bigotry. The idea is that as their hatred of gay people is based on their Christianity, any actions they take as a result of that hatred amounts to anti-Christian bullying. I suppose we are also responsible for damages should the person punching us in the face hurt their hand. My pity for the bully’s cuticles knows no bounds.

Shockingly, this is catching on. Last week, the Michigan state senate tried to pass a bill aimed enshrining this nastiness into law. From an excellent article by Amy Sulivan:

On Wednesday, the Republican-controlled state senate passed an anti-bullying bill that manages to protect school bullies instead of those they victimize. It accomplishes this impressive feat by allowing students, teachers, and other school employees to claim that “a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction” justifies their harassment.

See how that works? A handful of grown up anti-gay bullies invent a half-assed defense of younger anti-gay bullies. Next thing you know, some GOP legislature is trying to get it passed into law. To be fair, Michigan Democrats in the House were able to smooth the language out a little. I bet Senate Republicans were upset about that. They appear to have cheered themselves up by passing a bill requiring students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Because, you know, Jobs for Michigan.

I find this all very frustrating.

You know who doesn’t need a book called It Gets Better? Straight Christians. For them, it really doesn’t get much better. I have no mechanism in my body capable of manufacturing the least bit of sympathy for their “plight.” Various polls have Christians coming in at something like 75% or 80% of the population of the United States. Christians represent over 85% of the Federal Government. Straight Christians have dominated every part of every debate we have had in this country since wooden boats full of white people started showing up here in the fifteenth century.

Christians do not have to worry that if they kiss their loved ones in the wrong neighborhood they will find themselves beaten or murdered. No one goes to the parking lot to find “Christian” spray painted on their cars. No states have laws banning Christians from adopting children or getting married, and no one, anywhere, will find themselves without legal standing if they have been fired simply for being Christian. Apart from gay people asking for a few reasonable protections, the notion of Christian oppression in the United States is entirely imaginary.

In contrast, every single gay person I know has their handful of horrific stories to tell. When we were young our attackers made our lives miserable through violence, harassment  and intimidation. When the bullies grow up they turn into Rich Swiers and Frank Tureks, harassing us still, and always looking for ways to encourage and protect those who perpetrate the violence by grounding their hate in legitimacy of scripture. I’m pretty sure Dan Savage had no problem finding tales of survival to fill his book. Our enemies are the same people that were having us jailed, institutionalized, and lobotomized only a generation ago, and if we want to call them bigots for it, we are entirely justified in doing so.

Does this mean I hate Christians? No. I don’t. For one thing, hating almost everyone in the country would take a tremendous amount of energy, and I am way too lazy. I like to believe that most Christians are decent, well-meaning, hard-working people who have no malice in their hearts toward gay people, however inaccurate their conception of us likely is. I do feel like they could be doing a better job of making clear that they reject the anti-gay extremism so prevalent among their ranks. Intentional or not, keeping silent in the face of these reprehensible atrocities sends a message of implied endorsement. I’m just saying.

What I do find appalling are the attempts of anti-gay hate groups and their spineless puppets in the legislature to claim victim-hood by cloaking themselves in dubious Christian righteousness. People like Maggie Gallagher, or Rick Santorum, or any of these other sketchy “moral crusaders” should be at least as offensive to mainstream Christians as they are to LGBT people. Anti-gay groups and the mealy-mouthed hate merchants who represent them take advantage of the well-meaning loyalty and heartfelt faith of a largely disinterested Christian base in order to further their own extremist ends. This is pretty cynical manipulation, and I’m surprised Christians aren’t more upset about it. I know I would be.

Yes. We don’t like being slandered, tortured, and murdered. Calling these people bullies represents our attempt to be diplomatic. What we are really talking about here are violent hate crimes. Do you think the KKK advertises themselves as a hate group? Of course not. Ask them and they will insist that they are an organization of ethnic advocacy, like a white version of the NAACP. Does them saying it make that so? No. They are obviously a horrible hate group. It is the only reason they exist. The only difference between a Klan member and Rich Swier is that the Klan member has the good sense to hide his face in public.

If our attempts to establish legal equality for our community and relative safety for our youth ruffles a few feathers, then so be it. Under no circumstances do the successes of our fight translate into Christian oppression. Getting your way only 98% of the time doesn’t make you oppressed. It makes you the Harlem Globetrotters. If you intend to force this battle, at least do so honestly.

 

(Image: “The Christian Martyrs’ Last Prayer,” 1883, by Jean-Léon Gérôme.)

Benjamin Phillips is a Humor Writer, Web Developer, Civics Nerd, and all around crank that spends entirely too much time shouting with deep exasperation at the television, especially whenever cable news is on. He lives in St. Louis, MO and spends most of his time staring at various LCD screens, occasionally taking walks in the park whenever his boyfriend becomes sufficiently convinced that Benjamin is becoming a reclusive hermit person. He is available for children’s parties, provided that those children are entertained by hearing a complete windbag talk for two hours about the importance of science education, or worse yet, poorly researched anecdotes PROVING that James Buchanan was totally gay. If civilization were to collapse due to zombie hoards or nuclear holocaust, Benjamin would be among the first to die as he has no useful skills of any kind. The post-apocalyptic hellscape has no real need for homosexual computer programmers who can name all the presidents in order, as well as the actors who have played all eleven incarnations of Doctor Who.

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BREAKING NEWS

Republican Attempts to Create Special Religious Rights Fail as Bipartisan Historic Same-Sex Marriage Bill Passes Senate

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Far right activists and organizations for months have been falsely claiming legislation to protect same-sex marriages would destroy different-sex marriages and take away religious rights from ordinary Americans, but early Tuesday evening on a bipartisan basis the Senate passed the Respect for Marriage Act, 61-36.

The legislation itself is very simple. It essentially leaves in place the status quo on marriage from the Supreme Court’s 2015 Obergefell ruling. Should right wing Supreme Court justices strike that ruling down, the Respect for Marriage Act would require the federal government and states to recognize any marriages that were legal when they were entered, now and in the future.

35 states currently still have same-sex marriage bans on the books. If the Supreme Court overturns Obergefell, many of those could become law immediately.

READ MORE: Franklin Graham’s Ugly Lie Ahead of Senate Vote on Same-Sex Marriage Bill

In order to overcome a Republican-led filibuster Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Monday agreed to allow three GOP Senators to offer amendments to the legislation, amendments that would have created special religious rights to discriminate.

An amendment from Senator James Lankford (R-OK) failed, as did one from Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Mike Lee (R-UT). 60 votes were needed for each.

Sen. Lee’s was seen by some as the most extreme, and was strongly supported by the anti-LGBTQ hate group Family Research Council and former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

READ MORE: 37 Senators Just Voted Against a Bill Protecting Same-Sex and Interracial Marriages. All Were Republicans.

Heritage Foundation president Kevin Roberts, in a false claim, had said: “The ‘Respect for Marriage Act’ contains so many infringements and encroachments on religious freedoms and on conscience that Republicans should unite solidly against it. Instead, it should be called the ‘Destruction of Marriage Act.'”

Far right evangelical activist Franklin Graham falsely claimed the “bill strikes a blow at religious freedom for individuals & ministries & is really the ‘Destruction of Marriage Act.'”

The Pennsylvania Family Council wrongly called it “a bill that would redefine marriage and attack religious freedom & Christian social services.”

But despite GOP fear-mongering, the legislation has religious protections built in, protections so strong 20 faith-based organizations including the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormon Church, have supported its passage.

The bill now heads back to the House for a final vote, and then to President Joe Biden, who has said he will sign it into law.

 

 

 

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‘Punditry, Not Leadership’: McConnell Slammed for Refusing to Say if He Would Support Trump in 2024

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is refusing to say if he would support Donald Trump if he becomes the Republican Party’s presidential nominee in 2024. McConnell spoke in broad terms about antisemitism and white supremacy Tuesday afternoon, a full week to the day after the former president had dinner with the antisemite Kanye West, and the white supremacist Nick Fuentes, but could not bring himself to disavow Trump by name.

“First, let me just say, there is no room in the Republican Party for antisemitism or white supremacy,” McConnell said as he began a press conference, his first remarks about Trump’s dinner with West and Fuentes. “Anyone meeting with people advocating that point of view, in my judgment, are highly unlikely to ever be elected President of the United States.”

McConnell did not mention Trump, and moments later, when CNN’s Manu Raja specifically asked about the former president, McConnell would only repeat his previous statement.

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“Look, let me just say again, there is simply no room in the Republican Party for antisemitism or white supremacy, and that would apply to all of the leaders in the party who will be seeking offices,” he told CNN’s Raju.

Many were critical of McConnell’s refusal to denounce Trump.

Boston Globe opinion writer Abdallah Fayyad said, “McConnell will absolutely back Trump if he wins the GOP nomination.”

Previously, McConnell had said he would support Trump if he is the GOP’s nominee.

“Notice how McConnell said such a person is ‘highly unlikely’ to be elected, rather than manifestly unfit. He needs to keep his rhetorical options open for Trump getting the nomination again,” observed Media Matters’ Eric Kleefeld.

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Law professor and former president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF), Sherrilyn Ifill says, “McConnell, Pence, McCarthy and the other folks clutching their pearls today stood beside this man. Distancing from Trump over ‘the dinner’ is way late.”

Political consultant and writer Jamison Foser criticized the Republican Minority Leader, saying: “‘Will not likely be elected’ is punditry, not leadership. McConnell will support Trump if Trump is the Republican nominee; everything else is his attempt to distract from that.”

Before McConnell’s remarks, Ifill had taken the media to task.

“The most dispiriting aspect of the discussion about Trump’s meal w/those two odious ppl is that I thought there was consensus that Trump is a white supremacist. In which case 3 white supremacists had dinner. Why is Trump getting portrayed as an innocent who was snookered?”

 

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‘Beyond Horrific’: Tucker Carlson’s Fox News Producer Is an Out Gay Man Helping ‘Ramp Up’ Hate Says LGBTQ Journalist

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Fox News propagandist Tucker Carlson, whose nightly show frequently has the largest reach of any on cable news, regularly attacks the LGBTQ community with fear-mongering and hate-filled segments about gay people, transgender people, “groomers” and the latest target: “drag queen story hours.”

His senior executive producer, who oversees Carlson’s media empire at Fox News, is a married, out, gay man named Justin Wells, according to veteran journalist and SiriusXM Progress host Michelangelo Signorile, who is calling it “beyond horrific to think a gay man has helped to shape and widely disseminate a message of hate against LGBTQ people.”

Last week, in the wake of the horrific anti-LGBTQ hate crime mass shooting Carlson hosted a guest, the head of the so-called “Gays Against Groomers,” who told Fox News viewers the attack on LGBTQ people at a gay bar in Colorado Springs was “predictable” and warned that these hate crime massacres will continue, “until we end this evil agenda” of gender-affirming care.

Carlson has repeatedly hosted Jaimee Mitchell, the Gays Against Groomers founder who fear mongers against LGBTQ people, with the apparent consent of Wells, who “helped promulgate the kind of hate that leads to violence,” says Signorile.

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“It’s unlikely that any narrative would get broadcast by Tucker without significant buy-in from Justin,” Angelo Carusone, President and CEO of media watchdog Media Matters, told Signorile.

Indeed, referring to the Colorado Springs mass shooting massacre, Signorile noted it is “the same kind of nightclub at which Wells, in years past, danced the night away in Miami Beach and elsewhere, liberating himself from the world outside and surely never imagining he’d be shot dead.”

“Now he’s aided the extremists who deny that sense of safety and liberation to every future generation of queer people,” says Signorile, explaining that “Wells runs the entire Tucker Carlson operation, and is responsible for imprinting the Tucker Carlson brand, which is all about emboldening white heterosexual male grievance, furthering the racist conspiracy of ‘replacement theory’ and pushing an increasingly virulent anti-LGBTQ agenda.”

READ MORE: Tucker Carlson Serves Up 12-Minute Long Homophobic Hate-Filled Rant Attacking Pete Buttigieg Over ‘Equity’

One of Carlson’s frequent LGBTQ targets is Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, who he has called an “unqualified ‘kid’ who ‘breastfeeds,’ and has no business running the agency,” as Mediaite reported.

“And as Carlson further pushed white nationalism, attacked transgender people and embraced Hungary’s authoritarian leader Victor Orban,” Signorile reports, “Wells, in 2021, was named a Vice President at Fox News, in charge of all Carlson product that airs on Fox News TV as well as on Fox’s streaming network, Fox Nation.”

Signorile says, “it’s quite stunning that Wells would work for Carlson, who has a well-known history of visceral homophobia. That’s something that came to light again last year when it became known that Carlson had offered a tribute to Dan White, the assassin of San Francisco supervisor and gay civil rights leader Harvey Milk, in his college yearbook back in 1991, as well as to the late vociferously anti-gay Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina, who whipped up homophobia during the height of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s.”

READ MORE: Tucker Carlson Once Allegedly Bragged He Belonged to a ‘Society’ Named After the Man Who Assassinated Harvey Milk

“I wrote about those jarring revelations when they surfaced last year,” he continues, “as well as about what I dubbed Carlson’s ‘pathological obsession with homosexuality’ throughout his career. Carlson has expressed revulsion at homosexuality, and in one incident he reveled in a violent response. In a TV interview in 2007 he described having smashed a man’s head ‘against the stall’ in a public rest room, after the man ‘bothered’ him.”

“Wells, as a gay man, only emboldens Carlson further,” Signorile concludes. “He gives him permission to launch the ugly attacks and helps Carlson validate, for himself (and likely for executives at Fox News), the vitriol he espouses. That makes Justin Wells’ presence as the powerful gay man behind Tucker Carlson all the more newsworthy. And all the more dangerous.”

Signorile notes that his reporting is not an outing.

“This story is not, however, about a warped closet case, tormented by self-loathing, hiding his true self while bashing those like him. And thus, this story is not an outing, which involves exposing someone who covers up their sexual orientation while publicly presenting as heterosexual — though it certainly may be a startling revelation to a great many. It is, rather, about connecting the dots regarding a reality that seems to have been hiding in plain sight.”

You can read Signorile’s entire report on his Substack newsletter.

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