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Looking At LGBT Equality And The Family Research Council Shooting

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When Scott Roeder assassinated Wichita, Kansas based physician and abortion provider George Tiller on Sunday, May 31, 2009, I was understandably upset. Violence of this type is nothing new, and Tiller himself was the target of a previous assassination attempt in 1993. This kind of thing happens from time to time in the abortion debate, with outraged zealots choosing to solve through mind bending acts of violence what they feel they are unable to accomplish through considered and thoughtful debate.

When things like that happen, when the business of political discourse derails in such a mindless and tragic fashion, the aftermath always proves instructive. Within the first few hours, anti-abortion activists from the major pro-life organizations, fearing a backlash, moved in quickly with full throated denunciations of the attack. Here is one from World-Class-Asshole Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council.

We are stunned at today’s news. As Christians we pray and look toward the end of all violence and for the saving of souls, not the taking of human life. George Tiller was a man who we publicly sought to stop through legal and peaceful means. We strongly condemn the actions taken today by this vigilante killer and we pray for the Tiller family and for the nation that we might once again be a nation that values all human life, both born and unborn.

See that? He denounces the attack, while affirming the basic premise of their argument. From a PR perspective, it’s a pretty nicely constructed public statement.

It is also one that enraged me. “Screw you,” I thought to myself. “You played a part in this. You spend all of your time riling up the base hatred and self-righteous indignation of your supporters, and then run for the hills when things escalate beyond your control.” While it probably unfair to blame the FRC entirely for the part they played in Dr. George Tiller’s assassination, on some level, that is true. In politics, some amount of your strategy must be an attempt to clarify the sins of your opponent. These sins are then used to motivate your organization. The more awful your enemy behaves, the more useful that behavior is a recruiting tool for your movement. It’s depressing, but times are what they are.

The problem is that angry, hostile rhetoric can produce a wide range of results, and when you start painting targets on people some of the more misguided sociopaths among us will elect to shoot at them. Some of us don’t handle passion well, and for those people, a passionate debate like abortion becomes an ideal breeding ground for the bacteria of hate. The FRC had long been part of the effort to demonize abortion providers, and the attack was at least in some small way an outgrowth of that. I wanted them to take responsibility for their role in stoking that public fervor, however minor a factor it may have been in that specific assassination attempt.

I thought about Dr. Tiller upon learning of Floyd Lee Corkins, and his attack on the D.C. offices of the Family Research Council. According to news reports, which for our purposes today we will assume are accurate, Floyd walked into the FRC lobby with a loaded pistol, ludicrous amounts of ammunition, some Chick-Fil-A sundry, and began running his mouth about how awful the FRC is. They are, by they way, awful. Upon questioning by a member of the security staff, Corkins started firing, shooting the security guard in the arm. The tables, it seems, had been reversed. This time, it was one of our people doing something violently stupid.

I want to make clear, I am not taking responsibility for this yahoo’s poor judgment or unstable psyche. Something exists in the mind of a potential mass shooter that is unique to their classification. These are people capable of packing up lethal weaponry, leaving the house, driving across town, parking, getting out of the car, putting change in the meter, walking into a public place in the middle of the day, taking a pistol out, and shooting someone. A shooting isn’t ever just one bad decision. It’s a deliberate series of bad decisions, each one being a necessary step in a process. At every stage of that bad decision, the assailant in question must renew their resolve to murder. To make it through each step, and to complete the devastating final act, takes determination of a sort that chills the blood. Ultimate responsibility belongs to the shooter. They’ve worked hard to accomplish their horrific goals, and have earned the appropriate recognition for their efforts. Hopefully involving orange outfits and lots of concrete.

What makes this personally conflicting is that I completely understand where his anger comes from. The Family Research Council, along with other like minded organizations like the American Family Association, and the National Organization for Marriage, deal in bigotry. The sole reason for their existence, the very premise upon which they have rented office space and obtained corporate letterhead, is to work to make the lives of LGBT people in this country worse. A good day for the FRC will almost always be a bad day for gay people. They cloak themselves in Christ, and then work as hard as they can to make sure that gay people can’t marry, have no federal protection of any kind, and are as despised and alienated as possible by the general public. If the FRC had its way, the United States would return to the days before Lawrence v. Texas, when homosexuality was illegal. They want me to be able to be fired from my job, or kicked out of my home for being gay. They would have gay teachers disgraced and removed from contact with their students. They would have us return to the days before Stonewall when we were hunted by our peers, lobotomized by our loved ones, terrified to leave our closets. There is no law supporting any aspect of LGBT equality that people like the FRC wouldn’t find time to oppose. What’s worse, mainstream media outlets frequently have FRC head Tony Perkins on their programs so that he can tell the American people all of this in person. The reality is that if not for hate, organizations like the FRC would have very little to do all day. Perhaps you can engineer a way that their behavior doesn’t positively define bigotry, but if so, I have yet to see a compelling case made for such a prospect.

When the Southern Poverty Law Center calls the Family Research Council a hate group, it does so for a reason. Essentially, we have two groups. Gay people and enlightened supporters, and the Family Research Council and their hate filled cabal. Gay people are simply minding their own business, falling in love, starting families, having jobs, trying to find their place in society. We wish only to participate in society with the same protections and responsibilities everyone else enjoys. The ideal situation is one of agnostic disinterest on the part of the American people. We want equality, and to be left alone. The FRC, entirely uninvited to the equation, exists to interfere in that process. They work to deny us the basic pleasures of life. In a world with no FRC in it, we exist unmolested, content to engage in the standard issue Jeffersonian pursuit of happiness. Without us, the FRC has no meaning. They do nothing. They have no point. Their goals are ones of destruction. They instigate and perpetuate this battle, leaving us little choice but to set about fighting it.

I understand why Floyd Corkins felt like he was under attack. He was. We all are. He has a right to be angry. What he doesn’t have is a right to run around shooting people. I want to win this debate on the merits of our argument, not by inflicting damage on our opponent sufficient to run them out of the debate entirely. I want them to realize why they are wrong. I want our victory to be clean, and based on well considered fact. Floyd Corkins, by choosing a solution of violence, has undercut the righteousness of our struggle, injured a perfectly innocent security guard, and what’s worse, generated public sympathy for an organization that deserves nothing but national scorn. Violence, even against the empty suit that is Tony Perkins, is no way to solve our problems. Only through winning the hearts and minds of the American people can our struggles come to an end. Bigotry is a reaction to fear, and making bigots more fearful isn’t going to help solve our problems. It only makes things worse.

While the actions of Floyd Corkins are his own, both sides of the battle for equality must take time to acknowledge our casualties, and take responsibility for the damage the battle is causing. We would stop our defense in a moment if that were possible. However, as we remain gay despite the best efforts of the Family Research Council, we have little choice but to continue fighting. The only actor in this scenario capable of ending this confrontation are the bigots, the agitators, the ones who choose to assault our community. For us this struggle is mandatory. For them, it is decidedly optional. They elect to attack us, and we must therefore defend. Never through violence, as that sort of victory is never sustainable, but through the perseverance of thought and the never abating belief that equality shines through all other obstructions, and in the end will prevail.

 
Benjamin PhillipsBenjamin Phillips is an Essayist, 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, and proudly serves as Director of Development for The New Civil Rights Movement. 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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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

Republicans Force Another Biden Nominee – Another Woman – to Withdraw, After Calling Her a ‘Communist’

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Move Exposes Large Number of Women GOP Refuses to Confirm

Yet another of President Joe Biden‘s nominees – and yet another woman opposed by Senate Republicans – has been forced to withdraw her name from consideration for a top job in the Biden administration. Unsurprisingly, Senate Republicans are holding up a huge number of nominations, and unsurprisingly, a huge number of them are women.

“Saule Omarova, a Cornell Law professor whom President Biden picked for a key banking regulator job, is withdrawing from consideration for the post. Bank lobbyists and Republicans painted her as a communist because she was born in the Soviet Union,” The New York Times reported Tuesday afternoon via tweet.

Omarova is not a communist, as she was forced to tell Republican U.S. Senator John Kennedy, who told her during her confirmation hearing last month, “I don’t know whether to call you professor or comrade.”

The decision to pull Omarova’s nomination has exposed the Republicans’ tactics of slow-walking and worse, placing anonymous holds on countless Biden nominees.

President Biden is facing a huge hole in his administration, in large part thanks to Republicans.

According to the non-partisan Partnership for Public Service, which tracks 803 federal government executive branch positions requiring Senate confirmation, 235 nominations – nearly three in ten (29%) – are sitting in the Senate awaiting confirmation. Just 194 have been confirmed (164 positions have no nominees at all.)

Compared to his last three predecessors, President Biden is not getting the support he needs in the 50-50 Senate, as this chart from the Partnership for Public Service shows:

Any U.S. Senator can secretly place an anonymous hold on any presidential nominee, for any length of time, and Republicans – reportedly often Senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Josh Hawley on Minnesota – have been taking extreme advantage of that rule.

Half of all of President Biden’s approved nominees have been women, but other women have been forced to withdraw, most notably Neera Tanden, whom President Biden nominated to be Director of the Office of Management and Budget.

Tanden and Omarova are far from the only women whose nominations may never get a vote.

“At least 21 women for top positions” in just the State Dept., The Hill reported last month, “including 16 ambassadors, four assistant secretary positions and the nominee for Director General of the Foreign Service — are having their confirmations stalled by holds.”

Just today Bloomberg Government reported Senate Republicans have placed a “blockade” on “dozens of key defense and foreign policy positions.”

Omarova was the victim of a concerted red-baiting effort by Republicans, lobbyists, and right wing media.

“Some lobbyists, including the incoming chairman of a group representing community bankers and the chief executive of another group that focuses on big banks,” The New York Times observes, “also shared a Wall Street Journal editorial suggesting that Ms. Omarova’s Soviet childhood meant that she could not be trusted.”

 

 

 

 

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BREAKING NEWS

Jan. 6 Committee Files Subpoenas for Phone Records of Over 100 People Including Many Trump Associates

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The House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack has officially issued subpoenas to wireless companies for the phone records of over 100 people, a “substantial” number of them Trump associates, in an effort to piece together the actions of Donald Trump and his inner circle on the day of the violent insurrection.

The records do not include actual voice or text content, but rather who called or texted whom, when, for how long, CNN reports, and possibly from where.

Included in the massive list is Mark Meadows, the former Trump White House chief of staff.

The data should give the Committee “the ability to draw a web of communications before, during and after the January 6 attack on the US Capitol.”

CNN adds that one subpoena it reviewed “requests ‘all call, message, Internet Protocol and data connection detail records associated with the phone number’ from November 1, 2020 through January 31, 2021. The letter also asks for information related to phone numbers, IP addresses and devices that the account in question has communicated with.”

 

This is a breaking news and developing story. 

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RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM

Watch: MAGA Congressional Candidate Calls for All Laws ‘Contrary to God’s Word’ to Be Overturned

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Mark Burns, a MAGA pastor who is running for Congress in South Carolina, is an unabashed Christian nationalist who openly declares that “any policy that is contrary to the word of God” needs to be made illegal.

Burns appeared on the Real America’s Voice program “The Water Cooler” Monday, where he proclaimed that “the gospel of Jesus Christ should be [at] the center of American politics.” When asked by host David Brody what he meant by that, Burns declared that “any law that is against the word of God” must be overturned.

“Laws that are contrary to God’s word that are actively legal or laws today need to be overturned,” Burns said. “Any law that is against the word of God, that is clearly against what God has said in his word—in a nation that is a Christian nation, a nation that has the majority of citizens who actively believe that Jesus is the Messiah, that he is coming back again with omnipotent power in his hands—if it’s against the word of God and it’s actively a law today, then it should be overturned. We should have a moral compass, and right now in America, we’re losing that moral compass. The liberal left is slowly [chipping] away.”

Burns was a proponent of the movement to keep former President Donald Trump in power. He has made numerous calls for war, including on the eve of the Capitol insurrection when he riled up Trump loyalists at a Stop the Steal rally by telling them, “We’re ready to do war!”

 

This article was originally published by Right Wing Watch and is published here by permission.

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