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Last Saturday, thousands of people – gay and straight – joined together across more than 50 cities in the U.S. and Canada and kissed their loved ones, in public.

The Great Nationwide Kiss-In, a celebration and affirmation of the right of ALL people to kiss their loved-ones in public, was a triumphant success. In five short weeks, we took an idea I had in response to repeated reports of same-sex couples being harassed, detained, and even arrested – for kissing – from concept to completion.

The goal was simple: raise awareness across America that kissing in public is not illegal or immoral, that no one should be intimidated or incarcerated – regardless of their gender, or their partner’s, for sharing a simple kiss. Mission: Accomplished!

Mission accomplished, yes. But problem solved? No way.

The Great Nationwide Kiss-In received tremendous coverage in the media. Immediately after my July 13 call for a nationwide kiss-in, the press got hold of the story and ran with it. But on July 31, a same-sex couple was thrown out of a San Francisco wine bar – for kissing. Adding insult to injury, they claim they were called “faggots,” and “perverts.” Remember, this was in San Francisco!

In Springfield, Maryland, a lesbian couple was asked to leave the Tastee Diner on August 12, just three days before the Kiss-In, after they shared a kiss and a gentle embrace. They were told it was a “family establishment” and their actions might make some of the customers “sick.”

The day after The Great Nationwide Kiss-In, the AP ran a story about the Kiss-In, the Mormon Church, and their image problem with gays, titled, “Gay marriage fight, `kiss-ins’ smack Mormon image.” A friend wrote me he saw the AP headline on the news ticker in Chicago. One more small step in raising awareness.

The August 15 Kiss-Ins were as large as 200+, and as small as three. They were held in big cities and small ones, in red states and blue. They were organized by gay couples and straight couples. Which was also the point: having people see that a gay couple kissing is no different than a straight couple kissing. Side by side, we really do look the same. Because we are.

The beauty of the Kiss-In also was its simplicity, and its ability to be shaped by the local organizers. Most importantly, Kiss-Ins were held where people wanted them badly enough to do the work to hold them. And the areas that have proven to be less “tolerant”of same-sex couples were the areas that really stepped-up. We had four Kiss-ins in Texas (where two of the same-sex kissing incidents that inspired The Great Nationwide Kiss-In took place,) ten in California (one of which included actor Hal Sparks,) and two in Georgia. All told, The Great Nationwide Kiss-In was held in over 50 cities, across 24 states, plus D.C., Saipan, a U.S. territory, and Canada, making us an international LGBTQ event!

We even had Kiss-Ins in West Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, and, yes, Utah.

The Salt Lake City Kiss-In was one of the largest, with more than 200 attending, proving that despite the reign of the Mormon Church, despite the fact that there had been several earlier kiss-ins over the past month in response to the highly-publicized arrest of a same-sex couple there on July 10, the good citizens of Salt Lake are unwilling to grow complacent. (Note to 2010 vs. 2012 ballot debaters, given the ten Kiss-Ins we held in California, I would say California is aching for equality.)

Some more good news: The Fayetteville, Arkansas Kiss-In had 100 attendees. That’s Arkansas!

Was The Great Nationwide Kiss-In well-received? Absolutely! Did we have our share of detractors? Absolutely!

As I wrote here, on Bilerico just one day before the Kiss-In, the Religious Right was “warning” people about The Great Nationwide Kiss-In, and threatening to protest our events. Well, there was one protest, in North Carolina. Suffice it to say, we changed more hearts and minds than they did.

And yes, we had our share of detractors from within the LGBTQ community too. A few folks wrote us, furious, demanding we let them protest in front of Mormon temples. We refused. By design, The Great Nationwide Kiss-In was not a protest, it was a celebration. And educational celebration, but a celebration just the same. Which is part of the reason we were able to get so much support and so many people (over 5000) to sign up. There’s a time and place for everything. The Great Nationwide Kiss-In is not a place for protest. It would have been counter-productive to celebrate our demonstration of love with a demonstration of hate.

In five short weeks, along with the tireless efforts of my Co-Founders: Willow Witte, the Director and Co-Founder of Join The Impact, and David Mailloux, who writes DYM-SUM, The Great Nationwide Kiss-In changed hearts and minds, and kept the focus on gay rights in the lull of summer. (As I wrote here in “Fill The Void,” keeping the focus on gay rights this summer was another one of my goals.) We worked hard. We had fun. Most importantly, we succeeded in bringing people of all backgrounds and beliefs together, united in the belief that something so simple yet important as a kiss could be such a simple yet powerful metaphor for equal rights and recognition for all.

Will we do it again? Yes! That’s a promise – sealed with a kiss!

The Great Nationwide Kiss-In: SANTA MONICA

https://youtube.com/watch?v=6q1_DY7w910%26hl%3Den%26fs%3D1%26

The Great Nationwide Kiss-In: DENVER

https://youtube.com/watch?v=-NIFnasiPHk%26hl%3Den%26fs%3D1%26

The Great Nationwide Kiss-In: CHICAGO

https://youtube.com/watch?v=qYDeOU8jz5I%26hl%3Den%26fs%3D1%26

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RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM

SCOTUS Justices Prayed With Evangelical Group Whose Legal Brief Was Cited to Overturn Roe Says Christian Activist: Report

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A veteran Christian activist who works for a legal organization that has appeared on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of anti-LGBTQ hate groups was caught on a hot mic bragging that she and the organization she works for prayed with the Justices inside the U.S. Supreme Court, according to a report by Rolling Stone. Conservative justices cited the organization’s brief in the decision that overturned Roe v. Wade.

The activist, “a prominent Capitol Hill religious leader,” Rolling Stone reports, “was caught on a hot mic making a bombshell claim: that she prays with sitting justices inside the high court. ‘We’re the only people who do that,’ Peggy Nienaber said.”

Calling the disclosure “a serious matter on its own terms,” Rolling Stone says it “also suggested a major conflict of interest. Nienaber’s ministry’s umbrella organization, Liberty Counsel, frequently brings lawsuits before the Supreme Court. In fact, the conservative majority in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, which ended nearly 50 years of federal abortion rights, cited an amicus brief authored by Liberty Counsel in its ruling.”

Separately, NCRM has unearthed video from 2019 (below) that shows a woman who identifies herself as Nienaber bragging, “and yes, we go in and pray with the Justices.” She says she is Vice President of Faith & Liberty in the video. Rolling Stone reports “Nienaber is Liberty Counsel’s executive director of DC Ministry, as well as the vice president of Faith & Liberty, whose ministry offices sit directly behind the Supreme Court.”

Liberty Counsel was founded in 1989 by attorneys Mat Staver and Anita Staver, who are married. The organization has represented Rowan County (Kentucky) Clerk Kim Davis, and hate group head Scott Lively. They call their organization a Christian ministry, as Nienaber can be heard saying on the hot mic.

“You actually pray with the Supreme Court justices?” a livestreamer identified as Connie IRL can be heard asking in the video.

“I do,” Nienaber responds. “They will pray with us, those that like us to pray with them.”

“Some of them don’t!” Nienaber adds, not disclosing which ones.

The livestreamer then asked if Nienaber ministered to the justices in their homes or at her office. Neither, she said. “We actually go in there.”

“In other words,” Rolling Stone reports, “Sitting Supreme Court justices have prayed together with evangelical leaders whose bosses were bringing cases and arguments before the high court.”

RELATED: Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver Representing Hate Preacher Scott Lively in Crimes Against Humanity Case

Rolling Stone reports Mat Staver denied the claim as “entirely untrue,” but NCRM has unearthed a 2019 video in which a woman who identifies herself as and looks like Nienaber, standing in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, also brags: “and yes, we go in and pray with the Justices.”

You can watch that video below or at this link:

Rolling Stone adds more bombshell reporting, saying that “the founder of the ministry, who surrendered its operations to Liberty Counsel in 2018, tells Rolling Stone that he hosted prayer sessions with conservative justices in their chambers from the late-1990s through when he left the group in the mid-2010s.”

Rob Schenck, who launched the ministry under the name Faith and Action in the Nation’s Capital, described how the organization forged ministry relationships with Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, and the late Antonin Scalia, saying he would pray with them inside the high court. Nienaber was Schenk’s close associate in that era, and continued with the ministry after it came under the umbrella of Liberty Counsel.

Schenck told Rolling Stone exactly why the group wanted to pray with the Justices.

“To pray with the justices was to perform a sort of ‘spiritual conditioning,’ Schenck explains. ‘The intention all along was to embolden the conservative justices by loaning them a kind of spiritual moral support — to give them an assurance that not only was there a large number of people behind them, but in fact, there was divine support for very strong and unapologetic opinions from them.'”

Read the entire report here.

 

 

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

Marjorie Taylor Greene Suggests July 4 Mass Shooting Was a False Flag ‘Designed to Persuade’ GOP to Support Gun Control

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U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene has promoted several very different responses over the past few hours to the July 4 mass shooting that left seven people dead, scores injured, and a two-year-old boy orphaned.

The Republican from Georgia went from promoting the right wing’s latest talking points, that antidepressants are to blame for the massacre, and demanding to see the alleged shooter’s medical records, to claiming it “sounds like” a false flag operation, “designed to persuade Republicans to go along with” gun control.

“Now, here’s what I have to say,” Greene declared on her podcast. “I mean, two shootings on July 4, one in a rich white neighborhood and the other at a fireworks display.”

(There were 218 shootings on July 4, according to information from the Gun Violence Archive.)

“Almost sounds like it’s designed to persuade Republicans to go along with more gun control,” she announced, strongly suggesting false flag operations. Police have offered no indication anyone except the alleged shooter planned the Independence Day massacre, and have said he spent weeks doing so.

“I mean, after all, remember we didn’t see that happen at all the Pride parades in the month of June,” she lamented angrily, ignoring all the right-wing violence at Pride celebrations this year.

“But as soon as we hit MAGA month, as soon as we hit the month that we’re all celebrating – loving our country,” she said, implying Democrats don’t love America and don’t celebrate Independence Day, “we have shootings on July 4. I mean, that’s a, you know, that would sound like a conspiracy theory, right? Of course. But what’s the definition of a right-wing conspiracy theory? Well, by the way, it’s the news that’s just six-months early.”

Watch below or at this link:

 

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COMMENTARY

Antidepressants, Pot, and Women to Blame for Horrific July 4 Mass Shooting According to Tucker Carlson

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Barely hours after authorities announced charges against the 21-year-old police believe shot and killed seven people and wounded scores of others at a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, Illinois, Tucker Carlson explained to his Fox News audience why Robert Crimo allegedly committed mass murder: women, marijuana, and antidepressants, along with a life filled with pornography, video games, and social media.

Experts disagree.

Carlson said Crimo seems “like a nutcase,” but he “he didn’t stand out, maybe because there’s a lot of young men in America who suddenly look and act a lot like this guy.”

“That’s not an attack, it’s just true,” Carlson insisted, as Media Matters reports. “Like Crimo, they inhabit a solitary fantasy world of social media, porn, and video games. They are high on government-endorsed weed. ‘Smoke some more! It’s good for you,'” he mocked.

“They’re numbed by the endless psychotropic drugs that are handed out at every school in the country by crackpots posing as counselors,'” Carlson claimed, apparently referring to antidepressants, also known as SSRIs. School counselors, unless they are also MDs, cannot prescribe SSRIs.

(SSRIs are prescribed for “depression, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), premenstrual dysphoric disorder, migraine (prophylaxis), and other conditions.”)

RELATED: Highland Park Shooting Deaths Include Both Parents of Two Year Old Found at Scene of July 4th Massacre

Then Carlson arrived at the root of what he determined drives these young men, presumably these young men who kill.

Carlson, who has been labeled a “white nationalist,” and a “white supremacist,” neglected to mention the young men who are pulling the trigger at mass shootings are almost always white.

Instead, he says, “they are angry.”

Why?

Because, Carlson declares, “the authorities in their lives — mostly women — never stop lecturing them about their so-called privilege. ‘You’re male! You’re privileged.’ Imagine that. Try to imagine an unhealthier, unhappier life than that. So, a lot of young men in America are going nuts. Are you surprised?”

Meanwhile, very little is known about the shooter. It is not known if he’s taking antidepressants, using pot, has a mother who attacks him for his privilege, or uses porn. But Carlson and others at Fox News are suggesting to viewers they know why he flooded more than 70 rounds into an Independence Day parade.

There have been 320 mass shootings in America this year – and we’re only on day 187.

The nation has suffered 22,583 deaths from guns just this year alone. That’s 120 deaths on average every day.

Despite those numbers, the vast, vast majority of people taking antidepressants, or using pot or porn, are not pulling the trigger in a mass shooting.

Carlson points to no statistics to show women “never stop lecturing them about their so-called privilege.”

In fact, he offers up no statistics, no proof at all of any of his claims.

Same with Fox News’ Laura Ingraham, who blames the mass shooting on pot.

U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene quickly dredged up the “psychiatric drugs” allegation less than 24 hours after the shooting started.

“What drugs and/or psychiatric drugs was he on for his mind to be ruined in alternate reality games that caused him to commit a mass shooting? His parents know. The police know. School, arrest, hospital records? The public DESERVES to know.,” she tweeted.

Dr. Sherry Pagoto is a licensed clinical psychologist, social media researcher, professor at the University of Connecticut, and Director of the UConn Center for mHealth and Social Media. She’s also the former president of the Society of Behavioral Medicine.

And she’s pushing back against the SSRI blame game.

“Psychologist here,” writes Dr. Pagoto. “Yep. And far more women take SSRIs than men and yet women never commit mass shootings. The SSRI hypothesis has absolutely no scientific support. Quite the contrary, SSRIs save lives.”

In 2019 Politifact looked at the “dubious claim that psychiatric drugs fuel mass shootings?” The fact-checking group talked with six medical experts, with one explaining “that in her view there is no evidence that psychiatric medicine is linked to mass shootings.”

Watch the videos above or at this link.

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