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Religion: Putting A Halt To The Religious Right’s Anti-Gay Rhetoric

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“I wish I could be happy, I try, I try, I try … I just want to feel special to someone.” –Jamie Hubley

On October 14, Jamie Hubley, a gay 15-year-old boy, committed suicide. He struggled with depression and bullying from classmates because he was openly gay. The challenges experienced by this young man are heartbreaking and perhaps better witnessed through his own words or hearing them directly from those who knew him best.

These types of teen suicides painfully remind us that there is an anti-LGBT culture within our societies that isolate many young people from the love they deserve. It’s particularly concerning that the urgency this reality warrants is consistently absent from the religious right, which was further evidenced at the “Values Voter Summit” in Washington this month.

As the day neared for this annual gathering of religious conservatives, my inbox began to fill with press releases, statements and emails from allies across the country. “Boycott Values Voter Summit,” and, “Anti-LGBT Hate Fest?”

The concern was real.

A common chill rippled through civil rights and progressive religious communities across America. Moderate voices speculated about what type of rhetoric would be cooked up and lobed at minority communities this year. Like many Americans, I joined those who condemned the event, which was hosted by two nationally recognized hate groups. In 2010 both the Family Research Council and American Family Association joined over 1000 active hate groups in America, on a list that includes factions of the Ku Klux Klan, black separatist and Neo-Nazi organizations.

But there was something even more troubling about the summit. Why would Republican Party leadership—House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Erik Cantor—appear in such a setting? Why would seven Republican Presidential candidates do the same? The summit promotes hostile anti-LGBT sentiment that in many ways has contributed to a culture of LGBT bullying.

I tuned in to CSPAN’s coverage from my office in New York City. I watched speakers offensively degrade the LGBT community and demonize Muslims as a dangerous other; the rhetoric was sorely absent of any hope for moderation.

Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association declared the American President should be a man, that Muslims are not welcomed, and that the LGBTQ community is a threat to American freedom.

Star Parker, a conservative activist, insinuated that the California government was “sick” for trying to combat LGBT teen bullying by helping students learn about the history of Gays and Lesbians in their state.

The speeches went on. The damage continued. But when all was said and done, an important point was evident: this event wasn’t about Christian values— it was about hate.

The Montgomery Alabama-based civil rights organization, the Southern Poverty Law Center, defines these “representatives” of the religious right well: “All hate groups have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.” These groups who claim to represent the religious right contribute to a deadly anti-LGBT culture.

They circulate pamphlets and propaganda that mischaracterize the LGBT community—propaganda that has been thoroughly rejected by relevant institutions. They routinely quote junk science sourced from anti-gay “front organizations” like the “American College of Pediatricians” (ACP) to claim LGBT people are a threat. These front organizations are deeply flawed. For example, the ACP is a tiny 200-member anti-gay organization, which broke away from the 60,000-member American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). It broke away because it rejected its parent organization’s support of LGBT rights. Going rogue, they now produce misleading junk science that is solely aligned with political agendas.

These hate groups also rely on similarly flawed research to claim LGBT people suffer from “mental disorders” and that they should undergo “reparative therapy.” Again, relevant scientific institutions, such as the American Psychiatric Association reject such nonsense.

“In the last four decades, ‘reparative’ therapists have not produced any rigorous scientific research to substantiate their claims of cure,” they said. “APA recommends that ethical practitioners refrain from attempts to change individuals’ sexual orientation.” The American Psychological Association echoes that “the discipline of psychology is concerned with the well-being of people and groups and therefore with threats to that well-being … Despite the persistence of stereotypes that portray lesbian, gay, and bisexual people as disturbed, several decades of research and clinical experience have led all mainstream medical and mental health organizations in this country to conclude that these orientations represent normal forms of human experience.”

Because of this scientific reality, many reparative therapists have come out of the closet to reject and repudiate the flawed practice.

Other “science” and “research” they utilize, continues to be discredited, and every day its irrelevance is being more widely understood. Those outside of this extreme wing are becoming much more conscious of the damage caused by extreme factions of the religious right. Droves of young people are leaving churches that reject the gay and lesbian community. Two-thirds of Americans say there is a harmful connection between messages coming from America’s houses of worship and higher rates of LGBT youth suicides. And most remarkably, Gallup found that a majority of Christians and non-Christians believe that Gay and Lesbian relations are “morally acceptable.”

America’s values are clear. Why then does the religious right continue to dominate the national conversation?

It is time for us to put this nonsense to rest.

There is a growing community of LGBT-inclusive Christians and non-Christian allies, working each day to promote welcome in faith settings and put their LGBT inclusive faith into action by taking to the streets, the polling booths and the airwaves. Just this week, more than 900 Methodists in Connecticut and New York vowed to defy their denomination’s ban on gay marriage and make weddings available to all.

These inclusive Christian voices are putting the religious right on notice: while their voice of hate may be loud, our voice of love will be louder.

Joseph Ward is the Director of Believe Out Loud, an online network that empowers Christians to work for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality, and a writer on religion and LGBT equality issues. Follow him on Twitter @JosephWardIII..


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News

Another Santos Financial Concern: GOP Lawmaker Claims Campaign Paid WinRed Triple the Fees It Should Have

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According to an NBC News report there’s yet another mystery swirling around U.S. Rep. George Santos and his campaign financial activity and reports.

WinRed, the right-wing fundraising processor platform created to compete with Democrats’ ActBlue, has asked the Santos campaign to correct a financial report that claims the New York GOP lawmaker paid them more than triple what it should have – suggesting the entry on his Federal Election Commission (FEC) report is erroneous.

“Santos reported paying WinRed more than $206,000 to process donations to his 2022 campaign, records show. But that amount doesn’t match up with how much money Santos actually raised,” NBC News reports.

“WinRed charges candidates a 3.94% fee for contributions made online by credit card. At that rate, Santos would have had to have raised more than $5.2 million through WinRed to warrant a $206,000 payment to the firm,” NBC explains. “Through November, however, his campaign reported total contributions of $1.7 million, including donations that didn’t come through WinRed.”

READ MORE: ‘Deliberately Deceived the Nation’: Legal Experts Stunned by ‘Jaw-Dropping’ Report on How Barr and Durham Protected Trump

WinRed would not tell NBC News how much the Santos campaign actually paid them, with the news network offering that it could be “sloppy accounting.”

But one campaign finance expert, attorney Brett Kappel, warns, “nothing that appears on Rep. Santos’s FEC reports can be taken at face value.”

This follows reports that the Santos campaign amended two filings to indicate that a $500,000 personal loan and a $125,000 personal loan, claimed to have been from the candidate’s own personal funds, was not from his personal funds. There is no information indicating what entity loaned the Santos campaign the money, or if it actually even existed.

That bombshell was followed up this week with yet another one: the FEC reports were allegedly signed by a “treasurer” who does not and never has worked for the Santos campaign. One expert called that a “big no-no,” and “completely illegal.”

READ MORE: Watch: Santos Responds to Report He Joked About Hitler, ‘The Jews’ and Black People

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'GASLIGHTING'

‘Deliberately Deceived the Nation’: Legal Experts Stunned by ‘Jaw-Dropping’ Report on How Barr and Durham Protected Trump

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Legal experts are now weighing in on Thursday’s bombshell, massive and months-long reporting from The New York Times that reveals, among several previously unknown allegations, that then-Attorney General Bill Barr and his special counsel, John Durham were handed apparent evidence of suspicious financial acts by Donald Trump, and proceeded to create a false public narrative that Durham’s investigation found evidence of “suspicious financial dealings” related to Trump, suggesting it was on the part of the FBI, not the president, in order to protect the president.

“On one of Mr. Barr and Mr. Durham’s trips to Europe,” The Times reveals, “according to people familiar with the matter, Italian officials — while denying any role in setting off the Russia investigation — unexpectedly offered a potentially explosive tip linking Mr. Trump to certain suspected financial crimes.”

The Times adds that “Mr. Barr and Mr. Durham never disclosed that their inquiry expanded in the fall of 2019, based on a tip from Italian officials, to include a criminal investigation into suspicious financial dealings related to Mr. Trump.”

READ MORE: Bombshell NYT Report Reveals Bill Barr’s Special Counsel Opened ‘Secret’ Financial Crimes Probe Into Trump But Never Prosecuted

“Mr. Durham never filed charges, and it remains unclear what level of an investigation it was, what steps he took, what he learned and whether anyone at the White House ever found out. The extraordinary fact that Mr. Durham opened a criminal investigation that included scrutinizing Mr. Trump has remained secret.”

Until now.

Harvard Law Professor Emeritus Laurence Tribe, a constitutional law expert who literally wrote the book on the U.S. Constitution, calls the Times’ report “jaw-dropping.”

“When Durham unexpectedly found evidence of crimes committed BY rather than AGAINST Trump, he and Barr deliberately deceived the nation into thinking the opposite! This deep dive by the NYT is as jaw-dropping as anything I’ve read in the past decade,” Tribe says.

Law professor and former President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF) Sherrilyn Ifill, one of TIME’s  2021 most influential people in the world, accused Barr of “gaslighting” the public.

READ MORE: ‘Moral Turpitude’: Trump Coup Memo Author John Eastman Now Facing 11 Counts of Alleged Ethics Violations – and Disbarment

“Every line of this article must be read,” Ifill implored. “Horrifying breaches of professional ethics, misuse of DOJ investigative resources, and deliberate lies to, and gaslighting of the public. A grotesque perversion of the appropriate role of Attorney General.”

Former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance, the well-known MSNBC legal contributor and professor of law, also calls it “jaw dropping.”

“Jaw dropping reporting. Lots here including an explanation of why Durham’s colleague resigned: under pressure from Barr to release an ‘interim’ report damaging Clinton & the FBI as the election drew near, Durham had a draft prepared that wasn’t factual,” she says.

Andrew Weissman, the former General Counsel of the Federal Bureau of Investigation who spent 20 years at DOJ, including working under Special Counsel Robert Mueller, calls Barr “corrupt.”

“Can anyone really be surprised by this?” he asks. “Barr was just so corrupt and so corrupted the DOJ.”

MSNBC legal analyst Jill Wine-Banks, a former Watergate prosecutor and the first woman to serve as US General Counsel of the Army was troubled by the picture The Times painted of how close Barr and Durham were, when special counsels are supposed to have great autonomy and not be shaded by any Attorney General interference.

“Even more troubling than Barr and Durham frequently having drinks and discussing the investigation is the fact that the only crime they discovered on their foreign trip was Italian intel about crimes by Trump,” she says via Twitter. “I want to know the status of that investigation!”

READ MORE: Republicans Claiming ‘Censorship’ Threaten to Haul AT&T and DirecTV Into Congress for Dropping Far-Right Newsmax

Some legal experts lament that despite the bombshells in The Times’ report, it appears nothing will come of it – certainly nothing from the House Republicans.

Former Associate White House Counsel Ian Bassin sardonically asks, “Surely McCarthy and Jim Jordan’s new Select Committee on ‘the Weaponization of the Federal Government’ will focus on this story and the actions of Bill Barr, John Durham and Donald Trump. Surely, right? Right?”

Wine-Banks also points to House Republicans’ new committee investigating what they claim is “weaponization” of the federal government.

“Barr’s relationship with Durham, his pressure on him to reach a certain result and their failure to follow up on Trump’s crime revealed during the investigation is what weaponization of the DOJ looks like — not what Republicans want to investigate now.”

Pete Strzok, who spent 26 years at the FBI including as Deputy Assistant Director of the Bureau’s Counterintelligence Division, and led the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 United States election, speaks from experience.

“I can see Barr allowing the stunning amount of craziness (a gentle choice of word) described in this article,” he writes. “But does anyone in the current OAG or ODAG care about this? Durham has reported to AG Garland for twenty two (22) months now.”

“This,” Weissman adds separately, pointing to The Times article, “is all about the Trump weaponization of the DOJ – but we know that the House Rs won’t give a damn about it.”

 

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Questions Raised About Another Freshman Republican’s Finances After He Refuses to Comply With Federal Law

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Rep. George Santos (R-NY) isn’t the only freshman Republican facing questions about his personal finances.

An investigation conducted by News Channel 5 in Nashville has found that freshman Rep. Andy Ogles (R-TN) never complied with federal laws requiring that he make disclosures about his personal finances.

In fact, notes News Channel 5, “not only did Andy Ogles ignore that law during the campaign, he continues to ignore it today.”

The law in question requires that Ogles and all candidates for elected office to disclose their assets and unearned income, their liabilities, and sources of income paid by one source that exceed $5,000.

READ MORE: Marjorie Taylor Greene’s amendment to bar Biden from selling oil goes down in massive bipartisan defeat

Ogles’ office hasn’t responded to News Channel 5’s questions even though the Tennessee lawmaker’s refusal to comply with the law could result in up to a year in prison.

Ogles’ defeated Democratic opponent, Heidi Campbell, told News Channel that it was “frustrating” to see Ogles flout the law, which she complied with last year by releasing her personal finance information all the way back in April of 2022.

“We, as Tennesseans, deserve to have representatives who are following the rules,” she said.

Ogles was also regularly late in filing campaign finance reports, which also contained so many discrepancies that Ogles has received four different letters from the Federal Election Commission demanding that they be explained.

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