So, Who Was Really Behind Kim Davis Meeting The Pope?
Now that the Vatican has distanced itself from Kim Davis, saying it feels a “sense of regret” over the Pope’s meeting with her, who’s to blame for arranging it in the first place?Â
This week, after days of obfuscation, the Vatican finally confirmed that Pope Francis did indeed meet with Kim Davis, the Rowan County Clerk who spent six days in jail for refusing to comply with a court order directing her to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Today, the Vatican went even further, distancing itself by labeling it a “brief greeting,” and stating the meeting “should not be considered a form of support of her position” by the Pope.
Davis and her current husband, Joe, met with the Pope in secret when they were in Washington, D.C., where Kim received the Cost of Discipleship award from the Family Research Council for denying gay couples their constitutional right to marry. According to Mathew Staver, Kim Davisâ€™s attorney, the invitation to meet with Davis came from the Vatican a week or so before the Popeâ€™s six-day visit to the United States, and not from American Catholic institutions.
Staverâ€™s reliability on this point is questionable. The same day, Tuesday, that he announced Kim Davis met with the Pope, he also falsely claimed that 100,000 Peruvians had come together to pray for Kim Davis. It was later revealed that the picture he posted of the alleged event was actually a photo of a gathering from May 2014.
The New Civil Rights Movement has learned through aÂ source within the Apostolic Nunciature, the Vatican embassy,Â that Kim Davisâ€™ meeting with the Pope was arranged â€“ contrary to theories espoused in the mediaÂ â€“Â by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The USCCB is led by President Joseph E. Kurtz, the Archbishop of Louisville, in Davisâ€™ home state of Kentucky, and by the Archdiocese of Washington led by Cardinal Donald Wuerl. Both institutions have actively opposed same-sex marriage.Â In 2009, Cardinal Wuerl signed the Manhattan Declaration, an ecumenical statement calling on Evangelical, Orthodox, and Catholic Christians to defy laws permitting same-sex marriage and other issues they claim challenge their religious freedom.
The USCCB has ties to organizations designated as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center, including the Family Research Council and the Center for Family and Human Rights (C-FAM). FRC President Tony Perkins has said about gay people, â€œThey are intolerant. They are hateful. They are vile. They are spiteful.â€ Perkins also says gay people are â€œpawnsâ€ of the â€œenemy.â€Â FRCâ€™s Senior Fellow of Legal Studies, Cathy Ruse, was the USCCB chief spokesperson for human life issues for several years. (Full disclosure: Cathy Ruse is a personal friend.)Â
Cathy Ruseâ€™s husband, Austin Ruse, is the president and director of C-FAM, and a blogger at the far right website Breitbart. In his most recent constituent email dated October 1, Ruse calls same-sex marriage, â€œa definition of marriage cooked up in the pits of hell,â€ and he supports Russian anti-LGBT laws that have led to an increase in violence against gay people in Russia.
Pope Francisâ€™s messages while in the United States were mainly pastoral in nature, caring for the needs of the downtrodden and the less fortunate. Although he was said to be authoritarian and â€œkind of a jerkâ€ in his first leadership role as the head of the Jesuits in Argentina, Pope Francis evolved into a humble man concerned about those living in poverty, immigrants, and those struggling to find a place in the world. Meeting with a controversial figure such as Kim Davis was out of character for a man who spent the entirety of his trip to the United States avoiding strong statements about American politics, especially on hot-button social issues like same-sex marriage.
Knowing that conservative American Catholic institutions arranged this meeting, and knowing that now the Vatican feels a “sense of regret” over it,Â arouses suspicion that the reasons behind it were political.
Kim Davis said she felt her meeting with the Pope â€œkind of validated everything,â€ but in today’s official statement by the Vatican’s spokesman,Â Rev. Federico Lombardi said the Pope’s meeting with Kim Davis “should not be considered a form of support of her position.”Â
Davis’ statement is exactly what the anti-LGBT forces in the American Catholic church and other conservative Christians wanted her, and, more importantly, other Christians to feel. The Vatican today refuted that claim.Â But by showing apparent solidarity between the Pope and Kim Davis, conservative groups are hoping it will push more people to defy the constitutional rights of LGBT people, while these groups strive in the future for the Supreme Court to overturn its marriage ruling.Â
The battle for human rights did not end with the Supreme Court decision that marriage is a fundamental right guaranteed under the Constitution. It is raging between those who demand human rights and those who will stop at nothing less than religious totalitarianism. And the end is nowhere in sight.
Image by Jeffrey Bruno/US Papal VisitÂ via Flickr and a CC license
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Lindsey Graham Admonished by Senate Ethics Committee
U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has been formally admonished by the Senate Ethics Committee for violating ethics rules and standards by repeatedly soliciting campaign donations during an interview at the Capitol.
The bipartisan committee issued Graham a Public Letter of Admonition after the South Carolina Republican solicited donations for Georgia GOP Senate nominee Herschel Walker.
“Based upon all available information, the Committee concluded that on November 30, 2022, you conducted a media interview with Fox News in the rotunda of the Russell Senate Office Building and that your interview was slightly over nine minutes, with over four minutes devoted to a discussion of the 2022 senatorial run-off election in Georgia. The Committee further concluded that during your discussion of the senatorial run-off election, you directly solicited campaign contributions on behalf of Mr. Walker’s campaign committee, www.teamherschel.com, five separate times.”
The letter notes that Sen. Graham had previously violated the same standards when he solicited campaign donations in a federal building in October of 2020, but said it was an “unplanned media interview.” When a reporter had asked him about fundraising, Graham “directly solicited campaign contributions” for his re-election campaign.
READ MORE: Watch: GOP Lawmaker Orders Grieving Parkland Parents Removed From ‘ATF Overreach’ Hearing
The Committee noted “mitigating” circumstances and did not cite him for that violation.
“The public must feel confident that Members use public resources only for official actions in the best interests of the United States, not for partisan political activity,” the letter concludes. “Your actions failed to uphold that standard, resulting in harm to the public trust and confidence in the United States Senate. You are hereby admonished.”
CNN’s Manu Raju posted the letter to social media.
You can read the letter below or at this link.
In a letter to Sen. Lindsey Graham, the bipartisan Senate Ethics Committee admonished him for soliciting campaign contributions five times during a media interview in the Russell Senate office building. It is against Senate rules to solicit campaign donations on Capitol grounds pic.twitter.com/amc5ipcosw
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) March 23, 2023
RIGHT WING EXTREMISM
Watch: GOP Lawmaker Orders Grieving Parkland Parents Removed From ‘ATF Overreach’ Hearing
U.S. Rep. Pat Fallon (R-TX) is being criticized for having the parents of a victim of the Parkland school massacre removed from a GOP-led House committee hearing on “ATF Overreach” after he deemed them “out of order” for remarks they made while a Member was speaking. Minutes later, Capital Police pinned the father to the ground in the hallway and arrested him.
“See this is, exactly what we have to avoid!” Rep. Fallon, chairing the joint hearing, angrily declared as he pointed his finger after the father, Manuel Oliver, made a remark that was inaudible. “Which is some minority of folks trying to silence dissent. Dissent shouldn’t be kryptonite.”
“There’s a decorum that should be adhered to,” Fallon, who recently refused to sign a statement denouncing white supremacy, said as he chastising Oliver.
After another, louder outburst, Fallon mockingly asked, “Is this an insurrection? So will they be held to the same — I don’t want another January 6.”
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Congressman David Cicilline (D-RI) responded, “If they’re trying to overthrow the government, they oughta be held to the same standard, but I think they’re trying to express their frustrations.”
Angrily again, Rep. Fallon interjected.
“Whoa whoa whoa whoa,” he shouted as he banged the gavel.
“Member’s out of line,” Fallon said (incorrectly. The term is “out of order.”)
Rep. Pat Fallon (R-TX) on gun reform protests: “Is this an insurrection? Will they be held to the same —”
Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI): “If they’re trying to overthrow the government, they oughta be held to the same standard, but … they’re trying to express their frustrations.” pic.twitter.com/SFrMId1fh3
— The Recount (@therecount) March 23, 2023
Shortly thereafter, Rep. Fallon had both Manuel and Patricia Oliver removed.
“You took my son away from me!”
— Parkland parents Patricia and Manuel Oliver are removed after interrupting a House hearing on Second Amendment protections pic.twitter.com/Bjjoq9k93W
— The Recount (@therecount) March 23, 2023
ABC News reporter Will Steakin, who was in the hearing, tweeted video and said bot Manuel and Patricia Oliver “appear to leave without resistance… moments later there was a loud thud outside the hearing room and I found Manuel being pinned to the ground by multiple officers.”
Video of Manuel and Patrica Oliver being removed from the hearing at direction of GOP Chair Rep. Pat Fallon
Both appear to leave without resistance… moments later there was a loud thud outside the hearing room and I found Manuel being pinned to the ground by multiple officers: https://t.co/ZebugeU98Z pic.twitter.com/zdpfPGHjDn
— Will Steakin (@wsteaks) March 23, 2023
“Manuel Oliver, the father of a 17-year-old Parkland shooting victim, was arrested Thursday on Capitol Hill after he appeared to shout at a Republican lawmaker who was speaking during a hearing on gun regulations,” NBC News reports. Patricia Oliver, his wife and the mother of their 17-year old son, Joaquin Oliver, who was one of 17 people who died in the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre, was not arrested.
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On social media critics expressed anger at Fallon.
“Rep. Pat Fallon (R) thinks parents of slaughtered children should just sit down & shut up as Republicans maintain outrageously dangerous gun laws. He had this parent expelled rather than just giving a warning, which is the usual,” wrote one Twitter user.
“Texas Rep. Pat Fallon: You are the EXACT problem with the gun violence and why it keeps being the leading cause of death in children today,” wrote another.
According to the NIH, gun violence is the leading cause of childhood death.
Still another Twitter user blasted Fallon: “What disgraceful & despicable behavior by Representative Pat Fallon. Exercising your right to free speech is being an insurrectionist? The man lost his son. Have you no compassion? I think he has more than earned the right to be heard by Congress. Such an abuse of power.”
And one called Fallon “feckless.”
‘Repercussions’: Biden White House Warns Uganda ‘Kill the Gays’ Bill Could Force US to Cancel $950 Million in Annual Aid
The Biden administration may cancel the $950 million in annual assistance the U.S. provides to Uganda if President Yoweri Museveni signs into law its latest “Kill the Gays” bill, which calls for the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality” and between ten and 20 years in prison for other LGBTQ “acts.”
National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby on Wednesday made clear if Uganda further criminalizes homosexuality and the LGBTQ community there could be “repercussions that we would have to take.”
“That would be really unfortunate because so much of the economic assistance that we provide Uganda is health assistance,” Admiral Kirby said at a White House press briefing.
National Security Council’s John Kirby suggests the U.S. would consider economic punishments if Uganda’s law criminalizing LGBTQ people goes into effect:
“That would be really unfortunate because so much of the economic assistance that we provide Uganda is health assistance.” pic.twitter.com/hWrRrHqd6q
— The Recount (@therecount) March 22, 2023
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre also told reporters Wednesday the Biden administration has “grave concerns” over the Anti-Homosexuality Act (AHA), and “increasing violence targeting LGBTQIA+ persons.”
READ MORE: Florida GOP Lawmaker Who Wrote ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill Facing Up to 35 Years After Pleading Guilty in COVID Fraud Case
“If the AHA is signed into law and enacted, it would impinge upon universal human rights, jeopardize progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS, deter tourism and invest in Uganda and damage Uganda’s international reputation,” Jean-Pierre warned. “The bill is one of the most extreme anti-LGBTQI+ laws in the world.”
WH Press Sec. Karine Jean-Pierre denounces the Ugandan parliament’s passage of a bill criminalizing LGBTQ people:
“If the AHA is signed into law and enacted, it would impinge upon universal human rights … The bill is one of the most extreme anti-LGBTQI+ laws in the world.” pic.twitter.com/WSzCY5Vlq4
— The Recount (@therecount) March 22, 2023
Kirby and Jean-Pierre’s remarks came on the same day as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken denounced Uganda’s “Kill the Gays” legislation, saying it “would undermine fundamental human rights of all Ugandans and could reverse gains in the fight against HIV/AIDS.”
“The United States provides more than $950 million in aid to Uganda each year, according to the State Department. The money supports development and health care measures, such as combating HIV/AIDS,” Courthouse News reported Wednesday. “Uganda is already among 30 African countries that ban same-sex relations. The new proposal would broaden penalties and appears to be the first to outlaw identifying as LGBTQ+, according to Human Rights Watch.”
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