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Republican Presidential Candidates Align With Anti-Gay Religious Leaders



Why does much of America still think it is acceptable – and even expected – for Republican presidential candidates to align themselves with the most virulent of anti-gay religious right leaders?

For more than two decades, conservative Christian voters have been regarded as a crucial voting bloc necessary to win the Republican presidential nomination. 

GOP candidates Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, and Bobby Jindal, clearly in a seductive dance with conservative bases, have linked the approval of same-sex marriage by the Supreme Court to attacks on the religious liberties of conservative Christians. Their efforts to amass the conservative votes in early caucus conventions has produced some visible alignments of note between candidates and religious leaders.

As exhibited in the November 6-7 Des Moines Freedom 2015 rally sponsored and hosted by anti-gay and anti-trans extremist Colorado pastor Kevin Swanson, it appears some presidential candidates are willing to tolerate extreme hostility toward LGBT people for valuable conservative backing. All three Republican candidates spoke at Freedom 2015 after Swanson’s tirade without denouncing him. 

Another such display of endorsing hostility in exchange for votes will take place Saturday, when Ted Cruz travels to the campus of Bob Jones University, widely known for on campus anti-gay rhetoric throughout past decades that is still happening there despite recent administration apologies.

At the gathering, positioned as a “rally for religious freedom,” Cruz will be joined by Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, along with the usual cadre of bakers, florists, twins, and religious leaders.

Cruz, who has failed to denounced or distanced himself from the hateful rants of Swanson, will be joined by yet another anti-gay religious leader, Michael Brown.

Though Brown has publicly denounced the words of Swanson, stating it is “not Christian in any shape, size, or form to provoke hatred towards gay or lesbians, or worse still, to suggest that they should be mistreated,” one would be wrong to view Brown as the kind and compassionate voice he suggests himself to be.

Often lacking self-awareness of impact of their teachings, it seems a hierarchy of “God-approved” anti-gay religious leaders exists. Most of us would readily recognize Swanson as an extremist. But what about the pastor-types and organization heads whose teachings and policies foster mistreatment and hatred toward gays?

Brown, who has written three non-academic and ideologically-based books focused on gays and transpeople, their need to change, and their destructive influence on marriage, family and the culture, believes his version of damaging rhetoric is a more loving variety ordained by God.

I have engaged with Brown, his writings and books, his public action of leading 200 Christians into Charlotte Gay Pride with the intention of redirecting attendees to reparative therapy, and followed his public comments about LGBT people for almost five years. Though not as extreme as Swanson, Brown is guilty of dangerous teachings that have driven LGBT people, LGBT Christians, and their families and allies from finding spiritual haven in many Christian faith communities. and acceptance within their own families.

Typical of anti-gay conservative religious and organizational leaders and the presidential candidates who hold hands with them, Brown’s own cultural ideology, disguised as theology, thoroughly ignores the historical and cultural progression between what was written thousands of years ago to and in a specific culture and what we recognize today as same-sex couples in loving and committed relationships.

Increasingly, progressive Christians, myself included, are refusing to allow conservative interpreters of the Bible who neglect to address the cultural shifts in the status of women, the progression of understanding and input from experts in human sexuality, and the merger of conservative politics and religion since the late 1970s, each having significantly influenced the ability to take an honest look at biblical translations to inform our faith at its intersection with sexual orientation and gender identity. (I have written a book detailing this, Walking the Bridgeless Canyon)

In attempts to woo conservative Christian voters, we are witnessing public displays of alliances between candidates and religious leaders like Brown, and Eric Teetsel, a strong anti-gay leader amongst the Southern Baptists whom Marco Rubio has selected as his faith advisor.

Staunchly anti-gay Family Research Council representatives will also anoint their choice; as of now, that choice appears to be Cruz.

We’ve seen this demonizing and dehumanizing the LGBT community tactic used before in the 1980, 1992, and 2004 elections to get conservative voters registered and to the polls. 

As long as the candidates. or those who support them, continue to ignore the fact that every professional medical and mental health organization in the U.S. asserts that homosexuality is a normal variation of human sexuality, they are complicit in creating destructive environments for LGBT people and their families. 

There is no hierarchy of who hates less or with a “God-ordained” hatred when it comes to religious leaders who, in ignorance, formulate opinions and doctrine detrimental to LGBT people and their families. They are all guilty.

Presidential candidates who align with such ideologues are themselves anti-LGBT and should be plainly labeled as such as they exchange hostility of LGBT people for conservative votes.



Photo is from Ted Cruz Facebook page

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Gaetz Needs Just Five Republicans to Oust McCarthy – He Already Has Three



After weeks of “chaos” within the House Republican conference that led to a down-to-the-wire near-shutdown of the federal government, U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) has spent the past two days vowing to oust Speaker Kevin McCarthy for reaching across the aisle to pass legislation keeping the government running.

Gaetz’s own future is in question with some of his Republican colleagues vowing to expel him should an unfavorable report be released by the House Ethics Committee on his possible sexual misconduct and illicit behaviors including possible drug use and possible public corruption.

“Several Republicans,” CNN’s Manu Raju reports, are “expected to back motion to eject McCarthy,” who “will very likely” need Democrats to keep his Speakership.

READ MORE: ‘Sodom and Gomorrah’: ND Republican Unleashes Anti-LGBTQ Christian Nationalist Rant Calling for ‘Christ Is King’ Laws

“House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries has not said if his caucus would join right-wing Republicans to help topple McCarthy or if Democrats might support him in exchange for political or legislative favors,” Reuters reported late Monday afternoon. “Democrats, in theory, could demand that McCarthy honor his spending deal with Biden, drop the impeachment inquiry, or hold votes on gun and immigration legislation.”

But Gaetz already has three publicly declared votes to oust Speaker McCarthy. In addition to himself, far right Republican Rep. Eli Crane of Arizona responded “Let’s roll” Sunday afternoon to Gaetz’s announcement he would file a “motion to vacate” against McCarthy.

And U.S. Rep. Bob Good of Virginia has also declared he would “never” vote to let McCarthy keep the Speaker’s gavel.

Other far right Republicans, including U.S. Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Byron Donalds, and Chip Roy, have indicated they would not support ousting McCarthy, at least not right now.

But Gaetz may have time on his side.

READ MORE: ‘Part of the Authoritarian Playbook’: Trump’s Courthouse Rant Slammed by Fascism Scholars

While he on Monday acknowledged he probably doesn’t have the votes yet, the math could line up differently by the end of the week.

The Senate will not be in session after Wednesday, with many Senators expected to travel to California for the funeral of U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein.

“This could create some level of havoc on House side — dozens of [House] members will also want to fly out to SF,” noted Washington Post congressional reporter Paul Kane. “Maybe even McCarthy, but mostly House Dems. If the motion to vacate vote is Wednesday or Thursday, attendance could be haphazard.”


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‘Sodom and Gomorrah’: ND Republican Unleashes Anti-LGBTQ Christian Nationalist Rant Calling for ‘Christ Is King’ Laws



North Dakota state Representative Brandon Prichard, a Republican who co-sponsored legislation that was passed in to law that bans all gender confirming surgeries and medication for minors in his state, went on an anti-LGBTQ Christian nationalist tirade including a call for state ordinances to declare “Jesus Christ is King.”

“Every conservative state should put into code that Jesus Christ is King and dedicate their state to Him. Force RINOs to say no to Jesus and then brutalize them in elections. We need a government of Christians, not fakers,” wrote Rep. Pritchard Sunday evening.

Pushback came swiftly, from politicos including former Republican and former U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh, who responded saying, “Not in this country. Never. Our Constitution won’t allow it. And that’s a damn good thing. Shame on you.”

Rep. Pritchard’s remarks in recent days have taken on a similarly strong Christian nationalist theme.

READ MORE: ‘Part of the Authoritarian Playbook’: Trump’s Courthouse Rant Slammed by Fascism Scholars

“Here is a simple test to determine if you are conservative: Should the church of Satan or satanic temple be allowed the freedom to worship in the same way as Christians? If you answer yes, you need to rethink your claimed political identity because you are not conservative,” he wrote Friday.

Later that same day he added, “Real conservatives will never put the constitution above natural law. The constitution is only useful insofar as it forces our government to limit power and pursue objective truth. It is a powerful means to an end, nothing more, nothing less.”

Over the weekend Pritchard issued a call to ban pornography, saying it “serves no positive benefit in society, destroys men, and treats women as objects.”

A social media account that appears to be for the adult site Just for Fans mocked him, writing on social media, “If you want to cancel an account, please contact our customer service department.”

READ MORE: McCarthy ‘Could Be a Former Speaker by the End of This Week’: Report

Also over the weekend Pritchard called for any Republican who thinks children should be allowed to attend drag shows be “censured or expelled from the party.”

He then wrote he was “extremely disappointed” with North Dakota State University “over their decision to have two homecoming kings and NO homecoming queen. People will be mad when I introduce a bill next session to say that state-funded schools cannot pick homecoming royalty of the same sex, but I didn’t start the fight.”

Pritchard also declared, “All schools should have LGBTQ history taught and lesson one should be Sodom and Gomorrah.”

Monday morning the lawmaker claimed, “All I want is to buy some land, raise a family, and mind my own business. Everything changes when you realize the left is militantly against this existence and will do everything to destroy our families and religion. We must take power or risk being controlled, it’s simple.”

The North Dakota state constitution requires lawmakers to take an oath that reads: “‘I do solemnly swear (or affirm as the case may be) that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of North Dakota; and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of the office of _________ according to the best of my ability, so help me God’ (if an oath), (under pains and penalties of perjury) if an affirmation, and any other oath, declaration, or test may not be required as a qualification for any office or public trust.”



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‘Part of the Authoritarian Playbook’: Trump’s Courthouse Rant Slammed by Fascism Scholars



Inside New York’s State Supreme Court in Manhattan, Donald Trump unleashed his anger on the first day of Attorney General Letitia James’ $250 million civil fraud lawsuit that has already led to the judge ordering the ex-president’s business licenses be revoked and his businesses dissolved.

One of Trump’s rants was highly-criticized by a fascism expert who compared it to language used by authoritarian strongmen including “Mussolini, Hitler, Berlusconi, Erdogan.”

Trump told reporters Monday the New York fraud case “is a continuation of the single greatest witch hunt of all time.” He described Justice Arthur Engoron as a “rogue judge” and Attorney General James as a “racist attorney general” and a “horror show,” and the case against him “a scam” and “a sham.”

READ MORE: McCarthy ‘Could Be a Former Speaker by the End of This Week’: Report

Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a New York University professor of history and Italian studies, responded to Trump’s remarks, saying “the witch hunt/victimhood rhetoric is part of the authoritarian playbook and was/is used by the following corrupt leaders: Mussolini, Hitler, Berlusconi, Erdogan. If extended to the whole country being victimized, add Putin, Xi, and more.”

Fascism expert Federico Finchelstein, a historian and history department chair at New York’s New School for Social Research, responded to Trump’s comments: “Fascist lies are about the projection onto others of what fascists are/do. Trump today as usual displayed his wannabe fascist mindset.”

Sherrilyn Ifill, the former President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF) exclaimed, “So he’s in the courthouse calling the judge ‘rogue’ and calling the prosecutor ‘racist.’ Not on the steps outside the courthouse (bad enough) but inside the very courthouse.”

READ MORE: ‘These Are Our National Secrets’: Democrat Slams GOP for Ignoring Trump Classified Documents Found ‘In the S——’

Trump also told reporters at the courthouse Monday that he’s been indicted because he’s running for president. Multiple reports have revealed he announced his White House run in an effort to avoid prosecution.

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