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Televangelist Robertson Suggests Virus Is Punishment For Marriage Equality

Televangelist Pat Robertson associated COVID-19 with marriage equality and abortion on Monday on Christian Broadcast Network's "The 700 Club."

His co-host Terry Meeuwsen read a comment from a viewer who asked about Robertson's reference to COVID-19 last week and whether "God heal our land and forgive the sins" when people can legally access abortion and marriage equality.

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Video: ‘Christian’ Woman Refuses Venue For Interracial Marriage

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

When the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Obergefell v. Hodges — which in effect, legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states — was handed down in 2015, Christian fundamentalists who opposed the ruling sounded a lot like the segregationists of the 1950s and 1960s who argued that if certain states wanted to discriminate along racial lines, they should be allowed to rather than having to adhere to a national standard. Some white Christian fundamentalists oppose both same-sex marriage and interracial marriage, and in Booneville, Mississippi, one such business appears to be Boone Camp Event Hall.

When an interracial couple wanted to use Boone Camp, according to Deep South Voice’s Ashton Pittman, they were told that the event hall doesn’t accommodate either interracial marriage or same-sex marriage. LaKambria Welch, Pittman reports, was hoping that her brother (who is black) and his fiancée (who is white) would be able to rent the hall for their wedding. But Welch was told by a female employee that because of Boone’s Christian beliefs, the venue had a policy against interracial marriages — and noted that it had a policy against same-sex marriages as well.

The employee, according to Pittman, told Welch, “First of all, we don’t do gay weddings or mixed race, because of our Christian race — I mean, our Christian belief.”

Welch replied, “OK, we’re Christians as well” — and when Welch went on to ask what in the Bible prohibits interracial marriages, the woman responded, “Well, I don’t want to argue my faith.”

Welch told Deep South Voice, “The owner took a look at my brother’s fiancée’s page and wrote her back to say they won’t be able to get married there because of her beliefs. He told my mom, and she contacted the owner through messenger to only get a ‘seen’ with no reply. That’s when I took it upon myself to go get clarification on her beliefs.”

According to another woman in Mississippi, Katelynn Springsteen, Boone Camp has refused to serve same-sex couples as well. Deep South Voice quotes Springsteen as saying that in 2018, “I was trying to find my best friend, who is lesbian, a wedding venue. I was immediately shot down when I was asked if they were OK with a gay wedding.”

Springsteen, according to Pittman, said she received a message saying, “Thanks for checking with us, Katelynn, but due to our Christian faith, we would not be able to accommodate you.”

Mississippi is among the red states that has passed some so-called “religious freedom” bills that allow businesses to refuse service to same-sex couples. The first was Mississippi Senate Bill 2681, a.k.a. the Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 2014; the next was the more explicit Mississippi House Bill 1523, which was passed in 2016 and says it protects “sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions” that “marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman.” However, 1523 (which was passed the year after the Obergefell v. Hodges decision was handed down) does not mention race.

Rubio’s Same-Sex Marriage Opposition Clashes With Generational Message

By Sahil Kapur, Bloomberg News (TNS)

WASHINGTON — Marco Rubio often pitches himself as the candidate of the future, but when it comes to the issue of same- sex marriage, he’s something of a throwback.

The Republican presidential candidate said Sunday that he disagrees with the recent Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide and does not consider it to be settled law.

“It is the current law. I don’t believe any case law is settled law. Any future Supreme Court can change it,” Rubio, 44, said on NBC’s Meet The Press, referring to the landmark June 2015 ruling. “And ultimately, I will appoint Supreme Court justices that will interpret the Constitution as originally constructed.”

On Monday, Rubio rolled out a new campaign ad in which he appeals to Americans who “feel out of place in our own country,” including “millions with traditional values branded bigots and haters.”

While every major Republican candidate opposes gay marriage, Rubio’s position clashes with generational change in the U.S. A Pew Research Center poll in July found that it is supported by 70 percent of millennials (born in 1981 or later) and 59 percent of Generation X (born 1965-1980), while just 45 percent of baby boomers and 39 percent of the silent generation wants it to be legal.

On Meet The Press, Rubio labeled the 5-4 decision “bad law,” arguing that states should be allowed to restrict marriage to opposite-sex couples, defending it as a “traditional and age-old institution.” Unlike Hillary Clinton, who came out for gay marriage in 2013, Rubio has consistently opposed it. (He also recently told the Christian Broadcasting Network that he’d overturn President Barack Obama’s executive order aimed at prohibiting federal contractors from making employment decisions on the basis of a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.)

Opposition to same-sex marriage gives Democrats ammunition against Rubio’s core message that he’s the candidate that best reflects the future of America. “If I am our nominee, they will be the party of the past, and we will be the party of the future,” Rubio said to cheers and applause during the Nov. 10 Republican debate. The generational message, which Obama successfully deployed against Hillary Clinton in 2008, is widely seen as a boon to Rubio in a hypothetical general election against Clinton, the favorite for the 2016 Democratic nomination.

A new NBC/Wall Street Journal national poll finds Clinton and Rubio tied 45-45 percent head-to-head among voters aged 18 to 34, traditionally a stronghold for Democrats.

The divide over same-sex marriage encapsulates Rubio’s dilemma: He’s a young face in a party dominated by older voters. The Pew poll found that while a majority of Americans want gay couples to be able to marry, just 32 percent of Republicans and 24 percent of white evangelical protestants support it. In a candid election postmortem in 2013, the Republican National Committee acknowledged the “generational difference” on gay rights and warned, “If our party is not welcoming and inclusive, young people and increasingly other voters will continue to tune us out.”

Sen. Ted Cruz has proposed a constitutional amendment to reverse the Supreme Court ruling and let states outlaw it. Rubio is not supporting such an amendment, and argued on Sunday that it “would be conceding that the current Constitution is somehow wrong and needs to be fixed.”

In some ways, Rubio is more relatable to younger Americans. As he often reminds voters in debates and stump speeches, he didn’t pay off his student loan debt until just a few years ago. The son of Cuban immigrants, Rubio represents America’s diversifying youth. He’s also a follower of hip-hop music.

“I’m a big fan. He’s got a nice story,” said Grace Cunnie, an 18-year-old freshman at Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire who attended a Rubio campaign event there last month. “He has a very relatable story.”

The generational message doesn’t translate as well on a policy level.

Surveys indicate that Clinton is more in tune with younger generations than Rubio on issues such as raising the federal minimum wage, normalizing relations with Cuba and loosening marijuana laws. While Clinton (like majorities of young voters) favors these ideas, Rubio opposes a wage hike, vows to reverse Obama’s move to open diplomatic relations with Cuba and said in August he’d enforce anti-marijuana federal laws in states that have legalized pot, like Colorado and Washington.

Regardless, some younger Republicans are drawn to Rubio’s pitch.

“I really like how he talks about how the 21st century can be the best years for America,” said Joshua Gagne, a 19-year-old college freshman in New Hampshire. “He’s got a very positive message, unlike some of the other candidates.”

©2015 Bloomberg News. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Photo: Supporters of gay marriage wave the rainbow flag after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Friday that the U.S. Constitution provides same-sex couples the right to marry.

Rep. Julio Gonzalez Doubles Down On ‘Religious Freedom Bill’

So maybe experience is not all it’s cracked up to be.

I mean, if experience were really the teacher the axiom claims, the state of Florida would not be threatening to lumber down the same thorny path from which Indiana and Arkansas so recently retreated in humiliation. Both those states, you will recall, attempted to impose so-called “religious freedom” laws earlier this year that would have allowed businesses to refuse services to gay men and lesbians.

These attempts to dust off Jim Crow were beaten back when businesses condemned the laws and conventions started looking for new places to convene. But apparently, Florida was not paying attention. Or at least, state Rep. Julio Gonzalez wasn’t.

Last week, Gonzalez filed a so-called religious freedom protection bill that would allow any health care provider to refuse services, except in emergency cases, to any person who violated the provider’s moral or religious conscience. The bill doesn’t mention sexual orientation, but is clearly aimed at gay people. On the other hand, given how broadly one may define moral or religious conscience, it would also include women seeking contraception.

And there’s more. The bill empowers adoption agencies to refuse to place children in homes contrary to the agency’s religious convictions. Again, given how broadly that term may be defined, that could include the home of two lesbians, but it might also include a Muslim home, an atheist home, or even a home whose definition of Christianity does not jibe with the agency’s. Finally, the bill also allows individuals and small companies to refuse service on the same grounds.

“This is not about discriminating,” Gonzalez told the Herald-Tribune newspaper in Sarasota. But it is about exactly that.

Given what happened in Arkansas and Indiana and that Florida is a tourist-dependent state, it is hard to imagine this bill ever becoming law. But its very existence suggests the lengths to which the forces of recalcitrance and resistance are willing to go to carve out some kind of official exemption for their bigotry.

They always define that exemption as an article of faith, as if ostracism were some core tenet of the gospel of Christ. But it isn’t. Indeed, Jesus was famously inclusive, openly consorting with prostitutes, paralytics, lepers, tax collectors, women and other second-class citizens of the 1st century.

Moreover, it is telling how narrowly some of us define that which offends religious conscience. Consider: We live in a country that throws away 70 billion pounds of food a year, while 14 percent of us don’t know where our next meal is coming from. The Washington Post recently reported that toddlers with guns kill or injure themselves or others roughly once a week on average. Yet if things like that trouble anyone’s religious sensibilities, their cries have yet to reach my ears.

But let someone order a cake with two men on top and suddenly the moral klaxons are blaring.

You know what affronts my moral conscience? This habit of using God as a cudgel against his most vulnerable people. You have to wonder how many of those who could use the solace faith brings have instead been driven away from faith, made irredeemably hostile toward it, by small-minded people who exclude them in the name of God.

I remember chatting once with some gay men who seemed attracted to the promise of faith, but were repelled by the expression of it they had seen in churches, where they were regarded as outcasts and rejects. Sadly, I was never able to convince them that that humiliating treatment was not the sum and totality of faith. Now, here comes Julio Gonzalez, eager to give that kind of mistreatment the imprimatur of law.

He sees it as a matter of conscience. Really, it’s about the massive failure thereof.

(Leonard Pitts is a columnist for The Miami Herald, 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, Fla., 33132. Readers may contact him via e-mail at (c) 2015 THE MIAMI HERALD DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.

File photo: American Life League via Flickr