As we begin another week in the midst of all this drama regarding the so-called culture war, I thought I would talk about something near and dear to my heart.

For over a year, I have driven you all crazy and I appreciate your patience and support but now we are almost at the end of one part of a journey.

My online booklet, How They See Us: Unmasking the Religious Right War on Gay America is less than 4,000 hits from reaching 1,000,000. It’s a remarkable achievement fueled by all of the support I received from the netroots. And it’s very timely. Things have changed tremendously since January of last year when I published this booklet. Thanks to the recent Hobby Lobby decision, the anti-gay religious right is gaining traction with their bogus “religious freedom” argument.

Granted, we can still count on them to accuse lgbts of attempting to “recruit children” or being “oversexed all-around public health menaces. However,  just like the Klan tried to retool its reputation by claiming they are not “anti-black,” just “pro-white,” the anti-gay religious right is cleverly retooling their arguments by saying they aren’t anti-gay, just “pro-traditional marriage.” They also claim that they are unfairly being targeted for not “celebrating” the so-called “gay lifestyle.”

Of course we know the truth.

Their “religious freedom”  or “religious liberty” argument is another tactic in a long line of tactics and arguments going back decades And the goal has always been the demonization and stigmatization of lgbt individuals in order to deny the lgbt community our God-granted right to equality.

They will never own up to what they have been doing.  They won’t bring up any of the anti-gay lies, homophobic language, or willful scientific distortions they have been guilty of throughout the years.  And  let’s be honest about something –  neither will the media, particularly the Washington Beltway media.

If the lgbt community is waiting for a latter-day Edward R. Murrow or Walter Cronkite to swoop in and save us by exposing the religious right, we are going to be waiting for a pretty long time.

That job belongs to us, i.e. the recipients of all of their anti-gay vitriol. And that is the purpose of How They See Us.

If you haven’t already, check out How They See Us. It is short, but graphics intensive booklet, which I consider a definitive history on anti-gay propaganda. Download it, and above all, PLEASE share it. Our desire for full equality is noble and true, but we have to deal with crafty enemies who hide their homophobic animus behind Scripture and the claim of “deeply held religious beliefs.”  It’s a lie and using their own words and images, How They See Us proves it.

You can read an embedded copy of How They See Us directly on the Scribd site or go to this second site where you can download an adobe acrobat copy.

If you desire to fight back against homophobic lies, then realize that knowledge is the first key. Passing along this knowledge is the second one.

(And just to clear things up, this booklet is free. I don’t get a dime for it. I created it because I am tired of talking about lgbt equality on the terms of the religious right. I'm tired of not having a good resource on hand to call out anti-gay propaganda. The lgbt community – particularly lgbt youth – should have something like this. We all should have had something like this a long time ago.)

Arch-homophobe and wannabe mogul of an online “Christian publication” (BarbWire, which can be best described as an extension of his vile psyche) Matt Barber has a column out predicting that churches in America will soon be forced to marry gay couples.

Never mind reading the entire thing because its his usual psycho wannabe John The Baptist babble. However, the first sentence caught my attention and should catch yours:

Churches in Denmark are now compelled, by law, to host same-sex “weddings.”

Even on a technical basis, Barber is wrong. I recognized that sentence from an earlier article I posted in my news briefs. At the time, it was Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association spinning this lie:

According to the London Telegraph, a new law passed by the Danish parliament “make(s) it mandatory for all churches to conduct gay marriages.” No options, no exceptions, no choice. Homosexuals are to be married wherever they want, regardless of whose conscience is trampled and whose sanctuary is defiled in the process.

Sarah Jones for Americans United for the Separation of Church and State refuted Fischer:

 While it is certainly true that in Denmark, same-sex couples have a legal right to be married in a church in some cases, Fischer neglects to mention the reason why that is so: Denmark has a state church. The law applies quite specifically to that state church.

“With the legalization of gay marriage, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark [which is the state church], is required to allow same-sex couples to marry in churches,” the Pew Research Center notes in a 2013 explainer on same-sex marriage laws around the world.It’s hardly a blanket rule: Pew goes on to state that other religious groups are exempt from the law.

Catholic churches, for example, aren’t required to host same-sex marriage ceremonies, a fact the Vatican noted just this week. “For the moment we [the Catholic Church] are not worried,” Niels Messerschmidt, a representative of the Catholic Diocese of Copenhagen, told Vatican Radio.

Fischer omitted this crucial fact in his fear mongering, as did Matt Barber.

And how much do you want to bet that if any speaker at the National Organization for Marriage’s silly march later this week brings up this law (because they probably will), the truth behind the meme they will spin about “churches are being forced to marry gay couples in Denmark will magically elude them?

The sad part about the entire lie is that in the comments section of One News Now where Barber’s mess is published, the true story is pointed out. However it still doesn’t dissuade the notion from some folks that gays are plotting to force churches to marry them.

On that note, the entire blame for this lie can’t be shouldered by Fischer or Barber.

When you have people so willing to scared in spite of being told that their fears are groundless,  who can blame Barber, Fischer, or any anti-gay spokesperson for taking advantage of their stupidity?

Mat Staver of the right-wing Liberty University has been testifying this week on Capitol Hill on the supposed state of "religious liberty" in America and thus far it has been a huge embarrassment to folks on his side of the spectrum. And it has gotten worse. The online publication Raw Story is now asking did he tell the Congressional committee a lie:

On Tuesday, the Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice held a hearing on “The State of Religious Liberty in the United States” to study the rise of “religious freedom” laws in some U.S. states, under which people of faith cannot be compelled to perform their jobs or provide goods and services if to do so would conflict with their personal beliefs.

Critics of these laws argue that they mimic the crop of antigay laws that have been passed in countries like Russia, Uganda and Nigeria, laws that criminalize same-sex relationships and outlaw the positive portrayal of anything other than heterosexual, monogamous relationships.

Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) asked Mat Staver of the Liberty Counsel, “There are certain antigay laws they have in Russia. You, I believe, have advocated for something similar to that, have you not? Do you support the Russian antigay laws?”

Staver replied, ”What I am concerned about is having people of Christian, uh, Judeo-Christian beliefs be forced to participate in a ceremony or an event that celebrates something that is contrary to their religious beliefs.”

“Okay,” said Cohen, “so you’re not in favor of the Russian antigay laws and what I read was wrong?”

“I don’t know what you read,” Staver said. “I haven’t spoken on the Russian laws.”

However, Right Wing Watch reported in January that Staver and the Liberty Counsel’s Matt Barber both voiced their support for anti-LGBT laws like those in Russia, Uganda and Nigeria during an edition of their “Faith and Freedom” radio show.

The transcript of this particular show is as follows:

Staver: President Obama has been going in a direction to really deconstruct this and to create this idea of same-sex marriage, which is really an oxymoron. But, at the same time, the rest of the world seems to be going exactly opposite of the president and some of the states.

Barber: Yeah, and it’s encouraging to see what’s happening around the world. I think many nations, you think of Russia, you think of some of the African nations around the world, are looking to a liberalized Europe and are looking to the United States under this Obama Administration and they’re rejecting this notion that you can take the institution of marriage and radically redefine it by sanctifying what every major world religion and thousands of years of history and uncompromising human biology have long held: that homosexual behavior and conduct is both immoral, unnatural and self-destructive to the individuals engaged in the behavior and that you don’t have a marriage built upon this immoral behavior. …

Staver: Well, it seems as though, if people are having AIDS and most of that, as the CDC comes down and says, it is transmitted by male homosexuality, by and large, what are you going to do? Are you going to say, are you going to elevate that to a preferred status and say, well yeah, men ought to be able to marry men? That’s an oxymoron. What Nigeria has done by reaffirming marriage as between one man and one woman is what a number of countries are doing around the world. They’re reaffirming marriage as one man and one woman. Russia is one of those countries recently that did that. Latin American countries have reaffirmed marriage as one man and one woman. Then other countries around the world are reaffirming marriage as one man and one woman and rejecting this radicalized homosexual agenda. …

Barber: This is a very dangerous lifestyle that countries like Russia are, in addition to reestablishing and saying no, marriage is what it’s always been, they’re saying additionally we are going to stop this homosexual activist propaganda from corrupting children in our nation and we need to see that right here in the United States.

An article in the Huffington Post published after this show confirmed that Staver was in fact defending Russia’s anti-gay laws.

I am not aware of any concrete penalties Staver would suffer for perjury but he definitely deserves a COLOSSAL round of scorn in the court of public opinion because during the Congressional hearing, he was clearly lying his toches off.

In case you have been living in a cave under a rock with your fingers in your ears, you now know that Oregon became the 18th state to legalize marriage equality.

Mazel tov!

Now let's get serious for a bit. On election night less than two years ago, many Americans got caught by surprise when President Obama was reelected to a second term. Fox News, just about all of the conservative media and bloggers, and their gut had told them that Mitt Romney would either win in a close vote or a landslide.

As it turned out, what they probably felt in their gut was a brief case of happy gas.  However, when it came to all of the other prognosticators, it was genuinely agreed that these seers, these so-called correct predictors of the election day mood, was taking their audience for a ride. Prominent conservatives and republicans like David Frum and Joe Scarborough had it so correct when they read the riot act to folks like Fox News commentator Dick Morris and talking heads Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin for leading fellow conservatives down a primrose path of destruction fueled by a conservative bubble which shut all reality out of an assured Obama victory.

By that same token, someone needs to yank all of these folks who voted for these statewide anti-marriage equality amendments and give them a good figurative slap. And I'm not talking about a wimpy one. I'm talking one of those infamous Joan Crawford type smacks where you really get your hand in the cheek, leaving a loud noise and a lasting sting.

Someone needs to sit these folks down and say "look guys, you have been victimized, bamboozled, played for fools, treated like dopes, and basically sold a bill of goods worse than a car lot full of lemons. In other words, these so-called traditional values and morality groups have been using you."

You see, in spite of the fact that in the past these laws were passed by overwhelming majorities, they still  had to be defended in courts of law if there is a question of whether or not they were constitutional. And no spin about "activist judges" or the "will of the people" will change that. It's standard practice in this country that laws are challenged and have to be proven to be constitutional.

And when this happens, someone has to defend these laws. And when it came to marriage equality laws, things changed bizarrely. Those defending the laws either offered off-the-wall defenses, no defenses at all, or defenses comprised of discredited studies so blatantly inaccurate that at times, I found myself feeling pitiful for the authors of these studies rather than dancing in glee at their obviously painful audacity.

Meanwhile, the amen corners which got folks all riled against marriage equality were pretty much nowhere in sight. I tend to think that was intentional.

In other words, it's easy sending out mass emails (that would be you, Family Research Council and American Family Association), running television commercials (that would be you, National Organization for Marriage), preaching in the pulpits ( that would be you, various pastors) or leading one-sided interviews on your fake news channels (that would be you, Fox News) spinning stories of gays wanting to recruit children, pushing discredited or cherry-picked studies, or  telling false anecdotal stories about "evil homosexuals."

But, as a very smart lawyer once said, the witness stand is a lonely place to lie

Scaring people enough to vote a certain way and proving that said vote was constitutional are two entirely different things.

And there, as they say, lies the rub.  For all of the talking emanating from Tony Perkins and Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council or Maggie Gallagher, Brian Brown, or Frank Schubert of the National Organization for Marriage or all of their cohorts, just how many volunteered to testify in a court of law as to the validity of the anti-marriage equality laws they were pushing?

Where were theses so-called defenders of morality during the DOMA court case? The Prop 8 court case? How about the state cases? Hell, where were they during the Oregon court case which was just decided. If any time they were needed, that would have been it then because Oregon's attorney general, Ellen Rosenblum, wouldn't defend the law.

Of course that's not altogether fair for me to make such a judgement. I hear that NOM did request to defend the law but was turned down by the courts. Then again, knowing NOM like I do, I suspect the organization was making a deliberately futile gesture.

In common street language, these anti-marriage equality groups and their cohorts used a lot of spooky language, made a lot of false claims, but they wouldn't back it up in the place where it counts, i.e. the courts. Instead, they turned tail and ran. Now when their side loses, they always return claiming that the system is biased so as to distract their supporters from the basic unavoidable point that all of their past fearmongering was (oh how can I say this) basically full of shit.

So true to form, FRC, NOM, various pastors, and other anti-gay groups are probably going to read the riot act, making predictions about how "America is on a precipice of destruction by God" or how "homosexuals are using marriage equality to force acceptance," or, my favorite, "unelected activist judges are attempting the destroy this country's so-called Judeo-Christian foundation."
All I ask those who oppose marriage equality is to ignore those bombastic words for a second and count how many times these folks will be asking you for money.

At the most, don't give them any more money because their track record is beginning to stink like five -day old fish.

At the very least, please recognize that you have been sold a bad bill of goods,  i.e. lies told in the name of God, Jesus, and "traditional morality." And all lies, even those told in the name of God,can NEVER carry the day.

Wednesday night, I fell into an awful, soul-numbing depression.

Two very mild tranquilizers and a short nap later, I can finally articulate why. It's simple really.

The lgbt community is fighting Godzilla with a slinky toy.

 I know I get either blissed out or whispered about due to what some may claim is my obsession with anti-gay propaganda, but my concerns about stories spread about the lgbt community by organizations such as the Family Research Council, the American Family Association or people like Bryan Fischer or Todd Starnes are sincere and should not be ignored.

Consider this: In over three decades, anti-gay groups have built a powerful apparatus of lies via junk science, horror anecdotes and cherry-picked science (mostly by the Centers of Disease Control) which have painted the lgbt community as diseased, overly aggressive zombies who want to destroy Christianity while recruiting children. They don't even have to create new stories. They can go back to that old framework continuously. It's like a virus which recreates itself every time its destroyed.

They have relied and continue to rely on the junk of discredited researchers (i.e. Paul Cameron) who claim, amongst other things, that gay men either wallow around in feces or stuff gerbils up their rectums.  On top of that, since 2012, there have been at least 12 incidents of legitimate researchers, physicians, or Ph.Ds who have complained publicly that their work has been either misconstrued or deliberately finagled the wrong way in by these anti-gay groups under the veneer of "religious liberty."

And how many of these offenses have made it to mainstream knowledge? How many of these actions by these groups who claim to be working for Christ have made it to news magazines, network news programs, or even mentions in places other than blogs like mine? Has there ever been any type of deconstruction of just how these groups operate when spinning these awful lies?  And this INCLUDES at places such as lgbt publications and news programs.

In comparison, Fox News's Todd Starnes, who has a known reputation for manufacturing panics about anti-Christian persecution, tells another one of his fibs and his junk gets featured more times than Meryl Streep receives Oscar nominations.

Tony Perkins and the Family Research Council get soft interviews with several news sources and they are building up a "library of information" even as we speak. And by all means, let's not forget Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association, i.e. he who links gays to Hitler. Congressional leaders flock to this man's radio show as if he is a kingmaker.

All of this allows them to define the argument.

Meanwhile, the intellectuals in our community go at each other's throats like Roman gladiators armed with the latest popular terms in "Queer Theology." If we aren't criticizing "mansplaining," we are raising hell over "slut shaming."  The TERFS and the cisgenders are fighting one another. Or are they on the same side. I don't know. I can't keep up.

At the bottom of this mess is the regular lgbt folks who want to be empowered by seeing someone in the media stick up for them, who want to learn how they can speak to their legislative leaders, who want to be educated about the the latest anti-gay lies and distortions but aren't getting the means to do any of this. Instead, they are reduced to voicing mindless vulgarities in the comment section of anti-gay articles or verbalizing their wishful thinking that the latest fool to spout homophobic trash in the name of God would one day be caught in a dirty bathroom with his pants down to his ankles and both of his hands (and mouth) full of things he is not supposed to be partaking of.

Lastly, don't get me started about celebrity-adoring in our community except for the fact that sometimes, I don't care to raise hell at a celebrity for putting his or her foot in their mouths.

And then there is our need to christen certain elements of our community as "Gay Inc."

This is not to say that the anger which goes with christening certain elements and groups as "Gay,Inc." isn't legitimate. But I'm really not impressed. In 2008 after the Prop 8 loss, a lot of us were saying "No More Mr. Nice Gay."  Then when we got mad at the Democratic National Committee, we proclaimed that the "Gay T.M. is closed." In the midst of all of those slogans, some nut decided to come up with the ultra ridiculous slogan that "Gay is the New Black."

But every now and then, we take a break from all of this to complain about how the media isn't giving us a fair shake or how the media is giving a platform to anti-gay groups. Why should the media care about our concerns in matters such as these when, except for those brief moments of griping, we don't seem to care ourselves to address these things on the level that we would address  irrelevant issues such as the relationship between Dustin Lance Black and Tom Dailey.

Maybe I'm rambling but here is where I stand. I'm a 43-year-old black man from Columbia, SC. I have no desire to move to what is considered as large gay metropolitan areas such as New York or California. I will not be driven from where I was born.  But I remember how hard it was coming out when I was bombarded by negative comments via radio, television, and news magazine articles about the evils of being a homosexual. I remember how it was to feel like I was alone even though I was in a large crowd simply because I was the only gay person there. Or worse yet, knowing that there was another gay person in the group and not being able to express a simple commonality for fear of being "discovered."

And a lot of this stemmed from the image created by what was put out there by these anti-gay groups and what they convinced others to believe.I won't forget those awful feelings nor will I blind myself to the knowledge that no matter how many court victories we win, how many pro-lgbt laws are passed, or how lgbt-positive television shows or celebrities are out there, there are still some of us who are falling victim to the same sadness I fell victim to.

If there is one thing which should convince us to combat anti-gay propaganda head-on, it should be that knowledge.

All I'm trying to say is our community needs to get a little more on the ball. That's not to say that we haven't made tremendous progress, because we have.

But we got some problems with focus. Maybe I'm wrong but I still stand by what I am going to say. There are many times in which we unnecessarily pussyfoot around and we seem to be deliberately underestimating the power of anti-gay groups. In doing so,  we allow them  to define us and the argument regarding lgbt equality. We seem to be constantly on the defensive and I don't understand why.

We aren't the liars. We aren't the ones who used discredited science. And we shouldn't be the ones to have to justify our existence.

I would like to see anti-gay groups be in the position to justify their actions for a change.  But this won't ever happen unless we take apart the lie that they are acting on their religious liberty.

A good army doesn't fight each other. They zero in on the enemy who is keeping them outside the gate. And right now, the lgbt community isn't acting like the good army we need to be.

A short while back, South Dakota legislator and pastor Steve Hickey  wrote a long letter to the editor about anal sex in response to a lesbian couple challenging his state’s anti-marriage equality law?

Well his comments during a Monday video chat with the Arcus Leader newspaper defies all description and decency.  According to Talking Points Memo, Hickey defended his original letter by talking about bowel movements in response to criticism he received from a local doctor,  Kevin Weiland:

“And here’s what I’d like to ask Dr. Weiland. Do you tell your patients to wash their hands before they eat? Why? Because you touch a doorknob and you don’t want to get it inside your body. I hesitate to get crude again, but Dr. Weiland, is it OK for, you know, eight of your friends that you’re in love with to take a dump in your bed and then you can sleep in it all year long?”

And it gets worse (or better for those who have a fiendish sense of humor). David Badash of The New Civil Rights Movement watched the entire interview. According to him:

Hickey also claims that doctors tell him gay men “have higher rates of colostomy bags” and “a 20-year less lifespan.” Hickey claims an article in the Journal of Sex Research says “the mean number of sex partners for homosexual males is 251.” Hickey goes on to claim that he has a report that “talks about the dangers of both lesbian and male sex.”

That comment about gay men having a higher rates of colostomy bags is just unreal, particularly because it contradicts an earlier claim he made in his original letter that doctors are supposedly “discouraged from telling the truth” about anal sex.” And those who read this blog know that the claim of gays having a 20-year less lifespan come from either two sources – the discredited research of Paul Cameron or a cherry-picked 1997 study. The authors of the latter study complained in 2001 about how their work was being distorted. Regarding the article in the Journal of Sex Research, Badash said The New Civil Rights Movement asked the Journal of Sex Research about its veracity and has not received an answer at press time.

Badash also said:

Rep. Hickey also, pointing to a paper on a table, claimed that “homosexual is 14 times worse” when it comes to sexually-transmitted diseases. That claim, Hickey said, comes from Dr. John R. Diggs. John R. Diggs, Jr., M.D., wrote “The Health Risks of Gay Sex” which was published online by the Catholic Education Resource Center in 2002. It quotes studies from 1978 and 1982, and 1984 — the height of the AIDS epidemic when little was known about HIV/AIDS.

Diggs’ study also contained numerous errors and falsehoods, which you can read about here.

Feel free to read about or see the rest of Hickey’s interview, but after the above tidbits, I’m done. Except for giving you two reasons why we shouldn’t ignore Hickey or his comments.

For one, he is a lawmaker and thus has a hand in making laws. And a lawmaker armed with bad research about the lgbt community will always be a problem.

But more importantly, he is a pastor and therefore can pull the “I am only speaking according to my faith” card which Michigan Republican Dave Agema and North Carolina pastor Patrick Wooden did when they also made outrageously false remarks about alleged gay sex habits.

And that’s when we allow the argument to get away from us. Many times when folks like Hickey pull the “religious liberty” argument to justify their nasty comments, we give up that ground to them. Instead of calling question to the hypocrisy of a so-called religious person telling lies in the name of God,  many of us attack the religion itself.

In doing so, we help create the false argument that lgbts have a problem with religion in general rather than the lies told in the name of the religion. Meanwhile, folks like Hickey are able to play the martyr. They don’t have to defend their exact words.  Instead they can simply claim that they are being persecuted for being a Christian even though there is nothing in the Bible which speaks of gays and colostomy bags or bowel movements.

Hickey is merely a small portion of a larger industry which exploits religion – particularly the Christian religion – to demonize the lgbt community via lies and horror stories. The more we focus on the exploitation of the religion instead of attacking the religion itself, the closer we come in creating a welcome change in this so-called culture war.

Robert Knight, formerly of the Family Research Council and Concerned Women for America, wrote an interesting piece about the Southern Poverty Law Center. It's the usual " SPLC is unfairly picking on Christian groups" meme that we have been hearing ever since the organization declared several anti-gay groups - including FRC - to be hate groups:
If you want to know where the left is taking the country, a quick trip to the Southern Poverty Law Center's website is instructive. There you will find a "hate map," on which the precise locations of reputable Christian organizations are listed, along with skinheads, Nazis and other actually disreputable groups. Above the map is a photo of what appear to be storm troopers, none of whom resembles Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, but that's beside the point. On Aug. 15, 2012, the hate map was used by would-be mass murderer Floyd Lee Corkins II, who walked into the Family Research Council lobby in Washington, DC, with a loaded gun and a backpack full of 80 more rounds of ammo and 15 Chick-fil-A sandwiches. Convicted on Feb. 6, 2013, under the District's domestic terrorism law and sentenced to 25 years in prison, Corkins told investigators that he was inspired by the SPLC hate map to target the Family Research Council, and that he had planned to murder as many people as possible and stuff chicken sandwiches into their faces. Chick-fil-A's owners and the Family Research Council support natural marriage. 

First of all, Knight is lying. It's something he does quite well. SPLC's map does not contain "precise locations" of the organizations they designate as hate groups. The map only shows the states where they are located.

And with regards to Corkins, he did not say that SPLC's map inspired him to do anything. It was  determined that Corkins was already mentally ill and had been thinking about a way to carry out his plan for years.

But that's not the subject of my post. The subject is Knight's audacity in attacking SPLC . As I indicated before and Knight does in his column, he used to work for the Family Research Council.

And during his time there, it was Knight who pushed a lot of the junk science and lies (such as connecting homosexuality to pedophilia) about the lgbt community which eventually led SPLC to designate the Family Research Council to be a hate group. The following is from SPLC's webpage:

Robert Knight, a longtime conservative writer and journalist and major anti-gay propagandist, served as the FRC’s director of cultural affairs from 1992 until 2002, when he went to Concerned Women for America (CWA). Knight later moved on to be a senior writer at Coral Ridge Ministries, now Truth in Action Ministries. He is currently a senior fellow at the right-wing American Civil Rights Union. During his years at the FRC, Knight penned anti-gay tracts that used the research of thoroughly discredited psychologist Paul Cameron, head of the Colorado-based hate group the Family Research Institute.

 Knight authored numerous anti-gay papers, and even used Cameron’s infamous “gay obituary” study in testimony he offered before Congress to oppose the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) in 1994. In his prepared statement on that topic, he said, “A study of more than 6,400 obituaries in homosexual publications reveals that homosexuals typically have far shorter life spans than the general population.” Cameron’s study has been thoroughly discredited for several reasons, one of which is its deeply flawed methodology. When asked in 2004 about using Cameron’s work, Knight, by then with CWA, responded, “Yes, we have used his research. So what?”
While at the FRC, Knight also co-wrote (with Robert York, a former editor at Focus on the Family) a 1999 booklet with the attention-getting title of Homosexual Behavior and Pedophilia. Among its more remarkable claims was the baseless assertion that “one of the primary goals of the homosexual rights movement is to abolish all age of consent laws and to eventually recognize pedophiles as the ‘prophets’ of a new sexual order.” The same publication argued that the “homosexual rights movement has tried to distance itself from pedophilia, but only for public relations purposes.” The booklet has since disappeared from the FRC’s website, but the organization has not withdrawn the claims it made.

For the sake of disclosure, I happen to know that Knight did freely admit to using the discredited information of Paul Cameron via that 2004 incident.  I was the person to whom he gave the flippant response during a visit he made to the University of South Carolina. And I repeatedly talked about the incident on this blog and in my first book on anti-gay propaganda.

Basically, if it weren't for Knight's influence in FRC information gathering, perhaps the organization wouldn't be attempting to live down the "hate group" designation.

No doubt, unfortunately, this irony will escape Knight and especially FRC.

A situation involving South Carolina legislators’ attack on two state colleges over lgbt issues has just gone nationwide.

And it doesn’t bode well for the state.

Originally, the controversy was about the SC State House taking away $70,000 collectively from the College of Charleston and the University of South Carolina Upstate. The amount adds up to the how much the two colleges spent on the gay-themed books which they assigned students. The legislators claimed that the books, Fun Home and Out Loud: The Best of Rainbow Radio doesn’t represent SC community value and were pornographic.

But now the situation is centering around a now canceled lecture at the University of South Carolina Upstate.  The lecture titled, “How to be a lesbian in 10 days or less” is a satirical and comedic one-woman show by Leigh Hendrix which dealt with coming out.

However, lawmakers raised a fuss about the lecture, claiming that it was “recruiting” students to be gay.  One lawmaker in particular, Sen. Mike Fair of Greenville, had this to say:

“That’s not an explanation of ‘I was born this way.’  It’s recruiting.”

So now, thanks to Sen. Fair, various nationwide media have picked up the story and few, including the Huffington Post, are tongue-in-cheek with their coverage. The majority of them are focusing on the ridiculous notion that a lecture could actually make someone gay.

And Sen. Fair, not unlike the main character in the fable The Mischievous Dog, continues to publicly comment about the lecture and homosexuality, totally oblivious as to how ridiculous South Carolina looks every time he opens his mouth.

Recently, he was interviewed by a local independent newspaper, The Free Times. During the interview, Sen. Fair had some very interesting things to say about lgbt South Carolinians:

Fair — a staunch religious conservative who believes homosexuality is morally wrong — says that while Americans have inalienable rights, glorifying homosexuality at taxpayers’ expense is not one of them. When Free Times pointed out that homosexuals pay taxes, too, as do the families of gay college students, Fair suggested they are also lawbreakers. He pointed to an antiquated state law against “the abominable act of buggery.” While the law is not enforced and homosexuality is not exactly illegal, Fair admits, he says it is still immoral and unhealthy.

Believe it or not, Fair continues:

Doesn’t morality extend to teaching tolerance of homosexuality in a free society? Isn’t that what USC Upstate and the College of Charleston were trying to accomplish? “I don’t believe that,” he says. Actually, he said, homosexuals “lack security in their conviction that what they’re doing is okay.”

When Sen. Fair talks about “what homosexuals are doing,” he is talking about sex. Or more specifically, what he imagines sexual intercourse is between two men because usually when folks like Sen. Fair start hinting about “gay sex,” men having sex with each other seems to always be the direction they head to. Apparently to them, lesbians never have sex.

And when folks like Fair hint that “gay sex” is “immoral and unhealthy,” they are usually speaking in vague terms about either cherry-picked Centers for Disease Control studies from anti-gay sites or junk studies – usually from the same sites – involving anal sex, poop, and gerbils.

That’s right. I said gerbils.

That’s what this issue is all about  – someone’s fevered idea of man-to-man sex and the indignity of having your life reduced to cater to that fevered idea.

If you really gave it some intelligent thought, Sen. Fair’s classification of lgbt South Carolinians is not only unfair and insulting. It’s downright bizarre.  I mean is that what he thinks of a segment of the population he has sworn to serve? That somehow in between wild, passionately immoral, unhealthy bouts of sex, gay male South Carolinians go into a state of suspended animation while normal things such as working, paying the bills, taking care of our families and children, or handling general crises is taken care of for us by robots?

Okay, I admit that’s taking Sen. Fair’s comments too far but it serves to prove my point. In this entire controversy, none of the fault lies with the colleges,  the gay-themed books, lgbt South Carolinians, or even the canceled lecture.

The fault lies with Sen. Fair and those who have his mindset. Certainly Sen. Fair and the rest of the warring legislators have a right to their personal religious beliefs. But that right shouldn’t shield the from criticism when their behavior makes them look like a bunch of braying jackasses and brings mockery on the state.

And there is something more which needs to be said. When any legislator has such an ugly and warped view of any portion of the people he/she has sworn to serve, he/she needs to be called out on it.

I seriously wonder does Sen. Fair or any of his colleagues know any South Carolina lgbt families? Have they spent time with these families? Do they talk to these taxpayers like they would heterosexual taxpayers?

The rest of the nation may be laughing at South Carolina, but I’m not. I don’t like it when those whose salaries are being paid by my money aren’t looking out for my interests because they are busy playing God and judging my life based upon their own ignorance.

Whether or not that ignorance is religiously based is irrelevant. It’s still ignorance and it’s wrong.

The only good thing that will come out of this entire situation is maybe folks will understand the need not only for the gay-themed books at the heart of the matter, but also the lecture.

Because now people can understand what lgbt South Carolinians have to deal with.

“Based upon emails, blog posts, and statements from conservative figures in the state, it wouldn’t be far fetched to say that a plan to attack the College of Charleston and the University of South Carolina-Upstate via the legislature was in the works ever since last year after a failed attempt to generate an outcry over the books . 

Furthermore, based upon those same sources, this issue seems to be less about protecting students from obscenity and more about anger over the fact that gay-themed books were being assigned on university campuses.”

In my state of South Carolina, there is a serious controversy brewing with regards to the state legislature “penalizing” two colleges for assigning gay-theme books for students to read.

The new state budget deducts $70,000 collectively from the College of Charleston and the University of South Carolina-Upstate. The amount adds up to the how much the two colleges spent on the gay-themed books. Rep Garry Smith is leading the charge because he claims the books, Fun Home and Out Loud: The Best of Rainbow Radio doesn’t represent SC community values. Rep. Smith also made the accusation that the College of Charleston was pushing pornography on students.  He pointed to images in one of the books, Fun Home, as proof of  his charges.

The controversy has raised many questions with regards to academic freedom. Rep. Smith claimed that the universities are corrupting the ideas of academic freedom.

However, just where did Rep. Smith get the idea to go after these two colleges?

The answer may be remarkably simple.

Based upon emails, blog posts, and statements from conservative figures in the state, it wouldn’t be far fetched to say that a plan to attack the College of Charleston and the University of South Carolina-Upstate via the legislature was in the works ever since last year after a failed attempt to generate an outcry over the books.

Furthermore, based upon those same sources, this issue seems to be less about protecting students from obscenity and more about anger over the fact that gay-themed books were being assigned on university campuses.

Late last year, an organization by the name of the Palmetto Family Council began raising a fuss about the books. For the uninitiated, the Palmetto Family Council is yet another one of those so-called morality groups which operates under the guise of “protecting the dignity of the family.”

The only problem is that their definition of  “family” seems to only pertain to two-parent married heterosexual families. No single parent homes, and definitely no same-sex families allowed. And, like so many of these groups, their definition of protecting the family never seems to include debating issues such poverty, income inequality, educational inequality.

Rather, the Palmetto Family Council deals with issues regarding their definition of “Christian values” and how they pertain to the family, as if implying that the only families which do count in South Carolina are two-parent married heterosexual families who have the same personal religious beliefs that the organization does.

But back to the matter at hand.

In two posts on the organization’s blog from late 2013, the Palmetto Family Council railed away at College of Charleston for selecting Fun Home as a reading assignments for students. In the the first post, written on June 24, the Palmetto Family Council contrasts Fun Home to other books assigned by other state colleges and universities. And here is the interesting part. The organization doesn’t say one word about the so-called “pornography” of Fun Home. Instead, the Palmetto Family Council cites a publisher’s review of the book:

This autobiography by the author of the long-running strip, Dykes to Watch Out For, deals with her childhood with a closeted gay father, who was an English teacher and proprietor of the local funeral parlor (the former allowed him access to teen boys). Bechdel’s talent for intimacy and banter gains gravitas when used to describe a family in which a man’s secrets make his wife a tired husk and overshadow his daughter’s burgeoning womanhood and homosexuality. His court trial over his dealings with a young boy pushes aside the importance of her early teen years. Her coming out is pushed aside by his death, probably a suicide. (Review from Publisher’s Weekly)

The comparison made between Fun Home  and the other books offered by other SC colleges and universities implied that the College of Charleston was engaging in some sort of ” gay indoctrination.” Palmetto Family Council also said the following in its post:

Which one of these books is not like the others? And exactly how bad is it? Stay tuned for the story of the family that arrived at CofC freshman orientation with happy anticipation only to discover the deep commitment the College has made to Fun Home and all that it symbolizes.

Now in the second post with regards to Fun Home, dated August 9, 2013, the Palmetto Family Council finally mentions the alleged pornography:

Ten South Carolina colleges assigned books for their freshmen to read. As we reported, a number of them selected sufficiently edgy, thought-provoking books. Then there is the College of Charleston’s Fun Home. Were it a movie, it would be NC-17, and not because of its ‘LGBT’ theme. Nine other colleges in South Carolina (and most in America) chose broad, healthy debate…and common sense. The College of Charleston chose to spend $50,000 in state funds and/or student tuition dollars on a narrowly-focused, cartoon (graphical), borderline pornographic book rarely used for this purpose.

That statement is a serious irony because, as I said, in its first post about Fun Home, the Palmetto Family Council never said a word about any pornography. In the August 9th post, the organization also complained about how the media was not giving them the angle they want:

The media has tried to turn our opposition to Fun Home into a dog bites man story: “right wing conservative group opposes book with references to Lesbianism; neo-Victorians seek to keep minds of young adults tightly closed.” That’s not the story. But then learning the truth takes time…and a desire to discover it. As for the book selection process, the task seems as easy as applying common sense, basic values, and a good grasp of reality to a wide variety of options. Nine of our ten colleges that assigned Freshman reading found a way to do that. Why was it so hard for CofC?

Now if this issue was simply about pornography, then why is the University of South Carolina-Upstate in trouble for assigning Outloud: The Best of Rainbow Radio when that book contains absolutely nothing which can be construed as pornographic? (Disclosure - I wrote a short piece on anti-gay propaganda which was included in Outloud: The Best of Rainbow Radio.)

According to a SC libertarian blog, FitsNews on August 13 of last year,  the Palmetto Family Council sent out an action alert to its email subscribers complaining about Outloud: The Best of Rainbow Radio:

In an action alert to its subscribers, Palmetto Family Council blasted the book. “The University of South Carolina Upstate is taking its own shot at traditional South Carolina values using taxpayer and family tuition dollars,” the email noted.

Also, consider the following. On August 20 of last year,  Josh Kimbrell, a conservative radio host of a show called Common Cents and head of an organization called the Palmetto Conservative Alliance, had this to say about Outloud: The Best of Rainbow Radio:

This is yet another example of how institutions of higher education across our state are ignoring the values held by the overwhelming majority of South Carolinians. To add insult to injury, these university-endorsed promotions of homosexuality are being paid for by tax money and / or mandatory student fees, effectively forcing the people of this state to support an agenda wholly opposed to our values. I half expect this kind of promotion of homosexuality and same-sex marriage in Massachusetts and California, but not at public universities in South Carolina. I also imagine that most of my fellow South Carolinians would be just as outraged if they were aware of such abuse. In an effort to reverse this publicly-funded promotion of homosexuality at public institutions in the Palmetto State, “Common Cents” and our policy foundation, the Palmetto Conservative Alliance, are working with our allies in the South Carolina House and Senate to introduce legislation that would forbid public universities from using public money and mandatory student fees to promote any sort of sexual agenda.

Below those comments is an audio of  Kimbrell’s show in which he not only reiterated that his group would be working with “allies” in the SC Legislature, but also predicted (starting at 17:45) that in January, there would be legislation coming out designed to “put a stop” to so-called university promotion of homosexuality

Just what exactly is the Palmetto Conservative Alliance? Your guess is as good as mine. I could find no information on it, particularly its membership.  However, I find it interesting that Kimbrell made an accurate prediction about upcoming legislation crafted in response to the book assignments; i.e. legislation which we are presently debating.

In addition, what are the odds that members of the legislature just happen to negatively target two universities which were the subjects of complaints by the Palmetto Family Council for the same reason – assigning students to read gay-themed books?

Coincidence? I don’t think so.

It is becoming more apparent that this controversy is less about pornography and more about some folks having a problem with universities assigning gay-themed literature to students. The “adult” material contained in Fun Home is merely a distraction, a sidebar if you will, to disguise the issue and make the faux outrage a bit more palpable to those who might not be following the issue.

There is one more facet to this story. When a constituent wrote State Senator Shane Martin an email protesting the cuts, the following was his reply:

I regret that you misunderstand the problem. The problem is that a public college is using taxpayer dollars to promote an agenda that the vast majority of taxpayers, the people that fund the school, do not agree with. No one in the General Assembly, including me, has banned any books. Colleges are free to use whatever books they want to use, or teach any classes they want to teach, or employ any professors they want to employ, unless and until they run afoul of the people paying the bill, the taxpayers. And if they want to do those things anyway, then they are free to find another source of funding. When you take your car in for service, would you want the mechanic to spray an air freshener in the car that they believed expressed their spiritual sense even if the air freshener made you sick? Of course not, and you wouldn’t pay for it. The public schools and colleges of South Carolina are not free agents. They work for the people of South Carolina, and if the people of South Carolina are unhappy with something going on at the public colleges, then those colleges are going to have change. I am very confident in the manner in which I represent my constituents, especially on this issue.

If one were to overlook the absolutely insulting idea of comparing South Carolina lgbts to air fresheners, there is that pesky bit of truth that those some South Carolina lgbts are also taxpayers. It is regrettable that on this particular point, Sen. Martin has chosen to be disingenuous.

This really was not an issue except for the Palmetto Family Council and other conservative groups.  There was no outrage, no groundswell of anger against the universities on this issue. To this day, many South Carolinians still are not aware of what’s going on or why these decisions were made. And amongst those who are aware, there have been serious signs of discomfort with not only lawmakers attempting dictate how colleges can educate their students but also their attempt to erase a portion of the state’s population by reducing the dignity of their lives to the cynical categorization of  “an agenda.”

 Perhaps instead of a conversation about academic freedom, our legislators need to have one on just who do they serve. Do they serve all South Carolinians or organizations who have obviously overstepped their bounds in attempts to define  “morality” and “families” in the Palmetto State?


University of Texas (Austin)  professor Mark Regnerus and all of the other so-called experts called by the state of Michigan to defend its ban on marriage equality was humiliated during the judicial overturning of that law but I wouldn’t worry about their feelings.

As it turns out, they were all well compensated. According to LGBTQNation:

The state of Michigan says it has spent $40,000 on witnesses who testified as experts at a recent trial on same-sex marriage. The state has paid $39,478.75 to experts, and some additional bills “have not yet been sent in,” Joy Yearout, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Bill Schuette, told The Associated Press.

Let’s put Michigan’s waste of $40,000 in a larger perspective.Regnerus had already received $90,000 from the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation and $695,000 from the Witherspoon Institute to fund his now discredited study on gay parenting.  The study was an attempt to sway the Supreme Court in the DOMA and Prop 8 cases and it failed miserably.

Regnerus continued to say that his work was objective, but according to the Huffington Post and the American Independent:

 . . . documents, recently obtained through public-records requests by The American Independent and published in collaboration with The Huffington Post, show that the Witherspoon Institute recruited a professor from a major university to carry out a study that was designed to manipulate public policy. In communicating with donors about the research project, Witherspoon’s president clearly expected results unfavorable to the gay-marriage movement. The think tank’s efforts paid off. The New Family Structures Study came out just in time for opponents of gay marriage to cite it in multiple federal cases involving marriage equality – including two cases soon to be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Speaking of which, Speaker of the House John Boehner spent $2.3 million of taxpayers’ money in the failed attempt to defend DOMA. Of course this is the same man who won’t help pass a bill giving unemployment benefits to Americans out of work, but that’s another “pot of potatoes.”

So what it all comes down to is that anti-gay groups and their allies in Congress spent over $4 million on cases which they were bound to lose even though they plotted an underhanded scheme to win.

Anyone could have told you that Boehner and company were going to eventually lose DOMA. In fact, I did hint on that prediction in August 2011 when I took a look at the junk science and cherry-picked research Boehner’s handpicked lawyer, Paul Clement, was presenting to make his case.

And the situation with Regnerus merely compounded the comedy of errors which Boehner began.

Both of the Bradley Foundation and the Witherspoon Institute are affiliated with Princeton professor Robert George. At Witherspoon Foundation, he is a Herbert W. Vaughan Senior Fellow and at the Bradley Foundation, he is on the Board of Directors. Robert George is also a founder and chairman emeritus of the National Organization for Marriage whose reputation for fighting marriage equality is well known.

The money spent on Regnerus’s study was useless because it couldn’t cover up the odor of corruption.  Organizations which can give out huge amounts of cash for “research,” like the Bradley Foundation and the Witherspoon Institute gave to Regnerus, aren’t exactly looking for “objective results.”

In other words, a lot of folks knew that Regnerus’s study was coming. They knew who funded it and what it’s purpose was. They also knew its fallacies. As a result, it was justifiably discredited all around, including by Regnerus’s own university.

Yet, Michigan still cited it and still called Regnerus as an “expert witness,” which was figuratively the semblance of, as the old saying goes, walking into hell with gasoline soaked underwear while attempting to light a cigarette.

Which leaves us with the endgame – a discredited researcher who sold his soul for either money or his Christian beliefs to organizations with more money than common sense and taxpayers footing the bill for futile attempts to keep lgbts from getting married.

So what does all of this mean?

I think I will leave that up to you.

Related webpage – The Regnerus Fallout