Category Archives: Politics

President Obama Should Channel FDR: “They Are Unanimous In Their Hate For Me – And I Welcome Their Hatred!”

On October 31, 1936, four days before his reelection, President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave a speech at Madison Square Garden in New York, commonly known as his “We have only just begun to fight” speech. I decided to re-read the entire piece last night, and I was stunned at how current it was. President Obama could give this speech almost verbatim, and most people wouldn’t realize he’d lifted it from 76 years in the past.

For nearly four years you have had an Administration which instead of twirling its thumbs has rolled up its sleeves. We will keep our sleeves rolled up.

We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace–business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.

They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.

Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me–and I welcome their hatred.

I should like to have it said of my first Administration that in it the forces of selfishness and of lust for power met their match. I should like to have it said of my second Administration that in it these forces met their master.

haters gonna hate
Image from Barack My Timeline. Get the full-size version here.

It’s strikingly familiar, not just for the short piece of audio shared above, but for references to current issues, including employees that they could lose their jobs if they don’t vote for the Republican, the degradation of poor people in this country (now charmingly referred to as the 47 percent), the dangerous shirking of government’s responsibility to the people, and more.

I was fortunate enough to find the address on YouTube, presented in four parts, which is embedded below. Find the time and listen to the whole thing. Here’s a link to the text, courtesy of the FDR library, if you want to read along.

President Obama can’t give this speech. I wish he could, but it’s just not possible in these days of instant media and FOX twisting the news. Nevertheless, this is largely his message, and it’s why President Obama has my vote. I hope he has yours, too.

(And just in case that’s not enough, remember that Governor Romney has gone to multiple anti-gay hate group meetings to convince the anti-gay hate group leaders that he’s just like them. Never forget whose side he’s on.)

Edith Bunker To Anti-Gay Voters: “I can’t believe you’d do anything that mean.”

Time for a history lesson and a strategy session all in one, everyone. This week marks 35 years since Norman Lear brought a lesbian to his legendary TV series All In The Family in an episode that most of you have probably never even heard of. The episode is still remarkably, depressingly relevant, and I think we can learn something about how to frame the argument for marriage equality and civil rights in general from the writers of this award-winning piece of television history.

First airing on October 9, 1977, episode Cousin Liz guest-starred future Superman’s Mom K Callan as Veronica, the long-time partner of Edith Bunker’s recently-deceased cousin. You can probably guess how Archie reacts to the news, but (spoiler alert) Edith stands up to him, at one point delivering his famous catch phrase “Case closed!”

The writers made a special point of mentioning that Liz and Veronica are schoolteachers, drawing on the then- (and unfortunately still-) contentious issue of lesbian and gay teachers being fired because, you know, they’re all child molesters out to “recruit” kids to be gay.

But the episode also remains relevant as four states prepare to vote on marriage equality next month. In the episode, Edith has all the legal rights as Cousin Liz’s next of kin, leaving Veronica to decide whether or not to fight in court for the modest inheritance that should be hers, a battle she would have undoubtedly lost, and a battle many lesbian and gay partners and spouses are still losing today.

Here’s the entire episode (sans theme song). If you’re impatient, the meat of the episode starts at 7:45. Two choice quotes below the video.

Veronica explains her and Liz’s relationship, leading to this bit at 14:46. Jean Stapleton’s delivery makes me cry every damn time:

Edith: Oh, Veronica, I wish you hadn’t told me about this.

Veronica: So do I.

Edith: Oh, no! I didn’t mean that! I mean, it’s so sad. It must have been terrible, lovin’ somebody and not bein’ able to talk about it. I– You can have the tea set; I mean, it belongs to you. You’re really her next of kin.

Remember, this was just a few years after Stonewall. Recognizing that lesbian and gay relationships were equal to straight ones was nothing short of revolutionary. Edith was decades ahead of her time.

Later, Archie threatens to take Veronica to court for Liz’s heirloom silver tea set, exposing her as a lesbian and threatening her job as a schoolteacher. Edith intervenes brilliantly, and in my view, the last sentence of her argument should be a major talking point in Maryland, Maine, Minnesota, and Washington ahead of marriage equality votes on November 6. (19:20)

Archie: Well who the hell wants people like that teaching our kids?! I’m sure God don’t! God’s sittin’ in judgment!

Edith: Well, sure he is, but he’s God; you ain’t!

Edith: Archie, listen, you wouldn’t want to be the cause of somebody losin’ their job! Archie, she’s all alone in the world now and she’s got nobody to take care of her like I have. And she can’t help how she feels. And she didn’t hurt you, so why should you wanna hurt her? Archie, I can’t believe you’d do anything that mean.

Writers Bob Schiller, Bob Weiskopf, Harve Brosten, and Barry Harman received an Emmy Award for Cousin Liz. Not only that, according to Harman, the episode was re-aired in 1978 on the night before California voters famously defeated the Briggs Initiative in a landslide that stunned both sides of the issue.

I doubt any network will rerun Cousin Liz this November, but hey, we have YouTube now. LGBTs, you know what to do. Straight allies, you can help too. Do all of us queer people a solid and send this video to friends and family in the “movable middle” of Maryland, Maine, Minnesota, and Washington before the vote next month. Ask them to watch it before they cast their ballots. Ask them to think about what their vote will do to their lesbian, gay, and bisexual neighbors. On our behalf, ask them if they’re really still meaner than Archie Bunker.

Nazis In America: NC Pastor’s Congregation Stands Behind His Gay Concentration Camps

Yes, it's provocative. It's also appropriate.
Yes, it's provocative. It's also appropriate.

Monday morning, a video from Providence Road Baptist Church in Maiden, North Carolina shocked the nation. In it, pastor Charles Worley said that he wanted lesbians and gays to be forced into concentration camps until we all die. Most people were taken aback, if not by the general principle (shared, unfortunately, by many), then by his brazen adherence to Nazi rhetoric and Nazi solutions.

A couple things have happened since then. The first is from Jeremy Hooper at Good As You, who found a sermon of Worley’s from 1978.

It saddens my heart to think that homosexuals can go around, bless God, and get the applause of a lot of people. Lesbians and all the rest of it? Bless God, forty years ago they’d have hung ‘em, bless God, from a white oak tree, wouldn’t they? Amen.

I would usually say that we really shouldn’t judge someone by what he said nearly 34 years ago, but as Jeremy points out, it’s one of the very few sermons of Worley’s from that era that Providence Road Baptist Church has made available online. They are representing to the world that this sermon matches his and their current teaching, and I am obliged to take their word on it.

Then there’s this video from local NBC affiliate WCNC’s Tuesday night newscast. Their reporter had the chance to talk to two of Worley’s followers, who stand by Worley’s message. (Both wearing gaudy jewelry and the younger wearing her hair up quite immodestly and provocatively in direct violation of 1 Timothy 2:9-10. Just sayin’.)

Geneva Sims said she’s been listening to Worley preach the Gospel since the 1970s. She wasn’t surprised by the 71-year-old pastor’s now infamous sermon. In fact, she supports him and his message.

“He had every right to say what he said about putting them in a pen and giving them food,” said Sims. “The Bible says they are worthy of death. He is preaching God’s word.”

Providence Road Baptist Church member Stacey Pritchard agreed.

“Sometimes you’ve got to be scared straight,” she explained. “He is trying to save those people from Hell.”

Newschannel 36 tried to reach Charles Worley by phone and email. Reporter Dianne Gallagher stopped by his home Tuesday to speak with him, but no one answered the door.

“He has nothing to hide,” said Pritchard. “He’s not afraid of anything he said. He’s a good man. It’s a good church and he speaks the truth. He doesn’t tiptoe around it.”

Just to make sure we’re all on the same page, Geneva Sims and Stacey Pritchard of Newton, North Carolina and Charles Worley of Maiden, North Carolina think that carrying out a Nazi plan to force a group of people into concentration camps for their eventual extermination is “tough love.”

(P.S. Of course he has a right to say it, Ms. Sims. No one said he doesn’t. That doesn’t improve the deadly quality of his rhetoric.)

I hasten to add that no one should believe for a second that this is just a North Carolina problem. People who think like Charles Worley, Geneva Sims, and Stacey Pritchard exist in every community and every state in the union.

NC Pastor Proposes Gay Concentration Camps; Obama A ‘Homosexual Lover’

Last week I used the term “f*ggot lover” to describe what three Missouri Baptist churches think about a UCC congregation that has a bisexual pastor. Maybe I should have held off for a few days, because today we have video of Providence Road Baptist Church (Maiden, North Carolina) pastor Charles L. Worley using that very term (cleaned up for the pulpit) to describe President Obama. The video of Mr. Worley’s May 13, 2012 screed comes from the group Catawba Valley Citizens Against Hate.

I figured a way out, a way to get rid of all the lesbians and queers, but I couldn’t get it past the congress. Build a great, big, large fence — 150 or 100 mile long — put all the lesbians in there, fly over and drop some food. Do the same thing with the queers and the homosexuals and have that fence electrified til they can’t get out, feed ’em, and you know what? In a few years, they’ll die out.

I tell you right now, somebody said, “Who you gonna vote for?” I ain’t gonna vote for a baby killer and a homosexual lover! [Amens from congregation] You said “Did you mean to say that?” You better believe I did! [More Amens]

(h/t Towle Road. Full video provided by the church here.)

For a very long time, LGBT folks have known what people like Mr. Worley would like to do to us. He’s not the first self-identifying Christian to come up with concentration camps for queer people — Hitler was a good 70 years ahead of him on that one — and, mark my words, he won’t be the last. But lately I’ve gotten the sense that straight allies are beginning to get an uncomfortable taste of what the Charles Worleys, Johnny Dovers, Ben Kingston, and Wyatt Ottens of the world think of them for daring to support their LGBT sisters and brothers.

As the sides on this “culture war” (that is, the acknowledgement that LGBT people exist and have civil rights) become more stark, it’s good for Christian straight allies to know where they stand with those who gleefully demonize and would love to murder LGBT people in the name of God.

And in case it wasn’t clear, if you’re a f*ggot lover, they’d do the same to you. You’re not just fighting for our lives, you’re fighting for your own as well.

Missouri Church Softball Teams Take Their Ball And Go Home Over Bisexual Pastor

“Scout,” said Atticus, “n*gger-lover is just one of those terms that don’t mean anything – like snot-nose. It’s hard to explain – ignorant, trashy people use it when they think somebody’s favoring Negroes over and above themselves. It’s slipped into usage with some people like ourselves, when they want a common, ugly term to label somebody.”

“You aren’t really a n*gger-lover, then, are you?”

“I certainly am. I do my best to love everybody… I’m hard put, sometimes – baby, it’s never an insult to be called what somebody thinks is a bad name. It just shows you how poor that person is, it doesn’t hurt you.”

Last night KSDK in St. Louis, Missouri shared a story that reminded me of this passage from To Kill A Mockingbird, only now, “n*gger lover” has been replaced with “f*ggot lover.” Oh, no one’s said it outright, at least not on camera. But three churches in St. Clair, Missouri may as well have when they refused to play softball with the St. John United Church of Christ softball team because their pastor, Reverend James Semmelroth Darnell, is bisexual.

More from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Darnell, fresh out of seminary in Washington, came to St. John to replace its previous pastor in October, but it wasn’t until two weeks ago that the Rev. Johnny Dover, pastor of Friendship Baptist Church and the league’s commissioner, heard a rumor that Darnell was gay.

“I called their coach and asked if it was true,” Dover said.

Dover, Kingston, and the Rev. Wyatt Otten, pastor of Liberty Baptist Church, decided their teams could no longer play against a congregation that had deliberately called an openly bisexual man to be their pastor.

BTW, the book is better.
BTW, the book is better.
What’s puzzling is that the ordination of LGBT people is nothing new for the UCC. The denomination has long supported LGBT inclusion. In fact, the 40th anniversary of the UCC’s first ordination of an openly gay pastor is coming up next month. The fundamentalist churches that acted like fourth graders (no offense, fourth graders) and refused to play ball most certainly disagree with the UCC’s stance on abortion, female pastors, and a host of other issues.

So why now, after twelve years in the league, have Rev. Johnny Dover of Friendship Baptist Church, Rev. Wyatt Otten of Liberty Baptist Church, and Rev. Ben Kingston of Bethel Baptist Church suddenly taken issue with the inclusion of a UCC team in the six- (now five-) team league? Because it became impossible to ignore the fact that the UCC loves and ordains LGBT –in this case bisexual– people.

The good news is that according to Rev. Semmelroth Darnell, nearby UCC churches have stepped up to the plate (pun intended) and will be playing the St. John softball team.

So what does this have to do with the gospel of Jesus Christ? Our reading this morning from St. John says “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. ‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.’ Jesus tells us that we are obedient to him, that we abide in his love, when we love one another as he has loved us. The commandment is not to judge others or to marginalize those not like you, but to love one another as Christ has loved us.

Frankly, I think some of our brothers and sisters in St. Clair have forgotten this. It seems that they would rather take on the role of judging who is right and who is wrong. But nowhere does Jesus say “Love one another as long as you believe and act the same way.” By the exclusion of our team from this league love is certainly not being shown, but blatant bigotry and discrimination. But I am glad to say that others are responding with love and grace. St. Martin’s UCC in Dittmer has offered to play us in pick-up games on Thursdays. Friedens UCC in St. Charles, St. Lucas UCC in South County and Parkway UCC in Town & Country are each interested in a tournament. Ebenezer UCC in Augusta and St. Peter’s UCC in Owensville are looking into forming teams as well. Our sister congregations in the United Church of Christ are responding to this act of exclusion, by reaching out to us in Christ’s love. They are ready to stand by us.

But I have to say, as wonderful as that is, it doesn’t repair the damage. Not the damage to a softball team, Rev. Semmelroth Darnell, or even the members of St. John UCC. I have faith that their community will uphold and strengthen them in a difficult time like this.

No, I’m talking about the damage to the people at the three ironically named Baptist Churches behind this mess. Their pastors have shown them exactly what will happen if anyone finds out they support LGBT people. Worse, the pastors have left it to the imaginations of LGBT kids, teens, and closeted adults what horrible fate awaits them if someone finds out they’re actually LGBT themselves.

Because in these pastors’ minds, the only thing worse than being a f*ggot lover is being a f*ggot.

Sign Believe Out Loud’s Thank You Card To President Obama

People are still talking about President Obama’s affirmation of gay people’s right to marry. I honestly didn’t think it would be this much of a mainstream news story, and I couldn’t be more pleased to be wrong.

I’m also glad that some are beginning to point out what I was the first to notice last week, that President Obama’s support of the right to marry comes directly from his Christian faith, not in spite of it.

The repercussions of the sitting U.S. President making that specific statement from the Oval Office will be enormous, and not just in the realm of politics. The implications are far reaching in the religious community as well. As I said last Wednesday:

There are people in the pews whose anti-gay positions are just an unconsidered default, and he might convince them to adjust their thinking to a more Christ-like attitude. He might get pastors in Middle America not to go quietly along with what Maggie Gallagher and Tony Perkins say they have to do. He might give closeted LGBT kids, teens, and adults who are steeped in anti-gay Christian dogma a new perspective that leads them safely out of the closet.

Christian LGBT group “Believe Out Loud” has created an online thank you card for people to sign. If you’re a Christian who agrees with the president that your faith leads you to support the right to marry, please sign the card. Right now there are 620 signatures and I’d love to see that number climb into the thousands before they deliver it to the White House in a few weeks. Here’s what you’re signing:

Dear President Obama:

With joy and gratitude in our hearts, we thank you for declaring your support for same-sex marriage.

Like you, we are faithful Christians who support lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality not in spite of our Christian faith, but because of it.

Our Christian voices for equality are getting stronger everyday and we thank you for lending yours to the chorus.

Many, many thanks,

Believe Out Loud

For Christians, President Obama Said Much More Than You Think He Said

Well, he finally did it.

This afternoon, President Obama said in an interview with ABC’s Robin Roberts that he supports the right of lesbians, gays, and bisexual people to marry the person they love. Here are the three short clips ABC has shared, followed by the reason I think this matters. (Hint: It’s a game changer, and not for the reason you think.)

I’ll let others talk about why this is a monumental step from an LGBT point of view. Joe Jervis and Pam Spalding had particularly insightful reactions over at the Village Voice. Over at America Blog, Joe Sudbay and John Aravosis outlined the history that led us to today’s statement. And David Badash has official reactions of many Gay, Inc. leaders. And of course, anti-gay industry leaders are uniformly apoplectic. Jeremy Hooper has those statements.

As for me, I’d like to recognize what Obama said to religious Americans, because it was something different than most people think, and that difference could help craft the discussion going forward.

Religious Americans, particularly Christian Americans, are the ones holding back LGBT rights in this country. Just yesterday, Pam’s House Blend ran this picture of a church marquee at a church that doubles as a polling place in Wilmington, North Carolina. It was a pointed declaration to Christians going to vote on an anti-gay marriage amendment that if they wanted to be “good Christians,” they had no choice but to vote for the amendment.

This is what we call "passive electioneering."
This is what we call "passive electioneering."

(It’s a United Methodist Church, because of course it is.)

Planned or not, this is the context of the president’s statement, so it’s important to note exactly what he said to Christians who have been told for generations that as Christians, they can’t be in favor of civil rights for LGBT people. Watch the second video again and notice what he’s not saying.

He isn’t saying “I’m a Christian, but I think LGBT people should have rights.” He’s not even saying, “I’m a Christian, and I think LGBT people should have rights.”

No, President Obama is saying, “I’m a Christian, and that’s why I think LGBT people should have rights.”

Linger on that for a minute. The difference between those three statements is not inconsequential. In fact, it’s hard to overemphasize the importance of that nuance.

As offensive as “God is in the mix” was during that debate about civil marriage rights in 2008, the way he said it gave religious people permission to question their cradle-born beliefs about gay people. And as frustrating as “I’m evolving” has been for those of us who could really use (and deserve) equal rights right now, it has given Christians who might not know any out LGBT people permission to find room within their faith for new understanding.

And now, President Obama has called on Christian Americans to take the next step. He hasn’t told them to throw away their faith; that’s a fool’s errand. Rather, he has pointed out to them that LGBT inclusion very easily blends into the core of their faith as it already is. Just as importantly, he has given a voice to Christians who have already made that journey but have been intimidated into silence.

Will he convince the religious right? Of course not. I daresay that wasn’t even his goal. But there are people in the pews whose anti-gay positions are just an unconsidered default, and he might convince them to adjust their thinking to a more Christ-like attitude. He might get pastors in Middle America not to go quietly along with what Maggie Gallagher and Tony Perkins say they have to do. He might give closeted LGBT kids, teens, and adults who are steeped in anti-gay Christian dogma a new perspective that leads them safely out of the closet.

Like I said, this could be a game changer, far beyond just a conversation about legal rights. Well done, Mr. President. I’m impressed. (Now don’t make us push so hard for the next one. Deal?)

One Tweet Response To UMC General Conference 2012

Well, it’s over. So much happened at the United Methodist Church’s 2012 General Conference since my first post about it. The bottom line is that for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, we’re exactly where we were two weeks ago. All we really have to show for this mess is a few fresh scars.

© UMNS | Click for original
© UMNS | Click for original

My heart doesn’t know what to make of it. I’ve been asked more than once why I don’t just leave. Will Green of Chicago said it best in this tweet from Friday morning.

Click for original tweet
Click for original tweet

This is where I stand, even if I have to do it from outside the Church walls for a while longer. I don’t know if that’s healthy; I suspect that it’s not. But it’s where I am.

FACT: NOM Wants To Start A Race War

nom-logoI would not want to be a follower of the National Organization for [Straight] Marriage (NOM) right now. Last night we learned that yes, what we suspected for the past several years is true: part of NOM’s strategy has been to engender and exploit racism in their fight against civil rights. The revelation comes from NOM’s own internal documents, released by HRC’s NOM Exposed project, which were used as evidence in their failed attempt to get around campaign finance laws in Maine.

MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts had the story this morning.

Two of the passages in question:

The strategic goal of this project is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks—two key Democratic constituencies. Find, equip, energize and connect African American spokespeople for marriage, develop a media campaign around their objections to gay marriage as a civil right; provoke the gay marriage base into responding by denouncing these spokesmen and women as bigots…

The Latino vote in America is a key swing vote, and will be so even more so in the future, both because of demographic growth and inherent uncertainty: Will the process of assimilation to the dominant Anglo culture lead Hispanics to abandon traditional family values? We must interrupt this process of assimilation by making support for marriage a key badge of Latino identity – a symbol of resistance to inappropriate assimilation.

Understand, we’ve known through simple observation that this was part of Maggie Gallagher’s strategy. The only surprise here is the hubris and stupidity in putting it down on paper. Jeremy Hooper of GoodAsYou has offered a long list of evidence of Maggie’s racist strategy from the past couple years. And Alvin McEwen of Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters offered his analysis this morning (more at the link):

In addition, all of those other awful speeches and statements by pastors and black leaders pushed forth by NOM now take a more nauseating semblance. None of what they were doing had anything to preserving the black community or helping the black community.

It was just a game. A nasty, hate-filled game. The only thing that could possibly be worse about this situation is if the exchanging of money between NOM and these black leaders was involved.

As Joe Sudbay said this morning over at AmericaBlog:

This scandal creates a number of questions. For me, the first one is: Who saw NOM’s plan to start a race war and agreed to fund it?

There are some likely suspects who have close ties to the anti-gay industry, led by NOM, including the Catholic Bishops, Mormons and the Knights of Columbus. Someone needs to ask each of those groups if they saw this racist plan and if they funded it.

There are many more questions to be asked. It’s going to take days, if not weeks, to unpack a document dump this large. But this one’s big. No more can NOM claim their desire for racial harmony. No, their own papers expose exactly the opposite agenda.