Pence and Gays: Truth and Fiction

Mike Pence was never a supporter of gay legal equality but as Carl M. Cannon writes at Real Clear Politics, much of the criticism of his past positions is unfair (many liberal Democrats, at the time, said similar things against marriage equality and in favor of “don’t ask, don’t tell” in the military) when not downright disingenuous (the accusations he wanted the government to fund “conversion therapy” centers).

The conversion therapy charge, Cannon noted, stems from langauge on Pence’s congressional campaign website back in 2000, addressing reauthorization of the Ryan White CARE Act to fund AIDS resources:

In the section providing funding for indigent HIV patients (that’s where the “needy” reference comes from), Pence’s campaign website advocates making sure federal dollars aren’t going to organizations that “encourage the types of behaviors that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus.” Instead, the site, says, “Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.”

So there’s your “conversion therapy” angle. It’s thin gruel, especially because in the context of the times and the Ryan White Act, a more obvious reading of the statement is that Pence’s campaign literature called for spending federal money encouraging “safe sex,” not changing sexual orientation.

I’d say it’s quite possible the idea, deliberately vague, was meant as a call for abstinence. But that’s not the same as advocating federal funding for conversion therapy, as Trump/Pence LGBT critics have been suggesting he did explicitly.

[Added: Reader Throbert McGee commments that the conversion therapy accusation “very quickly got transmogrified into “ELECTROCUTING THE GAY OUT OF KIDS!!!” And indeed, the Daily Beast, among others, without reference or source, “reported” that Pence favors conversion therapy, which they then define as “providing electric shocks; using shame to create aversion to same-sex attractions.” The truth is out there, but not on progressive news sites.]

More. As Politico reported, “In 2015, Pence initially signed a [statewide] Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA. He then backpedaled on language that critics feared could be discriminatory against gay people, but that some evangelicals felt was essential to defending religious freedom.”

Readers of this blog know that I strongly favor religious exemptions to anti-discrimination law, viewing them as a necessary way to balance the competing “rights” of religious freedom from state coercion and nondiscrimination. I reject the view of LGBT progressive activists that religious exemptions are merely a “license to discriminate” and agree with Jonathan Rauch that they have been an important component of our civil rights legacy.

A big issue in Indiana is that there is no statewide LGBT nondiscrimination measure against which a religious exemption was needed, although several counties, townships and cities (including Bloomington, Muncie and South Bend) do prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Nevertheless, Pence got pounded by progressive groups and their media and business allies for supporting and signing a religious exemption bill, and Indiana faced economic boycott threats. Pence then supported and signed an amendment that weakened the language in the measure so that it did not exempt businesses from LGBT nondiscrimination statutes, which enraged religious conservatives. He ended up pleasing no one and appeared to have short-circuited his political ambitions. Then history happened.

67 Comments for “Pence and Gays: Truth and Fiction”

  1. posted by Throbert McGee on

    the accusations he wanted the government to fund “conversion therapy” centers.

    Which very quickly got transmogrified into “ELECTROCUTING THE GAY OUT OF KIDS!!!”, despite the fact that the dwindling number of “ex-gay conversion therapy” programs tend to rely on a mix of Freudian psychoanalysis and prayer sessions — in other words, “talk therapy,” not “shock therapy.”

    The only thing I’d add is that it IS important to challenge Pence on the point that “safer sex,” at least from a gay HIV-prevention standpoint, does NOT mean abstaining from oral sex, or frottage, or heavy petting, or a stay-at-home date with “Han’ Solo and his Five Wookiees.”

    Generally speaking, it means abstaining from condomless anal sex. (Either use a condom, or — if no condoms are available — save the anal sex for another night.)

    PS. Of course, it’s not just Pence who needs to be challenged on this point. Some gay activists need to be reminded that “abstinence from high-risk sex” is not a synonym for monastic celibacy.

    Reply
  2. posted by Throbert McGee on

    I also hope that Pence is aware of people like Warren Throckmorton, the Evangelical Christian psychologist who has been a blunt and steadfast critic of the “orientation-change conversion therapy” offered by Exodus and NARTH — while also arguing that “behavior-change therapy” (such as the 12-Step-ish “Gay by Birth, Celibate One Day at a Time” approach) can be beneficial to some people who feel conflicted over faith and sexual orientation.

    “Hi, I’m Adam, and I’m a homosexual, and it’s been 93 days since the last time I had HOT GAY SEX.”

    Not my cuppa tea, but it’s not unscientific, and doesn’t mislead the clients about what they’re buying into.

    Reply
    • posted by TJ on

      yes, that is a unscientific plan. Maybe not quite as dishonest, but dishonest none the less.

      Also the groups giving you the gay 12-step program, probably have unscientific views on why people are gay and probably want its members to oppose equality.

      Reply
      • posted by Throbert McGee on

        Also the groups giving you the gay 12-step program, probably have unscientific views on why people are gay and probably want its members to oppose equality.

        Such programs are explicitly based on the assumption that “orientation is immutable,” and that only behaviors can be modified by personal choice.

        And I’ve met (online) “ex-ex-gays” who endorsed this approach as one that works for some people, precisely because it acknowledges that a celibate homosexual is STILL A GAY PERSON.

        Reply
  3. posted by JohnInCA on

    Do you think Vice-President-Elect Pence (or at least his staff) is unaware of this controversy? If not, his lack of saying anything leafs me to a couple of possible conclusions, most of them unfavorable.

    First up, he could be hoping it’ll just blow over.
    Second, it could be wrong, but he just doesn’t care: he thinks he’ll lose more support by rebuking change therapy then he would gain (probably true. Didn’t change therapy make it into the Texas party platform this year? The GOP base remains pretty anti-gay)
    Third, it could be true.

    Those seem the most obvious conclusions. Only the first (that he’s hoping it’ll blow over and people won’t remember) is favorable to him.

    Then again, maybe tomorrow hell announce that he’s against widely debunked “change therapy” and that he doesn’t want to “cure” gay people. Kinda doubt it though.

    Reply
    • posted by JohnInCA on

      Should read “[…] Leaves me to a couple of possible conclusions.” Gotta get a Bluetooth keyboard.

      Reply
      • posted by Tony M on

        It’s not leafs or leaves, it’s leads (like a horse to water). 🙂

        Reply
  4. posted by Tom Scharbach on

    Readers of this blog know that I strongly favor religious exemptions to anti-discrimination law, viewing them as a necessary way to balance the competing “rights” of religious freedom from state coercion and nondiscrimination.

    I do too, as you know. The devil, though, is in the detail, and you have never been clear about the extent of religious exemption you favor. Instead, you have indiscriminately prattled on about how you “favor religious exemptions to anti-discrimination law”, without explaining what you mean. That means nothing, and that’s the rub.

    So here are some questions for you:

    Do you hold, as I do, that the Sherbet/Yoder/RFRA test (“substantial burden”, “compelling government interest”, “least restrictive means”) is the appropriate standard? Or do you hold, as Justice Scalia and a close majority of the Court held in 1990, that the Employment Division test (“substantial burden”, “rational purpose”) is the appropriate standard?

    Do you hold, as I do (and Congress did in 1993 by a strong majority) that the Sherbet/Yoper/RFRA test (“substantial burden”, “compelling government interest”, “least restrictive means”) should be the applicable test for all laws, local, state and federal, non-discrimination or not? Or do you hold, as is more common today, that a religious exemption should only apply when religious objection same-sex marriage is in question?

    Do you hold, as I do, that religious objection to same-sex marriage should not be treated differently than religious objection to other forms of marriage (interracial, inter-religion, inter-denominational, remarriage after divorce, to name a few) to which religious objection might exist? Or do you hold that same-sex marriage should be singled out for special treatment, as do almost all of the laws being proposed by Republicans nationwide?

    Do you hold, as I do, that religious objectors claiming an exemption should be held to the Sherbet/Yoper/RFRA “substantial burden” threshold? Or do you hold that “substantial burden” should be replaced by a lesser threshold, “mere burden” or “no burden”, as does the First Amendment Defense Act and many of the state-level laws being proposed by Republicans nationwide?

    And finally, do you hold, as I do, that the current distinction between public officials (not sheltered by religious objection laws in the performance of their government duties) and private individuals (sheltered by religious objection laws) should be maintained? Or do you hold that religious exemptions should permit government officials to refuse to fulfill the duties of their office and/or refuse to enforce laws they are responsible to enforce, as does FADA and many of the state-level laws being proposed by Republicans nationwide.

    It is in the answer to those questions, and others like it, that you will add flesh to your prattling. It is not enough to make blanket statements like “I strongly favor religious exemptions to anti-discrimination law, viewing them as a necessary way to balance the competing “rights” of religious freedom from state coercion and nondiscrimination …” and “Progressives … are hot to stick it to people of faith …” Substance, Stephen, substance. At present, I can’t tell where you stand on religious exemption, and neither can anyone else.

    Substance is important because the details make a difference.

    Mike Pence was never a supporter of gay legal equality but as Carl M. Cannon writes at Real Clear Politics, much of the criticism of his past positions is unfair (many liberal Democrats, at the time, said similar things against marriage equality and in favor of “don’t ask, don’t tell” in the military) when not downright disingenuous (the accusations he wanted the government to fund “conversion therapy” centers).

    I am more than willing to accept the thesis that Mike Pence, like the President-Elect, is the very model of a modern gay-supportive Republican, pushing the Republican Party into a wonderful new world of “equal means equal”. But prudence and past experience suggest that I should keep a close eye on what the administration actually does before getting an endorphin high. After all, Mike Pence heads up the transition team, and the Cabinet picks to date don’t exactly suggest that the administration will be turning over a new leaf.

    The “baker, florist, photographer” cases have not floundered in courts because there was no applicable no religious exemption in play. In the cases to date, the “baker, florist, photographer” cases have come to grief (even, and particularly, in states like New Mexico, where the question went far enough to be denied cert by the Supreme Court) because the religious objectors did not (and probably could not) meet the “substantial burden” threshold, for obvious reasons. And if (either because the “substantial burden” threshold is reduced to “mere burden” or “no burden”) the threshold were to be met in religious exemption cases, the standard (Sherbert/Yoder/RFRA versus Employment Division) will almost certainly mandate different legal results.

    So, Stephen, why don’t you get into the details, and let us know what you think about the questions I’ve posed? You might be surprised to find, when you do so, that you have less in common with the proponents of FADA (eliminating the burden threshold entirely, exempting government officials from doing their jobs, limiting religious objection to a single issue) and with Justice Scalia (“rational basis” rather than “compelling government interest” and “least restrictive means” when it comes to laws of general application) than you do with the “progressives” you dismiss as hateful, authoritarian, hostile to “people of faith”.

    Reply
  5. posted by TJ on

    I can’t recall too many liberal Democrats that opposed ending the military ban on gay people. Most that were opposed were conservative Democrats (and Republicans) or centrists who still had hope in Don’t Ask. Don’t Tell being workable.

    Same thing with marriage equality. But Liberals don’t actually control the Democratic party, quite like Conservatives and now (possibly) white supremacists control the GOP.

    At best – as a Congressional candidate – he was trying to insist that AIDS/HIV funding only went to groups that told gays to be totally abstinent or accept right-wing Jesus as their savior.

    Reply
    • posted by Kosh III on

      I remember Sen. Tsongas running for President in 1992 in support of equality for gay people. Ditto Jesse Jackson in 84 and 88 though not so explicitly.
      How many Republicans did so in 92? 96? 00? 04? 08? 12? 16?
      NONE.

      Reply
      • posted by TJ on

        I can’t find much about Tsongas views on gay rights in 1992, I think Jesse Jackson included gay people in his famous 1984 Democratic Party speech.

        If you look at the two major party’s platforms you can see how the Democratic platform gradually became suppotive of privacy and some civil rights, while the Republican platform became more and more hostile.

        The Democratic party was not perfect, but steadily getting better. What about the GOP?

        It wasn’t like their weren’t gay Republicans or straight GOP allies around back then who could make the case.

        Heck, quite a few gay rights positions had quite a bit of bipartisan support. So, it wasn’t like the Republican party had to go in the direction it went in the 1980s.

        Yet, the “Southern Strategy” had worked well in the past and when stirring up anti gay hatred, you didn’t have to talk in code and you didn’t even have to get your own hands dirty.

        Reply
    • posted by Throbert McGee on

      At best – as a Congressional candidate – he was trying to insist that AIDS/HIV funding only went to groups that told gays to be totally abstinent or accept right-wing Jesus as their savior.

      No, that would be “at worst.”

      “At best” would mean, as I said above, that Pence understood the value of strict monogamy or — for the non-monogamous — “not going past 2nd base” in HIV-prevention programs. (Possibly he also had in mind the controversy over “needle exchange” vs. “getting people off of injected recreational drugs entirely.”)

      Reply
      • posted by TJ on

        It’s “at best” because the worst is something far, far worse.

        When politicians talk about AIDS policy in America, “change the behavior ” generally means tell gays “stop having sex and start worshipping right-wing Jesus.”

        Encouraging (gay and straight) couples to be monogmous isn’t a bad idea. it’s part of the comprehensive “ABC’s” of AIDS/HIV prevention that many NGO promote.

        However, most of the time that is NOT what a politician is talking about. In fact they generally oppose the ABC’s model.

        Reply
  6. posted by Kosh III on

    Meanwhile, the GOP continues it’s hate-filled attack against the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness for gay citizens.
    http://www.nashvillescene.com/news/pith-in-the-wind/article/20845882/one-antigay-counseling-bill-wasnt-enough-now-theres-a-second-one

    Reply
  7. posted by Jorge on

    ……….

    *Sigh.*

    The conversion therapy charge, Cannon noted, stems from langauge on Pence’s congressional campaign website back in 2000, addressing reauthorization of the Ryan White CARE Act to fund AIDS resources

    Instead, the site, says, “Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.

    So there’s your “conversion therapy” angle. It’s thin gruel, especially because in the context of the times and the Ryan White Act, a more obvious reading of the statement is that Pence’s campaign literature called for spending federal money encouraging “safe sex,” not changing sexual orientation.

    I think interpreting the statement to mean safe sex is “thin gruel”. But “in the context of the times,” interpreting it to mean conversion therapy is also thin.

    Interpreting it to mean “ELECTROCUTING THE GAY OUT OF KIDS!!!” is paranoid psychotic. I agree with Throbert McGee. Much about Pence’s stance at the time is simply unknown. In the rush to make assumptions, he has not been held accountable.

    I might return to this later.

    Reply
  8. posted by Throbert McGee on

    One thing I would add is that if Pence currently believes in the value of debunked “orientation-change therapy,” he’s not going to reconsider because people who think it’s witty to spell “Bible” as “B-U-Y-B-U-L-L” are running around calling him an ignorant bigot.

    What might change his mind is testimony from NARTH-rejecting Evangelicals like Throckmorton (and other religious conservatives — Roman Catholics, Orthodox Jews — who have denounced “reparative therapy”).

    Also, testimony from “ex-ex-gays” who are able to explain, in very polite terms, “Mr. Pence, going to Exodus meetings for years wasn’t a TOTAL waste of time — it got me sober and helped me deal with compulsive-promiscuity issues and my pattern of seeking abusive partners, etc., but it did absolutely nothing to change my sexual orientation. That simply doesn’t work.”

    Reply
    • posted by JohnInCA on

      It’s the old “evil or stupid?” Catch 22. Either the person is so stupid to believe/do whatever, in spite of all the good reasons and data to do otherwise, or they’re so evil that they do it anyway.

      (feel free to swap out “evil” for any other term.)

      In short, I have no reason to believe that Pence is a stupid man, and after so many years in government, as senator and governor, there is no reason for me to believe he has avoided learning anything on the issue.

      So if that is his belief, I would surmise that either he came to it from his own experiences (perhaps as a closeted bisexual himself), or his trusted experts. And based on his known associations and allegiances, those “trusted experts” are probably of the vein of Tony Perkins.

      So no, if that is his belief, I don’t think new testimony will do a thing to change his belief. To think it is sway-able at this point requires me to think him a stupid and uneducated man, which seems… unsupported.

      Reply
    • posted by TJ on

      Lots of good programs exist to treat drug addiction and sexual addiction or promiscuity, you don’t need to be justifying bad science.

      The Congressional candidate knew what was meant by funneling AIDS treatment and care into helping gay people “change their behavior”.

      It was not to help gay people have healthy gay relationships. Not when 1. anti-gay criminal laws still existed in several states and federally. 2. Anti-gay Discrimination was Not addressed by civil rights laws and gay couples had none of the legal rights of straight married couples.

      Reply
  9. posted by Throbert McGee on

    Not when 1. anti-gay criminal laws still existed in several states and federally. 2. Anti-gay Discrimination was Not addressed by civil rights laws and gay couples had none of the legal rights of straight married couples.

    Those were serious problems, but they had nothing to do with expanding the AIDS Quilt to the size of the National Mall — and Pence was specifically talking about HIV-prevention efforts.

    Reply
    • posted by TJ on

      Yes and HIV PREVENTION efforts that talk about changing gay people’s behavior are (most of the time, especially in American politics) are not talking about helping gay people stop smoking, take up yoga and have healthy gay relationships.

      What they are talking about (in this context) is getting gay people to stop having gay relationships and accept right wing or alt-right Jesus as their God.

      The groups that take this particular view on HIV PREVENTION tend to reject the comprehensive ABCs model, tend to reject gay privacy rights, gay equality and the like.

      Reply
  10. posted by Throbert McGee on

    Interpreting it to mean “ELECTROCUTING THE GAY OUT OF KIDS!!!” is paranoid psychotic.

    Which didn’t stop it from becoming an irritatingly fashionable Facebook meme in early November!
    But quite apart from being “paranoid psychotic,” it’s also an oddly televangelist sort of thing to say. (Like, “God will call me home if I don’t raise $8 million” — but for “God will call me home,” substitute “Herr Pence will make scented bath soap out of LGBT Youth.”)

    And it should go without saying that teenagers, regardless of sexual orientation, are already capable of being histrionic all by themselves, without unnecessary prodding from adult activists who will say any ridiculous shit if it generates donations.

    Reply
  11. posted by Houndentenor on

    Pence is against gay rights. That’s just a fact. Nitpicking various positions of his doesn’t change that. nor does the fact that every single Trump appointment so far has been anti-gay as well. This does not bode well. Stephen will never admit this though. He can’t. That’s what it means to be in denial. I know that Democrats don’t have a perfect record on gay rights. It would be laughable to suggest that they have been. We had to drag the party kicking and screaming towards supporting gay rights. But we did it. Republicans, on the other hand, are actively trying to take those very rights away. It was clearly state in this year’s platform. To deny that is delusional. “Maybe it won’t be as bad as liberals say.” I hope that’s true, but there has been nothing but bad news so far from the proposed Trump administration. I don’t know how far one’s head has to be up one’s ass not to see that.

    Reply
  12. posted by Jorge on

    It must be nice to have the ability to think in well-sourced instead of just memory.

    I also hope that Pence is aware of people like Warren Throckmorton, the Evangelical Christian psychologist who has been a blunt and steadfast critic of the “orientation-change conversion therapy” offered by Exodus and NARTH — while also arguing that “behavior-change therapy” (such as the 12-Step-ish “Gay by Birth, Celibate One Day at a Time” approach) can be beneficial to some people who feel conflicted over faith and sexual orientation.

    “Hi, I’m Adam, and I’m a homosexual, and it’s been 93 days since the last time I had HOT GAY SEX.”

    Holy Foomy Punch! That sounds like it was smuggled out of the puissant silence of the Catholic Church.

    I might approve under the condition that such “behavior change therapy programs” work hand-in-hand with free condom programs. We have needle exchange programs in IV-transmitted disease prevention (which I half-heartedly support), and we give out free condoms in unplanned pregnancy prevention (which I do not support). These programs help reduce the stigma that leads to even riskier choices.

    It’ll never happen but saying it often enough will get people to do it on their own.

    a celibate homosexual is STILL A GAY PERSON.

    I just love the symmetry of men’s faces <3

    That song of a creaky voice makes me want to look and say hi <3

    Do you think Vice-President-Elect Pence (or at least his staff) is unaware of this controversy? If not, his lack of saying anything leafs me to a couple of possible conclusions, most of them unfavorable.

    ……

    I also distrust Pence, but I don’t think you’re pointing out anything unique here. Show me how many other national politicians who are known to have very conservative views on the nature of homosexuality who voluntarily talk about those views (or even gays, period) when they are not asked directly. Virtually every politician who has spoken up has only done so in response to a direct question. That has been the norm in the Republican party–don’t acknowledge that gay people exist unless you are asked directly.

    It just so happens Mike Pence was never asked about gays. In fact homosexuality didn’t come up in any of the four general election debates. The closest thing to a question about gay rights during the VP debate was the one about how religion or faith effects their public duties. That’s the question whose answer by Pence I hated.

    Pence is against gay rights. That’s just a fact. Nitpicking various positions of his doesn’t change that.

    Actually, it does.

    Either the people who are attacking him for his views on the treatment of gays are telling the truth or they are telling lies. If they are telling lies about one thing, then they are not credible enough to listen to another time. There will be no opportunity to present criticism on Mike Pence about gay rights–it’ll be tuned out. That’s the kind of “Boy who cried wolf” thing Bill Maher was talking about when he claimed his hyperbole on other Republicans contributed to Donald Trump being elected.

    Reply
    • posted by Jorge on

      What did I see in Pence’s answer?

      Well in Tim Kaine’s answer you had him acknowledging his faith, but also saying that as a public servant he’s responsible to follow the law. I think he also expressed a responsibility to the people regardless of their faiths and beliefs.

      Pence’s answer was all about him: his faith informing him about the importance of the protection of life. It didn’t rule out the possibility he has a dictator complex and wants to do things his way regardless of what the people want. It wasn’t just an absence of separation of church and state, it was the absence of any respect for the prohibition against establishing a state religion.

      (Paranoid much?)

      It’s a minor offense that makes me suspicious of other possible offenses. Breathing smoke at the Ryan White Act isn’t exactly earning extra GLBT-rights credit.

      Reply
    • posted by JohnInCA on

      “I also distrust Pence, but I don’t think you’re pointing out anything unique here.”
      I was not attempting to. I was explaining to Throbert McGee why I felt his “he can be educated!” hope was naive and foolish.

      Reply
  13. posted by Throbert McGee on

    Holy Foomy Punch! That sounds like it was smuggled out of the puissant silence of the Catholic Church.

    Heh! Just to be clear, Throckmorton has NOT argued that all gay Christians ought to follow the “stay celibate for the rest of your life” model of the Vatican-approved group “Courage”; he’s only said that this is an improvement over “conversion therapy” that leads people to believe that their brains can magically toggle from homo to hetero mode.

    I mean, some “ex-ex-gay” refugees from NARTH or Exodus try the “Celibate Yet Still Gay” approach for a year or two before deciding, “To hell with celibacy; what I want is to find a congregation that’s more theologically challenging than MCC, and a same-sex partner who wants to commit to a ‘Christ-centered’ relationship based on 1 Cor. 13:4-7.”

    And unlike the Vatican, Throckmorton is willing to say, “That’s an excellent outcome!”

    (All of the above is based on what I’ve heard from some ex-ex-gays, as I’ve personally never been tempted to get rid of my ungodly lusting after men.)

    Reply
  14. posted by Throbert McGee on

    For the record, I’d be willing to support a nationwide ban on ex-gay therapy for minors, so long as the definitions of such therapy are precise enough to avoid also banning “Christian teen abstinence” programs that explicitly reject the false promise of “Jesus can turn you from homo to hetero”. (No kid has ever come to grief by delaying sexual activity for a few years — and LGBT youth certainly ain’t getting the “True Love Waits” message from the Rainbow Community.)

    On the other hand, such a ban would be a tough sell, politically, in the age of Jazz Jennings. (“Erm, explain to me again why a 16-year-old lacks the emotional and intellectual maturity to assess the psychological risks of NARTH’s Freud-warmed-over reparative therapy; but an 11-year-old with Gender Identity Dysphoria is able to realistically weigh the potential side-effects, long-term health risks, and limited benefits of puberty-blockers and cross-sex hormones?”)

    P.S. Anyone recall the YouTube video of a teenage American “transgirl” in the UK? She’d been on hormones for several years and looked very feminine and pretty, but hadn’t had any surgery yet, and was disappointed to learn that her penis was off-putting to the people she was interested in dating — namely, hot straight guys. In other words, a biological male homosexually attracted to other males aspires to live as a heterosexual female

    Why is THAT kind of “conversion therapy” permissible for kids under 18?

    Reply
  15. posted by Throbert McGee on

    There will be no opportunity to present criticism on Mike Pence about gay rights–it’ll be tuned out. That’s the kind of “Boy who cried wolf” thing Bill Maher was talking about

    This needs to be amplified. What some call “nitpicking” is an essential part of separating the make-believe wolves and boogeymen from the real threats.

    On Facebook recently, a Muslim friend-of-a-friend had posted about that “Children of Satan” letter that was sent to maybe two dozen or more mosques across America — encouraging all his FB friends to tell everyone everywhere that they ought to write letters to their Congresspersons denouncing Islamophobia and offer big group hugs to the Muslim community, etc.

    I responded with some skepticism — perhaps the letter was not the work of an alt-right white supremacist, but a Muslim hoaxer trying to “raise awareness of the Trump-inspired Hate Epidemic”? Or, maybe, it was a pissed-off Iranian Jew, Christian, or Zoroastrian who’d heard “filthy kafir” once too often back in the motherland, and was now giving a little payback?

    Naturally, I was accused of “denying Islamophobia,” to which my response was “No, muthafucka, I’m giving you FREE FOCUS-GROUP FEEDBACK, ’cause not everyone in America is a hanky-dampening progressive who’s gonna buy your Oh-Help-Help-I-Don’t-Have-Christian-Privilege narrative without some blunt fact-checking.”

    (I actually phrased it much more decorously, but that’s what I was thinking.)

    Reply
  16. posted by Throbert McGee on

    As a final thought, I totally wish I could “up-vote” Tom Scharbach’s excellent post about what “religious exemptions” actually mean in practice:

    The devil, though, is in the detail, and you have never been clear about the extent of religious exemption you favor.

    Mind you, I’m not convinced that America’s LGBT community even needs a federal-level “Equality Act” in order to protect us from the scary Gedankenexperiment of being gay-married on Sunday, fired from our jobs on Monday, and evicted from our homes on Tuesday, JustForBeingGay™.

    But if such a thing really is necessary, it’s not likely to pass anytime soon unless “religious exemptions” are part of it, and Tom does ask the right questions about how any such exemptions should be phrased.

    Reply
  17. posted by Kosh III on

    The most troubling aspect of Herr Pence is that he clearly places his religious opinion above the Constitution and is not bashful about saying so, if not in those exact words.
    His religious opinion is also very selective and hypocritical. Despite the lack any explicit mention of sexual orientation in the Bible or even “behavior”(aside from David and Jonathan) Pence and others labor to destroy gay people. But not one word about “Thou shalt not commit adultery” or “I hate divorce, says the Lord” when it comes to Trump(and Reagan) who has committed both sins.

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  18. posted by Kosh III on

    ” weakened the language in the measure so that it did not exempt businesses from LGBT nondiscrimination statutes, which enraged religious conservatives.”

    The smoking gun, as if we needed it. It was clearly understood by Pence and other avowed “Christians” that the law was intended to allow discrimination.

    Reply
  19. posted by Jorge on

    “…what I want is to find a congregation that’s more theologically challenging than MCC…”

    mmm

    My impression the second (and last) time I went was that I was being blinded by light. I’m more comfortable with Pope Musty Bookworm than Pope John the Baptist–it is much the same there 🙁

    And unlike the Vatican, Throckmorton is willing to say, “That’s an excellent outcome!”

    I read a fascinating article the other week about the Vatican emphasizing its guidelines on cremation: acceptable, but no scattering of the ashes. Not because it’s bad itself, but because it gives an appearance different from belief in the resurrection. I’ll look him up.

    (All of the above is based on what I’ve heard from some ex-ex-gays, as I’ve personally never been tempted to get rid of my ungodly lusting after men.)

    I have always had a belief system centered around “everyone is here for a purpose”, so reconciling the world with religion with my sense of God has only ever suggested that I need to take a more active role in the world.

    I would be happier if men talked more openly with me about avoiding temptation and promoting respect in the workplace and the community–as it is I have to read about it. But not as happy as I’d be if most men were gay.

    But not one word about “Thou shalt not commit adultery” or “I hate divorce, says the Lord” when it comes to Trump(and Reagan) who has committed both sins.

    Uhhhh, I’m pretty sure Pence was reported to have said some words about the adultery Donald Trump committed on that Access Hollywood live mike, to the point there was speculation of him quitting the ticket. Or is the Bible invalidated because it was an even unholier offense against the Church of Gloria Steinem and Latter Day Feminists?

    And as a bonus Trump even was in even more direct violation of Leviticus 18:20, “you shall not have carnal relations with your neighbor’s wife, defiling yourself with her”

    Reply
  20. posted by Kosh III on

    Pence wasn’t bother THAT much by Trumps sins. He teamed up with him. Saying is one thing, but doing proves it or as someone once said ” Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.”

    Reply
  21. posted by Tom Scharbach on

    Nevertheless, Pence got pounded by progressive groups and their media and business allies for supporting and signing a religious exemption bill, and Indiana faced economic boycott threats. Pence then supported and signed an amendment that weakened the language in the measure so that it did not exempt businesses from LGBT nondiscrimination statutes, which enraged religious conservatives. He ended up pleasing no one and appeared to have short-circuited his political ambitions.

    VP-Elect Pence got himself into the mess because he was stupid, as were the conservative Christians and Republicans involved. Pence couldn’t have played the scenario worse if he had put his worst enemies in charge of his actions.

    Let’s take a look at the mess Pence created for himself in more depth.

    At the outset, it is important to note that the core operative language of the Indiana bill itself as not the problem, because the language is functionally identical to the federal RFRA:

    INDIANA

    (a) Except as provided in subsection (b), a governmental entity may not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability.
    (b) A governmental entity may substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion only if the governmental entity demonstrates that application of the burden to the person:
    (1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and
    (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.

    FEDERAL

    (a) IN GENERAL. Government shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, except as provided in subsection (b).
    (b) EXCEPTION. Government may substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion only if it demonstrates that application of the burden to the person
    (1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and
    (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.

    Roughly half the states enacted RFRA-clone language like this 10-15 years ago, without incident. In almost all states that considered the legislation in that period, the bills passed (as was the case on the federal level) by large, almost unanimous margins. The bills were a reaction to (1) Employment Division, which de factor overruled Sherbert/Yoder (“substantial burden”, “compelling government interest”, “least restrictive means”) as to laws of general application, applying instead the Reynolds (“rational basis”) test to laws of general application, significantly weakening protection of religious objection in this country, and (2) Boerne, which ruled that provisions in the federal RFRA reinstating the Sherbert/Yoder test as to state and local law were unconstitutional. The state bills of that period were an honest attempt to restore Sherbert/Yoder to state and local laws.

    Had Indiana put forward a RFRA-clone bill 10-15 years ago, I have no doubt that the bill would have passed without objection, as RFRA-clone bills did in about half the states during that period.

    Roll forward to 2015 and the Indiana bill. The bill ran into a shit storm for three reasons, it seems to me.

    First, the bill’s context. The bill arose as one of many (about a hundred by the ACLU’s count) “religious freedom” bills introduced in 2015 around the country in response to Obergefell, each in different ways targeted at permitting government-sanctioned discrimination against gays and lesbians. The bills followed common patterns. Most were targeted specifically at same-sex marriage. Many lessened or eliminated the “substantial burden” requirement embedded in Sherbert/Yoder and the federal RFRA. Many were directly targeted at non-discrimination laws. Most explicitly protected business entities that refused to provide goods and services to same-sex weddings, shifting focus away from protection of an individual’s constitutional right to free exercise to protection of discriminatory business practices. Most preempted local ordinances. Many/most were advanced in states in which gays and lesbians were not protected by state non-discrimination laws. And so on. The bills met stiff opposition, and Arizona’s proposed law (which ultimately failed after months of hard opposition from gays and lesbians, civil libertarians, Christian leaders other than the hard-core conservative Christians, business owners and others) created a national shit storm. Indiana’s bill was introduced, passed and signed into law in that context.

    Second, the bill’s intent. Although the core operative language of the bill was functionally identical to the federal RFRA, it was clear from the very beginning that Indiana’s bill was targeted at sanctioning business discrimination against gays and lesbians in the context of same-sex marriage. Legislative hearings focused on same-sex marriage and the handful of hapless “bakers, florist and photographers”. Conservative Christian lobbying groups provided an instant replay of the ant-marriage amendment fight of a decade earlier, heaping scorn and derision on gays and lesbians. Nary a word was said about the need to protect free exercise in any context other than business discrimination against gays and lesbians. The discussion was so short-sighted, and so focused on protecting conservative Christians from the horror of same-sex marriage that VP-Elect Pence, with plenty of forewarning, could not provide a sensible defense of the bill on a national Sunday television show. Indiana’s bill was transparently focused on sanctioning discrimination against gays and lesbians.

    Third, the bill’s language. Unlike the federal RFRA and state-level RFRA-clones enacted 10-15 years ago, the Indiana bill made a point of defining “person” to include business entities (“partnership, a limited liability company, a corporation, a company, a firm, a society, a joint-stock company, an unincorporated association”), shifting focus away from protection of an individual’s constitutional right to free exercise to protection of discriminatory business practices. If nothing else made the bill’s intent as plain as a goat’s ass, this language did. Americans have a strong interest in preserving religious liberty for individuals, but have an aversion to discrimination. The bill, as written, just didn’t pass the smell test, and that’s why Pence and Republican legislators had to back off, much to the dismay of conservative Christians.

    I am sad to say this, but I think that the case for Sherbet/Yoder religious exemption has been poisoned in this country by conservative Christians and their Republican allies, who shamelessly combined in state after state (and at the federal level, if FADA means anything) to deploy tools designed to protect religious exercise for the purpose of advancing government-sanctioned discrimination against gays and lesbians. In doing so, conservative Christians and their Republican allies have done great harm to the cause of religious freedom, and to all of us.

    We’ll see more of it going forward, no doubt.

    Then history happened.

    The future is unfolding right before our eyes. If you want to know the future of “equal means equal” going forward, look to the senior staff and Cabinet appointments.

    Reply
  22. posted by Throbert McGee on

    Despite the lack any explicit mention of sexual orientation in the Bible or even “behavior” (aside from David and Jonathan) Pence and others labor to destroy gay people.

    Er… what?

    Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 are about a specific type of homosexual behavior (some interpret “as with a woman” as a reference to cross-dressed prostitution, others as a euphemism for anal sex, but it’s the ACT, and not the inclination, that was punishable by death in ancient times).

    Deuteronomy 23:17-18 deals with female and male prostitution (“price of a dog” here does not refer to Canis familiaris!), and the latter is most often homosexual, since there aren’t that many “janes” willing to pay. Bending over doggy-style for cash is a behavior.

    The actual sin of Onan, Genesis 38:8-10, was heterosexual in character, but historically it was used to bolster the arguments against two men “spilling seed” together (i.e., whether or not penetrative “sodomy” had occurred).

    In the NT, Paul’s coinage arsenokoitai (1Cor. 6:9) is very clearly a Greek paraphrase of the above-mentioned Leviticus verses prohibiting some sort of male homosexual activity.

    Finally, Romans 1:27 refers to men not merely lusting after each other, but actually DOING “unseemly things” together; and the verse immediately before it likewise refers to some sort of sexual misbehavior by women — maybe lesbianism, or maybe Paul means heterosexual sodomy as an illicit means of avoiding pregnancy. But some sort of activity, in either case.

    In short, Kosh III, what in blazes are you talking about?

    Reply
  23. posted by TJ on

    1. Religious freedom means – among other things – the government cannot justify discrimination against a citizen because of the Bible, Torah, Koran, or what have you.

    2. Leviticus doesn’t actually deal with gay women and different scholars debate if it is about male rape (quite common for losers in a battle), or consensual male anal sex or male prostitution.

    As a practical matter, ancient Hebrew law made the death penalty pretty much impossible to implement. So, when Levitcus talks about capital punishment, the procedures involved would have to be looked at.

    Although, much of Leviticus deals with rules that Christians don’t believe in. Traditional Orthodox Jews might believe in most, even all, but they are not an evaluation religion.

    Scholars also debate the meaning of the passages found in Cor and Romans.

    Reply
  24. posted by TJ on

    Paul seems to have invented a world, which is rather bizarre. Their were certainly many many words available to talk about age, class, gender, sex and sexuality within the culture.

    Some scholars argue he was talking about pedophila (especially with human slavery/trafficking).

    Some have argued that he was talking about the passive, but not the active person in the relationship.

    Reply
    • posted by Throbert McGee on

      Paul seems to have invented a word, which is rather bizarre.

      Not invented out of whole cloth, though — arsenokoitai is straightforwardly based on a phrase from the Greek LXX (“Septuagint”) translation of Leviticus. (“Kai meta arsenos ou koimethese…” = “With a man you shall not go to bed…”) Mind you, the scope of the Leviticus verses is narrowed (in some way) by the phrase “as with a woman”, and Paul’s neologism doesn’t attempt to bring that in. So, possibly, he intended to broaden the application of the Levitical ban. I dunno.

      Some scholars argue he was talking about pedophila (especially with human slavery/trafficking).

      But ancient Greek already had words to describe homosexual relations between males of significantly different ages.

      Some have argued that he was talking about the passive, but not the active person in the relationship.

      Mmmmaybe, but others argue that “neither the malakoi nor the arsenokoitai […shall go to heaven]” (1 Cor.6:9) should be understood as “neither those who Bottom nor those who Top.” (And, yes, I’m aware that “malakoi” is also controversial and not everyone agrees that it formed a conceptual pair with “arsenokoitai.”)

      Reply
  25. posted by Throbert McGee on

    Rounding out the free Scripture lesson for Kosh:

    Despite the lack any explicit mention of sexual orientation in the Bible or even “behavior” (aside from David and Jonathan)

    Okay, if David had a Kinsey Number higher than 3, and loved Jonathan “in THAT way,” you’d think that maybe he would’ve tried to find solace in the brawny arms of Uriah the Hittite — instead of doing what David actually did, which was to screw Uriah’s wife Bathsheba and then deliberately orchestrate Uriah’s death. (2 Samuel 11:2-15)

    And if you’re determined to find an LGBT angle in the David and Jonathan saga, the least-elaborate theory might be that Jonathan was gay and had an unrequited crush on David; both Saul and David intuited the nature of Jonathan’s feelings, but they reacted very differently. Saul hurls a sexual insult and a javelin at his son (1 Sam. 20:30-33), but David tenderly eulogizes his best-friend-who-happened-to-be-a-homo (2 Sam. 1:26).

    And by the way, if you want an ancient Middle Eastern drama with massive loads of homoerotic suggestiveness, skip David & Jonathan and check out the Sumerian/Babylonian epic of Gilgamesh and and his sidekick Enkidu, which is much mo’ betta, trust me. (David Ferry’s 1993 version is totally sexcellent and very accessible.)

    Reply
  26. posted by Tom Scharbach on

    The Biblical arguments back and forth illustrate the reason why the first law passed by the Congress assembled after the ratification of the U.S. Constitution was “An Act to regulate the Time and Manner of administering certain Oaths”, the final version of which, after debate, expressly excluded the two clauses mentioning God in the Act as originally proposed. Our founders had a vibrant memory of the Christian against Christian religious intolerance that was the driving force behind settlement of most of the original colonies, and were having nothing to do with embedding religious pieties in official life.

    Reply
    • posted by Throbert McGee on

      You’re right, of course, Tom. But in the “battle for hearts and minds,” one must take into account your neighbors who vote for Pence because they think he’s fighting the good fight against the homosexual menace — and not only Pence himself, whose Veep powers are incredibly limited.

      Reply
    • posted by Tom Scharbach on

      I understand, Throbert.

      My immediate neighbors are extremely conservative Christians — non-denominational Bible church, homeschooling, seven-day Creationists, convinced that Christians are persecuted in this country, believe that the prayers of non-Christians aren’t heard on high, Quiverfulls, the whole nine yards.

      The husband believes that Jesus wants him to convert me to Christianity (“It’s my job …”), and he works at it. I use the opportunity to educate him about scripture, mostly Hebrew Scripture but also Christian Scripture, which I know well from years as a member of an interfaith discussion group. Mostly I’m trying to open his mind up a bit, help him out of his fear of God, and work with him to understand scripture as a story of faith/response rather than as a random collection of proof texts. I don’t know if I’m making any progress, but we talk while we are working together on projects.

      I engage with a lot of conservative Christians, most of them from a local Bible church that spends an inordinate amount of time writing anti-gay letters to the local newspapers. I engage them, as I do my neighbor, on a scriptural basis, working to open their minds.

      Be that as it may, though, it remains a fact that conservative Christians are as protected by our constitution as I am, and it remains a fact that our laws cannot be constitutionally based on religious belief, but instead must be based on religion-neutral, objective “common good” grounds. I find myself explaining that a lot to conservative Christians, showing them how it works for them, and why it is necessary for them. Again, I don’t know if I’m making much progress against the background noise from their churches, but the argument must be made in my opinion.

      I suspect that one of the things that distinguishes us is that you are urban and I am rural. Because I live in a small community where families know each other for generations (about half my friends are folks whose great-grandfathers knew mine), we are not, of necessity, locked down into shouting camps. We actually talk to one another in a way that urban folks (I lived in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago for about 30 years) do not seem to do.

      The conservative Christians I know are not, for the most part, haters like Tony Perkins, Brian Brown and Bryan Fischer. That’s the difference and that’s why I we talk.

      Reply
  27. posted by Throbert McGee on

    TJ writes:

    Leviticus doesn’t actually deal with gay women

    50 points to Gryffindor!

    What TJ said is exactly what you should to say anyone who claims that “the Bible clearly condemns homosexuality.”

    Because if God had wished to make crystal-clear that homosexual acts of every sort are prohibited, then Leviticus 20:13 logically OUGHT to say:

    “If a man lies with a man or if a woman lies with a woman, it is an abomination and everyone involved should have rocks thrown at them until they die.”

    Instead, of course, there’s no mention whatsoever of lesbianism (not in the Qur’an, either, and in the Christian NT, there’s only the rather ambiguous Romans 1:26). And the male-male scenario is constrained by mishkavei ishah, “in the manner of copulating with a woman” — however you want to interpret the Hebrew, it implies the theoretical possibility of men “lying down together” in a way that does NOT cross the forbidden “as with a woman” threshold.

    Reply
  28. posted by Tom Scharbach on

    A further indicator of where we are headed:

    An Ohio bill that would ban abortion as soon as the fetus’ heartbeat can be detected passed the legislature on Tuesday night and is waiting on the governor’s desk. Fetal heartbeats are detectible around six weeks, which is well before many women even realize they’re pregnant. That means the bill would effectively ban abortion in the state of Ohio. The law’s backers say the election of Donald Trump — and the promise that he’ll appoint Supreme Court justices friendly to their cause — have empowered them to move forward on the extreme measure.

    The law, as enacted, is a clear violation of Roe, but I’ll bet Kasich signs the bill. He’s signed 17 anti-abortion bills into law so far, and counting. My guess is that he is too much a chicken-shit to stand up to conservative Christians now.

    I think that the bill’s proponents are unduly optimistic, though. The case will take about two years, perhaps three, to make it to the Supreme Court, and there is little prospect that Breyer, Ginsburg and Kennedy will all shuffle off this mortal coil quickly enough to permit the President-Elect to nominate a sufficient number of Scalia clones to dominate the Court.

    Reply
  29. posted by Throbert McGee on

    Contraceptive measures are so cheap and widely available, and third-base is so much fun, that for some reason I find my knee not jerking at the bill described by Tom — despite the fact that I favor the Roe assumption that elective abortion should not be restricted in the first trimester.

    Reply
  30. posted by Throbert McGee on

    Yes and HIV PREVENTION efforts that talk about changing gay people’s behavior are (most of the time, especially in American politics) are not talking about helping gay people stop smoking, take up yoga and have healthy gay relationships.

    Okay… how exactly is that worse than “let’s get gay teenage dudes on Truvada”?

    Even if your characterization is correct, these “gay people should worship right-wing Jesus” messages are competing in the Marketplace Of Ideas with the likes of SeanCody, and Dan “Hey, Terry, I think you should agree that we should be monogamish” Savage.

    Reply
    • posted by JohnInCA on

      If they were just “competing in the Marketplace of Ideas”, that would be one thing.

      But I think you’re forgetting that when teens are put into reparative therapy†, it’s very seldom willingly.
      ________
      †Whatever form it may take.

      Reply
  31. posted by Throbert McGee on

    My fondest wish is to challenge Dan Savage to a Mixed-Martial Arts cage match, because I’m sure I would totally kick his ass. Possibly he has a height/weight advantage, but that doesn’t matter, because thousands of right-wing Christian former Army SEALS would be lining up to train me, pro bono, just for the sweet delicious pleasure of seeing Dan Savage crying with a nosebleed. Please crowdfund me and make it possible!

    P.S. After Dan Savage, I will pummel the living fuck out of Milo Yiannopoulos, I promise.

    Reply
    • posted by Throbert McGee on

      Erm… “Army SEALS” or “Navy Rangers,” it doesn’t matter. The point is, lots of people would volunteer their time to see Dan Savage get an ass-whupping.

      Reply
      • posted by Throbert McGee on

        And, also, Milo Y. It’s important to appeal to as wide an audience as possible.

        Reply
    • posted by Doug on

      Maybe Dan Savage will challenge you to a dual at 40 paces and I’m sure he would blow your head off.

      Reply
  32. posted by Jorge on

    And if you’re determined to find an LGBT angle in the David and Jonathan saga, the least-elaborate theory might be that Jonathan was gay and had an unrequited crush on David

    I’ve met people (online) who own Bible translations that suggest a credible interpretation that they actually had a sexual relationship. My translation does not. Tom’s point about Christian against Christian is very well taken.

    The last time I asked God whether they were in a sexual relationship, the revelation I got was that I was not meant to know.

    Because if God had wished to make crystal-clear that homosexual acts of every sort are prohibited, then Leviticus 20:13 logically OUGHT to say:

    “If a man lies with a man or if a woman lies with a woman, it is an abomination and everyone involved should have rocks thrown at them until they die.”

    I am sure I said this on this website once, but it occurred to me once that the reason for such checked ruthlessness was due to disease. It is a bitter thought to have.

    Reply
  33. posted by Lori Heine on

    Yes, I agree with Tom that the Bible is a story of faith and response, rather than a rulebook to proof-text. As an Episcopalian, my understanding is that it is the story of people’s experience of God over several centuries. Whether David and Jonathan were lovers, or what Leviticus said, is of minimal concern to me.

    Kudos to Throbert for knowing the Bible and explaining it very well. I hope it clears up some of the misconceptions that go on here.

    And the obsessing going on about what Mike Pence said or meant is utterly ridiculous. He is not Magic Mike. He has no wizard-like powers to force every opinion to become law.

    There is a pervasive, government-is-magic attitude on these commentary threads. So-and-so, in such-and-such a position, said this or that and doesn’t like us. The truth is that 99% of the time we have absolutely no logical reason to care.

    Public opinion is rapidly changing in our favor. The only thing that occasionally knocks that back is “progressive” overreach. The people telling us to be very, very afraid of conservatives are lying. They are frauds.

    Homocons are having a tremendously positive effect on conservatives in general. They get beaten up all the time in comments here, but they’re the ones who are really effecting positive change. Who does more good for LGBT’s in our society–people like Jorge, or those who scream constantly about the horrible meanies on the political right? My money is on the former.

    Reply
    • posted by Jorge on

      (Oh, great, now I can add homocon to my list of “adjective+cons” that belie my politics.)

      Oh you can be sure I scribbled all over the bathroom poster they distributed at work. Remember, the social order guarantees in NYC’s bathroom law and policies are they say transgender people have to choose one–it’s singular. No birth certificate or identification required means I am allowed to ask you a question and take your verbal testimony. The law believes transgender people are exactly the same as everyone else (it has for many years actually) and that’s exactly what you’re going to get. And if you (the conservawhat) don’t like it, my instruction is that you have to use a different bathroom–and yes I actually have to grant you that since there’s more than one bathroom in the building.

      Reply
    • posted by Doug on

      Exactly what positive changes are homocons bringing about in the conservative community? Last I heard the GOP Platform was the most anti-gay in history. I think it has been the left that got the LGBT community to where it is today.

      Reply
      • posted by Lori Heine on

        Of course you think that. It’s what you’ve always been told. And you must believe what you’re told.

        Try to think logically. Conservatives are not going to listen to anyone but other conservatives. They will, therefore, not listen to gay liberals. They will only listen to gay conservatives.

        I’m not talking specifically about what the Republican Party does or does not do. Political parties are run by big corporations and rich people. This is true for both the GOP and the Democratic Party. Real change must come from the grassroots.

        Get out more. Meet more people. You are more bubble-bound than probably any of the other commenters here. Your comments always sound like they came from a boilerplate.

        The left exploits problems. But it also perpetuates them. This is why they’re still rehashing things that happened 50 years ago.

        Reply
        • posted by Doug on

          So kindly enlighten me with all the things homocon’s have accomplished for the LGBT community.

          The reason conservatives only listen to conservatives is because they are closed minded and don’t want to learn.

          Reply
          • posted by Lori Heine on

            Gee, Doug, you mean “conservatives” are a lot like you. It certainly takes a closed-minded bigot to know one.

            Try actually getting to know some conservatives. Not the comic book villains of leftist rhetoric, but real, flesh-and-blood human beings. And ask those who matter-of-factly accept LGBT folks as equals how they came around to this way of thinking.

            But you’ll never do that. The kewl kidz wouldn’t let you sit at their table in the cafeteria anymore. And for people with your mindset, seventh grade goes on forever.

          • posted by Doug on

            Name calling and accusations don’t become you, it’s what people like you do when you cannot answer the question. You no absolutely nothing about me but go ahead and bellow.

          • posted by JohnInCA on

            We *did* ask folks what swayed their thinking. The answer is overwhelmingly “getting to know a gay person”.

  34. posted by Throbert McGee on

    Kudos to Throbert for knowing the Bible and explaining it very well.

    Thank you, Lori. I was raised Catholic but am now somewhere on the atheist/agnostic/pantheist spectrum. (Actually, I particularly like Terry Pratchett’s notion of “poly-Deism” — in the Discworld universe, there are thousands and thousands of gods who don’t pay attention to human events, don’t listen to prayers, and don’t issue Revealed Scriptures, because they’re too busy having sex with each other and battling the Ice-Giants.)

    Anyway, however, as a gay man I’ve learned that if fundamentalist Protestants say one thing, the Vatican says another thing, and the Episcopalian Gay Bishop says something else entirely, it doesn’t hurt to get another opinion from a Conservative Jewish rabbi who also quotes Ultra-Orthodox sources — particularly if you’re talking about Leviticus!

    Seriously, Rabbi Simchah Roth’s essay should be regarded as a gold-standard model for theological discussions of homosexuality — even though it’s very long and technical and us goyim who didn’t have a Jewish religious education (not to mention secularized Jews) may need to Google in order to get through certain sections.

    Reply
  35. posted by Lori Heine on

    Doug declares that I “no” absolutely nothing about him.

    I know all I need to, child. I know that you’re a tool.

    Your comments are nothing but leftist cant. If the Democratic Party told you the moon was made of green cheese, you’d fervently believe it.

    Am I “bellowing?” Go ahead and flatter yourself. You rate no more than a chuckle.

    Reply
  36. posted by Jorge on

    My fondest wish is to challenge Dan Savage to a Mixed-Martial Arts cage match, because I’m sure I would totally kick his ass. Possibly he has a height/weight advantage, but that doesn’t matter, because thousands of right-wing Christian former Army SEALS would be lining up to train me, pro bono, just for the sweet delicious pleasure of seeing Dan Savage crying with a nosebleed. Please crowdfund me and make it possible!

    P.S. After Dan Savage, I will pummel the living fuck out of Milo Yiannopoulos, I promise.

    Since I would *not* win, I’d just fondle his cheeks with a most stereotypical limp-wristed slap. Besides, I want him alive.

    Milo Yiannopoulos is under my protection, however, so you would have to go through me to get to him.

    SEALS (of most any stripe) are very powerful. They have mental reflexes fast enough to strike between the blades of a spinning fan, so bait-and-attack tactics do not work. You do not. In spite of their best efforts to train you, Dan Savage will beat you. SEALs are only average at best against intrigue.

    Reply
    • posted by Jorge on

      (Yes, I totally made all of that up.)

      Reply
      • posted by Lori Heine on

        I would simply give a Three Stooges laugh and smack them a few times. Mess up their hair.

        Given how Milo is about his hair, that would probably hurt him more than anything else.

        Reply

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