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On the April 24 edition of his show, Bill Maher made a couple of jokes about Pope Francis (this one was a compliment) and Christianity more broadly.

The Catholic League reports:

While discussing the Armenian genocide, Maher said, “You know who said it’s a genocide? The pope. The pope was like f*** yeah it’s a genocide. The pope has huge balls. You would too if you were 78 and never had sex.”

Maher’s assault on the Eucharist was vile. He spoke about a toaster that can customize a burnt image of your face on it. When an image of Jesus was shown on the screen, Maher asked, “What kind of needy loner says, ‘hey look at that bread you’re eating, it’s really me.’”

Now, both of those jokes are incredibly innocuous. If you're offended by that, you're overly sensitive. But at least the silliness stops there.

Not, however, if you are Bill Donohue. Here's the action that he called for regarding Maher's jokes (emphasis added):

Maher does what he does because a) he is an unrelenting bigot b) HBO officials allow him to trash Catholicism with impunity and, c) Catholics will not threaten to kill him. Since neither the first nor the third reason is going to change, that leaves it to HBO to finally act responsibly.
The first two reasons on the list ("he is an unrelenting bigot" and "HBO officials allow him to trash Catholicism with impunity") are described negatively. It's obvious that Donohue wants them to change. Then, he includes a statement that Catholics won't kill Maher. If we follow the way of thinking that the other two reasons suggest, then we can reasonably infer that that Catholics won't kill Maher is unfortunate and should change.

Secondly, Donohue says that because this won't change, "that leaves it to HBO to finally act responsibly." This suggests that HBO acting is a last resort, and that it's unfortunate that it had to get to this point, as in "if only Catholics would kill him, we wouldn't have to go to HBO."

I don't really think that Donohue wants Maher to be killed. Nor does his stupid post explicitly state it. But a reasonable interpretation of it certainly suggests it. Of course, after his reaction to the Charlie Hebdo shooting, this post is not surprising.

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From Buzzfeed:

The ongoing feud between Alabama and federal courts over the state’s ban on same-sex couples’ marriages continued Friday, as a federal judge kept alive advocates’ attempt to take marriage equality statewide.

U.S. District Court Callie Granade has not ruled on the underlying class-action request — which would apply Granade’s ruling that Alabama’s marriage ban is unconstitutional to probate judges, who grant marriage licenses, statewide — but she refused on Friday to grant state and local officials’ request to dismiss the amended class-action complaint.

Judge Granade rejected a number of arguments. Via AL.com:

First: the state Supreme Court action does not prevent federal court actions.

"Moreover, this Court's jurisdiction in this case and this Court's finding that Alabama's marriage sanctity laws are unconstitutional predate the state court mandamus action," she wrote.
Second: probate judge Davis' compliance with the federal injunction does not prevent federal court actions.
"As long as Judge Davis chooses not to issue any marriage licenses to anyone, he is not violating this court's preliminary injunction entered against him," the judge wrote. "The fact that Davis has reportedly complied with the injunction order does not invalidate Plaintiffs' claims."
Third: standing does not not exist because a probate judge told a gay couple they would not be issuing a marriage license.
As for Russell, the judge rejected his argument that the plaintiffs lack the ability of to sue him because he merely told a couple over the phone that he would not issue a marriage license.

"Whether they were informed of this fact over the phone or in person makes no difference," Granade wrote.

Finally: judicial immunity does not apply.
Additionally, Granade ruled against the probate judges' various claims to immunity. She ruled judicial immunity does not apply because they are not acting as judges with regards to marriage licenses.
If Judge Granade eventually rules that the case can proceed as a class action, then all same-sex couples in the state can be made plaintiffs, and all of the state's probate judges will be made defendants. This will mean that all probate judges would be caught between the state Supreme Court and the federal court. From there, I honestly don't know what could happen.
Discuss

When former Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich resigned last year over his $1,000 donation to Prop 8, here's some of what NOM had to say about it.

From April 4, 2014:

NOM called the dismissal of Brendan Eich as CEO of Mozilla a "McCarthyesque witch hunt" that reflects the desire of gay rights activists to punish anyone in society who fails to support their agenda of redefining marriage.
From three hours and five minutes later:
[Marriage equality supporters'] actions escalate a pattern of behavior that makes it crystal clear that the mask is off any pretense of tolerance for different opinions on marriage. The message is clear: no matter your talents, accomplishments and capabilities, opposition to 'gay marriage' utterly disqualifies you from corporate leadership and employment, and even meaningful participation in civil society.
From April 10:
In 2008, Eich donated $1,000 to the campaign to pass Proposition 8 in California and protect marriage as the union of one man and one woman. For that, he's been convicted of an imagined hate crime by the radical homosexual activist community.

We must stand up to this outrageous assault on not just our values — but on the fundamental principles of free speech and our very democratic process! We cannot let a fringe group of radicals create an environment that will prohibit citizens from engaging in their right to enter the political arena without fear of reprisals!

From April 17:
Can you envision a future in which your support of marriage deprives you of your job...of your business...of your liberty?

I can. Because, quite frankly, we're already seeing it...all over the country!

Mozilla's forcing CEO Brendan Eich to resign over a political contribution he made six years ago certainly brings to the fore the need to stand up to these bullies.

So, what can be done about it? Many things — but it all boils down to this: mobilize the American people to defend God's truth about marriage and stand up to the radical extremists that want to redefine marriage, marginalize its supporters and stifle free speech and the democratic process!

From August 6:
The ousting of Brenden Eich from Mozilla and the attempts by Chase Bank to ID employees based on whether they are "an ally of the LGBT community" were two powerful and extreme examples of efforts to marginalize and punish people who believe in a biblical or traditional view of sexual morality.
When it happened, I defended how things played out. I want to clarify exactly where I stand on what happened and why I defended, and continue to defend, what happened. I have no problem with what happened, because what happened was that Mozilla's own customers were angry at Mozilla for appointing a man to the position of CEO that they did not like. The anger that his appointment to CEO bred from Mozilla's own customers meant that he could not be an effective leader. Mozilla was being harmed by his appointment. So he resigned. That's his bad luck. However, I wrote at the time, and I still believe, that he should not be fired (although, of course, that's not what happened). Implicitly, this extends to me disagreeing with calls for him to be fired, including boycotts of Mozilla until he leaves.

One would assume from NOM's posts about what happened is that NOM opposes people losing their jobs over their political beliefs or activities, but one would be wrong. NOM hasn't learnt that when trying to distinguish two similar situations so you can act in one way in one situation and act in another in the other, you cannot distinguish the two situations over the two different political positions involved and not be a hypocrite.

During the controversy over Indiana's RFRA, then-Angie's List CEO Bill Oesterie put expansion plans in the state on hold as a protest against the law. Now, he has resigned. I don't know if the two are related. But NOM is not just claiming that they are related. They're celebrating it:

They comment:
Less than a month after we launched our Dump Angie initiative, 2,290 former Angie's List members have canceled their accounts following the company's attack on the rights of Christians and other faiths, and an additional 4,938 have written the company with their disapproval, saying they would not be using Angie's List in the future. Thank you to all who have made the Dump Angie pledge!

In addition to thousands of marriage supporters taking action, now a second victory has emerged from our Dump Angie petition: Bill Oesterie has “surprised” everyone by voluntarily stepping down from his position as CEO of the company. Having co-founded the subscription service in 1995, Oesterie is leaving at one of the company’s rockiest times, due to its decision to withhold business from Indiana after the state passed a bill protecting the religious freedom rights of its citizens.

And just to show that they truly are committed to seeing political opponents lose their jobs:
Whether Oesterie or the media will admit it, it was the men and women who believe in their religious freedom rights who showed Oesterie the real effects of attacking the first amendment. Oesterie is one of many who have learned the hard way that marriage defenders are not submissive: they are refusing to compromise on something as important as marriage and family.

This is a great victory for religious freedom, and there are many more to come!

By "refusing to compromise", they mean "we will seek to run you out of your job if you don't agree with our politics, and celebrate when we succeed".

How the hell can NOM seriously claim to accuse us of being intolerant? As I've said, the difference between this case and the Mozilla case is that (if he did resign because of a campaign by conservative Christians) Eich resigned because he was unpopular and polarizing, and his appointment was harming Mozilla. If what NOM is claiming happened did happen, then it means that Oesterie was run out of his job by a campaign by conservative Christians seeking just that.

The same people that claim that we are the bullying, intolerant ones.

Pot, meet kettle.

Discuss

You may be aware that since this time (April) last year, NOM has been nothing but a massive pain in the ass to Oregon and the Ninth Circuit.

Now, that pain in the ass has finally been defeated.

From The New Civil Rights Movement:

In yet another loss for the National Organization For Marriage (NOM), today the U.S. Supreme Court denied to hear the anti-gay marriage group's challenge to an Oregon same-sex marriage case that was already decided last year.

Although same-sex couples have been legally marrying since May of 2014, NOM petitioned the nation's top court to allow it to challenge U.S. District Judge Michael McShane's ruling that had been upheld at the appellate level. Today, the Supreme Court listed NOM's request among many others that were denied.

"It's a good day," Portland attorney Lake Perriguey, involved in one of the cases that struck down the same-sex marriage ban in the Beaver State, told The Oregonian. "It's a distraction we don't have to worry about anymore."

This is their seventh straight loss, after 1) being denied to intervene by the district court, 2) being denied a stay by the district court, 3) being denied a stay by the Ninth Circuit, 4) being denied a stay by the Supreme Court, 5) being denied to intervene by the Ninth Circuit, 6) having their en banc appeal turned away, 7) and now having their cert petition turned away.

This should be the last we hear of it, although I wouldn't be surprised if they still think they have an avenue of appeal.

Poll

What will NOM do now?

56%30 votes
37%20 votes
1%1 votes
3%2 votes

| 53 votes | Vote | Results

Discuss

One of my frustrations with the Left is that some elements within it are dogmatically committed to certain principles, without any regard to how they practically play out when acted upon. I call this faction the Idealistic Left. The counter approach is to work for the best practical outcome, and not to bind yourself to a way of thinking that will not achieve anything. I call this faction the Pragmatic Left. Typically, the response to a challenge of the rigidly principled dogma is "If you don't stand by your principles when they are challenged, you don't stand by them at all." There's truth in this statement. You cannot claim to support freedom of speech if you don't defend the right to speech that upsets you. But here's why I don't believe that this is a valid response.

Principles do not exist in a vacuum. We should not believe in them merely for the sake of believing in them, and being able to claim "I stand for [X]." My principles are always derived from my belief that applying them would achieve a practical benefit. That's the only reason I believe in a principle: applying it would do good. So if I think that applying a principle would not achieve a practical benefit, or even worse, would achieve a practical harm, I don't believe in it, and I don't apply it to my actions. Similarly, if a principle that I do generally believe in would, if taken to an extreme, start to cause harm, I would neither believe in that principle nor apply it to the extent that it causes harm.

Let's start with a familiar example: tolerance. This is a principle that I strongly believe in, because applying it to our behaviour is (generally) to the benefit of all people and society, and not doing so is (generally) very detrimental to people and society. This is because there are people in the world who are different to the majority for any number of reasons. Mistreating them for their difference does substantial harm to them, and makes society a harsh, hostile and ugly place to live in. But what happens when tolerance is obeyed to the point where it becomes self-defeating? For instance, Britain is the most tolerant country on Earth. For so long, it has allowed anyone from anywhere to immigrate, with little restrictions on numbers. This allowance of immigration has been carried out in the name of tolerance, the idea that we should not single out immigrants for a detriment (that being not being able to immigrate) just because of their different culture, ethnicity or religion. But unfortunately, this extreme and absolute application of tolerance, which holds that we can never make any critical analysis of a different culture, ethnicity or religion, leads to a defeat for the practical benefits for people and society that tolerance was designed to achieve in the first place. In Britain, and Europe more broadly, hate crimes against LGBT people and Jews are committed at a disproportionately high rate by Muslim/Middle Eastern people, often immigrants. That's just a fact. And that means that we have a situation that in attempting to be tolerant to Muslim and Middle Eastern immigrants, Britain has created a society that is far too often intolerant of LGBT people and Jews. So, the very reason why we should be tolerant in the first place (preventing harm to minorities and thus broader society) has been massively undermined by taking tolerance to this extreme. As Bill Maher said: "[One basic liberal principle is tolerance.] But not for intolerance."

So no, I do not believe that we should stand by our principles through absolute thick and thin. The entire reason we believe (or should believe) in them is to achieve a practical benefit. If applying a principle and standing by it, to an extreme or absolute extent, is doing harm, then scale it back a little. Ultimately, we want to do good, not harm. And we should reject any beliefs or actions that cause harm, including principled extremism.

I'm bringing this up because a couple of weeks ago, I encountered a real instance in which principled extremism may be undermining and holding back the progress that the principle was trying to achieve in the first place. When the Missouri city of Springfield voted to repeal a SOGI anti-discrimination ordinance, I noted that opponents of the ordinance had campaigned heavily on narrow applications of it. This is where it gets sensitive. One application applies only to sexual orientation. The other applies only to gender identity. The former is the sale of wedding services to same-sex couples. The latter is the right of transgender people to use their appropriate bathrooms.

Now, I am strongly in favor banning both types of discrimination. But, these two applications of the law, which are fairly narrow, and don't affect other applications, appear to have dragged the law down to a narrow defeat, 48.5% to 51.5%. So I suggested that if omitting only a couple of narrow applications of the law would get enough people on side to support it, we might want to consider it. Here's my comment in full context:

The ordinance would have banned two types of discrimination that are controversial, and that many do not think should be banned: denial of service for a gay wedding, and allowing transgender people to use their proper bathrooms. So, even in a conservative state, and even with the ordinance covering two types of discrimination that many people think should be legal, they could only get 51.5% of people to oppose it. How many people would support anti-discrimination protections if these were excluded and it was not confined to a conservative area? Many more. This doesn't hold well for their idea that a majority of Americans support being able to discriminate against LGBT people. (I'm not saying that allowing the two types of discrimination I've mentioned is good, but I do think we would be more successful if they weren't covered.)
Generally, that suggestion was not well received.

The first criticism came from fellow Kossack AJayne. AJayne's comment was reasonable and civilized, but I still think that the sentiment expressed would make fighting for LGBT equality more difficult than it needs to be. AJayne said:

I of course agree with the sentiment. All LGBT people should have their equal rights, and all LGBT people should fight for them, both for themselves and for others. However, I do not believe that what I proposed was inconsistent with that. Going from having no protections against discrimination to having many protections, even with one or two narrow exceptions, is a massive step forward. Doing that does not mean that we aren't fighting or aren't fighting together. The other thing is this. What I said does not at all even come close to excluding transgender people. I discussed not including for the moment both a gender identity protection and a sexual orientation protection. I did not only leave out a gender identity protection. But even if I had done that, it still would not be excluding transgender people. (It would not be a good idea, though, either.) And that would be because the ordinance covered gender identity. Transgender people would have had a massive improvement in their lives, even without the bathroom protection. Now, I'm not in favor of not including one protection but not the other. I would not advocate or vote to amend a bill to only exclude a gender identity protection and not  sexual orientation protection. That would still create a situation where gender identity protections are less comprehensive than sexual orientation protections. I don't want that. But I think it's quite reasonable to temporarily omit one protection for both sexual orientation and gender identity, and then work towards putting it in in the future. It's a shared, equal sacrifice that leaves no one out, and it still a massive improvement from nothing.

This is what I was getting at with this comment:

In response, fellow Kossack rserven, who is transgender, made a legitimate point:
I wrote before, in the original post, and in this post, and I will write again, that what is needed is to keep working on the applications of the law that were omitted. A law with omissions is not perfect, and we should still work to improve it. It's important to keep working on it. However, in most states, transgender people have not been omitted. Currently, eight states do not have the same statewide protections for sexual orientation and gender identity. New York, New Hampshire and Wisconsin have policies giving more protection to sexual orientation than gender identity. Additionally, Alaska, Arizona, Montana, Missouri, and Ohio have executive orders banning sexual orientation discrimination but not gender identity discrimination in public employment. This needs to change. Gender identity should be added. But in 22 other states that offer some form of statewide protection, this protection is equal for sexual orientation and gender identity. A brief scan of local ordinances on this map also suggests that the vast majority of them have equal sexual orientation and gender identity protections.

In this comment, I made it clear that I wanted a shared sacrifice that would include wedding services to same-sex couples being temporarily omitted, and that some progress is better than none, and that after that progress, I wanted to keep working for more:

Alas, my explanation didn't work.
This was frustrating to see. It now became clear which direction the discussion was going in: identity politics gone mad. The thinking that LGB people and T people aren't allies, have different goals, and don't care about each other is extremely and ridiculously divisive, not to mention, completely inaccurate. Surely it's not a good idea to define and single ourselves out so distinctly that LGBT people can't even be united over a unique sexual orientation or gender identity.

One problem that I had with this comment was that I thought it unfair. I don't think that LGB people lose interest like rserven said they do. rserven gave the example of Wisconsin, which was the first state to ban sexual orientation discrimination but has not done so for gender identity. That's a real shame. But I think the blame for this has been misappropriated. I believe that it lies at the feet of the legislators for not acting on gender identity discrimination. I doubt there were any openly LGB legislators in Wisconsin when the law was enacted, and who are still there, and who haven't brought gender identity discrimination up. My aforementioned noting of the fact that of 30 states with some kind of statewide discrimination protection for sexual orientation, 22 also include the same protection for gender identity, is more proof that LGB people are not forgetting about T people.

I responded as follows:

I will elaborate only on the last two paragraphs. I've covered the others.

My statement about me being same-sex attracted (I speak in non-rigid terms because I cannot definitely use a label yet) and rserven being transgender was intended to do the following: emphasise that we are united by a minority sexuality and/or gender identity. I'm sure that's pretty obvious. My statement that "we're on the same team" was not just to quote Bill Maher. It was also to emphasise how we want the same thing, that we have the same goals.

There's something else I want to clarify. My criticism of what I saw as rserven's "taking a shot at LGB people" was not me engaging in identity politics of my own, because I might be G or B (but not L). I was not defending myself. I was merely pointing out the silliness of taking identity politics and differences to this extreme.

Finally, the reason that I said that rserven's comment was "divisive and counter productive" is because in this discussion, rserven was the first of us to highlight the distinction without a difference between LGB people and T people. I did not do that. In my post, and in the subsequent comments, I consistently advocated a shared sacrifice where both a gender identity protection and a sexual orientation would be temporarily omitted. I never advocated singling out transgender people for a lack of protection that LGB people wouldn't also have. So that's why I was even more frustrated by this reply:

I did not suggest leaving anyone out. I never said that I thought an attribute (sexual orientation/gender identity) should be omitted. That would be leaving people out. I only suggested leaving out a narrow application of the law, so LGBT (all four letters) people could gain all the other benefits, instead of not only not getting a wedding cake or to use their proper bathroom, but also not getting anything else at all, because those two unfortunately controversial provisions dragged support for the law down. I also made clear that I wanted this omission to be shared between sexual orientation and gender identity. But from the outset (AJayne's comment), this was distorted as singling out transgender people. My frustration showed more in my reply, which started: "Oh, now you're twisting my words completely."

I won't copy any more comments, because I don't think they add anything new.

So, I would now like to state, once and for all, where I stand on this:

We start by pushing for a bill that includes everything. If that fails, and it becomes apparent that a narrow application of the bill is dragging it down, we omit it, and another narrow protection from the other attribute, to make a shared sacrifice. (If it still fails, then we've got work to do.) If that passes, we work towards eventually eliminating those omissions.

If we take the idealistic approach of "we have to get everything right now", then if narrow applications of the law drag it down, and we don't temporarily leave them out, then we won't just be losing the narrow application of the law. We'll be losing everything else too. Regardless of if we leave in the controversial applications and it fails, or we leave them out and it passes, then either way, we won't get the protection of the narrow application, which is what started this dispute in the first place. So how about we choose the option that will have the most practical benefits? Between "no protections at all" and "every protection but one narrow one", I know what I'm choosing.

And I know what I'm not choosing, either. I'm not choosing the petty, stupid divisions that come from identity politics gone mad.

I hope you'll join me in those choices.

Discuss

I've decided to try my hand at humor:

ROME, VATICAN CITY- Pope Francis has launched a scathing attack on President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan regarding the latter's denunciation of the Pope's description of the Armenian Genocide as a genocide.

In an official statement, the pope said: "If Mr. Erdogan has a problem with my super awesome speech about the Armenian Genocide (yes I said it again. What you gonna do, bitch?), he can take his thick numbskull and jam it right up his ass, for all I care."

The Holy Father also responded to Mr. Erdogan's warning "not to make similar mistakes again."

"Does this uptight dickwad really think he can tell me what to do? Puh-lease," he said. "Look, I know he's all high-and-mighty about being the president of some stupidass backwater country. He probably just can't believe that he actually amounted to anything.

"But me? I lead the Catholic Church, the one true church! I have 1.2 billion followers. Okay yes, most of them are either completely brainwashed or just don't care, but still."

When asked if it was appropriate to respond in the manner he did, Francis replied:

"Uh, what do you think infallible means, fuckwit? I can do whatever the fuck I want. I can't go wrong. I am the representative of God on Earth. If Mr. Erdogan (however the fuck you say that stupid name) has a problem with that, he can take it up with God."

He concluded with: "But I'd urge him to be careful doing so. If he pisses him off, he'll go to Hell. (No one actually believes that crap about everyone going to Heaven, do they?)"

Discuss

A disappointing result, but there is encouragement in its narrow margin:

From LGBTQ Nation:

An LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinance passed by the Springfield, Mo., city council last October, was overturned by voters on Tuesday.

With more than 97 percent of the votes tallied, 51.4 percent of voters opted to repeal the ordinance, while 48.5 percent voted to retain the measure.

The vote comes following months of campaigning by advocates and opponents of the measure, which added sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected categories in employment, housing, and public accommodations.

The city council approved the ordinance by a 6-3 vote on October 13.

But any celebration was short-lived when, in November, an opposition group submitted more than 2,600 signatures to repeal the expansion through a ballot referendum known as Question 1.

While we'll see right-wingers celebrate this in the coming days, the result is not as favourable to them as they would like to think. Here's why:

The ordinance would have banned two types of discrimination that are controversial, and that many do not think should be banned: denial of service for a gay wedding, and allowing transgender people to use their proper bathrooms. So, even in a conservative state, and even with the ordinance covering two types of discrimination that many people think should be legal, they could only get 51.5% of people to oppose it. How many people would support anti-discrimination protections if these were excluded and it was not confined to a conservative area? Many more. This doesn't hold well for their idea that a majority of Americans support being able to discriminate against LGBT people. (I'm not saying that allowing the two types of discrimination I've mentioned is good, but I do think we would be more successful if they weren't covered.)

Still, it's disappointing. (Should we boycott Springfield? It only seems fair to Indiana. And this enabling also has the support of the citizens, not just the legislators.)

Discuss

Raw Story reports:

A taxpayer-funded Christian school in Florida recently cited its “awesome God” as the reason it fired a teacher for her so-called “lifestyle choice” to be a lesbian.
Here's what happened:
Pfeiffer said that she moved to Florida to work as a dancer for Disney, and then took a job at Aloma Methodist Early Childhood Learning Center. But after her girlfriend began working as substitute teacher in another part of the school, rumors started to spread.

Even though Pfeiffer insisted that the couple tried to keep their relationship private, the school director eventually called her into her office to confront her about it.

“And then she was like, ‘Is it true what the rumors are about you and Kelly?’ and I said ‘Yes,” Pfeiffer recalled. “I said, ‘Could I be fired for that?’ and she said ‘Yes.’”

“Basically she said that what I’m doing is not socially acceptable and I’m living a life of sin.”

Within days, Pfeiffer was out of a job.

Here's the most ridiculous part:
Aloma Methodist Early Childhood Learning Center receives $2,442 in taxpayer funding per child from the state of Florida for providing voluntary prekindergarten (VPK) during the school year. The state pays the school $2,080 per child during the summer session.
And here are the "special rights" that, while claiming LGBT people are afforded them, the religious right always demands and always gets:
Attorneys pointed out to WFTV that the school had not broken any laws by firing Pfeiffer for her sexual orientation. An ordinance in Orange County, where the school is located, prohibits discrimination against LGBT people, but churches are exempted.
This is fucking ludicrous. Listen up, churches and religious organisations everywhere:

If you take money from ordinary citizens in the form of taxes, you don't get to discriminate. Not in employment, not in services, not for any reason (other than merit). Period. No exceptions. Don't give me this BS about your "sincerely held religious beliefs." I don't give a shit. You want to live according to your beliefs? Fine. Then live according to your own budget as well. Don't demand that taxpayers be forced to fund your delusions and brainwashings without getting something in return. Don't demand that your government, which must ensure equality of its citizens, sanction your efforts to ensure inequality among your employees.

Sadly, everything that I have just described did happen, and is perfectly legal.

And we're supposed to believe that Christians are persecuted in this country?

Cry me a fucking river, please.

Discuss

The amicus briefs filed with the Supreme Court representing the Democrats and the Republicans are painting a very telling picture regarding which side is winning with these briefs. The winning side, by an overwhelming margin, is the pro-equality side.

Pink News points out the massive discrepancy between Democratic support and Republican opposition:

In a sure-fire sign that some Republicans don’t want to be seen on the wrong side of history in the case, just 57 out of the party’s 299 Members of Congress signed the brief, which argues states should be allowed to decide if gays are allowed to marry.

[...]

Meanwhile, a brief from the Democrats in favour of equality was signed by 211 of the party’s 232 Members of Congress – with 167 House members and all 44 of the party’s Senators signing.

This means that we have one party overwhelmingly in support of nationwide marriage equality and party overwhelmingly not in opposition to it.
Discuss

From The Indianapolis Star:

Gov. Mike Pence has signed into law a measure aimed at removing fears that the state's new "religious freedom" law would allow businesses to discriminate against gays and lesbians.

Here is his full statement:

"The freedom of religion for every Hoosier is enshrined in the Constitution of the United States and in the Indiana Constitution, which reads, 'No law shall, in any case whatever, control the free exercise and enjoyment of religious opinions, or interfere with the rights of conscience.' For generations, these protections have served as a bulwark of religious liberty for Hoosiers and remain a foundation of religious liberty in the State of Indiana, and that will not change.

"Last week the Indiana General Assembly passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act raising the judicial standard that would be used when government action intrudes upon the religious liberty of Hoosiers, and I was pleased to sign it.

"Over the past week this law has become a subject of great misunderstanding and controversy across our state and nation. However we got here, we are where we are, and it is important that our state take action to address the concerns that have been raised and move forward.

"Last weekend I called upon the Indiana General Assembly to clarify that this new judicial standard would not create a license to discriminate or to deny services to any individual as its critics have alleged. I am grateful for the efforts of legislators, business and other community leaders who came together to forge this clarifying language in the law.

"Hoosiers deserve to know, that even with this legislation, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act enhances protections for every church, non-profit religious organization or society, religious school, rabbi, priest, preacher, minister or pastor in the review of government action where their religious liberty is infringed. The law also enhances protection in religious liberty cases for groups of individuals and businesses in conscience decisions that do not involve provision of goods and services, employment and housing.

"In the midst of this furious debate, I have prayed earnestly for wisdom and compassion, and I have felt the prayers of people across this state and across this nation. For that I will be forever grateful.

"There will be some who think this legislation goes too far and some who think it does not go far enough, but as governor I must always put the interest of our state first and ask myself every day, 'What is best for Indiana?' I believe resolving this controversy and making clear that every person feels welcome and respected in our state is best for Indiana.

"Our state is rightly celebrated for our pro-business environment, and we enjoy an international reputation for the hospitality, generosity, tolerance and kindness of our people. Hoosier hospitality is not a slogan; it is our way of life. Now that this is behind us, let's move forward together with a renewed commitment to the civility and respect that make this state great."

Update 1:

When the clarification was revealed, many religious right groups expressed their disappointment and urged a veto. From the Family Research Council:

WASHINGTON, DC -- Family Research Council (FRC) President Tony Perkins released the following statement in response to Indiana legislation that would gut the state's Religious Freedom Restoration law which is also on the books in 19 other states:

"On the eve of Good Friday, Big Business is encouraging elected leaders to take the silver over religious freedom.

"This new proposal guts the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and empowers the government to impose punishing fines on people for following their beliefs about marriage.

"Religious freedom should not be held hostage by Big Business. Big Business is now putting religious freedom in a worse place than before RFRA was signed into law. Gutting RFRA in this manner would put people of faith in the crosshairs of government discrimination as never before. Far from being a 'clarification,' this would gut religious freedom in Indiana. Religious freedom doesn't need a 'fix.'

"This proposal would force religious businesses and even nonprofits deemed 'not religious enough' to participate in wedding ceremonies contrary to their owners' beliefs. If the government punishes people for living their faith, there are no limits to what government can control.

"We urge the governor to veto this measure that will be used by the government to bring financial ruin on people like florist Barronelle Stutzman, bakers Aaron and Melissa Klein, and wedding photographer Elaine Huguenin.

"Now is the time for elected officials to refuse big business' enticements to sacrifice the fundamental right of people to live their lives according to their beliefs. They should stand on the side of freedom and the American people - not with big business and the intolerant left who want to use the government to punish people for freely living according to their beliefs," concluded Perkins.

• WPA Opinion Research poll finds 81 percent of Americans believe the "government should leave people free to follow their beliefs about marriage as they live their daily lives at work and in the way they run their businesses."

• Rasmussen Survey released yesterday reports 70% of Americans "agree that a Christian wedding photographer who has deeply held religious beliefs opposing same-sex marriage has the right to turn down working a job at such a wedding."

From Advance America, which was a key lobbyist group in support of RFRA:
[Indianapolis, IN] Eric Miller, the Founder and Executive Director of Advance America announced their strong opposition to the proposed drastic change to Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

“The Indiana General Assembly should not destroy in less than 36 hours the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that took over 65 days to go through the legislative process earlier this year,” Miller stated.

The members of the Indiana Senate and Indiana House of Representatives are scheduled to vote on a conference committee report to Senate Bill 50 on Thursday, April 2nd that carries language drastically changing and undermining the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
“It is wrong for the senators and representatives to vote on a bill that has been written in the last few hours behind closed doors and out of sight of the public. It is wrong for the senators and representatives to make a sham of the legislative process and vote on this bill that has never had one public committee hearing in the Senate or the House.”

“The proposed change to Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act is not a “fix” but a hammer to destroy religious freedom for Hoosiers around the state – and it was all done behind closed doors!”

The proposed conference committee report will remove religious freedom protection from Hoosier businesses that they presently have in Indiana law.

If the conference committee report is adopted, Christian bakers, florists and photographers would no longer have the benefit of Indiana law to help protect them from being forced by the government to participate in a homosexual wedding.

Likewise, A Christian business owner would no longer have the benefit of Indiana law to help protect him from being forced to permit a male cross-dresser to use the women’s restroom and women’s shower area.

Therefore if the proposed conference committee report is adopted by the General Assembly Hoosier businesses would have less protection for religious freedom than businesses in the majority of other states.

Miller concluded, “In view of the fact that the public has been shut out of the legislative process with regard to the proposed change to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the General Assembly should defeat the proposed conference committee report.”

From NOM:
Stung by a furor of false accusations against the Indiana Religious Liberty Restoration Act, some Republican legislators are proposing to "fix" the law by stripping it of any chance to protect people of faith against being forced by law to participate in same-sex 'marriage' ceremonies that violate their deeply held religious beliefs.

Worse, they are rewarding gay activists and celebrities like Miley Cyrus who intentionally and massively mischaracterized the legislation passed last week with expanded "anti-discrimination" provisions that will be used as a club by these same activists to punish people of faith for supporting biblical principles in the way they live their lives.

Russell Moore, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, recently tweeted: "This Indiana 'compromise' is a train wreck. It should be voted down."

This "fix" legislation must be defeated! It is like paying ransom to a kidnapper — a complete abandonment of principle in the face of political pressure from those bent on redefining marriage and imposing a radical agenda on the country.

Please sign this petition immediately so that Governor Mike Pence and top Republican legislators realize that we will not stand for this abandonment of people of faith in order to reward the radical left who have grossly mischaracterized the Religious Liberty Restoration Act.

This issue is on a fast-track. It could pass as early as today or tomorrow. Please act immediately so that Governor Pence and Indiana legislators know that you stand for marriage and against the radical left who want to impose their agenda on the nation.

Update 2:

We are getting more reports now of Pence's signing.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette:

[The fix] states explicitly that the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act doesn't authorize businesses to refuse service to gays and lesbians.

But the new language doesn't prohibit discrimination on a broad basis since Indiana law still doesn't recognize sexual orientation as a protected class similar to race and gender. A handful of communities in the state do have such bans.

The move was necessary to try to quash a national backlash against the state that has resulted in boycotts, ridicule and unflattering national coverage.

FOX59 is providing some information on the vote in the legislature:
This language passed 66 to 30 out of the House and 34 to 16 out of the Senate. It did not receive a single democratic vote. Democrats claim it doesn’t go nearly far enough.
Update 3:

ThinkProgress has a report on what the law does. It establishes that the law can't be used as a defines to a suit brought under a local nondiscrimination ordinance.

Indiana’s RFRA will no longer trump state or local laws banning anti-gay discrimination: The fix provides that Indiana’s RFRA does not authorize businesses “to refuse to offer or provide services, facilities, use of public accommodation, goods, employment, or housing to any member or members of the general public” on the basis of a list of protected traits that includes “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.” Another provision provides that the state’s RFRA law does not “establish a defense to a civil action or criminal prosecution” brought against someone who engages in such discrimination. This language appears broad enough to permit local ordinances protecting gay and trans rights to function against business owners with religious objections to LGBT people. It also would enable a similar state law to function, were the Indiana legislature to pass such a law in the future.
However, no statewide civil rights protections on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity have been added:
LGBT people in Indiana gain no new rights from the fix: In the wake of the backlash against the original Indiana RFRA law, many LGBT rights groups hope that the state would enact anti-discrimination provisions protecting gay and trans people in Indiana at the state level. The fix includes none of these protections. What that means is that LGBT people who live in cities like Indianapolis will regain the rights they already enjoyed before the state RFRA law took effect, but LGBT people who were unprotected before this law will remain unprotected.
Update 4:

This will be my last update. I'm anticipating, as I'm sure we all are, the sh*tstorm that we will see from the religious right. I'm going to keep monitoring religious right groups, and I will post their reactions when I see them on a new diary.

Update 5:

I changed the word "fix" in the title to "amendment". Some have claimed that this does not fix the situation, and I agree. (I oppose all RFRAs as too broad and allowing anyone to do anything.)

Discuss

In April last year, I published a diary detailing a long list of examples of how religious conservatives think that they are the victims of intolerance who are having their rights denied whenever their stupidity, insanity, bigotry and hatred get called out in the form of a backlash. We're seeing such a reaction again from the religious right in the wake of the passage and signing of Indiana's license to discriminate bill.

Here's a round up of everything taking place.

Gov. Mike Pence

We got our first hint that the Governor was taken aback by the backlash when he told the Indianapolis Star:

I just can't account for the hostility that's been directed at our state.
Then, on This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Gov. Pence made the following statements:
The issue here is: Is tolerance a two-way street or not? I mean - you know - there's a lot of talk about tolerance in this country today, having to do with people on the Left. And - but here, Indiana steps forward, to protect the constitutional rights and privileges of freedom of religion for people of faith and families of faith in our state. And this avalanche of intolerance that's been poured on our state is just outrageous.

[...]

We've suffered under this avalanche, for the last several days, of condemnation, and it's completely baseless.

[...]

From people who preach tolerance every day, we've been under an avalanche of intolerance, and I'm not going to take it lying down.

[...]

I mean, frankly, some of the media coverage of this has been shameless, and reckless, and the online attacks against the people of our state, I'm just not going to stand for it.

Illinois Family Institue

In a post on the IFI's blog titled "RFRA: Hoosiers vs. Imperious Illiberals", the IFI's Laurie Higgins makes these claims:

It’s Hoosier David versus rainbow-clad Goliath.

[...]

In the wake of Governor Pence’s courageous act, he and Indiana have been the recipients of blistering attacks, both verbal and fiscal.

[...]

But opposition to this law include marauding bands of hate-mongering homosexual activists, arrogant Hollywood lemmings, and feckless captains of industry.

Homosexual activists, fancying themselves the heir apparent to the great civil rights leaders, are in the vanguard of the assault on the Hoosier state.

[...]

We are witnessing courage through the heroic actions of Mike Pence and every Hoosier who defends him and this law with unwavering steadfastness in the face of withering assaults.

American Family Association

The AFA said this in a press release commenting on Angie's List reaction to the law:

Angie's List is a bully, plain and simple. They have chosen to bully the city of Indianapolis, the state of Indiana and Christians everywhere by financial intimidation and threats.
Bryan Fischer wrote this on the AFA's blog:
The homosexual lobby has reacted with a spectacular display of hatred and vitriol in the wake of the passage of Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

[...]

Businesses such as Angie’s List are already canceling multi-million dollar projects in Indiana, conventions are being canceled, mayors in cities such as San Francisco have banned any taxpayer-funded travel to the state, Apple CEO Tim Cook is writing scathing editorials, Charles Barkley is condemning Indiana, and the NCAA and the NFL are rattling their sabers about punishing the Hoosier state for the crime of protecting the free exercise of religion.

[...]

We’re closer than most people think to our own Kristallnacht, in which Christian businesses could be trashed, vandalized and burned by radical anti-Christian bigots.

A look at Indiana governor Mike Pence’s Facebook page reveals one snarky, hate-filled comment after another. All of this represents a bewildering, irrational and mindless venom that is alarming and disturbing to behold.

The only hate in Indiana is coming from  pro-homosexual zealots. Haters gonna hate, and they’re working overtime in Indiana right now.

He also went on an insane Twitter rant:
CatholicVote

The conservative Catholic blog had this to say about Apple and Tim Cook:

The LGBT backlash is now in full throttle. Corporations like Apple, Yelp, Salesforce, PayPal and others are threatening to stop doing business in the state unless they repeal the law.

Apple CEO Tim Cook essentially said: unless Indiana law allows discrimination against people of faith, he and his Silicon Valley bullies will destroy them by pulling out of the state.

National Organization for Marriage

NOM has come out with literally the most hysterical headline I have ever seen:

Some of the accompanying text is as follows:
DON'T LET THEM DO TO ARKANSAS WHAT THEY DID TO INDIANA!

Minutes ago Arkansas passed a religious freedom bill. We know the other side is going to try to bully and intimidate Governor Hutchinson out of signing this bill.

Additionally, on a debate about the law with Rev. Graylan Hagler of the Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ on WJLA, the ABC affiliate in Mayland, Virginia and D.C., Brian Brown said this (11:18 in the video):
You're hearing first hand the sort of bullying and the attempts to bully Gov. Pence.
Family Research Council

The FRC put out this statement in response to Gov. Pence's attempt to clarify the law:

Indiana has been the target of misinformation, and bullying in both the media and online, simply for joining 19 other states in aligning themselves with federal religious freedom law.
Indiana Family Institute

The other IFI's president, Curt Smith, seemed to suggest that merely staging a rally is automatically intolerant. From the Indianapolis Star:

Curt Smith, president of the Indiana Family Institute, said that threat of public ridicule has affected some — but not all — believers.

"I think a lot of people have been bullied into silence," he said, "But there are others who are stepping up. I see both: some people who are afraid to step up and yet I also see a smaller group that is more willing."

[...]

"Why would you want to engage a bunch of hateful people," Smith asked. "We're always accused of being bigots. Who had the signs (Thursday)? Who was yelling? I have that conviction so I can carry that into places. But most people don't think like that."

Glenn Beck

Well, you can pretty much guess what he said:

Declaring that "gay activists will boycott, will make it uncomfortable, they'll smear them, they'll just ratchet up the hate" against any business owner who refuses to provide services to a same-sex wedding in an attempt to drive them out of business, Beck insisted that everyone just has to "heal our hearts" and realize that religious business owners are not motivated by hate but rather by their faith.

"Let's stop forcing each other to do things," Beck begged. "You don't change anything. That ends up in concentration camps. You just start grinding and grinding and grinding away until you're in separate worlds and nobody talks to each other and then, whoever has the power, round 'em up and kill 'em because those guys are the problem."

John Zmirak

This conservative columnist argued something similar, but went a little further:

Sample the hate that has been spewed at the state of Indiana in the past week, and faithful Christians in recent years, by gay activists and their allies. We are “bigots,” “Neanderthals” and “haters,” whose views must be ritually rejected by anyone hoping to keep a job in today’s America — even in a Catholic high school. Where will this end? Is there a logical stopping point for this aggression, where Christians are left in peace?

History teaches that mass vilification rarely stops short of spilling blood. The French Jacobins who spent the 1780s slandering the clergy in pornographic pamphlets went on in the 1790s to slaughter Christians by the hundreds of thousands. The Turks paved the way for killing a million Armenian Christians with a wave of propaganda. The Bolsheviks followed their “anti-God” crusade of the 1920s with starvation camps and firing squads. The Communist governments of Eastern Europe obeyed the same script, as scholar Anne Applebaum documents in her sobering study The Iron Curtain. The Hutu government of Rwanda prepared for its assault on the once-powerful Tutsis by incessantly describing them as “cockroaches” on radio broadcasts, which triggered a genocide.

[...]

If Indiana caves and guts its religious freedom law — as Gov. Mike Pence has already promised — it will prove an equal triumph for those who are so enraged at Christian teaching that they are willing to persecute Christians.

If these zealots succeed, they will tear up the civil peace in this country, forcing millions of Americans to choose between church and state. If laws or government policies beggar Christian businesses, close Christian colleges and schools and force faithful Christians into third-class citizenship — making us virtual dhimmis, like the Christian Copts in Egypt — what should we do? What should be our response now that we know what they want to do, and are overplaying their hand, but before they complete their coup d’etat?

Now, some notes to the right-wing victim complex Christian conservative crybabies:

1. No state or business has a right to have customers do business with it. Instead, they have the responsibility to demonstrate to their potential customers why they should do their business with them. They have to offer incentives. Similarly, disincentives may deter people from doing business with them. If a business sends a message that a customers finds abhorrent, then the customer can not do business there. Indiana has a right to pass this law. But they do not have a right to keep business in the state once they have done so.

2. Criticism, no matter how intense and fierce, even if it is overblown and irrational, is not intolerance. One only crosses the line into intolerance when they become coercive, when they coerce their target into doing what they want. This means that the target is no longer left with a choice about what to do. Mere speech never (or very, very rarely) constitues intolerance, bcause mere speech can never (or very, very rarely) stop someone from doing what they want to do. If all that is being directed at Indiana is speech, then they have not been restrained from doing anything. Speech doesn't have the power to abridge anyone's freedom to act. I'm written posts here that have not always been well received, and I would never claim that my critics have been intolerant.

3. Pressure on legislators to vote a certain way, and pressure on governors to sign or veto, is not harassment, bullying or intimidation. These politicians are in office with the express purpose of receiving that pressure. They are there to hear what the public has to say about legislation, and on the back of that, to decide whether or not to pass it. The public's voice will always constitute pressure on them. They're used to it. They get it all the time. It's an inextricable part of their job.

I hope you now understand why I don't take your opinions on these matters seriously.

Discuss

I've missed this guy ever since he left Countdown. So long after, still so brilliant.

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