It was a week that began with a yawn, thanks to one of the most boring, least gay, and least political Oscar shows in memory –then rapidly descended into ugly days rife with hate speech and hate groups, free speech and lies, racism and anti-semitism. And throughout it all, I kept having to remind myself that oddly, as a writer chronicling the politics of equality, this is supposed to be all about love and marriage.
In an historic first amendment free speech case, the Supreme Court this week ruled that the “God Hates Fags” folks — also known as the Westboro Baptist Church — have the right to picket at or near funerals and say anything they want, including “God hates fags,” “Thank God for 9/11,” “Thank God for AIDS,” and “U R going to hell.”
(The Westboro Baptist Church may have the right to say whatever they want, but since Anonymous took down their Internet sites almost two weeks ago, they’re having issues saying it online. But have no fear; they are promising to quadruple their anti-gay protesting.)
Just because no one likes what the “God Hates Fags” folks have to say, they have the right to say it. As do you. In America, we pay a steep but necessary price for free speech, even when it’s hate speech.
Compare that to Europe, where those who practice hate speech pay a steep price for it.
Especially anti-semitic speech.
The gay, now-former head designer for Christian Dior, John Galliano, was fired after saying in a bar last week, “I love Hitler” … “People like you would be dead. Your mothers, your forefathers would all be fucking gassed,” which was reportedly followed by, “Dirty Jewish face, you should be dead … Fucking Asian bastard, I will kill you.”
Mr. Galliano has apologized, but is facing possible jail time for his anti-semitic hate speech.
Back in America, not facing jail time, but reportedly facing a $10 million defamation lawsuit is anti-union, anti-left and anti-Islam blogger Pamela Geller, and John Stemberger of the Florida Family Policy Council. Geller is now wearing proudly a self-described “badge of honor” –the designation of her organization, Stop Islamization of America, as a hate group, thanks to the good folks at the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).
The lawsuit against Geller and Stemberger has motivated Stemberger to join forces with none other than (“exploratory”) GOP presidential candidate, the twice divorced, three-time married serial adulterer and anti-gay politician (and Pope film maker!) Newt Gingrich, along with Southern Baptist ordained minister and liar-about-anything-about-Obama, the devoutly anti-gay GOP presidential aspirant Mike Huckabee. If that weren’t enough theocrats for you, joining them is the intensely homophobic gay-bubble fearing GOP possible presidential aspirant Michele Bachmann.
Gingrich, Huckabee, Bachmann — along with Republican Governor Haley Barbour, and Tony Perkins, president of the certified hate group the Family Research Council (FRC), along with a cast of other extreme right-wing anti-gay conservatives — are hosting a church-based fundraiser for Stemberger that proclaims it will help you “Rediscover God in America.”
Curiously, (perhaps they’ve rediscovered God?), another anti-gay hate group this week actually acknowledged that DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act, is unconstitutional!
Pat Vaughn, general counsel for the American Family Association — a certified hate group — who describes itself as “a Christian organization promoting the biblical ethic of decency in American society with primary emphasis on TV and other media,” said, “the Defense of Marriage Act is probably unconstitutional, particularly … if you attempt to apply it so that to say that a marriage conducted in one state is not in effect in another. That clearly violates the Constitution.”
But guess who’s not saying DOMA is unconstitutional? That’s right, liar-about-anything-about-Obama, the devoutly anti-gay GOP presidential aspirant Mike Huckabee, and GOP possible presidential aspirant, the former reality TV show star, former Republican Vice Presidential candidate, former Alaska Governor, former chair of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, former Mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, former “Miss Congeniality,” (seriously,) former sportscaster, and former head of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Sarah Palin.
Not only did Huckabee lie about Obama growing up in Kenya (he did not,) surrounded by Madrasas (he was not,) he, along with Sarah Palin, lied about then-presidential candidate Barack Obama’s stance on DOMA.
Obama, who last month announced he will enforce — but no longer defend — DOMA in court, has been consistent (except for that 1996 letter in which he claimed to support marriage equality,) in his position on DOMA, including in August 2007, when Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt said, “He supports the complete repeal of DOMA which is the same position he has held since early 2004.”
But Palin told NOM’s Maggie Gallagher this week, “It’s appalling, but not surprising that the President has flip-flopped on yet another issue from his stated position as a candidate to a seemingly opposite position once he was elected.”
And Huckabee last month said Obama “himself didn’t take this position [against DOMA] when he ran for president. I think if he had, he wouldn’t be president,” adding, ”I think he owes the people of America an explanation – was he being disingenuous and dishonest then, is he being dishonest now, or did he change his view and if he did, when and why?”
Um, no. Just no.
You know who else lied about Obama’s DOMA position? Pat Vaughn, general counsel for the American Family Association, who clearly said Obama “lied to people [about DOMA] when he ran.”
As I said in the beginning, this week has been filled with ugly days. And anti-semitism. And charges of it. (And don’t get me started on Charlie Sheen!)
Earlier this week, celebrated Russian gay activist Nikolai Alekseev came to America to discuss, all across the country, the state of the LGBT equality movement in Russia. Alekseev is best-known for suing for, and winning, the right to hold gay pride parades in Moscow. But a discredited detractor claimed that Alekseev made comments that could be seen as anti-semitic.
(You can see Alekseev deny the charges in a speech he made at Columbia University in New York City this week, and hear his interview with veteran writer and radio host Michelangelo Signorile.)
Anti-semitism, like racism, is ugly, and an ugly charge if not true, and all deserve to be examined and discussed.
But the folks on the west coast who were sponsoring Alekseev’s trip didn’t want much of a discussion, and canceled his appearances. Long story short, Alekseev denied the charges several times. And probably isn’t too keen on some of his American counterparts now.
Just when you thought the marriage equality debate in Maryland was over, and the House was ready to vote (the Senate already did, and this should be the final step,) one Maryland state delegate, Sam Arora, flip-flopped his position on marriage equality.
Arora ran on a platform of full equality, and took a lot of money from the LGBT community. Needless to say, they were non-too pleased, and this became a national event.
Fortunately, Arora at the last minute has changed his mind. A bit. He now says he will vote for the bill, but wants a public referendum on marriage equality in Maryland. (For the record, civil rights are inalienable. No one should ever be allowed to vote on your rights.)
In response to an op-ed by veteran Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart, Maggie wrote,
“I have two reactions to reading this WaPo columnist’s comments.
“First, if Sam Arora is wavering under this media firestorm, he must be hearing from hundreds of constitutents who do not want him to vote for gay marriage.
“Secondly, as someone married to an Indian-American, I find it interesting that the gay marriage machine appears to be re-focusing its attacks from Black Democrats who oppose gay marriage to an easier target: Indian-Americans.”
Now, who knew (I certainly hadn’t) but it seems that Arora is Indian-American. What difference that makes on anything is unbeknownst to me. Not did I know anyone was attacking Black Democrats. Nor did I know there was a “gay marriage machine.” (Where does one buy that?)
This entire situation came to light when well-known columnist, LGBT activist, and Media Matters guy Karl Frisch — who happens to be a friend of Arora — wrote an open letter demanding his campaign contribution back.
Evidently, a very effective tactic, especially when it’s that personal.
Others followed. Many others. And then word got out and comments on Arora’s Facebook page went into overdrive.
As I’ve said, it’s been an ugly week. But change is sometimes ugly. Battles can be ugly.
But it’s all for a good cause. Love, and marriage. And the civil right to have both. Whatever bumps we feel along the way, no other reward, no other success, will be as sweet.
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