Reasons for Pride: Setbacks for the Right Wing
OK, we didn’t get rid of Duck Dynasty, but HGTV scrapped plans for a show starring twin brothers David and Jason Benham. The brothers, sons of anti-abortion leader Flip Benham, have insisted that they “love homosexuals,” but they oppose “homosexuality and its agenda that is attacking the nation.” David has the more extensive record — protesting at LGBT pride celebrations, warning that marriage equality will “erode the moral fabric of society” while citing the biblical death penalty for homosexuality, and comparing opposition to marriage rights for same-sex couples with the fight against Nazi Germany — but Jason appears to share his views. In May, after publicity about their antigay statements, HGTV pulled the plug on Flip It Forward, a show that was to feature the twin real estate agents.
The National Organization for Marriage claimed 10,000 people attended its June 19 march against marriage equality in Washington, D.C., but other observers put the crowd at roughly 2,000, leading to much online mockery. Even some of the antigay folks have conceded the march tanked, with a right-wing minister named Dan Cummins, for one, lamenting the “dismal turnout.” Meanwhile, how many thousands of people showed up for Pride parades all over the U.S. this month?
A federal judge ruled in May that NOM had no legal standing to intervene in the Oregon marriage equality case. It had sought to defend the state’s ban on same-sex marriage after the Oregon attorney general declined to do so. But NOM is a national organization with only about 100 members in Oregon, none of whom were willing to be named, so Judge Michael McShane ruled that the case was none of NOM’s business. Also, he struck down the ban, and Oregon joined the ranks of marriage equality states. NOM, not giving up easily, then asked the U.S. Supreme Court to stop same-sex marriages in Oregon, only to be turned down there as well.
Then in Maine, where NOM had been active in fighting marriage equality in a 2009 referendum, the state ethics commission imposed the biggest fine in its history, $50,250, on the organization for failing to register as a political action committee or disclose its donors. NOM is appealing, but we’ll see what happens.
In NOM’s case against the Internal Revenue Service regarding donor disclosure — the IRS was not supposed to reveal donor names, but it did — NOM did manage to get a settlement of $50,000 in actual damages, that is, the amount it had to spend to deal with the matter. A judge ruled, however, that the organization could not claim punitive damages, potentially a much larger sum.
After much outcry, in February Arizona governor Jan Brewer vetoed a bill passed by the state legislature that would have allowed business owners to evade antidiscrimination law by citing their religious beliefs — for instance, if they didn’t want to serve a gay couple or members of a different faith. Similar proposals have failed to pass in several other states, including Kansas, Georgia, Idaho, Maine, South Dakota, and Tennessee, and Indiana. Unfortunately, one passed in Mississippi and was signed into law by Gov. Phil Bryant in April. Would Mississippi like to secede again?
Last November’s gubernatorial election saw Democrat Terry McAuliffe defeating Republican Ken Cuccinelli (pictured), who, as state attorney general, had sought to reinstate Virginia’s sodomy ban. Also, for lieutenant governor, Democrat Ralph Northam easily beat E.W. Jackson, a minister who referred to gay people as “sick” and “perverted,” then tried to claim he hadn’t done so even though he’d been recorded.
Brunei has enacted a heinous law allowing for such punishment, but the idea didn’t find much favor in even one of the most conservative states in the U.S. Scott Esk, who was seeking the Republican nomination for a state representative seat in Oklahoma, defended stoning as biblically endorsed. “I never said I would author legislation to put homosexuals to death, but I didn’t have a problem with it,” he explained. Last week Esk lost the primary, receiving only 5 percent of the vote. It’s scary, though, that he got even that much — and that two candidates in the field of five got less.