Sunday, October 4, 2015

Gay priest? Fired. Priest who points a gun at a kid? Keep your job.

The Vatican has fired a priest who came out as gay and who acknowledged that he has a boyfriend.  The priest's revelations came the day before Pope Francis is due to convene a major three-week Vatican meeting on family issues, with hundreds of bishops from around the world participating.

Monsignor Krzysztof Charamsa had worked at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith since 2003, but was removed from that post following his public acknowledgement that he is gay and that he has been in a loving relationship with another man.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which was tasked by prior popes with protecting the church from heresy from within its ranks, is better known by its historical name, the Inquisition.  This is the very same office that oversaw thousands of trials for witchcraft -- among other offenses --ending with over one thousand people being burned at the stake.  The Congregation is also the office that put Galileo Galilei on trial for heresy.

The same day Charasma was fired, New Jersey Catholic priest Kevin Carter was arrested and charged with aggravated assault and child endangerment after allegedly pointing a gun at an eight-year-old boy.  The incident is reported to have happened because the child is a fan of the Dallas Cowboys and the priest is an ardent fan of the New York Giants.  Upon being released, Carter stated that his actions were only "good-natured jesting" over the two teams' rivalry.

Carter thus far has not lost his job.
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Sunday, September 13, 2015

Thirty years ago: John Roberts authored memo advising Reagan not to say AIDS couldn't be transmitted through casual contact

Today is the thirtieth anniversary of a memorandum by White House attorney John Roberts advising that President Ronald Reagan not publicly state that HIV could not be transmitted through casual contact.  Roberts would eventually become Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

In the memo addressed to White House Counsel Fred Fielding, Roberts stated that the matter was a "disputed scientific issue", and he advised that Reagan avoid repeating an earlier briefing memo's talking point that "as far as our best scientists have been able to determine, AIDS virus is not transmitted through casual or routine contact."

On the contrary, Roberts advised that "There is much to commend the view that we should assume AIDS can be transmitted through casual or routine contact, as is true with many viruses, until it is demonstrated that it cannot be, and no scientist has said AIDS definitely cannot be so transmitted."

See here and here.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Kentucky Constitution barely recognizes the duty to uphold the United States Constitution

As Rowan County Recorder Kim Davis is jailed for contempt of court for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in compliance with the United States Supreme Court's Obergefell ruling, it is of note that the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Kentucky requires elected officials to swear an oath of office with some rather odd priorities.

Section 228 of Kentucky's Constitution fleetingly requires elected officials to swear to "support" the Constitution of the United States, but then those same officials are required to expend many syllables swearing that they have not dueled in or out of Kentucky, that they have not sent or accepted a challenge to fight in a duel, that they have not served as a second in a duel, and that they have not aided or assisted with a duel.

To "support" the United States Constitution is almost an afterthought in Kentucky, apparently.

Additionally, dueling results in automatic disqualification from office in Kentucky -- unlike violating the United States Constitution, as Davis has done.

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Saturday, January 8, 2011

Giffords opponent Kelly said "remove" her with M16

Sarah Palin is not the only politician who targeted Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ-08) with shoot-'em-up imagery. Jesse Kelly, Giffords' Republican Tea Party opponent in last November's general election, did so as well.

Giffords was shot in the head at pointblank range earlier today by an assailant who holds anti-government views similar to those of Palin and Kelly. Seventeen other people were also shot in the brutal assault, and six of those have died.

On his campaign web site's calendar in June 2010, Kelly invited supporters to help "remove Gabrielle Giffords from office Shoot a fully automatic M16 with Jesse Kelly" [sic].

Kelly removed all reference to this shocking exhortation from his campaign web site after today's shootings, and he has largely had the site scrubbed of any content. Palin likewise had her infamous crosshairs hit list, which targeted Giffords and 19 other Democratic members of Congress, removed from her PAC's site after the shootings.

Too little, too late in each case.

Giffords is member of House LGBT Caucus

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ-08), who was shot in the head this morning after being targeted by Sarah Palin in a hit piece complete with firearm crosshairs, is one of 91 members of the U.S. House of Representatives LGBT Caucus. The caucus was chaired during the 111th Congress by the three openly gay or lesbian members of Congress, Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA-04), Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI-02), and Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO-02).

The mission of the caucus is
to promote lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) equality. The bi-partisan LGBT Equality Caucus will be comprised of Members of Congress who are strongly committed to achieving the full enjoyment of human rights for LGBT people in the U.S. and around the world. By serving as a resource for Members of Congress, their staff, and the public on LGBT issues, the Caucus will work toward the extension of equal rights, the repeal of discriminatory laws, the elimination of hate-motivated violence, and the improved health and well being for all regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.

Sarah Palin's hit list, with crosshairs targeting Gabrielle Giffords

In the aftermath of the murderous assault on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ-08) and 17 others in Tucson today, Sarah Palin is trying to run from the fact that she issued a hit list targeting Giffords and 19 other Democratic members of Congress with firearm crosshairs. Giffords was shot in the head by an assailant who harbors anti-government views similar to Palin's. Six people were brutally murdered in this attack and eleven were wounded besides Giffords.

Palin immediately had her hit list removed from her web site, but that graphic lives on in the ether -- and in infamy.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009 blasts the closet door down

This is one click from the home page; just go to and click on Civil Rights.


"The teenagers and college students who left their homes to march in the streets of Birmingham and Montgomery; the mothers who walked instead of taking the bus after a long day of doing somebody else's laundry and cleaning somebody else's kitchen -- they didn't brave fire hoses and Billy clubs so that their grandchildren and their great-grandchildren would still wonder at the beginning of the 21st century whether their vote would be counted; whether their civil rights would be protected by their government; whether justice would be equal and opportunity would be theirs.... We have more work to do."

-- Barack Obama, Speech at Howard University, September 28, 2007

President Barack Obama has spent much of his career fighting to strengthen civil rights as a civil rights attorney, community organizer, Illinois State Senator, U.S. Senator, and now as President. Whether promoting economic opportunity, working to improve our nation's education and health system, or protecting the right to vote, President Obama has been a powerful advocate for our civil rights.

* Combat Employment Discrimination: President Obama and Vice President Biden will work to overturn the Supreme Court's recent ruling that curtails racial minorities' and women's ability to challenge pay discrimination. They will also pass the Fair Pay Act, to ensure that women receive equal pay for equal work, and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.
* Expand Hate Crimes Statutes: President Obama and Vice President Biden will strengthen federal hate crimes legislation, expand hate crimes protection by passing the Matthew Shepard Act, and reinvigorate enforcement at the Department of Justice's Criminal Section.
* End Deceptive Voting Practices: President Obama will sign into law his legislation that establishes harsh penalties for those who have engaged in voter fraud and provides voters who have been misinformed with accurate and full information so they can vote.
* End Racial Profiling: President Obama and Vice President Biden will ban racial profiling by federal law enforcement agencies and provide federal incentives to state and local police departments to prohibit the practice.
* Reduce Crime Recidivism by Providing Ex-Offender Support: President Obama and Vice President Biden will provide job training, substance abuse and mental health counseling to ex-offenders, so that they are successfully re-integrated into society. Obama and Biden will also create a prison-to-work incentive program to improve ex-offender employment and job retention rates.
* Eliminate Sentencing Disparities: President Obama and Vice President Biden believe the disparity between sentencing crack and powder-based cocaine is wrong and should be completely eliminated.
* Expand Use of Drug Courts: President Obama and Vice President Biden will give first-time, non-violent offenders a chance to serve their sentence, where appropriate, in the type of drug rehabilitation programs that have proven to work better than a prison term in changing bad behavior.

Support for the LGBT Community

"While we have come a long way since the Stonewall riots in 1969, we still have a lot of work to do. Too often, the issue of LGBT rights is exploited by those seeking to divide us. But at its core, this issue is about who we are as Americans. It's about whether this nation is going to live up to its founding promise of equality by treating all its citizens with dignity and respect."

-- Barack Obama, June 1, 2007

* Expand Hate Crimes Statutes: In 2004, crimes against LGBT Americans constituted the third-highest category of hate crime reported and made up more than 15 percent of such crimes. President Obama cosponsored legislation that would expand federal jurisdiction to include violent hate crimes perpetrated because of race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, or physical disability. As a state senator, President Obama passed tough legislation that made hate crimes and conspiracy to commit them against the law.
* Fight Workplace Discrimination: President Obama supports the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and believes that our anti-discrimination employment laws should be expanded to include sexual orientation and gender identity. While an increasing number of employers have extended benefits to their employees' domestic partners, discrimination based on sexual orientation in the workplace occurs with no federal legal remedy. The President also sponsored legislation in the Illinois State Senate that would ban employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
* Support Full Civil Unions and Federal Rights for LGBT Couples: President Obama supports full civil unions that give same-sex couples legal rights and privileges equal to those of married couples. Obama also believes we need to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and enact legislation that would ensure that the 1,100+ federal legal rights and benefits currently provided on the basis of marital status are extended to same-sex couples in civil unions and other legally-recognized unions. These rights and benefits include the right to assist a loved one in times of emergency, the right to equal health insurance and other employment benefits, and property rights.
* Oppose a Constitutional Ban on Same-Sex Marriage: President Obama voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment in 2006 which would have defined marriage as between a man and a woman and prevented judicial extension of marriage-like rights to same-sex or other unmarried couples.
* Repeal Don't Ask-Don't Tell: President Obama agrees with former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff John Shalikashvili and other military experts that we need to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. The key test for military service should be patriotism, a sense of duty, and a willingness to serve. Discrimination should be prohibited. The U.S. government has spent millions of dollars replacing troops kicked out of the military because of their sexual orientation. Additionally, more than 300 language experts have been fired under this policy, including more than 50 who are fluent in Arabic. The President will work with military leaders to repeal the current policy and ensure it helps accomplish our national defense goals.
* Expand Adoption Rights: President Obama believes that we must ensure adoption rights for all couples and individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation. He thinks that a child will benefit from a healthy and loving home, whether the parents are gay or not.
* Promote AIDS Prevention: In the first year of his presidency, President Obama will develop and begin to implement a comprehensive national HIV/AIDS strategy that includes all federal agencies. The strategy will be designed to reduce HIV infections, increase access to care and reduce HIV-related health disparities. The President will support common sense approaches including age-appropriate sex education that includes information about contraception, combating infection within our prison population through education and contraception, and distributing contraceptives through our public health system. The President also supports lifting the federal ban on needle exchange, which could dramatically reduce rates of infection among drug users. President Obama has also been willing to confront the stigma -- too often tied to homophobia -- that continues to surround HIV/AIDS.
* Empower Women to Prevent HIV/AIDS: In the United States, the percentage of women diagnosed with AIDS has quadrupled over the last 20 years. Today, women account for more than one quarter of all new HIV/AIDS diagnoses. President Obama introduced the Microbicide Development Act, which will accelerate the development of products that empower women in the battle against AIDS. Microbicides are a class of products currently under development that women apply topically to prevent transmission of HIV and other infections.

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