Every summer for the past four years, the National Organization for Marriage’s (NOM) Ruth Institute has invited college students from across the country to participate in its weekend-long “It Takes A Family To Raise A Village” (ITAF) conference in San Diego, CA. According to NOM, the conference is meant to prepare college students to defend “natural marriage” on their campuses by introducing them to a number of prominent anti-gay speakers and activists.
This year, NOM expanded its ITAF conference to include recent college graduates in their early twenties. Being a 24-year-old gay blogger who has spent the better part of the past two years tracking NOM’s anti-gay extremism, I wasn’t expecting much when I applied to ITAF’s “Emerging Leaders” program in mid-June. I’d spent most of the month publishing blog post after blog post about ITAF’s anti-gay “suggested reading” list, its roster of extreme anti-gay speakers, and its ties to a megachurch linked to the “ex-gay” movement. The application didn’t require me to disclose my place of employment, but a quick Google search of my name would plainly reveal that I was no friend of NOM. Jennifer Morse, the president of NOM’s Ruth Institute, had even specifically responded to a post I’d published about her. I saw my application as more of a joke than anything else.
So when I got a “Congratulations” email at the end of July informing me that I’d been accepted into ITAF, I wasn’t sure how to react.
Honestly, part of me was terrified at the idea of having to spend a whole weekend stuck at a NOM event with a group of anti-gay student activists. What if I was discovered? What if someone from NOM recognized me? If I attended, I ran the risk of being exposed – all alone – as an undercover “homosexualist” in a room full of the very people I’d been writing about for months
via EXCLUSIVE: Undercover At NOM’s Anti-Gay Student Conference | Blog | Media Matters for America.
The campaign to affirm Maryland’s marriage equality law at the ballot box began in earnest last week when the secretary of state released the official language that voters will see when they go to the polls in November. It lays out in straightforward terms what the law does and what it doesn’t do. It allows Marylanders to vote for permitting gay and lesbian couples to obtain a civil marriage license but does not compel any religious figure to perform or recognize gay marriages or to provide goods or services for a gay wedding. Quite simply, it says that Maryland recognizes the need to treat everyone with fairness and equality while maintaining the respect for religious liberty that was a bedrock of this state’s founding.
But it didn’t take long for opponents to drag out the same specious attacks they have used to great effect in other states where gay marriage has been on the ballot. Within hours of the release of the ballot language, Derek McCoy, the executive director of the Maryland Marriage Alliance, the group that spearheaded the petition drive to put the law on the ballot, had telegraphed the arguments that we are likely to hear much more of in the months ahead. “Maryland parents who send their children to public schools are immediately asking how does this affect what is taught in schools,” he said in a statement. “Business owners have a right to know if their personal opinions about same-sex marriage will find them in violation of the law.”
Neither question has anything to do with the matter at hand, but since he asked, here are the answers: “Not at all” and “No.”
via Maryland gay marriage ballot referendum – baltimoresun.com.
DETROIT — A jury on Thursday awarded a gay University of Michigan student body president $4.5 million in his lawsuit against a former Michigan assistant attorney general who posted about him in an anti-gay blog.
The U.S.DistrictCourt jury ruled in favor of Christopher Armstrong, who claimed he suffered distress after a blog created by Andrew Shirvell accused him of enticing minors with alcohol and recruiting people to become homosexual.
“I’m just incredibly humbled by what happened today,” Armstrong told The Associated Press. “This is truly a victory — not just for myself, but for a lot of other kids out there.”
Shirvell, who was representing himself, said the jury award was “grossly excessive” for what was “clearly protected speech … and activity.”
“This should have been thrown out,” he said, adding that he plans to appeal. “Juries give short shrift to FirstAmendment rights.”
Armstrong accused Shirvell of defamation as well as emotional distress for his actions on the blog, in Facebook posts and during visits to the Ann Arbor campus.
Then-Attorney General Mike Cox fired Shirvell in 2010 after Shirvell criticized Armstrong, who graduated last year.
via Lawyer must pay $4.5M to gay student he criticized – US news – Life – NBCNews.com.
Mike Huckabee is probably pretty happy right now.
Chick-fil-A, the chicken restaurant under fire for its president’s public comments against same-sex marriage, announced it set new sales records on Wednesday, or as Huckabee renamed it, “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day.”
“While we don’t release exact sales numbers, we can confirm reports that it was a record-setting day,” said Chick-fil-A’s executive vice president of marketing, Steve Robinson, in a statement.
Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas, had urged people across the country to “affirm a business that operates on Christian principles and whose executives are willing to take a stand for the Godly values we espouse” by showing up at the chicken chain on August 1.
Many appear to have taken Huckabee’s call to heart, flocking to the chain’s roughly 1,600 locations in support of its president’s controversial anti-gay position.
via Chick-Fil-A Has ‘Record-Setting Day’ While Embroiled In Anti-Gay Controversy.
Right-wing televangelist Pat Robertson thinks Democrats are committing political suicide with their decision to stand up for the civil rights of the LGBT community.
Speaking on his television program on Tuesday, Robertson said the Democratic Party has a “death wish” in backing marriage equality as part of its official platform, which will be unveiled at this summer’s Democratic National Convention.
“For the Democrats to go out on that limb, it just seems like to me that they are further alienating themselves from the mainstream of America,” Robertson said. “If that’s what they want to do, fine, but it will mean the death knell of their party, it seems like to me, and of course that’s what they’re doing but maybe they have a death wish.”
Recent polling contradicts Robertson’s assertion. A survey released on Tuesday by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life shows that 48 percent of the overall public supports same-sex marriage, while only 44 percent oppose it. Among Democrats, 65 percent support the right of gay couples to marry.
via Pat Robertson: Democrats’ Support For Gay Marriage Is Political ‘Death Wish’.
Last Friday, the company behind beloved shows such as “Fraggle Rock,” “Labyrinth,” and “The Muppets,” severed ties with Chick-Fil-A due to the fast food chain’s CEO’s opposition to same sex marriage.
According to “Muppets” fan site ToughPigs.com, The Jim Henson Company had partnered with Chick-Fil-A to feature Jim Henson’s Creature Shop toys — “essentially a plastic tube with cut-out features for customizing your own puppet” — in their kid’s meals from mid-July until August 18th.
However, on Friday, the Jim Henson Company posted the following statement to their Facebook page:
The Jim Henson Company has celebrated and embraced diversity and inclusiveness for over fifty years and we have notified Chick-Fil-A that we do not wish to partner with them on any future endeavors. Lisa Henson, our CEO is personally a strong supporter of gay marriage and has directed us to donate the payment we received from Chick-Fil-A to GLAAD. (http://www.glaad.org/)
via Jim Henson Company And Chick-Fil-A: ‘Muppets’ Makers Sever Ties With Anti-Gay Fast Food Chain.
The president of the fast food chain Chick-fil-A voiced his disapproval of same-sex marriage in an interview this week and called marriage equality supporters “arrogant” for going against god, On Top Magazine reported.
Dan Cathy came out against gay marriage on a radio show and defended the restaurant’s longstanding anti-gay stance.
“I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say, ’We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage,’” Cathy said. “And I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.”
After being criticized for his statements the businessman told the Baptist Press earlier this week that he is “guilty as charged” and is very “supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit.”
“We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that,” Cathy told the publication.
Chick-fil-A officials have since released a statement and said the company follows biblically based values.
“The Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect – regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender,” the statement reads. “Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena.”
via Chick-fil-A President Denounces Marriage Equality :: EDGE on the Net.
The U.S. House approved on Thursday an amendment that aims to bar same-sex wedding ceremonies from taking place on military bases — although LGBT groups are denying the measure will have any legal impact.
The amendment, introduced by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa,) was approved 247-166 as part of major $608 billion Pentagon budget legislation known as the fiscal year 2013 defense appropriations bill. The House on the same day approved the legislation as a whole by 247-167.
In a floor speech offering the amendment, King, who has reputation for being anti-gay, said the amendment was necessary because the Pentagon is allowing same-sex weddings to take place on military bases and chaplains to officiate over these ceremonies despite the Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriage.
“This same-sex marriage that has been taking place on our military bases, where otherwise legal around the world, contravenes the Defense of Marriage Act,” King said. “The Defense of Marriage Act means this, actually says specifically this: marriage means only a legal union between one man and one woman, as husband and wife, and the word spouse refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife. Pretty simple statute being contravened by the directives of the President of the United States as exercised through the secretary of defense.”
The Pentagon issued guidance shortly after “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal went into effect giving the OK to same-sex wedding ceremonies on military bases and allowing chaplains to participate in them if they so choose. The guidance states the military facilities should be used on a “sexual-orientation basis” and military chaplains may officiate over same-sex weddings, but aren’t required to do so if that’s contrary to their religious briefs.
via House votes to ban same-sex weddings on military bases | Washington Blade – America’s Leading Gay News Source.
Maryland’s Board of Elections certified a petition Tuesday to put the state’s new same-sex marriage law on the November ballot, the final procedural step needed for voters to challenge the controversial law.
“We’re excited, we’re on the ballot,” said Dereck McCoy, executive director of the Maryland Marriage Alliance, a church-led group pushing to repeal the law. “We’re glad that we were able to have a loud say
via State certifies petition to place same-sex marriage law on ballot – Baltimore Sun.
EDINBURGH, Scotland — The leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland and the most senior Catholic in the United Kingdom has declared “war on gay marriage,” pledging to spend another £100,000 in its campaign against equal marriage rights for same-sex couples in Scotland.
Speaking in today’s Sunday Times, Cardinal Keith O’Brien warned the Scottish Government that it will face an “unprecedented backlash” from the Catholic Church in Scotland if it goes ahead with plans to legalize same-sex marriage, claiming “marriage is under threat and politicians need to know the Catholic Church will bear any burden and meet any cost in its defense.”
via Roman Catholic Church of Scotland declares ‘war on gay marriage’ – LGBTQ Nation.