Ted Cruz Cozies Up to ‘Kill the Gays’ Pastor

It seems that the Republican Party has become so venomously hostile toward LGBT people that the party’s presidential candidates can attend — apparently without consequence — events at which speakers insist that gay people should be put to death. Ted Cruz, a presidential candidate as well as GOP senator from Texas, attended such an event in Iowa last week along with fellow candidates Mike Huckabee of Arkansas and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana.

Our friends at Right Wing Watch report what happened at the National Religious Liberties Conference, which featured right-wing pastor Kevin Swanson of Colorado:

“During his remarks, Swanson reiterated his view that both the Old and New Testament require the death penalty for the crime of homosexuality, as well as his position that any Christian who attends a gay wedding can only do so in order to hold up a sign informing the couple that they ought to be put to death.

He drove home his point with a passionate declaration that if he ever found out that his own sons was gay and that son invited him to his wedding, he would show up covered in “sackcloth and ashes” and then smear himself in cow manure as he sat on the steps of the church and wailed lamentations.”

Check out the Right Wing Watch video from Swanson’s speech (emphasis added in the transcription below):

“There are instances in which both the Old Testament and New Testament speak to the matter with unbelievable clarity. And friends, and this is the highest level, the very highest level of clarity where the word of God has spoken, both Old Testament and New Testament. Ought not to be any debate about it whatsoever about it. And you know what that sin is. It’s the sin of homosexuality. Romans 1, First Corinthians, Chapter 6, First Timothy, I think it’s Chapter 4, and of course Leviticus 18 and Leviticus 20. The word of God speaks there. In fact, in Romans Chapter 1, Paul affirms that this particular sin is worthy of death, in Romans, Chapter 1. So granted, there are varying levels of clarity/relevance relating to ethics, but still the Old Testament and the New Testament I believe speak with authority, and we ought to receive it.”

At one point in his speech, Swanson almost seemed to lose control:

“There are families, we’re talking Christian families, pastors’ families, elders’ families from good, godly churches. Their sons are rebelling, hanging out with homosexuals and getting married, and the parents are invited. What would you do if that was the case? Here is what I would do: sackcloth and ashes at the entrance to the church and I’d sit in cow manure and I’d spread it all over my body. That’s what I would do, and I’m not kidding, I’m not laughing.

“I’m grieving, I’m mourning, I’m pointing out the problem! It’s not a gay time! These are the people with the sores, the gaping sores, the sores that are pussy and gross, and people are coming in and carving happy faces on the sores! That’s not a nice thing to do. Don’t you dare carve happy faces on open, pussy sores! Don’t you ever do that. Don’t you ever do that. I tell you don’t do it! Sackcloth and ashes. This is what America needs. America needs to hear the message. We are messed up.”

As vile as all this was, Cruz, Huckabee and Jindal had little or nothing to say about it. This is how MSNBC host Rachel Maddow describes it:

“I’m not rounding up to the nearest scary thing. It really was a ‘kill the gays’ call to arms. This was a conference about the necessity of the death penalty as a necessity for homosexuality … part of the way [Huckabee, Jindal, and Cruz] are campaigning for president is by attending a ‘kill the gays’ rally. And I don’t know if that is considered to be a scandal anymore in Republican politics.”

It’s not, apparently.

Posted in LGBT issues, Ted Cruz, TFNEF | 4 Comments

Jared “No Men in Women’s Bathrooms” Woodfill Defends Guy in Bathroom Full of Women

Jared Woodfill, the former head of the Harris County Republican Party and one of the activists who led the charge against the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), doesn’t want men in women’s bathrooms. Except if those men are giving him money. Then it’s apparently all cool.

Via the Houston Press:

Ten years ago, at a pool party at a private home, seven women went into the master bathroom to change into their bathing suits. Following them were three drunk men, including local tech-company owner BJ Farmer, who sat in the shower, took out their cell phones, and began snapping pictures while the women changed. Earlier this year, one of those women, Andrea Villarreal, sued Farmer after his ex-wife found the pictures on his laptop, shortly before their divorce proceedings, and brought them to Villarreal’s attention.

Guess who is representing Farmer in that lawsuit. Yep, Woodfill.

During a deposition earlier this year, Farmer admitted taking the pictures and to “doing this on more than one occasion, and to having pictures of himself fondling an unconscious nude woman at another party,” according to the Houston Press.

Ironic, isn’t it? Woodfill — who likes to talk a big game about morality — and his allies used a lie about “men in women’s bathrooms” to successfully convince enough Houston voters to strike HERO down in last week’s city elections. Yet here he is, enriching himself by taking money to defend a guy who admitted to, on more than one occasion, taking pictures of women while they changed clothes in a bathroom. How moral of him.

Posted in Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, TFNEF | 3 Comments

Just How Extreme Are They?

Bradlee Dean, an anti-gay extremist, blogger, Christian rocker and founder of a Minnesota-based “youth ministry,” hates President Obama. That’s par for the course when it comes to religious-righters today. But this week his hatred has morphed into an even more sinister paranoia about Obama and the U.S. military.

In a blog post published on Sunday, Dean asks ominously whether last weekend’s nighttime test launch of a submarine-based ballistic missile off the coast of California was “a message to the American people.” He then pivots to an alternative explanation — that the test was a message to China and Russia about U.S. military capabilities. As with other right-wingers, though, Dean even suggests that President Obama is up to no good:

“Let us certainly hope that World War III does not start any time soon, but without a doubt our ‘leaders’ are becoming increasingly reckless, and at some point there may be an ‘accident.’ … I don’t know about you, but I have a really bad feeling about what is ahead. Our government is acting very irrationally, and both Russia and China are becoming very angry with us.”

Actually, the Los Angeles Times reports that these missile tests are routine — occurring annually on the West Coast and the East Coast near Florida.

Even so, paranoid reader comments to Dean’s post reveal just how much his right-wing fans despise their country’s own president. One suggests that the government might be preparing to use nukes to create an electromagnetic pulse that that destroys the country’s electrical power grid:

“It wouldn’t surprise me if they were testing the abillity to EMP the country in the midst of a major gun grab by the UN.”

Other commenters tossed about various slurs. Here’s one calling the president a “sodomite negro”:

Maybe they were saying this is all we got America! The sodomite negro castrated the military and we just wanted to show you we only got missiles left.

So what we are saying is that you better not let the sodomite negro take your guns away for the coming invasion. We know that’s how you will feel if we scare’d you a bit at night so ya’ll can see.

Didn’t most of you think that lucky we got guns if that was aliens or a Chinese Manapua coming this way? So don’t let the negro ever take your guns away America. It’s coming…….

Another calls him a “half breed”:

“Anybody seen the half breed’s family lately. I wonder if they are hiding out under a mountain or an airport somewhere….”

Just another day on the wacky right.

Posted in extremism, TFNEF | 8 Comments

The Week in Quotes (Nov. 1 – 7)

Here are some of the week’s most notable quotes culled from news reports from across Texas, and beyond.

continue reading »

Posted in The Week in Quotes | Leave a comment

Cathie Adams Compares Supreme Court’s Freedom to Marry Ruling to Infamous Dred Scott Case

Cathie Adams, president of the far-right Texas Eagle Forum, is still ripping mad that gay people who love each other can get married. In Texas Eagle Forum’s October newsletter, Adams even argues that the Supreme Court’s decision in favor of the freedom to marry this past June was as wrong as the court’s 1973 abortion decision and its infamous Dred Scott decision in 1857. In the abortion case, the court essentially said women have a right to control their own bodies. In the Dred Scott case, the court infamously ruled that black people — whether slave or free — could not be U.S. citizens or hold the same rights as white people.

Adams writes that efforts in the Texas Legislature to pass a bill defying the Supreme Court on same-sex marriage failed because of opposition from the business lobby. She also criticizes Republican leaders:

“We also lacked support from Governor Greg Abbott, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, and House Speaker Joe Straus. If the Republican leadership had stood against the impending overreach by the SCOTUS, then we’d have a good chance of calling the decision WRONG—just like Dred-Scott was wrong, and Roe vs. Wade was wrong.”

That the Texas Legislature could have really done anything to defy the Supreme Court’s marriage ruling is purely a fantasy promoted by the right. The fact is that Texas is bound by the court’s decisions.

In any case, right-wingers like Adams often compare any court decision they don’t like to the Roe abortion decision. But the 1857 Dred Scott v. Sanford decision? In that Supreme Court case, Chief Justice Roger B. Taney argued that the nation’s founders believed all black people were “beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations, and so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.”

Interestingly, Adams’ past rhetoric suggests she believes gay people are also beings of an inferior order. She essentially wanted the Supreme Court to affirm that view this past summer and continue to allow our nation’s laws to treat same-sex couples as inferior and second-class citizens.

Her article also argues — despite an abundance of research to the contrary — that same-sex parents are bad for children. To try backing up that point, she even relies on a “study” from the Family Research Council. The Southern Poverty Law Center rightly identifies the Family Research Council as an anti-gay hate group. So it’s not a surprise that a “study” from that group would argue against same-sex marriage.

It’s also not surprising that Cathie Adams would rely on a hate group for support. After all, birds of a feather…

Posted in Cathie Adams, marriage equality, Texas Eagle Forum, TFNEF | 9 Comments

State Leaders Help Damage Texas Reputation as HERO Falls at the Polls on Tuesday

On Tuesday the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance went down to defeat at the polls, which means Houston remains the only major city in Texas without a comprehensive civil rights ordinance that protects against discrimination. Houston Mayor Annise Parker’s powerful statement last night is already making the rounds on the Internet.

This morning the Texas Freedom Network sent out the following press release:

The deceitful, fear-based campaign used to defeat the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance at the polls on Tuesday will seriously damage the reputation of the City of Houston and the State of Texas, Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller said today.

Miller said that danger is particularly high because of the way Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick waded into the election over the local ordinance.

“It was disturbing to see our state’s two highest elected leaders shamefully peddling lies and scare tactics,” Miller said. “Their political pandering has branded Texas as hostile to basic human rights and inclusiveness. In lending the prestige of their offices to such a shockingly deceitful campaign, Gov. Abbott and Lt. Gov. Patrick aligned themselves with some of this state’s most extreme and intolerant voices. That can only hurt the state’s reputation among anyone or any business that might want to move here.”

The rhetoric used by HERO opponents was nothing short of incendiary. At one campaign event, a major funder of the anti-HERO campaign wielded a sword while demanding that gay and transgender people be driven from Houston. Another leader declared that opponents of the nondiscrimination ordinance were fighting “the presence of evil” in Houston. But the anti-HERO campaign was based largely on a single tactic: scaring voters into thinking the nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people would allow “troubled men” and sexual predators to assault women and girls in public bathrooms.

Gov. Abbott called for the defeat of HERO, even tweeting “no men in women’s bathrooms” on Monday. In addition, Lt. Gov. Patrick helped fund the anti-HERO campaign and even appeared in a television ad featuring the “bathroom” scare.

But law enforcement and other public officials in cities and states with laws similar to HERO say they had not seen problems with sexual predators using the measures to harass or assault people in public restrooms.

Despite the setback in Houston, supporters of equality will continue to fight to protect all Texans from discrimination, Miller said.

“No one should have to live in fear of losing their job, being evicted from their home or being denied public services simply because of who they are or whom they love,” Miller said. “Texas is better than that, but it’s clear that fear remains a powerful, deceitful weapon for opponents of equality.”

The Houston Unites campaign for HERO sent out this statement last night:

The coalition partners that make up Houston Unites, including ACLU of Texas, Equality Texas, NAACP Houston Branch, Texas Freedom Network, Freedom for All Americans and the Human Rights Campaign, released the following joint statement after today’s vote.

“We are disappointed with today’s outcome, but our work to secure nondiscrimination protections for all hard-working Houstonians will continue. No one should have to live with the specter of discrimination hanging over them. Everyone should have the freedom to work hard, earn a decent living and provide for themselves and their families.

“Although Houston won’t yet join the 200 other cities that have similar nondiscrimination measures, the fight continues. We will continue telling the stories of Houstonians whose lives would be better off because of HERO – including people of color, people of faith, veterans who have served our country, women, and gay and transgender people.

“We’ve learned some important lessons, as well. We have to continue sharing our stories so that more Houstonians know what HERO is really about and aren’t susceptible to the ugliest of smear campaigns run by the opposition. And we must remember that all of us are stronger when we stand together, speaking up with one voice for protections like those in HERO, rather than allowing those who oppose fairness and equality to divide us.”

Posted in Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, TFN | 5 Comments

The Week in Quotes (Oct. 25 – 31)

Here are some of the week’s most notable quotes culled from news reports from across Texas, and beyond.

continue reading »

Posted in The Week in Quotes | Leave a comment

Obama, Biden, Clinton All Signal Support for the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance

With the Nov. 3 vote just days away, the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) is getting support from major national leaders.

Today the White House released a statement announcing the support of President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden for protecting all Houstonians — regardless of race, religion, sex, military status, sexual orientation, gender identity and other characteristics — from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations. From the White House statement today:

“While the Administration generally does not take a formal position on specific proposals or initiatives, the President and Vice President have been strong supporters of state and local efforts to protect Americans from being discriminated against based on who they are and who they love. We’re confident that the citizens of Houston will vote in favor of fairness and equality.”

In addition, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton — who has also served as a U.S. Senator and Secretary of State — tweeted her support for HERO:

Religious-right groups have run a vicious campaign attacking HERO and its protections against discrimination. You can stand up for equality under the law for all by voting YES for Proposition 1. Early voting ends Friday, and election day is Tuesday, Nov. 3. Learn more about the campaign for HERO — including early voting locations in Houston — here.

Posted in Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, TFN | 8 Comments

Helping End ‘Faith-Based’ Child Abuse

This guest post by Janet Heimlich, founder of the Child-Friendly Faith Project (CFFP), focuses on a new project designed to address the tragic connection that sometimes exists between religion and child maltreatment. Sadly, Texas is no stranger to this problem. The cautionary tale of fundamentalist preacher Lester Roloff and his homes for troubled teens is a case in point. TFN lobbied for years for the Texas Legislature to suspend the alternative (and lenient) licensing program the state maintained for faith-based child care providers like Roloff. That program was finally allowed to expire in 2001, and the Roloff Homes moved out of the state. Janet writes here about a new project that addresses the problem of child abuse in faith communities.

***

A boy is beaten because he fidgets during a sermon. A girl is made to feel shameful about her “unclean” sexuality. A teenager is denied medical care because her community only believes in faith healing. When a religious leader molests a child, no one reports it.

Religion is a powerful and positive influence in the lives of many people. But we know that religion can sometimes be used to harm children. Fortunately, the Child-Friendly Faith Project is announcing a new program designed specially for faith communities that aims to end child abuse and neglect perpetrated in the name of faith. What’s more, all faith communities can benefit from it.

The Child-Friendly Faith Communities Designation Program is a curriculum that offers instruction and tools not found in any other training program. It covers all forms of child maltreatment, not just sexual abuse. It teaches about child development and how faith teachings and practices can be both beneficial and harmful. Also, it offers workshops that guide participants through the process of developing effective child abuse prevention policies and new programs that improve children’s wellbeing.

The benefits for participating faith communities are huge. Not only can they feel assured they are meeting children’s emotional and spiritual needs, they are designated as Child-Friendly Faith Communities and promoted as role models in child protection. In this way, these communities serve as beacons to people in their local area looking for a place of worship that truly understands children’s needs. So participating in the Designation Program allows a faith community to grow its congregation.

But we need your help so we can complete development of the program and offer it for free to all faith communities. Please donate to this crowdfunding campaign which contains a 4-minute video that describes the Designation Program. To find out more how you can take part in a Child-Friendly Faith movement, please email us at [email protected].

Posted in Religious violence | 3 Comments

Pay No Attention to the Hatemonger Behind the Curtain

You’ve probably been thinking, hey, what’s Steve Hotze up to these days? The prominent anti-LGBT zealot from Houston has, as the Houston Chronicle noted, been awfully quiet leading up to next week’s referendum to decide the fate of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance. The silence is unusual for the outspoken Hotze, who last made headlines in August when he went on anti-gay tirade that included a sword — yes, an actual sword — and compared of gay people to Nazis (and demanded that LGBT people be driven from Houston).

Hotze, instead, is letting his money do the talking. Campaign reports examined by the Houston Chronicle show that the group opposing the ordinance has spent about $140,000 more than it has raised. Hotze has made up the deficit by, no joke, putting it on his credit card and extending a $50,000 loan, according to the Chronicle.

But why is Hotze otherwise so quiet? Here’s a possible answer:

Hotze’s less public role in the campaign is a smart strategy, said University of Houston political scientist Brandon Rottinghaus.

Hotze’s long public battle against gay rights could be a liability for the campaign when it comes to attracting more moderate voters, Rottinghaus said.

So because the group opposing the equal rights ordinance doesn’t want to remind voters who Steve Hotze is, let’s remind voter who Steve Hotze is. Here’s just a sampling of what he’s said, including what he thinks about LGBT people, in an audio recording earlier this year during a Texas legislative hearing:

This is the guy opponents of the ordinance are in bed with. If you’re a Houstonian, you gotta ask yourself, do I want Hotze calling the shots in my city? Because that’s what is at stake at the polls next week.

Posted in Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, Steven Hotze, TFN | 16 Comments