Remember in 1994 when Rev. Lou Sheldon, head of the virulently anti-gay Traditional Values Coalition, distributed the ugly "Gay Rights/Special Rights: Inside the Homosexual Agenda" video to Republican members of Congress? The video featured Mississippi Republican Trent Lott, the assistant majority leader in the Senate. Meanwhile, Sheldon was confident that his friend, new House Speaker Rep. Newt Gingrich, would hold hearings about public schools teaching that "the homosexual life style is just another kind of diversity."
"Anytime you say that [homosexuality is] viable and that it's a valid alternative, that's promotion," Sheldon told the New York Times. "You don't want to tolerate sin. You don't want to tolerate perversion.
Sound familiar? That's right. The obsessively anti-gay Religious Right said any expression about gay people was "promotion" of the "sin" and "perversion" of homosexuality long before Russian President Vladimir Putin--egged on by people like the National Organization for Marriage's Brian Brown--made it a law.
As Right Wing Watch points out, Sheldon was obsessed with gay "propaganda," saying things like this: "Americans should understand that their attitudes about homosexuality have been deliberately and deceitfully changed by a masterful propaganda/marketing campaign that rivals that of Adolf Hitler. In fact, many of the strategies used by homosexuals to bring about cultural change in America are taken from Hitler's writings and propaganda welfare manuals."
Republican 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney did not distance himself from Sheldon's comments.
The point that is often overlooked--perhaps because Sheldon snookered and tempted black preachers like Bishop Harry Jackson Jr. with the lure of money from President Bush's Faith-Based Initiative is the link between homophobia and outright racism. Jasmyne Cannick wrote in 2005 after Sheldon held a news conference to introduce Jackson and his High Impact Leadership Coalition:
"Black pulpits are for sale to the highest bidder and black Christians are quite possibly being sold to the GOP under the guise of protecting America's moral values. With claims that gays are "high-jacking" the civil rights movement and Martin Luther King Jr.'s message, Sheldon is bribing black pastor after pastor and church after church with check after check to take another look at the GOP and partnering with their white Christian counterparts all while using the Bible as a justification for their commonality. Yes, the same book that was used to justify racism, sexism and anti-Semitism has both black and white Christian evangelicals reading from the same page."
Two years after that news conference, Sheldon's friend Trent Lott was forced to resign, largely because of residual backlash from his celebration of Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday in 2002, saying that Mississippi voters were proud to have supported Thurmond when he ran for president on a segregationist platform in 1948, and added: "If the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years either."
Looking at the Tea Party-dominated Million Veterans March in Washington D.C. this Sunday--lead by prominent non-vets Sarah Palin and Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz--where a man prominently waved the Confederate Flag in front of the White House occupied by America's first black president--it doesn't look like much has changed. A thoughtful piece in Salon on Saturday by Kim Messick suggests the same of the party that also opposes abortion and LGBT rights:
"In two earlier articles (here and here), I argued that the Republican Party's extremism can be traced to its increased dependence on an electorate that is largely rural, Southern and white. These voters, who figure prominently in the Tea Party, often decline to interpret political conflict as a struggle among interest groups or a good-faith clash of opinion. Instead, they tend to identify the country as a whole with an idealized version of themselves, and to equate any dissent from their values with disloyalty by alien, "un-American" forces. This paranoid vision of politics, I argued, makes them seek out opportunities for dramatic conflict and to shun negotiation and compromise.....
William F. Buckley, Jr., in so many ways the father of modern American conservatism, once famously described the conservative as "standing athwart History, yelling 'Stop!'" But the shrill faux-individualism of today's Southern-fried conservatives actively abets one of the most destructive trends in American life: the fact that our notions of agency are increasingly fragmented even as the structural forces which constrain agency grow ever larger. In a 2012 Republican Presidential debate held in Florida, Ron Paul, Rand's father, asked rhetorically what should happen if someone without health insurance shows up at an emergency room. "Let him die!" roared part of the audience, to loud applause.
That is the cry of our Southern conservatism."
The GOP of today is ideologically myopic, living in a world of their own creation. Remember when "Bush's brain," Karl Rove--who helped Bush win re-election in 2004 by putting anti-gay marriage initiatives on 11 state ballots--couldn't believe Fox's math that Mitt Romney had lost the election to Barack Obama in 2012? Fox Election Night anchor Megyn Kelly had to walk down the hall to get confirmation from their data desk.
And if the thinking in your head doesn't work--change the rules, as apparently the House GOP leaders did to prevent a clean vote on ending the government shutdown.
But there are other, less visible attempts to change the rules and make sure the anti-gay Republicans get special exemptions, special rights. As the San Francisco Chronicle reports, the proponents of the now officially dead, dead, dead Prop. 8 want the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to grant them an exemption from California's campaign financial disclosure laws because they are still being harassed by gay-rights supporters. They want to keep the names of those who've contributed $100 or more confidential.
But, Judge Milan Smith said, "They've got all this information on the Internet. You want us to ignore it?"
Nope, Prop. 8 lawyer James Bopp said, take the names off the state's website and seal the files because Prop. 8 sponsors, ProtectMarriage.com, expects to be involved in future "campaigns regarding protecting marriage," though he gave no details.
The Chronicle reports:
In seeking an exemption from disclosure laws, Prop. 8's sponsors presented declarations from 58 people saying the measure's supporters had been subjected to vandalism, hate mail, boycotts and death threats.
U.S. District Judge Morrison England of Sacramento refused to seal the contribution records and said most of the reported incidents could be attributed to predictable excesses by both sides in a bitterly fought campaign. He said a small number of alleged violent acts and threats had been referred to police and prosecutors.
In his November 2011 ruling, England also noted that the Prop. 8 campaign raised more than $40 million and got over 7 million votes. By contrast, he said, the U.S. Supreme Court had reserved confidentiality for "small, persecuted groups whose very existence depended on some manner of anonymity," like the Socialist Workers Party during the Cold War and the NAACP in the segregated South.
Smith raised the same issue at Friday's hearing.
"You had millions of dollars. You won. ... How can we avoid taking that into account?" Smith asked.
John Eastman, a law professor and chairman of the National Organization for Marriage, replied that threats and harassment have continued since the 2008 election and could recur in future campaigns.
Translation: let us operate in secrecy lest someone somewhere in the near or distant future might say something mean to us. They refused to note that, for the most part--LGBTs have forgiven, forgotten, or excused those who supported Prop. 8 in 2008. LGBT people have returned to the once-boycotted El Coyote in Hollywood, for instance.
But thanks to the very real, very current anti-LGBT attitudes loudly and widely expressed by some of the same kinds of people who wave the Confederate Flag in front of the White House, hate crimes against African Americans and LGBT people continue to go up. The L.A. County Human Relations Commission reported that while hate crimes reported in 2012 were the second lowest number in 23 years, about half of all hate crimes were racially-motivated (49 percent).
African Americans were targeted most frequently (66 percent) followed by Latinos (18 percent). Sexual orientation accounted for 28 percent of hate crimes--but they were more likely to be violent (79 percent) than either racial (61 percent) or religious crimes (15 percent). Gay men were targeted in 91 percent of these cases. But over the span of 5 years, transgender people experienced the highest rate of violence by far (95 percent).
"We are encouraged that for several years in a row the number of hate crimes in L.A. County has been about half of those reported in the late '90s and early 2000s," said Robin Toma, LACCHR Executive Director in a press release. "However, there are several persistent areas of concern that require heightened attention, namely the number of anti-black crimes committed by Latino gang members, and the continued high rate of violence experienced by the gay, lesbian, and transgender communities."
NoMoreDownLow.TV has a special report on the impact nationally, and asks: where's the outrage? This is not a plea for special exemptions or special rights, this is a plea for the simple right to live:
"According to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, 2012 had the fourth highest rate of murders of LGBTQ people in history. Of all these victims, 73 percent were LGBT people of color, with black transgender women accounting for the highest number of the homicides. Transgender people are being murdered at a rate of 50% higher than other same gender loving people."