Thank God for the Millennials and all those who are not so young but who are tolerant of difference.
We should also thank “a local boy” who used to sell eggs as a kid door to door on Leesburg’s Canby Road for pennies an egg, who went on to study law, began a small practice in Leesburg, served as counsel to Lovettsville, was elected to the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, then elected to the Virginia State Senate and finally elected state wide to become Virginia’s Attorney General.
That’s Mark Herring who decided, as our newly minted Attorney General, that treating same sex marriage differently as a state than other marriages was not equal protection of the law, and, as a result, at his direction, Virginia reversed field in pending litigation and the Courts agreed to recognize same sex marriages.
Last week, Mark sat in the U.S. Supreme Court chamber to hear oral argument on what should be the law of the land – for every state.
Mark came away optimistic that we are going to bend toward equal protection and individual liberty nation-wide. Continue reading →
When is it okay to start talking about the fact that Republican policies actually kill people?
The most obvious example is Republican support for our government killing people, explicitly and in cold blood. That’s what the death penalty is. State sanctioned killing of a citizen in cold blood. Regardless of your position on the morality or constitutionality of the death penalty, it is, quite simply, support for state-sanctioned death. And there is no better example of the bedrock principle for Republicans that the state should be allowed to kill its citizens.
How about Republican’s opposition to reasonable gun safety legislation? To the point of actively repealing gun safety legislation already in place when they take control of a state? Did you know that Missouri repealed background checks for gun purchases recently? And when it did, gun murders went up 25%?
“Hey, this legislation will cause more people to be violently murdered!”
“Great, let’s do it!”
“We calculated the number and characteristics of people who will remain uninsured as a result of their state’s opting out of the Medicaid expansion, and applied these figures to the known effects of insurance expansion from prior studies,” lead author Samuel Dickman said. “The results were sobering. Political decisions have consequences, some of them lethal.”
Trigger warning: Rape, domestic violence and child abuse denialism, victim-blaming.
Critics of Stephen Baskerville’s astonishing Faith and Reason lecture at Patrick Henry College last Friday have no shortage of material to cite. The lecture was such a departure from even the pretense of academic standards that it’s easy for critics to frame it as a mistake that no one should take seriously; surely the cause of this catastrophe is that the administration failed to vet it properly, and surely the students have the necessary skills to reject it. PHC alum David Sessions reaches out to those students in an open letter:
To say it was beneath the standards of charity, evidence, and logical rigor students at PHC should expect from their professors would be an understatement. But beyond its weaknesses as a piece of argumentation, it had darker moral undertones that should be emphasized and rebutted. Anyone committed to the Christian virtues of love, charity, forgiveness, and justice should be deeply suspicious of such a hostile condemnation of the voices of people who have been subjected to violence and discrimination in our society, and of those who have worked courageously and democratically to protect them.
As noted in the first comment on the Uganda post below, we were admonished by a frequently irritated visitor to this blog for talking about the crimes against humanity unfolding in Uganda. Apparently – and I don’t know how else to interpret these words – because we are “highly educated” and fortunate to live in the rural end of the most affluent county in “the most free country in the world,” our concern about what’s going on in Uganda at the alleged direction of a US-based hate group leader is “over the top.”
I take the position that if you’re a human rights advocate, you should be concerned about crimes against humanity anywhere, not just where you live. And you should be especially concerned when the crimes are the outcome of collusion with a U.S. hate group leader, who is running the operation from within your own country precisely because it is free.
The situation in Uganda began with propaganda that defamed and dehumanized LGBTI people with claims that we sexually assault children. All human rights catastrophes started somewhere, and studying them is how we learn to do better. Do I think that what’s happening in Uganda could happen here, just because Scott Lively is the leader of a hate group, and Eugene Delgaudio is also the leader of a hate group? No – but pretending so is a lazy, simpleminded way to attack Eugene’s critics, isn’t it?
Anti-gay hate groups don’t have much of a future here. It’s more likely that when Nervous Eugene‘s cash cow runs its course in the U.S. he’ll move on to something or somewhere else. And if that new enterprise involves human rights abuses of LGBTI people in some other country we’ll have a responsibility to help them, too.
So this happened in 1935, as human rights advocates were warning of the deteriorating climate for certain disfavored groups in Germany: Continue reading →
In an article published Wednesday, Times-Mirror reporter Trevor Baratko explores the “wild, wild west” of campaigning in a still emerging online social media environment. Baratko approached my husband and me for this article because we had both been removed multiple times after “liking” Dave LaRock’s campaign page on Facebook. It’s common practice on Facebook to “like” a page for the purpose of monitoring the page’s activity and engaging in dialogue, and as I note in comments at the Times-Mirror, we have at no time been enabled to participate in discussion on that page although LaRock is campaigning to be our representative in the House of Delegates.
It’s an open question how exactly candidates for public office should navigate the new environment in which they find themselves. Many public figures and businesses have discovered that blocking critical comments from their Facebook pages only makes them appear imperious and as if they have something to hide. For an example of a different way to handle criticism (or in this case, open hostility and threats) see how the group Queer at Patrick Henry College dealt with PHC Chancellor Mike Farris’ comments on their Facebook page.
Facebook management isn’t the only area in which Dave LaRock has exhibited an inability to tolerate disagreement or criticism, however. A need for control coupled with entitlement, the sense that he has a special right to operate above the law, seems to be the character trait that most animates him. His 2012 arrest (final disposition still pending) for trespassing and destruction of property has become somewhat well known, prompting a falsehood-riddled “damage control” post (authored under an unaccountable pseudonym on a Republican blog) that LaRock is now distributing as his official statement on the matter. Continue reading →
“They’re saying it’s only about doctrine. But for us, the dialogue is about reflecting on our lives out of Gospel. Theology in our view is about exploration and discovery. They think that’s wrong. It’s like cutting the heart out of who we are,”
Sister Simone Campbell on the Vatican’s view of “open dialogue,” reported in today’s Washington Post. The Vatican believes that dialogue is “a conversation about how best to implement the pope’s vision.” Really? Isn’t Sister Simone asking, “Who represents Catholic women?“ How can a conversation be called “dialogue” if one side says – “I’m the authority, shut up and implement what I say.”
Michelle Boorstein’s article really gave me hope. This dialogue between the nuns and the pope is one the most significant political advances I’ve witnessed in my lifetime. Why is it political? When asked if the dialogue includes hot button issues like contraception, Sister Simone replied,
“Absolutely. Theologies have evolved over two millennia. When Jesus died and rose, it wasn’t all settled.”
This is nothing short of a stunning accomplishment. We owe our thanks to the community members who did the hard, unglamorous, patient work of education. They are heroes. Education is really the only thing that can bring about a significant change in policy like this.
Virginia has adopted a simple, straightforward mechanism for correcting one’s gender marker on a driver’s license, one that comports with the reality of legal gender transition:
As of April 25, 2012, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) implemented a new, and much simpler, policy for changing one’s gender marker on a VA driver’s license. Individuals can now use the Gender Change Request form, known as DL-17, which requires only a signature from a licensed provider, including a doctor, psychiatrist, nurse practitioner, social worker, or counselor attesting to the fact that the applicant is a patient of the provider and that the applicant’s “gender identity” is either female or male and “can reasonably be expected to continue as such for the foreseeable future.”
And thanks to you also, Governor McDonnell, for your leadership on this. Thank you for amending the Ultrasound Rape bill to be merely an Ultrasound Battery bill. And then passing it.
This action unequivocally proves that the purpose of this bill has nothing to do with ensuring that a woman sees an ultrasound image of the embryo she has decided to abort, since in almost all cases, an external ultrasound won’t produce anything to see. No, this is just about throwing up any old pesky obstacle in her way and making it more inconvenient and expensive to exercise her legal, constitutional right to obtain an abortion. Thanks again for making that so clear. It’s way more convincing than us saying it.
Once in a while there appears a post or a letter to the editor so earnestly, hilariously dumb that we must sit for a moment of awestruck silence. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Ben Belrose:
Dear Editor: There are certain expenses in life that are “normal” ongoing expenses that people pay for out of their budget. We buy insurance to cover large, unexpected expenses.
Years ago, the common plan was described as “major medical” which was designed to help people cover medical hospitalization, i.e., expenses that could not be covered by their normal budget. A routine visit to the doctor for a cold or the flu was paid out of the available normal resources…
The purpose of this letter is to establish the idea that reproductive health, which includes control over conception, is not properly categorized as a health care expense. He would like for us to consider categorizing it instead as one of many “normal living expenses” like buying gasoline or “daily trips to the coffee bar.” Continue reading →
We may have found a new standard for effortless advocacy.
It isn’t really news that people sometimes lie to get their way, but is it my imagination that there has been a sharp uptick in the sheer brazenness of the lying? I’m not talking here about the weaselly, defensive type of lying that public figures often engage in when caught in compromising positions (yawn). I’m talking about utterly making things up with the intention of compromising other people, wholly fabricated things that the liar knows are demonstrably false, but doesn’t care. Things that the liar wishes were true, but are not. So the liar just goes ahead and says they are anyway.
Things like claiming that the Girl Scouts of America “promote abortion”, or have a “partnership” with Planned Parenthood, or encourage girls to have promiscuous sex. People dedicated to promoting these and other lies about the Girl Scouts have produced a media campaign that has the fingerprints of hate groups like American Family Association all over it, and are going after, of all things, Girl Scout Cookie sales.