Happy 4th of July: what does “freedom” mean to you?

America is a great idea, but it’s hard to love these days.

At some point tonight millions and millions of us will find ourselves sitting in a stadium or a park or maybe on a city rooftop or a grassy hill in the country, staring at the sky, celebrating our country’s anniversary by watching the annual fireworks show. I won’t lie – I love fireworks. They’re spectacular to watch, but beyond that I’m fascinated by how they work. How do you get one to look like a flower? How do you get multiple colors in one burst? I assume I could learn these things if I spent the time, but regardless, it’s a pretty cool exercise in artistry.

But I don’t love everything about fireworks shows. If you’re at an official civic event you’ll certainly get to hear Lee Greenwood belting out his famous “God Bless the USA.” This is a massively famous and popular song, having reached #7 on the Billboard Country charts. It’s sold over a million copies and there’s no telling how much it has earned Greenwood in royalties.

It’s also perhaps the greatest lie ever set to music. Bear with me.

America is a wonderful idea. Continue reading “Happy 4th of July: what does “freedom” mean to you?”

Varner outs Zeke: the outrage is reaffirming

A gay man’s assault on a transgender fellow player was stunning. The response by the tribe, the host, the audience, and most importantly the target, gives a little hope to those of us losing faith in our fellow humans.

On last night’s episode of Survivor, Jeff Varner, who was fighting for his life in the game, turned to fellow contestant Zeke Smith during tribal council and asked him, “Why haven’t you told anyone you’re transgender?” It was like someone had dropped a bomb on the place. Ten seconds of staggered silence gave way to a deluge of outrage against Varner, with members of the tribe shouting over each other in a moment unlike anything in Survivor history. It was a beatdown of unprecedented proportions and it was richly deserved. A Google search for [zeke smith jeff varner] is currently returning ~82,000 results – stories, tweets, videos, you name it, so feel free to sample for yourself the public response.

Continue reading “Varner outs Zeke: the outrage is reaffirming”

HB2 cost NC a lot more than $3.76B

The AP says the “bathroom bill” cost North Carolina $3.76 billion. The real damage is likely much, much higher.

The AP yesterday released an analysis indicating that reaction to North Carolina’s discriminatory HB2 – the “bathroom bill” – cost the state a staggering $3.76 billion in lost business, projected over 12 years. That’s a remarkable hit to economy, but as I read the full details of how the AP arrived at that number, I can’t help wondering just how badly they underestimated the true damage that former governor “One Term” Pat McCrory and the rest of the jackals in the state GOP caused NC.

Have a look at the WaPo article linked above, then consider: Continue reading “HB2 cost NC a lot more than $3.76B”

NCAA decision on HB2: hey NC, stupid and hateful ain't cheap

At some point the North Carolina legislature is going to capitulate on its “bathroom” law. Will the NCAA’s latest move be the tipping point?

Much has been written and said about NC’s discriminatory “bathroom” law. And now even more is going to be written and said, thanks to the NCAA’s decision to yank seven college sports championship events from the state.

Late Monday, the NCAA announced it was pulling seven championship events out of North Carolina in the coming school year over the state’s so-called “bathroom law” — legislation best known for barring transgender people from using government building bathrooms in accordance with their gender identities.

The action came on top of numerous protests and calls to repeal the measure, all of which have gone unheeded by North Carolina’s Republican-controlled legislature and Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, who’s running for reelection.

Continue reading “NCAA decision on HB2: hey NC, stupid and hateful ain't cheap”

Hey Brian Windhorst: The NC legislature held a special session to PASS #HB2. Why can't they do the same to repeal it?

I love Brian Windhorst, but he needs to get his act together on this one.

The NBA is mulling pulling the All-Star Game from Charlotte over the state’s reprehensible HB2 “bathroom law.” Good – this is as it should be.

But the ESPN story cited here, penned by NBA reporter Brian Windhorst (whom I really really like), has a little problem. Not massive, but important. Here’s the quote: Continue reading “Hey Brian Windhorst: The NC legislature held a special session to PASS #HB2. Why can't they do the same to repeal it?”

Hypocrisy Watch: FOX reporter cares deeply about the liberty of those who agree with him

Donald Trump, Kim Davis and Cook Out: because the Constitution guarantees redeemed sinners the right to fast food.

First, the headline:

‘Hell No!’ Cashier refuses to serve Trump backers

Shannon Riggs and her cousins were famished after attending a Donald Trump rally last week in Richmond, Va., so they decided to drop by Cook Out – a regional restaurant chain known for its tasty burgers.

The group was decked out in Trump swag – from T-shirts to those iconic red hats emblazoned with the campaign’s slogan: “Make America Great Again.” Continue reading “Hypocrisy Watch: FOX reporter cares deeply about the liberty of those who agree with him”

Tony Dungy is the Clarence Thomas of football

When he goes to bed tonight, Tony Dungy should offer a prayer of thanks that the US isn’t at the mercy of people like him.

Tony Dungy wouldn’t have drafted Michael Sam. But not because he’s gay! No, no. Because things will happen. You know … things.

Three thoughts.

1: Look! Look! See, Michael Sam is on TV being interviewed about non-football issues. He’s being a DISTRACTION! And why? Because … well, because Tony Dungy is in the media talking about how Sam is a distraction.

Don’t start no distraction, won’t be no distraction. Just saying. Continue reading “Tony Dungy is the Clarence Thomas of football”

Brendan Eich case raises free speech issues for people who don’t understand how free speech works

No, Virginia. Intolerance of intolerance isn’t the same as intolerance of human beings.

When it became public that recently appointed Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich had donated to the controversial anti-gay rights Prop 8 initiative in California back in 2008, things – as we used to say back home – blowed up. Rarebit yanked an app from the Mozilla marketplace and in a highly visible move, dating site OK Cupid asked its users not to access the site with Mozilla’s Firefox browser.

Eich fought back, and we witnessed a couple of days of textbook crisis management as the company (and its under-fire CEO) worked to convince the world that a person’s official and personal beliefs can be compartmentalized – that is, you can be anti-equality in your private life but suitably inclusive at work. Continue reading “Brendan Eich case raises free speech issues for people who don’t understand how free speech works”

П is for Pussy Riot: thinking ahead to the next Russian Olympic Games

Pussy Riot’s commitment to social justice in the motherland is more than admirable. It perhaps merits a spot in Russia’s artistic canon.

The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia closed today, and if you set aside the homophobia and generally strong-armed approach to governance by the host, one Vladimir Putin, these games were remarkable in just about every way.

The images of the opening ceremonies have lingered with me for the past couple of weeks. If you watched, you know that the creative team built their narrative around the highwater marks in the nation’s glorious history, honoring their accomplishments in the arts, literature, science and technology. Given Russia’s considerable heritage, the little girl’s interaction with Cyrillic alphabet primer, associating a historical moment with each letter, couldn’t help being an impressive reminder to the world of the nation’s rich cultural legacy. Continue reading “П is for Pussy Riot: thinking ahead to the next Russian Olympic Games”

Michael Sam comes out; will any existing players join him?

Michael Sam has made it easier for current gay players in the NFL. Will they do the same for him?

By now you’ve probably heard that Missouri defensive lineman Michael Sam has publicly announced that he’s gay. A projected third-round pick in the upcoming NFL draft, this decision will (unless all 32 teams simply decide that they’re going to be officially homophobic and to hell with whoever doesn’t like it) make him the league’s first active out player.

NFLPA President Domonique Foxworth predicts that players will accept him “with open arms.” Makes sense – his teammates at Mizzou did. Continue reading “Michael Sam comes out; will any existing players join him?”

The New Constitution: comprehensive statement of principles (draft)

The original plan when we began this project was to offer the amendments individually, invite discussion, then produce a final document. The course of the process, though, has made a couple things clear. First, there needs to be a period … Continue reading The New Constitution: comprehensive statement of principles (draft)

Exodus International shuts its doors: Alan Chambers to promote “safe, welcoming, and mutually transforming communities”

Back in February I declared V-LGBT Day, saying that “the battle for marriage equality is over.” There had been a lot of significant pro-equity activity, including a huge number of corporations and influential organizations coming down publicly against the Defense … Continue reading Exodus International shuts its doors: Alan Chambers to promote “safe, welcoming, and mutually transforming communities”

Prediction: Supreme Court will strike down gay marriage bans, and it won’t be close

Gay marriage will finally get its day before the Supreme Court. The issues are legally and culturally complex and the outcome uncertain in the eyes of many observers. I’m no Constitutional scholar, but I think I know what might happen here. I expect that the Court’s left-leaning justices will vote to strike down gay marriage bans (the Defense of Marriage Act, Prop 8, etc.) for obvious reasons: these measures represent an unwarranted denial of civil rights to large swaths of the population, which is anathema to the progressive mind. I also expect these justices to be joined by Roberts and … Continue reading Prediction: Supreme Court will strike down gay marriage bans, and it won’t be close

Dumb jock? Hardly: Scott Fujita absolutely nails it on gay marriage (and civil rights generally)

If you only read one thing today, make it this. Scott Fujita of the Cleveland Browns reflects on what it means in a society when some people are regarded as “less than” others. A snip: I support marriage equality for so many reasons: my father’s experience in an internment camp and the racial intolerance his family experienced during and after the war, the gay friends I have who are really not all that different from me, and also because of a story I read a few years back about a woman who was denied the right to visit her partner … Continue reading Dumb jock? Hardly: Scott Fujita absolutely nails it on gay marriage (and civil rights generally)

GOP waving white flag on gay marriage: V-LGBT Day is a landmark triumph in the culture wars

It’s been an interesting few days. The American Benefits Council and 278 employers, organizations and municipalities have filed a friend of the court brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in a case regarding the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Earlier … Continue reading GOP waving white flag on gay marriage: V-LGBT Day is a landmark triumph in the culture wars

What. The. Fuck.: Gays shouldn’t be allowed to have children because they plan?

I … I … ummm. This is a joke, right? Marriage should be limited to unions of a man and a woman because they alone can “produce unplanned and unintended offspring,” opponents of gay marriage have told the Supreme Court. By contrast, when same-sex couples decide to have children, “substantial advance planning is required,” said Paul D. Clement, a lawyer for House Republicans. Apparently no, no it is not. Used to be teh queers couldn’t be trusted because they’d hump anything they could catch. Now they have to be restricted because … they’re responsible. 2016 is going to be a … Continue reading What. The. Fuck.: Gays shouldn’t be allowed to have children because they plan?

The most important lesson we should all learn from the 2012 election

“You idiot! Get back in there at once and sell, sell!” As we set about the process of compiling and canonizing the 2012 election post-mortem, one thing we keep hearing over and over is how utterly stunned the Romney camp was … Continue reading The most important lesson we should all learn from the 2012 election

North Carolina’s Amendment One and America’s youth: more on winning the battle and losing the war

Rachel Held Evans nails it:

When asked by The Barna Group what words or phrases best describe Christianity, the top response among Americans ages 16-29 was “antihomosexual.” For a staggering 91 percent of non-Christians, this was the first word that came to their mind when asked about the Christian faith. The same was true for 80 percent of young churchgoers. (The next most common negative images? : “judgmental,” “hypocritical,” and “too involved in politics.”)

My generation is tired of the culture wars.  Continue reading “North Carolina’s Amendment One and America’s youth: more on winning the battle and losing the war”

When followers lead, the leaders will follow: Obama supports gay marriage

Here’s what I wrote last night:

On the other side of the fence, those of us who genuinely care about freedom and fairness are more outraged than ever. Outrage is motivating, and by the way, polls show that at least half of Americans support equality for LGBT citizens. It’s about six months until Election Day – how much mobilizing do you think we’re capable of?

Obama may or may not want the issue to go away, but from where I sit the religious right has today handed him a very large stick. Here’s hoping he has the courage and insight to use it on them. And let’s make sure that we, the people, make him embrace this, the most crucial civil rights issue of our generation.

Today, as if on cue, the president stepped up to the plate, big stick in hand. Continue reading “When followers lead, the leaders will follow: Obama supports gay marriage”