Attorney: Arguments to SCOTUS in baker case will allege bias of CO Civil Rights Commission

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Nicole Martin, the Alliance for Defending Freedom attorney who has represented Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop, appeared Denver’s KNUS radio Thursday, September 7, to update listeners on preparations for the highly anticipated hearing of arguments in Phillips’ case by the United States Supreme Court in the coming months.

Speaking with show hosts Chuck Bonniwell and Julie Hayden, Martin highlighted developments surrounding the case since the Colorado Civil Rights Commission and subsequent court appeals ruled against Phillips, who refused services in 2012 to a gay couple requesting a wedding cake for their matrimony celebration.

Martin explained how these developments have steered her legal team’s strategy and tactics in preparing to argue Phillips’ defense to the Supreme Court.

One evolution in the ADF case is to claim that Phillips faced a biased Civil Rights Commission, which demonstrated a prejudice against people of faith. In her radio appearance, Martin points to a statement made by Commissioner Diann Rice:

“So, we pointed out to the court — […] when we were trying to get the stay of that Colorado Civil Rights Commission order while the appeal and the Colorado Court of Appeals was pending, she revealed herself to be openly hostile and biased toward people of faith when she compared Mr. Phillips – whose father was a World War II vet and helped liberate one of the first concentration camps – when she compared Mr. Phillips and his assertion of his First Amendment rights to slaveholders and Nazis. So, we focused on that.”

Rice’s actual statement, however, appears to be a broad, historical observation, framing the root of the debate.

At issue is whether equal protections for the couple, guaranteed under public accommodation laws, supersede Phillips’ claim to his First Amendment rights, which his legal team has framed in terms of religious liberty and artistic expression. Phillips’ devout Christian beliefs were cited in his refusal to sell gay wedding cakes.

Right wing online news outlets have widely cited Rice’s comments as proof of bias against people of faith in general, and against Phillips in particular.

In July 2014, while announcing the commission’s decision to stay the order against Phillips, Rice made the following statement:

“I would also like to reiterate what we said in the hearing or the last meeting,” Rice said during consideration of Phillips’ case. “Freedom of religion and religion has been used to justify all kinds of discrimination throughout history, whether it be slavery, whether it be the Holocaust, whether it be – I mean, we – we can list hundreds of situations where freedom of religion has been used to justify discrimination. And to me it is one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use to – to use their religion to hurt others.”

Another development which Martin believes will bolster Phillips’ case came from the activism of a Christian radio host and provocateur from Castle Rock named Bill Jack, who, in response to the original ruling against Masterpiece Cakeshop, solicited cakes with anti-gay messages and imagery from bakeries.  Jack filed a complaint with the Civil Rights Commission when those bakeries refused his request.

Martin explained how Bill Jack’s case, in which the commission ruled against his complaint, will be used in arguments to the Court:

“So we did beef up the brief extensively, based on that blatant double standard that it depends on […] who the message speaker is.”

Interestingly, in an interview from April 2015, Bill Jack made his own Nazi comparison from the other side of the debate, saying he believed the Civil Rights Commission were “acting like the Nazis. They are acting like those who want to re-educate the public,” referring to the commission’s order that Masterpiece Cakeshop rewrite company policy to comply with lawful, non-discriminatory practices.

Martin’s appearance on KNUS coincided with the filing of amicus curiae briefs – or, “friend of the court” briefs — in the Supreme Court case.

When Hayden inquired who had authored amicus briefs in support of Phillips’ case, Martin replied that she didn’t know specifically, but the list of supporters was long.  The only amicus author she mentioned was The Conference of Catholic Bishops.

After Martin’s interview aired, it was revealed that the United States Department of Justice, led by Trump-appointed Attorney General Jeff Sessions, had filed a brief in support of Phillips’ defense.

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Civil Rights Leaders Slam Colorado GOP For “Bizarre” SPLC Attack

SUNDAY UPDATE: Ernest Luning of the Colorado Springs Gazette:

A coalition of civil rights groups and left-leaning organizations on Friday demanded an apology from the Colorado Republican Party for “viciously attacking” the Southern Poverty Law Center on Twitter, but the state GOP’s chairman called the request ridiculous and doubled down on the party’s criticism of the watchdog group.

The dispute centers around what the civil rights groups term “a bizarre outburst on Twitter” by the state GOP’s official account — a series of tweets and retweets questioning the SPLC’s credibility as an arbiter of hate groups and extremists…

Citing articles critical of the SPLC “from across the political spectrum” and a letter written this week by prominent conservatives that calls the SPLC a “discredited, left-wing political activist organization that seeks to silence its political opponents with a ‘hate group’ label of its own invention,” Hays told Colorado Politics he has no intention of apologizing.

“The notion that the Colorado Republican Party should apologize for joining this broad chorus of critics is ridiculous,” Hays said in a statement. “Our tweet was correct to suggest the SPLC is an unreliable source of information, and stories that cite it uncritically ought not to be trusted.”

—–

A late-arriving press release today from several local civil rights leaders including the Denver Ministerial Alliance and LGBT rights group One Colorado calls for an apology from the Colorado Republican Party–who in the last couple of days has engaged in a series of off-message attacks on the Southern Poverty Law Center, one of the nation’s leading anti-discrimination organizations:

Following a bizarre outburst from the official Twitter account for the Colorado Republican Party viciously attacking one of the nation’s foremost civil rights defense and anti-hate group organizations, Colorado civil rights leaders called on the chairman of the Colorado Republican Party to publicly apologize and hold the staffer responsible for these tweets accountable.

“Today’s conservative movement under President Donald Trump is empowering and mobilizing the forces of hatred in America, threatening America’s most fundamental values,” said Superintendent Patrick L. Demmer of the Greater Metro Denver Ministerial Alliance. “The Southern Poverty Law Center’s job since 1971 has been to fight back against organized hatred, and they’ve done that job brilliantly. Less than one month since Charlottesville, the solution to the growing epidemic of hate in America is not to vilify the messenger.”

“It is outrageous to witness the Colorado Republican Party attacking an organization that has fought for civil rights and equality for over 45 years,” said Demmer. “With racist hatred and violence on the rise across America since Trump took office, the Southern Poverty Law Center is sounding the alarm that something very bad is happening. Instead of smearing the SPLC, Colorado Republicans should be reading Hatewatch—and making sure that hate is not being legitimized within the Republican Party, in Colorado or any other state.”

“The Southern Poverty Law Center’s has a long history of tracking and documenting the individuals, organizations, and funders of anti-LGBTQ extremism in this country,” said One Colorado Executive Director Daniel Ramos. “It is indeed possible that being marked as a hate group makes it harder for groups to retain their legitimacy and they may lose support from the public. That’s how it should be. Over the last two decades, we have made enormous progress in putting the days of anti-LGBTQ hate and discrimination behind us. SPLC’s ongoing work to expose hate in America is crucial to that progress.”

“Instead of denying the problem and attacking the messenger, every American should ask themselves: what am I doing to help put a stop to hatred in our country?” said Felicia Griffin, Executive Director of FRESC, Good Jobs, Strong Communities. “Sen. Cory Gardner, the top Republican elected official in this state, has repeatedly disavowed the racism that manifested in Charlottesville last month. If those words were more than platitudes, Gardner must demand that the Colorado Republican Party apologize for smearing one of the nation’s foremost civil rights organizations.”

In the aftermath of the racist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia last month–but really since the beginning of President Donald Trump’s administration, and even before as the GOP sought to accommodate and exploit the rise of the so-called “alt-right”–there’s been what seems to be a concerted push to de-legitimize the SPLC, as well as its mission to identify and hold hate groups accountable. Where SPLC has called out organizations that promote bigotry against LGBT Americans, they’ve been on what you might call a “civil rights frontier.” As a result, SPLC’s equation of bias against LGBT people with racial prejudice makes people who still think it’s okay to be biased against LGBT people…well, uncomfortable.

The commonality between “traditional” racial hatred and prejudice against LGBT people is not a new concept, and has been increasingly recognized in civil rights law–but there are some people out there who still don’t want to acknowledge that they are equally unacceptable in a just society. That includes, apparently, the Colorado Republican Party in its official capacity. Despite the fact that the party has on many occasions tried to soften its image on LGBT rights. And hopefully, the benefit of the doubt we’re affording them on the matter of straight-up racism is justified.

Instead of (metaphorically) shooting the messenger, maybe it’s time to consider what SPLC is saying.

Donald Trump Finally Gets Around to Condemning Racists

The actual President of the United States.

President Trump finally found some time to condemn the KKK and other white supremacist groups today. As CNN reports:

“Racism is evil — and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans,” Trump said in response to the attacks in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend…

The comments came in a hastily scheduled White House event in the Diplomatic Reception Room, where Trump — speaking with the help of a teleprompter — spoke straight to camera after meeting with FBI Director Christopher Wray and Attorney General Jeff Sessions to discuss the Department of Justice’s civil rights investigation into the attack…

…Trump had been excoriated for his unwillingness to condemn the groups behind the violent protests that left one woman dead who was hit by a car allegedly driven by a man with ties to white supremacy groups.

After blaming the violence “on many sides” Saturday, Trump stayed silent for close to 48 hours, letting his trademark bluntness and campaign pledges to call terrorism what it is succumb to silence and vagueness.

Trump was asked by reporters after he spoke why he waited so long to condemn these hate groups by name and did not respond.

You can read Trump’s full comments here. Yes, he really did kick things off by talking about the economy.

Good news! July 1-7, 2017

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

This diary is about small victories, local heroes, sweet stories, random kindnesses, unexpected grace, cold justice served up on a hot plate. As always, your interpretation of what is “good news” is probably different than mine, and categories often overlap.

Attorneys General across the country (including Colorado’s Coffman)  are claiming that they will check Big Pharma’s pushing of opiods, “clear the swamp”, ensure fair voting, and protect transgender people. AGs be aware – people will check to see that you follow through on your promises.

Voting rights roundup

flag with I voted

Image by debaird on flikr

Fourth of July, Fireworks, and the Franchise – what could be more patriotic? Voting seems to be on everyone’s minds right now.

Alabama seeks to inform felons of restored voting rights in jail

Kentucky also ordered the voting rights of 284 felons to be restored.

Kris Kobach, Vice-Chair of Trump’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Voter Integrity,  requested that all 50 states send him their voter information by July 14 so that the Commission can create a national voter registry to prevent what he claims is rampant voter fraud.

Unfortunately, rather than creating a process to make it easier for voters to register and vote, the Commission’s goal appears to be to selectively disenfranchise voters. The good news is that 45 states now have refused to provide part or all of the information requested. President Trump is not pleased, and has let us know this in his usual way.

Alison Lundergan Grimes, KY Secretary of State said that there is  “not enough bourbon in Kentucky” to make  Trump’s request seem sensible.

Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann suggested that, “They can go jump in the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi is a great state to launch from…”

Floridians are also petitioning to restore voting rights to felons.

Colorado’s Secretary of State Wayne Williams is trying to have it both ways  –  comply with Trump’s request, while still protecting the privacy of Colorado voters by supplying only publicly available information. Many voters are choosing to keep their data confidential by filing a form and paying $5 at the Secretary of State’s Office.

Voters seldom commit fraud in Colorado – but when they do, they are usually Republicans.

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Good News! June 23-30, 2017

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

This diary is about small victories, local heroes, sweet stories, random kindnesses, unexpected grace, cold justice served up on a hot plate. As always, your interpretation of what is “good news” is probably different than mine.

This week, it’s all about healthcare and the resistance to the BCRA Wealthcare bill.  We’ve come too far to give up now. Keep our eyes on the prize:  A public healthcare system like every other industrialized country has.

Healthcare, the ACA, and the Senate Wealthcare bill

The Senate Democrats fought hard to keep the BCRA, aka Trump’s Wealthcare bill, from being voted on without hearings or public input. It was good to see some Senate backbone on display.

Hawaii’s Maisie Hirono led  filibustering on the Senate floor.

Our own Senator Bennet spoke at length,  outlining what’s at stake in this health care bill.

But – we don’t know what Cory Gardner really thinks about the Senate healthcare bill he supposedly helped to draft. Right now, he looks to be in the “Yes on BCRA” camp, because he pretends that insurance costs will go down with the Senate bill.  However, Cowardly Cory will not give his constituents the courtesy of in-person meetings or town halls to discuss his position. Even when said constituents try really, really hard.

To keep the heat on, keep contacting

Senator Bennet: Contact Us

Senator Gardner: Contact Cory*

More good news about healthcare in Colorado: we get to keep all of our insurance brokers next year, said Colorado Insurance Commissioner Marguerite Salazar. No Colorado counties will be without an insurance provider, according to the Summit Daily News.

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Good news! Week of June 11- 17, 2017

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Small victories, local heroes, sweet stories, random kindnesses, unexpected grace, cold justice served up on a hot plate…that’s what this diary is about. As always, your interpretation of what is “good news” is probably different than mine. And that’s fine. Something I’m missing? Add it in the comments.

LGBT:

Massive Marches may move us, but the  biggest and gayest parade this year in Colorado will be Pridefest, this Sunday June 18. Civic Center Park will host the celebration all weekend. For your daily minimum requirement of fabulousness, go to Pridefest Denver. (Photo from 2016 Pridefest, Wikipedia Commons)

Pridefest Denver 2016 -from Wikipedia commons

LGBT hero: One of the Capitol Police agents wounded in the recent terrorist attack in DC was Crystal Griner, a married lesbian woman. Griner and her fellow officers, including David Bailey , rushed the shooter, taking him down and preventing a massacre.

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Watch out for the “Proud Boys” and other violent racists today

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

At the State Capitol now (Saturday, July 10, 2017) at 4 pm. Antifa counterprotesters at the bottom of the hill, #marchagainstsharia protesters at the top, marshalls in between. Via twitter, Anna V Smith, High Country News.

From Unicorn Riot, (@UR_ninja)  pictures of the Proud Boys and others ready to spread hate and fear today:

From Unicorn Riot, photos of Proud Boys, neo-nazis, and other racists at the Capitol today.

Proud Boys, a white supremacist, violent organization of young males , had a rally in Boulder on June 3, 2017, and plan another “Anti-Sharia March” in Denver at the Capitol from 3:30 – 6 pm on Saturday, July 10. EDIT: The Anti-Sharia Marches are organized by ACT for America, (Facebook link here) .  These anti-Sharia Marches are in 19 cities nationwide. A wide coalition of racist, violent, anti-Muslim groups are attending, including ACTforamerica, the ProudBoys, the Oathkeepers, and the Threepercenters (shown below in Atlanta).  The Southern Poverty Law Center is live-blogging them. You can follow the hashtag #hatewatch or #CounterActHate.

Proud Boys in Boulder June 3, 2017

Proud Boys, Boulder 6/3/17
Attribution: Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer, Boulder Daily Camera

On June 3, in Boulder, a dozen or so of  the “Boys” demonstrated at the Boulder courthouse, behind police barricades. They were met by about 250 counter-protesters, including some “AntiFa” (Antifascists) dressed in black, with black kerchiefs covering their faces. At some point during the counter-protest, someone threw firecrackers at the Proud Boys, and one of the counter-demonstrators was arrested.

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Good News! Week of June 3-June 10

(Get More…Gooder! – promoted by Colorado Pols)

This diary, which I hope to publish every Friday, will be all about small victories in the big battles: People doing the right thing for the right reasons. Stories of bravery, generosity, caring, and integrity. Where possible, I’ve connected this to Colorado politics and stories.

This is a selfish project for me – I need to see those small victories and uplifting stories just to keep going as an activist. Without them, it’s too easy to be overwhelmed by the flood of bad news and attacks on democracy and civil rights, and simply stop trying to keep politicians accountable.

There are many “good news” items I haven’t covered; more possible categories for good news are: Race, discrimination, justice, bizarre news, animals, marches, town halls, community organizing, “the resistance”. Where another organization such as ProgressNow Colorado reports on “How to fight back this week”, I’m not going to duplicate coverage. As always, add your own “good news” stories and commentary.

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Oh, The Inanity!

There are a lot of big issues in the news this week. This is not one of them.

Colorado Christian University’s Centennial Institute for Manufactured Angst is hopping mad about a new movie in theaters this weekend. According to the Director of the Centennial Institute, Jeff Hunt, the timeless story of a woman falling in love with a water buffalo is being ruined — RUINED! — because one of the minor characters might be a homosexual.

Ernest Luning has the story for the Colorado Statesman:

Colorado’s Centennial Institute is spearheading a campaign urging Christians to boycott Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” because the film purportedly includes an onscreen “exclusively gay moment” and its openly gay director has demonstrated a “hostile approach to the Bible.”

“What was frustrating about this film was we clearly saw there was an attempt to drive an agenda, and an agenda that was offensive to people who embrace and support traditional family values,” Jeff Hunt, director of the Lakewood-based Centennial Institute, Colorado Christian University’s think tank, told The Colorado Statesman…

…The movie — a faithful live-action remake of the animated 1991 Disney classic — has set tongues wagging at reports the character LeFou, the main villain’s sidekick, portrayed by actor Josh Gad, is gay and has a “gay moment” on screen.

According to the online culture magazine Vulture, the “gay moment” occurs when LeFou dances for “two seconds at the most” with a villainous henchman amid a flurry of celebration at the end of the movie. Other reviewers say there might be a few winks and sidelong glances, but some also insist that reports the movie features Disney’s first openly gay character are a stretch at best.

“If this was a film about a woman falling in love with an animal, I’m sure we would have something to say about that.”

You might be more familiar with the Centennial Institute at CCU because of the annual gathering it hosts in Denver each summer called the Western Conservative Summit (WCS). Last July, Donald Trump’s speech at the WCS marked his first visit to Colorado as the likely Republican nominee for President.

The Centennial Institute was founded in 2009 and run by former State Senator John Andrews until he retired last year. Over the years the Institute has grown increasingly militant in its public statements and fundraising pitches, employing fantastical phrases like “the secularist Left” and railing against “radical, anti-God liberals” of the world. We briefly considered ignoring this story altogether, rather than giving them any more publicity, but this protest is so ridiculous that it deserves all of the sunlight and associated mockery that comes with it. Plus, Luning’s story contains perhaps the best quote we’ve read this year:

[Hunt] also brushed aside a joke that’s been making the rounds — what’s the big deal about a gay character when the heroine is falling in love with a water buffalo?  — since the controversy over the movie’s “gay moment” emerged.

“He’s a man first,” Hunt said with a chuckle, pointing out that a spell has turned a prince into the Beast and that Beauty’s love turns him back into a man.

“If this was a film about a woman falling in love with an animal, I’m sure we would have something to say about that,” he added.

Beauty and the Beast is in theaters everywhere this weekend. Go see it twice.

Get More Smarter on Thursday (February 2)

You dirty son of a groundhog! Punxsutawney Phil predicted six more weeks of winter after emerging from his palace this morning and seeing his shadow. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► There are growing concerns about President Trump’s mental and emotional fitness, and it’s becoming a problem in international relations. On Wednesday, President Trump hung up the phone during a conversation with the Australian Prime Minister. From the Washington Post:

It should have been one of the most congenial calls for the new commander in chief — a conversation with the leader of Australia, one of America’s staunchest allies, at the end of a triumphant week.

Instead, President Trump blasted Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull over a refu­gee agreement and boasted about the magnitude of his electoral college win, according to senior U.S. officials briefed on the Saturday exchange. Then, 25 minutes into what was expected to be an hour-long call, Trump abruptly ended it.

At one point, Trump informed Turnbull that he had spoken with four other world leaders that day — including Russian President Vladi­mir Putin — and that “this was the worst call by far.”

Also on Wednesday, Trump may or may not have threatened to send U.S. troops into Mexico.

Trump has a position on a topic, and everything else is wrong. If you are concerned about any of this, President Trump says, “Just don’t worry about it.

 

► President Trump’s over-the-top rhetoric may be fun for campaigns and television shows, but it may actually backfire in International diplomacy. From the Washington Post:

President Trump and Iran traded sharp statements Thursday, with Trump amplifying warnings over Tehran’s missile tests and a top adviser to Iran’s leader saying it was not the first time an “inexperienced person has threatened” his country.

The exchanges reflect the Trump administration’s toughening stance on Iran, but also point to wider changes in the White House as it advances a combative and iconoclastic ­foreign policy. The shifts appear to ­sideline traditional diplomacy and concentrate decision-making among a small group of aides who are quickly projecting their new “America first” approach to the world.

Just before the Senate confirmed Trump’s new secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, on Wednesday, national security adviser ­Michael Flynn made a surprise appearance in the White House briefing room to deliver a stern warning to Iran over its most recent ballistic missile test.

Trump bangs his fists, and Iran shrugs.

 

► It’s an icy day in Metro Denver, which is something Education Secretary nominee Betsy DeVos is growing quite accustomed to feeling. After a series of shaky performances during the confirmation process, DeVos may need a tie-breaking Senate vote from Vice President Mike Pence to make it into the Department of Education. As we noted in this space yesterday, DeVos has lost the support of two Republican Senators after demonstrating during the last few weeks that she has very little understanding of what her proposed job entails.

As the Colorado Statesman reports, a growing number of state lawmakers are also voicing their opposition to DeVos.

 

The fight is on over the Supreme Court now that Donald Trump’s nominee has been announced. Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) wasted no time in sitting down for a meeting with Judge Neil Gorsuchwhich is more than Gardner would even consider for President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee in 2016.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

Homophobic Williams to run for Chaps’ old House seat

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Constituents of House District 15 in El Paso County have been represented for almost two years  by a homophobic, gaffe-prone politician with ethical challenges:  Dr. Gordon Klingenschmitt, aka “Dr. Chaps“. Now, unless mass sanity strikes, they will probably be represented by another gay-bashing, hot-tempered, inexperienced  politician: David O. Williams.

“Chaps” announced that he would not run again for HD15; he is now running against Bob Gardner for  SD12,term-limited Senate President Cadman’s district. Chaps’ long-suffering constituents should have had a reprieve from embarrassing stories about their duly elected representative. Klingenschmitt’s greatest hits have included claiming that a brutal assault on a pregnant woman was God’s punishment, saying that Rep. Jared Polis wants to behead Christians, and being under IRS investigation for possible  financial misconduct.

david o williams

David O. Williams, candidate for HD15

Unfortunately, House District 15’s new Republican nominee, David O. Williams, looks to be potentially every bit as embarrassing as Chaps. Homophobia? Check. Lack of elected experience? Check. Hot temper – Shoot first, then aim? Check. Dubious financial history, only ever employed in his father-in-law’s business, kicked out of the only two positions he’s ever been elected to ? Check. Add to this access to weapons and $2,000 from Rocky Mountain Gun Owners in 12/2013, and EPCO HD15 voters may have another embarrassingly rocky two years ahead of them.

David Williams is the son-in-law of his employer,  Doyle McAlister, who was a registered sex offender in 2013.  McAlister’s company, MKW Global Sourcing, is primarily in the Chinese export-import business.  MKW employs Williams as Program Manager.

Williams ran for HD15  in 2014, but Dr. Chaps got the nod from the El Paso County delegates. Williams’  homophobic behavior is well known, and has included booing a “Log Cabin” gay delegate; threatening someone else with an AR15; discriminating against funding of gay clubs as UCCS Student Body President, and fostering a climate of gay-bashing and bullying during his tenure, because of which he was finally impeached.

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Just How Bad Did The “Pray The Gay Away” Debate Get?


One Colorado, the state’s leading LGBT advocacy group, is circulating the video you can see above highlighting the, um, the lowlights from the recent debate in the Colorado House over House Bill 16-1210–legislation that would ban the widely-discredited practice of so-called “conversion therapy” by licensed mental health professionals seeking to “cure” LGBT Coloradans of, you know, their gayness.

News reporting on the passage of this bill in the Democratic-controlled House did take note of the comments from some Republican lawmakers during this debate, in particular Reps. Kathleen Conti and Tim Leonard–comments that appeared to directly compare “curing” LGBT Coloradans to seeking treatment for alcoholism or drug addiction. Those reports frankly don’t do the comments you can hear in the video above justice. These comments and questions betray a fundamental prejudice against LGBT people held by at least some Colorado Republican lawmakers.

We’ll note just a small portion of Rep. Leonard’s remarks in particular from 1:30 into the video:

LEONARD: Representative Conti um, had a question that was similar, which was if someone came to you saying you know, I have a, all my friends are involved in drugs and alcohol, and you know, I think I’ve got to get out of this, I don’t think it’s going anywhere, would you ever be prevented to, saying, I can’t counsel you out of that lifestyle, but I can tell you you’re not fat or you’re not this or that’s now your value versus theirs…

Obviously, the comparison Rep. Leonard is making here is unambiguous. But we were forwarded the response Leonard sent to one of the witnesses in committee testimony on the bill when challenged about these remarks:

Your’s, and other’s, claims that there was a comparison made between homosexual attraction and drug/alcohol addiction were mistaken. None were made. Any questions directed at the child psychologists testifying were directed at other reasons that a child might be seeking therapy from that counselor. No connection was made between the two issues — it was for questions seeking answers for other issues the therapist might counsel children.

This is no different than asking an auto mechanic testifying on his changing oil with other services he might see other customers, like changing tires or replacing anti-freeze. It would be inaccurate to state that the questions were comparing oil to anti-freeze…I cannot speak for Rep. Conti, but my questions were directed into gathering information on how the psychologist would counsel children on other issues.

Rep. Leonard doesn’t like being called out for this highly offensive comparison, but it is what it is…and it is nothing like replacing anti-freeze.

As the nation has rapidly shifted from institutional discrimination against LGBT Americans to acknowledgement of their rights to live in peace and function in society, there is a segment of our political culture that has been left behind. We would be remiss not to remind you that forward-thinking Republicans here in Colorado and elsewhere have tried to put daylight between themselves and the bigoted holdouts–who crush Republican dreams of reaching out to the next generation of voters.

Which, at least here in Colorado, they just did again.

GOP Cheers Huge Capitol Rally For Rev. Franklin Graham, Hater

UPDATE: A slew of Colorado GOP legislators join hands at Franklin Graham’s rally today:

legislatorsgraham

From left: Sen. Kevin Lundberg, Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, Rep. Patrick Neville, Rep. Dan Nordberg, Rep. Clarice Navarro, Sen. Larry Crowder, (we think) Rep. Kim Ransom, Sen. Laura Waters Woods, a dude in sunglasses, Rep. Justin Everett, and Sen. Vicki Marble. We’re pretty sure Sen. Tim Neville and Rep. Jim Wilson are tucked in behind there too.

Standing proud for America–just not gay America, Muslim America, or grazing fee-paying America.

—–

grahamrally
Photo by Sen. Laura Waters Woods

Many thousands of religious conservatives turned out today at the Colorado Capitol for a rally featuring Rev. Franklin Graham, son of legendary Christian evangelist Billy Graham, who is touring across the nation as part of his “Decision America Tour 2016.”

Franklin Graham is traveling to all 50 states in 2016 to hold prayer rallies, to preach the Gospel, and to challenge believers to take a stand and take action. He’ll be urging Christians to vote, to live out their faith in every part of their lives, and to pray for our nation just as Nehemiah cried out to God to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem and restore hope to His people.

Franklin Graham has emerged in recent years as one of the most powerful figures on the religious right wing of American politics–much more so than his father, who was more concerned with winning souls than votes. Not so with Franklin Graham, who has eagerly joined in the contemporary “culture wars,” bitterly denouncing the movement for LGBT rights as the direct product of Satan:

This is a full-scale assault against Christianity and the followers of Christ. When prayer is banned from the public square, when our President fails to defend biblically defined marriage, and he openly and zealously advocates for gay rights; when legislators rush to overrule existing laws to promote gay marriage; when schools and courts consistently suppress religious freedoms; we know we are locked in a war against the Christian faith, not culture. The architect behind this offensive is none other than Satan himself.

Graham also seconds Donald Trump’s call to halt all immigration into the United States by adherents of the Muslim faith:

For some time I have been saying that Muslim immigration into the United States should be stopped until we can properly vet them or until the war with Islam is over. Donald J. Trump has been criticized by some for saying something similar. The new Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said yesterday that he disagrees—saying that “such views are not what this party stands for and more importantly it’s not what this country stands for.” Politicians in Washington seem to be totally disconnected with reality.

Most recently, Franklin Graham made headlines as one of the principal intercessors on behalf of the militia members who occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. Militia members sought out Graham to negotiate on their behalf. All told, Franklin Graham has staked out his ground about as far right as 2016’s politics will allow–and as you know from the headlines today, that’s pretty damn far to the right.

With all of this in mind, you might think that Colorado Republicans, especially vulnerable legislators like Sen. Laura Woods (photo above), Rep. Clarice Navarro, and Rep. Kit Roupe would steer clear?

All we can say is, don’t check their Facebook pages.

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Elbert County Clerk: Kim Davis Lite?

UPDATE #2: 9NEWS just posted a fascinating original email exchange from last summer between a number of Eastern Plains county clerks, most of them very upset at the prospect of having to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples–including the email from Elbert County Clerk Dallas Schroeder where he explains his reasons for posting his discriminatory poster. Most of these messages will not be fondly remembered by history, but we wanted to note the very different response from Christy Beckman, clerk of tiny Sedgwick County in the northeast corner of the state:

I just wanted to comment that we are very lucky in this office as we are all comfortable with issuing same sex licenses. We all have our own religions as well but are very accepting of other peoples choices and therefore are okay with this. I’m sorry that some of you are having a hard time with it and I hope for your sake that something can be figured out.

Good luck!

Chris

In a lengthy chain of fairly disgraceful emails between a number of our Colorado county clerks, we were very happy to see this. Original post follows.

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UPDATE: Elbert County Clerk Dallas Schroeder cuts and runs–7NEWS reports the offending poster has been removed from public display, presumably after Schroeder met with that lawyer he retained.

Too bad, Mike Huckabee was raring to go.

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Elbert County Clerk Dallas Schroder.

Elbert County Clerk Dallas Schroeder.

7NEWS has a story out of beet-red Elbert County that we suspect is going to raise some hackles in the days ahead:

It’s hanging on the wall, above the desks where marriage licenses are issued. That’s why a poster that quotes a Bible verse referencing marriage between a man and a woman is causing controversy in Elbert County.

The poster shows a bride and a groom, with a verse that reads “…each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.” The verse is from I Corinthians.

Elbert County Clerk Dallas Schroeder would not appear on camera because he has obtained outside legal counsel, but he says the poster has been up for 15 months without any complaints…

Rowan County, KY Clerk Kim Davis.

Rowan County, KY Clerk Kim Davis.

As it turns out that’s not quite accurate, and several Elbert County residents have indeed complained about the poster. And as 7NEWS continues, there’s good reason to be concerned:

[W]hile Schroeder claimed the poster was simply “a celebration of marriage,” an email obtained by Denver7 suggests otherwise.

This summer, Schroeder wrote an email to several Colorado Court Clerks discussing same sex marriage and the poster he had specifically made in response to it.

“My thought process is that they have to see the poster,” writes Schroeder in the email. “And if they choose to violate God’s written Word, then that is on their head.” [Pols emphasis]

And with that, yes, this is a problem. 7NEWS reports that Dallas Schroeder’s office has issued two same-sex marriage licenses since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized them nationwide, but in its full context, this poster in the Elbert County Clerk’s office is obviously meant to convey a discriminatory message to same-sex couples in a government-controlled space. Whatever the personal views of the Elbert County Clerk on same-sex marriage, he of course has no right to force residents with obliged to file for this license at his office to view what amounts to bigoted political propaganda.

But something tells us this guy is ready and itching to wage a splashy earned-media battle for just that. Kiowa’s finally going to make the Fox News Channel! Mike Huckabee can’t be far behind.

God bless America.

Lundberg supports Kentucky clerk jailed for refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Kevin Lundberg (R).

Sen. Kevin Lundberg (R).

UPDATE: The Denver Post’s John Frank asked Lundberg Friday whether he’d back a Colorado clerk who denied same-sex marriage licenses. “I believe that they have that responsibility as an elected official to ask themselves, am I fulfilling my job or not,” Lundberg told The Post. This comment may have led, in part, to the Post’s editorial today pointing out that Lundberg “appears confused about whether state officials can ignore laws they don’t like.” The Post called Lundberg’s stance “disturbing.”

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In a string of Facebook posts beginning Sept. 3, Colorado State Sen. Kevin Lundberg hasn’t been shy about his support for Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis, who landed in jail after giving marriage licences to some loving couples but not others.

Who would expect Lundberg to be shy, given his uncompromising stances on social issues in the legislature? But he is a state senator, which is why his fringe view should be aired out by reporters and others. To wit:

On Facebook, Lundberg wrote that Davis is “abiding by the laws of God and man. The Supreme Court and their inferior courts are the ones in violation of the rule of law.”

Lundberg:

Good for Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who is refusing to issue “marriage” licenses on the grounds that it violates God’s law, and her conscience.

Have the Federal judges become kings and queens who can fabricate law out of thin air and then throw state government officials in jail for daring to oppose their plans? What Constitutional authority does the Federal Court have to jail this elected official for exercising her best judgement in fulfilling her duties as county clerk? If the people who elected her want her to change, they can speak through any recall procedures the State of Kentucky allows, or vote her out at the next election for county clerk, but the Federal Courts should stay out of areas of law clearly reserved for state jurisdiction.

The courts have certainly seized this power and demonstrated their autocratic intentions long ago, but they do not derive this authority from the Constitution, which is the law of the land.

In my opinion the clerk is abiding by the laws of God and man. The Supreme Court and their inferior courts are the ones in violation of the rule of law.

In a post last week, Lundberg addresses the question of why Davis shouldn’t just resign:

Additionally, many are saying that the clerk is not following the “rule of law.” I submit it is more accurate to say she is not following the rule of the Court. If anyone is actually following the rule of law, it is clerk Davis.