Welcome back to our weekly round-up of the most infuriating bits of anti-LGBT rhetoric to grace our news feeds in the past seven days. This week, there were several stunning advances in LGBT equality and visibility here in the homeland, which, naturally, triggered the all-too-predictable backlash from the right-wing and those opposed to change. Read on to see which pieces of absurdity made the cut to be among the most outrageous, but expect a healthy dose of snark in the following pages — sometimes it's the only way we can get through the day.
3. NOM Wants to Defend 'Traditional Marriage' — Anonymously
When the antigay National Organization for Marriage filed a last-minute petition asking to intervene as defenders of Oregon's ban on marriage equality — just 48 hours before the case was scheduled to be heard in federal court — those of us already squarely planted on the right side of history let out a collective groan. Two months earlier, the state's Democratic attorney general, Ellen Rosenblum, had announced that she wouldn't be defending the ban, pointing to the fact that it's unconstitutional and, in her words "legally indefensible."
But the (not-so) good, kind-hearted Christians at NOM couldn't let an outdated, discriminatory law go down without a fight. When the group heard that there was literally no one mounting a defense to support Oregon's existing marriage law, the Washington, D.C.-based group begged the court to delay the trial while they got their homophobic nonsense in order to legally defend the law. The judge presiding over the federal case — who happens to be a gay man — refused to delay the trial, but did schedule a separate hearing to allow NOM to make its case as to why it should be allowed to intervene in the trial after all of Oregon's highest-ranking elected officials declined to do so.
But alas, just one day before NOM was scheduled to appear in federal court and argue that it should be allowed to intervene, the group filed a brief explaining that they were unable to find anyone within the organization — or outside of it — who was willing to attach their name to the legal defense of discrimination.
NOM contends that it does indeed have members who would have standing to challenge the law, but that they are afraid to do so "in the face of real concerns about threats and reprisals."
"NOM and other pro-marriage organizations attempted to locate a county clerk who would be willing to risk the harassment that has befallen county clerks elsewhere when they tried to defend their state’s marriage laws," writes NOM in its brief. But even though NOM interviewed county clerks, business owners, and voters who supported the constitutional amendment, "all of whom expressed strong interest in intervening in the matter," according to the brief, those people were ultimately cowed by "grave concerns about possible threats, harassment, and retaliation should they do so."
Amazingly, that didn't stop NOM's attorneys from moving forward with the request, arguing in federal court Wednesday that the organization should be allowed to intervene in a federal lawsuit because it — hypothetically — has people among its ranks who have a stake in the outcome. Even though those people aren't willing to put their name on the effort, and indeed, aren't even willing to be publicly identified. (There's that classic NOM transparency, for you!)
Unsurprisingly, when NOM got its day in federal court Wednesday, the judge flatly dismissed tits request to intervene. "This is an Oregon case," judge Michael McShane reportedly told the attorneys. "It will remain an Oregon case."
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2. Same-Sex Couples Start Marrying in Arkansas, The Sky Doesn't Fall
Despite the best and most dire predictions of the haters around the country, the sun rose over the land of Arkansas after the state began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples this weekend.
Last Friday, a state judge struck down Arkansas' statutory and constitutional bans on marriage equality, prompting the one county clerk's office that holds regular business hours on Saturday to start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples who applied for them early Saturday morning. The fact that that county clerk's office happens to be located in Eureka Springs, also known as the "gay capital of the Ozarks," is not entirely lost on us.
The judge's ruling did not include a stay, and the state Supreme Court has yet to grant one, which means that same-sex couples can continue marrying in at least two Arkansas counties where clerks are deciding to abide by the law.
And despite the fact that judge Chris Piazza's ruling followed the lead of more than a dozen state and federal decisions that have unilaterally found in favor of marriage equality since last summer's landmark victories at the Supreme Court, former Arkansas governor turned presidential hopeful turned Fox News talking head Mike Huckabee has called for Piazza to be impeached.
"Judge Chris Piazza, a circuit court judge in my home state of Arkansas, decided that he is singularly more powerful than the 135 elected legislators of the state, the elected Governor, and 75% of the voters of the state," Huckabee wrote on the website for his political action committee, Huck PAC. "Apparently he mistook his black robe for a cape and declared himself to be ‘SUPER LAWMAKER!'"
"By virtually ordering same sex marriage to begin immediately, which in fact happened in at least one Arkansas county on the morning after Judge Piazza’s Friday night massacre of the law and the will of the people, he positioned himself as if he were all 3 branches of government and declared the voters immaterial," continued Huckabee. "The Governor should call a special session of the legislature and impeach the judge and affirm the people’s will. If the people wish to allow same sex marriage, they can put that matter on the ballot and vote for it. Or the legislature can put that matter on the ballot and ask the people to change the Constitution to allow it. But they should not stand by and allow one man to think his robe has more power than it does."
It seems that Huckabee has perhaps not actually read Piazza's ruling — we know, shocker! — because Piazza used almost the exact same language to dismiss those who would critique his use of judicial power to help fight for equality of an oppressed minority. Piazza seemed to anticipate such backlash, writing in his ruling, “The court is not unmindful of the criticism that judges should not be super legislators.” But since the Arkansas laws result in “the fundamental right to marry being denied to an unpopular minority,” he ruled that they violate both the U.S. and state constitutions. The state is appealing that ruling, but in the meantime, gay marriages continue in Arkansas, and the world keeps spinning.
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1. Michael Sam Destroys Football By Kissing His Boyfriend
So you might have heard that on Saturday afternoon, the almost comically macho sport of (American) football made history when the first openly gay man was drafted into the NFL. Michael Sam, a defensive end from the University of Missouri, was drafted by the St. Louis Rams, as the 249th overall pick, in the seventh round of the 2014 NFL Draft.
Upon hearing the news, the SEC Defensive Player of 2013 was overcome with emotion — as were many of his fellow newly drafted NFL players. That's not overly surprising, given the fact that many of these young men have spent the better part of their lives dreaming about playing professional ball. It makes sense that they might be just a tad emotional upon learning that they've just achieved a major life goal. They might even hug and kiss their loved ones in celebration. And that's all fine and good.
Unless, of course, you're Michael Sam, and the loved ones with whom you've gathered at your home to follow the draft happen to include your handsome, athletic boyfriend. Then, you can be sure, kissing that significant other is pretty much going to ruin football. FOREVER.
Before we move on to critiquing the overblown reactions, let's make sure everyone's on the same page about just how "lewd" that kiss was. If you're expecting to see some hot athlete-on-athlete action, you're likely to be sadly disappointed. Here's the moment when Sam got the call from Rams head coach Jeff Fisher that he'd been drafted:
Now, if you'll slowly release the pearls you're undoubtedly clutching after viewing such filth, we can review some of the totally appropriate reactions to this history-making moment. We should note here that the vast majority of the immediate reaction to Sam's draft pick was positive… But maybe that's because the right-wingers were too busy picking their jaws off the floor to be outraged… Until Monday.
That's when a former Ohio secretary of state who now works for the certified antigay hate group Family Research Council declared that Sam's celebratory moment was "inappropriate and over-the-top." For a brilliant rebuttal to that specious argument, check out Dallas sportscaster Dale Hansen's response right here.
And perhaps there's something in the water in Texas, since the hosts of a Dallas morning show called The Broadcast actually walked off set on live TV after she and her cohosts got into a heated debate about the appropriateness of Sam's kiss. Watch that moment here for some truly stellar examples of the right wing's fundamental misunderstanding of what "freedom of speech" entitles one to. Here's a hint: It doesn't mean you're free to say anything you want without facing repercussions from your fellow citizens, it just means the government can't put in you in jail or bankrupt you because you criticized it.