Sex, Lies, and Georgia GOP Lawmakers

The state of Georgia is facing a $2.2 billion budget shortfall, but some GOP lawmakers believe they have the answer to curbing spending: a good old fashioned smut hunt, starting with public universities. State Representative Calvin Hill (R-Canton) issued a press release earlier this month to express his outrage regarding course offerings at Georgia State University:

What I am about to tell you will shock and disgust you.

Do you know that your tax dollars are being used at our state universities to pay professors to teach your children classes like “Male Prostitution” and “Queer Theory”? Yes, even in tight economic times like we are facing today, our Board of Regents is wasting your tax dollars to teach these totally unnecessary and ridiculous classes.

If that is not enough, you will even find a class entitled “Oral Sex” and another on “Sexual Orientation”. Yes, the list goes on and on.

In his zeal to incite constituent ire about the racy subjects being taught under their very noses, Rep. Hill failed to note he wasn’t actually consulting the course catalog. The subjects cited in Rep. Hill’s press statement are listed in the GSU guide to faculty experts, a document distributed to media outlets, governments, and research organizations to assist them with locating specialists. Oral sex and male prostitution are areas of faculty expertise, not entries on the course roster.

Male prostitution, for example, was the focus of a study of the spread of HIV conducted by faculty member Kirk Elifson. His results were published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1989. Societal messages about oral sex are being examined by senior lecturer Mindy Stombler, who hopes her findings will help prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections. Their expertise qualifies them to act as research consultants in these areas; they are not offering how-to seminars.

Stombler and Elifson spoke to the House Higher Education Committee last Tuesday, but Rep. Hill declined to ask the professors any questions at the hearing. Despite clarification from GSU faculty and administrators, Rep. Hill continues to assert, “Our job is to educate our people in sciences, business, math.” Humanities and social sciences be damned!

State Rep. Charlice Byrd (R-Woodstock) is also incensed by this “major misuse of the state university system’s budget.” She told CBS Atlanta:

I probably am a fuddy-duddy. I believe in the Bible. I’m a Christian. I go to church, and these are not the things that we are learning in church and in the Bible. And so if you want to call me a fuddy-duddy, have at it.

In a finger-wagging rebuke of the University delivered via YouTube, notorious fuddy-duddy Rep. Byrd assured viewers, “the timing is perfect to eliminate positions of professors and staff who are paid to provide such services.”

Of particular concern to Rep. Byrd is a course that actually exists, a doctoral seminar on queer theory. The validity of queer theory is certainly controversial and if the topic concerns Rep. Byrd’s constituents, she is obligated to investigate. However, she completely undermined her credibility as an elected representative (and her status as a decent human being) by publicly posting an unsubstantiated, patently outrageous claim (see cached copy here) that “there is a professor in charge of Queer Theory actively recruiting young teenage gays to accompany him on international trips.”

Nothing like implied charges of pedophilia to get an investigation going, huh?

Rep. Hill also suggested inappropriate faculty behavior. “The concern is what are we doing on our campuses? Are we actually recruiting people, if you will, into a lifestyle?” he asked.

By spending time ferreting out queer needles in the academic haystack, Calvin Hill and Charlice Byrd are distracting the Georgia legislature from careful consideration of state budgetary woes. They are manufacturing scandals where none exist.

There is plenty of room for debate regarding the legitimacy of queer theory as a fruitful academic discipline. Camille Paglia once referred to queer theorists as a “wizened crew of flimflamming free-loaders,” and she may be on to something. I tend to believe the academy’s obsessive division and subdivision of disciplines along lines of gender and ethnicity creates intellectually isolated academic ghettos, but that’s an opinion, not a mandate for legislative interference.

Georgia code (§ 20-3-51) specifies that “the government, control, and management of the university system and all of its institutions shall be vested in the Board of Regents.” The Board is also given authority to allocate appropriations among institutions as members see fit. While members of the public are free to voice curricular concerns to the Board, micromanagement of course content is not a function of the state legislature, not even when taxpayer dollars are involved, not even if Charlice Byrd launches an inquisition.

Will Republicans Get An Inclusive RNC Chair?

At the height of Palinmania, liberal feminist author Rebecca Walker wrote a piece for The Huffington Post boldly calling for a bigger feminist tent. She criticized the “habitual distancing of women [like Sarah Palin] who don’t serve the progressive feminist agenda” and addressed “the necessity of finding commonality with women who don’t hold progressive views.”

You can imagine how well that went over with the “progressive” HuffPo crowd.

Many commenters dismissed Walker’s ideas. They reveled childishly in the opportunity to smear Palin with the usual chorus of “she’s not a real woman” and “she doesn’t get to call herself a feminist.” Also included, a generous sprinkling of “she’s a terrible mother,” “conservative women are tools of the patriarchy,” and the ever popular insult, “Bush in a skirt.”

I’m reminded of the venomous responses to Walker’s HuffPo post as I consider the current state of the RNC Chair race. Many of the 168 voting Committee members are clamoring for a uniformly conservative Party that brands social moderates, libertarians, and centrists as ideologically impure. Even those who pay lip service to Ronald Reagan’s notion of a big GOP tent seem comfortable marginalizing Republicans whose conservative bona fides don’t measure up to their questionable standards.

Minnesota GOP Chairman Saul Anuzis donned his RINO-huntin’ gear early in the race for national Chair and set his sights on Michael Steele, the former Lieutenant Governor of Maryland. James Richardson explains:

Shortly after launching his campaign for RNC Chairman in mid-November, Saul Anuzis, the beleaguered MIGOP Chairman, began circulating news of LGBT (read: moderate) support for former Maryland Lt. Governor Michael Steele to prominent social conservative committee members.

Steele’s past work with Christine Todd Whitman’s centrist Republican Leadership Council, his dissenters argue, disqualifies him to lead the Republican Party as the faithful opposition to President Obama’s social agenda and economic recovery plan.

Later, when the Log Cabin Republicans reached out to each of the RNC candidates, an Anuzis operative named Katie Packer responded on his behalf, calling him “a reasonable individual who does not seek to grow the party by dividing it.”

Right. So first Anuzis uses gay support as a not-so-subtle litmus test to indicate an opponent’s failings, and then his rep cozies up to the Log Cabin Republicans. But wait, there’s more:

After news of Team Anuzis’ correspondence broke, Saul quickly distanced himself from Packer and said he had approved no such outreach, nor did he seek Log Cabin’s endorsement. Still working to build inroads in the social conservative community, Saul simply couldn’t afford the perception that he was seeking to “grow the party” with the help of, gasp, gay and moderate Republicans.

I understand that many Americans, President Obama included, do not support full equality for gays and lesbians, but is it really required political posturing for an RNC Chair candidate to publicly distance himself from gay outreach? Is Anuzis worried his RNC buddies will think he picked up GRIDS cooties from contact with the gays?

Last November, Senator McCain won more of the gay vote than any other Republican presidential candidate has ever received – 1.3 million votes and 27% of the LGBT vote, according to exit polls. Let’s hope we can continue that trend with an RNC Chair who understands and believes in a big Republican tent, not one who makes nice to gay Republicans and moderates in private while publicly rejecting their support and excluding them from Party politics.

Are Liberal Gays Losing Their Hope-on for Obama?

It’s getting tough to keep up with the spastic narrative of love, hate, passion, and betrayal that reflects gay liberal sentiment toward President-elect Barack Obama. On any given day he could be messiah or pariah, depending on anything from the gay-friendliness of his cabinet to how often he drops the word “gay” into speeches. The liberal blogosphere is constantly abuzz with speculation as to whether this man on whom so many staked their hopes and dreams will be the progressive savior of the liberal gay community. Will he offer change they can believe in, or just More of the Same™?

This schizophrenic attitude was most apparent among Barack Obama’s fair weather friends in the liberal gay community when they became outraged at his choice of Proposition 8 supporter Rick Warren to deliver the inaugural invocation. For days they decried his betrayal of progressives, lamented their failure to achieve genuine political clout, and railed against Obama’s cunning duplicity. They employed the foul language and vitriol normally reserved for Rethuglicans, godbag fundies, and anyone with the last name Bush or Cheney.

And then hopey days were here again.

With the announcement that gay Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson would be delivering the invocation at the beginning of Inauguration Week, the fickle far left warmed to Obama as quickly as they had turned on him. They grew giddy when Whitehouse Press Secretary Robert Gibbs promised a forthcoming repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and gay activist leaders seemed appeased by the Obama transition team’s ramped up LGBT outreach efforts.

Ideological treason forgiven, it would seem.

But not so fast. Even as Obama was giving gay folks a cursory shout out during his speech at the Lincoln Memorial Sunday afternoon, a renewed movement to kick Obama to the proverbial curb arose when it surfaced that Gene Robinson’s invocation was not televised with the rest of the festivities. Even most of those present on the National Mall were unable to hear his prayer due to speaker malfunctions, and the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC was never introduced or identified by name when they sang with Josh Groban at the event.

Hoodwinked and bamboozled again!

Obama was for gays before he was against them and he’ll be for them again soon, his aides will explain. But how long will gays and lesbians ride this emotional roller coaster before they grow sick of the bones they’re occasionally thrown? How long until they realize the Defense of Marriage Act isn’t going anywhere on Obama’s watch and he won’t be revamping the federal tax code to benefit same-sex couples any time soon? How long until all that cultish hope evaporates permanently and liberal gays realize that rumors of impending change have been greatly exaggerated?

President Bush Signs Law Protecting Retirement Savings for Same-Sex Partners

While gay rights activists were engaged in fits of apoplexy over Barack Obama’s selection of Rick Warren to deliver the inaugural invocation, outgoing President George W. Bush quietly took a small step toward ensuring equality for same-sex partnerships by signing The Worker, Retiree and Employer Recovery Act of 2008 (WRERA).

American employers will soon be required to allow the partners of gay and lesbian employees to inherit 401(k) retirement savings accounts without incurring tax penalties. The newly signed legislation will allow any designated beneficiary to roll retirement savings over into an IRA, a benefit employers may limit to spousal survivors under current law.

As you might imagine, commenters in the progressive/gay blogosphere had a little trouble giving “Bushitler” credit for taking this small but meaningful step. The upstanding folks at Minnesota Independent reveled in Bush’s perceived betrayal of his base and engaged in a little Christianist bashing (just for good measure.) The gang at Think Progress is pretty sure this law only got the thumbs up because BushCo failed to read the legislation attentively, possibly due to a drug-induced stupor. To be fair, a few commenters at The Huffington Post offered Bush their gratitude; others celebrated what was termed a fundie smackdown, but explained that the legislation was only approved by Bush so he could throw one last bone to his log cabin cronies.

Perhaps it’s best that the mainstream media ignored the passage of this law. There’s always something to be said for avoiding a large scale outbreak of Bush Derangement Syndrome.

The New Marriage Equality Movement: Ban Divorce

Dear Lord! When will Prop 8 opponents wake up and realize that attempts to undermine traditional marriage, no matter how tongue in cheek, are not the way to win friends and influence people?

Apparently, that epiphany will come at some point after they gather signatures for a petition to protect the sanctity of heterosexual marriage by prohibiting divorce. The petition reads:

Divorce destroys the sanctity of marriage and its powerful influence on the betterment of society. This proposition would keep the very meaning of marriage from being transformed into nothing more than a contractual relationship between two adults. Prohibiting divorce between heterosexual married couples will keep the interests of children and families intact. We will continue to celebrate marriage as the union of husband and wife, not as a relationship between “Party A” and “Party B.” The marriage of a man and a woman has been at the heart of society since the beginning of time and it promotes the ideal opportunity for children to be raised by a mother and a father in a family held together by the legal, communal, and spiritual bonds of marriage. As a society we should put the best interests of children first, and those interests lie in traditional marriage. Permitting divorce destroys marriage as we know it and causes a profound harm to society. We should be restoring marriage, not undermining it.

And for those of you who voted yes on Prop 8 but disagree with this petition…Why? This petition is copied and pasted from literature from your website, ProtectMarriage.com, but applied to Divorce instead of Gay Marriage. So how can you argue with your own words?

Worst. Strategy. Ever.

I support gay marriage 100 percent, but I will never support these morons in their self-defeating attention grabs. As long as same sex marriage supporters continue to frame the debate this way, their mission will continue to be unsuccessful. “We’re right, you’re retarded, here’s why you’re a bleepin’ hypocrite,” just isn’t the way to go. A little empathy would be a good start. Heck, even a half-hearted attempt at understanding where their opponents are coming from would help.

Or they could just keep belittling people with different views:

Prop 8 Protests Still Ineffective When Set to Music

Shocking, I know, but as it turns out, song and dance doesn’t make shallow caricatures of religious people any more palatable. I really wanted to like Prop 8: The Musical, but even Neil Patrick Harris couldn’t redeem this video from Funny or Die.

While a musical protest of the Prop 8 outcome is certainly preferable to death threats, vandalism, and violence, I’m disappointed that the most vocal supporters of gay marriage still don’t understand that crapping all over Christians isn’t the way to change minds.

Prop 8: The Musical portrays Christians as thugs and hypocrites who will happily lie to themselves and others if it will prevent same-sex marriage. “If it works then we don’t care,” they sing. Is it really so difficult to understand that demonizing people for their religious beliefs is divisive and counterproductive? The cause would be better served by shelving the impulsive lashing out so that energies can be focused on analyzing why the “No on 8″ campaign failed. Clearly it’s time for a new strategy, and here’s a hint: attacking Mormons? Not so persuasive.

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