Link to KansasPrairie.net

3/3/2014

DWINDLING CHRISTIAN RIGHT TURNS INTO CORNERED ANIMAL, LASHES OUT AT CIVIL RIGHTS AND DEMOCRACY

Filed under: prairie musings, Pro-life/Pro-choice, Civil/Gay Rights, religion — Peg Britton @ 8:15 am

AlterNet  / By CJ Werleman

February 26, 2014  |

Like a cornered animal, which turns instinctively to confront pursuing predators, the Christian Right, knowing it represents the views of an ever shrinking number of Americans, is engaged in an existential fight to the death. Veto or no veto, Arizona’s anti-gay bill is just another of its many efforts to transform America’s secular democracy into a tyrannical theocracy.

The Christian Right’s dirty little secret is they are acutely aware that changing demographics are running against them. While they may believe the earth is a mere few thousand years old, they’re not complete idiots. They can read polls, and the data tells them this:  millennials are abandoning religious belief. According to a recent Pew survey [3], one in four Americans born after 1981 hold no religious belief, which is nearly double the national rate of atheism. Other studies confirm this trend, including a recent study by the Public Religion Research Institute showing more than half of non-religious Millennials have abandoned their childhood faith.

With this in mind, the nation’s radical religious fundamentalists see an ever-shrinking window to impose their Bronze Age worldview on the gay, atheist, liberal, immigrant, heathen, and science book-reading masses. The American Taliban is as deeply troubled by the thoughts of a gay man “sneaking a peak” of a heterosexual man in an NFL locker room as much as they’re freaked out over seeing Cam and Mitchell, the gay couple on “Modern Family,” adopt an Asian child. For the intellectual infants of the American species, progressive culture is nothing more than a 24/7 infomercial for gay sex and abortion. That frightens our unfriendly theocrats because biblical fundamentalists are more concerned with the goings on in the bedrooms of others than they are within the guilt-ridden, sexless confines of their own.

Salon columnist Brian Beutler writes that measures like Arizona’s  SB1062 bill have emerged in a number of states out of “a wellspring of conservative panic about the country’s abrupt legal and cultural evolution into a society that’s broadly tolerant of gay people.” He adds, “Rather than deny the shift, or stop at trying to reverse it in legislatures, the courts and at ballot boxes, conservatives are instead attempting to erect a legal architecture that will wall them off from the growing portion of American society that supports equal rights for gay people.”

These “religious freedom” bills did not arrive here overnight; they are three decades in the making. Prior to the election of Jimmy Carter in 1976, no serious presidential candidate ever claimed to have been “born again,” and the emphasis of faith for a politician seeking high office was as rare then as a candidate declaring his atheism is today.  When Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson established the Christian Right (aka the Moral Majority) in 1979, no serious political commentator believed they could play a significant role in electoral politics. The screenwriter Norman Lear joked, “The Moral Majority is neither the moral point of view, nor the majority.”

Long story short, the Christian Right swept Ronald Reagan into the White House in 1980. The Sarasota Journal wrote as much on Feb 9, 1981: “The merging of the political right with the religious right has taken the country by surprise.” It’s now 2014, and the most intellectually and morally stunted segment of American society continues to take this nation by surprise.

The Christian Right has not only moved from the fringes to become the main strain of the Republican Party; it is the Republican Party. These radicals continually surprise us for the fact casual political observers mistakenly believe they represent the far-right fringe. You cannot sugarcoat the fact that a majority of Republicans in Arizona’s House, and also a majority of Republicans in Arizona’s Senate voted for this anti-gay law. Likewise a majority of Republicans in Kansas’ House voted for a similar bill. They voted for it because they want the freedom to discriminate against individuals they claim the Bible finds abhorrent.

Worryingly, this act is a small part in a big pantomime to transform America into a theocratic nirvana–one that is absent gays, Muslims, immigrants, atheists, and science books. To achieve this, the instrument of choice is nullification. It is nullification of the federal government that weds theocrats together with libertarians and the neo-confederate movement. Since 2010, state legislatures have put forward nearly 200 bills challenging federal laws its sponsors deem unconstitutional. Typically, laws the nullifiers believe challenge “religious liberty,” the Affordable Care Act, and gun control.

In an editorial for Talking Points Memo, Josh Marshall observes that since the election of Obama and the rise of the Tea Party, “there’s been more and more reaching back to the discredited ideas of nullification, interposition and even, at the truly fringe extreme, secession. They are each efforts to preserve power for disempowered minorities after they’ve lost battles in the standard majoritarian system. More simply, they’re workarounds to get out of the consequences of losing political fights. And by definition they are rearguard actions. American history and constitutional jurisprudence has consistently ruled against them.”

Marshall is right in part. But the point he misses is that elections are no longer determined by majority view, but rather by the availability of an endless pipeline of campaign cash, and on that social conservatives are no longer playing second fiddle to establishment Republicans. Thanks to Internet fundraising and changes to campaign finance laws, it’s now a case of the tail wagging the dog. According to the Federal Electoral Commission, Tea Party and social conservative groups raised nearly three times as much as GOP establishment groups in 2013, which is how you end up with a majority of Republicans in both houses of the Arizona congress voting for SB1062 in 2014.

Salon’s Beutler writes, “The bad news is that this phenomenon isn’t limited to homophobia, and doesn’t always masquerade as an exercise of religious freedom. As America grows more liberal, conservatives are retreating into a variety of interlinking, but isolated subcultures and, when necessary, making or manipulating law to insulate themselves from contact with the masses.”

The Christian Right’s ideology drives virtually all social policy debate within the Republican Party, whether it’s immigration, women’s reproductive rights, the death penalty, or same-sex marriage.

Chris Hedges says the Christian Right’s ideology calls for the “eradication of social ‘deviants,’ beginning with gay men and lesbians, whose sexual orientation, those in the movement say, is a curse and an illness, contaminating the American family and the country. Once these ‘deviants’ are removed, other ‘deviants, ‘including Muslims, liberals, feminists, intellectuals, left-wing activists, undocumented workers, poor African-Americans and those dismissed as ‘nominal Christians’–meaning Christians who do not embrace this peculiar interpretation of the Bible–will also be ruthlessly repressed. The ‘deviant’ government bureaucrats, the ‘deviant’ media, the ‘deviant’ schools and the ‘deviant’ churches, all agents of Satan, will be crushed or radically reformed. The rights of these ‘deviants’ will be annulled. ‘Christian values’ and ‘family values’ will, in the new state, be propagated by all institutions.Education and social welfare will be handed over to the church. Facts and self-criticism will be replaced with relentless indoctrination.”

While the Christian Right is becoming the dwindling minority, it remains an existential threat to civil rights, secularism and our democratic values. It’s a threat fueled by a seemingly unlimited supply of campaign finance, and a rabid base that believes it’s fighting for its place in a 21st-century world it can’t reconcile against an ancient book that says gays are an abomination. You know, like shellfish.

2/12/2014

HOUSE APPROVES KANSAS LAW TO LEGALIZE DISCRIMINATION…ANOTHER GIANT STEP BACKWARDS FOR BROWNBACK…

Filed under: prairie musings, Sam Brownback, LGBT, Civil/Gay Rights, Kansas — Peg Britton @ 2:33 pm

Kansas lawmakers voted overwhelmingly today to pass a bill that opponents say legalizes discrimination against gays and lesbians.

Members of both parties joined together in the House on the 89-27 vote, according to the Lawrence Journal-World. If the Senate follows suit and Governor Sam Brownback signs the bill, as he has indicted, then anyone could opt out of anti-discrimination laws that protect gays and lesbians by claiming they violate their “religious freedom.”

For example, an employer could fire someone if they discovered the employee was gay. Or a landlord could kick a renter out of their home. The religious exemption extends past places of business to universities, where students or instructors could opt out of a school’s anti-discrimination policy.

The idea for the bill, called the “Kansas Preservation of Religious Freedom Act,” came in reaction to the college town of Lawrence passing an anti-discrimination ordinance that included sexual orientation. The new state law would nullify that and any other local anti-discrimination ordinance that included sexual orientation by granting citizens the right to opt out if they felt it conflicted with their religious beliefs.

“I don’t think an ordinance should trump other people’s religious rights,” said Rep. Jan Pauls, a Democrat on the Judiciary Committee that heard testimony about the bill. During a forum earlier this year, Pauls gave an example to explain why she backs the bill, saying an employer should be allowed to fire a “cross dresser.”

“The question is personal belief as far as religion,” she said. “Should that be trumped by forcing people to then support a lifestyle that they don’t support due to their religion?”

“If this law were passed,” Pauls explained, “people could bring up their religion as a reason that they did not want to follow the ordinances.”

6/28/2013

WHAT EQUALITY MEANS…

Filed under: prairie musings, Civil/Gay Rights — Peg Britton @ 6:25 pm

What Equality Means

Madeleine M. Kunin;
First Female Governor of Vermont; Marsh Scholar, University of Vermont

The belief that same-sex couples have the civil right to be protected by the constitution has been affirmed. These landmark decisions have an impact far beyond the rights of married couples. It tells all gay and lesbian men and women, and their children that they have a legitimate place in society. They do not have to hide, as they once did in deep dark closets. Yes, 37 states have passed laws which prohibit same-sex marriage. Some will continue to do so, regardless of the court’s decisions. But the trajectory is in the other direction, propelled by young people who are more gender blind than many of their elders.

6/26/2013

SCOTUS STRIKES DOWN DOMA…

Filed under: prairie musings, Civil/Gay Rights, SCOTUS — Peg Britton @ 9:01 am

SCOTUS Strikes Down DOMA

In a historic victory for same-sex marriage, the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 law that prevented the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriage. In a 5-4 decision written by Justice Kennedy, the court ruled that DOMA is an unconstitutional deprivation of equal liberty, a violation of the Fifth Amendment. The ruling will allow federal benefits–tax breaks, insurance for government employees–to couples in the 12 states and D.C. (13 states now that California’s Proposition 8 has been dismissed) that already recognize same-sex marriage.
Read it at SCOTUSBlog

June 26, 2013 9:50 AM

It’s a great day for the USA.

12/4/2012

“KILL THE GAYS BILL” SUPPORTED BY SOME PROMINENT RIGHT-WING AMERICANS…

Filed under: prairie musings, LGBT, Civil/Gay Rights — Peg Britton @ 8:21 am

Conservative lawmakers in the Ugandan Parliament are pushing a bill that would make being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender a crime that is punishable by life imprisonment, and even death. Further, the current version of the bill would send teachers, parents and landlords to jail if they fail to report children, students and renters who are gay.

This “Kill the Gays” bill is supported by the speaker of Parliament, and could be voted on any day now. Just about the only way it can be stopped is through international pressure on the president of Uganda to veto the bill.

International pressure has worked in the past. When the bill was first introduced in 2009, President Museveni openly expressed his support for it, but then reversed his position and promised a veto after a worldwide outcry and threats from some nations to withdraw their aid.

One problem we face in bringing that pressure this time around is that prominent right-wing Americans like Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council, and Bryan Fischer, head of the American Family Association, are openly praising the Kill the Gays bill. We need to make sure their voices are drowned out by a massive denunciation from the rest of America, so that President Museveni knows what is at stake if he caves and signs this murderous legislation.

Keep fighting,
Chris Bowers
Campaign Director, Daily Kos

9/29/2012

I’M SO PROUD OF MY GRANDDAUGHTER…

Filed under: prairie musings, Civil/Gay Rights, Mackenzie — Peg Britton @ 3:29 pm

To give you a little background on our family involvement with the Boy Scouts of America:

Mackenzie’s father, Dane, was an Eagle Scout, worked summers at the Charles L. Sommer’s Wilderness Canoe Base and was heavily involved with the BSA national organization and received recognition for it;

her grandpa, Roy Britton, was a scout leader and spent a life time supporting scouts, and being instrumental in getting a Boy Scout cabin built in Ellsworth;

her uncle, Todd Britton, a Life Scout, has been a scout leader all his adult life and spent many of his personal vacation days taking scouts to Camp Hansen or Camp Brown. Todd’s two sons, Tyler and Drew, are both Eagle Scouts. Tyler achieved recognition for the amount of popcorn he sold during his tenure as a scout which materialized into a substantial college scholarship. They all attended the Boy Scout National Jamboree.

Mackenzie is more than aware of all this and the support the entire family has given to scouting.

Recently, Boy Scouts canvassed her neighborhood in O’Fallon IL selling Boy Scout popcorn, their premier fundraiser. She refused to buy their popcorn because she is acutely aware that the Supreme Court ruled that as a private organization BSA has the right to discriminate against gay people by expelling them or barring them from joining. They have been enforcing that policy with gusto, expelling gay and lesbian scouts and scout leaders across the country. And they have done the same with atheists. They have openly affirmed and reaffirmed the policy which is very much against everything she holds true.

She said her decision not to buy from the visiting Boy Scout made her “feel like crap”.  “Having to say no to the Boy Scout selling popcorn makes me feel like crap, but until (if) the organization can fix their s***, I have to say no :(

I admire her decision.  It was thought through carefully.  She has grown into a very strong and vocal advocate for human and personal civil rights and freedom from discrimination and bigotry. In clear conscience, she could not do otherwise.

The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that opposition to homosexuality is part of BSA’s “expressive message” and that allowing homosexuals as adult leaders would interfere with that message.

This teaches discrimination and provides the unspoken message that some persons are simply unworthy of consideration. It teaches that a gay person can’t be a good person and does not present a desirable role model to be the best kind of citizen.

And since the Scouts must put duty to god before country, others and self, they also condemn non-believers in the same way.

The three biggest sponsors of the BSA are the Mormon, Roman Catholic and Southern Baptist churches, whom many call the strongest purveyors of bigotry in the country.

Many Eagle Scouts have turned in their medals, often with polite but scathing remarks.

Major media have strongly questioned the BSA on this policy. And in a recent 5-year period, scout enrollment has declined 13 percent.

When the BSA gives the excuse that major sponsors support their policy so they can’t afford to offend them, they overlook the fact the Girl Scouts have the same sponsors but have a commendable policy and record of no discrimination.

A Southern Baptist who chairs the BSA Religious Relationships Committee has said the no-gays no-atheists policy is unlikely to change as long as it has the support of the churches most active in sponsoring Scout units.

The scouts receive federal monies, use of government facilities at little or no cost and use of local schools.  They want to be a public entity on one hand and to be treated as a private organization on the other hand. Like religion itself, the Scouts are treated as something special and beyond the law.

The only way to change their policy is to speak out against it and to stop supporting it financially.

I know it made you feel “crappy”, Mackenzie, but you did the right thing and I’m very proud of you.

9/24/2012

OPINION BY BURDETT LOOMIS…SALINA JOURNAL 9/24/2012 A5

Eco-devo in Brownback era

9/24/2012
Sam Brownback this past week came to the KU Business School’s annual Chandler Lecture and rhapsodized about his tax-cut legislation.

“We are trying to create a pro-growth environment,” he said, as he defended the large and highly weighted (to partnerships, trusts, sole proprietors, etc.) tax cuts enacted last May.

Like some Texas hold ‘em poker pro, the governor has pushed most of the state’s chips into the pot, banking on the power of tax cuts to help us attract new investment to Kansas. In his homey metaphor, he said, “I want to win our (economic) league.”

To tell the truth, this goal of regional domination might have meant more before Missouri, Nebraska and Colorado left the Big 12 Conference.

The entire tax-cut philosophy rests on shaky ground, but state taxes unquestionably play some role in business decisions. Still, the quality of the workforce, the strength of schools, good transportation and various amenities are also significant. Indeed, any state seeking to attract new business must be seen as an attractive destination.

And there’s the rub.

Over the past two years, the Brownback-Kobach administration, which definitely is how the outside world views Kansas government, has done a tremendous job in making the state appear unattractive to exactly the kind of high-quality, financially sound firms and start-ups that would provide a powerful wave of good new jobs.

Most recently, we have experienced the fatuous “birther” controversy, which Kobach and his Objection Board needlessly fueled, to the point of legitimizing a trivial complaint that could have been dismissed with no fanfare. Rather, Kobach and his wingmen, Attorney General Derek Schmidt and Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, extended the agony by seeking further documentation, only to have the request withdrawn. Across the country, the news stories and editorials were withering in their criticism.

In this case, Kobach won further adulation from his right-wing base, always valuable in some forthcoming primary election, while conveniently not being forced to make a pro-Obama decision that might alienate his most fervent supporters.

So, Kobach was a winner, Obama was a winner, to an extent, and the state of Kansas again became the butt of national — even international — jokes. Blessed by the presence at the hearing of Orly Taitz, the so-called “queen of the birthers,” Kansas was once more painted with the broad brush strokes of political weirdness and intolerance.

Such a portrait, of course, is just what the state needs in the wake of two decades of creationist controversies, unending Westboro Church protests, a governor whose administration monitors a student’s Twitter account and a secretary of state who flies around the country amping up a nasty, ego-satisfying campaign against any presence of illegal immigrants.

That’s not all. Remember the governor’s ill-conceived “marriage summit” and his $75,000 contract with discredited economics guru Alfred Laffer? Or, more recently, Kobach’s sterling anti-immigrant, anti-Sharia-law stances at the GOP convention?

All these incendiary statements, false steps and flat-out blunders encourage the thought that perhaps there has been a cagey plot to make prospective employers, along with thousands of well-qualified professionals recruited by NBAF and the KU Cancer Center, think long and hard about putting down roots in Kansas.

In contrast, as illustrated by Richard Florida’s “Creative Class” argument, it is good schools, lively cities, safe suburbs and thriving arts communities that attract the most innovative firms and the most accomplished professionals.

Who knows? Maybe cutting taxes to the bone will prove a great boon to the Kansas economy. But this narrow policy choice must navigate upstream against an unceasing flow of national news that makes the state look spiteful and stupid. I’m not sure we can lower taxes enough to overwhelm the torrent of negative stories that shows no sign of drying up.

– Burdett Loomis is a political science professor at the University of Kansas.

7/20/2012

B & B OWNERS ORDERED TO COMPENSATE GAY COUPLE WHO WERE DENIED A ROOM…

Filed under: prairie musings, Civil/Gay Rights — Peg Britton @ 3:13 pm

In Abilene, this is business as usual. In Canada, it’s a civil offense with monetary damages.

By Lori Culbert, Vancouver Sun July 19, 2012

A retired Grand Forks couple who would not allow two gay men to stay in their bed and breakfast has to pay the men more than $4,500, the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal has ruled.

Les and Susan Molnar, who owned the now-closed River-bed Bed and Breakfast, held “sincere religious beliefs” opposing same-sex relation-ships when they cancelled reservations for Shaun Eadie and Brian Thomas in July 2009 after learning the couple was gay, tribunal member Enid Marion said in a decision this week.

The Molnars argued they had merely banned Eadie and Thomas from their home, where they conduct prayer meetings and feel responsible for the behaviour of any guests.

But Marion disagreed, finding the bed and breakfast room was separate from the Molnars’ personal living space and was operated more like a hotel or motel.

“Having entered into the commercial sphere, the Mol-nars, like other business people, were required to comply with the laws of the province … that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation,” Marion wrote.

Eadie and Thomas, who live in Vancouver, filed their com-plaint three years ago, but the case had been delayed for a variety of reasons.

The story began when Eadie phoned Susan Molnar to reserve a room with a single bed at the bed and breakfast.

Susan Molnar was concerned she had rented the room to a same-sex couple, so Les Molnar called Eadie back to ask if he and Thomas were gay.

Eadie affirmed they were, to which Molnar says he replied that staying at his house was “not going to work out.”

Eadie responded by saying “wow,” and hung up. He testified he found the exchange quite disturbing.

At the tribunal hearing, the Molnars, devout Christians who regularly attend church, argued they had a constitutionally protected right to freedom of religion, and that the cancellation of the reservation was justified on this basis.

“[Les Molnar] testified that it would have shamed him and his Lord if he had allowed [Eadie and Thomas] to share one bed,” Marion wrote.

But Marion disagreed with the constitutional argument, noting the bed and breakfast was not run by a church.

In the ruling, the Molnars were ordered to pay each of the complainants $1,500 for damages, $340 for travel expenses, and more than $400 for lost wages to attend the hearing in Kelowna.

The Molnars closed their bed and breakfast in September 2009, after renovating their house two years earlier to open the business.

The couple testified they had suffered harassment because of the controversy and were worried about future complaints.

lculbert@vancouversun.com

6/21/2012

HOUSE APPROVES: DOES KANSAS LAW LEGALIZE DISCRIMINATION?

Filed under: prairie musings, LGBT, Civil/Gay Rights, Kansas — Peg Britton @ 10:02 am

Kansas lawmakers voted overwhelmingly today to pass a bill that opponents say legalizes discrimination against gays and lesbians.

Members of both parties joined together in the House on the 89-27 vote, according to the Lawrence Journal-World. If the Senate follows suit and Governor Sam Brownback signs the bill, as he has indicted, then anyone could opt out of anti-discrimination laws that protect gays and lesbians by claiming they violate their “religious freedom.”

For example, an employer could fire someone if they discovered the employee was gay. Or a landlord could kick a renter out of their home. The religious exemption extends past places of business to universities, where students or instructors could opt out of a school’s anti-discrimination policy.

The idea for the bill, called the “Kansas Preservation of Religious Freedom Act,” came in reaction to the college town of Lawrence passing an anti-discrimination ordinance that included sexual orientation. The new state law would nullify that and any other local anti-discrimination ordinance that included sexual orientation by granting citizens the right to opt out if they felt it conflicted with their religious beliefs.

“I don’t think an ordinance should trump other people’s religious rights,” said Rep. Jan Pauls, a Democrat on the Judiciary Committee that heard testimony about the bill. During a forum earlier this year, Pauls gave an example to explain why she backs the bill, saying an employer should be allowed to fire a “cross dresser.”

“The question is personal belief as far as religion,” she said. “Should that be trumped by forcing people to then support a lifestyle that they don’t support due to their religion?”

“If this law were passed,” Pauls explained, “people could bring up their religion as a reason that they did not want to follow the ordinances.”

6/5/2012

HUTCHINSON ADDS SEXUAL ORIENTATION TO THEIR NON-DISCRIMINATION ORDINANCE…

Filed under: political musings, LGBT, Civil/Gay Rights — Peg Britton @ 9:03 am

Reports from Hutchinson confirm that the Hutch City Council has approved adding sexual orientation to their local non-discrimination ordinance.

Salina City Commissioners also passed a similar ordinance.

Progress.

5/17/2012

BROWNBACK’S ONLY POLITICAL CONTITUENT IS GOD……………

sam-brownback.jpg

So, I ask….how is it working out for you with Brownback as Governor?  What he said he would do if elected President, he is doing in Kansas at will.  He said he would, and he is. When he runs again for President, he can show by example what he’s done to Kansas.  Brownback’s tax legislation will be the end of Kansas as we know it.

Here’s an example of his plan:
“Now, Brownback seeks something far more radical: not faith-based politics but faith in place of politics. In his dream America, the one he believes both the Bible and the Constitution promise, the state will simply wither away. In its place will be a country so suffused with God and the free market that the social fabric of the last hundred years — schools, Social Security, welfare — will be privatized or simply done away with. There will be no abortions; sex will be confined to heterosexual marriage. Men will lead families, mothers will tend children, and big business and the church will take care of all.”

He’s not kidding.  It’s already happening in Kansas in case you haven’t noticed. His only political constituent as governor of Kansas is God.

Read this to follow Brownback’s plan for our future…

5/15/2012

TEACHER/COACH JACK CONKLING’S ON LINE REMARKS ON HOMOSEXUALITY DRAW FIRE…

Filed under: political musings, LGBT, Civil/Gay Rights, religion — Peg Britton @ 11:07 am

Teacher’s online remarks on homosexuality draw fire
By Mary Clarkin - The Hutchinson News - mclarkin@hutchnews.com

A Buhler USD 313 teacher/coach has caused a stir by writing on his Facebook page last week that homosexuality is a sin and ranks in God’s eyes the same as the sin of murder.

The Kansas Equality Coalition criticized what Prairie Hills Middle School social studies teacher/Buhler High School assistant freshman women’s basketball coach Jack Conkling wrote. It also urged USD 313 to review its policy on social media and bullying, whether by students or teachers.

Jon Powell, chairman of the Hutchinson chapter of the Kansas Equality Coalition, said Conkling’s “inflammatory statements” could make students think it’s OK to bully fellow students.

Powell termed the posting “reckless,” “dangerous” and “irresponsible.”

“What would Mr. Conkling say to a student who is getting bullied for being gay or lesbian?” Kansas Equality Coalition Executive Director Thomas Witt asked in a press release issued this week.

High school students are among Conkling’s nearly 600 Facebook friends. Some posted comments or reactions, pro and con, to his statement written May 10, in the wake of President Obama’s announced support for gay marriage rights.

It was a former seasonal employee at Hutchinson’s Salt City Splash, where Conkling works in the summer, who alerted the Kansas Equality Coalition to the Facebook statement. USD 313 Superintendent Dan Stiffler learned about it from a teacher.

Conkling wrote: “Gay marriage is wrong because homosexuality is wrong. The Bible clearly states it is sin.”

He also wrote: “It ranks in God’s eyes the same as murder, lying stealing, or cheating.”

“I wrote what I wrote for my Facebook friends who understand my heart and my intent,” Conkling said Monday. “I understand that there were some folks who didn’t understand my heart, and while that’s sad, it is what it is,” he said, declining to elaborate.

Craig Williams, principal at Prairie Hills Middle School, said the school does not have a Facebook policy for teachers.

“We’re looking into it,” Williams said, but said he could not talk about a personnel matter.

USD 313 had a technology committee already looking at a policy for staff and social media, according to Stiffler.

“Where do you draw the line?” Stiffler asked, describing the challenge of setting rules that do not infringe on a teacher’s First Amendment freedom of speech.

“I know that it’s kind of tricky,” said USD 313 Board of Education member Laura Dick, unaware Monday of details of Conkling’s posting.

The News was unsuccessful in reaching other board members.

Hutchinson USD 308 hopes to have a policy by the next school year specifically addressing staff and use of social media, according to district spokesman Ray Hemman.

Hemman, too, described it as “tricky.”

School districts want teachers to be professional, but staff also “have a right to have a life,” Hemman said.

“All this talk in the news about gay marriage recently has finally driven me to write. Gay marriage is wrong because homosexuality is wrong. The Bible clearly states it is sin. Now I do not claim it to be a sin any worse than other sins. It ranks in God’s eyes the same as murder, lying, stealing, or cheating. His standards are perfect and ALL have sinned and fallen short of His glory. Sin is sin and we all deserve hell. Only those who accept Christ as Lord and daily with the help of the Spirit do their best to turn from sin will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. There aren’t multiple ways to get to Heaven. There is one. To many this may seem close minded and antagonistic, but it doesn’t make it any less true. Folks I am willing to admit that my depravity is just as great as anyone else’s, and without Christ I’d be destined for hell, if not for the undeserved grace of God. I’m not condemning gay marriage because I hate gay people. I am doing it because those who embrace it will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven. And I desire that for no one.”

Facebook posting by Buhler USD 313 teacher/coach Jack Conkling

5/14/2012

SALINA CITY COMMISSIONERS MEETING TODAY…

Filed under: prairie musings, LGBT, Civil/Gay Rights — Peg Britton @ 3:06 pm

Salina city commissioners today will decide today whether it will be illegal in Salina to discriminate against a person based on his or her sexual orientation or gender identity.

Commissioners will meet at 4 p.m. at the Salina Community Theatre to consider adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the city’s anti-discrimination ordinance.

The issue is the only item on the agenda.

Hutch  passed a similar ordinance (?), 7-0.  They had lots of community input and it was not all positive, but it passed.

Here is one of many letters in support of the measure.  They are thoughtful, insightful and intelligent letters.

Thompson letter

2/28/2012

A tolerant town?

As a Libertarian, I strongly endorse the anti-discrimination proposal that would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the city’s equality ordinance. This is a timely issue that falls perfectly within the purview of local government.

The primary objections I have heard to the ordinance rely on sanctimonious theological arguments. I was raised in a mixed Christian and Jewish household, and the religious values to which I was exposed emphasized compassion and empathy. I was never instructed that respecting someone whose sexual identity differed from mine would spread moral decay, and I am saddened by the hysterical manner in which some people use biblical scripture as a justification for marginalizing others.

This ordinance demonstrates that Salina is a welcoming and tolerant community, and it will make the town a more attractive place for people to work and raise families (yes, even homosexuals have families). People deserve to be judged on their individual merits, regardless of their sexual orientation. Those who disapprove of homosexuality will remain free not to engage in it.

Most importantly, the measure represents a commitment to recognize the inherent dignity and individual value of every person, and this is something that all Salinans should be proud to support.

– MATTHEW THOMPSON, Salina

Here is a typical letter opposed to the ordinance which happens to be from Ellsworth residents.  I find it appalling and filled with ignorance of the subject.

renfo.png

I’ll post the results of the results of the meeting.

Stayed tuned…

5/9/2012

OBAMA SUPPORTS GAY MARRIAGE…

Washington — President Barack Obama says he now supports same-sex marriage, ending months of equivocation on a subject with powerful election-year consequences.

Obama says he has concluded that it is important for him to affirm that he thinks same-sex couples should be able to get married. He says he came to the conclusion over the course of several years of talking to family and friends.

Obama has previously said his personal views of gay marriage were evolving, a stance that frustrated gay rights supporters.

Obama revealed his support for gay marriage in an interview with ABC News.

On the other hand…

An overwhelming North Carolina vote to define marriage as legal only between a man and woman dealt a strong blow to gay marriage supporters this week.

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There are some states where it makes no sense to hold the National Democratic Convention as there is so much un-Democratic sentiment regarding civil rights/equal rights/women’s rights ….North Carolina, Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma…etc. being among them.  Charlotte et al will reap 160 million over it…
Stay tuned….it isn’t over yet.

5/7/2012

JAN PAULS … TIME FOR A CHANGE…

Filed under: political musings, Sam Brownback, Civil/Gay Rights, Women's Rights — Peg Britton @ 9:21 am

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State Representative Jan Pauls serves the 102nd District which includes central Hutchinson.
Did you know…
Jan Pauls supports Sam Brownback and Kris Kobach and his effort to suppress your vote?
Jan Pauls voted to raise your sales taxes?
Jan Pauls supports Fred Phelps’s bigoted views?
Jan Pauls supports Sam Brownback and the radical Republican war on women?
Paid for by the Kansas Democratic LGBT caucus, David Dove, Treasurer.

5/6/2012

SALINA’S GENDER IDENTITY AMENDMENT DRAWS STRANGE RESPONSES FROM AREA RESIDENTS……

Filed under: political musings, LGBT, Civil/Gay Rights, Women's Rights — Peg Britton @ 11:47 am

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Here is the link to the  City of Salina’s page, “Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Amendment to City Ordinance Information”, including the long awaited link to the city prepared definition and fact sheet.  It has been a subject of heated controversy and misinformation since its introduction.

Below are a few of the letters in opposition to the ordinance that were submitted by Ellsworth County residents.  They, along with others, can be found on the above site.   Don’t you just wonder how all this misinformation, bigotry and prejudice against others can pass through seemingly intelligent minds in today’s enlightened society?

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4/30/2012

SENATORS ROBERTS AND MORAN VOTE NO ON VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN MEASURE…

Filed under: political musings, LGBT, Civil/Gay Rights, Women's Rights — Peg Britton @ 1:06 pm

The Senate voted by a margin of 68 to 31 to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act for another five years. The 1994 law gives federal law enforcement agencies tools to combat crime against women. The reauthorization adds provisions relating to Native American and immigrant women, and sexual orientation. The House is likely to pass a bill similar to the current authorization.
By 68 yeas to 31 nays (Vote No. 87), Senate passed S. 1925, to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act of 1994.
KANSAS SENATORS PAT ROBERTS AND JERRY MORAN BOTH VOTED AGAINST THE PASSAGE OF THIS BILL.

Sen. Marco Rubio – a strong contender for the GOP vice-presidential nomination – is finding his vote against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act to be a source of controversy.

Rubio was on the short end of a 68-31 vote in the U.S. Senate on Thursday. And with women’s issues hotly contested in the run-up to the presidential election, Floridians Saturday marched in Tallahassee, Orlando and Fort Lauderdale, vowing a strong turnout at the polls on such matters as abortion, contraception, women’s health care and services for those who have been battered or raped.

“If they want war, they will get war,” shouted Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, at the Old Capitol. “It won’t come with guns or knives, but something the Republicans fear even more – our votes.”

4/17/2012

WOMEN STILL EARN AN AVERAGE OF 77 CENTS FOR EVERY DOLLAR MEN MAKE….

Filed under: prairie musings, political musings, Civil/Gay Rights, Women's Rights — Peg Britton @ 5:17 pm

Today is Equal Pay Day. The sad fact is, in 2012, American women still earn an average of only 77 cents for every dollar men make. This terrible wage gap has dire consequences for not only women, but for their families as well.

But Republicans think that 77 cents is more than enough for women. Just a few weeks ago, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker repealed an equal pay law, yet again turning the clocks back. When Mitt Romney campaigned in Wisconsin, he repeatedly called Scott Walker a “hero” and a “man of courage.” And just last week, Republican Pete Hoekstra, running for Senate in Michigan against EMILY’s List champion Debbie Stabenow, called the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act “a nuisance.”

Let’s get real: there’s nothing courageous about attacking the economic security of women and their families. Rolling back equal pay laws is just another battle in the Republican War on Women. And we’re simply not going to stand for it.

From Emily’s List.

3/15/2012

THE FAR RIGHT’S TOP 10 TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO GOOD, VERY BAD ATTACKS ON WOMEN’S RIGHTS…

Filed under: political musings, LGBT, Civil/Gay Rights — Peg Britton @ 8:17 am

From EMILY’S LIST: Top 10 Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Attacks on Women’s Rights

By Alison McQuade on 03/14/2012 @ 10:50 AM

Tags: Why Women

The Right Wing decided it wanted to play Monday Morning Quarterback with my lady parts this year. It seems like an odd choice for a recreational activity, especially since there’s no legislative or medical reason to suddenly introduce radically restrictive and dangerous legislation on women’s health and bodies. Maybe someone should introduce them to Pinterest instead.

Here are our Top 10 Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Attacks on Women’s Rights (just in the last 6 months!)

1.   The Blunt Amendment. Reasonable religious exemptions weren’t enough for Roy Blunt. This amendment would have allowed your employer – not your doctor - to decide what kind of health care you could get based on his or her own personal moral or religious convictions.

2.   The All-Male Birth Control Panel, or the Man Panel. Congressman Darrell Issa convened a panel to discuss the coverage of birth control – but refused to include any women.

3.    Susan G. Komen Foundation defunds Planned Parenthood. Komen opted to cut off funding to the largest provider of reproductive health services in the US because of their new VP’s objection to a mere 3% of their activities.

4.    Rush Limbaugh Calls Sandra Fluke a Prostitute and a Slut. After Sandra Fluke stood up for women everywhere, Rush Limbaugh took to the airwaves and called her a prostitute and a slut for speaking out in favor of birth control coverage. He also said she should have to put videos of her having sex online to compensate the taxpayers who “are going to pay for your contraceptives.” Classy.

5.    Forced Trans-Vaginal Ultrasounds. Republican legislators in Virginia invited the commonwealth into the exam room when they proposed a bill that would require women seeking abortions to undergo an invasive, medically-unnecessary vaginal probe before their procedure.

6.    Texas defunds Planned Parenthood. Under Governor Rick Perry, the state of Texas banned funding to Planned Parenthood because it provides abortion services. In the end, though, this fight has only served to hurt low-income women looking for breast cancer screenings, birth control and pap smears.

7.    Women in the Military Should “Expect” to be Raped. Responding to a 64% increase in the reports of rape and violent sexual assaults in the military, Fox News pundit Liz Trotta responds, “What did they expect?” She goes on to say that there is a bureaucracy of people to support these women who are being “raped too much.”

8.    Foster Friess Suggests Women Put Aspirin Between Their Knees. Rick Santorum supporter, Foster Friess, reminisced about back in his day when ladies put aspirin between their knees for birth control. Back in his day, people also died of polio.

9.    Santorum wants to deny birth control coverage because he thinks it’s available and affordable. Despite the fact that most forms of birth control still require a prescription and 1 in 3 women have reported struggling to afford birth control. Santorum feels there is no barrier to access, so it shouldn’t be covered by insurance.

10.    Mitt Romney doesn’t understand a woman’s reproductive system. Romney has publicly supported “personhood amendments,” which would ban abortion by declaring life begins at conception. When asked about how this affects birth control, Romney seemed to be completely unaware that hormonal forms of birth control stop implantation, not conception and would be banned under any personhood amendment.

3/2/2012

THINK !!!

Filed under: prairie musings, LGBT, Civil/Gay Rights — Peg Britton @ 9:37 am

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