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Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood/And sorry I was they diverged so little

The two Republican presidential candidates vying to knock out Donald Trump have taken different tacks on dealing with gay and lesbian issues in the 2016 campaign.

Marco Rubio has issued murky, contradictory statements that either reflect early issues with that malfunctioning memorization chip, or a desire to obfuscate in favor of a broader, religious liberties theme.

Ted Cruz has been virulently and openly antigay from the start of his campaign, running discrimination as a parallel track to his religious freedom pitches.

Rubio took an early lead in endorsements from evangelicals in the upscale and academic ends of the community, and, after a successful closed-door meeting last fall, unveiled a fifteen-member religious liberty advisory board on January 6.

Cruz took until the day after his rather poor Super Tuesday showing to unveil his own 19-member board.

Both are similar. Rubio includes two Hispanics (oddly, one- Sam Rodriguez, serves on both men’s boards); Cruz has one. Cruz has three black members to Rubio’s one. Rubio’s panel includes two Jews and one Orthodox seminary dean. Cruz has gone the straight, hardline evangelical churches route. Four of his 19 members are from the Carolinas.

Rubio’s has considerable more intellectual firepower; Cruz has gone for name recognition. While Rubio has two leaders from the antigay litigation shop Alliance Defending Freedom on his team; Cruz has Tony Perkins as his board chair, with a deputy, Len Blackwell, too. Ryan Anderson, of Jim DeMint’s once-respected Heritage Foundation, is about the all intellectual heft the group can summon. The rest are major-leaguers in the antigay movement, including several so far out as to frequently be called crackpots.

Rubio's lead staffer for religious liberty is Eric Teetsel, who came from a job directing the Manhattan Declaration, an organization founded to promote an anti gay, anti choice manifesto crafted by former National Organization for Marriage cofounder Robert P. George and former Watergate felon Charles Colson. The advisory council’s members are:

-Dr. Carlos Campo, President, Ashland University. Another “moderate” Hispanic on immigration (see Samuel Rodriquez, below), Campo was previously president of Pat Robertson’s Regent University, where he was forced out a few weeks into his third year on the job in 2013.

-Vincent Bacote, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Theology and Director of Center for Applied Christian Ethics, Wheaton College

-Kyle Duncan, former general counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and lead counsel for the Green family in the Hobby Lobby case. The Becket Fund has been called “God’s Rottweilers” in Politico. See also Michael McConnell, below.

-Tom Farr, Ph.D., Director, Religious Freedom Project at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs and Associate Professor of the Practice of Religion and World Affairs, Georgetown University

-Kellie Fiedorek, Legal Counsel, Alliance Defending Freedom. One of two ADF leaders on the board. See Doug Napier, below. Fiedorek argues that the “agenda to expand sexual liberty and redefine marriage” puts religious liberty in “great peril.” She has compared business owners who refuse to provide wedding-related services to same-sex couples to Rosa Parks.

-Wayne Grudem, Ph.D., Research Professor of Theology and Biblical Studies, Phoenix Seminary. The Washington Blade reports, “Grudem argues that God will hold people accountable for shaping laws to meet biblical standards. Grudem has promoted a chart on how to “defeat the enemy’s plan” in politics. He has said that religious freedom makes it legal in the U.S. to have a Muslim mosque or a Buddhist temple, “but that doesn’t mean it’s morally right for people to seek to come to God that way….”

-The Very Rev. Dr. Chad Hatfield, Chancellor, St. Vladimir's Orthodox Seminary

-Dr. Thomas Kidd, Distinguished Professor of History and Associate Director, Institute for Studies of Religion, Baylor University. In an article last year, Kidd advocated for the “American Benedict Option” advocated by conservative writer Rod Dreher: “As dismaying as the Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage was, there was something especially painful about seeing the White House lit up that evening with the rainbow colors of the gay pride flag. It almost seemed sacrilegious. But “sacrilegious” is not quite right, because Washington, D.C., has nothing to do with our eternal Jerusalem.

“Perhaps the best thing that can come out of the gay marriage decision is for the church to make a final break between our faith and our nation.”

-Dr. Daniel Mark, Villanova University; Commissioner, United States Commission on International Religious Freedom. Mark is a conservative Jew whose views on religious freedom and the family are widely praised by Mormon leaders. He has stopped shy of the absolutist view that religious liberty trumps all competing rights, but where the line gets drawn is not clear.

-Michael McConnell, Richard and Frances Mallery Professor and director of the Constitutional Law Center, Stanford University Law School. McConnell. Once touted as a Supreme Court prospect, McConnell was a protege of Justice Antonin Scalia and a vigorous advocate of Scalia’s originalist theories of individual and corporate rights. He resigned from the US Court of Appeals in 2009, after seven years, to join the Stanford faculty. He runs a religious liberty law clinic at Stanford that was funded by $1.6 million steered to Stanford by the Becket Fund in 2013. Becket Fund attorneys appear in Rick Santorum’s 2014 movie, “One Generation Away: The Erosion of Religious Liberty.” See also Kyle Duncan, above.

-Doug Napier, Senior Counsel and Executive Vice President, Alliance Defending Freedom. ADF is one of the leading nonprofit antigay litigation firms in America, representing marriage equality martyrs like Barronelle Stutzman and Aaron and Melissa Klein (who recently dumped ADF for a more upscale group headed by former Bush legal counsel Boyden Gray). See also Kellie Fiedorek, above, another ADF executive.

-Rev. Dr. Samuel Rodriguez, President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. Rodriguez also sits on Cruz’s board (see below).

-Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik, Rabbi of Congregation Shearith Israel; Director of the Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought, Yeshiva University. In a 2003 article in the conservative Catholic magazine First Things, Soloveitchik argued, hate is an acceptable response to one's enemies as a principle of the religious tradition of which Christianity is an eschatological riff: Judaism. Soloveichik gives the story of Samson as an example, noting,

“A theological chasm remains between the Jewish and Christian viewpoints on the matter. As we can see from Samson's rage, Judaism believes that while forgiveness is often a virtue, hate can be virtuous when one is dealing with the frightfully wicked. Rather than forgive, we can wish ill; rather than hope for repentance, we can instead hope that our enemies experience the wrath of God.”

-Rick Warren, Founding Pastor of Saddleback Church. Warren’s closeness to Republican candidates was strained by his speaking at President Obama’s first inauguration. He has likened supporters of marriage equality to those of Adolf Hitler.

-Thomas White, Ph.D., President and Professor of Theology, Cedarville University.

Cruz had a troika of religious outreach staffers. E.C. Sykes, a technology executive between jobs, headed it until last month, when he became president and CEO of Black Box Technology. A member of the Pilgrim’s Pride corporation’s owners- and former big Huckabee bundler, and a women who came from Phyllis Schlafly's radio show and a series of anti choice groups, do the legwork. Here’s the Crux team:

Chair – Tony Perkins, President, Family Research Council. Perkins is a former Louisiana legislator who heads what is perhaps the nation’s most enthusiastically vituperative antigay organization, dubbed a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Among his past and present employees is Ken Blackwell (see below), and accused child molester, adulterer and reality TV star Josh Duggar. Peter Sprigg, a vice president of FRC, won fame some years ago, calling on the deportation of gays from America.

-Ryan Anderson, Ph.D., William E. Simon Senior Research Fellow, Heritage Foundation. Anderson, 34, is the hot new face of the antigay movement, hipster beard and all. All he writes about his traditional marriage from his perspective as a single man. Anderson says it is now harder to come out as a Christian than as being gay.

-Dr. Tony Beam, Vice President for Student Services and Christian Worldview, North Greenville University. NGU is the city’s other, less famous right-wing evangelical school, after Bob Jones University. Beam has worried that marriage equality will bar the school from getting federal funds if it insists on sticking with its discriminatory policies. Its president retired suddenly last year after his son outed him as an adulterer on YouTube.

-David Benham and Jason Benham, entrepreneurs. The North Carolina real-estate flippers HGTV show was cancelled in 2014 over their strident antigay campaigning. They have been making the gay marriage victims circuit since. Their father is a street preacher whose Bible only treats Hell and the gays.

-Ambassador Ken Blackwell, Former US Ambassador to the UN for Human Rights. A rare African-American Ohio pol in the 1980s and ‘90s, Blackwell ran for Congress in 1990 and lost, and for governor of Ohio, losing by 24% in 2006. He won national fame presiding over the disputed Bush elections of 2000 and 2004. He ran for chair of the Republican National Committee in 2009 and lost. He is a fellow at the Family Research Institute (see Tony Perkins, above).

-Teresa S. Collett, Professor, University of St. Thomas. A 2010 Republican congressional candidate in Minnesota, she was described by a local paper as “a lawyer with degrees from the University of Oklahoma and the University of Oklahoma College of Law, and a current law professor at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis [who] has a storied career of legal representation, both as a board member of Alliance for Marriage, a group opposing gay marriage, and as a legal expert on anti-choice legislation (or, as she allegedly refers to it, a “hired gun“).”

-Jim Garlow, Ph.D., Pastor, Skyline Church, San Diego, CA. A participant in the Vatican’s conference on families in 2014, As Right Wing Watch first reported, Skyline Church Pastor Jim Garlow suggested that same-sex marriage supporters should relocate to homes with improper plumbing in a "Point Of View" radio program discussion, in which he also spoke about his participation in a recent Vatican summit.

"All the people who advocate for so-called same-sex marriage ought to have to live in homes in which the plumbers who built them, or the electricians who built them, didn't understand the difference between the male and female end of piping or plumbing or of electrical as well, and see how that works for them," he said.

He then added, "It doesn't work."

The comments are perhaps less surprising given Garlow's history. In 2013, he told the Christian Broadcasting Network that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) couples don't actually have "much interest in marriage."

"There isn’t that much interest in commitment and monogamy," Garlow, who was reportedly instrumental in organizing conservative religious groups to support California's Proposition 8, declared. "It isn’t there ... It’s attempting to force us to affirm a lifestyle."

Previously, he attacked President Barack Obama's policies on healthcare and marriage equality, and predicted that abortion clinics will become "killing center" museums that people will tour in a fashion similar to modern-day tours of Nazi concentration camps, reports Raw Story.

Earlier this year, he suggested that comedian Joan Rivers, who died in September, would go to hell because of her "potty mouth."

-Dr. Mark Harris, Pastor, First Baptist Church, Charlotte, NC. Harris is a former North Carolina Baptist Convention president who ran for the 2014 Republican nomination for the US Senate. He was a leading backer of the state’s short-lived anti-marriage-equality constitutional amendment and over the last year has been a prominent bathroom panic opponent of Charlotte’s anti discrimination ordinance.

-Pastor Jack Hibbs, Calvary Chapel Chino Hills, CA. Hibbs was a Prop 8 warrior whose views run along these lines: ““The indoctrination of our children regarding gay and lesbian, transgender lifestyles and practices as it relates to state history, as it relates to US history, and as it relates to our own economy…This new teaching, frankly, comes against the very ministry of Jesus Christ, the word of God, and you and I.

“If we don’t stop it, this will be the indoctrination of our children, on our watch…There’s no opting out for your student, they must take this course, there’s no getting away from it.”

-Bishop Harry Jackson, Senior Pastor, Hope Christian Church, Bishop, International Communion of Evangelical Church. Jackson is a career antigay activist in the Washington, D.C. area. In 2013 the blogger Joe.My.God summed him up: “Harry Jackson files a SCOTUS brief in support of Prop 8. Harry Jackson says polygamy will automatically become legal if DOMA is struck down. Harry Jackson says gay people are wolves in the dog park. Harry Jackson speaks in tongues against gay perversion.  Harry Jackson puts a gay newspaper out of business by the power of his prayers. Harry Jackson blames the bad economy on lack of love for Jesus.  Harry Jackson says God has been against gay marriage since the creation of the universe…”

-Richard Lee, Ph.D., President, There’s Hope America

Paige Patterson, Ph.D, President, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Last year he responded to the Obergefell decision with comments beginning, “A five-to-four decision of the nation’s highest court to redefine the nature of marriage plays with far more than a definition of terms. Homosexual sin, like my sin and your sin, has a long history. But seldom has anyone had the chutzpah to assume such authority as to deny the authority of the God of all law, trash the Genesis creation order, and plunge a country into a dark abyss. New Testament Christianity has never sought to invade the private domains of individuals with a series of legal mandates. Ours is to love all women and men and faithfully disseminate the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ to all who will hear. We grieve when some do not hear, but we grant them the right inherent in their humanity to chart a course far from that revealed by the Lord.

“But today’s anticipated decision is a decision of five people in a country of millions to call something right that God has already called wrong. Isaiah noted “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil; who put darkness for light and light for darkness…” (Isaiah 5:20). A dark day overtakes us when the supreme court of the land empties the meaning from a concept that God has given. The mischief that will emerge from this ruling across the years to come will know little respite and trigger enormous suffering for believers and unbelievers alike.”

-Everett Piper, Ph.D., President, Oklahoma Wesleyan University, was the closing speaker at last November’s World Conference of Families, an antigay group, in Salt Lake City. He gave a stemwinder speech deriding most people and most things; One of Piper’s talking points is that “opinions are dangerous; truth sets us free.” Among the dangerous people who had opinions, he notes, were Pol Pot, Mao, Robespierre, Chavez, Hitler and Mussolini.

-Jay Richards, Ph.D., Assistant Research Professor, School of Business & Economics, The Catholic University of America, is a prominent intelligent design/creationist advocate.

-Steve Riggle, Ph.D., Senior Pastor, Grace Community Church, is a Houston-area minister who led the repeal of the city’s anti-discrimination ordinance.

-Reverend Samuel Rodriguez, Ph.D., President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. Rodriguez founded his evangelical group in 2000 and also sits on Marco Rubio’s board, above. He often fronts for rightwing groups as a moderate because of his views on immigration, but has been a hard-right antigay campaigner for years.

-Kelly Shackelford, President and CEO, First Liberty Institute. Founded as the Free Market Institute in 1972, this nonprofit has since shifted focus to providing pro bono legal assistance to people of faith and organizations that they believe are suffering religious persecution in the United States.

-Carol Swain, Ph.D., Professor of Political Science and Professor of Law, Vanderbilt University. Professor Swain was the subject of a petition for removal signed by 1500 Vanderbilt students alleging that she regularly slurs minorities in her classes and her many appearances in right-wing media.

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