A Critical Look at Preserve Marriage Washington’s Talking Points

Preserve Marriage Washington, the organization trying to repeal Washington’s new marriage equality law, recently urged supporters to download campaign flyers and hand them out to friends and neighbors. Although the PMW website has long displayed the slogans, talking points and essays provided by its parent organization National Organization for Marriage, the new flyers should indicate which talking points PMW has decided to emphasize in the closing months of the campaign. Let’s have a look at a few of them:

Talking Point 1

R-74 will grant same-sex couples NO new rights whatsoever…Washington law already provides full legal equality for same-sex couples, and the legislature is free to enact additional laws if such are needed. But we do not need to redefine marriage to do so.

Referendum 74 will grant same-sex couples a new right: the right to get a civil marriage license. Same-sex couples won’t have full legal equality until they have the same access to civil marriage licenses that different-sex couples do. This is why bipartisan majorities in the Washington state Legislature passed the marriage equality law and Gov. Gregoire signed it; in the words of PMW, they had determined that “additional laws…are needed”. Washington voters must Approve Referendum 74 in November to uphold the new marriage equality law and put same-sex and different-sex couples on equal legal footing.

Unless Referendum 74 is approved, same-sex couples in Washington would also be deprived of full legal equality under federal law once the federal defense of marriage act is repealed or ruled unconstitutional. This is because the federal government only recognizes civil marriages and not domestic partnerships, so Washington State Registered Domestic Partners would not qualify for the over 1,000 federal rights, responsibilities and benefits available only to married couples. These include filing joint federal income tax returns and qualifying for military family benefits and Social Security survivor benefits.

As for the claim that permitting same-sex couples access to civil marriage somehow “redefines marriage”, laws permitting civil marriage for same-sex couples don’t change the definition of marriage any more than permitting blacks and women to vote changed the definition of voting. What those laws do is extend access to civil marriage to couples of the same sex.

Talking Point 2

Children need a mother and a father.

This is really a veiled complaint that same-sex couples and single parents are raising children, a fact that is unaffected by Washington’s marriage laws. Over 21% of same-sex couples in the Pacific states are raising children. Preventing those couples from marrying does nothing to change this fact, but it does send the children of gay and lesbian parents the unconscionable message that their families are inferior and undeserving of the stability and security that marriage provides. Anyone who truly cares about the welfare of children will want to permit all parents access to civil marriage.

The subtext of “Children need a mother and a father” and similar statements is that children raised by gay and lesbian parents are more likely to turn out to be gay. But as then-Governor of California Ronald Reagan famously said “homosexuality is not a contagious disease like the measles”. Scientific studies have since supported his conclusion. So too does the realization that the vast majority of gay people were raised by heterosexual parents to be heterosexual, yet they turned out to be gay. Sexual orientation clearly cannot be caught, taught, or coerced.

Talking Point 3

Same sex couples are entitled to respect and to live as they choose, but there is no right to redefine marriage for all society.

This sentence is drawn almost verbatim from National Organization for Marriage’s playbook. NOM considers it the “most effective single sentence” among their talking points because it allows users to sound tolerant while avoiding discussion of their intent: banning access to civil marriage for same-sex couples.

Contrary to the talking point, NOM and PMW do not want same-sex couples to be able to live as they choose. If they did, they wouldn’t be trying to bar their access to marriage licenses.

But it’s not just a disagreement over civil marriage. NOM and PMW oppose any kind of legal recognition for same-sex couples. PMW’s chairman Joseph Backholm actively opposed the passage of Washington’s domestic partnership law, and NOM financially supported the anti-domestic partnership campaign.

As far as “redefining marriage for all in society”, even Mr. Backholm admits that the marriages of heterosexual couples will not be affected if Referendum 74 is approved. In a recent interview, Publicola asked Mr. Backholm: “Can you point to any of the states where gay marriage is legal—say, in Massachusetts or New York or Vermont—and say that straight marriage has been eroded and hurt or affected by gay couples?”

Mr. Backholm answered: “You know, my relationship with my wife or anybody’s relationship with their friends or their girlfriends or their spouses or whatever, is not, at the micro level, necessarily going to be affected by what happens.”

The only people affected by same-sex marriage are the couples who enter into one.

H/T David Hart

Late Late Night FDL – Limbo: The Organized Mind

Jim Henson and Dave GoelzLimbo: The Organized Mind combining live puppetry with pre-recorded film on The Tonight Show, January 23, 1974.

From the show more on the Youtube page:

Henson and Goelz treat Johnny Carson and the Tonight Show audience to a journey through the brain, as an abstracted, hand-operated face narrates the passage through organic structures like his medulla oblongata, and cerebrum, and the seats of things less definable, like thoughts of his family, thoughts of his enemies, his “extra-special section of good thoughts,” his evil thoughts, and his fears. The score comes from electronic composition pioneer Raymond Scott, whose 1964 album Soothing Sounds for Baby has won great respect among enthusiasts of ambient music.

Grab your popcorn, put your feet up on the coffee table, and try to keep the spitballs off the screen please. This is Late Late Night FireDogLake, where off topic is the topic … so dive in. What’s on your mind?

Late Night: Conventional (and Post-Conventional) Warfare

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So, for an incumbent president with an appallingly high unemployment rate hanging around his neck and an opposition in the process of outspending him by gazillions of dollars, you have to figure Barack Obama came out of that Republican convention feeling okay, right?

I mean, instead of presenting himself as the right man for this moment — someone with the passion and personality (let alone the policies) to put a troubled America on a better path, like Bill Clinton in 1992 or Ronald Reagan in 1980 — supposed super-manager Mitt Romney allowed himself to be upstaged by an aging movie star in a live prime-time debacle so surreal and unprecedented that it inspired Billmon to end a two-year blogging hiatus.

Even with Clint Eastwood’s awkward and overhyped cameo, though, Romney’s own message was muddled… which, granted, isn’t very surprising.  As plenty of people have noted, if there was a compelling positive case to be made for a Romney presidency, his campaign team would have unveiled it long before this week.  And their initial, economically focused anti-Obama message has fallen by the wayside as well, as polls consistently demonstrated that although voters are unsatisfied with the economy, they haven’t given up on this president off the way they did George H.W. Bush (against Clinton) and Jimmy Carter (against Reagan).

So, recognizing that they were playing a losing hand, Team Romney has quickly proceeded into the desperate-stunts phase of the campaign, beginning with the panicky early naming of Paul Ryan as the VP candidate and culminating in the backfiring Eastwood appearance at the convention.

Then again, they do have that gazillion dollars in advertising money to fall back on.  So, just as they exploited a window of opportunity last month to bash Romney before the conventions, Obama and his advisers will have to seize this coming week to take control of the political conversation — if only to get enough momentum to hold on through the GOP media barrage until the televised debates in October.

Expect to see not just the usual (if belatedly embraced) populist message of fighting for the middle class, but an aggressive attack on the Romney/Ryan ticket’s honesty — the kind of theme that can act as a blanket disqualifier for those low-attention swing voters who get confused by policy specifics.  We got a taste of it a few months ago, but expect the spigot to be opened full blast now.

Personally, I’m expecting an ad sometime in the next few weeks that starts with the “Etch-a-Sketch” clip up above, skims through a few quick flip-flops on key issues, then ends with Romney’s smarmy “You’ll have to take my word for it” remark about his tax returns.  In fact, I’ll be a little disappointed if it doesn’t happen.

Note to disorganized progressives, Jill Stein, etc. Tea Party Nation is using the 2012 election to grow the Tea Party.

I’m on the mailing list of Tea Party Nation, and got an email from them, today. Tea Party Nation has published ugly, disgraceful claptrap on it’s website; the one that I clearly remember involved calling the Occupy Wall Street encampments “rape camps”. Cenk Uyghur got Breitbart on video, wherein he basically admitted that this was payback for smearing the Tea Partiers as racists. Apparently, the Tea Party smear merchants flunked 1st grade Sunday School….

In spite of their character defects, the Tea Parties nevertheless show more political intelligence and backbone than progressives. Furthermore, there are signs that they’re getting smarter, politically. Which is more than I can say about progressives.

No matter what happens on election day, it sure seems to me that the Tea Party will grow more influential in the weeks and years, following. At least, they have such a notion, in their heads. I suppose that the Tea Parties are roughly analogous to the PDA. However, I don’t see that the PDA rises to this level of purposefulness in growing their organization right along with 2012 electioneering.

Here is their latest email, where I have added bolding:

Monday is Labor Day, the official start of the “campaign season”, and I need your help.

We need to raise $23,562 by Monday to pay for our recruitment efforts, to help build tea party organizations across America and to make sure every single American understands what the Obama agenda of higher taxes and reckless government spending has done to our great country.

Victory over the big government liberals starts today.

Please make a generous contribution of $25, $35, $50, $100, $250 or more to Tea Party Patriots right away.

The sad truth is that we can’t really depend on the politicians – even the Republicans – to always do the right thing and fight for our conservative values.

The Tea Party movement was started because ordinary Americans like you and me concluded that we needed to take matters into our own hands. We needed to take to the streets and rally. We needed write letters to the editor and phone our congressmen.

We needed to take a stand.

So, we stood. We fought. And we won a great many battles.

We’ve helped rejuvenate the Republican Party and are slowly dragging it back to its limited government roots.

However, we still have so far to go.

Please make the most generous contribution you can to Tea Party Patriots right away. This fall we need to fight harder than ever to defeat Obama’s big government agenda. And to make sure the Republicans do the same.

America’s fate is in our hands.

It is so important to for us to get organized now. We need to build new Tea Party organization where there are none.

And we need to help established Tea Party groups grow bigger and stronger.

That’s why we’ve set this goal of raising $23,562 by Labor Day.

This fundraising drive will help pay for the largest national organizing and voter education blitz in Tea Party history.

Please donate what you can.

Remember, Tea Party Patriots is not a big bureaucratic political party committee or a special interest PAC funded by one or two super-wealthy donors.

We are a true grassroots bottom-up organization comprised of local Tea Party groups in every state in the union.

And we can make a HUGE impact this fall. If we have your help.

Please make the very most generous contribution you possibly can. Our goal is to raise $23,562 by the beginning of the campaign season on Monday!

Thank you in advance for your help.

For Liberty,

Jenny Beth Martin, Co-Founder and National Coordinator
And the National Coordinator Team

PS: A great way to help assure the long-term health of our movement is to join Tea Party Patriots’ First Brigade program. Just click here to learn how you can make small automatic donations to help us keep fighting!

Labor Day Weekend, 2012 Economic Report

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Well, here we are once again. Labor Day weekend has rolled around; the time when all the politicians extol the virtues of the working man and woman. But as I pointed out last year, once a year praise by Beltway Village Idiots Politicians and Pundits or the local equivalent of same, does not actually make someone a friend of workers.

Just last night, if you were so inclined, you may have listened to Mitt Rmoney talk about workers:

You deserved it because during these years, you worked harder than ever before. You deserved it because when it cost more to fill up your car, you cut out movie nights and put in longer hours. Or when you lost that job that paid $22.50 an hour with benefits, you took two jobs at 9 bucks an hour and fewer benefits. You did it because your family depended on you. You did it because you’re an American and you don’t quit. You did it because it was what you had to do.

Emptywheel does a wonderful job of parsing and eviscerating that paragraph of Rmoney’s speech here:

The passage is fundamentally important to the logic of the speech–and indeed, Mitt’s entire campaign–both because it pretends Mitt understands the struggles of average people and because it suggests Obama failed to deliver on Hope and Change.


The average self-reported hourly wage of a Staples EasyTech Associate is $8.89. The average self-reported hourly wage of a Staples Sales Associate is $8.54.

Those jobs Mitt talked about as a symbol of America’s failed promise, the ones that don’t pay a living wage? That’s what Mitt’s campaign boasted about last night as his idea of an “engine of prosperity.”

And it was an engine of prosperity, for Mitt, for Stemberg. Mitt’s worth at least $250 million. Stemberg is reportedly worth $202 million. And they got that money by running an engine of prosperity that relies on workers who are Mitt’s own example of the failure of the American dream. “This just wasn’t right,” Mitt said himself. (Not to mention that some of the steel jobs Mitt destroyed probably were $22.50 an hour jobs, with benefits.)

A bit over a year and a half ago, I wrote this post, Let’s Play With Some Numbers, where I put together what a single person with a full time job making minimum wage would have to deal with. And of course, few jobs paying minimum wage are actually remotely close to being ‘full-time.’

Today’s (Friday, August 31, 2012) NY Times had this article headlined with opening paragraph: [cont’d.] (more…)

Watercooler: Revs4Romney

Hi, y’all.

I’ve been visiting Chicago for about a week, and enjoying the company of some excellent Occupy Chicago activists.

They kept mentioning Revs4Romney, and I finally watched the campaign video tonight.

Here it is for your enjoyment.

I’m looking forward to a lovely weekend in Chicago. I hope you are too. Got any plans?

This is the latest myFDL open thread. What’s on your mind?

p.s. Check out this video of Chicago’s infamous Officer Hansen interrupting me at General Assembly.

David Brooks Is Much Younger Than He Looks

David Brooks lectures at a podium
Brooks went gray so young! (photo: Miller Center/flickr)

That is the only conclusion that readers of David Brooks’ column could reach. After all, he tells us:

Today’s Republican Party unabashedly celebrates this ambition and definition of success. Speaker after speaker at the convention in Tampa, Fla., celebrated the striver, who started small, struggled hard, looked within and became wealthy. …

Republicans promised to get government out of the way. Reduce the burden of debt. Offer Americans an open field and a fair chance to let their ambition run.

He then adds:

On the one hand, you see the Republicans taking the initiative, offering rejuvenating reform. On the other hand, you see an exhausted Democratic Party, which says: We don’t have an agenda, but we really don’t like theirs. Given these options, the choice is pretty clear.

If Brooks was as old as he looks he would remember that back in 1980 Ronald Reagan promised to cut taxes and get government out of the way. However he must not be old enough to have been following politics way back then.

Of course if Brooks was as old as he looked, he certainly would be able to remember back to 2000, when George W. Bush promised to cut taxes and get government out of the way. However Brooks must not be old enough to have been following politics back in 2000 either.

If he were old enough to remember Reagan, or at least Bush, he would realize that Governor Romney and Representative Ryan are simply rehashing tired old rhetoric about individuals striving to succeed and how this benefits everyone. He would remember that we tried their route. The 1980s we had what was at the time the slowest decade of growth since the Great Depression, and the growth we had overwhelmingly went to those at the top. Workers in the middle and bottom of the distribution saw their wages stagnate.

We then went the same route in the last decade. This led to a completely lost decade for the economy, with the worst downturn since the Great Depression (which happened before President Obama took office).

While it is certainly fair to blame the Democrats for not being full of creative ideas, the reason that we are facing the economic disaster we now have is due to the fact that we followed the path that Romney and Ryan are now pushing. If Brooks were as old as he looks he could be blamed for having so little knowledge of the country’s recent political history, but this young man will just have to do a bit more homework so that he can recognize rehashed rhetoric and old tired ideas.

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economy and Policy Research. He also writes a regular blog, Beat the Press, where this post original appeared

Demonstration Turns Ugly at the RNC

“USA!!! USA!!!” they chanted at us to drown out our own chants of “DREAM ACT AND FULL EQUALITY!” The gay priest was at the front of our little group, and a balding man with a red face and sunglasses got within a few inches of his face to scream. Balding Guy, a member of Gay Priest’s former congregation, grabbed the priest and pushed him back violently. The next thing I knew, a man in a cowboy hat and large, crooked, cigarette-stained teeth that he was baring bulled his way into our priest. Erika was behind him, and took a misfired punch in the face as Cigarette Teeth barreled forward, cursing, swinging and pushing. A few people were sent back into me, and for a minute there he stood in front of me in the open. I wasn’t sure if I should take a swing or not to slow the guy down for my friends. Erika was stumbling backwards into Felipe and Mayra. Mayra was tiny, so Felipe grabbed her as the crowd was isolating her from the group. Both Balding Guy and Cigarette Teeth ultimately ignored the neatly dressed redhead with the camera while he and a few other self-appointed redneck peacekeepers pushed them past me while I trailed behind.

“You see, Obama was an organizer, and organizers have no experience creating jobs. They’re just agitators, looking to force a few corporations to make concessions, which a few of the weak ones do” she told me. She was a 52-year-old woman standing next to me in a blue Romney shirt. Sweating alongside her while someone 20 feet to our left hit the ground from heat exhaustion was a white haired friend. They both wore blue Romney shirts and a rhinestone elephant pin. I told them that I was an undecided Independent just here to cover the RNC, and they instantly became hardcore evangelists, asking me if I liked taxation and big government, clapping their hands and then saying “then you know who to vote for” after I answered. Traveling across the country, you learn that EVERYONE lives in some sort of bubble, though for these Floridians it seemed far stronger than normal.

The Roundup for August 31, 2012

Here we are at the end of the week and the end of the month–and a blue moon on the horizon!

International Developments

? “South Africa’s justice minister has demanded an explanation after 270 miners were charged with the murder of their colleagues who were shot by police. The decision by state prosecutors to charge them “under the apartheid-era ‘common purpose’ doctrine” has been “condemned by constitutional lawyers”, and the Justice Minister is demanding the prosecution “furnish me with a report explaining the rationale behind such a decision.” As one analyst noted, “By pursuing murder charges, the state is seen as choosing business over its people.”

? “In some respects to call this the ‘Syrian civil war’ is almost a misnomer.” There are “‘many wars going on at the same time: proxy war between the US and Russia, between Sunni Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey against Shiah [sic] Iran, between Salfists and secularists, between democrats and supporters of dictatorship.” And innocent people are paying a terrible price.

International Finance

? A “record 18 million in July” were unemployed in the eurozone. That number included 88,000 people who become unemployed during the month.

? It’s come to this: “Spain creates ‘bad bank’ for toxic property assets: The Spanish government is creating a ‘bad bank’ into which all the toxic property assets of its debt-laden banking sector can be off-loaded.”

? Oh, my. “A Japanese court on Friday dismissed Apple’s patent infringement claim against Samsung, a significant legal bounceback for the South Korean tech giant as the rivals wage a global battle over intellectual property.”

Money Matters USA

? “5 Charts That Show America‘s Middle Class Has Deteriorated”–and how!

? The fiscal crisis states and cities are in is “a godsend . . . to wall Street strategists” since it “gives creditors financial leverage to push through anti-labor policies and privatization grabs . . . cutting back pensions and health care, defaulting on pension promises to labor, and selling off the public sector, letting the new proprietors . . . put up tollbooths on everything from roads to schools.”

? Resolving student loan debts is a distinct legal effort–judges have to determine whether “good-faith effort” to repay has been made and whether the borrower has a good chance in the future to repay the loan. Despite many hurdles, “57% of bankrupt debtors [in one area] who initiated an undue hardship adversary proceeding were able to get some or all of their loans discharged.”

Politics USA

? Defense Dept General Counsel Jeh Johnson has informed the former Navy SEAL who authored the book, “No Easy Day”, describing the raid and killing of Osama bin Laden, that “he violated agreements to not divulge military secrets and that . . . the Pentagon is considering taking legal action against him.”

? After polling its members, the MO Farm Bureau is reconsidering its endorsement of Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akin.

? Akin has a friend over in PA, one Tom Smith, Republican running for the Senate, who thinks out-of-wedlock pregnancy is similar to rape and that women speaking together during a campaign event are “gals” “talking about shoes”.

? “Exclusive Interview With Invisible Mitt Romney.”

? A “real” interview with @InvisibleObama, the Twitter Sensation.

? Al Gore has come to the conclusion that the Electoral College really needs to go. Video.

? The Car Czar, Steve Rattner, revealed that Paul Ryan did contact him about reopening GM’s Janesville, WI plant. Rattner said he told Ryan which plants to close or keep was the car companies’ decision and not the Obama Administration’s.

? The Republican platform on crime is surprising. They didn’t mention the War on Drugs nor being “tough on crime”, instead emphasizing rehabilitation and reducing recidivism. Partly libertarian influence? Partly the reality that states are struggling with the escalating costs of booming incarcerations?

? Chris Hayes’ book, “Twilight of the Elites”, receives piercing scrutiny from Freddie deBoer. “Hayes looks out at a burning house and with true moral convictions and unsparing vision, describes it. He then proposes solutions that amount to washing the windows while the building is engulfed in flames. . . . all Karl Marx in description, all Tom Daschel in prescription.” Good thought-provoking read.

Working for A Living

? “The largest meeting of the Chicago Teachers Union of the 21st Century (and perhaps in history) voted unanimously on August 30, 2012, to strike Chicago’s public schools unless an acceptable contract is reached during the current negotiations by September 10, 2012.” Seems they’re fed up with Rahmbo’s “Austerity, Chicago Style.”

? And the Teacher Retirement System of Texas reports “Dropping the guaranteed pension benefit for Texas’ future school employees would be costly, complicated and reduce benefits for retirees . . ..” This study was mandated by lawmakers, but the ‘wingers are itching for a fight to impose “Austerity, Texas Style.”

? Workers at the Republican National Convention are being paid the minimum wage ($7.67/hour), plus having to pay $6 – $12/week for their uniforms. The company that hires these workers, CleaneventUSA, doesn’t charge new hires for the uniforms, though.

Health, Homelessness & Hunger

? President Obama has signed an executive order “directing key federal departments to expand suicide prevention strategies and take steps to meet the current and future demand for mental health and substance abuse treatment services for veterans, service members, and their families.”

? 21% of all adults “and almost half of India’s children under 5 years of age are . . . malnourished” while tons of wheat and rice set aside for them are untouched in huge government facilities. Why? “$14.5 billion in food was looted by corrupt politicians and their criminal syndicates over the past decade” in one state (Uttar Pradesh) alone.

Heads Up!

? At its anniversary this September 17th , Occupy Wall Street will try to blockade the New York Stock Exchange and perhaps undertake citizens’ arrests of bankers.

? Noticing that the bus used as a kitchen had left Romneyville in Tampa, the police arrived and unloaded 100 box lunches for the hungry people at the camp. (The bus was on its way to New Orleans to be of help to people in crisis there due to Hurricane Issac.)

Planet Earth News

? Royal Dutch Shell has received permission from the federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement “to begin drilling preparations off the coast of Alaska, bringing the region a step closer to offshore oil production.”

? Watch the wind blow across the lower 48.

? AR, MO, IL, IN, OH, and KY are getting 3 – 6 inches of rain from Isaac, not enough to “end the drought, but will put a pretty good dent in it.”

Mixed Bag

? Over 100 Harvard students who took Government 1310: Introduction to Congress are under investigation for cheating on their final take-home exam.

? Father Benedict Groeschel believes “pedophiles are seduced by children in ‘a lot of the cases’ and the abusers should not go to jail.” He even expressed sympathy for Jerry Sandusky, Penn State football coach who was imprisoned for sexually molesting children.

? Those three soldiers at Ft. Stewart in GA who acquired about “$90,000 worth of guns and bomb-making equipment” which they apparently were going to use to assassinate President Obama and do other harm, are facing the death penalty if found guilty.

Break Time

? Enjoy tonight’s Blue Moon. Here’s a little something to help get you in the mood for it.