Today I am in San Diego. To my surprise, a group of anti-gay zealots yelling "save the children" picketed in front of my hotel in favor of Proposition 8, which would ban gay marriage. I was appalled, so I made a make-shift sign and confronted them. Outnumbered 10 to 1, I yelled my lungs out: "Bigots Go Home" "No On 8" "You're Not God's Spokespeople" "Stop Discrimination."
I quickly remembered that screaming hurts your throat! It was a bout of unexpected activism, but I must admit I enjoyed my very small role in stumping in favor of equal marriage rights in California.
Biden had a solid debate. Under normal circumstances he would have been declared the winner. However, the expectations for Sarah Palin were so minimal, that all she had to do was keep from getting laughed off of the stage to declare victory. The bar for the Alaskan was lower than an ant's underbelly - so it was a hurdle she overcame.
Still, Palin looked stiff as a totem pole and completely programed. Scripted Sarah often did not even answer the question asked and seemed unsteady. She repeatedly lied about Obama's record. However, as the debate went on she got a bit stronger.
Biden was articulate and knowledgeable. I wish he would have selectively attacked her dismal record as Alaska's governor to try to score a knockout punch. However, Biden can be proud of his performance and he looked presidential. He also gets points for tearing up when talking about his family. It seemed like a real moment that voters could connect with - and it worked. The fact that Palin did not acknowledge Biden's pain when he wept made her look like a robot that lacked empathy. Still, she looked better than she did in her recent TV interview fiascos.
Bottom line: both candidates accomplished what they needed from this debate. Draw.
Tonight Sarah Palin jumps on the big stage in a week that she revealed that she does not read newspapers. Indeed, she could not even tell Katie Couric a single news source she read on a daily basis. And she wants to one day be president?
This incurious woman will take her intellectual vacuousness on a stage with Joe Biden this evening. Her only hope is that expectations are so low - as they were for Bush in 2000 - that by simply not falling off the stage she can declare victory. (Don't put it past the American people to get duped. Remember, we vote for people we want to BBQ with and then wonder why we get smoked.)
For weeks, Palin has been sequestered while she crammed for her exams. The few times the McCain campaign took off her training wheels for interviews, she performed dismally and provided fodder for the late night television jesters. She has made Dan Quayle look like Aristotle.
A new Washington Post poll reveals that Palin is a drag on the ticket. Six in 10 voters see her as lacking the experience to be an effective president, and a third are now less likely to vote for McCain because of her.
The day after her convention speech - when everyone lauded her - I said on this page that Palin would crash and burn. My prediction is looking rather prescient. One simply can't go from slaying a moose to running the country in a merely five weeks. Unlike Bush, Palin is not dumb. She is just inexperienced and does not read enough to fill in the gaps. She is out of her league and she ought to do what is right for America by dropping out of this campaign.
Truth Wins Out criticized Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin today for repeatedly saying in an interview with Katie Couric on CBS News that homosexuality is a choice.
"We are disturbed that a person on the cusp of enormous power could hold such backward and unscientific views," said Wayne Besen, Executive Director of Truth Wins Out. "She seems to be in lockstep with her church, that promoted a 'pray away the gay' conference in Anchorage. We hope Palin will choose to educate herself so she will learn that being gay is not a casual choice, like eating moose stew for dinner. We want her to understand that you can't pray away the gay."
Truth Wins Out Executive Director Wayne Besen sent Palin his book today, "Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth." He hopes it will bring her up to speed on the latest science on homosexuality, as well as introduce her to the damage done to gay people who "choose" to go straight. Every respected medical and mental health association in America -- including the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association -- warn that so-called "ex-gay" sexual engineering programs can be harmful.
"And you know, I don't know what prayers are worthy of being prayed and I don't know what prayers are going to be answered or not answered. But as for homosexuality, I am not going to judge Americans and the decisions that they make in their adult personal relationships. I have one of my absolute best friends for the last 30 years who happens to be gay, and I love her dearly, and she is not my 'gay friend, she is one of my best friends, who happens to have made a choice that isn't a choice that I have made. But I'm not going to judge people."
Earlier this month, I went to Alaska to counter Focus on the Family's sexual engineering festival, Love Won Out, where they claim to help people pray away the gay. The event became national news after Sarah Palin's church was caught promoting the event. Everywhere I went, including her hometown of Wasilla, people were talking politics. The excitement of the election reached a fevered pitch when Palin made her long-awaited journey home. (presumably to check up on Russia to make sure they weren’t up to any funny business in her absence)
Yet, when I went to the Metropolitan Community Church of Anchorage to speak, I refrained from endorsing political candidates. Now, as a political animal, I had the desire to bark out my choice for president. However, because I represented Truth Wins Out and spoke in a church that was also a tax-exempt organization, I refrained from engaging in illegal political activity.
As an individual, the first amendment gives me the right to speak my mind, including whom I will vote for president. And, in my weekly column I have repeatedly expressed my preference for Barrack Obama. However, I have never posted such columns on the Truth Wins Out website because I respect the law. In order for donors to get a tax break for giving to our charitable work, I make a pact with the government that I will not abuse this privilege by having taxpayers subsidize my political opinions or ambitions.
On Sunday, a band of radical churches brazenly decided they are owed special rights and don't have to play by the same rules. Sponsored by the Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund, 33 pastors in 22 states loudly trumpeted their support for John McCain within their church walls. In doing so, they defiled the law and openly defied the Internal Revenue Service.
According to the Associated Press, the ADF provided these renegade pastors with "legal assistance" to "ensure maximum effectiveness in challenging the IRS." Armed with his legal brief, a suburban Milwaukee pastor, Rev. Luke Emrich, thundered to his New Life Church, "I'm telling you straight up, I would choose life...I would like to vote for John McCain and Sarah Palin."
The IRS responded by saying that it "will monitor the situation and take appropriate action." Well, the preachers have spoken and now their churches must be stripped of their tax-exempt status. To flout the rules so flagrantly can only be met with the maximum punishment. Letting these churches get away with such audacious behavior while forcing other non-profits to abide by the law is far worse than inequality. It is a gross violation of the constitution because it essentially establishes a state church with supremacy over civil society.
Now, I can understand why these holy men thought they could get away with such lawlessness. Under the Bush administration, religious organizations have been showered with undeserved faith-based money. And, thanks to ambitious politicians (Obama and Mccain) pandering for "values voters," the wall between church and state has become rather porous.
I can also understand the allure of politics and gaining the ear of powerful leaders in Washington. It is certainly more enticing than speaking to the same flock each week and dealing with their marital problems.
Indeed, former Los Angles Lakers basketball star Magic Johnson once commented on the movie stars that would flock to watch his team by saying that they wanted to be him and he dreamed of being them. In much the same way, it seems politicians want to be preachers, while the preachers want to be politicians. So, they make periodic forays into each other's universes.
But, this is a nation of laws. If these reverends are dissatisfied with their careers, they can run for office – as did former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee. However, they have no right to transform their churches into crass political machines at the expense of the taxpayer.
The American Bar Association ought to also consider slapping down lawyers at the ADF who are aiding and abetting this criminal activity. It is one thing to defend a client and quite another to organize this stunt less than two months before a presidential election. In my view, it seems that the ADF is urging churches to break the law to give McCain a last minute boost. Sure, these churches might get in trouble, but they figure it would be worth it to put McCain and Palin into the White House. This outrageous political ploy is unacceptable and must be stopped immediately.
In America, there should be no special privileges given to elitist clergy who think they are better than the rest of us. If they can't play by the rules, they should be taken out of the game. The IRS should move swiftly to ax the tax exemption from these political action committees posing as churches.
It is hard to believe, but the Chicago-based Museum of Broadcast Communications is planning to induct Focus on the Family's James Dobson into its Radio Hall of Fame. America's biggest homophobe will be honored on Nov. 8 at a fancy dinner party in the Renaissance Chicago Hotel.
In response, Truth Wins Out and the Gay Liberation Network have launched a dynamic new website, www.DumpDobson.com. Please visit and take an active part in our campaign to have the Radio Hall of Fame rescind its outrageous decision.
Let's not forget that Dobson once said that same-sex marriage will "end the earth." Focus on the Family runs the nation's most high profile "ex-gay" ministry, Love Won Out. Dobson regularly gives a platform to people who call homosexuality a "hellhole" and refer to gay people as "sexually broken" and "perverse." His organization is now working overtime to outlaw gay people from marrying in California.
The fact is, if Dobson had spewed such hatred against any other minority he would never have received such an honor. We simply can't allow a "gay exception" to the rules of civility and common decency.
Truth Wins Out is taking a stand. We refuse to allow the Radio Hall of Fame to legitimize Dobson's toxic rhetoric and venomous attacks on our lives. We have a plan to fight back, but we need your help.
We launched DumpDobson.com to direct our efforts in working with the media and mobilizing the community. We would like to supplement this work by buying a full-page ad in the Chicago Tribune to maximize pressure on the Radio Hall of Fame. If they do not back down, we are planning a major protest in Chicago on the evening of the awards ceremony.
If the very idea of corporate leaders in the radio industry lifting their champagne glasses to toast James Dobson makes your skin crawl -- then please join our efforts.
If you can't attend our protest, then please give what you can today. If you are able to sponsor the entire Chicago Tribune ad with a $5,000 tax-deductible contribution, please consider doing so. If your budget allows for a $10 gift, this will also help us organize in Chicago. To win -- this has to be a team effort -- and our success starts with you.
Finally, I want to thank those who generously gave to help us mobilize against Sarah Palin's church and the ex-gay conference they promoted in Alaska. Your contributions -- big and small -- allowed me to be on the ground in Anchorage and Wasilla to have a direct impact that produced tangible results.
Let's do even better this time by sending a loud and clear message to the Radio Hall of Fame: Dump Dobson now.