A day after a magazine quoted him as saying abortion was "an individual choice," GOP Chairman Michael Steele said Thursday he opposes abortion and that Roe v. Wade should be overturned. A leading conservative called Steele's remarks in the magazine "cavalier and flippant," underscoring the new chairman's precarious position with party regulars concerned about his off-the-cuff style and penchant for miscues.
Steele, who was adopted, told GQ magazine that his mother had the option of getting an abortion or giving birth to him.
"The choice issue cuts two ways," Steele said in the wide-ranging interview published online Wednesday. "You can choose life, or you can choose abortion. You know, my mother chose life."
Asked whether he thought women had the right to choose abortion, Steele said: "Yeah. I mean, again, I think that’s an individual choice."
On Thursday morning, Steele attempted to clarify his remarks in a statement.
"I am pro-life, always have been, always will be," he said. "I tried to present why I am pro-life while recognizing that my mother had a 'choice' before deciding to put me up for adoption."
Um, yeah. Why not try thinking before you speak? This guy seems to have a new backtrack or apology each week. Get your act together, Mr. Steele.
Blue = Very Good Light Orange=Bad Dark Orange = Life in Prison Red=Death
Williams Institute QUICK FACTS
Sodomy Laws. Thirteen states still had sodomy laws when the U.S. Supreme Court declared them unconstitutional in 2003. By that time, most countries in Central and South America already had repealed theirs. With Nicaragua and Panama overturning their laws during last two years, there's not a single Spanish-speaking country left in Central or South America with such a law.
Employment Discrimination. Costa Rica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Uruguay, and Venezuela all have national laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The new constitutions of Ecuador and Bolivia explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. If the U.S. Congress takes up ENDA this year, it will be joining Brazil and Chile in considering anti-discrimination legislation.
Couples Rights. In January 2008, Uruguay became the first Latin American country to recognize same sex couples nationally. In the fall of 2008, Ecuador's new constitution made civil unions a constitutional right; and last month the Constitutional Court of Colombia extended all the rights of marriage to same-sex couples. In addition, a number of cities and states in Mexico, Argentina, and Brazil also legally recognize gay and lesbian couples.
National Initiatives. The governments of Mexico, Argentina, and Brazil have developed government-sponsored public education programs to fight homophobia, and last year, the Brazilian government hosted a historic national conference on LGBT rights.
International Leadership. Last December when then United Nations General Assembly affirmed that international human rights protections include sexual orientation gender identity, the statement was read to the Assembly by Argentina, and 12 of the 66 countries that signed on were Latin American. In June of 2008, the 34 members of the Organization of American States unanimously approved a similar declaration.
But Challenges Remain. The rights of LGBT people vary in Latin America, as in the rest of the world, with Central America and the Caribbean lagging behind South America and Mexico. In addition, the laws on the books don't always match social acceptance, especially outside of urban areas. In particular, transgender people continue to face high levels of violence and discrimination and even when the rights of same-sex couples are recognized, they often exclude parenting rights.
A mega-church is upsetting its neighbors in Alabama with billboards that scream: "Great Sex, God's Way." They are on rural highways to promote a sermon series. In the town of Good Hope, where they are seen, you can't even legally buy beer. So, sex is out of the questions.
The offending message is offered by Daystar Church, whose congregation has grown dramatically under pastor Jerry Lawson. The irony is, Lawson is promoting right wing sex - no gays and no fun. You just have to snicker at the hypocrisy of a mega-church obessessed with sex - and using it to recruit new members.
Exodus Under Fire After Group Remains Silent As Speakers At Ugandan Event Seek To 'Wipe Out' Homosexuality And Imprison Gays
The three leading watchdog organizations that monitor "ex-gay" ministries today called on the largest such group, Exodus International, to fire its leader, Alan Chambers. The coalition charged in a letter to Bob Ragan, chair of the Exodus Board of Directors, that Chambers allowed the organization to be used and give credibility to a conference that promoted human rights abuses against gay and lesbian people.
We, the undersigned organizations, have monitored the ex-gay industry for more than a decade. To our great horror, prominent members of the ex-gay organization Exodus International participated last week in a conference in Uganda that promoted shocking abuses of basic human rights. This included draconian measures against gay and lesbian people such as forced ex-gay therapy, life imprisonment for people convicted of homosexuality and the formation of an organization designed to "wipe out" gay practices in Uganda. The conference also featured Scott Lively, a Holocaust revisionist who at the event also blamed the 1994 Rwandan genocide on gay people.
"Alan Chambers has shown a serious lack of leadership by allowing Exodus to become part of such a horrible event," said David Roberts, Editor of Ex-Gay Watch. "The participation of board member Don Schmierer in the Ugandan anti-gay conference undermines any credibility they may have had, and puts them right in the middle of serious human rights abuses. What on earth were they thinking?"
"I'm outraged that Don Schmierer used his position with Exodus to legitimize calls for further criminalizing and forced 'therapy' for gays and lesbians," said Jim Burroway, founder and editor of Box Turtle Bulletin. "Exodus' failure to speak out against the conference's recommendations and denounce the Holocaust revisionism of Scott Lively is inexcusable. Those who allowed this to happen must be held accountable."
"Exodus has turned a deaf ear to the violence committed against Ugandan sexual minorities," said Truth Wins Out's News Director, Mike Airhart. "Worse, it stood in public solidarity with those who are responsible for vigilante violence and state-sanctioned denial of freedom."
"Alan Chambers has consistently taken Exodus International in unsavory directions that have brought great shame on the organization," said Wayne Besen, Executive Director of Truth Wins Out. "Exodus' participation in the Ugandan conference only confirms that it is time he is removed from his position of leadership."
The coalition's letter went on to say:
The facts incontrovertibly show that Alan Chambers, President of Exodus International, was aware of the list of speakers and abhorrent content prior to the conference. Exodus board member Don Schmierer, who spoke in Uganda, made no objections to the radical and dangerous platform offered. Instead, these mortal threats to the lives of gay and lesbian people were met with a deafening silence. Exodus, in effect, gave this insidious conference its tacit approval.
The coalition also called on Exodus to take the following steps:
Remove Board member Don Schmierer for speaking at a hate conference that promotes physical harm and psychological torture against GLBT people
Boldly articulate Exodus' policy against human rights abuses including forced therapy
Promise to end future participation in all conferences that call on the persecution and criminalization of gay and lesbian people
In pandering to the fanatical and the fearful -- both religion and Republicanism may have compromised their future.
First, the Republican Party seems in an awfully big rush to implode with Rush Limbaugh as its mercurial mouthpiece. The GOP's other savior, Michael Steele, is just a big mouth who seems more suited to Limbaugh's talk show gig than chairman of the Party. The GOP's first African American leader, Steele, promised a "hip hop makeover" that would attract even "one armed midgets." It is Steele, however, who is the incredibly shrinking chairman, with his promised "Big Tent" turning into a circus act.
This carnival of "conservatives" has led the once-mighty Republican Party to O.J. Simpson-like popularity levels. An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll this past week put Republican approval at just 26 percent, compared to Barack Obama's 68 percent.
The state of the modern GOP was best captured on CNN's D.L. Hughley Show, when the host interviewed Frank Schaeffer. A former member of the Religious Right and author of Crazy For God, Schaeffer said the GOP had created a "hard-assed neo fascist kind of direction in America."
He went on to say, "The Republican base is now made up of religious and neoconservative ideologues and the uneducated white underclass with a token person of color up in front of the TV to obscure the all-white, all reactionary, all backward, and there is no global warming, rube reality."
The Republicans Schaefer is referring to have lately come out of the woodwork in Utah, where State Sen. Chris Buttars called GLBT advocates, "the meanest buggers". A right wing organization, America Forever, placed full-page ads in the Salt Lake dailies comparing gay men and lesbians to "druggies" and "hookers." Of course, Utah Republicans might know about these things. A new study reveals that the conservative state leads the nation with 5.47 Internet pornography subscribers per thousand.
Similar to the Republican Party, religious organizations have catered to the crazies for far too long. The "ex-gay" organization, Exodus International, is a perfect example. It travels the world to proclaim its "love" for homosexuals. Yet, a Board member, Don Schmierer, spoke at a Ugandan conference that pledged to "wipe out" gay practices. Schmierer joined Holocaust revisionist Scott Lively to urge Uganda to continue its persecution of gay people, including life prison sentences for the "crime" of homosexuality.
Last week, the Vatican defended the excommunication of a 9-year old Brazilian girl's mother and doctors, who helped abort the pregnant child's twins. The procedure was recommended because delivering these babies might have killed the 80-pound girl. The local Archbishop, Jose Cardosa Sobrinho, justified this despicable decision by saying, "God's law is above any human law."
Such transparently vindictive versions of "love" is why Christianity has lost followers in Europe and is now draining them in the United States. A new survey by researchers at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn. documents that the percentage of Americans identifying as Christians has dropped to 76 percent of the population, down from 86 percent in 1990. Fifteen percent of Americans now say they have no religion at all.
It may be that socially conservative churches and their anti-gay pastors are directly responsible for much of the erosion of Christianity. Sure, their mega-churches may be growing. But, for every new person they attract, they likely turn off ten others to all religion with their vituperative sermons.
Focus on the Family's "ex-gay" road show, Love Won Out, is a perfect example of how the radicals are ruining the image of Christianity. The conference may lure a few self-loathing dupes who briefly claim they have "prayed away the gay." But, for every temporary convert (It rarely, if ever, lasts a lifetime) they turn off thousands of gay people to all religious belief. How does Focus on the Family justify this as a "win"?
Even as the Religious Right rapidly contracts, conservatives are foolishly demanding that Republicans veer further right. Come to think of it, Rush Limbaugh may be the perfect leader for a party intent on alienating the majority while talking endlessly and aimlessly to itself.
When President Obama lifts restrictions on funding for human embryonic stem cell research today, he will also issue a presidential memorandum aimed at insulating scientific decisions across the federal government from political influence, officials said yesterday.
"The president believes that it's particularly important to sign this memorandum so that we can put science and technology back at the heart of pursuing a broad range of national goals," Melody C. Barnes, director of Obama's Domestic Policy Council, told reporters during a telephone briefing yesterday.
What a welcome relief to have a president who not only understands science, but actually respects it and builds policies around facts. It feels like we are coming out of a long, bleak Orwellian night under the Bush regime.
For much of Jacques Whitfield's 11-year marriage (left) he maintained a parallel life. He cheated on his wife and, he said, cheated himself. Now he has come out and is happy. This is a tale of why the closet and so-called "ex-gay" organizations are harmful to gay people and their families.
Even with countless stories, such as this, "ex-gay" programs continue to promote doomed marriages. This is because they care more about politics than people. They hold inflexible lies that mean more than real lives. The damage is all around, yet groups like Exodus, Focus on the Family and NARTH are too blinded by their flawed Biblical interpretations to see. They do so much wrong in the name of right, incredible harm in the guise of hope, with a staggering price on individuals and society.
Will they ever learn? Or, will the fanaticism of their flawed faith make them immune from the obvious facts?
I have long been outspoken on the abuses of GLBT people in Jamaica and the need for action. I can't imagine why any American, European or Canadian who cares about human rights would spend a dime visiting this island bubbling over with hate. Last week, Jamaica's Prime Minister, Bruce Golding, firmly stated how he approved of the persecution of gay people. He stated that gay rights groups are "perhaps the most organized lobby in the world" and he vowed to fight to keep the nation's sodomy law on the books.
"We are not going to yield to the pressure, whether that pressure comes from individual organizations, individuals, whether that pressure comes from foreign governments or groups of countries, to liberalize the laws as it relates to buggery," said Golding.
Personally, I've had enough of the prejudice and persecution. Golding's comments are one step too far. It boils my blood when our straight friends (and uninformed GLBT people) continue to travel and spend money in Jamaica. There are thousands of people, if they knew the truth, who would not visit a place more accurately described as "Ja-Murder."
Today, I went Internet shopping and purchased www.BoycottJamaica.org. I'm not yet sure if I want to launch a full-fledged boycott. But, it is nice to know I have this site in my back pocket and can take action against this nation that seems to have a unique and disturbing - if not psychotic - antipathy towards GLBT people.
It is worth mentioning that the local gay Jamaican group is against a boycott. I take their opposition very seriously. But, to tell you the truth, what else would one expect from them? If they supported a boycott they would be labeled unpatriotic and turned into scapegoats. And, from their public statements, they sound like hostages reading from a script. Do they have any choice but to publicly reject a boycott?
For years, we have heard that if we just keep quiet about this issue, things will get better. But, they haven't. Sometimes, direct action is needed to make change.
I would appreciate the thoughts of my readers.
Finally, a word to the Jamaican government. If Truth Wins Out elects to launch a boycott, we plan to succeed. Please don't underestimate our commitment and resolve.
(Alan Chambers, Exodus Ministry Used to Promote Human Rights Abuses)
A three-day antigay conference in Kampala, Uganda, has promoted magic, life-imprisonment, and parental blame-games as methods of "curing" people of their sexual orientation. Exodus International board member Don Schmierer of the United States will help keynote the conference.
While we would never be surprised to find Exodus leaders in bed with men - we never thought we'd find them in bed with dictators, torturers and human rights abusers. Exodus leader Alan Chambers has much to answer for. Under his leadership, Exodus has gone from a quaint "ex-gay" ministry to a destructive force that is spreading hatred throughout the world.
My friend David Mixner wrote a powerful blog post on his site. It captures my feeling that we must move forward with equality - and not pander to the excuses and agendas of politicians. Mixner asks:
"Who in their right mind thinks they can control the irresistible drive for human freedom? That struggle is not some 'political issue' that can contained by elected officials in office. The issues of marriage, 'don't ask, don't tell', immigration and full equality have never been able to be directed either by elected officials nor LGBT leaders as much as they would like to be able to do so. There is always some outrage, some brave individual who will not accept second class citizenship, some lawsuit or some circumstance that upsets the apple cart. Freedom will not wait for political convenience nor until a nation becomes 'more comfortable' with the concept."