Fear not. This is not an example of bigotry as I initially thought. It's simply stupidity.

Behold. The White House published this photograph of First Lady Melania Trump and the other spouses of NATO leaders at the Royal Castle of Laeken in Brussels during the recent NATO summit.

Initially left off the captioned list of names was the First Gentleman of Luxembourg, Gauthier Destenay, who is married Prime Minister Xavier Bettel, making Bettel the first European Union head of government to marry a same-sex partner. 

The man in the photograph is gay, and his name was the only name left off. 

I was inclined to assume that the omission of Bettel's name was an act bigotry given Trump's complete abandonment of his campaign commitment to the LGBTQ community, but in addition to the omission of Bettel, Melania Trump's name was listed twice, Brigitte Macron, the first lady of France, was listed as “Brigitte Trogneux,” and the year of the photograph was listed as 2917.

The trifecta of stupidity. 

So the omission was probably typical Trump incompetence rather than Trump bigotry.

Though possibly both.  

This should not be surprising coming from a President who didn't know that Frederick Douglass was no longer alive.

A President whose administration who invented The Bowling Green Massacre, the Swedish Incident, and "alternative facts."

A President who continues to assert that his Electoral victory was one of the largest in American history when it was actually one of the narrowest. 

A President whose administration managed to unbelievably include a typo in Trump's official Presidential portrait.  

It's almost always correct to assume the worst from this President. It's just difficult to determine if the worst is the result of his complete incompetence or his despicable nature. 

Serious question: Why isn't religious hypocrisy used more often against the opponents to same sex marriage?

For the last couple months, I've been writing the occasional post - titled #Biblebuffet - indicating the hypocrisy of people who oppose same sex marriage for religious reasons.

If you use The Bible to oppose same sex marriage, don't forget to execute adulterers, people who work on Sundays, and any woman engaging in premarital sex. All of these edicts are stated in The Bible just as explicitly as opposition to same sex marriage, and oftentimes within the same book of the Bible.

I was going to write another post today, but instead, I just have a question:

Why is this argument not made more often?

When someone like Ted Cruz argues against same sex marriage on religious grounds, why don't his opponents ask him why he isn't also stoning those who work on Sunday?

Or at least attempting to reinstate the Blue laws, making it illegal to conduct business on Sunday?

This seems like a perfectly logical argument to make, but I never hear it. And as someone who has read The Bible from cover to cover three times, I assure you that I could continue to write #Biblebuffet posts for years without running out of bizarre edicts and inexplicable prohibitions contained within the text.

Why not highlight the hypocrisy of bigots who hide their bigotry behind a religious text filled with equally clear prohibitions that no sane person would ever follow?

Seriously, what am I missing?

I'm also stunned that no one brings up Jesus when it comes to same sex marriage, because a complete reading of the first four books of the New Testament - the section on Jesus's life on Earth - makes sit abundantly clear that he never treat homosexual men or women with the same hatred and prejudice as people like Ted Cruz do today.

The man who opposed so many things in the Old Testament by advising his followers to turn the other cheek and "love thy neighbor as yourself" (also stating that there is no commandment greater than this) would never support these bigots and their crusade against same sex marriage.

No one ever talks about this. They allow religious zealots to treat The Bible like a breakfast buffet, picking and choosing convenient sections while ignoring others in order to support their own bigotry without ever challenging this hypocrisy. 

I want to know why. Seriously. What am I missing?

A note to my children regarding the shame and embarrassment of 2015

When you read about the year 2015 in the history books, little ones, please remember this:

Yes, it’s true. It is still perfectly legal in much of the United States in 2015 to terminate a person’s employment because he or she was gay.

But please know that many of us – and perhaps even most of us – are nothing like the bigoted, cowardly elected officials who allowed such laws to persist.

I don’t know a single person who supports this form of discrimination, little ones. I know these bigots exist. I see them on television from time to time, holding up grammatically incorrect and poorly spelled signs and expressing their support for the predominantly old, white men who either believe in this form of discrimination or are too cowardly to stand by their own convictions and oppose their constituency.

image   image

The country is changing fast, little ones. Same sex marriage is now legal in a majority of the states and for the vast majority of Americans. Ten years ago, there was just one state where same sex marriage was legal. The shift in attitude has been profound.

I have no doubt that by the time you are my age, the ability for an employer to fire an employee because he or she is gay will seem as archaic to you as Jim Crow seems to me. And like Jim Crow, a large majority of Americans opposed those laws at the time, too. But changing the law is oftentimes more difficult than changing attitudes and beliefs. 

Thankfully, the country is changing more quickly than anyone would have ever imagined. Just not quick enough if you are gay.

A race to the bottom: Which state will be the last to legalize same sex marriage?

Over the weekend, a judge overturned Alaska’s ban on same sex marriage.

On Tuesday, Alaska and North Carolina began issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples for the first time.

Thirty states and Washington, D.C. now allow some form of marriage for same-sex couples.

Can you believe it? This seemed impossible just a few years ago, and now a  majority of Americans live in states that permit same sex marriage.


The states that are still resisting same sex marriage must understand by now that resisting is only delaying the inevitable.


As the number of states in which same sex marriage is still illegal continues to shrink, we have to ask ourselves:

Which state will be last to legalize same sex marriage? And does that state want to carry the stigma of being the last to recognize this right?

Depending on how you define integration, Alabama, Arkansas, or Mississippi were the last states to integrate their school systems. Alabama has the unfortunate honor of often being thought of as the last to integrate, with Governor George Wallace refusing to do so until the military intervened and forced his hand.


Isn’t that amazing? The military had to forcibly integrate schools in Alabama and other parts of the South.

I can’t imagine that the people of Alabama are proud of this moment in their history.

Alabama is one of 20 states that in which same sex marriage is illegal. It’s currently engaged in a race to the bottom.

Which state will earn the unfortunate distinction of being the last to allow this basic human right? If these politicians in these final 20 states were smart, they would try like hell to avoid being the last. It’s an honor that no state should want.

Unfortunately, intelligence and wisdom tend to be in short supply when it comes to the bigots and hypocrites who struggle to keep these bans in place, so it’s likely to be a shortsighted, clawing, ugly battle to determine which state is run by the largest percentage of them.

Exit the bigots

The Boy Scouts of America have lost six percent of their members since changing their policy on gay participants, the group recently announced.

Some may think this is bad news.

I think the opposite.

They’re merely weeding out the bigots.

It’s true that in some cases, unbiased boys may be denied the benefits of Scouting because of their bigoted parents, but I think the greater  percentage of the decrease in membership is the result of the elimination of bigotry.  

As a former Boy Scout who loves Scouting and owes a great deal to the organization, my hope is that they reverse their decision on allowing gay adult leaders soon, too.

Scouting may lose another 6% of it’s membership or more by allowing openly gay adult leaders to serve, but I’d much rather see a smaller organization that adheres to the tenets of the Boy Scout Law and Oath than a larger organization populated by bigots and fools.


Big news does not mean big numbers when it comes to same sex marriage.

Arizona, Idaho and Kansas are the three most recent states to attempt to legalize discrimination based upon sexual orientation.

Arizona’s law passed through the House and Senate before the governor vetoed the bill.

The Kansas bill passed the House on a clear majority before dying in the House.

The decision on the Idaho bill, which is the most egregious of them all, is pending.

It’s easy to see these state legislators take positions against same-sex marriage and civil rights and think the sky is falling, but before you start sounding like Chicken Little, remember this:

The combined population of these three states barely exceeds the population of New York City.

Legalized discrimination is big news, as it should be, but these three states combine for a little more than 3 percent of the total US population.

The most recent polling indicates that 53% of Americans now support same sex marriage and 17 states now recognize same sex marriage with three more pending appeals.

It’s true. The sky is falling. It’s just falling on the bigots. 


In the wake of the Supreme Court’s DOMA ruling, I can’t help but accentuate the negative

I think it says a lot about me that as happy as I am about the Supreme Court’s ruling striking down the Defense of Marriage Act, I take infinitely more pleasure in imagining how outraged, surprised, angry and defeated the bigots in this country must feel right now.

I should feel elation for my gay friends and the equality they so deserve. They should be people in the forefront of my mind on this historic day.

Instead I find myself focused on the image of some probably old, probably white bigot somewhere probably south of me, sitting in a rocking chair on his front porch, pained as he watches the America he once loved rapidly transform into an America that we can all love.  

I’ve always been a fan of schadenfreude. This is the one instance when it feels not only good but somehow righteous as well.

Public opinion is irrelevant when it comes to matters of right and wrong

The Daily Beast’s David Frum writes:

Maryland will settle same-sex marriage the right way: at the ballot box. In November, Marylanders will vote on Question 6, an initiative to amend the state constitution to allow same-sex marriage.

I could not disagree more.

Equality, basic human rights and common sense should not be dependent on public opinion. The legislation of issues such as same-sex marriage should not rely upon voter turnout, television advertising, and campaign fundraising to decide the matter. It should be decided by a fair minded, politically neutral court comprised of men and women who have sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States.

Actually, same-sex marriage should just be legal from a standpoint of basic human decency and common sense, the same way that kissing your grandmother, climbing a tree or hugging a friend did not require legislation in order to be legal. But absent this, the matter should not be reliant upon the whims of the electorate. Human beings live too damn long, are too narrow minded and are too likely to carry their bigotry to the grave with them. Reforms like the legalization of same-sex marriage often must be forced upon the citizenry, regardless of public opinion.

For example, interracial marriage was legalized in 1967 by the United States Supreme Court even though only 20% of Americans supported it and 73% expressed disapproval of interracial marriage at the time. Twenty-seven years after the Court legalized interracial marriage, a majority of Americans still opposed it, but public opinion did not matter. The Court had done the right thing, regardless of what the public believed or continued to believe more than two decades later.

In fact, it was not until 1997 that a majority of Americans expressed support for interracial marriage. Had the country allowed the ballot box to decide the issue, interracial couples would have been required to wait thirty additional years before being granted the same rights as intra-racial couples. 

Public opinion should only go so far. When it comes to doing the right thing,  do the right thing, regardless of what people think, any way you can. 

Want to settle the same sex marriage debate the right way?

Just legalize it and tell the bigots to shut the hell up.

Just admit that you think homosexuality is yucky. Don’t drag religion into it.

A couple days a ago I posted a letter that was forwarded to me by a reader regarding gay marriage. It was pointed out to me soon after that The West Wing has a scene that conveys a similar message.

The message in both the letter and the scene from The West Wing is simple:

If you are going to use The Bible to justify your bigotry toward homosexuals, then you should be required to adhere to all the bigotry that The Bible demands. The word of God should not be digested buffet-style. Either it represents the infallible word of God or it does not.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot over the last couple days, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s this inconsistency that bothers me most about these bigots.

If you don’t like my gay friends or believe that they are not entitled to the same rights as all Americans, I can at least understand this. Hating people for being different is nothing new. While I don’t agree with your position, I can at least attribute it to basic human nature. The human race has a long, unfortunate history of treating people poorly because they are different.

We’ve seen your breed of stupidity before.

But when you use The Bible as justification for your bigotry while ignoring those passages that are inconvenient to your cause (or demand that you stone your mother to death for wearing that Christmas sweater), you offend me and like-minded people on the grounds of logic and reason. Simply admit that you find homosexuals despicable or inexplicable or yucky, and I will at least respect you for your honesty. Defending your ignorance through blatant hypocrisy and intellectual dishonesty only serves to further highlight your ignorance.

And while I may not be a religious person, this buffet-style approach to Biblical  doctrine also does great harm to the people of faith who sensibly acknowledge that the lessons of The Bible are not absolute. It’s the radicals, the lunatics and the hypocrites who cast a pall on the good work of the believers. Defending your opposition to gay marriage on religious grounds diminishes their good work and causes people like me to question religion in general.

Besides, anyone with half a brain knows that there is nothing redeeming about the Old Testament argument anyway. We all know that the same book that justifies your hatred of homosexuals demands that we kill anyone who works on Sunday.

By your logic, I should be stoning the New England Patriot players tomorrow at Gillette Stadium rather than cheering them on.

Please just admit that you are grossed out by the idea of two boys kissing and move on.

Leave religion out of it. 

Owning a Canadian would be awesome.

A reader sent this to me, expecting that I would like it. I did. It’s not exactly original in its conceit, but it’s well done and quite amusing , so I thought I’d pass it along.

I’ve also listened to Laura Schlesinger and found her to be condescending and unpalatable.


On her radio show, Dr. Laura said that, as an observant Orthodox Jew, homosexuality is an abomination according to Leviticus 18:22, and cannot be condoned under any circumstance. The following response is an open letter to Dr. Schlesinger, written by a US citizen and posted on the Internet.

Dear Dr. Laura:

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate. I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other elements of God's Laws and how to follow them.

1. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness - Lev.15: 19-24. The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

4. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord - Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it?

6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination, Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this? Are there 'degrees' of abomination?

7. Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle-room here?

8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev.19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? Lev.24:10-16. Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair, like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively and thus enjoy considerable expertise in such matters, so I'm confident you can help.
Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.

Your adoring fan,

James M. Kauffman,
Ed.D. Professor Emeritus,
Dept. Of Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education University of Virginia

P.S. (It would be a damn shame if we couldn't own a Canadian.)

So much nuance in just 30 seconds of bigotry

This anti-Obama, anti-gay marriage ad is fascinating.

First, despite the enormous amount of money that Super PACs are pouring into the campaign, they apparently cannot afford professional actors or writers. The ad is embarrassing in terms of its production value.

If I had paid for this ad, I’d be angry as hell.

Second, this may seem picky, but does anyone other than me think that the shot of the coffee mug being placed on the napkin is a little strange? I’ve watched the ad a dozen times, hoping to discover a subliminal message hidden  within the shot, but I can’t find anything save the inexplicable decision to focus on the mug and the napkin for one awkward second.

Bad acting, bad writing and bad direction. Way to go, Campaign for American Values PAC.

Third, I’d like to know what newspaper the woman in the ad is reading, because President Obama has not proposed any legislation regarding gay marriage, nor has he expressed any desire to do so.

In fact, he doesn’t need to. The states will eventually legalize gay marriage on their own. According to recent CBS and Pew polls, more Americans now support gay marriage than oppose it, and support is increasing rapidly. Six states have already legalized gay marriage, and at least two more are likely to join the ranks in 2013.

Perhaps the producers of this ad haven’t noticed, but even the Republican candidates have been mum on gay marriage. They know it’s a losing battle.

Fourth, I’d like the Super PAC responsible for this ad to find me one person in America who:

  1. Voted for President Obama in 2008
  2. Believes that marriage is defined as a union between a man and a woman
  3. Believes that President Obama is attempting to “force gay marriage” on the American people
  4. Would switch his or her vote to the Republican ticket based solely on this faulty belief

There are a lot of people in the United States, but I would venture to guess that not a single American citizen could meet all four of the criteria that the characters in this ad represent. This person simply doesn’t exist. It’s an ad directly solely at the two fictional people who appear in the ad. 

Last, did you notice the final, gauzy image in the ad? The family has gathered in the living room, presumably to discuss how disgusting gay people are and how legalizing gay marriage will make everyone gay and ruin the country and stuff.

When I saw the couple’s three smiling children, I immediately thought, “Quick! Someone save those kids from those bigoted, poorly portrayed parents! Remove those kids from the home! Now!”

Then again, the kids probably don’t need any rescuing. Support for gay marriage among young people is extraordinarily high. More than two-thirds of people born after 1981 now support gay marriage and those numbers are also increasing rapidly. The odds would seem to indicate that at least two of the children in the ad will ultimately reject their parents’ bigotry in the same way that my generation rejected the racism of our parents’ generation.

Stop delaying the inevitable. Same-sex marriage is going to happen. Don’t be left standing with the ignorant and bigoted few.

Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant recently criticized a predominantly white church in his state for refusing to allow a black couple to wed in its sanctuary because they were “uncomfortable with a black ceremony.”

Bryant called that decision "unfortunate" and "disappointing," and said that it would likely taint the state's image in the eyes of others.

This same governor, however, does not support same-sex marriage in his state, seeming to possess no fear over the likely taint that his state’s image is already suffering in the eyes of others.

Regardless of what you believe about same-sex marriage, I do not understand why people like Phil Bryant cannot see that legalized same-sex marriage is coming to every corner of this country, just as it has already arrived to most parts of the industrialized world. To stand against same-sex marriage only serves to delay the inevitable. More importantly, you risk being known as the last of the bigots to oppose the marriage of two people who love each other, regardless of their sex.

Are Bryant and others who oppose same-sex marriage unable to see how this fight is no different than the civil rights battles of the 1960s and the shame associated with being forced to integrate your public schools by the National Guard?

Are we surprised that the church that is “uncomfortable with a black marriage” is located in one of the last states to segregate its public schools?

Support for same-sex marriage has increased steadily for more than a decade, with supporters first achieving a majority in 2010. An August 2010 CNN poll became the first national poll to show majority support for same-sex marriage, with numerous polls after it echoing this finding.

Those who oppose it seek only to delay the inevitable and risk being compared to men like George Wallace, who later recanted his opposition to racial segregation but not before his name was forever linked to it.

If you’re opposed to same-sex marriage for religious reasons, I urge you to open your Bible and take an honest look at the Book of Leviticus. Read it from beginning to end. Yes, it declares that homosexuality is an abomination. But it also says, in the very same book, that wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread and cutting your hair are offenses punishable by death, and that owning slaves is perfectly legal as long as they come from a country other than your own.

If you’re wearing polyester or getting haircuts on a regular basis, or if you oppose the human slave trade, maybe you can also find it in your heart to accept that same-sex marriage is just as benign. If you can pick and choose from the Book of Leviticus, why not add same-sex marriage into the column with crew cuts and cotton blends?

Pick and choose better, damn it.

If you claim to oppose same-sex marriage for religious reasons but are simply using religion as a cover for your bigotry and intolerance of people unlike yourself, that’s a whole different story, and not one easily corrected.

Ignorance and cowardice are powerful forces to overcome.  

Nevertheless, there will come a day, not too far down the road, when our children or grandchildren will look back on this period in the history of the country and wonder why so many people were so concerned about two men or two women getting married, much the same way my generation looks back on the concepts of separate drinking fountains and separate lunch counters and segregated schools and wonder what the hell those people were thinking.

I write this today to urge you to reconsider your position if you are opposed to same-sex marriage. Your ranks are rapidly thinning as more and more people move to the right.

Not the conservative right, but the side of the righteous.

Change is inevitable. Don’t be left standing alone.

But I also write this today so that when my children and grandchildren look back on this period in the history of our country, they will know that I was not one of those people who opposed the marriage between two men or two women.

My children and future grandchildren will not wonder what the hell I was thinking. They will know that I was thinking the same thing they were thinking:

What the hell is wrong with you people?