Weekend update (8/15/2015): of greedy bigots and a rescued whale

© Michael Riggio/Instagram. Courtesy  dailymail.co.uk (

© Michael Riggio/Instagram. Courtesy dailymail.co.uk (Click to embiggen)

As usual, there were a few big news stories of the week I didn’t include in Friday links, and a few that have had more developments that I didn’t see until after I set up the posts to publish:

First, the bigots

A Kentucky newspaper, the Lexington Herald-Leader has published a rather stern editorial about the thrice-divorced county clerk who is still defying the federal court order to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples and the hate-group paying for her lawyers: Time for Davis to do her job or resign. I’m just going to quote the main point:

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis has chosen to prolong her moment in the limelight by defying a federal judge’s order to issue marriage licenses to legally qualifed people who apply for them.

U.S. District Judge David Bunning kindly but firmly told Davis Wednesday that in our system her religious beliefs don’t trump the rights of the taxpayers who pay her almost $80,000 annual salary. Sharing Davis’ glow is Liberty Counsel, which describes itself as a nonprofit that provides pro bono legal representation related to “religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family,” funded by tax-deductible donations and grants. In 2012 those gifts reached just over $3.5 million and in 2013 topped $4.1 million, according to IRS filings.

The husband and wife team who founded and run Liberty Counsel, Anita and Matthew Staver, were paid $137,758 and $153,591, respectively, in 2013. The staff of five ran up $184,479 in travel expenses that year and spent $429,584 on conferences, conventions and meetings. Liberty Counsel paid one independent contractor over $600,000 for “email alert services,” and another almost $500,000 for printing and mail services. “Case costs,” were reported at $105,487. Liberty’s attorneys know they can’t win the case in Rowan County.

Same-sex marriage is legal since the Supreme Court’s June 26 decision and it’s Davis’ job to issue marriage licenses. So, why is Liberty Counsel marching alongside Davis in this losing cause? It takes a lot to keep that marketing machine humming and those executives paid, and the only way to keep those donations coming is to stay in the news. For that purpose a losing cause is just as good as, perhaps better than, a winning one.

When I describe the Liberty Counsel as a hate group, that’s not just one queer’s opinion. The Southern Poverty Law Center, which has decades of experience fighting hate groups of many kinds, officially designated the Liberty Counsel a hate group some years ago, and lists them as a still active hate group.

GLAAD (the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) has more details about the on-going activities of the Liberty Counsel and it’s co-founder/leader, Mat Staver.

The editorial’s conclusion puts the whole affair quite succinctly: “Davis can resign if she’s morally unable to issue the marriage licenses while the appeal is pending. Law-abiding, taxpaying Rowan County citizens have been denied their constitutional rights for almost two months while Davis has kept her job and Liberty has ginned up its marketing machine.”

Some not-bigots and the value of protest:

I included a couple of different stories in yesterday’s links post about a group of local Black Lives Matters activists who disrupted an event where people had come expected to hear Bernie Sanders speak. There have been a couple of follow-ups locally: Another activist wrote a guest editorial for the local alternative weekly: I Support Bernie Sanders for President and I Also Support the Black Lives Matter Takeover in Seattle. But what I was most moved by is this statement that started out on the Facebook page of one of our very few POC state legislators, Pramila Jayapal: Why Saturday’s Bernie Sanders Rally Left Me Feeling Heartbroken.

One of the links I included yesterday accused one of the young women who interrupted the rally of being a rightwing Christian whack-o, based on the fact that she attends Seattle Pacific University and has admitted online that when she was younger (as in, middle school aged) she was a Sarah Palin supporter. The piece I linked is hardly the only one of that nature I’ve seen online, with lots of people not understanding how someone who claims to be progressive could attend such a conservative school.

So let me just say that I am an extremely liberal (so liberal that I neither eschew the label “liberal” nor do I consider it an insult when someone calls me a socialist) queer man… and I attended Seattle Pacific University. Even harder for some people to believe: I attended that extremely conservative christian university back in the days when their policies still required “unrepentant homosexuals” to be expelled! (They have since lightened up only a little bit, and actually have allowed a straight-gay alliance type club to officially form on campus).

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: kids raised in extremely conservative families sometimes have to go to the kinds of schools their parents and community will support, even if they have outgrown their family’s rightwing beliefs. You get the education you can, and you go out into the world and make your way. I had some extremely good professors and will put the quality of the higher mathematics, physics, and rhetoric classes I took there against any other university you care to name. Also, some of the most fiercely progressive activists I have known have not only been Christian, they were ministers.

Anyway, I’m glad that they stood up and made their voices heard. I love Bernie Sanders, but I have to agree that until this happened, he hadn’t been connecting the dots in either his speeches or his campaign materials between his economic justice arguments and institutional racism. And we can’t solve the problems of economic disparity without addressing institutional bigotry that contributes to it.

And I’m really, really glad that the Black Lives Matter people also trying to put the screws to politicians on the other side: In Nevada, Jeb Bush rally interrupted by Black Lives Matter demonstrators.

Finally, I promised a story about a whale:

The Daily Mail reports Desperate whale approached boat full of fishermen for help after getting plastic bag caught in its mouth. There’s video!

Fishermen Take Selfie with Massive Whale After Freeing It From Garbage

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here!)

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About fontfolly

I've loved reading for as long as I can remember. I write fantasy, science fiction, mystery, and nonfiction. I publish an anthropomorphic sci-fi/space opera literary fanzine. I attend and work on the staff for several anthropormorphics, anime, and science fiction conventions. I live in Seattle with my wonderful husband, still completely amazed that he puts up with me at all.

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  1. Friday Links (acts of kindness edition) | Font Folly - August 21, 2015

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