A white privilege sighting

white privilege card
My fellow social justice warriors are familiar with white privilege-the sociological concept that describes the unearned benefits and advantages society confers upon white people (as a result of their race) that enables them to move through life with greater ease than those who do not possess white skin. But it’s one thing to understand the concept. It’s another thing entirely to explain it to others in such a way that they understand it-especially people with little to no background in social justice or sociology. Many an SJW has tried explaining this concept to people unfamiliar with the term-often the people most in need of understanding it-only to quickly find themselves deeply frustrated. Responses like “stop trying to make me feel guilty for being white” or “I earned everything I have in life” or “I’ve suffered too” or “I haven’t gotten any special privileges in life” are all too common. Such responses have caused untold facepalms and headdesks. Like many other SJW’s, I’ve had many firsthand experiences with both. And like many others, I have often failed. There have been countless times I have wished there were an easy way to explain white privilege such that people could grasp the concept. Is there a perfect illustration of white privilege that highlights the stark differences between the treatment of white people in society versus the treatment of People of Color? Yes, I think there is:

Continue reading “A white privilege sighting”

A white privilege sighting
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Black Lives Matter, all of them (Content Note: Transphobia)

In response to the 2012 acquittal of George Zimmerman for the murder of Trayvon Martin, Patrice Cullors, Alicia Garza, and Opal Tometi created the Black Lives Matter movement. Their goal was to address the multiple forms of systemic racism within the United States and to protest the injustices African-Americans continue to feel living within a racist system. They sought an inclusive movement-one that spoke to the needs of all black people:

Continue reading “Black Lives Matter, all of them (Content Note: Transphobia)”

Black Lives Matter, all of them (Content Note: Transphobia)

We’re going to need a bigger pool

The Palace Pool

Over at Perry Street Palace, Iris Vander Pluym (my future podcast co-host; and we totes need to do this one day), has finished construction on her Palace Pool. In her infinite wisdom, Iris realized that there simply weren’t enough cups to collect all the conservative tears that have been flowing for weeks. It seems like there has been a never-ending stream of tears from whiny conservatives who have the sadz running through their veins. To these people, all us lowly peons seeking equal rights should be happy with the scraps the majority (read: white, male, and heterosexual) occasionally decides to grant us. We’re apparently supposed to be silent and not ask for further rights and heaven forbid we demand such things as full equality.  After all, if we had full equality, these shitstains might have to acknowledge that we are ::gasp:: human beings with the same rights they have.

The landmark June 26 SCOTUS decision that made same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states cause many conservatives to lose their shit. Their bigoted tears have quenched the thirst of many progressives over the last few weeks and they don’t appear to be letting up anytime soon. Among the many whiny regressive assholes were:

Continue reading “We’re going to need a bigger pool”

We’re going to need a bigger pool

We're going to need a bigger pool

The Palace Pool

Over at Perry Street Palace, Iris Vander Pluym (my future podcast co-host; and we totes need to do this one day), has finished construction on her Palace Pool. In her infinite wisdom, Iris realized that there simply weren’t enough cups to collect all the conservative tears that have been flowing for weeks. It seems like there has been a never-ending stream of tears from whiny conservatives who have the sadz running through their veins. To these people, all us lowly peons seeking equal rights should be happy with the scraps the majority (read: white, male, and heterosexual) occasionally decides to grant us. We’re apparently supposed to be silent and not ask for further rights and heaven forbid we demand such things as full equality.  After all, if we had full equality, these shitstains might have to acknowledge that we are ::gasp:: human beings with the same rights they have.

The landmark June 26 SCOTUS decision that made same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states cause many conservatives to lose their shit. Their bigoted tears have quenched the thirst of many progressives over the last few weeks and they don’t appear to be letting up anytime soon. Among the many whiny regressive assholes were:

Continue reading “We're going to need a bigger pool”

We're going to need a bigger pool

Now how about all the other issues

The high of yesterday has settled in, and while it hasn’t worn off, I’m reminded that there are still a significant number of problems to overcome in the pursuit of equality. Here are some of the many issues facing the LGBT community:

Continue reading “Now how about all the other issues”

Now how about all the other issues

LGBT Link Round-Up 4.2.15

Michigan public school removes transgender equality post after complaints from parent, students find another way to show their solidarity with trans classmates

A school bulletin board highlighting transgender equality is sparking controversy in Marshall.

The Gay Straight Alliance recently decorated the school’s bulletin board to spread a message of acceptance for their transgender classmates.

When that was taken down, some students say their right to free speech was silenced, but the district says that’s not the case.

It was meant to promote inclusion and acceptance, but instead, the board is pinning [sic] some parents against students.

“This was surrounding a Facebook incident surrounding a mother that was very upset,” said Kate Samra, the President of the Gay Straight Alliance. “She thought it was inappropriate for the school setting and that it didn’t exhibit Christian values.”

Let her be upset. It is not the job of the public school system in the United States to “exhibit Christian values”, whatever the heck that means. Come to think of it, I guess “Christian values” don’t include tolerance, an appreciation for diversity, and inclusivity. Thankfully students were able to show their solidarity in another way:

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Ooooh, this is going to cause the right-wing blogosphere to light up with irrational anger and faux outrage. The New York chapter of the Boy Scouts hired the nation’s first openly gay Eagle Scout as a summer camp leader:

The Boy Scouts’ Greater New York Councils said they hired Pascal Tessier, an 18-year-old Eagle Scout who has been a vocal advocate of opening the 105-year-old organization to gay scouts and leaders.

Board member Richard G. Mason said the councils see Tessier as “an exemplary candidate for employment as a camp leader.”

“We welcome him,” Mason said in a statement.

The Boy Scouts of America didn’t immediately respond to an inquiry about the hire. The national organization changed its policy in 2013 to allow openly gay kids as scouts, but not adults as leaders, after a bitter debate over its membership policy. The change took effect in January 2014.

Advocates for letting gays participate in scouting hailed Tessier’s hire.

“This is a watershed moment,” Zach Wahls, executive director of Scouts for Equality, said in a statement. “We are proud to see such an important Boy Scout council standing up for the full inclusion of gay members.”

When the national Boy Scouts began allowing gay boys as scouts, liberal Scout leaders and gay rights groups celebrated the shift but called for allowing gay adults to participate, too. Conservatives involved with the Scouts, including some churches that sponsor troops, decried letting any gays — including kids — participate, and some threatened to defect if the ban were lifted.

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I bet among the members of the Florida House Judiciary Committee are people frustrated over the incremental advances in LGBT rights in USAmerica. Such frustration may have played a role in the decision to pass a bill that would allow adoption agencies to discriminate against same-sex couples on religious grounds. I guess they are determined to ensure that gays in Florida remain second class citizens.  And of course, they don’t give a shit about the welfare of the children.

Thursday morning the Republican-majority Florida House Judiciary Committee passed a bill that would expressly allow open anti-gay discrimination on religious grounds by adoption agencies that are funded with taxpayer dollars.

The bill, HB 7111, applies to private child-placing agencies, stating they are “not required to perform, assist in, recommend, consent to, or participate in the placement of a child when the proposed placement would violate the agency’s written religious or moral convictions or policies.”

[…]

It adds, “The state or a local government or community-based care lead agency may not withhold a grant, contract, or participation in a government program from a private child-placing agency because of the agency’s refusal to perform, assist in, recommend, consent to, or participate in the placement of a child which violates the agency’s written religious or moral convictions or policies.”

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Malta now has one of the best trans and intersex laws in the world

Malta is now leading with one of the most comprehensive laws protecting trans and intersex people in the world.

They will no longer need to have surgery, sterilization and a diagnosis of mental illness to legally change gender under a law passed yesterday (1 April).

It will also ban medically unnecessary surgery on the genitals of intersex infants.

‘To say that this Act is a groundbreaking human rights milestone is almost an understatement.’ Paulo Paulo Côrte-Real, co-chair of ILGA-Europe’s Executive Board,said.

‘It provides an inspirational benchmark for other European countries that need to improve their own LGBTI equality standards. The Act is a beacon of hope – and bears testament to the political leadership and hard work of the LGBTI movement in Malta.’

The passage of the Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics Act (GIGESC) followed an apology from the governent to a trans woman Joanne Cassar who was successful in her fight to marry her husband.

* * * *

Michael Sam may be joining a Canadian football team

Jim Popp, the general manager of the Montreal Alouettes, believes he has a 50/50 shot of signing the player before training starts at the end of May.

The athlete, currently appearing on Dancing With The Stars, has said he is determined to return to the game by any means necessary.

Sam made history last year when he became the first openly gay player to be drafted by an NFL team. He was later cut by the St. Louis Rams and the Dallas Cowboys.

‘The [Canadian Football League] is cut out perfectly for his style,’ Popp said. ‘It would give him the opportunity to do what he does best.’

* * * *

Angie’s List: Indiana’s RFRA fix ‘is insufficient’

Indiana lawmakers have drafted an update to the state’s controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act that seeks to explain that the law cannot be used in a discriminatory fashion, but critics of the law say the “fix” doesn’t go far enough to protect LGBT Hoosiers.

The first major company to dismiss the changes was Angie’s List, the Indiana-based business-review website that has been one of the most vocal critics of the law, reports the The Indianapolis Star

“Our position is that this ‘fix’ is insufficient,” Angie’s List CEO Bill Oesterle said in a statement Thursday morning, reported by the Star. “There was no repeal of RFRA and no end to discrimination of homosexuals in Indiana.”

The proposed amendment to the existing legislation, announced by state lawmakers Thursday, would explicitly prohibit “service providers from using the law as a legal defense for refusing to provide services, goods, facilities or accommodations,” reports the Associated Press. “It also bars discrimination based on race, color, religion, ancestry, age, national origin, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or United States military service.”

But the prohibition on anti-LGBT discrimination applies only to entities affected by the so-called religious freedom bill, also known as Senate Bill 101. It does not change existing Indiana nondiscrimination law, which does not include protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, education, public accommodations, or housing.

“Employers in most of the state of Indiana can fire a person simply for being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning,” said Oesterle. “That’s just not right and that’s the real issue here. Our employees deserve to live, work and travel with open accommodations in any part of the state.”

As a result of the “insufficient” changes, Angie’s List is standing by its decision to cancel a planned expansion of its headquarters in Indianapolis, according to the Star.

This is a good thing by Angie’s List.

LGBT Link Round-Up 4.2.15

Are you reading Strong Female Protagonist?

If not, you ought to be

SFP follows the adventures of a young middle-class American with super-strength, invincibility and a crippling sense of social injustice.

It’s a free online webcomic that is updated twice a week-on Tuesday and Friday. Archives are mostly in black and white, but they switched recently to color (which is really cool).  The latest update was powerful and was a very strong showing from the team of Molly Ostertag, Brennan Lee Mulligan, and Griffin Johnston.  The series is exactly the type of thing that resonates with me.  Superheroes meet social justice, created by people that don’t have to worry about pleasing their corporate masters (that sounds harsh, but while I still love mainstream comic books, I recognize the limitations of writers at the Big 2).

Are you reading Strong Female Protagonist?

Updates from Ferguson 9.18.14

No, it’s not over. It’s FAR from over:

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Petition to Change.org:

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Donate to the legal support fund to aid those arrested in Ferguson protests.

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(source)

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Breaking the Cycle

A new kind of traffic ticket forgiveness will change the way tickets are handled in a small municipality not far from Ferguson. It might even have an impact on neighboring cities. That’s what Velda City’s Police Chief Daniel Paulino is hoping.

The average traffic ticket violator owes up to $1,000 in tickets in Velda City. The violators generate $250,000 in court fines. Most of them never pay it.

Paulino said the money is nothing compared to people stuck in the cycle of not showing up to court. He needed to find a way to break the cycle for people such as Sharon Reece.

She said she couldn’t show up to court because she had to work. “If you can’t take off work to go to court then, it’s another ticket,” Reece said.
“And they have another fine, and another failure to appear, and another warrant so they are right back in the cycle” Paulino said.

Twenty thousand traffic ticket cases are stuck in a vicious cycle in Velda City. Four thousand people have active warrants for their arrest.

“We want to be one of the first to say we hear you, we’re listening, and this is what we will do right now to break the cycle,” Paulino said.

He convinced his city to start a new amnesty program for the month of October. You pay $200 for the court costs. Your warrants and tickets (not including DWI) are gone. You get a letter from the court to get your license back.

“People can still be held accountable, and the city can say you’re done with us,” Paulino said. He expects the program to help clear the court docket. But he said the most important impetus of the program is to show the people he serves and protects that the city is listening and care.

“I want to do the right thing,” Reece said. The right thing now means a mistake won’t follow you for years in Velda City.

Velda’s City “Break the Cycle” program runs for the month of October. Paulino said city lawyers from different cities are looking at the program as they try to come up with a long-term solution to deal with traffic ticket warrants.

Updates from Ferguson 9.18.14

Liberty and Justice…for all?

In 1892, the United States Pledge of Allegiance was written by the socialist minister Francis Bellamy. Today, US citizens are likely familiar with the refrain:

“”I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

What some may not know is that this is not the original wording.  In 1954, the words “under God” were added to the pledge.  Prior to that, the Pledge read:

“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Even this, however, was not the original form of the Pledge.  The year 1923 saw the addition of the words ‘the Flag of the United States of America’ to the Pledge.  The original Pledge of Allegiance read as follows:

“I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

(I find the random capitalization to be really amusing. There is no reason for either ‘flag’ or ‘republic’ to be capitalized.  It’s as silly as religious people capitalizing random religious words.)

I take issue with the forced recitation of the Pledge, especially in public schools.  Young children are not taught what it means to pledge allegiance to their country. They’re just taught to do so and told it’s the right and proper thing to do.  What is so great about pledging your loyalty to a flag, or a country? Moreover, why should one be compelled to do so?  It does nothing more than enforce blind patriotism in people who are often too young to fully understand what they are doing and why.  That way often leads to nationalism and jingoism.  As seen in the War on Terror, many Americans blindly supported the United States’ actions overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan-which, while ostensibly under the cover of capturing those responsible for the September 11th attacks, involved invading a sovereign nation and engaging in actions that led to the death of innocents (according to a Brown University study, 132,000 civilians were killed in 10 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan).  The killing of innocent people is completely at odds with the notion of ‘liberty and justice for all’.  Teaching our youth that the United States is a great country, without equal, and dedicated to concepts such as justice, fairness, equality, and liberty before they can understand those concepts and analyze whether the actions of the US are in line with those concepts breeds nothing more than blind loyalty.  Such loyalty can result in people glossing over, or completely ignoring the fact that throughout the history of the US, the government has not embodied the concepts of justice, fairness, equality, and liberty for all.

“Really?” some might ask.

“Fuck, yes.” I’d likely respond.

“Explain yourself!” some might respond.

“Go educate yourself, you who are online and capable of employing the Google on your own” might often be a response back from me.

This time, I won’t go that route.  I’ll spoonfeed the smugnoramuses (portmanteau of ‘smug’ and ‘ignoramus’) out there…a little.

Examples of the United States not living up to the concepts of ‘liberty and justice for all’ (aside from the aforementioned killing of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan):

The genocide of First Nation people in the United States.

The treatment of African-Americans as slaves in the United States.

Japanese-American internment camps-in the USA-during WWII.

Women as second class citizens in the US.

The United States has a long history-that continues to this day-of treating people really shitty. That’s why I love the claims of right wing extremists who long for the days of yesteryear when the US was a bastion of morality and a shining example of all that is good in the world (where. is. my. puke. bucket). Are they talking about those bygone days like this:

Slave life varied greatly depending on many factors.

Life on the fields meant working sunup to sundown six days a week and having food sometimes not suitable for an animal to eat. Plantation slaves lived in small shacks with a dirt floor and little or no furniture. Life on large plantations with a cruel overseer was oftentimes the worst.

Perhaps they’re referring to these good ole’ days of the Sand Creek Massacre:

However, Chivington ignored the symbol of peace and surrender, raising his arm for attack. An easy victory at hand, cannons and rifles began to pound upon the camp as the Indians scattered in panic. The frenzied soldiers began to charge, hunting down men, women, and children, shooting them unmercifully. A few warriors managed to fight back allowing some members of the camp to escape across the stream.

One man, Silas Soule, a Massachusetts abolitionist, refused to follow Colonel Chivington’s orders. He did not allow his cavalry company to fire into the crowd.

The troops kept up their indiscriminate assault for most of the day, during which numerous atrocities were committed. One lieutenant was said to have killed and scalped three women and five children who had surrendered and were screaming for mercy. Finally breaking off their attack they returned to the camp killing all the wounded they could find before mutilating and scalping the dead, including pregnant women, children and babies. They then plundered the teepees and divided up the Indians’ horse herd before leaving.

When the attack was over, as many as 150 Indians lay dead, most of which were old men, women and children. In the meantime, the cavalry lost only 9 or ten men, with about three dozen wounded. Black Kettle and his wife followed the others up the stream bed, his wife being shot several times, but somehow managed to survive

Or maybe they’re thinking of the days when wives could be legally raped by their husbands:

It was not until the late 1970s that anyone was convicted of raping his spouse in the United States. Before then, criminal codes typically included a “marital rape exemption,” or provision barring prosecution for the rape of one’s spouse. Such laws reflected then popularly held views that only stranger rape constituted “real rape” or that forced sex is a “wifely duty.”

This thinking mirrored the common law presumption, in effect for hundreds of years, that spouses should be exempt from prosecution. It was based in a theory articulated by Matthew Hale, [Chief Justice in England in the 17th century,who] “wrote: “[t]he husband cannot be guilty of rape committed by himself upon his lawful wife for by their mutual matrimonial consent and contract, the wife hath given up herself in this kind unto the husband which she cannot retract.”

In the 1970s and 1980s, numerous states adopted laws criminalizing marital rape, and by July 1993, it was illegal in every state to rape your spouse.

(Incidentally, North Carolina was the last state to decide “hey women have the right to be protected from marital rape” in 19-fucking-93).

There are many more examples of the failure of the United States to live up to the principles of the Pledge of Allegiance.  Perhaps our government ought to focus on teaching children what it means to be good people.  They ought to teach them the principles of egalitarianism and humanism.  They need to teach what the concepts mean, why they are important, and show how each and every one of us can live up to these concepts. This needs to be taught to kids at appropriate ages, and needs to be ongoing, with no whitewashing.  Teach the good AND the bad.

Also, the US ought to lead by example.  A good start?  Arresting Darren Wilson.

Liberty and Justice…for all?

Republican official showcases upper level ignorance

Last week, Russell Pearce, a top Arizona GOP official had some interesting things to say about low income Arizonans (Arizonians?):

Tuning into The Russell Pearce Show on Saturday nights on Phoenix talk-radio station KKNT 960 AM can be illuminating.

For example, on one recent episode, the recalled former state Senate president got off on the subject of public assistance in all its various forms.

He suggested that if people would just give him the authority, he’d set things right with all these here gub’mint programs.

“You put me in charge of Medicaid,” Pearce told one caller, “the first thing I’d do is get [female recipients] Norplant, birth-control implants, or tubal ligations. Then, we’ll test recipients for drugs and alcohol, and if you want to [reproduce] or use drugs or alcohol, then get a job.”

Down deep, Pearce really is an old softy. This is just his version of tough love.

“I know there’s people out there [who] need help, and my heart goes out to them, too,” he explained that same evening. “But you know what? That should never be a government role. That’s a role for family, church, and community.”

So generous. So thoughtful. Why, if only we had more people like him in the world, all our problems would be solved!

::we interrupt this post because I need to go find a bucket to puke in…ah, much better::

Anyone remember the Count?  From Sesame Street.  Imagine his voice as we say:

One, one fail!

Two, two fails!

Three, three fails!

Four, four fails!

Ah ha ha ha ha ha ha!

Fail the first- He’d “get” low income women birth control or tubal ligations? What does that mean? You’d force them?  You do know that’s a violation of their privacy and their bodily autonomy, right?  What’s that? You don’t care?  Oh, silly me. I forgot we’re talking about the women folk.  In this country, they get different, and fewer rights, than men do (at least according to the GOP assbigots).  Oh, and is he going to “get” these to the women folk free of charge?

Fail the second- Drug testing low income government assistance recipients.  ::Le sigh:: This.  Again.  How many times must reality smack these Republican nincomfucks upside the head before they will listen (yeah, yeah, I know)?  Here is yet more evidence that Republican views are divorced from reality:

The testing is meant to assure taxpayers their money isn’t being “wasted” on the less desirable, those who would somehow manage to buy drugs with the assistance. But in Tennessee, where drug testing was enacted for welfare recipients last month, only one person in the 800 who applied for help tested positive. In Florida, during the four months the state tested for drug use, only2.6% of applicants tested positive. Meanwhile, Florida has an illegal drug use rate of 8%, meaning far fewer people on services are using drugs than their better-off counterparts. The drug testing cost taxpayers more money than it saved, and was ruled unconstitutional last year.

Then there’s the lovely state of Utah:

Utah has spent more than $30,000 to drug test welfare applicants after it passed a new law last year. But in that time, just 12 people have tested positive for drug use, according to state figures.

Utah doesn’t randomly test applicants or require them to all undergo a drug test, but instead requires them to complete a written questionnaire that is meant to screen for drug abuse. Those who have a high probability are then given drug tests. The state spent nearly $6,000 on written tests for 4,730 applicants, 466 of which had to take a drug test, which cost more than $25,000. The law doesn’t disqualify those who test positive but instead requires them to go into a substance abuse treatment program.

And in Virginia:

Virginia Republicans are reviving plans to force welfare recipients to take drug tests before receiving benefits, saying they have found ways to reduce the price tag that doomed the proposal earlier.

“We got hung up last year on the cost, and it seems that we determined the costs aren’t as great as we were told last year,” said Del. Dickie Bell, R-Staunton, the bill’s sponsor. “There are new methods of screening and testing used other places, and some are practical and could be applied here.”

Bell hasn’t introduced drug test legislation yet for the 2013 General Assembly session. The bill he introduced in the last session would have screened all state welfare recipients and then administered drug tests to those suspected of drug use.

The legislation failed, however, after the state estimated it would cost $1.5 million to administer the tests, compared with the estimated $229,000 that would be saved by stripping benefits from those who test positive.

I’m starting to see a pattern:  Republicans are idiots.  Drug testing welfare recipients is a waste of taxpayer dollars because there are insufficient numbers of low income Americans who are doing drugs. Stop trotting this bullshit out.

Fail the third-Pearce’s comments make use of the GOP talking point that welfare recipients are not working.  A large number of them are working:

Over the last two decades, large shares of SNAP households have become working households. In 1989, 42 percent of all SNAP households received cash welfare benefits and only 20 percent had earned income. By 2010, over three times as many SNAP households worked as relied solely on welfare benefits for their income.

Despite the large jump in unemployment during the recession, the share of SNAP families with earnings has continued to increase in recent years.  This suggests that for a growing share of the nation’s workers, having a job has not been enough to keep them out of poverty.

(via Media Matters)

Another thing that many Republican officials fail to realize is that many of the people who benefit from government assistance are children and the elderly.  You know, the people who don’t/can’t work or are retired.

Most SNAP recipients were children or elderly. Nearly half (48 percent) were children and another 8 percent were age 60 or older. Working-age women represented 28 percent of the caseload, while working-age men represented 16 percent. (source)

That ties in nicely to fail the fourth-that the government shouldn’t assist low income families.  It’s funny, to hear the arguments from opponents of marriage equality, it is in the government’s best interest to forbid same sex marriage because think of the kids. If the government has a vested interest in thinking of the kids as a reason to make same sex marriage illegal-don’t they have an interest in supporting those families with kids who are struggling to put motherfucking food on the table?!  But no, think of the kids is a refrain only trotted out to oppose marriage equality (and of course, it’s not about the kids in that case either, otherwise, they’d see the many LGB families with kids that would greatly benefit from having their parents in a legally recognized marriage).

The fail is further added to when you recognize that private charities are not up to the task of providing for the millions of Americans who require financial assistance and they NEVER were (libertarians, take note).

The power of the fail is strong in Russell Pearce.  Thankfully, he has since resigned.

 

Republican official showcases upper level ignorance