The Right is Lying–Hobby Lobby Decision RESTRICTS Religious Liberty for All

Posted By on July 7, 2014

Eric joined KXRK’s Radio From Hell morning show to discuss the recent Hobby Lobby decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. While the Religious Right likes to portray themselves as the hero-defenders of religious freedom, this ruling and their broader campaign to redefine religious liberty is actually all about stripping your rights, and allowing private institutions to force you to believe however they wish.

Listen here

Eric RFH

Quick Primer: Where (and What) Are All of the Same-Sex Marriage Cases in Utah

Posted By on June 9, 2014

marriage equality constitution

For those trying to keep track of where all the same-sex marriage cases are in the process, it can get really confusing. Here’s a quick recap and primer of what the different cases are and where they’re at:

Kitchen v. Herbert

This is the main case over the validity of Utah’s Amendment 3, the 2004 constitutional amendment that bans same-sex marriage (and civil unions) in Utah.

The law was struck down in December of 2013 by district judge Robert Shelby, who ruled that barring certain citizens from their right to get married was unconstitutional. The Utah Attorney General’s office failed to put in a request for the decision to be stayed if the judge ruled against them, so the ruling took effect immediately and over the next 17 days, nearly 1,300 packed county clerk offices across the state and were legally wed. Eventually, the AG’s office did request the stay, but Judge Shelby denied it as many couples had already been married. The state then asked the 10th Circuit court of appeals to put a stay on the ruling, but that court also denied the request. Utah then went to the US Supreme Court, who granted the temporary stay (17 days after the initial ruling), which put a halt to any future marriages while Utah appealed Judge Shelby’s request up to the 10th Circuit Court.

The state and the plaintiffs argued their case before the 10th Circuit earlier this year, and the ruling is expected to be handed down any day.

Possible Outcomes:

The 10th Circuit could either uphold Judge Shelby’s ruling that Amendment 3 was unconstitutional, or they could overturn the decision. Either way, it is expected that either the state of Utah or the plaintiffs will appeal their decision up to the Supreme Court. It is commonly anticipated that the 10 Circuit will rule 2 to 1 in favor of Judge Shelby’s ruling (aka, in favor of same-sex marriage).

The ACLU’s Lawsuit (Evans v. Herbert):

The second case moving forward right now is being brought by the Utah ACLU on behalf of the 1,300 legally wed same-sex couples. The state of Utah has refused to recognize their marriages, arguing that it shouldn’t have to recognize them until the appeal of the Amendment 3 case has concluded. The case began when the Utah Department of Health, acting on orders from the Utah Attorney General’s office, stopped adoptions by several of the newly-married couples which had already been approved by other Utah judges.

Last month, district court judge Dale Kimball ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, and ordered the state of Utah to grant the couples all benefits of marriage, as their marriages had been legally performed following Judge Shelby’s ruling. No stay was put in place, but Judge Kimball delayed his ruling from going into effect for 21 days, to give the state time to decide whether or not they would appeal.

Utah used up almost the entire 21 days before announcing that they would be appealing, and Attorney General Sean Reyes filed with the 10th Circuit, requesting that they put a temporary stay on Judge Kimball’s ruling while the appeal (and a request for a permanent stay) moves forward. The 10th Circuit granted the temporary stay. The Utah ACLU last week filed their own motion with the 10th Circuit, asking that the stay be lifted. Then, this morning, Utah filed another motion, telling the 10th Circuit that if they drop the stay, Utah intends to go to the Supreme Court to ask for the stay to be put back into place.

A ruling from the 10th Circuit on the stay could come as early as today.

The Scribd.com account Equality Case Files has posted all of the briefs in both cases, if you’d like to see them.

The Religious Right’s Campaign to Strip All Citizens of Religious Freedom

Posted By on June 5, 2014

Alex Brandon, AP

Alex Brandon, AP

**Originally Published on LGBTQ Nation and The New Civil Rights Movement**

Turn on any cable news show and you’ll hear conservatives, particularly from the Religious Right, giving long tirades about religious freedom and how the Left is seeking to strip it away from good God-fearing Americans. But if you watch how the Religious Right works in court, you know that it’s actually the other way around.

Religious freedom has been a strongly-held belief in America since the very beginning. All three branches of government have worked hard to preserve the rights of Americans to choose for themselves whether they wished to be Protestant, Jewish, Catholic, Atheist, etc.. It’s a fundamental part of the system that our country built itself on: the right to believe as you will, and to change your mind about it.

Legislative bodies and the courts have centered those rights around the individual—allowing the individual to choose for themselves how they would or would not believe in a god, rather than imbuing an institution with the right to choose for them.

If you were to believe the talking points of conservative punditryland, you might think that the right to believe (or not) as you will is under attack from the Left, and that no-good liberals (particular the gays) are trying to force Americans to accept their wicked ways and deny those good God-fearing citizens their right to worship in peace.

But how is this actually playing out in the courts and in the legislatures?

Hobby Lobby

In the Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby case before the U.S. Supreme Court right now, the owners of the private for-profit corporation Hobby Lobby chain are seeking an exemption from a provision within the Affordable Care Act that requires that the health insurance their employees receive include coverage for birth control methods such as morning after pills and IUDs. Hobby Lobby’s owners, the Green family (who happen to be evangelical Christians) say that they consider such birth control methods to be abortifacients—despite the medical and scientific community pointing out that they are not—and as such their company should be exempted from the Affordable Care Act because providing their employees with insurance coverage for such methods is a violation of their religious freedom.

Mississippi’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act

On April 1 this year (appropriately), the conservative-controlled Mississippi state legislature passed into law the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which was quickly signed into law by Governor Phil Bryant (R). The bill allows businesses to turn away customers and/or employees (such as LGBTQ people) because the owner of the business happens to disagree with them on a religious level.

A similar law was passed just a few months prior by the Arizona legislature, but Governor Jan Brewer had vetoed it after coming under enormous national pressure and media scrutiny.

Whose Rights?

What both of these situations highlight is the concerted effort by the leaders of the Religious Right to fundamentally alter the way religious freedom works. Where in the past it has always been applied to—and designed for—the individual, Christian Right legal organizations such as the Alliance Defending Freedom (formerly known as Alliance Defense Fund of Prop 8 notoriety) are seeking to strip those rights away from you and me, and bestow them upon businesses themselves. Those corporate religious beliefs can then be used to circumvent civil rights laws, if they happen to conflict with the businesses’ newly-bestowed conscience.

What does this mean for us? It won’t just affect LGBTQ people. If the only religious beliefs that matter are what your boss happens to believe, employees across the country will be forced into complying with those beliefs or risk their (and their family’s) livelihood and well being. If a business owner happens to belong to a faith that believes women should always be subservient to men, they could legally be allowed to deny women managerial positions (or not hire them at all). Muslims could refuse to hire Jewish workers, or keep them at lower pay rates than their co-workers. White business owners in the South could use religion as an excuse to deny service to Black customers.

Now, neither the Hobby Lobby case or the Mississippi law go so far as to completely open the floodgates for all of these civil rights abuses on their own, but each are significant cracks in the wall. And once precedent is set, the next exemption is that much easier to create.

If we are going to shore up the foundations of religious freedom, it’s going to take more than just quippy catchphrases. The Religious Right has been enormously successful capturing the dialogue, and painting all outsiders, particularly the LGBTQ community, as the enemies of our rights. We’ve got to help the nation understand that the leaders of the Right are seeking to not only strip the religious freedom of LGBTQ people, but of every citizen—no matter what their beliefs.

10th Circuit Hears Oral Arguments in Utah Marriage Case — Appears To Lean Toward Equality

Posted By on April 12, 2014

**Originally published at The New Civil Rights Movement on April 10, 2014**

Post image for 10th Circuit Hears Oral Arguments in Utah Marriage Case — Appears To Lean Toward Equality

(Denver)  The 10th Circuit Court today heard oral arguments in the Utah Amendment 3 same-sex marriage case. The judges are being asked to decide whether to uphold a lower court’s ruling which struck down Utah’s 2004 ban on same-sex marriages and civil unions. From all indications, it looks like Marriage Equality will see another court win.

Since the 2013 Supreme Court ruling in United States v. Windsor, Marriage Equality has won 9 court battles around the country (and lost zero). But the Amendment 3 case is the first time Marriage Equality has been considered on the appellate court level.

Until now, Utah’s case has almost exclusively rested on the thoroughly debunked Mark Regnerus study which claims that same-sex parents are “unfit.” But after a Michigan judge ruled that the Regnerus study was “entirely unbelievable” a few weeks ago, Utah submitted a brief to the 10th Circuit late last night walking back their reliance on Regnerus.

That walk-back landed Utah’s Attorney General in some hot water with the 10th Circuit Court, with Judge Holmes (widely considered to be the swing vote of the three-judge panel) asking whether Utah’s dropping of the study took out the entire foundation of their argument.

Holmes was extremely pointed in other areas of his questioning as well, asking that if ‘it’s true that same-sex parents are unfit, doesn’t that mean that divorced heterosexual parents are unfit as well?’ Utah’s attorneys admitted that, yes, that would make divorced parents less than ideal as well. Holmes then pressed his point, asking why Utah isn’t seeking to make divorced parenting illegal too.

At one point, Utah’s hired outside attorney Gene Schaerr actually admitted to Holmes that “Yes, children of same-sex couples would likely do better if their parents were allowed to marry.”

Utah then switched gears, highlighting how, in 2004 when Amendment 3 was first passed, it was approved by just over 60 percent of Utah voters—and that the courts should not overrule the state’s right to define marriage and the will of the people (at least, their will in 2004).This time, it was Judge Lucero who hit back, asking “Has public policy ever been allowed to overrule constitutional rights in this country?”

Lawyers for the same-sex couples, meanwhile, focused in on prior SCOTUS cases such as Loving v. Virginia, which struck down bans on interracial marriage. The attorneys argued that, like same-sex couples, the civil right for citizens to marry the person of their choice was being trampled by individual states.

Insiders at the Denver courthouse say it appeared the judges seemed to be split on their ruling, and are predicting the court will hand down a final ruling of 2 to 1 in favor of Marriage Equality, with only Judge Kelly predicted to side with Utah.

Outside the courthouse after the hearing, Derek Kitchen, one of the plaintiffs in the case who is seeking to marry his partner, said he felt “humble and proud” to be a part of the case which could pave the way for Marriage Equality everywhere. He also shared an interesting story, saying that Utah Attorney General Reyes had spoken with him before the hearing began, and had apologized to him for putting Kitchen and his partner through so much grief in the case.

Reyes confirmed the story to reporters, and said that defending Amendment 3 is “his job.” He would not say what his personal feelings about it are. However, last night he filed a suit with the Utah Supreme Court, seeking to halt all currently underway adoptions in Utah by same-sex couples (who filed their paperwork before SCOTUS put a hold on same-sex marriages in the state).

There’s no clear timeline for when the Judges will issue their ruling. But seeing as how they asked for an expedited timeline to hear the arguments, it’s possible they may issue their opinion within the next few weeks.

UPDATE: The 10th Circuit has released the audio recordings of the hearing.

Listen in here
.

Image via Twitter

Follow Author Eric Ethington on Twitter @EricEthington

Utah Quietly Seeking ‘Emergency Relief’ To Halt Existing LGBT Adoptions

Posted By on April 11, 2014

*This article was originally published on The New Civil Rights Movement

Sean-Reyes

 

Salt Lake City – While the eyes of Utah (and much of the nation) are on the 10th Circuit Court, which will hear oral arguments tomorrow on whether to uphold a lower court’s decision to strike the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, Utah Republican Attorney General Sean Reyes has quietly filed a Petition For Emergency Extraordinary Relief with the Utah Supreme Court to allow the state to halt adoptions by LGBT parents already in motion.

After district court judge Robert Shelby struck down Amendment 3, the 2004 Utah law which banned same-sex marriage and civil unions, dozens of newly-wed couples immediately began filing for adoption. Some couples sought to adopt new children, while others filed to adopt the biological children of their spouses they are already raising (Utah law currently prohibits 2nd parent adoption by anyone not married to their partner).

The suit, filed by the Attorney General on behalf of the Utah Department of Health and the Office of Vital Records and Statistics, is seeking to overturn the rulings of multiple judges in Utah who signed the orders allowing the adoption proceedings to begin prior to the United States Supreme Court granting a stay on Judge Shelby’s ruling.

The Emergency Petition gives the adoptive parents only three days to respond, an extraordinarily limited amount of time for these parents to find an attorney, prepare their arguments/briefs, and file with the court. Not to mention the nightmare of court and legal costs that can pile up on these parents who just finished paying adoption costs.

Utah’s filing with the court adds insult to injury for the parents, claiming that if the Utah Supreme Court does not overturn the adoptions, they themselves will be harmed “as they may wrongly rely upon an illegally-issued birth certificate for other benefits or protections not provided by Utah law.” Utah goes on to ask that the adoptions remain on permanent hold until the State’s appeal of Judge Shelby’s ruling is concluded. Assuming the 10th Circuit Court follows the precedent of multiple other judicial bodies around the country, and upholds the ruling in favor of marriage equality, that means the hold on the adoptions would remain in effect as Utah inevitably appeals all the way to SCOTUS.

Equality Utah shared this story of one of the couples on their Facebook page:

Kimberly and Amber Leary started a family together in November of 2012. In an attempt to provide a safe, stable, nurturing family life for their daughter, as well as a legal framework under the law, Kimberly Leary began adoption proceedings so her daughter would not be a legal stranger to her under Utah law. Kimberly and Amber were legally married in Utah during the 16-day window last year. A judge approved their adoption and today the couple went to the Office of Vital Records and presented the judge’s order to receive a new birth certificate for the baby. Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, deliberately instructed the director at the Office of Vital Records to disobey the judge’s order and withhold the birth certificate from Kimberly and Amber Leary, in effect, halting their adoption of their daughter.

Kimberly Leary “We are only asking for the state to comply with the court’s order to issue an amended birth certificate in our adoption case. To us, this is about creating a safe, and stable home for our daughter and making sure she has the kind of loving, nurturing environment that will allow her to thrive and succeed.”

Brandie Balken of Equality Utah, “This is unheard of and very disappointing. The state is asking the Utah Supreme Court to tell them they don’t have to follow the orders of judges who have granted adoptions. Enabling all children to become a part of permanent, lifelong families should be a defining goal of our state.”

Meanwhile, Utah’s case against marriage equality tomorrow will rely almost exclusively on the thoroughly debunked study by Mark Regnerus, as they argue that same-sex couples shouldn’t be allowed to get married because children need to be protected from them.

See the full filing below (courtesy of openly-gay Utah State Senator Jim Dabakis).

 

Utah Attorney General's Petition for Emergency Extraordinary Relief to the US Supreme Court

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The Most Inept Court Defense of ‘Traditional Marriage’ Comes From the Reddest of States

Posted By on April 1, 2014

stooges

**Originally published on The New Civil Rights Movement

Some might assume that the reddest of red states would have the strongest case prepared in defense of its ban on same-sex marriage. Well, that assumption couldn’t be further from the truth. Utah’s case has been so riddled with errors, mistakes, and mishaps, it could almost be mistaken for the Three Stooges’ 1936 Disorder in the Court.

Nobody was expecting to see marriage equality arrive in Utah without a federal mandate, much less in December of 2013. I mean come on, it’s Utah—home of the Mormon (LDS) church, an almost 90 percent Republican state legislature, and a voter-approved constitutional ban on not only marriage for same-sex couples, but also civil unions or anything even closely resembling similar recognition of non-hetero couples. But perhaps it was that very security in their iron-clad shield against the “gay agenda” that has caused such havoc and ineptitude in the case.

Utah was at a disadvantage in the case over Amendment 3 (its 2004 ban on marriage equality) from the beginning. At the time it was argued before Utah Judge Robert Shelby, Utah’s Republican Attorney General John Swallow was under multiple investigations for fraud and corruption by the FBI, DOJ, state legislature, Utah Bar Association, and the Salt Lake County/Davis County District Attorneys. The investigations (which ultimately led to Swallow’s resignation) caused major disruption in the Attorney General’s office, and the seemingly easy-win case for Utah wasn’t given much time or attention. The usual conservative arguments were made—same-sex couples are just awful parents, marriage has been between a man and a woman since before time, etc.—and everyone just assumed that would be enough.

But then Judge Shelby, drawing on the Supreme Court’s ruling in United States v. Windsor, ruled in favor of marriage equality. And in what has got to be the most irrational string of mistakes in a major court case ever seen, Utah fell apart scrambling to fix things.

First, Utah was so sure of its easy victory, the AG’s office didn’t even have the usual request for a stay to be immediately issued if Shelby were to rule against them in place. As a result, the ruling went into effect immediately and more than 1300 happy couples stormed county clerks’ offices demanding marriage licenses. Working overnight to prepare the stay request, the office then incorrectly filed the request for a stay with the 10th Circuit Court (which oversees lower courts in Utah), which rejected their request because they hadn’t gone through Judge Shelby yet. After several days, Utah was able to get time in front of Judge Shelby for a hearing on the stay, but by then hundreds of couples had already been married and Shelby denied their request. Utah then went back to the 10th Circuit, which also rejected them, before filing for an emergency stay with the Supreme Court to get the hold on marriages put in place—a full 17 days (and 1,355 marriages) after the original ruling. If you watch the courts often, you’ll know how hilarious this is. If Utah had their request for a stay in before the ruling was issued—as nearly every attorney knows to do—it almost certainly would have been immediately granted before any couples could tie the knot.

Now Utah had to put together their brief for the 10th Circuit Court. In the interest of space, let’s just skip over how they were unable to put together their briefs on time, and had to file for multiple extensions of time.

The circular logic of Utah’s briefs have been nothing if not a professional-grade contortionist act to watch. New Attorney General Sean Reyes (who took over after Swallow’s resignation), argued that Utah could not, in fact, recognize same-sex couples who had married after Amendment 3 was ruled unconstitutional - because of Amendment 3.

The illogical (borderline incompetent) briefs would be hilarious, if only they weren’t coming at the expensive of our tax dollars. The Utah Legislature budgeted 2 million taxpayer dollars for the case, and spent hundreds of thousands on outside counsel brought in from the vehemently (and hilariously) anti-gay Sutherland Institute, yet still can’t get its act together. In the latest round of submitted briefs to the 10th Circuit Court, Utah was forced to submit a clarification brief, asking the court to let them correct more than ninety misspelling, grammar, and incorrect citation errors. As if that wasn’t embarrassing enough, it turns out that the clarification brief had errors of its own, and Utah had to submit another brief to fix the new errors.

Adding to the hilarity of the massive list of errors (which any 1st-year law student should have caught), one of the three judges on the 10th Circuit Court is Bush Sr.-appointee Paul Kelly, Jr., back in  2004 warned attorneys submitting briefs “[P]roofread your brief (more than once) before you file it. We review hundreds and hundreds of briefs every year; you don’t want us distracted from the merits by missing verbs, misspelled names, incorrect citations, improper grammar or sentences that run for pages. Enough said.”

But the crux of Utah’s case, and the truest embarrassment to conservative cases against marriage equality everywhere, is their reliance on their argument that gay couples make lousy parents. Utah offers as its proof two different studies to back their arguments. The first is a 2002 study from Child Trends, and the second is the infamous 2012 study from sociologist Mark Regnerus. Unfortunately for Utah, neither study actually says what they claim.

Child Trends president, Carol Emig, has repeated gone on the record chastising anyone who claims that their study disparages same-sex couples, saying:

“The Child Trends brief in question summarizes research conducted in 2002, when same-sex parents were not identified in large national surveys. Therefore, no conclusions can be drawn from this research about the well-being of children raised by same-sex parents. .. We have pointed this out repeatedly, yet to our dismay we continually see our 2002 research mischaracterized by some opponents of same-sex marriage.”

The Regnerus study has been even further ridiculed and debunked by scientific community at large. The project was funded by the viciously anti-gay Witherspoon Institute—cofounded by Robert P. George, who also cofounded the National Organizations for Marriage (NOM)—for the express purpose of “proving” that same-sex couples are inferior parents.

Unfortunately, the research was unable to bear that result out, and so the final study ended up comparing children raised in a two-parent home to children of single parents who may or may not have happened to have physical same-sex relations during the child’s rearing. In fact, of the more than 3,000 children sampled,  only two were actually raised by two same-sex parents. The backlash of the Regnerus study using such dubious data to reach his conclusion that because two parents do better than single parents (who may or may not be gay), that means same-sex couples make horrible parents, was quick and severe. The study’s intent, methods, and results have been denounced by 200 of his peers, his coworkers at the University of Texas at Austin, the science community at large, and most recently by Michigan Judge Bernard Friedman who called the study“entirely unbelievable,” and “not worthy of serious consideration.”

Keep it up Utah, we can’t wait to see what you do next.

Image: YouTube

Scott Lively And Rick Warren’s PR Campaign To Whitewash The Right’s Anti-Gay Uganda History

Posted By on March 11, 2014

Lively Warren Uganda

As a communications person myself, I can really appreciate a good PR campaign, and the best I’ve seen in a long time is the new effort by U.S. right-wing evangelicals to completely whitewash their own history of involvement with Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality law.

For the last five years, human rights advocates around the world been discussing how U.S. conservative figures were integrally involved in the creation of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill (originally called the “Kill the Gays Bill”). Vast amounts of research have been produced on the involvement of conservatives such as Rick Warren (who posted a YouTube video supporting California’s Prop 8 only to later take it down and deny it ever happened), and hours of undercover footage were taken of Scott Lively (famous for claiming the Nazi Party was really a gay club in his book The Pink Swastika) in Kampala, Uganda, advocating the bill’s creation with local political and religious leaders.

As evidence of their involvement has spread throughout the U.S., the public’s sentiment on these characters’ involvement has soured considerably. This was exacerbated when, last month, Uganda President Yoweri Museveni signed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill into law, ascribing life-in-prison sentences to LGBTQ people in the African nation, criminalizing advocacy of homosexuality, and requiring authority figures (parents, teachers, doctors, etc.) to report LGBTQ people to the government.

The American public is finally taking notice. Story after story in major media outlets (The GuardianReal News NetworkThe Rachel Maddow Show, and the National Journal in just the last few weeks) is running about these right-wing evangelicals’ involvement, and the millions of dollars they’ve poured into Uganda, Nigeria, Russia, and elsewhere in carefully crafted campaigns to train local pastors and political leaders how to use culture wars-talking points for an all-out attack on LGBTQ people.

So if you were a right-wing public figure, and all of a sudden found yourself standing alone, staring down the barrel of public anger over your past work, what would you do?

For most public figures, it would be a career-ending disaster. But when you’ve got the money, the personnel, and a stellar PR team, you just might be able to convince the rest of us of a simple little lie: They were against the law in the first place.

The process of turning someone who claims “gay = Nazi” and that “equal rights = condoning pedophilia” into a “moderate” is quite the sight to behold.

Step 1: Float the New Idea 

In an interview on NPR’s “Tell Me More” program, Scott Lively wasted no time distancing himself from the criminalization measures in the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Almost before host Michel Martin could finish introducing him, Lively jumped in with, “I have mixed feelings about the bill. I support the provisions that increase penalties for homosexual abuse of children and intentional spreading of AIDS through sodomy. But I think the other provisions are too harsh, and I don’t support those and I wish they’d gone in a different direction.”

Quite the change from the Scott Lively of 2009, who wrote a blog post while in Uganda where he admitted meeting with local lawmakers, warning Ugandans “how bad things would be” if it was not illegal to be an LGBTQ person, and that his campaign to enact legislation further persecuting sexual minorities was “a nuclear bomb against the ‘gay’ agenda in Uganda.” He concluded, “I pray that this, and the predictions, are true.”

Step 2: Create a New Image

For the last several years, Pastor Rick Warren has been successfully advancing his media blitz to get people talking about anything other than his stance on homosexuality. In December of last year, he was featured in TIME Magazine talking about his new weight-loss plan. This same story has been pushed hard by Warren’s PR team, resulting in features in Parade Magazine and NPR—none of which mentioned his flip-flop on Prop 8, or his involvement with the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda.

Step 3: Strategically Place Reinforcements of your Talking Points

Following the NPR story with Lively, a new article surfaced on the Religious News Service, expertly titled “U.S. evangelicals on the defense over Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act.”

Staging the piece as a journalistic interview, author Sarah Pulliam Bailey basically transcribes a press release from Scott Lively and Rick Warren, disavowing themselves of their involvement:

California megachurch pastor Rick Warren, too, posted on his Facebook page on Sunday (March 2) denying allegations that he ever supported the Uganda bill…

Scott Lively, a Massachusetts pastor and head of Abiding Truth Ministries, said that he is not responsible for the bill.

“It’s a very insulting argument, that somehow an American evangelical pastor is so powerful that I’ve overwhelmed the intelligence of an entire government and turned them out to do my will,” Lively said. “The Ugandans knew what they wanted to hear.”

He said he does not support the bill in its final form.

Never mind that Lively himself has admitted on several occasions that he had seen and reviewed the original “Kill the Gays Bill” before it had been released to the public. Despite the ample evidence of Lively and Warren’s involvement in Uganda, none of it is mentioned. There isn’t even a hint at what pro-human rights groups have found in their research.

Step 4: Spread the Word

Now that they’ve gotten their press release printed as if it were an accredited journalistic account, the right-wing PR campaign can push to get mainstream outlets to reprint. The whitewashed article has been republished not only on small sites like Spokane Faith & Values, but on major outlets like The Washington Post.

As is typical with controversial and nuanced stories, the simple talking points are much easier to publish. Why bother researching what these right-wing evangelicals have said and done beyond U.S. borders, when they’re willing to tell American media a completely different—and significantly more palatable—story on camera?

The Fatal Flaw

This massive PR campaign has only made one mistake so far, but it’s a big one. Rick Warren has, by far, been the most successful at misleading the public into thinking he’s a moderate. He’s been at it for years. If the campaign had aimed to only wash Warren’s hands of Ugandan LGBTQ blood, it would probably succeed with flying colors. But the efforts have been ambitious than that.

The inclusion of Scott Lively throws the door wide open for the public to see this PR stunt for what it is. While few people other than researchers on the ground have seen Warren at work in Africa—partnering with local anti-gay clergy and feeding them the funds necessary to push through the Anti-Homosexuality Bill—plenty of people have heard Scott Lively on air or in his writings comparing LGBTQ people to rapists and pedophiles. Plenty of people have seen the undercover videos from Rev. Dr. Kapya Kaoma of Scott Lively in Uganda explaining that if they don’t enact anti-gay legislation then gays from America will come and recruit their children. And plenty of people have seen the videos of Scott Lively on Ugandan TV with the vehemently anti-gay Pastor Martin Ssempa, saying that Uganda needed to enact the Anti-Homosexuality law and criminalize LGBTQ people in order to save children from being “recruited

There’s no question of right-wing evangelical involvement in Uganda’s anti-gay legislation. The work has been verified and fact-checked by researchers around the globe, organizations like Amnesty International, and outlets such as the New York Times. There’s a reason a court refused to throw out the case against Scott Lively for crimes against humanity.

It’s not just human rights advocates who are shocked by the turnabout from these conservatives. The anti-gay clergy in Uganda they’ve spent years training are shocked as well. Pastor Martin Ssempa was so surprised he published a letter addressed to Rick Warren, asking why he is now changing his story.

When you came to Uganda on Thursday, 27 March 2008, and expressed support to  the Church of Uganda’s boycott of the pro-homosexual church of England, you stated; “The Church of England is wrong, and I support the Church of Uganda”.

You are further remembered to say, “homosexuality is not a natural  way of life and thus (its) not a human right. We shall not tolerate this  apect at all”.

Good PR work has a tendency to override facts. Tell people that something didn’t happen enough times, and eventually they’ll start to believe it. It’s up to us to tell the truth louder and more often.

**This article is cross-posted from Political Research Associates. Republished with Permission