Julaine Appling Carps On Madison LGBTQ+ Church Event, TV News Erred Using Her Reaction

UPDATED with reaction from WKOW-27.

Thursday night WKOW-TV reported in their late news broadcast how the faith community united for a focused message of inclusion for the LGBTQ+ community.  It was a remarkable and truly uplifting event where 22 different faith organizations gathered for an interfaith assembly.

The need for bridge-building by various faiths along with their places of worship is due to the long history of bigotry against the gay community. The denial of basic humanity from many religious organizations has caused much harm to families and communities. As a result, it comes as no surprise that many people in the LGBTQ+ community feel estranged from houses of worship along with finding it difficult to locate friendly faith options in their community.

So, taking concrete steps to help remedy that longtime problem an assembly of faiths hosted an event at the First Baptist Church of Madison.  The optics were most wonderful for a television news crew to capture the mood and tone of the interfaith pride event.

But then 27 news reporter Grace Ulch included Julaine Appling, President of Wisconsin Family Action, into the segment. The reporter noted that Appling “says this event veers from thousands of years of tradition”. The lobbyist stated that the faiths involved in the gathering “are not faithful to the teaching of the word of God”.  Well, that certainly underscores precisely what the church event was aiming at overcoming.  Was Appling making the case for the interfaith gathering, or trying to score one more quip for her side?

While getting contrasting views can certainly make a news story more insightful, using Appling, the source of too many years of hard-edged comments against gay people, was just not good journalism. It looked like a reporter was seeking the usual low-hanging-ever-ready-to-talk-in-front-of-a microphone possibility for this news story. Would it not have been more germane to the report to speak with a minister who feels compelled to hold onto more fundamentalist views? Or seek out a UW professor of religion about how institutions of faith adapt to changing times in society? 

I certainly understand news reporting deadlines and packaging a segment for air that has more than one perspective.  But placing the usual scold in the report looked like the ‘rolodex’ of contacts for news stories at Channel 27 needs updating.  Appling again proved she has never turned down a chance before a microphone to be dismissive of gay people or that being mean-spirited, for the sake of such, is still her card of choice to play. News operations have an obligation to report the news and then add useful perspectives to better inform viewers, listeners, and readers.  That was not fully achieved with the report on the interfaith pride event.

I reached out to the news director of Channel 27, Dani Maxwell, and expressed my concerns. She responded with brevity, but as I had hoped understood the issue that needs addressing. “Hi Gregory, I agree and have already addressed that with Grace. Thank you.”

Congress Must Codify Same-Sex Marriage, Will GOP Vote For Freedom And Liberty?

Given the ideological ruling from the United States Supreme Court this year, which overturned a 50-year precedent about the right of women to make their own reproductive health care decisions, which also struck at the heart of privacy as an unenumerated right, comes the need to codify same-sex marriage in our statutes.

This week the House of Representatives will vote on the matter, and as news reports questioned this morning, how will the GOP whips deal with the matter among their members?  Can the GOP actually try to gin up opposition to the effort at codifying this fundamental right into law?

With conservatives already seen to be in the extreme seating section of our society, and the majority of the nation reeling from the abortion ruling, will there be an attempt by the GOP to further their distrust among suburban voters and moderates in the nation? Will they provide another log to the culture wars so to play to the angry base of the party, at the expense of their long-term goals?

The reason to have deep concern about this matter rests with the words and actions of the justices, themselves.  Several told the judiciary committee, during their hearings as nominees, of their appreciation for precedent. They convinced enough senators they were sincere. The explosion of the social fabric of the nation, and the threats of more to follow underscore their lack of honesty, regard for the Court, and the laws of the nation.

When they blew up Roe v. Wade it was the words of Justice Clarence Thomas that caught equal attention as the abortion decision, itself. He wrote in a separate opinion that the legal rationale for the decision to overrule the abortion decision could be applied to reconsider other recent landmark cases—including same-sex marriage.

It is truly reprehensible to even need to consider at the margins the loss of rights that a conservative majority on this court might unleash upon the nation concerning same-sex marriage. 

There are hundreds of thousands of couples who have gotten married, adopted children, formed businesses, engaged in legal contracts, and live life in this nation like any other married couple.  We cannot, will not, stand silent knowing, due to presidents who could not muster a mere majority vote from the electorate but still were able to plant jurists on the court, that our fundamental rights can now be exploded and destroyed.

To have anyone tell me that my marriage is not valid, or threatened in any way, or not protected under the laws of this nation is beyond the pale.  That is a line that must not be crossed. 

I have often commented on this blog about sending a positive and reaffirming message to young people who are gay and live in rural and isolated areas.  I grew up in such a place and know the need to have advocates who are fighting in the nation for a better and more just society. I have been a constant voice for gay rights over the decades, and in so doing, trust that it will aid some other young person in this state or around the nation. 

Our nation must not take any action that sends a message to gay youth that their lives do not matter, their individual sexual orientation less important than any other. If conservative Republicans turn their back on freedom and liberty in the congress this week, as it pertains to gay men and women in this nation, then the midterms will be a pitched battle. 

As for me, I walk my talk, and would encourage congress to protect the marriage of Thomas, a black man who married a white woman. As such I would ask that the congress pass legislation to codify Loving v. Virginia, the 1967 decision legalizing interracial marriage, a topic I need to note the conservative justice did not opine about in his abortion opinion.

Justice Thomas Writes Opinion For Rolling Back Gay Marriage, Contraceptive Sales, But Did Not Mention Loving v. Virginia

There is plenty of reason to feel ashamed of the Supreme Court today for its purely partisan and doctrinaire ruling which overturned Roe. v. Wade. With no regard for the social realities of the early 21st century, a majority of the males on the court tossed aside precedent and dived into the idealogic depths. They view women as birthing chambers, as the powerfully worded dissent correctly stated, “from the very moment of fertilization, a woman has no rights to speak of.”

While the abortion ruling was one the nation knew was coming for a couple months, the gravity of the ruling and the explosion of emotions and political consequences which will follow surely will be quite unlike anything we have witnessed before in the nation. At a time the political divides are already severe, and the anger among citizens is at an intense level, the court opted for a highly partisan and purely ideological ruling rather than a measured and competent address of the issue at hand.

As if the ruling itself was not jarring and threatening enough to the nation, Justice Clarence Thomas in his cold and calculating conservative concurring opinion called for overturning the constitutional rights the court had affirmed for access to contraceptives and LGBTQ rights. This, too, was not totally a surprise as many, including this blog, have argued since the leak of today’s ruling, that they were the next steps of the conservatives in the judiciary. Some commented on this site that I was basically exaggerating.

But those registering concern about the undermining and stripping away of other rulings were not just blowing smoke.

Reading the separate opinion today by Thomas allowed us to understand his initial view that the decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization did not directly affect any rights besides abortion. But then in his customary angry nature that is often seen while sitting petulantly in silence during oral arguments, or his 19th-century views when writing, he argued that the constitution’s Due Process Clause does not secure a right to an abortion or any other substantive rights, and he urged the court to apply that reasoning to other landmark cases.

Thomas stunningly wrote, “In future cases, we should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell.”

Oddly, Thomas left out the famed Loving v. Virginia, the landmark civil rights decision that ruled that laws banning interracial marriage violated the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. His marriage seemed not to need judicial review.

As we know from years of following the Court and also following legal scholars and noted writers the reckless action today that produced a tingling thrill for conservatives when overturning the landmark decades-old abortion decision, now leaves other precedents vulnerable.

I fully understand that the typical person in Topeka or Green Bay is not pondering the long-term consequences of today’s ruling. But those who follow the cases at the Supreme Court and the politics of moving certain cases forward, and the means by which they make such a journey, do pay attention.

That is why it was sophomoric and utterly ridiculous for anyone to claim two months ago that gay people in our nation had nothing to worry about regarding our marriage rights. What we warned was a possibility was put into writing today by a Supreme Court Justice.

A black man who was able to marry a white woman because of a Supreme court ruling.

Irony is very much alive.

Why Journalism And Anonymous Sources Matter, Supreme Court’s Draft On Roe V. Wade Makes Point

We are told by some partisans that news sources are to be distrusted, reporters are not integral to democracy, and that there are even ‘alternative facts’.

Late Monday evening, all those lines fell faster than Russians on the Ukraine battlefield.

It was reported by Politico the Supreme Court has voted to strike down the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, according to an initial draft majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito.

The ramifications of this story are enormous. Not only for health care rights for women, but also for privacy being understood, for decades, as an unenumerated right. Privacy has been a foundation for several large court decisions from the right to use contraception, to engage in private consensual sexual activity, and to marry someone of the same sex.

Make no mistake about how the legal weight of this abortion ruling could move the court going forward.

While all these issues and many more will be debated at length starting with Tuesday morning coffee in homes around the nation, I wish to give credit to the journalism profession, and specifically two reporters.

Josh Gerstein and Alexander Ward.

We all should be proud of how they did their job with this story.

It needs to be noted that these journalists not only reported the story but also gave the full rounded coverage by writing that “it’s unclear if there have been subsequent changes to the draft” since February. They were not aiming for going beyond the fact the draft is a product from February.

They also fully grasped the gravity of the story surely being one of the newsroom’s biggest scoops and surely the biggest headline of their lives. They wrote that “No draft decision in the modern history of the court has been disclosed publicly while a case was still pending.”

The news about the court draft was able to be reported by the reporters due to the role of an anonymous source. It is these sources who are vital to a fuller understanding of what our government does and journalists are doing their job by then reporting on the information once it is firmly understood to have validity.

I understand that most people are not sitting around their living rooms contemplating anonymous sources. I can imagine how conservative media will be apoplectic today and feverishly disdainful of this news story, and how it was obtained.

To those who do not understand the role of anonymous sources, I have one name to add to this post.

Mark Felt.

It is absolutely true to say that had Felt not been an anonymous source there very well would not have been a Watergate story as we have come to know. It was “Deep Throat’ who alerted Bob Woodward in those parking garage conversations that presidential abuse was running rampant in the Nixon White House.

The pursuit of news, facts…the truth… is what reporters do. And anonymous sources are very much a way to allow the public to know what their government is doing.

And so it goes.

Ronald Reagan’s Republican Party Is Dead, Florida’s Ron DeSantis Proves it

Republicans in Florida have demonstrated how adrift they are from prudent policies and how overly sensitive they are to the public disagreement of their wayward march to the farther reaches of the right-wing. In a blow to the legitimate rights of a business to conduct itself in a fashion deemed reasonable and wise, the GOP tossed aside their talking points about nurturing free enterprise and opted for the heavy of government.

Playing all-out to the culture warriors the Republican Party forgets it is the economic policies that most attract middle-line voters. For instance, President Reagan mouthed words about abortion, knowing he could use that segment of the party to support his real mission dealing with tax cuts and a dense build-up. Reagan would never have tossed all his chips into the loony bin of the party.

By neglecting the fact our calendars clearly state we live in the 21st century the Florida House voted to revoke Disney World’s designation as a special tax district. (The Senate took similar action the day prior.) A taxing structure–mind you–that has existed for 55 years. The business-friendly move a half-century ago gave license to the company to self-govern its 25,000-acre theme park complex. The reason for the current public tantrum from Republicans was the audacity of Disney to speak its mind as a business against the “Don’t Say Gay” bill/law.

Flordia Governor Ron DeSantis will sign the now-passed measure without any sense of shame. After all, since the national party abandoned free trade, and international alliances, and invited Donald Trump into their ranks what remains of their principle and character? This absurd comedy from DeSantis and his crowd is clearly retaliatory against Disney, the state’s largest private employer, with nearly 80,000 jobs.

I readily admit there is a large swath of the base of the Republican Party that cheers on such nonsense and the demographics prove why that is not a shock. But the rest of us look with genuine bafflement at the continual slide of the GOP with their ever-growing eagerness to mount culture wars, riding them backwards in time, as the nation moves forward.

It would be of interest to hear the inside chatter among Republican big-money donors. Since the principle of the GOP is not aimed to raise taxes on large corporations, and since, Disney ranks as one of the world’s biggest, how does the removal of this preferential tax status equate? For rational minds in the GOP, it does not.

As such, it now can be said that the Republican Party of Ronald Reagan is dead.

While the GOP loves to cozy up with the Second Amendment they usually flail about when dealing with the First Amendment. As with Disney having a right to say whatever they wish.

And able to do so without retaliation from the government.

Another matter which Reagan would agree with, as he would abhor this power play from the government.

But today’s Republican Party is more wedded to beating their drums against gay people and stirring the pot needlessly about critical race theory than contemplating actual policy ideas for a new generation of voters. Young voters are obviously living in a diverse environment and are not interested in the culture wars the GOP uses for the diminishing segment of white male voters.

And so it goes.

Waushara County Gay Youth Have Positive Role Model In Pete Buttigieg, Non-Verbalized Lesson Mighty Important In Coloma

On Tuesday, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg was in Waushara County. There are many reasons to cheer when a cabinet officer visits any small community, but in this case, there is an unstated reason which deserves comment.

As one of the crafters and motivating voices in the passage of the much-needed $1.2 trillion infrastructure law passed last year, Buttigieg is now visiting places across the country helping locals understand the goals to be achieved. Coloma was where ‘Mayor Pete’ spoke about the construction trades that will need more workers as a result of the federal dollars being pumped into local economies.

The visit was aimed to talk about the national investment into our infrastructure on the day that high school students from around Wisconsin were able to get a first-hand look at the operation of heavy machinery, hands-on experience with mini-excavators, and meetings with industry professionals about apprenticeships.

And with the ample projects that are needed to be completed around Wisconsin, it goes without saying that the industry needs workers.

Buttigieg being in heavily Republican and conservative Waushara County allowed for something else to manifest itself, in addition to infrastructure needs. High school students who may come from homes where gay people are belittled or laughed at had an opportunity to see an openly married gay man with children. who ran for president. and now serves as a top federal officeholder.

Without a doubt, and statistically speaking, there were a few gay students in attendance on Tuesday. Having grown up in that county–in fact, about 10 miles from Coloma–I well know the tone and type that reside in this rural part of Wisconsin. That is not snarky wording but just a plain fact.

So I can also clearly state the non-verbalized lessons for gay youth concerning the power and potential for their personal lives were a lesson they were able to see up close. Whatever information they may have gleaned about potential jobs is far less important than the fact that living authentically matters.

All the snide comments and bigotry in these small towns can not stain the truth when Buttigieg walks up, smiles, and shakes your hand. It does not take your average student very long to discern the truth. The folks back home with their bigotry were just wrong.

Gay youth in these small towns must learn they can live their lives and have every single part of the American dream, from spouses to kids, just like their fellow classmates. Just like Pete Buttigieg.

When I grew up it would have been helpful to have had openly gay role models. Rural Wisconsin had such a man among them today. Thanks, Pete Buttigieg for just being you.

And so it goes.

Now It Is OREO Cookies…..Why Do Some Conservatives Thrive On Bigotry, Buffoonery?

There seems to be no end to the protracted culture wars that some people are just determined to start and continue. Who cares if people are hurt along the way, there are political points to be scored.

One of the first items on my email list this morning was a news story about blowback over cookies! It started with a major company reaching out through a truly impressively made video to showcase a resolve to stand with gay men and women.

The two-minute short film (at bottom of this post) about the, at times, difficulty of coming out, was produced in tandem by Oreo and PFLAG. As we are too aware, such positive moves that align with dignity and understanding for gay people, often run smack dab into some conservatives who wish to head back to whatever time their red hats are calculated for.

This morning I read that some of the mouthpieces for the far-right are all set and ready to boycott “gay cookies”. I suspect, however, those same conservative shouters are morally fine with Herschel Walker’s primary senate campaign in Georgia, even though the troubled football player was accused by his ex-wife of making multiple threats against her life. In 2005 she secured an order of protection against him. His now ex-wife stated Walker pointed a pistol at her head and said, ‘I’m going to blow your (I do not allow this world on my blog) brains out.’ 

But Walker is straight, and never finished college…so he fits in perfectly for the likes of Ben Shapiro. The ones to fear are not the abusers of women, but the cookies!

The Note,” is filmmaking with wonderful lighting, a few well-placed words, music that drives the mood, and compassion for a young Chinese-American man practicing a coming-out speech before a few close family members. Before the young man shares his truth with his grandmother, his mom slips him a note. “She might be my mother,” it reads, “but you are my son.”

The video ends with a message for viewers to pay it forward. “Coming out doesn’t happen just once,” it says. “Be a lifelong ally.”

What possibly could be the reason for the vitriol from the right about this video, and now the start of what will be a phenomenal failure at boycotting OREO cookies?

Why are bigotry and buffoonery the only way to connect with the conservative base? When we answer that question we may know far more as to why our politics are so dysfunctional.

And so it goes.

‘Don’t Say Gay’ Law: Laura Ingraham Sounds Like Frank Shakespeare From 1968 Nixon Campaign

It continually amuses me, on the one hand, how Republicans champion free enterprise, applauds the entrepreneurial spirit, and advocate for fewer regulations on capitalism, but then on the other hand bore down like bullies when a company exerts its opinions.

The latest example of this odd duality can be seen and heard on FOX News regarding Disney and the culture war designed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to propel his name among the base of the Republican Party.

The issue, is, of course, the Parental Rights in Education law, dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” law. Taking effect July 1, the law prohibits all classroom discussion of sexual orientation in grades K-3 and enables parents to sue teachers over the issue.

Talk about a slap to the gay and transgender population in Flordia in the 21st century.

In response, Robert Iger, the former CEO of Disney, spoke out on the issue and made it most clear that this is simply about “right and wrong.” Earlier he had not minced words when writing that this law would “put vulnerable, young LGBTQ people in jeopardy.”

Fox News, it will not surprise anyone, has claimed Disney is ‘grooming’ and ‘sexualizing children’ in order to push a ‘progressive LGBT agenda.’

Recall many years ago the joke that one received a toaster oven for each new gay recruit! I believe that humor started on the Ellen television show. As such, I can see the semi loads of those kitchen gadgets arriving in the theme park as I write.

The fuming from conservatives, however, reached the lowest depths on that network when there came a warning from Laura Ingraham, the easily irritated scold.

“When Republicans get back into power, Apple and Disney have to understand one thing: Everything will be on the table, your copyright/trademark protection, your special status in certain states, and even your corporate structure itself.”

Well, that sure is a grand definition of the Republican Party heading into the mid-terms. A band of vendetta-crazed legislators who really are not interested in the freedom for businesses to conduct their own affairs, or lower regulations upon them.

‘Do my bidding or else’!

This leads me to the dark example from the 1968 presidential election when Frank Shakespeare, a prime mover and shaper of the image of Richard Nixon, who after 18 years at CBS, had most troubling thoughts, too. From The $elling Of The President by Joe McGinniss, page 60.

McGinniss at the time was a 26-year-old former Philadelphia Inquirer reporter who functioned as part of the Nixon campaign team. What he witnessed in that campaign and the strategy for winning national support was illuminating at the time his book was published.

How Nixon was so able to attract people into his orbit with open desires for abusing power is a topic for another post.

For now, the continuing attempt by the right to make gay people dangerous or somehow apart from morality is stunning, given the number of gay people in conservative families. In 2021 it would be laughable, if it were not so appalling, to know that Desantis and Fox think that children are somehow ‘groomed’ into sexual identity. That is patently absurd.

I know it takes time for everyone in society to operate from the same page. From women wearing pants, no restrictions on where to sit on a bus, or what gender one can marry, one thing is abundantly clear.

Arcing towards greater tolerance is the correct path to be taking.

Disney is correct on that score.

And so it goes.