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Catholic League President Bill Donohue's anti-equality arguments collapsed under questioning from CNN host Chris Cuomo, who tried to get Donohue to explain how marriage equality undermines religious freedom. Donohue couldn't point to any specific damage done by marriage equality, but resorted to comparisons of same-sex marriage with polygamy and condemnation of the modern notion that marriage should be based on love.
During the February 27 edition of CNN's New Day, Donohue sat down with Cuomo to discuss Arizona Republican Gov. Jan Brewer's veto of a measure that would have allowed individuals and businesses to refuse service to gay couples on religious grounds. Donohue defended the bill as an effort to protect religious liberty, leading Cuomo to ask how marriage equality engenders religious freedom.
Donohue couldn't point to any negative consequences - religious or otherwise - of allowing same-sex couples to marry, but he made clear he wasn't happy about "alternative lifestyles" or the shift away from the notion that marriage is about "duty," not shared love and commitment:
CUOMO: How does gay marriage compromise your rights?
DONOHUE: Gay marriage - the problem with gay marriage is this - it makes a smorgasbord. It basically says that there's no profound difference, socially speaking, between marriage between a man and woman - the only union which can create a family - and other examples.
CUOMO: Who says that's the purpose of marriage? What if you want lifelong companionship and commitment?
DONOHOUE: If a man and woman don't have sex, we can't reproduce, can we? We can't propagate.
CUOMO: But you don't have to be married to propagate.
DONOHUE: No, that's right.
CUOMO: You don't have to want to have kids to be married.
DONOHUE: Look, I don't want alternative lifestyles to be exactly that. I want marriage to be given a privileged position.
CUOMO: Who says it's an alternative lifestyle? Why isn't it just a lifestyle?
DONOHUE: Well, you want to make it that way and a lot of people - polygamy ...
Several Catholic organizations have criticized Rush Limbaugh for attacking Pope Francis' agenda as "pure Marxism." But one group is standing by him: the Catholic League and its anti-gay leader, Bill Donohue.
In late November Pope Francis released Evangelii Gaudium, an apostolic exhortation which included criticisms of the "idolatry of money" and global wealth inequality. Right-wing media responded by attacking the Pope, with Limbaugh describing the Pope's writings as having "gone beyond Catholicism" and into "pure Marxism," and that "somebody has either written this for him or gotten to him." Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and the National Coalition of American Nuns denounced Limbaugh's comments.
But the Catholic League is not joining their criticism of Limbaugh. "Catholic League has never, ever, ever been after anybody for criticizing the pope or priest or a bishop. We get involved when you hit below the belt, when you start becoming insulting," said Donohue in a December 11 interview with Newsmax TV. "He didn't like the pope's views on economics. Rush Limbaugh is entitled to that." Asked if Rush's criticism had been "below the belt," Donogue replied, "No, of course not."
Donohue also lashed out at Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good as a "bogus Catholic entity."
In a July interview, Donohue urged Pope Francis to oust "the gay lobby" supposedly at work in the Vatican.
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Bill Donohue, the virulently homophobic head of the Catholic League who has blamed that church's sexual abuse scandals on the presence of gays among the clergy and criticized the "gay death style," is the latest right-wing figure to come to the aid of Dr. Ben Carson in the wake of Carson's anti-gay comments.
Carson, a recent favorite of the right-wing media, has been at the center of a firestorm since he compared gay supporters of marriage equality to supporters of pedophilia and bestiality during a Fox News interview. Conservatives including Rush Limbaugh, Fox's Megyn Kelly and Sean Hannity have come to his support.
Donohue joined that chorus, saying Carson's comments were a "perfectly legitimate line of inquiry" and calling him "a good man who was framed" in an April 2 press release:
Princeton professor Peter Singer wants us to keep an open mind about Fred having sex with Fido. He says, "sex with animals does not always involve cruelty," and that "mutually satisfying activities" of a sexual nature should be respected. Last month, Yale hosted a "sensitivity training" exercise where Dr. Jill McDevitt touted the merits of bestiality. Her goal is to "increase compassion for people who may engage in activities that are not what you would personally consider normal."
Dr. Carson is a good man who was framed. It's the sexologists and the Ivy Leaguers who need to explain themselves.
It's unsurprising that Donohue would speak out in support of anti-gay comments; he has a long history of inflammatory rhetoric, particularly concerning the LGBT community.
Fox News attacked Planned Parenthood for violating tax laws by putting out an ad that criticized Mitt Romney. In fact, the ad was put out by Planned Parenthood Action Fund, which is organized under Section 501(c)(4) of the tax code, the same section Karl Rove's American Crossroads GPS uses to attack President Obama.
In an ABC News interview today, President Obama announced his support for marriage equality, saying, "I think same sex couples should be able to get married." Conservative media figures immediately accused Obama of declaring a "war on marriage" and the Catholic Church.
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The new ABC/Washington Post poll about public attitudes towards gays serving in the military contains an interesting data point: Not only do 77 percent of all Americans think gays should be able to serve openly, but 70 percent of white evangelicals agree.
Let me say that again: 70 percent of white evangelicals think gays should be able to serve openly in the military.
This should serve as a lesson for journalists who tend to treat Tony Perkins and Bill Donohue as representative of people of faith: They aren't. The Washington Post, for example, routinely presents Perkins and Donohue (not to mention Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck) as respectable spiritual leaders, omitting mention of their hateful and divisive behavior. The Post poll's finding that an overwhelming majority of even white evangelicals believe gays should be able to serve openly is yet another reminder that bigots like Perkins, Donohue and their ilk are granted a larger and more respectful media platform than is justified by either the merit or popularity of their views.
Yesterday, the Washington Post once again turned its web site over to right-wing bigot and Catholic League president Bill Donohue, giving him an unmoderated online Q&A session with Post readers. Quite predictably, Donohue took the opportunity to mislead his audience.
Here's Donohue on a Smithsonian exhibit he doesn't like:
It was hate speech, pure and simple, and it should not be funded by the 80 percent of the nation which is Christian.
it wasn't. It was funded with private donations.
But recognizing that basic reality would leave Donohue without anything to fulminate about, so he kept suggesting throughout the Q&A that government funds paid for the exhibit:
The Post could have ensured its readers weren't misled by Donohue's statements had it simply included in its brief introduction of the Q&A a sentence noting that the Smithsonian does not use public funds for exhibits. It chose not to do so, despite the fact that it was entirely predictable that Donohue would make such claims. In other words, the Washington Post chose to allow Donohue to mislead its readers. In other words, the Washington Post chose to mislead its readers.
Later in the Q&A, Donohue told another whopper: "I never asked for the vile video to be pulled. But quite frankly, if museums were privately funded, then much controversy could be avoided." Donohue's implication that he wouldn't have complained about the exhibit had it took place in a privately-owned art gallery is, at best, disingenuous. Donohue regularly attacks his lengthy list of private-sector enemies, as a quick glance at his recent press releases makes clear.
Obviously, the Washington Post has no qualms about granting a platform to an unrepentant bigot; they've hosted Donahue and others like him frequently. Anti-gay and anti-Muslim bigots, in particular, enjoy a warm welcome at the Post, which pretty clearly says something about the newspaper. And just as obviously, the Post doesn't mind if people use the platform it grants them to mislead Post readers. But there's yet another reason why Donohue was a spectacularly poor choice: He quite obviously had no interest in engaging with Post readers in an honest discussion, which would seem to be the whole point of these Q&A sessions.
Is a man who believes that gays should "apologize to straight people for all the damage that they have done" the kind of person the media should go to for comment on gay-related issues? The Washington Post and The New York Times apparently think so.
In their stories on the manufactured controversy over a piece of art in an exhibit about "sexual difference in the making of modern American portraiture" and "the fluidity of sexuality and gender" held at the Smithsonian-operated National Portrait Gallery, both the Post and the Times turned to the Catholic League's Bill Donohue for his views. And, to no one's surprise, Donohue spewed even more anti-gay rhetoric.
From the Post:
The Catholic League's Donohue continued to express his outrage despite the work's removal. In an interview, he recalled how he first heard of the exhibit when a New York Post reporter called him Monday night for comment. He then reviewed an article posted online by the Christian News Service, watched Wojnarowicz's video on YouTube for himself on Tuesday, and decided immediately to issue a statement deeming the work "hate speech." He also sent letters to the House and Senate, asking the appropriations committees to reconsider public funding of the Smithsonian Institution. He has not viewed the other works in "Hide/Seek."
"I am so tired of dealing with the artistic community and their hate speech against Christians, because every time this happens I'm told [the art] is complex and a matter of interpretation," says Donohue, who emphasized that he never asked for the video to be removed. "Look, if someone puts a swastika on a synaogue, that's not complex and not open to interpretation. . . . When the Smithsonian - with this prestige and federal funding - offends Catholics, I can't pretend it hasn't happened. The more established the source of the offense, the more likely it is we have to respond."
From the Times:
In a telephone interview on Wednesday, Bill Donohue, the president of the Catholic League, an advocacy group, said "A Fire in My Belly" was a form of hate speech.
"It would jump out at people if they had ants crawling all over the body of Muhammad," said Mr. Donohue, who has criticized the Smithsonian for displaying works by other artists he considers anti-Catholic, "except that they wouldn't do it, of course, for obvious reasons."
He added: "I'm not going to buy the argument that this is some statement about some poor guy dying of AIDS. Was this supposed to be a Christmas present to Catholics?"
Mr. Donohue said it would be appropriate for the federal government to cut its financing of the Smithsonian and other art institutions in these circumstances.
Donohue is nothing if not a raging homophobe, and he has said enough on the subject that the Times and the Post are certainly aware of, in addition to the quote cited above: