Friday, May 18, 2012

The Religious Right Exploits "Family Values" to Promote Bigotry

Ever hear of the Family Foundation of Virginia?

Well, I hadn't until recently, but as soon as I heard the name, the word "HATE" suddenly became emblazoned upon my brain.

It's a given. Most any organisation which has the word "Family" as part of its name can almost be assured to

(a) be part and parcel of the Religious Right


(b) promote hatred of a certain demographic.

The Family Foundation of Virginia are  different. Take a look at their website. You're almost immediately assailed with a collage of cute, little baby pictures which morph into a headless woman, dressed in jeans, her hands clutching her very pregnant belly, accompanied by words imploring you to sign their pro-life petition.

It's aims?

The mission of The Family Foundation is to strengthen families in Virginia by applying founding principles and faith to policy and culture. The organization seeks to establish through citizen advocacy and enactment of Virginia law a safe, prosperous and wholesome climate for families. All of its public policy decisions are based on the principles of life, marriage, parental authority, constitutional government and religious liberty.

Founded in 1985, The Family Foundation has steadily grown to become the largest and most influential Virginia-based organization of its kind. The Family Foundation now resides in downtown Richmond, just a few hundred feet from the state Capitol and General Assembly Building. Today, The Family Foundation comprises a full-time professional staff in Richmond, coordinating grassroots efforts of a network of tens of thousands of pro-family, citizen activists throughout Virginia. The organization is wholly supported through the voluntary generosity of Virginians, their churches, businesses, foundations and civic organizations.

In our history, The Family Foundation has established a reputation among Virginia lawmakers for extensive research capabilities and in-depth analysis of prospective legislation. By researching issues, educating lawmakers, providing critical data, research and analysis, and coordinating statewide support for positive initiatives designed to enhance the culture in Virginia, The Family Foundation has become an important asset for members of the Virginia General Assembly.

Our values have a voice. The Family Foundation’s work starts at home with the family, equipping parents and youth with a variety of networks and resources so they can plug into important values issues. Communities benefit by the Family Foundation’s pro-family perspective in the media, as well as local briefings, nationally-renowned speakers, and published educational materials. In Richmond, the Family Foundation is your advocate for pro-family values in the General Assembly, strategizing with elected officials and testifying in legislative committee meetings.
 The emphases and the underlinings are mine, but you can see - geographically, politically and philosophically - that this organisation is very, very close, indeed, to the State Government of the Commonwealth of Virginia, especially now since the current occupant of the Statehouse holds a graduate degree from Liberty University and espouses the right (and Right) party politics. They are, quite succinctly, a religiously-oriented lobby group meddling in governmental affairs, and that make me positively puce with anger, especially since that greatest of Virginians, Thomas Jefferson, spelled out, succinctly, that Church and State were separate entities entirely with no interactions at all - and spelled it out in what's been called the most important book written in America before 1800. I'm talking about Jefferson's Notes on the State of Virginia.

These people should read this book, but then, if they read it, they'd only ban it as blasphemy. It's certainly no coincidence that Lil'Bob McDonnell has rescinded most of the state funding normally due that great public institution of higher learning, the University of Virginia, and channelled it, instead, to Liberty University. UVa, after all, promotes stem cell research; Liberty thinks Adam and Eve lived with dinosaurs.

They also tout, amongst their "legislative achievements"  the infamous abortion centre regulations, the passage of which made Bob McDonnell figuratively cream his sodden y-fronts, and was the first of many anti-woman regulations his sorry government sought to impose upon the Commonwealth.

The Family Foundation's five main areas of concern, as advertised on its website are Life, Marriage, Parental Authority, Religious Liberty and Constitutional Government. Sound like Teabaggers? You got it, even though they've been in existence since the 1980s. Their "Marriage" section has very interesting reading regarding its aims, which are, I think, pretty nefarious:-

  • Strengthening Marriage
  •  | Virginia’s no-fault divorce laws make unilateral divorce too easy. These laws need to be tightened to encourage marriage counseling and to protect the best interest of children.
  • Opposing Domestic Partner Benefits
  •  | Homosexual advocates have worked to diminish the status of marriage by providing marriage benefits to any relationship. Already, private companies in Virginia can do so. Despite a marriage amendment that prohibits this, efforts are underway to expand this to state and local government.
  • Opposing Homosexual Behavior as a Protected Class
  •  | Every year there are efforts in Virginia to add homosexuality to the list of protected classes in non-discrimination laws. This is not only unnecessary, as no evidence of discrimination exists, but has potential negative ramifications on religious liberty.

It's bad enough that they want to make divorce bloody difficult - I mean, why encourage a woman to leave any abusive relationship where she's beaten black and blue for the fun of it; they are also promoting discrimination and abject bigotry and hatred of LGBTs, even to the point of blanketing any evidence of discrimination against these people by simply stating that there's no evidence that it exists.

And gay people are really their biggest fear and their biggest target. Because it was the Family Foundation who put the boot in the nomination of Tracy Thorne-Begland as a district judge. It seems that Thorne-Begland's nomination, with bipartisan support, no less, was tootling along nicely in the General Assembly, when three days before the vote, someone alerted the Family Foundation to the fact that a wicked, evil gay man was about to be confirmed as a district judge in the Commonwealth.

I wonder who that informant was?

That alert prompted an e-mail to the Foundation's supporters, which also appears as a blogpost on their website, entitled "Judge Not?Will General Assembly on Monday Elect Controversial Attorney to State Bench?"

It makes very interesting, if distasteful, reading.

One of the individuals who will be voted on by the General Assembly Monday as a nominee for a judgeship, Tracy Thorne-Begland, has a long history of political activism, was at the forefront of repealing the federal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, and once served as a board member and vice chairman for Equality Virginia, the commonwealth’s largest and most influential homosexual activist group. In fact, this nominee for Richmond’s 13th General District Court was with President Obama when he signed the repeal of DADT. Additionally, Mr. Thorne-Begland has lashed out publicly against Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli on a host of issues related to the homosexual agenda, saying, ”He’s already stood in the way” in relation to Mr. Cuccinelli’s urging of public colleges and universities to follow state law when it comes to non-discrimination policies. Thorne-Begland also criticized Mr. Cuccinelli for being “against hate crime laws” and “employment discrimination” protections based on sexual behavior.
Bad enough that Mr Thorne-Begland was the front man for what normal people would consider a civil rights' organisation, what was worse, however, was that he was "with" that most unAmerican of Presidents, Barack Obama, when he signed the repeal of  "Don't Ask Don't Tell." Far worse was the fact that Thorne-Begland lashed out against Ken Cuccinelli's attempt to legalise discrimination against LGBTs - one lawyer to another, you understand.

But that's not the real worry the Family Foundation wanted their supporters to stymie:-

 There is additional concern that, once appointed, a progressively minded judge would be fast-tracked by a liberal governor or president to a higher court, such as the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Considering that judges have extraordinary power, one would hope that they would have a commitment to the state and federal constitutions that overrides their personal political agendas.

When one is a judicial nominee who has shown himself to be willing to personally violate the law (he violated DADT while in the Navy) and publicly attack a sitting attorney general who is enforcing the law, we share the concerns of several members of the General Assembly, and would hope that it takes a long, hard look at whether that person should elected to the bench.

Until we can be assured he will not put his obvious political agenda ahead of the law, we don’t believe he should be approved.

Aided and abetted by homophobic, Luddite Delegate Bob Marshall, the Foundation achieved its goal. Thorne-Begland's nomination was defeated, and once again, Virginia is exhibited to the nation as a state in the throes of a recidivist, theocratic government, intent on ruling by by fear-mongering and encouraging hatred, discrimination and bigotry.

Virginia is no longer for lovers. Of any type.

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