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Location: Kansas City, Missouri, United States

Doing my part to irritate Republicans, fundamentalists, bigots and other lower life forms.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Fundies gone wild!

Tuesday, Aug. 29, was not a good day to be a fun-D'uh-Mental-ist. That was the day California's moderate Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a gay rights law that has fundies shakin' their fists, stompin' their little Wal-Mart clearance-rack clad feet and threatenin' to take to the streets.

But before we get to the reaction of the "christian" supremacists, let's look as a straight (so to speak) forward account of what happened:

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed legislation Tuesday banning discrimination in state operated or funded programs on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

The legislation is designed to protect from discrimination, Californians who utilize public services such as police and fire protection, financial aid, social services and food stamps.

The measure would also include protections for those associated with a person receiving services who has, or is perceived to have, any characteristic covered by the bill.

The legislation passed its final hurdle in the legislature earlier this month when the Assembly approved it on a 43-25 vote.

This bill will help to ensure that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Californians are treated equally by our government and is an important step towards our goal of ending discrimination in the Golden State," said Geoff Kors, the executive director of Equality California which lobbied for the measure's passage.

Seems like a good idea to me. Or at least a good start. But leave it to the fundies to wail and gnash their teeth and whip themselves into a homophobic frenzy.

Charles B. Lowers, the executive director of the pro-family Considering Homeschool, used the occasion to encourage so-called Christians to yank their kids out of public schools and begin home-skoolin' 'em. In an interview with the far-right World News Daily, Lowers had a few gems to share with his followers, like this one:

"'Heck no, our kids won't go!' should be the rallying cry of Christian parents this week as school starts, instead of following the broad road of perversion and destruction that California schools are offering."

Or this one:

"Worldview surveys show that the majority of kids from Christian homes are humanist by graduation. School-based 'clinics' are expanding … to ensure that your daughters get birth control and abortions without you knowing. Now that the homosexuals are dictating curriculum, 80-90 percent of Christians should be homeschooling, not the other way around."

Or how about this head-scratcher:

"Public school is no place for innocent little kids. If they don't get molested by the John Karrs who are in the system, their minds and hearts will be molested by the curriculum."

Or even this:

"Instead of the traditional three R's in California's public schools, children are learning Rebelliousness, Relativism, and an R-rated lifestyle."

Lowers, with his way with words and flair for hyperbole, also claimed that in California, the public schools are controlled "by a group of elitist, leftist, homosexual socialists."

Not to be outdone in the righteous outrage department, uber-conservative Agape Press published its own broadside at the Terminator on the American Fascist ... Oops! I mean American FAMILY Association web site:

Earlier this week the Republican governor signed into law SB 1441, a measure which could force Christian colleges to either abandon biblical standards on sexuality or reject students who receive financial aid from the state. The bill adds sexual orientation to already existing provisions in the state's law that prohibit discrimination on the basis of, among other things, race, national origin, ethnic group identification, religion, age, sex, color, or disability.

As pointed out by one pro-family group in the state, the law could potentially prevent parochial schools such as private, Christian, Catholic, Mormon, or other faith-based educational institutions from receiving student financial assistance if they also maintain a code of conduct that prohibits homosexual behavior as immoral based on their religious beliefs.

Randy Thomasson is president of the group Campaign for Children and Families (CCF), headquartered in the Golden State's capital city. He says Schwarzenegger's actions prove that party labels are virtually meaningless when it comes to a politician's standards and beliefs. In direct reference to Governor Schwarzenegger, Thomasson states: "A liberal Republican is more dangerous than a liberal Democrat."

According to the CCF leader, a liberal Republican "will hurt the church and culture more in the long term because he will dumb down the Church, dumb down the Republican Party, dumb down conservative and Christian talk radio stations." The result, he contends, is that there "will be nobody big enough to stand against evil Democrat politicians if you let the Republican Party be dumbed down by a liberal Republican like Arnold Schwarzenegger."

Schwarzenegger has spoken at churches and claims to uphold family and religious values -- but his actions, says Thomasson, tell a different story.

"Most Christians in California made a big mistake by electing Arnold Schwarzenegger," he says. "They liked him. They actually liked his movies, although the movies mostly were immoral." The CCF spokesman recalls the election which propelled the former actor to the governor's mansion. "[Christians] were idolizing him. They said he was the lesser of two evils. They voted him into office. They looked the other way," he remembers. "Now, he's coming back to hurt them."

Now, he's coming back to hurt them? Well, what can I say. Arnie, in the role of the Terminator did make the cinematic promise "I'll be back ... asshole." Who would have guessed that when he rippled open his shirt to reveal his muscular (if somewhat sagging) chest, it would be tatooed with a big red "666." At least in the minds of some fundies?

I'm not a big Schwarzenegger fan ... of his movies or his politics. But I have to hand it to him that watching him piss off the fundies has earned him an honorary Oscar for Best Performance in a Role Most Likely to Push Right-Wingers Over the Edge in my book.

It must suck to be Arnold. Seems like he's forever bouncing back and forth catching hell from one side or the other. He pissed off the LGBT community by vetoing the marriage amendment in California. So to placate them he hired an out lesbian (and former staffer of his predecessor Grey Davis). That set off a firestorm on the right in California politics and Arnold ended up hiring a former lobbyist for the Traditional Values Coalition to help sell his re-election bid to conservatives. That was on Aug. 20. Three days later Arnold canned the guy. Now he's signed the pro-gay legislation (though some would argue that with a Democratic-controlled legislature he had no choice).

You have to admire Schwarzenegger. His consistently inconsistent. He runs to the right and when that provokes controversy he runs to the left. Back and forth he goes like a pinball, seeming unaware that when he pleases one group, he pisses off another.

I'm sure tomorrow or next week or next month Arnold will feint to the right again to try and convince conservatives he's one of them. But for now I'm content to sit back and watch as the fundies froth at the mouth and go wild.