...I'll leave this right here.
Younger's Nico Tortorella via Buzzfeed
If you click over, just skip all the questions and go for the gifs.
Image of Mike Pence doing a crossword puzzle poorly from The Daily Beast
Facing a national uproar over a religious freedom law, Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana said Tuesday that he wanted the measure changed by week’s end, even as he stepped up a vigorous defense of the law, rejecting claims that it would allow business to deny services to gays and lesbians.
“I’ve come to the conclusion that it would be helpful to move legislation this week that makes it clear that this law does not give businesses the right to discriminate against anyone,” Mr. Pence, a Republican, said at a news conference in Indianapolis.
He acknowledged that the law, called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, had become a threat to the state’s reputation and economy, with companies and organizations signaling that they would avoid Indiana in response to it. Mr. Pence said he had been on the phone with business leaders from around the country, adding, “We want to make it clear that Indiana’s open for business.”
But the governor, clearly exasperated and sighing audibly in response to questions, seemed concerned mostly with defending the law and the intent behind it, saying, “We’ve got a perception problem,” not one of substance. He referred to “gross mischaracterizations,” “reckless reporting by some in the media,” “completely false and baseless” accounts of the law, and “the smear that’s been leveled against this law and against the people of Indiana.”
Via the New York Times
More than 80 people [in a community of about 4200] in Scott County have tested positive for H.I.V. since December, mostly in the last few weeks. They range in age from 20 to 56, and health officials say almost all of them live in Austin, which sits along Interstate 65 about 80 miles south of Indianapolis, surrounded by rural space. The outbreak, the worst in Indiana’s history, stems largely from the intravenous use of the prescription painkiller Opana, which everyone from the police to pastors to the owner of the city’s sole grocery recognizes as a plague on one ragged neighborhood in particular.
Via the New York Times: Gay Marriage State by State: a trickle became a torrent
Image and quote from Buzzfeed
"Lifestyle"? Really? What is this 1994?
Sen. Rand Paul said he doesn’t buy into the concept of gay rights because they are defined by a gay person’s lifestyle.
“I don’t think I’ve ever used the word gay rights, because I don’t really believe in rights based on your behavior,” the Kentucky Republican told reporters in a videotaped interview that has received little attention since it was recorded in 2013.
But it’s unclear how far — and to whom — Paul extends the argument that rights cannot be defined by behavior.
Practicing religion, for example, is a behavior enshrined as a primary American right. Free speech is behavior protected by the Bill of Rights. Likewise, a person’s right to be free from discrimination for his or her nation of origin — which entails the behavior of moving from one country to the United States — is embedded in America’s civil rights laws and broader code of values.
Does Paul believe those behaviors are protected rights?
Eleanor May, a spokesperson for Paul’s 2016 reelection campaign to the U.S. Senate, said the rights that count are those in the country’s founding charter. “What he is saying in this video is that he does not classify rights based on behavior, but rather recognizes rights for all, as our Constitution defines it,” May told BuzzFeed News.
“Sen. Paul is the biggest proponent for protecting the Bill of Rights, which, as you know, protects the rights of all Americans as stated in our Constitution,” May said.
The campaign did not reply to BuzzFeed News’ question seeking clarification on gay people’s rights not associated with their behavior.
Reports have shown gay people are the victims of persistent discrimination — perhaps most notably, in the workplace, as this Williams Institute report found — not because of any behavior they have engaged in, but for being gay or being perceived as gay. Of the 5,928 hate crimes reported by the FBI in December 2014, 20.8% were against people for their their sexual orientation, overwhelmingly in public places including streets, sidewalks, stores, schools, and public transit where victims are unlikely to be engaged in homosexual behavior.
This is not the only time Paul has commented on gay rights — not that he would call them that. Earlier in March, he said same-sex marriage “offends myself and a lot of people.” And last week, Paul argued same-sex marriage results from a “moral crisis” that will require “another Great Awakening with tent revivals of thousands of people saying, ‘reform or see what’s going to happen if we don’t reform.’”
Sadly, the only ways to fix what is happening in Indiana - repealing the law or declaring the LGBT+ community a protected class - Governor Mike Pence has already said aren't options.
More via NPR
That claim [that the Indiana's Religious Freedom is not an attempt to discriminate but to empower people] is impossible to square with his [Indiana Gov. Pence] refusal to consider a statewide law protecting gays and lesbians from discrimination (about a dozen Indiana cities, including most of the largest ones, already have such laws). On Sunday, Mr. Pence said he agreed that it would be helpful to “clarify” the law’s intent, even though it is already perfectly clear. The freedom to exercise one’s religion is not under assault in Indiana, or anywhere else in the country. Religious people — including Christians, who continue to make up the majority of Americans — may worship however they wish and say whatever they like.
But religion should not be allowed to serve as a cover for discrimination in the public sphere. In the past, racial discrimination was also justified by religious beliefs, yet businesses may not refuse service to customers because of their race. Such behavior should be no more tolerable when it is based on sexual orientation.
...against the First Amendment? I mean, the language is "prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion...."
Via the Herald-Leader's Kentucky.com
As a lifelong liberal Democrat, former state treasurer Jonathan Miller was very disturbed to hear about Indiana's recently signed religious freedom law, which opponents fear could be used to discriminate against gays and lesbians.
Basketball luminaries such as Charles Barkley have said the NCAA Final Four shouldn't be held in Indiana because of it, and NCAA President Mark Emmert said Monday that his Indianapolis-based group might have to rethink holding major events there.
But on Monday, Miller was still looking for tickets to UK's game against Wisconsin on Saturday in Indianapolis.
"As a good progressive and a good liberal, I live in a state with a religious freedom law," he pointed out. "It's quite disturbing, but I'd be a hypocrite if I boycotted Indiana when I don't boycott my home state."
Kentucky passed its religious freedom law two years ago to ensure that government action does not interfere with religious belief protected by the First Amendment.
It, too, was bitterly fought over, and even vetoed by Gov. Steve Beshear before legislators overwhelmingly overrode the veto.
That bill emerged after a group of Amish refused to place orange safety signs on the backs of their buggies, saying the rule infringed on their religious freedom. Opponents warned that the law might be used instead to legalize discrimination.
The law has not provoked a rash of lawsuits in Kentucky, said Martin Cothran, a senior policy analyst for the Family Foundation of Kentucky, which helped shepherd the law through the General Assembly in 2013.
"All these charges that the apocalypse is going to come once these laws pass, that has never happened," Cothran said.
But the law has been cited in an appeal of a long-running discrimination case in Lexington.
Last year, the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission determined that Hands On Originals violated the city's fairness ordinance and discriminated against the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization of Lexington when it refused to print the group's Lexington Pride Festival T-shirts in 2012. The company argued that its Christian values disagreed with the T-shirts' message. The company appealed the commission's decision in Fayette Circuit Court last year.
The appeal, prepared by Jim Campbell, senior legal counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, in Scottsdale, Ariz., argues that the commission's ruling — including an order requiring company employees to undergo diversity training — puts too much of a government burden on the owner's deeply held religious belief, therefore violating the state law. The appeal also argues the commission did not prove "compelling governmental interest" in infringing on the owner's refusal to print the shirts.
That fight between state laws and local fairness ordinances will continue, experts say.
Kentucky and 19 other states have religious freedom laws; Kentucky also has seven cities with fairness ordinances — Louisville, Lexington, Vicco, Covington, Morehead, Frankfort and Danville. Indianapolis also has such an ordinance.
It's not clear whether the state law could be used to overturn a city ordinance or vice versa, said Joe Dunman, a Louisville attorney who is part of the legal team in Bourke vs. Beshear, the case attempting to strike down Kentucky's ban on same sex marriage that is now before the U.S. Supreme Court.
As Dunman pointed out, in neither Kentucky nor Indiana is it illegal to discriminate against gay people, but many religious freedom advocates worry that those states will someday enlarge their constitutions' civil rights protections to include sexual orientation.
Still, the religious freedom laws are not "get out of trouble free cards" for potential discriminators, Dunman said. Those people would have to prove "a substantial burden" on their religious freedom.
There's also a federal version of the religious freedom law, which has had a bigger effect. In a decision involving Hobby Lobby last year, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed with the corporation that the federal health-care law's mandate for employers to provide birth control to employees would violate the company's religious freedom.
Amber Duke, spokeswoman for the ACLU of Kentucky, said the Indiana law seems like a reaction to the growing marriage equality movement. In the two years since Kentucky passed its religious freedom law, many courts have struck down same-sex marriage bans.
"As a country, we seem like we're in a different place than we were a couple of years ago," she said. "As marriage equality gains ground, there have been more religious freedom bills coming up in reaction."
But, she said, the vague language in most religious freedom bills will mean that courts ultimately decide whether state laws outweigh city fairness ordinances.
Chris Hartman, director of the Kentucky Fairness Campaign, said UK fans should feel fine about heading west to the Final Four.
"What we say to fans is go to Indianapolis, have fun and if you are the victim of discrimination, file a complaint with the Human Rights Commission there," he said. "We think the fairness rules would stand up even against the freedom of religious laws."
As for Miller, he hopes the religion of basketball can outweigh disputes over religious freedom.
"I really doubt that everybody who voted for this is prejudiced against gays and lesbians," he said of the laws in Kentucky and Indiana. "I think they wanted to take a strong stance for religious freedom. I don't think everyone intended to discriminate, but my great fear is that is the intent."
Image via Insider Louisville. Here I'm using the map which shows the counties that Mitch McConnell won and lost in the last election as a metaphor for the places that have Fairness Ordinances in the state (the blue) vs. the rest of the state.
Kentucky governor Steve Beshear via Politico
Recalling Virginia's rationale for banning mix-race marriage 50 years ago, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear says Kentucky's ban on same-sex marriage isn't discriminatory because neither gays nor straights can get gay married.
Via the Courier-Journal:
Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear says the state's ban on gay marriage should be upheld in part because it is not discriminatory in that both gay and straight people are barred from marrying people of the same gender.
In an argument labeled absurd by gay marriage advocates, Beshear's lawyer says in a brief filed last week at the U.S. Supreme Court that "men and women, whether heterosexual or homosexual, cannot marry persons of the same sex" under Kentucky law, making the law non-discriminatory.
The argument mirrors that offered by the state of Virginia nearly 50 years ago when it defended laws barring interracial marriage there and in 15 other states, including Kentucky, by saying they weren't discriminatory because whites were barred from marrying blacks just as blacks were barred from marrying whites.
The Supreme Court in 1967 rejected that argument in the historic case of Loving v. Virginia, in which Richard Loving, a white man, and Mildred Jeter, a black woman, were charged with a crime for marrying.
In December 1995, the FDA approved the release of protease inhibitors, the first effective treatment for AIDS. For countless people, the drug offered a reprieve from what had been a death sentence; for others, it was too late. In the United States alone, over 318,000 people had already died from AIDS-related complications—among them the singer Michael Callen and the poet Essex Hemphill.
Meticulously researched and evocatively told, The Battlefield of AIDS is the celebrated historian Martin Duberman’s poignant memorial to those lost to AIDS and to two of the great unsung heroes of the early years of the epidemic. Callen, a white gay Midwesterner who had moved to New York, became a leading figure in the movement to increase awareness of AIDS in the face of willful and homophobic denial under the Reagan administration; Hemphill, an African American gay man, contributed to the black gay and lesbian scene in Washington, D.C., with poetry of searing intensity and introspection.
A profound exploration of the intersection of race, sexuality, class, identity, and the politics of AIDS activism beyond ACT UP, The Battlefield of AIDS captures both a generation struggling to cope with the deadly disease and the extraordinary refusal of two men to give in to despair.
Image of John Thomas Scopes via CreoFire
Quote via Slate
We live in a nation where public acceptance of evolution is the second lowest of 34 developed countries, just ahead of Turkey. Roughly half of Americans reject some aspect of evolution, believe the Earth is less than 10,000 years old, and that humans coexisted with dinosaurs. Where I live, many believe evolution to be synonymous with atheism, and there are those who strongly feel I am teaching heresy to thousands of students. A local pastor, whom I’ve never met, wrote an article in the University Christian complaining that, not only was I teaching evolution and ignoring creationism, I was teaching it as a non-Christian, alternative religion.
During the summer of ’69, Elliot Tiber helped start the gay liberation movement and saved the Woodstock Festival from cancellation. But some of the best and most significant events of Tiber’s life did not happen until After Woodstock.
In this third volume of his memoirs, following the critically acclaimed Palm Trees on the Hudson and his breakout bestseller Taking Woodstock, Tiber chronicles his hilarious, madcap, and often heartbreaking adventures in the entertainment industry. Guided as much by chutzpah as by his creative drive, Tiber travels around the world, always looking to grab the brass ring. And everywhere he goes, from Hollywood to Brussels, Tiber makes his indelible, irreverent, unique mark.
Along the way, Tiber meets the celebrated Belgian playwright and director André Ernotte. Over the course of his decades-long relationship with Ernotte, Tiber realizes his potential as a humorist and writer, and finds a way to cope with his difficult mother, whose second wedding in the hills of Israel gives new meaning to the Wailing Wall. The relationship is tested by the AIDS crisis and a string of professional disappointments, but ultimately endures the test of time. With Ernotte, Tiber finally learns the true meaning of love.
A passionate and joyful evocation of a very different time, After Woodstock reminds us how the search for love and meaning drives us forward.
A photo posted by Amanda Palmer (@amandapalmer) on
Well, I mean Amanda Palmer is pregnant. Congratulations!
More via Buzzfeed
A witty, tender memoir of a son’s journey home to care for his irascible mother—a tale of secrets, silences, and enduring love
When George Hodgman leaves Manhattan for his hometown of Paris, Missouri, he finds himself—an unlikely caretaker and near-lethal cook—in a head-on collision with his aging mother, Betty, a woman of wit and will. Will George lure her into assisted living? When hell freezes over. He can’t bring himself to force her from the home both treasure—the place where his father’s voice lingers, the scene of shared jokes, skirmishes, and, behind the dusty antiques, a rarely acknowledged conflict: Betty, who speaks her mind but cannot quite reveal her heart, has never really accepted the fact that her son is gay.
As these two unforgettable characters try to bring their different worlds together, Hodgman reveals the challenges of Betty’s life and his own struggle for self-respect, moving readers from their small town—crumbling but still colorful—to the star-studded corridors of Vanity Fair. Evocative of The End of Your Life Book Club and The Tender Bar, Hodgman’s debut is both an indelible portrait of a family and an exquisitely told tale of a prodigal son’s return.
Here is an interview via NPR
Image via Escape Pod
Via Brain Pickings:
Terry Pratchett: Choosing To Die is a powerful and fascinating film, in which Pratchett explores the cultural controversies and private paradoxes surrounding the issue of assisted suicide, which remains illegal in most countries. From the “small but imbalancing inconveniences” of the disease’s earlier stages to the loss of his ability to type to witnessing a terminally ill man peacefully choreograph his own last breath in Switzerland, Pratchett explores what it would be like to be helped to die, and what it would mean for a society to make assisted death a safe refuge for the dying.
Visit Brain Pickings for the film.
The image is from Neil Gaiman's The Sandman: The Wake, in which Dream of the Endless dies and is mourned. The girl in the red dress is his sister Death, who tends to say things like "peachy" and I think likes show tunes.
Gaiman and Pratchett co-wrote Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch. Possibly one of the funniest books ever...or at least of 1990.