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With the general election just months away, religious-right groups are once again pushing statewide ballot measures that would bar same-sex marriage and even civil unions. California, where the state Supreme Court earlier this year opened marriage to same-sex couples, is one of the biggest battlegrounds in the nation.

In response to the far right’s renewed assault on gay and lesbian families, the Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing is relaunching its campaign to obtain thousands of clergy signatures on an Open Letter to Religious Leaders on Marriage Equality. Clergy can sign on to the letter here.

The Texas Freedom Network opposed a constitutional amendment, approved by voters in 2005, barring legal recognition of same-sex marriages and civil unions in Texas. The following year TFN supported successful efforts in Austin to repeal a charter measure that had barred access to city benefits for the domestic partners of city employees.… Read More

Quorum Report has posted Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott‘s statement on the felony charges against six FLDS members — including imprisoned former head Warren Jeffs — handed down today:

Earlier today the Schleicher County Grand Jury issued seven indictments containing nine counts of sexual assault, bigamy, and related charges against six individuals who are associated with the YFZ compound near Eldorado.

The six suspects facing indictments include Warren Jeffs, who was charged with sexually assaulting a child, a first-degree felony. Four additional suspects were indicted for sexually assaulting young girls under the age of 17. Each of those suspects faces one felony count of sexual assault and one of the suspects faces an additional charge of bigamy. Another defendant has been charged with three counts of failure to report child abuse.

The indictments issued today are part of an ongoing and continuing criminal investigation.

I want to thank the Texas Rangers who are the lead investigators in this case for their outstanding work. I want to thank the criminal investigators from my office who are actively involved in this criminal investigation. For months, dedicated men and women from our Cyber Crimes, Fugitive… Read More

A couple of short notes on linguistics today:

The New York Times has an interesting column suggesting we drop the use of the words “Darwin,” “Darwinism” and “Darwinian.” The columnist believes using such words is “grossly misleading.”

It suggests that Darwin was the beginning and the end, the alpha and omega, of evolutionary biology, and that the subject hasn’t changed much in the 149 years since the publication of the “Origin.”

He wasn’t, and it has. Although several of his ideas — natural and sexual selection among them — remain cornerstones of modern evolutionary biology, the field as a whole has been transformed. If we were to go back in a time machine and fetch him to the present day, he’d find much of evolutionary biology unintelligible — at least until he’d had time to study genetics, statistics and computer science.

In a bit stranger news, a Greek court has ruled that gay rights organizations can still use the word “lesbian” in a case brought by residents of the island of Lesbos that sought to bar such.… Read More

Oh, Kansas. Why must you share our suffering so?

As Texans with our own dysfunctional and often wacky State Board of Education, it’s easy for us to sympathize with Kansans, who are facing elections to their own tenuously sane state board this year.

Unfortunately, Kansans won’t have many of the moderates currently leading the board to re-elect, as they are stepping down — and far-right politicians and interest groups are ravenous to regain control by picking up the moderates’ seats.

Out of the five seats up for election this year (the board is composed of ten members total), two races have candidates who are explicitly far to the right of the mainstream: Republicans Dennis Hedke, Alan Detrich and Robert Meissner (who’s a dentist; what’s with dentists on state boards of education?). Hedke is involved with the conservative Americans for Prosperity’s tour touting “global warming alarmism.” Meissner is . . . well, let’s just let him speak for himself:

“As stated in the past, if the science community can come to a consensus as to the scientific credibility of alternative theories as to origin, then I would… Read More

Subscribers to TFN Daily News Clips (subscription is free) have been reading more about San Antonio mega-pastor John Hagee in recent months. Hagee has been an increasingly influential leader in the religous-right movement and in building evangelical support for Israel through his Christians United for Israel group. Then shortly after he endorsed Republican presidential candidate John McCain this spring, bloggers and other journalists publicized numerous anti-Catholic and anti-Semitic statements Hagee has made in the past. McCain hesitated, then rejected Hagee’s support. Now, writes TIME magazine, Jewish groups who welcome support for Israel are also sorting through their relationship with Hagee.

Writer Frederck Clarkson takes a look at Hagee’s “scramble to recover the mainsream legitimacy that he and his organization have so stunningly lost in recent months.” The question is whether or not Hagee’s attempt at an “extreme makeover” will work.… Read More