With New York legalizing gay marriage, more and more children will be exposed to same-sex couples (much to the chagrin of conservatives). Here is great video of one little boy's reaction to seeing his first gay couple -- watch how he figures things out:


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Sea Shepherd Weighs In on Cecil the Lion: Insisting on Veganism is “Purism” and “Elitist”

Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd has weighed in on the controversy over Cecil the lion. Watson takes aim at those of us who make the point that there is absolutely no morally significant difference between killing animals for sporting pleasure and killing animals for palate pleasure, and that our objecting to the killing of Cecil requires us to reject killing the other 60+ billion animals (not counting sea animals) we kill to eat.

In “The Cult of Competitive Purism,” Watson maintains that those of us who take this position are “elitist” and guilty of “purism.”

Watson’s position comes as no surprise. But a simple examination of his position shows why he is in error.

Cecils on the Land and Cecils in the Water

Sea Shepherd is a large organization that brings in considerable amounts of money from donors all over the world, many — perhaps most — of whom are not vegan. Many — perhaps most — Sea Shepherd donors look at whales and other marine mammals in the same way that others look at Cecil the Lion and lament their exploitation at the same time they continue to consume other animals. They think marine mammals are special, in part because they are endangered or protected, and think that marine mammals count for more than do other animals as a moral matter. They think that just as Cecil died a horrible, prolonged death, marine mammals are killed in an inhumane way and are treated worse than the animals we eat.

And guess what? That’s exactly what Paul Watson has been telling them.

Here’s what Watson had to say in an interview in the The Guardian:

You cannot compare the killing of animals in a domestic slaughterhouse to the killing of a whale. What goes on with those whales – or dolphins, say, in Taiji – would never be tolerated in a slaughterhouse. Those slaughterhouses would be shut down. It takes from 10 to 45 minutes to kill a whale and they die in horrific agony. That would be completely intolerable and illegal in any slaughterhouse in the world.

Also they’re an endangered and protected species – pigs and cows are not. They’re part of an ecosystem, which pigs and cows are not. It always bothers me that that comparison is brought up. And especially when it’s brought up by the Japanese, who eat more pigs, cows, and chickens than all people of Australia and New Zealand combined. Only one percent of the Japanese people eat whales; for the most part they eat cows and pigs and chickens. It’s a ridiculous analogy.

Note: Watson says:

1. The exploitation of farm animals is less cruel than the exploitation of marine mammals.

We are not sure whether Watson has ever been in a slaughterhouse, but they’re hideous places and animals suffer a terrible death in the long process from arrival at the facility to their actual death on the killing floor. And the distress that those animals experience during that slaughtering process is palpable and every bit as bad as the physical pain they suffer.

Moreover, Watson’s comparison between the time it takes to kill a marine mammal and the time it takes to kill a farm animal is itself problematic. Marine mammals are not domesticated animals who spend their entire lives suffering; marine mammals live in the wild until the time they are killed. We certainly think that the killing of marine mammals or any sentient nonhuman is morally objectionable. But Watson’s statement that the analogy between the suffering of marine mammals and farm animals is “ridiculous” is itself ridiculous and suggests that Watson thinks that the suffering of marine mammals counts for more morally. That is just plain speciesism.

2. Watson is “bother[ed]” by the comparison between farm animals and marine mammals because the latter are “endangered and protected.”

So what? Does that make marine mammals more morally valuable? Not as far as we are concerned. An endangered marine mammal values her or his life just as a cow or pig or chicken or fish values her or his. It is just as wrong to kill a cow (or other sentient nonhuman) for no reason other than palate pleasure as it is to kill a marine mammal for palate pleasure or any other frivolous reason. What Watson is saying would lead to the conclusion that killing marine mammals would be less morally wrong if they were not endangered or protected. Maybe he would accept that conclusion. We wouldn’t.

In any event, Watson is operating a very wealthy charity that has all sorts of non-vegan donors who think of marine mammals as a group of Cecils who live in the ocean. They want to protect the Water Cecils as they continue to eat their animal products. Watson jumps to their defense.

Watson objects to our making crystal clear that there is a blatant moral inconsistency between objecting to the killing of Cecil the lion and continuing to consume animals because he does not want anyone saying that to those who fetishize marine mammals in addition to, or instead of, lions. In other words, Watson does not want anyone telling his donors that they are morally obligated to go vegan.

That’s no surprise.

What’s Really At Issue Here: Support for Single-Issue Campaigns and Vegansim as a Moral Imperative

We certainly agree with Watson that we should never treat as “inferior,” demean, or ridicule anyone who objects to the killing of Cecil, or the killing of dolphins or whales, or the eating of dogs in China or Korea, or the exploitation of any animal in any situation. That is why we spend a considerable portion of our time discussing animal ethics with people and groups who are not part of any “animal movement.” That is why we wrote Eat Like You Care: An Examination of the Morality of Eating Animals. We believe that anyone with a moral impulse or moral concern for animals is ripe for a consideration of the ethics of consuming animals and a candidate for the adoption of veganism as a moral principle.

But we do believe that we have an obligation to be crystal clear and to educate those who are concerned about particular acts or forms of animal exploitation that, if they are not vegan, they are active participants in the very conduct that they claim to decry. That is what we owe to the human who is, by expressing concern about a particular situation, trying to find her or his moral compass. That is what we owe to nonhumans, who are victimized in the hundreds of millions every single day.

We stress that vegan education — the clear, patient, comprehensive discussion of the ethical principles at issue — is the most effective act of activism that any individual can do to move the issue forward. Not yelling, not shaming, but discussion and education. At the same time, we are concerned that the “business model” of the large animal charities has a need for donations that steers them to animal welfare reforms and single-issue campaigns.

Sea Shepherd is an organization that promotes variations of the same single-issue campaign: the protection of marine mammals. What really concerns Watson is that those whom he denigrates as “elitists” and “purists” will not support such single-issue campaigns that are his stock in trade. In other words, those who express concern about Cecil, or whales and dolphins, or seal cubs, or whatever animal is being exploited should be “nurtured.” And what does that mean? It means that those people should be funneled into the web of groups like Sea Shepherd or one of the countless other groups who will “nurture” compassion by soliciting donations for their single-issue campaigns and never confront donors with the reality: Veganism is not an option; it’s a moral imperative. If animals matter morally, we cannot justify eating, wearing, or using them, and until we go vegan, we are active participants in institutionalized animal exploitation.

Single-issue campaigns — however different — are structurally identical. They all involve coalitions of people many of whom engage in behavior that is not morally different from the behavior that is the target of the single-issue campaign.

So a single issue campaign focused on the Taiji dolphins will have many people who object to the killing of dolphins but who shovel animal products into their mouths as they voice their concerns. The only way that such people are going to support such a campaign is if they are made to feel comfortable about their exploitation. And they are made to feel comfortable by an insidious pretense that the target of the campaign is immoral and their own conduct is not immoral, or is so much less immoral that they can never be thought of in the same way as the people who kill the dolphins. This makes people feel more comfortable about their own behavior that exploits animals and perpetuates it — and it also means that they donate.

As part of providing the comfort level that encourages support, these campaigns demonize those people who are involved in the targeted behavior in an effort to distinguish between them and the “good” people who are protesting the killing of the dolphins. This often results in and reinforces racist, ethnocentric, and xenophobic conduct on the part of “animal people.” One need only look at the sorts of vile anti-Asian comments that appear almost immediately following any story about Taiji, Japanese whaling, or the eating of dogs in China and Korea. The campaign against Andre Robinson elicited horribly racist slurs, as did the campaign against Michael Vick.

Watson thinks that to not support and to criticize these campaigns is “elitist” and represents “purism.” He’s wrong. Abolitionists just refuse to participate in and perpetuate the unjust fantasy that there is a difference between killing a dolphin and killing a chicken so that people who care can become “nurtured” by Sea Shepherd and other groups and never be confronted with the moral reality. Abolitionists want to promote the idea that if animals matter morally, veganism is the only rational response. Abolitionists want to promote the idea that we cannot justify treating any sentient nonhuman exclusively as a resource.

Watson disagrees with all of this. He admits that he thinks that marine mammals are special. He makes clear that Sea Shepherd is “promoting veganism not for animal-rights reasons but for environmental conservation reasons.” It can’t get any more clear than that. He rejects the very foundation of the abolitionist movement, which is that all sentient beings are equal in that all should be accorded the moral right not to be used as human resources. And that we ought to make that crystal clear today, right now.

We’re delighted that Watson serves vegan meals on his ships even if he does so for reasons of conservation alone. But go to the Sea Shepherd website. We did. We were unable to find anything that even hinted at the moral obligation to go vegan if one thought that killing marine mammals was morally wrong. We found one essay by Watson where he said:

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is one of the very few, if not the only marine conservation organizations in the world that actively promotes and practices veganism.

Why? Because we see the connections between animal husbandry and pollution in the ocean, diminishment of life in the seas, the destruction of the rainforests and climate change.

Veganism is real conservation in action. It goes beyond talking about climate change and diminishment of biodiversity and actually does something to address the problems.

But he made clear that veganism has nothing to do with any moral obligation that we owe other animals (apart from marine mammals):

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is not a vegan or vegetarian organization however, nor are we an Animal Rights or an Animal Welfare organization. We are a marine wildlife and habitat conservation movement.

So why are all the meals on Sea Shepherd ships vegan?

The answer is because vegetarianism and especially veganism are powerful alternatives to eight billion human beings and their domestic animals eating the oceans alive.

Watson’s environmental arguments for veganism are terrific, but they do not in any way involve getting “compassionate” people to see that there is no difference between killing a whale and eating a chicken. Indeed, Watson rejects that position.

Do Chickens Matter as Much as Whales?

Watson claims that:

Social revolutions do not happen overnight. I have watched the vegan movement grow from something no one had ever heard of to the dynamic and ever growing movement it is today. The growth in awareness has been incredible. What we don’t want to do is isolate or discourage potential advocates of veganism.

We have been involved in this movement for about the same period of time that Watson has. We like Watson; we just disagree with him.

We could not disagree more that the vegan movement is doing well, as he seems to think. On the contrary, the vegan movement has been hijacked by the “happy exploitation” movement that is now ubiquitous. Peter Singer, the so-called “father” of the animal movement, declares himself to be a “flexible vegan” and all of the large groups reject veganism as a moral baseline and promote it only as a way to reduce suffering — along with cage-free eggs, crate-free pork and the Whole Foods Animal Welfare Rating program. Abolitionists are trying to create a vegan movement of people who see veganism as a principle of fundamental justice.

Watson seems to think that we cannot make the abolitionist argument because “there are lots of stupid people out there” who just don’t see the connections and who must be “nurtured.” Putting aside that Watson’s characterization of everyone as idiots is curious given that he claims that vegans are “elitists” who look down on others, abolitionists believe that people are not stupid and that most, or at least a great many, care about nonhuman animals. People also know that animal products do not grow on trees and that animals suffer and die in order to end up on our plates. They may not know the particulars of what happens in raising and killing animals and that’s the point — the particulars are irrelevant. Going vegan should not depend on whether there are “abuses” at the slaughterhouse or on the factory farm. Going vegan should depend on a simple fact: that animals die so that we can eat and wear them. Just as those objecting to the killing of Cecil or to the killing of marine mammals would not stop objecting even if the killing process were made more “humane,” the morality of eating or wearing animals does not rest on how the animals are treated but only on that the animals are used in the first place.

We have an obligation to make clear that single-issue campaigns miss the point by perpetuating the fantasy that there is a difference between a whale and a cow, or between fur and wool. And it’s not a matter of “elitism.” Indeed, there is nothing more elitist than the idea that it is acceptable for us to exploit vulnerable nonhumans — and that is exactly what single-issue campaigns perpetuate.

So whenever we see stories in the news involving Cecil or any similar situation that elicits an outcry, we ought to use that story as an opportunity to engage in creative, nonviolent vegan advocacy and make clear that there is absolutely no difference between what those of us who are nonvegans do and what the people who have engaged in behavior to which we object do.

We wholeheartedly agree that a person who looks at an animal like Cecil and wants to kill him — indeed, pays a great deal of money to have the experience — seems to have disturbing psychological problems. Yet, as we all know, the animals who were killed for food or clothing were once living beings, no less important morally than Cecil, with their own interests, families, and biographies. Why does the act of ordering a hamburger or eating an ice cream cone, make us any less petty, oppressive, unjust, or cruel? If we do not squarely confront our relentless, ubiquitous, pervasive use of animals for palate pleasure or fashion, nothing will ever change.

So, we have no more excuse, no more justification for our actions than did Walter Palmer, who killed Cecil. We are all Walter Palmer. We need to stop the carnage. We need to stop the injustice. We need to shift the paradigm from property to moral personhood and the only way that we can do that is by working tirelessly to bring about a vegan world. The stronger an abolitionist movement becomes, the more animal exploitation of all sorts will end. Vegans will not go to zoos or sea parks; vegans will not go to the circus or rodeo; they will oppose the slaughter of any marine mammal, other aquatic animal, or land animal; they won’t wear any animals. Cut off the exploitation at the root and we won’t need countless single-issue campaigns, which, some 40 years into the modern animal “movement,” have had no impact.

Watson observes:

The reality is that most vegans were once not vegan. Many vegans started with feelings of compassion for their pets, or for animals they liked. These seeds of compassion, if nurtured by thoughtful education, can be inspired and motivated through positive encouragement.

This is the same old tired nonsense that we get from all of the animal welfare groups: “We’re all on the ‘journey’ and and as long as we are ‘compassionate,’ it’s all fine and no one should say otherwise or they’re just ‘purist’ or ‘elitist.'”

All of the large groups take this position. And it is explicitly speciesist. In order to see this clearly and easily, imagine the following: John was raised in a racist community. For the first 20 years of his life, John uttered racist epithets to every person of color he saw and he considered them to be inferior to whites. And then, one day, John, for whatever reason, saw that racism was wrong. John now wants to work for social justice and equality. Should John adopt the position that because he took 20 years to stop being racist, rejecting racism is a matter of being on a “journey” and that we cannot say that racism is morally wrong and must stop immediately? Of course not. John should take the position that we must educate people about racism but that we must be crystal clear that racism is morally wrong and must stop.

The fact that it may have taken someone a while to see that something is morally odious does not mean that we should not be unambiguously clear that it is morally odious and must stop. We don’t respond to racism with a campaign for “Racist-joke-free Monday.” We respond with a demand for justice.

Abolitionists are not criticizing individuals who are grappling with a new understanding of animal ethics. Where there are instances of personal clashes, that is unfortunate. What we are talking about, and planning for, is a redirecton of the message put out by the large organizations that dominate the arena — those groups that send out the countless solicitations for donation with the atrocity of the day and the appeal, “Help us stop [fill in the blank]. Send your donation for the animals!”

It is sad that Watson thinks that it’s fine — indeed, obligatory — to spend millions equipping, staffing, and operating ships to save a whale but that a sense of urgency and efforts to make clear that there is no moral difference between the whale Watson saves and the many billions of animals that supposedly “compassionate” people consume represent “purism” or “elitist.” Action, including ramming other ships, is fine where whales are concerned. But insisting on veganism as a moral imperative is not.

So, in the end, the question becomes: Does the chicken whose corpse is sold for $1.99 per pound matter as much morally as the whale Watson seeks to save?

We think she does.


If you are not vegan, please go vegan. Veganism is about nonviolence. First and foremost, it’s about nonviolence to other sentient beings. But it’s also about nonviolence to the earth and nonviolence to yourself.

If animals matter morally, veganism is not an option — it is a necessity. Anything that claims to be an animal rights movement must make clear that veganism is a moral imperative.

The World is Vegan! If you want it.

Learn more about veganism at www.HowDoIGoVegan.com.

Gary L. Francione
Board of Governors Distinguished Professor, Rutgers University

Anna Charlton
Adjunct Professor of Law, Rutgers University

©2015 Gary L. Francione & Anna Charlton

The post Sea Shepherd Weighs In on Cecil the Lion: Insisting on Veganism is “Purism” and “Elitist” appeared first on Animal Rights: The Abolitionist Approach.

Related posts:

  1. Adventures in Moral Schizophrenia: Cecil the Lion
  2. Is Veganism Elitist? No. But Nonveganism Is!
  3. A Short Note on Abolitionist Veganism as a Single Issue Campaign
  4. On Johnny Weir, Single-Issue Campaigns, Treatment, and Abolitionist Veganism
  5. Science Weighs In: Animal Welfare Reform Is Useless

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Texas Pro-Choice Groups Help Navigate an Anti-Choice Landscape

A coalition of Texas groups have come together this summer to launch two new efforts intended to help residents access legal abortion care and to communicate more broadly about Texans' families, their lives, and their reproductive decisions.

A coalition of Texas groups have come together this summer to launch two new efforts intended to help residents access legal abortion care and to communicate more broadly about Texans’ families, their lives, and their reproductive decisions.

These pro-choice efforts come as state lawmakers conduct politically motivated “investigations” into fetal tissue donation programs and Texas abortion providers look to the Supreme Court for relief from the state’s omnibus anti-choice law.

A joint effort between NARAL Pro-Choice Texas and the Lilith Fund, NeedAbortion.org is a one-stop clearinghouse for facts about where to get an abortion in a tumultuous legal landscape, in which clinics close or sustain with every new court decision; it also has information about how Texas’ growing web of anti-choice laws affect people who need the procedure.

Illuminate RJ is another NARAL collaboration, this time with the Texas Freedom Network and abortion provider Amy Hagstrom Miller’s new nonprofit project, Shift. It’s an art and activist project meant to tackle abortion stigma and reproductive justice issues.

It’s a creative—rather than expressly political—approach, NARAL Pro-Choice Texas Executive Director Heather Busby told RH Reality Check. It’s a way for Texans to talk about a full spectrum of experiences with reproductive issues with personal, artistic expressions “instead of chants and slogans and protest signs.”

Poet Sonya Renee is the featured artist at Friday’s kick-off event in Austin, which will also include an art installation of cut-out paper birds decorated by Texas reproductive justice activists.

Illuminate RJ’s birds echo the soaring avians of the Repeal Hyde Art Project, but they’re specifically mockingbirds—the state bird of Texas. And those mockingbirds will make appearances across Texas in the coming weeks and months, as activists launch new “pop-up” art events around the state.

Submissions to Illuminate RJ can be made online.

Image: Andrea Grimes / RH Reality Check

The post Texas Pro-Choice Groups Help Navigate an Anti-Choice Landscape appeared first on RH Reality Check.

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Some Democrats Go on Offense Against Front Group Behind Planned Parenthood Videos

While many Democrats avoid discussing the deceptive Center for Medical Progress videos, others are starting to push back against the front group.

See more of our coverage on the misleading Center for Medical Progress video here.

Republicans and anti-choice activists have reached a fever pitch of outrage at Planned Parenthood in recent weeks, fueled by the deceptively edited videos released by the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), an anti-choice front group.

Republicans in Congress are using the videos as an excuse to call for defunding Planned Parenthood, and some are even threatening to shut down the government this fall if they don’t get their way.

Most pro-choice Democrats are holding firm in support of Planned Parenthood and seem willing to call the GOP’s bluff on a government shutdown.

“Not on my watch,” Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) told Politico on whether Republicans can force Democrats to defund Planned Parenthood by holding up spending bills.

“I am absolutely confident that if Republicans try to defund Planned Parenthood in a government spending bill at the end of September, Democrats will unite against it,” Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), the likely next Democratic minority leader in the Senate, told reporters Thursday.

But when many Democrats speak out in defense of Planned Parenthood these days, they try to keep the focus on Planned Parenthood’s merits and avoid discussing the videos that opponents are using to attack the organization. This is particularly true of 2016 presidential candidates, who either say they haven’t watched the videos or concede that they are “disturbing,” as Hillary Clinton did Wednesday.

A growing number of Democrats have started bucking that trend, pushing to discredit the Center for Medical Progress for its misleading videos and shady tactics and put the attack group on defense. 

Perhaps the most potent call-out of CMP came in a Wednesday Senate floor speech by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).

“Attacks on Planned Parenthood are a concerted attack on access to safe, legal abortion services in this country. Make no mistake about it,” Feinstein said. “The group behind this latest attack, the Center for Medical Progress, has longstanding ties to the anti-choice movement, including Operation Rescue, which is closely associated with clinic violence.”

Feinstein talked about how anti-choice violence in the 1990s led to the passage of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act, and her concern that the “aggressive tactics” used by anti-choice groups today such as “the illegal filming of a medical procedure and the hacking of Planned Parenthood’s records” could lead to similar violence.

“I am concerned that the message being sent is that it is OK to commit crimes against Planned Parenthood, its employees, and its patients; and it is not,” Feinstein said. “That sort of message can be taken up by extremists and become very dangerous for women and doctors across the country.”

Feinstein’s speech included the typical Democratic defenses of Planned Parenthood: how it’s the primary health-care provider for millions of women, especially low-income women, and how one in five American women have gone there for health care. How Planned Parenthood’s care has been crucial for her constituents who have told her their stories. How efforts to defund Planned Parenthood distract from more important issues like national security.

But Feinstein also turned a typical Democratic talking point—that abortion only makes up 3 percent of Planned Parenthood’s services—on its head. Instead of waving aside that 3 percent and pointing out that federal money doesn’t pay for it, Feinstein vigorously defended it as crucial health care for women who have nowhere else to go for abortion care in their region.

“If Planned Parenthood closes, Texas loses half of its remaining abortion providers in one fell swoop,” Feinstein said.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) conceded that the “highly edited” videos are “disturbing” and that a review of them by the Department of Justice is “appropriate,” but also highlighted CMP’s “single purpose” to limit access to abortion services and its ties to anti-choice groups.

“[The group’s] three officers are prominent in the anti-abortion movement,” Shaheen said. “They have ties to many other politically motivated groups who are working to take away a woman’s right to choose. They have been tied to organizations that harass medical providers, doctors, and patients, try to limit access to women’s health care clinics, and they actively work to limit the reproductive health care decisions a woman can make.”

Other Democrats also called out CMP’s tactics on the Senate floor Wednesday.

“We know this extremist group went undercover and secretly taped people,” Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) said. “That is what they did. If you approve of those tactics that is fine, but what I approve of is women getting health care. I think that when you scratch the surface, what you will find is that a lot of my colleagues don’t think women should be able to plan their families. We are still debating birth control. You have got to be kidding.”

Murray called out Republicans’ use of “undercover attack videos, produced by a radical, right-wing organization dedicated to taking away a woman’s right to choose,” and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) encouraged Planned Parenthood to keep speaking on the “merits” of their program that is “under siege from a sensationalistic and disingenuous kind of publicity.”

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Thursday the videos were obtained “fraudulently” and that “there’s not a lot of evidence right now” that Planned Parenthood hasn’t lived up to the “highest ethical standards” that it describes in its policies and procedures.

And on Tuesday, Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) wrote a letter to Rep. Chris Murphy (R-PA), her colleague on the House Energy and Commerce committee, urging him to include CMP in the committee’s upcoming investigation into Planned Parenthood.

“I am disappointed that you have decided to open an investigation based on a clearly manipulated, deceptively edited video by an organization using ethically and legally questionable tactics,” DeGette wrote, citing a complaint against CMP filed by the American Democracy Legal Fund as well as a letter from four of her Democratic House colleagues calling for an investigation into CMP.

Last week, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) called for an investigation of CMP, which she said was “trying to ensnare Planned Parenthood in a controversy that doesn’t exist.”

It seems likely that some Democrats are listening to the growing critiques of CMP from mainstream media outlets and independent investigations, and that they may be responding to pressure from progressives and pro-choice advocates to defend Planned Parenthood just as forcefully as conservatives attack it.

Image: Senator Patty Murray / YouTube

The post Some Democrats Go on Offense Against Front Group Behind Planned Parenthood Videos appeared first on RH Reality Check.

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Colorado GOP Legislator Implies Gay Boy Scout Leaders Should Be Drowned

Colorado State Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt's latest anti-LGBTQ comments were roundly condemned this week, both by progressives and conservatives.

Colorado State Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt (R-Colorado Springs), in Monday’s edition of his online video series called “Pray in Jesus’ Name,” urged his viewers to pull their children out of the Boy Scouts because “homosexual men mentoring and camping” with boys “will lead to child abuse.”

“The children are in danger,” said Klingenschmitt, a first-term Republican. “It’s not about the sexual pleasure of the adults. It should be about protecting innocent children.”

Klingenschmitt implied that gay scout leaders should be drowned because they would abuse children. Quoting the Bible, he said, “Whoever caused one of these little ones who believes in me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depths of the sea.”

“If your boy is in one of those organizations, you need to get him out of there, because what they are going to do is promote homosexual men to mentoring and camping with your boys in the woods, and it will lead to child abuse,” Klingenschmitt said.

Progressives and conservatives alike condemned the comment, with the Colorado State Republican Party issuing a statement Wednesday. “We strongly condemn Gordon Klingenschmitt’s highly offensive comments. As we’ve said in the past, Gordon does not speak on behalf of the Party, nor do his words reflect our Party’s values.”

“These comments are reprehensible—and he should be ashamed of himself for making them,” Dave Montez, director of One Colorado, an LGBT advocacy group, said in a statement. “Gay adults are involved in scouting for the same reasons everyone else is; to serve youth, and to help them grow into good, strong citizens.”

Klingenschmitt, who represents a staunchly conservative area near Colorado Springs, has developed a national reputation for making controversial comments, including his praise in March for a South Dakota legislator who compared Planned Parenthood to ISIS.

He claims to have performed an exorcism on a lesbian service member and has compared President Obama to the devil.

During a podcast prayer on March 25, Klingenschmitt called a brutal attack on a pregnant woman a “curse of God upon America for our sin of not protecting innocent children in the womb.”

Klingenschmitt was a Navy Chaplain, and he goes by the name of “Dr. Chaps.”

He plans to give up his house seat and run for state senate next year in a Colorado Springs district currently represented by Senate President Bill Cadman, who is term-limited. Klingenschmitt came to this decision after fasting for 72 hours and seeking guidance from god, he told a folks gathered at a restaurant in April.

Democrats control Colorado’s state house, and the GOP holds a one-seat majority in the senate.

The senate seat eyed by Klingenschmitt is known to be conservative and a safe seat for Republicans. But state observers say he’ll face stiff competition by fellow Republicans, as well as behind-the-scenes opposition from Republican leaders across Colorado, who see the lawmaker as sullying the image of the Republican Party in a critical swing state.


Image: Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com

The post Colorado GOP Legislator Implies Gay Boy Scout Leaders Should Be Drowned appeared first on RH Reality Check.

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National Abortion Federation Files Lawsuit Against Planned Parenthood Attack Group

The National Abortion Federation filed a lawsuit Friday in federal court seeking a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to prohibit the Center for Medical Progress, an anti-choice organization behind a campaign to defame Planned Parenthood, from making public any video or audio recordings and materials of NAF educational meetings.

See more of our coverage on the misleading Center for Medical Progress video here.

The National Abortion Federation filed a lawsuit Friday in federal court seeking a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to prohibit the Center for Medical Progress, an anti-choice organization behind a campaign to defame Planned Parenthood, from making public any video or audio recordings and materials of NAF educational meetings.

CMP has published a series of videos over the past month, and the organization claims that the undercover footage shows Planned Parenthood officials engaged in the illegal selling of fetal tissue.

Filed in the U.S. District Court, the lawsuit requests that CMP be preliminarily and permanently enjoined from publishing any recordings or confidential information from NAF annual meetings. NAF claims that any recordings or materials obtained by the CMP at official NAF meetings were done so illegally.

The lawsuit requests that CMP be prohibited from publishing or otherwise disclosing the names or addresses of any NAF members that CMP may have obtained at NAF annual meetings, and also requests that CMP be prohibited from attending and attempting to gain access to any future NAF meetings.

Vicki Saporta, president and CEO of NAF, said in a statement that the “safety and security” of the organization’s members are their top priorities.

“That security has been compromised by the illegal activities of a group with ties to those who believe it is justifiable to murder abortion providers,” Saporta said. “CMP went to great lengths to infiltrate our meetings as part of a campaign to intimidate and attack abortion providers.”

The lawsuit names CMP as a defendant as well as BioMax Procurement Services, the fake company created in order to deceive people working for Planned Parenthood and other organizations. CMP’s leader, David Daleiden, is also named in the lawsuit, as well as founding member Troy Newman, who is the president of the radical anti-choice organization Operation Rescue.

When questioned about his involvement with CMP, Newman told RH Reality Check that he was proud of the work Daleiden has done at CMP.

“Over the past three years I have offered advice and counsel to someone who has become a very good friend,” Newman said via email.  “But this is just the beginning, we have moles and spies deep inside the abortion cartel. And at a time of our choosing, we will release more damning evidence of the abortion cartel’s illegal, ghastly, and repugnant butchery.”

When asked to respond to the questions that have been raised about whether or not CMP had broken any laws in making the videos, Newman told RH Reality Check that it was not CMP that was breaking the law.

“We always abide by all local and federal laws, it’s Planned Parenthood that is flagrantly breaking the law,” Newman said via email.

The NAF lawsuit comes a day after a California court issued a temporary restraining order preventing CMP from releasing a video of three StemExpress officials, which was reportedly taped in a California restaurant in May. A former employee of StemExpress, which provides human tissue, blood, and other specimens to researchers, was prominently featured in a video released Tuesday by CMP.

The videos published by CMP have sparked outrage directed at Planned Parenthood from Republicans and anti-choice activists.

Republican lawmakers in several states have called for investigations into Planned Parenthood, and lawmakers across the country have compared the organization to everything from drug dealers to Nazis. State lawmakers in Texas held a hearing Wednesday to investigate the issue, even though, like those in Indiana, Planned Parenthood affiliates in Texas don’t collect fetal tissue for donation in medical research.

No state or federal investigation to date has found the organization in violation of any law regarding the handling of fetal tissue, as Congress is set to vote on Monday on a proposal by Republicans to block Planned Parenthood from receiving federal funding.

The lawsuits filed by NAF and StemExpress give credence to the questions that have been raised about CMP’s deceptive tactics, ideological agenda, and connections to radical and violent anti-choice activists.

Derek Foran, litigation partner with Morrison & Foerster, who is representing NAF in the lawsuit pro bono, said in a statement the he is confident the facts will show that CMP has engaged in an “extraordinary fraud” that was meant to harass abortion providers and endanger women’s access to abortion care.

“We are proud to stand with NAF and its members in the fight against anti-abortion extremists, who have smeared abortion providers and placed them in personal jeopardy, simply for ensuring the constitutional right of women in this country to make their own reproductive choices,” Foran said.

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Mission Accomplished: Planned Parenthood Attacks Coordinated by High-Ranking Republican Operatives

Planned Parenthood is certainly the target, but its destruction is not the goal, any more than destroying ACORN was the true goal back in 2008. Destruction would be a happy side effect, but the true goal is to destroy the pathway for women to have access to legal and safe abortions.

See more of our coverage on the misleading Center for Medical Progress videos here.

To understand exactly how the most recent Planned Parenthood sting was planned and coordinated, you must go back to 2013. In July of 2013, Washington, D.C. reporter David Corn revealed the existence of a high-powered group of people who viewed themselves as a conservative army fighting a war on multiple fronts. From the wife of a Supreme Court justice to the chief of staff for Sen. Ted Cruz, members of this group were determined to stop all progress before it could even begin.

They Called Themselves “Groundswell”

Just after Barack Obama’s re-election in 2012, disappointed conservative thought leaders came together at the annual CPAC conference in Washington, D.C. to strategize. Demoralized but determined, they formed a plan to fight a “30-front war to fundamentally transform the nation.”

In early 2013, they formed an email group to begin the process of organizing for action and messaging coordination. Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions’ key aide Danielle Cutrona was part of the group, as was Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, wife of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Former UN Ambassador John Bolton, Breitbart News Editor John Nolte, Family Research Council officials Jerry Boykin and Ken Blackwell, Tea Party Patriots Founder Jenny Beth Martin, Washington, D.C. attorney and public relations expert Diana Banister, Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton, former Congressman Allen West, former Secret Service agent Dan Bongino, Frank Gaffney, and Ted Cruz staffer Max Pappas rounded out the top-tier of group participants, according to David Corn’s report.

They met weekly in the offices of Judicial Watch to hone their message and action plans. One meeting was secretly recorded, getting them on the record with regard to their desire to get a select committee to investigate the Benghazi attack, mostly for the purpose of obtaining unlimited subpoena power.

Their goal was not merely to function as a messaging machine, but to “sync messages and develop action from reports and information exchanged,” according to the minutes of their March 27, 2013 meeting. “Going forward there should be an action item accompanying each report,” they concluded.

The purpose of the group was to collaborate and coordinate strategy and action for their multiple “fronts.” Shadow government assignments were made, committees were formed, and strategies were developed. All of this was done with participation and input from key congressional staffers working in the House and the Senate. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), now House Majority Whip, was the head of the conservative Republican Study Committee at the time. His staff routinely dropped in to tip off the group as to upcoming votes on key issues. One of the most active participants on the email list was Danielle Cutrona, who was a key staffer for Sen. Jeff Sessions.

Whenever there was a need for support or for opposition to legislation, or an investigation or opposition to a judicial nominee, these staffers would reach into the group in order to recruit members for messaging or action support.

Immigration reform, religious liberty, and judicial appointments were high on their list of priorities, and they enjoyed some successes. They got their Select Committee on Benghazi, they successfully opposed one of the president’s judicial nominees who was not sufficiently steeped in their idea of Second Amendment interpretation, and they were wildly successful with their attack on the Internal Revenue Service’s procedure for approving nonprofit organizations.

Blueprint for Activism 

After David Corn broke the story of this group two years ago and audio of one of their weekly meetings became public, a blueprint for how to track coordination to advance its agenda, via messaging and action with key congressional aides, emerged.

One such example can be found in their effort to push the idea that the president was putting “politics over public safety” with regard to immigration reform.

Corn laid out the pieces:

Frank Gaffney penned a Washington Times op-ed titled “Putting Politics Over Public Safety.” Tom Fitton headlined a Judicial Watch weekly update “Politics over Public Safety: More Illegal Alien Criminals Released by Obama Administration.” Peter List, editor of LaborUnionReport.com, authored a RedState.com post called “Obama’s Machiavellian Sequestration Pain Game: Putting Politics Over Public Safety.” Matthew Boyle used the phrase in an immigration-related article for Breitbart. And Dan Bongino promoted Boyle’s story on Twitter by tweeting, “Politics over public safety?” In a message to Groundswellers, Ginni Thomas awarded “brownie points” to Fitton, Gaffney, and other members for promoting the “politics over public safety” riff.

All Eyes on Planned Parenthood 

Groundswell is now two years old, having cut its teeth on the fight against Common Core and the 2014 elections. Its members are just now hitting their stride and the evidence can be seen in the latest series of Planned Parenthood videos, which were carefully timed and coordinated for maximum political gain.

Here’s a look at the timeline and principal players. To determine the rollout, I used archived pages from the aggregation site Memeorandum and checked hourly snapshots to see how the story spread.

On July 14, Lila Rose’s Live Action News posted the press release and video from the so-called Center for Medical Progress. One of the first to pick up the story in less than an hour from its release was Austin Ruse, for Breitbart News. Ruse is a member of Groundswell, as is Breitbart’s managing editor, Stephen Bannon.

The Daily Caller was next, where Ginni Thomas serves as a contributor. Thomas was one of the key drivers of messaging and issues inside the Groundswell group, assigning key phrases and terms to group members to use for action and articles.

The Washington Free Beacon, a new but well-funded online news site, was next up shortly thereafter with facts and figures about federal funding for Planned Parenthood, suggesting that it was time to withdraw that funding, based upon the not-yet debunked report from the CMP.

The Federalist, the Heritage Foundation’s “news site” posted a story about Hillary Clinton’s vocal support for Margaret Sanger, using the long-debunked claim that Sanger supported the extermination of the Black race because of her allyship with the eugenics movement. (The Heritage Foundation was being considered for membership in the group in March 2013, but was not present at the May Groundswell meeting.)

The story was spreading, but slowly. This was partly due to reports of David Daleiden’s ties to the now-disgraced and unreliable sting artist James O’Keefe, as well as his ties to racist and also-disgraced blogger Chuck Johnson.

When the story didn’t catch fire quickly enough, the Daily Caller reporter who had first reported the story came back around for a second shot, observing that Democratic candidates were largely silent on the issue of “alleged Planned Parenthood felonies.”

July 14 also happened to be the day many left-side activists and writers were en route to Phoenix, Arizona, for Netroots Nation, which is the largest gathering of political activists, operatives, and writers for the left. The release date meant that the story would have the benefit of several hours before any level of significant skepticism would register from Planned Parenthood or allies online.

Also on July 14: Anti-abortion extremists convened in Alabama, home state to Sen. Jeff Sessions. Some groups represented in Alabama are connected to David Daleiden and his front group used for the Planned Parenthood sting.

By the close of business on July 14, the story had been picked up by all of the conservative news outlets online, and it was beginning to spread throughout social media. The key phrase for this onslaught was “Planned Parenthood sells baby parts.” Each and every article uses that language to describe the CMP video.

On July 15, House Speaker John Boehner announced an investigation into the allegations on the video, which had already been shown to be false. Leading the charge on that front in the Senate: Ted Cruz.

On July 16, representatives admitted they had seen the video weeks before its release.

On July 17, Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Rep. Tim Murphy sent a letter to Planned Parenthood requesting specific information about the fetal tissue program.

Family Research Council’s Jerry Boykin was not shy about reaching out to Congress for specific action. In the recording of Groundswell’s May 8, 2013 meeting, he outlined the contacts he had made—including a late-night hallway meeting with Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA)—to facilitate a select committee on Benghazi. Similarly, here we have a story based on edited video intended to attack Planned Parenthood with inflammatory rhetoric and repugnant images crafted to spark congressional action. That action came one day later, when John Boehner announced a congressional investigation into Planned Parenthood’s fetal tissue donation program. The investigation and ensuing releases of more edited video are intended to keep the extreme conservative base engaged and angry while inflicting deep harm on Planned Parenthood. Just as the Benghazi hearings were intended to harm Hillary Clinton’s credibility, so too are the Planned Parenthood attacks and congressional inquiries intended to keep the anti-abortion extremists engaged in the electoral process underway.

Planned Parenthood is certainly the target, but its destruction is not the goal, any more than destroying ACORN was the true goal back in 2008. Destruction would be a happy side effect, but the true goal is to destroy the pathway for women to have access to legal and safe abortions. As this cabal of conservatives has demonstrated, their goal is to spur Congress to further ban abortions while also promoting Republican extreme conservatives in the 2016 field as the True Heroes for primary voters.

It should bother us all that the spouse of a sitting Supreme Court justice is involved in this level of coordination with everyone from media outlets to congressional staffers. It should bother us more that they are successful in their attempts to derail serious debate about serious issues by creating and promoting a video that does not prove what they claim to prove, in a calculating and manipulative way for the sole purpose of gaining an electoral advantage.

Image: Christopher Halloran / Shutterstock.com

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Indiana’s Investigation of Planned Parenthood Comes Up Empty

No state investigation to date has found that Planned Parenthood has violated any law regarding the handling of fetal tissue.

See more of our coverage on the misleading Center for Medical Progress videos here.

An Indiana State Department of Health investigation into Planned Parenthood-affiliated reproductive health-care clinics in the state found them in compliance with the state’s fetal tissue regulations.

Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky operates three clinics that provide surgical abortion care in Indianapolis, Bloomington, and Merrillville. All of the clinics were found to be in compliance with state regulations and were not cited for any deficiencies, according to documents released by Planned Parenthood.

“The investigation has concluded there was no evidence of this type of activity at these sites,” the Indiana State Department of Health said in a statement, reported the Indianapolis Star. Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky does not participate in fetal tissued donation programs.

The investigations into all three clinics were completed on July 21, and the complaint was closed as of that date.

Betty Cockrum, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, said in a statement that she was pleased that the issue was resolved.

“As we’ve said all along, PPINK doesn’t participate in a tissue donation program. We hold compliance with all laws and regulations as an imperative,” Cockrum said. “We’re not surprised the surveyors found the claims unsubstantiated. Perhaps now Indiana’s executive leadership will focus on measures such as teen pregnancy prevention and reducing the cycle of poverty to truly advance the dream of thriving Hoosier families.”

Gov. Mike Pence (R) directed the Department of Health to investigate Planned Parenthood on July 16, after an undercover, heavily edited video was published by an anti-choice front group that claimed the footage proved Planned Parenthood was illegally selling tissue from aborted fetus.

“Under federal and state law, the buying or selling of human body parts is a felony and, as Governor, I have an obligation to make sure this is not happening in Indiana,” Pence said in a statement. “Whatever one’s view on the issue of abortion, Hoosiers can be assured that we will make certain that this appalling practice is not taking place in Indiana.”

The videos were produced and published by the Center for Medical Progress, an anti-choice organization behind a series of videos seeking to defame Planned Parenthood. The organization has been praised by anti-choice activists and Republican politicians, but questions have been raised about CMP’s deceptive tactics, ideological agenda, and connections to radical and violent anti-choice activists.

Indiana has been hostile towards reproductive rights under Pence and the Republican-controlled state legislature. Several anti-choice bills have been introduced and passed into law in recent years, and this year Pence signed a bill into law creating more burdensome regulations for abortion clinics.

Since ordering the investigation, Pence gave public statements and interviews hyping the investigation, in addition to publishing multiple tweets on the matter. Pence published a tweet promoting the investigation Wednesday, a day after Planned Parenthood had received documentation that the Department of Health found no violations of the law.

The virulently anti-choice governor gave a statement Friday praising the speed of the investigation.

“I thought it was altogether appropriate for the Indiana State Department of Health to publish the results of that inquiry and move forward,” Pence said, reported the Indianapolis Star. “I’m pleased with the swift and professional manner that the Indiana State Department of Health went about this investigation and Hoosiers can be assured that we’ll continue to see to it that our laws in this area are strictly enforced.”

Republican lawmakers in several states have called for investigations into Planned Parenthood, and lawmakers across the country have compared the organization to everything from drug dealers to Nazis. State lawmakers in Texas held a hearing Wednesday to investigate the issue, even though, like those in Indiana, Planned Parenthood affiliates in Texas don’t collect fetal tissue for donation in medical research.

As Congress is set to vote on Monday on a proposal by Republican lawmakers to block Planned Parenthood from receiving federal funding, no state or federal investigation to date has found the organization has violated any law regarding the handling of fetal tissue.

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