By mid-afternoon, authorities reportedly had someone in custody in connection with the murder of Wichita abortion doctor George Tiller at his church on Sunday morning.
So far, we know nothing about the suspect. Though the motive for the crime we can all surmise in light of the vitriolic campaign that has been waged against Tiller for more than two decades by anti-abortion groups.
And if we’re right about that, then we already know the identities of his accomplices.
They include every one who has ever called Tiller’s late term abortion clinic a murder mill.
Who ever called Tiller “Tiller the Killer.”
The groups who spent decades fomenting hate toward a man who simply believed that he was serving a purpose by being one of the few doctors in the country performing late-term abortions.
Hate. Not heated opposition. Not strong disagreement.
But blind hatred.
The kind of hate that would prompt some maniac to take a gun into a church and shoot a man to death in front of friends and family.
His accomplices know they have blood on their hands, which might explain why they were quick to issue statements today expressing disapproval of Tiller’s murder.
Among them, the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue.
“Operation Rescue denounces the killing of abortionist Tiller,” read the headline of a new release posted on that group’s website.
Those words drip with hypocrisy.
After all, it was Operation Rescue that coined the nickname “Tiller the Killer.” It was Operation Rescue that was most responsible for ratcheting up the heated rhetoric toward Tiller over the past two decades.
The group issued the following statement today:
“We are shocked at this morning’s disturbing news that Mr. Tiller was gunned down. Operation Rescue has worked for years through peaceful, legal means, and through the proper channels to see him brought to justice. We denounce vigilantism and the cowardly act that took place this morning. We pray for Mr. Tiller’s family that they will find comfort and healing that can only be found in Jesus Christ.”
Shocked? Are any of us really shocked that it would come to this after the many years of demonizing one man?
Certainly the group’s founder, Randall Terry, didn’t seem shocked when he issued a statement that, I would suggest, provides a truer sense of how the anti-abortion movement saw today’s events:
”George Tiller was a mass-murderer. We grieve for him that he did not have time to properly prepare his soul to face God. I am more concerned that the Obama Administration will use Tiller’s killing to intimidate pro-lifers into surrendering our most effective rhetoric and actions. Abortion is still murder. And we still must call abortion by its proper name; murder.
Those men and women who slaughter the unborn are murderers according to the Law of God. We must continue to expose them in our communities and peacefully protest them at their offices and homes, and yes, even their churches.”
I’d suggest that if anyone is in need of salvation right now it’s the anti-abortion movement in Kansas and across the nation.
As Terry’s statement makes clear, the same bullet that killed George Tiller also shattered the moral underpinnings of the movement that inspired its firing.
If a gay marriage question is put on the California ballot in 2010, it will put the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at a seriously interesting crossroads.
It has been three or four decades since the Mormon Church chose a low profile in American politics, after its opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment, and theological hostility to black Americans, spurred an anti-Mormon backlash. The Mormons are among the most persecuted of American sects, and highly sensitive to criticism.
The church’s low-key strategy seemed to work. There are still some Mormon-haters in evangelical Christian
circles, but for the most part the Mormons are accepted and admired, and church membership has soared. Mormon politicians like former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman are regarded by mainstream America as legitimate presidential timber.
Mormon watchers were surprised, then, when the church hierarchy took such an active role in the passage of Proposition 8 in California, limiting marriage to a man and a woman. Gay Americans were surprised as well. They didn’t expect the church to embrace gay marriage, but neither did they predict that the Mormon Church would emerge as a resolute and politically-active foe, whose support for Prop 8 was perhaps determinative. Some of the resultant anti-Mormon rhetoric has been vicious.
Now that Prop 8 has been upheld by the California Supreme Court, gay rights groups say they will put gay marriage on the ballot in California again, and mount a full scale effort to win public approval, perhaps as soon as 2010.
That will put the ball back in the church’s court. The family is at the center of Mormon theology. But the national political trends are running against the church. Younger Americans—even young evangelicals—are more than willing to see their gay friends get married.
Opposing gay marriage in Utah (as the church did in 2004) is one thing, but taking a lead public role in a national campaign to deprive a persecuted minority of a right shared by all other Americans is another. It would be seen as a sign that the days of low-key tactics are over, and that the current Mormon leaders are prepared to give, and get, the political bruising that occurs when religion mixes with politics in America.
ouse and Senate negotiators reached yesterday agreement on a compromise gay-marriage bill amendment aimed at winning a signature by Gov. John Lynch.
Members of a conference committee took just over two hours to agree on language they say gives more emphasis to the Legislature’s intent to protect religious freedoms regarding same-sex marriage.
The bill will be voted on next week, as the third piece of a three-part gay-marriage proposal. Two bills have already passed — House Bill 436, the main bill, and HB 310, with technical changes — but a third became necessary when Lynch said he would veto the bills unless extra protections for religious groups were added. Language in the two bills that exempted clergy from performing marriages that their religions do not accept did not go far enough, Lynch said.
The Senate then passed HB 73, containing language Lynch demanded, but the House vote on May 20 fell short 186-188.
Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler is exploring whether same-sex marriages performed in other states can be recognized in Maryland, a move that could open an avenue for legal recognition of gay and lesbian couples who have been rebuffed by the courts and legislature here.
The exercise puts Gansler – a Democrat and vocal proponent of same-sex marriage – in a difficult position. Maryland law clearly defines marriage as between a man and a woman, but the state also adheres to a long-standing legal principle that generally acknowledges couples married elsewhere.
Gay-rights activists say the ability to marry would not only strengthen their relationships but confer hundreds of rights, benefits and responsibilities on them, including community property protections, control over funeral arrangements of a spouse and an obligation to pay child support.
With lively chants and rainbow flags, several thousand people rallied in Fresno today, aiming to persuade California’s conservative heartland to support same-sex marriage rights.
Just days after the California Supreme Court upheld a ban on same-sex marriage approved by voters in November, activists launched the rally with a 14.5-mile march from Selma to Fresno in the Central Valley.
Hundreds participated in the march. Seeking to link the march with the 1960s civil rights movement centered in places like Selma, Ala., organizers said it was “a symbolic sign of respect for the social movements before us.”
The march ended at Fresno City Hall with the larger rally and drew support from such celebrities as Charlize Theron and Eric McCormack. McCormack, a heterosexual actor who played a gay lawyer in the TV sitcom “Will & Grace,” said he joined the march as a symbol of gay rights to middle America.
“We are the gays they accepted,” he said, referring to middle America TV viewers.
From the start of his run for governor, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom has tried to show there is more to his career than the gesture that won him worldwide fame: his 2004 decree legalizing same-sex marriage.
Yet there he was Tuesday on CNN’s “Larry King Live,” speaking out for gay rights after the state Supreme Court upheld Proposition 8, the same-sex marriage ban that Californians passed in November.
For Newsom and five major-party rivals, the resurgence of the same-sex marriage issue has added a new complication to the race for governor.
If gay rights groups get their way, the nominees to succeed Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will share the November 2010 ballot with a measure to repeal Proposition 8, turning an emotionally charged cultural issue into a central focus of the campaign.
Across the nation, the subject has grown more challenging for candidates of all kinds as the mere concept has given way to the reality of tens of thousands of married gay couples. Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, Maine and Iowa have legalized same-sex marriage.
Voters have also shifted their views. In April, a Washington Post-ABC News poll found that 49% of Americans said gay marriage should be legal, and 46% said it should be illegal. Three years earlier, 36% had said it should be legal, and 58% had said it should not.
“The trajectory of public opinion on this issue has been dramatic,” said Democratic pollster Mark Mellman.
In California, where Newsom’s rebel edict in 2004 touched off the court battles that spawned some 18,000 marriages that were declared valid Tuesday, candidates for governor face multiple dangers on the issue. Although support for gay marriage has risen over the last decade — the 52% yes vote on Proposition 8 was down from 61% on a similar measure in 2000 — the issue still sharply divides Californians.
“People care about this one — a lot — on both sides,” said Steve Smith, a Democratic strategist who worked on the campaign to defeat Proposition 8.
A Field Poll taken three months ago affirmed stark generational and ideological splits on same-sex marriage.
Younger voters were far more likely to approve of it than older voters. And Democrats overwhelmingly favored it, while Republicans were strongly opposed.
Rev. Frank Senn of Evanston wouldn’t mind if Illinois became the sixth state to recognize same-sex civil unions as binding commitments in the eyes of the law.
But the Evangelical Lutheran pastor would object if his church became the next Protestant denomination to bless same-sex unions as binding commitments in the eyes of God.
“There’s a difference between what is ordered in civil society and what the church can do under the Gospel,” said the pastor, whose son married another man in California before same-sex marriages were banned by the Proposition 8 referendum in November. “I think civil society has its own authority to make whatever social accommodations that seem good to society. We can only act on the authority of the word of God.”
We shot this short film to protest the passage of Prop 8, the ban on gay marriage in California. It was amazing how many people volunteered their time to help out with it. There’s more info up on the “Educate Against Prop 8″ facebook site:
Hundreds of same-sex couples and their supporters marched Saturday through dusty California farm towns, gathering in the state’s conservative center to push for gay marriage in less hospitable areas.
Just days after the state’s highest court upheld a ban on gay marriage, advocates vowed to win the hearts and minds of those who reject their unions. They are pledging to put a new initiative before voters to overturn the ban, perhaps as soon as next year.
The weekend-long event has attracted the movement’s most well-known activists and celebrities including Charlize Theron and Eric McCormack. It was organized by a lesbian mother in Fresno who was removed from the parent-teacher association at her son’s Roman Catholic school after she spoke out against banning gay marriage.
“Fresno represents middle America values, and we can start changing our neighbors’ feelings about gay marriage beginning right here in the Central Valley,” said lead organizer Robin McGehee, a 36-year-old college professor who married her longtime partner last year. “We’re doing exactly what the freedom riders would do in the South in the 1960s, which is reaching into communities that are different from us so we can all live in equality.”
Gay activists believe their campaign against Proposition 8 focused too much on liberal urban enclaves along the coast, failing even to reach out to the state’s rural regions. The measure passed with nearly 69 percent of the vote in Fresno County, compared to 52 percent statewide.
ABC News’ Rick Klein reports: This afternoon in Toronto, former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush shared a stage for a “conversation with presidents” at Toronto’s Convention Centre, in a ticketed event (with a hefty payday for both ex-presidents) that was open to the general public.
It was a fascinating discussion — these two 62-year-old men with a combined 16 years in the presidency, talking about current and past events as probably no one else alive can, for the first time in a public forum.
While President Bush mostly kept to his promise not to criticize his successor, he bristled at the suggestion — advanced by President Obama, among others — that Iraq distracted the nation from the war in Afghanistan.
“I don’t buy the premise that our attention was diverted” by Iraq, Bush said. “I think it’s false. Matter of fact, I know it’s false. I was there.”
And while President Clinton mostly kept to his promise to “thwart” efforts to get 42 and 43 to tangle with each other, he offered an interesting insight into his thinking on gay rights.
On the issue of gay marriage — which Clinton, like President Obama, personally opposes — Clinton said of his position: “Frankly, it’s evolving” as he sees more committed gay couples raising kids.
As ABC political director David Chalian has pointed out, Clinton isn’t the only Democrat whose position on gay marriage is moving.
Clinton also expressed optimism that the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell policy” — which he helped enact — will eventually come off the books, allowing gay members of the armed services to serve openly.
“I think that time will lead to a repeal of this ban,” Clinton said.
That’s one of many areas where the former presidents disagree. But mostly, this event was a lovefest.
Clinton heaped praise on Bush for his AIDS initiative and the diversity of his Cabinet. Bush urged Clinton not to be so hard on himself over Rwanda.
Bush welcomed the audience to “the Bill and George show.” Clinton teased that while the pair was facing expectations that they would “devour each other,” “we’ll do our best to thwart them.”