Fringe Factor

Fringe Factor: Gay Panic, Secession Fever & More

A strike on Syria is doomed by all the gays and women in the military, Texas is ready to become its own country, and Pennsylvania is racking up a huge legal bill to defend an anti-gay marriage law. Another week in wild theories from our fearless leaders.

American Family Association: U.S. Military Too Gay, Feminine to Strike Syria

Lots of people from both ends of the political spectrum have made compelling arguments for and against U.S. intervention in Syria. This is not one of them. American Family Association radio host Sandy Rios thinks “the homosexual takeover of so much of our military” and the increased amount of women serving in key roles makes the U.S. Navy incapable of carrying out a strike against Syria. “When I looked at those battleships getting ready for battle in Syria, I couldn't help think about all the stories I've read about how women now are in the ranks of the Navy, getting pregnant at exponential numbers,” she said on air this week. “When I think about the folding in and the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell and the homosexual takeover of so much of our military I'm not sure how effective those naval ships will be.”

Pennsylvania: No Price is Too High to Defend Traditional Marriage

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett is so determined to keep a 17-year-old state law banning same sex marriage on the books that he's willing to shell out a whole lot of taxpayer money to a fancy private law firm to defend it. The ACLU is challenging the law, arguing that it violates the “equal protection and due process clauses that protect against discrimination and infringement on liberties," and is therefore unconstitutional. The in addition to the $400 an hour the state will be paying former Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice William H. Lamb to defend the law, Lamb's associates at the West Chester firm Lamb McErlane PC will receive $325 an hour and state lawyers will also be compensated for contributing to the case.

Texas: On Its Way to Independence

Texas Railroad Commissioner Barry Smitherman is currently carrying out a dual campaign: to become the next state attorney general and to help Texas become an “independent nation.” According to Smitherman, Texas is on the road to secession. “We are uniquely situated because we have energy resources, fossil and otherwise, and our own independent electrical grid. Generally speaking, we have made great progress in becoming an independent nation, and ‘island nation’ if you will,” Smitherman said during an interview with the far-right website WorldNetDaily. “I think we want to continue down that path so that if the rest of the country falls apart, Texas can operate as a stand-alone entity.” Don't let the title fool you, the Texas Railroad Commissioner is actually not in charge of the state's railroads. Instead, he is charged with regulating the Texas energy industry—gas, coal, oil, etc—making him one powerful Texan with a radical plan.

California: Northern Secessionists Want Their Own State

Smitherman isn't the only one with secession on the brain. The Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors voted almost unanimously this week to break its Northern California county off from the rest of the Golden State. Fed up with such issues as “regulation, restriction of rights, lack of representation, regionalism and restoration of limited government,” the people of Siskiyou County plan to invite neighboring counties in both California and Southern Oregon to join them in forming a new state called "Jefferson." While Doug La Malfa, U.S. Rep. for California's 1st district—where Siskiyou County is located—has not clarified his thoughts on the secession plan, one of his staff members attended the meeting and said that she and other staffers were in favor of the effort. Jefferson would require the approval of both California and Oregon state legislatures as well as Congress to even exist—and that's highly unlikely. But if Siskiyou were successful in its secession scheme, its roughly 45,000 residents would receive the same amount of representation in the Senate as the 38 million other people living in California.

Virginia: Hold On To Your Voter Registrations

Virginia voters beware: if you've ever lived in another state, make sure to check your mailbox for notice that your registration has been cancelled. Fifty-seven thousand have been flagged for being registered in another state and, in an effort to carry out a state-wide voter-roll purge in a timely fashion, some counties are not even notifying voters that they've been removed, let alone offering them the opportunity to first respond to the claim. While voter roll purges are common and necessary to keep registries up to date, getting rid of people who've registered and since moved states, the policy used in many Virginia counties seems to be not asking voters whether they still live in the state but notifying them that they've been cut from the rolls after the fact. While some county registrars say they're going above and beyond to ensure that no mistakes are made, some voters say they were added to the list in error and already claim to have had their registration cancelled. The real problem with this hasty purging process is the fact that the October 14 deadline to register before the gubernatorial election is fast approaching. Think Progress points out that if all 57,000 flagged registrations are cancelled, that would account for about three percent of all votes in the state (based on the turnout in 2009), which could make a big difference in a tight race.