Tuesday, April 12, 2016

GOP: Protect Our Religious Beliefs While Discriminating Against Yours

Latest GOP "Movement" and it is a "Movement"

Supreme Court rules same sex marriage is lawful then GOP religious right hits the fear mongering button asking themselves: What is discrimination and how can we make it legal?

Updated: Tennessee legislators passed a bill that could jeopardize access to mental health treatment for LGBT individuals, part of a string of recent anti-LGBT legislation in the South. The GOP-sponsored bill, which now goes to Gov. Bill Haslam (R), allows therapists and counselors to reject patients they feel would violate “sincerely held principles.”  TN joins NC, AL, MS and GA (although vetoed).

Haslam hasn’t indicated whether he will sign the bill into law saying he wanted to read the final version of the bill before deciding whether to sign it into law.  If he does sign it into law, then Tennessee would become the only state with such a law, according to the American Counseling Association. Plus, the ACA says the measure would violate their code of ethics, which affirms that mental health professionals cannot refuse treatment based on “personally held values, attitudes, beliefs and behaviors.” 
Gay rights and mental health advocacy groups have protested the bill and urge Haslam to veto it because it could permit mental health professionals to discriminate against LGBT patients without legal liability. 
The bill passed by the legislature is a more discriminatory version of legislation approved earlier this year which stated “… that therapists and counselors could turn away patients based on “sincerely held beliefs.” Plus, some opponents of the bill said they worried the wording could allow discrimination against other groups, including people of color.
The TN state House last week passed a version that expanded grounds for shunning patients to “principles,” which the TN just approved.
Tennessee lawmakers also are considering a proposal that would require transgender individuals to use bathrooms that correspond with their gender at birth, part of a wave of anti-LGBT legislation proposed in the South.
North Carolina’s new anti-LGBT bathroom law has sparked a torrent of outrage, with some corporate leaders and state governments cutting back on business with the state.
Background the USSC 5-4 ruling on gay marriage (law of the land) that apparently started this new GOP/Rightwing/Religious Zealot Anti-Gay “Movement” for surely that’s what it turned into – my religious rights and beliefs and freedoms trump yours – that is the America we should be…!!!

With increasing frequency, we are seeing individuals and institutions claiming a right to discriminate – by refusing to provide services to women and LGBT people – based on religious objections. The discrimination takes many forms, including:
  • Religiously affiliated schools firing women because they became pregnant while not married;
  • Business owners refusing to provide insurance coverage for contraception for their employees;
  • Graduate students, training to be social workers, refusing to counsel gay people;
  • Pharmacies turning away women seeking to fill birth control prescriptions;
  • Bridal salons, photo studios, and reception halls closing their doors to same-sex couples planning their weddings.

While the situations may differ, one thing remains the same: religion is being used as an excuse to discriminate against and harm others.  Instances of institutions and individuals claiming a right to discriminate in the name of religion aren’t new.

1.  In the 1960s, we saw institutions object to laws requiring integration in restaurants because of sincerely held beliefs that God wanted the races to be separate.

2.  Religiously affiliated universities have refused to admit students who engaged in interracial dating.
Religious freedom in America means that we all have a right to our religious beliefs, but that right does not give us the right to use religion to discriminate against and impose those beliefs on others who do not share them or have no view on religion at all – which also is a right (to not believe or practice any religion – which most deeply-religious people/zealots by any other name do not accept – it’s “you are either with us or against us” – sound familiar?).

Through litigation, advocacy and public education, various agencies like the ACLU work to defend religious liberty and to ensure that no one is either discriminated against nor denied services because of someone else’s religious beliefs.

The Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in the US after years of legal battles. On June 26, the US Supreme Court struck down states' same-sex marriage bans as unconstitutional, effectively bringing marriage equality to all 50 states. Although the cases dealt with laws in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee specifically, the court's decision encompassed the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans across the nation.

Over time, same-sex marriage rights have spread from Massachusetts in 2004 to two states in 2008 to eight states and Washington, DC, in 2012 to 37 states and DC just prior to the Supreme Court ruling — through court decisions, ballot initiatives, and state legislatures.

In the remaining states where same-sex marriages are still prohibited, there are pending or ongoing court challenges. The Supreme Court's ruling completes the long march, bringing marriage equality to all 50 states.

At the same time, states through the 1990's and 2000's enacted bans on same-sex marriages through constitutional amendments and other legislation after the Hawaii Supreme Court suggested in 1993 that prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying might violate the state's constitution. It's these bans that became the focal point of the debate in courts, as pro-LGBT organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union, Lambda Legal, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights challenged them as unconstitutional.

Many of the lower-court decisions were prompted by the Supreme Court's 2013 ruling in United States v. Windsor, which cited the 14th Amendment to strike down the federal government's ban on same-sex marriages. Lower courts by and large interpreted the 2013 decision to confirm that the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection and Due Process clauses apply to gay, lesbian, and bisexual people, meaning that states — just like the federal government — were required to grant equal rights under marriage laws to same-sex couples. But not all lower courts agreed on the issue, so in early 2015 the Supreme Court agreed to take up the cases.

A lot of rightwing “over-reaction” has followed ever since the ruling’s emotional high wore off to include a budding resistance in and from mostly RED states unwilling to give up their gay-marriage bans without a fight. 

  1. Texas AG Ken Paxton has deemed state employees exempt from granting same-sex couples with marriage licenses if it violates their religious beliefs.
  2. Conservatives in Tennessee (updated above) have started drafting legislation that would protect religious leaders from being forced to preside over same-sex marriages.
  3. Utah and Mississippi are considering doing away with state-issued marriage licenses.
  4. County clerks in Kentucky and Alabama have already taken it upon themselves to stop granting licenses altogether. (NOTE: they should be fired for neglect of their duties).

While such pushback looks poised to provoke legal action, constitutional experts (like Greg Magarian, a professor of law at Washington University in St. Louis) say most of these state efforts are “the political equivalent of temper tantrums” attention-getting yet extremely difficult to implement.

In fact, moves to stop issuing marriage licenses to anyone, for one thing, are highly problematic, and if a state continues to recognize religious marriages but doesn’t offer any legal opportunity for same-sex marriage, that state would inevitably end up handing out marriage-based benefits only to those who’ve participated in a religious ceremony, which is unconstitutional.

It would then only be a matter of time, before someone who doesn’t want a religious ceremony sues the state for discriminating against their religion or lack thereof by preventing them from having a civil ceremony. They would sue and they would win and the state would will be ordered to start issuing civil marriage licenses again. 
Married couples receive benefits not only from the state but from the federal government as well.

So even if states managed to remove themselves from the marriage business entirely, ceasing to provide benefits in addition to marriage licenses, it’s not as if the problem would just disappear.

Similarly to the result of states refusing to set up health insurance exchanges in accordance with the ACA, marriage would become the federal government’s responsibility.

“You can stand in the corner and hold your breath until you’re blue in the face, but people in your state will still be signing up for Obamacare, only now you’ve given the authority over it to the federal government” the professor said. From a political perspective, daring the federal government to take over a long-held state responsibility like marriage would be “a strategically stupid move.”

In the fight against gay marriage, opponents have long cited concerns that legalization would result in Catholic priests, Evangelical pastors and other religious clerics being forced — against their beliefs — to perform marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples. They aim to prevent it from becoming a reality.


Absolute Legal Truth: No person’s constitutional rights are more or less important than another person’s. Holding strong Religious beliefs against gays, their lifestyle, their marriage, or employment rights is not a license or reason to discriminate … believe any way you choose, even if your church or Bible or Qur’an or Torah teaches that way or not, but do not trample on abuse another person’s rights.

Nothing legally says a religious person must support Supreme Court rulings, but obeying the law is different. Don’t like gays for religious reasons: okay, avoid them, don’t mix with them, but don’t abuse them legally. Refuse them service, don’t give them medical help, don’t educate their children, not employ them – that is not legally justifiable and I would argue not ethically or morally right, either.

Interesting the Bible teachings the GOP Rightwing relies on:
  • Leviticus 18:22: “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.”
  • Leviticus 20:13: Kind of the Muslim way: “If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.”

Former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR) on ABC “This Week” stated: “Christians will have no choice but resort to civil disobedience in order to follow their faith.” 

He then added: “This case wasn’t so much about a matter of marriage equality, it was marriage redefinition. And I think people have to say, ‘If you’re going to have a new celebration that we’re not going to discriminate against, may I ask, are we going to now discriminate against people of conscience, people of faith who may disagree with this ruling?” 

Huckabee was asked if he was recommending those who disagree with the court’s decision engage in civil disobedience and he said: “I don’t think a lot of pastors and Christian schools are going to have a choice. They either are going to follow God, their conscience and what they truly believe is what the scripture teaches them, or they will follow civil law.”

MY NOTE FOR HUCK: They do not have to perform any ceremony – it’s their choice NOT a legal dictate.

Then Huckabee went too far saying that “Christian county clerks should be excused from issuing same-sex marriage licenses. If they have a conscientious objection, I think they should be excused.  I’m not sure that every governor and every attorney general should just say: well, it’s the law of the land because there’s no enabling legislation.” (Kim Davis reacted to Huck’s suggestion; remember her).

BTW: It’s their sworn duty to fulfill their elected or appointed duty and issue a license or be dismissed from their jobs due to failure to perform, not on religious grounds per se, but on the grounds it’s their sworn duty to the public who BTW, pays their salaries.
Religious beliefs are not reasons to discriminate are they – black-white marriages; white-Asian marriages; children of mixed marriages – which church teaches discrimination … someone please list those that teach that.

Wait, maybe the Church of “I Don’t Give a Shit with the Rev. Billy Bob Redneck presiding” does. So, is this the new GOP religious mainstream teaching guide? Apparently it is.

Funny in a pathetic and ironic way, how when a 5-4 ruling goes your way it’s all yippee, Wahoo, drinks on me boys. But, when a ruling goes the other way – ouch, duck, run for cover – the maniacs are on the loose. Crying towels and then start to work to find another way to repeal Obamacare for example, or a new way to attack gays or people you don’t like (like new immigrants). GOPers respect the ruling when it suits their bias – their needs – their goals. If not: prepare for a Second Civil War. Policy of pick and choose fairness and equality is their motto.

Recent examples: VOTING RIGHTS ACT – gone 5-4 – Yippee. Bring on more voter ID laws to hamper free voting. Then 5-4 to protect a right equally to marry whom you want. Hell, hang those “5.”

The 5-4 majority ruled that preventing same-sex people from marrying violated their constitutional right to due process under the 14th Amendment and that the states were unable to put forth a compelling reason to withhold that right from people, and was written by Justice Kennedy who said in part that not a majority “… would be to misunderstand these men and women by saying they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.” (Amen to that statement Mr. Justice Kennedy).

Then the other end of a 5-4 from Chief Justice John Roberts, as the GOP cheer in the background as he read a stinging dissent from the bench, as Kennedy sat beside him, saying in part: “Five lawyers have closed the debate and enacted their own vision of marriage as a matter of constitutional law. Stealing this issue from the people will for many cast a cloud over same-sex marriage, making a dramatic social change that much more difficult to accept.”

Then the Chief Justice told same-sex couples they could “celebrate today’s decision,” even though he disagreed with it so strongly, adding: “Celebrate the achievement of a desired goal. Celebrate the opportunity for a new expression of commitment to a partner. Celebrate the availability of new benefits. But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it.”

I note: So, why did the case get to the high court in the first place, Mr. Chief Justice, and BTW: isn’t the 14th Amendment (ratified in 1868) as Justice Kennedy cited it part of the Constitution – which is equal justice under law – is that not now not true?
  • Do we not have gay DEM and gay GOP lawmakers?
  • DEMS have gay family members.
  • GOPers have gay family members. Great example: GOP Sen. Rob Portman (Ohio) who was hugely anti-gay until his son said: “Dad, I am gay.” Oops, Senator.

Equal Justice Under Law – not according to GOP views and/or opinions. Regardless, it’s still the legal foundation of the country.

Yes, we have rules and laws that are man-made and man-reviewed, but we also have a great system in place that allows change to keep up progress and yes, the majority is the rule in America, but always while protecting minority rights along the way – that is the America I know about and the one I want – how about you?

Closing point: Agree or not with me and this post, but then let’s see how you react when someone, anyone, tries to take away or infringe on you and your legal rights and guaranteed freedoms. How will you would react? Passively, I guess – yeah, right.

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