Category Archives: Poltics

Why “religious freedom” is code for discriminating against the LGBT community

Religious FreedomEarlier this week I wrote a post, Why the “Religious Freedom” discussion is both disingenuous and dangerous.  Considering the fact that those most obsessed with the need to protect “religious freedom” are also some of our country’s most homophobic political leaders should make you think. Couple that with the fact that the discussion is a reaction to marriage equality laws and one need not be Sherlock Holmes to read these clues.

This latest debate on ‘religious freedom’ is nothing more than an escape clause for homophobic business owners to refuse service to the LGBT community.  If Christian business owners were really concerned (for their immortal soul) about having to serve people who violated their religious convictions then why are they serving customers who are divorced, practice a different religion, known adulterers or liars (and the list continues)?  Why is it that only the LGBT community that seems to be causing this crises of conscious?  It is because they are bigots using religion as a shield to disguise and and confuse the debate.

ReligionDid you know that divorce is identified as a sin approximately two dozen times in the Bible? By contrast homosexuality is discussed less than ten times so why is divorce not considered twice the sin of homosexuality? These devout Christians should be focused on all the divorcées in their community who have made a mockery of “traditional marriage”, which they supposedly hold so dear.

The Bible is riddled with all sorts of “sins” like getting your hair cut, eating shellfish, getting a tattoo, etc… yet these behaviors don’t seem to offend the supposedly ‘devout’ Christian business owners. It seems to me if religious freedom is being called into question then only business owners who truly observe every tenant of their faith should be allowed to claim this need for an exemption.  For all those who are picking and choosing their religious convictions, it sounds more like an excuse to get the government to approve discrimination – and that is unconstitutional.

Religious freedom is code for legalizing discrimination

Religious FreedomMuch thanks to Jordan for sharing.

Why the “Religious Freedom” discussion is both disingenuous and dangerous

Indiana anti homosexuality billMoral Majority – Family Values – Religious Freedom

What do the above phrases have in common with each other?  They are all catch-phrases employed by Republicans looking to redefine social discourse.  In the 1970s Nixon often referred to the “Moral Majority” to appeal to white, Protestant voters since racially divisive language was no longer acceptable. Two decades later “Family Values” was often cited as a way for Christian Conservatives to deflect criticism for insisting upon the need to legislate their religious beliefs.

Religious FreedomLet’s be clear the reason every conservative is suddenly claiming the Federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) doesn’t go far enough to protect “Religious Freedom” is more of this same bullshit.  Conservatives recognize that just as using racially charged language is no longer acceptable it is no longer acceptable to use homophobic slurs so they’ve modified their language to drum up outrage and portray themselves as victims.

When you hear someone talking about “religious freedom” stop and engage them immediately.  Don’t wave it off or ignore this language, because it is code for discrimination but presented in more palatable messaging. American’s believe in religious freedom just as much as individual liberties and the LGBT community must push back and ask what exactly about serving our community infringes upon their religious freedom?

Religious freedomWe know that silence creates a vacuum and in that vacuum this conservative messaging will thrive. Ask intelligent questions and start a dialog with anyone you hear talking about how their religious freedoms are being infringed. There is a similar parallel to the lack of substance behind the anti-marriage equality argument – but absent your dialog – Americans will come to accept and believe religious rights are being compromised and need to be protected; at the expense of your rights.

Moderate Republicans support Indiana’s “religious freedom” law

LGBT RightsI know I’ve been hammering away at this Indiana law but the responses from the supposedly moderate Republicans contemplating a run for President of the US I find as sickening as Governor Pence response to America’s reaction to the law.

Gov. Jeb Bush – Monday, March 30, 2015
The Hugh Hewitt Show:  “I think if they actually got briefed on the law, they wouldn’t be blasting this law,” Bush said. “I think Governor Pence has done the right thing. Florida has a law like this. Bill Clinton signed a law like this at the federal level. This is simply allowing people of faith space to be able to express their beliefs. I think once the facts are established, people aren’t going to see this as discriminatory at all.”

Gov. Scott Walker – Monday, March 30, 2015
FOX:  Governor Walker has been uncharacteristically quiet preferring to have spokespeople speak for him which makes me think he probably disagrees with the law but refuses to speak out against it.  Rather he had spokeswoman AshLee Strong issue the following statement, “As a matter of principle, Gov. Walker believes in broad religious freedom and the right for Americans to exercise their religion and act on their conscience.”  I have no idea what he is saying and I think that is intentional.

Carly Fiorina – Monday, March 30, 2015
USA Today:  Fiorina said it was “shameful” how, in her view, liberals have fanned the furor over the Indiana law. I honestly believe this is a set of liberal political activists who practice a game of identity politics and divisive politics to whip people into a frenzy, and I think it’s very destructive to the fabric of this country.”

Gov. Chris Christie – Wednesday, April 1, 2015
Wall Street Journal:  When asked about the law Wednesday, Mr. Christie said that there should not be “a situation where people perceive that anybody would be denied service.” But he defended Mr. Pence’s character. “I know Mike Pence and he’s got nothing but love in his heart for people,” Mr. Christie said. “I just do not believe that in any way Mike Pence would intend for anything that happened in his state under his watch would be discriminatory toward any person.”  

Center for American Progress says Indiana stands to lose $250 million

Indiana anti homosexuality billToday The Center for American Progress distributed a release, indicating that the state of Indiana now stands to lose at least $250 million for passing their “religious freedom” legislation, which is widely seen as legalizing discrimination against the LGBT community.  Despite the fact the legislation is only a week old, the ‘religious freedom” law has tarnished the state’s reputation and made the state a pariah.  As of April 1st, The Center for American Progress details the lost and at risk revenue as follows:

Lost Revenue:
Angie’s List: $40 million
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, or AFSCME, conference: $500,000

At Risk Revenue:
Big Ten football, 2016–2021: $96 million ($16 million per year)
Big Ten men’s basketball, 2020: $8 million
Big Ten women’s basketball, 2017–2021: $10 million ($2 million per year)
NCAA Men’s Final Four, 2021: $71 million
NCAA Women’s Final Four, 2016: $25 million
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) 2017 General Assembly: $5.9 million

One should assume this is no joking matter for the state as more companies are now coming out condemning the legislation and indicating their plans to essentially create an embargo on all activity in their state. I think it is safe to say that Governor Pence and the Republican led State legislature in Indiana have done more to harm their state’s reputation and lose more money than they ever expected.  I hope the scrutiny remains and the losses continue to mount.

Mary Bonauto to lead marriage equality argument before SCOTUS

The MacArthur FoundationThe LA Times is reporting that gay rights pioneer, Mary Bonauto, who may be best known as the lawyer who won the first gay-marriage rulings in Massachusetts and Vermont, will lead the argument before the Supreme Court in favor of a constitutional right to same-sex marriage nationwide.  She was selected by the attorneys and the couples from four states whose cases will be heard on April 28.

Bonauto will be representing April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, two nurses from Michigan who are raising four adopted children. She will argue that the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of liberty and equal protection of the laws requires the state to issue them a marriage license.

You can learn more about this amazing woman and her list of accomplishments from her profile on Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), here.

Edward M. Kennedy Institute opens Tuesday

Ted KennedyMore than five years has passed since U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy passed away at his home in Cape Cod.  Tomorrow, the Edward M. Kennedy Institute will open next door to the JFK Presidential Library in Dorchester.  The Institute includes a full scale replica of the US Senate chamber – a place Kennedy served for 47 years.

Edward M. Kennedy Institute

Senator Kennedy’s legacy will hopefully continue through this institute, igniting the imagination and inspiring future generations to embrace civil service and help to build a better community by focusing on those who need help the most; not just those who can afford attorneys and lobbyists.