Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Virginia GOP Pushes to Allow Religious Discrimination with Public Funds

The one common phenomenon that one sees time and time again is the demand by conservative Christians and their trained circus dogs in the Republican Party to grant the Christofascists special rights and in the worse instances, to force the rest of us to pay for.  This is precisely the goal of GOP sponsored bills in the Virginia General Assembly which will allow college clubs and organizations receiving public college and university funds to discriminate based on religion and all too obviously sexual orientation.  Its proponents disingenuously argue that it is needed to protect religious belief and freedom of association.  That's an outright lie, but then a gain what else would one expect from today's GOP and occasional gutless Democrats who don't have the spine to call bigotry for what it is.  Religious affiliated clubs at public colleges and universities are free to set whatever membership criteria they want.  Nothing is stopping them from doing so now.  That's not enough for the Christofascists: they want gays, those of Jewish descent , Muslims and other non-Christians all to have to help pay for these bigoted organizations that seek to discriminate against them.  The Virginian Pilot looks at this foul GOP sponsored effort:

Supporters say it would preserve the constitutional right of free association on college campuses.
Critics say its purpose is more nefarious: to undermine a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision and permit otherwise improper discrimination by college clubs supported with public dollars.

The pro-side won out Monday when the Virginia Senate voted 22-18 to approve legislation that would allow student groups to restrict membership to those committed to their missions.  The measure, HB 1617, would also prohibit colleges and universities from discriminating against clubs that make club participation exclusive.

“This relates to the ability of Catholic, or Jewish, or Baptist groups to limit their members” to people of the same faith tradition, said Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg, as he spoke in support of the bill.

“Every group can have their belief,” countered Sen. Adam Ebbin, saying the problem comes when clubs that want to discriminate also rely on public university funds to cover operating costs.  “This bill is not about religion,” added Ebbin, an Alexandria Democrat who is gay.

“Under this bill, student groups benefiting from our taxpayer dollars can deny membership to students for any reason, from religion to sexual orientation” while taking away colleges' oversight ability, he said.  In June 2010, the nation’s high court ruled that a California law school’s decision not to formally recognize a Christian group that excluded gays was an acceptable enforcement of its anti-discrimination policy.

Hampton Roads wonders why it has a difficult time diversifying its economy.  One of the chief causes is made painfully obvious: the GOP controlled Virginia General Assembly (and its masters at The Family Foundation) which continues to send the message that Virginia remains a quasi-Christianist theocracy where others are neither welcomed or tolerated.

No comments: