Saturday, March 23, 2013

Kentucky Governor Vetoes Bill That Would Have Give Christianists Special Right to Discriminate

If one wants an example of the Christofascists demanding special rights that would trump the legal rights and civil liberties, one need look no farther than the Kentucky legislature that passed a bill that would have any religious nutcase to claim an exemption from any law or policy that prohibits discrimination contrary to such individual's religious beliefs.  Obviously, the bill would allow far right religious extremists to cite a Bible justification for their bigotry and thus leave racial minorities, women, LGBT people and others without adequate protections.  Thankfully, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear has vetoed the bill (House Bill 279 that passed both the GOP controlled House and Senate).  One can imagine the attacks Beshear will receive from the spittle flecked Bible beater crowd.  Here is a statement from the Governor's website:

I have significant concerns that this bill will cause serious unintentional consequences that could threaten public safety, health care, and individuals’ civil rights. As written, the bill will undoubtedly lead to costly litigation. I have heard from many organizations and government entities that share those same concerns. Therefore, after giving this measure thoughtful analysis and consideration, today I vetoed the bill.”

HB279, sent to the Governor on March 11, would allow an individual to disregard any state or local law that places a substantial burden on his or her sincerely held religious belief. As written, the government would have to show by “clear and convincing evidence” that the state has a compelling interest in requiring the person to follow the established law, and that there is no less restrictive means to accomplish the government’s objective.

Groups as varied as the Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs, Inc. to the National Association of Social Workers-Kentucky Chapter to the Center for Accessible Living have called on the Governor to veto the bill, citing concerns including:
•Weakening of local civil rights laws;
•Impact on implementation of the new Common Core Standards in our schools;
•Negative impact to economic development efforts;
•Adverse impact on enforcement of drug laws;
•Additional financial burdens on local governments; and
•Possible withholding of needed medical care or use of religion as a justification for abuse.
 The Governor's website has a lengthy list of groups and organizations that opposed this insane batshitery.   For those who don't believe that religious extremists would not have used this insane law to discriminate, the ACLU has a list of past examples were religious belief has been used to justify bigotry:

There are a number of historical examples of people using religious freedom to discriminate in the United States:
  • Against African-Americans: In 1966, three African-American customers brought a suit against Piggie Park restaurants, and their owner, Maurice Bessinger, for refusal to serve them.Bessinger argued that enforcement of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits that type of discrimination, violated his religious freedom "since his religious beliefs compel[ed] him to oppose any integration of the races whatever."
  • Against women: In 1976, Roanoke Valley Christian Schools added a "head of household" supplement to their teachers' salaries – which according to their beliefs meant married men, and not women.When sued under the Equal Pay Act, Roanoke Valley claimed a right to an exemption.According to the church pastor affiliated with the school, "[w]hen we turned to the Scriptures to determine head of household, by scriptural basis, we found that the Bible clearly teaches that the husband is the head of the house, head of the wife, head of the family."
  • Against interracial marriages: In the 1980's, Bob Jones University, a religiously-affiliated school in South Carolina, wanted an exemption from a rule denying tax-exempt status to schools that practice racial discrimination.The "sponsors of the University genuinely believe[d] that the Bible forbids interracial dating and marriage," and it was school policy that students engaged in interracial relationships, or advocacy thereof, would be expelled.

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