Saturday, April 30, 2016

Congressional Republicans Target Gays Rather Than Address Health Emergencies

Anti-LGBT bigot Rep. Steve Russell
Funding to address Flint, Michigan's lead poison laced water supply is languishing in Congress, blocked by Republicans - who, in my personal view do not give a damn about the victims since most are African American.  Similarly, funding to address the Zika virus menace to women and their unborn babies and other vulnerable Americans remains dead in the water thanks to Congressional GOP intransigence.  But Republicans do have time to introduce and push for passage of legislation that would undercut President Obama's executive orders prohibiting anti-LGBT employment discrimination.  It's behavior typical of the GOP's Obama derangement syndrome and its also typical of the GOP controlled Congress which has been the worse do knowing Congress in generations. The GOP ignores the needs of average Americans while pandering to the wealthy and religious extremists.  A piece in the Washington Post looks at this new GOP effort to authorize anti-LGBT discrimination and to grant special rights to right wing Christians.  Here are highlights:
The measure, introduced by freshman Rep. Steve Russell (R-Okla.) at 12:30 a.m. as the House Armed Services Committee prepared to pass the defense bill, would require the government to give religious organizations it signs contracts with exemptions in federal civil rights law and the Americans Disabilities Act.
Those laws do not ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. So the legislation would effectively override the executive order President Obama issued in 2014 prohibiting federal contractors from such discrimination.
The amendment provides an exemption for “any religious corporation, religious association, religious educational institution or religious society” contracting with the government. It quickly prompted heated exchanges between Russell and committee Democrats, who said it was purposefully unclear.
The measure, approved 33-29 on a mostly party-line vote at 2 a.m., could signal that the backlash in numerous states against LGBT anti-discrimination laws is now moving to Congress.
Stacy said that defeating the amendment on the House floor and in the Senate is now one of Human Rights Campaign’s top priorities. By late Thursday, a coalition of 42 civil rights groups called the Coalition Against Religious Discrimination had sent the committee a letter opposing the amendment.
It “would authorize taxpayer-funded discrimination in each and every federal contract and grant,” the letter said of the measure. “The government should never fund discrimination and no taxpayer should be disqualified from a job under a federal contract or grant because he or she is the ‘wrong’ religion.”
Stacy said the language in the amendment also would apply to organizations that receive federal grants. “If the government says, we’re going to fund a homeless shelter, they can refuse to hire an LGBT person to staff it even if 40 percent of the people they’re serving are LGBT,” he said.
Democrats accused Russell of trying to mask what his amendment would really do: Allow federal contractors to discriminate against LGBT employees.
“The way this amendment is written, it doesn’t matter if you are a religious organization,” said Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), the committee’s ranking member.
“You can basically be a private contractor and this just gives you the right to discriminate if you decide you just don’t want to do business with gay people or with anybody else for that matter on a discriminatory basis within a protected class.”
It is far past time that all religious exemptions be eliminated. Outside of their own houses of worship and in organizations that receive no taxpayer funding whatsoever, the modern day Pharisees need to be compelled to comply with non-discrimination laws like every other citizen.  The undeserved special rights need to end.  As for Rep. Russell, I wonder how long it will be before we learn that he's cheating on his wife, been found in bed with a boy, has been implicated in molesting young girls, or involved in criminal corruption.  Those most concerned about what goes on in other people's bedrooms are the ones you need to be worried about. 

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