Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The GOP's Insidious Calls for "Religious Freedom"

As noted previously, yesterday was the one month anniversary of the horrific massacre of 49 LGBT individuals and their friends and/or family members in Orlando.  These victims all died because of the hate-filled religious beliefs of the shooter who proclaimed that he supported the toxic religious agenda of ISIS.  Despite this reality, yesterday Congressional Republicans held hearings on a bill that would grant special rights to Christian extremists who hold anti-LGBT beliefs not all that different that those of the Orlando shooter.  Short of authorizing the murder of gays, the bill would place toxic anti-LGBT religious beliefs above the law.   A piece in The Advocate looks at this deadly and unconstitutional effort by Republicans.  It's a reminder of why no LGBT person should ever vote Republican until this anti-gay jihad of the GOP ceases. Here are article excerpts:
Though the bill's authors — anti-gay Republican Rep. Raúl Labrador of Idaho and GOP Sen. Mike Lee of Utah refer to the bill as a "defense" of the First Amendment, the name is misleading. As ThinkProgress points out, the First Amendment does not allow religious people to arbitrarily discriminate against those they don't like, at least according to the Supreme Court. When right-wing Christians attempted to turn away mixed-race couples from their businesses, the high court intervened by ruling that religious beliefs don't trump the rights of others.
“The abuse of religious exemptions as a tactic for undermining civil rights advances is a classic pattern of civil rights progress in America,” Evan Wolfson, the founder of Freedom to Marry and a key architect of the legal and cultural strategy that won marriage equality, told The Advocate. “In the '50s and the '60s and the '70s and the '80s, whether it was with racial minorities or women or other steps forward — including now gay and transgender people — when the opponents of civil rights progress fail to stop an advance, they then try to circumvent it.”
FADA is an endgame to the state strategy of "religious freedom" bills; one that will likely fail. Take Mississippi, for example. The Magnolia State passed a "religious freedom" bill in April that legalized discrimination, but a federal judge struck it down just before it went into effect.
This is how District Court Judge Carlton Reeves put it in his ruling: “The United States Supreme Court has spoken clearly on the constitutional principles at stake. Under the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, a state ‘may not aid, foster, or promote one religion or religious theory against another.’” 
Reeves said the Mississippi law “grants special rights to citizens who hold one of three ‘sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions’ reflecting disapproval of lesbian, gay, transgender, and unmarried persons. That violates both the guarantee of religious neutrality and the promise of equal protection of the laws.”
[T]he White House said in a statement, "It's disturbing that Congressional Republicans plan to hold a hearing tomorrow on discriminatory, anti-LGBT legislation. President Obama remains firmly committed to promoting and defending the equal rights of all Americans, including the rights of LGBT Americans."
Regardless of whether FADA passes, the timing of the hearing is a clear expression of the animus that still exists toward LGBT people in the Republican-controlled Congress.

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