Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Once Again, It's All Ultimately About Religious Based Hate

I wrote - and vented - when Tennessee passed legislation earlier in the year with the help of the chamber of commerce crowd that barred Tennessee municipalities from enacting ant-discrimination policies that protected employees based upon their sexual orientation. The state wide act also wiped out the efforts in Nashville to require non-discrimination policies be in place for companies contracting with the city. Now, with the horrific law under court challenge, the rest of the story is coming out and the real motivation was from Christianists who sought to dupe businesses into supporting their anti-gay jihad. At the forefront of the deception was David Fowler, president of the Family Action Council of Tennessee, and a former state senator (pictured at right). Fowler's e-mails have been most enlightening and help to underscore that anti-gay animus was the ultimate motivation for the statute. No matter what smoke screen the Christianst try to utilize, it always comes down to anti-gay hate and a demand for special rights for Christianists and would be theocrats. The Tennessean has coverage on the unfolding revelations. Here are highlights:

The chief lobbyist for a state law that invalidated Metro protections for gay and transgendered individuals feared his moral thoughts on the measure would become public and distract from the economic argument he used to sell the bill, documents reveal.

Emails written by David Fowler, president of the Family Action Council of Tennessee and a former state senator, are included in thousands of pages of correspondence lawmakers submitted as part of a court battle over the constitutionality of the state law. The pending lawsuit alleges the law was motivated by prejudice rather than the economic concerns that were publicly argued.

Fowler said the Family Action Council fought for the legislation — even though promoting business is not one of the organization’s stated purposes — because a strong economy is good for traditional Christian families. His emails, however, reveal other concerns.

“Metro Council here in Nashville is considering requiring private businesses that do business with the city and those who lease property from the city have an employment policy to protect homosexual conduct and cross-dressing, etc.,” Fowler wrote in a Jan. 26 email to individuals including state Sen. Jack Johnson, R-Franklin. . . . . “Please do NOT pass this on to anyone who you think might in the slightest pass it to anyone else,” Fowler continued later in the email. “We’ve learned that some folks we thought were friends cannot be trusted and we don’t need the Chamber backing off because it starts to appear to be too much of a Christian, right wing, homosexual issue rather than a business/economic issue.”

Again, Fowler concluded the email by asking recipients not to share it. “We sure don’t need any loose lips getting word to the Chamber about what I think and for sure not (the Tennessee Equality Project)!” he wrote.

While he cited concerns that Nashville’s ordinance would force Christian businesspeople to compromise their religious beliefs to do business with Metro, he coached lawmakers to stick with the economic argument and provided them with statements denying assertions that the law was “about preventing homosexual and transgender rights.”

“The few emails we have obtained show a purposeful plan for a ‘party line,’ so to speak, so that legislators only say certain things publicly to support the alleged purpose that the Family Action Council wanted them to state,” said Nashville attorney Abby Rubenfeld, who is representing the plaintiffs. “It is clear that this statute was adopted to stop local governments from adopting non-discrimination protections that include sexual orientation.”

“Our position is that there is no constitutional right to lobby in secret.” The council is fighting the effort and has filed motions to quash subpoenas of its leaders in the case. “If they win, the political process is dead because citizens won’t risk being dragged into court simply for expressing their views,” Fowler said.

Note how Fowler, who damaged the lives of LGBT citizens across Tennessee tries to paint himself and similar theocratic bigots as would be victims. As I've noted before, if one is afraid to publicly stand behind their beliefs and bigotry, that spinelessness and unwillingness to be identified ought to tell them something.

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