Right wing religious extremists in the US continue their incredible movement to ignore our Constitution’s separation of church and state to push hate agendas throughout various states in the country. The hate was front and center in Indiana as Governor Mike Pence signed a bill that basically labels bigotry as “religious freedom.” We continue to see Jim Crow type laws established so bigot business owners can openly refuse service to GLBT Americans.
The Indiana bill is part of a wave of recent legislation seeking to guarantee “religious freedom” on the part of organizations or businesses who want to retain the right to discriminate against gay people. While the advocates usually posit a baker who doesn’t want to have to take business from a gay couple seeking a wedding cake as the person the law would protect, the laws are often written so vaguely that they would allow almost any kind of discrimination, so long as the discriminator justifies it on the basis of their religious beliefs.
The bill in Indiana doesn’t mention words like “gay” at all. It merely says that the government can’t “substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion.” And a key element of the conservative Christian argument about religious freedom is that “exercise” of religion isn’t just about rituals and prayer and worship; it extends to everything, including commerce.
The implications are therefore enormous. Forget about the baker — what if you own a restaurant and think homosexuality is an abomination, and therefore you want to hang a “No gays allowed” sign in your window? Under this law, you’d be able to. Or what if you’re a Muslim who owns an auto repair shop, and you want to refuse to serve women, because you say your religion tells you that women shouldn’t drive?
Those kinds of concerns are what led former governor Jan Brewer to veto a similar bill in Arizona, after she got all kinds of pressure from the state’s business community, which feared boycotts of the state. That same pressure has been building in Indiana, though it doesn’t seem to have moved Governor Pence.
The more news this Indiana law gets, the more likely it is that it will become an issue in the presidential primaries. And it fits neatly within the key divide among Republicans: on one side you could have business groups that are nervous about negative economic impacts and strategists who don’t want the GOP to be known as the party of discrimination, while on the other side you have candidates eager for the votes of religious right primary voters.
Pence signed the bill in private and against the outcry of many in the business community who are now pulling business from the state. This is from the Indianapolis Star. This includes a video of his statement and a presser with Q&A.
The nation’s latest legislative battle over religious freedom and gay rights came to a close Thursday when Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed a controversial “religious freedom” bill into law.
His action followed two days of intense pressure from opponents — including technology company executives and convention organizers — who fear the measure could allow discrimination, particularly against gays and lesbians.
Pence and leaders of the Republican-controlled General Assembly called those concerns a “misunderstanding.”
“This bill is not about discrimination,” Pence said, “and if I thought it legalized discrimination I would have vetoed it.”
Senate Bill 101 prohibits state or local governments from substantially burdening a person’s ability to exercise their religion — unless the government can show that it has a compelling interest and that the action is the least-restrictive means of achieving it. It takes effect July 1.
Although the bill does not mention sexual orientation, opponents fear it could allow business owners to deny services to gays and lesbians for religious reasons.
Pence signed the bill during a private ceremony in his Statehouse office just before 10 a.m. Thursday. He was joined by supportive lawmakers, Franciscan monks and nuns, orthodox Jews, and some of the state’s most powerful lobbyists on conservative social issues.
The event was closed to the public and the press.
The CEO of major U.S. corporation is following through on his warning to the State of Indiana to not pass a discriminatory “religious freedom” bill.
Salesforce, founded in 1999, has grown into a $4 billion software corporation. It is a component of the prestigious S&P 500, and boasts 12,000 employees.
50-year old CEO, founder, and chairman Marc Benioff (photo), who started the company in San Francisco, and his wife Lynne Krilich, have given millions to children’s hospitals.
Recently, Salesforce came out strongly against Indiana’s discriminatory Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
“We have been an active member of the Indiana business community and a key job creator for more than a decade,” Scott McCorkle, CEO of the Salesforce Marketing Cloud division, wrote in a letter to Indiana lawmakers. “Our success is fundamentally based on our ability to attract and retain the best and most diverse pool of highly skilled employees, regardless of gender, religious affiliation, ethnicity or sexual orientation.”
“Without an open business environment that welcomes all residents and visitors,” he warned, “Salesforce will be unable to continue building on its tradition of marketing innovation in Indianapolis.”
Already, the gamer convention Gen Con and the Disciples of Christ church group had threatened to pull their conventions out of Indianapolis. Tech giant Salesforce said it would halt its plans to expand in the state, too.
The NCAA had hinted for days that the bill — which has the effect of allowing businesses to challenge local laws that forbid discriminating against customers based on sexual orientation in court — could damage the city’s reputation as a host of major sporting events.
Jason Collins, who last year became the first openly gay active NBA player, asked Pence in a tweet whether it is “going to be legal for someone to discriminate against me & others when we come” to the Final Four.
Still, Pence signed the bill in his office Thursday. In a statement explaining his decision, he pointed to President Barack Obama’s health care law — which triggered a lawsuit by Hobby Lobby to ensure the company wasn’t required to cover birth control through its employees’ health insurance plans.
Of course, the War on Women continues too with the Republican’s whackadoodle religious right taking the lead. Arizona proves its once again the place where medical science can be damned when it gets in the way of fetus fever.
Doctors in Arizona might soon be required to tell women that abortions can be “reversed.” As the Washington Post reports, the Arizona legislature just passed a bill that is the latest in state-based attempts to ban women from using their own health insurance to pay for abortion. What makes this bill especially Orwellian is this attempt to force doctors to put the stamp of medical authority on the fantastical belief that women en masse are regretting their abortions hours after getting them and are miraculously getting them reversed through heroic interventions by Christian doctors.
I reported on this fantasy back in December, but to recap: Anti-choicers, backed by one particularly vocal doctor named George Delgado, are claiming that you can “reverse” medication abortions. A woman having a medication abortion takes two pill doses, one of mifepristone and then another of misoprostol. Proponents of “abortion reversal” would like you to believe it’s common for women to take the first dose and become wracked with guilt, desperate to save her pregnancy. To help these women, Delgado gives the woman progesterone shots, supposedly in an effort to reverse the effects of the mifepristone.
The problem is it’s almost certainly quackery. Mifepristone is not enough on its own to terminate a pregnancy some of the time, so you’re not “reversing” the abortion so much as interrupting the process before it’s complete. The progesterone shots reverse nothing—they are medically unnecessary theater, designed to portray anti-choicers as conquering heroes rescuing pregnant maidens from the clutches of abortionists. There’s no evidence of much demand from women to interrupt their abortions, and in the rare circumstances that someone is seized by regret, all she needs to do is contact her regular doctor about stopping the pills.
Forcing doctors to “inform” patients about an intervention that isn’t medically useful and isn’t really in demand serves no other purpose but to inject anti-choice histrionics into what is already a stressful situation for many patients. You should be able to get through an abortion without having to indulge a right-wing delusion.
I’ve had several friends travelling to Mississippi to defend the last standing abortion clinic there. The Fetus Fanatics have physically attacked the building and are doing all kinds of crazy things there in the name of Operation “Rescue”. So, here’s a little of that homegrown terrorism for you.
A couple nights ago, the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the last standing abortion clinic in all of Mississippi, was attacked and vandalized by a masked intruder who destroyed security cameras and attempted to cut the power lines.
So I’ll just ice the cake with a little gratuitous Pat Robertson. You remember him, he ran for the Republican presidential nomination and did pretty well back in the 1980s? Ongoing investigations show that the co-pilot most likely downed that German Airliner in a murder/suicide action related to ongoing issues with depression. So, with that in mind … Here’s Patty!!!
Christian televangelist Pat Robertson suggested on Thursday that the co-pilot’s decision to crash Germanwings Flight 9525 could be explained if he was a Muslim.
French prosecutors concluded on Thursday that co-pilot Andreas Lubitz had locked the pilot out of the cockpit, and then deliberately crashed the plane into the French Alps, killing 150 people.
“What happened to that plane that crashed into the French Alps?” Robertson asked on Thursday’s edition of The 700 Club. “Well, they’ve begun to find out. The pilot went to the lavatory and was soon locked out of the cockpit. He pounded on the door, begging to come in. But the door was not opened.”
“The co-pilot then takes the plane, pushes it into a dive and crashes it. The passengers are screaming as the plane went down. The pilot is yelling.”
“What a terrible tragedy,” the TV preacher continued. “Was that co-pilot a Muslim? Was he suicidal? What was it about him?”
Robertson later allowed for the possibility that Lubitz could have been “just psychotic.”
“What was it?” he wondered. “Why would he want to kill all those people?”
French prosecutor Brice Robin on Thursday described Lubitz as a 28-year-old German who was “not listed as a terrorist.”
Robin told reporters that he did not know Lubitz’s religion or ethnicity, but said, “I don’t think that’s where the answer to this lies.”
I’m still stunned by the murder fantasies of hyper-Christian and Duck seducer/murderer Daddy FuckBucks Robertson who seems to have replaced a smack addiction for talking religious smack.
Phil Robertson, the paterfamilias on A&E’sDuck Dynasty who also frequents the Christian speaking circuit, has stirred up controversy yet again by inventing a bizarre parable in which an atheist family is raped and murdered.
The conservative reality television star has a reputation for sounding off about controversial issues. In 2013, he came under fire for making homophobic remarks in an interview with GQ.This time, his focal point was atheists, whom—he asserted—have no moral compass because they do not believe in God. Here is the graphic story he told, per the audio from Right Wing Watch:
I’ll make a bet with you. Two guys break into an atheist’s home. He has a little atheist wife and two little atheist daughters. Two guys break into his home and tie him up in a chair and gag him. And then they take his two daughters in front of him and rape both of them and then shoot them and they take his wife and then decapitate her head off in front of him. And then they can look at him and say, ‘Isn’t it great that I don’t have to worry about being judged? Isn’t it great that there’s nothing wrong with this? There’s no right or wrong, now is it dude?’
Then you take a sharp knife and take his manhood and hold it in front of him and say, ‘Wouldn’t it be something if this [sic] was something wrong with this? But you’re the one who says there is no God, there’s no right, there’s no wrong, so we’re just having fun. We’re sick in the head, have a nice day.’
The moral of the tale? “If it happens to them, they probably would say, ‘Something about this just ain’t right,’” Robertson said.
Some fundamental Christians, like Robertson, believe that morality is dependent on the existence of God and by rejecting God, atheists also reject morals.
WTF is wrong with these people?!?!?! Dude, nonsociopaths do not have to have imaginary beings threaten them with hell to do the right thing. Doing the right thing is its own reward. We can ask BB, but I’d say the guy has a serious case of projectionitis.
But, here’s a better question … why are we enacting their hateful, bigoted crap into our laws? And, why do these people get a public platform?
There’s way too many of them and way too few lions for my taste.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Question for today: Are women human? Are we people in the eyes of our government? We’ve been told that corporations are people. We know that white men are people–that was established by the U.S. Constitution when it was ratified in 1789. Since that time, there have been amendments that granted some rights to non-white men and to women. We can vote now. Does that mean our government recognizes our humanity?
Today our ultra-conservative, mostly Catholic Supreme Court will hear two cases that bring this question to the forefront, and the Court’s decisions may give us some answers to the question of whether American women are officially people with individual rights.
From MSNBC: Supreme Court to hear birth control case
Depending on whom you ask, Tuesday morning’s oral argument at the Supreme Court is about whether Obamacare can keep treading on religious liberty – or it’s about a woman’s right to access contraception on her employee insurance plan, no matter what her employer thinks of it. Either way, it is the first time the Affordable Care Act will be at the nation’s highest Court since it was first largely upheld as constitutional. The same two men as in that case, current Solicitor General Don Verrilli and former Bush administration solicitor general Paul Clement, are facing off to argue over a narrower provision.
Before the Supreme Court decides whether the contraceptive coverage required of insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act violates a 1993 law governing religious liberty, it has to settle the threshold question: Does a corporation even have religious liberty?
I think the question about the rights of women is far broader than that. Without access to birth control and abortion, a woman has no real autonomy as a human being. If she becomes pregnant–even through rape–she loses the ability to make choices about her future life. It has been a relatively short period of time since women have had the power to make those choices. But that power has led to other advances for women–such as the right to prosecute a rapist or an abusive boyfriend or husband, the right to have credit in her own name, the right to an education, and entry into careers from which women were previously blocked. We can only hope that the justices see clearly what their decisions will mean for women’s lives and women’s personhood.
Back to the MSNBC article:
Hobby Lobby Stores, an Oklahoma-based, evangelical-owned craft chain with about 13,000 employees, and Conestoga Wood Specialties, a small Mennonite-owned cabinet maker in Pennsylvania, sued the administration and got two very different answers from the lower courts. The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals declared of Hobby Lobby that “such corporations can be ‘persons’ exercising religion.” In ruling on Conestoga’s bid for exemption from the requirement, the Third Circuit disagreed: “For-profit secular corporations cannot exercise in religious exercise.”
The companies are among the 47 for-profit corporations that have objected to their company plans complying with the minimum coverage requirements under the Affordable Care Act. Under those regulations, contraception is covered fully, without a co-pay, as preventive care. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood object to a handful of contraceptives that they speculate can block a fertilized egg, which is neither documented in the science nor the medical definition of abortion. Other for-profit plaintiffs object to any birth control coverage at all….
The Obama administration says that the government has a compelling interest in women’s health and in gender equality. The Department of Health and Human Services agreed to classify contraceptives as preventive care after considering testimony from medical experts, who cited the country’s high rate of unintended pregnancy and the persistence cost barriers to accessing effective birth control.
Some legal experts argue that to rule for Hobby Lobby would be imposing religion on others, by forcing the women who work for such companies to pay the cost of their employers’ religion. Frederick Gedicks, a law professor at Brigham Young, has even argued in a brief before the Court that doing so would violate the establishment clause of the First Amendment.
What will SCOTUS decide?
At NPR, Nina Totenberg offers some scary quotes from Steve Green, the president of Hobby Lobby:
“We believe that the principles that are taught scripturally is what we should operate our lives by … and so we cannot be a part of taking life,” explains Hobby Lobby President Steve Green.
“It’s our rights that are being infringed upon to require us to do something against our conscience,” adds CEO and founder David Green.
Using birth control is “taking a life?” Apparently one of the arguments Hobby Lobby is using that–contrary to scientific facts–some forms of birth control are equal to abortion. So is every sperm is sacred too? Should men be prosecuted for masturbating? But those questions are not likely to be asked, because it is already legally established that men are people.
At the WaPo, Sandra Fluke writes: At the Supreme Court, a potential catastrophe for women’s rights.
Unlike my congressional testimony in 2012, which was about Georgetown University — a Catholic-affiliated university — refusing to include contraception in student insurance because it was a religiously affiliated school, the institutions arguing before the Supreme Court are not houses of worship or religious non-profits. The Affordable Care Act already includes special arrangements for those types of organizations. These are private, for-profit corporations — a craft store and a cabinet manufacturer — that want to be excluded from health insurance and employment laws because of bosses’ personal views.
Laws that include religious protection have never given corporations the right to have religious views, and it would be a terrible idea to make such an enormous change to our legal precedent now. Our laws protect individuals’ private religious beliefs, but when you cross over into the public sphere to become a corporation and make a profit off of the public, you must abide by the public’s laws.
Depending on the court’s rulings, the cases’ outcomes could deny millions of women coverage of any or all forms of birth control, limiting women’s ability to control their reproductive health, plan their pregnancies and manage their lives. As I testified, women also need birth control for many other medical reasons, including relief of painful health problems like endometriosis.
And, Fluke argues, recognizing a right for corporations to hold religious views will open the door to
Allowing any private employer to dictate which laws fit inside its religious beliefs could upset the necessary balance of both religious liberty and employee health and safety laws. Depending on the exact ruling, any for-profit corporation could cut off its employees’ insurance coverage for blood transfusions, vaccinations or HIV treatment — all of which some Americans have religious objections to. Any critical health coverage the boss doesn’t agree with could be eliminated.
Furthermore, SCOTUS could not limit these proposed “religious freedoms” to Christians.
Although this country predominantly descends from a Judeo-Christian tradition, our valuable religious protection laws ensure that anyone is free to practice any religion they want, including religions whose belief systems and practices many of us would disagree with vehemently. In fact, far-ranging beliefs that are not associated with any organized religion could be used to justify a corporation’s practices as well.
Sahil Kapur of TPM points out that Justice Scalia, who might be expected to vote in favor of a corporate “right to religious freedom,” will have to deal with one of his previous rulings: Justice Scalia’s Past Comes Back To Haunt Him On Birth Control.
In 1990, Scalia wrote the majority opinion in Employment Division v. Smith, concluding that the First Amendment “does not require” the government to grant “religious exemptions” from generally applicable laws or civic obligations. The case was brought by two men in Oregon who sued the state for denying them unemployment benefits after they were fired from their jobs for ingesting peyote, which they said they did because of their Native American religious beliefs.
“[T]he right of free exercise does not relieve an individual of the obligation to comply with a valid and neutral law of general applicability,” Scalia wrote in the 6-3 majority decision, going on to aggressively argue that such exemptions could be a slippery slope to lawlessness and that “[a]ny society adopting such a system would be courting anarchy.”
“The rule respondents favor would open the prospect of constitutionally required religious exemptions from civic obligations of almost every conceivable kind,” he wrote, “ranging from compulsory military service, to the payment of taxes, to health and safety regulation such as manslaughter and child neglect laws, compulsory vaccination laws, drug laws, and traffic laws; to social welfare legislation such as minimum wage laws, child labor laws, animal cruelty laws, environmental protection laws, and laws providing for equality of opportunity for the races.”
That opinion could haunt the jurist if he seeks to invalidate the birth control rule.
“Scalia will have to reckon with his own concern in Smith about the lawlessness and chaos created by liberal exemptions to generally applicable law,” said Adam Winkler, a constitutional law professor at UCLA. “For him to uphold an exemption now is to invite more of the lawlessness that he warned about.”
At Think Progress, Ian Millhiser addresses the right wing organizations that have waged a concerted war against women’s rights during the past several years: Read This One Document To Understand What The Christian Right Hopes To Gain From Hobby Lobby.
2009 was a grim year for social conservatives. Barack Obama was an ambitious and popular new president. Republicans, and their conservative philosophy, were largely discredited in the public eye by a failed war and a massive recession. And the GOP’s effort to reshape its message was still in its awkward adolescence. If the conservative movement had a mascot, it would have been a white man dressed as Paul Revere and waving a misspelled sign.
Amidst this wreckage, more than two hundred of the nation’s leading Christian conservatives joined together in a statement expressing their dismay at the state of the nation. “Many in the present administration want to make abortions legal at any stage of fetal development,” their statement claimed, while “[m]ajorities in both houses of Congress hold pro-abortion views.” Meanwhile, they feared that the liberals who now controlled the country “are very often in the vanguard of those who would trample upon the freedom of others to express their religious and moral commitments to the sanctity of life and to the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife.”
The signatories to this statement, which they named the “Manhattan Declaration,” included many of America’s most prominent Catholic bishops and clergy of similar prominence in other Christian sects. It included leaders oftop anti-gay organizations like the National Organization for Marriage, and of more broadly focused conservative advocacy shops such as the Family Research Council. It included university presidents and deans from Christian conservative colleges. And it included the top editors from many of the Christian right’s leading publications.
Perhaps most significantly, however, the document’s signatories includes Alan Sears, the head of one of the two conservative legal groups litigating what are likely to be the two most important cases decided by the Supreme Court this term. Indeed, the Manhattan Declaration offers a virtual roadmap to understanding what religious conservatives hope to gain from Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood v. Sebelius, two cases the justices will hear Tuesday which present the question whether a business owner’s religious objections to birth control trump their legal obligation to include it in their employee’s health plan.
Read the gory details at the link.
Finally, I ask that everyone read this year-old article at Time Magazine by Jessica Winter, Subject for Debate: Are Women People? It is both darkly humorous and deadly serious.
All my adult life, I’ve been pretty sure I’m a sentient, even semi-competent human being. I have a job and an apartment; I know how to read and vote; I make regular, mostly autonomous decisions about what to eat for lunch and which cat videos I will watch whilst eating my lunch. But in the past couple of months, certain powerful figures in media and politics have cracked open that certitude.
You see, like most women, I was born with the chromosome abnormality known as “XX,” a deviation of the normative “XY” pattern. Symptoms of XX, which affects slightly more than half of the American population, include breasts, ovaries, a uterus, a menstrual cycle, and the potential to bear and nurse children. Now, many would argue even today that the lack of a Y chromosome should not affect my ability to make informed choices about what health care options and lunchtime cat videos are right for me. But others have posited, with increasing volume and intensity, that XX is a disability, even a roadblock on the evolutionary highway. This debate has reached critical mass, and leaves me uncertain of my legal and moral status. Am I a person? An object? A ward of the state? A “prostitute”? (And if I’m the last of these, where do I drop off my W-2?)
Please go read the whole thing. It’s not long.
So . . . those are my recommended reads for today. What stories are you following? Please post your links on any topic in the comment thread.
Rick and Karen Santorum were on CNN’s Piers Morgan show on Friday night. I saw a little of it, but I missed this part. Via Think Progress, Morgan asked Santorum about his extreme anti-choice opinions–his goal of criminalizing all abortions, (and prosecuting doctors who perform the procedure) even in cases of rape or incest. Morgan also asked Santorum how he would respond if his own daughter were raped and became pregnant.
SANTORUM: Well, you can make the argument that if she doesn’t have this baby, if she kills her child, that that, too, could ruin her life. And this is not an easy choice. I understand that. As horrible as the way that that son or daughter and son was created, it still is her child. And whether she has that child or doesn’t, it will always be her child. And she will always know that. And so to embrace her and to love her and to support her and get her through this very difficult time, I’ve always, you know, I believe and I think the right approach is to accept this horribly created — in the sense of rape — but nevertheless a gift in a very broken way, the gift of human life, and accept what God has given to you. As you know, we have to, in lots of different aspects of our life. We have horrible things happen. I can’t think of anything more horrible. But, nevertheless, we have to make the best out of a bad situation.
Morgan didn’t ask Santorum about incest victims. What if an 11-year-old girl is impregnated by her own father? Should her father then tell her she has to “make the best of a bad situation” because the embryo or fetus is a “person?”
What about the girls and women who have been brutalized by rape and incest? Santorum seems unconcerned. Not only should they suck it up and take care of the “life” that has been forced upon them, they should also have to follow laws based on Santorum’s personal religious beliefs.
Santorum even had the nerve to claim that references to persons and life in the Constitution were “intended” to include fertilized eggs, embryos, and fetuses. Yet at the time of the writing of the Constitution, abortion was not even illegal.
This man is dangerous to all girls and women.