Tag Archives: First Amendment Rights

On FADA, Notes on the License to Discriminate

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It’s possible that the right wing, now that they control all three layers of the federal government, will try and pass a version of the FADA (The First Amendment Defense Act) so I thought I’d write a bit about it, why it’s unnecessary and basically just a convenient license for using the federal government to discriminate against people you don’t like.

 

The Right Wing doesn’t like a lot of people, though the FADA is usually understood as a backlash targeting LGBT people as a result of marriage equality and other social gains by LGBT in recent years.

Here’s the text of the Amendment:

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Federal Government shall not take any discriminatory action against a person, wholly or partially on the basis that such person believes or acts in accordance with a religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, or that sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage. [H.R. 2802, introduced 6/17/15]

The Right Wing asserts that this amendment is needed to protect the religious views of people who feel this way, i.e., their first amendment rights. In reality, it would enshrine the right to discriminate against LGBT persons, unmarried single mothers, or any couple of any sexual combination residing together unmarried. Among the things it would allow are these examples:

  • allow federal contractors or grantees, including those that provide important social services like homeless shelters or drug treatment programs, to turn away LGBT people or anyone who has an intimate relationship outside of a marriage
  • let commercial landlords violate longstanding fair housing laws by refusing housing to a single mother based on the religious belief that sexual relations are properly reserved for marriage
  • permit a university to continue to receive federal financial assistance even when it fires an unmarried teacher simply for becoming pregnant
  • permit government employees to discriminate against married same-sex couples and their families – federal employees could refuse to process tax returns, visa applications, or Social Security checks for all married same-sex couples
  • allow businesses to discriminate by refusing to let gay or lesbian employees care for their sick spouse, in violation of family medical leave laws [ACLU, 7/20/15]

So basically, such a law would throw out existing protections LGBT have through the government and allow discrimination based on someone’s beliefs.

I would be awestruck to see where it is in the defining documents of these religions (i.e., The Bible) where it says that you’re supposed to not bake that gay wedding cake or not cut that social security check for that gay man. Cause it doesn’t say that anywhere. Basically, if you believe those documents, they tell you that YOU – the person having that belief – are not supposed to live your life that way. In other words, if you believe those scriptures, YOU should not live a gay life. It doesn’t say anything about the rest of us, which, incidentally, is not even relevant because the United States is not guided or beholden to ancient religious texts.

Also, the Right Wing seems to think that it needs this law to protect its anti-LGBT churches and schools from the big bad IRS. But that argument is easily debunked, e.g. churches of all kinds (Catholics, are you listening?) have been discriminating against women for eons without getting their tax exempt status revoked. And of course, you can always still believe what you want and teach whatever doctrine you have in your religious school. We don’t have the thought police, at least not yet (Minority Report?)

So if these two items are eliminated, what is left? Oh, I guess maybe you can’t just use  your religion as a hammer to punish people you don’t like. Sorry.

It’s like this (paraphrased from a letter to the editor on media matters.com, from “nerzog”):

Religious beliefs are protected. Religiously inspired actions are not. So: They’re still allowed to be bigots, they can think what they want. They can still verbally express their bigotry, if they’re willing to endure the social consequences. What they can’t do is: break anti-discrimination laws.

Most of the data in this post comes from media matters.

 

The right of citizens to videotape police

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The right of citizens to videotape police – latimes.com.   *

Hell yes, I mean this headline surprised me because I thought, WTF, of course citizens can videotape public police activity. As the article rightly points out, where would Rodney King be today without the tape? Exactly nowhere.

The cops work for us, not the other way around. They are employees of the city goverments, i.e., employees of the taxpayers. Powers that be seem to have no problem setting up cams all over the place to patrol innocuous citizen activity in the guise of crime prevention and it’s only right that we can do the same. I’m glad the courts are upholding these First Amendment Rights.

Police also need to understand they and their unions are part of the 99%. The corporations will use you as their tools to crack down on peaceful protestors, but rest assured when they’re done with you they will fuck you six ways to Sunday and you won’t ever see it coming. Don’t be fooled.

Do the right thing, we’re all counting on you.

  • this is the Anthony Graber video, where AG was pulled over by a off-duty cop and filmed it with a helmet cam. He was arrested for posting this video to YouTube and faced 16 years in prison for that (not for his speeding offense). The case was dismissed last year as the judge decided videotaping police is not a violation of privacy, i.e., there is no privacy expectation when police do their jobs in public.

Dan Savage column exposes religion’s "hidden" homophobia

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Link to: Savage Love by Dan Savage – Columns – Savage Love – Dan Savage – The Stranger, Seattle’s Only Newspaper.

Dan Savage

I loved this post of Dan Savage’s in his column Savage Love (which appears in Seattle’s The Stranger). It brings to light something I’ve long felt – that “believers” are somehow given a free ride in this country, even if their religion holds tenets that have real-time negative consequences for groups of people. For instance, the Bible, which condemns gay people in certain areas (along with a host of just about anything else you can imagine) is the text basis for a number of faiths (Judaism, Catholicism, Protestant Christianity of various kinds).

It used to be a given that “everyone is entitled to their beliefs” and that because we have freedom of religion in this country, that somehow you couldn’t criticize these beliefs, even if they resulted in bigotry, bullying, discrimination, murder, etc.

Well, I just don’t buy that. This is a country of laws, not religion. You have to man-up or woman-up and own what your religion holds so dear, and stop hiding behind the veil of First Amendment rights. And if you are a card-carrying Christian or Christianist or Jew who goes by this book, then you are open season. Your beliefs cause real harm to real people, and I’m going to make you responsible for that.

If you don’t like that, change your fucking religion.