Friday, February 17, 2012

Bigotry...yours?


The cartoon life goes beyond Pixar and even beyond the Republicans who would be POTUS. The grinning, lying clowns on the right just can't stop.

We're back now to the wearisome lies in what can only be described as stupid efforts to rationalize the craziest of the winger arguments against same-sex marriage, against even funding contraceptives, against...well, all reason. I listen. I read. I remain wondering whether they are ignorant, stupid, malicious or each in various measures.

Moreover, lately I recall Boris Badenov. He reveled in schadenfreude and was wont to ask, "My, what a magnificent catastrophe you got there. Is it yours?"

Pic note: The full image from which this came is copyright of Jay Ward Productions. He's dead so can't mind, but I claim fair use of this outtake.

The winger catastrophe that has been playing for several years and increasing in this POTUS campaign uses recurrent, fiendish themes. The most recent craziness has been claims that the reason to deny birth control is to protect religious freedom. GOP candidates, Congressmen, governors, our own Sen. Scott Brown and others have made terrific shows of defending something not under attack.

Nothing has so splendidly regurgitated the worst of this as a column by the Christian Civic League of Maine's Carroll Conley Jr. muddling same-sex marriage with myriad persecutions of (not by) self-defined Christians. In his Joe marrying Joe will make Christians unequal, he does seem stupidly oblivious to the reality that his organization is one of those who took away legislated marriage rights from homosexuals, ahem, assuring inequality in Maine.

His list of alleged proofs is:


Do you want some examples of religious freedoms already lost because people, churches, companies and organizations stood publicly for natural marriage?
  • Ask the adoption agencies and foster care providers in Massachusetts and Illinois who closed their doors rather than being forced to provide services to same-sex couples.
  • Ask the town clerks in New York who refused to grant marriage licenses based upon their religious beliefs (deputy clerks could have still provided licenses and protected the rights of both parties).
  • Ask the New Jersey Christian camp ground who refused to rent their facilities for a same-sex civil union?
  • What about the florist or the organist who objects on religious grounds?
  • What about public educators that have been suspended or fired for stating their opinions regarding same-sex marriage?
We can leave aside for the moment the loaded irrationality of "natural marriage." His sort has so denigrated sterile couples, adoptive parents, and those who choose not to have children. In other words, the vast majority of us are not worthy at a given moment of a true marriage by his standards. Breed or burn seems to be the thought.

However, to this list, each and every one is a red herring.

First, Catholic Charities and other groups providing adoption and foster-care services  decided, cruelly and financially based, to stop these primary functions. Like every other agency providing these services paid for by federal and state funds, they had to follow non-discrimination rules to get the extra money. Not only are those services not the religious operations protected by First Amendment and state statutes, if they had any scruples and sincerity and duty to their clients, they would have fully funded these service on their own and continued them. Instead, they took the opportunity to wash their hands, Pilate-like, of the tedious work of serving couples and children. Shame on them.

For town clerks who were distraught beyond functioning by issuing marriage licenses to gay couples, that is as clear as possible proof of the nature of bigotry and failure of duty. As in the early to middle part of the past century when clerks would not do the same for couples of different races, they need to know they are not clerics free to choose whom to bless. They are government employees and marriage is a civil contract, not a church ritual. Couple can choose to have and combine both, but that's none of the clerks' concern. They are hired and paid to do government work. Live it or live with it.

The Methodist owned beach camp that refused to allow homosexual couple to have commitment ceremonies in their publicly available for rental pavilion, well wake up. The public accommodation is open to all and falls under the state equal-rights laws. The pavilion is a for-profit business. You can't have it all ways. It is not a church.

Similarly with the florist, that is a not a religiously protected institution. It is a public business that is not allowed to discriminate. No matter how narrow minded and uncompassionate the owner is, we have many decades of law and practice that forbid choosing whom you'll sell to based on bigoted decisions. Too damn bad. Think queers are going to wilt all your flowers if they come in the shop?

And teachers who feel compelled to "educate" their students and parents on the immorality of homosexuals are also in the wrong business. Each of these groups needs to take their discrimination and hatred to protected places. Churches can openly discriminate in hiring, rituals and on and on. Many do. That's been protected from our Colonial era into our Bill of Rights and both state and case law. You can be as nasty as you like short of physical violence and overt harassment outside your church's property.

That is impossible to defend morally, but it's our legal system and with good reason. Religion has been protected here from the beginning, as have people been protected from theocracy. It's what we do in America.

Just don't pretend that religious protections cross over into public accommodations, into for-profit side businesses, and into services funded by state and federal funds. You're welcome to go off into the corner and feel as self-righteous as you want. The rest of us will get on with real life.

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