Saturday, March 1, 2014

Brief Takes from Week's News: "Religious Liberty" Debate and Laws Targeting Gays

Some short takes from this week's news--these are about the "religious liberty" debate and laws targeting gay citizens: 

Steve Benen notes that the recent PRRI poll shows that a significant percentage of Americans are ill-informed about the fact that there is no federal protection against discrimination for gay citizens, and 2/3 of states have no laws affording such protection to gay citizens:

But here’s the kicker [in the PRRI findings]: "Three-quarters (75%) of Americans incorrectly believe it is currently illegal under federal law to fire or refuse to hire someone because they are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender."
This matters, of course, because three-quarters of the country is wrong.

Adam Winkler also points out that what just happened in Arizona should not cause us to forget that there is no legal protection from discrimination for gay citizens in most states in the nation:

Wednesday marked the defeat of Arizona's "Beau Crow" law -- a modern-day version of Jim Crow that would have given state endorsement to discrimination against gay and lesbian people. Yet LGBT discrimination by private businesses remains lawful, in both Arizona and most states. Unlike race, sex, disability, veteran status, and religion, sexual orientation is not protected under federal law or the law of 29 states.

CJ Werleman writes that the ideology of the Christian right "drives virtually all social policy debate within the Republican Party," and that the real agenda of this dwindling minority, as it loses the demographic battle for control of the U.S., is to control the nation as a minority with theocratic intent: 

Worryingly, this act [i.e., what just occurred in Arizona and in Kansas before that] is a small part in a big pantomime to transform America into a theocratic nirvana—one that is absent gays, Muslims, immigrants, atheists, and science books. To achieve this, the instrument of choice is nullification. It is nullification of the federal government that weds theocrats together with libertarians and the neo-confederate movement.

Cecile Richards draws a parallel between the Arizona anti-gay bill and the challenges (on grounds of "religious liberty") to the contraception provisions of the Affordable Care Act:

But this didn't start with Arizona, and it won't end with Arizona. This most recent legislation is part of an orchestrated and radical effort to extend religious liberties to corporations -- to treat private businesses like churches under the law, by giving them the right to refuse services, deny health care coverage, and discriminate against people.

Josh Marshall also notes the intent of a theocratic minority to retrieve long-since-exploded theories of nullification in order to continue the minority's control of the majority:

Since the election of Barack Obama and the concomitant rise of Tea Party Republicanism, there's been more and more reaching back to the discredited ideas of nullification, interposition and even, at the truly fringe extreme, secession. They are each efforts to preserve power for disempowered minorities after they've lost battles in the standard majoritarian system. More simply, they're workarounds to get out of the consequences of losing political fights. And by definition they are rearguard actions. American history and constitutional jurisprudence has consistently ruled against them. This new raft of 'religious liberty' bills to allow you to keep discriminating against gay people simply continue the same pattern.

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