Georgia’s Religious Liberty Bill Was An Ethics Abomination, But So Is Letting Corporations Dictate Laws In A Democracy

...and corporate pressure had nothing to do with it. No, really.

…and corporate pressure had nothing to do with it. No, really.

Ethics Abomination I: Georgia’s HB 757

Gov. Nathan Deal  vetoed the controversial  “religious liberty” bill yesterday. Well, good. HB 757 was an ugly, ignorant, unethical  law in many ways, and almost certainly unconstitutional on its face.

It began with outrageous fear-mongering, appealing to right-wing hysteria and ignorance…

[R]eligious officials shall not be required to perform marriage ceremonies, perform rites, or administer sacraments in violation of their legal right to free exercise of religion; to provide that no individual shall be required to attend the solemnization of a marriage, performance of  rites, or administration of sacraments in violation of their legal right to free exercise of religion;

Ridiculous. No law, state or national, can require a pastor or minister to perform a wedding, nor could any citizen be required to attend one. These are both unalterable First Amendment no-nos, and any legislator who doesn’t know that is too ignorant to hold office. Laws should not be sops thrown to slobbering mobs, and that’s what this part of the law is—unless it’s proof that Georgia legislature is itself a slobbering mob.

Then the law ends by greasing the wheels for outright anti-LGBT discrimination:

Except as provided by the Constitution of this state or the United States or federal law, no faith based organization shall be required to hire or retain as an employee any person whose religious beliefs or practices or lack of either are not in accord with the faith based organization’s sincerely held religious belief as demonstrated by practice, expression, or clearly articulated tenet of faith.

A refusal by a faith based organization to hire or retain a person pursuant to subsection (b) of this Code section shall not give rise to a civil claim or cause of action against such faith based organization or an employee thereof or result in any state action to penalize, withhold benefits from, or discriminate against the faith based organization or employee based on such refusal.

You have to really, really hate and fear gay citizens not to reject such a bill. The religious right seems determined to undermine both religion and conservatism by its stubborn refusal to accept the fact…fact,fact,fact...that people  who lived in small tribes two thousand years ago and needed as many children as possible had a good reason to discourage  homosexuality, which they understandably but erroneously believed was a conscious choice. Today, holding that same view is ignorant and inexcusable, and making laws that embody it unkind, cruel, and wrong.

In 1956, nobody complained when three prominent buildings in the New York skyline did this on Easter:

christmas-display

Today, it would unthinkable. Many major newspapers never mentioned the holiday at all. A prominent reason for Easter’s slow disappearance from the cultural scene is that organized religion and its most fervent followers have degraded the image and trustworthiness of religion generally. It wasn’t just the Catholic Church’s betrayal of its principles and its trusting young in the sexual abuse scandal, or the televangelists who stole money from old ladies and lived lavish lifestyles while performing fake miracles on TV. Religion is being marginalized by the conduct of the religious.

In 1956, gay Americans were persecuted culture-wide because of ancient ignorance, fear and hate. Along with other groups that were victims of bigotry, gays began to assert their human and civic rights in the Sixties, and most of the nation’s citizens, many of whom know and work with law-abiding, admirable LGBT men and women every day, have come to understand that the old biases were wrong, and did immense damage. There is a rapidly dwindling but influential few, however, who refuse to acknowledge, not that times have changed, but that anti-gay discrimination has always been unethical. They seem determined to bring down religion in America as well as conservatism in their futile, indeed juvenile effort to resist enlightenment.

Well, keep it up, everyone, and see what happens. Religion was once seen as an unequivocal force for good in the United States, and now it is increasingly regarded as the source of hate and division. These kinds of bills just speed up the process.

Ethics Abomination II: Corporate Extortion

When Georgia’s HB 757 was passed by the legislature, corporations from Atlanta stalwart Coca-Cola to the NFL to the production company for “The Walking Dead” announced or implied that they would stop or significantly curtail their business  in Georgia if the law passed. This kind of corporate extortion has become increasingly popular since Arizona was forced to make Martin Luther King’s birthday a national holiday by similar corporate boycott threats. It is, of course, an anti-democratic tactic, but never mind: no pundits dare to criticize the fact that corporations are using their economic  muscle to veto the will of the people and turn representative democracy into a corporate dictatorship. Few anti-corporate warriors have the integrity to see this as an abuse of corporate power, which it clearly is.

The trend, an ominous one, was boosted by the mirror-image effort of various Democratic mayors last year to declare Chic-Fil-A a corporate persona non grata because its CEO was not a gay marriage supporter. Something similar is going on now as San Francisco’s mayor and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo have declared that government employees won’t be allowed to travel to North Carolina, because those officials don’t approve of the state’s LGBT-hostile “bathroom bill.”

What business is it of New York and San Francisco to tell North Carolina what laws it should enact? What if North Carolina responds by  banning travel to New York City because Mayor de Blasio is promoting public urination? What’s stopping all local and state laws from having their duly passed laws undermined by power plays and boycotts from out-of-state busybodies and grandstanding corporations? There is an effective mechanism for removing unconstitutional laws, and beyond that, a state’s citizens have a right to govern themselves. The rest of the nation is free to criticize all it wants. The rest of the nation should not, however, hijack the governing process of other jurisdictions.

Is it possible that progressives do not see the inconsistency and hypocrisy of their wild attacks on the Citizens United decision, which merely allows groups and corporations to make their views on candidates and policies known, while cheering the use of corporate muscle to force governments to abandon duly passed laws? I suppose it is possible: bias makes you stupid. In truth, encouraging corporations to threaten to remove jobs, contract and tax revenue to bend state and local governments to their will is a far greater threat to democracy than merely letting them express their views. Progressives don’t see it that way, however, because “by any means necessary” is their motto. Corporate power interfering with democracy is just fine as long as the corporate bullies are allied with progressive agenda items.

Unfortunately, the only way to put a stop to this sinister practice is for a governor like Deal to sign some bad bills in defiance when corporations try to twist his arm.  Laughably, Governor Deal said, in his statement announcing the veto,

“Some within the business community who oppose this bill have resorted to threats of withdrawing jobs from our state. I do not respond well to insults or threats.”

That’s funny: it looks like he responded exactly as the corporations wanted him to.

74 thoughts on “Georgia’s Religious Liberty Bill Was An Ethics Abomination, But So Is Letting Corporations Dictate Laws In A Democracy

  1. No, no one complained in 1956, and no one would have a reason to complain now, since the buildings are all private property and can light/not light in celebration of whatever. In fact the ESB does light for Easter (and three other religious holidays, but no others), but in pastel spring colors, not cruciform. The slow disappearance of certain religion from the public eye, I believe, is as much due to folks with big mouths and activist judges as poor behavior on religion’s part. I won’t deny Christianity has made some major errors. However, other religions are often made VERY welcome so that public and corporate entities can maintain their multicultural bona fides. The ESB also lights for Eid, and I submit that if anyone said it shouldn’t, for the same reason it shouldn’t for Easter, that person would be slammed as an Islamophobe, although the sins of the poisonous ideology that is Islam are far greater that those of Christianity.

    This is just all about that all-important multi-cultural and progressive bona fides. For whatever reason, a few people in charge of these multi-billion dollar corporations have decided that the gay agenda trumps all, and anyone who dares say otherwise must be horsewhipped through the streets until a rainbow flag flies from every porch, the doors of every church (but not every synagogue or mosque) are thrown wide to same-sex nuptials, and everyone speaks the praise of gayness.

    It’s PRECISELY this kind of bullying that may give us a President Trump, who portrays himself as standing up to bullies and hating political correctness.

    • “this kind of bullying”? I mean… Yeah. Spade a spade, it is… And how DARE those fags want to work alongside you good Christian folk, right? You didn’t provoke a response AT ALL by threatening their livelihood.

      I don’t think that “a few people in charge of these multi-billion dollar corporations have decided that the gay agenda trumps all” so much as they’re smart businessmen.

      I’ll be the first person to say that there are areas the cry-bully gay lobby goes that I think is inappropriate, and you absolutely have a point about the mosques and synagogues (proving that those efforts are more anti-christian than pro-gay, keep it real.), but in this case we were talking about people having the right to discriminate in employment, written with a translucent veneer of fear-mongering. I hate to draw comparisons between the plight of black people and gay people, because our challenges are different, and in no way as extreme, but there is a parallel to be recognized. And just take a step back and think about where you stand in that light, and where those corporations are… It’s a long play.

      • There’s a fine line between smart businessmen and dollar whores. These are the same corporations who tossed Brendan Eich out on his ass because he dared donate a different way, on his own time and his own dime. It’s all about keeping that multicultural bona fides so they can deflect criticism of ruthless business practices by saying “What? We donate to and favor all the right causes, we’re GOOD people.”

        Haha, I work in government, and I could care less if any of the other lawyers in the department are ahem, “fags,” as long as they do their job. I’m not particularly interested in discussing what they do outside work, I’m not interested in joining their advocacy, but that applies to everybody, not just gay coworkers. But this is government.

        It’s quite another story if the music director at a church that’s, ahem, strictly by-the-Bible, is known to be living in a way that doesn’t comport with the principles of that church, or a teacher at a religious school where they supposedly mold young minds to be moral as well as intelligent (or some slogan like that) is not practicing what the school preaches.

        Yes, some of us as adults can look the other way on the former, I know I can , I’ve sung in religious choruses under directors who were either openly (meaning he stated it) or obviously (meaning he didn’t state it, but everyone knew) gay. I don’t care as long as they can conduct, I’m an adult and I know the guy’s not going to make a pass at me, although when one guy cracked a… colorful… joke he raised a few eyebrows. “Frozen chosen” elders, maybe not so, especially if the guy chooses not to hide it or keep it quiet. Parents of kids in a religious school, that’s a whole other story, parents can get very irrational, and parents of strict faith a whole lot more so, between fears of corruption, pedophilia, etc., unfounded or not.

        That said, the way around those situations, perhaps, if a conflict arises, is for the church council of elders or the school administration to let the person go as a “center of conflict” or via normal channels. I’m sorry, Joe, but the council of elders has decided not to renew your contract as organist and choir director for next season. We’ve decided to go in a different direction with the musical program here. I’m sorry, Bill, but this is going to be your last year teaching here. You’ve become the center of a conflict, through no fault of your own, that conflict is interfering with the school’s mission, and it would be best for all concerned if that conflict was resolved by your departure.

        I know, I know, it’s not fair to say all gays are potential degenerates any more than it is to say all blacks are potential muggers or all Muslims are potential bombers, but where faith is concerned fairness and logic often go out the window, and that’s supposed to be the one area where that’s allowed. Where else can you talk seriously about tales that involve what otherwise would be considered magic?

          • My own view is that in organised Religion, fairness and logic are anathema, forbidden by its very nature.

            I do know many deeply Religious people – in fact, all of the deeply Religious people I know personally – to whom fairness and logic are concepts they have an intense commitment to.

            Such people and their tiny churches are being increasingly marginalised though. It’s the cruel, irrational fanatics that are growing. Trump is no surprise, or shouldn’t be, given this trend that long pre-dates him, apparently there’s a Gresham’s Law of some kind at work.

            • Once again, the view presented here is that there is an evil axis (in this case ‘organized religion’) that holds the human world, and human consciousness, back from the heaven-on-earth that will come if only the demons can be located and nullified.

              The ‘god’ that is proposed then is certainly no god of natural processes, which might be said to be logical but are in no sense ‘just’ (although some define ecological systems as the only ‘justice’ we could refer to). So, what people worship then is an ideal god of ‘fairness’ and ‘logic’.

              It is not so much a representation of anything that can be said to be ‘real’ but more a set of choices that are used to determine human relations. It is an imposition then that is easily picked up by government structure, and also corporate structure.

              But it has been said – and some say they notice it – these progressive-god worshippers when they enforce their god-ordained vision, become commandeering with their sense of logic and fairness.

              But it is not a vague metaphysic they enforce but truth itself! Self-evident truth.

              (Just thinking out loud.)

        • “It’s quite another story if the music director at a church that’s, ahem, strictly by-the-Bible, is known to be living in a way that doesn’t comport with the principles of that church, or a teacher at a religious school where they supposedly mold young minds to be moral as well as intelligent (or some slogan like that) is not practicing what the school preaches.”

          You know that wasn’t the point, right? Churches and Private Catholic School already have those rights, just like they couldn’t be compelled to performing a ceremony. I’m talking about the McDonalds franchise owned by a bigot that would have used this law to fire the gay kid, and using that as an example, extrapolate that scenario up the ladder.

          • No, as I read it this is about faith-based organizations. I would not be ok with a by-the-Bible Christian sacking a gay 17yo from Micky D’s solely because he was gay or a corporate department head who hated gays targeting an otherwise unremarkable gay employee. Of course that’s assuming it’s cut and dried. As people who both worked in personnel we both know it’s almost never that cut and dried. The gay kid gets fired because he’s emo or odd and “disruptive” or the gay guy in the corporation gets sacked because this guy who wants him gone has painstakingly built a file of his every mistake, his every error, his every everything before he drops the hammer.

            • I also had to fire a manager who bragged about refusing to hire young men because young women were more reliable and fun to look at. Trust me Steve, some asshat somewhere would use this law as a tool to exercise his bigotry.

              • (rolls eyes in disgust) Seriously? That’s something you NEVER utter. And if that’s the case, the remedy is to retool the law and put in protections. The idea is for this to protect one type of people, but not at the expense of rendering another type vulnerable to abuse.

                • The stories I could tell you… But regardless: I think you’re giving a gigantic benefit of the doubt to people who don’t deserve it. I believe that this law was specifically designed to render a group vulnerable to abuse.

                  • Maybe I am. On principle nothing should ever be written to render someone more vulnerable to abuse. Neither should anything else designed to be a shield be made into a sword.

                    • Only if the majority is operating in a faith-based institution, as the text of the law plainly reads. The state and its subdivisions may still regulate secular employers.

                      Also, this law plainly forecloses employee claims against private employers. If some employees refuse to serve gay customers or clients, they can not challenge any resulting termination on the argument that the employer discriminated against them on the basis of religion by requiring them to serve gay customers or clients.

                      (there was a similar issue regarding employee pharmacists who refused to prescribe certain medication against the wishes of their employers. Some of them won religious discrimination lawsuits. The Georgia law will foreclose such suits as well.)

        • Are not most churches allowed to discriminate based on faith, sexual orientation etc. because they are a not for profit entity, whereas a for-profit corporation, even if it’s leaders and or founders believed in certain religious principles, must adhere to non-discrimination laws? I cannot speak from the direct experience of racial or sexual orientation issues, but I can speak to religious discrimination, past and present.

          I am an atheist. I would not expect a church to hire me as a pre-school teacher even if I was well qualified for the job. Or a counselor, pastor or even a janitor. If I were a nanny and a couple from that church decided not to hire me because I was an atheist, that is also their right. However if the elders of that church got together and decided to open a diner as a for-profit corporation separate from their church, I would expect those same people to hire me there if I was the best person for the job, or not to fire me or make my work environment hostile if they became aware of my lack of religious faith.

          My daughter, an atheist, works for a company with offices in California and North Carolina (she originally was hired in California, but transferred to NC a year ago), that provides vaccines and other specific medical products to hospitals and doctor’s offices around the country. It’s a great job. She makes good pay, gets regular promotions and raises and opportunity for advancement. They treat their employees well and are rewarded by a very low turn over rate. However the company is evangelical owned and they make no bones about sharing and celebrating their faith in the workplace. Their are company meetings in nice restaurants that begin with a prayer. The CEO often encourages his employees to vote a certain way and prays within the context of staff meetings and morning announcements for the company and the country to be guided by the light of god. While there are no religious questions in the hiring process and no company policy regarding religion, the climate causes people like my daughter to hide their beliefs and often join in on prayers or activities that violate their beliefs in order to keep their otherwise wonderful jobs.

          How widespread is this less-official and in-your-face discrimination? How many people aren’t outright fired or refused service or denied rights, but are subject to a much more subtle and subversive form of discrimination? How many put up with this treatment because they don’t want to rock the boat? I am reminded of “don’t ask, don’t tell”.

          My husband’s ex-wife had a substance abuse problem. She was arrested and part of her probation was to attend a court-approved program. All were 12-step programs which are thinly veiled religious programs. This was 20 years ago, before more science-based addiction programs came into favor, but she was forced to attend and comply with the steps and be subjected to the blatantly religious nature of meetings, or be in violation of her parole.

          As a child myself, I was not allowed to join the Girl Scouts because of my atheism, and in grade school (in the early 70’s) was once sent to the principal’s office for refusing to hold my hand over my heart and recite the phrase “under god” in the pledge of allegiance. The principal saw it my way and returned me to class telling the teacher that I was free to pledge in whatever way I was comfortable, or to not pledge at all.

          In public high school, for my social studies credit, I took the course “Evolution”. It was taught by an evangelical christian who spent the entire time trying to de-bunk every thing in the textbook and positing creation science as a better alternative. We clashed constantly and I believe I was unfairly graded. That would never happen today. It should not have happened then, but in 1978, at Arlington High School in Riverside, CA under the teacher Steve Wyper, it did. I complained to my mother, who told me to smile and nod and pass the class (my parents, although not atheists, were not particularly religious). I did not pass the class.

          As an unrelated aside, my daughter also keeps her atheism a secret from her live-in and VERY Catholic MIL. I think it will be interesting once children enter the picture.

          • Smile and nod and pass the class. Yes, I was told that my share of times too, along with keep your shoulder to the wheel and your face in your books and get the grades my parents prized above everything else. I’ll level with you, I am ok with people believing or not believing as they see fit. I LOATHE militant atheists – the kind of people who bolt from the room during family grace, call believers ten different kind of ignorant, and sue over crosses on war memorials. To me they are the same as any other kind of hater.

            Your daughter picked the company she picked. If it’s a closely held corporation like Hobby Lobby I think she’s kinda stuck due to the recent Burwell decision. She may be in a tough spot practically in any case, since if she starts rocking the boat she is likely to create a lot of problems for herself when her relations to the company owners sour. Prevailing on a lawsuit three years after being pushed out for trumped up reasons is definitely not all it is cracked up to be.

            Some things are worth butting heads with those in authority over. Not sure this is one of them.

    • Steve-O is right in this sense.

      But it also goes further. Can anyone seriously argue that the LGBT agenda is not causing serious harm to the free exercise of religion that is guaranteed by the First Amendment? Memories Pizza, Arlene’s Flowers, Elane Photography, Sweet Cakes by Melissa are just a few of the cases that outline the need for the First Amendment Defense Act and state-level RFRAs.

      There is a growing worry among the religious that gay marriage will lead to totalitarianism and discrimination against those who do NOT believe the imposition of same-sex marriage is a good thing.

      The totalitarian left is gaining steam in the United States – and if all that stands between them is Donald Trump…

      • There is no gay agenda. Gays are understandably offended that they are denied the same rights and life options as anyone else. Refusing to sell a gay couple a cake may be legal, but it is unethical, and mean.

        There is a growing worry among the religious that gay marriage will lead to totalitarianism and discrimination against those who do NOT believe the imposition of same-sex marriage is a good thing.

        Stop it. Nobody is “imposing” gay marriage. Is someone threatening to force you into a same sex marriage? Does the same sex couple across the street from me have any effect on my life at all? You are making the arguments that make young people conclude that religious adults are deluded, mean spirited bigots. Who wants to join an organization with such people?

        • There IS a militant or organized gay agenda, although not all gay people choose to get involved, same as there are organized groups and agendas for every race, gender and shared experience. I stood on 5th Avenue with my camera and watched a somewhat subdued gay contingent finally join the St. Patrick’s Day Parade after 20+ years of fighting to force their way into a private organization that didn’t want them and didn’t HAVE to accept them per SCOTUS. Why do that other than to prove they were right and those old Catholic farts were wrong? What didn’t hit the press is that they were dead last, AND that the out of town firemen, who usually close out the parade didn’t march behind them. Those FFs who had policemen from the same area (the Westchester types, the Suffolk County types) marching marched with them, the rest the FDNY made room for in their place in the line because, in the words of one FDNY captain I drank with afterward “it wasn’t fair that they be downwind of their ass smell.”

          No, no one is threatening to force anyone into a same-sex marriage, but there is a growing belief that there is an attempt to force acceptance of it on those who are opposed on moral or religious grounds. Do I give a damn about Adam and Steve up the street? No. Do I want to donate money to some gay cause they are collecting for? Also no. I don’t think choosing not to join that cause, or maybe indicating that I am opposed, should get me fired from my job or harassed as a homophobe. That’s the kind of imposition we are talking.

          • “Also no. I don’t think choosing not to join that cause, or maybe indicating that I am opposed, should get me fired from my job or harassed as a homophobe. That’s the kind of imposition we are talking.”

            No, you just think THEY should be fired from their jobs. Because keep it real Steve… focus… That’s exactly what this law would have done.

            I’m not going to say there isn’t a gay lobby, although I am skeptical of the level of coordination you ascribe to them. And I’m not going to say that there aren’t assholes in that lobby…. But with this case…. For this law…. This is NOT the hill you want to die on. I promise you there will be others.

            • No, I could care less if Adam still manages the bookstore or his partner still does all the administrative stuff he does for the doctor he works for as long as they stay competent and don’t annoy either coworkers or customers. Now, if they behave in a way that does either, that’s a problem.

          • Steve-in-NJ: “There IS a militant or organized gay agenda, although not all gay people choose to get involved, same as there are organized groups and agendas for every race, gender and shared experience.”
            __________________________

            Along with a homosexual cultural revolution, here has been a nearly total renovation or revising of human relationship to ‘the divine’, to God as author of value, of notions of virtue and certainly normalcy. Just as the Darwinian discoveries (reorganizations of discoveries) have led to renovations of understanding in all fields, so too has the review and reconsideration of ‘givens’ in the realm of theology led to total upending of former, relatively solid, ethical definitions.

            In my investigations, I have noted that as advances in science and medicine have conquered many of the obstacles to living a full, embodied life, relatively pain-free, and as it became possible to fully live life without debilitating pain and early mortality, the relationship to living incarnatedly has shifted.

            When mortality was so much closer, and disease far more likely, living ‘in the body’ was far less attractive. In that situation, otherworldliness and desire to escape, or to buffer existence here, could almost be seen as a necessary, if neurotic, mechanism.

            Starting in the 1850s (date somewhat arbitrary) or thereabouts, in the West anyway, the notion of ‘life to live’ became increasingly highlighted. And the possibility of living a free, unfettered, embodied existence became evermore possible. A shift occurred, and now the basic idea is ‘live life to the max’, fully experience incarnation. Now, the idea of living in the hope of transcendence (or life sacrificed to monastic devotion, etc.) seems like madness. Indeed, the erstwhile spiritualism has been fading away, superseded by a kind of vivid paganism.

            In my view one has to stand back and observe/understand this embodiment process. (Much of what I have written here became clear to me reading Andre Gide who started as puritanical Protestant and ‘ended’ so to speak exploring very physical paths.

            You might – anyone might – just as well opt for a bisexual lifestyle, or a homosexual lifestyle, or ‘polymorphous perversion’ as the Freudian term indicates. All fetters have been removed in a redefinition of value toward the sensual.

            What other choice is there? (No other option can be defined).

    • A corporation is a transaction-mechanism. It is a ‘device’ by which a transformation occurs that nets the entity a residual value.

      The definition of values, the deep-implications of ‘what this means’, as well as the capacity to recognize and understand value, can one expect a transaction-mechanism to understand any of that?

      If as increasingly IS OCCURRING such transaction-mechanisms intervene in the social and value sphere to assert themselves, to influence, and decide, it is not hard to see that this represents a further evolution of a general process that has been on-going for quite some time. I’d say that it is essentially the subordination of the individual to an artificial mechanism and a sort of chinesification of culture.

      It will extend from the material base right on up to claim decision-power at the higher levels. Kiss sovereignty goodbye.

      The destruction of the possibility to understand the world in ‘Christian’ terms (metaphysical value terms) began with Descartes, Hobbes, etc. If one follows the ‘material logic’ to its frontiers, the systems that we see arising around us make great sense. They are direct outcomes.

      I agree with you (I think): Trump is reaction incarnate. It is possible that he does not really understand himself. But that reveals an interesting fact: that we no longer understand ourselves. We do not understand ‘what happened to us’ nor what causes have come to bear on us.

      To understand our present is a metaphysical undertaking. (I don’t mind it if you laugh at me. But I assert vehemently that it is true).

  2. …[I]t looks like he responded exactly as the corporations wanted him to.

    I would like to think that Governor Deal had more of your reasoning in mind, Jack. And thank you for once more elucidating the historical customs and reasoning for several of our bad laws and prejudices today.

  3. You have to really, really hate and fear gay citizens not to reject such a bill.

    How so?

    The text of the bill limits itself to faith-based organizations.

    As a matter of law, neither the words “homosexual” nor “sexual orientation” appear in the bill. How can a bill thatn does not address sexual orientation by name nevertheless be anti-gay? It does not compute.

    Here are two more sections.

    (3) Create any rights by an employee against an employer, if such employer is not a
    government; or

    This would effectivly foreclose religious discrimination suits by employees against their employers should their employers choose to be gay friendly.

    Afford any protection or relief to a public officer or employee who fails or refuses
    to perform his or her official duties; provided, however, that this paragraph shall not
    prohibit any person from holding any public office or trust on account of religious
    opinions, in accordance with Paragraph IV of Section I of Article I of the Constitution.”

    This addresses the Kim Davis situation.

    There is so much fearmongering about this bill. It is a shame that you fell for it.

    • The bill is about fearmongering. Kim Davis types should not be empowered, and you are ignoring the section I quoted that obviously allows firing gays for being gay. It doesn’t have to specify gays…what other group not specifically protected in the constitution would be deemed to violate religious cant? Be serious. It’s by turns dumb and hateful. A gay teacher in a religious school who does not make an issue of his sexuality should not be fired. Pure bigotry, which is what the bill enables.

          • Wait a minute here, Burwell v. Hobby Lobby was about the Obamacare mandate to provide certain kinds of coverage and had to do with abortifacients, not anything involving sexuality. I see what you are aiming at, but I don’t think it parallels directly here. Now, if there was a similar case saying that a similar closely-held corporation didn’t have to extend marital benefits to same-sex spouses, then you might have something.

            • No no, that’s ducking my point. Hobby Lobby made their argument in part on their status as a faith based organization. What they wanted to do with that designation is irrelevant.

              • Legally I’m not sure that it’s irrelevant BUT that’s in the specific context of a legal case, where the court can only rule on what’s in front of it. Hobby Lobby isn’t a faith-based organization the same way a church or a religious school would be, if that’s what you mean. They are what’s called a closely held corporation, owned by a family. That family had specific beliefs about a few things. This is splitting legal hairs, I know, but I think there’s enough difference here to render the two situations distinguishable.

      • So… the Catholic Church has to have someone who would publicly undermine its teachings?

        Jack, your response is why they are scared. If the Catholic diocese is operating a school, why should they not be able to expect their employees to abide by Catholic doctrine – or at least not flout differences with that doctrine? When that gay teacher got married, he flouted his differences with Catholic doctrine. In essence, he made his sexuality an issue.

        The only alternative is to create an environment where de facto religious discrimination is allowed as a “remedy” for so-called homophobia. Then in that case, be honest about it, and make it legal to engage in religious discrimination so that the tyranny can at least be honest – and let’s not pretend this is about equality,

        • What law are you reading? There’s no “undermining” language. A perfectly good, private teacher could be accused of being gay by an anonymous letter, and under this law, the church could fire the guy, and he would have no recourse. They could fire him for lisping. They could fire him for “seeming gay.”

          The hypocrisy is especially outrageous, since close to 50% of priests are not, in fact, celibate, and the Church does nothing about it.

          • What, with no investigation? I can’t believe that. Just because the guy talks weird isn’t enough. If that’s how it’s drafted it deserved to fail.

            • We should ask Jack Marshall if a school run by a buggery-affirming church should not fire a man who believes based on faith that homosexuals should be put to death.

              Is that religious discrimination, in his view?

                  • I’m not sure what “thing” is being referenced here since it’s a stand-alone statement, but I will say that the justification for anything based solely on faith exists solely in the eye of the believer. The justification disappears with the disbelief.

    • “As a matter of law, neither the words “homosexual” nor “sexual orientation” appear in the bill. How can a bill thatn does not address sexual orientation by name nevertheless be anti-gay? It does not compute.”

      The same way that a law criminalizing wigs would be anti-bald person. The fact is that the wording was designed to target gay people, the fact that the odd closet Muslim or Adulterer might get caught up in the net was frosting.

      To which I might add: Duh. Sometimes I wonder if you really are this stupid or if you’re playing a really shitty Socrates.

  4. Jack wrote: “You have to really, really hate and fear gay citizens not to reject such a bill. The religious right seems determined to undermine both religion and conservatism by its stubborn refusal to accept the fact…fact, fact, fact…that people who lived in small tribes two thousand years ago and needed as many children as possible had a good reason to discourage homosexuality, which they understandably but erroneously believed was a conscious choice. Today, holding that same view is ignorant and inexcusable, and making laws that embody it unkind, cruel, and wrong.”
    ___________________________

    I very much agree with the other parts of your post having to do with the increasing power of corporations to influence and determine democratic processes. But I find that the analysis that you have offered here to explain aversion to homosexuality to be too shallow to be really taken seriously.

    It amounts to a form of phillipic against those – you locate them on the religious right – who are opposed to what they term ‘the homosexual agenda’ which is – according to their analysis – a wide cultural project in which the modification of values is connected to other value-shifts and to projects that undermine structure, hierarchy, but also (and this is my own view) the possibility of defining and articulating values which are religious tenets but in philosophical terms.

    It is simply no longer sufficient to say ‘God has prohibited homosexual relations’, but there may indeed be a sound philosophical path to explaining why sexuality itself requires stringent controls (as it certainly appears to have broken free of them in a quite obsessive degree), and why homosexuality specifically as a life-strategy, as a ‘lifestyle’ as its opponents will often say, may indeed connect to a breakdown of interior controls (those generally established and maintained by religiously-defined rules) that operate on all sorts of different levels, and which represent ‘decadence’, ‘perversion’ and also ‘degeneration’. To speak about decadence and degeneration is a complex topic. Most understand that we are in degenerating cycles. But everyone disagrees as to what ‘degeneration’ is and what has brought it about. Yet it is really the question of the day.

    I know that in our present liberally-minded culture these three words cannot be used in the context of speaking about gays. Yet I would extend them to the relationship to sexuality generally (out of control) and then speak of the presentation or the ‘selling’ of what might be called ‘the homosexual option’. In some sense, and certainly in some areas, it is not unsimilar to the pornographic sell. Mind you I (unlike the Christian religionists) can see no option BUT the allowance and the understanding of homosexuality, and that will obviously mean (and it has always meant) the formation of gay couples. But I do think that a social and oppositional stance to overt homosexuality, or homosexuality that has an ‘agenda’, and also ‘decadent processes in culture’ can and should be looked at – if it is possible – free of bias. I am unsure that I am right now 100% capable of that. I am also uncertain if ‘bias’ should be discounted, but that is another question. Yet I do understand, too, that in the present climate such a topic could not be debated coldly and rationally as these issues are the very definition of ‘hot topics’. There are bitter battles being fought.

    In my investigations so far, begun with some earnestness and not in any way complete, I would say that it is wise to ‘linger’ over the questions. To speak about them. To look into them. And to possibly decide them. Now – and I think this is so – a form of coercion functions which is based in counter-shaming (I think your position is sometimes one of shaming, but since you say ‘This is what I think’ I do not take issue that you do it, but rather that I think the issue is more complex (much more complex in fact).

    In my case, I am always interested in your specific definition of ‘conservatism’ as you seem to define yourself as such. The more that I understand your background the better I am able to see on what your conservatism is grounded. I don’t know who gets to claim the title, and I am myself confused by what exactly the definition of ‘conservative’ is. But it has to have a social and a political root, and thus is certainly has to extend from cultural and philosophical roots. These are all valuations but they are not set in absolute stone. But at times some of the opinions that you put forth do not seem ‘conservative’, or perhaps they are and you are unable to include all the background logic (who you engage, if you will permit the term, in philippic).

    I think that the position of the hard-core religionists is a sort of perverted shadow that extends from solid philosophical constructs. My understanding is that even the Greeks who have given a noble face to homosexual relations, in that culture and at that time there was queasiness and resistance to the practices overall. Or the ‘life-style’ if you will. What side of the fence one places oneself may have a very solid and articulate base.

    I will have to disagree with you at least partially, and perhaps substantially, that it is the religionists that have brought about their own downfall. The destruction of Christianity as a valid and functioning metaphysic – one understood to be ‘true’ and ‘real’ and to which one could give oneself whole-heartedly – began with earnest in the 16th century. If we consider ourselves ‘children of the enlightenment’, we are so because we take a position as-against the Schoolmen (Medieval Aristotelian Christians).
    ____________________

    Jack wrote: “In 1956, gay Americans were persecuted culture-wide because of ancient ignorance, fear and hate. Along with other groups that were victims of bigotry, gays began to assert their human and civic rights in the Sixties, and most of the nation’s citizens, many of whom know and work with law-abiding, admirable LGBT men and women every day, have come to understand that the old biases were wrong, and did immense damage. There is a rapidly dwindling but influential few, however, who refuse to acknowledge, not that times have changed, but that anti-gay discrimination has always been unethical. They seem determined to bring down religion in America as well as conservatism in their futile, indeed juvenile effort to resist enlightenment.

    “Well, keep it up, everyone, and see what happens. Religion was once seen as an unequivocal force for good in the United States, and now it is increasingly regarded as the source of hate and division. These kinds of bills just speed up the process.”
    ____________________

    Or don’t keep it up. Just relax. Give in. Don’t even bother to think about it anymore. Go with the flow. Accept. Stop resisting! Stop being so ‘old fashioned’. But more: Stop opposing humankind’s forward progress.

    This attitude connects to many other fields and choices.

    I cannot say that I disagree with your conclusions (though they are not conclusions that I accept inside of myself, or for myself), but I am fairly certain at this time that to disentangle truth from lie, or accuracy from distortion, is almost impossible in the climate of today. But if one does not do that, one cannot be said to be engaging in free thinking. And yet it is so very difficult to get to a platform of such intellectual freedom.

    • Your post is based on false assumptions and myths. I am guessing I know and work with many more gay individuals and couples that you do. There is no “gay agenda.” Gays want to live their lives without legal limitation,s discrimination and marginalization. It is not a choice, and God never “said” anything about them at all. It’s an old, ignorant bias. Gays harm nobody, and are as law abiding and trustworthy as anyone else.

      “Or don’t keep it up. Just relax. Give in. Don’t even bother to think about it anymore. Go with the flow. Accept. Stop resisting! Stop being so ‘old fashioned’. But more: Stop opposing humankind’s forward progress.”

      Without the snark, this translates into “stop trying to interfere withe the lives and pursuit of happiness of 5% of the population just because they are different from you, because their life has no negative impact on you or the culture whatsoever.”

      This is America. Progress is more liberty for everyone, not less.

      Of course the religious have undermined religion…by deying science and looking silly doing so (evolution), by being venal, by supporting racism and bigotry, as well as sexism, by open hypocrisy. Who was the last religious role model with widespread support…and don’t say “the Pope”—? The leaders of organized religion have shown so little integrity for so long that they have lost generations…and absent a second coming, it’s downhill from here. Religion as much as any factor is what makes Republicans increasingly unelectable.

      • I understand – really very clearly – what you are saying. I could and in some senses I do defend and explain the various presuppositions that inform your ideas (those ‘charges’ if you will).

        Because I am a neoplatonist I understand ‘myth’ differently. I won’t inflict that explanation on you (though it might be interesting). I reject Judaic myth for various and specific reasons, but see myth overall differently. You might gather that from other posts of mine (the ones where I venture out of the solar orbit).

        I agree – largely but not completely (it is the caveat that defines the difference) – that most gays, maybe even all gays, just want to live their lives, no different from you and me. What this means to me though is something more indicting: we all need to think more philosophically. We need to come out of one current that holds us and moves us along, and into another one.

        It was not really ‘snark’. I admit to being ironic and I ask for forgiveness if I come across at all disrespectfully to anyone, but I actually meant it as a statement about what really goes on. It is much easier to give in, to relax, to accept, to stop thinking, then the opposite.

        ‘Harm’ is an interesting topic. Plato said that when the musical modes shift that cultural value and social form shifts. Is this just a remote idea with no bearing on anything ‘real’? Just a mental game of solitaire? Or, is it possible that when ‘musical modes’ shift that many things shift? If it were so it would indicate that the ‘music’ one listens to, or composes, is quite relevant.

        French post-structuralism – an idea-form – has been described as a perversion of intellect. Ideas have consequences.

        The choices that we make have radical effect. The things we do, and don’t do, the same.

        I am simply a person who is attempting to define for myself, and according to my own lights, what is true and what is false, and WHY.
        _______________________

        Jack wrote: “This is America. Progress is more liberty for everyone, not less.”
        _______________________

        That is a stone-cold fact.

        There are vast preconditions to ‘liberty’ as I see things.

        If I speak of anything I only attempt to speak of inner barriers, or inner pre-definitions, or inner structures of restraint. This is how I understand ‘religion’ as functioning, from pagan times through history and up to the present.

        _______________________

        Jack wrote: “Of course the religious have undermined religion…by deying science and looking silly doing so (evolution), by being venal, by supporting racism and bigotry, as well as sexism, by open hypocrisy. Who was the last religious role model with widespread support…and don’t say “the Pope”—? The leaders of organized religion have shown so little integrity for so long that they have lost generations…and absent a second coming, it’s downhill from here. Religion as much as any factor is what makes Republicans increasingly unelectable.”
        _______________________

        But other things have ‘undermined religion’ too, and as I said to Steve-in-NJ it began quite some time back.

        There is a great deal in what you have written above that I would comment on, but I don’t think it would be welcome. But all of those things, each topic, very vitally interests me. The more that I look into it, the more interesting it becomes.

          • That too I think I well understand. I am in debate if that is a ‘good’ choice or a ‘bad’ one, not in respect to your choice or your focus, but overall.

            By doing away (or putting aside) the philosophical aspect, one is left purely in the contingent. Yet it could be argued that one needs more than the contingent in order to conceive of the present, what happens, what goes on, what should happen and go on.

            I know there are theorists who speak of the sensibility of avoiding philosophy, believing that it is not required to make all the important choice. Today, I am not one of them. While one can speak of decomplification by rejecting philosophical consideration, without ‘overarching and reigning idea’ a political philosophy cannot be a political philosophy. It will become a mechanics. Well, that’s what I think.

  5. Well, times change and so do prevailing mores, and have changed – so, they will just change back again, eventually. “Hate,” like love, never dies.

    That is a bitter truth to swallow, but to contend otherwise is to contend that history will never again repeat itself.

    Jack, you dismiss recklessly the valid fears that the proponents of the vetoed Georgia legislation have. But, as long as the slope is slippery in the direction you like, you’re OK with that; I understand – we are exactly alike in that regard. But as we have seen, one can easily become blind to the ethical failings of a majority basking in majority privilege, especially when one is a part of, or a beneficiary of, such a majority. The fears of the Georgia bill proponents are not born of what is too convenient to dismiss as hatred or ignorance. Their fears are in response to actual events, actual trends, that non-ignorant, non-hateful people of evolving minorities recognize correctly as encroachments on their religious liberty and freedom of association.

    The repeat of history will be recognized by more proponents (and more champions, I hope) of true justice and “equality,” when more people see more clearly how private, for-profit and secularist corporations’ authoritarian cultures are used more and more often as leverage to establish social engineering according to ascendant or prevailing mores. Such leverage constitutes outsourcing of tyrannical Executive Orders, circumvention of the Constitution, and denial of persons (particularly persons of particular minorities, such as persons seeking to exercise their rights of free association and religious exercise in non-profit, religious tenet-focused corporations) basic liberties and rights. Legislation is one means of correcting such abuses. But, of course, so is – and will be – revolution.

  6. Lucky wrote: “The repeat of history will be recognized by more proponents (and more champions, I hope) of true justice and “equality,” when more people see more clearly how private, for-profit and secularist corporations’ authoritarian cultures are used more and more often as leverage to establish social engineering according to ascendant or prevailing mores. Such leverage constitutes outsourcing of tyrannical Executive Orders, circumvention of the Constitution, and denial of persons (particularly persons of particular minorities, such as persons seeking to exercise their rights of free association and religious exercise in non-profit, religious tenet-focused corporations) basic liberties and rights. Legislation is one means of correcting such abuses. But, of course, so is – and will be – revolution.”
    ____________________

    It is possible that the term ‘counter-revolution’ is more accurate. Since, if I am correct, it is a turn against an entire executive establishment that has been established. It essentially defines ‘the United States’ as we understand it in the federal sense?

    What we see occurring on the executive, federal level, is an extension of specific policies and legislation, no? That would all have to be ‘walked back’ as they say.

    Easier said than done.

    • Alizia: not “easier said than done,” but instead, “more easily self-inflicted than imposed externally.” The federal monster is on the brink of its death-rattles, as are the public sector monsters of many states and the largest cities. When the degree of lawlessness of the executives who are fed by such monsters reaches a certain point, their authority and authoritarianism will become irrelevant – hollow and impotent. The lawlessness of the so-called little people, modeling themselves after their “superiors,” will become uncontrollable. Ameri-la-la-la-la-la-rica will descend into gangster-ruled chaos, much like the old, dying and now dead Soviet Union suffered. The “walking back” will be one ugly, protracted, cruel, mass-impoverishing, injustice- and hardship-multiplying panic.

      • Hello Lucky. I just don’t have any way to process what you are saying. I have no experience with such things. I am not saying I cannot understand it, it is just that it seems more an apocalyptic description from a movie.

        What are the ‘death-rattles’? Running out of money?

        What is the cure for a federal monster? A state monsterette? (I am not being smart-aleck, this is what you imply).

        My sense is also being on the verge of ‘balkanization’ but I have no idea if it is ‘true’ or just paranoia.

        • The death rattles will be the downgrading of credit, twin explosions of debt and deficits, and investor reluctance and withdrawal (aka “flight”). So yes, that is one way to describe “running out of money.” Or at least, the devaluation of money, to the point where there is effectively very little of it (no matter how much paper people might be holding onto), and its purchasing power is diminished to virtual worthlessness.

          The only cure at the federal level that I can imagine (and which can only be imagined, and won’t happen till unicorns poop gold) is through a revival of ethics among an elite cadre of unified reformers, who somehow hijack all federal powers and hold onto them long enough (like, a couple of decades) to get the spending and taxation into perennial balance again, along with dismantling and otherwise making much leaner the Executive Branch. That’s a lot more than just cutting the military – the typical whipping-boy for parsimonious spending initiatives. It’s also the end of most “entitlements.”

          But more realistically, we are approaching the point where the country has to be destroyed in order to be saved. Well, there goes my pension. And health coverage. And job. I’ll be lucky if I can afford to keep a bicycle, or even, a good pair of shoes. I’ll just have to turn into a serial-killing cannibal. Those lean folks flooding across what was the border? YUMMY!

  7. “What I want people to understand is that NCSL 2016-3 does not ban anyone from using any privately operated public accommodation. This is a very important point. There are three operative effects of this law, in terms of LGBT rights. The first, and perhaps most important, is to define “biological sex” as that “which is stated on a person’s birth certificate”. It will be extremely difficult to have that overturned by the courts, as it is obvious in American jurisprudence that the state is regarded as having a compelling interest in the codification and recording of sex/gender. The obvious problem here is that even though NC provides for changing birth certificates, not all NC residents or visitors were born in a state that allows for the same, and the actual requirements for accessing that change are a high barrier in most states. However, getting a federal court to make sweeping changes in how the states severally conduct the business of defining sex is not something I see as being particularly likely at this point in time. That being said, it *is* the proper function of the federal government to ensure consistent national standards, and eventually we will see conflicts of state law cause the federal court to be forced to address this issue. As with marriage equality, the most likely way this is going to be resolved is first for there to end up being conflicting rulings in different federal appeals circuits. That more or less forces the SCOTUS to set a consistent standard, but getting to that point will probably take years. There is a Virginia case pending before the 4th Circuit (which includes NC). Let us hope for immediate victory for the 4th Circuit. The second effect is to mandate that multiple occupancy sex-segregated restrooms in public facilities (those operated by government) be usable only by people of the biological sex for which they are set aside. Interestingly, the law does not seem to cover unisex multiple occupancy restrooms, or explicitly force multiple-occupancy restrooms to be single-sex only. The law as written only covers those restrooms which are single-sex segregated. However, it is likely that the courts would reject my analysis of that part. We should be very clear in our understanding that this issue has never been tested in court directly, at the federal level. The Virginia case I mentioned above is the first. There is no guarantee that a federal court is going to apply caselaw or regulatory rulings which were intended to protect employment or housing rights to the realm of areas where public nudity is effectively unavoidable and therefore the sense of vulnerability is increased for many people. Sex-segregated facilities are obviously a deeply-embedded assumption in our culture. The other effect is to remove “home rule” from the municipalities of North Carolina and prevent them from passing anti-discrimination laws that protect on the basis of gender identity or sexual or affectional orientation. The outrage over this law has overwhelmed people’s understanding of the actual text of the law and its actual effects. If we wish to fight this law, we need to understand exactly what it is we are fighting. I wish to see this law overturned as much or more than any other economically-disadvantaged trans woman of color, but I am under no illusions as to the probability of this law being successfully struck down. The jurisdictional issues alone are a maze.” – Gemma Seymour

    No]lkte though that, quoting Littleton v. Prange (9 S.W.3d 223 (Tex. App. 1999), cert. denied, 531 U.S. 872 (2000))

    “Taking this situation to its logical conclusion, Mrs. Littleton, while in San Antonio, Tex., is a male and has a void marriage; as she travels to Houston, Tex., and enters federal property, she is female and a widow; upon traveling to Kentucky she is female and a widow; but, upon entering Ohio, she is once again male and prohibited from marriage; entering Connecticut, she is again female and may marry; if her travel takes her north to Vermont, she is male and may marry a female; if instead she travels south to New Jersey, she may marry a male.”

    Since then, San Antonio, Vermont, and Kentucky have all reversed their positions.

    The SCOTUS has so far resisted any attempt to set “consistent standards” regarding the definition of sex, despite contradictions in Federal appelate courts.

  8. HB2 has more than just anti-GLBT consequences. In the 1970s, NC passed laws giving protections on the basis of race, religion etc. In 1980, they gave the right to sue under state law to blacks, jews etc who had been discriminated against.

    HB2 turns the clock back to 1979.

    In fact, it’s worse than that, as in the 70s cities and counties were free to implement their own protections, and many had done even before 1964.

    Now those protections are expressly forbidden.

    It’s this I think that has gotten so many businesses offside. The withdrawal from suspect classes of the right to sue that was granted in 1980.

    Mississippi is the only other state that has no right of suit under state law – but even they don’t prevent cities and counties from passing laws that give this right at a local level.

    • HB2 has more than just anti-GLBT consequences. In the 1970s, NC passed laws giving protections on the basis of race, religion etc. In 1980, they gave the right to sue under state law to blacks, jews etc who had been discriminated against.

      What is HB 2?

    • HB2 has more than just anti-GLBT consequences. In the 1970s, NC passed laws giving protections on the basis of race, religion etc. In 1980, they gave the right to sue under state law to blacks, jews etc who had been discriminated against.

      All suspect classes. Those people would win the first time it touched a federal court.

  9. “This is all about protecting our rights. No one is going to try to destroy your church.”
    “Are you sure? Because I could see this being used to shut down churches and Christian organizations for not promoting…”
    “SERIOUSLY YOU PARANOID BIGOT, THAT WILL NEVER HAPPEN. YOU’RE JUST LOOKING FOR REASONS TO HATE GAYS. JUST PASS THE ANTI-DISCRIMINATION LAWS.”
    “Okay, done.”
    “WHY WON’T THEY VOTE ME AS PRESIDENT OF THE STUDENT CHRISTIAN ORGANIZATION OR ELECT ME PASTOR JUST BECAUSE I HATE YOUR STUPID FAKEY RELIGION? IT’S BECAUSE I’M GAY, ISN’T IT? LAWSUIT TIME!”
    “Okay, now you’re doing the thing you said wouldn’t happen. Can we get a law to get it in writing that you won’t actually…”
    “NEWS FLASH: HATEFUL FEAR-MONGERING BIGOTS THINK GAYS WILL DESTROY CHURCH.”

  10. Im sorry, but if corporations can donate unlimited amounts of money to get laws passed and people elected then why cant they do this? Whats the difference?

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