Republicans along with two Democrats are itching to write discrimination into the laws so that people can claim a religious right to discriminate against other people. It is not surprising that they are doing this despite the fact that most people in the United States feel that discrimination against LGBT people is abhorrent.
House Democrats Mike McIntyre (NC), Dan Lipinski (IL) and Paul Labrador (ID) joined 57 Republicans to cosponsor the “Marriage And Religious Freedom Act”. The bill, which is likely dead on arrival in the Senate, would give individual federal employees, contractors and grantees the right to discriminate on the job or fulfill their taxpayer-funded contracts if they have a religious view that says that same-sex marriage is wrong. These bigots could then sue the government if they are forced to fulfill their federal obligations.
Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage is, of course, over the moon regarding this legislation saying “This is a critical piece of legislation to protect religious liberty as a cornerstone of our country and deserves our full support. Efforts to redefine marriage pose a direct threat to the free exercise of religion. This legislation would protect the right of organizations to communicate their views about marriage without threat that the tax code will be used to punish them. We applaud Congressman Labrador and his colleagues for their leadership on this important issue.”
We are waiting on word if the Ku Klux Klan will be asking for similar legislation allowing for a religious right to discriminate against Jews and Blacks.
The bill is actually worded as saying that “The Federal Government shall not take an adverse action against a person, on the basis that such person acts in accordance with a religious belief 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.”
One analyst noted that the bill would create a special right under the guise of religious freedom “only for people who oppose same-sex marriage or premarital sex. Under the guise of ‘religious freedom,’ this bill specifically endorses one particular set of religious beliefs without concern for any others, a pretty clear violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.”
They went on to note that this could mean that “Businesses could refuse to provide leave for an employee to take care of a sick same-sex spouse; Federal workers processing tax returns, visa applications, or Social Security filings could refuse to do their job if it meant providing benefits to a same-sex couple; Federally funded programs like homeless shelters and substance abuse programs could turn away LGBT people; A church-run hospital could refuse to provide visitation privileges to a married same-sex couple without fear of endangering their tax-exempt status.”
Human Rights Campaign Director Allison Herwitt stated that “The purpose of the legislation introduced today is simply to let federal employees, contractors and grantees refuse to do their jobs or fulfill the terms of their taxpayer-funded contracts because they have a particular religious view about certain lawfully-married couples – and then to sue the federal government for damages if they don’t get their way.”
President of Freedom to Marry Evan Wolfson said that “This sweeping Trojan Horse proposal would swallow civil rights laws and subvert constitutional protections, and is a dangerous ‘solution’ to a non-problem. Decades of civil rights struggle, and long experience with both federal and state non-discrimination statutes, have made clear that we don’t need to gut non-discrimination laws to protect true religious freedom, and neither private religious views nor prejudice should get a special license to discriminate in the public sphere.”
ACLU legislative representative Ian Thompson added that the bill seeks to “reincarnate DOMA and, in doing so, perpetuate discrimination against lawfully married same-sex couples and their children.”
Labrador crafted the legislation after the US Supreme Court decided to strike down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act. He said of it that “Some people looked at overturning it, or doing a constitutional amendment. I looked at the immediate need, which is the protection of religious institutions and churches, so that they can continue practicing their religion as they see fit.”
The Mainstream Media have been calling it a bill that protects religious and personal freedom when, in truth, it does none of those things. Instead, it attempts to impose more discrimination against a group of people who are already discriminated against.
Media Matters noted that “Media coverage of MARFA has either downplayed or wholly ignored the constitutional and discrimination concerns the bill raises, while legitimizing the baseless fear that the federal government could soon retaliate against opponents of marriage equality. The Washington Post described the bill as a ‘proposal that would protect religious institutions and other nonprofit groups that don’t recognize same-sex marriages from potential discrimination by the Internal Revenue Service.’ Similarly, The Hill framed MARFA as ‘a proposal aimed at protecting conservative groups’ after the Supreme Court’s ruling against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).”
To date, not a single conservative group has been targeted by the IRS or any federal agency over their religious beliefs regarding same-sex marriage.
Conservative media has been praising the bill, of course, saying that it would “protect the religious freedom of individuals, institutions and businesses that are increasingly being punished or harassed for their beliefs on marriage.” The Times cited various incidents including the closing of the Oregon bakery and the New Mexico Supreme Court ruling against a couple who refused to photograph a same-sex religious marriage.
Of course, the Conservative media is busy doing the old bait and switch routine. The Oregon bakery shut down after it was hit by a private boycott and the discovery that they were not selling the wares that they advertised. The New Mexico case did not involve same-sex marriage, but rather a violation of the anti-discrimination laws.
Conservatives have been desperately pushing to get exemptions into those anti-discrimination laws, and not just so they can hurt or target LGBT people, but various people of all sorts of religions, races, sexes, creeds and so forth.
The Republican Party is, of course, trying to divert attention from their own failed policies by preying on people’s bigotries. This is pretty much what Russia’s Vladimir Putin has been doing by targeting LGBT people in his nation.