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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Let's Stop This Distortion Of "Freedom of Religion"

Category: Gay Rights
Posted: 08/30/14 00:11, Edited: 08/30/14 00:12

by Dave Mindeman

Christians have taken the idea of religious freedom way to far....

A Christian couple fined $13,000 for refusing to host a lesbian wedding on their New York farm has decided to close the venue rather than violate their religious beliefs. Cynthia and Robert Gifford decided not to host ceremonies anymore, other than those already scheduled, Alliance Defending Freedom attorney James Trainor told The Blaze. "Since the order essentially compelled them to do all ceremonies or none at all, they have chosen the latter in order to stay true to their religious convictions, even though it will likely hurt their business in the short run," he said.

If you think this Christian couple have been wronged, I want you to think about a few things.

First of all, how were the Giffords prevented from exercising their own personal right to practice their religion? Were they stopped from going to church? Were any of their beliefs questioned? Were any of their own personal religious practices obstructed in any way?

Secondly, how were their beliefs violated? Obviously, they think that a gay wedding is not something they think their beliefs condone. OK. Were either of them or any of their family members involved in the wedding? No. Were they forced to personally recognize the wedding as legitimate? No. All they were doing is hosting the venue. What happens at the venue after they have been paid for its rental is really none of their business.

The Giffords business has them hosting weddings. They do not perform the ceremony. They don't have to even like the people getting married. And if they are going to run a business open to the general public, then they cannot discriminate against the people who pay them for its use.

This did not violate any of their religious beliefs - it only violated their prejudice. And apparently, they believe that their religion allows them to be prejudiced.

My guess is that they have people use their venue for getting married who have differing religious views all the time. They probably have secular ceremonies as well. But what they are essentially telling us is that their religious belief allows them to discriminate based on their own personal idea of who they think should be allowed to be married.

That is simply bigotry. And certainly not the free exercise of religion.

If they want to shut down their business so that they don't have to allow their venue to be used for gay marriages, fine. That is their right and under the circumstances, probably the best course of action.

But if they believe they were treated unfairly, then they are also wrong.
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The Independence Party Has A Place, But They Need A Plan

Category: Independence Party
Posted: 08/28/14 12:44

by Dave Mindeman

I am going to preface this post about the Independence Party by stating my preference that the IP sticks around. My past thoughts on the IP have been somewhat pessimistic, but that's because I'm going more for a wake up call then wishing their demise. I think that a viable third party option is important to rein in partisan tactics of the Democrats and Republicans....and a means of tempering negative campaigns. A solid Independence Party in Minnesota could do that.

But, having said all of that, I watched the At Issue interview of Hannah Nicollet from Sunday and I have to admit that it was disappointing.

Nicollet said that she switched from seeking the Senate endorsement to the Governor endorsement, basically at the convention. The spot was open and she, more or less, rewrote her speech to address state issues rather than Federal issues. The insinuation being that the nominations were fungible and that it was just a quick shift to make that transition.

We are talking about two very different statewide campaigns and Nicollet had prepared herself for a Senate run on Federal issues. The idea that you can just shift gears on a whim and move to a statewide run for Governor is not something to be taken so lightly. There are a multitude of differences.

And that difference showed up during the interview. Nicollet talked about taxes and began to indicate her opposition to the Warehouse Tax passed in the previous session, but Hauser, the host, had to point out to her that the Warehouse tax had already been repealed. She did not know that and I find that pretty troubling.

Her inexperienced showed. She rambled at times. Went off on tangents. Failed to really answer the question. I don't want to be overly critical, but Hannah Nicollet did not look like someone ready for a highly contested election. She will get there, but she is not ready yet.

And that is part of the problem with the Independence Party. They do not have the depth of candidates to gain that experience or knowledge within the party. Their emphasis on the legalization of marijuana is actually a good issue, but they have to force that into the debate and they do not have the resources or the clout to do that.

The IP has a real problem in this election year. They need a candidate to win 5% of the vote. Now, as I understand the statute, that 5% can occur in any statewide race. The focus has been on Senate or Governor, but I assume that SOS, Auditor, or Attorney General would qualify. There might be a possibility in those races but again, do they have the resources to promote one of those people? If that is their best hope, they might want to pool resources behind one of the more viable options.

There are two other methods of maintaining major state party status. One is meeting a threshold of legislative candidates. They did not meet the Senate threshold in 2012 and since the Senate is not up for election in 2014, they cannot qualify that way. (Remember, the last time they got a 5% vote was in 2010 via Tom Horner - they did not meet that threshold with any candidate in 2012 and since major party status requires them to meet the criteria within the next two elections, 2014 is a make or break year). Getting back to major party status might require the third method which is petitions for nominating about seventy Legislative seats, with 500 signatures on each petition. That would be a tall order for a party in a weakened condition.

As I said above, I really do not want to see the Independence Party lose that major party status. They have a place in state politics, but they need to establish that place with a more solid political base. Solid party building is a slow, meticulous and patient process.

The IP needs to figure out a plan before its too late.
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The Republican Repeal Obamacare Strategy Has Failed

Category: Health Care
Posted: 08/28/14 10:41

by Dave Mindeman

As I predicted months ago, the GOP's all or nothing attack on Obamacare is failing....

In their glee over the law's disastrous debut in October, the GOP also failed to accurately gauge how much Obamacare would animate voters more than a year later. The website got fixed. Millions of people signed up. And now some states are reporting that 2015 premiums -- one of Republicans' last hopes for an attack line before November -- are going down. The attack lines are disappearing.

The GOP forgot one very important thing - people still need healthcare coverage. And the main focus of the ACA, which was to get MORE people covered, has been a rousing success.

John Kline, Michele Bachmann, and Erik Paulsen have always been part of the "repeal" block in Congress. Well, you don't hear much of that talk lately - and it might be time to hold them accountable for wasting so much time on 50 repeal votes in Congress. Especially when they have DONE NOTHING ELSE.

The politics of Obamacare were never as good for Republicans as they said or necessarily as bad as some Democrats seemed to fear.

The horrible website problems encouraged Republicans to continue their relentless attacks, but now that the essence of the law has been meeting its true goals, the Republican strategy on Obamacare is a dismal failure.

If the GOP had worked on the fixes, they could have owned the issue. But Republicans are too focused on scorched earth strategy and never on actually doing what the American people want or need.

The description of the Republican Party is still the "party of obstruction". At some point, there will be a price to be paid.
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