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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Houston Tramples Individual Rights Over Bathrooms

Category: Gay Rights
Posted: 11/04/15 02:04, Edited: 11/04/15 02:11

by Dave Mindeman

One of the more disappointing election night results for Nov 3rd was the defeat and recall of a city ordinance which protected gay and transgender rights in housing, employment, city contracting and business services. This type of legislation has passed in other cities without a huge amount of controversy, but in Houston it received stiff opposition.

And the winning slogan that defeated this ordinance is a little unusual....
No Men in Women's Bathrooms.

Opponents of the measure said that this ordinance would "allow men claiming to be women to enter women's bathrooms and inflict harm."

Wow. Just wow.

I am not sure if I am missing something regarding public bathrooms but there doesn't seem to be any "secret key" that is gender exclusive. I remember being in a hurry in an airport and running into a bathroom without paying attention and when I didn't see any urinals, I knew I was in the wrong place. Fortunately, no one was in the bathroom at the time and my quick exit was not noticed. I also remember going into a gas station to use a bathroom and found the men's room locked. The clerk at the counter noticed my attempt at entry and pointed out..."the ladies room is open...go ahead." So I did. I never considered the idea that I could be in violation of some city ordinance.

I guess my point is that if men enter a woman's bathroom what is stopping them exactly? And if they intend to "inflict harm" is their a higher level of "harm" if it happens in the wrong gender bathroom?

The Lt. Governor of Texas was jubilant at the victory....

"It was about protecting our grandmoms, and our mothers and our wives and our sisters and our daughters and our granddaughters," Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a Republican, told cheering opponents who gathered at an election night party at a Houston hotel. "I'm glad Houston led tonight to end this constant political-correctness attack on what we know in our heart and our gut as Americans is not right."

So this was a "protecting our women" crusade I guess.

I'm not sure where the idea of protecting employment rights and housing rights got lost in this particular election. Obviously the fear mongering tactic worked and kept the "sanctity of the women's bathroom" safe for the womenfolk. But the idea that simple rights of protection in such basic areas of life can be upended by a bathroom campaign gives us some idea how little those rights mean in Texas - at least how little they mean for "certain people".

All I can say is that it is disappointing to see the great progress that has been made over the last few years, stymied by such foolishness.

If you really want to do something for women's bathrooms that is really productive....make them bigger with more stalls.
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"Make No Law Respecting An Establishment Of Religion"

Category: Gay Rights
Posted: 09/02/15 04:07

by Dave Mindeman

We are hearing a lot about the First Amendment these days...

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...

The conservative right has made a big deal about the "free exercise" of a personal religious belief.

But they tend to ignore the more important aspect..."make no law respecting an establishment of religion".

In the case of the Kentucky clerk who is denying marriage applications to gay couples, we have a violation of that First Amendment clause.

The clerk represents the State of Kentucky. She has established that her religious belief takes precedence over anyone who seeks out her government services.

She has established her religion as the law of that county.

She has lost in court...all the way up to the Supreme Court. And since she has violated the First Amendment, she needs to be fired. Held in contempt. And if it were me, she would be sent to jail.

You do not get to "exercise" your personal religious beliefs if you hold a government job. You just don't. You are expected to expedite the standing legal regulations which your job espouses.

And the fact that other Kentucky officials are allowing this "exercise" means that they should be held in contempt as well. This isn't about God's law...take that to your church. If your job is to work for the government, then you don't get to interpret the laws as you see fit.

You just get to do the job, period.

This lady's 15 minutes of fame are now up.
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Maybe It's Not About Religion, But The Pursuit Of Happiness

Category: Gay Rights
Posted: 07/01/15 14:11

by Dave Mindeman

People who disagree with the Supreme Court on the Same Sex Marriage issue are quick to hide behind the religious freedom amendment - and of course "God's Law".

Here is the problem I have always had with that. You may think that same sex marriage is wrong, but that doesn't give you any basis for denying rights.

Like it or not, marriage does not have the same definition that everyone seems to attribute to the Bible. Over the years, marriage has evolved from a simple spiritual union to a legal contract.

We have placed too many secular constructs into marriage to point to this as a spiritual, religious union anymore.

Marriage is a contract for property rights....for child custody....for inheritance... for health care...and the list goes on. To deny a person a marriage contract in today's society is to deny them legal rights and privileges that we assume should be available for everyone.

So, if you think that same-sex marriage is a religious violation then you really do have to redefine marriage in our materialistic society - it has been defined well beyond Bible definitions and is now a secular and legal contract which is ingrained into our materialistic society. Don't blame same-sex couples for needing to participate in marriage - it is necessary to have a marriage contract because too many legal frameworks have been entangled around "simple" marriage.

We conveniently redefined divorce. The Bible says it is wrong - we seem to have defined "exceptions". The Catholic Church fabricated "annulments". The rest of the religious community simply shrugged their shoulders.

People have religious objections to a lot of things. People who have an objection to war can be a conscientious objector. People who have an objection to capital punishment can move to a state that does not allow it.

But in the case of same sex marriage, your religious objection to it is worth noting, but it has little to do with you personally. Your religion would seem to require that YOU do not have a same sex marriage. If other people decide to do it, that should be for your God to judge (if you truly believe judgment is warranted) - not YOU.

I know that people who object to gay marriage make a big deal about a wedding cake caterer being "forced" to bake a cake for a gay wedding. Well, first of all it is just a cake. Second of all, your objection to a gay wedding and refusal to bake the cake is not going to stop it. Nor are you required to participate other than making sure the cake is there. I don't see anyone refusing to bake any cakes for two divorced people having a second marriage. Third, I doubt that any gay couple is going to "force" you to bake that cake if you are uncomfortable. Yes, if you get belligerent about it, there may be a legal confrontation, but 99% of the time, a couple getting married doesn't want their happiest of days tainted with a sour note. And over time, I would guess that this will be less and less of a problem as weddings lose the extra terminology that tries to define the participants.

Time will heal this issue. And although there will be a lot of hellfire rhetoric on the subject for the foreseeable future, the time will definitely come when we will actually wonder what all the fuss was about.

Our young people know this already. It is their future, not ours. So let's move beyond this and let everyone have the opportunity to be happy.

After all, that's what the Declaration of Independence noted as one of our unalienable rights - the pursuit of happiness.

Let's allow everyone to have that "pursuit" on an equal basis....OK?
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