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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

A New Front In The Church vs. State Political Wars

Category: Gay Rights
Posted: 07/03/14 00:21

by Dave Mindeman

The Supreme Court has clearly stepped in it with the Hobby Lobby ruling. And, in some respects, the "Fab Five" Justices know it because they made a half hearted attempt at leveling off the slippery slope.

Justice Alito's majority opinion tried to define arbitrary lines such as the ruling's application to only "closely held corporations"....

Has more than 50% of the value of its outstanding stock owned (directly or indirectly) by 5 or fewer individuals at any time during the last half of the tax year; and is not a personal service corporation.

Which is the vast majority of corporations, of course, but it still is a rule that the court felt obligated to define.

But the real dangerous element comes from this (again Alito)....

This decision concerns only the contraceptive mandate and should not be understood to hold that all insurance-coverage mandates, e.g., for vaccinations or blood transfusions, must necessarily fall if they conflict with an employer's religious beliefs. Nor does it provide a shield for employers who might cloak illegal discrimination as a religious practice.

Let's focus on that last line. "Illegal discrimination as a religious practice." This, at least has the appearance, of the court warning about using religious freedoms as a method for discriminatory hiring practices. They are trying to say - do not do that.

And for "protected" classes, this is true. But guess what....

As Jonathan Capehart points out:

After all, sexual orientation is not a protected class or characteristic like race is under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Nor was it unwise to fear that employers would try to deny LGBT workers coverage for, say, HIV medication or hormone replacement therapy for transgender men and women.

Discrimination is a problem in this country and all too often its root cause comes from religion.

Freedom of religion applies to individuals. Individuals can practice their religion and for the most part not harm others. But the Supreme Court classifies corporations as "persons", although Ruth Bader Ginsburg points out, in her brilliant dissent, they are legal constructs - not people.

Giving a corporation a religious freedom protection is a bridge that the Supreme Court should not have crossed. But they have and the discrimination that stems from religion now has a new door opening up.

A new front in the religious/political morass will be wafting its way through the court system.

The LGBT community may have a new war to fight....and we can thank the Supreme Court for adding its blessing to the conflict.
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Marriage Equality: In A Few Years It Will Be What Were We Doing?

Category: Gay Rights
Posted: 05/24/14 12:15, Edited: 05/24/14 12:16

by Dave Mindeman

The wave of court rulings that strike down state gay marriage bans has put the social conservatives into a tight box. Pennsyvania's Governor Corbett has stated that he will not appeal the court ruling that struck down that state's ban - effectively making gay marriage legal in Pennsylvania.

The political rhetoric has shifted on gay marriage and the social conservatives are left standing by themselves. They still have token GOP support, but it has reached the lukewarm stage.

Minnesota legalized same sex marriage a year ago and what has really changed? Gay couples are happy. Opponents of same sex marriage are still unhappy. But there have been no problems with marriage itself. Heterosexual couples noticed no differences. Churches are not forced into doing something they do not want to do. The sky did not fall.

The Republican Party took the wrong side. They left their "freedom" principle on the shelf and sided with discrimination. They still give lip service to the anti crowd, but only in very select venues. As a public topic, the tone is more tempered or does not exist.

The idea that we should deny marriage rights to a select group of individuals was a fool's errand. It could not stand up to the test of full public scrutiny. The courts see it clearly and the public is shifting rapidly. Even in the Republican Party itself there is an unmistakable statistic that portends the future:

...among 18- to 29-year-old GOP voters, 61 percent support letting gays and lesbians marry, according to a March 2014 Pew poll.

A few years from now we will look back on this part of political history and wonder how there could have been so much contention on this issue. The answer to that continues to be the determination of some to mix morality and public policy. Religious values are personal and will be respected if kept personal. Imposing your own values on others has no place in a democratic society.
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A Bit of Hoopla Followed By Life As It Should Be

Category: Gay Rights
Posted: 08/01/13 19:49, Edited: 08/01/13 19:51

by Dave Mindeman

There were a lot of very happy people in Minnesota yesterday. Marriages that were a long time coming, finally happened.

I know there was a lot of publicity and news coverage because of the change in Minnesota law.

But maybe now we can get back to the real idea of marriage. The celebration of two people with their families. No newspaper coverage but a lifetime of memories for those involved. That is a wedding.

Which is the reason I cannot fathom why the Minnesota Family Council and the misnamed, Minnesotans for Marriage, will continue to battle against same-sex marriage.

For what purpose?

I am certainly aware that a significant portion of Minnesota, especially rural Minnesota, do not like the idea of gay couples getting married. A lot of it is religious....some of it derives from it being different.

The bottom line is nobody is expecting people to alter their religious views. Your opinion doesn't have to change. But why stop two persons happiness because you are unwilling to accept something different?

Where does that fit into the scheme of importance? It is certainly not a matter of national security. Wouldn't seem to be interfering in other people's lives. No one is getting hurt. No one is going hungry. No one is losing property. No one is suffering financially (except for the spouses - weddings are pretty expensive....).

The only thing happening here, in reality, is that two people who love each other are making that love a committment.

Why would anyone object to that? In this age of divorces and spousal abuse and custody fights.....why in the world would we be upset that a loving relationship gets affirmed?

I understand the hoopla surrounding August 1st. The attention and coverage is well deserved. But I think the best part of all this is how future weddings will just become part of the normal fabric of our lives. A bit of joy for the couple involved....and life and contentment as usual for the rest of us.

Congratulations to all of you.
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