Peter G (sinetimore) wrote,
Peter G
sinetimore

RFRA: The Letter Of The Law

Maybe I should have taken longer to come back.

For those who came in late:  Indiana has never been known for its intelligence.  They trumpet Hoosier Hospitality while defending the bullying of Bobby Knight.  They tried to legislate the value of Pi to one of nine different numbers depending on circumstances, none of which was 3.14159265....  They can't even decide which goddamn time zone they are in.  And to the genetic donors that created John Cougar Mellencamp, I hope God has mercy on your souls.

And now, RFRA.  This has been causing problems because it enfranchises discrimination by Christians (mark my words -- the first time a Muslim denies service to a Christian infidel or some sarcastic Atheist trolls Christians with it, it will be rewritten or repealed so fast, it'll make your head spin).  And all the people defending it are saying one of two arguments.  Either:

1)  There are similiar laws around the country right now, and they aren't being used for discrimination.  In fact, your precious Illinois has an analog of RFRA.  So does Texas, which is chock full of bigots, and nothing is happening in either of those places.

2)  It is just a defensive measure for religious beliefs, it won't be used for discrimination.

I am going to address both of these points in order.

1)  Yes, Illinois has something like RFRA.  However, it also has explicitly added gays to its code of civil rights, which trumps the religious freedom declaration.  The system as it stands will not allow religious freedom to enable discrimination.  Same with Texas.  Their version of RFRA was passed in 1999 under George H.W. Bush Jr. just before the presidential elections.  Shrub made sure the law included a provision that forbade its use to discriminate on religious grounds.  The reason they aren't used as a bludgeon against gays is the laws are written in a way to prevent it.

2)  There's an old Polish proverb that says, "A wolf remains a wolf, even if he has not eaten your sheep."  If you want proof that people will use religion if they can, look no further than Richard and Mildred Loving.  The Lovings were a white man and a black woman from Virginia who wanted to get married.  But interracial marriage was illegal back then, as well as interracial sex.  In 1958, they left Virigina to get married.  Shortly after their return, police raided their house hoping to find them having sex and bust them.  Catching them in bed, the marriage certificate they hung on their wall became evidence against them.  In 1959, they pleaded guilty, getting one year in prison each, which would be suspended if they left the state of Virginia and never set foot in it again.  The ruling stood until the ACLU took it on in 1964 and scored a victory in 1967.

"What does that have to do with anything?" you ask.  Here is what the state trial judge at their sentencing in 1959 had to say -- "Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents...The fact taht he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix."  (Anyone familiar with the histories of the twelve tribes of Isreal is laughing their asses off at this.)

"But that's 1959!  That's before the Civil Rights Movement!  Things changed!"  No, they didn't.  Maurice Bessinger owned a chain of barbecue restaraunts called Piggie Park, and he firmly believed that he was within his religious rights to deny service to any non-whites.  This went all the way to the US Supreme Court, who shot his claims down as "patently frivolous."  Until the day he died in 2014, he maintained segregation and discrimination were simply doing the Lord's work.

If you can read that and not think others in Indiana will do the same with gays, then you're stupid.  Plain and simple.

Now, Gov. Pence is saying he should have been clearer and is seeking to add to the bill to better explain its intent.  After spending all that time and energy saying he didn't need to, and saying in one interview that he really didn't care about equal rights for gays.  Saying is one thing, doing is another.  The backlash continues to grow, even within the state, as Indianapolis held a press conference today with the mayor and community leaders stating they not only welcome everyone, but are working on local ordinances to protect the civil rights of gays in defiance of the state lege.

If people won't abuse laws, why are there disclaimers on everything from hot drinks to diapers?
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