Archive for category Liberal
Are conservative Christians harmed by compliance with nondiscrimination laws? It’s a more complex question than it appears at first blush.
I’m glad I don’t have to adjudicate any of these cases. Like people who want to ban books, conservative Christians who raise objections to non-discrimination laws as they apply to glbt persons are acting from a place of good intent, even if I disagree with their conclusions. Book banners want to protect children from ideas they believe children aren’t ready to deal with; conservative Christians who object to complying with nondiscrimination laws on the basis of religious freedom perceive themselves as the aggrieved party being asked to violate their conscience.
US law has long recognized the right of individuals to request exemptions from certain laws and practices based on questions of conscience and religious faith. As I understand it, Quakers are not exempt military service, they are however exempt from participating as combatants. A number of years ago, I helped a friend draft a statment requesting status as a conscientious objector and be granted exemption from combat duty (he was a veteran and member of the reserves at the time). His statement was lengthy, thoughtful and carefully written; he was granted conscientious objector status and ultimately was not recalled to active duty.
US law has, also, long recognzied the right of individuals to be free from discrimination in the public square, which includes small businesses which are public accommodations. Businesses are public accommodations, which means they are subject to generally applicable laws and those signs that many small businesses post that read “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone” should have a huge asterisk that qualifies that statement. You can’t legally refuse to serve someone because of their race, gender, religion, national origin and so on. Increasingly, that list includes real or perceived sexual orientation. To put it in simple terms, business owners have to make business decisions for business reasons not from animus toward a group of persons.
As more US cities, counties and states adopt nondiscrimination laws covering sexual and gender minorities, and as more states legalize same-sex marriage, I believe there are going to be more cases like that of Elane Photography and Masterpiece Cakeshop, in which small business owners seek exemption from nondiscrimination laws on the basis of religious objections.
What happened in these cases is instructive. Read the rest of this entry »
The case of the Masterpiece Bakery in Colorado is one of a number of cases in which small business owners refuse to do business with gay couples on the basis of the owner’s religious objections to gay people doing things like getting married and forming long term commitments to one another.
Friday’s order from administrative law judge Robert N. Spencer says Masterpiece Cakeshop in suburban Denver will face fines if it continues to turn away gay couples who want to buy cakes for their wedding celebrations.
It started out simply enough:
In July of 2012, the Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado refused to sell a wedding cake to a same-sex couple who were planning to celebrate with friends and family the marriage they had received in Massachusetts. The couple, Dave Mullins and Charlie Craig, filed a complaint, and the Colorado Attorney General proceeded to do the same, and Friday, Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Robert Spencer ruled against Jack Phillips, the owner of the bakery.
The ACLU’s argument is very straightforward:
“While we all agree that religious freedom is important, no one’s religious beliefs make it acceptable to break the law by discriminating against prospective customers,” said Amanda C. Goad, staff attorney with the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project. “No one is asking Masterpiece’s owner to change his beliefs, but treating gay people differently because of who they are is discrimination plain and simple.”
In these cases, the courts, businesses and individuals are struggling to distinguish between religious and commercial activity.
At Americablog, Becca Morn documents the ways in which the American religious right is aiding and abetting the spread of anti-gay attitudes around the world. The strategy is one with which American activists are familiar – create and publish a scientifically questionable study, but market it as scientifically valid (or just distort legitimate research), spread it far and wide and sit back and wait. Read the rest of this entry »
The Religious Right isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Since the Prop 8 and DOMA decisions, right wing commentators have gone in two distinct directions – some commentators have doubled down on their anti-gay rhetoric, while other commentators have plead for “tolerance” for their views about marriage. That second group is essentially asking for detente – “you won so be nice to us.”
Is detente between the gay community and the religious right even possible?
Politicians are always trying to tug at our heart strings by bringing children or handicapped people into the discussion. Today, we are supposed to believe that congresspeople have to spend their entire time in congress getting money to “win” their next term, so they can help the children and the handicapped people.
Actually, that is old stuff. Today, politicians seem to think the best way to woo us is to break unions, take away governmental programs that help children, handicapped people, seniors, and the poor.
I’m not that great a writer, but I can refer you to someone who is.
This piece reminded me of a video I saw on YouTube which proves things could possibly change VERY SLOWLY over generations:
Are we that generation?
I was an enthusiastic Cub Scout but at best a indifferent Boy Scout. I lost interest in scouting after a campout that was a well-intentioned mismanaged fiasco from beginning to end.
BSA have been living in a difficult place for years. They clearly sees themselves as a mainstream organization, modernizing and responding to contemporary society while transmitting time honored values and experiences. They strive to achieve racial and ethnic diversity. The organization updates and adds to its list of possible merit badges to represent changing societal awareness and standards, as for example badges in environmental science, disabilities awareness and game design. At the same time, many of the most fervent supporters of scouting are religious conservatives who perceive the organization as a bulwark of traditional values defending against a rising tide of valueless modernity. The organization’s struggle exemplifies the struggle in American culture. Read the rest of this entry »
Stories like this give me hope. Whenever people can fight the oil guys with a funny joke we all come out ahead. Jokes about green jobs wouldn’t fly, and besides, if green energy got the kind of subsidies as big oil, we could train the oil workers to make future energy resources that would protect their children.
Let’s face it; even the – sort of – big oil guy’s children will benefit from clear air, water, and fire-free faucets.
Did somebody from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service division actually say:
“Any time anybody uses Smokey’s image for anything other than wildfire prevention,” said Helene Cleveland, fire prevention program manager for the Forest Service, “it confuses the public. What we’re trying to do is keep Smokey on message.” Cleveland added that the 1952 Smokey the Bear Act takes the character out of the public domain and “any change in that would have to go through Congress.”
Since I was BORN in 1952, I can’t remember the “Smokey the Bear Act”, but I’ll just bet you that Helene Cleveland got a little call from the now-oily “Ad Council” to make that statement, but, then again, we’re now living in the 21st century.
Also, since I was born in 1952, I can remember the great ad the “Ad Council” made which featured an American Indian shedding tears over what consumerism had already done to his land. That was before the ridiculous “this is your brain on drugs” ad came out.
What happened, “Ad Council”?
On December 19, 2008, in a courageous act of civil disobedience, Tim DeChristopher protested an oil and gas lease auction of 116 parcels of public land in Utah’s red rock country, conducted by the Bureau of Land Management. DeChristopher decided to participate in the auction, signing a bidder registration Form and placing bids to obtain 14 parcels of land (totaling 22,500 acres) for $1.8 million. DeChristopher was removed from the auction by federal agents, taken into custody, and questioned.
The auction was later declared illegal by incoming Obama Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar.
Nonetheless, DeChristopher was aggressively persecuted by George W. Bush-appointed federal prosecutors a judge who’s tenure included Chief of Staff for Senator Orrin Hatch. DeChristopher courageously refused all plea offers to avoid jail time. On July 26, 2011, Judge Dee Benson sentenced DeChristopher to two years in prison;
Peaceful Uprising is organizing a screening of Bidder70 in Salt Lake City: the first that Tim will be able to attend since the movie premiered last year! In conjunction with this event, the filmmakers (Beth & George Gage) have partnered with a film distributor, Gathr Films, to organize countrywide simultaneous theatrical screenings.
An hour-long post-screening discussion and Q&A with Tim will be streamed so that everyone, no matter where they are watching, will be able to participate: by watching and/or sending questions via Twitter. It wouldn’t be a true PeaceUp celebration without song, which is why we’ve invited our dear friend Bryan Cahall (whose song Arise you will recognize in the movie) to join in a jam session as well.
Here’s what you can do:
1. Sign up to host your own local screening of Bidder 70: http://
2. Join PeaceUp in helping Gathr spread the word, by inviting your friends to their Facebook event, sharing it via the Twitter webs and updating your Facebook status:https://www.facebook.com/
3. Contribute to Bidder70?s IndieGoGo Distribution campaign (http://www.indiegogo.com/
4. Come to Salt Lake City. Details about our SLC Screening can be found by clicking HERE.
Melissa Harris-Perry wrote an insightful letter to Antonin Scalia in response to his comment that voting is a racial entitlement. Seriously, read the whole thing, but a couple highlights:
Commenting on Congress’s nearly unanimous re-authorization of the Voting Rights Act in 2006, you said, “I don’t think that’s attributable to the fact that it is so much clearer now that we need this. I think it is attributable, very likely attributable, to a phenomenon that is called perpetuation of racial entitlement.”
You went on to say, “I am fairly confident it will be re-enacted in perpetuity…unless a court can say it does not comport with the Constitution…It’s a concern that this is not the kind of a question you can leave to Congress.”
Racial entitlement? Not a question you can leave to Congress? Even for you, Justice Scalia, this is a particularly willful misreading of the Constitution you claim to adore.[snip]
Contrary to what you are suggesting, the Voting Rights Act was no gift given by the government to black people. Its primary purpose was to enforce a right that was already enshrined in the Constitution but had been repeatedly flouted by Southern governments.
I caught some of this on C-Span over the weekend. Nice catch to the folk at Winning Progressive for summarizing Allen’s perspective.
The root of the problem, Allen argues, lies in what the media routinely ignore: those statements made by members of Congress as they declare why they will support this policy or oppose that one.
Allen knew his public statements were straightforward expressions of his reasons. He believed most of his Democratic colleagues also said what they truly believed when they spoke about public issues. But what of Republicans? Time and again he asked his fellow Democrats: “Do they really believe what they say?”
The answer, Allen came to recognize, was “Yes, Republicans really do believe what they say” … even when what they say is demonstrably, empirically false.
Why is that?
Allen argues that Republicans argue from principles, and when facts contradict their principles the facts must be wrong. What’s more, Allen writes, Republicans reject the possibility that Democrats might argue from facts. Instead, Republicans presume that Democrats argue from opposing principles, hence their claims President Obama and Democrats are “socialists” whose response to any problem is “more government” and “less freedom.”
In the past I’ve touched on similar concepts. The problem is a fundamental disconnect in the way the two parties view the world. Republicans for example see government only in terms of bigger and smaller, not in terms of better or more effective.
A key divide is between negative liberty and positive liberty:
In the Republican worldview, “freedom” means only negative liberty: the absence of interference from others. That worldview dismisses positive liberty: the presence of opportunities and resources to fulfill one’s own potential.
John McGowan’s book American Liberalism talks about the idea that government is a necessary agent of freedom – government facilitates greater freedom. The expansion of government doesn’t negate the expansion of freedom. That’s positive liberty; the Republican view is based on the idea that if government passes a new law, we are all less free. Anti-discrimination laws mean people’s freedom has been curtailed. Arguments against the Affordable Care Act’s component on birth control made more sense when seen in this light.
WP is going to be exploring Allen’s view further so watch for updates. Read the whole thing, it’s worth your time.
I’ve highlighted the idea that US politics are driven as much by historical cultural forces as by contemporary ones. Colin Woodward’s eleven nations thesis argues that the US is divided into 11 distinct cultural areas which align themselves in a series of shifting alliances and thus shift and move national political power. Certain longstanding alliances (Yankeedom, the Left Coast and the Midlands on the one hand and the Deep South, Tidewater and Greater Appalachia endured for decades). Woodward summed up his thesis:
The Tea Party agenda may hold sway over large parts of the South and interior West, and with the economy and the president in such a weakened state a Tea Party favorite like Rick Perry could conceivably win the White House. But the movement has no hope of truly dominating the country. Our underlying and deeply fractured political geography guarantees that it will never marshal congressional majorities; indeed, it almost guarantees that the movement will be marginalized, its power and influence on the wane and, over large swaths of the nation, all but extinguished.
Woodard’s argument is that South is not a unified region – it consists of multiple cultural areas that have a long standing tradition of allegiance – Michael Lind’s Chesapeake Bay area is part of the Tidewater region
Tidewater has always been fundamentally conservative, with a high value placed on respect for authority and tradition, and very little on equality or public participation in politics.
Tidewater is a nation in decline as the Midlands have taken over sizable portions of Tidewater (think of Northern Virginia for a good example). Read the rest of this entry »