The Washington State Supreme Court ruled unanimously that a florist who denied services to a same-sex couple cannot claim a religious exemption. The religious objection idea often cited by conservatives is revealed for what it really is: thinly veiled bigotry.
Who cares about some flowers? Aren’t there other florists? According to the court ruling, the case here “is no more about access to flowers than civil rights cases in the 1960s were about access to sandwiches.”
“Public accommodations laws do not simply guarantee access to goods or services, Instead, they serve a broader societal purpose: eradicating barriers to the equal treatment of all citizens.”
There was a great deal more in the arguments about the nature of art, morality, and the right to protest. But the message was clear: Like race and religion, sexual orientation is a protected category.
Some staffers at the White House are clearly unhappy with their new President. Transcripts of his messy calls with the Prime Minister of Australia and the President of Mexico were made public. But the leak that really concerns us here is one expanding religious “rights” to discriminate. From The Nation:
It sets forth an exceptionally expansive definition of “religious exercise” that extends to “any act or refusal to act that is motivated by a sincerely held religious belief, whether or not the act is required or compelled by, or central to, a system of religious belief.” “It’s very sweeping,” said Ira Lupu, a professor emeritus at the George Washington University Law School and an expert on the Constitution’s religion clauses and on the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). “It raises a big question about whether the Constitution or the RFRA authorizes the president to grant religious freedom in such a broad way.”
Lupu added that the language of the draft “might invite federal employees,” for example, at the Social Security Administration or Veterans Administration, “to refuse on religious grounds to process applications or respond to questions from those whose benefits depend on same sex marriages.” If other employees do not “fill the gap,” he said, it could “lead to a situation where marriage equality was being de facto undermined by federal employees, especially in religiously conservative communities,” contrary to Supreme Court rulings.
Notice how broadly phrased it is too: “any act or refusal to act”. ANY ACT. Hopefully nothing like this draft is ever enacted. President Trump has said he intends to keep federal LGBT protections in place.
This is why the Illegal Wedding Fair has returned. One of the very first things to happen under President Trump is that the LGBT rights page, global warming, and all Spanish language pages were removed from the White House official website.
In the first few days of the Trump administration, whitehouse.gov lost its Spanish pages and content about civil rights, LGBT rights, global warming and regulations — while adding a new statement about America’s “dangerous anti-police atmosphere.”
It is not usual for a new President to wipe the webpages of his predecessor. President Obama and President Bush both tailored the White House page to their own administrations; their versions of the site are now archived.
But the swiftness and specificity of the Trump changes show a radical overhaul of the website to align with some of President Trump’s most controversial policy priorities.
If there is a ray of sunshine in the recent election, it is that Governor Pat McCrory of North Carolina has lost the position to the Democratic challenger, Roy Cooper. While the race was very close, McCrory conceded today.
Obviously, McCrory was controversial because of his bigoted ideas and the famous HB2 trans-gendered bathroom bill. He stood behind the bill, despite widespread national disapproval and ridicule.
While Trump did win the state of North Carolina, the controversial bathroom law cost the state an estimate $400 million in lost business. Companies like PayPal and Deutsche Bank cancelled expansions, costing the state more than 1,000 jobs. Rockstars, like Bruce Springsteen cancelled concerts. Hopefully, the new governor can get the law repealed, especially in the face of the possible loss of $5 billion a year in federal education money. It looks like voters in in NC could at least feel it in their wallets if they couldn’t feel it in their hearts.
We got soft. We thought it was all going to be easier from here on out. Because, you know, it gets better, right?
Recent events in American politics has led us to realize that this might not always be a straight (ha!) road. Sometimes there are going to be hills and challenges. Sometimes it might get worse for a while, but just for a little while. So we’re back. Some states might need an illegal wedding fair again. We hope not. We hope this is just a blip on the radar, and our fears are completely unfounded.
In the meanwhile just remember, marriage, love and weddings are for everyone. Let’s dance!