Sunday, April 28, 2013

Homophobia's Next Frontier: Laws Banning LGBT Rights Ordinances

Joe.My.God alerts us to a disturbing development in Louisiana to enshrine the current status quo of the lack of sexual orientation-based civil rights in state law by limiting access to judicial redress.

Local station KTBS reports on HB 402, a bill introduced by Republican state legislator Alan Seabaugh, that would implicitly discriminate against LGBT people:
HB 402 would throw out and consider frivolous any suits filed for employment discrimination for reasons other than those already covered by the state: age, disability, race, color, religion, sex, national origin, pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions, sickle cell trait, and genetic discrimination.
Sexual orientation and gender identity are not on list.
Bill opponents say the passage of HB 402 could force LGBT workers to pay damages and court costs to their employer when their cases are dismissed, even though federal law allows transgender citizens to file workplace discrimination lawsuits.
It turns out this idea is not just limited to Louisiana, but is also in Washington state. Republican State Legislator Sharon Brown introduced SB 5927 which would accomplish the same task as Louisiana's HB 402: allow the public to discriminate against LGBT people without any legal ramifications to the heterosexual supremacists. Brown insists that her bill is about religious freedom, but the text of the bill implicitly discriminates against LGBT people:
Nothing in this section may burden a person or religious organization’s freedom of religion including, but not limited to,the right of an individual or entity to deny services if providing those goods or services would be contrary to the individual’s or entity owner’s sincerely held religious beliefs, philosophical beliefs, or matters of conscience. This subsection does not apply to the denial of services to individuals recognized as a protected class under federal law applicable to the state as of the effective date of this section. The right to act or refuse to act in a manner motivated by a sincerely held religious belief, philosophical belief, or matter of conscience may not be burdened unless the government proves that it has a compelling governmental interest in infringing the specific act or refusal to act and has used the least restrictive means to further that interest.
These are just two skirmishes in the upcoming (and ongoing) war on LGBT equality conducted by religious extremists and heterosexual supremacists who are trying to make the argument that "sincerely held religious belief" should allow purveyors of goods and services to the general public should be exempt from standard anti-discrimination public policy and be allowed to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

The primary problem with this argument is that if it is agreed to then it means that basically the principle behind all civil rights legislation are null and void. Why not use "sincerely held religious beliefs" to allow people to refuse service to people at lunch corners? The country has already had this debate and rejected it 50 years ago.

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