Ask yourself this question: Why should it be necessary in the United States, a developed Western nation, a nation where people are educated and claim to be good, caring people … why should it be necessary for states to legislate fairness? Why should a state have to make laws that say, “you cannot refuse to rent a house, or to employ a person simply because they are African-American, or because they are gay”? Why do we have to do that? Aren’t some things just common sense? Why do you care if the person working in your factory is gay or straight? They aren’t hitting on you, for Pete’s Sake!!!
Sorry for the rant, but this one galls me to no end. We learned from the Civil Rights era of the 1950s – 1960s, didn’t we? Didn’t we learn that all different sorts of people make the world more interesting? Didn’t we learn that a woman can be just as good a lawyer as a man? And now, haven’t we learned that gay people are just as nice, just as caring, just as clean, honest and hard-working as straight people are?
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed two bills into law last Friday which seek to protect LGBTQ New Yorkers from discrimination and abuse. The first new law, known as the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) codifies a 2015 executive order banning discrimination on the basis of gender identity. Under GENDA, New York businesses may not discriminate against transgender or non-binary New Yorkers in employment, housing, education, or public spaces.
The second new law bans so-called “ex-gay” conversion therapy, a discredited form of treatment which purports to turn people with same-sex attractions away from those desires. According to the American Psychiatric Association, “the potential risks of ‘reparative therapy’ are great, including depression, anxiety, and self-destructive behavior.”
My hat is off to the New York State Legislature and to Governor Cuomo for these two laws. But I still ask … WHY do we need these? Why are some people, especially, it would seem, religious groups, determined to either condemn or change gay people??? And why on earth would anyone in their right mind subject either themselves or a loved one to a psychiatric treatment that is known to cause terrible emotional problems??? But wait … you haven’t heard the worst of it yet. Consider this single sentence from ThinkProgress …
Yet, while both new laws are undoubtedly victories for LGBTQ rights, it remains to be seen whether either law will have staying power in the face of a Supreme Court that is increasingly hostile to civil rights claims brought by non-conservatives.
WHY??? Why does it matter whether claims are brought by conservatives, moderates or liberals? WHY should civil rights be disavowed? Is it the intent of the conservative thinkers on the Supreme Court to walk back civil rights reform all the way to the days of segregated bathrooms, water fountains, schools and buses? The Supreme Court is supposed to uphold the U.S. Constitution, not the doctrine of the Republican Party or the religious right!
Members of religious groups have 1st Amendment rights, the same as anybody else. What they do NOT have is the right to impose their will on the rest of the nation! What they do NOT have is the right to discriminate against an entire group of people with whom they disagree, or who they simply do not like! And the United States Supreme Court is supposed to judge fairly what is right for the entire nation, not for only white Christians!
I certainly hope that the New York laws can withstand the bigotry that now resides in the highest court in the nation. Meanwhile, speaking of the Supreme Court, four conservative members of the Supreme Court joined an opinion calling for an expansion of the rights of religious conservatives to defy laws they disagree with — and a fifth justice, Chief Justice John Roberts, appears broadly sympathetic to this agenda.
One of the Christian right’s top policy priorities is to effectively create two different codes of law in the United States. The first code, which applies to people who do not hold conservative religious views, is rigid and unmoving. The second code, which would apply primarily to Christian-identified conservatives, contains broad exceptions for people who hold the “right” religious beliefs.
The endgame is a world where Christian conservatives can treat much of the law as optional, giving conservative Christians broad immunity from the rules that govern all other Americans. For example, these groups want to have the legal authority to deny housing or employment to members of the LGBTQ community but would be up in arms if it were suggested that, say, a Jew could deny housing or employment to them on the grounds they are conservative Christians. That’s the biggest load of you-know-what (see above picture) I have heard, but what’s worse is that, as was the case in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the Supreme Court upheld the discriminatory acts!
The executive and legislative branches of our government are already compromised by power, greed and corruption. If the judicial branch goes the same way, as it appears they are prepared to do, this nation can no longer possibly be called the United States of Anything. As my wonderful late mother-in-law used to say, “Folks is folks … some are good, some aren’t … but in the end, we’re all just folks”. Think about it.