Monday, December 09, 2013

Why I Get a Nagging Feeling Every Time I Hear the Phrase 'Religious Liberty'

Editor's note - From time to time whenever the opportunity presents itself, I like to repost pieces I published. In light of the discussion regarding those who feel that discrimination against lgbts should be allowed on the grounds of "religious liberty," I am resposting this piece from 2011:

Those who are my friends know that I am a serious fan of the 1970s detective drama Columbo. The thing I really love about this show is how police detective Columbo never considers a murder case completely simple. He never buys into the idea of an "open-and-shut" case if he has a nagging feeling, no matter how insignificant it is.

That nagging feeling is what I get when I hear about marriage clerks, hotel owners, Catholic adoption agencies, and, recently, cake bakers who refuse to serve gay couples. No doubt you have heard about them and will probably hear a lot more as religious right groups trying to hinder marriage equality canonize these folks as "saints and martyrs" besieged by so-called radical gay activists supposedly trying to force them to choose between their livelihood and religious freedom.

In fact, they have a term for this sort of thing. They call it "religious liberty."

There is a certain simplicity to these cases, which garners them a degree of support. Some of these folks (excluding Catholic charities, who have no right to taxpayer money if they discriminate, and marriage clerks, who should put the needs of constituents over their own desires) seems to have a right to serve whomever they wish. And one could even make the case that they are in fact forced to choose between their livelihoods and their "religious liberty."

But then there goes that nagging feeling again. These cases aren't as simple as they are made out to be. What about the rights of couples refused service? No matter how you attempt to soften the blow, the idea that someone will not serve you because of how they inaccurately view you still hurts. It's dehumanizing, it's cruel, and it's embarrassing.

In a recent situation in Iowa, a cake baker scheduled an appointment with a lesbian couple who desired her services, only to use that time to not only tell them "no" but also criticize their sexual orientation.

Then that same cake baker made several news appearances to complain about how she was a victim, backed by several religious right groups spinning the same talking points.

And I haven't even talked about what a message of "I will not serve you" would send to a child in a same-sex family who may be present at the time. Nor have I mentioned the unnecessary inconvenience same-sex couples will have to endure if they live in an area where the so-called religious martyr is the only one who can address their needs.

Then you have to consider just how gay couples will tell who will or won't serve them. How would they be able to tell without the courtesy of signs saying, "We don't serve gays." Of course, if such signs did exist, I'm sure those who put them up wouldn't think that they were being cruel -- just like folks who put up "No Irish Need Apply" signs didn't think they were being cruel.

And then you have to ask yourself just how far the argument of "religious liberty" will go. Today it's hotels and cake shops. Tomorrow it may be restaurants or apartment rentals.

So I almost understand the "religious liberty" argument, but then comes that nagging feeling in the back of my mind that just won't go away, the feeling that "religious liberty" is just another way of saying "allowed discrimination," and that some folks will use the phrase "religious liberty" to deflect attention from the victims of this "allowed discrimination."

Lastly, the thing that bothers me the most is the sad fact that the phrase "religious liberty" has less to do with religion or liberty and more to do with telling gay couples that they are inferior.

Judge: 'Baking cakes is NOT religious conduct' and other Monday midday news briefs

Colorado Judge: Bakery That Refused Wedding Cake To Same-Sex Couple Broke The Law - Even if you already read this awesome post, read it again. "Baking Cakes Is Not Religious Conduct" should be put on a t-shirt. 

The Ruth Institute: Photographing a same-sex marriage like tattooing a swastika - The above ruling will have consequences for other rulings and the anti-gay Ruth Institute is working on an argument against it. It kinda stinks if you ask me.

 Lawyer: Murdering A Transgender Prostitute Not Such A Big Deal - And then the judge went OFF on his trifling ass.  

Our YouTube Page Has Been Restored And Klingenschmitt Has Been Warned To 'Cease And Desist' - Anti-gay activist took on Right Wing Watch and got nailed for his lies.

North Carolina's Myrtle Grove Christian School To Refuse State Money Over Anti-Gay Policy - That's right. You discriminate then you get NO tax dollars.

Reminder - Peter LaBarbera has NO problem knowingly using junk science against lgbts

According to Buzzfeed, anti-gay activist "Porno Pete" LaBarbera was invited to a rally in Jamaica where he encouraged the country to keep its anti-gay law (against "buggery") illegal.

The article said he and another spokesperson at the rally made much use of the discredited claim that homosexuality and pedophilia are connected:

LaBarbera, a longtime activist opposing LGBT rights in America, said he was working on a book on the connection between “homosexual activism and pedophiles.” He said that after winning rights like marriage and protection for gay kids in schools, U.S. activists were now championing the rights of MAPS, or “minor-attracted persons.” “Homosexuals are always on offense,” he said. “It’s another secret that American activists don’t like to tell is that NAMBLA, the North American Man-Boy Love Association, used to march in gay pride parades.” 

If LaBarbera is truly working on a book - rather than boosting his credentials by claiming to be "working on a book" - one could only guess what information he would use to connect homosexuality and pedophilia. Several medical groups, including the American Psychological Association, have proven that the two aren't connected.

However, as the above audio interview from 2010 demonstrates, LaBarbera has been known to not only ignore information that doesn't match his worldview, but also embrace information that backs up his beliefs no matter how discredited the source. In an interview with Concerned Women for America's Martha Kleder, LaBarbera freely admits to using the discredited research of Paul Cameron in order to demonize the lgbt community.

 Cameron is a researcher who has made a name for himself by creating studies designed to demonize the lgbt community.  These studies for the most part have been published in "vanity" or "pay-for-publish" journals and they are not "peer-reviewed" in the normal sense. No "peer" who objects to Cameron's work has the right to remove it from the journal.

He is a major proponent behind many wild arguments such as gays will molest their fellow soldiers in the military, lesbians get into more car accidents, gay men stuff gerbils up their rectums, and - of course - the false link between pedophilia and homosexuality.

He has also been discredited and censured by many group and individuals on the left, the right, and in the middle due to his bad research techniques. Several of his studies have been criticized for such errors as having small sample sizes, showing an anti-gay bias in interviews, and not having enough responses to establish a suitable analysis.

Even Barbera's claim in the interview that another researcher proved Cameron's thesis about children in same-sex households is also incorrect. LaBarbera failed to mention that the researcher, Walter Schumm, used the same bad methodology Cameron used to come to his original thesis.

Of course who needs facts when you are "working for Jesus," right Peter?  LaBarbera obviously doesn't care about stoking the fires of homophobia in a Jamaica, a country where lgbts are viciously attacked and murdered by anti-gay mobs,  so why should he care that the information he uses to stoke those fires is wrong.

If LaBarbera is truly writing a book, then it deserves to be in the fiction section.