Monday, April 17, 2017

Does 'religious liberty' include anti-lgbt harassment?

Could religious liberty laws allow clerks to verbally upbraid gays couples seeking marriage licenses?

From The New Civil Rights Movement (NCRM) comes news of a lawsuit which poses questions the lgbtq community should ask about potential "religious liberty" laws. Would these laws also give marriage clerks the right to verbally upbraid gays and lesbians seeking licenses under the guise of  "personally held religious beliefs?"

Amanda Abramovich and Samantha Brookover originally tried to marry in 2014, after their home state of West Virginia legalized same-sex marriage. At the time, the couple, high school sweethearts together now over six years, were denied a license in Gilmer County by a clerk who told them that they each needed an in-county driver's license in order to get a marriage license.

In February of 2016, seven months after the Obergefell decision that made same-sex marriage legal across the U.S., the couple applied for their marriage license a second time. According to a new lawsuit from Americans United, a religious freedom watchdog group, the couple was harassed over their marriage application.

County Deputy Clerk Debbie Allen allegedly harassed them for several minutes, calling their relationship an “abomination” and citing her religion as a reason for her objection to the couple. Another clerk allegedly joined in, calling the abuse Allen’s "religious right." Brookover’s mother called the office of County Clerk Jean Butcher to report the incident, but Butcher allegedly stood behind the actions of the deputy clerks.

"Allen launched into a tirade of harassment and disparagement. She slammed her paperwork down on her desk, screaming that the couple was an 'abomination' to God and that God would 'deal' with them," court documents claim. "Samantha was brought to tears.

According to The NCRM, Abramovich and Brookover  received their license but will be suing with the help of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. No doubt if anti-lgbt organizations get hold of this case, they will attempt to spin it into one of free speech. Granted, I don't think that such an argument is plausible but obeying rule of plausibility has never been the religious right's strong suit.

New York Times exposes, buries 'The LGBT Trump Fallacy'

This tweet was the biggest lip service since the movie 'Deep Throat.'

Just in case there are some "folks" out there who still think that Donald Trump will be an ally for the lgbt community (and unfortunately there are), The New York Times just published a wonderful opinion on the matter which itemizes the ways Trump has done us dirty since taking office. Part of it is as follows:

. . .the nomination of several key officials, who have disparaged the L.G.B.T. community and sought to curtail the rights of its members, has exposed the narrative that Mr. Trump would be a champion of gay and transgender people as a fallacy. “It has been a catastrophe,” said Mara Keisling, the executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality and a leading strategist behind a string of legal and policy victories the community achieved during the Obama administration. “Every twitch we’ve seen from the administration has been anti-L.G.B.T.” 
At the Department of Justice, where former Attorney General Loretta Lynch last year delivered an impassioned speech telling transgender Americans, “We see you; we stand with you,” her successor, Jeff Sessions, wasted no time reversing course. The Justice Department in February withdrew guidance issued to schools on the treatment of transgender students, signaling that it would no longer consider their rights to be protected under a 1972 civil rights law. 
The Department of Health and Human Services, which worked to expand access to health care for gay and transgender Americans, is now being led by Tom Price, who was a vocal opponent of gay rights as a congressman. The agency’s civil rights office, which oversaw regulatory changes that made it easier for transgender people to get insurance coverage for medical care, is now run by Roger Severino, an ultraconservative activist who last year accused the Obama administration of attempting to “coerce everyone, including children, into pledging allegiance to a radical new gender ideology.”