Monday, January 07, 2019

Former Justice Dept official calls out deception & bigotry of 'religious liberty' narrative

In a recent posting at The Advocate, former federal attorney and federal prosecutor Michael J. Stern calls out the anti-LGBTQ talking point of "religious liberty."

As many of you know, the phrase 'religious liberty' is the new way the anti-LGBTQ industry pushes discrimination against us. Groups like the Family Research Council or the Alliance Defending Freedom say that "deeply held religious beliefs" should be an excuse for entities to deny members of the LGBTQ community protection against discrimination.  To not allow folks to do so would destroy their businesses and very lives, these groups claim. In pushing that narrative, they have choked the debate with (slightly altered to fit the purpose) stories of bakers, florists, etc who they claim have been the victims of a so-called out of control gay community seeking to "force" them to approve of our lifestyle by asking for their services and suing when denied said services. With these stories, they have controlled the debate. They have also benefited from  propaganda conservative sites and networks like Fox News and the Daily Caller accommodating them with biased interviews and youtube channel interviews (i.e. the Alliance Defending Freedom) with their patsies  clients "telling their stories."

But all of these tactics mean noting to Stern. In his post, he talks about nearly losing his job at the Justice Department over 20 years ago due to the fact that he is gay. Because of this, he has neither the time nor patience to play the game:

Under the thinly veiled guise of “religious liberty,” President Donald Trump’s Justice Department has transformed the First Amendment right to freely observe the religion of one’s choice into the newly created right to openly discriminate. The seeds of this mutation were planted decades ago, but since the Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality in 2015, the GOP has made finding a way to legally discriminate against LGBT people a rallying cry to a base that is hungry to maintain political dominance in the face of an increasingly diverse American electorate.
This recent offensive began with a Kentucky clerk who insisted that issuing a public marriage license to a same-sex couple would defile the institution of marriage. The four-times-married clerk claimed “religious freedom” allowed her to refuse to perform her elected job. In the standoff that ensued, the clerk drew substantial support from Republican politicians, including U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who characterized judicial orders directing the clerk to perform her job as the “criminalization of Christianity.” 
Let’s be clear, white Christians are not at risk of having their religion criminalized or being subjected to wide-spread discrimination in the United States. The irony of such an accusation is particularly galling given that so many who are safely insulated from discrimination want to mainstream raw bigotry as an acceptable form of religious expression. 
Recently, white, Christian, blond Laura Ingraham, the leader of Fox News Channel’s Barbie army, gave us a rare look behind the curtain. Replacing the dog whistle with a bullhorn, Ingraham announced that there has been a “massive demographic” change “foisted” on America and that most Americans don’t like it. Translation: The white Christian majority does not like losing its political power and needs to do something about it. Of course, Ingraham does not speak on behalf of all white Christians. But her on-camera rant revealed the sentiment of the base that elected Donald Trump president and propelled Fox News to become the most watched cable newscast. What I cannot accept is that the Department of Justice is now marshaling the power of the U.S government to champion their cause.

You can and should read Stern's entire piece here.

No comments: