On Wednesday, a Texas judge (who is infamous for prejudicial rulings) ruled that employers did not have to cover HIV medications if they felt such medications would 'encourage homosexual behavior.'
From The Huffington Post:
A federal judge in Texas ruled Wednesday that requiring employers to provide coverage for PrEP medications ― which prevent the transmission of HIV ― violates the religious rights of employers under federal law. U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor said that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act provides a religious exemption from purchasing health insurance that complies with the Department of Health and Human Services’ preventive care mandate under the Affordable Care Act, which requires PrEP coverage.O’Connor said the government must provide this religious exemption to eight defendants ― six individuals and two businesses ― who claim that being required to provide such insurance coverage violates their “sincerely held” Christian and “non-religious” beliefs rejecting “homosexual behavior, intravenous drug use, and sexual activity outside of marriage between one man and one woman.” By requiring them to provide insurance that covers PrEP, as well as the HPV vaccine and sex education, the government “would make [them] complicit in those behaviors,” O’Connor concluded.
It's a bunch of bull and hopefully be overturned on appeal. But far-right pundits, sensing blood in the water, have already exploited the ruling to pull the old, but steady "pervertedly promiscuous homosexual" card. Mark Joseph Stern, a very talented writer from The Slate, had to drag one of them on Twitter.
This is an outrageous lie. Just one example to refute it: The CDC is fervently encouraging PrEP uptake among heterosexual Black women, who remain disproportionately affected by HIV. PrEP is NOT just for "promiscuous homosexual men." What a disgusting and dangerous allegation. pic.twitter.com/o5GCwXrS3V— Mark Joseph Stern (@mjs_DC) September 7, 2022
Michael Knowles is notorious for racists and anti-LGBTQ comments in pursuit of clout chasing, so I doubt this will be the last we will hear from him.
The homophobic basis of the anti-PrEP lawsuit and the vulgarity expressed by Knowles is akin to when then Reagan White House employee and now Trump supporter Gary L. Bauer undermined the fight against the AIDS crisis. According to the late Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, Bauer felt that AIDS was "God's punishment" on gays and that they deserved to die:
[In 1986] President Reagan asked the surgeon general to prepare a report on AIDS as the United States confirmed its ten-thousandth case. Leaders of the evangelical movement did not want Koop to write the report, nor did senior White House staffers who shared Koop’s evangelical convictions. As Dr. Koop related to me, “Gary Bauer [Reagan’s chief advisor on domestic policy] … was my nemesis in Washington because he kept me from the president. He kept me from the cabinet and he set up a wall of enmity between me and most of the people that surrounded Reagan because he believed that anybody who had AIDS ought to die with it. That was God’s punishment for them.”
Once again, far-right evangelicals are weaponizing religion as a tool for discrimination. But now they are also putting people's lives in danger. There is no justifiable reason for this lawsuit except for the desire to be downright petty. This is not about freedom of religion. It's about simple hatred of LGBTQ people. Don't let anyone tell you differently because it would be a lie. This type of hatred is primal. No amount of religious covering can disguise it.
But under the cover of religion seems to be where it is always hiding.