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New Anti-Trans Attacks Are Yet Another Reason We Must Reform RFRA


New Anti-Trans Attacks Are Yet Another Reason We Must Reform RFRA

Ian S. Thompson

Next week, Congress will be back in session in our nation’s capital. With the election right around the corner, we can expect to see a frenzy of legislative activity. The past several weeks have served as a reminder for why reforming the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) should be on the agenda of every Member of Congress who supports LGBT equality.


Is there a difference between Shari'ah Law and Evangelical Christian Biblical Law in regards to LGBT rights?


Sorry, "Christian" dominionists are just as likely to beat a person to death, stab them, or shoot them for being themselves. Ask Matthew Shepard or any of the 19 trans folks listed by The Advocate as murdered in the first 8 months of 2016 how barbaric they found the US.


The "Do No Harm Act" was introduced in May as HR 5272 and referred to the Judiciary Committee's subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice. Instead of yammering about degrees of brutality, get onto your representatives to get the bill moving.


It's heartening to learn that "barbarism" is ranked according to its viciousness.
It always seemed fairly clear that all acts of barbarism were, well, barbaric.


Also. in Iowa during the Iowa caucus Pastor Kevin Swanson called for the execution of homosexuals, Swanson can't even say gay, and endorsed Sen. Ted Cruz. for president. When Sen. Ted Cruz came on stage, Cruz and Swanson looked very happy about it all. How dreadful!


But please don't throw out all Christians with the bathwater. I've also posted about HR5272 on a Facebook group called "Progressive Christian Politics," where there are at 726 who claim those identifiers. Broad brushes just don't work here. Caring hearts and activism do.


"Make America Great Again."
Back to the 1950's when every tight-assed, Christian, white guy was large and in charge.
No women, blacks, Hispanics, gays, Jews or anybody else need apply.


My Dad was one of those guys. My Mother had an adorable brooch of a gold-tone elephant wearing Goldwater hornrim glasses. But he grew up. Reagan's nomination finally made him change his party registration. And theological and intellectual hypocrisy in his northern church broke his heart, and after he went to Florida and began speaking at Unitarian Universalist fellowships (and Free Thought Society), and he started taking calls from families desperate to find someone to help them say goodbye to their children who'd died of AIDS (their family pastors told them it was punishment for their gayness), he became active in PFLAG. And when Mother was dying and Dad said he didn't have energy to find intimacy with another woman, she actively encouraged him to find a male partner. He did, and spent the last 15 years of his life with him, a man 2 years younger than I, his middle child. My "stepmother" couldn't be out because of his work, and neither Dad nor he handled inheritance and transition well, but my loss was only things. And how much easier could it have been if they could have been married? If D could have been out? How much better for everyone to whom it mattered?


That's a pretty amazing story.
And more common than people think.


"...the court’s decision gives employers a dangerous new religious exercise argument to justify discrimination against transgender people."

It's far more broad than that; trans people are just the canary in the coal mine. If "religious liberty" can be used to ignore laws and discriminate against one group of people, it can be used to discriminate against any group. All someone has to do is proclaim that something about that person offends their religious beliefs. And once it is used to disregard anti-discrimination laws, what is to stop them from using it to disregard any law they feel offends them? Seems they are already almost a decade down that same path with the laws that prohibit pastors from endorsing candidates from the pulpit.

When it comes down to it, religion is an opinion. It's a very personal one, and maybe something a person holds very dear for various emotional reasons. But it is still their personal opinion and as such it should not be used to justify encroaching on other people's legal equality.


You raise an important point: that Constitutional religious liberty is about individual opinion/belief, referred to in the article as "exercise," though this doesn't quite capture it for those of us who are religious. The "religious freedom" protected by RFRA and similar laws, and by the hobby Lobby ruling, are about institutionalized religion. It's the parallel of the Citizens United ruling that gave businesses the free-speech rights of people.

There aren't actually laws against pastors endorsing candidates from the pulpit (it isn't criminal), only IRS rules that can be applied to remove the tax exemption status of such a pastor's church. It's so big a difference that I don't really know what you're trying to say with your "down that same path" sentence.