Monday, July 20, 2015

They want the debate on discrimination - then let's have it

Christian conservatives are busy trying to blunt or nullify anti-discrimination laws with their version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act applied on the state level. Yet, in 28 states, someone can get married over the weekend and fired on Monday morning for having done so. What is “Christian” about that?

In those same 28 states it is perfectly legal to discriminate against LGBT citizens and taxpayers. Public accommodations such as restaurants and hotels are free to say “we don't serve your kind here.” Employers in those 28 states can make decisions not to hire someone, not to promote an employee or to terminate someone's employment simply for their status as LGBT — irrespective of their performance or qualifications.

Even eligibility for things like insurance, housing, credit and medical services is subject to what amounts to the religious approval of others. We don't even enjoy some of the benefits of being an oppressed minority. For example, LGBT owned businesses are not eligible for minority status under the SBA's rule 8a. That means that we cannot obtain contract preferences as a minority owned business.

The only rational solution is for LGBT Americans to be included in the 1964 Civil Rights Act by amending the law. Some would say – correctly – that we cannot get anything through the current Congress. Then it is up to us to affect the makeup of Congress in 2016. Now is the time to organize at the state level.

My greatest fear is that supporters of Senator Sanders will not ultimately support Secretary Clinton with vigor which means that they will stay home on election night. That is how people like Rick Scott got reelected. Would you really like Jeb Bush nominating someone to replace, say, Justice Ginsburg on the Supreme Court?

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