Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Tony Perkins is further wed to Christian privilege

Tony Perkins
Hate group leader Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council is out with a new (old) version of talking points in support of the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA). Most of these are inapplicable but apparently Christians are a persecuted minority. I did not know that.

I will not repeat what I have previously written about this bill. Ultimately it would construct a federal license to discriminate and could create some conflicts with state and municipal non-discrimination laws.

Perkins is incapable of writing a sentence without being hyperbolically disingenuous. He begins:
Liberals are constantly saying that people should have freedom regardless of "who they love." But what if that person is God? While society goes out of its way to coddle the LGBT crowd with special privileges, Christians are struggling just to exercise their basic rights. Squeezed out, locked up, and tuned out, men and women of faith have somehow become the acceptable targets of discrimination.
I was not aware that we enjoyed “special privileges.” That link in his text is to a story about Kim Davis. The idea that an elected official is “struggling to exercise (her) basic rights” by not permitting anyone in her office to service gay couples is thoroughly ridiculous. Davis was jailed, over the objections of the ACLU, for contempt of court. The appeals court refused to stay the judge's order, primarily on the basis that Davis could not succeed on the merits. In any event FADA would not apply.

This is telling. What Perkins really wants is Christian privilege. It is the privilege not to be subject to the orders of a federal court. It is the privilege to be exempt from non-discrimination laws with respect to LGBT citizens. It is the right of an elected official not to serve a portion of the citizens and taxpayers that she is paid to serve. FADA would not create the blanket privilege that Perkins wants. Perkins is advocating for the privilege to discriminate in housing, employment and public accommodations based on sexual orientation and sexual identity. FADA is just one brick in the wall that Perkins wants to construct to separate LGBT citizens from society.

At its core this also represents a deliberate misstatement of constitutional rights defined by the First Amendment. “Free Exercise” means that one is at liberty to worship (or not worship) and believe (or not believe) as one pleases. It gives Americans the right to sign one million year contracts to serve on Scientology's Sea Org. Constitutionally, Xenu is the equal of Jesus or Buddha or Mohammad. That is a proposition that Perkins can never accept. Moreover, Free Exercise in no way permits people to impose their religion on others. Indeed, doing so could interfere with the First Amendment rights of others.

It is a balance that we have respect for more than two centuries. More recently, as a matter of public policy, we have determined that there are no religious exemptions to valid laws. Perkins wants to upset the balance and change public policy.

As a shocking surprise, behold the bakers:

From bakers and sportscasters to firefighters and florists, Christians are finding out the hard way that their government isn't interested in real tolerance -- but a one-way street that paves the way for punishment and censorship. And too many people don't even realize it's happening. FRC has been telling their stories on websites like FreeToBelieve.com, hoping to draw attention to the greatest threat of religious liberty in the modern age. Aaron and Melissa Klein are just two of the dozens of victims who lost their business, sense of security, and tens of thousands of dollars for believing what the Bible says about marriage. "We could totally just say we're done and walk away and let it be," Melissa said. "We think about the next person in line that this could happen to. If we don't fight this, we're giving up on them."
Sure. The state is intolerant of people who discriminate in violation of valid laws. We should change public policy because a handful of people have determined that baking a cake or selling flowers is some sort of holy sacrament. FADA would be the beginning of changing both the balance and the public policy. However, FADA would have no effect on any of these cases. FADA would not invalidate state and municipal non-discrimination laws.

If the number of cosponsors is indicative of anything FADA has only 161 cosponsors out of 435 in the House and 37 out of 100 in the Senate. Obama sure as Hell is not going to sign this thing into law. But first another helping of BS from Perkins:
FRC is doing its part to help. Earlier today, we held a briefing for congressional members and staff explaining the crisis facing Americans of faith with several victims and their attorneys. Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran was one of them. Instead of celebrating his incredible story of rising out of poverty and becoming the first African American fire chief in Shreveport, the Left is intent on destroying his career. Why? Because he dared to write a personal book about his faith that included six pages on sexual morality. Despite having the department's permission for the project, he was fired for its religiosity.
FADA would have no effect on the Cochran case since he was an employee of the City of Atlanta and not the federal government. Perkins is also lying about the case since Cochran never had the permission of the City of Atlanta to circulate an offensive book to subordinates. I have written a fair amount of commentary regarding Cochran and the matter is now in litigation.

Perkins verbosely concludes:
David Cortman, an attorney with Alliance Defending Freedom, thinks that what the government is trying to say is that "no citizen has a right to free speech about their own faith outside of work time unless they get permission from the government first. And the only permission slip that the chief needs is the First Amendment," he said. These days, however, the Bill of Rights doesn't seem to be enough to protect anyone. That's why Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) took the lead on a measure called the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA). It says that the federal government can't retaliate against people like Kelvin for sharing civilization's view that marriage is the union of a man and a woman. That's common sense, but it's not common practice. Urge your senators to change that by supporting FADA!
Mr. Cortman's comment (if that's an accurate quote) is absurd. States and municipalities have every right to protect LGBT citizens from discrimination. Withholding service has nothing to do with free speech. It is unlawful discrimination in some locales. These non-discrimination laws did not magically appear. They were passed and signed into law by officials that the people put in office. Cortman, by the way, is a graduate of Pat Robertson's Regent University Law School.

None of these self-manufactured victims would see any relief from the unlikely passage of FADA. It demonstrates how heavily invested Perkins is in Christian martyrs. It also depicts his agenda. It is not just Christian privilege but a reminder that his Family Research Council is an anti-gay hate group (actually anti-LGBT). Perkins wants LGBT Americans to be second-class citizens because that status aligns with his religious beliefs. Accompanying the disingenuous demonization of LGBT Americans is the preposterous proposition that the Establishment Clause does not say precisely what it says.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion …

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