Wednesday, April 13, 2016

In FL Rick Scott signed a less pernicious but equally offensive bill

So-called pastor protection acts are offensive. Pastors already have the “protection” to solemnize only those marriages that they approve of. Therefore, the purpose behind these bills (authored by ADF) has been to use them as vehicles to legalize some form of discrimination. That is the case in Florida.

According to the bill that becomes effective on July 1, it is “An act relating to churches or religious organizations.” And just what is a “religious organization?”
(a) A church;
(b) A religious organization;
(c) A religious corporation or association;
(d) A religious fraternal benefit society;
(e) A religious school or educational institution;
(f) An integrated auxiliary of a church;
(g) An individual employed by a church or religious organization while acting in the scope of that employment;
Thus, according to item (b), a religious organization might be, well… a religious organization. Democrats tried to engross a non-profit requirement into the bill and it was defeated. In other words, the intent is that a religious organization can be a for-profit business. The law is ambiguous by design. It is also an insult to the Establishment Clause.

The individuals and entities protected by this law:
… may not be required to solemnize any marriage or provide services, accommodations, facilities, goods, or privileges for a purpose related to the solemnization, formation, or celebration of any marriage if such an action would cause the individual or entity to violate a sincerely held religious belief of the individual or entity.
That language does not seem to compromise municipal employment protections. What will eventually become an issue, though, is some idiot claiming that his or her public accommodation is holy so that smearing high cholesterol butter cream over sponge cake is a religious sacrament. Trust me. It is going to happen.

I hate to sound like a Jewish mother but – if our people voted every single year – we might change the composition of the legislature. Undoing this nonsense is far more difficult than preventing it in the first place. I know that Nadine Smith and the folks at Equality Florida worked very had to limit the damage (and they did) but it was all uphill. Republicans have commanding majorities in both houses of the legislature. These people often start out as commissioners of small counties or school board members. We can keep some of these folks out of elective office. We just have to vote in boring off-year elections.

As I have written before there is no reason to protect so-called religious organizations. If they operate a public accommodation then they should comply with applicable nondiscrimination ordinances.

We all subsidize these operations. If they are non-profit they usually do not pay customary sales and use taxes. We all pay for the police and fire departments that provide protection. We all pay for the roads and infrastructure that make the entity possible in the first place. We all pay for the government bodies that provide state and municipal services. It is infuriating to use my own tax dollars to discriminate against me.

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