Friday, October 6, 2017

The most offensive anti-gay diatribe of the week

The above image adorns a polemic from Regis Nicoll titled We're Going to Punish the Wicked. The quotation marks are included in the title. It is from an interview of Tim Gill. Nicoll suggests that gay people are determined to inflict retribution on business owners. No Mr. Nicoll. Our determination is to be served in public accommodations according to applicable law.

The image is highly offensive. The text that follow more so. The image could just as easily put that gun in the hands of a black person or someone wearing a yarmulke. Expecting to be served with dignity according to the law is not extreme and should not be controversial.

Historically much, if not most, discrimination has had a religious basis or pretext. Mr. Nicoll will go on to complain about religious liberty. His notions do not make it so.

As for the quote from Tim Gill, here is the full paragraph from the original article in Rolling Stone:
More broadly, for Gill and his allies, nondiscrimination is the new front of the movement: a campaign that pits LGBTQ advocates against a religious right that responded to marriage equality by redoubling its efforts. The election of Donald Trump, who claims to support gay rights but stocked his administration with anti-LGBTQ extremists, has only emboldened those looking to erase the gains of the past decade. Gill refuses to go on the defense. "We're going into the hardest states in the country," he says. "We're going to punish the wicked."
I might have phrased things differently but Mr. Gill is not expressing a desire to create gratuitous damage on business owners. That does not suit Mr. Nicoll's narrative because Nicoll clearly disapproves of gay people. He disapproves of Tim Gill and is willing to mischaracterize him as some sort of conniving Snidely Whiplash.

Nicoll writes:
With gay ersatzrimony having the imprimatur of the State, and homosexuality enjoying a positive swing in popular opinion, the only thing standing athwart homosexualism is the Church, which is finding itself increasingly the object of neosexualist agitations.

Two weeks after Obergefell v. Hodges, a liberal firestorm erupted when a Catholic priest in Louisiana withheld communion from Tim Ardillo during his mother’s funeral because of his “marriage” to another man. Apologies (!) from the Diocese of Baton Rouge and Archbishop of New Orleans quickly followed.
Yes, we get it. Nicoll does not approve of our marriages. I am sorry Mr. Nicoll. We did not solicit your approval to prosecute Obergefell v. Hodges. It is positively shocking and distasteful to Nicoll that gay people can legally marry even though the Catholic Church asserts (absent any scientific basis) that gay people are “objectively disordered.”

As for the 2015 Ardillo incident, I will defer to The Advocate which provides a the important details and context, some of which (to his credit) Mr. Nicoll includes. None of it has anything to do with service in public accommodations but Nicoll is angry at gay people.
Take Tim Gill a mega-rich LGBT activist who vowed “We’re going to punish the wicked,” which, according to his moral lights is anyone (person, business, or organization) wanting an exemption from participating in same-sex ceremonies. Or Equality Ohio, a LGBT activist group that announced it will go after churches—in particular, Catholic churches—that refuse to make their facilities available for events contrary to their religious beliefs. Or Columbia Law School’s Center for Gender and Sexuality that sponsored a colloquium of experts “to contest and reframe the utilization of religious exemptions to civil rights laws.”
Nicoll is putting words in Tim Gill's mouth. I will speak for myself. Neither I nor Tim Gill speak for the gay community. I expect public accommodations not to refuse service contrary to applicable law. I am also a proponent of including LGBT people in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which would create a federal mandate. I reject the idea that baking a cake for a same-sex wedding equates to “participating in same-sex ceremonies.” The Supreme Court could reach a different conclusion in its deliberations this term regarding Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado but right now, the primary applicable precedents are:
  • Reynolds v. United States, 1879. In a unanimous decision the Court ruled that the state could regulate conduct and that doing so is not an impermissible effort to regulate belief and;
  • Employment Division v. Smith, 1990. Writing for the majority Justice Scalia was unambiguous in stating that there cannot be religious exemptions to otherwise valid laws.
Just to be clear, Equality Ohio wasn't “going after churches.” Their point, and I think it is valid, is that a public accommodation, even if owned by a church, must conform to applicable law. Some of those laws have religious exemptions and some do not People are free to lobby their elective representatives accordingly. It is something that I do on a regular basis.

As for Columbia Law School's 2014 symposium:
With greater and greater frequency, "conscience" or "religion" is being invoked to indemnify private actors from complying with constitutional rights to sexual liberty, statutory rights to equality, or policies designed to assure equal opportunity. The Spring Colloquium will bring together theorists, religious leaders, and activists who are working to contest and reframe the utilization of religious exemptions in civil rights laws.
The way that I read that paragraph it is not Columbia seeking to reframe laws but the activists who participated. I concede that it is ambiguous but there is not a grand conspiracy to deny religious conservatives rights protected by the Constitution. One of the participants was Professor Nelson Tebbe (Brooklyn Law). His discussion of this issue makes for extremely interesting — and balanced — reading. It is titled “Associations and the Constitution: Four Questions about Four Freedoms.” Gay rights are mentioned twice in a rather long treatise and his proposition regarding universities is consistent with what Mr. Nicoll would advocate. The university sets a policy and gay students are free to choose the school that is best for them.

Further along:
In 2012, a large-scale study by Dr. Mark Regnerus of the University of Texas supported a conclusion that, in recent memory, would have been unremarkable: children who grow up in gay and lesbian homes fare worse in a number of areas than those raised by both biological parents.
That misrepresents the Regnerus study. The reality, without going into a lengthy treatise, is that Regenerus' sample included very few people who were raised by a gay couple. The sweeping conclusions are not supported by the study data. The study was designed with help from the conservative Catholic Witherspoon Institute (which also provided most of the grant money) to reach a certain conclusion. Regnerus, a zealous Catholic convert obliged.
In October last year, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) threatened Johns Hopkins University over a study by two leading researchers in the fields of psychiatry and behavioral science that debunked a number of major tenets of the lifestyle left, including “there is virtually no scientific evidence that people are born gay or transgender.”
That misrepresents just about everything. “Leading researchers” publish actual research to scholarly journals that subject submissions to double-blind peer review. The “study” in question was actually a literature review. The authors employed sufficient selective observation to reach their preordained conclusion which was intended to conform to the teachings of the Church. What amounted to an editorial was published to a pretentious conservative Christian “journal” which does not subject articles to peer review. It is merely a blog that is published quarterly.

HRC did not threaten anyone. They deducted points from Johns Hopkins in the equality index. HRC fully explained its actions.
HRC values scientific integrity and academic freedom, and we have not asked Johns Hopkins to do anything to restrict the academic freedom of these faculty members. We have not asked that they punish Drs. McHugh or Mayer or censor their work in any way. We have simply asked Johns Hopkins to clarify that the opinions shared by Drs. McHugh and Mayer are just that—their opinions—and that these opinions are not reflective of the positions of the institution or the care that is provided to LGBTQ people within the Johns Hopkins Medicine health system. This step will help to restore the LGBTQ community’s trust in the University and Johns Hopkins Medicine.
That seems pretty reasonable to me. Yet, according to Nicoll:
The HRC demanded that Johns Hopkins censor what it called “an attack on LGBT communities.” When the university refused, the HRC “punished” it with a low Healthcare Equality Index (HRC’s measure of LGBT “friendliness”) rating.
Clearly, HRC did not demand any form of censorship. Nicoll is entitled to call a fully-explained reevaluation a punishment but that is intellectually dishonest.

Apparently Nicoll believes that gay men pose a danger to boys:
Then there’s the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). After opening its membership to openly gay boys in 2013, the BSA further capitulated to homosexualist demands by allowing gay men as Scout leaders. When the organization pledged to support the right of church-sponsored troops to exclude gays, the president of the Human Rights Campaign warned “Half measures are unacceptable and discriminatory exemptions [for religious groups] have no place in the Boy Scouts.”
That wasn't a warning. There is nothing that HRC can do relative to the policy of the Boy Scouts of America. According to his Church, being gay is not a sin. I can find no religious reason to oppose the inclusion of gays in the Boys Scouts.
The Inequality of “Equality”
The Equality Act, as it’s called, amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by including “sexual orientation and gender identity” (SOGI) as protected classes, equivalent to “race.” The proposed legislation includes protections not just for employment, but for housing, public education, credit, jury service, federal funding, and public accommodations. Despite its noble label, The Equality Act is anything but. By giving special protections to concocted classes of individuals, it abrogates the constitutional freedoms of others, creating inequality.
Here we go again. Providing LGBT people with protections from discrimination provides them with “special” rights. Barry Goldwater, in opposition, stated:
It is the general welfare that must be considered now, not just the special appeals for special welfare. This is the time to attend to the liberties of all.
That sounds awfully familiar to me. Nicoll is making the same argument about LGBT people that Barry Goldwater made more than 50 years ago about Black people. Does that not create an equivalency?

I do not understand why this is not comparable to race but let's set race aside. How about religion? Clearly that is Mr. Nicoll's choice while sexuality is most certainly not. Nicoll claims to be a retired nuclear engineer. Yet he accepts the teachings of the Church regarding sexuality with no concern, whatsoever, for the applicable science. I do not subscribe to the idea that people of faith are stupid. However, I often wonder about their perspective and their ability to separate faith from a differing reality.

And by the way, in spite of Nicoll's disapproval, these classes of people are not “concocted.” His own tirade would seem to confirm that their really are gay and transgender people. Just as in religion — a protected class — self-identification works quite well and it is often the perceived membership in the class on which discrimination is based. It is all neither mysterious nor terribly complicated.
Although the sponsors have been quick to add that the religious exemption of the 1964 Civil Rights Act will remain in place, the exemption applies only to religious organizations in the hiring of individuals of a different religion. In the original Act, a Catholic church can pass over a Buddhist for employment because of religion, but not an African-American because of race. Under the amended Act, the prohibition applicable to race extends to homosexuals, transsexuals, and persons of any of the myriad (and growing) SOGI categories who might seek church leadership and employment.
That is incorrect. Religious organizations have an absolute right to choose spiritual leaders. That is protected under the Constitution’s Free Exercise Clause. The Supreme Court recognized that the “freedom to select the clergy” has “federal constitutional protection as part of the free exercise of religion against state interference.” (Kedroff v. St. Nicholas Cathedral, 1952) In many locales the Church is already required to provide equal employment opportunity to gay people. The “ministerial exemption” is public policy that has been universally accepted. If the Church wants to argue that a math teacher is a minister — have at it. I do not see what possible difference it makes as long as the prospectively gay teacher is doing a good job.
Obergefell presaged the day when Caesar, having consecrated gay “marriage” as a civil right, will no more tolerate a church that refuses to marry same-sex couples or allow non-celibate homosexuals as members, communicants, leaders, or staffers than it would for a church that refuses the same for ethnic minorities.
Rubbish. Absurd fear mongering that is not remotely plausible.
And when that day comes, churches acquiescing to the neosexualist agenda will be legitimized and officially recognized by the State and allowed to keep their tax exempt status. Churches refusing to comply will lose that exemption, causing many to become financially unsustainable, driving them, the confessing Church, underground.
Please. Churches have an absolute right, guaranteed by the First Amendment, to marry or not marry couples based upon the tenets of the religion.
The introduction of The Equality Act is a signal that that day is coming. How soon, depends on how the Supreme Court decides the religious liberty case before it, Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.
Surely Mr. Nicoll understands the difference between the services offered by a public accommodation and religious sacraments. As long as we are entertaining preposterous slippery slope arguments, should the Court rule in favor of Masterpiece that could eviscerate every nondiscrimination law in the United States.

The only way to get around that would be a limited ruling based on the basis of compelled speech in an artistic endeavor. In that event it is no longer a religious liberty case. The Court would then have to define who is an artist. How about the guy who makes a perfect martini? The chef whose Grand Marnier souffle is to die for? Or Mr. Nicoll who writes pedantic polemics?

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