Monday, June 10, 2019

A look-at-me stunt: Gays opposing the Equality Act

If there is a contest between broken stupid promises and civil rights, which should prevail?
Gregory T. Angelo
Former Log Cabin president Gregory T. Angelo is seeking some attention by being anti-gay.
photo via Michael Key, Washington Blade
Last Friday, led by former Log Cabin president, Gregory T. Angelo, a group of gay people sought some attention. Inconsequential people seeking relevance. Angelo was joined by the likes of Christopher Barron, co-founder of the defunct GOProud. Barron, who is not too bright, was a Trump 2016 surrogate. These people have engaged in a pointless stunt that offers fuel for discrimination against themselves.

They sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell asking him not to allow the Equality Act to come to the floor of the Senate (letter and signatories are “below the fold”):
We, the undersigned members of the gay community, formally ask that you never bring the Equality Act up for a vote in the United States Senate. While discrimination against LGBT Americans is wrong, and while legislation protecting against discrimination may yet be possible in the future, the Equality Act is so flawed and problematic that it should not be considered by the United States Senate.
Noticeably missing from their missive is an explanation. What is “flawed” and what is “problematic?” What do they propose as an altered Senate version of the bill? Since the Equality Act modifies the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is the underlying law flawed or problematic?

Angelo provides some form of explanation to the esteemed Washington Examiner.
What troubles Angelo and other conservative gays is that the Equality Act forces gay rights across the board and breaks a promise he and others have made in the past to also protect and enshrine religious freedom.

“Many like me who are gay feel very strongly about the negative consequences if the Equality Act becomes law,” Angelo, now working in communications, said. “It betrays the promises we had made on past campaigns and could destroy all the goodwill we built up with everyday Americans, especially people of faith."
Angelo has never been in a position to make promises on behalf of the LGBT community which regards Log Cabin Republicans as a bad joke. Paraphrasing Barney Frank, for more than 40 years they have been claiming that they will change the Republican Party from within. They never have. If Angelo thinks that he has developed any goodwill among the Christian fanatics, he is more delusional than they are.

What these people are essentially saying is that a minuscule minority of the gay community made some sort of promise which makes no sense. Therefore, the entire LGBT community should not be protected from discrimination.

The Senate has already become a one-person body but that is beside the point. What these gay people are saying through their letter is that they do not want the measure even debated.

I might have some respect for these people if the bill came to the floor and they made arguments for senators to vote no. They don't want to hear the arguments from people who disagree with them. In fact they do not want anyone to hear the arguments of people who disagree with them.

I doubt that McConnell needs these people to prevent the Equality Act from getting a vote. He doesn't want to put some members of his caucus who are up for re-election in 2020 in the awkward position of having to oppose the measure creating a campaign issue.

The people that Angelo et al are trying to appease are telling gay children that they are evil little perverts who can be cured through conversion therapy. If Angelo has had a dialog with these zealots it has been one-sided because their basic premise is based on the lie that sexuality is a choice. That is unless Mr. Angelo believes their BS. Does Angelo believe that he is an evil pervert? Does he want to pray his gay away?

What the Christian right seeks is the right to discriminate based on their religious beliefs. That, too, is based on a lie; that by baking a cake or arranging flowers the merchant is “celebrating” a marriage that they disapprove of. That is simply not the case.

Their claim of complicity makes no sense at all. Under that theory, baking a cake or arranging flowers for a bar mitzvah would make them complicit in failing to “save” a child who does not accept Jesus Christ as lord and savior. They could never serve a Mormon wedding nor a Muslim wedding. In fact they would need to qualify every customer and turn away wedding services when the bride is already pregnant.

Writing for the majority in Employment Division v. Smith, the late Justice Scalia said that religious exemptions to otherwise valid laws makes those laws entirely unenforceable. He further wrote:
We have never held that an individual's religious beliefs [p879] excuse him from compliance with an otherwise valid law prohibiting conduct that the State is free to regulate. On the contrary, the record of more than a century of our free exercise jurisprudence contradicts that proposition. As described succinctly by Justice Frankfurter in Minersville School Dist. Bd. of Educ. v. Gobitis, 310 U.S. 586, 594-595 (1940):
Conscientious scruples have not, in the course of the long struggle for religious toleration, relieved the individual from obedience to a general law not aimed at the promotion or restriction of religious beliefs. The mere possession of religious convictions which contradict the relevant concerns of a political society does not relieve the citizen from the discharge of political responsibilities.
The often quoted part of the same opinion incorrectly attributes the bolded portion to Scalia (emphasis added) but the effect is the same:
We first had occasion to assert that principle in Reynolds v. United States, 98 U.S. 145 (1879), where we rejected the claim that criminal laws against polygamy could not be constitutionally applied to those whose religion commanded the practice. "Laws," we said,
are made for the government of actions, and while they cannot interfere with mere religious belief and opinions, they may with practices. . . . Can a man excuse his practices to the contrary because of his religious belief? To permit this would be to make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself.
I have said it before and I will say it again. Refusing service is simply a means of displaying disapproval or an extension of the absurd belief that service conveys approval. Mr. Angelo et al are apparently willing to go along with this illogical nonsense that results in LGBT people losing dignity in the public marketplace.

If Mr. Angelo lives in some awful place like Oklahoma, does he have to shop around to find out who will provide goods and services? How many times does he have to hear “We don't serve your kind here” before the moron realizes the necessity of nondiscrimination laws. If he made stupid promises, must the entire LGBT community suffer? If there is a contest between broken stupid promises and civil rights, which should prevail?

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