A National Embarrassment: Kentucky Legislature Legalizes Gay Discrimination

Yesterday, Justice Sonia Sotomayor asked the lawyer representing the opponents of same-sex marriage, “Outside of the marriage context, can you think of any other rational basis, reason, for a state using sexual orientation as a factor in denying homosexuals benefits or imposing a burden on them…denying them a job, not granting them benefits of some sort?” The lawyer responded, “Your honor, I cannot.”

Not more than four hours later, both houses of the Kentucky Legislature overwhelmingly[i] answered the question for themselves and the people of Kentucky by claiming the right of individuals and religious institutions to do just that – to deny any person benefits or access – if those individuals and institutions simply hold that they are acting in accordance with their religious beliefs. Today, faith-based discrimination is legal in Kentucky.

The target of the legislation, of course, is gay men and women.

As of today in Kentucky, no gay man or lesbian will enjoy any protections from discriminatory action if someone claims, “I don’t serve your kind based on my religious beliefs.” As of today in Kentucky, an individual’s or a religious organization’s religious beliefs will be grounds enough to refuse access to products, services, accommodations, jobs, facilities, benefits, health care, etc. Now mind you, under current Kentucky law, it is illegal to discriminate based on a person’s disability, sex, age, religion, race or national origin. But as of today, in Kentucky, it’s okay for an individual to use religion to justify discrimination.

Under Kentucky law, no one could get away with acting as if their policy were: “Wheel-chair bound people not welcome,” “Women not welcome,” “Over 55 not welcome,” “Jews and Muslims not welcome,” “Blacks and Latinos not welcome,” “Irish, Italians and Chinese not welcome.” They would have their asses hauled into court. But hey, act, post a sign or even advertise, “we don’t serve gays,” and you’ve got no problem.

It is legislation that, unfortunately, is not even one step shy of legitimizing marginalization, not even one step shy of the practice the Germans exercised on their Jewish neighbors in the 1930s. That discrimination based on someone else’s religious beliefs has morphed into Kentucky’s version of discrimination based on someone’s own religious beliefs. In both cases, good citizens were and are affronted by state sanctioned discrimination (if not demonization). And we all know where that can lead.

This Kentucky law[ii] excuses behavior that in every other circumstance (disability, sex, age, religion, race, national origin) is considered criminal. It excuses behavior that history has demonstrated to be criminal. But it’s behavior that is now legal in Kentucky.

Justice Sotomayor: “Can you think of any rational basis, reason, for a state using sexual orientation as a factor in denying homosexuals benefits or imposing a burden on them?”

“Your honor, I cannot.”


[i] The House’s 79-15 vote sent House Bill 279 to the Senate, which voted 32-6.

[ii] Government shall not burden a person’s or religious organization’s freedom of religion. The right to act or refuse to act in a manner motivated by a sincerely held religious belief may not be burdened unless the government proves by clear and convincing evidence that it has a compelling governmental interest in infringing the specific act or refusal to act and has used the least restrictive means to further that interest. A “burden” shall include indirect burdens such as withholding benefits, assessing penalties, or an exclusion from programs or access to facilities.

Archbishop Slanders While Pediatricians Endorse Same-Gender Marriage

Last week, the Archbishop of San Francisco, Salvatore Cordileone, issued such a slanderous critique of same-gender marriage and families that I have to wonder whether he was drinking again when he wrote it.

At the heart of his message: marriage is all about children and when same-gender couples are allowed to marry, their “children suffer.”

And he was not satisfied to stop there. He went on to claim that when a culture allows same-gender marriage, communities suffer, women suffer and men are dehumanized. All of this, of course, without a shed of support for what he is saying. Now, I firmly believe that we are all entitled to our own opinions, but we are not entitled to make up our own data. And as far as I can tell from reading the real data, Archbishop Cordileone is just making this shit up.

So, let’s look at the real data.

Last week, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), after a four-year review of studies on the matter, affirmed, to no one’s surprise, that “children thrive in families that are stable and that provide permanent security, and the way to do that is through marriage.” The AAP went on to state “if a child has two loving and capable parents who choose to create a permanent bond, it’s in the best interest of their child that legal institutions allow them to do so.”  As a result, and this is the main event, the AAP issued a policy statement announcing its “support of civil marriage for same-gender couples as the best way to guarantee benefits and security for their children.” The statement concludes, “scientific evidence affirms that children have similar developmental and emotional needs and receive similar parenting whether they are raised by parents of the same or different genders.” In other words, science has found no difference between children from homes with same-gender parents compared to straight parents.

So let’s go back to Archbishop Cordileone’s assertion, to his inflammatory claim that when a culture allows for the possibility of a marriage structure other than a male-female union, children suffer. It is inflammatory because there is no credible evidence to support his claim. Now, he might not like the reality that gay couples do and will raise children. His Catholic Charities might deny them services and his Catholic adoption agencies might refuse to work with them – that is the prerogative of his Church. But to slander these couples by claiming that their children suffer – that is just vitriol.

The Archbishop believes that marriage is reserved exclusively for bringing together male and female to make and raise the next generation. It sounds beautiful. But it is only a sliver of the world we live in today.

The Archbishop’s world-view ignores the existence of abandoned and orphaned children who are adopted and cared for and loved by tens of thousands of same-gender couples throughout Christendom. I grant the Archbishop his obvious point that “two men and two women can never join in one flesh in the unique way a husband and wife do” to create babies. No, in fact, same-gender couples have to go through onerous, tedious and very expensive machinations and procedures to have and welcome a child into their home. Same-gender couples have to be deliberate and determined in order to adopt. But your Eminence, they can and do love and care for their children every bit as much as a male-female couple does. And you know this. You are the Archbishop in San Francisco. You see thousands among your congregation who have created loving, caring and committed same-gender households and families.

You malign them with your nasty comments.

The real data supports that “children thrive in families that are stable and that provide permanent security, and the way to do that is through marriage.” I would suggest, Your Eminence, that you look in the mirror and see clearly that you and those like you who would deny the benefits of marriage to same-gender couples are more accurately the culprits causing children to suffer.

Sources:

American Association of Pediatrics Supports Same Gender Civil Marriage

American Academy of Pediatrics Backs Marriage Equality as ‘Best Interests’ of Kids

SF Archbishop Cordileone: Same-Sex Marriage “Dehumanizes” Men, Makes Children Suffer

Groups opposed to same sex marriage deny that homophobia determines their position

Kids with Same-Gender Parents say: “Let My Parents Marry” (VIDEOS)

In January 2011, Zach Wahls, a 19-year-old University of Iowa student spoke about the strength of his family during a public forum in the Iowa House of Representatives. Wahls has two mothers, and came to oppose House Joint Resolution 6 which would eliminate the existing rights of same-sex couples to civil unions in Iowa.

“Good evening, Mr. Chairman,” he started. “My name is Zach Wahls. I’m a sixth-generation Iowan and an engineering student at the University of Iowa, and I was raised by two women.” He went on to tell the lawmakers he was a top student and an Eagle Scout — and concluded his remarks by saying: “Over the next two hours, I’m sure we’re going to hear plenty of testimony about how damaging having gay parents is on kids. But in my 19 years not once have I ever been confronted by an individual who realized independently that I was raised by a gay couple…And you know why? Because the sexual orientation of my parents has had zero (negative) effect on the content of my character…”

Two weeks ago, 12-year-old adopted Daniel Leffew, who is adopted, heard the news about Supreme Court Justice John Roberts having two adopted kids and decided that he wanted to write a letter to Justice Roberts about his adoptive parents. He talked about life with his two dads and asked the Chief Justice to allow them the right to get married.

Additional Reading:

Refuting the Myths About Gay Parents

Dear Mrs. Obama: Please Urge Your Husband to End Gay Discrimination

Dear Mrs. Obama,

Last April, I wrote asking you to please have a stern talk with your husband about the importance of living by his principle that we all deserve to be treated equally. Contrary to his promise during the 2008 campaign, last year when I wrote you, the President had just decided not to issue an Executive Order protecting gay men and women who work for Federal contractors from being discriminated against in hiring or from being fired.

In the year since, your husband has publicly voice his opposition to the Boy Scouts’ continued discrimination against gay youth. He has come out against the discrimination inherent in the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) – the law which compels the Federal Government to deny legally married same-sex couples the same rights enjoyed by their straight neighbors.  In fact, next week, he is directing his Solicitor General to argue before the Supreme Court that DOMA should be declared unconstitutional.

Yet, despite his words and arguments to dismantle discrimination against gay men and women, he stubbornly refuses to take the one action that is entirely within his power to help millions of gay men and women, good American citizens. For all your husband’s talk about the greatness of our nation based on enabling every American citizen who works hard and plays by the rules to get a fair deal, the President refuses to issue the Executive Order barring discrimination. His reluctance makes his “talk” suspect. The pretext that he prefers to rely on the legislative process rings hollow since we all know that there is no chance this Congress will send the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to his desk.

According to MetroWeekly, the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law estimates that an Executive Order would protect up to 16.5 million workers. Although workplace protections for LGBT people exist in some states, it remains legal in 29 states to fire an employee based on sexual orientation.

Yesterday, 110 Democratic members of the House of Representatives urged the President to sign the Executive Order. That letter was one of several that have been sent to the President in recent weeks. Last month, 37 senators and 54 progressive groups sent letters to your husband urging him to act.

What gives? I know your husband has the courage to walk his talk.

Last week, Senator Portman, long a vocal opponent of marriage equality, reversed his position and came out in favor of same-sex marriage because his son is gay and he wants him to enjoy the right to marry the person he loves. I can only imagine that if one of your daughters were to come out as a lesbian, the President would want her to look forward to enjoying a workplace where she did not feel threatened with dismissal because of her sexual orientation. He would issue the Executive Order in a heartbeat.

Let’s not have to play the game where we act only when we are personally touched by circumstances.

Ask your husband to put himself in the shoes of the millions of parents whose kids are gay, and who want only that their kids be treated equally, today.

Respectfully,

Peter Alduino

Additional Reading:

(Source) MetroWeekly: 110 members of Congress urge Obama to sign federal-contractor executive order

$300 Billion Taxpayer Dollars Funneled to Businesses in States That Allow LGBT Workplace Discrimination

Your Holiness: Gay Families are a Part of the Whole of Humanity. Embrace Us Too.

His Holiness, Pope Francis

Apostolic Palace

Vatican City

Dear Pope Francis,

In your homily during your installation mass, you said before God and before the world, “let us never forget that authentic power is service, and that the pope too, when exercising power, must enter ever more fully into that service…He must be inspired by lowly, concrete and faithful service…and…he must open his arms to protect all of God’s people and embrace with tender affection the whole of humanity, especially the poorest, the weakest, the least important, those whom Matthew lists in the final judgment on love: the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and those in prison (cf. Mt 25:31-46). Only those who serve with love are able to protect!”

I am moved by your sentiments of inclusiveness, by your reaching your arms to wrap them around the “whole of humanity” and treat and protect all of us as God’s people. And I want to believe you. I especially want to believe that in the years ahead, as the head of the Catholic Church, you will act and speak in ways that honor your words.

No more unfounded objections to the desires of gay men and women to provide a good home for orphaned or abandoned children. Gay adoption does not “discriminate against children.”

No more demonization of gay men and women because we want to be treated as equal members of society and enjoy the rights of civil marriage (and all the secular legal rights that flow from it).

No more hyperbole. No more casting our desires for home and family as Satanic. No more adding fuel to the fire of homophobia and hatred by labeling us as the enemy in “a war of God.”

Your Holiness, your predecessor tacitly incited enough fear, if not contempt, of gay men and women when he stated, “policies which undermine the family threaten human dignity and the future of humanity itself.”[i] By extension, that would mean that we who support those policies (read: gay men and women who ache and struggle for marriage equality) threaten the human race. Your Holiness, your predecessor’s words were pure calumny.

We are not the enemy. We are however tarred the enemy and treated as the enemy by bishops who refuse us the sacraments, by Catholic Charities that refuse us services, by Catholic schools that fire us for who we are or what we believe or how we vote.

I am taking you at your word to open your arms to protect all of God’s people and embrace with tender affection the whole of humanity. We, with our desires to marry the people we love and provide loving and caring homes for the weakest (children) are God’s people. We are a part of the whole of humanity. Please do not keep us apart. Please do not continue to allow individuals and institutions under the umbrella of the Catholic Church to keep us apart. Embrace us too.

Respectfully,

Peter Alduino

 

Sources:

Homily of the Holy Father Pope Francis, March 19, 2013, Saint Peter’s Square

[i] Pope Benedict: Gay Marriage Threatens The ‘Future Of Humanity Itself’