Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Same-Sex Marriage Trumps Religious Liberty in New Mexico
Earlier today, the Supreme Court of New Mexico ruled that the First Amendment does not protect a Christian photographer’s ability to decline to take pictures of a same-sex commitment ceremony—even when doing so would violate the photographer’s deeply held religious beliefs. As Elaine Huguenin, owner of Elane Photography, explained: “The message a same-sex commitment ceremony communicates is not one I believe.”
But New Mexico’s highest court, deciding an appeal of the case, today agreed with the New Mexico Human Rights Commission and ruled against Elane Photography, concluding that neither protections of free speech nor free exercise of religion apply.
Elaine and her husband Jon, both committed Christians, run their small photography business in Albuquerque, N.M. In 2006, she declined the request to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony. In 2008, the New Mexico Human Rights Commission ruled that by declining to use its artistic and expressive skills to communicate what was said and what occurred at the ceremony, the business had engaged in illegal discrimination based on sexual orientation.
The commission ruled this way based on New Mexico’s human rights law, which prohibits discrimination in public accommodations (“any establishment that provides or offers its services … or goods to the public”) based on race, religion and sexual orientation—among other protected classes.
Elane Photography didn’t refuse to take pictures of gays and lesbians, but only of such a same-sex ceremony, based on the owners’ belief that marriage is a union of a man and a woman. New Mexico law agrees, as it has no legal same-sex civil unions or same-sex marriages. Additionally, there were other photographers in the Albuquerque area who could have photographed the ceremony.
Groups supporting Elane Photography filed friend-of-the-court briefs. The Cato Institute argued that, under the First Amendment, photographers have freedom of speech protections against government-compelled artistic expressions. The Becket Fund argued that New Mexico’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act protects the “free exercise” of Elane Photography. The Alliance Defending Freedom—the lawyers defending Elane Photography—also argued that the First Amendment’s free exercise clause protects their client.
Today’s decision highlights the increasing concern many have that anti-discrimination laws and same-sex marriage run roughshod over the rights of conscience and religious liberty. Thomas Messner, a visiting fellow at The Heritage Foundation, has documented multiple instances in which laws forbidding discrimination based on sexual orientation, as well as laws redefining marriage, already have eroded religious liberty and the rights of conscience. Indeed, earlier this year, the United States Commission on Civil Rights held an entire hearing on conflicts between nondiscrimination policies and civil liberties such as religious freedom.
In a growing number of incidents, government hasn’t respected the beliefs of Americans. Citizens must insist that government not discriminate against those who hold to the historic definition of marriage. Policy should prohibit the government—or anyone who receives taxpayers’ dollars—from discriminating in employment, licensing, accreditation or contracting against those who believe marriage is the union of a man and a woman.
We also must work to see marriage law reflect the truth about marriage. If marriage is redefined, believing what virtually every human society once believed about marriage—that it is the union of a man and a woman ordered to procreation and family life—would be seen increasingly as an irrational prejudice that ought to be driven to the margins of culture. The consequences for religious believers are becoming apparent.
Why Was Enoch Powell Condemned as a Racist and Not Charles de Gaulle?
by Daniel Pipes
The French and British empires historically had different premises, with the former (in the Roman tradition) focused more on culture and the latter more on race, hierarchy, and family. This difference took many forms: one finds meals of bifteck-frites in tiny towns in the former French colony of Niger but little English food even in the cities of neighboring Nigeria. Léopold Senghor of Senegal became a significant French poet and cultural figure whereas Rabindranath Tagore of Bengal could never transcend his Indian origins.
Charles de Gaulle was Time magazine's man of the year in 1959, the year he delivered his anti-Arab remarks.
Likewise, French and British politicians responded to the initial post-World War II immigration of non-Western peoples to their countries in characteristically different ways. Charles de Gaulle, arguably the most important leader of France since Napoleon, focused on culture while Enoch Powell, a rising star in the United Kingdom, emphasized race.
Here are their speeches on the topic, starting with de Gaulle (1890-1970), who spoke on March 5, 1959:
"It is very good that there are yellow French, black French, brown French. They show that France is open to all races and has a universal vocation. But [it is good] on condition that they remain a small minority. Otherwise, France would no longer be France. We are still primarily a European people of the white race, Greek and Latin culture, and the Christian religion.
Don't tell me stories! Muslims, have you gone to see them? Have you watched them with their turbans and jellabiyas? You can see that they are not French! Those who advocate integration have the brain of a hummingbird. Try to mix oil and vinegar. Shake the bottle. After a second, they will separate again.
Arabs are Arabs, the French are French. Do you think the French body politic can absorb ten million Muslims, who tomorrow will be twenty million, after tomorrow forty? If we integrated, if all the Arabs and Berbers of Algeria were considered French, would you prevent them to settle in France, where the standard of living is so much higher? My village would no longer be called Colombey-The-Two-Churches but Colombey-The-Two-Mosques."
Enoch Powell (1912–1998), a conservative British politician, gave his "Rivers of Blood" speech on April 20, 1968, in which he predicted disaster because of large-scale immigration of colored people to the United Kingdom. He began by noting what was taking place: a
"total transformation to which there is no parallel in a thousand years of English history. In fifteen or twenty years, on present trends, there will be in this country 3 ½ million Commonwealth immigrants and their descendants. … Those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad. We must be mad, literally mad, as a nation to be permitting the annual inflow of some 50,000 dependents, who are for the most part the material of the future growth of the immigrant-descended population. It is like watching a nation busily engaged in heaping up its own funeral pyre."
In addition to ending immigration, Powell called for re-emigration, or the return of immigrants to their countries of origin.
"If all immigration ended tomorrow, the rate of growth of the immigrant and immigrant-descended population would be substantially reduced, but the prospective size of this element in the population would still leave the basic character of the national danger unaffected. This can only be tackled while a considerable proportion of the total still comprises persons who entered this country during the last ten years or so. Hence the urgency of implementing now the second element of the Conservative Party's policy: the encouragement of re-emigration."
He also wanted to end what he perceived as favoritism toward immigrants:
"all who are in this country as citizens should be equal before the law and that there shall be no discrimination or difference made between them by public authority. … This does not mean that the immigrant and his descendants should be elevated into a privileged or special class or that the citizen should be denied his right to discriminate in the management of his own affairs between one fellow citizen and another."
On this topic, Powell soared rhetorically:
"There could be no grosser misconception of the realities than is entertained by those who vociferously demand legislation as they call it "against discrimination", whether they be leader-writers of the same kidney and sometimes on the same newspapers which year after year in the 1930s tried to blind this country to the rising peril which confronted it, or archbishops who live in palaces, faring delicately with the bedclothes pulled right over their heads."
Finally, Powell inveighed against integration.
"To be integrated into a population means to become for all practical purposes indistinguishable from its other members. Now, at all times, where there are marked physical differences, especially of colour, integration is difficult though, over a period, not impossible."
And on to the finale:
"As I look ahead, I am filled with foreboding. Like the Roman, I seem to see "the River Tiber foaming with much blood."
This speech effectively ended Powell's once promising political career.
(1) These two statements have much wider support today than when they were delivered, 54 and 45 years ago, respectively.
(2) At the same time, no major politician today would dare speak as directly as these two did back then.
(3) Islam, today's emphasis, is nowhere even hinted at. De Gaulle spoke of "turbans and jellabiyas," not Shari'a and honor killings. Powell referred to "marked physical differences, especially of colour," not Islamic supremacism or female genital mutilation.
Progressives and Blacks
Walter E. Williams
Sometimes I wonder when black people will reject the patronizing insults of white progressives and their black handmaidens. After CNN's Piers Morgan's interview with the key witness in the George Zimmerman trial, he said: "Rachel Jeantel is not uneducated. She's a smart cookie." That's a remarkable conclusion. Here's a 19-year-old young lady, still in high school, who cannot read cursive and appears to be barely literate. Morgan may have meant Jeantel is smart -- for a black person.
Progressives treat blacks as victims in need of kid glove treatment and special favors, such as racial quotas and preferences. This approach has been tried in education for decades and has revealed itself a failure. I say it's time we explore other approaches. One approach is suggested by sports. Blacks excel -- perhaps dominate is a better word -- in sports such as basketball, football and boxing to such an extent that blacks are 80 percent of professional basketball players, are 66 percent of professional football players and, for decades, have dominated most professional boxing categories.
These outcomes should raise several questions. In sports, when have you heard a coach explain or excuse a black player's poor performance by blaming it on a "legacy of slavery" or on that player's being raised in a single-parent household? When have you heard sports standards called racist or culturally biased? I have yet to hear a player, much less a coach, speak such nonsense. In fact, the standards of performance in sports are just about the most ruthless anywhere. Excuses are not tolerated. Think about it. What happens to a player, black or white, who doesn't come up to a college basketball or football coach's standards? He's off the team. Players know this, and they make every effort to excel. They do so even more if they have aspirations to be a professional player. By the way, blacks also excel in the entertainment industry -- another industry in which there's ruthless dog-eat-dog competition.
Seeing as blacks have demonstrated an ability to thrive in an environment of ruthless competition and demanding standards, there might be some gains from a similar school environment. Maybe we ought to have some schools in which youngsters are loaded up with homework, frequent tests and demanding, top-notch teachers. In such schools, there would be no excuses for anything. Youngsters cut the mustard, or they're kicked out and put into some other school. I'm betting that a significant number of black youngsters would prosper in such an environment, just as they prosper in the highly competitive sports and entertainment environments.
Progressives' agenda calls for not only excuse-making but also dependency. Nowhere is this more obvious than it is in their efforts to get as many Americans as they can to be dependent on food stamps; however, in this part of their agenda, they offer racial equal opportunity. During President Barack Obama's years in office, the number of people receiving food stamps has skyrocketed by 39 percent. Professor Edward Lazear, chairman of the president's Council of Economic Advisers from 2006-09, wrote in a Wall Street Journal article titled "The Hidden Jobless Disaster" (June 5, 2013) that research done by University of Chicago's Casey Mulligan suggests "that because government benefits are lost when income rises, some people forgo poor jobs in lieu of government benefits --unemployment insurance, food stamps and disability benefits among the most obvious." Government handouts probably go a long way toward explaining the unprecedented number of Americans, close to 90 million, who are no longer looking for work.
This is all a part of the progressive agenda to hook Americans, particularly black Americans, on government handouts. In future elections, they will be able to claim that anyone who campaigns on cutting taxing and spending is a racist. That's what Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., said in denouncing the Republican 1994 call for tax cuts. He said, "It's not 'spic' or 'n****r' anymore. (Instead,) they say, 'Let's cut taxes.'"
When black Americans finally recognize the harm of the progressive agenda, I'm betting they will be the nation's most conservative people, for who else has been harmed by progressivism as much?
Gov. Christie Signs Discrimination Into Law
Despite his “concerns about [the] government limiting parental choice on the care and treatment of their own children,” Governor Chris Christie signed into law a ban on ex-gay therapy for minors, thereby committing an outrageous act against both the people of New Jersey and his own Catholic faith.
Buying into the standard gay activist talking points, Christie explained that “on issues of medical treatment for children we must look to experts in the field to determine the relative risks and rewards,” because of which he felt this government intrusion into doctor-patient relationships was justified.
As for Christie’s personal views, he stated that, “I've always believed that people are born with the predisposition to be homosexual. And so I think if someone is born that way it's very difficult to say then that's a sin. But I understand that my church says that, but for me personally I don't look at someone who is homosexual as a sinner.”
New Jersey is now the second state to sign a ban on “sexual orientation change efforts” (SOCE) for those under 18, even with parental consent, following California (surprise!), although the California bill has already been challenged in the courts.
On a practical level, this means that a 17-year-old girl who was raped at the age of 14 and now feels a repulsion towards men and an attraction towards women cannot seek professional help to get to the root of her feelings, even if her parents back her decision.
That same young woman, however, would be allowed to seek professional help to develop her lesbian identity, even without the backing of her parents.
This is equality under the law? This is tolerance? This is a victory in the war against bigotry and discrimination?
And if this same young woman lived in California and was convinced that she was actually a boy trapped in a girl’s body, she could now choose to use the boys’ bathroom and even play on the boys’ basketball team, without any scientific diagnosis required.
In fact, it would be perfectly legal for her to undergo hormone therapy to help make her more masculine, soon to be followed by sex-change surgery. Yet if she said, “For many reasons, I’m uncomfortable with my same-sex attractions,” it would be illegal for her to receive counseling. What kind of madness is this?
Gender is now entirely subjective, based on nothing more than one’s personal perceptions, while sexual and romantic attractions are allegedly innate and immutable. Put another way, you are not necessarily born male or female, despite the biological and chromosomal evidence, and you can change from male to female. But you are born gay, and you cannot possibly change to straight.
What about all those who claim to have changed sexual orientation?
They are to be vilified, mocked, discounted, and silenced. In fact, they can be freely discriminated against, as Grammy Award winner and gospel superstar Donnie McClurkin just learned when Washington DC Mayor Vincent Gray disinvited him “from performing at a concert commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1963 civil rights March on Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘I Have a Dream.’”
Why? Because he broke one of today’s biggest PC commandments, namely, “Thou shalt not be ex-gay,” which McClurkin is, which means that being gay is not innate and immutable. (This would have to be admitted, at least for some people.)
Yet the McClurkins of this world are now ignored (and worse) while testimony from someone like Brielle Goldani (born a male), which was apparently fabricated based on a movie script, helped push the New Jersey ban through.
What about the overwhelming scientific evidence demonstrating clearly that SOCE is harmful and destructive? It doesn’t exist.
Christie relied on a study conducted by a task force appointed by the American Psychological Association (APA) in 2007 which concluded that “efforts to change sexual orientation are unlikely to be successful and involve some risk of harm, contrary to the claims of SOCE practitioners and advocates.”
Yet this task force consisted entirely of gay activist psychologists and their allies, which would be the equivalent of asking Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton to head a study of whether racial discrimination against blacks existed in America or asking Al Gore and Greenpeace to investigate whether man-made global warming existed.
In fact, gay activist bias in the APA has become so extreme that no less a figure than Dr. Nicholas Cummings, a past president of the APA, has become an outspoken critic of the attack on SOCE, arguing in a recent USA Today editorial that, “A political agenda shouldn’t prevent gays and lesbians who desire to change from making their own decisions.”
Dr. Cummings states that he personally helped “hundreds” of homosexuals change their orientation to heterosexual while helping many others “attain a happier and more stable homosexual lifestyle.” (Cummings, it should be noted, is a self-described life-long liberal who supports same-sex “marriage.”)
He writes that “contending that all same-sex attraction is immutable is a distortion of reality. Attempting to characterize all sexual reorientation therapy as ‘unethical’ violates patient choice and gives an outside party a veto over patients’ goals for their own treatment.”
He adds that, “Whatever the situation at an individual clinic, accusing professionals from across the country who provide treatment for fully informed persons seeking to change their sexual orientation of perpetrating a fraud serves only to stigmatize the professional and shame the patient.”
Gov. Christie has now become party to government intrusion on doctor-patient relationships, thereby serving as a useful pawn of the gay activist agenda, perhaps to his temporary political gain.
But when common sense and compassion prevail again, Gov. Christie’s decision will only serve to stigmatize and shame him.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.