Friday, April 17, 2015
Conservatives Rally Against DC ‘Anti-Discrimination’ Bills
A group of conservative lawmakers in Congress are attempting to stop what they call “ill-conceived” legislation from taking effect in the nation’s capital.
One bill, called the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act, could force pro-life employers in Washington D.C. to hire individuals whose reproductive health decisions stand in opposition to the organization’s viewpoint.
“This coercive measure would ban pro-life organizations in D.C. from even considering a job seeker’s views on abortion as a condition of employment,” said Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., who introduced what’s called a “resolution of disapproval” on Monday that, with the support of both chambers of Congress and the president, would override the law in question.
“I hope both chambers of Congress will act swiftly to pass our resolution so that we can stop this ill-conceived law and restore needed protections for those in the pro-life community who call D.C. home,” she said.
A second bill, called the Human Rights Amendment Act (HRAA), seeks to prohibit religious-affiliated schools from discriminating against gay and lesbian student groups.
Conservatives argue this policy would infringe on the ability of private schools to operate according to their religious beliefs. For example, they say it could force a Catholic school to support a student-led gay pride parade despite the school’s stance on homosexuality.
Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., led the effort against that measure today by introducing a separate resolution of disapproval.
“By passing this Act, the D.C. City Council has infringed on the fundamental right of religious freedom,” Hartzler told The Daily Signal. “Americans are protected by the Constitution from being forced by their government to take actions that go against their religious beliefs. Forcing religious schools to go against their beliefs goes directly against our Constitution and shouldn’t be allowed.”
The Republican Study Committee—with its 170 members—is backing both efforts.
“It is unconscionable that employers should be forced to pay for policies that go against their deeply held religious beliefs, yet that is exactly what the District of Columbia’s legislation would do,” said Rep. Bill Flores, who chairs the committee.
Congress has an obligation to act and exercise its constitutional authority to prevent this flagrant violation of religious freedom. I commend Congressman Black and my colleagues in the Republican Study Committee for joining me in this important fight to preserve and protect our most sacred founding values.
The power to oversee Washington D.C. legislation was granted to Congress under the U.S. Constitution and the Home Rule Act of 1973.
The Senate has already introduced resolutions of disapproval for both the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act and the Human Rights Amendment Act under the leadership of Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and James Lankford, R-Okla.
Both measures were signed into law by Washington D.C.’s Mayor, Muriel Bowser, earlier this year. Her office did not immediately respond to The Daily Signal’s request for comment regarding the pushback among Republicans in Congress.
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., who supports both bills, released a press release today calling the Republican attempt to strike down the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act an “astonishing infringement of an individual’s right to personal liberty.”
“The District’s local law supports the local interests of D.C. residents who do not want to answer to their employers or anyone else for their reproductive choices,” she said. “Disapproval of the D.C. bill by Congress would signal that the constitutional right to privacy has come under historic attack.”
Norton has not yet commented on Republicans’ attempt to also kill the Human Rights Amendment Act, although she previously stated that the “anti-discrimination legislation” is needed to “protect students from discrimination for their sexual orientation at their own schools and universities.”
Norton also maintains that with these bills, there is “no intent to violate the rights of others, such as freedom of religion.”
Conservatives, on the other hand, believe it is especially important to prohibit these policies given that Washington D.C. is home to some of the largest pro-life and faith-based organizations in the world, including the Susan B. Anthony List, March for Life, the Family Research Council, and the Archdiocese of Washington.
But even if they are successful in passing both resolutions through Congress, Republicans would still need the president’s signature to prevent them from going into law. Right now, it is unclear whether President Obama would support that effort should they reach his desk.
Videogames don’t make you violent – or sexist
The world of videogames is no stranger to moral panics. Recently, researchers at the University of Oxford published the latest in a long line of studies debunking the persistent myth that violent videogames cause aggression in children. The study – published in the journal Psychology of Popular Media Culture – found that, regardless of a particular videogame’s content, children who played videogames moderately were actually less aggressive than those who do not game at all.
But this was no great triumph over media-effects theory. Indeed, the children who weren’t playing videogames were presumably on Twitter, whining about how videogames cause and promote misogyny. In recent months, this new hysteria has been at the forefront of the gaming discussion. Proponents of the idea insist that gaming culture is ‘toxic’, not inclusive enough and that women are represented exclusively as sexual objects in games. They have put forward censorious arguments, which have been countered by a new pro-gaming movement called #Gamergate.
In the past, you were a gamer because you liked playing videogames, regardless of non-issues like gender, race or sexuality. However, the people behind the recent fuss see everything through the warped lens of identity politics. Their narcissism and willingness to harass game developers into submission has made the art of making a good videogame even more of a chore. Instead of developers being able to portray their own vision and tell their stories, they are constantly being coerced by mobs of online activists to adhere to particular neurotic standards. Even when game developers aren’t being shouted down for creating an allegedly aberrant game, the spectre of the Twitterati, the coercive power of their fury, must be ever-present.
Gamers, rallying under the #Gamergate hashtag, are rightfully outraged that their hobby and community are being co-opted by ideologues. The professionally sensitive and perpetually offended crusaders are determined to undermine everything that makes the gaming community great. The fact that small cliques of right-on gamers, and censorious onlookers, have the ability to censor and pressure major game developers shows how influential and belligerent they have become. Nothing, it seems, can faze them. A study published last week categorically debunked the idea that videogames cause sexism, but this has hardly made a dent in the anti-#Gamergate’s self-confidence.
Women have always been welcome in gaming. There have been countless female game developers who have contributed to many gaming masterpieces. What the gaming crusaders can’t seem to get past is that the gaming community doesn’t see them as ‘women in gaming’, in need of special concern – they just see them as fellow gamers. And, surely, if equality is the goal, isn’t this the ideal?
Big Law Thinks Gay Marriage Opponents Are Like Racist Bigots. That’s a Problem
Sunday’s New York Times stated plainly what many of us have known for a while: Our nation’s elites are intolerant of ordinary Americans.
The reporter for the Times revealed a startling reality: “In dozens of interviews, lawyers and law professors said the imbalance in legal firepower in the same-sex marriage cases resulted from a conviction among many lawyers that opposition to such unions is bigotry akin to racism.”
That’s right. Our nation’s legal elites think that the belief that marriage is the exclusive union of husband and wife is “bigotry akin to racism.” That’s a problem. And it explains the growing intolerance showed toward ordinary Americans who believe the truth about marriage.
It also raises a profoundly important question: Will the government respect their rights of conscience and religious liberty?
This isn’t an idle question or dangerous fear-mongering. Throughout the past several years, a constant refrain from the Left has been that people who oppose same-sex marriage are just like people who opposed interracial marriage—and that the law should treat them just as the law treats racist bigots. Of course that argument is not true, but that hasn’t stopped our elites from making it.
The Times noted that while the same number of amicus briefs have been filed at the Supreme Court supporting and opposing state marriage laws, no major law firm had filed a brief supporting marriage as the union of a man and a woman. (Full disclosure: I spoke with The New York Times reporter and am quoted in the article.)
Two weeks ago, we saw in Indiana how Big Business, Big Media and political leaders all used their influence to bring down good religious liberty protections. This confluence of Big Business and Big Government has a name: I call it “cultural cronyism.” The same is true for Big Law.
While Big Business is against religious liberty, Big Law is against marriage. The basic viewpoint was captured in yesterday’s New York Times article:
Gay rights advocates offer their own reason for why prominent lawyers are lined up on one side of the marriage cases. “It’s so clear that there are no good arguments against marriage equality,” said Evan Wolfson, the president of Freedom to Marry. “Lawyers can see the truth.”
This statement is presumptuous and self-serving.
Reasonable people can acknowledge that there are good arguments on both sides of this debate. Only ideologues think their side has all the good arguments and the other side has none.
Surprise! Lawyers can be ideologues too. And these ideologues at the most elite sectors of society—Big Business, Big Law and Big Government—want to penalize and coerce ordinary Americans with traditional beliefs about marriage.
We must fight back.
Ordinary Americans—whether they are in favor of same-sex marriage or opposed—agree that the government shouldn’t penalize their neighbors. Ordinary Americans—even those in favor of same-sex marriage—do not view their neighbors as bigots.
But our governing elites do. So people who believe the truth about marriage need to equip ourselves, because our opponents want to see the law treat all citizens who believe marriage is the union of husband and wife as if they are racists.
But as I explain in this Heritage Backgrounder, great thinkers throughout human history—and from every political community up until the year 2000—thought it reasonable to view marriage as the union of husband and wife.
Indeed, support for marriage as the union of man and woman has been nearly a human universal. It is shared by the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim traditions; by ancient Greek and Roman thinkers untouched by these religions; and by various Enlightenment philosophers. It is affirmed by canon, common, and civil law and by ancient Greek and Roman law.
Bans on interracial marriage and Jim Crow laws, by contrast, were aspects of an insidious movement that denied the fundamental equality and dignity of all human beings and forcibly segregated citizens. When these interracial marriage bans first arose in the American colonies, they were inconsistent not only with the common law inherited from England, but also with the customs of prior world history, which had not banned interracial marriage.
And while the Bible says marriage has nothing to do with race, the Bible insists that it has everything to do with sexual complementarity. From the very beginning of Genesis to the very end of the Book of Revelation, the Bible is replete with spousal imagery and language of husband and wife. So whether from faith or reason or universal human experience, America’s elites must not be allowed to coerce and penalize their neighbors who remain steadfast in the truth about marriage.
America is in a time of transition. Courts have redefined marriage, and beliefs about human sexuality are changing. Will the right to dissent be protected? Will the right of Americans to speak and act in accord with what the United States had always believed about marriage—that it’s a union of husband and wife—be tolerated?
Even if the legal definition of marriage is changed for public policy purposes, should that entitle activists to silence citizens and eradicate charities, schools and businesses that simply ask for the freedom to operate according to this belief?
The United States is a pluralistic society. We need to maintain civil peace even amid disagreement. Our nation’s elites aren’t helping.
Louisiana Timidly Considers Religious Liberty Legislation
Just like Indiana and Arkansas, Louisiana started to consider its own version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, but it seems the threat of pushback may dissuade state lawmakers. The president of Louisiana’s Senate, Republican John Alario, said, “As it was originally introduced, I’m not in favor of it. It would put Louisiana in such a bad light, we don’t want any part of it.”
Whatever happened to trading short-term discomfort for long-term benefit? The state’s governor, Bobby Jindal, said he would fight for legislation like the RFRA “that seeks to preserve our most fundamental freedoms.”
The opposition to state-level RFRAs could be nothing more than a heckler’s veto. According to a poll conducted by WPA Opinion Research on behalf of the Family Research Council, 81% of those polled “agree that government should leave people free to follow their beliefs about marriage as they live their daily lives at work and in the way they run their businesses.”
But Louisiana lawmakers are scared of the shrill 19% who want government to tell small businesses to bake the cake, to serve the hypothetical pizzas, regardless of the business owner’s most deeply held beliefs
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 and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.