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Macy’s Store Fires Employee for “Religious Beliefs” – or Does It?

December 08, 2011 By: jaysays Category: Discrimination, Featured

The Macy’s store at Rivercenter Mall in San Antonio, Texas, recently came under fire for its termination of Natalie Johnson, who was employed by Macy’s until a few days before Thanksgiving. Ms. Johnson refused to allow a transgender woman to use the lady’s fitting room. According to the organization representing Ms. Johnson, Liberty Counsel, she was fired for her religious beliefs. To clarify, they argue she was fired for being Christian.

Blog posts and comments abound, telling the story of the oppressed Natalie. Most of the stories indicate that Liberty Counsel is a pro-Christian rights organization, a claim which is designed to sway the public to rally behind a suspect class: the religious. But Liberty Counsel is anything but pro-Christianity. Their purpose has not historically been to walk in the steps of Christ, but instead to demand our government provide them, as moral superiors, with the infinite power to bend others to their will.

In her recent address in honor of Human Rights Day, Secretary of Defense Hillary Clinton highlighted these sorts of religious justifications for discrimination noting:

The third, and perhaps most challenging, issue arises when people cite religious or cultural values as a reason to violate or not to protect the human rights of LGBT citizens. This is not unlike the justification offered for violent practices towards women like honor killings, widow burning, or female genital mutilation. Some people still defend those practices as part of a cultural tradition. But violence toward women isn’t cultural; it’s criminal.

But even though Liberty Counsel wants you to believe this is about Ms. Johnson’s religion, it is not. Liberty Counsel is not a “Christian rights group,” but rather an organization devoted to preventing the human rights of LGBT people. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center:

In 2009, J. Matt Barber, formerly with Concerned Women for America and Americans for Truth About Homosexuality…, joined Liberty Counsel as director of cultural affairs (also becoming Liberty University’s associate dean for career and professional development). A year earlier, Barber had argued that given “medical evidence about the dangers of homosexuality,” it should be considered “criminally reckless for educators to teach children that homosexual conduct is a normal, safe and perfectly acceptable alternative.”

The Counsel also has been active in battling same-sex marriage, saying it would destroy the “bedrock of society.” In 2005, the group’s blog said: “People who … support the radical homosexual agenda will not rest until marriage has become completely devalued. Children will suffer most from this debauchery.” A 2007 blog posting said same-sex marriage would “severely impact future generations.”

Like other anti-gay groups, Liberty Counsel argues that hate crime laws are “actually ‘thought crimes’ laws that violate the right to freedom and of conscience” — an opinion rejected by the Supreme Court.

The claims by Liberty Counsel are not a declaration of freedom, but instead further desperate attacks by a group of people protected by Federal Non-Discrimination Laws (religious people), on a group that is not (transgender people).  Freedom of religion is a protection from worshipping as one chooses, not from forcing your opinions on others.

Breaking Up is Hard to Do: the Obama Administration and I.

June 15, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Featured, Thought of the Gay

ObamaDo you remember the pre-President Obama?  He would stand before a crowd of say, 20 people at a community center talking about the American Dream and living it.  At that time, and currently, he had a “wife” that he loved, someone he could turn to while speaking and say, “Thank you to my beautiful ‘wife’ for helping me live this dream.”

Well Mr. President, I have a dream too. I dream that someday I can stand before a crowd of people and say, “Thank you to my beautiful ‘husband’ for helping me live this dream.”  I like the way that word sounds.  It’s not too formal, like “significant other” or too whimpy like “partner” – both of which belittle what it is I have with my husband.

I’m sure President Obama has experienced horrible levels of discrimination in his life.  He has fought hard and he has triumphed, setting a new era for American Politics.  But through it all did anyone ever say, “Now, do it all again but were taking away your ‘wife?'”

That is what the Defense of Marriage Act and state bans on same-sex marriage are doing, plan and simply.  They are taking away our ability to live the American Dream the same way that Mr. Obama has lived it.

Then I think back to Hillary v. Obama and how the “gays” were torn and our thoughts flowed freely:

Hillary says she supports us, but she helped draft DOMA, her ‘husband” put it into law, her ‘husband’ enacted DADT!  We can’t trust her.  But this guy, this guy, Obama, he’s been there too.  He climbed out of the ‘Club of Disaffection!’

But to climb out, he used our rights as his ladder.  I now find myself trying to find humor in how quickly we cast Hillary out for fear of her doing exactly what it is Obama is doing.  As I said once before: Hillary would be like having Jesus in the White House – only the good Jesus, not the bad one “they” keep lying to you about.

But what can we do about it?  Do we go flocking back to Hillary begging she forgive us for tossing her aside as Obama has tossed us aside?  Do we go begging the Log Cabin Republicans to forgive us and help convince their party that now, as they need redefining, is the time to become strong allies with the gay community and reclaim the White House in 2012?  Or do we continue to hold on to what it was Obama promised us and “be patient” even as he pulls the very same, hateful and deceptive language from a hat that those that would have us criminalized do, “pedophiles?”

Tonight, on Rachael Maddow, Howard Dean more than implied that we have to keep pushing for our rights as Martin Luther King continued to push for Obama’s rights.

If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now — when? — Rabbi Hillel