Wednesday, December 21, 2016

NBC offers disturbing analysis of the proposed "First Amendment Defense Act", as a ruse

NBC News offers a disturbing analysis  by Mary Emily O’Hara, of the proposed "First Amendment Defense Act"  introduced by Paul R. Labrador (R-ID).  Trump appears to support this bill.
The bill would allow private entities to discriminate against individual consumers on specific religious grounds: (1) that marriage is between one man and one woman (2) that sexuality should be contained within heterosexual marriage, where there is openness to procreation.  Some state laws, like Mississippi’s, as proposed or passed, are similar, but may add the idea that people’s behavior must conform to their birth biological genders (which as a matter or medical science is not always absolutely clear-cut).

The bill might be arguably unconstitutional (ironically in First Amendment terms) because it favors one or more specific religious beliefs (found with conservative branches of most faiths) over others.

O’Hara gives a link to another NBC story that socially-based discrimination is bad for most mainstream businesses.  Indeed, that is so.  This sounds like something that happens on the fringes.

I don’t think it would affect mainstream workplaces (or regular commercial businesses operated as public accommodations).  Already, people who work specifically for churches can be compelled to behave personally according to church doctrine (as we witness the firings of some Catholic school teachers).  Well, maybe not.  Look at this new litigation in Georgia over a firing of a Catholic school teacher over gay marriage.   Jamie Manson weighs in on the moral dilemma a Catholic school in Philadelphia felt over another case, but it felt it needed to protect its religious identity, here. This is a little bit personal.  I am not Catholic, but sometimes play in chess tournaments ("Chess for Charity") hosted by a Catholic school near Tyson’s Corner.  I’ve known people who said they hard worked for parochial schools and got fired for being “found out”.
The bill would seem to “protect” faith-based organizations that get public funds.  Would the Boy Scouts of America, or Boy Scout troops, start discriminating again?  If they get public funds, they’re not completely private (as in the 2000 Supreme Court case).

More to the point, is to ask why groups want to do this?  As noted above, some people see beliefs about sexuality and marriage as part of a religious or tribal identity, an idea that seems intellectually shallow to me.  More disturbing is the idea that a group that promotes exclusion of (younger) gay men or teens, in particular, thinks it is pandering to the idea that parents want as much lineage (as many grandchildren) as possible.  That’s what happens in Russia, where Vladimir Putin exploits the idea that public homosexual speech discourages marginal boys (the old fashioned idea of “waverers”, as disturbing as it sounds) from wanting to have children, and Russia has a big population implosion (“demographic winter”) problem.

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