Someone asked me if I had decided to stop writing about LGBTQ “stuff” – I suppose my recent posts have been a bit eclectic. But they are about me and I am LGBTQ so I think it is a fit.
I realize there is a lot happening in the world so let me offer up a little “round up” posts of sorts
- The Southern Poverty Law Center has added 7 anti-LGBTQ groups to the list of hate groups.
- A federal court ruled that Kentucky must recognize out of state marriages for same sex couples.
- The situations in Uganda and Nigeria are complicated and dire.
- Much controversy has erupted over actors Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto winning Oscars for their respective performances in “The Dallas Buyers Club” – both ongoing unrest about their casting and their acceptance speeches.
Oh, yeah and this happened in PA “Rep. Gordon Denlinger (R-Lancaster) recently made public his intention to draft an amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution that would clarify that document’s intent to protect freedom of conscience.”
Freedom of conscience is exactly what it sounds like – a retread of what happened in Arizona, only embedded in the actual Constitution of Pennsylvania. This is not a shocker to me because there have already been numerous links between the efforts of various PA groups to challenge the “birth control mandate” of the Affordable Care Act to these “religious liberty” efforts – all of them create new religious rights for employers (as opposed to employees) and even for corporations. This piece lays it out in much better details than I can do. Your existing rights to practice your religion aren’t being reinforced – new rights are being imposed that actually constrict you as an individual.
Proponents of Hobby Lobby’s challenge to the federal contraceptive coverage requirement and this new spate of anti-gay state legislation have argued that they are simply attempting to preserve the constitutional guarantee of the free exercise of religion, but the reality is that right to the free exercise of religion has never been a right that secular businesses claimed to possess. It has never been part of religious liberty for a business to foist its owner’s religious views on his employees or customers. As the raft of new anti-gay legislation powerfully shows, arming businesses with religious rights would create a dangerous precedent that, in the words of one Republican mayor and Arizona gubernatorial candidate, would “give carte blanche for anybody to discriminate under the guise of religion.
This is a bit frightening because it is homegrown hate. Pennsylvania is nearly 400 years old and still has no statewide right for LGBTQ residents or our families. It has been more than ten years since a court ruled on Second Parent Adoption and that hasn’t even found its way into the legislative code.
What we do have is a lot of rhetoric with no actual plan to pass HB 300 – the only response I get when I ask about strategy is to donate money. But I’m skeptical – in the current status quo, the Governor who is Republican supports the legislation, it holds a record number of cosponsors and polling data shows that over 70% of Pennsylvania residents support it. What more do you need?
Apparently, something more. More money? A Democrat Governor? What?
I’m not sure what that is. The City of Pittsburgh has lost ground in terms of equal protections. We’ve also lost LGBT population as folks flee to the suburbs WITHOUT protections. Younger people are somewhat alienated and disconnected especially if they don’t fit into the “gay and lesbian” identities. We lost a State House seat so whomever wins these contested races, we’ll still be in a losing position.
We stand to lose more when marriage equality comes to pass before nondiscrimination protections. The City extended domestic partner benefits in 1995 and there are employees who still can’t access them and they don’t offer trans health care coverage. Pittsburgh has less municipal equality than almost any place in Ohio for God’s sake.
What’s going to happen if the Catholics et al WIN their challenge to the ACA and then turn their attention to state legislation? There will be nowhere to hide in this state.
It is not 1995 any longer. It just feels that way.