Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Social Conservatives' Post-DoMA Plans

Jim DeMint of the Heritage Foundation

...Religious conservatives, however, still have one more card to play in their efforts to deny equal rights to LGBT Americans. As the socially conservative writer Ross Douthat suggested shortly after the Court struck DOMA, the best way to continue to limit the rights of gay people is to “build in as many protections for religious liberty as possible along the way.” 
It’s clear that anti-gay leaders are already executing this contingency plan. Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint claimed on Tuesday that marriage equality “means trampling First Amendment religious liberty protections along the way.” At least fifteen anti-gay individuals, ranging from wedding cake bakers to bed and breakfast owners to t-shirt makers, have claimed the right to discriminate against gay people — often in direct violation of the law — with many citing their religious beliefs as justification. The conservative U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops claimed in a brief they filed in the Supreme Court that treating anti-gay discrimination permissively “protects the religious liberty of those employers with a religious objection to providing” health coverage to same-sex partners. 
The Bishops’ brief may be the biggest window into how religious conservatives plan to construct a wall around their own right to discriminate. At the same time that the Bishops urged the justices to protect a special right to deny health care to gay people, numerous employers — with the enthusiastic backing of the Bishops themselves — are litigating the question of whether their religious objections to birth control give them the right to ignore a federal rule requiring them to include it in their employees’ health plans. Last week, a federal appeals court embraced a particularly aggressive reading of religious liberty that not only held that for profit companies may refuse to comply with the birth control rule, it also included language suggesting that a religious employer could refuse to comply with anti-discrimination law if they believed discrimination was compelled by their faith...
In many place around the country where opponents of marriage equality are still the majority in power, they are living on borrowed time. All of the nation's demographic groups, even the conservative one, are trending towards accepting equality if they have not already done so. Several polls performed over the last decade have shown this trend, and the most recent polls have shown that the nation as a whole has reached the tipping point. Those who are against equality are becoming the minority and as such, they are scrambling to inshrine discrimination into law wherever they can. A good example is the state of Indiana. That state's legislative houses as well as the governorship are all controlled by Republicans. After the DoMA ruling came down from the Supreme Court, they voiced their intent to continue on with plans for a state-level version of DoMA, despite trends everywhere headed in the opposite direction. This will most likely pass out of the legislature, but its fate in front of the people is murkier.

Also, as I mentioned in a post earlier this week, Rep. Huelskamp introduced a federal marriage amendment in the United States House of Representatives after the DoMA and Proposition 8 rulings. This, unlike the case in Indiana, is dead-on-arrival. However, both of these cases show the desperation of equality opponents. Remember when you were taking timed tests as a kid and as the end neared, you realized that you were nowhere near finished and panic started to set in? Social conservatives feel the same way.

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