Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Bigoted Christians Are the Most Special Snowflakes

From The Advocate: http://www.advocate.com/commentary/2017/4/11/bigoted-christians-are-most-special-snowflakes

The Religious Right likes to say that LGBT people are now granted "special rights," but they're actually the ones getting exceptional treatment by the government.

By Reay Earhart April 11 2017

Recently, a friend of mine in Ohio who has a transgender child was sent an angry, anonymous letter gloating about Trump’s victory, and the fact that, “There won’t be no more special rights for you people.” The missive was full of grammatical errors, misspellings, and used capital letters to emphasize how much she really hates the notion of being legally prevented from discriminating against transgender people. 

This random screed would have been comical, except for the fact that Housing and Urban Development Secretary and former presidential candidate Ben Carson said almost the same thing during his congressional hearings when asked about protections for LGBT people: “I have mentioned in the past that no one gets extra rights. Extra rights means you get to redefine everything for everybody else.”

Carson said this without a trace of irony. His definition of “special rights” is basically legal protection from discrimination. This is funny, because he’s enjoyed more legal and employment protection than anyone I know. He’s protected by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as a black person and as a man. He’s constitutionally protected at the highest legal level of scrutiny from discrimination on the basis of race or religion. At John’s Hopkins University, he was protected by “academic freedom,” meaning he couldn’t be fired for anything he said or did as long as it wasn’t blatantly criminal. He took full advantage of this while there under an administration with a long history of tolerance for bigotry and discrimination.

Nearly universally, the people decrying “special rights” for “those people” (whoever they may be) come from the Christian Right. The irony is the people decrying “special rights” have more special rights than anyone else in our society. These individuals want the freedom to discriminate against LGBT people based on their religion, but they would fight tooth and nail against LGBT people (or anyone else) being legally allowed to discriminate against them for being Christian in the first place. They seem unaware of the hypocrisy and privilege of this, We should have the right to discriminate against them but it is unconstitutional for them to discriminate against us attitude.

As it stands, at a federal level LGBT people have almost zero specifically enumerated legal protections, and religious people have the strongest possible ones under U.S. law. Even if LGBT people had explicit legal protections, they would be substantially weaker than those enjoyed by Christians (strict scrutiny vs. intermediate scrutiny).

They want the Trump administration and Congress to strike down the Johnson Amendment, which allows the IRS to strip tax exempt status from churches if they endorse candidates or give them money. This would effectively allow churches to become Super-Super PACs, able to collect and distribute unlimited amounts of dark money to candidates and parties without being subject to campaign finance law of any sort. Given the evidence of foreign interference in the 2016 election, it is not hard to imagine wealthy foreign powers exploiting this for political gain, and further eroding our democracy in the process.

Then there’s the “special rights” that they seem to think LGBT people have. The “special right” to marry who you love? The “special right” to use a bathroom consistent with your gender identity? The “special right” not to be refused service or fired arbitrarily or maliciously? The right to an education?  These are already rights that Christians in the U.S. already have. However, these become “special rights” when LGBT gain even a legally pale version of the legal guarantees already enjoyed by the religious right.

Yet somehow the people who want a special right to discriminate become the victims in their own minds. Why? Because they’re expected to serve LGBT people the way they do everyone else. Or they might suffer the indignity of knowingly or unknowingly sharing a bathroom with a transgender person. Or maybe their employer is requiring them to use a transgender person’s legal name.
Oh, the horror. The indignity of it all! This is just like Nazi Germany, they exclaim.

Complete article at:  http://www.advocate.com/commentary/2017/4/11/bigoted-christians-are-most-special-snowflakes

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