Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Proposition 8, The Mormon Church, and the Constitution.

From First Amendment Coalition, this story over the legal battle to prove that the campaign to vote yes on 8 was discriminatory. Call me cynical but it seems that the law should be declared discriminatory, not just the campaign.

The proof of discrimination seems obvious (Uh, funded by the Mormon church to the tune of millions of dollars so that gays can't, you know, have the right to marriage), but not to the federal appeals court in SF which is asked, on First Amendment grounds, to decide whether documents by proponents of the law can be viewed or not. It seems a strange route to declaring a law unconstitutional. But it might set precedent on how churches (now allowed to lobby without registering as lobbyists) engage in politics. I'd love to see their tax-exempt status go away. Bring on the IRS!

I've been talking about discrimination and religion a lot this week with regard to patients' rights, looking at how clauses like Coats, Wheldon, Church and others are allowed to stand when the backers of them are clearly religiously motivated, when what the laws impose is clearly religiously motivated.

The problem, as I understand it, is that access to abortion under Roe v. Wade was determined on the grounds of patient privacy, not religious discrimination, as have been subsequent challenges to restrictions on sterilizations, contraception, emergency contraception, etc. The court has since repeatedly shied away from looking at access-reducing clauses (such as the provider refusal (conscience clause) the Bush Administration thrust on us last December (now suspended by the Obama Administration, to be reconsidered or, hopefully rescinded, god knows when) in light of religious discrimination.

I can see the courts being unwilling to ascribe a legal definition to when life begins. What I can't see is ignoring the clearly religious discrimination forced on women every time a new avenue of reproductive services access is denied. Free speech or privacy have had to carry the water in these suits. Few justices at any level wants to touch them.

The case on Proposition 8 is the same, only the reason for opposition to gay marriage - discrimination - is being skirted in a suit for documents which the court considers a violation of the First Amendment. How obtuse?!

While it may not be politically popular to address the encroachment of religion on patients' rights (or gay, elder, disability or others' rights) it will have to be done. And soon. I'm hoping for a big fat loud challenge to the new Ethical and Religious Directive established by the Catholic Church at all of their 600 hospitals that patients can neither deny nor request removal from artificial nutrition and hydration. I want some tough old lady to stand up and say - do not force feed me bishops!

Already courts are addressing separation of church and state issues at schools where strong anti-discriminatory policies are preventing student groups from demanding certain beliefs of members. How about a little equality!?

A federal appeals court in San Francisco has reversed a judge’s order that backers of Proposition 8, the state initiative that banned same-sex marriage, give their campaign strategy documents to opponents trying to overturn the measure.

In a unanimous ruling Friday, the Ninth U.S. Circuit of Appeals tossed out the order that Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker issued in October against backers of Prop. 8, which state voters approved in November 2008.

Walker had said lawyers for two same-sex couples and a gay-rights group were entitled to see internal memos and e-mails between Yes on 8 strategists to look for evidence that the campaign had exploited prejudice against gays and lesbians.

The plaintiffs are trying to show that the measure was discriminatory and thus unconstitutional.

Prop. 8 sponsors argued that their discussions were constitutionally protected and that Walker’s order would discourage candid communications in political campaigns. The three-judge appeals court panel unanimously agreed.

“The freedom to associate with others for the common advancement of political beliefs and ideas lies at the heart of the First Amendment,” Judge Raymond Fisher wrote for the court. Prop. 8 proponents, he said, had shown that turning over the documents “would likely have a chilling effect on political association and the formulation of political expression.”

The court had suspended Walker’s order last week and signaled that it intended to reverse it.

The trial over the lawsuit is still scheduled to begin Jan. 11 in San Francisco.

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Blogger Thaddeus said...

The proof of discrimination seems obvious (Uh, funded by the Mormon church to the tune of millions of dollars so that gays can't, you know, have the right to marriage)

Seems obvious, but not when you collect the actual facts. The LDS Church did not donate anything close to a million dollars. Individual Mormons donated personal funds. Also, it's a sickening assumption to say that anyone supporting Prop 8 did so because of hatred toward gays.

I supported Prop 8 because marriage is a sacred institution and its purpose is the creation of families. I don't hate gays.

December 15, 2009 at 6:18 PM  
Blogger L A Neumann said...

Denying individuals rights because of perpetuated reverence for a "sacred" tradition is discrimination, however many gay friends you may want to show off or how tolerant you wish to claim yourself.

Manipulating a group of people to believe that discrimination is a part of their faith and employing that faith to damage an already marginalized group of people - for their race, age, sex, gender, class - is discrimination.

Give me a non-religious reason why society should condemn a group to lesser rights than others.

December 15, 2009 at 10:12 PM  
Blogger Thaddeus said...

Marriage is already denied to siblings, cousins, fathers-daughters, mothers-sons, children, people who are already married, and in some areas the mentally incompetent. I don't hear them crying "discrimination." Marriage isn't a right.

Religion is also not an entirely baseless reason to believe in and vote for something. I have a guaranteed free exercise of conscience including the things I vote for, even if it's based on the words God spoke.

In calling for tolerance, please remember religious tolerance.

December 15, 2009 at 10:57 PM  
Blogger L A Neumann said...

Yes, you are free to believe as you wish. I respect separation of church and state as any one in this democracy should.

What you can't do is small-minded compare gay and lesbian relationships to incest or the other false analogies you make.

And what you can't do with good conscience is impose your intolerant faith on others rights. There's a difference between believing and living by that believe and demanding that all other's abide by your rules.

That's what's happening with same-sex marriage, women's reproductive rights and on....

Religious tolerance does not mean adopting laws that represent one faith (I'm sure the gay couple down the street from you have no bearing on the sanctity of your marriage). If it did, we'd be back to the theocracy we left the continent to avoid. Religious tolerance means allowing all citizens to practice their own faith as they wish.

What keeps fucking up religious tolerance is the missionizing and imposition some faiths just can't help but impose on society and individuals.

When you remind me about religious tolerance, contemplate it well yourself. Any way you slice it, what you've written here is hate, discrimination, intolerance - and shameful from a Christian.

December 16, 2009 at 5:24 AM  

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