Kansas License to Discriminate…Against Women Drivers

Kansas Representative Charles Macheers (R), Right-wing Extremist

Kansas Representative Charles Macheers (R), Right-wing Extremist

The Kansas House of Representatives just passed Rep. Charles Macheer’s HB 2453 on Tuesday, by a nearly 2 to 1 margin. This bill, as has been widely reported, is basically an attempt to allow discrimination against people on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, as long as the person doing the discrimination feels it their religious duty to be an ass. Secular discrimination would remain illegal. Seriously. So the lesson here is, if you want to be an ass, it’s best to be a religious ass. Rep. Charles Macheers – and in fact the Kansas House of Representatives – has your back. But that’s not all. Like the State of Oklahoma, Kansas can’t even do the wrong thing right. In 2010, one house of the Oklahoma legislature, in attempting to prevent hate-crime laws from being applied in cases of LGBT victims screwed up – they passed a bill that left gays protected, but stripped rights from victims of religiously and racially motivated hate crimes. Kansas, meanwhile, apparently means explicitly legalize religiously motivated hate, albeit not in the context of violent crime (as the hate crime law applied), but “just” in things like employment and government services. Jesus is pleased, I’m sure. For instance, HB 2453 reads, in part:

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no individual or religious entity shall be required by any governmental entity to do any of the following, if it would be contrary to the sincerely held religious beliefs of the individual or religious entity regarding sex or gender:

(a) Provide any services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges; provide counseling, adoption, foster care and other social services; or provide employment or employment benefits, related to, or related to the celebration of, any marriage, domestic partnership, civil union or similar arrangement;

(b) solemnize any marriage, domestic partnership, civil union or similar arrangement; or

(c) treat any marriage, domestic partnership, civil union or similar arrangement as valid.

While parts (b) and (c) are pretty awful, (a) is astonishing. Let me make this a bit more clear, because (a) has the clarity we have grown to expect from the anti-LGBT lobby.  Here’s what (a) allows, at least when there isn’t a Federal law that would trump it:

  • A DMV worker who feels that their religion doesn’t allow women to drive (like some in Saudi Arabia) could refuse to help the 50% of DMV “customers” who enter the local DMV.  In small towns, this person might be the only one on-staff at times. Besides lightening their own workload, the person would receive protection from the State taking any personnel action against them.
  • A woman showing up at a male doctor’s office could be refused care by the male doctor if a woman doctor is available or if she isn’t accompanied by the appropriate male relative. After all, again, some in Saudi Arabia believe this for religious reasons. All it takes is a sincere belief…
  • A Christian who believes “women should always be under the authority of a man” could refuse to hire women into any supervisory role.

It’s a lot broader than these examples but that should be sufficient. Note that I don’t believe all Muslims or Christians are anti-woman, but, sadly, some are. Others are decent human beings. Sadly the decent human beings don’t seem to be making the laws in Kansas.

Of course one could also believe that the anti-woman provisions of this law just might not be an accident. After all, the religious right (by all accounts the true sponsor of this law) doesn’t just think homosexuality is wrong or that transgender people are “living in sin,” but they also believe something very interesting:

Every child needs a mom and a dad” (warning: that link contains a lot of B.S., but demonstrates the view of those who use this argument in opposing marriage equality).

What exactly does “every child needs a mom and a dad” mean if it doesn’t mean that there are some things which are either only done, or only should be done, by one sex or the other? I suspect dad is to be the leader, while mom is to be homemaker. This proposed Kansas law would help accomplish that.


Don’t Make it Part of Your Identity

LGBT people are told to keep their orientation and gender private. They are told that what they do in their bedroom is fine, but it shouldn’t be their identity. You’ll hear this primarily in religious circles – the idea is this: you should have an identity as a Christian, not as a gay. Being gay or straight, so it goes, is not important. Being Christian is. And making something else – anything else (but especially homosexuality!) your identity is making that thing a false God. Sure, there are some religious folk that will claim “God Hates Fags” and the like, but this is a slightly more insidious version of the same exact thing: it isn’t okay to be gay. Why can’t you be a Christian instead?

Of course this is wrong on a bunch of levels. It’s clearly a straman – nobody is saying, “My religion is ‘gay’, so I can’t be a Christian.” Well, nobody except the aforementioned Christians. Nor is this standard applied to other things – I can say I’m a teacher or an engineer. I can say I’m a man (provided I’m not trans, in which case I’m only allowed to say I’m the gender they think I am). I can say I’m old or I’m young, depending on which I am. I can say I’m white. I can say I’m an American. Heck, I probably could even say I’m a Democrat or Republican. And nobody thinks I’m supplanting God by doing this (well, maybe if I say I’m a Democrat I am…).

However, when it comes to identifying as gay, it’s supplanting God and is a false idol, because I’d be basing my identity on homosexuality rather than God. The people who promote this nonsense go on to claim that it wouldn’t matter if I did this with something else like my career or even straight orientation. It’s all about putting something in the place of importance to my identity that only God should have. But of course the hypocrisy is clear.

To be honest, I have less of a problem with the God Hates Fags crowd. At least they let you know what they think, and don’t try to find a whitewashed way to present their bigotry. So, my hint to fellow Christians: say what you mean and mean what you say. You don’t get to have it both ways – you don’t get to justify your prejudice by claiming that you just want people to identify as Christian, yet then, through your acts and deeds, make it clear that your problem has nothing to do with that, but rather has everything to do with who someone loves or that someone’s gender isn’t what you think it should be.

If there’s one thing Christ hated, it was hypocracy.

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. (Matthew 23:13)

As for me, I pray to recognize love, wherever it exists.

And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Cor 13:13)

What is Natural?

DVD Cover art for Be Like Others, onsisting of a man sitting next to a woman with the words 'be like others' displayed above themYesterday, I watched Be Like Others.  It’s available (for a fee) from Amazon in the USA (not sure about availability outside of USA).

I have a lot to say about this film – and I’ll put that into a future post.  I think a lot of what is going on in Iran is truly horrifying, particularly seeing the number of people who are just about to have sexual reassignment surgery or have already had it who, if it wasn’t for the forced coercion of the Iran religious government, wouldn’t have the surgery.  Homophobia pushes gays and no-op trans people into surgery.  That’s pretty horrible.

What I do want to write about today was one interesting scene in the film where an Islamic religious expert (Iman?  Not sure) was speaking to a transsexual support group in Iran.  He was answering the question of whether or not it’s unnatural to have sexual reassignment surgery.

His answer was eloquent and beautiful.  My paraphrase of it probably won’t be, but I’ll try anyhow.  He talked about how man takes wheat and makes bread – he’s changing the nature of the wheat in the process.  Or how man cuts down a tree and makes furniture – something that is man changing something God made.

We do lots of things that aren’t natural.  And normally we consider that good.  “It’s not natural” really just means, “I don’t like it.  I don’t think you should do it.”  It’s what we fall back upon when we don’t have a good reason for what we are saying, so we need to rely upon “common sense” about nature – our bigotry in other words.

Natural is fine.  But so is man, responsibly, interacting with the natural.