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10/24/2009

Yes on 1's biggest donor: An examination (Vol. 2)

by Jeremy Hooper

Back in October of 2008, the National Organization For Marriage's Maggie Gallagher said the following in order to scare California voters into supporting that divisive misstep known as Prop 8:





(If embedded audio doesn't load for you, you can listen to it here)

And before that, Maggie used this same Washington Blade line in other places, including National Review and the NY Post. Only problem? It's a MASSIVE OVERSIMPLIFICATION of what is truly printed in the 5/30/08 Blade piece! Here's the actual 588 word, nothing-if-not-reasoned response (which features three different legal experts weighing in on the matter:

Apart from state- or federally funded religious programs, could the legalization of same-sex marriage in California prevent priests and ministers from preaching that homosexuality is biblically forbidden? Could churches in time risk their tax-exempt status by refusing to marry gays?

That remains to be seen and will likely result in a steady stream of court battles.

Chai Feldblum, a lesbian and professor of law at Georgetown University, said lawsuits in this area are inevitable but that she’s confident the courts will exercise “common sense.”

“The state will have trouble with some of these things,” she said. “Let’s say it’s a Christian daycare center. I think it will depend. If your daycare looks like any other daycare except the owners happen to be Christians and they don’t want to take the kid with the gay parents, that’s quite a different thing from a place where it’s a very religions setting with religious instruction. What it comes down to is a clash of constitutional rights. The law is developing in this area and it will be interesting to see how it unfolds.”

The Employment Non-Discrim-ination Act (ENDA), which passed in the House but hasn’t been introduced in the Senate, includes exemptions for small and/or religious businesses like Christian bookstores.

But in terms of churches and their teachings, Feldblum said historically religion hasn’t been a basis for discrimination that’s held up well in court.

“It comes down to how compelling the courts feel an argument is,” she said. “In issues of race, [religious-justified teachings] haven’t been seen as very compelling. In issues of sex, that’s been slightly less the case.”

She predicts courts will evaluate how integral religion is to a particular job such as a professor at a conservative Bible college.

“On the other hand, it’s pretty hard to argue that the janitor at your Christian company can’t be a lesbian,” she said.

“I think it’s pretty clear in the decision that the judges aren’t saying anything about anyone’s religious freedom,” said Kimberly Richman, a sociology professor at the University of San Francisco whose specialty is gay and lesbian parenting.

“People talk about the civil institution and the religious institution of marriage and it’s kind of interesting here in the United States that we have both,” Richman, who’s straight, said. “But the ruling is clear that people can have whatever kind of ceremony they want and no clergy person will ever be forced to perform a ceremony they don’t believe in.”

First Amendment expert Jonathan Turley, who teaches at George Washington Law School, thinks having faith-based organizations working with the government has been “a huge mistake” and thinks the distinction between an organization that’s government subsidized versus one that’s tax exempt is significant.

“I definitely don’t believe the government should be subsidizing programs that are discriminatory,” Turley, who’s straight, said. “But I think it’s a different thing altogether for an organization to maintain its tax-exempt status, which isn’t an endorsement from the government … tax-exempt entities shouldn’t be forced to abide by social standards.”

Turley cites a 1983 Supreme Court ruling against the fundamentalist Christian college Bob Jones University that its controversial racial policies were discriminatory and thus rendered the school ineligible for tax exemption.

“You look at their admission policy from then and it’s full of just hateful racism,” Turley said. “But the government should remain neutral. There are lots of tax-exempt organizations that have completely moronic and repulsive policies but that’s the price you pay by having this law. The same would be true for a gay and lesbian activist organization. They shouldn’t be forced to hire a conservative person who opposes same-sex marriage. Getting rid of a group’s tax exemption as a form of federal punishment isn’t the answer.”
Answering tough questions raised by Calif. ruling [Wash Blade]

See -- it's not a terse, agenda-laden, religion-hating response that merits a "disturbing situation." It is a complex, multi-faceted reply on a complex, multi-faceted topic! But since it's far easier and more politically advantageous for folks like Maggie to just say, "Oh, those pesky gays are gunnin' for the church!" she deliberately strips all complexity, all nuance, all deep thought, all analysis, and all intellectual assessment from the Wash Blade reply.

So why do we bring this back up now? Well, because it's a good example of how NOM takes any and every civil matter and, rather than fleshing it out through a careful analysis so that all citizens can better understand how and why we must have a mutual support system between religious liberties and civil rights, instead chooses to repurpose these kinds of things through the fear-mongery lens through which most every bit of "pro-family" rhetoric must first pass before hitting the public's eardrums. NOM weakens this debate. And after this latest development out of Maine, more folks really should know what NOM is all about:

$1.1 million of the $1.4 million raised by Stand for Marriage Maine in October came from a single source: the National Organization for Marriage. In fact, the Washington, D.C., organization has bankrolled more than 60 percent of the campaign to ban same-sex marriages in Maine.
Money fueling battle over gay marriage [Bangor Daily News]

This group is extremist. This group is unfair. This group is hellbent on destroying anything who gets on their narrow path. At this point, this group (coupled with the Catholic church, to which NOM is strongly tied) essentially is Stand For Marriage Maine (the group pushing the 'Yes on 1' side) .

We have one week to defeat this group. What will you do to help?

NO ON 1

****

*EARLIER: Yes on 1's biggest donor: An examination (Vol. 1) [G-A-Y]

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