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On Rep. Labrador's Pro-Discrimination Act of 2013

by Jeremy Hooper

By now you've surely heard about the new bill that a band of House conservatives have concocted in yet another effort to dismantle the gains that the marriage equality movement has made. They call it the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act, but a more accurate title would be the Free Pass For Tax-Subsidized Organizations To Discriminate So Long As They Cite God As Their Impetus For Doing So.

Listen to how one of its cosponsors, conservative Democrat Rep. Dan Lipinski (IL), details the bill's intent:

"The Marriage and Religious Freedom Act would help preserve the most basic rights of all Americans: the right to religious liberty and the rights of conscience," Rep. Lipinski said. "The idea that individuals, churches and institutions could be penalized for not endorsing a practice in opposition to their core beliefs goes against the fundamental principles espoused by our founding fathers. I ask my colleagues in the House to act on this legislation swiftly to discourage the potential discrimination against those who simply choose to exercise their rights as Americans."

"Endorsing a practice"?! What ridiculousness! For one, there's the egocentric idea that anyone in a same-sex marriage is seeking these folks "endorsement," as if we will not have worth until the grant it. But there's also the false notion that simply recognizing fairly enacted (/court tested) laws means to "endorse" them. That is truly ludicrous!

We all know that anti-gay conservatives don't like same-sex marriage's proven worth; they've been shouting this silliness from the rooftops for the past decade. But what they don't understand is that their sheer distaste is not a valid reason to deny some citizens of their deserve rights or to exempt others from playing within the fair bounds of their tax status. In fact, the courts continue to reject the idea that animus is a valid reason to undermine LGBT people's civil freedoms. They of course dismiss these courts as "activist," but that politically-driven effort to undermine any judicial body that goes against their movement's self-centered wishes doesn't change the constitutional reality. Which is of course why they want to change the law (and U.S. Constitution, ultimately).

These "protect marriage" conservatives act as if this is all a negotiation in which their drive for heterosexual superiority deserves a fighting chance. They seem to think that we all have to buy into their claims of simply "supporting marriage" even as their true desire to discriminate—D.I.S.C.R.I.M.I.N.A.T.E.—becomes clearer by the day. They want our fellow citizens to believe that, for the first time in American history, this is a form of discrimination that is actually a social good. I know I keep using words like "ridiculous" and "ludicrous" in running down their plans, but if you follow this stuff as closely as I do, you have no choice but to use such terms.

Although really, if I want to show you what this bill is all about, I should just get out of the way and show you this:

The bill has been endorsed by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the National Organization for Marriage, Heritage Action, Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and Concerned Women for America.

Aha! So it's not only an attempt to pass discrimination off as a public good—it's also fundraising for waning organizations. So obvious.

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