Category Archives: Gay Issues

How To Tell If Your Religious Liberties Are Being Violated In America

Religious Liberties

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Freedom To Marry Marches Across The Globe

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Eighteen nations legally allow the freedom to marry for same-sex couples nationwide (Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, Argentina, Denmark, France, Brazil, Uruguay, New Zealand, Britain, Luxembourg and Finland)

Two very large nations have regional or court-directed provisions enabling same-sex couples to share in the freedom to marry (Mexico and the United States [soon to be nationwide]). In Slovenia, Parliament approved a marriage bill in March 2015, and it awaits signature by the President.

Fourteen other countries provide legal protections for same-sex couples through “unions.”

As more and more countries—and hopefully soon in the United States with a Supreme Court decision—win the freedom to marry, families are supported and communities and countries strengthened by protecting all loving committed couples. The world can become stronger while growing kinder and more respecting of freedoms.


Same-Sex Marriage Now Legal For Majority Of The U.S.

For more than 165 million Americans — more than half the US population — Same-Sex Marriage Equality is now very real.

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The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision Monday to decline hearing a series of appeals cases on same-sex marriage will have the effect of immediately legalizing gay marriage in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin. When combined with the 19 states (and the District of Columbia) that had previously legalized same-sex marriage, these states have a collective population of roughly 165 million, according to 2013 census figures.

For the first time, same-sex marriage is legal for the majority of the U.S. population. The 26 states where the practice is not legal have a total population of about 151 million.

The Supreme Court’s decision will also lead to the legalization of same-sex marriage in Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming. Those states have an additional 25 million people combined. When these states follow suit because they fall under federal circuit courts that have ruled same-sex marriage restrictions unconstitutional, 30 states and the District of Columbia — totaling about 60 percent of the U.S. population — will allow same-sex marriage.

Two years ago at this time, same-sex marriage was legal only in Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont and the District, which together have about 11 percent of the U.S. population.

Progress marches onward.

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Religious Liberty As Bigotry — Discrimination Historically The Purview Of Religious Zealots

“Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.”
– Judge Leon M. Bazile, January 6, 1959

Yesterday it was “The Coloreds;” today it is “The Gays.”

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Arizona Governor Jan Brewer today vetoed the License To Discriminate Against Gays law passed by Arizona’s house and senate. That’s a good thing. But what’s bad is that she did it for economic reasons as opposed to ethical and moral reasons (Apple, American Airlines, the NFL, all the tourism associations, etc implored her to veto the bill because implementation would inevitably mean economic boycotts against the state).

I agree with using all tools available to shoot down these religion-based bigotry bills, no doubt, yet it should be stated clearly that the greater and heftier rationale for veto are ethical and moral. In a land that espouses freedoms as a central premise, any legislation that codifies discrimination because an individual does not like another person’s life should be anathema and promptly shot down.

rel-fIn one’s religious realm (at their church or in their home), one may treat and allow in another in any way they would like (short of abuse and physical harm or death), but when running a business or interacting in daily life, one is in the social and civil realm, and here you may not violate another’s freedoms to live… that is the US Constitution. That means that one’s freedom to act discriminatorily is illegal. Don’t like that the constitution protects even those you don’t approve? As conservatives have said for years to protesters, etc… if you don’t like it here, maybe you should leave for some other country.

For far too long, conservatives have used the shield of religious freedom to enshrine bigotry and discrimination. It’s nothing new. The righteous must always have the unrighteous.

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While LGBT Americans are the current target of this effort to repackage prejudice as “religious liberty,” we are hardly the first. As Wake Forest law Professor Michael Kent Curtis explained in a 2012 law review article, many segregationists justified racial bigotry on the very same grounds that religious conservatives now hope to justify anti-gay discrimination. In the words of one professor at a prominent Mississippi Baptist institution, “our Southern segregation way is the Christian way . . . . [God] was the original segregationist.”

In 1901, Georgia Gov. Allen Candler defended unequal public schooling for African Americans on the grounds that “God made them negroes and we cannot by education make them white folks.” After the Supreme Court ordered public schools integrated in Brown v. Board of Education, many segregationists cited their own faith as justification for official racism. Ross Barnett won Mississippi’s governorship in a landslide in 1960 after claiming that “the good Lord was the original segregationist.” Senator Harry Byrd of Virginia relied on passages from Genesis, Leviticus and Matthew when he spoke out against the civil rights law banning employment discrimination and whites-only lunch counters on the Senate floor.

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Bob Jones University excluded African Americans completely until the early 1970s. The IRS revoked the schools tax-exempt status, and the school sued. When Bob Jones’ case reached the Supreme Court, the school argued that IRS’ regulations denying tax exemptions to racist institutions “cannot constitutionally be applied to schools that engage in racial discrimination on the basis of sincerely held religious beliefs.” Doesn’t that rationale sound familiar? But the justices did not agree. In an 8-1 decision by conservative Chief Justice Warren Burger, the Court explained that, “On occasion this Court has found certain governmental interests so compelling as to allow even regulations prohibiting religiously based conduct.” Prohibiting race discrimination is one of these interests. And in these modern times, prohibiting discrimination based upon sexuality has come to be one of these interests.

Importantly, in United States v. Lee, the Supreme Court has also ruled, “When followers of a particular sect enter into commercial activity as a matter of choice, the limits they accept on their own conduct as a matter of conscience and faith are not to be superimposed on the statutory schemes which are binding on others in that activity.”

A religious bigot’s decision to refuse to do business with someone — especially for reasons such as race or sexual orientation — can fundamentally demean that individual and deny them their own right to participate equally in society.

Religious liberty is an important value and it rightfully belongs in our Constitution, but we do not allow it to be used to destroy the rights of others. Hateful discrimination is wrong. And it doesn’t matter why someone wants to discriminate.

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Through their varied talking points, conservatives advance a narrative suggesting a “religious rights vs. gay rights” conflict, ignoring the fact that not all religious persons are anti-gay and the reality that many gay persons are religious. Moreover, it suggests an uneven playing field that is opposite of reality.

There are NO federal laws protecting gay citizens from discrimination in employment, housing, or public accommodations. Many states and cities offer their own laws to compensate for this national failure, but gays are still largely unprotected throughout the country. Conversely, religious discrimination has been prohibited under federal law since the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964!

Conservatives absurdly portrait gay nondiscrimination protections as “special privileges,” implying that religious people are thus at a disadvantage… even though the religious already enjoy those same protections! Based on this false premise, conservatives argue that religion needs its own extra protection to compensate for these “special” gay protections — a law like what was proposed in Arizona. In reality, such a law would give religion an unfair advantage, allowing religion to trump any protections gay citizens might enjoy through other state or local laws.

THIS is really what “Religious Freedom” means in these debates: it frames a discussion for conservative Christians wrestling with the emerging equality of a previously disadvantaged group.

Just as segregationists argued during the 20th Century that “God created the races” and “placed them on separate continents” for a reason, 21st Century conservatives similarly struggle to reconcile legal equality for the gay community with a religious tradition of condemning homosexuality.

Rather than “burdening” religious belief, the progression of gay citizens’ equality simply presents a new legal framework to ensure that anti-gay religious beliefs are not unjustly imposed upon others.


HBO’s “The Newsroom” Video Clip… Evokes My Own Rants & Received Stares

Why America is NOT the greatest country in the world, anymore — A Provocative Rant

In fact, waking up this morning with the weight of last evening’s intellectual joust at a dinner with friends still pressing on me, I found this video rant to be like looking into a mirror. So much so that I forwarded the clip to one of my best friends (who’s often witness to my passionate defense of how I see the world — our reality — and this nation’s place in it) with the subject: “Oh, My GAWD! This Is Me Going On My Rants & Receiving The Same Stares.”

When I encounter the too-often-experienced-and-reflexive pushback to any criticism-observation of our nation’s current reality or my past experience within that reality, my passions take hold. I stake my position and launch into an energized and confident diatribe citing the same statistics and facts and interspersing the same colorful metaphors and F-bombs dropped throughout this video. And I usually receive the same stunned stares from those uninitiated to my opining, as well as the slanted smiles from experienced ones thinking, “Well, now it begins.”

Such was the experience last evening in a Japanese restaurant, around a low slung table with eight extremely intelligent and educated friends seated on thin mats on wooden benches near the floor. As always the discussion evolved from casual and superficial fare to more high-brow and intellectual pursuits. So, toward the end of the several-hour-long meal — and after much sake, wine, and drink — three of us began to discuss the recent Supreme Court decisions. Ah, nothing unusual here…this would be expected of us.

What was unexpected was one friend’s reaction to my assertions: 1) That I thought the court’s and Scalia’s decisions in the cases concerning the Voting Rights Act and the cases regarding gay marriage were inconsistent and conflicting and thus indicative of decisions based upon ideological grounds rather than point-of-law; and 2) That the decisions involving gay marriage moved me to tears because it was the first time I felt at least partly validated by my nation as a full citizen worthy of the rights that should be mine simply by definition. By implication, I asserted that ethnic minorities like my husband might rightly feel more ostracized and invalidated by their nation because of the SCOTUS decisions on voting rights.

I was informed by my friend seated directly next to me that I was being extreme in my tearful reaction and unreasonable in my attitude toward both the nation and these court decisions…that this was a great nation, that the courts were basing decisions on points-of-law, and that I could not possibly know what was in the mind of someone like Supreme Court Justice Scalia (Well, of course, no one knows his mind except Scalia but I can have a perspective of his mindset and an opinion about it…damn it!).

As a gay man married (in Europe) for several decades to a gentleman of mixed ethnicities (African-American, American-Indian, and White Anglo-Saxon), I’ve personally experienced, heard personal recounts, and witnessed a few of the discriminations that expose me to the raw realities of modern American life. I’ve thoughtfully considered those events and experiences to better know and understand that reality, why it exists as it does, and what must change to make us a “More Perfect Union.”

On what are clearly very personal and emotional issues to me, I was informed in a coldly intellectual and dismissive manner that I was being extreme in both my judgement and my reactions to the decisions.

So, when I received further criticism that I was being extreme and unreasonable in my tearful reaction to the gay marriage ruling and resentment to the voting rights decision, I launched into a typical Faustian urGe to explain my positions. Namely, I went into the America-is-not-as-great-as-you-think rant (ala, the above video), nor does it offer the constitutionally mandated protections this person, my counterpart, takes for granted (assumed from my perspective).

After attempting to keep the discussion confined to intellectual reasoning, I finally just had to blurt out loudly , “You only feel this way and don’t understand how important these rulings are to real lives, to real people, to people you know like me…because you didn’t experience working a decade for a major corporation for which you helped to earn tens-of-million-of-dollars in profits and then get tossed out with no recourse because you were a ‘faggot’ too high up in the ranks! But I have. And you don’t know what it feels like to have state constitutional amendments banning you as a person from ever receiving your rights as a citizen! But I do!” Silence, and then, “I didn’t know that.”

The point is that one shouldn’t have to “know that,” to know a person viciously discriminated against simply because of who they are, simply because of their very existence as a person. Everyone’s rights are worth protecting and enforcing. That’s why they are called “Rights” and not “privileges.”

The third person in this troika discussing the courts, the national reality, and experience then interjected and said to me, “I think you’re being very reasonable. In fact, it amazes me that people like yourself and especially african-americans like your husband have any love or respect for their country at all. Always amazes me. That you work to improve this country on many levels is a great testament.”

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Monumental Victories: SCOTUS Strikes Down DOMA & Marriage Equality Returns To California

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Faustian urGe Manifesto

Ensuring That Serving “Capital” Interests Must Also Serve To Broadly Improve The Lives Of “We The People”

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CORONARE MODESTUS FAUST often bemoans ethical failures while he also attempts to mitigate, in some minuscule way, the social damages he and too many other citizens suffer from “Traditional” American Values (social and business). Inappropriate personal agendas and indifference toward obligation and ethics are significant annoyances that he addresses by trying to learn more — what wags the world and why.

Given the circus of extremes on display in society and within the political realm since President Obama’s re-election, CORONARE MODESTUS FAUST is currently working through the conundrum of how so many intelligent, educated people manage to place their feet in their mouths while their heads are so firmly up their arses.

He’s frustrated, and believes the nation is threatened, by libertarianism — knowing the objectivist/libertarian belief system is inappropriate to a fruitful, functional society. Libertarians disregard a profound reality: We are responsible for the decisions we make, yes, but we’re not responsible for the options we’re given. Thus, CORONARE MODESTUS FAUST believes that we should create that “society we would want if we didn’t know in advance who we’d be.”

He sees that another libertarian delusion is establishment of the fanciful “self-made” individual. The laughable concept discounts external influence or inspiration and exhibits a blatant disregard for the interconnectedness that is the human condition.

He remains convinced that we humans do not have to destroy each other to survive (as in two wars extinguishing 100,000+ lives as revenge for the prior killing of 3000) but that we choose to do so… not the nonsense propounded that genetics or patriotism demands it. CORONARE MODESTUS FAUST knows we have the ability to reason and that too many simply choose the easier way of reactive non-thought.

Though imbued with a simmering cauldron of rage just below his deceptively pleasant (and not altogether unpleasant looking) exterior, he’s always willing to self-examine and learn — yearning for family, friends, community members to take the same ride.

The hope… the desire… the craving… for forward movement and betterment on cultural, political, and individual levels are woven into his personal fabric, with key objectives toward equality/equitability*, liberty, fraternity, justice-for-all, empathy, self-awareness, growth, momentum, compassion, and humor.

(*EQUALITY of advancement opportunity and treatment under the law and social memes — EQUITABILITY of rewards and outcomes [economic and social])

On EQUALITY:

It appears that a large number of citizens seeking minimalist government from the Right are for strong government, though, when it favors their perceived social interests, such as interfering with the reproductive rights of women, the marriage rights of non-heterosexuals, and the civil rights of non-whites.

CORONARE MODESTUS FAUST relishes challenging the authority of political, religious, and societal priests, as he liberally supports marriage for everyone, equal rights for everyone, less poison for the environment, progressive taxation, removal of corporate personhood, financial regulation enforcement up to and including criminal incarceration, the elimination of all “consensual crimes,” and many other positions that lead conservatives to squirm uncomfortably in their seats.

On EQUITABILITY:

The Right will argue that allowing the free market to function will fix our problems. But, the free market doesn’t guarantee social outcomes, merely economic ones. Yes, it may provide more efficiency on the whole and grow the economy faster as a whole, but by itself doesn’t guarantee how wealth is distributed. The Right cannot be indifferent to the consequences of a middle-class life undermined, nor can it be indifferent to half the population’s inability to buy the products and services that businesses sell.

The Left would argue that the solution is for laws to transfer wealth from the rich to the middle class. But, while that would increase consumption, depending on the scope, it could threaten the amount of capital available to investment by the transfer itself and by eliminating incentives to invest. The Left cannot be indifferent to the fact that one can’t invest what they don’t have, and that no one will accept the risk of investment if the payoff is transferred completely away.

CORONARE MODESTUS FAUST understands the take away to be that “reasonableness” must prevail as to the extent, but transfers of some wealth should ensue as a part of the solution. So, let’s avoid extreme redistribution and focus on finding the correct amount that ameliorates the problems at hand (which will improve sales and garner more aggregate profit for firms, shareholders, and stakeholders… alike) while retaining enough incentives to invest and risk take.

As a Social-Capitalist/Social-Democrat**, CORONARE MODESTUS FAUST favors smart government — a government as big or as small as needed to achieve progressive social and capital ends, ensuring that serving “capital” interests must also serve to improve the lives of “We the people” broadly (hence, “Social”).

“Our” government’s job is best done when it benefits all of the people, and not just capital interests — as he interpretes the right favors.

(**Social Democracy is exhibited as an economic precept of Social Capitalism. The contemporary social democratic movement seeks to reform capitalism to align it with the ethical ideals of social justice while maintaining the efficient and wealth-building capitalist mode of production, as opposed to creating an alternative socialist economic system. Practical modern social democratic policies include the promotion of the commonweal, and the creation of economic democracy as a means to secure stakeholders’ rights.)

“This vast number of worlds, the enormous scale of the universe, in my view, has been taken into account, even superficially, in virtually no religion, and especially no Western religions.” – Carl Sagan

Taking exception with the very concept of “American Exceptionalism,” CORONARE MODESTUS FAUST feels compelled to explore these issues in rambling-though-coherent thoughts and an adventurous assortment of arbitrary amusements.

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Liberalism is “Life.”

It is an unrelenting pursuit of freedom from physical dangers that can kill or disable us.

  • The Liberal believes it is a nation’s job to protect its citizens from physical harm, whether from external sources, such as hostile nations, or internal ones, like crime, disease, or hunger. Without the solid ground of physical wellbeing, our nation and its citizens cannot enjoy the benefits of being free.
  • Liberals believe in a strong military, well suited to defend the nation.
  • Liberals believe in good laws, hard-working police, and a just legal system to protect its citizens from crime.
  • Liberals believe in affordable health care for everyone, to keep our people strong.
  • And Liberals believe in the availability of food and shelter for its needy, not as a hand out but as a reasonable step in moving all Americans toward self-reliance and the freedom that comes with it.

Liberalism is “Liberty.”

It is the freedom to do as your conscience dictates without impeding another’s rights. Liberalism established a nation where personal belief and self-determination are protected, not persecuted; where hard work is rewarded, not demanded; and where each person is bestowed with the ability to better his or her life because of citizenship, not class.

  • Liberals believe in freedom of speech to protect us from political oppression.
  • Liberals believe in sound regulations to protect us from economic oppression.
  • Liberals believe in just laws to protect us from social oppression.
  • And Liberals believe in quality education to protect us from the oppression of ignorance.

Liberalism is “The Pursuit of Happiness.”

It is the freedom to create an environment where the individual can excel. What is freedom if it cannot be used to better our lives? A truly free society must be one where its members can rise above their limitations and expand their futures — it is “The American Dream,” and it’s alive and well in the heart of the Liberal.

  • Liberals believe in equal opportunities for all to rise above our means.
  • Liberals believe in equal opportunities to rise above our education levels.
  • Liberals believe in equal opportunities to rise above our social status.
  • And Liberals believe each and every family should have an equal opportunity to make this world better for their children.

Based on these tenets, Liberalism is not the monster it’s made out to be by the opposition.

  • It is pro individual and pro family.
  • It is pro community and pro country.
  • Liberalism is, by its very definition, the heart and soul of what it means to be an American.
  • It stands against tyranny of any kind, whether international or domestic.
  • It works to remove abuse and fight crime.
  • And it strives to eliminate the idea of a wasted life by not wasting resources and opportunities.