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Monday, April 18, 2016

New anti-gay legislation would allow discrimination by student groups based on religion

The American Civil Liberties Union is keeping track of anti-gay legislation in America and says,

"There are bills in state legislature across the country and in Congress that could allow religion to be used to discriminate against gay and transgender people in virtually all aspects of their lives. Whether a gay person wants to join a college student group, a transgender person seeks counseling services, or a lesbian couple tries to obtain a marriage license from a government employee or access basic medical care at some point in their lives, these bills would open the door to unequal treatment."
(Quoted from "American Civil Liberties Union, "Anti-LGBT Religious Exemption Legislation Across the Country," (updated every Wed.) accessed Apr. 18, 2016)

A good summary of the ACLU's defense against the blizzard of anti-gay legislation is provided in a piece by Michelangelo Signorile, who says in part,

"These bills are popping up all over the place. Ironically, Democrats used to champion this legislation. The federal RFRA of 1993, co-written by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), came about after two members of the Native American Church in Oregon were fired from their positions as drug counselors for using peyote during a religious ritual. The law outlines how, and when, the government can and cannot infringe on people's religious practices. The law was meant "as a shield, not a sword," as Nadler likes to say. But it's been perverted in recent years. Conservatives are putting forward state-level RFRAs to let people claim religious liberty as a justification for denying services to LGBT people. . . ."

Two states have bills (AB 1212 in California; SB 210 in South Carolina) that require public universities to provide funds for student organizations, regardless of whether the organization discriminates against LGBT people based on religious beliefs. . . ."

(Quoted from Michelangelo Signorile, "Everything You Need To Know About The Wave Of 100+ Anti-LGBT Bills Pending In States," posted Apr. 18, 2016)

When the Oregon State University gay student group was first formed, it asked for funding from the student government and part of the argument against this funding was that it would discriminate against straight students, which of course was a false assertion. In fact, friends and allies of LGBT students have joined gay student groups at OSU over the years for various reasons and most universities, including OSU, require student groups not to discriminate against students who are different. Of course the theocratic student organizations claim this policy of nondiscrimination is "political correctness" and it makes them a victim, when the university denies them the same privileges as other student groups, because their religious beliefs demand that they discriminate against LGBT students.

In another loosely related piece, Michelangelo Signorile also said,

"Some of those arguments against marriage equality were informed by a similarly debunked myth that gay men are likely to be sexual predators, the lie perpetuated by anti-LGBT hate mongers for decades, using junk science to exploit and further rampant homophobia in society in same the way the "super-predator" myth used it to exploit and further racism. Meanwhile, the true example of a "super-predator" appears to have been former GOP House Speaker Dennis Hastert, a man who prosecutors now say molested at least 4 boys, including a 14-year-old and one who years later took his own life. . . Worse yet, through the years, as he covered up the sexual assaults he committed as a wrestling coach back in Yorkville, Illinois, Hastert pushed policies and positions as a House member and as the Speaker of a far-right GOP majority from 1999 to 2007 that demonized gays in part by portraying gay men as sexual predators. . . "
(Quoted from Michelangelo Signorile, "How Dennis Hastert Demonized Gays as Predators While He Was the True 'Super-Predator,'" posted Apr. 13, 2016)

It seems like the mainstream press has taken up the "bathroom issue," although many commentators have pointed out the illogic of demanding that a MTF, who looks like a woman, be forced to go into the men's restroom. Clearly, this type of legislation exploits the natural human desire for privacy from being looked at sexually without your consent. In my experience, many men have a homophobic fear of being looked at sexually by a gay man, perhaps because they thinks it suggests that they are also gay. Women have a similar fear of a "sexual predator" or sexual pervert getting sexually excited while looking at them, perhaps because in their experience this can lead to sexual assault and violence.

When I was young, I was always denied the opportunity to go to the YMCA gym because my parents said I might be assaulted, without telling me what they meant. In fact, I learned later that the YMCA was a hotbed of homosexual liaisons, but never was it a place that a "sexual predator" could assault anybody. The so-called assaults were when a boy would be caught having sex and not want to admit that he was curious and initiated it -- of course, this doesn't justify the older man's behavior and as a result, most men were very wary of what they called "jail bait" -- young men who wanted sex with them, but might have second thoughts and charge the man with a sex crime.

Unfortunately, because the topic of intergenerational sex is so taboo, it is nearly impossible to have a rational discussion, which is how homosexual men were denied rights for decades before Stonewall, and today the anti-gay forces are still using these canards and fears to chip away at equal rights for LGBT people.