Today's Mighty Oak


In June, SCOTUS ruled on the Masterpiece case, handing down a ‘narrow’ ruling.  Basically, they said that how Colorado handled the legal case was in appropriate.

This is still very troubling, and will for sure just open the door and be the first shot across the bow, as it may, The latest tactic against equal rights is the so-called ‘religious liberty’ argument, as we’ve seen with racist house elf Jeff Sessions even putting together a religious liberty commission, specifically to stamp out queer rights.  At the end of the day, this ruling, while narrow, still means that two men were denied service because they’re gay.  But there are larger implications; the court, incorrectly, said that a lawyer for the men was critical of religion, when instead he was critical of what religion was being used to justify (as well as it’s use to justify slavery, segregation and more):

If saying something true, yet critical about religion as an institution is an example of expressing hostility toward religion, then is every comment critical of religion evidence of bias? Are we never allowed to say anything negative about the harms that can be wrought by fundamentalism? It’s now hard to imagine the forces of equality getting a fair hearing if no one can say anything negative about the forces of bigotry when they use religion to justify their hatred.

And of course, the insanity continues.  A GOP lawmaker from South Dakota has said that Masterpiece means business can discriminate based on race.  In good news though, a lower court in Arizona stood by the narrow ruling and refused to allow a a non-discrimination ordinance to be struck down.

We will see more of these, and honestly, I think we are lucky that a larger ruling was prevented due to the technicalities of the legal system.  With a conservative court, without Kennedy, it will only be a matter of time when non-discrimination ordinances are a thing of the past.  As it stands right now, doctors are allowed to refuse to treat patients (for anything, including emergency services) if it conflicts with their ‘deeply held religious beliefs,’ which is why, on all of my race bibs in the emergency information, I have to specify to not be taken to Mercy, the local Catholic hospital.  I have to play the odds, and hope if the worst were to happen and I was already unable to speak for myself, that I could actually get the medical help I need.

All my best,

Mike



Two bits of legality today, one good (but currently probably futile) and one bad.

First the bad.  A jury in South Dakota condemned a man to death because he’s gay.  There’s an additional step in there, but that’s what it comes down to.  A gay man is a convicted murderer, but the jury sentenced him to death because they felt “he would enjoy” life without parole in an all-male prison.

Jurors cited his orientation with disgust and said they didn’t want to send him ‘where he wants to go,’ and the Supreme Court refused to step in to take up an appeal.  Currently (and I just learned this) jury deliberations are kept secret, except when there might be racial bias involved in sentencing.  The same does not apply for sexual orientation or gender expression.

Putting aside the sickening notion of the death penalty, the entire episode is disturbing and vile and quite frankly sickening.

But onto some better, if unlikely to pass legal news: Democrats have put forth a bill to put a federal ban on the ‘gay panic’ defense.

A few states already bar it, but this would ban using ‘gay panic’ as a defense in federal court.  Gay panic, for those unaware, is the idea that someone can be found innocent of a crime (usually murder or the like) if they were hit on by a person of the same sex and they ‘acted out of panic.’  So total bullshit.

Do I think this bill has a chance: no.  But, it’s good to see at least recognition that these things need fixing.

All my best,

Mike

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