The WIYATT in my place this week far exceeded any issue so far in 2015 & I yelled at conservatives and liberals each day! For many just got and continue to get this wrong!
The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) is nonsense and these laws have no place in United States business/private sector. Yet again, a group of “hatemongers” try to use the law to push forward their agenda to keep the United States “separate but equal”. They can put on as many sheets as they wish and cry we are being discriminated against all day long, but it will NOT cover up their racist and hateful attempts to continue to divide and conquer this country. I was beyond PROUD of the thousands of activists around this country and the world who called out for justice and proved that direct action and protesting are alive and well and Social Media is at the forefront of the fight! “No Justice! No Peace!”
BRAVO! Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN) and thank you for bringing forth a discussion around the “secret bigotry” that continues to exist in the creation of legislation in this country. As a policy analyst working on federal legislation daily, I have a difficult job of informing advocates that even though we have accomplished so much with social justice legislation that includes civil, human and disability rights; we still have a long road ahead for continued success and protection of the next three generations. The struggle continues because unfortunately legislatures and officials like Gov. Pence continue to be voted into high ranking offices that provide them with the power to uplift and promote such hateful agendas as RFRA.
So “let’s go to the tape” as the sports casters say! The history around RFRA is that it was a law created for the public and government sector NOT for the business and private sector to use. There were people who were being discriminated against in federal governmental entities because of their faith and that can not be tolerated. It’s a shame but if things are not explicit the government will not go beyond the exact law. They do not believe in going above and beyond what is expected or law. (a topic for another post)
The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) is a public law passed by the US Congress and signed by then President Bill Clinton. This legislation “ensures that interests in religious freedom are protected”. FACT: This legislation was introduced on March 11, 1993 by none other than two of the most liberal federal legislatures of our time, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) –who was in the House at the time & Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA). YES – this is correct – please go to Thomas.gov and confirm.
In 1997 the US Supreme Court stated that RFRA is unconstitutional in their decision on the case the City of Boerne v. Flores. The decision stated that RFRA is not within the power of Congress to enforce on states, but it can be used on a federal level. The law was created to clear the path for certain faith practices to be accepted in the public sector. Such as a man having facial hair or a head garment on his head at all times, but this is against “standard uniform” to work in the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The FBI can not discriminate against these men and must allow them to have facial hair and wear their head garment at all times.
Indiana, USA 2015 passes a RFRA law, joining 20 other states that have passed a similar law. The difference in those other states is that their legislation mirrors that of the federal law in that it only adheres to government & public entities for the same scenario presented. Indiana decided to include, and it must be noted purposefully, private entities such as businesses. This is completely against Public Accommodation laws, which were created to dismantle the Jim Crow laws of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Jim Crow laws were the basis for the separate but equal racists laws that ruled the land and were diabolically and adamantly defended as righteous for over 75 years. Many in the struggle, believe the residuals from that time in our country along with the horrific enslavement of millions of African Americans, as well as the hateful treatment of Native Americans, Asians,Latinos and other immigrant races from the beginning of the US, are the basis for the institutional racism we continue to fight and dismantle daily.
Public Accommodations means that you must serve all! It is a privilege and honor to own a business in this country. It is not a necessity. So when a person goes out on faith and decides to own a business in the US they must abide by the laws of Public Accommodation. The line on freedom of faith does not apply to a business to deny services to anyone. The line exists in the type of services or the hours of services they wish to provide. If you don’t like this fact then don’t own a business in the United States.
Here is an example! On MSNBC Morning Joe the guest analyst Amy Holmes, who is the Anchor for The Hot List on TheBlaze.com – as per her Twitter handle description – stated that the RFRA should be used in an example. The example she gave was that: A Jewish deli owner should not have to serve Neo-Nazis should they walk into his deli. This is COMPLETELY WRONG and against Public Accommodation laws. The Jewish deli owner MUST serve ALL no matter who they are. The Jewish deli owners religious belief comes into play for owning his deli only in the choice of foods he serves and his hours of operation. He can choose to only serve Kosher foods and he can decide if he wishes to be open on the Sabbath. But that is as far as his religious beliefs can intervene on the publics’ decision to enter his deli and partake in conducting business with him. Neo Nazi, skin head, openly racist person enters the deli, as long as they are not causing trouble or threatening the owner or customers, that deli owner MUST serve them.
As a disability rights advocate I deal with this issue on a regular basis and this is where I YELL AT LIBERALS & PROGRESSIVES in this fight. The RFRA legislations do not only harm the LGBTQI community! They are harmful and hateful laws that can be used to discriminate against a large number of people in the community. RFRA laws can be and are used in discriminating against race, socio economic status, other faiths and disability. In the instance of disability, we have several cases we are currently fighting and we constantly have to send information about laws that protect, out to assist advocates in their fights against these practices.
There are faiths who believe that dogs are unholy and not allowed in their places of business or in their taxicabs. This happens so often in DC that on March 16, 2015 a law suit was filed against DC Taxicab companies for this practice. (see below) Although the suit addresses blind passengers, there are people with multiple types of disabilities who use service animals and they too are protected under law.
These business owners use their faith to stop people with disabilities (PWD) from entering their stores, restaurants, hotels and/or taxicabs. In some faiths, having a disability is “an abomination from God” and they believe that PWD are evil. There are still businesses in this country who tell PWD that they are not welcomed in their restaurants, stores, hotels, pools and/or taxicabs. In 2012 we fought some hotel owners who did not want to implement the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) rule on making pools accessible to all. There was a comment period on this and if you read some of the business community comments, it was apparent just how discriminatory some business owners are against PWD; for they were adamant about not implementing this rule. The hateful and honestly outdated and “disability-phobic” thoughts towards PWD were beyond prodigious and insulting. And here we are 25 years, a quarter of a century, after the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA).
On this, the most holy weekend of the Christian faith, I wish I were writing about a country that has finally embraced the side of faith that states we are to love our fellow humans with no judgment for that is the work of the Lord. Until then I will continue to pray for our country and to learn to practice what I find to be one of the MOST difficult parts of being a Christian – FORGIVENESS!
Thanks for reading, please leave a comment and tell all about The WIYATT!
To find out more information:
Americans with Disabilities Act: http://www.ada.gov
Role of Law in Regulating Discrimination in Places of Public Accommodation, The ; Lewis, Thomas P. :
Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, American Council of the Blind and Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP File Lawsuit Against D.C. Taxicab Companies for Refusing to Pick Up Blind Passengers with Service Animals go to: http://www.washlaw.org/news-a-media/413-wlc-acb-taxicab
In 2010, the Equal Rights Center (ERC), a national non-profit civil rights organization in DC, completed a study of taxicab hauling practices for blind individuals entitled, The Equal Rights Center, No Dogs Allowed: Discrimination by D.C. Taxicabs against People who use Service Dogs (2010) go to: http://www.equalrightscenter.org/site/DocServer/Taxicab_Report.pdf?docID=242