In the interest of full disclosure, I’m not particularly religious. I’m more philosophical when it comes to higher powers. I’ll not bore you with the details of my beliefs, because this isn’t the venue and because my beliefs are mine and don’t — and shouldn’t — affect you.
But lately, it seems that some people are trying to use their religion to screw with the constitutionally guaranteed rights of others, like me. And yes, I have a problem with that.
Where this gets dicey is that the right to practice the religion of your choice is also constitutionally protected. And people are surprisingly touchy if you point out the inconsistencies in the book on which their beliefs are based.
The latest assault on common sense comes from our very own Texas Attorney General, Ken Paxton, who campaigned for office partly on a platform of cleaning up corruption. This is the same Ken Paxton who now is facing felony charges of — wait for it — corruption filed by the Securities Exchange Commission.
But Paxton isn’t letting his own legal woes get in the way of protecting his fellow Texans from the dangers of legal protections for transgender people.
On Aug. 23, Paxton filed a 79-page complaint in U.S. District Court — after shopping around for a judge likely to be amenable to his claims — that contends that the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that healthcare providers offer trans-inclusive services violates the religious freedom of doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals.
How? Really, how?
Tell me, in what possible way could providing me with healthcare of any kind conceivably violate anyone’s religious freedom?
Simple answer: It doesn’t.
No unless “religious freedom” is really secret code for “I don’t feel like it,” “I don’t want to,” or “I disagree with who you are.”
But that would never happen with a highly educated healthcare worker … would it?
That’s sixth-grade playground bullshit, right. I mean, in the real world, if someone needs healthcare and you are a healthcare provider, you provide them with the care they need. Period.
Here’s a little secret: Paxton and Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick are reading almost word-for-word out of the “5-Point Plan to Legislate Trans People Out of Existence.”
This plan was designed by the hate group called the “Family Research Council.” FRC and the Alliance Defending Freedom are two of the most evil and hateful organizations you will find — at least if you are a trans person.
Just so you’ll be able to recognize it in the future, here are the points of the 5-Point Plan, in no particular order:
1. Deny trans people the ability to change their name and gender on legal documents. (Ken and Dan are working on this one.)
2. Deny trans people adequate and appropriate healthcare. (Working on this one, too.)
3. Keep trans people from serving in the military. (Our boys from Texas lost that one!)
4. Prohibit any legal protections against discrimination for trans people and make sure no one is required to respect their identity. (A work in progress.)
And last but not least, 5. Make sure trans people are not legally permitted to use restroom facilities aligning with their gender identity (Apparently, Dan Patrick desperately wants me to pee next to him.)
So, is that what “religion” is all about? Where in the Bible does it say transgender people shouldn’t exist and shouldn’t have rights equal to everyone else?
I mean, I don’t look to that book for my laws anyway, but if you do, nowhere in it will you find any reason whatsoever you should discriminate against or hate me based on its teachings.
So if you are making laws to try and eliminate a class of people, then shame on you.
When I discuss an issue, I like to try and understand the other side. So imagine this, good Christian person: What if my religion denied you or your child healthcare? Would those be “fightin’ words?” They better be, because that would be pretty fucked up:
“Sorry; you and your about-to-burst appendix can take a hike. The God I believe in says you have to play the organs you were dealt. I talked to my God this morning; He wouldn’t want me to take it out. Yeah, you might die because of my beliefs, but hey, I also believe there is this really nice country club in the sky you get to go to, so enjoy your tee time at 9 a.m. tomorrow!”
This bullshit really came to a head in 2014 when the Supreme Court handed down the Hobby Lobby decision.
Hobby Lobby didn’t want to have to provide birth control as part of its health plan because of company owners’ “deeply-held religious beliefs.”
(That very phrase is beginning to make me want to throw up.)
As far as I am concerned, you can believe whatever you want. There is a crap-ton of religions out there. Many of them are corrupt, no two agree, most worship the dollar more than “God” and some even have covered up the fact that kids were (are?) being molested by church leaders, So yeah, pick one and have a good time.
If it gives you comfort, fantastic! Life is tough and the world is a dangerous and confusing place, and we all need all the comfort we can find.
But if your religion seeks to deny my or anyone else’s pursuit of happiness, that is where your “freedom of religion” needs to stop. I mean, I have the freedom to swing my arms, but when I swing them into your face, that freedom ends.
Simple, right? Now, if we could just explain this to Paxton and Patrick.
By the way, did I mention that having religious bullies and bigots in positions of leadership violates my deeply-held religious beliefs?
Leslie McMurray, a transgender woman, is a former radio DJ who lives and works in Dallas. Read more of her blogs at lesliemichelle44.wordpress.com
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 2, 2016.